Episode #277: Dr. Efraín Martínez

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

Dr. Efraín Martínez is a father, husband, a K-5 principal, and podcaster. As a wisdom seeker, he has found productivity to be a great tool for success in life. On his podcast Wisdom & Productivity, he reflects on life and interviews luminary figures on what makes them be who they are. His one word is improvement, and he tries every day to make the world better.

Trench story? has a few stories. When started @ principal-prepared an entry plan. Talked about it @ interviews. Began, should have seeked the advice of mentors. Had a hard time. Gave ppl a lot of orders. Wasn’t thinking about how message was landing. Came across as passive-aggressive. Final “punch in the gut” was when he was driving to work, saw a landscaping car on fire.  Saw a man on fire & helped him. In the end, Efrain had a nervous breakdown. Took a leave of absence. Write names of everyone in life who had hurt him. Then wrote everyone who he had hurt. Realized the tragic events in the past were out of his control. Didn’t have to live life thinking about the past.  Went back to school & & decided to learn more about emotional intelligence. Decide to research how the best principals address E.I w/ themselves & others. He did dissertation on emotional well-being/intelligence of principals. He shadowed highly effective principals & how they addressed ppl based on needs.  In a period of 4 yrs went as a far as becoming principal of the year in IL.  Learn 5 stages of E.I. #1 self-awareness, #2: self-regulation #3: motivation #4: empathy #5: social skills & how to deal w/ difficult people.  Do it sincerely.

Talk about your work before you wanted to be in leadership? Started off wanting to be a writer. Was in love w/ the idea but didn’t have the discipline. Worked in univ. hospitals, secretary, office manager, hated those jobs. Learned from those office jobs how to treat ppl like professionals.  Began as a Spa. teacher-had learned to give big speeches from his teacher, was briefly bilingual coord, AP for 3 yrs and has been a principal for 8 in suburban Chicago.

When did you start podcasting and the evolution of it? Born out of the idea of what he’d learned shadowing 4 successful principals during doctorate. We often don’t see the real person behind the curtain. He asks ppl how they address impostor syndrome, who they learn from, etc. Adam Welcome was leading a zoom PD, told Efrain he should start a podcast. The podcast medium is the modern literary medium, graffiti, blog, etc. IT’s the best PD because he learns how they apply their wisdom.

What’s your definition of positive school improvement in your context? Is principal in 3rd school. His first 2 yrs of principalship were poor. Supt. called @ 2nd school- recruited him to new building. He learned he needed to consult mentors. In urban Chicago, principals have 98% authority over firing, hiring, sped, etc. He can do what he needs to do w/ budget. In suburban district. principals have 75% authority. Can’t control school improvement plan.  2nd school- was 8th principal in 12 yrs. In 3rd school-has investigated story of school, knows how things work. He addresses the 70% of control he has- what’s w/in his control. It’s about the daily behavior of bringing motivation to meeting. So far so good. You’ll always be in the process of continuous improvement. His successes as a principal 1st year gave him perception he’d be successful other places. In city vs. suburbs.

Better t’s are when we’re all working together. He’s observing blind spots. He wants to get to level of companionship.

How have some of the podcast guests inspired you in your work as a principal? he did a presentation at the Univ. he did doctorate yesterday, favorite quotes from podcast interviews. He’s continued learning thru the podcast. Person who has marked him for the rest of his life. 1 quote- embrace criticism. It’s an observation of something they see. Mike Lewisfeld. Another- equity-related: “since when did the truth become evil?”- we need to face the reality. Then we’re less likely to make the same mistake. #3- his sister- Picasso  “Learn the policy so you can break it”. There’s a policy you musn’t ignore. #4: “productivity is your relationship w/ time.” He learned to use a task manager- how to create what was needed for the day.

Out of everything? Life is a journey, we’re always interested in what ppl will think. You have to center your life on how many “F*’s you’ll give”. From the book “The art of not giving a F*ck”. I can decide if something’s going to bother me. Take control- you’ll get the results you want. Click To Tweet

Where can ppl find you online? website TwitterLinkedInYouTube

View my guest spot on the  Wisdom & Productivity podcast: https://www.youtube.com/live/5Rp2Ldy3fYs?si=ie7zzO1Log_HjaHV

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