Meet the Mentors: The Morris
The couple Morris conducted the Leadership and Professional Life classes during the 5th week of the Spring Semester about the themes of Inspiration and Motivation. Both were born and raised in the United States, but their background is full of travels and moves around the world, with successful international careers. Parents of five children aged 11 to 22 have spent the last year in Milan, Italy.
Careers Built on an International Basis
Mindi began her career in healthcare as a dental hygienist, before co-founding Benches & Camp Blackboards, an organization that donates school supplies to unprivileged people in developing countries. She currently also runs a small real estate business and coaches the Arrowhead Ski Team during the winter.
Shad has worked for the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank in Servia, Management Systems International in Bulgaria, Alcoa Corporation in the United States, and as a founding member of Samsung’s SKK Graduate School of Business in Seoul, Korea. He has been a faculty member at universities such as MIT, The Ohio State University, and is currently a Professor of International Business at Brigham Young University. Shad holds a Ph.D. in Business Management from Cornell University, an MBA and master’s degree in international relations, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from BYU.
Raising a Family Aligning Principles, Work, and Lifestyle
Cumorah Academy: How is the experience of raising a family and moving to many places in different countries and even continents?
Mindi: Well, sometimes it’s hard, moving around with kids. But having kids is hard in general. I remember I thought: “It’s hard if I stay at home and it’s also hard if I go and travel and do something adventurous.” So, I might as well be doing the hard thing that I like. And I think that was the case when the kids were little, is much easier because their whole world is just you and your family.
For example, when we had our oldest daughter was five months old, we moved to Bulgaria, and we had a chance to travel around a lot of Europe. She had been to 9 countries before she was a year old. We just put her in a backpack and went everywhere with her, which really wasn’t so difficult. We were just lucky that we were able to do the work that we needed to do abroad.
Also, we could just take our baby with us. Then later, when we had five kids, we had other times when we lived abroad, and we lived in China. Kids made it better, I thought! Because we had a reason to connect with people, we needed other families and other people with children. The kids were going to school, where we could meet people when otherwise it might have been more difficult to meet people. I thought it made it easier to connect with people.
We did a backpacking trip where we backpacked from eastern China to western China with five kids and one little baby. It was kind of a little crazy. Sometimes we didn’t know where we were or where how we were going to get from one place to the next. We were just figuring it out. Sometimes a little scary, but kids are adaptable, they just learned how to move along with the group.
Importance of the Church Community
Shad: From a living perspective, living in another country is nice because we had to rely on each other, just our family. In Korea, we were there for three years, we just had each other, and we got very close as a family, we did not have any relatives nearby. When you’re making new friends and meeting new people, you also recognize the value of having a church community. Being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was helpful for us wherever we moved.
We knew we automatically had people. Who could tell us where the good doctors were, or where to find support for daycare or help in different ways? I think moving around, especially while the kids were young, helped bring the family closer together. And it was better for us. I think we don’t know. We didn’t live the counterfactual the counter.
Inspiration and Motivation Come From The Community
Mindi: For the last eight years we’ve been living in our hometown, and we have many members of our family around in the community. We can go to family parties every weekend, and different events, and never see our kids. They’re off playing with cousins and friends and they’re just having a great time and the community is also nice. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just different.
Shad: As the kids got older, we decided it would be good for them to have a place to be long term, where we were long term, and that’s why we’ve been in Utah for eight years. But we also think it’s fundamental for them to have other cultural experiences living in different places. It is one of the reasons we moved to Italy for a year.
Mindi: It was harder for our 16-year-old son to move to Italy. It’s his junior year in high school, he has friends, is active in sports, etc… The older ones only adapt when they want; they want to make choices, but when we are traveling, we don’t have many options. In the end, there are pros and cons.
Our Inspiration and Motivation for Travelling
Cumorah Academy: Do you usually move for jobs or something else?
Mindi: Always because of jobs, but a lot of people have these same jobs and don’t move. We were seeking out opportunities to travel, we value the experience of learning about other cultures, people, and different thoughts. Then we emphasize it and tried to make those things happen.
Cumorah Academy: Do you think that your work needs to fit in your lifestyle or us in general or our lifestyle needs to fit in our work and why?
Mindi: I think if you have a choice, then make your job fit your lifestyle because life is long. Work is what you do most of the time. If you can integrate your work into your lifestyle, you can enjoy your life more. But some people don’t have a choice, right? It’s like the things they’re interested in don’t really align. Personally, I believe that, in general, there are plenty of job options and various ways to work.
Experiencing Motivation and Inspiration
Cumorah Academy: During the week, you guys talked with the students about their “Why” and the importance of knowing the reason for running a business, for example. How can someone discover their “Why” and help others do the same?
Shad: For me, the question of “Why” has always been present in my life, driven by my personal experiences and reflections. As a young person, I witnessed my father facing job instability and dissatisfaction, which made me realize the importance of finding work that I genuinely enjoy. This realization sparked a desire within me to not only pursue fulfilling work for myself but also to help others find the same.
This led me to explore areas such as organizational behavior and supporting organizations in treating people better. During my mission in Bulgaria, I developed a deep connection with the country and its people, watching the challenges they faced after the collapse of communism, including a struggling economy and limited opportunities for employment.
This experience further solidified my passion for helping organizations and individuals in emerging markets or countries facing difficulties. After my return, I expanded my focus to a global scale, driven by a love for international travel and a fascination with different cultures. It became clear to me that I wanted to tie my passion for international work with my skills and competencies.
I recognized the need for my expertise in helping organizations navigate the complexities of emerging markets and making a positive impact on a global scale. Ultimately, my “Why” is centered around combining my passions, addressing needs, and leveraging my competencies to contribute to organizations and individuals in a meaningful way.
The 36 Questions
Cumorah Academy: You guys have done some activities that literally took the students out of their chairs. Would you say that to inspire and motivate people we need to get out of our comfort zone? Why?
Mindi: Well, I think to motivate people to act, you need to push them out of their comfort zone. Growth often comes with discomfort. However, to inspire individuals, you need to establish a connection with them through a reason, a story, or something. That can emotionally motivate them to make a change. For instance, when I introduced the questions, like the 36 questions that facilitate deeper connections, it wouldn’t have resonated as strongly if I hadn’t shared a story about a woman meeting a guy in a bar and trying out these questions.
Without the story, people may not have been able to relate or understand the purpose behind them. However, when a story is shared, everyone can grasp its significance. For example, someone who has experienced multiple breakups can easily relate and think, “Yeah, I’m not that good at relationships either.” This connection with the story then motivates and inspires them to understand why it is important. As a result, people become uncomfortable because they are now challenged to try it out. Or take action to improve, and that discomfort is typically expected.
The Cumorah Academy Program
Shad: I think this is why online schooling is great—it provides opportunities. However, to truly transform your mindset and enhance your abilities, you need to practice and apply those skills. Programs like Cumorah Academy take individuals out of their familiar surroundings and immerse them in a unique environment. It allows for experimentation with different techniques and the application of skills acquired online or throughout their upbringing. You take charge of your learning, becoming an active learner instead of a passive recipient of knowledge.
At Cumorah Academy, it’s evident that everyone embraces this approach. While mentors offer words of wisdom and share their experiences, the focus is on individuals exploring new ideas and acting. It’s about trying new things, stepping out of comfort zones, and embracing experimentation. This shift from a passive mindset to an active one yields remarkable results, fostering the development of future leaders.
In summary, Cumorah Academy students are shining examples of the power of inspiration and motivation in personal growth. They embrace the Cumorah Academy’s unique approach as a laboratory where they experiment and apply these skills. Through captivating stories and compelling reasons, they step out of their comfort zones and embrace discomfort. These young absorb experiences, knowledge, and growth to become better leaders. Together, they form a community fueled by inspiration and a relentless pursuit of personal growth.