Marshall Morris – Episode 34 – Getting Past FEAR: From Broke in the Desert to a $30 Million Business
I must say that this interview is one of my favorite interviews to date because internet marketing ninja, Marshall Morris, kept surprising me with his down to earth, get-it-done attitude, generosity and life and business insights. Did I mention that when he started out, the only internet skill he knew was checking his email? More on that later… First let’s talk about how his career began.
As the son of a hard-working, humble pastor, Marshall was taught early on the value of a hard day’s work. In fact, at a young age, his father would “loan” him out for the weekend to different farmers he did business with to help out (for very little pay). This weekend help wasn’t about making money, however, his father really just wanted to instill in him the value of working hard.
And it’s with this same mentality that his dad encouraged Marshall to attend college, but also informed him that it would be his responsibility to pay his own way – as that’s the way he did it. Growing up in an impoverished family, his dad worked hard to pay for his college while attending so he’d never have to take out a loan.
Not deterred by this, Marshall joined the military so his schooling could be paid for as he went. He never thought he would be deployed, but then 9/11 happened. Obviously, while deployed Marshall couldn’t attend college so instead he read a lot of books (12 hours a night for a year) so he could continue at least some type of education.
Among those books, he found that those focused on business resonated with him the most, and upon returning from his deployment he took it from there. Admittedly having more of a sales mindset from the beginning, he dabbled in real estate but gradually got out of it when the market took a turn.
After returning from being deployed, Marshall was presented with the opportunity to help a friend of a friend with advertising sales on an automotive site that was struggling. Knowing very little about the internet, but feeling that this business could go somewhere, he offered to partner with this person. Their goal was to just make some money, make it a success and figure out the sales and marketing along the way with “Google university.” Eventually the company started doing well, and they sold it to a bigger automotive company.
It was through networking that he met his now business partner, Justin, who was in internet marketing. Having only a Facebook page, he enlisted the help of Marshall. Both found that their strengths and weaknesses balanced each other and they created the business I Heart Dogs. And the rest is history with other businesses such as I Heart Cats, I Heart Birds (and many more).
Marshall and business partner, Justin, excel at building business models and then using those models anywhere. For them and their current niche, they’ve found that the more they do, the more they find opportunity (and who wouldn’t want that?). But how did they build this brand/model to be so successful in the first place?
Marshall states that it comes down to authenticity.
“People want something that’s authentic. We crave authenticity in a world that’s so fake.”
That’s why Marshall’s business makes it a point to give back to the communities they serve. Particularly with the I Heart Dogs mission, they built a program that would help feed dogs without homes or in shelters (so far they’ve fed 8 million dogs in 24 months). They aim to be as transparent and as authentic as possible.
“We see numbers, but they’re people like us with needs and desires.”
Marshall attributes more of their success to the fact that people want to feel good about their purchases AND who they’re buying from. The more authentic you can be, the more you’re going to attract people. And when you do this you’re giving context to your conversation with your customer. To Marshall, it’s more than just selling a product, it’s about showing customers opportunities and making them feel like they’re part of a movement. When you’re talking openly and not just about revenue-oriented topics you build the communities/followers to go with it.
And when you get people to be a part of something and feel good about it becomes a part of their identity, too.
That’s why Marshall and his business are so passionate about encouraging others to free themselves and achieve their dreams as well. Naming fear as the biggest limiter, he acknowledges that fear is always going to be around.
“You never get rid of your fear, you just battle it.”
The more complicated life and business gets, the more things come at you and the more people break down. You can’t escape it, so you need people to support you.
“Fear isn’t a fact, it’s an emotion.”
Marshall is grateful to have his wife as his rock and main support person along with his family. Often times, when things get stressful, it’s a matter of taking a few days off to reboot and spend time with them.
One crucial time in Marshall and his wife’s lives is what they like to call their “time in the desert.” He had hit rock bottom… going from making hundreds of thousands of dollars to $7 an hour building garages. He had become complacent, not understanding how to balance an abundance of money and lost control of his financial situation. While building these garages and going through this “drought,” Marshall realized he needed to be around people who were going places, growing etc. in order to change his mindset.
Having formerly undervalued his worth, he suffered from what a friend called the “poor boy mindset.” This is someone who feels bad asking for a return on the value they provide, assuming that their value isn’t as high as another. Marshall had to go through a major value SHIFT.
“The whole point of building anything is to create value and capitalize on it. Period. Whatever that looks like. And you’ve got to be able to ask for as much as you create.”
So, Marshall started to rebuild, and a large part of that was again surrounding himself with good people who were going somewhere and who helped him survive and grow. But that was only one part of it. He still had to make the effort to make the connections. Whatever you build manifests outside of you.
“What’s down in the well will come up in the bucket.”
If you’re having trouble finding these people, Marshall suggests to keep things simple. Don’t overcomplicate it – just ask someone to have a cup of coffee with you. Have 3-4 really good questions ready. And then, make it a part of your weekly schedule. You may be investing $5 in a cup of coffee, but he guarantees that you’re receiving a heck of a lot more in value.
I love that Marshall offers this simple advice. It’s just one more way that he GIVES back. And likely it’s because he’s always been motivated to solve a problem and loves a challenge (he’s a bit competitive). ;) Both Marshall and his wife both love being able to do things for people as well… They’ve been through so many similar situations and because of this, they can feel the emotions and have soft spots for anyone experiencing the same or something similar.
“The world needs more generous people with money.”
Marshall is committed to building more profitable businesses that make an impact. He loves seeing businesses that have mastered the balance between giving and business. And it’s amazing when a business can be both genuine and generous while changing people’s lives.
After all, Marshall clarifies… it’s not about him or his company. It’s a mission to GIVE back, and if you give, that value will come back to you. For example, when Marshall and his wife have felt called to give, every time they have received MORE back. It was never the plan, but that’s what tends to happen.
Marshall goes on to say that he believes money is a great tool when it’s used genuinely to make positive change in the world.
“The world needs people who are ruthlessly unafraid to step out and do what it takes to make change where they feel like they need to make change.”
We all make impacts and help in different ways whether you’re a craftsman, a musician etc. – so own it! Even if that skillset is making and managing money.
“If you’re in a place where you’re genuine about what you do and how you operate, there’s no reason to apologize for that skillset.”
You’ve been put on this earth with a set of unique gifts, so PLEASE follow Marshall’s advice and don’t let anyone keep you from YOUR vision. Money is a GOOD thing there’s good intention behind its use. Never, never apologize for the gifts you were born with.
In This Episode You Will Learn:
Acknowledging and battling fear
Hitting rock bottom and coming back from it
Following your passion
For more stories and tips on becoming unapologetically wealthy, follow me @Chriswharder on Instagram and check out fortheloveofmoney.com.