I just got back from doing a seminar at the Battle of Atlanta on Friday. I want to share the Introduction and the Conclusion of my talk. I think you'll get a better idea of who we are and what we do! It went really well and I got a great response, lots of awesome feedback. It was great seeing some old faces still doing so well!
Hello, I'm going to get right into it, but if you have any questions please raise your hand, no need to wait for the end.
When I was 7 years old we packed up the van with the airbrushed dragon on the side and left snowy Connecticut for the sunny beaches and mind numbing heat of South Florida. I was young and afraid for what was to come. My father, Grandmaster Greg Silva, maybe you've met him…he was already a great success story. He left a thriving Martial Arts school, the first East West Karate, and our beautiful home, our summers on Lake George, our friends and family and my cat Eddie. We left them all behind because he had a bigger dream. He was 38 years old and he knew he was far from done. There was an opportunity in a small suburban town in South Florida to make something amazing happen. It was time to get to work.
I traded in my snow boots and sweaters for bathing suits and neon tank tops, it was all going to be the Beach Boys and seeing my first girls in a bikini from here on out. I was sold. I watched "On A Quest To Be Our Best" slowly being painted on the wall of the new and improved East West Karate, soon to be the most successful karate school in the country. I got a pet iguana and named him Kenpo. I was all in.
After school we would stand barefoot on the turquoise 90s carpet next to our white leather 80s couch. We were inventing the Universal Kata system one move at a time. Karate became my life, Jeff Speakman and Jean-Claude Van Damme my heroes. It was karate 24/7. I haven't able been to shake it since.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Silva and I'm the executive director and designer for GetStudents.com and United Professionals.
1. I started karate at 7 years old, eventually reaching 2nd degree black belt. I competed in tournaments all over the country. Our family dining room overflowing with trophies. I was rated #1 in forms and #2 in fighting in the state of Florida.
2. In my awkward teenage years I left karate to pursue a passion of music. When I was 15, my band Keepsake, signed to Eulogy Recordings, the biggest independent record label in the state. We toured the country playing shows and putting out records. Someone had to design the album artwork and I wanted that to be me. I downloaded Photoshop and QuarkXpress through not entirely legal means and got to work. I fell in love. I couldn't shake karate and now I couldn't shake graphic design.
3. College came around and I went to the University of Central Florida as a student with no major. I wrote and designed for the Independent school newspaper. I went to New York City for the first time and made an impression on my teachers at Parsons of School of Design. I went to California to figure out who I was, I took art history, design and literature classes at UCLA. I graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Art History and Graphic Design.
4. When I finished college I started working for the family business. I needed the money. Again, I quickly fell in love with it. With my new found knowledge, experience and skills I saw room for major improvements. I knew we could offer karate schools a higher quality product and I knew I could supply it.
5. Less than a year ago we started GetStudents.com. We wanted to offer more products, a better customer experience, and a universal one stop shop for bettering your Martial Arts school. We're off to an incredible start and the future looks brighter than bright.
So, okay! Let's get into what this all means for you.
Okay, so, welcome to a new beginning. I want you all the think back to what got you into Martial Arts in the first place, because we're about ready to begin again. We're moving forward by looking back.
When I was younger I remember getting to stay up late to watch Mike Tyson fights or the early UFC broadcasts. My dad and his friends would order them on Pay-Per-View and I was allowed to stay up late to watch it with them. It was incredibly exciting to me. I watched Bloodsport and Kickboxer religiously on VHS. I would go to East West Karate on Saturday mornings with my Ed Parker books laid out on the floor, practicing in front of the mirror for hours.
We all have that one moment that changed things for us. It brought my dad to owning karate schools and ultimately wanting to help other people find success in the field. It brought me to karate, then to music, then to graphic design, and finally back to Martial Arts.
I want to help you help other people find that spark. I don't meant to sound hyperbolic but we have the ability to change lives. Martial Arts changed your life, and you can use it change someone else's life too. We are not doing this to get rich. I want you to think back to what brought you here and think about it always. This is a passion project, this is a passion project. But, hey, one of the cool things about passion projects is that they have the side effect of making you wealthy and successful if you work on them passionately.
How do we do this? We do this by being smart and working tirelessly to make it work. You can make your school work by working on it always. By promoting it every day, by always presenting a professional look and an image of success with marketing materials and websites that have been proven to work. I simply want to help you get people in the door. The rest is up to you.