Prepare to gain a fresh perspective on Taco Bell. In this episode, we continue our conversation with HourWork's CEO and founder, Rahkeem Morris, as he shares his experiences of working demanding hourly jobs while attending an Ivy League school. This journey proved to be rewarding, eventually leading him to secure a position at one of Silicon Valley's most esteemed companies. Tune in and enjoy.
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Intro: Voices. We hear them every day. Some voices like mine are smooth and comforting. While on the other hand, The Chad & Cheese Podcast is like listening to a Nickelback album, you'd rather stab yourself in the ears with an ice pick. Anyway, you are now listening to Voices, a podcast series from Chad & Cheese that features the most important and influential voices within the recruitment industry. Try not to fuck it up, boys.
Intro: Get ready to have a whole new appreciation for Taco Bell. On this episode, our journey with our work, CEO and founder Ricky Morris continues taking us into his stint at an Ivy League school while working through the gauntlet of demanding hourly jobs. It was a journey that would pay off. However, landing him an opportunity at one of the most prestigious companies in Silicon Valley. Enjoy. It's a must listen.
Ricky Morris: So I eventually went to community college for a year, and then at the same time I applied to Cornell, like literally what I did was I pulled up a spreadsheet of the top ranked business schools. I assorted it from one to whatever, and then it was, I think it was three or four. It was in New York. I was like, this is close enough. This is the highest freaking school I could think about, possibly going to and I applied and I got a letter back that said that I wasn't accepted right away. And then I had to go to another school for a year to get either, I can't remember, it's either three eight or three five at another school. And I was going to be automatically accepted. And so I went to SUNY Albany and then also community college courses. And then I got, it's like a three nine something. And I was able to transfer automatically to Cornell. Well, I finished up my education there.
Joel: Did you work through college? Obviously Ivy League schools aren't cheap. Did you get scholarships? How did that work out?
Ricky Morris: Yeah. That's, I had to work all the way throughout college and I've paid for every single penny of my education.
Ricky Morris: And this is before...
Joel: Good for you.
Ricky Morris: Thank you very much. This is before these schools, these Ivy League schools had this whole thing where if your family earns less than $60,000, obvious, they give it to you for free. That happened as soon as I graduated from undergrad after I'm working.
Joel: Go figure it.
Ricky Morris: Listen. Tight right. The timing... It's maybe some retroactive program that's [chuckle] someone can hear and then pay me that back. I'm kidding. But it was the case that when I dropped outta high school 14, nearly 15 years old, I began working hourly jobs right away. Over the course of the nine years after I dropped outta high school, I had about 13 hourly jobs.
Chad: Well, Was there a range? Were they all like the same kind? Tell me about those jobs.
Ricky Morris: These are mostly wage earning, actually. They were all jobs that you're earning money by the hour wage jobs. And they were primarily in restaurants and food. So I've worked, it must be four or five different industries. So my very very first job was at Taco Bell.
Ricky Morris: Taco Bell, I remember having such great time. There we go. They came up in the beginning and I actually, I really enjoyed my time there. I still remember the waits for some of the products there.
Joel: Are you as glad that the Mexican pizza is back as I am?
Ricky Morris: Actually, I am... You know what?
Ricky Morris: Fun fact for me at least, is that the Mexican pizza was the very first thing I had at Taco Bell. And it's because I was in the break room. I had worked there for about four or five months. We mess up in the Mexican pizza. Do you want it? I'm like, oh, I've never ate Taco Bell before.
Chad: You were there four or five months and you had never had Taco Bell. Oh my God. There's no way in hell Cheesman could have waited four to five minutes. He would've... [laughter]
Joel: That would've been a requirement for me to take the job.
Ricky Morris: Well, it's funny, [laughter] back in the day, Taco Bell for me was like exotic food, I've never...
Joel: It still is. What are you talking about?
Ricky Morris: I was like, I've never had Mexican food before. I was almost concerned. I have it when I was 15 years [laughter] old working at Taco Bell. But by the way, I think our Mexican pizza is 10.8 ounces. I'm pretty sure that's right. So I'll well fact check that. But I have all these weights of foods that I still remember to this day. So a hard taco's 2.9 ounces. Soft taco is 3.6 ounces. Quesadilla I'm pretty sure is 10.9 or 11.9.
Chad: Did you get credentialing for that? Because you should have.
Ricky Morris: Actually, you know what, I did become a trainer at Taco Bell during my time there. And so that's probably one of the other reasons why I remember these things so well. And so that's my very first job. And then I probably worked about three or so waiting jobs, just waiting tables, which is such a fascinating, you learned so much about people doing that.
Ricky Morris: I was a dialysis technician. I worked at FedEx, I worked at Kinko's, was a temp worker for a company called Labor Ready. It's called People Ready Now. That was a fascinating week that I had there, moving appliances across the warehouse. It was... Okay, [laughter] it was a week. And I remember why I quit that job. And it's because you're paid daily as a temp worker. You show up at this place, this like... It looks like a rundown, shopping out plaza. You go to this place, you wait outside in the morning, it's 06:00 o'clock. They tell you what your job is the day of, you work it and they give you a check at the end of the day. And there's these check cashing things inside of the place. And then I was getting maybe 20 or 30 bucks for really hard manual labor. And I realized at that time it was just something I couldn't do sustainably, but that job. And every time I think about it, there's another job that pops up. I'm like, "Oh yeah, I did that one too. So it was probably more than 13. I just can't remember them all.
Chad: So how did that actually shape where you were going to go in the future? Because you're going to school, you're paying for school. And I would assume you're like, "I don't want to do this."
Ricky Morris: I can't say that it had a strong influence on the type of job I chose afterward. I just knew that I wanted to not have to work on my feet anymore. And well, when you're on the line for about 10, they're working at double 15, 16 hours. Even at 17, 18, when you're young, your joints are healthy. That hurts. Your ankles...
Ricky Morris: Are in pain. It is just like, "I can't walk another 10 feet." And so I suppose the way that influenced my decision was that I gotta got a job that I will be sitting down, maybe some part of the day, and that's the strongest influence it had.
Joel: Did you go from Cornell to Google, or was there a bridge between that?
Ricky Morris: Yeah. There was a bridge there. Yeah, I worked at General Electric.
Joel: Oh yeah.
Ricky Morris: That was my very first job, I did the financial management program which trained me very well. Surprisingly for the job that I have today. It's a genuine shock how helpful it is that I went through that program. Because you worked that job and they also have the training part of it, and it's like a class, it's three or four credits.
Joel: Was that still the Jack Welch culture or were you, did you kind of miss out on that?
Ricky Morris: I think I missed out mostly on it. I think he may have been the CEO when I was an intern, but when I was full-time, he wasn't.
Joel: His shadow was still there after he left, wouldn't you say?
Ricky Morris: Exactly. Yeah. It was. Yeah. Culture is a something that's very hard to change in the company.
Joel: And did they pull you out of Cornell? Did you wanna work for them? How did that connection happen?
Ricky Morris: You know what? I have a very, actually, really fascinating story about that, that I'm almost concerned about legal issues to say this. [laughter] I'll try to be like...
Joel: Lawyers, don't listen to our show. It's okay.
Ricky Morris: Okay. Very good. Then I'll say everything now. I got, so I worked my internship at GE. I remember the head of HR told me if I didn't graduate in that current semester in the fall semester, they weren't going to give me the full-time job. They were looked at my resume. The reason why they said that is because they looked at my resume. I had 150 credits on my transcript, rather, 150 credits is a lot of credits to have as an undergrad. What they didn't take into account was that I dropped outta high school. And so when I went to community college, it was all remedial classes. So I have all these credits, but 30, I don't know how many credit, it was a lot of credits that were all remedial. They saw the transcript. They thought, all right, we want our classes to start in January for this new this F&P program. Let's put some pressure on this guy to graduate school this semester instead of taking the entire year. The thing is, I had 24 credits that I needed to take to graduate with the requirements that I needed, but I also really wanted and needed that job. And so what I did in my last semester of school is I worked two jobs and I took 23 credits at Cornell.
Chad: Oh cool.
Ricky Morris: And by the way, it was my best performing semester. I got a three, nine, one doing that. And also in that semester my car didn't start with the key. You had to jump my car every single time to start it. So I probably jumped my car at least a hundred times. Working two hourly jobs and taking 23 credits at Cornell of all places.
Joel: Powered by Taco Bell, by the way, kids.
Chad: An hour and a half sleep every night.
Ricky Morris: Literally in my last semester in school, and this is not an exaggeration, I stayed up every single Sunday night, all night of every single Sunday night.
Chad: You didn't have a choice at that point, did you?
Ricky Morris: I was just working. And by the way, this is... Before I even knew what things like Adderall were, like that would've made things much easier. I was just on caffeine and five hour energies.
Joel: Who needs Adderall when you have Chalupas.
Chad: But Chalupa puts you to sleep. Are you kidding me?
Ricky Morris: And by the way, Chalupa is just a fried gordita. Just so you both know that.
Chad: Oh, Joel knows. Oh, Joel knows.
Joel: It's a slice of heaven, bite your tongue.
Ricky Morris: It's very good.
Outro: You can find more episodes of Voices, The Chad & Cheese Podcast series devoted to stories and opinions of industry leaders by subscribing wherever you listen to podcasts or just visit chadcheese.com.