Spend a few moments with Jason Martinez – our latest rockstar father of DadsLikeUs – and you’ll truly understand the meaning behind the concept of infectious laugher and true positivity.
The list of accolades and accomplishments for “Yaya” is enough to fill up this entire blog post, so I’ll hit the highlights: Marine … Comedian … Fitness enthusiast … Podcaster … Motivator … Innovator for one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S. dedicated to serving veterans.
Being a “Jack of all Trades” tends to carry a negative connotation as someone who is therefore a “master of none.”
Not the case with Martinez. He’s well-versed and multi-talented in many walks of life.
Personally, I’m fortunate enough to have had the chance to work alongside him for several years (back in my other life in public relations) and witness firsthand his ability as a master motivator to move people towards making a positive impact.
But like any of our fellow dads, the biggest challenges aren’t the constant juggle of professional life, but more often the back and forth battle of fatherhood.
For Yaya, it’s a unique relationship that involves being a dad to a daughter who lives almost 1,000 miles away; a true test of unconditional love, understanding and communication.
This month’s installment of DadsLikeUs features a fellow father, personal friend and true inspiration for all of us.
Basically, if you can’t get fired up after spending a few minutes talking to, reading about or following along with Jason Yaya Martinez, then you’re a damn robot.
DadsLikeUs: Jason Yaya Martinez
Name: Jason Martinez
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Occupation: Innovation Specialist, Wounded Warrior Project | Communication Consultant, game on Nation
Number of kids: 1
One word that best describes how you parent: Reflection
***You’ll have to forgive me for some of this. I started writing while watching This Is Us***
How do you balance fatherhood, work and social life?
Well, my daughter lives in Chicago with her Mom. From a day to day perspective, I guess that makes it fairly easy for me to find balance. My social life as it exists right now consists of comedy most nights of the week.
I was raised as a Blockbuster video kid so I’m perfectly content with staying home and watching a movie when I’m not performing comedy.
How do you recharge?
Exercise mainly. Exercise to me is a lifestyle. That being said, sometimes it gets boring.
Basketball is a go-to. Long gone are the days of running full court games. I keep a basketball in my truck and if I find an empty court I’ll just jump out and put up as many shots as it takes for me to work through things in my head or clear my mind.
I like to collect books. I have quite a few that I haven’t fully read. I tend to get into a few chapters of each book then pick up another book and go back and forth for a while. I have a lot of books with a lot of bookmarks in them.
Funniest moment as a dad?
I feel like there’s that moment as a parent that always happens when you are like “oh BLEEP, where’s my child?!”
My daughter was probably about 4 years old. I was living in my parents house at the time and it was just her and me. I don’t know what I was doing, if I dozed off or if I just blinked.
What I do know is that I found her standing on the sink in the bathroom, with no idea of how she got up there, just staring at herself in the mirror. I shouted HEY! And she jumped out of her skin.
The look on her face was priceless and I couldn’t help but to burst out into laughter.
Scariest moment as a dad?
My daughter is 16 years old now. Need I say more?
What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?
Find a pattern. In the military we would call it a battle rhythm. A good pattern for me is 20-30 minutes of exercise daily (or as many days a week that I can make the time for).
So I guess the hack here is 20- 30 minutes of exercise.
I’ve been in the fitness world for about a decade now. Hour long, hour and a half long exercise bouts just aren’t realistic and should be reserved for a professional athlete training for sport.
I said it.
The average parent doesn’t want to spend all of their day in the gym or with some trainer coming up with some weird routine for self-gratification.
Train hard. Train fast. Train smart.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
Finding a joke. Making a joke. Delivering a joke out of the obscure.
What’s the concept and mission behind ‘Team Grasshopper’ and what can readers do to live the true Grasshopper lifestyle?
As a young Marine there was a Corporal that had it out for me that always called me Grasshopper. After leaving the Marines and pursuing my life goals I would find myself in conversations constantly using the word Grasshopper.
Whether it was “WASSUP Grasshopper!” when greeting a client or shouting “Let’s go Grasshoppers,” to a group of teammates.
It truly became term of endearment and everyone started to call me Grasshopper. I turned a negative into a positive. So thank you Cpl. Rodriguez.
I feel like the mission can be summed up as #EnchantTheWorld. It’s about health (Mental, Spiritual and Physical). Happiness (Laughter and Enchantment). Longevity (Interdependence, Community and Framily).
How has comedy affected your parenting style or even your everyday approach to life, work or even relationships in general?
As much as I try to not view certain aspects of my life through the eyes of a comedian, I’ve come to realize that it’s just a part of me.
Laughter is breathing.
Sure there are serious situations that arise but I feel like I can make light of most of them. Don’t get me wrong, in the middle of a debate with my Mom, Dad, daughter or girlfriend I’m not going to stop and take out my notepad … but two hours later I might.
How do you manage to balance such a long physical distance between you and your daughter to keep your relationship so close?
This has been the hardest part of the past 15 years of my life. I can’t say that I’ve found balance with this aspect of my relationship with my daughter.
When I am with her, mostly during the summers, it is amazing. When she is in Chicago and I am in Florida it becomes a daily struggle for me.
One would think that in the world that we live in that it would be easier. It’s not.
It boils down to not allowing myself to accept the fact that distance should have any impact on how I parent. She has things to learn and I have a duty to help her learn and become a respectable and responsible adult.
So balance for me consists of trying to perpetually do the right thing and invest my time into things that she can look back on one day as examples of how I would want her to be or handle situations.
What’s the biggest challenge/surprise that hit you since becoming a father?
The biggest challenge (aside from the distance) is addressing the difficult situations and realizing that friendship and fatherhood are completely different.
Understanding the give and take relationship is challenging. Surprisingly, I think that I am good at the give and take relationship.
I give myself time to process before reacting and that usually leads to a better conversation when dealing with challenging scenarios.
What are you currently reading?
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
How (if at all) has fatherhood changed you?
It’s probably made me more sympathetic, compassionate, spontaneous and relaxed actually. It really forces me to be patient.
I’m aware that the environment that we live in is so much different from what I experienced as a kid.
Pay it Forward by filling in the blank: I’d love to see [blank] answer these same questions.
Jeff Fremed (my co-host of the Beauty and the Beastmode Podcast)
If you had a billboard in Times Square and could fill it with any message, what would you say to the masses?
I don’t know if I would use words. It would either be my face smiling over and over or the faces of Team Grasshopper sharing their smiles with the world.
I’d prefer the latter.
Where can we find you on the Interwebz (website, twitter, facebook page, podcast, etc.)?
- Instagram – jason_yaya_martinez
- Twitter – @GrasshopperYaya
- Facebook – Beauty & the Beastmode (Podcast also available on: Soundclound, itunes, Google Play)
- Snapchat – GrasshopperYaya
The DadsLikeUs series asks fellow fathers to to share their stories, advice, cautionary tales and much more. If you know a dude-turned-dad that you think should be featured here, or if you have some interesting questions you think I should ask, email us at DaddyMindTricks [at] gmail [dot] com.