When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Areva Martin: The first thing I do when I get out of bed is quietly say a prayer and an affirmation. On my four days during the week that I run, I have a short time period to get dressed to drive to the park where I meet my running partner. Being late is not an option since we both have tight morning schedules. I don’t want this precious reflection time when my house is dark and quiet to slip by me as soon after getting out of bed, I methodically grab my cell phone, which is typically on my nightstand just waiting for me to pick it up and engage.
TG: What gives you energy?
AM: I get energized watching my two daughters, Michael and Morgan, learn the family business and grow into confident young entrepreneurs and bosses. I grew up in a very different home. My grandmother and Godmother who raised me were incredibly loving, nurturing and supportive, but they had limited educations and were focused on me graduating from high school and college. They were not teaching me how to hire and fire employees; develop budgets for a law firm and service business; balance check books; and create sophisticated accounting and organizational management systems. Whenever I hear my two daughters on the phone with employees, clients or vendors, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside—it’s not just pride, but it’s energy.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
AM: My secret life hack is mixing lemonade, honey and tea to treat a sore throat. I love black tea with milk, but when I have a cold or sore throat, I lay off of all dairy. Even when I am under the weather, tea is my morning and evening drink of choice. This combination has a twofold impact—the citrus from the lemonade helps disrupt mucous without the messiness of squeezing real lemons; and the honey is incredibly smoothing for a sore throat.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
AM: A book that changed my life is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. When I was a younger lawyer starting out in my own firm, I routinely worked 14-hour days. Most of this time wasn’t on client or legal matters, it was spent counseling employees on their personal matters. As a young, female managing partner of a firm, I found myself playing the role of counselor and confidant. These roles took hours of my time and prevented me from focusing on other critical management responsibilities. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 3: Put First Things First, was the advice I needed. This Habit is about putting first things first, exercising self-discipline, time management, and understanding that a Yes to anything is No to something else. Every hour I spent playing therapist, rather than being a lawyer, I was saying no to the firm and the client’s needs. After reading and studying this Habit, I changed. My management and leadership of the firm changed, and for the better.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
AM: I have a love affair with my phone and yes, it often sleeps with me. I don’t spend a lot of time talking on the phone, but I use it to run my various businesses. Since a big part of what I do is provide commentary on breaking news, it is imperative that I have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the news as producers and editors expect that I am following the news of the day so as to be able to opine on topics on short notice. I also love social media and use it to help raise money for autism, to advance my advocacy work and to make meaningful connections.
TG: How do you deal with email?
AM: I answer my emails almost instantly! If I don’t respond to emails as they come in, I am likely to never respond. I receive so many throughout the day and conduct most of my business on email, that I have trained myself to read and respond to them while multi-tasking. I tried setting aside designated time in each day to respond after reading an article that said this is more efficient. For me, this was a bust. There would be so many emails to respond to during the designated hour that it would take an inordinate amount of time and felt less rather than more efficient. This process was incredibly frustrating as I was responding to time-sensitive emails hours too late. For me, getting emails on my cell phone and responding immediately simply works best for me.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
AM: Try to find the latest episode of “Chicago P.D.” I am obsessed with this show. I love the writing and the storyline. The cops walk a fine line between law and lawlessness, but at heart, they are advocates for the underdog! I don’t watch a lot of TV and I hardly ever follow new series, but I love how this show tackles real issues in policing and the criminal justice system. And even though the characters are fictional, the situations are real and highlight many of the national issues confronting police departments and the communities they are bound to protect and serve.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
AM: This is an interesting question because it requires you to define “failure.” Given a very literal definition of that word, I probably fail on a daily basis. For example, I fail to run as fast as I imagine I should on my almost-daily runs; I fail to get as much work done as planned most days despite my best efforts; I fail to tell my family and close friends often enough how much I love and appreciate them; and I fail to show sufficient gratitude for simple things in life and my many blessings. I get over these failures by simply trying to do better. Sometimes, I fail at that. But my Midwestern upbringing propels me to never give up and to see my failures as opportunities to do more and work harder.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
AM: “Empowered women, empower women.” This quote gives me a great deal of strength, particularly given the #metoo and TimesUp movements. Since the inception of these movements, I have seen women embrace their power and their ability to not only play a major role in eliminating workplace sexual harassment and abuse, but in shifting the balance of power in corporate America. When women embrace their own power, it liberates them to share, assist and empower other women.
Areva Martin is the founder of Martin & Martin, the largest female-owned, African-American law firm in L.A., and The Special Needs Network, a non-profit for the benefit of special needs kids and their parents. She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller The Everyday Advocate, a memoir about raising a child with autism. Using both her personal and professional experience, Areva has established herself as a sought-after expert. She is a legal expert on CNN and The Dr. Phil Show, co-host on The Doctors, and makes regular appearances on Anderson Cooper 360, Good Morning America, and shows across CNN and HLN, among others. Her new book Make It Rain!: How to Use Media to Revolutionize Your Business & Brand will be published by in March by Center Street.