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Everyone is in need of a little “pick-me-up” in the morning whether it be a cup of coffee or some quiet meditation. For award-winning business coach Marc Coley, what started off as a “6 a.m. accountability call” among him and some friends has now evolved into a morning acceleration program where hundreds of people from across the world join in on a group Zoom call to get a jump start to their day.
Coley has created a network where business owners and entrepreneurs alike have the chance to not only encourage each other but have people in your corner that are able to hold you accountable for the things you say you will do.
However, Marc Coley shares that he hasn’t always been so disciplined when it comes to his work. Though being an entrepreneur came naturally to Coley, he explains that it took some time for him to establish some of his current practices in order to reach his fullest potential. In our sit-down conversation, he alludes to certain things he was taught during his upbringing that held him back as an entrepreneur up until recently.
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Coley’s early childhood started in the small town of Morris, Georgia where he was brought up by his grandmother for some time until she passed away. It was then that he found refuge in other family members as his mother was battling a mental illness known as schizophrenia. Growing up in the countryside, Coley learned to be alone and would often find himself going for walks in the wilderness. In fact, growing up in such a small and quiet town is where he had no choice but to have a big imagination.
Following the passing of his grandmother, Coley went to live with an aunt in the neighboring city of Columbus, Georgia, which he admits was a big culture shock for him.
“Living in Columbus for me was like living in New York City. When you come from the country it’s like entering a whole new world. Nonetheless, I’m so grateful for it because during this time I started to come out of my shell and evolve into who I was always supposed to be ultimately.”
At the start of high school, Marc found himself relocating once again. Moving in with his aunt and uncle, they remained his primary caregivers up until his college years. A few years into community college, Coley made the ultimate decision to enter the military. As he put it, being in the military was a big game-changer. His time serving in the Navy allowed him to dream well beyond the confinements of a small town like Morris and bring his goals to fruition.
Coley always had an entrepreneur mindset; something he refers to as “his calling”. Truth be told, he confesses that he had an ulterior motive in joining the military.
“I was running my business at the time; a clothing line. I essentially ran out of money and I needed something to do that was going to continue to fund my business. Some people join the military because they want to fight for their country or they want to see the world and that was definitely not me. I was looking for a quick paycheck to fund back into my business and the military seemed to be the easiest route at the time.”
The military served a dual purpose for Marc. It not only allowed him to see the world but it helped him receive the necessary funding to pour right back into his entrepreneurial endeavors. No matter where in life he found himself, it was always done with the intent of being his own boss.
Coley’s clothing line was the foundation for developing his business mindset. It was here that he learned a lot of things about running a business and he humbly adds that he’s had his fair share of mistakes. Nonetheless, it was his very first business that would ultimately prepare him for what he’d be doing in the present day.
Prior to the pandemic, Coley launched The Marc Coley Business Academy (TMCBA) after taking notice of the need for spirituality within the business world. This idea emerged from his own struggles of learning how to merge business and spirituality after being told so many times that the two should remain separate.
Marc has devoted his life’s work to coaching up-and-coming business owners “not just in business but also in faith.” He offers one-on-one coaching in order to tap into your hidden potential and gives you the best tools and practices in order to see success both within your business and your spirituality.
The success rate of TMCBA was overwhelming; so much so that Coley went on a tour where he offered live classes in cities like Chicago, Columbus and New York. However, there was a sudden halt when the pandemic hit and like many business owners, he found himself in a “lazy stage” of his life.
With this chapter, came the introduction of the 6 AM accountability call that became a hit during the pandemic. Though Marc did not intend to make this an actual business, he noticed the need for it and had no choice but to deliver.
“There was such a demand for it that this small morning wake up call amongst me and my friends became a community and even more so a brotherhood/sisterhood. We ended up going on a retreat last year where people who were part of the community were able to get together and meet in person for the first time. From then on the 6 AM accountability call transitioned into the Morning Acceleration Program because I knew the second leg of this project was something even more structured. It started off as a need that I had into a need that the community around me needed.”
While Coley makes it clear that he is a man of God and is someone who is devoted to his spirituality, he’s been vocal about how some of the teachings of the church can actually hold us back as entrepreneurs. He explains that a lot of the church's teachings tell us to be humble, give all glory to God and move in silence but yet some of these practices go directly against what it takes to run a successful business.
“I need as many eyes as possible to have the best conversion rates in my business. Why would I move in silence when there’s an opportunity to grow my brand? A lot of these teachings come from slavery and oppression and they no longer serve us today.”
Marc also touches upon the struggles he went through being a gay male while growing up in the church. He expresses that to this day he still faces the fear of abandonment and he’s not sure if it’ll ever go away.
There are times he’ll recall praying and pleading on his knees as a child asking God to take this “thing” away from him and to no avail. Countless times, family members would confront him and tell him that his sexuality was seen as a sin and was not deemed acceptable in God’s eyes. Well into his adult years, these are the memories that still linger in his head.
Marc then began doing his own research, delving into scripture and learning what the opposing side said about homosexuality. He recounts the book, God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines which allowed him to see a new perspective on how the Bible intercepted same-sex relationships.
In seeking a different understanding, he came to terms with his sexuality while also acknowledging that he loves God. He makes it a point to mention that coming to terms with his sexuality was far from easy and still isn’t. However, Coley refuses to live a “half” life in order to make other people comfortable.
Present-day, Coley has found reconciliation with both his sexuality and spirituality. In truth, his spirituality is one of the things that guide him in his business endeavors. Oftentimes on the Morning Acceleration call, Coley will speak in tongues which he claims is a direct response to his Pentecostal upbringing.
“Our beliefs say that speaking in tongues is the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It’s this secret conversation that you’re having with God that no one can understand. It’s not necessarily planned. I remember when it first happened, I was taken aback myself. To me, I had grown accustomed to what’s common within my spiritual setting. Even when I pray by myself, sometimes I’ll speak in tongues. This is just the response that I have to the feelings of something supernatural.”
Regardless, Coley makes it clear that he’s in no way trying to convince anyone of his beliefs. He believes that by showing up authentically in his calls and coaching, he’ll attract the people that want what he has to offer. He is straightforward in who he is and has never tried to deceive anyone or make them think otherwise. His beliefs have always been clear and in doing so, he states that he’s only attracted those who genuinely want to work with him whether they agree with his beliefs or not.
Those who have followed Marc for some time may have overheard talk in regards to him working towards becoming a pastor. In an attempt to clear up the rumors, Coley reveals that he was ordained as a pastor back in 2016.
It wasn’t long after that he settled in Virginia where he started the search for a building to start his ministry. Even so, the idea never panned out and he continued to move in another direction. Though last year Coley shares that the idea was reintroduced to him and while he hasn’t started putting that plan into fruition, he wants to be sure that he doesn’t extend himself too much anymore. He is not interested in being completely depleted for the sake of ministry. He acknowledges that though ministry is part of his gifting, he’s not sure if it’s ever going to be done in the traditional setting and he’s ok with not knowing at this very moment.
“We can only become what we see. The examples of what I’ve seen a pastor be is very limited. I’m ok with waiting until I see something different even if it’s supernatural before I pursue that role. The setting of church changes as culture changes and there’s going to be a need for something different.”
Looking toward the future, Coley doesn’t know what’s in store yet but he appreciates the beauty in finding out as he goes. His only desire is to evolve and become. In living his life with an “outline of prophecies”, he allows those prophetic voices to be his guide and leaves the rest to fate.
Be that as it may, Coley is confident he’s had so much success, especially in reference to his businesses, because he’s been consistent in the principles that he stands on. He knows that in continuing to do so, only prosperity lies ahead.
For those looking to create that same level of success in their business, Coley leaves you with these 3 creeds to live by: make sure your priorities are set straight, know and understand that you won’t get the support you feel you’re entitled to from the people closest to you and most importantly, leave room for you to evolve.
“The path to success is not always linear. Just as you can be called to pursue something, you can also be called away from it.”