Branding Matters

Alex Morin - Become Almost Enlightened

February 04, 2022 Branding Badass Episode 54
Branding Matters
Alex Morin - Become Almost Enlightened
Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Alex Morin, the Founder and CEO of Almost Enlightened Inc. a cutting-edge educational resource that encompasses business coaching, life coaching, professional writing, and an award-winning podcast by the same name. Alex is also the creator and host of another new podcast he launched in 2022 called Promonoise - an educational podcast geared specifically to the promo world.

Before launching Almost Enlightened, Alex had a thriving career in branding where he provided branded merchandise to suppliers like myself. After 20 years climbing the corporate ladder, Alex eventually became a partner at a thriving global corporation, where he’s still a shareholder today. 

I invited Alex to be a guest on my show to talk about his eclectic career. I wanted to hear about his experience in the branding world, both good and bad. And, I was curious to learn why, at the peak of his career, Alex threw in the towel to become “almost enlightened”.

💥IF YOU WANT HELP GETTING YOUR CLIENTS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR BRAND,  REACH OUT TO ME ON SOCIAL AT BRANDING_BADASS OR EMAIL ME AT JGOODSON@GENUMARK.COM

Joelly Goodson :

Hi, I'm Joelly, your Branding Badass, and welcome to season two of Branding Matters. Today's episode is going to be a little different. Reason being, my guest is someone I've known for more than 20 years. And what we started talking about, as far as business goes, got really personal when he shared some things that happenned in his life that changed the trajectory of his career. His name is Alex Moran, and he is the Founder and CEO of Almost Enlightened Inc, a cutting edge educational resource that encompasses business coaching, life coaching, professional writing, and an award winning podcast by the same name. Alex is also the creator and host of another new podcast he launched in 2020 called Promo Noise. A specific educational podcast geared to the promo world. Before launching Almost Enlightened, Alex had a thriving career in branding, where he provided branded merchandise to suppliers like myself, and that's how I got to know him. And after 20 years climbing the corporate ladder, Alex eventually became a partner at a thriving global corporation, where he's still a shareholder today. And last, but definitely not least, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Alex's foray into the music world, where he once performed a lead role with the Vancouver Opera Company. I invited Alex to be a guest on my show today to talk about his eclectic career. I wanted to hear about his experience in the branding world, both good and bad. And I was curious to learn why at the peak of his incredible career, Alex decided to throw in the towel to become "almost enlightened". Alex, I am so thrilled to have you here today. Welcome to Branding Matters.

Alex Morin:

Well, thank you, Joey, I'm so thrilled to be here. I've followed your career for years, I've known you for decades. And now I know you as a podcaster. Very successful podcaster. And I couldn't be more thrilled to be on this particular program and to be talking with you about all things promo, advertising and branding. So thanks for having me on your show.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, my God, of course. And podcasting, you're also into, we're gonna get into all that. It's crazy. I was thinking, I don't know the last time I've seen you. I mean, obviously, it was pre COVID. It must have been in Toronto before you retired or switched careers. Probably like at least two, maybe three years.

Alex Morin:

It has been but in the virtual world, I see you nearly every single day. So you come across my LinkedIn feed. I follow you on your podcast. So I get my fill of Joelly. I know, unfortunately, we haven't seen one another one to one in a long time. I don't even remember the last time we saw one another in person. But man, I see you all the time on social media.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, that's funny. Well, likewise. All right. Well, let's get right into it. But before we talk about our industry and brightening and all that stuff, you've had quite the career I have to say when I was doing my research again, you know, it's funny. I've known you for 20 years at least. But it's always been we see each other in person, maybe twice a year, if lucky, but usually once a year at the events and everything. And I mean really like who is Alex? Right. And so when I when we decided that you know, you're going to be on my podcast. And then of course, I do all my research. And I found all this stuff about you that I thought was so interesting. So I'm really excited to dig in. But before we do, can you just give a little bit of your origin story as far as where you went to school and what you studied there?

Alex Morin:

Yeah, sure, absolutely. I grew up on the West Coast. I live in Toronto now. But I grew up all of my life. I guess all of my formative schooling life was in BC, where you stay in university. I studied a variety of things. I didn't know what I wanted to do. When I went in. I thought maybe I'll do a little physics. Maybe I'll do a little economics. And along the way, I ended up ditching both of those and got an English Literature degree. Go figure. Yeah, never would have dreamed of doing that. But that's what I ended up.

Joelly Goodson :

Yeah. Well, you're a good writer. So obviously, you have a passion for writing, I assume. Right? Is that why you took English? Yeah.

Alex Morin:

It wasn't necessarily the writing. It was Shakespeare that actually caught okay. I love Shakespeare. Well, who doesn't? I mean, a lot of people but even to Stratfor, of course, I have Yes. Yes.

Joelly Goodson :

To strive for with my dad when I was I love Shakespeare, I'd actually studied the same thing. And I went to Stratford. I think I was, I don't know, maybe 15 He took me and we went to see a whole bunch of, you know, they had a festival Stratford Festival, right, which is famous for this Shakespeare Festival. So oh, that's like Shakespeare. That's awesome. It's funny. My son's in grade 10. And he's actually studying Romeo and Juliet right now. So we were talking a lot about Shakespeare. When did you So you grew up in BC and you went to university? So when did you move to Toronto? And why did you move to Toronto?

Alex Morin:

So it was shortly after I graduated from the University of British Columbia that I moved to Toronto and it's of course, it's because I met a girl at USC, who was from Ontario, and this is my, this is the reason so many people leave, right. So I moved shortly after my getting my degree there. And the other reason I moved was because at the time I was wanting to be a musician, I was doing lots of music and I thought, hey, you know what, I'm going to move to Toronto. This is where my girlfriend lives her family's here, she wants to move back. And if I'm going to make a go of music, Toronto would be a wonderful place to do that. So that was the goal Jolie was to move to Toronto to actually play music. And I did that for the first I don't know, I'd say five years, started a couple of different bands, got a different project started touring around Ontario, and then found promo.

Joelly Goodson :

Wow, well, that, you know, I could free you got to try things out and follow your passion. And it's something you can continue to do. Okay, so you graduated from English? And then you went to Toronto? And then you want to be in a band? Like, how the hell did you go from that into the promo world?

Alex Morin:

So after having my first child, I Well,

Joelly Goodson :

you? Let's be clear. I don't think you had your first. Dad for the first

Alex Morin:

time. Let's give all the credit to Karen. Yeah. After we had our first child. Yeah. I realized that I was making zero money. We wanted a house. And I guess we thought at the time, that's what you do when you have a family as you get a house. And so I figured, okay, like, if I'm going to be the parent I want to be I think I have to be stable. I think I have to be around and quit touring around all over the place and doing music. So I went to a headhunter and told them, hey, this is what I can do. This is some of the experience that I have, they found a couple of different options for me. And I got offers from a few companies and settled on this one company called Deb Co. And I really thought I would only be there for a couple of months. I thought for sure you know what, something's gonna take off, I'll end up doing something else promo I had never even heard of the industry before. So there was no rhyme or reason as to why I got into it. It was just a headhunter that introduced me to the company. That was it.

Joelly Goodson :

Wow. Okay, I didn't realize that. And so then, fast forward, you were there for 20 years, and you've been up and you became before you left? Emco? What was your final rule? There?

Alex Morin:

I went through a whole bunch of iterations. To answer that question. My final rule would have been VP of Sales for North America for the larger company that ended up buying us out. And along the way, I had lots of different job titles. So I went from account manager to business development manager to national sales manager to vice president of sales to Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. And then as the VP of North American sales for the for the big conglomerate.

Joelly Goodson :

So you became the rock star that you always want to be? Ah,

Alex Morin:

well, funny. You should say that. Yes. And no. I mean, it came with a lot of notoriety. Of course, it's a prominent position. But the funny thing is Jolie is that is that I did kind of get to live out my dream, because everywhere I traveled, I brought a guitar with me. And it was my calling card. I didn't realize that at first. But it became a wonderful tool to unite people to distinguish myself and to stand out from the crowd when there's 10s and hundreds of 1000s of people. And so yeah, in some sense, actually, I really did get to play music for a living as I toured around North America, visiting distributors and doing lots of different supplier events. So I kind of funny, it came full circle.

Joelly Goodson :

I mean, I used to see you play, but what I met was just a rockstar in the industry. So it's kind of on turned, but that's okay. So 20 years plus years industry, I mean, I've been in the industry same bit longer over 20 years. So looking back now, what would you say would be three things that you like best about the promo world,

Alex Morin:

I made so many good relationships, so many of them that I still have to this day. And I would even say that many of the relationships that were challenging, were probably instrumental in allowing me to grow allowing me to learn so relationships was, you know, probably comes in in that top three. And then the other thing is just the experience, it's a totality. When you look back at it, when you look back at every single thing that makes up a career in an industry, it's all of those experiences, and you can bundle them into one, it's just this emotional ride that you are on or you can just pick and parcel them out and say, My gosh, I learned here I felt there, I I hurt there. I you know, all these different things. So for me, it's all about experience. And I think that speaks to my love of learning because I am committed to the fact that experience is education. And that's what that's what I crave in life is just education.

Joelly Goodson :

Let's get a little bit more specific. Let's talk about like branded merchandise because it is a very unique industry. Can you maybe get a little bit more specific as far as the swag and the industry and all that. Is there anything about that that you particularly love?

Alex Morin:

Yeah, there were lots of things that I liked about product and there were lots of things I liked about the vehicles that we use to advertise. And I think what I liked more so than the product was the medium and everything that it means and its iconic nature. So, you know, we went into technology. And we were doing all kinds of speakers and interesting items. And I found that there was a lot of excitement built around the notion of what a speaker means to somebody and how it can actually be an emotional vehicle for somebody, when they're playing a song that they remember from high school graduation at their desk and thinking about a brand. And those kinds of things really made me ponder life and made me really wonder, all kinds of things about why people gravitate towards certain promotional products. So I always found there was an esoteric nature to promotional products that really drew me in. And then of course, the innovation. I love the way technology is inventing and reinventing itself constantly. And I think you could say that about our products as well. We're constantly on the lookout for how our products will evolve and what materials we'll use and how we'll decorate them. And I always got a kick out of out of trying to reimagine promotional products and evolve them iterate them. So yeah, there's so many things I like about the products themselves. So I found it quite an interesting avenue to pursue and to ponder. I could make a case for a ton of different reasons why promotional products are so vitally important. And especially during the COVID, lockdown and shutdown motional products have brought companies together. And there's all kinds of ways that you can unite people with a properly placed promotional product,

Joelly Goodson :

lots of things you loved about the industry, you know, you're a real people person, can you think of things that maybe turned you off? I mean, 20 years is a long time,

Alex Morin:

there certainly were. And I think that no matter what we're looking at in life, we can find the challenge in it. And that can be raising your kids that can be the food you eat, it can be absolutely everything. And so yes, of course, there were things that I found challenging about the promotional products industry, and one of which is something that my mentor Stan gallon the old owner of DEP co had talked about when I interviewed him on a podcast not too long ago. And we share a common belief that that one of the biggest challenges of the promotional products industry, and I would say, for most industries, in general, is the ugliness of capitalism, the ugly side of capitalism. And to be more specific, I would say that we often compromise our values because of capitalism. And I found that challenging, it became particularly challenging at the end of my career, I was having real problems with it, I was having a real issue, not speaking my truth anymore, not expressing myself. And to go further into detail, I will say that there is a level of falsity that exists between the supplier and the distributor that's inherent in a capitalistic system.

Joelly Goodson :

And one, I want to just interrupt you for one second, sorry, I want it because for people that are listening that are not in our industry, I want to be clear. So you are, you are a supplier, I am a distributor. So basically, I you and I would work together and you'd say, Hey, Julie, I got this cool thing that I want you to show you. And then if I think it's called short to my client, so I just want to tell people know, the relationships between you and me. You're the supplier, I'm the distributor, sorry. So continue on. So that relationship is false, or

Alex Morin:

no, no, those relationships can be absolutely beautiful. But I think that I struggled with the ugly side of capitalism at times. And so let's be specific. So the lifeblood of my business as a supplier is you the distributor right you are my Salesforce. And so it behooves me to have an unbelievable relationship with you an honest one a beautiful relationship where we're feeding one another ideas, Alex here my opportunities, Julie here the product solutions that I have for you. And in that manner, we get along beautifully and 99% of the time, that was the case for me and why I love the relationship so often and so much. However, 1% of the time, there is the the almost the knowledge that that you are being fed aligned. So for instance, you know, you might say something's gone wrong with this order Alex and it is my biggest client ever and they absolutely hate me and they're not paying for the order whatsoever. And and that might not be the case, actually. And so I'm strong armed into doing something that I don't really want to do give a massive discount, give the order away for free, that type of relationship exists, unfortunately. And I found that difficult. I did find that aspect of of the industry difficult and, and I will readily say that that wasn't the case most of the time. 99% of the time. It's it's a beautiful relationship but but I did struggle with that. I struggled with a whole bunch of things as well and I struggled with with inequality as well and in turn of who does what and who's being paid what in the industry as well. I saw that all over the place as I traveled, when I would walk through print shops and see people that were making meager incomes as opposed to some of the other people. It's that's the ugly side of capitalism, I think that I've got a lot of work to do still, as I reconcile that. And I'll be, you know, pondering that for years to come. As, as just something that that's interesting to me, and something that I would love to be able to work on and just think about, hmm,

Joelly Goodson :

that's interesting. You know, I never came across that. But putting myself in your shoes, I could see how that would be a turn off. Because you know, you mentioned this at the beginning, we said, One things we loved the most about your career was relationships, and relationships are built on trust going on branding, I always talk about when brands, how they connect with their audiences through creating trust in their relationships. And if you don't have trust, and you don't have anything, so feeling that you don't have that trust, I could see how that would make a disconnect, right between you and your customers. Because ultimately, you're I'm your customer, right? And so if you're not trusting me, and maybe trust goes both ways, right? So yeah, I can see that.

Alex Morin:

And then the other component to with regard to capitalism is our inherent desire is both supplier and distributor to maximize our profits. And so when it comes to negotiating vendor agreements, that can be contentious as well, right? So on one side, you're pushing for volume rebates, better pricing marketing allowances, and that's eroding my profitability, right as a supplier. But however, on your side, you're probably being pushed by your your end user as well. So I could see that there's friction, no matter what side of the equation you're on. And I think that's the interesting thing about capitalism is that whether you are in the distributor seat, whether you're a supplier or whether you're your customer, Jolie, who is the end users, we got a whole other, you know, segment, they're struggling with the same things. We're all struggling with profitability, right. And that's, that's the problem is we're struggling with profitability with revenues, when we should be struggling about our humanity about who we are about lifting one another. And that's, that's kind of where I got myself to at the end of my career was just questioning all these things. And wondering, Can I do it differently? Is there is there any possibility that life could look different than than the way it does right now? Hmm,

Joelly Goodson :

wow. Well, I can definitely see how that leads to what you're doing now, which we will get into I do want to I want to talk a little bit more though, about the industry and how it's changed. And what role did you play as far as researching and then bringing new market new products to market?

Alex Morin:

It's a complex question to answer. And the simple answer is not a massive role in the, in the scheme of things. So when I talk about 4000 skews in the warehouse, look that the vast majority of those are sourced by a, an overseas sourcing team that are phenomenal at what they do. So so in that they from that standpoint, look, I'm not the chief sourcing guy I never was. However, I will say that I did play a key role in many product categories that came in that ended up becoming top selling product categories of ours. And I can even tell you a funny anecdote Jolie that always makes me smile and it makes me smile because I get to think of my mom when I when I think of a story and it revolves around a speaker many many years ago that my mum gave me she was a flight attendant that she used to fly to the Orient quite often, she would always bring back interesting things for us custom made suits, all kinds of cool clothing. And one trip she brought me back a speaker. And it was a speaker that was a tiny bit bigger than a golf ball. And it was a corded speaker long before Bluetooth had even become a household name or a household concept. And it was in the shape of an apple. It was so cute. And you could unscrew the top of it and it would just slightly separate so that kind of a disco blow would glow while you're while your music was playing. Anyways, the point of my story is that I put that on my desk for a couple of years. And I plugged it into remember iPods, I plywood, plug it into my

Joelly Goodson :

remember I've ever excuse me, I remember cassette tapes. Okay, so I remember eight tracks. So yeah, remember I language? Yes.

Alex Morin:

So So I used to plug my iPod in. And sometimes I would plug it into my laptop and I would listen to music with this little speaker. And for two years, it sat on my desk. And one day I said What the heck am I doing? I use this thing every single day. Does it not stand to reason that other people would use this product as well? So I brought it over to the overseas sourcing department. I said guys, could you source this and then being so good at what they did. After two weeks, boom, we had a sample. And we were like Yeah, that's amazing. That's exactly the product. Let's bring it in. At the time. No buddy in the end industry had speakers Jolie? Nobody, nobody. So we brought this speaker in I think I if I remember correctly, the SKU was the cu 732. Disgusting. That's funny that you remember it i i had terrible. We brought it in and the thing took off like wildfire. Everybody had to have it. I remember it was one of our top producing skews probably two years in a row in terms of revenue brought in. And it spawned an entire product categories speakers, and we had a whack of different corded speakers. And then of course, moved into Bluetooth and everyone was doing Bluetooth at that point. But that's an example of how tangentially I would introduce concepts.

Joelly Goodson :

How we how what tangent totally

Alex Morin:

tangentially so so. So, so not directly, but indirectly.

Joelly Goodson :

I just learned a new word tangentially. Okay.

Alex Morin:

So, so this is an example. And I'll give you one more example, when it comes to my influence role. products. The other way that one can influence new products is by Well, there's two ways and I would say that I did both. One way is understanding who the talent is in the industry. And I always had an eye for talent in the industry and was able to bring on board people who were thought leaders and who were leaders in their fields. And I remember one gentleman who I just adored. And he was funny as heck charming a relationship builder. And he knew a product category that I was unfamiliar with. And that product category was drinkware. And the fellow's name was Sergio Munoz who is a really good friend of mine,

Joelly Goodson :

Sergio, Sergio,

Alex Morin:

we love Yeah, and I remember having discussions with Sergio understanding that he sought more opportunity. And we hatched this plan to bring him on board. And I knew full well that I'm bringing by bringing him on board. Not only was I going to get a fantastic relationship builder, but I was going to get expertise in a product category in which I knew nothing about. Well, if you fast forward to three years after Sergio came on board, drinkware became our number one product category. And we're talking millions and millions of dollars. So to that extent, there was some influence with regards to the product categories there. And then of course, the final one is just being curious, right? And always looking around you what's being used, what's happening, how can we iterate concepts that we see. And I would constantly do that. And although it was really the responsibility of the overseas sourcing team to source the products, I would love adding input are almost every day, I would send them a note, have you thought of this? Do you like this? What do you think of that concept? What if we change this, you know, they were probably leaps ahead of me, I already thought of that, Alex, but I enjoyed that. I really enjoyed that. Because it afforded me the opportunity to be creative and to exercise that creative muscle that I love exercise, you know, you're getting to know me in this interview, I just I just love thinking I love it. It's so it's a passion of mine.

Joelly Goodson :

I love it too. And you know that for me. I mean, one of the things that I love so much is the creative part of it, you know, working with clients and coming up with ideas for campaigns and everything else. That's one of my favorite things. But it's interesting, I get to share a story with you now. So I don't even remember how many years ago, I mean, I want to say at least 10, maybe 15. I don't know. But long time ago, I found this item that was really small. It was like the size of a thumb. And you could actually take your information from your computer and put it on this and go home. So I could take stuff from the office, put it on this and go home and I thought this is going to take up this thing was called USB drive the price I think for 512 megabytes was like over $100 Okay, I'm not kidding. And I showed it to our my boss. And I thought this is great. And then fast forward right now. I mean, USBs are like everywhere. What I guess my point of that is, I'm the same way I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on on the world and trying to be a little bit ahead and finding things that are going to be good. And then also and this brings me great circle to when I see something and I'm you know, people come to me all the time our suppliers come to me with items and say, Hey, we got this really cool, blank. I think it's gonna be really good. What do you think? And then I'm like, either thumbs up or thumbs down. Right? And I don't think it's gonna work. And so I'm curious, you know, has there been anything that you've come across or that you have that you thought was going to be successful and popular, but then it completely just tanked?

Alex Morin:

Yes, yes. In my career. I've seen tons and tons of products that never made the grade that you thought would. Yeah, yeah, there have been there have been and I'll give you one example. I was really intent on developing a health and wellness line many years ago, I felt that this was where the industry needed to go in terms of well being. And I helped champion that line by suggesting yoga mats and yoga blocks and all kinds of things. And we sourced those products quite successfully. And there were several that I thought would really, really take off, you know, different types of exercise things, hand grips, the slider pads that you can use on the floor, when you're doing planks, you can move your arms and, and I just thought, Oh, these things are the bee's knees. They're going to do so well. And no, they didn't. They didn't take off at all, which is unfortunate that you know, sometimes you you can't

Joelly Goodson :

you're ahead of your time because now health and fitness is everywhere. You know, now that's a big

Alex Morin:

Yeah, yeah, maybe maybe that's it, it was just the wrong time. But yeah, I've seen times and I've even given the thumbs up to something that's that that's failed miserably. I remember once we tried a nonwoven vest, probably the ugliest thing you'll ever see. Imagine non woven tote bag shopping bag that you see in any grocery store. And and we decided we would turn it into a vest that you could use, you know, in an event, and it was heinous looking, but the price was ridiculously inexpensive. You can get this thing for like a buck something or two bucks at the most. And I thought oh my gosh, like there's value in this and we were the laughingstock of tradeshow once when people came and we actually wore them as uniforms as well. We were like, this staff just wanted to oh, they found out we were wearing them. So yes, I've seen lots of products plenty

Joelly Goodson :

a Well, whoever thought the Fidget fidget widget. Fill it with fidget spinner. Yeah. Who would be like, Oh my God, that there was every iteration of possible fidget spinners. Remember, that was huge. Just you know, you don't know. And sometimes you do, and sometimes you don't. It's crazy. But

Alex Morin:

I've got I've got a seven year old here who's not too far away from me at the moment, he can hear us interviewing. And he his eyes lit up. When I said fidget spinner. He's whispering over from a corner over there, dad, the pot tools, the pop tools. So that's like, they're called puppets. Thanks, Noah. So they're, they're called puppets. And have you seen these things? Joey? Like, I don't know, you gotta tell me. It's the iteration. It's the next generation of fidget tools. And the puppets are like the silicone trays. Oh, yeah.

Joelly Goodson :

That you do that you used to do with them? We used to do that with, like, packaging. And yeah, bubble wrap. Yeah. So

Alex Morin:

yeah. So you know, there's always something and there's always a flavor of the month, it's, you know, it boils down to the longevity of the idea, like, does it have legs? Is it useful? Useful is key. Yeah,

Joelly Goodson :

I always say that. I always say when I you know, I don't care how cool it is. If it's just gonna sit there not doing anything. I don't promote it to my customer. You and I had an argument about this in Vegas. I don't know if you remember that. But we there was an item that you thought was gonna be the next thing. And I was like, oh, no, think so. Alex, do you remember that? And we like had a little bit of Ben, we had a bet over that. Do you remember?

Alex Morin:

I remember, I will admit readily that you were right. And I was completely and totally wrong. Oh, well, I'm

Joelly Goodson :

not saying for who's right or wrong. But I just remember like, we have these conversations anyway. Okay, so what was the total years that you're in this? You're 20? Exactly, or 21?

Alex Morin:

Or 20? Or 21? It was it was right around that bar. Okay.

Joelly Goodson :

And then climbed the corporate ladder in your various, like I said, a rock star and successful and everything. And then you just said, Screw it. I'm out of here. Like what I mean, I get a little bit now based on I think some things that you've said during our conversation that I can see why you left. But was there anything specific? Like what was what was the day that you said, I'm done?

Alex Morin:

There's a definite answer to that. And it's an easy question to answer. But I'm going to give you a little bit of context. First, I had been questioning life in general. For years, I had been questioning and I didn't have the courage to do something different to step out and just say, I'm going to try something different. I was making great money. Our family was relatively happy with regard to where we're situated here in life. And that was tough. And we call those golden handcuffs, right. And so I lacked the courage to to try something different. And I wish I had at the time, and I say this now in reflection. It took me three times until I could finally get out the first time I was offered a position when I was younger, from a competitor. And I actually did quit but I was talked into staying. And I think it was a good decision. Actually, I'm happy I did stay a second time I got in a big disagreement with somebody and I quit, but I ended up staying. And the third time I quit was not because of a courageous act where I knew I had to do something different. It was because my 16 year old son got stabbed. That changed everything thing for me everything. See, okay, and he is okay. Thanks for asking Jolie. My 16 year old was stabbed in June of 2020. And he nearly lost his life. And

Joelly Goodson :

I'm so sorry. It's

Alex Morin:

yeah, yeah, here in Toronto in our sleepy sleepy town of Stouffville. And we got a call one night while we were playing cards as a family, my son, of course was out and I won't go into the details, it's not worth it. But he was rushed to a trauma center. And thankfully, they had incredible surgeons on staff there, they were able to save his life. And when I knew the next day, after an all night operation, and and some work in the morning, when I found out that he would live, I was driving back to the hospital. The second day, I came back to get some clothes. COVID was in full effect, I was not allowed to stay in the hospital with him driving back with my ex wife. She is the mother of our son. And I said to her, I have sent my last email ever, on behalf of the company I'm with. And she looked at me like what, like, What are you talking about? And I knew I knew in my heart that everything I had ever felt in life, every misconception I had ever had every bit of curiosity I had ever had about who I am what I had to do, how I was going to express myself had to be realized life was way too short. And I wasn't going to do it anymore. And so, you know, a lot of people will say, Well, yeah, I see why you quit Alex, it was your son. But it was a combination of a culmination of how I was feeling and this absolute realization, this event that was so catastrophic for our family, and yet so unbelievably transformative, that caused absolutely everything in my life to shift the grip, the ground belief beneath us, they just, it just flew away, it flew away. And I decided the day after I was done. Now I didn't tell the company immediately, I took all of my vacation time, which I probably had three or four weeks, I took that time. And after my vacation was done, I wanted to reflect by myself, I called. And I said I will be resigning. And being an awesome company. They said Alex, like we love you please take all the time, you need to think about this, would you think about it, I felt that I owed them that I care for them so much. And I did think about it. But I knew 30 days later that I still felt the same way. And I called back 30 days later and said this is my decision. So that's what precipitated the move out of the promotional products industry, and started an entire new life. For me everything about my life is different than it was prior to June of 2020. Wow.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, first of all, I'm really sorry to hear that by your side. No idea. I'm shocked. And I'm thank god, he's okay. And I have two teenagers, I have an 18 year old and a 15 year old so I can't even imagine what that must have been like for you guys. So thank God he is okay. And did you know when you left after your son, now that happened, or you just knew you wanted to leave, but you didn't know what you want to go to?

Alex Morin:

I didn't have any clue. I had no clue what I was going to do. And I think that I had developed an unhealthy level of arrogance in the position that I was in the money I was making. And I felt at the time when I quit no problem, I will do something else. And I will be successful immediately. And that was arrogance. And so you know the universe kicked us in the ass when it came to the unfortunate incident with our son. And then I was kicked in the ass by myself and my own arrogance afterwards. And so there was a lot of ass kicking.

Joelly Goodson :

So why do you see arrogance? Sorry, I'm just curious, because you built up this amazing career, you're obviously really good at what you did. And you have a lot you had a lot of skills that could be transferable. There's a fine line, I think between arrogance and confidence. When I think of arrogance, I think of someone who think they're better than other people and that they're entitled to certain things. I mean, did you feel entitled? Or did you just feel confident that you were going to get something because of your skills and expertise and years of experience?

Alex Morin:

No, I'm really appreciative that you made that observation and that you asked this question. And I think that you're right, I am my own worst enemy oftentimes, in you know, I think that often people do a lot of self loathing. And and I've been guilty of that, and I still struggle with that at time ready to win. Okay. Yeah, I think and when we talk about, you know, when you talk about arrogance, and you ask me that question, I would say that the arrogance comes from the fact that I felt I could do it. Now, you you mentioned that fine line between confidence and arrogance. And what I think I didn't realize was That interdependent notion that it takes a community that it takes friendships that it takes relationships to make it. And I just didn't think that I was focusing on myself as the guy who was going to do it. And this whole new life has led me to understand just how valuable people are, has made me valued humanity more than it ever has. And I just realized that I can't accomplish anything, unless I work with other people. And that includes my family members, that includes my customers, that includes my suppliers that includes anyone that I interact with. And so from that standpoint, I think that I had a degree of arrogance. And I thought, oh, yeah, I'll replace my income within a year, no problem. And it's been anything but it's been so unbelievably humbling trying to start these businesses from scratch. And it's just been one learning lesson after the next for which I am so unbelievably grateful. But it has been so unbelievably hard. And I love both of those things.

Joelly Goodson :

You know what I'm listening to you, I don't relate to so much of what you're saying, I don't want to get to my whole sad story, but did very well, for many, many years was top sales, Western Canada, making, you know, crazy money and everything. And then the rug was pulled out from under me, my marriage ended on me suck last, like huge client. And same thing. I'm like, Oh, get back. Right. I was there before. And it's been hard. And it is a challenge. And it is super humbling. And you know, there's a lot I always try to ask myself, I tell myself that there's a reason for all these struggles. There's a reason why this is all happening. And, you know, one of the great things is I started my podcast, and you and I are going to talk about in a second. But I also think that it's given me so much more empathy and compassion for people. Because going through that, and really going through that struggle and feeling like you're getting knocked down, you know, laughter then, right, is that I just have, like I said, I'm just way more compassionate, and feel that as you get out of it, and you become successful again, you don't forget all that happened to you. And it makes you way more sympathetic and empathetic and compassionate to people around you. And I think that builds character, and it's made me a better person. At the end of the day.

Alex Morin:

I think that's so beautiful. And I think that these are the lenses of perception that we get to see through fortunate to experience the highs and the lows and everything in between, because it just gives us more education more perspective. And I so relate to your story. And I just I think that these are the important conversations, you know, really admitting that as high as we've been, or as low as we've been, we're human. And that's what makes us relatable, right? That's, that's what makes humanity relatable. So it doesn't matter who I'm working with, you're a human being just like me, and you've had hard times and you've had great times, and probably some of those things you've experienced at the same time. So this is this is the point that I really want to drive home here is that I just have discovered love so much more love in my life that I've ever known or ever felt that I was capable of experiencing. And this is the journey that I'm on is to continue to expand those levels of love and expand that awareness around consciousness and love.

Joelly Goodson :

Yeah, it's funny, I can relate to so much of what you're saying. I mean, but your son, but the whole career rollercoaster and everything. Okay, so I want to talk podcasting, because that's another thing we have in common. What was the impetus for you starting your podcast? So you have not just one, but you have two and I know how much one is so I can't even imagine having to so let's talk podcast. So what's the name of your podcast? Why'd you start?

Alex Morin:

Alright, so the first podcast I started was called, is called almost enlightened. And this was the first thing I ever did after I left the corporate industry. And it was just a form of expression. I realized, you know, as the months went by, and a summer was ending, and I had spent just an unbelievable time reflecting and looking at nature and being in it. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. And that epiphany was, hey, I've got something to say. And I didn't even know what I had to say at the time. I just knew that I had something to say. And so you know, I took a look at guys like Joe Rogan Ferriss, lots of other podcasters. And I just, I said to myself, I started at around the same time you would have been one of them. No,

Joelly Goodson :

I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Go ahead.

Alex Morin:

I took a look at all of these podcasters and I thought I can do that. I want to do that. I really want to do that. And again, this is where perhaps some of the arrogance creeps in. I figured, oh yeah, I can monetize this and no time. And I didn't even know what almost enlightened was going to be about. I just wanted it to be somewhat spiritual. I wanted it to chronicle a journey, my journey. And I was starting off in, in almost, you know, with tabula rasa it was it was a blank slate. And so I decided I would open myself up and just talk about what I see and not really care if I get it right or wrong. It's just a forum for exploration. And, you know, in many of the podcasts that I have written and recorded, I realize now yeah, my viewpoints have shifted, things have changed. I don't feel the same way about it. But it's, it's a forum and it's an ongoing one. And so that was the first podcast and it's, it's like a child to me, I, I just love it with all my heart God, like, as you probably do your podcast. Yeah, me too. And the second one is a result of synergy. And a result of alignment and determining that I want it to begin to align myself and have more alignment financially, because I was having a hard time monetizing almost enlightened. And so given the relationships that I had in the promotional products industry, given the fact that I love education, given this newfound experience, and podcasting, I felt that I could marry all those things together. And I could share what I know from a 20 year career in the promotional products, industry, and business in general. And I could tie that into an educational company that produces blogs that does podcasts that's now doing product review videos, and I could tie it all together. And in that sense, with, with all of the experience I have, I would probably be able to monetize that, in a sense that people would say, Hey, you have value and I'll exchange you know, your knowledge for money. And so this is what ended up happening with my foray into promo noise. And I just love promo annoys now. Because it's a completely different entity, I retain an element of spirituality but it's it's much less philosophical and more based on my observations, but marrying my love of spirituality, there's, there's, there's a market for both, and I, I just I like the flexibility. And the promo noise channel has turned into much more of a bite sized forum as well, whereby the podcasts are typically about five minutes long. And yeah, I've done a couple of interviews that stretch into the hours. But But by and large, they're they're shorter than the the forum that I put out on almost enlightened. So that's kind of how they came into being and why I love them so much. They just align now with with who I am, and they're my form of expression, or they're one of my forms of expression. Well, good for you. And

Joelly Goodson :

you know what I can say all you want to book capitalism, but it's not a bad thing. And we all have mouths to feed I am, you know, I'm a single mom, I got two kids. And at the end of the day, we're not non for profit, unless you're independently wealthy, you have to make money. And so why not do something that you're passionate about and that you love, the key there is giving value. And if you're going to give your audience value, and they're going to take away something that is going to help them or solve their problems, then I think that's the key. And that's how you're gonna make money. I mean, for me, my goal when I launched mine was really to same thing. It was encompassing all my experience, and my branding, my advertising and my marketing background, and helping people that are for entrepreneurs that don't have a clue about it. I've had people say to me, like, I've learned so much about branding and marketing from your podcast, and it's been great to help me with my business.

Alex Morin:

I have learned a tremendous amount from your podcast.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, well, I can't take the credit. It's my guess. Like, that's the thing too, is I'm very fortunate because I've had amazing leaders that have shared not only their great stories, but really valuable tips. I'm really appreciate you saying that. Because that was my goal was to do just that. Yeah, I appreciate that. And I've no doubt you're gonna too, and I want to I want to check out your product videos, actually, I'm interested to see that because I think that's a great thing, right is highlighting different items and giving your perspective and because of your experience, there's a lot of value there. Okay, so before we go, when I was doing my research on you, it was funny, like I said, Knowing you for as long as I have and then I feel like I didn't really know you. I found out that you were you had some experience in the Vancouver opera. Can you tell me about that experience? I was born when I read. I mean, I know you have a passion for music, but tell me about that experience.

Alex Morin:

Yeah, I started singing from an early age of course, mom encouraged us to do all kinds of different arts things. And I started singing and my first foray into it was with the Bach children's chorus in Vancouver. And from there I had an audition for a role with theater under the stars in Vancouver and I won the lead role of Oliver in the musical Oliver with not a ton of experience, you know, it was it was a real like, wow, it was a real honor. It was a real cool thing. And, and so I was singing and I was you know, doing this play for an entire summer to audiences in Vancouver. And one day I came across an audition paper on one of the bulletin boards backstage At the musical I was in and Oliver, and it was for Vancouver opera company and they needed a lead role in a Benjamin Britten opera called Turn of the Screw. And the lead character's name is Miles. And I mean, I really had no opera experience except that as a boy soprano, I could sing and I sang classical music with the Bach children's choir as well. So I went to the interview thinking sort of the audition thinking nothing of it. Ah, you know, this will be kind of cool and a neat experience. And lo and behold, I ended up getting the lead role with a Vancouver opera come it was ridiculous. For you. I was in grade seven, eight, I think my voice changed three times. I want to say around that age, because I remember cameras coming to the junior high school, and interviewing and showing the school and stuff. So I think that that was about the age. And from Vancouver opera company. I want a full scholarship to the BAP School of Fine Arts for a summer I studied there for a little while and did another opera there and always had a love of opera. And of course, my voice changed eventually, and I could no longer be a voice soprano. But I studied with a marvelous teacher in Vancouver who taught some of the stars that used to come to town. His name was Nikolai Kolesnikov. He's no longer with us, unfortunately. But I became a baritone with him and I really considered working towards perhaps auditioning for the MEK auditions and being an opera singer. And I had traveled around the world with my mom watching operas in Austria and different places and having that experience, but I fell in love with rock'n'roll music. Really, I saw somebody playing a guitar, they told me they had only been playing for a year. And I said, you can do that in a year. You kidding me in a year, I could be that good. And I picked up the guitar, and I never put it down. I just fell in love with the creativity of it. And I sort of moved away from Opera. But I still I still love opera to this day. So yeah, it's so cool.

Joelly Goodson :

That's great. I love that and you were in all of her. It's funny. I took my two boys to see West Side Story. It was in the theaters first movie I've seen in since COVID. So over two years, went to the movie theater took them to see Wi Fi story. And I was a Anita in West Side Story. Do you know have you seen my story? Oh, my God. Of course I have. Yeah. So I played a Anita. So when my when her big part came on. I started singing in there both beside me. I'll embarrass and yeah, so we have a lot in common. It's so funny.

Alex Morin:

Anyway, totally do podcasters musicians.

Joelly Goodson :

I'm most talented musicians, you Wow, Alex has been so great talking to you. I mean, very emotional. But we laughed, we cried. But that's what it's all about. Right? I love it. Thank you so much for coming on today.

Alex Morin:

It's such an honor to be on your show. It's such an honor to speak with you, someone who I respect enormously. Keep doing what you're doing. You're inspiring everybody in our industry and even outside of our industry, people who are listening to your show. So thank you. Thank you and for thank you for asking such interesting questions and thought provoking questions I really appreciate the opportunity to share today. So thank you.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, you're welcome. And thank you, and I appreciate you being so vulnerable. So if people want to learn more about either both of your podcasts or how they can get a hold you for all your other because you also do consulting and coaching and you do a lot of things how what's the best way to get a hold of you.

Alex Morin:

The best way is you can check out promo noise at promo noise.com. You can also check out almost enlightened on any podcast channel, Apple, Spotify, and I have a website almost enlightened dot life. Li F E. And I've also got another company called working writers CO and I teach people how to write books. And that's turned into a really awesome endeavor as well. So there's a few ways and if you want to get a hold of me I'm Alex at promo noise.com Just the way it sounds promo. noise.com.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, my friend, have a great weekend is really, really good to see you. And this was so much fun, and I can't wait to chat again really soon.

Alex Morin:

Much love to you Joey, thank you so much. Thanks to your audience as well for listening. I really appreciate it.

Joelly Goodson :

Okay, we'll talk to you later. Bye. And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the conversation and maybe learned a few things to help you with your branding. But most of all, I hope you had some fun. This show is a work in progress. So please remember to rate and review on whatever platform you listen to podcasts. And if you want to learn more about me and what I do to help my clients with their branding, feel free to reach out to me on any of the social channels under you guessed it, Branding Badass. Branding Matters was produced, edited and hosted by Joelly Goodson - also me. So thanks again and until next time, here's to all you badasses out there