We recently connected with Erin Morse and have shared our conversation below.
Erin, so good to have you with us today. We’ve always been impressed with folks who have a very clear sense of purpose and so maybe we can jump right in and talk about how you found your purpose?
Discovering my purpose to establish a non-profit animal rescue has a been a transformative journey. Despite having a successful and financially rewarding career in automotive software, I felt an ever-growing sense of emptiness. Something within me was not being satisfied despite the accolades I was achieving within my career. To help fill this sense of emptiness I decided to get a dog. I am a researcher by nature, so I started learning about what kind of dog would best suit my lifestyle, and in doing so stumbled across how many homeless pets there were here in the KC metro. I dug a little deeper and learned that Missouri is the puppymill capital of the world, with over 30% of the nations mills located here, I had no prior knowledge in animal care, heck I had never even owned a dog before, I just knew I needed to be part of the solution, I needed to be their voice. Thus, I adopted my first dog, and dipped my toe in the world of animal advocacy. Advocating for those that have no voice gave me the sense of purpose and passion I had been yearning for. So the time came to overcome the fear of the unknown and make the courageous decision to leave behind the comfortable lucrative career and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the cause of animal welfare, I can honestly say I have never looked back, and with every step forward in this new direction, I am motivated by the fact that every animal deserves love, care, and a chance at a compassionate home. Though the road I have chosen is a challenging one, I am determined to make a lasting impact.
Thanks for sharing that. So, before we get any further into our conversation, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what you’re working on?
Midwest Animal ResQ is unique! We are small enough to get to know all of our animals really well, but large enough to have a great selection of companion animals. We employ the highest number of staff per animal in the metro, which means not only do our animals get a high level of care, they also spend a tremendous amount of time outdoors, on walks, and in play groups. We get to know our animals really well, so we can do a better job matching them with potential families. We also offer fostering, trial adoptions, and doggie day outs, so families can get to know all sorts of pets to assure they find the perfect match for their families. We are passionate about the animals in our care, but we are passionate about people as well, our mission is completing families, one tail at a time!
There is so much advice out there about all the different skills and qualities folks need to develop in order to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment and often it can feel overwhelming. So, if we had to break it down to just the three that matter most, which three skills or qualities would you focus on?
Compassion- This is a personal journey that involves kindness and understanding, not just of others…but for yourself as well. Acknowledge shortcomings in yourself and others and give them grace. Offer support and encouragement not judgment, Active listening to ensure that you really understand the struggles of others and empathize with their journey. Just being present and attentive, and showing genuine interest in people’s experiences, is often enough for people to feel heard and valued.
Leadership- This is SO important, even more so in a non-profit. You must be able to communicate your vision in a clear and concise way and get people excited about it. You need to know when to be inspirational, when to be motivational, and when to be transactional. You need to know when to jump in and get your hands dirty, and when to stand back and let your team soar. Leadership is understanding that no task is beneath you, but all employees should look up to you. You must always lead with integrity and demonstrate ethical behavior. Hold strong to your moral compass, and make all decisions based on what is best for the whole, respect will follow
Adaptability- My industry, like so many others is changing rapidly. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and solve problems on the fly is crucial when starting, and growing, any business. As an entrepreneur, i’ve encountered countless setbacks and obstacles along the way. Being adaptable has allowed me to pivot and embrace those obstacles and turn them into potential opportunities. Take the time to analyze all the data, and make an informed data driven decision based mostly and on facts with a little conjecture, block out the chatter.
Is there a particular challenge you are currently facing?
The biggest challenge I am facing right now is a national animal sheltering challenge. The number of homeless animals has increased exponentially across the country over the prior year. The sheer volume of stray animals, combined with several other factors like housing insecurity, a national veterinarian shortage and inflation, has led to the perfect storm within the animal welfare industry, resulting in unprecedented numbers of animals entering shelters across the country.