Marcus Stroud is from a Texas town with a name that matches his optimistic outlook: Prosper.
“I’m the luckiest human in the world,” Stroud beams.
His resume is filled with accomplishments anyone could envy. Two-time high school football captain and All-State honoree. Princeton graduate. Recognized on the “Forbes 30 Under 30” 2022 List of Venture Capital Achievers as a founding partner and co-manager of TXV Partners, an early-stage fund focused on software and human performance.
From the outside looking in, you might think Stroud has always had it all.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
“I believe adversity is a privilege,” he said.
This was just one of several personal insights Stroud shared with attendees of “Rethinking Recruitment: Diversity & Inclusion in the Talent Pipeline,” a thought-leadership panel Regions Bank recently sponsored during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
Stroud joined Linda Ginac, Katie Fang and Leigh Christie to discuss topics ranging from the value of higher education and workforce readiness programs to the impact of mentoring and internships and more during the event. Christie, CEO and executive director of nonprofits Beam and Beam Angel Network, moderated the session. Ginac, CEO and chairwoman of Artificial Intelligence software company TalentGuard, and Fang, founder and CEO of college and career readiness platform SchoolLinks, served as Stroud’s fellow panelists.
“Reaching and engaging the next generation of talent early has always been important, but it’s especially so today with the changing landscape our workforce has experienced during the past two years,” said Stephanie Perryman, commercial banking leader and market executive for Regions Bank in Austin. “Hosting this event offered an opportunity to focus on this timely topic while demonstrating Regions’ commitment to elevating diversity, equity and inclusion and supporting education and workforce readiness initiatives.”
Stroud’s road to earning his Ivy League degree was never a given growing up in a single-parent family.
“The day before I took my ACT test, we were evicted from our house,” Stroud recalled. “As I walked into that test, I was just so defeated. I kept thinking, ‘Trial after trial after trial just keeps happening in my family’s life. Why am I taking this ACT test? I just don’t want to set myself up for failure.’ So, I walked out after finishing one section.”
That’s certainly not something he recommends other students do, but there is a moral to this story and others Stroud tells. In this case, it’s always believe in your ability and your worth, especially on the hard days.
Stroud is also a vocal advocate for higher education, something he credits his mother for instilling in him and his brother.
“Parents play such a pivotal role in promoting education,” said Stroud. “Shaping your passion and dreams for the future begins at home at a very young age. We need people who say to us, ‘You deserve to go to college. You deserve to get a degree. Go get a degree because that’s going to open doors for you.’”
If you have a little gas, a little juice, a little fire in you, you can change the world.
Today, Stroud travels the country to convey that very encouragement with youth in low-income areas.
“We’re sharing a message of, ‘If you see it, you can believe it; if you believe it, you can achieve it,’” he said.
Stroud and team also teach students about high-net-worth minority business leaders to encourage them to consider career possibilities like being entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
And Stroud is doing far more than just sharing that message. He and TXV Partners are putting those words into action by introducing youth to these career fields to show them what’s possible.
“We give out three grants every year to three HBCUs, and then, each quarter, we hire five interns from five different backgrounds, five diverse people,” said Stroud. “We’re also hiring two high school students to expose them to our industry early.”
Seeing the impact he’s able to create is what fuels commitment to helping others prosper like he has.
“If you have a little gas, a little juice, a little fire in you, you can change the world,” Stroud said.
Something he knows firsthand.