To look at Marcus Lemonis, you wouldn’t think he’d ever struggled with weight, had an eating disorder or tried to commit suicide.
The star of CNBC’s, “The Profit,” projected a confident persona as he spoke at The Global Leadership Summit, a live simulcast expected to be broadcast to an estimated 400,000 people on Thursday and today. The Fremont Church of the Nazarene was one of the broadcast sites. The Willow Creek Association has hosted events like the summit for 25 years.
On Thursday morning, area residents were able to hear speakers such as Lemonis, who stressed the need for trust and vulnerability.
Lemonis is the chief executive officer of Camping World, the nation’s top source for recreational vehicles. On the reality show, “The Profit,” Lemonis offers struggling small businesses capital investment and his expertise in exchange for an ownership stake in the company.
His start in life was less than illustrious.
Born in Beruit, Lebanon, Lemonis was adopted out of an orphanage by an American family. He was molested by a family member, attempted suicide twice, and couldn’t connect with people his own age. He still suffers from social anxiety today.
Lemonis’ openness is part of his philosophy.
“I believe business and life is about creating a connection,” he said. “I believe my success and your success – regardless of what that level is – all based on your ability to be vulnerable. The most important thing for me in life is being vulnerable, is being transparent, and anytime I go into a new business I tell them all these weird things, because I want them to feel comfortable, that they can discuss their issues. I believe that when you can unlock somebody’s heart and earn their trust you can really navigate through anything together.
“But if somebody’s not willing to share and they’re not willing to be their best self and not willing to live honestly about who they are, I don’t think you could ever do business with them.”
Lemonis also talked about the role leaders play in their businesses.
“As leaders it is – in my opinion – our responsibility to be stewards of people,” he said. “As the leader, manager, owner of whatever type of organization you’re a part of, it is your duty to make sure that everybody is successful.
“You hired them and if you didn’t, it’s your duty to help them, because what we don’t know is their story.”
Lemonis stressed tolerance – not of laziness or untruthfulness – but of differences. He asked his audience for one thing:
“Give a fat kid, who attempted suicide, who was molested a chance – even if you may not know that that’s their story, because we just don’t know people’s story and provide leadership even if it’s stern and strict and hard, but with respect, because that story may turn out to be something great. And you will find the soul-cleansing, fulfilling experience that you will have will replace any amount of money that you could ever dream of. Money’s important. You’ve got to pay your bills, but if that’s your purpose, you will leave this world very unhappy.”
Attendees represented various organizations. Those such as Jonah Renter, high school program coordinator at The Hope Center-Fremont, enjoyed the Thursday morning session.
“It was pretty awesome that all these organizations get to come together and learn about how to be better leaders to impact our community,” he said.
Renter liked the message of giving everyone a chance to be successful and of the responsibility leaders have to help those they manage develop.
Kelvin Sukut of Fremont also appreciated the sessions.
“I like the fact that this is world leaders that are taking the time to give input to others so they can be world leaders,” he said.