Soaring high with Alex Morrissey
Soaring high with Alex Morrissey
When we hear business tycoons over the world speak about what lead them to success, we notice commonalities - a willingness to take risks, maintaining a personal philosophy, and voracious reading habits.
Twenty-eight-year-old Alex Morrissey, digital media
specialist and director of the Kingston-based Esirom Group, has been paying attention to these tycoons and pulls inspiration from the writings of Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Morissey is an avid reader, and like his role models, often breaks with tradition. He doesn't wear suits or ties. He prefers the laid-back vibe of T-shirts, and carries a backpack, not a briefcase. Today, we delve into what led him to possess such depth of character while blazing a path in the creative world.
I first met Morrissey over a year ago when my sons and I were being photographed for a Mother's Day advertising campaign for an A-rated, market-leading company. There he was, unassumingly holding up an oversized light reflector during the shoot on the lawns of Devon House. He would temporarily abandon his supporting role as lighting assistant, only to huddle with the photographer, giving hushed instructions. Unbeknown to me, he was the principal director of the company behind that national campaign.
Months later, I would learn that Morrissey was the creator behind the renowned jamaicansmusic.com - a website which catalogues and markets Jamaican music history, artistes and culture. This website began as a school project nearly 10 years ago at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, and now boasts a Facebook fan page with nearly three million followers. The website is so plugged in to the masses, it has the power to fast-track a musician to international fame with a mere online endorsement. One wonders what would inspire a then 18-year-old to design and build a website which would be sustained so many years in the evolving online stratosphere. "It was passion. I was tasked to create a website which represented something from my home country and I couldn't think of anything better, or closer to my heart, than reggae music," he said.
It's admirable to see a leader who doesn't walk around with a chip on his shoulder, someone who exudes composure and lacks a pompous attitude. He has a certain ease about him which resonates with anyone in his presence and draws them in. Creative minds, often considered sporadic with fleeting thoughts, rarely possess this blend of innovation and structure towards business. But Morrissey finds it.
A self-proclaimed workaholic, he told Outlook: "I find beauty in the simplicity of things. My favourite way to unwind is to explore the off-beaten paths of Jamaica, and my new spot has been Bluefields, Westmoreland, where I've captured some of the best sunsets."
Morrissey is not enticed by the bright lights of New York's Times Square, but is drawn to the simplicity and zen-like state of Southeast Asia, which, incidentally, is where he recently launched two branches of his company. The Esirom Group has successfully tapped into a niche demographic in Asia - Jamaican-themed companies in need of digital marketing.
Esirom has an advantage in the region as it possesses first-hand knowledge to encapsulate an authentic Jamaican essence in advertising.
"To me, success is measured by happiness. There are a whole lot of miserable, rich people who hate what they are doing. I make sure I love what I do on a daily basis, and I ensure that my team enjoys every day at work." This has allowed Morrissey the flexibility to be selective with the clients he works with. "It is important for my company to fit with the corporate culture of my clients." A visit to his website www.esirom.com reveals some of the major A-list Jamaican companies which have trusted their brands to him and his capable 10-member team.
"It is also important for everyone on my team to understand that they can grow and help what the company can become. I show them that there is potential for them, individually, not just for the company. I encourage them to bring their interests forward, and I get them training in their desired fields by sending them to do courses to better themselves. My team is an extension of my family and some have been with the company from the beginning. Though I am an early riser, I have later business opening hours, so my team is not bogged down with rush-hour traffic and doesn't come to work flustered. We have recreational games in the office to unwind when we need a break and I strictly enforce vacation times, because we all need to recharge and unwind."
A strong proponent of cross training in the workplace, Morrissey believes that any member of his team should be able to sit in on a client meeting because they understand all aspects of the business. "This helps everyone to understand each other's role, and, as a result, fosters appreciation and empathy for all. I've found that this creates a better working environment."
He continued: "I have a habit of waking up early, because it gives me an edge on the day. I have broken down my days in minutes, 1,440 minutes in each day to be exact. With this outlook, I am forced to find a way to break down each minute into value. Some people wake up and write down to-do lists, I make success lists. I always do the things that will make me the most reward the earliest, which causes a productive domino effect for things I need to accomplish daily."
Morrissey thanks his mother for ensuring he and his three brothers participated in sports during high school. He swam for the Jamaica swim team Tornado Swim Club, and holds a first degree in black belt from Jui Fushon Kai. "This level of training gave me the discipline I need in today's fast-paced world. I also credit my studies at St George's College, where I learnt the importance of attention to detail through studying technical drawing, and where I developed an appreciation for aesthetic appeal through studying art. A combination of this gave me a solid foundation and has contributed to the man I am today."
Morrissey is also a lecturer at Excelsior Community College. He teaches digital marketing two days per week, and considers this a way of giving back to the industry and the future of Jamaica. The number one piece of advice he gives his students, and anyone else is simple: "The classroom is not the only place you can learn. Google is there for everyone to learn from. Do your research."
When asked what is next for the Esirom Group, he said: "I would like the company to maintain the trust that we have gained from all our clients and to be revered as the number one digital marketing agency in Jamaica. All team members at the Esirom Group are Facebook and Google certified, and we have direct access to immediate live support in their headquarters. This gives our clients complete assurance. Very few, if any, agency in Jamaica can say that."
Director, Esirom Group
Top three favourite books:
1. High Output Management by Andrew S. Groves.
2. Business Adventures, 12 Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks.
3. The Art of War by Sun Tzu.