I AM LEX: Redefining Dyslexia’s Narrative with Mark Francis Long

I AM LEX: Redefining Dyslexia’s Narrative with Mark Francis Long

If Mark Francis Long had a motto for his life, it might be “sticks and stones.” Mark is the chief marketing officer of XtraordinarY People, where he leads the charge in shaping and amplifying narratives that empower neurodiverse individuals.

But before doing that, he learned to drown out the noise and embrace the phrase “sticks and stones.” That’s because Mark has dyslexia, which often leads to people not taking him seriously.

“I have been called lazy and stupid, and I have been laughed at and ridiculed in client meetings and the office. The reality is that most resumes with spelling or grammar mistakes end up in the trash,” Long said, “and that is how these managers treated me, like trash.”

That’s when Long learned to embrace the “sticks and stones” mindset. He knew he had a solid, creative mind that excelled in advertising; he just wasn’t sure if other people did, either.

“From an early age, I was inherently a storyteller, finding joy in watching Super Bowl commercials rather than the game itself. This early fascination laid the foundation for a deep passion for advertising and creative storytelling. While it wasn't immediately apparent, my neurodivergent qualities fit perfectly in the fast-paced, innovative world of advertising and marketing.”

Previously, Mark worked in creative strategy and direction for companies like M&T, where he collaborated with global brands. He also worked at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, where he worked as a senior communications strategist on WEB3 and Metaverse gaming projects.

“I found purpose in a realm where creativity, business acumen, and neurodivergent thinking converge. This convergence has made me more resilient in my career and allowed me to thrive in a dynamic and imaginative industry.”

Perhaps Mark’s most important personal and professional achievement was founding I AM LEX, a philanthropic organization and networking community that aims to empower dyslexic and neurodivergent professionals worldwide. The mission of I AM LEX is to shift the prejudicial thinking aimed at individuals with dyslexia and to also inspire others with dyslexia to come out of their shells, gain confidence, and break the stigma associated with the diagnosis.

In short, Mark wants to “celebrate the genius behind dyslexia.”

And he has good reason to; his professional path is proof that the stereotypes associated with having dyslexia are just that, stereotypes.   

“Dyslexia brought to me unique strengths. It became a tool that not only added a distinct perspective to my career in ideation and marketing but also allowed me to navigate the world with a more holistic view,” said Long.

For a large part of his life, Mark was judged and even fired from jobs for having dyslexia. However, by his mid-thirties, he felt the need to understand his dyslexia better and open up to the world about his diagnosis.

Mark’s confidence grew, and when he began advocating for neurodivergent individuals, he was shown the power of openness and acceptance in his personal and professional life.

When asked what advice he would give to neurodivergent individuals, Mark advises individuals to find out how their differences can help them excel personally and professionally.

“Identify and leverage your unique strengths and talents to excel in what you love and what feels right. These strengths can often be the keys to unlocking your full potential.”

Mark chose the name; I AM LEX, to rebrand dyslexia in a more modern interpretation. Even though negative stereotypes regarding intelligence and dyslexia still exist, Mark ignores them.

“Those misconceptions and judgmental stereotypes or ignorance are the real stupidity,” said Long. For him, those words are genuinely sticks and stones.

Check out Mark’s TEDx Talk:


About the Author:

John Stanton

John Stanton graduated from Emerson College with a bachelor’s degree in film production. He is passionate about helping individuals maximize their neurodivergent potential and transform it into a “superpower.” Additionally, he is interested in the education field's adoption of new teaching methods that cater to unconventional learners. In his free time, John enjoys hiking, reading, and getting out on the water.

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