When Marcus Whitney moved to Nashville in 2000, he was a college dropout with a one-year-old and a baby on the way. He waited tables and lived in a week-to-week efficiency hotel. From the outside, Marcus looked like the furthest thing from a budding entrepreneur.

But inside, he knew entrepreneurship was his path to a better life.

Two decades later, Marcus has founded two innovative companies in the healthcare space, exited a tech marketing company, and co-owns Nashville’s new Major League Soccer team.

Published with permission from the author.

In his new book, Create and Orchestrate, Marcus walks readers through his unlikely journey from waiting tables to building companies. He demystifies much of what keeps people from pursuing entrepreneurship and explains why it’s the only vocation that allows you to control your time by using your creativity. Marcus knows the world needs more entrepreneurs who can offer fresh solutions. He hopes his book will give readers the confidence to say: Why not me?

I recently caught up with Marcus to learn what inspired him to write his book, his favorite idea he shares with readers, and how that idea has changed his business and his life.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

This book was born almost immediately after my TEDxNashville talk in 2014 called “Nashville Hustle: To Change Your Life You Gotta Lie A Little.” In preparing for that talk, I initially struggled to find something impactful enough for me to share. That caused me to look back at my own story, to extract what wisdom I could, and to find the courage to tell my truth.

Before that talk, I was embarrassed about having dropped out of college and by my former profession. But I realized I’d done something significant that could help others if I could find the wisdom in it. That was where I came up with the model of Believe, Partner Up, and Orchestrate. After I gave that talk, a teenage girl found me outside and said she was going to post those words on her ceiling so she saw them every morning when she woke up. That’s when I realized that I had something to say that could help people, and decided to write the book.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

The foundational idea is the power of belief in one’s self. There is a lot of information about entrepreneurship in Create and Orchestrate. Information about leadership, operations, finance, partnerships, media relations, etc. But none of that matters if you don’t believe in yourself enough to bet on yourself. Stepping out on faith to try to lead a creative life on your own terms requires belief, so that’s the most important actionable idea in the book.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?

My life today is completely a result of my own creation. I have 100% control over my time. I split that time between taking care of myself, spending time with my family, keeping up with friends, and advancing the portfolio of businesses that I own.

Twenty years ago, I spent six and a half days a week working in restaurants, taking orders, running food for tips. I had no control of my time, and the only creativity I could express was in the way I presented the menu to my guests. This Creative Power philosophy works, but you have to work it and understand it doesn’t happen overnight.