I wouldn't call Joe Moglia a stutterer.
I would call him a brilliant . As a former Merrill Lynch executive, where he ultimately led six divisions and served on two executive committees in his 17 years with the company, he was named "No. 1 Producer in the World" by 1988. businessman
Then, Moglia left Merrill Lynch and became CEO of online broker TD Ameritrade, where he held the position for seven years. In that time, shareholders earned a 500 percent return, market cap increased from $700 million to $10 billion, and client assets reached $280 billion.
I'd also call Moglia an amazing football coach.
Before he gained fame on Wall Street, he coached college football for 16 years. He initially left the game back in 1983, ending his tenure as the defensive coordinator at Dartmouth College.
But in 2008, Moglia vacated the CEO position at TD Ameritrade (he became chairman of the board), deciding to return to his passion--coaching college football.
Currently, he's the head football coach and chair of athletics at Coastal Carolina University, where he has been part of seven championship teams (with four National Playoffs and three Conference Championships). He won the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award for National Coach of the Year in 2015.
You might be surprised to learn, then, that Moglia was able to achieve all of these things despite the fact that he struggled with stuttering from an early age.
In fact, later today, the Stuttering Association for the Young will hold its 14th Annual Benefit Gala, where they will recognize Moglia for his work to inspire young people who suffer with the challenge of stuttering.
"To everyone that stutters," says Moglia, "know that we want to hear your voice."
Joe Moglia may have been challenged by stuttering. But he is not a stutterer.
From Humble Beginnings
Joe was born in 1949, the oldest of five children. Both he and his brother Johnny had problems with stuttering.
"We grew up in a neighborhood where it wasn't at all uncommon to get in a fight," says Moglia. "But probably 30 percent to 40 percent of the fights that we got into were because people made fun of the way we spoke...our inability to get out our words."
"If you're going through this [stuttering challenge] personally, it affects your confidence, it affects your morale...it affects what you think about yourself.... In grammar school, in high school, in college, I almost never, ever raised my hand because I was afraid I was going to get called on--even if I knew the answer--and I was mortified that I wouldn't be able to get the words out."
So how was Moglia able to overcome this monumental challenge?
In a single word: preparation.
Moglia relates how he would spend 10 hours in front of a mirror to prepare a three-minute presentation--focusing on words that were especially difficult for him to get out.
Sometimes it worked. If it didn't, he tried to find words he could use as substitutes.
But through hard work and perseverance, Moglia overcame his stuttering challenges to become an expert communicator.
Equally amazing is how Moglia became smashingly successful in what would appear to be two completely different industries--finance and football. But in a story for Sports Illustrated, Moglia revealed that he sees these varied experiences and perspectives as part of the secret to his success.
"I'm a better football coach because I was a CEO," Moglia says.
"And I was a better CEO because I was a football coach."
Moglia may have struggled with stuttering throughout his life. But I still wouldn't call him a stutterer, because he didn't let that limitation define him.
Instead, he used it to find inspiration.
My Son's Story
I was especially touched by Moglia's story because my 4-year-old son is currently challenged by stuttering.
My son is a smart, creative, and very warm-hearted boy. So I know the difficult truth of Moglia's words: "If you have somebody who stutters, and you watch that person try to get through a sentence: It breaks your heart."
Of course, if you're a parent, you know every month, every week, every day brings new challenges for your children. They come. They pass. Sometimes they linger, like this one.
But he'll get through it. My wife and I will continue to support my son and shower him with love. His current limitation helps us build patience. It also builds character in him.
So, if you happen to meet my son, and he struggles to get out his words, please remember this:
He may happen to stutter, but he's not "a stutterer." He's so, so much more than that.
And although stuttering may be a limitation, it's also a catalyst for a major lesson: With good preparation and hard work, anything is possible.
Just ask Joe Moglia.