I would like to live my life as an open book with no skeletons in my closet. My feeling, if someone wants to know something about me, all they need to do is just ask. My being frank may hurt your feelings at times, but it’s only because I don’t want to beat around the bush and you’ll always know where I stand.
Some of you may have found this page after researching my name, “Jared Leisek” or “Jared Ray Leisek” and want to determine if I am worthy of your trust, your friendship, your time, and/or your business. Because we live in such a digital age and I have nothing to hide, I’d like to take a moment to share my story.
I’ll touch on my childhood, my marriage, my homeless experience, success, failures and yes, I will even defend and tell my story of the time I was investigated by the SEC over a decade ago.
The Beginnings – My story is not unique; broken home, many marriages and relationships for both parents, feeling like I was only important when the parents were between relationships. My childhood is something I would never wish upon anyone, yet so many others like me have lived it. I was tossed into the foster care system at the age of nine and have often looked at my girls, asking myself how anybody could have ever allowed such a thing to happen to their child.
My Grandparents finally stepped in and took me into their home. I feel as though this is the time in my life which I learned proper hygiene, how to cook, clean, iron, how to love and be loved. I can’t say I was always good for them, nor did I always stay out of trouble – but without them, I don’t think I would’ve had the fighting chance given to me. I thank and love my grandparents for the chance, the change, and the opportunities they provided me.
I will say this… Parenting does not come with a handbook and while you can’t change history, you can learn from your mistakes making a change for the future.
High School Drop Out and Homeless – I returned to live with my father later in life when he was between marriages. He soon married wife number four and once again I felt that we kids took a back seat. I bounced from friend’s house to friend’s house and finally dropped out of school.
My journey took me to Grenada in the Bahamas and other parts of America. I ran out of money and soon became homeless sleeping in parks, bushes and hotel stairwells. I have eaten in soup kitchens, wandered hotel halls looking for room service leftovers and yes, have even eaten out of garbage cans.
During this year and a half long journey I learned that I really didn’t know everything and as a result, I went back to school.
Married with Children – In high school, and for fun, I decided to put together a ten page “Application to date Jared Leisek”. I handed it out to about twenty girls who I was interested in, some who I was not, and some who I hoped had an interest in me. One of the girls was in my English class and I never thought I had a chance with her. However, she filled it out, returned it and she answered it almost perfectly. I found out she hated me and only filled it out as a joke, and it took another 3 months to get her to finally go on a date with me.
After dating for a year and a half, we graduated high school together and married that same summer. Here we are over 20 years later and I can’t think of a better person to have by my side as a wife and mother. She is my best friend and I enjoy our little outings each week as we have coffee and play games while waiting for our two beautiful girls who are very active in gymnastics, hip-hop, ballet, jazz and acro dance.
It is my goal in life to keep my family together, to keep my girls well grounded while at the same time giving them a life like no other. As a husband and father, I have a lot of responsibility and I am grateful that I have the good fortune of providing for them with my time and activities. Working out of the home office or taking the computer on the road has afforded me the opportunity to be around for them and with them as they have grown. They only get one shot at a good childhood, so WE better do it right.
Hobbies – Aside from scuba diving and disc golf, the one hobby I think about and talk about almost daily is powered paragliding. There is nothing quite like it as it gives you the ability of flight. In the header you will find a few of my favorite videos giving you a glimpse into the joy I have while aloft.
Stock Market – From 1998 to 2001 I was a day trader in the stock market, riding the wave and having a good time like thousands of others. If you reflect and think for a moment, the internet was still in its infancy and trading online had come into play not long before this date in time. There were message boards, chat rooms, news feeds and websites that we day traders would follow for stock announcements. Based upon these announcements, we would quickly buy and sell, hoping to be in early and out within minutes. I won some, I lost some.
It was the losing that didn’t sit well with me and I thought to myself as many of us did, “What if I knew which stocks these websites were going to profile ahead of time”. As such, I started doing research on SEC regulations and found that if I recommended stocks, I had to be licensed with the SEC. However, I found that if I simply profiled stocks, by not telling others to buy or sell, but simply profiling and reporting my research on what I deemed as a good, viable company, then I was within the written SEC code back in the day. As such, I chose to put together two websites, gain followers through message boards and began profiling my own stock picks.
Yes I bought stock in thinly traded companies, yes I told friends and family to buy stock, and yes, we often sold these stocks within minutes after profiling our stock picks on our websites to other day traders.
One day FedEx showed up at my door with papers from the SEC stating that I was being investigated. Come to find out, this letter was part of a nationwide crackdown on hundreds like me who were running similar websites in a space and time where there were no SEC rules specifically regulating our activities. Some were simply profiling as I was, while others were flat out making recommendations to buy and sell which was already written in stone and was illegal if not licensed.
In the end I was slapped on the hand, told not to profile stocks on such websites. No actual charges were ever filed, just an investigation that led me to better understand the newly formed laws and the new interpretation of existing SEC rules. Of course I immediately complied with the requests and I am free to trade stocks to this day. It was a defining moment in history as the SEC has written new laws, rules and regulations to help protect the new breed of online traders.
So, what do I make of the stock market days and what have I learned? I have learned that the big boys manipulate stocks on a daily basis. I feel bad for those who continue to place their hard earned money into the trust of brokers and companies which they have absolutely zero control over. Most stocks and trading is a game of corruption and greed, so be very careful if it’s something you want to invest in and be a part of.
Bankruptcy – The act of filing bankruptcy in 2002 made me feel like a failure. The end result however, changed my perspective and direction leading me to become a better person.
The stock market days were my first taste of money. I came from a poor background and I turned into what is often referred to as ‘New Money’. My head become big and I thought I was bigger than life itself. Losing it all really snaps you back to earth and puts into perspective what is really important. You learn real quickly who your true friends and family are and who will stick by your side through thick and thin.
While I didn’t enjoy going broke, it is by far the best lesson in life I have ever learned. It mellowed me, taught me to appreciate more, and treat all with respect regardless of their background.
Real Estate – After stocks and bankruptcy, I went to work as a roofer walking out the door before sunrise and returning after sunset. Life was not pleasant as I was missing out on time with my wife and children, exchanging my time for little pay. I read a book called “Rich Dad Poor Dad” which changed my thinking forever. I bought a set of apartments, split them into 3 parcels and sold them off separately. I purchased a few homes in shambles, fixed them up, rented them and later sold them for tidy profits. This provided me with a source of income in which I could work alongside my wife and be there for my children.
I attended a seminar to learn how I could better leverage and grow my real estate “empire”. It was halfway through the first of three days that the light bulb went on and I got a hair brain idea that I should build a subdivision. Mind you, I was not a contractor, never built a home, yet alone a subdivision. I headed to the library and read every book I could get my hands on to figure out the process of building and who I should align myself with. I kept asking the right people the right questions and after writing a 225 page business plan, I presented it to investors. Within two weeks my project of 232 homes was funded and off to a good start for infrastructure in late 2003.
In 2004 I sold my first home and took pride each day I was on the job-site. I remember the day I stood on top of the hill overlooking they subdivision project and counted the number of people working. Over one hundred workers were on site and that was the day I felt accomplished knowing that I was providing jobs and the ability for families to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
By August 2006 I had built 102 homes and sold the remaining lots at the peak of the real estate boom. Heck, I was set for retirement. The problem, I didn’t cash out soon enough. Still having money tied up and lent out helping others, I could see a downward spiral beginning as real estate was not selling as before. I had a sinking feeling it wasn’t coming back and in 2007 I put the skids on building our dream home, sold every piece of equipment and all the toys we had to keep food on the table.
Putting America Back to Work – Facing the thought of losing it all again, I knew I had to recreate myself outside of the downward spiraling real estate market. Knowing that many others were in the same predicament, my wheels started spinning. I kept asking myself how I could not only help myself, but how I could help hundreds if not thousands across America.
In 2008 I launched and later sold “GrapevineCommunities” an online company built around social networking to provide a safe, clean, local environment for citizens in communities throughout America to feature blogs, forums, news, online profiles, classifieds, videos, music, chat rooms and more.
I later co-founded and launched “RelyLocal” in 2009 (sold in 2016) to solve two common problems shared by all local businesses. Most are unable to afford cost-effective marketing, and most are unable to keep up with new marketing trends and technology. Built on the platform of a local’s only online business directory, RelyLocal offers great value to its customers through social networking, coupon marketing, co-op advertising, search engine marketing, in addition to being part of a grass-roots campaign to rebuild local communities by reconnecting local customers with their local businesses. Not only was RelyLocal creating hundreds of new jobs across the country, it was protecting thousands of existing jobs by campaigning for the importance of local businesses.
I now spend my days building Einstein Plumbing, which was once an old school plumbing shop. Tireless days/nights are spent working on bringing it into the technology revolution. Einstein Plumbing is aggressively expanding across Oregon and Washington, and we are all feeling good about providing a valuable service, with a menu of options to our clients, along with a culture built around family values, and paying a good living wage with benefits to our workers.
I sleep soundly knowing I am doing my part in providing opportunities for individuals and their families.
Being Remembered – I do hope that one day our paths will cross if they haven’t already. In being remembered I would like it if you spoke kindly of me. I want to be remembered as somebody who always was always ready to share a hug, a smile, a wink and was always kind to you and others.
In the end, I’m just like anybody else. I put my pants on one leg at a time; I will have bad days and may even raise my voice. Just give me a quick nap and I’m usually alright after that.
Whatever direction you take in life, I truly wish you a world of success in business and personal relationships. Take good care of your spouse, your children and the friendships worth keeping. Pay-it-forward and do your best to leave a good legacy for your family.
And that’s My Story…