By Neenah Payne
Jon Morrow is the founder of Smart Blogger which offers courses to teach writers how to be successful. It is now the biggest site about blogging in the world! Jon has a dozen employees who work remotely from all over the world and three million readers! Over 30,000 people have taken his classes.
In How I Wrote Posts That Touched the Hearts of More Than 5 Million People, Jon discusses his article published in 2009 which went viral. It quickly had more than a million readers and comments went wild. The article On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas describes his mother’s discovery when he was a baby that he has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disorder. The doctor told her: “’There are three types of SMA. Caught this early, your son almost certainly has Type I. Most children with Type I die of pneumonia before the age of two.’ He paused. ‘I’m sorry.’”
In a testament to the power of his mother’s will, Jon reports that she told the doctor: “Don’t be sorry. He isn’t going to die.” Over the next 16 years, Jon got pneumonia 16 times – and survived. Jon said that 99% of the people with his disease die of pneumonia. He credits his survival to his mother’s incredible will for him to live and thrive. He explains the extraordinary measures she took and adds: “Today, at 27 years old, I’m one of the oldest people in the world with my type of SMA, and people tell me it’s a miracle. And I agree, it is. But the miracle isn’t just me. It’s a mother who fought like only a mother can to keep me alive.”
Jon explains how his mother succeeded in getting him accepted not only in elementary school – but also on the baseball team! Jon graduated from high school at the age of 16, not just near the top of his class, but also with college credit.
Jon’s Indomitable Will and Inspiring Story
Jon told more of his inspiring story in a 30-minute interview with Sara Sheehan called “What’s Stopping You?” which was part of the recent online Wake Up Academy docuseries. Jon is a writer extraordinaire, a visionary who has created a multi-million dollar company. He has built several online magazines that have made him a millionaire several times over.
Jon achieved all of this despite having Spinal Muscular Atrophy, pneumonia 16 times, and a monstrous car accident which left him with more than 50 broken bones! He has spent literally years of his life in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Jon shared his secrets to staying driven….no matter what the obstacles.
Jon is a blogger whose work is read by 200 million people around the world! Because of his muscular dystrophy, he could never walk. He was able to move his arms and feed himself until he was 12 years old. Until his was 22, Jon could move his hands enough to operate a joy stick. However, the only thing he can move now is his face! So, Jon uses his mouth (voice to text) to write now!
Jon attended regular schools with the help of an attendant. “Sarge” started with him in 5th or 6th grade and stayed with him through college! Jon hung out with the smartest kids in school — who also felt isolated. Since Jon’s friends were the “nerds”, he developed a lot of programming skills. When he was 12 years old, Jon got his first programming job after school! Because he couldn’t play sports and wasn’t invited to parties, Jon read 500 hundred books by age 15 and graduated high school a year early.
While in college, Jon started a software company which took off in a huge way. That was just the beginning of an amazing career. Jon had job offers, but he couldn’t take them because if he made more than $800 a month, he would lose his Medicaid benefits which he needed to pay his bills. So, he started writing for various blogs and magazines. However, since he couldn’t accept payment, Jon told them that he would ask them for a big favor one day. Jon eventually became one of the most popular writers online. Millions of people were reading his articles and magazines were making a ton of money from his work, but he wasn’t being paid a dime.
Jon decided that his only way out was to move to Mexico! When he got there, he called the editors and reminded them of the favor he said would ask. He told them that he was going to start an agency to teach companies about blogging. When one magazine emailed the news to all its readers, Jon had 300 clients within 24 hours!
From Tragedy to Triumph
Jon went from making nothing to earning $200/hour! Eventually, he started Smart Blogger to teach other writers about blogging. Jon says that people feel limited because of their belief about what’s possible. His parents and teachers always encouraged him to believe that anything is possible even if you don’t know exactly how you will get there.
In 2006, the van Jon was in got hit by a car driven by a teenager who was going 85 mph trying to get to his job at Wendy’s on time! Jon’s head went through the passenger window. He and his driver were spun in the air 360 degrees five times. His driver got burned as he pulled Jon from the car that was in flames. Jon’s legs were crushed and he had broken bones all over his body. He spent the next six months in and out of the hospital. Jon now has six care givers who work with him around the clock. However, Jon says the worst injury was to a woman in the car hit after Jon’s car whose leg was amputated by the impact. The teenager was not injured.
Jon said that the accident made him realize that he could die at any time. So, since he had always wanted to write professionally, while he was in the hospital in a half-body cast, Jon started his first blog. It got nominated for a “Webby Award” as the best new blog! Jon’s career took off from there. All his employees now work from home, around the world. No one has ever quit. Everyone says they love that job more than any they have ever had.
Jon’s “Counter Punch” Philosophy
Jon said that one of the things he has learned is that every disadvantage comes with an advantage of equal size. If you can see the opening and respond to it, you can “counter punch” and make amazing things happen. He eventually figured out that his own mind is the only thing he is in control of and that his opinion of himself is the only opinion that matters — and he likes who he is! That realization gave him a lot of peace of mind and confidence in business.
Jon credits his mother for his confidence. He never heard the word “handicapped” until he went to kindergarten. His mother explained later that everyone is handicapped in some ways and that he has strengths others don’t have. For example, since he knew the alphabet and could read and write before other kids in his grade, his mother encouraged him to help them. Jon says that one of the advantages of not being able to move is that he has nothing to do but think — and that makes him a gifted writer and speaker. He is never bored because he has so many insights.
Jon is dating now! He began by going on 10-20 dates a week. After 3-6 months, 15 women were telling him “Good morning” every day. He found that a lot of women are looking for a guy who is confident and passionate about what he is doing in life and who is honest. So, he learned — to his surprise — that he is very attractive. He discovered that for women, love and sex are more mental than for men. The women he has slept with have said he is one of the greatest lovers of their lives although he can’t move!
Jon has learned to accept his limitations without being limited by them. His positive attitude continues to inspire millions of people.
In the 50-minute audio “Episode 88 – Jon Morrow,” Jon explains how he motivates people in his webinars and courses and helps people overcome their doubts about writing. He also discusses how he operated as a real estate agent. Jon emphasizes that because of the empowering impact of his mother’s confidence in him, he grew up with the expectation that he would do great things.
When Jon worked for Brian Clark at copyblogger for 2-3 years, he couldn’t earn more $800/month to avoid losing his Medicaid benefits. So, although he became the top writer on the site, there was no future for him there. When Jon visited a friend in Mexico who encouraged him to relocate, he moved there with just $5,000 and got a condo on the ocean. When he called in his favor with Brian who then sent him referrals, Jon immediately began earning $10,000/month in consulting revenue! When Brian promoted Jon’s first course, he earned another $50,000 to $100,000!
In Mexico, Jon started his own company. After three and half years, he had earned enough to come back to the US and pay for his healthcare here. He moved back about three years ago and lived north of Miami for about two and half years. He liked Miami, but loves the entrepreneurial spirit of Austin, Texas where he feels challenged! So, he recently moved to Austin.
Jon discusses the art of naming an article so it gets read and shared. He explains that he usually doesn’t start with a topic and then look for supporting evidence. More frequently, he has already amassed some interesting facts (which he calls “proofs”) which then serve as the basis of an article.
Jon points out that his purpose in releasing content is to accumulate influence which he describes as the ability to get others to respond. So, if someone joins his email list but doesn’t click the links for videos and posts, he doesn’t consider that person a valuable lead. He wants to attract people who are committed and who follow through.
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