Her Voice Blog

    Cartoons, Creativity & Courage: Editorial Cartoonist Marshall Ramsey

    11.22.19 Ms-Interpreted_Title-Card_Ep11

    In this special Thanksgiving holiday episode, "Ms. InterPReted" hosts two-time Pulitzer Prize nominated editorial cartoonist and editor at-large of Mississippi Today, Marshall Ramsey, to share his creative process as well as the poignant experiences of both his childhood and career that have contributed to nearly three decades as -- now -- one of only some dozen editorial cartoonists currently working in the United States. A sidebar: Marshall is a cousin of #MsInterPReted Co-Host Mary Beth West's husband (as well as cousin to the family's other famous media celebrity, "Financial Peace" author and radio host / media expert, Dave Ramsey).

    Marshall keeps listeners laughing as well as riveted as he shares:

    • How his memorial cartoons in 2018 of the late First Lady Barbara Bush and President George H. W. Bush became overnight, national media sensations while being embraced by the Bush Family (Marshall will be speaking at the Bush Presidential Library in December 2019);
    •  How his 9/11 cartoons helped unify a grieving nation; and 
    •  How Jesus's Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) served as a catalyst to change Marshall's life in the face of adversity -- including a serious bout with cancer, 18 cycles of career lay-offs in the newspaper business and the occasional animosities and even personal threats against his safety when a disenchanted reader fails to find either humor or good-natured irony in his work. 

     Kelly Fletcher, Mary Beth West and the whole Fletcher PR team join Marshall in wishing everyone a safe, blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

    Links:

    Transcript

    Announcer:  Welcome to Ms. InterPReted her podcast of Public Relations and Strategic Communications Demystified by Kelly Fletcher and Fletcher Marketing PR.

    Mary Beth:  Welcome listeners to the Ms. InterPReted podcast. I'm Mary Beth West senior strategist of Fletcher Marketing PR and I am getting to pull full on hosting duties today. My fabulous co-host Kelly Fletcher decided to get her fabulous on and jet set to New York for the weekend for both some business and pleasure, wishing Kelly a great time in the big city. And while the cat's away, the remaining mouse will go the nepotism route and invite a family member onto the podcast. In my husband's family we have some bonafide media celebrities, so I've invited one of them here today and we're going to riff about media and journalism, politics, creativity and the whole shooting match. So, we are joined by two time Pulitzer Prize nominated editorial cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey. Welcome Marshall.

    Marshall:  See, you just broke everybody's heart because they were thinking Dave Ramsey's here. Dave, I love Dave, I want that financial peace guy. It's good to be here.

    Mary Beth:  Wah Wah.

    Marshall:  Thank you.

    Mary Beth:  I am so glad that you're here. So, you've got to tell us, I'm going to be giving you a proper introduction here in just a minute, but everyone's going to want to know what's brought you back here to Knoxville today.

    Marshall:  Well, because I love Knoxville, to begin with.

    Mary Beth:  Of course.

    Marshall:  And I have a 17 year old who is on a college tour and we are here to see Garth Brooks.

    Mary Beth:  Ah yes.

    Marshall:  Yes. We have friends in high places because we're going to be sitting up at the very top on the lights of Neyland Stadium. Those tickets were much cheaper.

    Mary Beth:  I see. I see. Well, I'm sure you'll be in very good company. Of course. You know they're now singing, I've Got Friends in Low Places during the games. Now, I didn't know if you knew this, but during the home games, everyone's having their cell phone up in the air and they play it throughout the whole stadium and everybody has the-

    Marshall:  Wow.

    Mary Beth:  You know they're going back and forth and-

    Marshall:  That's a little different than third down for what, that they used to play.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, exactly. Oh gosh, that was a nightmare. But anyway, we digress.

    Marshall:  I was about to say, this could turn into a football show really quickly.

    Mary Beth:  Well, when we're actually very notorious about going down rabbit holes, but that's okay. I want, I do want to give you a proper introduction here and tell our listeners more about your profile. Although I guarantee that most of our listeners who are here in Tennessee already know you very well by name and especially most of our listeners being in media and public relations and they know about your profile in the industry and certainly our listeners in the state of Mississippi know you and your work by decades of reputation. You grew up in Georgia.

    Marshall:  I did.

    Mary Beth:                 And that's- I don't know all, we have listeners there too who know you there as well. And you attended the University of Tennessee yourself.

    Marshall:  I did.

    Mary Beth:  And your first editorial cartoons were in high school, but the first time I ever saw your work was when I myself was a student at the University of Tennessee. I can remember being in the freshman dorms, Humes Hall and you know I always had to traipse back up to my 8:00 class in the morning begrudgingly. But I always picked up my copy of the Daily Beacon on my way out the door and always looked forward to your editorial cartoons because you had them in there pretty much every day.

    Marshall:  Five days a week. I always tell everybody that UT gave me an education and the Daily Beacon gave me a career.

    Mary Beth:  Mm. Yeah.

    Marshall:  I think that's fair.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah. But tell us about the start of your work there and like what kind of that budding start of a career beginning there, how that evolved into, okay, I really can do this for a living.

    Marshall:  Yeah, I'll back up just a little bit because when I was eight years old, I walked up to my dad, my dad's Dave Ramsey too. We have no originality when it comes to naming practices in my family. So, I walk up to dad and you know I grew up in Georgia, Jimmy Carter was president, we had Watergate, we had all this stuff and my sisters and I would have to sit around the table and talk about what was going on, current events.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Right.

    Marshall:  And I remember opening up the newspaper and there were these really funny mad magazine kind of cartoons that would show Jimmy Carter with big teeth and all that stuff,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Yeah.

    Marshall:  I was like, that is so cool. I want to do that.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Because I love to draw. Mom figured out early on, it's how she could keep me quiet in church. She gave me crayons and paper. I was before the church kids bulletin.

    Mary Beth:  Me too.

    Marshall:  Oh, and it worked, see I turned it into a living. But I remember telling Dad that, I was eight and I said, "Dad, I'm going to be an editorial cartoonist." And he said-

    Mary Beth:  Did you? I had no idea of that.

    Marshall:  Yeah. And he looked at me and he said, "And you're going to be the best one ever." Which he had to be thinking. I was a strangest kid on the planet, because I mean, that's a weird thing to come up to a dad and say, but he said the right things because it lit a fire in me because at that point I knew I was going to make it.

    Mary Beth:  Huh yeah.

    Marshall:  Well at the time there were 200 jobs in the country. Now there's 11, so it was like-

    Mary Beth:  Wait wait wait. Okay, so let's back up right now.

    Marshall:  Yes, mmhm.

    Mary Beth:  Can you say that again?

    Marshall:  There were 200 jobs in the country at the time that I said that to my father and there's maybe 11 now.

    Mary Beth:  You mean editorial cartooning jobs?

    Marshall:  Yes.

    Mary Beth:  There were 200

    Marshall:  Right.

    Mary Beth:  And now there are 11.

    Marshall:  So, I could've been an NBA basketball player with the same odds

    Mary Beth:  Better odds.

    Marshall:  Well, yeah. But I had less skills at that, trust me.

    Mary Beth:  Wow. I mean, how many jobs out there have that quite a finite number of individuals working within those-

    Marshall:  As Jimmy Buffett so eloquently said, "Occupational hazard means your occupation is just not around." Now he was talking about pirates, but I think it does kind of actually work very much for editorial cartoon.

    Mary Beth:  Yes, indeed it does, you're exactly right.

    Marshall:  But I didn't listen to that. I was like La, La, La, La, La.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm mmhm.

    Marshall:  And so, I drew my first cartoon in high school, got sent to the principal's office. At that point I said, this is for me,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Because the issue that I drew about was changed and I realized, okay, I can make a difference doing this. So, I get to UT, my RA at the time was a guy named Rusty Gray who is now Russell Gray. He's a lawyer for Baker Donaldson down in Chattanooga.

    Mary Beth:  Oh okay, yeah.

    Marshall:  He's just a fantastic guy. He was student government president that year,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And, but he was my RA and he saw that I could do it and he said, "Go try out," and I did. I originally and I was doing it a few times a week and then initial eventually, I mean, it turned into an all five day a week event.

    Mary Beth:  That's amazing. Well, it's kind of a shame that we're on an audio medium with this podcast.

    Marshall:  Oh, my cartoons look much better, much better.

    Mary Beth:  We can't exactly do the show and tell retrospective of your work, except later when the podcast posts. We will be sure to re-share some examples from your Twitter feed on the #MsInterPReted. But one thing most recently in 2018, your cartoons memorializing George and Barbara Bush became overnight sentimental sensations globally, landing you everywhere from the Today Show, CNN, The Washington Post, Jenna Bush Hager's Twitter feed, just to name some, I think your originals of those cartoons are in the Bush Presidential Library. Right?

    Marshall:  They are.

    Mary Beth:  Okay.

    Marshall:  And in December I will be speaking at the Bush Library.

    Mary Beth:  Oh well, tell us about that whole event last year as it unfolded and we'll talk during this full conversation about really iconic cartoons that you've created over the years. But I think that's so top of mind because you know it happened last year. People are still talking about it. I know that it's the pinned tweet at the very top of your Twitter feed.

    Marshall:  Yeah. Because I'm lazy and didn't put anything else up there.

    Mary Beth:  That's okay. But yeah, it's a lot to be proud of. So, tell us about how when you created those, and I mean, did you have any idea what the reaction was going to be?

    Marshall:  No. And I'll tell you why. Number one, I kind of thought it might be an obvious idea, but I thought wrong. Let me tell you what kind of backup, my mom had passed away from COPD.

    Mary Beth:  Mm.

    Marshall:  So, when they had said that Barbara was being pulled off of any kind of care and was just going to be kept comfortable I knew

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  That she was soon to not be with us. And I started thinking about her life and I thought about John Meacham's excellent biography on the Bush family.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And I remember reading about Robin.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  And you know here's a person who had everything.

    Marshall:  I mean, she had wealth, she had a platform, she had a husband who's a president and a son who's a president, a son who's a governor, granddaughter on the Today Show. She had pearls. I mean, she had everything, but she had lost a child, which is the worst thing any parent could face.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  And so I was thinking, okay, she's healed, she's whole. You know and I haven't been to Heaven lately. So, you know mind you,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Right.

    Marshall:  But I just pictured her meeting her child again.

    Mary Beth:  Of course. Yeah.

    Marshall:  And being made whole. And so I didn't do it that night when I heard she'd passed. I actually was doing my number one job, I do a lot of things I do radio, television,

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  Speaking books, you name it. But that night I was being a dad, so I said, I'll do it in the morning. So, I draw it in the morning, post it and put it up on my Instagram. And within an hour Jenna had it up on her Instagram.

    Mary Beth:  Within an hour. Wow.

    Marshall:  And she said, "I don't know who the artist is, but I love her." So, for about two hours I was a woman on that,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  But that was fine. Now my wife thinks I actually have some empathy. At that point it was like a slot machine. I mean my phone just went off,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, Oh yeah.

    Marshall:  Because once-

    Mary Beth:  Of course.

    Marshall:  The family approved of it, obviously.

    Mary Beth:  Right, right.

    Marshall:  And it was shown at the funeral. It was, I mean, it was amazing.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  I got a call from the Today Show and one of the producers and they said, "Can we use your cartoon on our platforms?" Which is a nice way saying, can we use your cartoons for free?

    Mary Beth:  Right. But at least they asked for permission.

    Marshall:  They did. They did. That's obviously one of the reasons why editorial cartoonists aren't around but-

    Mary Beth:  Well, yeah. Of course.

    Marshall:  It's hard to monetize.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  But that said, this wasn't about money for me. It was like, okay, the family loved it, Jenna loved it. Sure, go ahead. And so I didn't think anything of it. The next morning, and I know what it's like at your house, you've got kids and I've got kids, getting out in the morning is like putting on D day five days a week.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Trying to get out of the house by 7:00. And so we were running late, there was gnashing of teeth and tears and turn on the TV and Jenna's doing a package on her grandmother and at the very end they show my cartoon.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And I'm like, "Woah...okay."

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah.

    Marshall:  And Savannah and Hoda are like, "Oh that Marshall Ramsey is the most sweet and sensitive man in the world." My wife's like going, "That's the biggest crock I've ever heard in my life."

    Marshall:  And it was like surreal. It's like an out-of-body moment

    Mary Beth:  Oh my. Yeah.

    Marshall:  Hearing Savannah and Hoda talking sweet about you. Kathy Lee comes in with her glass of wine, "I like that Marshall Ramsey." You know? And it was like, Oh my gosh. I mean, my phone was lighting up at that point. I was like getting-

    Mary Beth:  Oh, no kidding. Right.

    Marshall:  Texts from ex-girlfriends I had restraining orders against you know and I was like, you cannot contact me, we've discussed that with lawyers. Well, I mean it just went super viral.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I, you know I mean when you start seeing Fox and CNN agreeing on something, you realize that you're up for a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Mary Beth:  Exactly. At the least. At the least.

    Marshall:  I tell you, it was really wonderful. I mean, the University of Tennessee acknowledged it.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah.

    Marshall:  That was neat. It was nice to hear about that. I had friends acknowledge it, the family of course, loved it. And what I didn't realize was about the time I thought that idea George, President Bush, George

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Was talking to his mom about Robin. And so this was something that was on the tip of the families tongues and on their hearts.

    Mary Beth:                 Mmhm, mmhm.

    Marshall:  And so I managed to catch lightning in a bottle-

    Mary Beth:                 You did.

    Marshall:  And didn't realize it, you know? And I was-

    Mary Beth:  That's serendipity right there.

    Marshall:  And I can look back at my career and there are some cartoons where I think, well, that's a God moment.

    Mary Beth:  I'm sure.

    Marshall:  You know what I mean?

    Mary Beth:  Right, right.

    Marshall:  Of course, it's the parable of the talents obviously. I mean, I know where my talent comes from and I know how I need to use it, but it was just a question of, okay, this is pretty amazing. Mary Beth, I'll tell you what's so special about that. Yes, the family loved the cartoon-

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And that means the world to me, but where it's truly special and I'll show you on my phone, I got a message today from a really neat guy who'd lost their beautiful little girl to cancer.

    Mary Beth:  Mm.

    Marshall:  And I heard hundreds of stories from parents who had lost their children.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  They bothered to call me or message me and I sat and listened to every single one of them and it wasn't just like, Oh, well you've given me hope that I'll see my child again. It was, Oh, let me tell you my story.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  We're all artists. Every single one of us wake up every day with a blank canvas.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And what we do with that canvas, whether it's our actions, which I guess will be the brushstrokes and our attitude, which would be the colors we can make a difference in somebody's life. Do I do that every day? No, I mean, I feel lucky that if my dog likes me some days, you know, I mean she does like me because I feed her, but well, no she doesn't. She likes my wife even though I do feed her. But here's the thing, I mean, we all have that ability.

    Marshall:  And so I've done 6,000 cartoons in Mississippi. That's where the bulk of my career has been. And I'm very grateful for that. But to know that you've been able to touch somebody's life twice in one year.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Oh my gosh. It's unbelievable.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And so you know it's very humbling to me. Like I said, it's a talent that I'm borrowing and everything, but it it was neat. And so when George H.W. passed away in November,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  You know, I don't understand how he ever got the wimp thing because the guy, he was a fighter pilot-

    Mary Beth:  Well, I'll tell you that. I mean, you've got it, looking back to that campaign, you know against, you know in the early 90's. I mean, because I was a college student, we were both college students at that time when all of that was happening-

    Marshall:  Yes. And I'm so much older now, which says that I apparently could not get out to college.

    Mary Beth:  No, I was going to say you were incredibly young because you're only a few years older than me.

    Marshall:  Thank you.

    Mary Beth:  But yeah, I mean it is amazing. And we're going to talk in a few minutes about where we are with politics nowadays, but politics can just be so dadgum ugly.

    Marshall:  Right.

    Mary Beth:  And create you know myths and mythologies and so many inaccurate portraitures-

    Marshall:  Well it's all about framing.

    Mary Beth:  And caricatures, you know of-

    Marshall:  Well, thank you I'd like to say I contribute to that,

    Mary Beth:  No. But in a way that it's like long lasting and I think that's very much what happened to the senior president Bush-

    Marshall:  Yeah. He was the head of the CIA which generally they don't allow, you know.

    Mary Beth:  Exactly. Exactly.

    Marshall:  The point is though-

    Mary Beth:  But you turn the narrative back around to one way that was accurate, which I may, you've applied your talent in that way.

    Marshall:  Well, I think something else happened on that too. And I think that we as a country, we're hungry for dignity, for being able to agree on something,

    Mary Beth:  Right, right.

    Marshall:  For not vilifying somebody I think. And what, I don't care which side you're on. I don't care if you love your person on either side. I mean this is not what this is about.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  It's just at the point where at the end of the day we just realized, here's a guy, even if I disagreed with him politically, and I'm not saying me personally, but I'm just so generally people's like, the guy loved his family and he served our country.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And so when I did the cartoon, I had him getting out of his TBM Avenger, which was the plane he flew in WWII.

    Mary Beth:  Right. Yeah.

    Marshall:  The largest single engine bomber off the aircraft carrier in the Navy.

    Mary Beth:  Uh huh.

    Marshall:  And that represented service. And then he was being greeted by his family.

    Marshall:  So, I did that and I'd had the idea in my head because I thought he was going to pass away back right after she did and he lived a little bit longer. So, I drew it and by, I don't know, one o'clock in the morning, Bret Baier was talking about it on Fox news, which by the way, Bret Baier is one of the nicest human beings on the planet,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Just to let you know that. I mean by three o'clock, you know once again my phone, because I think people are looking for it by that time. Because they knew what I had done with the other cartoon.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  By six o'clock in the morning I got a call from Fox and Friends, "Hey can you Skype us?" And of course my hair's sticking up all over the place because I had three hours sleep and I was like, can I phone in and then got a call from CNN.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And they're like, "can you do an on camera with us?"

    Mary Beth:  Uh huh.

    Marshall:  Which, okay. So, I just had gone from Fox and Friends to CNN once again, that will cause you to have a brain freeze.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm, yeah, right.

    Marshall:  And they said, we'll send you a car. And it's like, I live in Jackson, Mississippi. I don't need a car because the only thing, I might hit a deer, but I probably will get there on time.

    Mary Beth:  We do have cars down here by the way.

    Marshall:  Yeah, we do. We do. We can drive. But then my wife's like, "They're going to send a car."

    Mary Beth:  Oh, alright.

    Marshall:  So, I'm sitting out there at 4:30 in the morning. And It's like the end of Pretty Woman, you know?

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  The big limo comes up, guy gets out, opens up the door and has snacks and I said, "Can you do me a favor?" And he said, "Yes sir. Mr. Ramsey, what'd you like?" I said, "Could you lay on the horn? So all my neighbors can see this?" But it was fun.

    Mary Beth:  It's like that scene in Arthur.

    Marshall:  It really was. It was. I'm out that sun roof going "Wooo,"

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, that's right.

    Marshall:  The deer are looking at me like I'm insane. It was a wonderful experience, but like I said, to hear from the parents, that's what made it really, truly special.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah. Okay, so backing up from all of this, what does editorial cartooning mean to you and mean to-

    Marshall:  Paycheck.

    Mary Beth:  Well, in addition to that, you cynic.

    Marshall:  I know, sorry. I've been in the media too long.

    Mary Beth:  But I mean you have diversified your career portfolio to include radio show. You're a book author of multiple books, one with your famous cousin on financial literacy for kids. I mean you've really diversified what you've done with your career and applied it in so many different ways. But getting back to that core piece of the editorial cartooning, because it does have the potential to touch people in such really poignant and unique ways. How does that make you feel?

    Marshall:  Like I said, I was eight years old and knew I wanted to do it and I discovered I was good at it. I didn't ask for the business to change. The internet blew up the newspaper model.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And you know the newspaper model didn't help itself and we could do seven shows on that-

    Mary Beth:  Well yes.

    Marshall:  But we're not going to do that today.

    Mary Beth:  Do come back. And we will do that.

    Marshall:  But I'm getting my masters right now.

    Mary Beth:  Oh.

    Marshall:  I'm sitting there in my class and they're talking about you know all the mistakes, the business made, I'm like, excuse me, I was on the 50 yard line on that because I've been through 18 rounds of layoffs at the newspaper,

    Mary Beth:  Phew.

    Marshall:  And now I work for a nonprofit, a new site,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Which is another model which seems to be working for right now. And I really love the people I work with, what it means to me, of course, it's the core of my brand. That's what a lot of people know me for. But back in 2010, I had just been named a Pulitzer finalist the second time. And I've been named a top 100 employee of Gannette and they called me in the office one day and they said, we're making you part time. So, they cut my pay in half, they cut my benefits. I'm sitting-

    Mary Beth:  It's like, can I do nothing right people?

    Marshall:  But why I just run a marathon and raise $13,000 for cancer research? Because I'm a cancer survivor-

    Mary Beth:  In your spare time.

    Marshall:  In my spare time. And my dog had just died in the vet. So, it was just literally, I was not adulting well that day either.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  But they said, "We're going to do that to you." And I just looked at him, I start laughing and they said, "Why are you laughing?" I said, because it's going to be the best thing that ever happened to me. The parable, the talents, and not to give you a Sunday school lesson, but I remember when I was in college, right out of college I was working as a high school janitor and six months into it, I was still throwing a massive pity party. And I went to church and they were talking about the parable, the talents. And you had the master who gave his talents to his three servants. And I realized I was the servant who was burying his talent because I was afraid. And when they said, "Oh, we're going to cut your pay in half," Something lit inside of me.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And I started using the other talents that I had. And cartoonists are weird generally in the sense that a lot of us drew pictures just so we could get attention.

    Marshall:  Like, Hey look at here. I can draw a picture, but we didn't. I feel comfortable talking in front of 5,000 people. I have no problem doing that or I don't,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And I'm a decent enough writer. I can write, I can draw, I can do radio, I can do television. So... but I didn't know that until that happened.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And so people say, "Are you mad that that happened?" I was like, no, it's the best thing that ever happened to me. The editorial cartoons though are the core of what I do. And because we are such a visual society,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Even though, and what happened was, and the reason why that number went down so greatly was because basically when you lose half your revenue overnight, like the newspaper business did, they obviously have to cut costs.

    Marshall:  So, they get rid of specialized positions. They get rid of movie columnists, the sports columnists, general columnists and cartoonists.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  So, suddenly, you know it's hard to figure out how you're going make a living. But for me, I can put them out there, get the attention, drive social media, I can get speaking gigs off of it, I can do whatever. So it's, it's a fascinating... The last 10 years I've totally blown up my brand and rebuilt it

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  In a way that I have multiple income streams and been able to actually with social media, been able to reach a larger audience.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Well, just recently we had a guest on Marcus Hall with, he founded his own retailing and it's Marcus Nelson Denim. It's a business in Knoxville and he had an illegal gambling operation on the side to help fund his business-

    Marshall:  That's a great idea.

    Mary Beth:  Exactly right. But went to, I mean he went to prison.

    Marshall:  Wow.

    Mary Beth:  I mean he had to face the music on all of that, but then came back stronger from having realized

    Marshall:  Yeah.

    Mary Beth:  And kind of taken ownership of, okay, I made bad decisions here. What do I do now? And this whole you know this whole element here that you're talking about of being faced with information and news that you're, you know it's not very helpful to your cause, but being able to turn it into a positive and realizing that there can be that silver lining, not to sound trite, but it's you had that immediate understanding that okay, this is going to be an opportunity.

    Marshall:  Let me tell you where I learned that lesson. I learned that lesson probably about six miles from here on the middle of Fort Louduon Lake. I was eight years old.

    Mary Beth:  Uh huh.

    Marshall:  My dad, who was 40 at the time was a big eight year old and he loved to water ski

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And his son wouldn't water ski. So, one day he threw me out in the middle of the lake and he said, "You're not getting out of that lake until you get up on your skis." And he drug me up and down that lake until I drank so much of that river water that I have gills on the side of my neck at the very end, right when he was getting frustrated, I popped up, which surprised him.

    Mary Beth:  Oh, uh huh.

    Marshall:  And it surprised me and I'm back there in the back. I'm in between the wake, you know I don't want to get out there and dad looks at me and he gets bored.

    Marshall:  You did not want my dad to get bored because suddenly he turns the boat as tight as he could to sling me outside the wake and he starts driving in a circle. So the boat's doing 20 I'm doing 450 miles an hour. And as anybody who knows anything about Fort Loudon Lake, there's a lot of driftwood on it.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yes I do know that lake.

    Marshall:  And I hit apparently a Sequoia, I did like five or six light of just bump, bump, bump, bump, bump... For those of you who are old like me, you remember the agony of defeat on Wide World of Sports. That was me. So, here I am-

    Mary Beth:  X-ers, we're the X-ers here, we know that scene very well.

    Marshall:  Right, so I'm doing the eight flips and the ski hits me in the back of the head and Dad being a loving, caring man pulls the boat around and he starts poking me with a paddle saying, "Are you okay?" And I'm laying there in the water going, "Go away." He said, "Grab the rope." I said, "No. Go away I'm swimming back." He said "It's five miles." And it was about that far. We were pretty far down river.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And he said, "No, grab the rope." I said, "Tell me one good reason why." And he said, "Because we're going to make your story about how you got back up, not how you fell down." He said, "Don't get me wrong, I'm going tell everybody how you fell down because it's hilarious."

    Mary Beth:  Dear old Dad.

    Marshall:  25 years later, I'm laying in bed on oxycodone or whatever the painkiller was. I just had half of side carved out because of cancer. My dad, he had cancer like a year before that and I'm laying there and I'm dreaming of purple hippopotamus and all kinds of weird things and I feel this pressure against my forehead. It's like a thumping feeling and I'm thinking, this is a weird side effect, but open my eyes and there's my dad leaning over me, poking me with his big fat finger and I'm like, "What are you doing?"

    Marshall:  He said, "Get up." I said, "I just had cancer surgery." He said, "No, I'll help you up. We're going to walk around the block." And I said, "Why?" He said, "Because we're going to make your story about how you beat cancer, not how you had cancer." When they made me part time, I kept hearing my dad yell, "Grab the rope." It's not what happens to you, it's how you frame what happens to you. And I think sometimes we as a country, and I'm going to just get out my big Bob Ross, big brush and paint some happy trees here to kind of paint with my big broad brush.

    Mary Beth:  Oh yeah.

    Marshall:  But I think sometimes we lack resilience and yes, I could have catastrophize and said, "It's not fair. I'm 50 years old now. I should be able to play golf every day." Well, I had melanoma so I shouldn't be playing golf.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Obviously sunshine's not my friend. But the point is why all this happened, I don't know, but I'm glad it did because I was able to be able to learn that I could do other things I've learned about, you know I graduated with a marketing degree from UT. That was once again, my dad's doing, I'm giving Dad a lot of props here, but he does deserve it.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  But Mom too. But the fact that I was able to use my education to be able to figure out where I was going to go next,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  So, why sit down and feel sorry about something saying, hey, it's an opportunity.

    Mary Beth:  That's just an amazing story. I mean, that's very uplifting. I didn't know I was going to be crying today, but-

    Marshall:  I have that effect on women I make them all cry. My wife's like going, "Yeah, I have to live with him."

    Mary Beth:  Okay. So I've got another kind of big question for you is when do you know that something that you've drawn is going to be a hit?

    Marshall:  I really don't. And that's weird and I don't really, it's so funny because every newsroom now has a computer with... you know looking for analytics and Google analytics and everything else. But I go with my gut.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And sometimes I think something might hit and it doesn't. The Barbara Bush I didn't think would hit like it did,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  But like I said, I hit something bigger than what I thought I was hitting. And that's why I say that was a God moment because the fact that it touched so many parents was why that cartoon did what it did.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  But no, I have a sense. I did a Veteran's Day cartoon a few days ago where literally it is the flag raising over Mount Suribachi by the Marines during World War II on the Iwo Jima.

    Mary Beth:  Yes.

    Marshall:  But I wrote the whole thing. It's a drawing and it looks like them, but the whole thing is made up of the word. Thank you.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I knew that was going to do well, but it was one of those things. I didn't have faith in the drawing. I actually quit it six times because it was like taking me forever. And I just did not have enough beer in the house to continue that drawing because it was taking me for, and I have, I was the kid that grew up with the airplane model.

    Mary Beth:  Uh huh.

    Marshall:  The one with the wings that were bent down because I wouldn't let the glue dry. I'm not a man of patience and so, but I kept thinking, I can't think of anything else. And it's like something kept pulling me back to that drawing,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And when I got done with it I was like, "Yeah," it was so funny. My son, who's you know we're up here for, he looked at it and he said, did you draw the flag?

    Mary Beth:  It looked like, a very precise flag because yeah, yeah-

    Marshall:  Yeah, no the flag was perfect. But sometimes I think it's like everybody's like, you can actually draw. I was like, yeah, I'm actually a pretty good artist.

    Mary Beth:  Who knew?

    Marshall:  You know, yeah I just don't use it as much anymore.

    Mary Beth:  That's too funny. Well, let's talk a little bit too about the validation that had to have come when you got that first Pulitzer Prize nomination and you've been nominated twice. Your career had taken kind of a lot of slings and arrows. Rough start just to try to get going with it. When that announcement came down the pike towards you, how did you react to that? Of course, I know that your family was elated. I mean it was a huge milestone, but what was that like?

    Marshall:  Well now to sound like Eeyore, but have you ever watched the Oscars and looked at the faces of the people who lost? I now know how that feels.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  Because when somebody else's name comes up you're like, Wah wah. It was wonderful.

    Mary Beth:  But, well yeah.

    Marshall:  I'm very proud of it. You know like I said, I have on the top of my resume I have a Pretty Cow Contest judge and then two time Pulitzer finalists. Those are two things I have on top of my resume,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah.

    Marshall:  Because I'm proud of both of them.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. You have to be, you absolutely have to be. The 9/11 cartoons that you did.

    Marshall:  Yes.

    Mary Beth:  And when we talk about major things in our society that happened that are tragedies, whether it's I mean, my gosh, we've had another school shooting this week of course. When we talk about things that really impact the entire globe though like 9/11 did and you're looking at a blank sheet of paper as to how do I capture this moment in a way that's going to appeal to humanity's better side and serve as something that's going to uplift everybody and help us make some kind of productive sense out of how to go forward. I mean when these tragic and horrible things in our society happen, what is that process like when you're looking at that blank sheet of paper?

    Marshall:  Well, here's what I was thinking of that day because it's funny. I think most of you that are listening, if you were around and could, were old enough, you remember exactly where you were.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  So weird, I actually teach a class at the University of Mississippi and all my students were in high chairs when that happened.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah.

    Marshall:  It just blows my mind.

    Mary Beth:  I know. Eighteen years ago.

    Marshall:  What I was doing is I remember watching it happen. I remember the second plane coming in. My wife and I were getting ready to go to work and school and my oldest son, who's now 19 was in a high chair and I kept thinking about what kind of world he was going to grow up in as we watched that second plane fly in.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And I remember driving in and everybody was doing 50 miles an hour on an interstate where they drive normally drive 90, gas was a $1.35 I walked into the newsroom, everybody's sitting around the television crying as we're watching people jump out of buildings and dying right before our eyes.

    Marshall:  Then the first tower fell and they're like, we're going to have to do an extra. We've got to do, we got to come up with something pretty quick.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. I can't imagine the chaos in the newsroom.

    Marshall:  Yeah. And the second tower fell. And at that point I'm looking at the blank piece of paper and I'm thinking, I don't want to be here. I want to be with my family.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Because you know the world's ending, right?

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  I didn't think that Bin Laden was going to attack Jackson, Mississippi. I wasn't really that worried about that.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  But I just knew it was there was going to be a monumental shift in what we were as people.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm, mmhm.

    Marshall:  And so I'm thinking, God, give me an idea.

    Marshall:  And then I look up at the screen and there's a Statue of Liberty standing proudly in front of the smoke. And I just said, "Wow, there's my idea." And I drew her with her head, her head buried in her hands crying.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And it's funny because if you look at that artwork now, there's a silver lining on that black cloud that's coming off of Manhattan. Didn't see it at the time, but as all the people were running away, there were people that were running toward those buildings,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  The first responders. And I think as much evil as happened on that day. And you know I, The Only Plane in the Sky is a book that just came out. It was kind of an oral history of 9/11. And I listened to it. It's really the first time I've been able to grasp the humanity

    Mary Beth:  Yes, yeah.

    Marshall:  Of that day because it's too much.

    Mary Beth:  It is. It is. It's overwhelming.

    Marshall:  It's too much. But I'm sitting there looking at that silver lining here now 18 or whatever years later. And I think about how we came together as a country and it lasted for 10 minutes.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  My favorite cartoon I've ever done is of an eagle head made of Americans, just all different colors. And it said, United we stand. I live in Mississippi, we got hit by hurricane Katrina. And you can say that that whole we're together thing doesn't work. But when push comes to shove, we come together. I've got two older sisters, we drive each other crazy. But if they needed me right now, I'd put on my astronaut diaper and I'd drive to Atlanta and go help them. And that's the way we were for a very brief amount of time.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, mmhm.

    Marshall:  Now obviously the first responders paid a very definite price.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Over time they got cancer. You know thankfully as a country we finally decided to take care of them.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  But that day I'm sitting there trying to think of an idea. And that was the cartoon I came up with. I drew it in 30 minutes and I went home because my family is what mattered the most.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. You know, it's that aspect of being able to get into a creative process when you are not only under pressure, but in, I mean under duress really.

    Marshall:  Right. That's my superpower.

    Mary Beth:  Well, I will say that it would have to be, because you've been in that environment. I mean, doing what you do, having to communicate within one panel, a one panel illustration with maybe just a little bit of phrasing tied to it and being able to convey an idea that is either uplifting in these you know terrible or tragic moments or you're really making light of at a whole different situation, like some kind of political fluke that happened or something that's crazy going on in your town or in back in Jackson where you're just trying to you know really get a laugh and connect with people and get people to understand maybe a larger issue too, a societal issue, but doing that on deadline.

    Marshall:  Yeah.

    Mary Beth:  I mean, but you've been doing that. That's that is what you do.

    Marshall:  Well that's the thing, do you worry about brushing your teeth every morning?

    Mary Beth:  You just do it.

    Marshall:  You just do it. And I've run two marathons. I've run a bunch of half marathons. Right now, I get winded tying my shoes. Creativity is like running a marathon. You do go in every day. Creativity is like exercise. The more you do it, the easier it gets and-

    Mary Beth:  Right. It's mind set.

    Marshall:  And like I said, I didn't mean to sound cocky cause believe me, I can be self-effacing as well as anybody. But there are a lot of people who can outdraw me and there's a lot of people who can outthink me, but what my gift is, whether I have cancer or whether 9/11 is happening or whether Hurricane Katrina is blowing trees down on my house, I can come up with an idea no matter how hard I'm pushed. The only thing that I think really seems to bother me is fatigue, which I got a lot of it right now. I mean I do a lot of traveling with my job now, but that's the only thing. But that adrenaline of when something happens-

    Mary Beth:  Uh huh.

    Marshall:  Is what gives me the ability to be creative.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. You know what you just said now that what you can really bring to the table when you're in a pinch. That reminded me so much about a Pat Summitt quote that she always said you know, "Someone may always be more talented than me or X, X, X, you know fill in the blank. But no one is ever going to outwork me".

    Marshall:  Oh no kidding. Not with, definitely with her.

    Mary Beth:  Tell us your Pat Summitt story, because I recently found out that you had had some really nice interactions with her when you were a student. Tell us about that.

    Marshall:  Yeah, it was totally random. Okay. So The Daily Beacon office is in the Communications Building, which is right kind of right next to Thompson Boling Arena. So, they'd have... I mean, I basically needed to eat, which most people do when I was working there and they put in a little cafeteria in Thompson Boling Arena. So, I would go down there after I drew my cartoon in the afternoon and it'd be empty. And one day I noticed that Pat Summitt was like sitting over in the corner-

    Mary Beth:  Legendary coach of the Lady Vols.

    Marshall:  Yeah, oh yeah. And so I didn't bother to talk to her because she's Pat Summitt and I'm Marshall Ramsey.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I'm a student, so why would I talk to her? Well, I did that like two or three times and she kind of noticed me one day, she just kind of called me over there. She said, "Sit down." "Yes ma'am." So, I sat down, she looked at me and she said, "Tell me about yourself." You know and I told her about myself.

    Mary Beth:  And she was so direct too-

    Marshall:  She really was.

    Mary Beth:  She could really intimidate.

    Marshall:  No, she really was, but she was kind,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I mean, but she was very firm.

    Mary Beth:  Yep.

    Marshall:  And she said, "So, tell me what you do." And I told her, and she said, "Oh, I love your cartoons. I love the ones you did about the championship" Because they just won the National Championship.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And because she had noticed me I said, "Oh, she likes me."

    Mary Beth:  Oh that is {inaudible}

    Marshall:  I sounded like Sally Field, you know, "She liked me, they liked me." And so she said, "Okay, so what are you willing to sacrifice to do it?"

    Mary Beth:  Whoa.

    Marshall:  I'm like, okay, this is getting heavy quick. And you know and I thought about that when I was working as a janitor. You know I was thinking, okay, well what would Pat want me to do? And so when she passed away, I did a cartoon having her cutting down the net in Heaven.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Right. It was awesome.

    Marshall:  So, we made some prints and were able to raise a little bit of money for the ... Because my dad had dementia at that point.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, yeah.

    Marshall:  And so it meant a lot to me personally. But no she, to take time and to care. And we're talking today on the tour, I was talking with one of the gentlemen from the College of Communications and how you never know when somebody is going to make a difference in your life randomly.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And you know I've got five students with my class. I mean, they're great. They give me a hard time, I give them a hard time and I try to teach them a little bit about professionalism, but they make a difference in my life. And I hope that someday that when they look back and they say, you know what, Marshall Ramsey actually helped me out a little bit here on that.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah.

    Marshall:  But yeah, she's great love her, miss her what a legend.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. She was an incredible legend. And I want to bring up one aspect too of the journalism profession. Now kind of switch gears a little bit. The journalism profession is under fire a lot under a lot of criticism, a lot and we're going into another presidential election year.

    Marshall:  Oh boy.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, fun times.

    Marshall:  I don't think the airbags are going to deploy this time either.

    Mary Beth:  That's right, I would probably agree with you. But one thing that I, and recently I noticed the course with the Newseum in Washington D.C. is closing and-

    Marshall:  Yeah. The property value is more important.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, exactly. One of the things that I regret the most about that and having visited that museum every time that I was in D.C. is that they had an incredible display there memorializing what I think are thousands of journalists who have been killed

    Marshall:  Right.

    Mary Beth:  In the line of their duty in reporting the news either while reporting the news or for reporting the news, which are two different things. I mean, you can lose your life while reporting the news, especially in a war zone. But then this whole thing of retribution and retaliation for having reported the news and we you know we're just in that kind of you know world situation where, and of course, I mean retribution and retaliation has been part of what's been exacted against journalists, I guess since the dawn of news media, I suppose-

    Marshall:  The captain's turned on the no joking sign.

    Mary Beth:  Well that's true. Yeah.

    Marshall:  Everybody's lost their sense of humor. They lost their mind too, but they lost their sense of humor.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Well, and there's also a lot of perceived politicization too on both sides. Like is it Fox News? Are they really telling the news or are they always in every single instance, putting a conservative bend on it. Same thing with MSNBC.

    Marshall:  Right.

    Mary Beth:  So, there's this... there's confusion, and I think-

    Marshall:  Right. Nobody knows what journalism

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, right.

    Marshall:  And I can post something on Facebook and I've got a pretty good audience.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  And I'll post something about the media and if I defend them, because well obviously I've been in the middle of the trenches for a long time, everybody comes after me, but they don't come after me for the right reasons. They think that like Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow are journalism, but no, they're kind of entertaining their opinion-

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, right. It's editorial.

    Marshall:  It's editorial right.

    Mary Beth:  It's opinion editorial.

    Marshall:  And that's why I say people get mad when they're like, how dare you, you know have bias in your editorial cartoons. I'm like ...um...

    Mary Beth:  It's opinion editorial.

    Marshall:  Exactly, exactly.

    Mary Beth:  And you see the public. And I think that we have a lot of, of course we've called this podcast Ms. InterPReted for a reason. We're trying to dispel myths and misunderstandings in the public about a lot of things. And one of these things is in general-

    Marshall:  I'll admit right now I have an agenda. Every day it's sent to me on a fax machine because obviously we don't have internet and somebody sends me a facsimile and tells me what to draw every day from headquarters. See, that's how stupid that is. I mean, it's like come on. I mean most of these conspiracy theories, you're like, dude, take the foil hat off.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah but the public doesn't understand-

    Marshall:  They don't know, sure.

    Mary Beth:  I mean very often we've got you know very educated folks coming out of colleges and universities very often who don't understand the roles or the you know those delineations in the news.

    Marshall:  Well, what's news now? And the thing is-

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, and it's a larger societal question.

    Marshall:  Well and even beyond the Fox, CNN or MSNBC debate, I mean, now you can get what you want when you want it whenever. Right?

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  So, the point is you're sitting there saying, okay, there's an algorithm out there that sees everything you click on. So, on your Facebook feed you're going to get exactly what you want to read.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  So, a lot of that stuff can be stuff that's literally made out of you know out of thin air.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  So, it's not really journalism and you think it's news. And so guess what, you're going to base your opinions and your facts on that. And I'm not making fun of anybody on that, but we've just gotten so fractured as a media

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Because it used to be obviously, and I'm not pining for the good old days. I love social media and I love-

    Mary Beth:  Oh I do too. It's great.

    Marshall:  I love the technology. I mean, I love the fact that we're sitting right now having a podcast and there's actually somebody listening to it.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, right.

    Marshall:  And we can talk about different things that are interesting. But the thing is, you know back in the day we would have a newspaper that generally was okay, you have your opinion stuff on the editorial page over here you have a journalist that's digging up stuff that's going on in your city council that matters.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  I have a very wise relative of mine who owns a car dealership that funds his local newspaper because he wants it to be around so that it can still provide the deal.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Yeah.

    Marshall:  So, at the end of the day, I think the people that benefit of a fractured and destroyed media are the people who are in power.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And my only advice to anybody who's listening on when somebody says, Oh, this person is fake news or whatever, consider the person who's saying it, what their agenda is and why they might be saying it.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Like for instance, I have no agenda at this point. I mean I have opinions.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And then they show up on my cartoons, but I have no power. So, just always look for truth to power and try to hold the people accountable. And it doesn't matter if they're Republican or they're Democrats. Think about why they're doing it and why this is happening and see beyond the party label.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And that is so hard for people right now.

    Mary Beth:  Yes it is.

    Marshall:  Because here's the thing, you and I even might disagree on some things politically,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Mmhm.

    Marshall:  I think you're the best and I really like you as a human being.

    Mary Beth:  Well, thank you.

    Marshall:  So, why would I be insane enough to hate you,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Because you and I might disagree on a subject politically-

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, but that's where we are now

    Marshall:  That's where we are. We are completely tribalized.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. And it's strangers hating strangers is the thing too and that's-

    Marshall:  Exactly keyboard warriors on the social.

    Mary Beth:  Right. Have you ever been faced with a threat?

    Marshall:  Yes.

    Mary Beth:  Tell us about that.

    Marshall:  Well, the day of the Mississippi flag vote, Mississippi has a Confederate battle flag on its state flag and there was a vote to change it. And I was for changing it. I love Civil War history. Don't get me wrong, I grew up in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Atlanta,

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm. Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And I can tell you who fought which battles and everything else. Unfortunately, I just felt like it's time to change that and retire to a museum.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah, yes exactly. Right.

    Marshall:  So, that was just my personal opinion. I was getting threats throughout the day. And then my doctor called me at 5:30 and he said, "You have cancer."

    Mary Beth:  Oh my word.

    Marshall:  So, I started laughing.

    Mary Beth:  Why does everything happen at the same time in your life like this?

    Marshall:  I just do not do anything dull. That's why I drink a lot.

    Mary Beth:  Go big or go home.

    Marshall:  Well, I just started laughing. He said, "Why are you laughing?" I said, this is the nicest phone call I've had all day. I don't take it too seriously. And I do have some people that get on me on social media a little bit and I always tell people just remember that social media is not real all the time because you never know.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  I mean it's like people just dive into arguments with people that might be a bot or there might be some total, you never know.

    Mary Beth:  Yes. Yeah.

    Marshall:  So, it's kind of... People are like, "Why don't you like defend yourself?" I said, well the person can't figure out how to put their face on an avatar yet on Twitter and they have four followers. So, why should I give them my platform,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And waste four hours of my life screaming at somebody that I don't even know is a real human being?

    Mary Beth:  Right. Discernment, it matters.

    Marshall:  Okay. This is my example, and I'm going to try to do this in a PG way. So, you're standing by a stream, right?

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And a human waste floats by.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Do you reach down and grab it? Or you just look at it and let it flow by? That's the way a lot of tweets are in Twitter because you can just-

    Mary Beth:  You're just full of great metaphors.

    Marshall:  That one is a little hard to talk about in public, but I think there's a lot of-

    Mary Beth:  Point well taken.

    Marshall:  But there's a lot of truth to it. Why do you have to pick a fight with every single fight that comes along?

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. People, you have to know when to say when?

    Marshall:  Oh, I've learned that, I've been married 26 years man. I know when to say yes dear.

    Mary Beth:  That's right. Okay. Well let's talk about personal branding,

    Marshall:  Yes.

    Mary Beth:  Because when you spoke earlier about your need to turn a negative into a positive and turn the lemons into lemonade, a big part of that was on a very conscious level developing your personal brand.

    Marshall:  Yes.

    Mary Beth:  Clearly you already had a brand, it was associated with Gannette. It was associated with the work you were you know doing for The Clarion-Ledger at the time in Jackson, but you had to take that to the next level and then the next level above that. So, it's sort of the holy grail I think in career development nowadays, and especially with the advent of social media, people want to, you know that's an idea of in this era of job insecurity and never being able to necessarily count on where your next paycheck is coming from. This idea of developing your own reputation as a professional such that you are in demand regardless.

    Marshall:  Right.

    Mary Beth:  So, what has been your process there and what has been kind of the secret sauce for you on that?

    Marshall:  Number one, I'm reinventing myself every single day.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah?

    Marshall:  So, I can't say that anything I'm about to tell you is worthy of a textbook. You know I think the fact that I got that marketing degree, thank you Dad. I did do college of communications and I did not make it into the upper classes because I could not pass a typing test, but I still love the college of communications. But I ended up taking marketing classes and that turned out to be a very smart move because I've always kind of bounced between the advertising and the editorial side on that. And when I moved to Mississippi, I learned something very important that, and this is true in Mississippi, but I think it's true everywhere. If people don't know you in Mississippi, they don't pay attention to you. And the quickest way for me to get known was to go out and talk to every civic club I could and to volunteer and to do things out in the community.

    Marshall:  And in the process that was building a brand and I didn't realize it until I was made part-time and suddenly I had to fall back on that. Well I had been an early adopter on Twitter and Facebook. Boy, that was a long time ago, but I had built up, you know I mean I've got 61,000 Twitter followers,

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  So, I mean you know probably between my two Facebook accounts that might reach 50,000 people if the algorithms on a good day.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  So, I mean, I have a lot of people that like and follow me. So, anyway, I had people that were following me and I would just try to put myself out there as honestly as I could. And I think people are kind of voyeurs. They want to know who you are,

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  They want to know the backstory. And it's very hard because there's a balance between putting too much of your family out there, which they didn't sign up for this.

    Marshall:  So, I mean, I used to probably put more than I should, but at the end of the day I just kind of try to tell the backstory.

    Mary Beth:  Right.

    Marshall:  Of who I am and once again it goes back, if people feel like they know you, they will pay attention to you.

    Mary Beth:  It's the human factor.

    Marshall:  Right. Because they want to say, "What does Marshall think about this?"

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And you know sometimes I probably am boring, I don't know, I mean I fall asleep-

    Mary Beth:  Never. I can vouch for that.

    Marshall:  In the chair at 5:00 at night.

    Mary Beth:  Never are you boring. But it's that that personal, that human connection. I think that's what develops the trust.

    Marshall:  Yeah.

    Mary Beth:  And that's what our society so often is lacking nowadays. And even in some so many personal relationships, it's that trust of kind of knowing where somebody stands on something.

    Marshall:  Yes, but don't try to be something online that you're not.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I mean, ask Tiger Woods about that, he got a nine iron in his back window of his car and don't ask Lance Armstrong about that.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I admire Lance Armstrong for what he did with cancer. I mean, that's incredible.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  Do I admire how Lance Armstrong thinks, no, but Lance Armstrong unfortunately was up on a pillar and then he got knocked off.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  So, you cannot put yourself out there on social media and brand yourself as something you are not.

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  And I have to be very careful about that. I mean, today I was not adulting well and I left a really nasty email to somebody and I called them back and I apologized because I said, "That was not me, I overreacted and I apologize."

    Mary Beth:  Humility.

    Marshall:  I think that helps.

    Mary Beth:  That is a big part of I think being able to bring your human self to relationships and admitting if you make a mistake or yeah, it was a bad day for me, and I think that is the part that so many people nowadays, they just don't want to have to admit that they made a mistake because, "Oh gosh, if my mistake gets out then it's on social media and I'm branded with a ..."

    Marshall:  Yeah.

    Mary Beth:  It's like they cannot bring the humility to the table. Yeah.

    Marshall:  But you know the funny thing about us as a country is that we are very forgiving if the person,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  If the person comes forward and says, "You know what, I screwed up, I'm sorry."

    Mary Beth:  If it's authentic.

    Marshall:  If it's authentic.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  You know "I'm sorry, I lied." Me too. I mean, you can't do that because people are like, "Okay."

    Mary Beth:  That's maybe not authentic.

    Marshall:  Sorry, I didn't mean to bring up any former presidents.

    Mary Beth:  That's all right. It's all right.

    Marshall:  I'm sorry, where were you?

    Mary Beth:  Just know how I love him.

    Marshall:  I do because he's great for cartoons.

    Mary Beth:  That's right. Even without sound effects. Okay. One of my last questions.

    Marshall:  I have so many skills.

    Mary Beth:  Exactly. I know you're really good at that. Who is your hero?

    Marshall:  Charlie Daniel.

    Mary Beth:  Tell us about that.

    Marshall:  Oh, I mean my mom and dad too. But Charlie Daniel. Okay, so...

    Mary Beth:  And for our listeners, out of market from Knoxville, everyone in Knoxville knows who Charlie Daniel is.

    Marshall:  Charlie Daniel is not the fiddle player. He is the recently laid off editorial cartoonist from the News Sentinel. He had been the editorial cartoonist in Knoxville for 60 years, 60 years. He came here in 1958.

    Mary Beth:  Wow.

    Marshall:  Charlie Daniel was the editorial cartoonist. He was recently awarded at Governor's Arts Awards by the governor of the State of Tennessee, the first cartoonist ever to receive that award.

    Mary Beth:  Wow.

    Marshall:  Charlie, my first experience with him, I would read the Knoxville Journal, of course, he was at the time when I was in school and I would see that cartoonist and I was like, "Aw he's okay." You know because I was cocky, and I was stupid. And my sophomore speech teacher told me I need to go interview somebody who did what I wanted to do. So, I hoof myself from UT all the way to downtown Knoxville, probably 15 minute walk.

    Mary Beth:  Yes.

    Marshall:  And I knock on his door, he's sitting in the morgue, that's where his office was, which for those of you, the morgue is not where they put bodies, it's where they put old newspapers. And Charlie said, "Sure, sit down." And he spent an hour with me on deadline and asked me all kind of questions about myself and everything else. And I get a call from-

    Mary Beth:  I mean, sight unseen, he had not met you, he had not seen your work or?

    Marshall:  Yeah. No, he'd seen my work. He knew who I was.

    Mary Beth:  Okay. He'd seen your work, okay.

    Marshall:  But he was busy but he took the time to speak to me. And so I get a call from him, I'd left him my number, and I got a call from him. He said, "Hey, Patsy and I, his wife, would love you to come over to have dinner with us." Okay. So, I drive over and he lives up on a giant hill, so I have to put brick under my tire so my car wouldn't roll down the hill. And I had dinner with them. And one day he came up to me, he said, "You know we're going to a convention, a cartoonist convention in Memphis, and how would you like to ride with us?" Okay, that'd be great.

    Mary Beth:  Wow. What an opportunity?

    Marshall:  Yeah. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. So, he helped me get involved with that. And you know the thing is, here's a guy that, he didn't have to do that. He didn't have to do any of that. And he literally showed me how to have a career because you can't get it, you don't get an editorial cartooning degree. It's not like, Oh yeah, I have my ... You learn by watching other people. Well, I was fortunate enough to learn somebody who realize you give back to your community and that's how you make a difference. And Charlie's a very special guy. I mean, he was a Marine during the Korean War. He was in Arlington and the Marine commandant came through and he said, "Only good Marine is a Marine that's in Korea." So, they all got suddenly sent out to Camp Pendleton and they were shipped down to San Diego about ready to get on this troop ship to go to Korea. Charlie's stuff was on board and suddenly he sees a fight. It's one of his people and his squad started beating up the Sergeant and Charlie witnesses it.

    Marshall:  So they pull... The MPS come or the SPS or whoever come and grabbed Charlie and pull him aside so he can be a witness for the trial. Well, Charlie had six months left in the Marines before he was going to get out. So basically, he was waiting around for the court martial. Well, in the meantime, most of his, and to the Marines out there, Semper Fi, I apologize, I'm going to get this wrong, but most of the people in his unit were killed.

    Mary Beth:  Wow.

    Marshall:  And so Charlie figured out later on that at the moment that he witnessed the fight that his fiance or his girlfriend, I think it was fiance at the time, is now his wife, Patsy's church was praying for him, for his safety. And so at that moment Charlie's life was put on another trajectory and Charlie is, he'll turn 90 in December.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  He still goes to the UT ball games and drives. And you know my son, and this is probably the nicest... I've got one son that's named after him and one of my sons just realized, he said, "Dad," he said, "You know the thing I like about Charlie is he's in the now."

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  And that's probably the nicest compliment I can say for you. But yeah, he's a huge hero. He's who I want to be when I grow up.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. I can't believe after all these years of living in this community, I finally got the chance to meet him in person, thanks to you. The night the University of Tennessee gave you the Professional Alumni Award the other night. Not too long ago, but that was very meaningful to me. What a story.

    Marshall:  Yeah.

    Mary Beth:  Wow. And final question. This podcast episode is going to be airing right as the holiday season is getting underway.

    Marshall:  Yes.

    Mary Beth:  And I'd like to ask you what you're thankful for.

    Marshall:  Oh my gosh. Every morning I go run. Usually I get up four o'clock if I'm doing the boot camp, five o'clock if I'm just running.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  I have to admit, sometimes I sleep late, I see the sun come up and I'm grateful that I get another day and because sometimes my scar burns where the cancer was and that cancer tends to come back. So, I'm always grateful I'm still here. I sometimes struggle with being thankful and I'll be the first to admit, that I'll be very honest with that. I've got this fight or flight thing going in me right now that I'm trying to learn to shut off

    Mary Beth:  Mmhm.

    Marshall:  Because it keeps me constantly in state of panic. But at the end of the day I'm very grateful for my wife who probably at times is completely sick of me, which you know I mean, I can understand why.

    Mary Beth:  I'm sure she would beg to differ with that.

    Marshall:  She's good people. She met me and married me even though I was a janitor, she had great faith in me and I hope I haven't let her down too badly and-

    Mary Beth:  She's a beautiful person, in every way.

    Marshall:  She's got her moments, she really does. She's okay. And I always tell people if I hadn't had that worst moment of being a janitor, because her mom worked there and set me up with her, that's how I met her,

    Mary Beth:  Aww. Wow.

    Marshall:  I wouldn't have had the four best moments because my boys all look very much like her, which is a good thing and I'm very thankful for my boys. And everything else is just gravy.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Well this has been great. It's been a wonderful conversation. I am very thankful myself that you were with us today.

    Marshall:  Oh sure.

    Mary Beth:  And this is just great for you to actually be here in town and be able to join us here in studio, so to speak.

    Marshall:  Yeah. You're pretty good with this whole podcasting stuff.

    Mary Beth:  Well, Jury's still out on it, but we're getting more listeners as we're going forward and really enjoying the process because we're getting to delve into some really interesting subjects and getting to talk to some really interesting people.

    Marshall:  Well, there's so much to talk about right now.

    Mary Beth:  There is. There is.

    Marshall:  I mean, and I was just talking about today, I was thinking about my career and you know like I said, I'm probably at the age where I should be playing golf everyday, but it's like I love it because every day, okay, so there was a couple of year period there, where my parents got sick,

    Mary Beth:  Yeah.

    Marshall:  So I literally was focused on them. And I came back and I realized everything I knew about social media was dated. I mean, just two years.

    Mary Beth:  Yeah. Oh, I know, I know. I mean, you can't blink

    Marshall:  No.

    Mary Beth:  Or look away for a minute. It is an ongoing thing.

    Marshall:  And you can build the 60,000 following over here and suddenly that platform is bought out and closes down. You know?

    Mary Beth:  Right. It's like all your eggs in one basket. It's kind of scary, isn't it?

    Marshall:  Yes. But it's also exciting and just like being on this podcast of yours.

    Mary Beth:  Well, thank you Marshall. We appreciate you and best wishes to your son and his looking at all the different college options and everything.

    Marshall:  I keep whispering in his ear when he sleeps, ACT.

    Mary Beth:  It'll work its magic just like everything else does.

    Marshall:  Yes. Scholarship.

    Mary Beth:   Right. Well, thank you so much for being with us.

    Marshall:  You're welcome.

    Mary Beth:  And to our listeners. Please join Marshall's more than 61,000 followers on Twitter @MarshallRamsey. You'll be glad you did, uplifted every day just as I have been during this conversation, as well as cracking more than a few smiles from his wit and wisdom. Marshall incidentally is also editor at large of Mississippi Today and that, as he mentioned during the interview, a nonprofit newsroom with a mission of civic engagement and public dialogue through the service journalism, live events and digital outreach. And you can follow them @MSTODAYnews. Don't forget to follow the Ms. InterPReted podcast and social media as well. And great news you all, Kelly will be back next week, blessedly, so you're not stuck with me running the joint and whether she's in the big apple or back here in big orange country. You can follow Kelly on Twitter too @Kdfletcher and that's K D as in Kelly Dawn, please follow the agency @Fletcherpr and follow me @Marybethwest.

    Mary Beth:  We will respond to your questions and comments, please post them using the hashtag Ms. InterPReted. That's #MsInterPReted and for visibility sake, don't forget to capitalize the PR. Our thanks to our sound engineer, Chris Hill of Knoxville based Humblepod at humblepod.com. Thank you listeners. We'll see you next time.

    Announcer:  Thanks for joining us on Ms. InterPReted Public Relations, Demystified. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at fletchermarketingpr.com and on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll see you next time.

     

     

     

    Tags:
    Fletcher, creative inspiration, Creativity, Ms. Interpreted, Barbara Bush, Bush Family, George H.W. Bush, Cartoonist, Editorial Cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey, Courage, Charlie Daniel, Bush Presidential Library, 9/11

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