Who Is Gordon Morton?
Gordon’s story is full of epic adventures. Originally from Canada, he moved to Utah because the greatest snow on earth claimed his soul. Then, while immersed in video games, his future wife literally stepped in front of his TV and the rest is history.
The man lives and breathes the entrepreneur spirit, and although he struck out a few times, he knew with white-hot passion that XanGo would succeed, and succeed it did—almost overnight. They grew painfully fast. We chatted about the many things he did as an entrepreneur, his philosophies behind success, and the nature of true, boundless happiness.
Hope you enjoy this podcast!
Gordon Morton has a long and adventurous story to tell. Gordon himself has a love of skiing and spending time with his family in the great outdoors. He went from simply sailing down those ski slopes to founding multiple companies during his time as an entrepreneur.
Gordon is a man that lives and breathes the entrepreneurial spirit, and even though he has hit a couple of dead ends during his years in the business, he’s never let them hold him back. Gordon believed in himself; he believed in his ability to create a product that people would love. Indeed, in 2007, “Utah Business Magazine” even named Gordon as one of their 40 under 40 working professionals in the entire state.
And because of where he’d been, and where he knew he could go, he made an instant hit with XanGo. He had a white-hot passion for the company and the juices he could create and market under this name, and he met with overnight success as a result. The growth of the company occurred fast—and Gordon is owed a lot of the company’s merit to prove it.
But Gordon’s love for his work didn’t end there, and there are other entrepreneurial pursuits under his belt.
XanGo was a private company, formed in 2002, and in its first few years of selling products, it made upwards of $40 million in profit. XanGo was a juice company, inventing beverages marketed with a variety of health kicks that could benefit a customer. The mangosteen beverage which XanGo was famous for has become a big and well-known name throughout the entire United States.
Gordon himself came up with the name of XanGo and was desirous for the company to be charitable in all of its efforts. Making use of mangosteen as a basis for the name, which is claimed to have a variety of health benefits for its consumers, XanGo made charitable donations even before they started selling products and worked hand in hand with many children’s charities in order to make lives better for the young across the globe.
Acting as a founder, and being securely placed on the board of directors, Gordon was soon named the chief marketing officer in 2006. XanGo looked to expand internationally during this period, and with Gordon at the helm, they hoped to achieve these goals fairly quickly, thanks to his experience as founder. At the time, they worked in 14 international markets already, all of which were selling the flagship product of XanGo juice to their customers.
However, XanGo went defunct in 2017, the year in which it was acquired by Zija International. Only a year later, Gordon went on to found a new company of his own, One88 Media.
One88 Media is another one of Gordon’s professional pursuits, and in the land of business, it’s a big company with a lot of acumen under its belt. Founded in 2018, the company itself has gone from strength to strength in such a short period of time and has even committed to bringing out two Netflix specials in that time, the first of which can currently be watched by anybody with a Netflix account.
Working in video, photography, and all-around branding, One88 Media describes itself as being a company that “simply astonishes.” Valuing value in its services, as well as passion, belief, and being committed to the task at hand, One88 Media is a fan of positive thinking at all times and always puts its best foot forward in order to find the solution.
Made up of a simple executive team of three, One88 Media strives to allow both other people, other communities, and other companies to live up to their full potential. With a real focus on branding, and using the visual element to carry this, One88 Media uses a lot of raw talent to bring more light to and to put emphasis on those who need it most.
Working across the globe and hand in hand with many charities, One88 Media values goodness above all else. Gordon has been quoted as saying, “Goodness (…) needs no translation.” The company always seeks to leave positive footprints behind it, no matter where it is.
Gordon Morton Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey guys, welcome to the Lemonade Stand podcast. I am your host Charan Prabhakar, and I am with Gordon Angelo Morton. And his name is wonderful and as wonderful of a name as it is, it doesn’t compare to the man himself. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Gordon for gosh, it’s been a little over a year now, because of your movie.
Gordon: Correct. [crosstalk 00:01:51].
Charan: Gordon, you were the exec producer of a Christmas film.
Gordon: Yeah. Wait, did I meet you at a Sundance party?
Charan: You know what, I think we may have crossed paths. We were in the same Sundance party. Our paths crossed maybe, but we really officially met at the-
Gordon: On the set.
Charan: On the set. But it’s been so great to get to know you. And I’m going to just let the audience know a little bit more about who you are. But I’m just going to give highlights because your history is so rich. And I’d love you to fill in the details. So Gordon initially is from Canada but came to Utah and fell in love with the Utah powder and just was-
Gordon: That’s ski powder, by the way not… you know.
Charan: It’s the only powder we know in Utah I guess.
Gordon: You’re coming from California so you have to specify.
Charan: You’ve got to specify what kind of powder, but the snow is fantastic her. And fell in love with the ski powder, and then fell in love with his now-wife, which kept him in Utah. And at the time when he first came here, you were working for a nutrition company making $5.75 an hour.
Gordon: Yes, correct. With a university degree. I came-
Charan: Wait, university degree?
Gordon: With a degree in my hand I moved to Utah. I’m going to ski for a year.
Charan: That’s fantastic.
Gordon: But being a Canadian, I went to an American school, I had a one-year practical work term. For any people that immigrate, they know this path if you go to an American school. So at the time, the US government allowed us to have a one-year practical work term in the United States. All of my job offer was in Utah. I had one job offer and all I needed was a piece of paper saying you have a job because I had to come back into the country not as a student but as a worker.
Charan: As a worker.
Gordon: So I had a one-year practical work term, I decided, Utah, I love to ski. I’ve never been able to make money doing it, if I could-
Charan: You would have done that.
Gordon: … I would do it every day, and you and I share that same passion, the snow.
Charan: Love the snow here. So you work there, but fast-forward to probably a bit later, but you are one of the founders of one of the most successful direct marketing companies.
Gordon: Nutrition companies too.
Charan: Nutrition companies in the world, XanGo, which if you’re in Utah, you would have heard of XanGo; they’ve had offices everywhere. It’s like the one product I would say—this is from personal experience—that I actually enjoy drinking. Because I had, like, different herbal supplements or different drinks before, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is awful. How could anyone ever get behind this?” But XanGo—I remember drinking it. And A, it was orange and orange is my favorite color. So I was already sold on the color. But then I drank it-
Gordon: The label’s orange, the inside’s more red, but yeah, orange or red, sure.
Charan: Orange or red. It was a fluorescent neon color. But I loved it. So you founded that company. And then that did extremely well. Then you also did media companies, like you are the founder of One88 Media, you have your own TV show, like a travel show for businessmen.
Gordon: Yes. It debuted promptly about a week before COVID really, really hit and shut down everything, so I have all of one episode that got out at the-
Charan: But still-
Gordon: It’s out there.
Charan: It’s out there, man. It’s out there for people to see.
Gordon: People stopped traveling right after that, but you know…
Charan: So you did that and then you did a couple of films, some feature films. So I just feel-
Gordon: Which you are in one.
Charan: I am in one. I am definitely in one, sweeping the floor. It was fantastic.
Gordon: You are the best floor sweeper I have ever seen.
Charan: Well, years of practice in my own house. I was, “If I’m going to get this character-“
Gordon: Dude, that talent doesn’t just wander in off the street. You are good with that broom.
Charan: Thanks, man. I didn’t get camera-shy at that moment, I was able to sweep the floor. It was great. But your history and your story is so fantastic. And I knew you’d be perfect for the Lemonade Stand podcast because it’s all about entrepreneurship and it’s all about getting in that world and making something happen. And when you’re a kid, it could have been a lemonade stand, like a legit lemonade stand. Or it could have been lawn mowing or whatever. But I just am so fascinated by your history and all the businesses and stuff you’ve done as well as the philosophy behind it all.
Gordon Morton Talks About Coming to the US
Charan: I’m really excited about that. So I’d love to dive in. And I’d love to have you share your story with me. So yeah, let’s go from the beginning. And let’s talk about how you came out here and all that fun stuff.
Gordon: Sure. Absolutely. And you and I share one thing in common, that we were both not born in the United States.
Gordon: And I had a mom with a thick Italian accent. She learned English after I was born. So I was the kid in school, when my parents moved us out into the country in Canada. So I say Toronto, because there’s an immigrant community in Toronto where I was up to first grade then they moved me to… My parents are kind of these herbal gerbils. They’re just like this crazy kind of… Like, my mom had a health food store and my dad had an herbal company that made nutritional supplements in our basement.
Charan: And this wasn’t common back then.
Gordon: No. You’re talking late 70s.
Charan: Late 70s.
Gordon: It was pretty fringe. I’d liked it. I always say that my mom’s health food store is not like a GNC. When you go into GNC they have uniforms and it’s shelving and white and good lighting and my mom’s health food store kind of smelled like patchouli and a little bit like dirt. The smell of dirt. And we had clientele that—I called them sensitive ponytail guys; it would be like yoga dudes and a lot of Volkswagen vans that would pull up and that kind of thing and it’s different now obviously.
Charan: For sure.
Gordon: We’re right up the road from a Whole Foods and you go into Whole Foods and it’s pretty mainstream now.
Charan: Very mainstream.
Gordon: But if we’re talking about, I was a weird, weird kid, growing up in rural Canada in a farming community, we were a mile from the closest blacktop, okay, so dirt road, farming community, farms on all sides. My dad has a health and nutrition company, driving a Volvo. Volvos in rural, countryside communities don’t make you popular. Pickup trucks is what everybody drove. So I played hockey because I’m Canadian and the closest town: Shelburne. We would go in the Volvo and pickup truck, snowmobile—some people snowmobile to the arena.
Charan: And the Volvo.
Gordon: Volvo. It’s the Mortons. So that was my upbringing. My mom had an accent, so I had a mom that perpetually answered the question “Where are you from?”, like it was all the time. Because you immigrated… How old were you when you…?
Charan: I was six actually, six and a half I think.
Gordon: I know that you channel the Indian accent if you need to.
Charan: All the time. I mean, it gets me out of speeding tickets. It gets me out of, “You drive on the right side of the road here. I thought it was the left. I’m from India.” It helps.
Gordon: It helps secrets. Your parents, I suspect, I’ve never heard, but I guarantee you they had a thick Indian accent.
Charan: Yeah, they have thick Indian accent.
Gordon: My mom integrated it in her early 20s after World War II, so she survived World War II as a kid, bombing of her hometown and all these things that she witnessed and immigrated to Canada in her early 20s. So, if you don’t learn English before your late teens, you got an accent for the rest of your life.
Charan: For sure.
Gordon: My mom until her dying day had the thickest Italian accent, and it was one of those kind of sources of fun and pride. And in rural Canada, my parents were herbal gerbils, we drove a Volvo, my mom had an Italian accent—we were just odd.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Gordon: Just odd. But my dad was one of these guys who came from really rough upbringing and decided, “I’m going to change my kids.” He said, “I’m going to break the cycle.” And he just kept saying, “Leaders are readers” and he would just put books in front of us and books and “you read this and read this” and one of the quintessential reading assignments was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Sounds pretty cliché, but there’s that one quote: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Gordon: And my dad said, “You’re no better than anyone else, but you’re certainly no worse. And you can do anything you want with this free country that we live in,”—Canada and then eventually the States. So my privilege—I guess everybody’s talking about privilege these days—my privilege is that I was not raised by wealthy parents, but I was raised with great parents that loved each other and-
Charan: That loved each other.
Gordon: … loved the kids.
Charan: That had a great mindset as well, I would think.
Gordon: They saw the future before the future. They were into health and nutrition before health and nutrition was cool. And when that happens, when you see a trend, you know that… My dad would just say, “It’s just so obvious. There’s junk food, and then there’s health food, like, what does that word say to you?” And something as obvious as that and so we grew up working in my mom’s health food store, my dad’s health and nutrition company. And then I also did farm jobs because before you get your driver’s license, you have to walk to your job. And I was a really bad farmer. Now I’ve done it all. I have my farming cred for farmers out there or anyone in rural.
Gordon: I grew up in Shelburne, Ontario, Canada, in the country and that is the home of the Canadian National Fiddling Championship. Population of my town would quadruple once a year, every redneck in North America would show up. There was like a boss from Tennessee that would always show up every year, honking the horn, and people with fiddles. The violin, and the fiddle is the same, but it’s the way it’s played.
Charan: Of course. Are you a fiddler yourself?
Gordon: No, guitarist, but stringed instruments at least.
Charan: Yeah, of course. Absolutely.
Gordon: I was a round peg in a… Somebody they say like a square peg in a round hole growing up and that makes kind of a little tough because you have to deal with the fact that you’re swimming against the tide.
Charan: You don’t fit in. You’re creating your own path. That’s awesome, man. I think those type of things, those situations you put in, great parents, great mindset put in a place where you’re, I don’t fit in with any of these people. I think those things are the recipe for saying, “All right, I’m going to do it. I’m going to create my path, whatever that path is looking like.” So you moved to Utah in what year would you say?
Gordon: Fall of ’91. So I graduated from college in earlier that year in summer of ’91, moved to Utah. Buddy of mine flew up to Canada, we loaded up my Volkswagen, Volkswagen Rabbit, that’ll date me. And drove across the United States. He came with me, my buddy from California, Dan, still my best friend in the planet. So he knew me when we were single, we came out here. I came out here to ski, like I said, and actually fell in love with Utah. And I didn’t think I would. By the way, I was at the gym the day before I moved to Utah. My hand to God, this is a true story. I’m at the gym in Orangeville, Ontario. That’s the closest town that had a gym where I… And a guy’s wearing a shirt and it says, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may move to Utah.”
Charan: Are you kidding me?
Gordon: I’m not kidding you. I walked up to him and I said, “Dude, I don’t know why you have that shirt on. But tomorrow I’m moving to Utah.”
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Gordon: I literally am.
Charan: Did you eat, drink and be merry that night?
Gordon: That night I just packed up my bags. I had no chat time. I had to pack my stuff, my belongings, and I drove across the States, and I had a few hundred dollars to my name and that’s it, and I think we had no student loans and I was lucky that way, I worked my way through school.
Charan: So you had the one job. You were in Utah and loved skiing.
Gordon: And I loved the outdoors.
Charan: Loved the outdoors.
Gordon: Met a girl.
Charan: Met a girl, which is fantastic. And you met her while you’re playing video games.
Charan: That’s fantastic.
Gordon: This is funny. Charan and I have had many talks over… You’re so good at this, because you and I know when you’re sitting on a movie set and you got hours to kill between things.
Charan: That’s what it takes, yeah.
Gordon: So we’re talking and yeah. Anyway, Charan’s leading the witness. He knows me a little bit is what I’m saying. So what were we talking about, by the way? I’m ADD.
Charan: It’s all great. We were talking about video games.
Gordon: Yeah video games. By the way, I know video games, probably not the best thing to do with you, but they’re not horrible.
Charan: Yeah, they’re fun.
Gordon: Yeah, like my kids. I can’t really tell them. “Hey, video games are horrible.” I can tell them limit your time, but I never like killed a police man or robbed a liquor store. I actually met my wife and I played video games, so I’m saying they’re not horrible. I was playing Mario Brothers when I met my wife. She was standing between me and the TV and I said, “Hey, can you move,” and then I looked up and I said-
Charan: “Actually, never mind, stay right there. Stay right there. I’m going to go ahead and turn this off.”
Gordon: In my brain I like to think it was like a Joey Tribbiani moment where I’m like, “How you doing?” But I don’t know, I probably said something less clever.
Charan: You must have added that, “How are you doing?”
Gordon: Yeah. That’s probably right.
Charan: That’s what it was.
Gordon: [inaudible 00:16:22] geez. [inaudible 00:16:23].
Gordon Morton Talks About How He Got Started
Charan: That’s amazing, man. So you had all these things that kind of kept you here. But what would you say was the, I guess, the impetus or whatnot to start your first business or to say, “Hey, I’m going to create my own path; I’m going to do my own thing”?
Gordon: Well, first of all, with the mindset that I was raised with my dad, which he’s one of the greatest influences my parents were on me. He just kept saying, “This is your path if you want it, the entrepreneurial path,” and my dad was for whatever reason just this kind of crazy awesome “You can do anything with your life mindset,” still is. Listen to Zig Ziglar and things like Norman Vincent Peale. And he was constantly just churning through books, and I remember him just handing me books, “Here, read this,” and I would read it and it was essentially the thought that you can create whatever you want with your life and I said, “Okay.”
Gordon: Again, I’m no better than anyone else, but I’m certainly no worse. And when I got out of college, I took that job for $5.75 an hour. It was not exactly the plan that I wanted with a college degree, spent money and four years of college and I end up with $5.75 an hour, but I met my wife and I tell people, “You have no idea how good a salesman I am,” because I was making, at the time I met Rachel I moved my way up to $7.25 an hour.
Gordon: I know, man.
Charan: That’s bodacious.
Gordon: It’s kind of hard to ask a girl’s dad, “Can I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?”, though, when you’re making $7 an hour.
Charan: For sure.
Gordon: What’s your plan? I put time in, I was working in the industry that I knew growing up, my mom had health store, I was working for a health and nutrition company. And somebody just said, “Hey, if you ever want to start a business, just work in that industry and learn and learn everything you can, like try to dissect it. And when you do start your own company in that industry, you’ll know pitfalls to avoid,” and I did. I actually had a longer list of things that I wouldn’t do than I did with lists that I would do just based on that.
Gordon Morton Talks About Starting XanGo
Gordon: Backpedal: the entrepreneurial spirit. That was not the first business I started, because if you say, “Well, you started XanGo and overnight…” And it was literally overnight. It just grew. Charan, when did you move to Utah?
Gordon: So we started in ’02, and so a year after 9/11. And so it was a pretty heavy time in America, the economy, that first dot com bubble burst, the dot bomb economy was when we started XanGo. But it grew like a rabbit farm on a hormone diet, it just was staggering in its growth. It was painfully staggering, like moving buildings. We hired 50 people in a week once.
Charan: Why would you attribute that growth to or how would you attribute that growth? If that makes sense? Why did it grow so fast? And a lot of people have started businesses that have not grown that fast. So was it the right team? Was it the right group of people that were distributing it, because I know it’s a direct sales company? Was it a combination of all of the above?
Gordon: By the way, the product’s still out there. It’s owned by… It’s a number of factors. Of course, and we can dissect that a little bit. The other thing is that I had started a couple of companies in my life and did not do well. I touched a few hot stoves, and you get pretty good at realizing what works and what doesn’t. First of all, the team is very important. One of the partners that I started the company with was my own brother Joe, who he also has the entrepreneurial mindset. Just to brag on my little brother, not only did he help me start XanGo, but he started Altra, the running shoes, if you’ve ever… He was one of the guys that started this running shoe company called Altra. It’s out of Utah , he and a guy named Goldman.
Gordon: Anyway, he’s no longer involved with that, but he’s one of the founders and he’s just an entrepreneurial guy. I had good partners and I had a finance partner that was very good with numbers and yeah. But before that, like the first businesses, no, all the mistakes I made them. And you can make a decision, that can take you out of the entrepreneurial mindset.
Charan: I was going to say, what kept you going when the fiddlers came?
Gordon: So, the first one I started, by the way, did you start businesses when you were young? You call this “Lemonade Stand,” have you actually, have-
Charan: I do. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever started my own business.
Gordon: Because aside from your business or something, I don’t know.
Charan: I probably should have started a business but no, I think I was just too shy. I was a really shy kid growing up.
Gordon: No way.
Charan: I was, I would I started a couple businesses in college with some partners, but really, I just wanted to be an actor. When I was in college, I realized, so in a sense, I am in business for myself and [crosstalk 00:21:44].
Gordon: You are right now still.
Charan: I am. I really am, but not in the traditional sense. So I’d be curious to know what kept you going when things completely failed, or why did they fail?
Gordon: So my first business I was in my late teens, I was about 19. And in one of the summers in Canada had an entrepreneurial friend, we started a business where we were selling water purifiers, the ones back in the day, you would attach it to a sink, and it would be for… Now they’re built into homes and stuff, but back then it was-
Charan: You’d have to buy it separately.
Gordon: Yes. So you stick it on to the faucet. And we really, really badly wanted to start a business because we were entrepreneurial. And we did just that, we really, really badly started a business. And it was a complete failure but I-
Charan: Why was it a failure?
Gordon: We’d set up a table at the local mall. First of all, I’m in rural Canada. So when I say mall, I had to drive 25 minutes to get to the mall which is in Orange Hill. And that Orange Hill mall had a population density of… And you’re talking to a rural environment, I didn’t have the right product and I wasn’t talking to the right people.
Charan: So not the right market, not the right product.
Charan: And it just kind of cut by the wayside.
Gordon: I heard a lot of no’s and I realized that as uncomfortable as the word no is, it didn’t kill me and people I think are afraid of hearing “no,” but it’s just a word. And I was that obnoxious guy in the mall, the center kiosk guy that’s, “Hey.” Now a mall is a gauntlet but back then it was kind of an odd thing. I just had a table too. I didn’t even have a fancy kiosk sign that I had… My friend and I drew, my company was called Apex, which was funny because we went to the dictionary and we found the first word that sounded like the top, apex. And then I was, “This is the greatest.” And we got to like a little LLC or whatever was the equivalent in Ontario, Canada, and realized that there was 300 Apex’s in the phone book because everybody does that.
Charan: Also a lot of [inaudible 00:24:11] flyers.
Gordon: It humbled me a little bit and my ego got taken down a few levels, but I realized that didn’t kill me.
Charan: No, didn’t kill you.
Gordon: No, didn’t kill me.
Charan: That’s a powerful lesson to learn even when you’re younger.
Gordon: It’s true. When you think about it, people here know, you go into McDonald’s and you ask for a burger and a soda. They’re going to immediately ask you, do you want fries? And I like many people might say no. A lady doesn’t go into fetal position and start crying. She just says next, next person in line.
Charan: Yeah, they’ve cut that emotional attachment too. Whatever, ask.
Gordon: Because that’s it is, some people, taste is subjective. You realize that you never know the situation that the other person is in and “no” doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Sometimes they don’t. That’s okay. And people have said no right to my face in my own office about ideas and concepts. But I just built this tough skin and wasn’t the only business I started… The first one in Utah was completely non-related. I had a colossal failure. It’s Utah, you want to hear the okay.
Charan: Yeah, let’s dive in a little bit over here.
Gordon: So I’m having some success in early on in my career working for a company, I’m doing pretty well and my wife and we’re in our first house and we had set money aside to do the backyard. It was a home. And [inaudible 00:25:53] said I’d have a front yard and the backyard was whenever, so whenever happened when we had this money. I had a laid-down idea with my buddy and I and we were going to start a streamline mortgage company. And we were going to kill it. And I was like, “Honey,” because I’m a good salesman, and my wife’s amazing. And I just said, “Sweetheart, I know you want the backyard done. But I’m going to take the money, these thousands of dollars, and I’m going to put it into this mortgage company Premier West. And I’ll have that money back in our bank account in 30, 60, 90 days, plus a ton more.”
Charan: Our backyard could have its own backyard.
Gordon: It failed, horribly, failed horribly.
Charan: Why? Just because people didn’t want it or what?
Gordon: Well, for one, I was working elsewhere, where I was doing well in a corporation environment. I was making good money and that I had a buddy running. It was intense how fast cash disappeared, it was one of those. So within 90 days I was out of business and what I didn’t do and then in defense of it wasn’t just my buddy, I realized that some things are out of your control. Like I didn’t consult a guy named Alan Greenspan, which I probably should have, because the second I opened the door, rates started raising, they were historically low, and suddenly they started going up outside of my control.
Charan: Yeah, you can’t control that.
Gordon: Nobody suddenly refinancing, what? No. Huh? What? So Alan Greenspan, God bless you. You’re smart, man. But you wrecked my first business in Utah, just wrecked it. So thousands of dollars just peed down a rat hole, I guess my dad would say.
Charan: It’s one of those things where that could have kicked you down, but you’re, “I’m going to keep going.” So then, some or other, you form XanGo with some of the, that you’ve partnered with and it was in the health industry, which you are familiar with.
Charan: How did it explode? Because it was true. I remember around here there was a Tahitian Noni, there was Xocai, a chocolate company. But then when XanGo came out, and Xocai might have come after, but I knew about XanGo like pretty quickly and it was… How did they come out? And how did they get that cool of a name? And it’s way cooler than Apex and how did that all come to view?
Gordon: It’s one of those things that people would say, “Did you know it was going to be successful before you opened your doors?” And I said, “Absolutely,” I knew it with the white-hot intensity of 1000 suns. I really knew it because I knew the space and I knew it was what I was raised in. And I knew timing and all these… The timing, believe it or not, the economy’s down and direct sales does reasonably good when the economy is down. I don’t know why, it’s just one of those contrarian things.
Charan: I guess it’s one of those home-based businesses and people are looking for something.
Gordon: And we had something new, like, we were a category creator, like, I grew up in a health and nutrition family so, like, I would joke—and you’re welcome to quiz me. I could tell you a nutritional supplement every letter of the alphabet, because I used to pick and pack orders for my dad’s company and people are like, “Can you really do that?” I’m, “Yeah, this is my sad, weird parlor trick.” Alfalfa, burdock, capsicum, damiana, echinacea, ginseng, yada, yada, yada, yucca, zinc.
Gordon: But when my brother was living as an expat in Southeast Asia and he came back with this story about this mangosteen fruit and I’m like mango, what? He’s like, “Did Mom sell this in her health food store?” “No.” “Did Nature’s Sunshine…”—the company my dad started the Canadian Division for—”Did they sell it?” “No.” “And they sell everything right? Nature’s Sunshine sells everything.” And I was like, “No. We have a category creator.” It’s something that is, first of all, tastes good, too, as you pointed out, because I drank everything from yuck to yum growing up, and most was on the yuck scale. If you’ve tasted the castor oils and rice bran syrup and the… It might be good for you, but the taste would suck your will to live.
Charan: That would kill me before the benefits of [crosstalk 00:30:20].
Gordon: Yeah, seriously like a barrier to entry, and some of those is the taste like you can’t get your kids to drink it. Pronunciation, if you ever tried to… I was really proud, I came up with the brand name XanGo. And it was just one of these things. I was reading a book talking about great brands have like two or three syllables, and they’re easy to pronounce and I took a nutritional like the xanthorn is the active ingredient, the phytochemical, and mangosteen, the “go” from mangosteen and I put them together and made a word and doggone it, we got the dot com and it passed mark, and thank goodness. We had somebody challenge the mark and somebody had something called ZenGold in Germany, a German group [inaudible 00:31:02]. But we managed to settle and we shared the space and it was fine and then it just grew and it grew and it grew painfully fast. When I say that there is a pain that comes from-
Charan: Yeah, how do you stock your inventory? How do you employ enough people to fulfill shipment?
Gordon: Exactly. And if stress were people, I was China for the first… By the way I add to those stresses. My wife’s amazing. we had our first daughter within the same month that I started the company. So I basically was there for the birth and would kiss my daughter, and I’d say to my wife, I’d kiss her in the morning. She wasn’t sure if I was getting on an airplane and coming back in a week, had to do a lot of meetings and you and I share a common experience. We both know Doug [Osmond 00:31:57].
Gordon: He was working for XanGo for a while in the early days. I mean, Doug would do… He’d put a microphone attached to speakers in the hand of an Osmond they’re just-
Charan: And it’s over.
Gordon: It’s over, man. They’re amazing with it. That’s like a parlor trick, right? And you get to sing halfway through a speech and whatever. But we had some really great, great core employees. I’m proud to say when the company was acquired a couple years ago, we were 16 years old. And we had people that had been, we had still many people that had been there since day one. I was proud of that.
Charan: That’s great because it shows great culture. And you allow people to-
Gordon: I’d like to think that.
Charan: Absolutely. And it was great because I believe you guys purchased the Scera Theater. [crosstalk 00:32:49].
Gordon: What it was, was the Scera Theater was going to be closed down?
Charan: They were closing down.
Gordon: The arts can’t support themselves. You know this.
Charan: Yes, of course.
Gordon: One of my first dates with Rachel was I went to a movie at the Scera right?
Gordon: And my daughter learned to swim at the Scera pool. So it was just this thing where it seemed like the right thing to do, and we sponsored it and it became the XanGo Scera Theater for a while. And it’s like that art deco, that cool… It’s the oldest theater in Utah County.
Charan: It’s amazing.
Gordon: It would have been a shame to tear that down and turn it into a-
Charan: I remember when I would go to the Scera Theater and one of the most popular movies would be out. And I wasn’t the only one in the theater and I loved it. And it was just such a big theater. I would remember I would walk on the floors of the Scera Theater. And the ground would just be sticky, and I never knew what was [crosstalk 00:33:47].
Gordon: You don’t want to know.
Charan: And I don’t want to know, but I missed that feeling of like being in this ol- time theater because Wynnsong and Megaplex and all these other big theaters were coming out, but this theater was so-
Gordon: Has character.
Charan: Has character man, has memories, and it’s such a huge screen. So when I found out that you guys kind of repurposed it and made it awesome. I was so stoked. I was like, “Wow, XanGo they’re doing some really cool stuff so I love that”
Gordon: I’ve been a fan, you know this, my father was an artist, he went to art school, he found his meaning in life through art, discovered he couldn’t raise a family doing it and went to work for American Motors, which just doesn’t exist anymore. Kind of crazy. Yeah. But what was for me an amazing thing was to be able to help out knowing that my business that—I did business in different places all over the world—was able to help something in my little backyard. And something that was significant to me. Now, you mentioned just before this, I didn’t know this that you went through Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute.
Charan: Yeah I did.
Gordon: And you know, you skied at Sundance, back in the day, you could see Bob skiing.
Charan: For sure.
Gordon: Bob used to come to the same dental office that my wife worked in, and she would talk to him when he would come in, fairly regularly, he had a procedure done that came in quite a bit. Sorry, Bob telling your dental story. And he came in one day and he said, “Hey, I’m screening a movie this weekend. You and your husband want to go and gave Rachel two tickets to “Legend of Bagger Vance.”
Charan: I love that movie.
Gordon: I know. That was amazing. So I got to go to the Scera way before XanGo, we were poor, Rachel and I were broke, man, I had no money and to get, suddenly a walk-in and it was, the Scera can do that thing where they get the lights going and you come in. And Bob just gets up there in jeans and he explains the filmmaking process and making “Bagger Vance” and then he’s just like, “Okay, so let’s watch the movie.” And it was magic, it was amazing. I couldn’t let that thing get torn down and put a condo development in there.
Charan: It’s such a nostalgic place. And I don’t know, I’m just so grateful that it is still there. So thank you because you’ve helped me have more memories because that you’re right, I wasn’t sure if that theater was going to make it or not. But I’m glad it made it. So I appreciate that.
Gordon: You’re welcome. Let’s see what I can.
Charan: You knew one day you would be chatting.
Gordon: I sensed it. I was using the force.
Charan: You had spidey senses.
Gordon: Spidey sense yeah.
Charan: Which ironically that was the movie I watched in the XanGo Theater. It was “Spider Man.”
Gordon: Was it?
Charan: And I was the only one in there. Okay, so XanGo was an overnight success, pretty much. And it exploded painfully fast. And you guys traveled all around the world. You did all kinds of things. It made tons and tons of money. And then it was acquired or you left the company or how did that kind of come about, if you can talk a little bit about that?
Gordon: Okay, so you and I’ve talked quite a bit and you may notice that I don’t mention the name of my former company. And it’s the only way I can explain this and this is… I’ve talked to other entrepreneurs whose companies have been acquired and the way you kind of say it is it’s a little bit like a painful separation or divorce. I created the word and in so many parts of the brand and there is a bittersweet… You’re proud of it of course.
Charan: You’re proud.
Gordon: And you’re grateful that it has a life outside of what you created, but there is something about it where you kind of have to just, you pull the band aid off quick and you just move forward. And I have unbelievably great memories of excellent, amazing friends, still thousands, thousands of friends, like we had offices all over the world. We had offices… It sounds surreal. I don’t want to sound like a “me” monster, but I had… You know Andrew Mecham.
Charan: I do.
Gordon Morton Talks About Having Vision
Gordon: Tampa. We’re working on a movie together right now and “Nameless Days,” shameless plug. There you go, Andrew. Him and Matt. And he was talking about how he lived in Taiwan. And he said, “Do you know Taiwan?” And I said, “Yeah, I had an office in Taipei and one in Kaohsiung.” And he looked at me crooked because he didn’t… At this point he maybe didn’t know really what I had done with my life before. Had an office in Tokyo, had an office in Singapore, an office in Milan, an office in Cannes, an office in… And I don’t, when you say this it sounds like a “me” monster, and I don’t want to, but what I will say is when you’re a kid that’s raised the mile from the closest blacktop and I was ignorance on fire. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and had I known how crazy my life would have been, I may have had a good funk about whether I was going to do this, it was a lot of work. It was a lot of work.
Gordon: But here’s the thing, and people said, because there were moments and I will be dead honest. And I’m not saying this. Anybody that was with me on this adventure, I had so many great people, sales people in and in our company, the ones that got close to me knew they see to my face my furrowed brow and said I’m pretty positive guy, but you’re solving the problems of like 40-plus international markets that are dealing with governments and regulations and things like that, it can bring you down. It can really be heavy.
Gordon: And so luckily I had an amazing set of parents that just taught me… My mom ate potato skins every day for two weeks during World War II, so I never really got a whole lot of empathy when I be like, “Mom, I don’t want to eat my peas because they’re touching my potatoes.” You know how kids can get in. She’s like, “Are you kidding me? World War II I ate potato skins for two weeks everyday.” I’m like, “Alright, you win.”
Gordon: And my dad comes from nothing. So he’s just like, “Man up,” and he would tell me things like, my dad loved people like Covey. My dad was into Stephen R. Covey before Seven Habits, he was into Stephen R. Covey, when Stephen R Covey wrote “Spiritual Roots of Human Relations.” My dad was just a sales, loved talking to people and so he’d say, “Steady as she goes, don’t take things personally and this too shall pass.”
Gordon: And my dad told me, and I wrote it on a piece of paper and stuck it above my… And I would look at that every time I had one of those bad days. And my dad was very passionate about establishing “why.” Why are you doing your business? What is your “why?” What is the reason? And the irony is, it’s more because, here’s the thing like you’ve been taught probably: establish your “why.” Why are you-
Charan: Your vision or whatnot?
Gordon: Yeah. Your “why?” But it’s more because. As a parent, your kids ask you an incessant number of questions every day. “Why do I have to make my bed?” “Because that’s what you do.”
Charan: That’s what you do or whatever.
Gordon: “Why do I have to wash the dishes?” “Well, if you leave them in the sink…” At a certain point you just, “Because I said so.” You end up with, as a parent saying, “Because.” I realized my “why” was more my “because.” Why do I want to start a business? Because I want to build a wall around my family that nobody can touch. That I want to be independent. I don’t want to be in the rat race. I self-impose pressure on myself. As you’ve seen me stressing out about our movie, it’s not that, that didn’t come without stress. Making a movie is one of the hardest pieces of art to create. A million problems. That day on the set that you and I were, you had your problem, bitten by a angry insect and your hand was all swollen.
Charan: No one even know what happened. It was huge. I’ve never had that happen before or since.
Gordon: And that was one of your days where you’re on set. You’re like, “Why?” So you’re solving problems all the time. And you start to… If you have a strong enough reason for doing things, and for me why’s were like the white-hot intensity of 1000 suns. The philosophy I was taught was, “Don’t just think it, ink it.” Write down the things that you want out of life. And then check them off. And it’s kind of a fun exercise. I remember somebody telling me that if you have a checklist of things to do, that there’s an endorphin rush that the body has to checking it off and getting it completed. And it’ll bug you if you don’t check that list off. And it’s the same if you have… My dad had us create, like, dream boards. Take pictures of what you want and put them where you would see them every day.
Gordon: So I had them around my mirror where I would get ready in Shelburne, Ontario, Canada. We had a Volvo and a minivan because, by the way, my dad got the second car because he’s a big Iacocca fan, because he was American industry and so my dad got a minivan. So I said nothing makes you less popular than having a Volvo in farming country. Take it a step further: we had a minivan too.
Charan: That’s not helping any [crosstalk 00:43:37].
Gordon: Zero cred. No street cred.
Gordon: And it was white. So looked like an ambulance. So anyway, he’s like, “Look, you get your own dream board. This one’s mine. I got a family. I got kids. This is easy. You get your own dream board.” So I put around my mirror. I remember one of the things, I had an American dollar and a Canadian dollar because I wasn’t sure at this point where I was going to live.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:43:57].
Gordon: I knew I wanted to live in the States. And I had the number $1 million below it. Just something I looked at every day. I had pictures of Porsche 911. Silver Porsche 911. That’s what I wanted. I had a Ferrari 328. “Magnum P.I.” was very popular.
Charan: Hey, Tom Selleck, man. Go on.
Gordon: Michelle Pfeiffer, Brooke Shields. I did have a Farrah Fawcett poster in the red bathing suit. But my parents tore that down because it was yuck.
Charan: They’re like, we don’t want you [crosstalk 00:44:29].
Gordon: You’re getting a little too risqué. So I had my dream board. I’m like, “Dad, but you told me put my dream board. This is my dream board.” He’s like, “Your dream board, no.”
Charan: No. Trust me, this isn’t going to help you.
Gordon: You let me keep Brooke Shields with the Calvin Klein poster up so.
Charan: That’s very kind.
Gordon: So I would look at this and in my head every day I would get ready. And I’d look and there’s something about it that you say, it gets burned into your memory as a young kid, you say I have a goal. This is what I want to accomplish in life and you realize that, that goal changes as you get older that when you’re a 16-year-old boy or a 14-year-old boy or younger than that. I started that in 12… You realize that I’m not in love with Brooke Shields. Rachel looks a little Brooke Shields.
Charan: That’s pretty spooky.
Gordon: So anyway, Wonder Woman. The original Linda Carter.
Charan: Linda Carter of course.
Gordon: Which my wife looks a little bit like, maybe she was on my wall. She got to stay. I don’t know why. That’s scary.
Charan: Because your wife is here now.
Gordon: There you go. Anyway, you look at that. And yet that’s your “why” and that’s your goal, and you know because of what you do, you try out. You were just telling me about this. Trying out for parts down in.
Charan: Oh my gosh, it’s a thing, you keep going because you love the craft. And yet, I get rejected all the time. But just by doing it over and over and having fun with it that’s when things would happen. By having fun with it first.
Gordon: So where’d you get this good attitude because you… There was nothing more demoralizing than going out for a part that you want. Like you just told this amazing story before. Let me just brag on you. [inaudible 00:46:18] this is your podcast but you were telling the story and just before to my wife who’s a big Rob Lowe fan about you being on-
Charan: “Code Black.”
Gordon: … with Rob Lowe and this amazing moment you shared about skiing at Snowbird. And I realize how many parts you would have gone out for just to get like a role like that. How many rejections, how many times people told you, you just put something creative out into the universe, and we’re rejecting it? And that takes a toll. And people give up. And people just say forget it, give up, but you didn’t. Did you have parents that were just… Well, they’re immigrants. So there’s obviously a drive.
Charan: They’re immigrants. But you know what is interesting is my parents, I love them to death. They aren’t really entrepreneurs, they’re kind of fearful. They definitely took a conservative route with everything that they do.
Gordon: Really? I’m Canadian, and I’m telling you Indians in Canada, they own everything.
Gordon: It’s awesome. Like every mini mart, every parking lot, everything, the Indians-
Charan: They took over.
Gordon: I told you I worked for two Indian guys in high school, hammer shop. So I can do the Indian accent? Not as good as you.
Charan: No, no listen, it’s probably better than mine.
Gordon: Shut up.
Charan: I’ll tell you, I have just found joy in all this type of stuff. And that’s one of the reasons why I keep creating what I create. When it comes to auditions and whatnot, I have an attitude of you go, you do your work, and you forget about it, and you just move on. And then if they call you back, great, but if not, “Hey, you had fun. You practiced some acting. You got to meet some people.” And that’s the way you go. I never really took acting… I don’t want to see the words seriously like in the sense of if I don’t get this part I’m going to die. I got to get this. I have to get that.
Charan: It was more of a “I really love doing this, and it’s a lot of fun for me”. So I’m going to keep going and I’m going to keep creating and then if more things happen as a result of it, it was great. I had to take a very present moment type of approach to it if that makes sense. If you take a very outcome-based thing of like, I won’t be happy or satisfied until I get the role, would never happen.
Gordon: Now the journey is-
Charan: The journey was where it was at and I had to really focus on being happy right now. In fact that’s where I learned, if I was happy right now, the parts just came but if I had to get the part and then became happy, the part wouldn’t come.
Gordon: Is that right?
Charan: Because there was this weird desperation.
Gordon: You give off a “lean and hungry” vibe. If you’re feeling that honestly even back when I was single and I remember having my heart broken once or twice and suddenly I just lost my mojo and I was giving off somehow some “lean and hungry” vibe and women could just sense it. I was like a negative repellent, and then suddenly you get a punch in your arm, a good shot in the arm of enthusiasm about something and suddenly boom overnight changes.
Charan: Yeah it absolutely does.
Gordon: I don’t know what you do, but you have got… I’ll tell you. I’ve been told, this is a great piece of advice, any entrepreneur out there that if you can identify, if you can get good at identifying people with bright eyes, you can build the business of your dreams and when I say “bright eyes,” when you’re talking to any group of people, you’re going to be seeing some people like this and other people they’ll be eyes are rolling or they’re somewhere else. And then there’s going to be a bunch of people their eyes are bright. And you’re like, “Man, if you could get those guys on your team. You can kill it.” And you’re the walking Prozac. When I say that, you walk into a room and there’s not like in a medication way, but you walk in a room and everybody’s in a better mood, you really are. That’s why you’re good at this.
Charan: Well, you’re too kind. And it’s funny because-
Gordon: It’s not just me. Ashley? Not just me. We have a witness.
Charan: We have a witness that’s listening on this whole podcast, guys, Ashley. I wonder how it all kind of came. I mean, I think a part of it comes from my own personal spiritual beliefs and whatnot. But I just kind of learned that there’s just so much joy in the world. And there’s just so much energy and life in the world. And I learned that fun and happiness is really where I thrive the best. So I try to have as much fun as I can wherever I go. Just because I know, maybe it’s selfish, I like having fun. But I also know that when I’m having fun, I’m also influencing people the most in a positive way. And so with [crosstalk 00:51:05].
Gordon: Nobody wants to hang out with somebody who looks like they’ve been weaned on a pickle, because they’re walking around society right now everywhere just angry, just mad. Whatever it is, they’re anti-whatever, anti-anything. You can put the “anything” after the word anti- and there’s people like… God bless, Alta; I ski at Alta. I love it. It’s amazing, awesome. They have no ski valets. It’s just snow. There’s no ski park. It’s just you go to worship snow. And it’s funny because I look at the bumper stickers, what people are passionate about. And there’s one and I parked near this awesome vehicle. “Friends don’t let friends eat farm-raised salmon.” And I was like, “Okay, I get it.” I’m like, “You’re so passionate about this that you’re putting it on… You’re so anti-farm-raised salmon that it’s on the back your car.” I’m an herbal gerbil, I’m thinking about what I eat. But I don’t dwell on the negative. You can’t. But here’s the thing. This is like heavy. So you and I can get heavy.
Charan: Let’s get heavy.
Gordon Morton Talks About Defying Gravity
Gordon: Let’s get heavy. Because the sad reality is that, that the world in general has a slight disadvantage to everybody and that is it is inherently negative and I will say it this way. Gravity, we get up every day and to get up out of bed, you might take this drop and drop it right now. It’s not going up, it’s going down.
Charan: It’s going down.
Gordon: Gravity takes things down. There’s a great song by John Mayer where he’s like, “Gravity, it’s bringing me down and gravity,” if you’ve ever listened. I’m a John Mayer fan, play guitar. I don’t agree with his social media posts, but he’s an amazing guitarist. So gravity, fighting it. The natural laws of nature are somewhat negative, like entropy then, if you’ve ever studied, the law of entropy basically says that if you leave something, it will go to disorder.
Gordon: It will not become more orderly. You’ve seen my back porch, I love to plan. I love the garden. I got that from my mom. My mom loved to garden and was always taught that the key to a green thumb is brown knees, that’s my “dad-ism”: “key to a green thumb is brown knees,” you just got to work in your garden. But if you walk away from your garden for two weeks, the weeds take the garden. It’s entropy. My car out there, if I take my car and park it in a parking lot for a year and don’t drive it, you would think that car is going to be better because no mileage on it. No, I’m going to come back and it’s going to be sunbleached, all the four tires will be flat. Utah, right? So it’s going to be covered in about seven… We have we have more dust fall than we have like rainfall in Utah. So it’s going to be a mess.
Gordon: So the laws of nature are kind of negative, if you will. So you realize that you’re talking about your attitude, my dad would say every day of our life, “Your attitude determines your altitude. No stinking thinking.” He wouldn’t let us say the word hate. It was a swear word. We had a swear jar back when people did things like that, not to say I don’t have a potty mouth. By the way, you were funny when you sent me your demo tape and you beeped out all your F-bombs.
Charan: I just didn’t want to feed your potty jar. I don’t want to feed your swear jar.
Gordon: Anyway, hate was, you couldn’t say it at my family. And unless it was like Adolf Hitler or Satan or something—ou could use it then—but you weren’t allowed to… My dad was like, “It’s your attitude.” And I’d say, “Dad, I want to start a business. Give me something empirical. Teach me about the relationship between cost of goods sold and your selling price and like what’s SG&A and tell me about a P&L statement.” And he just told me about attitude. I’m like, “Dad, just shut up about that. Gosh.” “I hear that attitude.” “I have the best freaking attitude in the world, just shut up about attitude, okay, I’m done with attitude.” But here’s the thing and my dad, I’ll tell him to listen to this podcast. He gets his moment, he was right.
Gordon: It’s the edge, it’s the little edge in life, because the sad reality is, if left to its own devices, life is negative. You got to fight, you got to get an edge over that negativity right. So your attitude, believe it or not. The reason why you smile when you’re walking down the street and you see just people just prior… You see them, I avoid them like I’ll see a guy coming down the street just angry yelling at the world.
Charan: No, not this guy.
Gordon: I go on the other side of the road, because society is filled with them, but you’ll notice that the people that you… You tend to be like the people you surround yourself with. Aristotle Onassis, if you’re familiar with who he is, we’re going to American history, Greek history. He’s the guy that married Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK was killed, and he very rarely did press interviews and towards the end of his life, he got an interview. A journalist got in and said, “I want to be rich, what would you say to somebody who wants to be rich?” And he thought he said, “Well, you want to be rich, go hang out with rich people. Get around rich people. Watch what they’re doing. Listen to what they’re listening to, read what they’re reading, that kind of thing.”
Gordon: You want to be rich, hang around rich, because no matter who you’re hanging with, they tend to nudge you in a certain direction. Not a push, like “push you” feel when you’re being pushed. But you get around, if you’ve seen any of your buddies that you maybe knew growing up, and you see him and you’re like, “Whoa, geez, dude, what happened to you?” They probably started hanging out with a group of people that nudge them in a certain direction.
Charan: In a sense, yeah.
Gordon: So I listened to the people that you have on the Lemonade Stand. And you can’t help but notice it’s a positive group of people.
Gordon: Like David Osmond’s like, I know Dave. When I say I know him, like, I’ve worked with him on some projects. And he’s just positive.
Charan: He’s so positive.
Gordon: Like he has MS. He has a debilitating disease. So does his dad. But if you meet Alan, his dad, who is the founding member of the Osmonds, you have this discussion and his dad’s great. I’m like, “You sang ‘Stairway to Heaven’ onstage with Led Zeppelin?” He’s, “Yeah.” It’s like holy crap. He just raised Dave with the same attitude. And you look at David, and he’s got MS and he’s got 10 projects going at any given time.
Charan: All the time.
Gordon: And you notice that when you and him talk, it’s just,” I love hanging and talking with you. You and I will talk forever because with bright eyes and it’s that…” It sounds silly and stupid and whatever but I can’t even help but notice that Elon Musk has, how much pressure can a guy take in his life? He’s got a ton of it.
Charan: So much.
Gordon: He’s still kind of like tongue-in-cheek, like I saw his post the other day about… Anyway, it was funny. I don’t get into it. But he’s funny. He’s got a-
Charan: Funny guy, yeah. And here’s what I’ve learned about that whole thing. I think, for me there was a day specifically remembered in college. And I don’t know what it was, but it taught me something so powerful. The whole day was filled with failure, I guess you could say, I bombed a test or I didn’t get this paper done in time or just things kept happening that were not good. And yet, for whatever reason I was just so happy that day but I couldn’t pinpoint it. I’m like, nothing makes sense about this day. Because everything around me has failed. And yet I’m happy. Why am I happy? It doesn’t make any sense.
Charan: But then I realized, wait a minute. If I’m constant… And I love that feeling, I love that feeling of my inside, just my heart just being warm and happy and joyous and I knew like more than acting more than succeeding at this or that or having tons and tons of money. I just wanted to be happy. I just wanted to have that total sense of well-being, of being joyous and whatnot, because if that was the case, doesn’t matter what happens because I think what’s worse than having all of your dreams come true, or not having all of your dreams come true, is having all of them come true and realizing you still weren’t happy. You still weren’t fulfilled.
Charan: I think that would be way worse, because then you’re like, gosh, I’ve been chasing all this stuff and it just added to more stress. It hasn’t given me any sense of joy, it hasn’t given me any sense of purpose. Now I’ve got to like chase after more things to cover the problems that have come from the initial things that I wanted. So a lot of times, I’ve realized, I don’t even know if I know what I really want on the outside. But I know on the inside I want to be happy and I want to be joyous.
Gordon: You get an A-plus, brother. I’m not kidding you, man, like five gold stars. And I’m a reasonably positive guy, like, seriously, my dad’s like Zig Ziglar: happy, positive,”zip-a-dee-doo-dah.” He wakes up… He would play “Ride of the Valkyries” or like something in the morning, like Tchaikovsky’s… would wake us up at like 8AM on a Saturday to “Ride of the Valkyries” and he’s like, “Hey, come on, we’re going to go out,” And we got to go plow the field. I’m like, “What are you crazy? I’m 12.” And he would do this thing where he would say,”Up and at ’em, sport”—with more of a Canadian accent—”up in the morning,” but anyway, so one of the things that he basically, he could decide, it’s your decision every day, your mood. You can decide first of all, if you turn on any 24-hour news channel right now, it’s not exactly the place to go to feel positive.
Gordon: You’re pretty much going to see disease and you’re going to see terrorism and gun violence and you’re going to see a jogger get mauled by a mountain lion and-
Gordon: But here’s the thing. We open the door right here, there’s no bombs going off. Thankfully, we’re lucky, most places in America, open the street and the birds are chirping. And that’s what I can concentrate on. But your brain will look at that fear and will actually… But my dad’s like, “Turn it off.” You have the choice to back away from the TV anytime, put down the remote control, back away from the TV. My parents were this kind of family that they’re like, “We don’t believe in TV.” Like how do you not believe in TVs? It’s like not believing in Santa Claus. Well, we had a TV, but it had one that had a plug that you could pull the back out, and my parents would let us have an hour to an hour and a half a TV a day. That was it. No more. So it would get kind of selective, they kind of mellowed when they got a little older.
Gordon: But my dad was passionate like, “TV is bubblegum for the eyes.” If he let us watch it, we had to turn commercials off. Because he’s like, “I don’t want you brainwashed.” He was really funny this way. Crazy dad that I had, but he was always about “you have a choice to be happy.” You and I share that, but I got to tell you, you’re better than me. I’ve told you this. You and I had this one day and I said, “Are you always this way?” And you’re like, “Pretty much.” And you’re like, “Are you?” And I’m like, “No.” I can get apocalyptic, my brain can go to that dark place. If there’s something like a dark cloud, like my tongue finds a sore tooth, I’ll do that, I’d go there.
Gordon: And you and I had different upbringings, obviously. There’s similarities, but every single person that’s listening to this to the sound of our voice right now, everywhere on the planet, have experienced the exact same things and the reasons why they don’t do things and one is, because we’re all the same, you and I are different, but we’re more alike than we’re different. And I think people on the planet should realize that… I’ve traveled the planet and you realize at the heart of it, people are far more alike than they are different.
Gordon: Here’s some of the reasons why people don’t start businesses, why they’re not entrepreneurs. Fear. Now fear is good in a way, like I see people say you need to be fearless. I don’t completely agree, like fear is good. There’s a reason why when you walk close to the edge of a 2000 foot cliff, your body’s telling you, “Hey, this could kill you.”
Charan: Yeah, because fear warns you of danger.
Gordon: It does.
Charan: And danger is real.
Gordon: It’s real. It’s true. “I just don’t want you to walk into oncoming traffic”—your body’s got fear. But left unchecked, fear can kill you and stop you from starting the business of your dreams or pursuing the career of your dreams. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of putting yourself out there and being rejected by society—that’s very real. So fear, which is an emotion that every human being on the planet, when you hear people say “I’m fearless,” I say, “Yeah, I know, dude.” If I see an angry grizzly bear, like, I’m walking down a path, I get back in my car, if I’m at Yellowstone or whatever. I know this. But fear will also stop you from pursuing the business of your dreams, whatever it might be.
Gordon: Another one is guilt. I’m an expert on guilt, I had herbal gerbil parents. I don’t just feel guilty about like eating chocolate. I feel guilty about thinking about eating chocolate. I’m like an expert on guilt. And guilt is good anyway, it’s a positive emotion, obviously, if you do. You live here. We saw that news article last week, about the drunk driver that killed that car full of high school kids. He’s got guilt and he should. When you do something wrong you feel guilt, I told you the story about spending the money on my mortgage company that I started instead of doing the backyard. And Rachel was always very understanding, but I felt guilt, like she would go—and she’s really sweet, you know Rachel—but she would go to the back door and look out into this dirt pile of our backyard and she’d look over at me and go… I felt guilt, man. It’s like, “Dang, I took our money and 90 days just set fire to it.” It was gone.
Gordon: And that guilt that could have stopped me from ever starting a business again. You’re like me, you’re wired the same way. We all experienced this, right? So it’s this gravity of that you have to fight against the fear and the guilt and another one. Maybe the most powerful is self-doubt. Inferiority complex, if you will, psychologists call it “inferiority complex.” I’m too fat or I’m too thin or I’m too old or I’m too young or I talk too much or I’m too shy. You can get in their mindset where my inferiority complex has an inferiority complex.
Gordon: It’s weird because you see these people, you think but then there’s those folks in society like Napoleon or whatever, and you’re like that guy had… There was a while in psychiatry where they got into it and they said, there was something called a “superiority complex.” And for a while it was a theory in psychology. If you get psychology texts from the 60s and whatnot, they said there was a superiority complex. But what they finally came to the universal conclusion was, is that no, it’s really just an inferiority complex manifests itself in a really bizarre way.
Charan: You’re overcompensating. That’s what that is.
Gordon Morton Talks About Pursuing Dreams
Gordon: It’s what it is. So your self-doubt, the things that you have naturally where you tell yourself, “Can I do this? I can’t do…”—that is what you fight all the time. You fight this self-doubt. And I tell you, I’m no better than anyone else, but I’m certainly no worse. So I remember somebody in the South—and when I say in the South and southern United States, got to love them because it’s just country boy wisdom—and somebody said once at a lecture I was at, they said, “If you see someone that has something that you want, do what they did, and you can get what they got.” I’ll say it again. “If you see someone that has something you want, do what they did, you can get what they got.” And I remember thinking, I’ve seen people that are really successful that are not that bright. You’ve met them, right?
Charan: How did this happen?
Gordon: You just picked your nose. I realize I’m no better, but I’m no worse, but here’s the thing. So I had fear and I’ll tell you a fear thing. I’m God-fearing man, IRS-fearing man, whatever it is. When I say this, you have a respectful fear of things. I have self-doubt, plenty of it. I can be my worst critic. There are times where the little voices in my head guilt about things that I should have done differently. So if we all are born and we have fear, and we have guilt, and we have self-doubt, how does anybody become the president of the United States? How does anybody make a million dollars? How does anybody win an Oscar? And the answer is actually quite simple. Really simple, if you want to know. It sounds really, really cliché, but it’s a dream.
Gordon: A dream is like a hot air balloon that lifts you from the gravity of life. And it’s like your “why.” It’s your dream. It’s what you want to do. And if you have that instilled in your brain, you think about some of our greatest thinkers, the last in recent history. I love MLK. Martin Luther King, I think he’s amazing. Probably the most famous speech in recent history, “I have a dream. I have a dream that my four young children will not be judged by the color of the skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream…”, it goes on. “I have a dream of Protestants and Catholics, they consider the table of brotherhood” and blah, blah, blah. And it’s profound.
Gordon: And if you get into it, Walt Disney, any of these people. I’m a Beatles fan, John Lennon. Imagine probably he’s the most famous solo hit. You may say I’m a dreamer because he talked and dreamed about a utopian world, now he died prematurely, obviously. Sad, but funny because he also said things like, “I am the Walrus, Goo goo g’joob.” So you have to catch John on the right day but you get people and you interview somebody like an Elon Musk, or anybody that has broken the gravity into the stratosphere, has made something very big, you’ll find at the heart of it that they have a dream about what they’re going to do with their life, with a white-hot intensity of 1000 suns.
Gordon: I can tell you, I just know enough about you that when you put your head on your pillow some nights, you’re imagining yourself with the role that you want. And even maybe practicing an acceptance speech for a SAG award or something. I don’t know about you, but I played guitar my whole life. I can’t make money doing it. I realize every time I passed a street performer, a homeless guy’s playing guitar better than me. I’m like, “Dang, I’m a decent guitarist.” I realized I wasn’t going to make any money doing it. I’m passionate about it. And there’s a reality to that, but the, I don’t know where I was going with that one. How did I get on guitar? What were we talking about?
Charan: Dreams, man, dreams.
Gordon: A little ADD. By the way, how many ADD people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Hey, you want to ride a bike? Whatever we were talking about. What I was saying is that if you can put this in your brain, like this thing that I want, and put it in your brain with and again coming back to that Napoleon Hill: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe he can achieve.” And you and I are sitting in my office and I told you before, we were talking about the books that are in here, and people say, “Have you read all these books?” And I’m like, “I’ve read most of them.” Sometimes I get, like, a quarter of the way through and I’m like, “I’m unmerciful.” If this book is not catching my attention, it’s gone. I thin the herd.
Gordon: So this represents a very small amount of the books, and I’m not saying I’m bright. My dad just kept saying, “Read,” just “Leaders are readers.” And if you see somebody that’s negative, sometimes you can just say they’re not reading the right stuff. You could do whatever you want in America; books aren’t banned. This is the greatest country. I know you don’t hear it very much these days. It’s not a popular thing, but it’s an amazing place. You can do whatever you want, read whatever you want.
Gordon: And my mom grew up in World War II. Italy was on the wrong side of that war. There was like stuff burned, like books were burned. Mussolini banned everything other than Italian language, it was a different world. She left there for a reason, but when my mom went through Ellis Island. Her immigration path was, even though she had a Canadian immigration paperwork, she had to land at Ellis Island, she was escorted by gunpoint to a train and taken up and where she met my uncle Max in Toronto. And that was her immigration path. So she saw the Statue of Liberty, that was the first thing she saw. Have you ever been, by the way?
Charan: Statue of Liberty?
Charan: It’s amazing.
Gordon: It’s cool right?
Gordon: So I’ve been with the kids and we all know the one line that says, “Bring us your huddled masses.” But what I think is profound is the line right below it that nobody ever quotes and it says, “Bring us your refuse from foreign shores.” And I thought about that. We don’t use—you come from the British system, so do I—refuse is not a word that they use in America anymore, but it’s garbage. It’s a word for garbage. “Bring us your garbage from foreign shores.” My mom came with less than $100 Canadian in her pocket and landed. My dad comes from nothing, like just abject… bad side of the tracks. I won’t get into it, right? But the thing that’s amazing about America is they’re like, “Bring us your garbage where you can do whatever you want.”
Gordon: And people that were rich weren’t leaving Europe to start America in 1776, Plymouth Rock, those weren’t the Rothschilds or whoever, I’m trying to think who would be a big family back then. That was people who wanted freedom and wanted a chance. My grandfather was destitute after World War II. He had all his money in the Italian savings bonds. He was smart with his money, lost every penny of his net worth because the lira went instantaneously overnight after World War II, he had nothing. He had to start again and he was saying, “I’m not starting in Italy. I’m going to Canada.”
Gordon: And I think people forget that. You could do whatever you want. That’s a nice… You could be, have whatever you want. And I think people get this mindset like, “I cannot. I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.” Not true. Because right now, if you say, “I can’t do something,” and you stand in the middle of my street and say you can’t, you’re going to be run over by somebody that’s going to tell you you can eventually. You can’t drive a car based on electricity. Musk run you over years ago. I remember watching the show called “Who Killed the Electric Car?” It kind of angered me. And I was like, “We’re never going to get an electric car.” Elon Musk proved him wrong. It’s like, “Don’t tell me you can’t.” I hate when somebody says, “You can’t do this.” I hate like this one: “You can’t make money in independent film.” It’s a hard one. That’s a hard challenge.
Charan: Look, you know what. I love when people say, “You can’t do this; you can’t do this,” because that was what I got as an actor when I first started getting into it. And I’ll tell this one story and then we better wrap up. But when I first got into acting, I knew I wanted to do it. But I was kind of nervous. I was like, “I don’t know.” I was very insecure. And I auditioned for this agent and this agent after seeing the audition, he said, “Okay, all right, good. We can’t necessarily really, really push you out. I mean, maybe I can give you like a role as an extra, maybe just doing like little things here and there but not like any big roles, there’s a lot of things that you have to develop and stuff as an actor.” And he was probably right and it kind of crushed me a little bit. But then, just a couple of years later, I was the lead in a feature film. And that same agent-
Gordon: Which one shameless plug it, come on. Shameless plug. Shamefully plug.
Charan: It was abandoned mine.
Gordon: You’re on “Silicon Valley.” We know I can brag on you, you’re amazing. Yes.
Charan: Well it was a suspense movie. And I always tell people like, “Hey, got five stars on Netflix.” It was like, “No way, five stars really?” And to be fair, though, only two of those stars were color red, others were a little white but doesn’t matter. They were five stars.
Gordon: That’s good.
Charan: They were five stars, man. It’s all I counted. Anyway, that same agent was the caterer on this film, and he didn’t remember who I was. And it was so interesting to think wow, I’m sure he meant well, and I remember even back then he was just like, “Well, you’ve got a lot to grow,” and that was true. But just the joy of doing it landed me a big role on this film.
Charan: So I guess just wrapping up. I really like what you said about the vision boarding and about having that attitude. And how that’s exactly like what kind of separates you from the gravity and nature and how things bring you down. And yet the dream can build you back up.
Charan: And it’s amazing. Like I’m sitting, I’m in your house and it’s a beautiful home and it’s fantastic and I just keep thinking, your attitude really took you to that next level, it took you out of the stratosphere and sure we’ve had our struggles and you’ve got your struggles in your company and you’ve had your struggles and in films and whatnot, and yet you’re still going, man.
Gordon: I know. Life is hard and we know that.
Charan: We get that.
Gordon: One of the guys that mentored me said, “Hey, Gordon, here’s a little secret: life is hard. And the faster you figure that out, the easier it becomes.”
Charan: I love that.
Gordon: And so people say, “Well, what’s the secret?” I don’t know the secret. The one thing I just know is that if you… By the way, you gotta have a plan to… I talked to you. You have in your brain, there’s pilots that you’re working on. You’re spinning ideas, you’re churning them and you and I’ve talked about spitballing green-light sessions, whatever. And you always have to have a plan and a backup plan and a backup, backup plan, because stuff changes, like COVID has completely radically changed this world. So the way that I plan has changed and so our kids and I read them “Winnie the Pooh” and there’s like this one episode, A. A. Milne is pretty bright and there’s one Christopher Robbin’s, like Pooh’s saying, “Christopher Robbins, we’ve got a plan.” Pooh says like, “What’s the plan?” He’s like, “Planning is what you do before you do it so that when you do do it, it’s not all messed up.”
Gordon: I was like, that’s pretty true. I tell people, I would tell my staff and it’s not just heard it somewhere along the way in life. And it’s like, you can do anything you want in your life if you just do three simple things: make some goals, say your prayers, and go to work. And then repeat over and over and revisit the goals, and if the goal needs to change you change it, but you set some goals, some big hairy audacious goals. Get some little ones. Ones you can check off. Maybe it’s something simple, like I’m going to do something very simple. I’m going to upgrade my phone or whatever, get a medium-sized goal, and you get some big hairy audacious goals like big ones. Ones that scare the dickens out of you.
Gordon: If you got a goal that scares the blazes out of you. I have one right now and you know it, right? There’s a part of it that scares the blazes out of me because I’m putting my big mouth promises out in the universe that this thing is amazing. Because I believe it’s a really amazing project. You need to have a goal that kind of scares you a little bit. Make your goals, say your prayers, and I don’t care, because I don’t affiliate with any one religion or anything like that, but what I am saying is like you got to give… When you say your prayers, call it meditation, call it whatever.
Charan: Whatever you want to call it.
Gordon: Self reflection, when you’re sitting there, when you putting your head on the pillow at night, the thing you think about, make your goal, say your prayers, and go to work. And it’s work. And I’ll tell you, it’s not just work, you know people that you have to work hard, that’s one of the things that my parents taught me. But you and I both know people that have busted their hump in life and have never gotten out of the rat race, we just know them. Part of it is also working smarter and realizing how to leverage your time, and if you can give up what used to be “Monday Night Football, Monday Night Football,” I don’t know what’s going on anymore but I heard somebody say, “If you can give up ‘Monday Night Football’ one night a week, chase some other business in addition to what you’re doing, you can change the trajectory of your life.”
Charan: I love that.
Gordon: I know you hear a lot of doom and gloom these days. I know it’s apocalyptic to turn on the television. It seems like I turn on the TV and it’s-
Charan: Here’s another thing.
Gordon: Wow, murder hornets—I was like, “What?” But here’s the great thing: life’s amazing.
Charan: It is.
Gordon: It’s amazing. I get to eat pizza. I feel guilty about it, but pizza’s amazing. I put that on my mouth, I’m like, “This is amazing.” Life is pretty amazing.
Charan: It’s awesome.
Gordon: And you know that, and I know it’s not fashionable to be positive these days. But I still am actually.
Charan: Dude, I love it, man. I love it, like, I love media. I love having this conversation, because at the end of the day, it’s like, there are so many great reasons for you to be positive. And if for nothing else, just so you feel good inside. Even if nothing else is going on great outside, just feeling good inside, and I just feel like it every time you put that in there and you’re feeling good inside, the outside world just kind of reflects it. That’s just how it’s been for me.
Gordon: Isn’t that funny.
Charan: It’s amazing.
Gordon: It’s funny.
Charan: I feel like we’re trying so hard to like control the outside to make ourselves feel good. But it’s almost, hey, if we just work on our inside and make ourselves feel good, the outside just reflects it. It just reflects it.
Gordon: It’s true.
Charan: That’s one of the big things that I’ve learned for myself.
Gordon: A smile is infectious. Your smile is infectious. I heard you talking and it was funny, you and Dave Osmond been talking about smiles, and the Osmonds definitely own the smile category, right?
Charan: They do.
Gordon: Some people with amazing smiles. But a smile is, it can make your day, like it makes people’s day, like somebody gives me a compliment with a smile on their face. And I’m like, “Man, that’s what I’m concentrating on.” Not the 53 people that told me I’m an idiot or whatever, and there’s some reason why there’s something wrong with the film I’m working on or whatever it is. So I know it sounds cliché, and my dad wins, like attitude. It’s seriously, it’s huge. Good talk.
Charan: Gordon, you’re the best man, great chat, I really hope people get stuff out of it. Thanks again for joining me on Lemonade Stand. You’re the man and I cannot wait to do stuff with you, like it’s just been so fun.
Gordon: We’ve already have.
Charan: We’ve already have and we’re going to do a lot more. I’m excited about it.
Charan: Awesome. Well, thanks again.
Gordon: Thanks, Charan. Cheers. Fist bump.
Charan: Yeah, fist bump.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast. And we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback to the reviews and if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand Story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.