Marcus A. Christian
Education: JD, Yale Law School; M.Sc., University of Oxford, Oxford UK (Rhodes Scholar); BA, Williams College
Company Name: Mayer Brown LLP
Company CEO: Paul Theiss
Company Headquarters Location: N/A
Number of Employees: More than 3,600
Your Location (if different from above): Washington, DC
Words you live by: You must be the change you want to see in the world.
Who is your personal hero? I have many heroes, but my first heroine was my mother, Mary Christian.
What book are you reading? These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
What was your first job: Packing oranges at a citrus company
Favorite charity: Charities supporting educational achievement of children from low-income backgrounds
Interests: Fitness, sports, travel, woodworking, and barbecue
Family: I am married to Valda Clark Christian. We have three children.
My Roadmap for Success
People would be surprised to know that my introduction to Head Start provided a roadmap for taking on new challenges.
When I first stepped into a Head Start center, few people imagined that I would attend college one day, let alone law school. Truth be told, I tried my hardest to convince everyone that I would not become a Head Start student. When my father tried to leave me there, I erupted in a four-year-old’s fury that not even my father (a man quite skilled in the art of corporal punishment) could deny. I kicked, I screamed, I cried, and I pleaded. Before long, my father decided to take me back home.
“Lesson taught,” I thought to myself.
But the next day—to my surprise—my father took me back to the Head Start center. When we arrived, I concluded that he must have forgotten my lesson. So I resolved to refresh his recollection. Not only did I kick, scream, cry, and plead, I dropped to the floor, which I fully expected to end the matter. It did: my father left me there. And I became a student that day.
What I could not understand at the time was that my parents knew that Head Start and other educational opportunities would improve my life. They were able to envision the promise of the future, not only the pain of the present. With a room full of strange children staring at me, I had no choice but to get up off of the floor and adapt to my new environment. Fortunately, the Head Start teachers helped me up. They were members of my community who nurtured me in ways that I did not always appreciate at the time.
Whenever I face a new opportunity or challenge, I think of how my formal education began. It provides a roadmap for me. My education began with the understanding (not necessarily mine) that the pursuit of what I could be required me to leave my comfort zone. It began with the realization that I had a lot more to learn than to teach. It began with the support of a community of people who were committed to my growth and success. And when I have fallen, that community has been there for me.
That is my formula, and I am sticking to it.