Some boys who are born on St. Patrick’s Day – March 17th – are named Pat. In 1961 – in Minneapolis, Minnesota – a boy born on the ‘grand day’ was named Mark. Insignificant to some – bewildering to others, but Mark was happy – pleased to have been given his own identity. He was a bright and happy boy – part of a close-knit family. That bond grew even stronger when his parents move him, his brother and two sisters to Fertile, Minnesota (population 968) when Mark was in fifth grade.
The move had a significant impact on his life. Small town America, strong family values, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, his grandparents’ farm, fishing – all combining to create a nearly-perfect life for Mark. He learned early on to appreciate life on life’s terms. Beginning at the age of nine, he also learned about hard work, ambition and independence. He worked with his father in their rubbish hauling business where his compensation was a very modest salary and a cold soda at the end of a hard day.
While Mark loved basketball, he chose to pursue wrestling – with a vengeance as it turned out. He lifted weights, trained hard at practice and tapped into the determination he had learned working with his father. He took the mats to his basement in the off-season and continued training. Two years of commitment paid off – he won first place in district, second place in the Minnesota State Championship and won the North Central USA title.
Mark was introduced to a group called Teens Encounter Christ (TEC). He immersed himself in the program, attending over twenty weekend retreats and quickly became a leader. Looking to the future, Mark believed that he wanted to become a priest. With that in mind, he went to board at a seminary prep school. There, as a junior (his beginning class at that school), he became president of the student body.
Between TEC and his position as student body president he was asked to speak often. He loved it. “Wouldn’t this be a great way to make a living?” Mark also came to realize that while his faith was strong, so was his interest in girls. He stayed at school and graduated, even though he had made the decision to abandon his pursuit of the priesthood.
His father gave him a graduation gift. Mark had visions of his own car. Instead he received a book. A rather small book – The Greatest Salesman in the World, written by an author with a most unusual name – Og Mandino. While a bit taken aback at his gift, Mark decided to read the book – which he did in one night. He followed the success formula presented in the book which required reading chapters, three times a day for a period of ten months.
He pursued his speaking interest and landed a gig to speak for Arby’s. They wanted a young motivational speaker and he fit the bill. Mark gave what he felt was a terrific talk, only to find out that it was received so poorly that he wouldn’t be paid his full fee. A setback as a speaker led Mark to try other paths.
Delivering pizzas at night to make ends meet, he began creating graphics and selling printed material. Quickly, he chose to be a broker for several printers which allowed him to be his own boss, set his pricing and keep all earned profit. At the same time he was providing advice to a friend who was a chiropractor.
That led to Mark becoming a consultant, working on retainer and making more money that he ever had. Speaking opportunities followed. As with his wrestling years earlier, Mark honed his craft. He became known as a speaker. He became known as an expert in building and running small business. He had found his purpose.
Mark went on to write a book titled Growing Your Business! He purposely made the book was small, short and easy to read, after all, if that approach had been so successful for Og Mandino it should work for Mark. It did. Over time, Mark became an accomplished speaker, becoming president of the National Speakers Association. His consulting business grew because his ideas and philosophies worked – for hundreds, if not thousands of small businesses. Mark began a concept which he called the Achievers Circle. Ten people, meeting over a weekend, creating strategies to grow their business – all without a fee. Mark’s approach was simple – if you find the weekend to be of value, pay what you feel is fair. The question if it would work or not has been answered as Mark has led over 100 Achiever’s Circle weekends.
Mark found his purpose through consistent trial and error – and by never quitting. He embraced his talent and skills, yet continuously strives to improve them. His message resonates with small businesses. Mark has built himself into a fearless brand – to the point that he is known as “The Grow Your Business Guy”.
Fearless Brands are consistent, yet continue to grow because they adapt, improvise and overcome
Mark LeBlanc is a fearless brand because he knows his purpose and talents and provides relevant advice to his target audience. On top of that, he is a man of character, integrity, humility and drive – he is quiet and unassuming. He is also the author of a second book – one that is the story of a journey that has had a significant impact on his life, his beliefs, his happiness and his success.
That book, Never Be the Same, chronicles Mark’s first time walking El Camino de Santiago, the powerful insights and revelations that resulted and how his life led him to that journey. Read it. You will thank me.
In the meantime, here are some Mark’s traits which you can use to build your own fearless brand
Finding your purpose takes time and effort – Mark LeBlanc’s journey clearly demonstrates that finding one’s purpose is not necessarily simple – or quick. Mark finding his purpose ranged from wanting to be a basketball star, to considering the priesthood, to being a graphic designer, pizza guy – well, you get the idea. Pursue your purpose. Be open to what that will be. Be flexible. Don’t give up.
Done is better than perfect – Mark doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time over thinking things. His experience shows that there comes a time that one needs to dive into the pool. It may not be the perfect dive, you may not have a plan on how to exit the pool, heck, you may not even know how to swim. Plan. Be responsible. Mitigate risk. Take the action.
Be introspective – Mark’s journey on the Camino Walk had a purpose. He could have walked 500 miles most anywhere. He chose the famous Camino pilgrimage because he knew it would provide him tremendous insight into himself – his beliefs, his faith, his perspective, and his humanity. It can be scary to look closely at yourself – be introspective any way.
Mark LeBlanc is my coach and a mentor – more importantly he is a friend. I say this merely to be transparent. It’s not my association with Mark that makes him a fearless brand – he is a fearless brand using the same criteria – the same formula – as you.
(Purpose + Skills) x Relevance = Fearless Brand
Want to achieve the success that you desire? Embrace your dreams. Find your purpose. Know your skills. Improve. Be relevant.
Photo credit – Jen Kelly – KeliComm Headshots
Great story thank you for sharing Bill. I will be doing my 5th White House retreat on Feb 4th. I make a point to write poems for people who made an impact on me over the past year while I’m on the retreat. Blessings, Chris K.
Thank you Chris. Mark is an amazing man – a man of tremendous business knowledge and a man of great faith.
Yes, the White House retreats are indeed special. This is my 23rd. I’m not certain if I’m becoming a better person or just an older person. 🙂 Look forward to catching up and comparing notes soon.