The Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event that is telecast LIVE from Willow’s campus near Chicago every August to more than 600+ locations in North America. Throughout the fall, Summit events take place in an additional 128 countries—translated into 60 languages. This is the 23rd annual Global Leadership Summit being broadcast around the world to more than 400K people.

Marcus Lemonis is best known for being the star on CNBC’s show The Profit. During the course of this show, Marcus has invested $40 million of his own money helping small businesses. Additionally, he is the CEO of America’s #1 source for RVs and the largest organization of RV owners in the world.

Lemonis lends his expertise to other entrepreneurs using his evaluation system of three keys for business health and success: people, process, and product.

My notes on Marcus’s talk are below.

Marcus got especially vulnerable during his talk discussing difficult periods during his life. He unfolded how these early struggles made him the person he is today.

Most people expect me to come to these things and talk about how to make more money. I don’t really care much about money. My message is that things can be done the right way.

Understanding Yourself Better

The real message I have is how to understand yourself better. In order to effectively understand people, you need to know their backstory.

  • How to understand yourself better?
  • How to understand how to function?
  • You have to understand your backstory

Marcus is now 43 years old. Back in the summer of 1987, he was laying on a sidewalk at 11:30 at night, wearing a black garbage bag, this was his clothing. He was laying with head inches from cars on the highway. He was 13 years old at that time.

He had eating disorder growing up. He would eat and then throw up. He was an only child, adopted off the streets of Beruit. He was molested by a family member at a young age. He attempted suicide twice. When asked Why?  I don’t know, I guess I was unhappy.

Growing up I didn’t have a lot of friends, parents were older, his mother had had several miscarriages.  His own parents didn’t know about a lot of this story. He saw his mother as his mentor in life and business.

Reinventing Yourself

Marcus got up off that sidewalk and decided to reinvent himself. That’s what leadership is, reinventing yourself.

He went to Marquette for two reasons:

#1 Faith: -he was working on his faith journey and it is a Catholic school.

#2 Fresh Start: He wanted to go somewhere where no one knew him. He wanted to escape his past and have a new beginning. He wanted to be away from all those memories. What he learned was that all your problems follow you.

Socially Awkward

Marcus couldn’t relate to people his own age growing up. Marcus considers himself to be socially awkward. He is very uncomfortable in social settings to this day. He went thru college and really struggled.

He became a bartender, trying to learn how to be around other people. He made a lot of money but was still a loner.

In life, particularly in your faith journey, you have a moment where you really begin to understand yourself. During his college journey, he learned:

“What I wanted to do is put people together and help them solve problems.”


“The most important thing for me is being vulnerable and being transparent.”

  • Business is about vulnerability.
  • I believe life and business are about connections.
  • I believe your success relies on your ability to become vulnerable.
  • I believe when you can unlock someone’s heart and earn their trust you can navigate through anything together.
  • I want you to think about the things that happen to you in your life,
    • What have you been through?
  • My success and your success is all about your ability to be vulnerable.
  • I want the relationship to be built on trust.
  • Vulnerability is very difficult to unleash.

Leadership Stewardship

Is there anybody working for you that you wish wasn’t working with you?

My answer to this question is Yes. It is infuriating to me that I feel this way, not about you but about myself. We all should be ashamed that we think this way. As leaders, it is our responsibility to be stewards of our people.

I wake up every day realizing I don’t have a choice to like the people I work with. I must become vulnerable! I am trying to teach others to do the same thing.

I am a business owner and I am blessed with the opportunity to mold and develop others. As a leader, it is your responsibility to make your people successful.

What we often don’t know is other people’s stories.  The best leaders are color blind, race blind and maybe aptitude blind. Leaders are supposed to take bad experiences and turn this into something good. Marcus sees himself as an underdog who has sought ought to help others who were like him. He sees himself as an awkward person working to help other awkward people.

He asks people to trust the process when they are scared to death of losing everything they have built. Marcus does the show to help others who no one else will help.  Smal business owners risk everything for not a lot upside in most cases.

Leadership is about taking a chance on yourself first then moving beyond yourself.

Go give a fat kid who was molested and attempted suicide a chance even if you don’t know their story! Provide them leadership, even if it’s stern. Money’s important because you have to pay your bills. But if that’s your purpose, you will leave this world very unhappy.


Learn To Lead

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