Marie Cosgrove has been defying the odds from the very moment of her existence. Conceived from violence, born against doctors’ advice, raised in a tumultuous blend of love and trauma, and consistently told she’d never make it.
Marie Cosgrove rose above all of those things and turned her pain into purpose.
Today she is a wife, mother, CEO, author, speaker, mentor, and a titan in the industry she was once mocked in.
“Little girl, just go home,” he told her. “The most you’re ever going to sell is candy, with your little girl voice. You won’t make it in this industry.” The sneering insult from the owner of the company hit Marie by surprise. She’d just completed the training for medical device sales with a perfect score.
Marie was the only woman there. She’d left a VP position where she managed a 400 million dollar budget, only to be told she wasn’t qualified for this lesser position. She’d used her sales skills to sell the company owner on giving her a chance and paid for the training herself. She’d worked hard in spite of a palpable sense of derision from her male colleagues. She needed this job and was not about to let anyone intimidate her into thinking she wasn’t good enough.
“Just give me 30 days,” she said. Perhaps as a lark, or perhaps because of the fire in her eyes, the owner agreed to give Marie a 30 day, straight commission contract. If she didn’t meet the quota in 30 days, she’d lose her contract.
Marie had faced far larger bullies than that man.
Even before she’d been born, doctors did everything they could first to convince Marie’s mother and then Marie’s grandparents, not to give life to Marie.
A car accident had left Marie’s mother with significant brain damage. Then she’d been raped. Doctors were certain Marie would be born with major birth defects and insisted Marie’s mother would not be able to care for such a baby – or any baby.
Marie’s mother was adamant that she was not about to kill her baby after God had saved her own life. Doctors had tried to convince her own parents to remove life support when she’d been in a coma. Her parents had fought for their little girl, and she would fight for hers too.
When Marie’s mother refused the abortion, doctors went after Marie’s grandparents to overrule their daughter. “She’s not mentally competent,” they said, and should not have the baby.
The harder doctors fought to abort the baby, the firmer Marie’s grandparents became, especially her grandmother. “That’s why I’m here, because of my grandmother’s faith and determination,” Marie says.
Her grandparents assumed a large role in raising Marie. They loved her deeply and did their best to care for her. Some of her aunts and uncles loved her, too, but the rest were cruel and even abusive. Her mother’s moral compass was a casualty of her brain damage, which opened the door for Marie to experience horrific abuse during weekends in her mother’s care.
All of her life she’d been told she was a blight on her family’s name. She’d been physically abused and beaten. She’d been told she was worthless, and should never have been born. In school she’d been told she was too dumb to go to college and no one would ever give her a scholarship, anyway.
For a time she believed all the people who told her those things. She endured the abuse and the beatings because she felt she had no choice.
“I felt I didn’t belong here. I should never have been born. I didn’t have a purpose.”
But when her children could not take that life anymore, Marie stepped into her strength one more time, and walked out of it.
Marie was 27 years old, twice divorced from abusive husbands. She had three small children, a 4th on the way, and layers of scars on her soul from the horrendous trauma she’d suffered at the hands of so many. And yet – she’d managed to work her way into a Fortune 500 company.
She was the VP of marketing at USAA, even though she didn’t have a college degree. The company believed in her so much, it was helping her pay to get that degree. It broke Marie’s heart to leave that all behind, but she had to take her children far away from the life of trauma they’d all been living.
Now a single mother again, with a newborn baby, no job, and two of her four children with substantial health issues, Marie and her children slept in a huddle on the floor of a relative’s home. They faced an uncertain future that Marie met with her own brand of certainty.
“I began to know God, and that every single one of us has a purpose,” Marie says. It was time, she knew, to find her own purpose in life.
It was a tough time but Marie was even tougher. No one, she vowed, would ever hurt her children again. She was going to do whatever it took to build a new life for herself and her kids, and nothing would stop her.
Marie left that training determined to reach her quota and then some. But life threw another enormous bolt of sadness her way.
Her grandfather was the one strong, stable, loving man in her life. News that he’d been diagnosed with Leukemia stopped Marie’s thoughts of quotas in their tracks. “I knew I had 30 days to meet my quota, but I didn’t know how long I’d have my grandfather for.”
Her grandfather died three weeks later. Marie had rarely left his side. Now, mired in fresh grief, she answered her phone.
“Little girl, we’re canceling your contract. You haven’t done a thing in three weeks,” came the voice of that company owner.
Marie was exhausted but she was not broken. “I have one week left,” she reminded him. He’d hung up laughing and she’d gone to work. For five days she called hundreds of doctors. They all shut her sales pitch down. Then, on the last day, one of those doctors called back.
Marie Cosgrove sold $150,000 of equipment to that doctor – three times her quota.
Within six months, Marie was the #1 national sales representative for that company. She’d done it. For the first time ever, Marie felt a surge of relief and security. It didn’t last long- a change in the company’s distribution rights left Marie unemployed again.
She immediately applied for a sales position at a different company, balanceback, and went through the same cycle of skepticism before she again became a #1 national sales representative.
Marie was making close to one million dollars a year in her commission based career. She’d again risen to the top in her field, and this time it seemed as if she was going to be recognized for her accomplishments.
“Marie,” one of the balanceback owners said over the phone, “We’re proud of you and your success. We’d like to take you to lunch.”
This was it – Marie was finally accepted in the industry. She was certain she was about to be promoted but more importantly, anointed with acceptance and respect. It would have been the happy ending to her long struggle. It would have ended the cycle of hardship – but it didn’t happen. Instead, Marie was told she was making too much money in commission for someone who was not a doctor and did not have a college degree. So balanceback was canceling her commission contract and offering her a salary of less than ⅛ of what she was currently earning.
Marie left that ambush luncheon unemployed and undefeated. She started her own company. Calling upon relationships she’d built over the years, Marie designed a new medical device that met a need she’d noticed.
As her company entered the arena of multi-million dollar companies, balanceback went the opposite direction. Marie’s phone rang again. This time the voice on the other end invited her to invest in balanceback.
Marie Cosgrove did one better and became the new CEO.
She sold the business she’d created and grew balanceback into an international leader in diagnosing and treating balance disorders. She’s also become a coach, speaker, and teacher for the John Maxwell Team. She’s an influencer, an inspiration, and a mentor. She’s also committed to helping other young teens and single moms forge their own paths through immense adversity.
The Virtue Project is Marie’s way of giving back. Her ministry-based organization leads young women who may otherwise be lost into hope and success in their own lives.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Anything is possible in this country, it doesn’t matter your race, skin color if you’re male or female. Look at me – everybody told me I wouldn’t make it, and here I am.” quote=”Anything is possible in this country, it doesn’t matter your race, skin color if you’re male or female. Look at me – everybody told me I wouldn’t make it, and here I am. – Marie Cosgrove ” theme=”style5″]
Here she is, indeed. She’s crushing it in life not only because she’s made her own vision a reality in spite of overwhelming odds, but because she is turning around to help others do the same.
“There’s absolutely no law preventing you from making your dream happen,” says Marie, and she’s found her own purpose in helping others find the same conviction in their own lives.
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