How can you turn frustration into fuel?

October 4, 2022

Chris speaks with Marquis Parker, Sr Director of Global Product Commercialization at Indeed. Marquis talks about the role coaching and mentorship have played in his career and how he is helping Indeed ensure equity is at the core of our products. He also talks about how his experiences growing up in rural Virginia shaped his career and helped him view the world from a different perspective.

- Hello everyone, I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed, and welcome to the next episode of "Here to Help." At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs, and this is what gets us out of bed in the morning, and what keeps us going all day. And what powers that mission is our people. "Here to Help" is a look at how experience, strength, and hope inspires people to want to help others. My guest today is Marquis Parker, Senior Director of Global Product Commercialization here at Indeed. He is also a coach, advisor, mentor, and award-winning career blogger. In 2014, Marquis was named by "Diversity MBA Magazine" as one of its top 2014 100 under 50 diverse executive leaders, based on his professional experiences, educational background, and contributions to the community. And Marquis' educational background makes me feel like a slacker. He has an AB in computer science from Princeton University, MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and MA in Education from the Stanford University School of Education, and an MS in Management and Information Technology from the University of Virginia. We're going to hear a lot about that. Marquis, thank you so much for joining me here today.

- Oh, no problem, Chris, thank you, thank you for the opportunity.

- So let's start where we always start these conversations, how are you doing right now?

- Good, I'm good. Kind of excited about having this opportunity to connect with you like this, and saw an awesome movie "The Woman King" last night, so I'm still kind of buzzed off of that 'cause it was such a great flick, but feeling real good right now.

- Fantastic. Well we got a lot of ground to cover, so let's dive in, and let's start by just helping people understand what it is that, that you do. So you're a senior director of Global Product Commercialization here at Indeed, what does that actually entail? What is it that you do to help people get jobs?

- Let me, let me find the most direct way to describe it. So I have the privilege of working with a group of folks in a bunch of different areas, strategists, operations, sales specialists, intelligent automation folks, and program management folks that are all about helping us scale and launch, launch and scale products. So part of that is go to market and product strategy, some of that is the feedback loop on products. Some of it is interacting with Sales and Client Success and operational support for products, and automation and program management, program work. So a lot of what I do is interact back and forth with all these different teams to find out how I can be helpful. You know, it's, it's, my role is just to be that, that supporter of all the folks across Global Product Commercialization. I'll use GPC from now on, 'cause there's a lot of syllables in Global Product Commercialization. But, yeah, it's, it's working with a bunch of great people to help Indeed help people.

- All right, well you've had an amazing journey, life and career, and we're going to kind of walk through that, but let's, so let's go back and maybe do a little origin story work here. So you grew up in a small town in Virginia. Talk a little bit about those early years, and the role of your family in your life.

- Oh, yeah, yeah. So super small town, actually the way, way backstory is an even smaller town just above the North Carolina border, and it's county, Sussex County, Virginia, that's where my parents are from. And there's a little town there called Yale, Virginia. And that was where my mother's parents were. And that was kind of, that's what I still consider home. I grew up about 45 minutes to an hour northeast of Richmond, in a different small rural town, but I mention both because it was a lot of back and forth between there, and I come from a big family. So my mom is, my mom is number nine of 10, and I probably, I think I have like 30, 25, 30 first cousins, but some of them are older than me, so their kids are technically second cousins, but they grew up with us, so it all blends together. And the central point was my grandmother teaching us all what family meant. You know, we all did a stint where we lived with grandma. And I latch onto that because she was kind of like the engine. She had an eighth grade education, I think, maybe not even eighth grade, but she was all about making sure that her grandkids were successful. And then my mom, she was the only one of her siblings that went on to college immediately after high school. She went to a small HBCU called Virginia State University. And so all of those, all those degrees and schools that you talked about a second ago would not have happened if she didn't do that. If she didn't, without Virginia State I don't have my schools. And that was a foundation. And one of the, one of the early things she told me was "Look, we don't have a lot of money, "but as long as you're willing to work hard, "you can have whatever you want." I just happened to believe her. And so over the course of time there were a lot of things, I think I told you earlier I had this big seizure when I was two, and my mom told me that I was out, I was having the seizure for hours, and afterwards the doctors said that I was supposed to be mentally challenged. I was never going to talk, I was never going to learn, all these things. And the only people who actually didn't believe the doctors were my mom, my grandma and one of my aunts. And after several months of silence, all of a sudden my grandma walks into a room and hears this little voice, and I'm reading the newspaper. In the meantime, she said "I just stared at 'Sesame Street'." And so it's, when I think about my family, that's like the, the foundation, sort of the support system that let me know that I could do things that I wanted to do, but also they're the reason. It's, it's, my grandmother passed away in, I want to say '98, '97, '97, and I still spend every day trying to make her proud, right? Trying to make my mom proud. And when, oh man, when I told my mom I was doing this, she was so geeked up. It's, it's the kind of stuff that, that kids where I'm from don't get a chance to do. And as a result, everything is, everything's brand new, and I like to try my best to, to take my family along for the ride with me on it.

- So it's, it's clear from the conversations that we've had that your family and other folks around you all sort of helped shape your ambitions, and helped you understand where you might land. And so you journeyed from, from Virginia to the the Ivy League, can you, can you talk about that, that process, how you got there?

- Oh man, it was dumb luck and some miracles. I mean, intellect had something to do with it, right? But it was something that was never, something that was programmed as a path. It really was somewhat random. In my town, I didn't really get much coaching on how you pick a good college, right? So I know just this is back in the 90's so we didn't, we're not going to websites, we're getting catalogs. When you've taken the PSAT, you do well, you get a bunch to school catalogs. And I just remember I'd be looking through the catalogs, and just randomly picking schools, thinking "Okay, I'll read this catalog, this looks really good. This looks like a good place, let me just apply." One of the great things about being a broke kid is that you don't pay for college applications, so there's really no friction to apply. And I actually applied to some pretty good ones, not realizing that they were good, like Georgetown, 'cause I love watching their basketball team. Emory. The Olympics were going to be in '96, so I was like at the end of my freshman year I can be there for it. Just really silly stuff in hindsight, but at the time the logic made sense. And the, I decided that I, I was 15 for 15, I was going to go to this small HBCU in North Carolina that gave me a full ride, and I realized "Hey, maybe I should apply it to an Ivy. Why not? I'm not going to get in anyway." And this one I had to pay for, so I was like "All right, I'm only going to do one." And as I was looking through the catalogs that I had from them Princeton spoke to me. And I figured that there was no chance that it was happening, but I might as well try, and I remember talking to my 11th grade English teacher about it, 'cause I had to get a recommendation, and she actually said "You know, Marquis, you know you can get in." Her name's Miss Sidner, wonderful lady. And I said "Miss Sidner, Imma apply, I'm going to get rejected, and then I'm going to go ahead to North Carolina." And she was like "No, you can actually get in and do this." And that was kind of the spark that made me say "Maybe there's a shot." And so it, the impossible dream happened. And you went to Princeton too, so you know back in the day they would give you the folder, and then you open it up, and there's the letter with the, the word yes at the top. And I remember the day that I got home from school, and the fat envelope was there, and you open it up and you see the yes, and in my case I passed out, 'cause that wasn't supposed to happen, right? I was supposed to get turned down. And, and it was funny. That's, that's when I realized that everything was going to be different. I don't know what that meant, but it was I guess I just kind of realized I was on a whole different trajectory. And it was, the dumb luck was just me saying "Hey, maybe I'll just apply to one." And the miracle was kind of, thinking, having the audacity to think that I had a shot, and actually applying, and thank goodness I did. Nothing that I have now would've been possible if, if that hadn't come through.

- So you have this, this vision, and clearly, anyone no matter where they're sitting, but certainly where you are coming from, this idea of what Princeton might be like, it's an abstraction until you get there.

- Yes.

- And so then you show up, and what what did you find out about yourself when you, when you got there, what was that experience like?

- Oh man. Terrifying. You know, it's, you go to a place like that, you got all these hopes, dreams and all that stuff, and also, for me it was like I was one of the top kids in my school, and I very quickly realized that being among the top kids at my local public high school in my town did not prepare me to, to be in classes with the top kids at Phillips Exeter Academy at Andover. You know, it's a lot of different places, and I definitely got in there and was not at the top of the heat. But also there were a couple of other things that were kind of weighing in as I thought about this. So, hope it's okay if I divert a little, I want to take a couple, let's call it a month and a half back from when I landed. The impossible dream happened, and I just remember that that last three months of senior year was great because, it was almost like I was doing it for everybody. Everybody in my school was excited, the students, the teachers and all that. And I remember one of the things I did when I was growing up, or I should say the last three years of high school I worked at our grocery store we had there, Circle Supermarket, and bagging groceries, working the register, all these things. And I'm on cloud nine from the time I got accepted all the way through. And I rem, getting to graduation, getting the standing ovation, everything's great, everything's great, and then July of that summer between graduation and getting out there, I remember I was at work, actually I remember the date, it was Saturday, July 15th, I'm there working the cash register, this older white guy comes up that I'd gotten to know, I thought, over the years, joking back and forth, bagging groceries, talk to him in line, and I remember him, he said "Hey Marquis, you just graduated high school." And I'm like "Yeah." He said "What are you going to do?" "Oh, I'm going to Princeton to study computer science." And his response was "Oh, Princeton? Ivy League Princeton." And the first thing that came to mind was well ain't but one, right? It's like what other Princeton is there where I could study computer science? And his response, he looked at me dead in the eye and said "Oh, not only are you a funny spear chucker, but you're a smart one too." Now some of you all might not know the term spear chucker. This is one of those old school racial epithets. I've been called a lot of stuff in my life at that point, I'd never been called that. My grandma had told me stories about that. And I remember hearing that and getting angry. And I remember my hands being down at my sides, and my fists balled up. And in that moment I thought I would love to just knock this man out, but if I do the dream's over, so I, the only thing that I could think to do was pause, laugh a little bit, and try to act like everything was okay. And he looked at me and said "Oh, you must not know what that means," and walked out laughing. Never saw the man again. And so in that moment I kind of said "I have to win. I have to, I have to be great, because I'm not going to be anybody's spear chucker." So to get back to your question, Chris, I get there on campus, $42 in my pocket, and I'm like "Yo, I have to win." I don't exactly know what that means, but it was, it wasn't an option not to. And so as foreign as this was for me, hell, I didn't even know I had, I had a really, I now look back, I had a really bad accent, or not bad, I had a really strong, let's say I had a really strong country accent and had no clue, 'cause I never talked to anybody didn't talk like me. And then you get there, and you get all the kids from other places, they're like why you talk like that? And impersonating you. And it's not mean spirited, but it's that's where you immediately realize you're different. And also was part of, I paid my way through school working 30, 35, 40 hours a week all four years. So the experience was totally different. I was basically a college student, and a grownup at the same time. And it was really hard at the time, but now I'm actually glad that I had that experience, because it made me realize it's only, it's only up from there, right? And also academically, when you're carrying full course load and you're trying to basically pay your way through school, buying books and train tickets home and all that stuff, it, anyway, I, man, I don't think, I might have had one B, maybe two in my life before that first year. And then I remember getting a quiz that had a C, and it was like, it was like the worst thing ever. It was like, hold up man, I'm Marquis, I don't do C's, but I did them very well during that first year. And I kind of, I'm big on having something that I can like focus on and run after, and for me it was like I needed a vowel. My transcript needed a vowel, 'cause I had a whole lot of consonants. And that was the thing that I ran after. Thankfully, the vowel came in an econ class second semester, sophomore year, and then it's like everything got more straightforward. It was like at that point I realized "Hey, I can actually do this," whereas for like the majority of my first two years I didn't think I could. And then from there it's just sort of you start moving up and to the right. And the confidence in being able to work in that environment kind of builds. I realize I give you a really long answer to a short question, so I apologize, but I figure I got a lot of story to tell.

- No, there's no short questions when you're talking about life, really. No, seriously. I mean, so-

- Yeah, yeah. That's true. that's true.

- So, so you had that experience, and clearly academics were important to you growing up, but then this experience then led to one degree after another. So you can, can you talk about the, the inspiration and what happened with the University of Virginia and then Stanford, and how that took you on the path that that led to where you are now?

- Yeah, so, I knew at some point I would go to grad school, right? And I didn't really know, I didn't know what I would go to grad school, I was just like "Okay, I got to get a grad degree at some point." And even though I majored in computer science, I knew I wanted to move over towards the business side of things, but I didn't really know how. My thinking was I'd get out of school, I was a software engineer right out of school, so I figured I'd plug away a Java code for a little while, and then I'd just magically somehow jump over to the business side. It doesn't really work like that, as I learned. And so I remember talking to one of my friends, one of my, my oldest friends, classmate of mine from, from Princeton, and I was like "Hey, I want to make this move, but I don't know how, I don't know what to do." He's like "Oh, why don't you get an MBA?" And I said "What's that?" 'Cause I'd never heard of an MBA. This is like two years after graduation. And so I was like "All right, let me hop on, hop on the internet." I don't know if you remember web crawler, but I hopped on web crawler and put in MBA. I actually didn't know what it stood for. So I look, Master's of Business Administration, and I was like "Okay, I should get one of those." And you start researching some more, and I start finding this thing called management consulting, it's like "All right, I should do that." And hear about this company called McKinsey as I'm researching, I should go there too. But what I realized is I started researching the MBA game, I knew that undergrad grades mattered a lot. And my undergrad grades actually trended upward very well. It's like when you start low, nowhere else to go but up. And so they were okay, but I knew that it was, that they probably weren't going to be good enough for the kind of programs that I was targeting. And so the same friend of mine, my man Tony, he was just like "Hey, there's this program at UVA, this MS and IT management, that we can do without having to leave our jobs." And it was a 12-month executive format, every other weekend, we were living in DC area at the time, so we would drive down to Charlottesville all day, what was it? I think it was all day Friday classes, all day Saturday classes. And then we would just go back and work. And that would be like that every other week for a year. And it was, it sort of gave you the, the grounding in technology, but a level up from writing code. And at the time he and I are the two youngest graduates, I think, ever in that program. I think the average age, I think the average age in the program was like 36 or 37 at the time. and we were 24 when we started. So he's three months older than me, so I'm the youngest graduate, I think, of that program. But, I was able to go through that program, get my three seven, and was like "All right, I can apply to business school." And the key thing for me is education is something that can't, no one can take away. And it was like when you're kind of building yourself up from scratch, I'm all about using bricks that aren't going to get knocked down. And as long as I keep my right mind, the education's there, and the credentials stick with you. So that's, that was kind of the chase. And then when it came to business school I applied to a bunch of different schools, but Stanford was the place where I wanted to go. So it's kind of like "Hey, I'm going to Stanford, and that's it." And impossible dream that happened for the second time, and I actually got in. And then the third grad degree was I realized when I got there that there was a joint degree in education, and I have some educational non-profit aspirations for the future. So I was like "Hey, let me see if I can just apply once I'm a student there." So I was able to add that in, and I was able to do both in the same two years without paying anything more. So I'm like "All right, I'm not one to pass up a deal," so it is just I will take these extra classes, get this extra degree, and that's how it worked. And I actually use a lot of the stuff from all three randomly with different things that I do now. So very fortunate turn of events.

- So, and I don't know if I have the exact timing right, but I think it was before you ended up going to Stanford that you started working on this blog, and then sort of, and it was pretty early on in the idea of people blogging, blogging about business, and you essentially chronicled your experiences all the way through graduate school and beyond. So can you talk about where that, where that came from, and the role that it played for, for you and then this community that you built up around it?

- Yeah, yeah. So I, I didn't know anybody that had gone to business school, and so I'm out here trying to gather information, it was hard to find what was the good information and bad information. And it occurred to me like well, maybe if there's someone else who doesn't know the way to do this, I can tell my story so at least they know me. And it was just me kind of chronicling everything from going to the info sessions at the very beginning of the process, researching schools, looking into financial aid and all that. And my thinking was I doubt anybody's going to read this, but just in case someone does I'm going to make the story complete. And, as I think back, I wrote about a lot of stuff that I really shouldn't have written about. I was, there's stuff in there like me going to admit weekend at Stanford, and partying it up and ending up stumbling back into my hosts room and falling, collapsing onto his floor. And I would write about stuff like that, I didn't know any better, it's just real life. But what happened over time is once I actually started as a student, I was like I don't know what it's like as a student, maybe there are other people who don't, so let me just keep on writing about that. And in the process people started reaching out and asking me, emailing me "Hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about this? Can I get your advice on this?" And it was actually the first time anyone actually sought my opinion on anything, or looked for my perspective. And I actually enjoyed helping be a thought partner to folks on this. And after a while it's just like, I just had this following, and that's when I started getting submitted for awards and stuff. I don't even know if a lot of those awards exist anymore. But, over time I would share everything. I would share, when I would get dinged for summer internship opportunities, because if they're going to tell, you can't just tell the highs, you got to tell the lows too, or else it's not a complete story. And I'm all about the complete story. But over time I think that kind of helped me connect with folks. And it, there was a stretch there, Chris, where I would, and I had my picture on the blog, so people would recognize me. I'd be in airports and people would hug me, and I'm like "Who are you stranger?" And they're like "Hey, it's Jason." "I know tons of Jasons," but it would turn out that it would be someone that sent me an email that I gave some sort of advice on. And it was, it was crazy. It was just building this connectivity just by helping people. It got me excited. And after business school I was a consultant for a little while at McKinsey, and they wouldn't let me continue, I wanted to write about what it was like as a management consultant, they were like "Nah." It's like all right, but I like having this joint, I don't want to kill it. And so I kind of pivoted where I was like I can't tell you all what this is like being out here on the road working with these clients, so just email me questions, and I'll give you my thoughts. It won't be quick responses, 'cause not like I got time to sleep, so I'm not going to sit there and use my sleep time to respond to emails, but if you're patient I will give you perspectives, I'll give you thoughts. And that was, oh man, I think I did that for a good 10, 11 years after, in terms like people sending me emails and me kind of getting back to 'em. And there were times where someone would send me really complicated stuff, and I'd be like "All right, let's just talk." It would take me 45 minutes to write this email, it'll take me 15 minutes to talk to you. And I love the direct connection, and the back and forth, and it really made me feel good that this scraggly little dude from the country who had never done any of this stuff before could actually be relied upon to actually have some insights on things. Because when you do stuff for the first time you bump your head a lot, and bumping your head kind of sucks. But if I can take the, the ouch from that and help someone else not do it, I just got, I get some excitement. And it allowed me to stay connected with a ton of folks. So my network is actually pretty crazy, because I tend to stay connected with people over time. And I found that as I moved forward in my career I kind of did the same sorts of things, and so eventually, eventually the blog faded out, 'cause I just didn't have time to maintain it anymore. But the motions that I was going through where I was able to connect with people and give advice, it just meant a lot. It, I stuck with it, it's just something that's very core to me now. I can't imagine not being out here trying to help people in that way.

- So, as you've gone on in your career, and I know just from getting to know you a little bit that that your values are, are a big guiding force for you. So how does that factor into when you've made decisions, and you've made decision not too long ago to join Indeed, when you're looking at a company and trying to think about where you want to spend your time and your energy, and where you can be of use, and to be able to help folks, what are you looking for, and how do you think about aligning your values with, with an organization?

- So, so for me, there are a lot of things that I look at, I think the three big primary ones. One, is there, are there hard problems? Is there something, some meaty to work on? Because anybody can just punch the clock and just coast, I'm not here for that. I can do more than that. So it's like there has to be something where there's some, some value that I feel like I can add. At the same time I want to, I want to choose opportunities that give me a path. So it's like you have to be able to get in somewhere and know that there is something to work towards, and then something after that and something after that. And that's something that gets me really excited. And one of the big things that has become much more important to me as I've gotten, as I've gotten further in my career is a company stance on, on diversity, inclusion, belonging, all of that, that bucket of things. Because once upon a time it was all about hey, let me just, let me just go to companies and build a resume. And then you go into those companies, and it's like "Man, it'd be great if some other black folks was here." And so it's like, so I'm like "Yo, I need to know that the company is thinking, forward thinking on that, doing the right things now, but also trying to figure out what the right things are later." And so those are, are, are three big, big areas for me.

- So on, on that last issue, I know that that's something that is, here at Indeed it's bigger than just who we are as a company, it's also how, what is our responsibility as being a marketplace that is actually brokering this relationship between job seekers and employers for hundreds of millions of people. And so part of your work within GPC is helping other companies think about their complex hiring needs, and how they can use our products, and in particular in ways to make sure that that equity is sort of at the core of the recruiting strategy, so can can you talk a little bit about, about that work for you?

- Sure. So I have a team within my org in GPC that focuses on, on equitable hiring. And so I dunno if I'm allowed to give shutouts, but Nonya, Danny, Dan from the GPC side, Anan, Matt Boswick, there are a bunch of people across Indeed that are touching this work, and in particular that Equitable Hiring team is engaging with both the Indeed Equity team that Ananth runs, Product team, and the the Social Impact Product team that Matt runs. So there's a lot of, there's a lot of go to market strategy in there, a lot of going back and forth on product strategy from go to market perspective, but then also there, there's reaching out to customers, trying to get the feedback, reaching out to the GPS team, Global Product Solutions team to get input to make sure that the things that we are doing and building to help companies hire more equitably, and ensure that people with, with barriers, can get jobs. Our team is right in the mix working with those two teams. Now myself, my engagement is not as much on the, the day to day of that work, it's sort of dropping in, giving input, engaging with the, the senior product directors on that, and just trying to make sure that we get alignment, and moving forward in a productive direction. But this is just something that I genuinely care about. So I, shout out to Misty, shout out to Jessica and Lafawn and, and the DI&B team. I do a lot of, and Al Lundy as well. I do a lot of interaction with those folks to see how I can help there, because it's important. And in order for Indeed to do it right, we all have to be involved, and I kind of feel a responsibility because I, I know, I know what happens when there isn't. You know, when you go through bad solutions, and one of my philosophies is that you've got to, you've got to be who you needed. And it's like, there have been many times throughout everything where I needed something, I needed someone to help out in some way to put something in place. And so through this kind of work I just feel really good about it because I am being the person that 25 year old me needed, or I'm working on things that 30 year old me, 35 year old me needed to have in place to be able to have a, a much more balanced playing field than I actually had going through. I hope I answered your question. I threw some extra stuff in there, but-

- Yeah. No, so, when you think about your experience and the journey, where you came from, where you are today, there's a lot of ground in there, and clearly, as you said, a lot of it was, was hard work and raw materials, but you also, you did have a network around you even, even though you didn't come from a world where everyone was, was on this path before, and we talk a lot about the fact that talent is universal, opportunity is not. And so when when you think about your experiences, what can we do, Indeed, as a business to ensure that more marginalized people on both sides of, of that talent equation, that they can, they can get the opportunity they need and find each other?

- A few things. So one, the easy one is just to be the example. Do the right things with our hiring. A lot of the things that Misty and Jessica seem to have kind of helped the company put into place, I think that it's, as we're looking at building product solutions, running programs, et cetera, having things set up internally so we can say "Look, we're doing it right too," so we're not just telling you, company X, to do things this way, we're demonstrating it. I think a second thing is building the kind of products that keep equitable hiring top of mind and make it straightforward for companies to actually use those products to think about hiring the right way. Because I think that what happens, companies, companies tend to check the box, but they don't actually do it right. And it's just like they, it's all proforma. I think that Indeed has an opportunity to build the tools, make them available, and guide our customers to use those tools so that, that they're actually getting diverse slates and actually driving diversity in their hiring efforts. And then one more that I throw in there, it's all about the job seeker presenting opportunities to folks who have all different types of backgrounds, not just, there's race, there's gender, all these different things, but a lot of the stuff around justice impacted job seekers, and the stuff on, think Abby's world. All the folks that have these barriers to finding employment, let those folks know that Indeed is here to help. Come to us, and we also have customers who are trying to hire folks of all different backgrounds. It's really actively doing things to bring those folks together, and not just, not just talking the talk, right? We have to walk the walk. And there are probably a bunch of other things, I know you and your team are thinking about, but those are the first three that are top of mind for me.

- One of the things that I know that you're involved in that you're super passionate about is the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Can you talk a little bit about what that is, and about the work that you're doing there?

- Yeah, yeah. So that is an initiative that was founded, I want to say, back in '03. I think it was the class of '65. And the idea is to give, to recognize high school students that are doing work in areas of race relations, equity, et cetera. And for a lot of these students, they're doing the work for the love, they're not doing it for recognition, but there's a lot of this work being done. And so I've been involved, I want to say 11 years now, I spent eight years as the, as the chair here in Chicago for the Princeton Prize, and now I want to say for the last three I've been on the, on the national board. And it's, it's just amazing to see the kind of stuff that 14, 15, 16 year old kids are doing to try to advance equity in a, in a world that they don't even fully understand yet. And I read these applications, and I am just floored because this is the kind of stuff that most grownups don't even think about trying to touch. And here we have 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders doing it. And then so, so for the ones that have gone through the rounds here, here in Chicagoland, I often stay in touch with a lot of them. There's one young lady who just graduated from Princeton in June, she was actually my, she was one of my early winners, youngest one that we've ever had in this area, she wanted as a 9th grader, and she ended up, ended up going to going to Princeton. She's now, I think she's starting with a, a VC firm sometime soon. And I am in touch with her and her family, because you start, you invest the time to see how you can help these folks, and provide them with the support, the coaching, the guidance, it just, it just feels good. It makes me feel good about the generation that is 20, 30, 40 years behind us, that they actually care about these things, 'cause if you look at things right now, it's kind of hard to find optimism, but I find a lot of optimism in the kids that we touch in the Princeton Prize.

- Well that's, that's a perfect segue to, we could continue this conversation all day long, and you and I have had many conversations that have have gone on 'cause there's, there's so much to talk about. But in wrapping this up, I always do ask the same question, and so I'm going to, I'm going to go back to that optimism, and the final question is given everything that is going on in the world right now, and all of the challenges, and especially what we've been through globally in the last two and a half years, what are some of the things that, that give you optimism for the future?

- First big one is my son. So, I've got a first grader who turns seven on Halloween, and watching him grow up, and watching his, the friends that he's made, it's like you realize that a lot of the stuff that we all see every day as adults is kind of learned behavior, 'cause when kids are small they just play. And my son, his name's Thomas, he's got male friends, female friends, all different races, backgrounds, socioeconomic class. They just, they just play, and it really, that's what they focus on. And, as I think about young people and realize that we have an opportunity to try to raise them up in the right way, to not experience some of the things like I experienced in that grocery store, there is hope that my son's generation will be in a much more supportive, equitable, friendly, collaborative environment than my generation. He's not going to have to worry about some old idiot calling him a spirit checker, right? And actually he's not going to worry about going to college with 42 bucks in his pocket and trying to make it work. Shout out to education. But that gives me a ton of hope, because he's just happy. He's just happy. He's focused on, on friendships. I think another thing that gives me a lot of hope is that conversations like this. And I feel like folks didn't talk about these sorts of issues as much, maybe as recently as five years ago, but over the last five years you can't help but see it every day on the news, every day when you walk around where you are. And as a result people are talking about things, like, hell, I wouldn't have told you, well actually I've told that spear chucker story a lot, but stories like that would not have been welcome in certain environments because it's like "Oh, this the black dude with a chip on his shoulder about something that happened 20 some odd years ago." But now you can have those discussions and realize you might see someone every day at work, you don't know what that person has experienced. You don't know what that person is experiencing. And so I get a lot of hope because folks see much more open minded about learning in those kind of situations, and trying to do better tomorrow. It's like you can't change what you did yesterday, you can't change what you did 20, 30 years ago, but you can learn today and get better tomorrow. And I feel like people actually give a damn about getting better tomorrow now.

- Well, that's a fantastic way to wrap things up.

- Mm, I tried.

- Marquis, thank you so much for, for just sharing your, your experience, and your thoughts and your journey here. Thank you so much for, for taking the time. Thank you for everything that you do here at Indeed to help people get jobs. And thanks everyone for, for listening in.

- Thank you.