#4. We speak with Marine veteran and financial advisor, Bezan Morris, as he shares his story of financial hardship during the housing crisis and how he navigated some very difficult situations.
More information about Bezan Morris.
AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – PLEASE FORGIVE ERRORS AND TYPOS
Bezan Morris 00:00
You’re letting me go two weeks after my daughter’s first birthday, and losing half of my retirement savings, and the best you can say is I just can’t hold that
Aaron Spatz 00:15
you were listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast, I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys and business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show. We’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continuous self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, it the subscribe button, you’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur. Please share with us your your background, and what what made you decide to join the military and what you ended up doing.
Bezan Morris 01:18
Yeah, yeah, so I am. Gosh, I guess the goal of the military as a whole was always in my life. So I’m the youngest of three brothers. And both older brothers are career naval officers. And my oldest brother is 10 years older than me. So you know, he was out of the house, just as I was kind of getting into first and second grade and off to college. He did ROTC and then joined the Navy. So I kind of saw a lot of his experiences. And then my middle brother, who was only four years older than me, he, I really saw the transition in him like I remember him as kind of being this, you know, kind of nerd in high school and stuff. And he ended up going to the Naval Academy and just kind of came out this very bold, confident leader. And I thought over that over that time, as he started to ingrain himself into the Navy just saw this confidence come out of him, which is carried him in his career now going on 25 years. And through the two of them, I really, I started to look at the military as options. Like I think I would really like to do that. And when my middle brother was looking at the Naval Academy, I remember going on a trip. And just meeting a couple of Marines on the yard, which is the campus and seeing some things about the Marine Corps and how its history kind of coincided so much with the Naval Academy and producing these officers and like that’s, I knew that’s just what I wanted to do. That’s that was where I was going to be that was that was the decision I was in the kind of the tail end of seventh grade. And I remember sitting in the car ride home telling my parents like, this is this is it, this is where I’m going. And of course, you know, everybody, you know, my mom and dad gotta look at me, like, you know, laugh, like, okay, you know, you got time, like, let’s slow down. And it like just having that goal was was always there. So, and that was kind of the driving force. There’s never really an option I kind of joked with my parents I I got accepted to three colleges and only applied to one. So yeah, awesome. If you could follow up on that one. Yeah. Growing up in New Jersey, I was just my grade point average and stuff. I got an acceptance letter from Russia, which was 10 minutes from home. And then I went to Virginia Military Institute, they had the Scholars program and got offered a full ride down there never actually applied to the school. It was basically like, Look, you got a scholarship, all you got to do is finish the application and you’ll be in the Naval Academy was the only one that I actually filled out the entire application to and got accepted. So when I got that I was like Well, nevermind, I don’t want to walk away since I already for so that was always the goal and going there. I had the opportunity of course, you know to see both Navy and the Marine Corps see what different options there were. And the more I got involved with other Marines on the yard specifically got to know a couple artillery Marines like Man, that was the MLS that I wanted to do and you know, typically your your rah rah, you know, Marine Corps jarhead guy wants to be infantry, but I just I knew like no, I want to shoot does everyone I wanted to do Yeah, that’s yeah, rare. And I came to find that out like at CBS, like, you know, I started talking about like, No, I want to be an artillery guy. You know, not a lot of people talk about and then of course, when you get to OVC you know, the basic course that artillery school, you come to find Now if it wasn’t a lot of people’s first choice, you know, for a lot of people, it was their second or third, or sometimes, you know, one of their last choices, of course, you know, the way the Marine Corps selects MLS is I was really surprised by that. And I thought, Aaron, I honestly thought like, the Marine Corps was it, I was going to be a career guy, like, I’d uh, if I’d have stayed in, I would have hit 21 years, this spring, like Adam, probably been a lieutenant colonel and maybe up for Colonel at this point, like, I thought that this was gonna be my career. But as I found a girl, and we started talking about a family, and I kind of looked around, and had three deployments in four years and just said, I don’t want to do this, like, I don’t want to raise my kids in that way. And, and again, like, personally getting to see both of my brothers and go through their careers as well. You know, my nephew is in his second year at Virginia Commonwealth now. And he went to three different high schools. And even at the time, when I decided to get out, he was six years old and had lived in three different states. Well, and I just now, you know, at the time, you know, this was in 2005, when I got out at the time, it was like, Man, I don’t want to do that, you know, I don’t want to put my family through that I want, I grew up and I had the same address for the first 18 years of my life, like, I never want to lose, I didn’t want my kids to be able to do that. Now, on the flip side of that, you know, not that my nephew has any type of behavioral issues or anything. And it’s actually kind of neat, because he now has friends all over the world. And literally, the week after he graduated high school was on a plane flying to Japan to go hang out with some other high school buddy. Well, that’s pretty cool. Yeah, you know, like so. So I don’t want to knock the person who decided to make it a career, but I just knew for me personally, like, it was not, it wasn’t the family lifestyle that I wanted to have for my family. So I kind of looked at it from that sense, and that, you know, if I was going to go do this, if I was going to be a dad and be a good husband, for me, it just didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense to go through the next 15 years. Just to say that I did it, it was time to start looking for something else.
Aaron Spatz 07:27
Wow. No, that’s a that’s an incredible story. And I think it’s, once again, I think it’s just rare how, okay, not not only did you decide to go to Naval Academy and decide to be a Marine officer, but you you already had an idea of what mlsu wanted. And, and you’re exactly right, so many guys go in, and they’ve already got exactly what they want to do. And that usually is, you know, on the infantry side of things. But I think that’s a, that’s an incredible story, coupled with the fact that you were looking forward in deliberate life planning, and just decided that, hey, this just doesn’t mesh as well, for my situation. And so, you know, thought long and hard about it and decided that, you know, transition out was in your best interest and in the best interest of your family. And so I mean, I, yeah, that’s a, that’s a decision making process guys have to make all the time. And there’s no, there’s no wrong answer, the the the right answer is do what’s best for you, and to do what’s best for your situation. So you and I made that call.
Bezan Morris 08:29
Yeah, and I was I was really lucky. My wife, Emily, we’ve been married for at least 17 years, this October. And, you know, when I started talking about getting out, we had only been married less than a year. And, you know, she, you know, of course, you know, as my partner is my wife is my, you know, my companion in this journey. I asked, I said, What do you think, what, what should I do? Right? Like, give me the answer is, I’m struggling with this. And she told me, she said, I can’t answer that. I knew what I got into when we were dating, when we were engaged, like, I know, what I signed up for. And I never want you to turn around, you know, 1520 30 years later and say, Well, I got out because of my wife, or I stayed in because of my wife. She said, You know, this is this is one of those decisions that no matter what, I’m going to be along for the ride. And I really appreciated that as I you know, at the time, it was very frustrating as a young married couple. Yeah, like, I’m asking your opinion. Dammit. Like, what? Right? No, she, she refused to do it. And to this day, like, even now, I’ll ask her, you know, seriously, what would you have thought? And she said, like, either way I was on board. Either way, we were we were going to go through this together. So and I think, you know, in our experiences, I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of both ends of that. You know, that the Maybe the husband or the you know, the whichever spouse is in the military says, Man, I don’t know if I want to do this anymore, and they’ve got somebody whispering in their ear, oh, think about the retirement, think about, you know, it’s only three years you’ll be, you’ll be done before you know it. And or on the flip side, you know, I can’t believe I signed up for this, you need like, we’re, I’m done. I’m not moving again, I’m not moving my family, you know, the family or I refuse to move and, you know, so, you know, kind of, kind of life partner selection matters, a lot of those things do because it can, it can really affect you down the road. And, you know, and on both ends of it. I know, I personally have just experienced friends who, you know, did one or the other and sometimes not even still married to that same person. Right. Like it, it created such a rift in their relationship that, you know, the relationship fell apart. So, you know, I know it’s not necessarily focused on that. But for all the guys and gals out there, choose wisely.
Aaron Spatz 11:03
Yeah, yes, absolutely.
Bezan Morris 11:04
1000 knows what they’re getting into and have that discussion ahead of time.
Aaron Spatz 11:09
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a there’s a lot of wisdom in that. For sure. Yeah, let’s, so let’s, let’s talk about your your transition out, like what was what, what? What did you do? What was your kind of tactics and techniques as you as you exit it, and then just and then just share kind of that journey that’s led you to where you are now.
Bezan Morris 11:33
Okay. So, in the summer of 2004, so my obligation ended, officially August 2005. So right about a year out is when you can drop papers, and I had already joined a staff job with an extra missionary strike group, and I was going to be on deployment. So I looked ahead, and you know, kind of made that mental decision and went ahead and dropped my papers and said, Hey, I plan on resigning at the end of my, my commitment, a year out, and this was in Oh, four. And I thought there was there’s a part of me that will maybe if they come back with something really good. Because you hear that story. I worked for his analogy. I think he’s retired now as a Colonel Steve Pritchard. And he told the story, he was a captain at the time. And he said, you know, he was thinking about getting out. And, you know, when he told his battalion commander about an NCO said, you know, oh, you should reconsider, you’re going to be a fine officer. And, and he was literally he tells the story, it’s so funny, he was reading like a Men’s Health magazine are always holding it while the, you know, as the battalion CEO came up to him, and they were talking, and he literally opened the magazine and goes, Hey, sir, and he had, there was some article about London. And he goes, you figure out a way to get me posted here, I’ll consider staying in. And he got orders, of course, you know, the story, right. But that guy, that’s a story that, you know, got orders to MSD in London, ends up going there for the next couple of years. And now he’s telling the story of these young lieutenants that said, like, got to do what’s right for you. But if you get that good offer, and you really do throw that on the table, you know, at least consider it. So when I dropped my papers, and sent it in, I got a phone call, of course, like two days later from the monitor. And I don’t remember his name. And there’s a reason I don’t remember it, and you’ll appreciate why when he called me back, he said, Hey, you know, I just got your, your package wanted to verify that you’re thinking about next year, I said, Yeah, you know, just not really sure. You know, and I kind of threw out there and I wasn’t as upfront about it, maybe as I could have been, but it’s like, you know, maybe if he focused on that me, you know, like, I just, you know, if you can make it sweet, you know, like sweeten the pot for me, I’ll reconsider. And kind of his, his response was, Well, okay, man, good luck. You got a year talk to you later. On up the phone. And I, you know, there was a big Well, you know, ftu, buddy, right after that, and it was like, Okay, I’ve now made this decision. Like it was, it was, it was in my mind now. Okay, I’m done. Right, the move. And the way that I equated it at the time was, well, maybe the Marine Corps just doesn’t want and, you know, I, I didn’t come to that realization until years later, but it was it was a you know, it was a bitter pill at the time, like, Well, if the Marine Corps doesn’t want me, well, then obviously I shouldn’t want to be here either. So I really spent the next year then focused on getting out now I didn’t do Please don’t Don’t say that wrong. Like, I didn’t negate my duties I did or you know, do you know just kind of dropped the ball on things like I actually, you know, I charged the head. That final year, both for the Marine Corps and my transition. So the first thing I did is I reached out to other people who transitioned. And I was really lucky. I had an instructor at the Naval Academy, who was a Navy pilot. And we got to know each other through the Model United Nations Organization. And he was the kind of Officer Representative for that he and I just kind of struck up this friendship. And every once in a while, again, to this day, he’s still the reserves. And you know, it still has a fantastic career in the Navy. But I reached out to him, he got out after 10 years on active duty, went to Harvard, got his MBA, ended up working for some big companies eventually opened his own holding firm, like just one of these, like super successful driven people. And he told me in oh four, you know, the first thing he said was, send me your resume. So of course, I sent it to him. And he sent it back with all sorts of comments. And, you know, take this out, don’t do this. You know, he was at GE at the time. So he, he really had a great sense of understanding like, Hey, this is what Big Picture corporate America wants. The other thing that he told me back around, and again, this was 2004, I’m going on deployment. So I’m going to have limited internet access while I’m gone. But he told me about this new this kind of newfangled website that I really need to get involved in called LinkedIn. And of course, now it’s almost standard, right? Like, like, there’s high school kids who probably have LinkedIn profiles. But, you know, you create this, and it’s a professional network, like, what does this mean? So he really helped guide me in that sense to get a digital profile and put together this LinkedIn profile and why it’s important how to network and connect with people. And that was one of the things he told me, he goes, Look, you got one year, you need to spend that year, figuring out what you will, and what you absolutely will not do. Because right now in your head, and you can do anything, you know, you can even walk in and be a CEO, you can go be a salesperson, you can go build things, you can go break things like whatever it is you want to do in your head, you just you go do it. But you got to understand the industries and the jobs that you really want, spend the next year doing that. Huge critical advice, and I give it to anybody that is in this transition, whether it’s the end of your first enlistment you know, a officer commitment, whether you are retiring, if you are within one year of that date, like it’s time to ramp up those efforts, seriously. And I was so grateful as I look back because he that advice helped to guide my search so much. And as much as it was okay, I believe this is what I want to do. I really figured out and the best part of it was figuring out what I don’t want to do, what I absolutely don’t want to pursue when I get out. And that that trend that helped the transition so much. So for me personally. I knew at the time, I didn’t want to be in sales. I just looked at everything in sales as salesy, right, take the stereotypical used car salesman, no matter what I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to sell something. And then the other limiting factor that I put on is my, my wife and I said, we’re going to live in Phoenix. Because we like Phoenix. There was no other reason than we had gone and visited some family and we liked it that I could really see myself living here. And that was our driving force. So that’s awesome. Yeah, that was it. Or she had an aunt or uncle that live out there. And that was our only family. It wasn’t like I am from that area. I did have a presence there. There was, you know, I just really liked that area I liked in the valley. And so yeah, as I started my transition, and you start, you know, headhunters and you go to these job fairs and the resume gets pushed out and people want to talk to you and Oh, my brother is starting this company. My uncle is an executive here and blah, blah, blah. And, you know, if it wasn’t in Phoenix, Arizona, I just didn’t want to talk to you. And that sounds really arrogant. And as I look back on it, it really is. But that also really helped focus my effort. So again, like kind of words I give to, you know, veterans as they as they start this transition. You’ve got to know what you want and what you don’t want to do. If, if you will not live in the Pacific Northwest. If you say look, anything north of North County in Southern California is too far. Are north for me? Don’t look at jobs in San Francisco. Right? Don’t try to talk to people up in Seattle. It’s it’s this classic mistake of like, well, I’ll get up there and then maybe I’ll feel differently. Or I’m really desperate because I retire in 90 days. And I have no other job prospects except my not North Dakota. So I’m going to move there and then figure out my next move after that, like, no, if that’s not where you want to be, or that’s not the job that you want to be in, don’t look at it, as a recruiter for that company is going to do exactly what the recruiters did to put you in uniform in the first place. They’re going to recruit you. Yeah. That’s their job. So like, it’s your job to say yes or no to thing. And did it? Did it upset? Some headhunters and I worked with a couple of them. Bradley Morris Lucas group in particular Orion, those are the three that helped me in that initial transition. Did it frustrate them that that was the only place I was willing to look? Yet? It also really narrowed down my opportunities again, yes, that I miss some good opportunities. Absolutely, I did. But I was not going to move back to the northeast. Right? I didn’t want to move back to New Jersey, I didn’t want to go to the Carolinas, like Phoenix was it. So planning that flag? While it may seem like it’s upsetting people, it also made me the first person when something came up in Phoenix. I was the first phone call. I was the first resume that got pushed out there. Because they’re like, Oh, I got a guy for you. Right? Like, this is all this is the only place that he wants to be. So here it is. That’s awesome. Yeah. So like it was, it was really critical to know what I didn’t want to do. And for me, it was geography. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say that was the best route. For me, sure. I interviewed then everything from manufacturing positions to operations. There were some sales opportunities. But again, anything that had the word sales, I just, I poo pooed on it. And that’s where I go back to if I’d done some more research, and really understood what sales was and what it could be, I might have chosen differently. But that initial transition, I just didn’t want to sell something I wanted to lead people. That’s, that’s where I saw myself.
Aaron Spatz 22:29
Right. So makes sense. Yeah, that makes sense. And then and kind of share with us also. Because because we have a couple different audiences listening and I, but I but I have, I have a suspicion that a large majority of the audience is going to be guys that that already have transitioned their their veterans there a few years into their professional careers post military. I mean, they may have retired or they may have gotten out up there after their initial tour. But walk us through some of your experiences, in terms of some of the lessons learned the things that you’ve had to go through to kind of land where you are now. And. And just yeah, just take us on a bit of that journey.
Bezan Morris 23:14
So yeah, my gosh, I got a couple of we only have an hour though, right.
Aaron Spatz 23:21
I will keep this rolling as as I mean, yeah, we we have about an hour. But yeah.
Bezan Morris 23:31
So, man, so in that transition, there were a couple things that really helped. One of them, like I said, was that networking, and the willingness to just go ask questions. So the more that I asked those people, the more I learned about different industries, and what it really went, what it really meant. One other thing, which I was not very good at, and I would absolutely encourage anyone getting ready for the transition. Someone told me and it was again, like one of those really great ideas that I just didn’t listen to at the time. Stockpile cash, what it will allow you to do the build a big Foundation, just a big pile and a checking account. And I’m talking, if you can save like six months worth of living expenses, at least during this transition, it will make the transition easier. It just allows you to be able to take your time and really figure out what you want to do. So it’s not doing that I felt it was very I felt as as I was transitioning, like oh my god, I got to find something because you know, in a month or so we won’t be able to make it. So as I look back while it was just my wife and I and a cat at the time. You know if you’re transitioning and you got a couple kids and a two Pastor, you know, you only need the home that you’re staying in, like, those are additional stresses that, you know, at the time, I just, I was not prepared to accept. And it’s silly thing, like, for example, you know where we were living in Phoenix, you got to put a $250 deposit down on your electric meter. Now, when you leave the house, you get the 250 back. But, you know, you figure if I had to do that for my electric, and then I had to do another, I think it was 200 or 250 for to get my gas turned on. That’s 450 bucks. There are a lot of people listening to this podcast that if I told them to write me a $500 check today, they couldn’t do it. So like, you know, that type of practical stock piles of money just so that you don’t have to rush into something will absolutely help them so that that experience, you know, looking back on, it’s like, Man, I really wish I would have done that. But as far as like other transitions, like as I’ve gone through in my career, so I got out. First job, I had a built home, I was a system project manager with Toll Brothers, which is a luxury home builder. And you’re thinking things are going really well did that for about a year enjoyed it kind of saw felt like something was off. This was now 2005 Going into 2006. And of course, you know, the housing bubble was starting to burst in Phoenix. And it was one of those places that got hit really hard. So in oh six, I decided you know what I’m going to get out of the housing business. And I went into commercial and built the relationship with a general contractor, and went over to Turner Construction, I worked as a engineer and Superintendent on some projects with them for the next three years. Okay, and really liked it really, really liked that piece. Three years later, so this or not even two years later, just shy of my three year mark. And this will come into play in a minute why I remember that. In October 2009. Of course, we’re going through the credit crisis, you have the crash of oh eight housing market. Phoenix was one of those areas that got hit really hard. You know, we don’t necessarily talk about it. But as the economy slowed during that time, the housing market burst the commercial construction market first, just as much. So the commercial firm that I was with, which as you know, at one point had like 7580 people, I got like go in October of 2009, when we were down into like the 40s, you know, the number of people that were still employed at that branch. So that hit really hard. And the reason I remember it’s so well is that it was my anniversary, my three year anniversary, would have been November 15. Or yet, November 15 2009, I got let go October 1 2009, just shy of my three year anniversary, and our 401k invested 100% at the three year anniversary Oh, man. And I remember, I mean, just started my career. At the time, tsp was just starting as I was transitioning out, so I had no other savings. And I remember asking, I’m like, I’m looking at the division VP. And I’m saying like, can you at least let me keep my 401k? Like, let me keep all that money. It’s like, I’m sorry, I don’t I don’t control that was those exact words. I don’t control that. So you’re letting me go. Two weeks after my daughter’s first birthday. I’m losing half of my retirement savings. And the best you can say is I just can’t hold that. That’s outside of my scope. Like, again, kind of a kind of a review moment. For a number of reasons. So So and that was a really dark, and I talked about this. Sometimes it still brings up a lot of emotion. Sure. My wife and I but you know, October so again, I get let go. And I go home and we’ve got no saving absolutely none. We were living paycheck to paycheck. We I lost half of my 401k so even if I needed to just pull out of that money. I couldn’t there was half as much that was in there. We had bought a house. So and of course we bought it in 2006 when the market was super hot and everyone was Oh you gotta buy you got to buy I’m paying way too much for it. The house we bought was just under 300,000 I short sold it in 2010 for 149,050% of the mortgage on that house, and not only were we broke, but in that span of those first couple years of being out, I had actually amassed 66, zero $1,000 in credit card debt. Holy cow, so I was in a bad place. The lowest point for me and I share this because there were so many mistakes along the way that if I had just made a couple of different decisions, this never would have happened. But I hope your listeners really take it from the guy who experienced this, like my lowest point was going into a Walmart in November of 2009. And it had a desert schools, federal desert schools Credit Union, which was our local little bank, I went into that bank with savings bonds that my parents had got me when I was five, and I want to say they were 30 years savings bonds, they didn’t mature yet. And I had to go in and cash in those bonds. And I remember the girl, her name was Maria, you looked across the counter and said, Sir, these bonds haven’t matured. And I said, I need money for groceries. Like cash out the bond. I understand that cash out the box. And that was a low like, let’s recap, right? straight A student, four plus GPA in high school, you know, President of this vice president of the class, you know, scholar is most likely to succeed like all these things. Naval Academy graduate, you know, this fine institution and went into the Marine Corps. So successful Marine Corps officer, right, got the awards left, you know, that maybe comms and all that fun stuff. And here I am just a couple years later, broke and scared. With no way out, right? Totally, totally broken at that point. Got the cash for that Savings Bond went out in the parking lot and cried my eyes out for that in that parking lot. Just a completely broken person. And it was, it was the worst moment of my life. So yeah, again, you’re you’ve got listeners, and I hope somebody is taking away from this means that it was absolutely hopeless for me. And yes, the thought crossed my mind. You know, I’ve gotten a life insurance policy. That at the time, it was like 100,000 bucks. And I kind of I made an offhand kind of comment. I thought it was an offhand comment, but it scared the hell out my wife. And she said to me, don’t, you know, don’t ever say that again. Like, we are not there, we will figure this out. So now that I’ve completely depressed everybody listening?
Aaron Spatz 33:13
No, no. So yeah, this is this is your story.
Bezan Morris 33:16
Yeah, it just, you know, it’s where I was 2009, like, November 2009. So January 2010, was a really dark, rainy day. And it was, Oh, my God, I don’t know how we’re going to figure this out. But we did. You know, and there was like, there’s a lot of faith, there was a lot of prayers, there was a lot of just, and there was also a little bit of looking in the mirror at that guy who was at that point and going, you got yourself here. You got to go figure out how to fix it. And that became like the mantra for every moment after that, okay, I got here, there was a lot of personal accountability that I had to take at that moment that I made these choices. This is where I ended up. I will go fix it. Because, like I had to own and the minute that I did, things started to shift with God’s got another job. And believe it or not, it was a sales position.
Aaron Spatz 34:16
Funny how that worked out. Yeah.
Bezan Morris 34:19
And it was selling roofing systems. The company was based out of Youngstown, Ohio called Simon roofing and I was a sales salesman for them, selling specifically to the federal government. So I learned a lot about roofing systems and TPM, roofing systems and commercial roofs, probably more than your your average bear, but it really hasn’t helped me much. And I had that job for about 10 months, and I hated it. It was horrible. So my takeaway from that was, well, I’m just not a good salesman. That’s must be what it is. I just, I can’t sell I don’t know. And that have, you know September of 2010 comes around, I had this job like 10 months, my sales manager pulls me in is like, you’re not meeting your numbers. You’re not even making your your calls, like what’s going on and I just unloaded on her. I was like, You know what? Our products really not that good. We keep getting underbid by these big national contractors. I don’t believe in what we do, but kind of said to me, Well, you know, it was literally like, I’m having just this absolute open conversation like I and really what it was, is, I don’t believe in what I’m selling. I don’t believe in this. I’m just doing it because I’m trying to make money. And, you know, if this isn’t for you, then you don’t need to be here. You’re absolutely right. So, within a year of losing a job, I’m now quitting one I’m getting let go again. So it’s kind of a quit, let go conversation. It was you know, if you don’t want to be here, we’ll get We’ll fix that like break because I don’t want to be here. But, you know, sitting with my wife, it’s like, okay, you know, we’ve gone through this now we’ll figure it out. We will get that going. And so again, it was you know, back to alright, I’m not going to be in sales. But that’s just not where I need to be. And I had a buddy who actually, so I’ll back up real quick at a buddy who was a naval academy grad who’s a year behind me and not. Matt called me in 2009. When I posted it on Facebook, they lost my job, just like you know, hundreds and 1000s of other people they were putting on Facebook, if you know of anybody hiring, right, Matt sent me a note and said, Hey, man, send me your resume. I work for this company called Amazon. Why don’t you come work for us? i He was in Reno and then he moved to Indianapolis? And I said no way. I’m a Marine. I want to be outside. That’s why I got an instruction, right? I want to wear the sun nine J whether this was a no nine thanks. But no thing. Of course in 2010, I’m back on the market. But it out there. Matt calls me this time and says Okay, listen, I know you said No, last year, but we’re opening a brand new building in Phoenix. Let me at least get your resume, go interview. And if you think that it’s a good fit, give it a shot. Right now. That was in November 2010. So, you know, I went, it was a great interview really like the people got there, enjoy it and got an offer. And for the next six years, right, the guy who said I will never work in a warehouse spent a little more than the next six years with Amazon and then another little over a year with to e.com. So you know, again, another transition going into E commerce and back to that leadership skills and the operations piece and really enjoyed it spent the next eight years doing that. So had, you know, I don’t know what is that let’s be sound marine for the the different career their other career change. So we’re already at two career changes at this point. Right. Yeah, a couple of couple career transitions. So and and really, again, love the commerce work. It was it was a ton of fun, the average and there’s goods and Bad’s about Amazon, you get on Glassdoor you’re going to read all about them, I can absolutely share my experiences with with Enron I do quite often with with different folks because their reputation is out there for life there. But I wouldn’t have stayed six years if I hated it. But when it was time to go, it was time to go. And in November 2017. My wife had a little you know, kind of an invasive surgery. So she was down for the count for a little while. And the kids are getting older at this point. So now being 17, my oldest would have been nine, and my little guy would have been five. And I just remember looking at them and going man, I I don’t want to keep missing that. And when you’re working in the income world, especially when I was in Chile, I became the general manager, I was running their fulfillment center here in Texas. When I was when I was there it was you know, especially during peak season, it was 70 hour weeks, 80 hour weeks and easily, you know, 60 hour weeks outside of that. So you just kind of looked at them and said I want to stop missing there. So I went back to the earlier thoughts around when I first went to transition out of the Marine Corps. I remember talking I had a financial advisor at the time and I talked with him. You know, I want to do what you do. And he was one of those people who said, that’s really cool. You’ve been shooting guns and chasing bad people, but really hard to talk with somebody about their life savings if that’s all the experience you had. You know, go go work for somebody else, go do some of those other things. And then if you still want to do this, the industry will be here. And you’ll have the opportunity to. So in 2017, it’s like, this was the time, this is the time to do it. And, again, I don’t mind being very transparent about it. You know, in 2010, when we were in that spot, upside down on the house, oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention I had a second home, because that’s what you were supposed to do in Phoenix in 2000, oh, man, buy an investment property, oh, my God that I couldn’t afford. And I had to do this funky, subprime weird loan program where the resident who I bought the house from was staying in the house, and they were going to pay the mortgage for the first two years, and I was going to get $1,000 a month. But then of course, that whole thing fell apart when the credit fights happen. So they stopped paying, which meant I wasn’t getting money. So I had to short sell that home. So I had to short sale in 2010 $50,000. In credit, we had an $8,000 car loan that was out there. So close to 70,000, in consumer debt. And over those next couple of years, by January 2013, we had cleaned up everything within three years for to short sales, and therefore stay on your credit and all that fun stuff. But all the consumer debt, the car loans, the credit card, debt, everything, we completely cleaned that up. And that allowed me now four years later, in 2017, to have enough of a savings buffer, you know, that thing that I told all these guys and gals to do before they get out of the service, yeah, to have enough of a savings buffer, to be able to go into an industry and start a new career. Because that’s really what you’re doing. When you make that transition, you’re starting a new career. So build up, you know, pull the boat, most of the dock. So you can just step into it, don’t try to leap across half the lake, and then swim out there, it’s up, right, make it easy. So, you know, I take that opportunity to build up that that best day to be able to give me the buffer. That’s what allowed me and you know that my wife was the one who kind of sat me down and said, you know, you’ve always thought about doing this, you have this sense of service, you love helping people. And for me in 2017, there was also the realization like, I believe in this, because I’ve lived it, I believe in what I’m going to go talk to people about, I believe in long term strategic planning, I believe in having a financial plan for your family, based on the goals that you want to achieve in life. And in the fact that I believe in it, I can now quote unquote, sell it, I can now go sit in front of somebody and talk to them about this, because I truly believe in it. So it allowed me to kind of look at a sales job, that I don’t have to sell anything, I just get talked to people about my experience. And here’s what I believe, here’s the recommendation that I would make the if I was in your shoes, here’s what I would do with the after a really cool thing to do. And that’s what’s now spawn this career transition again. But I learned I had to learn all those other things and all those other transitions to get to the point to make this one the most seamless, so far.
Aaron Spatz 43:27
That’s so wise. And I and I love how it’s like, not only were you very deliberate in your planning, but it’s intensely personal. And so when it’s intensely personal, you are able to, I mean, you can relate to people on multiple levels. And, and you’ve seen things that you’re even able to, I mean, it even goes beyond financial counseling and advising. It’s like personal counseling for people that are really maybe struggling in their situation. And maybe they maybe they had it worse than you maybe they maybe they had it not as bad as you and you’re able to kind of inspire and give them some hope.
Bezan Morris 44:07
Or, yeah, it’s um, it really is like, I have the I have the title now as financial advisor, but it’s really like, it’s life planning. You know, it’s, it’s so much more than just dollars and cents. It’s really understanding who people are being served and knowing why you serve them. I want people to learn from the mistakes that I have made, as much as I want to learn about them and how they got to where they are. And let’s move and grow together. Let’s figure out how we can take this and move it forward. You know, one of the one of the most fun things I get to now do is talk to people about their philanthropy at any level, right? You may I may sit down with that, you know, retiring teacher that says, Well, I’m not super wealthy. So what can I give? Well, you can put away a little bit of money Every month, and then, you know, maybe you got a call, there’s the American Cancer Society or, you know, a diabetes foundation or Alzheimer’s Foundation that you really feel strongly about, like, let that be your legacy, it’s more than just the dollars and cents, it’s the spirit in which you’re giving it. And it’s, it was, it was a totally different take on how to approach people. And it’s, it’s really is it’s become such a fulfilling opportunity for me and my family to be able to go on this journey with so many other people. And, you know, we’re just getting started, like, that’s the most fun part of it. Like, I feel like every day, like when I go into work, it’s like, man, it’s just this new adventure, now I get the I get to work with somebody and help them achieve the things that really matter in their lives. And that was that sense of fulfillment had not been there for a lot of those jobs between the Marine Corps. I would that that sense of truly serving, right, like, what do we what do we get told when we were a mission? Right? Like you are the representative of freedom, you fight for every person that you have known that has ever lived, that will live in this great country of ours? Like, there is something to be said about that. And, you know, there’s, there’s somebody out there who’s listening rolling their eyes right now. Oh, my God, you fell for all that? Yeah, yeah, sure did. Yeah, I did. I did I respected man. That that sense of, of purpose, and of being of service to these millions of Americans who, you know, will never know the sacrifices and all those things, like, I bought that hook, line and sinker. And now in this job, I get to do that. And to some degree, you know, I get to do that with the people that I serve. And I get to, I get to work with them, and help them achieve the things that truly matter in their lives. Like, it’s a really fulfilling position to be in. And I had to learn some of those other things to get there. So what I mean by that is in you, and I kind of talked about this previously, like, there is this movement right now, I feel at least this is just totally based on opinion here. But I feel like the message being told to veterans is, there’s going to be you’re you’re being told one of two things, hey, all you need is your DD 214. And outside of the transition office, there’s a line of companies with six figure jobs that are just waiting to hire you because you’re a veteran. So here you go. And they walk out and go, nobody’s hiring me for that. Like, you know, I was a, I’m just making this up, I was a forklift driver in the Air Force, and you’re not going to let me be your CEO. I’m shocked. I wasn’t told that. And then they get bitter. And they say like, well, corporate America doesn’t really value that. So then they go into this, well, you should be an entrepreneur. Because if you start your own business, you don’t work for anyone else, you get to drive your own production, you get to drive your own success. And while that fits, for some, I feel like we’re selling it to such a large populace of veterans, and the veteran owned tag is getting thrown on so many other things. That we’re also not talking about the struggles of entrepreneurship and what that looks like. And for me, I didn’t appreciate coming into this role. Where I do feel like an entrepreneur, I do feel like I’m driving my own business. I feel like I didn’t buy a book from someone else. Like I’m, I’m building this from the ground up, I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t learned how to be a really good employees first. And I feel like that kind of humble pie. A lot of a lot of vets don’t want to swallow. They want to come out and be either the students, senior executives, or I’m just going to start my own thing because corporate America doesn’t understand me. And I feel like sometimes we’re losing that middle piece that hey, if you can go, go learn how to be a good employee, and learn how to drive these things for so long. Right? It doesn’t apply to everyone. But for some people, if you learn how to be that really great employee, it will actually help you build something down the road. I you know, again, you and I talk a lot about that beforehand. No, there’s kind of throw that out there.
Aaron Spatz 49:51
No, no, that’s great. I think there’s something I think there’s something to be said and and, and you may have heard this even when you were in but I mean Good leaders are good followers. And so just just because we know how to lead in our respective lane, and whatever branch, whatever rank that that you served, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that is going to be a one to one translation when you when you get out. And so kind of with you sharing your experience of working as an employee, or working in a more of a junior role, and in some cases, but that gives you room to move up, it gives you an opportunity to learn and see it from the ground level. And to kind of really take some time to kind of sort it all out. And so I guess it like, there’s, there’s a couple things there. One was, sounds like you’ve connected with your passion. And it sounds like to me like what you’re doing now is a is a true passion of yours.
Bezan Morris 50:57
Is it really just through my own experience and continuing experience to like I’m going to, I’m going to stage in my life, where we as a family are going through some things that I believe we’ll serve my clients, and I’m moving my parents in the next couple of weeks into an assisted living facility, and long term care and Medicare and how to navigate these things. I wouldn’t have thought of this 10 years ago, because it didn’t apply to me. But now it does, right, it applies to me, because it’s my mom and dad. And wow, what a great way to take that. And all the stresses and frustrations and all the joys in going through this experience with them. And being able to share with other people being able to sit down with my clients and go, Hey, I know what you’re feeling. And I know, this is what I ran into. If you’re, you know something different, or here’s, let’s share these resources, and go through this stage of your life together. I tell them all the time, like if I can save other families and other people from having to make some of the decisions or have the tough conversations that I have had to have with my family and the people that I love and care about. Like that’s a win, if I can just save you from having to do that. And maybe just make the burden a little easier on you and your loved one. And that that’s an absolute win. I’ll take that all day long. Because, you know, that’s, that’s the ripple effect, right? Drop the pebble in the pond and let the ripples go like, let me go. Let me go help a couple people, it will help so many others beyond that.
Aaron Spatz 52:49
That’s a huge win. That’s 100% a huge win. And so I think I’d like to transition in, this would probably be our last segment. But what advice would you have for veterans watching? Or? Excuse me, let me back up. What advice would you have for veterans listening to this show, and they may have been a, you know, three or four year term Air Force veteran, they may have served time in the Navy, they worked in the army, or obviously in our branches service in the Marine Corps. And they did their initial tour, maybe they signed on for maybe they re enlisted or they or they stayed with the program for a little bit longer. And they’ve gotten out they’ve transitioned. And now, here we are, they’ve been out of the service for a few years now, maybe one to four years out, and they’re floundering and maybe a little frustrated with where they are in their career in terms of connecting with their purpose. What What advice would you give to those people specifically?
Bezan Morris 53:59
I think the first piece and we are taught this in all branches at some level of some degree, but own it own where you are it don’t don’t look at the economy, the President a bad ball, your ex wife, like it’s you. Right had that had that first honest discussion with, you know, the person that looks at you every morning in the mirror and own where you are. It will help move along and I was I was one of them. I you know, I lost my job because of the economy. And I didn’t get promoted because that Boston liked me. Malala was always somebody else somebody else right? When I when I stopped using you and they started sentences with i It helps to change my perspective. Okay, I’m here because of the decisions I’ve made. But I can now go change and I can go do that the first piece is on it. The other piece is, don’t be afraid to reach out and network and ask of other people. And they don’t even have to be super successful folks, if you just, you know, reach out to people that are struggling as well. And I, what I found from that is that a lot of times when I reached out to someone, I became the inspiration for that, you know, or I could at least share that moment of misery but then say, alright, like, we’re both here, what can we do together great, do the power of two is so much more than two becomes three and three weeks. And, and you’re able to kind of kind of bring together a group of people who are all going to move one another forward, like having that opportunity and having that attitude that, hey, let’s, let’s pool our resources. There are resources out there. Specifically, there are a ton of veteran resources and groups that will lend that support. And it can be as simple as a phone call, or, you know, a LinkedIn message. Hey, I’m a I’m a fellow veteran, I just have some questions about your experience, would you be willing to take 10 minutes? Talk to me, a lot of a lot of people would do that, whether they’re a veteran or not. They’ll just if you if you’re honest, and say like, I just want to understand about you this industry, or you’ve been super successful, or I see on your LinkedIn resume or on your LinkedIn profile that you’ve gone from industry to industry, and I’m afraid to be a Job Hopper, how did you get over that thought process? Reach out to those people, don’t be afraid to network and ask those questions. The other piece I would say is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Drive, drive your network. LinkedIn is so wonderful. As long as you remain professional on it, you can reach people that just seem on reason unreachable. Now you can reach people who are running successful franchises, or who are senior vice president. Now you might not get that person, they may redirect you to someone else. But you have the opportunity to connect and see where those folks are at. I think that’s the biggest thing. And like if you’re struggling and you’re getting frustrated, you get that ownership first, you kind of take, take a good hard look and say, Okay, I am here because of me. And I can do what I need to do and move this forward. And then the other piece, again, is just don’t be afraid to ask for that help go out there. There are so many resources and so many people that are willing to help enable help. Don’t be afraid to do that. And I think the other thing is as to kind of prevent that Erin’s one thing that I would say to veterans is try to as best you can, a year to 18 months out from that transition, start digging in to what you want to do next. Because you always I know you’ve heard this. I, I have run into so many times the guy who said well, I was getting out. And my buddy Bob, he’s just killing it, he still leaves widgets in Omaha, Nebraska. And man, he wants to hire me and we’re gonna make a ton of money. He’s making a ton of money. So I’m gonna move out to Omaha and I’m gonna crush it. And then you get out to Omaha. And you find out that Bobby is inheriting his dad’s book of business. Bobby has grown up in the widget industry. And he’s originally from Omaha. So he has all these business contacts, all his high school buddies are now owning their own businesses, and they all buy his widgets because it’s baggy. And then all of a sudden, you’re out there, and you got you know, no one, your business is suffering. And oh my god, like, I’m not making any money. And, you know, first off on that decision, alright, I decided to come out here without really understanding it. But now you get the opportunity to go do something else and go go figure that out. The beautiful thing about right now what you’re seeing a lot of is that job hopping isn’t as negatively thought of as it used. You know, finding the thing that really serves you is it’s okay, it’s okay to do that we’re outside of, I’m going to work at the same job for 40 years and get this great pension and a golden watch and, you know, ride off into the sunset. We’re past it. We’re not there anymore. You know, those jobs are few and far between. So don’t be afraid to pull the plug on something that ain’t working. But make sure that you’re running to something not running from.
Aaron Spatz 59:51
Thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social media platform. share it out with friends, family coworkers others in your network and of course you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us That’s a Ron at Bold media.us Until next time