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The following is a 100% true story published as an interlude amongst 40 lessons for CEOs in my recently released Amazon #1 Best Seller, When Not If: A CEO's Guide to Overcoming Adversity, Forbes Books.


Amidst my meltdown, my friends insisted I visit Joy Talley, a highly perceptive medium who lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Joy spent her life helping others find their paths, understand their possibilities, and create peace amidst the chaos of regular life. She recently left our world for her next adventure, and even though we knew her for a short period, and only spent time with her on a few occasions, Ashleigh and I regularly talk of how much we miss her.


I signed up for an appointment as “JM,” wore my post-meltdown uniform of jeans and black cashmere sweater and walked into the converted tiny home close to the ocean. I was startled by the glow, literally, around Jean, the seventy-something receptionist who greeted me with a friendliness I could actually feel.


Joy, all 4’11” of her, also seventy-something and vibrant, walked out of her office, held both my hands, and said, “You have lost all your great confidence. Come back here, sit down, and let’s talk.” A little startled, I sat in the chair, reminding myself to say very little and not to give her any clues with which to manipulate me. I scanned the room full of pictures of her family and portraits of Jesus. She lit a candle, sat quietly, looked beyond me, and then began to tell me the story of my last few years.


She refocused on me. “You forgot to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. You put your trust in the wrong people and now you are going to pay a dear price.” I struggled to not give her any clues or indications of her direct hits.


She continued, “You will lose everything, declare bankruptcy, and even spend time in jail.” I couldn’t help myself. I retorted, “There is no chance I will lose everything. I have always won, eventually! And I, definitely, could never be sent to jail!”


She replied, “I see a coffin on your left shoulder. Has someone in your close family recently passed?




“I’m sorry to tell you that someone soon will.” (My father a few months later was told he had stage IV lung cancer and died at the beginning of my trial.)


I sat quietly as she proceeded to narrate the last few years of my life with stunning accuracy, to include names and relevant dollar amounts, and then described my upcoming trials and confinements. With the few minutes left in my allotted appointment, I stopped her and asked, “You have to tell me how you’re doing this. Does someone or something tell you?”


She explained calmly, “I listen to Bartholomew. He has guided me my entire life.” She continued, “You have been going through difficult times, and you are going to go through much more difficult times, but if you keep your faith in God, you will, eventually, make it through this.”


She stood, walked over to me, hugged me, and held my hand as she led me out of her office. In the following months and years, I would have moments of clarity, and almost déjà vu, remembering how Joy had described these events long before.


Before receiving our Appeals Court order, I urged Ashleigh to see Joy for the first time for an update. Joy told Ashleigh I would reverse my case but for some reason not come home yet because “many bad people” behind the scenes were working against us. The accuracy of her insights gave me chills. She told Ashleigh a “public speaker” (her term for a politician) was interfering on behalf of wealthy previous clients to not let the conviction be reversed. Ironically, two separate attorneys would later report to me the same description.


She also seemed to warn Ashleigh by repeating, “You do know that Jeff walks in the out door, and he will never be able to work for someone else.” And, “You do know you are in love with him.” To the last statement, Ashleigh continued to hold her ground and responded, “Absolutely not!”


Years later, after I made my way down to FCI Beckley Minimum Security Camp in West Virginia, I became eligible for the CARES Act releases to home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, my name was never called, as I had concluded the rules never applied to me and I battled self-pity daily watching others get transferred home.


Ashleigh visited Joy one more time attempting to receive some insight we could leverage. Joy told her, “The same bad people are stopping him from being released.” Joy took her outside, asked her to pull up a picture of me on her phone, and laid it in on the sidewalk. Joy poured salt around the phone in a circle and remained quiet. She then stated, “Next Friday they will call Jeff’s name. He will be the second on the list.” The following Friday, the speaker blared “Martinovich #81091-083 report to counselor Johnson’s office.” I was the second name called.


Finally, when I was eventually released home, Ashleigh said we had to call Joy and let her know! Joy was aging and would soon pass at age ninety-one, February 18, 2022, onto her next adventure, but our call brought her almost as much joy as we were experiencing, ourselves.


Before I hung up, she said, “You will be moving soon, and your two children are going to thrive.” I reminded her that I only had one child, Cole. She corrected me, “No, you have two, the other one just hasn’t arrived, yet.”


I protested, “I’m 55 years old. I don’t think that’s going to happen!”


She provided her last words of wisdom. “Don’t worry. You’re going to do great!”

We soon, unexpectedly, moved to a beautiful new home in downtown Ghent, Norfolk, Virginia, and Ashleigh delivered my second child Carleigh, shortly thereafter, just as Joy prophesized. We later discovered Carleigh means “Free Man!”


We all miss Joy dearly.


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