At the end of a long two week work excursion in the desert, I had the opportunity to hang out with Rick Marson. He's the creator of ZOMs a plush zombie doll that will steal your heart...and your brains. I met Rick in 2011 at ZomBCon in Seattle, WA. He's a super nice guy and when you talk to him, his enthusiasm for toys, comics, sci-fi, and creating radiate from his core. No seriously, I kept waiting for him to rip off his shirt exposing his superhero outfit with a big bright "Z" blazing in the middle of his chest.
Later, I found out he has a messed up alter ego on youtube called Fireball.
We spent our evening together shambling around San Diego and talking shop about starting your own business, trying to work full time, and living the life you really want.
Here's our interview:
Rick, what made you decide to take the leap from being a dreamer and schemer to actually making your ideas a reality?
I think it's all Japan's fault. I went there for two weeks, just because I wanted to. And then I was like "Holy crap! I can just do things because I WANT TO!?!?!" It didn't sink in right away. I spent another year working at a job I was pretty over. Then I went into my boss and I said, "I'm taking a three month leave of absence to go back to Japan." I wanted to make sure they'd be able to plan for me being gone, so I told them about it three months before I planned to go.
One and a half months later I went back into my boss's office and told him that when I left I wouldn't be coming back.
Traveling around the world alone, meeting new people and dealing with all sorts of interesting situations further engrained the "I can just do things because I want to" idea. I knew when I came home I did not want to go back to a job like I had had. So I made plans to make something amazing and that thing turned into ZOMs.
What have you learned from these experiences?
Wanting to do something is probably the very best reason for doing something.
Has anyone really discouraged you?
Only the voices in my head. I can't remember a single person being discouraging or telling me maybe I couldn't do it, except that annoying voice in my head, and that guy is always a jerk, so I try to ignore him.
How have you been helped and encouraged along the way?
I was being helped long before I finally made the jump. My parents believed in me from the get go. As far as they were concerned anything I wanted to be, I could be, and they would do what they could to get me there. They have never not supported me.
All of my friends have helped and encouraged me. If your friends are not being encouraging you should find new friends. Really, don't spend time with people who are just going to be down on the things you really want to do.
Seven or so years ago I met Daniel Davis, the co-founder of Steamcrow. An amazing artist and super motivated in his own right, he encourages everyone he meets. Every time I go to a con I meet more great people and make more friends that i'm inspired and helped by and I hope that I'm helpful and inspiring to.
What has been one of the best things that has happened to you since starting ZOMs? Any fan mail?
Cons are the best thing. I wish that I could go to all of them. I love talking to people. It's really great when ZOMs are recognized from another show or a shop that sells them. When people I've met at other cons come talk to me, or when people specifically seek out the booth. One time when I was walking around Wondercon last year with Horace. I didn't even have a booth there I was just going to the con. This guy was walking past the other way and as he past said, "Nice ZOM." I stopped dead and turned and looked at him. He looked at me for a second, and then he said, "Are you the guy?" We talked for a while, he had backed my Kickstarter and we'd even been talking on Facebook, but we'd never met until then.
How do you keep motivated to pursue your dreams?
Other people that are pursuing dreams motivate me. You motivate me.
I also actually find a lot of motivation from music. I sync with particular lyrics, and some songs just jazz me up. Then while I am listening I'll realize that I'm listening to another person pursuing their dreams.
I look around and I see people working on doing what they want to do. I can see a world where I have done all the things I want to do, and I want to get there.
(I need to add here that Rick played some dubstep for me and my mind began to fill with killer robots fighting one another. It was a pretty cool experience.)
When are you going to write something for Evil Girlfriend Media? We know your brain is crawling with stories.
The ideas have already started trickling. There's something new that I thought of just today, and it's slowing moving through my brain. Right now it's just a protozoa story, but it's already started gathering mass, finding connections and purpose, it's evolving…
What would you tell someone who has a great idea but hasn't started pursuing it?
Find the thing you need to kick your butt into motion. There are a lot of things/people who can do that for you.
Tell your idea to a trusted friend, they are great at letting you know how amazing it is and they are mad at you that you aren't already a millionaire.
Also if you are inclined, look up "brain crack" on Youtube, specifically in videos by zefrank1 and vlogbrothers. Youtube is another land of people pursuing the things they love to do, and that's what most great ideas are.
Find out how hard it would be to do the thing you want to do. A lot of people don't get any further than thinking how great something would be. (see "brain crack" above) You might actually be surprised how little it might take to get started doing what you want.
START DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Even just a little. And let people know, people will be interested, they will want more.
Like Rick's ZOMs page on Facebook. Heck, go check out his page and buy one of these cuties! They are great for any member of the family, a friend, or a complete stranger. They are Katie approved! Help Rick continue his dream of bringing cool toys and art to the people.
Katie and Daisy (my very unique ZOM)
Evil Girlfriend with a Pen