Some of you know this already. Others of you do not. Except for friends and family and close colleagues, I’ve stayed silent.


A few weeks ago, I was invited on John Maxwell’s Live2Lead stage to speak. The night before the event, John invited me to dinner and we had a good long chat about what was going on in my life. And of course, because it’s John, we talked a lot about what it means to lead. Authentically lead. I didn’t sleep a wink that night thinking about how I have stood on so many stages for the last six months hoping to ‘lead and inspire’ all of you, while my head and heart were somewhere else.

Earlier this year, my son, my daughter, and I were unwittingly caught up in the college admissions scandal.  Despite the media asking me to make a statement or come on their shows, I’ve said nothing in public. First and foremost, to protect my children – they are victims in this and their experience belongs to them.

But I was silent also because I could think of nothing positive to come out of this mess. For the first time in my life, I was really stopped in my tracks. Stunned. At a loss for anything I could pull out of this fire.

The day of the Live2Lead speech, I stood in the green room watching Rachel Hollis on screen. She didn’t have a speech ready. Her brother-in-law had just passed and she didn’t feel prepared. So, she just spoke beautifully from her heart. I couldn’t walk on stage after that dinner with John and after watching Rachel be real and raw, and pull out my perfectly curated speech. It felt disrespectful to John, and to the audience he loves so much.

So, I didn’t. I started to, and then stopped half-way through. Without dwelling on my kids’ experience, I attempted to describe the one positive insight that, after six months of confusion, kept resurfacing. I have clung to it, grateful for its uplift. None of us will ever be perfect parents, but this insight reminded me that I can always do better. I hope it might do the same for you.

It was funny, when I arrived home I thought of you all. The audience I care for so deeply and feel so fortunate to have. Some of you right here with me for twenty years since First Break All the Rules. How lucky I am to have you. It felt strange to me that the Live2Lead audience knew something you didn’t, so I thought the respectful thing to do would be to share with you the clip of the speech that John sent to me.

I hope you take a few minutes to watch. And I’d love so much to hear from you.



  1. Christal Brown November 20, 2019 at 5:41 AM - Reply

    I am so glad you shared this… Space making as parents is crucial! It is also crucial as leaders… we sometimes “save” those we lead to “help ” them but this is not what we need to do. We need to love, trust and have faith.

  2. Brandie November 20, 2019 at 5:43 AM - Reply

    Very moving. This brought me to tears. I’m currently struggling with the loss of my mother, my best friend. I agonize about conversations we didn’t get to have because it happened so fast. But, what your speech did for me was allow me to step out of the sorrow and see all “the space” my mom created for me growing up. She allowed me to be me and she is the reason I am who I am. Thank you!

  3. David Dasch November 20, 2019 at 5:44 AM - Reply

    Very powerful and enlightening. Thank you for the message Marcus.

  4. vanessa November 20, 2019 at 5:54 AM - Reply

    It is striking, truly, how speaking from the heart, with heart, is so recognizeable and unforgettable. I am sorry for the trauma of this event around your children. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Patti Mirallegro November 20, 2019 at 6:03 AM - Reply

    Marcus, such a powerful message, right from the heart, authentic, emotional and sharing… blessed you shared this clip so we too can experience your powerful off-script message. I met you in person during HR Tech conference, been a follower of yours for years and will continue. Amen and thank you for your heartfelt message!

  6. Heather November 20, 2019 at 6:04 AM - Reply

    Your courage, vulnerability and honesty is so inspiring. You’ve empowered those who follow you and watch this to step into that power and show up as themselves, which creates connection, and that is everything. Plus…now every time I’m faced with something hard I’ll hear “That’ll be lovely, poppet” in my head and it will give me the resolve to move forward. Thank you, Marcus, for this gift.

  7. Wayne Miller November 20, 2019 at 6:16 AM - Reply

    My goodness, what bravery to face this part of your life head on! You could easily have blamed her for your pain. Thank you for sharing, because we all have moments when we feel lost. Maybe not as publicly as you did, but we all need help finding our way out of the forest (love that comparison).

  8. Jenefer Machovina November 20, 2019 at 6:18 AM - Reply

    WOW. Thank you for doing this…sharing your real, authentic, vulnerable self for us. It truly is a gift. I am stopped in my tracks. And, you just fond your next chapter…helping us to see how we can be more authentic and effective leaders for our children. Well, well done.

  9. Kimberley Bracken November 20, 2019 at 6:20 AM - Reply

    Marcus, WOW, sharing this took great courage and vulnerability! I am writing to let you know your story impacted me in so many ways. My son is currently going through some learning challenges and hearing your story helps me to give my son the space he needs to grow and learn the way he needs to and not the way we think or have been taught. My heart goes out to your kids as they process this and to you as I know I would do anything to protect my kids from getting hurt. I have been following you for about 5 years now and I always take something from everything you share, thank you for that gift!

  10. Christine November 20, 2019 at 6:24 AM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing – raw and emotional. What I enjoyed most was how you connected your story to something everyone with children can learn from….to create and embrace space with our children | loved ones. It can be so easy to want to jump in and try and pave a path but ultimately the journey is theirs and not ours and they have their own strengths and uniqueness that will enable them to build their own stories – not ones we created for them.

  11. Karina Edwards November 20, 2019 at 6:39 AM - Reply


    THANK YOU for your honesty, integrity and transparency. For speaking from the heart. This is probably the most difficult speech you have every had to make. I am SO struck by the concept of giving our children and those we care about LOVE and SPACE. As a parent, it is so easy to go into rescue mode…. or even pre-emptive rescue mode, but I have learnt by doing that we really do disempower the people we care about. To empower is to coach, to encourage others to find creative solutions themselves. To hold your breadth, offering love and space, no matter the outcome. It is our gift to give. I wish your family strength and courage in the months ahead.

    PS : PLEASE can I meet Jo? 🙂

  12. Julian Gordon November 20, 2019 at 6:40 AM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Marcus!

  13. Cat Dowing November 20, 2019 at 6:44 AM - Reply

    I heard you that day. It was raw and so genuinely authentic. I was able to rewatch the event recently and I teared up just as much as I did the first time as you talked about that heartbreaking moment. While I thoroughly enjoyed the entire talk, my favorite part was at the end when you said “how do I forgive someone who hasn’t apologized?” and John’s response is “forgiveness is for you.” Praying that you’ve had the ability to forgive and that you’re children have been able to do that too. It’s so critical to the healing process.

  14. Kim Svoboda November 20, 2019 at 6:47 AM - Reply

    Whoa. Thank you for sharing that incredibly personal and authentic moment. What an incredible lesson you have pulled from this situation and have shared with us. The concept of space making surrounded by walls of love. That has made an indelible impact on me. I’ll carry it with me for my children, those I love, and those I serve.
    Wishing you and your family grace. What does your desired outcome from this situation look like? Could this crucible be the catalyst that brings your relationships even closer with one another?
    Sending you all love and thoughts of healing-Xx

  15. Caroline Ann Dey November 20, 2019 at 6:56 AM - Reply

    There are no words. Thank you for your courage to share this with us.

  16. Susan Fort November 20, 2019 at 6:57 AM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing so honestly and authentically. Your talk was meaningful to me on several levels and I will take your advice to heart, particularly on seeing and making space for my son and also on working to forgive. Thank you again.

  17. Martina November 20, 2019 at 7:05 AM - Reply

    Marcus, this is the most powerful speech on leadership and on parenting I have ever seen! You are such an inspiration! I cannot imagine what you and your children have been through but I think it was incredibly brave of you to share your experience and your emotions like that. Thank you for that. Wish you all the best!

  18. Marnie Ewing November 20, 2019 at 7:10 AM - Reply

    Hi Marcus, thank you for sharing this clip. Your message brought me to tears. It may be one of the hardest things to do, but I agree with you, we need to see people and accept them for who they are. My boyfriend’s son is a challenge. He’s 23 and struggles with managing his life. There are times when I wish the situation were different for both of them. I know that he has positive points and strengths of his own and I will look for those things when I feel those moments of frustration. Thank you for sharing your message, it was a beautiful talk. Best, Marnie

  19. Chuck Tate November 20, 2019 at 7:15 AM - Reply

    Holy Moses! That was a great message and lesson on how to find the good in a horrible ordeal. I hope you and your family rise above this.

  20. Sheila Roe November 20, 2019 at 7:26 AM - Reply

    So brave of you to share your pain with us. I wish peace for you and your children on this journey.

  21. Elizabeth Branner November 20, 2019 at 7:34 AM - Reply

    Marcus, I am so sorry you and your family have experienced this pain and upheaval. Thank you for your bravery and vulnerability in sharing it with those of us who follow you and believe in your work. I hope our support and caring can form a small, light-filled thread for you to hold and carry with you on this difficult journey for you and your children. Wishing healing and peace to you all.

  22. Jason November 20, 2019 at 7:48 AM - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your raw experience. I’m still processing, but so many elements there resonated deeply. Thank you.

  23. Mini Jacques November 20, 2019 at 7:50 AM - Reply

    From here in Canada know that many like myself find your words uplifting – brave – soul mending and most of filled with love for not only your children but for those struggling. Struggling to come to terms with where life has brought us. Not on the path we chose, but where we find life has brought us. You advise to allow space and welcome the unknown is a gift. Thank you.,,,

  24. Carlos Martinez November 20, 2019 at 7:52 AM - Reply

    First of all, this speaks to me, loudly. Having a child with learning disabilities, though not the same as what you experienced, I struggle every day with truly creating a space for my daughter that allows her, within the confines of who she is, to grow and bounce around while focusing on being there in a loving way. I struggle because I would hate to see her suffer. Though not intentional, we have in many occasions prevented her from learning and perhaps prevented her from finding that which she is designed to do. I am sorry that you, the mother of your kids, and you kids have to go through this and pray that you all may be strengthen and made better because of it. Thank you for you passion to help us see what is amazing about each of us and for using your gifts to the betterment of us humans.

  25. KEN D DONNELLY November 20, 2019 at 7:57 AM - Reply


    What I just viewed was an adult man being incredibly vulnerable and pouring out himself. I am certain that this was a blessing to the attendees and especially for you. It was as if this was the reading of the scripture commentary. Except you are the age you are (and not 13). I hope that this “reveal” turns out to be cathartic.

    John Maxwell is right. don’t worry that people won’t forgive. We most certainly will. Because in some way or another we all can relate to the place you find yourself. Instead, concentrate on forgiving yourself. I suspect this talk has put you on the proper road to do so.

    P.S. I saw you speak on October 27 in San Diego. I was very inspired. Now, I am even more impressed; knowing that October 23 had just happened.

    Be well. Continue to inspire us. Please. We need you.

  26. Marja Koivisto November 20, 2019 at 8:04 AM - Reply

    Huge respect for your honesty and openness. A true leader leading with heart. Thank you.

  27. Cimberli A Kearns November 20, 2019 at 8:05 AM - Reply

    What has drawn me to the college fraud story is not why parents were willing to cheat. The wealthy have been donating to colleges to get their children through the ivory gates for a long time. And wealth gives kids advantages others don’t have anyway. It’s not a fair system. But, really, why I click a “College Fraud” link in my news feed is not for insights into the why, it’s to see how the families survive something so devastating. What happens on the other side? Do they learn? Can they become stronger? Because I’ve been a follower of your work for two decades, and because of the nature of your work, I was certain that you would have a deep lesson worth sharing. Although I understand why you would choose to stay quiet, I am grateful that you’ve allowed yourself to be vulnerable. Your words are authentic and powerful.

  28. Michelle November 20, 2019 at 8:07 AM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your very personal perspective. I wish the best for you and your family in dealing with this challenging time.

  29. Cindy November 20, 2019 at 8:40 AM - Reply

    What you have just modeled in your speech is what you’ve speaking about for years – be vulnerable, be authentic. I admire your courage to share what your family is experiencing. As leaders and parents we need to create space and stop trying to rescue, fix, solve and save our children and our direct reports. We’re human beings and we operate without a user’s manual and we have many strengths that go unleashed. I get annoyed when someone says, “that person has so much potential” because potential doesn’t happen unless you create space for it to happen. Trust in yourself now Marcus, you have it within you to accept what has happened and find a path forward. Thank you for being you my friend, as heavy as you feel right now, your strengths will shine a light on what’s possible now for you and your family.

  30. Rachele November 20, 2019 at 9:43 AM - Reply

    This was real and raw. Your courage to go off script was brave and I want you to know that I too am in midst of most difficult circumstance and trauma threatening to rip apart the fabric and core of my family.

    My kids have been hurt deeply by my soon to be ex-husband and the message of forgiveness that John Maxwell gave you is an encouragement to me.

    One thing remains constant is love for our children and hope that tomorrow can and will be better. Thank you for reminder to create space.

    I heard you speak almost 20 years ago at a Learning and Leadership conference in Bloomington, IL – that launched my passion as a strengths performance coach and partnership with Gallup and use of the amazing resources you have created to help individuals and teams discover and embrace our God given talents and develop and deploy our strengths.

    God bless you and continue to believe, discover and seek the best in others.

  31. David Tresch November 20, 2019 at 9:45 AM - Reply

    Almost twenty years ago while traveling through an airport, I picked up a book that forever transformed the way I lead. I had been successful in professional sports medicine but had always been a “do it like me” leader. That book and all of you subsequent books, articles, videos since then have transformed my leading into a “no, do it like you” leader. Seeing this message just wraps it all up in a nice wrapper with a big bow. We all live, learn and love. Thank you for inspiring me to leade against the norm. Your vulnerability and integrity through difficult times just furthers your credibility! Thank you Marcus! I would love to just chat and pick your brain sometime.

  32. Andi Dickens November 20, 2019 at 9:48 AM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this moving speech. As a parent I struggle with this balance every day and of course sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong. You provided me with some fabulous images that will make it easier to make the right choices more often going forward. There are so very many of us in this world who are grateful for the message you have brought to us, to imagine that your Mum picking up the phone could have prevented that message from seeing the light of day is very sobering. Thank you for inspiring me to continue to do the good but hard work of truly seeing my kids, and helping them bring their strengths to the world just as I attempt to bring mine. There is joy in this journey but only if we travel with love and truth.

  33. Heather November 20, 2019 at 9:56 AM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these moving words Marcus. I wish you and your family strength and peace during this time.

  34. Dale Cobb November 20, 2019 at 10:03 AM - Reply

    Thank you for the crazy number of contributions and insights you’ve added to my life over the last 10 years. You’ve delivered so many wonderful talks and made so many life changing presentations… This one was so raw and vulnerable… and maybe your most powerful!

  35. Sherry November 20, 2019 at 10:08 AM - Reply

    Raw, from your heart, to mine. Tragedy comes in many forms and your CHOICE to share your heartbreak and the profound love you have for your children will help others in countless ways. As someone whose son was in a car accident that left him in a coma for the last 16 years, and we care for him at home, I chose not to let tragedy define me. Instead I share my story with others to help them walk through their own tragedies. John gave you some amazing words when he said forgiveness is for you. I’ll follow that with…it’s not easy. I had to forgive hundreds of times before I finally felt the peace of forgiveness. I pray that what you learn will inspire you to do what you do best, help others. Marcus, you touch more lives than you know and I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  36. Amy November 20, 2019 at 10:25 AM - Reply

    Marcus, so powerful, as always. Thank you for sharing your story and message. I love your words on space making and resisting the urge to reach in and fix things as parents. Truly seeing your child….those words will resonate with me for years.

  37. Hazel November 20, 2019 at 10:27 AM - Reply

    Wow Marcus, this is what Brene Brown talks about when she says vulnerability frees us. Thank you and Godspeed my brother, you have elevated your work in helping us all live and walk in the power of truth.

  38. Sabrina November 20, 2019 at 10:36 AM - Reply

    Always giving great advise and insights even when they come from a terrible personal experience. I agree 100% with what you’ve shared and I will definitely practice it more in my everyday life. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability as a man and as a father. Your kids will be more than ok having you by their side!

  39. Beth November 20, 2019 at 10:40 AM - Reply

    Marcus – thank you for the courage to show up and be vulnerable. Life – real life – is messy and sometimes contains times of feeling at a loss of what to do ‘lost in the forest’. I believe it is an unwillingness (aka fear) to be uncomfortable that we use to enable us to jump in and rob another of a growth opportunity. You said it so very well – directly from the fountain of truth: our role is to make a space, bounded by love and support those for whom we are responsible. Whatever happens next, you have been given what you need to move forward. It is within you. Lean on your family, friends and colleagues while you walk hand in hand with your children into whatever may come. Love is powerful armour.

  40. Jeri Oswalt November 20, 2019 at 11:41 AM - Reply

    I don’t have children. Not by choice but, I don’t have children. I watch my friends with their college age kids. I watch the way we try to “help” our colleagues and employees. There was so much to think about in this speech in the way you brought forward what you have been able to pull from this horrible situation. I was so lucky, even when I didn’t think so, that my parents believed that teaching us to be independent was their primary job. There were other lessons. “Be Kind.” ” Someone has to step up and lead, might as well be you” But, the big theme was always about independence. Now I am thinking hard about in our super connected world, how to we provide space to our people while still being supportive. The balance of courage and compassion comes to mind. I will be thinking about this for a while. Thank you.

    • Amanda McLean November 20, 2019 at 7:37 PM - Reply

      Authentic. Vulnerable. Real. Truth into darkness. Marcus, you are always authentic when you speak. This was different. It was the stuff of which Brené Brown speaks – courage, vulnerability – lived out. And in so doing, you allowed us a glimpse into your self. Thank you for respecting us that much. And thank you for trusting us with your experience. We are grateful.

  41. Molly Cacciotti November 20, 2019 at 12:03 PM - Reply

    Marcus, I just listened to your presentation and am sharing it with our companies management team as it is applicable to many facets of our lives including as a leader.
    You are truly humble and opened yourself and your family up to relay this very impactful message. I am so sorry for you and your family and know that you will be strengthened as you go through this.

  42. Libby Nicholson November 20, 2019 at 12:05 PM - Reply

    I am one of those people who has been following you and your strengths work for 20 years. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing this. As the parent of girls who are 17 and 19, you provided GREAT reminders of my role to be a space-maker for them. Many parents see their kids’ achievements as their own. It is so important to remember to help them become their own best selves. We are just guides on this journey. Thank you for sharing your heart. Sending you and your kids hugs as you navigate this challenging time.

  43. Kevin Schmidt November 20, 2019 at 12:55 PM - Reply

    Much love Marcus, here in the forest with you.

  44. Dayna November 20, 2019 at 2:08 PM - Reply

    WOW. I have so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind listening to this, and yes am in tears. First off, thank you for feeling safe and comfortable enough to share this with us. Secondly, it is very much or at least it feels very much like a race with other parents and there is so much pressure for children at this time to be so grown up or accomplished in something at such a young age, you almost feel like you are behind all the time. I also feel that if a child doesn’t “perform” or “fit” what standards are a blame is put on the parents or the child is looked down upon. I try so much to have my child learn, even if that means she has to learn the hard way, which is not easy and isn’t always looked at as I do. Thank you also for reminding and confirming for me that giving space, not taking control of the joystick (so to speak) is really giving my child space, a choice, a learning experience, and ultimately growth.

  45. Liz Blake November 20, 2019 at 2:43 PM - Reply

    This was awesome, so much in what you said. And still so much more I would like to hear. Your ‘pacman’ analogy was spot on; the complexity of compulsion for parents to orchestrate their children’s fulfillment of ‘pacman’ expectations should drive us to deep compassion and anger. It starts with verbalising, and nothing more rending than a personal experience that shatters across a person’s deepest values – thank you.

    I was an early reader of your book “First, Break the Rules” – I studied and studied this and the “Next” one, put them to work, spread the word ardently; it was such ground breaking stuff of distinctions. You do a remarkable work, thank you.

  46. Stephanie Polen November 20, 2019 at 3:47 PM - Reply

    Thank you for modeling what you speak about. Your transparency and vulnerability in this matter makes those you serve admire and love you even more!

  47. Diana Caulkins November 20, 2019 at 4:03 PM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing, Marcus. Respect your courage, vulnerability and desire to process your pain by giving something of value to others out of it. As the Aunt of 7, 18-26 year olds – what a poignant reminder to contribute good to their lives by seeing them for who they are. Peace to you and your family.

  48. Nathanael November 20, 2019 at 4:22 PM - Reply

    Great stuff – “space-making” is such a powerful descriptor of what your life’s work has enabled me to experience.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  49. Karen Martin November 20, 2019 at 4:50 PM - Reply

    I am so glad you shared this. I am in awe – you did the right thing so rightly.

    You alsoshowed me how awful it is for the children. When this scandal came to light, I was just angry. I saw Felicity’s daughter on social media and thought she was such a spoiled brat. I had no sympathy. Now I think that was her reaction to something that made her feel awful. She acted like the complete loser she must have felt she was.

    In this video, you gave your son and daughter validation in so many ways. They will be unwrapping that gift from you for years.

    And none of this surprised me. You are truly honest. That comes through in everything you do.

    Your children, you, and Jane are in my prayers.

  50. Jeff Rogers November 20, 2019 at 5:20 PM - Reply

    Thank you Marcus for sharing this story. The courage to share this and then be able to provide your story on how we as parents can and should make space for our children to have choices and learn. I am definitely going to be sharing this within our organization.

  51. Kerry November 20, 2019 at 7:05 PM - Reply

    You gave yourself space and this marvellous piece of insight erupted out.
    It was profound, moving & inspiring because you were passionate, authentic and unscripted. Thank you!

  52. Guyla November 20, 2019 at 7:11 PM - Reply

    I just know we all receive, learn, and grow when those in front of us are honest, courageous, and deeply vulnerable. You have blessed us all and you are truly in our prayers as you go forward in this messy thing we call life in a broken world. Thank you so much.

  53. Jamie November 20, 2019 at 8:04 PM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Praying for you and your family

  54. Jill Dumaresq November 20, 2019 at 8:32 PM - Reply

    Marcus I am so sorry that you and your children have had to experience this. But I think you have come around the corner into the growth and learning and insight that is the best we can hope for when we go through bad stuff. I am one of those “since First Break All the Rules” folks and you continue to inspire me. Thank you.

  55. Kerry Lee November 20, 2019 at 9:06 PM - Reply

    Thank you Marcus for being prepared to be vulnerable and for sharing very personal stories and feelings publicly. In so doing, you have also created a space for other leaders to step into.

    Thank you too for reminding so many that it’s OK to fail- that’s where the growth is, it’s Ok to be less academically successful- you can still be successful using your talents, it’s OK to be vulnerable- that’s where your inner peace and clarity comes from. It’s OK to be human- it’s through authenticity that true connection is forged.

  56. Janna November 20, 2019 at 10:01 PM - Reply

    Wow! I love your honesty and authenticity. Thank you for sharing your story, and your plea to make space. You are an inspiration.

  57. Lena Peller November 21, 2019 at 4:07 AM - Reply

    Such an important message and straight from the heart. Thanks for being so human, so real. I felt I could sense your rawness, your shock and disbelief and your disappointment. And such a powerful display of resilience, Marcus, to turn this hard experience into a lesson to learn and to contemplate, for you and for us. I am so learning so much from you and your and Ashley’s work professionally. Where it makes the most impact for me, however, is in parenting. Helping my children find their strengths, the activities that they love, sharing reactions, not feedback. Thinking momentum not potential. Asking curiosity questions, not telling. I told you at the coaching summit 2018 that I think this work needs to be shared as widely as possible with parents and educators around the world. After listening to you here, I now believe this more than ever.

  58. Mark November 21, 2019 at 7:13 AM - Reply


    I can’t thank you enough for how much learning I have received from you over many years. Your message here is possibly one of the most useful although I am so very sorry for what you all have been through. Your courage, passion, insights and authenticity are highly valued. Sending hugs!

  59. Janeen November 21, 2019 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    Wow. This is so brave, honest and human. Appreciate you sharing this glimpse into your experience and sharing this powerful talk. Your talks are always inspiring but this is next level. Thank you.

  60. Carolyn J McDonald November 21, 2019 at 12:12 PM - Reply

    Bravo Marcus – As a parent of an only child who is now a senior in high school, we’re navigating the whole college application process. The point about “seeing” your child and making space really hit home. You’ve inspired me to create space for my child and accept and be proud of whatever they succeed to and trust that this will be what is right for their abilities and unique capabilities. Thank you.

  61. Eric F November 21, 2019 at 12:21 PM - Reply

    Marcus – one of my co-workers attended the live stream of Live2Lead and shared with me how powerful your message was. Thank you for your courage to share, not only that day but through this channel as well. I was in the room to hear you at the GLSnext event in Chicago recently. I’m one of those that’s been around since “First, Break All The Rules”, it changed me as a manager, and it’s a course I’ve been on ever since. It was such a thrill to finally have the opportunity to experience you in person. We have two daughters in college and I can certainly empathize with your current difficulties. Continued prayers for understanding and healing! I give a quarterly address to the teams that I oversee within our company and closed this particular message incorporating things from “Nine Lies About Work”. Your quote, the power of human nature is that each human’s nature is unique, really moved the group, and helped remind them that it takes the best in all of us to succeed as a team. Thank you for your message and your continued good works.

  62. Renee Jones November 21, 2019 at 1:58 PM - Reply

    I have a six-year-old with a severe speech disorder. Can’t tell you what this speech means to me as a mom. Thank you!

  63. Kathryn November 21, 2019 at 3:36 PM - Reply

    Your honesty and courage are profound. Thank you for sharing a searing experience with grace and for giving us all permission to “make space”. For our children, yes, and others in our lives as well.

  64. Kelley Adams November 21, 2019 at 7:41 PM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this insight, especially from such a difficult place. We at ADP are so lucky to share space with you.

  65. Madalina Cecan November 21, 2019 at 11:17 PM - Reply

    I’m moved to tears. Yes, parents life is difficult. All you said is true and profound. Thank you!

  66. Ed Onwe November 22, 2019 at 2:30 AM - Reply


    Thank you for the finding the courage to share this with us. We are all unique in our make up. Our duty as leaders is to make space for the uniqueness of everyone we encounter. In doing this, we will truly harness the power of our differences, and in time destroy the magnifying glass of bias through which we see each other. By the way, I Had a similar experience with stammering. It has also mysteriously vanished from my life.

  67. Miwa Nakasato November 22, 2019 at 3:30 AM - Reply

    I support you whenever and wherever you are. I know your feelings. Let’s walk toward each other.

  68. Lisa Fitzgerald November 22, 2019 at 9:29 AM - Reply

    Wow, Marcus. Thank you for being so vulnerable. This is a message I needed to hear today as we prepare to send a child off to college. I have been struggling to name how I feel and to determine how to navigate this journey with my child. Love is space making. See the child! Thank you!!

  69. Nikki Antone November 22, 2019 at 9:33 AM - Reply

    I’ve followed you for almost 20 years and I’ve built 2 careers based on your philosophies. Because of you I’ve touched thousands of lives…and for you to show this vulnerability and honesty…well…I’m inspired even more! To know that crap happens to all of us and to see real hurt in your eyes…well my friend…you’re rising above the ashes and making your brand even stronger. Bravo…I applaud you and I am proud to continue your mission with honor and thankfulness!

    God bless you!


  70. Dawn Urness November 24, 2019 at 11:31 AM - Reply

    Thank you for your willingness to be authentic and share from your heart. Authenticity of even the difficult is what God uses to shine his light through our story. Thank you for shining for him.

  71. Patrice Hatcher November 25, 2019 at 8:12 AM - Reply

    Marcus, I really love the message about giving your children space with walls of love and the message of forgiveness.

  72. Chris November 25, 2019 at 8:59 AM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing! It has more meaning than you will ever know and helps me in my current struggles of personal forgiveness and understanding. Going off script was amazing, personal and insightful beyond any other of your absolutely amazing talks before.
    Thank you!

  73. Casey Bianco November 25, 2019 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    As a fellow parent this is very inspirational! The message of being a “Loving Space Maker” I find to be incredibly helpful. Thank you Marcus for your willingness to be vulnerable in the midst of turmoil and allowing your Strengths to rule the day and find and articulate the positive message to inspire your supporters.

  74. Anonymous November 27, 2019 at 7:12 AM - Reply

    Hi Marcus – Have followed your videos, website, and used StandOut & StrengthFinder in my work life. Am always recommending your materials to friends and coworkers. Have been a fan of yours for about two years. Now am an even bigger fan of your leadership after watching this. I don’t have kids, but I know truth when I hear it and your speech was spot-on. I hope parents worldwide heed this powerful message, but also us leaders can apply it to giving space to our employees. Thank you for daring to step off-script and share this blessed insight!! I remember hearing about the admissions scandal headline and discovering your ex was part of the list of names. My first thought was “I wonder what Marcus thinks about this or how he found out.” I’m so glad you answered this question today. I’m glad you gave yourself space, by the way, to process this and then speak to it only when you were ready. Today seemed like you were ready. Even if you only just decided it in the moment. God led you in this moment, I believe. Well done.

    Also- That is amazing to hear your pivotal story about the stammer going away at the chapel reading. I’m glad that was part of your speech here. I knew you had a stammer as a child but I had never heard the actual details of the story of how it all changed! To God be the glory, wow. Did you know that Moses in the Bible had a stammer?? God loves to take the unlikely and turn them into the capable. I’m sure your mom has probably mentioned that encouragement to you already before, but it’s so true! Your mom and dad are both right – the Holy Spirit came over you in that miracle moment and the Holy Spirit has the power to transform our minds (synapses) as it says in the book of Romans! Praying that you and your family are comforted by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord can “turn mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30) and “make rivers flow in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). He will take care of this.

    In Jesus’ name,

    • Matthew December 23, 2019 at 7:59 AM - Reply


  75. John Farrar December 2, 2019 at 11:58 AM - Reply

    I know how you can put it all back together. Like your mother, faith is part of what I would tell you, but you already know that. The other side of the challenge is learning how to process what happened, how to see your wife as human again without the burden of this deep mistake. Can I suggest one book that will not only help you make sense of why but look at the future with how and with hope and bring everyone back together? It won’t be easy, but it will be real in ways that were missing before. Each person must choose the freedom it will provide, but each persons freedom is their own choice.

  76. barbara quigley December 20, 2019 at 2:02 PM - Reply

    I have shared your video with several people since it is so important and so touching . I have always been a fan of yours and your insights – I have seen you speak and it was so moving but this one made me cry I could feel your emotions and what your going through. Your before and after for this year is profound and it will change you as person but believe it will change you for even more the better and insights you share will be great for all of us to learn from. All you can do is do the best you can for you and your family but I personally wanted to thank you for sharing your story.

  77. Tera Eng December 20, 2019 at 4:45 PM - Reply

    Thank you for letting us see you, Marcus! A heartfelt and human connection made from thousands of miles away because you were real and we can all relate as a parent, child and leader.

    As a parent, the analogy of “joy stick and playing Pac Man” really stuck. I am going to ask my teenage girls what they really want to get out of school rather than me mapping out their road to “success”. No doubt they will have a lot to say.

    I also love the “create space” concept which is so true and I vow to be more mindful both as a parent and a leader, all the roles I play. I agree it’s an act of love and instills trust and belief in others.

    So many insights! Been your earliest fan since “First Break all the Rules” which I read and applied at work back in 2004!

    Wishing you a happy holiday season!

  78. Susan J Ryan December 20, 2019 at 6:25 PM - Reply

    Dear Marcus – As one of those people who has been following you and learning from you for many years based on the research you have done, your insights into it, and your ability to communicate it, this is the most powerful and transformational message you have ever shared. While listening from my heart and feeling your pain, I could see you leveraging your gifts, your strengths, in our world to transform it for the positive. No one wishes this had been part of the journey of your life, or that of your family. Hopefully, part of your healing is through the platform you have to make a positive impact in our world.

  79. Miwa Nakasato December 20, 2019 at 8:37 PM - Reply

    I love Marcus as a human. I am a Japanese living in Japan, but also went to San Diego and Dubai to listen to Marcus talks. I am not good at English, but I am studying languages ​​to understand Marcus’s language. Don’t forget that there are people who support Marcus from such a distant country.
    Human beings can do anything if they live. Everyone experiences it once or twice. We cry a lot when we want to cry, and say when we are painful. I want your heart to be honest. Marcus in 2020 will surely grow as a human.

  80. Fred Bays December 21, 2019 at 3:53 AM - Reply

    Thank you for being so open about your life, that took a tremendous amount of courage! I know you don’t know me, but it made me proud of you! I’ve reconnected with your research for years as a strengths based approach. Often being in the minority against the grain of society with the way I evidence based truth has been refreshing for me!

    I’m a former pastor, I had to step away from what I thought I would do the rest of my life when I had a battle with cancer in 2011. The church I planted was my baby and calling. I went through depression for a year and a half, and keeping my mind focused on positive strengths was huge to recovering. I’m very grateful for how God has lead me to a greater purpose that is much less about me and much larger than before, but it’s not been easy!

    I recently wrote and published a book about my story. It was very helpful to think through things and articulate them in a writing. I never thought I would write a book, neither would any teacher have ever thought that growing up!

    I’m also a John Maxwell speaker and trainer and have followed him for 25 years. When I heard you share about the impact he’s making on your life and Faith I was so excited for you! I love seeing people connect the dots with God and life, especially when it comes to science and how things work and produce fruitfulness!

    I know you will come out stronger and have a more rewarding life, relationships dnd purpose with all you have gone through because you seem to always choose a positive forward thinking stance and life and our creator honors that approach!

    Thank you for staying to true to who you are and for searching for truth in all you do! I find your writings and talks very helpful! Even when people don’t agree that our kids should focus on the A and not the F!

    Blessings to you, your family and your work!
    Thank you!

  81. Matthew December 23, 2019 at 7:58 AM - Reply

    Marcus, such a wonderful speech. I appreciate the vulnerability, the candor and the heart with which you spoke. So many great things packed into a powerful little message. Truly identifiable and applicable to my life. Thank you for sharing this story. Different people, unique people, grab different things from this message and one thing that stood out to me were the words around forgiveness, and John’s direction to you on forgiveness. That was not the main point of your talk, but again, it resonated with me. It’s not about the other person, they may not ask for the forgiveness, but rather it’s about you, and your ability to let go and grow.

  82. LeAnn December 24, 2019 at 6:30 AM - Reply

    Thank you for honesty and vulnerability. I appreciate all you give to others and I hope the outpouring of support from all of us give you strength and peace.

  83. Tami Whalen December 27, 2019 at 2:11 PM - Reply


    I sit here in struck silence for what you’ve shared. I have followed you for sometime. Whenever I am stuck or discouraged or wondering what it’s all for, I open your blog and watch one of your episodes. You never fail to renew my faith and resolve for what I am trying to accomplish. You strengthen me in a way that is hard to explain. In this speech you allowed yourself to be completely vulnerable and that vulnerability will add to your strength. It is very hard to allow yourself to be that exposed but that experience alone will change you. You will see breakthroughs in your work that would not have been possible without this experience (not just the speech but the whole miserable experience.) I know if you could turn back time and undo it, before it happened, to save your child pain you would without question. This is one of those times when we struggle with the why and we get angry. There is no answer ever for why terrible things happen but something beautiful and worthwhile can be born of that suffering. What you do now will change the lives of many people, most of whom you’ll never meet, like me, but I’ll be watching. You can count on that. I have 5 children myself and each of them is unique and I enjoy watching their individual strengths flourish. Their gifts are amazing, as are I have no doubt, the gifts of your son and daughter. They too will grow in unimaginable ways from this, it may not be evident straight away but one day you will look at them and see them succeed and know that they got there BECAUSE of what happened, and because YOU are their father.

    May God bless your family each day!

  84. Dana Look-Arimoto December 27, 2019 at 5:59 PM - Reply

    My oh my, what an authentic, heartfelt, raw and completely human moment in time this was for you, and all of us fortunate enough to share this moment with you. Having been through so much as a daughter of a bi-polar mother, sister to my only sibling who was blind from a young age, who then crusaded and unfortunately died at 25 from ovarian cancer, throughout my own journey to what I believed was truly overcoming all and creating a successful path as an exec leader, wife, and mother of two daughters whom I adore. Next, my own incredibly real and raw struggle with Post Partum depression, which affects 1 in 10 women (and their entire families), to single motherhood for 11 years raising my incredible young women, to becoming a CEO and helping many founders grow and exit their companies to where I am today. Today, I am my authentic self, sharing my story, and journey towards the only way that works, which includes the counter intuitive choice-making including trade-offs that are needed in order to have a life that’s integrated beyond two dimensions. For me, always work and family, leaving little to no time for myself, my community or even my friends. I’ve always admired you and considered your work as musings for my future self. Today I am also speaking, coaching, a strengths-based believer/quantifier and assessor in bringing out the best in others, and an author. Now, perhaps, I feel closest to you as I ever have and perhaps ever will, because your struggle is so viscerally real, as is the rest of ours, and you’ve chosen to share your story and journey so that all whom are touched by it will know the truth about space, about belief, and about healing that comes from forgiving for oneself before all others. From the deepest part of my heart and soul, I thank you for all that you’ve revealed and are yet to reveal. Bless you and all of your family and loved ones Marcus, Dana

  85. Jen January 2, 2020 at 6:22 AM - Reply

    Marcus, I have seen you speak so many times, but this is the most genuine and meaningful talk I’ve seen you give. I’m so sorry you and your children have had to go through this terrible time. My wish for you is that each day gets easier. Thank you again for sharing your most intimate story.

  86. Laura January 6, 2020 at 7:19 AM - Reply

    Marcus, WOW! Thank you for keeping it authentic, real and genuine. Sending positive vibes for you all so that each day gets better and better. SPACE is such an important reminder not only as a mom but also as coach, teacher and researcher. I feel so blessed to be part of your circle and witnessing the power of real strength!

  87. Jessica January 7, 2020 at 4:29 PM - Reply

    Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this. Your message was very impactful and timely.

  88. David Leonnig January 15, 2020 at 10:52 AM - Reply

    I was struck by how violated you felt for your children having their value compromised. As an alienated parent, I appreciate how you cannot believe this has happened to your children. Your honesty was brutal and I like that you left it unfinished. As with many circumstances like this, it truly cannot be wrapped in a bow and neatly “finished”. The story cannot be told differently with distance. It always will be what it is. Thank you for sharing your pain so freely. It was a cathartic experience. I wish your children peace and understanding.

  89. Lawrence Cupido January 21, 2020 at 10:10 PM - Reply

    Authentic, Vulnerable and Brave – thanks for sharing

  90. Daisy Tse February 13, 2020 at 7:49 AM - Reply

    Marcus, thank you for the courage to share. I see you and I hear you.

  91. JoAnna March 29, 2020 at 5:10 PM - Reply

    Marcus thank you for sharing. I am sorry for your pain. Thank you for your courage and hoping the world learns. I have 4 kids and one is in College which felt like a stressful journey more for the financial strain and we stepped back but worried too.

  92. Mike Brown April 20, 2020 at 1:06 PM - Reply

    Marcus, I have loved your Strengths work for many years and am getting into your 9 Lies (with Ashley Goodall) and finding that interesting and challenging, however with all the research and data associated with your previous work, it was this heart-felt, raw, vulnerable message that touched me deeper than anything else you have done. I was moved by your openness to share about feelings, and being at a loss, about faith, and forgiveness, and the importance of learning through space. I had some of those experiences as a child and missed on others. As a parent, I have worked to foster the individuality of each of our children (and 2 of the 3 are twins) and know that I have failed at times, to do just that. Thank you for this authentic and inspiring message.

  93. Ellie Gates January 4, 2021 at 8:58 PM - Reply

    Marcus, you are such an amazing man. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably and so poignantly! Creating space in love, is what I’ve tried to do with my kids without realizing the terminology. It’s definitely not easy watching them hit the walls at times, but you are so right… they learn, and that’s what’s important. I’m so sorry for Jack and Lila and the wounds this may have created in their heart. I’m praying that their paths forward become clearer and the mountains they’ve had to climb here will take them even higher. Lastly, wow, I love your testimony and how you have been blessed with a strength from something that took you out for so long. Thank you for sharing. It was raw. It was real and it was highly impactful!

  94. Simmi July 28, 2022 at 1:55 AM - Reply

    Thank you Marcus for sharing this. Very moving and inspiring to watch. Was directed to this via “Coaching for Leaders” by Dave Stachowiak. Hope you have all found that thread of life to pull you forward through those times.

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