A job interview was the turning point in the life of Carlos Martins, a member of the Church since he was 12 years old. He had just returned to Brazil from the United States, where he studied the major languages of the world at BYU, and established a language school.
The school, Wizard Languages, has 1,200 franchises and half a million students, earning him a national magazine's 2004 award as a "Top Entrepreneur."
After starting his first school, he was so in debt that he desperately needed to find other work to support his family, for the school brought in enough to cover only business expenses.
After telling his plans to his interviewer, who was the owner of the company, he was asked, "Do you think you can earn money? That you will become rich with these English classes?" The inspired response that he gave to his interviewer was what made the difference between having a job and living an ideal.
He said yes, he believed that he could become rich giving English classes. Because of this, he was turned down for the position, and he left the interview determined not only to make teaching English classes a successful business, but also to turn that business into a model for others to follow.
Carlos "Wizard" Martins was born in Campinas, Brazil, in 1956. One of seven children in a poor, but good family, where the father was a salesman, Carlos began working at age 10 with his mother and sister, selling children's clothing made by his mother in Curitiba, where they were living at the time.
His first contact with the English language was at age 12, through the missionaries after his baptism in 1969. From then on, this became his best subject in school. He developed a dream to go to America and, at the age of 17, left Brazil with $100 in his pocket to seek his fortune. He landed a job cleaning tables in a restaurant in Newark, N.J., and was surprised that "while the U.S. is the land of opportunity, many didn't take advantage of it."
After spending a year and a half in the United States, at age 19 he returned to Brazil to enter the mission field and soon left for Portugal. The years he spent as a missionary were years of learning unselfishness and service to others. There he learned the importance of the words of the Master recorded in Matthew 10:39, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
"Today I consider my mission experience as an emotional and spiritual foundation for all the challenges that I have since overcome," said Brother Martins, who has published his history in a book.
Brother Martins, at 22, married Vania Pimentel. Today, they are parents of six children and have three grandchildren.Two months after their marriage, he was called as bishop of his ward and nine months later they welcomed twin boys, all while working during the day and studying at night to complete his first year of college in Brazil. At 26, when most students complete their education, Brother Martins applied to BYU. He always remembered of the words of his mother: "All that you desire in life you will reach; dream high, think big." Such determination helped him to reach a level of self-sufficiency and better preparation to serve the Lord.
Even so, Brother Martins, after his first semester at BYU, was ready to give up, thinking that he wasn't prepared for the high level of academics.
His wife told him: "You didn't come to BYU for nothing. You came here to graduate; we aren't going home until you do."
He credits his time at BYU and teaching at the Missionary Training Center, mingling with teachers and students, for his successes in life. "I feel that my experience opened my vision of a global economy. I always have in mind the monument at the entrance to campus: 'Enter to learn, go forth to serve.' "
After graduating in computer science, he took a job with a paper company in Cincinnati, Ohio. A year later the company moved him back to Campinas, Brazil. It was here that he and his wife started teaching English in their small home at night. When they started earning more at night than from his day job, he quit the paper company and devoted full time to the English school. In 1987, when Brazil passed laws allowing companies to franchise, Brother Martins saw an opportunity and sold his first franchise, which immediately began to grow. And he continues to develop the business with a $3 million advertising budget and sponsorship of professional volleyball and soccer teams.
All of this has created a greater devotion to the Lord. He served as president of the Brazil Joao Pessoa Mission from 2001-2004, a blessing, he says, for besides the opportunity to serve the Lord, his children learned, in his absence, to manage the business. In an interview with a national magazine, in which he was listed as one of the 10 greatest enterprisers of 2004, he showed that Wizard is a business that has helped ease the unemployment crisis in Brazil, producing 15,000 jobs. "This is a great contribution to the country."
The franchise continues to promote local and regional community programs, such as a language school for 250 children and frequent distribution of school bags. The franchise is also the only one in Brazil to produce materials in Braille and sponsor Paralympic athletes, such as gold medalist Adria Rocha dos Santos.
"Every successful person carries within himself the feeling of fulfilling a mission, for any victory loses its value if we do not use it for greater ends," said Brother Martins. "Thus, everyone who desires to taste success will need to be in harmony with the Creator." Elder Ralph Walker contributed to this article
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