The Tenth Degree with Diego Perez

What's your typical morning routine?  How do you get your day started off right?

I wake up early before anyone in the house.  I take a time of silence to clear my mind and then I prepare breakfast and look at my schedule to see if I am on target with my goals.


What did you want to be when you grew up? How did you get your work life started?

As a kid I wanted to be many things from a fireman to police officer to a doctor.  Finally, I studied chemistry and computer language.  I started working at the age of 15. I opened a Tae Kwon Do studio in the garage at my mom’s house.


Why the martial arts?  Did you train when you were younger?

I started training when I was 5 years old.  I did martial arts because I was following my older brother.  Martial arts became a life philosophy; something I could never let go.


How did your school come about? Where is it located and what do you teach?

Better Families Through Tae Kwon Do was founded by Mary Beth Klock-Perez, my wife.  She started martial arts after meeting Grand Master Jhoon Rhee.  I came to Miami for a tournament and there I met Mary Beth and eventually married her.  We have been together now for 30 years.  The school came about because we believed that by teaching martial arts we could help develop people with the character traits that would shape our community for the better.


How do you define success? Was there a moment when you felt like you really made it?

Sometimes our most notable achievements, like becoming a business owner or finally making a considerable profit on a startup business, are the easiest to focus on. However, you may also define success as short-term wins, like reaching daily, weekly and monthly goals. Viewing success as a process can help us focus on the small accomplishments that lead to a major achievement.  The moment we felt that we really made it was when we could provide benefits to our employees. We became the only source of income for them.


It’s a difficult time to be a business owner this year. What have you been doing to keep your school going?

Reinventing.  In order to survive we must be flexible and understand that today is different.  Adapt your fighting stance and counter correctly. 


Thanks for being one of our awesome Black Belt Excellence schools! What is it about the program that you like? Are you using it in any interesting ways?

Who motivates the motivators?  This is what I like.  The program keeps motivating me and our staff to strive for the best.  It helps us see that it is possible.  To be able to network and hear positive feedback makes the road easy to travel.


What advice would you give to your fellow school owners? What has been working well for you these days?

Find a mentor and stay positive.  Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. But it’s the difficult times where we need a little more support and guidance.  These days we have been doing a lot of planning.  For us it is about planning, evaluating results, changing what is not working and creating a new innovative way to do it. We will do this until we achieve the results we want.


What is currently inspiring you and in what way? (book, movie, song, charity, anything really…)

I like to listen to a motivational book.  I just finished “The Power of your Potential” by John C. Maxwell.


How do you end a typical day? What do you do to unwind?

I finish by reviewing my daily tasks, creating my list for the next day and playing with my dogs.