I grew up in Yonkers NY, the son of a contractor who grew up in the Great Depression and was the son of Italian immigrants from Calabria. I visited Calabria in 2003, beautiful land, warm friendly family oriented people. I cant imagine the treck off that mountain onto a ship to Ellis Island.
I lived 3 blocks from the Sacred Heart school system, kindergarten through high school. Ate lunch in the same cafeteria for 12 years. Same women with hair nets, probably the same hair nets. The chicken cutlets on Thursday were my favorite. Lindens cookies for desert. The 3 pack they still sell today 50 years later.
Sophomore year was when things changed. Pot beer and dating entered my life. Pot, Budweiser, Boones Farm Apple wine, mesculine, thc and some vomiting.
I would say throwing up in church in midnight mass when I was sixteen is probably the biggest vomit episode I can recall. All over the pew. I cant imagine the smell of it the others had to deal with after I made a hasty exit.
It wasnt until I dropped out of college in my junior year that I tried coke. It took about a year for me to hit bottom on that but I had crossed the line from casual party to addiction. Next was free basing or smoking coke. Third time I did this I was a full blown addict. I so much admitted this to my self in the car coming back from Fordham Rd in the Bronx where I would get drugs. Incidentally this would be the closest I would come to an Ivy League school. That horror show lasted 5 years and changed me. Jay Servidio moved from Yonkers to New Canaan Ct. I had first visited New Canaan in 1985 on a sales call. The town struck me as a perfect town. A town all kids should grow up in.
I had choices growing up in Yonkers. My parents didn’t approve of the lot I fell into but I didn’t listen. New Canaan is called ‘ the next station to heaven’ , and for good reason. its rich like Greenwich without throwing it in your face. It has the third best K-12 in the whole country and it has Silver Hill.6 months after I moved here I entered the treatment facility at Silver Hill for the month of October 1990.
Jay Servidio was reborn. I entered an arrogant unteachable addict and left 31 days later an arrogant teachable addict with a plan of recovery. I had a sponsor, did a 90 and 90 which is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days, sat in the front row, raised my hand and asked for help, set up chairs, made new friends, drank a lot of coffee, went to a lot of movies, diners, bowling, sky dive, acted in a play, ate a lot of ice cream and on and on. Got my 90 day chip at the Saturday 1030 meeting. 6 month, 9 month first year. Wow, if I can do this anyone can do this. If you knew me before I entered rehab you would have bet everything you owned that I would not make it. That’s just who I was. Academically I didn’t do well in school. Why? Because I didn’t think I could. That voice in my head would say this is too difficult for you. You cant do it.
Didn’t play sports as a kid. Didn’t know how. I had an older brother who refused to spend a minute with me to teach me how to play and my dad was busy working. I can understand my Dad but why would your older brother not want to spend time with you? 13 years age difference and 11 for my sister. Yup you guessed it, I was not planned. Still though, our true character comes up when we interact with kids. In this case its clear that my brother Robert Servidio of Citibank is just a self-absorbed selfish, self-centered asshole who left his wife for a younger girl and cheats on her every time it pleases him. A man who when his wife was home nursing his newborn son Nicky he took an old girlfriend to a wedding in Toronto and stayed at another hotel away from the rest of the family so he could get laid and not get caught. Sore subject? Yes. Would I push my 67 year older brother down a flight of stairs if I had the chance? Absolutely, but only if I could set him on fire first. Just kidding, he wouldn’t need to be on fire.
Anyway, the point is the voice in my head would tell me you can’t do this and can’t do that, don’t even try. This voice is a character defect known as low self-esteem.
It wasn’t until my stay at Silver Hill that I understood I that. I learned about character defects. I wasn’t able to do anything about it as a kid because I didn’t know what the problem was or how to deal with it.
Junior year of HS I am in the park having with friends, Lennon Park Lake Avenue to be exact. Some of them were getting into a car to leave and I asked to come. They were going to a karate school to check it out. I was weak, couldn’t play sports and had no physical background and I got in the car. There are times to not get in the car with friends like C in the Bronx Tail and then there are times when you should absolutely get in the car, like now. The school was in Scarsdale in Central Ave. A Japanese instructor ran the class of about 30 and no one moved unless he told them to. It was an incredible experience just watching this. I joined immediately. I could see in the class white belts, blue, yellow green and the very tough looking brown belts. Seeing them there standing next to one another showed me that if I joined and kept going to class that I would eventually become tough, physical, and strong. It was visual seeing how they move up in rank and become stronger and it was clear that me Jay Servidio could do the same.
Jay Servidio started classes right away. I suck. I don’t know how to punch and kick. The classes are 2 hours long. I sweat profusely and find it difficult, very difficult. We fight in almost every class. I probably should mention that I use to get bullied a lot a as a kid. The other kids in that I hung up with were for the most part uneducated guys who drank and used drugs daily and saw me as an easy target. That would now change. I started training once a week then twice. There were classes at noon and 630pm daily. I started to do 2 classes a day. I had a real hunger to get myself to a place where I could become a fighter. My teacher
was a legend and one of the first teachers to come here from Japan. He lived in the dojo and cooked his meals on a hot plate. I hung out in a park drinking and getting high. This man had a lot to offer me as a model for what I could become. He treated me like family and showed me that I could do what he did, become what he was. Just as I was starting to get to a comfortable place with karate drugs took over and karate stopped. Started training at 16 and stopped at 25. Usually when a student makes it to brown belt black belt is a year maybe two away. For me it was 15 years away.
In 1990 when I was entering rehab a close friend of mine was entering the 900 pay per call business. He paid very close attention and the business and did very well. He kept inviting me into the business. At first Jay Servidio said no with the Catholic upbringing I felt it was on to use the service but not ok to sell it. That changed in 1994. After bouncing around from job to job I wanted out of corporate life. It was clear to me that I was not going to reach the higher ranks and get the major money so I started my own company. Going to clubs in NYC in the late 70’s and early 80’s was an intense experience. The most intense was Danceteria. I started my company Teleteria September 1994. I ran it from my one bedroom rented condo in New Canaan using a P O Box in Rye NY. Why Rye? Because a year earlier in 1993 I met and dated what would become the deepest love of my life Carol and she was from Rye. After a year of dating and having her drive me crazy I mistakenly ended it. I thought that I might bump into her on one of my trips down to the post office. Crazy huh? We got married in 2003.
The company was about 6 months old when a client called me and said he needed a billing company for his web site to collect credit card payments.
I found a company in Florida called Logicom which later became Ibill. The movie Middle Men is based on this company. The film was a total fabrication. They did not create their own content and there were no Russian gangsters. I was there when it started. I immediately took a site that I had made to advertise our 900 numbers and turned it into a membership site. Membership was ten dollars a month and twenty five for lifetime. They were smart and had vision and they printed money. The president of the company and got became fast friends. We built and hosted the sites and they did the billing. A perfect synergistic relationship.
I stayed up till 2am every night getting my site linked anywhere I could. Traffic came. First ten, twenty dollars a day, then 100 a day. It was so exciting. Then 2,3,4,500 a day. I thought I had discovered electricity. It was huge. First year 75,000.00. Second year 225,000.00. Third year 450,000.00 with just 3 sites. Who would have thought me Jay Servidio could accomplish this. Theres that voice again. Shhh, I am working here.
Now, at 2014 the company is 20 years old. I am a third degree black belt with my own school. I have won 3 championships in full contact knockdown karate tournaments. 4 kids and 5 dogs. I still go to meetings and do volunteer work. I started volunteering after I had one year of sobriety in 1991. I love it and it makes me feel better about me.
My American Dream unfolded for me. It wasn’t planned. The opportunity to get sober came and everything else came as a result of that. When I stepped into the light and out of the shadows things kept getting better.