Founder Story – Tom Morkes : High Speed Low Drag Podcast #4

tomAfter we did the first two interviews of High Speed Low Drag’s first two founders, we thought it was only fitting to round it up with its third.

HSLD’s third founder is Tom Morkes.

Below is his story from his time to the military up to his experiences as a civilian.

Read up because we’re pretty sure you’re bound to pick up a couple of life lessons from what he has to say too!

Tom Morkes is WestPoint graduate, an Iraq veteran and even got paid to jump out of helicopters for a while.

Since leaving the army Tom has written and published three books.

He has also started his own publishing company, Insurgent Publishing and is also a co-founder of  High Speed Low Drag.

Click here to listen to Tom Morkes’ interview on iTunes

Click here to listen to Tom Morkes’ interview on Stitcher

HSLD: Besides the little background that we’ve give about you, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Tom: My background is in the army and I spent  five years in duty. At one point I did get paid to jump out of helicopters which is pretty cool. I was in an airborne unit in the last year.

Since that last year I started to work on the side and do some writing and publishing my own stuff online. I kind of kept it on the down low but I was actually able to make some money off it which I was pretty impressed by.

There’s nothing easy or automatic about making money online but it is possible. That whole experience was pretty good so when I left the army I decided to take a year off. When I got out I started traveling around the world for a year and I just recently got back to the States.

Since I left the country I have started my own publishing company and have published close to half a dozen publications including a magazine called Bootstrap. I have written a few books and am currently working on my fourth and I am also co-launching HSLD. It’s been a busy year but it’s been a lot of fun.

HSLD: What is your personal success quote?

Tom: this quote is one of my favorites and I really do try to embrace it.

“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.” That’s from Niccolo Machiavelli and it’s pretty powerful stuff.

HSLD: Let’s focus on your military experience. Can you share with us your pivotal moment in the military?

Tom: This is one of those questions that is tough for me because focusing it on one thing is always tough but I’m going to do my best here. I was 22 when I was deployed to Iraq and I was a pretty fresh second lieutenant. I turned 23 when I was somewhere in Kuwait or Iraq and I was in transportation at that time.

I thought the day would be no different than the last six months that I had gone through but when we got there they needed someone to take over Conway security for the platoon so I raised my hand because it seemed like something more that I wanted to do.

I don’t know what drew me to it but I think I liked the idea of going outside the wire. I ended up getting the position and all of a sudden I was handed this unity.

We were infantry and I basically took over a platoon that was cooks and chefs and warehouse workers. That was my little ragtag group of Conway security. My next objective was to make sure that nobody died. It sounded like kind of a joke but it was very serious.

I basically had to create trainings for us on how to operate these vehicles that we weren’t familiar with. For me it was training everyday and then going on missions every night that is my pivotal moment. It made me appreciate life, the necessity to figure out systems and to make sure that everybody understands them.

Tom-MorkesHSLD: Share with us the lessons you learned upon transitioning out.

Tom: I mentioned that on my last year I started stuff on the side and that was really it.

Ever since I was in college I had always been fascinated by business, entrepreneurship and even real estate.

I wanted to get into that realm of things somehow. Last year I made the decision that I didn’t want to do the army as a career and I wanted to get out.

I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to do something creative because I had always been kind of creative as a person.

I wanted a job with creative freedom which by it’s very nature meant that I could not go with a recruiter.It was really a matter of starting something on my own that could sustain myself because I am not skilled at programming or design.

I had to fall on writing even if I don’t consider myself a great writer. I just wanted to see what would happen. Sure enough I sold my first book when I was still in the army and made about $500 the first month my book was online. That led me to think that this was possible.

One thing led to another from that and the rest is kind of history. I just wanted to see what else I could do and that’s what led me to successful books, consulting , freelance work, co-launching and publishing.

It’s been a lot of stuff but the end goal for me was always how I could create a lifestyle that would allow me to do what I love everyday.

HSLD: Can you tell us what your civilian AHA moment was?


My AHA moment was when I first published my first book. It was called “Two Days with Seth Godan” and I gave it away for free because I didn’t want to sell it at that time because I wasn’t entirely confident. I also wanted to be validated so I let people pay what they want for it.

That’s when I made my first $500 and that was mind-blowing for me because people could choose to take it for free but they still decided to contribute. My mind started to think that maybe I could do this again so I wrote a bunch of smaller guides and again let people pay what they want.

Sure enough the guides brought in money and it always surprised me every time it happened.I was always blown away. I wrote a guest piece for Think Traffic and it got a great reaction. That got me a lot of publicity and notoriety.

The point is that the AHA moment should be reach out because people will accept your ideas. You won’t get rejected all the time. The second AHA moment was when people responded to that.

A light bulb went in my head that I should write a book about this topic and that became my next book. Since then I’ve just always looked for things that created interest and doubled down on it.

Tom Morkes and Seth GodinHSLD: Talk to High Speed Nation about something that is really firing you up right now.

Tom: The most recent thing I’ve done is launch issue 2 of Bootstraps Magazine which is a boutique magazine that is about people who build businesses from scratch.

It’s exciting because I have met so many people who are contributing to it and willing to support it.

Enough people have contributed to it to make it into a legitimate publication and that was enough to get it 100 subscribers right off the bat.

Issue 2 is all about scaling this publication into a really professional level and I’m just thrilled with this product now.

Tom’s Lighting Round Answers:

  •      What was the most difficult adjustment you had to make in the civilian world? Choosing my own direction and then making it happen.
  •      What business advice would you pass along to those making the transition right now? Search for knowledge, start putting it to action and connect with people.
  •      What is one of your habits that contribute most to your success? Creating stuff and then putting it out the door so that people can buy it. Based on their reaction, I decide to either double down or try a new course of action.
  •      What is one of the biggest generalizations that you had to overcome in the civilian world? Just that because of my background, I don’t have the skills to do what I am doing.
  • Tell us where we can find you? Besides High Speed Low Drag,

Click here to listen to Tom Morkes’ interview on iTunes

Click here to listen to Tom Morkes’ interview on Stitcher