Learn to accept that life is a journey. — You have to have mental fortitude and preparation to know that anything worth something will to take time and not be a linear path. It will be turbulent with challenges and failures. When you accept that, that’s when you are liberated and can go all the way.

The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Marques Ogden.

Marques Ogden is the founder and CEO of Ogden Ventures LLC. In 2003, he was drafted into the NFL as an offensive lineman, and after five years of playing in the league, he decided to retire and pursue a career in construction and contracting. At the age of 27, Marques founded a construction company called Kayden Premier Enterprises. The company had fast growth but eventually went bankrupt, losing almost 2 million dollars on one project in 90 days.

During his darkest hours, he pulled himself together and got a part-time job as a custodian. With hard work and determination, Marques is now an inspirational keynote speaker, executive coach, best-selling author, podcast co-host (The Lev & Marques Show) and marketing leader, helping to build the success of others. Visit MarquesOgden.com; Follow Marques Ogden on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I grew up in Washington DC in a single-parent home and was raised by my father, Shirrel Phillip Ogden, and my older brother Jonathan Phillip Ogden. My dad was one of the first African American bank managers. He was a role model and provided a great childhood for my brother and me. We were raised to value education over sports, respect women and ourselves and always work hard for what we want.

Unfortunately, by the time I got to high school, my father had kidney failure and developed many health issues, so our family struggled to survive. My brother ended up getting drafted to the NFL, and that changed everything. After graduating high school, I attended Howard University and later went on to join my brother in the NFL. After retiring from football, I became an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, I overcame many setbacks and failures, which is how I’ve learned to use failure as a tool and not fear it.

My father was the ultimate inspiration for my career as an entrepreneur. He always told me I was meant for more than football and that I was meant to help others and live a life of service. When I understood that, I found my true purpose.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

During the darkest time in my life, I overcame it with support and encouragement from my family and hard work and dedication. The hardship strengthened my mindset and allowed me to see that when I was up against a wall, I would get myself out of that situation no matter what it took.

I shifted my mindset, focused on my vision for success and the future and started putting in the time and work to get there. I am humbled and proud to be where I am today — an international keynote speaker, executive coach and consultant, podcast co-host, three-time best-selling author, and more! I was just inducted into the Howard University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Health and named a 2022 Top 100 Most Influential Blacks by CORE Magazine. It feels surreal!!

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The three character traits most instrumental to my success are discipline, persistence and relatability.

Discipline — I excel at being disciplined in what I put my mind to. Discipline is all about pushing through, especially during times when you don’t feel like it. When I first became a keynote speaker, I didn’t get any paid speaking jobs for about two and a half years. I could have easily given up. But my discipline to keep pushing even after I was told ‘no’ over and over again led me to eventually land huge speaking jobs with the top companies in the world. It was all because I didn’t give up and had the discipline to push forward.

Persistence — I’ve learned to master the follow-up, and that’s where many people in business and life fall short. People may be good at striking up the conversation, but the follow-up is equally important. I built a good relationship with my client Tim Ingle, the COO of Weaver Popcorn. He told me that my follow-up was one of the best he’s ever seen. I followed up with him in a way that wasn’t too pushy or too lax; it was genuine and perfectly timed.

Relatability — Being able to relate, regardless of differences, has brought me many opportunities that have led to great success. Being relatable is about finding a touchpoint and/or connection with another person in a meaningful way. Many times, when I share my story at speaking events, people come up to me afterward and tell me that my story hit home with them. This often happens, even when I’m in a room with no one else who looks like me. That’s because I try to incorporate elements that people can relate to and feel a shared connection with me.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?

Most often that I’ve come across, people are afraid to fail because they are afraid of being judged or ridiculed by others. If people focused less on what others think of them, they would liberate themselves from the fear of failing. When you fail, you tend to think everyone will know about it. But the reality is, it’s none of your business what anyone else thinks about you. So, focus less on the opinion of others and more on taking risks and going after what you want. Don’t hold back!

What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?

The greatest downside of being scared of failing is spending your entire life living just to please others. When you do this, you live a life with little or no purpose, and that’s a horrible place to be. You never want to live your life with regret. When you are afraid to fail, you will live a life of regret and end up failing to reach your true purpose.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?

The top ways to free yourself from failure:

Start to live your life with purpose and meaning.

Give yourself the best chance and allow yourself to do what you want in life.

Lean into your purpose and your internal greatness.

If you do anything worthwhile, you’re going to be afraid. But it’s about controlling your fears and not letting them dictate the course of your life. After you dive into your greatness, you will truly feel free.

We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?

I remember when I got my first corporate speaking job for Net App, a Fortune 500 tech company. One of my coaching clients worked; I told him my ambitions to be a speaker, and he ended up messaging me, and we hit it off. He shared an opportunity with me for his company in Chicago, and I ended up taking it. I went to the speaking job, and I thought I did awesome. But, after the event, we had lunch and they told me I have great passion and energy but chose the wrong topic to talk about. I was in a room talking to healthcare providers who wanted to hear about my concussion and health stories, not about construction or business. They told me I didn’t touch on the value and experiences that would relate to their audience. That was my first ever corporate job, and I felt like I bombed it and failed. Luckily, because we were friends, he gave me that feedback and I internalized it and got better. I came back six months later for a speaking event and crushed it!

How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?

From that experience, I learned how important it is to relate to my clients and audience better. That’s what I didn’t do at my first speaking job. Once I incorporated relatability into my keynote speeches, everything soared. I now relate to clients based on their audience and what they value, and I tailor my stories and experiences based on that.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

“The comfort zone is where dreams go to die” — Jonah Hill

Do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what I did when I started speaking. I had zero experience as a public speaker. I didn’t have any credentials or credibility. But I also knew that I wanted to be someone others went to for help (coaching, football, etc.) Because I decided to be an inspirational keynote speaker, it was the best decision of my life. That’s what gives me purpose every day!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“The human mind can do a lot of things, but it can’t do everything” — Marques Ogden

Many people let ego prevent them from asking for help. Never let your ego put you in a position where you don’t ask for support. So much of your fears and challenges can be alleviated just by asking for help.

Build up your determination armor to not let the non-believers affect you.

Build up thick skin and determination so when people say you can’t do it, you keep going and are inspired to do it even more. You’re a laser. People have told me I wouldn’t make a good speaker. Use people’s judgment and negativity as fuel to overcome even more.

Learn to accept that life is a journey.

You have to have mental fortitude and preparation to know that anything worth something will to take time and not be a linear path. It will be turbulent with challenges and failures. When you accept that, that’s when you are liberated and can go all the way.

When, not if, life knocks you down, get back up and get in the fight.

I met Earnie Shavers, a former heavy-weight boxer who fought Muhammad Ali for the championship belt. He told me in person that he knocked Muhammad down twice in their fight. The second time, Muhammad got up after Earnie knocked him down. Since he still got up, Earnie was shook mentally. Once Ali got up again, I was so shocked and he ended up winning the fight.

The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?

In life, you’re going to try a lot of different things and you will fail. That’s inevitable. But once you find the one thing you’re successful at, don’t let it go. I failed working in construction, I failed as a financial advisor, I failed many times. You can’t be afraid to find that one success path. You’re going to fail many times but if you give up, you’ll never find it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Be kind to others. Being kind costs you nothing; being mean could cost you everything. You can always be your authentic self when you’re positive and kind, bringing out the best in people, which could inspire them to start their own movement.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would love to sit down with Robert Smith from Morehouse. He is such an inspiration, and he has done so much to help other people. His kindness is so inspiring and uplifting!!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can visit my website at www.marquesogden.com or follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can also purchase my book on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Success-Cycle-Achieving-Goals-Business/dp/1642931748.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.