Ep. 226: Jon Morrow – Do You Have A Gun To Your Head?

jon morrow

I was talking to Jon Morrow, who has been paralyzed from the neck down since birth. In the past few years he has created several multi-million dollar businesses.

The system was set up so that he couldn’t make money. If he made money, he would be cut off from Medicaid and his $120,000 in medical expenses would not get paid.

So he moved to Mexico, cut his medical expenses by 90% and started his businesses. Again, it wasn’t about the money. It was about doing something. It was about helping people. It was about feeling useful and doing things that excited him.

Ten years ago he got hit by a car. He ended up with his wheelchair on top of him and blood everywhere. He was in a hospital for a year. Couldn’t move. Everything was going wrong.

So after all this: paralyzed since birth, extensive hospital stays, a system created specifically to stop him from doing anything, how does he keep motivated.

He told me this:

“I am one of the oldest people alive with my disease. Many of us die in an assisted living home, many die from an extra dose of morphine to speed things along.”

What kept you motivated?

“There was a gun to my head. The gun was, I didn’t want to be in an assisted living home, watching TV all day, waiting to die.

“Every day I wake up with that gun to my head. Every day I live.”


Podcast shortcuts:

(I really believe everyone should listen to this interview with Jon Morrow. There’s so much here to help you be creative or just feel that sense of relating to someone, learning and growing. There are very few times in my life that I am so incredibly grateful to meet someone. And this was definitely one of those top 10 moments for me. 

[23:00] – Jon told me how he developed a sense of self-worth. 

[26:25] – “When I got into kindergarten, another kid called me disabled, and I said, ‘What does that mean?’ And, he started laughing.” Jon’s teacher came over and said, “You don’t know what that means?” He didn’t. So he asked his mom. She thought about it and said, “It means you can’t do something as well as someone else. But it also goes the other way.” She said, “Everyone in the world can’t do something as well as someone else…” So everyone in a sense is disabled. Jon took inventory of his skills. Then he mastered them. 

[29:00] – Jon had twelve job offers after college. But he couldn’t accept any of them. He had to keep his Medicaid. And if he made more than $700 per month, the government would take it away. So he found a loophole. He worked for free. Then years later Jon asked the people he worked with for favors. They promoted his business. And he made half a million dollars in just 9 months.

[1:11:50] – Jon was paralyzed from the neck down. He needed to reconstruct his reality. “I can only move my facial muscles,” he said. He would’ve went crazy. But he made a new plan. “I started listening to audiobooks and podcasts 4-8 hours a day,” he said. His goal was to spend more time listening to inspirational stories than he actually spent in his own life. I needed to understand. I asked Jon, “Why was that your goal?” He said, “If you spend the majority of your time in worlds where people are accomplishing incredible things, all of a sudden that starts to seem normal.” Listen how Jon reconstructed his reality…

[1:16:20] – Jon said, “A lot of people are under the assumption they can get whatever they want without trading something that they have. And that’s just not the case.” When he hears a success story, he looks for the price. What did they sacrifice? Money? Sleep? Time? Relationships? Everything has a price. But how do you know what price you’re willing to pay?  Jon tells you how.



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  • Fabian

    That’s resilience. Best podcast I listened to. Thanks.

  • Jeanette Eberhardt

    Thank you so much for this podcast. Awesome. I started a blog last year January 2016 and stopped only after about 10 posts. I’m starting a new one again, currently with five posts, but I’m still designing and formatting the site before I officially launch. James, you’ve been totally inspirational. I love your stories – you’ve made me laugh, think and get my head back together. This interview with Jon Morrow sealed the deal. Thank you!

  • Camilo

    The scene from Fight Club is one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yovBiCdV7Y

  • lourdes OByrne

    Both of you rock! Thank you!

  • tyler

    This was one of the most inspirational podcasts I’ve ever listened too, and after being inspired by Jon, I checked out his site and his writing and was even more impressed. Amazing content, I learned tons and I’ve only scratched the surface!

  • Ted Scarborough

    What a freaking badass. Way to go, Jon!

  • Will Chou

    Your mom seems amazing (especially the disabled mindset shift). Potential blog idea: 10 mindsets for parenting? Id love it.

    P.S. this put so much in perspective for me from my own struggles. Holy crap, I struggled after graduating (to even get one offer). Wow, you were doing way better than me.

  • Hi James, this is super. I want to share the podcast with my brother but as he is deaf a transcript would be ideal. Would you happen to have one? No worries if not, I can transcribe it myself but wanted to check if there happened to be one. Thanks!

    • I will make sure one gets posted here. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I’m so grateful to both of you for this podcast interview.

    I’m a student of Jon’s, and an avid reader of his work. He’s an extraordinary man; one of the most articulate and compelling communicators I know, and his stories personal give people like me a kick in the balls from time to time. Today was one of those times.

    So I must get back to work, now. (me walking away with a limp)

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  • 1travelor

    This is the best. There are so many physically, emotionally or financially disabled people here in the US, whose survival is threatened. Especially, if they have never been exposed to these ideas. Also useful for those disabled that could work remotely without being seen, if disfigured. I volunteer and am sending this to everyone I know. Thank you for this.

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  • Jess Whang

    i havent even listened to this yet and im already tingling with inspirational and good vibes! thank you for everything you do james and jon

  • Patrick O’Donnell

    This was a very inspirational podcast to say the least. It made me reflect on my own life and how I could do and be so much more. Thank you Mr. Morrow for your honesty and grit. You are a true badass!

  • Ted Bigham

    This was a fantastic and inspiring podcast! Thanks for the interview. Keep up the great work James. After listening I checked out smartblogger.com and love it, I have even shared a few on my twitter account http://www.twitter.com/kowabundant

  • Tudor Pangal

    This discussion was so powerful. I hope a lot of people (especially young people like my son) listen to this and start following these two gentlemen.

  • Murray Beaulieu

    I confess…I didn’t want to listen to this podcast …but I’m sure glad I did. This should be mandatory listening for everyone. I picked it up a few notches in my own life realizing nothing can stop me. Thanks Jon! Thanks James for this great interview

  • bob dobs

    Jon is such an inspiration and badass. Thank you for your gift of wisdom and honesty.

  • Thank you James for bringing Jon to your studio, I’m so inspired! If he can be successful with his condition then what’s stopping me, no more excuses, action is needed on my side.

  • Hey James, loved the podcast and Jon is really indeed a badass — as well as him mom.

    One small detail, since it’s a long podcast I stopped a few times inbetween and I noticed that when I was listening to it, sometimes I would switch tabs or by pressing the keyboard numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) the podcast will randomly play and pause, to the point that I had to close the page completely. Maybe you may wanna check it on your side.

    Cheers,
    Yuan