The Other Side of Success

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The son of immigrants chases the California Dream in the world of real estate megadeals.

About the Book

Nearly thirty, broke, and with a newborn daughter in tow, Martin Sawa quits his dead-end job and vows to fulfill the aspirations of his Ukrainian parents. Thus begins a relentless pursuit of financial success in the high-stakes world of commercial real estate.

Navigating the skyscrapers of San Francisco and the gritty streets of Oakland, Sawa is on the verge of making it. But his world comes crashing down around him when he suffers a devastating personal loss, causing him to reevaluate the meaning of success.

In the years before and after the new millennium, Sawa takes the reader through a time of sweeping technological, social, and political change in California. While grappling with apex predators on nine-figure deals in San Francisco real estate, he rides the entrepreneurial roller coaster of prosperity and ruin. Scrambling between boardrooms and juke joints, between priests and psychics, he sets out to realize the deal of a lifetime.

The Other Side of Success is the unvarnished account of one man’s search for meaning as his professional life is constantly challenged by the impact of love, family, religion, and race. In this intimate memoir, Sawa strives to find home in the truest sense, while struggling with the unforeseen costs of making it.


‘The Other Side of Success’

“An often insightful look back on one man’s pursuit of the American dream…throughout his memoir, Sawa paints a vivid portrait of a diverse and vibrant California.”

“America’s melting pot melds cultures and characters before your eyes in this wild ride of real estate developer Martin Sawa’s life. This saga of sales, seances, and successes shows the magic of self-invention in America.  It’s a page-turner, and while clinging to the sides of the real estate roller-coaster, reveals core values of goodness that make it all worthwhile.”
Philip K. Howard, award-winning author, attorney and founder of Common Good

“You won’t read many memoirs like this one…a financially successful son of immigrant parents who crosses racial boundaries in search of love creating a fulfilling life.”
Cheryl Y. Judice, author, sociologist and researcher on race, class and gender

About the Author

Martin Sawa

Photo by Jeannie O’Connor

Martin Sawa is a commercial real estate entrepreneur with a diverse career as a broker, operator, and developer. He has negotiated numerous high-profile transactions in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.

Sawa received a BA from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Urban Planning from San Jose State University. He currently writes and helps others execute both business and life strategies.


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