Steve Flege

I was in corporate America for 27 years. I worked for a lot of big companies, one in which required that I live in a corporate apartment Monday through Friday, because it was so far from my home. I would drive home on the weekends - 2 hours each way. I did this for many years, until one day my wife came to me and said, "This isn't working. You're never here. I didn't sign up for part-time marriage, I didn't sign up for a part-time husband, and your boys didn't sign up for a part-time dad. What are you going to do to fix this problem?" I'll be honest, I'd given a lot to my corporate life, and I have gotten a lot back. But it was consuming me. I was in my mid-40s. I rarely saw my family. “Is this really how I wanted to live the rest of my life.”

It's easy to dream about leaving the corporate world, but it's a tough thing to do when you have bills, and a responsibility to your wife and children. Then this happened. In July of 2010, I went on vacation with my family at Bethany Beach in Delaware. My boys and I were body surfing. The waves were really big, and I ended up hitting my head so hard on the sand, that I broke my neck. I was flown to the trauma Center in Wilmington, Delaware. While waiting for surgery and not knowing if I would ever walk again, I had a moment of clarity. "You know Steve, you haven't been happy with your life. You haven't been happy working corporate. You haven't been happy with what it's done to your relationship with your wife and your kids. If you get out of this, and you are able to walk again, what are you going to do differently?"

That experience changed my life. During the time I was commuting back and forth from Providence Rhode Island and West Hartford, I would listen to podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts was OTA’s Power Trading Radio. I would rush to my car at the end of the day, so I could listen to Merlin during my two-hour drive home. I was a huge fan! I always had a passion for investing, but I was never very good at it. I wanted to learn more. Power Trading Radio encouraged me to check out a half-day workshop at their local center. I signed up.

I fell in love with the concept, and I fell in love with the people. My parents are teachers. I have a real appreciation for education. So I thought to myself, "Steve, what if I could open an online trading academy franchise closer to where I live? By May of 2012, I quit my corporate job and was in Irvine buying my first franchise. Today, I have much more time with my family. Plus, the paralysis has corrected itself with the help of amazing surgeons.

The entire experience has been life changing. Going from corporate America to being a business owner is challenging I admit. When you own your own business, and you have people who are dependent on you—employees and family—failure can be catastrophic. You could potentially lose everything. You don’t have a three-billion-dollar safety net like I did in the corporate world. For me and my family, failure is not an option. My family, the employees, the students, everyone is depending on you. You do everything you can in order to make success happen. But a cool thing happens when you take a risk like this. What you discover along the path is not only the things that you are good at, but you really develop an awareness of what you're not good at and act accordingly. That awareness, that clarity is what has helped me to succeed.

Everything in life happens for a reason. I know it’s a cliché but honestly, it does. When I broke my neck, I had a chance to really reflect on my priorities. It gave me the motivation to do something different. I found OTA, fell in love with it and today have a life I only dreamed of. From the students, to the quality of the product, and the education, to the staff, and all the people who are teaching the classes, this is just a great organization to be associated with.