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Key Idea: Make Your Work Your Life

Jim is proud of his business and of his life and there is nearly no place else he would rather be than with his employees taking care of his customers.
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Key Question:


Jim Morris started his business by accident.

He got involved in the environmental movement while he was a graduate student. Using the garage of a neighbor and a homemade press, he printed environmental messages on t-shirts and sold them to raise money for the cause. I think, since he made money right away, he got hooked. Why do anything else with his life when he could make a living steeped in a cause that could and has captivated him for over 20 years?

Q: Why would author and business guru Michael Gerber laugh at Jim?

A: Because Jim comes to work every day. Michael Gerber represents the school of thought that we all want to build a business that is a stand alone money machine which will function perfectly without us while we go do what we really want to do which might include golf and travel. Hundreds pay Mr. Gerber, who is a failed business owner himself, thousands of dollars for consulting. It is in his writing and consulting that Mr. Gerber has found success. If I could interview him, he would probably tell me he loves his work now that he is profitable. And, if we took Mr. Gerber away from his writing and speaking, would he have a business? Just a funny irony to ponder.

Jim Morris is doing what he really wants to do. His personnel and professional lives are seamless. His life is in order. He is at peace.

None of us wants to be a slave to our business and be tired so closely that we can not take a few days or weeks off. At the same time, there is simply nothing wrong with being like Jim. He loves his business. He loves being physically present there. He loves the people who work with him. And, most of all, he loves his purpose. If you have looked at this video and read the transcript, you know his purpose is to teach people how to "Share the Earth."

If your goal is simply to get rich, read Michael Gerber. But if your goal is to build a business in perfect sync with your life values, let Jim Morris be your mentor.

Q:  What kind of business can an owner find personal joy working at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

  Any kind of business that has a powerful and large mission. Debbie Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, said the purpose of her business is to make people smile. Is that a powerful and large mission? Maybe the biggest I have ever seen. Life is hard for everyone. Smiling is sometimes impossible when we think about what we face.

Jake Miles' purpose for starting Cultural Toys was to make toys the color of all children and through these toys teach children how to live a non-violent life. Big goal? Huge goal. Is this worth his time? Yes.

If you don't have a big mission, get one.

Think about it

What would you like to see happening in your world that is not now happening?  Is there a business idea inside of your dream to make a difference in your community and in your world?

Clip from: Jim Morris Environmental T-shirt Co

Boulder:  Jim Morris may look like an artist and talk like an environmentalist - he's a veteran businessman. Jim founded Jim Morris Environmental T-Shirt Company in 1977 and today does over $2 million in annual sales with about 15 employees.

Jim Morris Environmental T-shirt Co

Jim Morris, Founder

PO Box 18270
5660 Valmont Road
Boulder, CO 80308
303 444 6430

Visit our web site:

Office: 303 444 6430

Business Classification:
clothing, environmental

Year Founded: 1978

Make Your Work Your Life

HATTIE: Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant. If you want to understand how businesses are built and how they grow, stay with us for the next 30 minutes.
Jim Morris doesn't look like a businessman; he looks like a hippie. Jim doesn't talk like a businessman; he talks like an environmentalist. Don't be fooled. After 20 years, he has learned that for him to achieve his huge goal, to save the Earth, he has to be a businessman. We say that small-business owners are the new American heroes, because we are the creators of work. Jim is also a hero to the environmentalists of the world. And if you want to run a business for the purpose of advancing a cause, as so many of us do, he can be your hero, too. Here's Jim Morris.

On the edge of Boulder, Colorado, and close to a walking path, we found Jim Morris environmental T-shirts. In one year, this catalog company will sell $2 million worth of art on a shirt and, at the same time, help environmental groups raise money and awareness.

Unidentified Woman #1: I'll take the darker one.


Woman #1: It's more of a green and he likes that. Yeah, we just love the good graphics and the good pictures.

JIM: We try to make it so that people will see something in the wildlife that they want to respect or identify with, maybe the way you identify with a teddy bear when you're little. When you grow up, you want there to be bears and wolves for you to listen to or know that are out there.

Woman #1: Kirsten, do you like the shirt you're wearing?

KIRSTEN: Mm-hmm.

Woman #1: You want to show them your bears? Yeah.


HATTIE: Jim, this company is 20 years old and you've done a lot, but I want to understand how you started. Where did the initial idea come from? What was the light bulb?

JIM: It was to try and help wildlife, to help endangered species. When I was a grad student, we were interested in--I went up and saw a slide show and speech and video--some movies and videos about whales and the need to protect them, how they were close to extinction. And after we'd done that, I thought it was sort of fun writing letters to Congress and giving slide shows to fifth-graders and all the things that we did in this little group.

HATTIE: That was more fun than math?

JIM: It was, in a way, more fun than math grad school. So I finished my masters, but then started making up T-shirts outside of the group. I made a business out of it, running an ad in an environmental magazine and making up a little catalog myself.

HATTIE: OK. Did you make money on the first project?

JIM: Actually, we did. It was right. I was the only employee at the beginning and I just printed the shirts and, with the help of friends, would make up ads and--their suggestions, friends would drive me down to Denver where we'd buy a light source to cure the ink and...

HATTIE: Did you do the screening yourself at the beginning?

JIM: Yeah. You know, the traditional thing ...piled the boxes of shirts on my sofa and my home phone was the office phone, and I thought that was the only way you could run a business.

HATTIE: So, Jim, you were making these by hand in your basement, right?

JIM: In a garage of a neighbor, I was actually printing them on an old wooden thing I made out of 2-by-2's and hinges.

HATTIE (Voiceover): And, in fact, Save the Wolf was one of the first ones, right?

JIM: Yes, this is one of the two that we started with, the Save the Wolf. On the back, it has an eagle, and then the other one was about saving dolphins and saving whales.

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