The Setup | Marshall Morris Journey to Now | Madness Media

by | Feb 10, 2017 | Personal Journey

This post has been a long time coming. And rightfully so. Up until this point I have been getting involved in some pretty sweet stuff.

I’ve always known that I’m not very talented. I know that I had to work crazy hard as an non-athletic kid to dunk the basketball. I had to practice excessively to get any good at the cello or bass guitar. I’m a terrible artist. All of these non-talents have taught me one of the most important lessons of my life though, the concept of work ethic and ambition.

In high school, I was so over the insincere relationships that I felt were formed around me. I never bought into the various “scenes” or had any desire to make sure the “cool kids” liked me.  Many friendships felt superficial, so in turn, I removed myself from many friend groups and set my sights on college and building for my future. In general, I tested well, but as it turns out, not well enough for advanced math placement. So after several years of grueling AP classes, my senior year schedule was a breeze with a Teacher’s Aide hour, a math class I ended up being too advanced for and slept through (my girlfriend in the same class hated that), a 12th grade basic literature course, varsity basketball (is that a class?), and something else that was so engaging that I can’t remember what it is. I remember regularly showing up late to see if it would affect my grade (it did not). I was so ready to start my college career, I couldn’t get there fast enough.

I headed off to Ohio Wesleyan University excited for the novelty of being in a new place and eager to start the next chapter of my life. As with any college freshman, there was a lot to consider: course load, basketball, student groups, greek life – the list goes on.

After getting settled into the new environment and coming up with a class schedule, my trusted freshman counselor decided it would be a great idea to enroll me in Calculus II, despite it being a senior course. I didn’t know any better (hell, I was a freshman and clearly had other things on my mind besides math) so I obliged.  It didn’t take me long before I realized just how terrible this decision was. Apparently my counselor wanted to set me up for getting a D in my first semester, instead of setting me up for success. This was not his only folly as a freshman advisor; in addition to my disastrous CalcII experience, he also enrolled my in Freshman Language Arts…turns out I already had that credit from high school. I continued at the minimum course load to maintain full-time student status, a benefit of entering college with credits from AP courses. After a second semester of dropping 2 courses that I didn’t need, I fired my first employee (my freshman counselor) and got one that cared about my future. I finally got on track and felt like I was on a good path. It wasn’t until junior year when I realized that all of my friends were involved in different organizations and I was not. Up until that point, my college experience had primarily consisted of class, basketball, and …. I decided to take action and kick it into high gear and quickly overextended myself. For the next year I got involved by becoming student government treasurer, starting on the basketball team, finishing my Economics Honors project (which I wasn’t awarded because it was too practical and did not contain enough citations from other textbooks that students were never going to review), serving as fraternity president, and DJing events like Schoolgirl’s Night or “$5 All-You-Can-Drink” at the most peaceful rowdiest place in Delaware, OH, Clancey’s Bar. With my four-year basketball career ending and the bulk of my heavy hitting classes under my belt (not to mention securing a 3.8 GPA no thanks to my freshman advisor), I was finally able to slow down in in the spring semester of my senior year. I prioritized enjoying myself and spending free time with friends, attempting to soak up what was left of my college days.

Spring semester senior year finally allowed me to slow down and enjoy myself and free time with friends more after I was certain to graduate with no less than a 3.8 GPA (this is the first time I’ve needed to bring up my GPA post-graduation – ever).

Over the course of my four years at OWU, I attended a number of different campus events through different mediums (maybe explain your experience with these events a little bit more so the reader trusts what you’re saying). There’s no doubt that I enjoyed most of them, but at the same time, I found myself subconsciously identifying the gaps for improvement. I took it upon myself to do a little bit (ok, a LOT) of research regarding the local campus events. Turns out that university spends approximately $50,000 every year on exclusive (and often unsuccessful) campus events to appease various student groups. Fifty-thousand dollars. Wasted (are you cringing yet?). With graduation approaching and nothing to lose, I saw an opportunity to set a new standard for local campus events that were memorable for and inclusive of all students. So of course I decided to put together a full 20-page proposal for the next big event. Included in the proposal were things like: a budget, a marketing plan, an event coordinator that knew what a calendar was, and a handpicked team of people to help host the event that would have made Trump proud (not a political stance, but objectively, he would’ve approved). Turns out the school administration didn’t feel like my preparedness was a replacement for the fact that I didn’t want to team up with past organizations that had held failing events. However, I was asked to leave the proposal because “it was the most complete plan to spend a student activity fee the administration had ever seen by a student” (not a real quote but you get the picture). It was a rather frustrating outcome, but I let it fuel my next experience. I channeled my eagerness to Relay for Life (where I essentially used the same team members I would have for my proposed event) and raised over $10,000 for cancer research, all while encouraging our team to walk two full marathons (52.4 miles) throughout the night (shout out Michael McLean).

After all of this endeavors and more throughout college, and going to two NCAA March Madness tournaments, I was ready to start my career.

I had few offers to choose from when I was leaving so college: 1) move back to Tulsa and begin building the company which I now work for Thrive15.com, 2) move down to Costa Rica work with college students train for their varsity sports, or 3) explore a career as a producer and a DJ (@DJMarshMadness). “So I did what any fresh college grad would do: accept the position down in Costa Rica to manage sales and marketing for a student-athlete study abroad program. I was excited to put my somewhat-conversational Spanish to the test and live on “tico time.” My job was literally to take college coeds to workout, go to the beach, and zip line through the mountains. It was perfect…at least it was during the summer when we had students to chaperone. During the fall and winter seasons, I often found myself isolated and without any close friends or family with whom I could share my experiences. I wanted to take advantage of the incredible opportunity of living in a different country, but it got lonely having to fly solo all the time. Without any type of genuine investment into the company, and disinterest in becoming a professional tour guide for my career of choice, I decided to move back to the U.S. after 2 years in Central America to begin my next chapter of my life. I knew that I had to make a change and really sink my teeth into something that I could use to begin building a career. I knew that I wanted to build a professional career in business, I just didn’t know where. I had friends still in Columbus, Washington D.C., Boston, New York – pretty much all of the major cities that are typically appealing to 20-somethings looking to launch into a career. I had so many options. But when I asked myself sincerely, where do I want to grow, the answer was very clear: I wanted to grow in the city that built me. I wanted to grow in Tulsa.

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