Impacting Lives Through the Arts - Meet Jennifer Morris

john cunningham member spotlight organization development sacred 6 Aug 20, 2021

By John Cunningham

Jennifer Morris has been a member of the MorningCoach since 2017. As the owner of Siegel Artist Management, she applies Sacred 6 to not only her personal life but also her business. Enabling her to develop the next generation of leaders to move Siegel from their 50th anniversary, which they are celebrating this year, to 75 and beyond.

John Cunningham: Tell us a little about yourself.

Jennifer Morris: I’ve been working in performing arts for more than 30 years and have been with Siegel Artist Management since 1998 becoming sole owner in 2016 after the death of the last remaining partner. 

Being a non-traditional student, and not quite sure about what I wanted to do I thought about what my place was.I loved people, liked music and followed opportunities toward that path.

I was working and going to school and found an internship at a local ballet company. I started managing the database when the Artistic Director and the Managing Director quit. Then the interim Managing Director hired me to manage marketing and touring. I told them I had six months left to complete my degree, and they gave me the keys to the building. They told me to work whenever I wanted. That was my entry into the arts.  

I spent 2017-2020 rebuilding my team and we are celebrating 50 years in 2021. It’s amazing to reflect that when Ethel Siegel set up her office in her daughter’s bedroom after her daughter went away to college that she was setting up a legacy company. I think a lot about my role as a leader in making sure that the company is poised to see its 75th anniversary. I raised an amazing daughter on my own after an early starter marriage and now enjoying being Yaya to my grandson.

Incorporating the Sacred 6 has allowed me to continue to grow and stretch the parameters of the business.

I have a tendency to take on too much and I’m learning that life/work balance should look more like the scales of justice and less like a seesaw. I love coaching my sales team, working with my artists and business coaching colleagues in my field. This year we launched Beyond Booking. Beyond Booking is training and industry expertise. It's open to any artist or arts organization. We provide expertise they might not always have access to, assisting people in the performing arts to build their skill sets and strengthen their organizations. This allows them to operate at levels they never even considered possible before. We also held our first intensive courses. It’s been very rewarding, and we’ll offer more training and coaching in the future.

JC: How did you find MorningCoach®? 

JM: In spring of 2017 I stumbled on JB via Hay House Radio from there I moved to the MorningCoach® podcast, then attending an event and now in GIDN Coaching.

JC: How has MorningCoach helped you?

JM: I would have to say the concepts in Sacred Six have had the biggest impact. They help me to keep my priorities front and center, and keep me focused and mindful of how I spend my time. Additionally, when I was rebuilding my team, I required everyone on the team to do their own Sacred Six for their personal and professional lives. We then reviewed those together to see where we were or were not in alignment. This has been crucial to keeping everyone focused on Siegel’s mission. It’s also a reminder that big, hairy audacious goals are possible.

JC: It is rare that a company’s mission and passion is ingrained in the culture, but you seem to have achieved that.

JM: Yes, We all do Sacred 6 and we review the mission plan and core values then decide if they are still valid at every annual meeting. Incorporating the Sacred 6 has allowed me to continue to grow and stretch the parameters of the business. With this at the core, I trusted that I was on the right track and that things would organically take care of themselves, and they did.

 JB’s programs help to ground me in my priorities and realign me when I’m out of balance.

Combining metaphysical and analytical is how I am able to manage and keep the ship afloat, be it as a team or on an individual level for me and the people I work with. Having alignment in fundamentals is what allows the company to continue to grow from generation to generation

As a result, everyone has bought into better together not just our admin but also the artist. When choosing a new artist, my criteria is simple: Got to love it. Got to believe we can do something for the artist. Got to be someone I would invite to my house at Thanksgiving and they have to be manageable. If we love it we can sell it. It’s that simple. 

JC: How have you grown in the past year? 

JM: I went into overdrive and got creative with each artist on my roster and spent a lot of time with them individually pushing them to set and reach new artistic goals. I’ve also gotten serious about my fitness, finances, and carving out more free time.

JC: What keeps you here? 

JM: JB’s programs help to ground me in my priorities and realigns me when I’m out of balance. Also, I’ve connected with other people in the MC community who have encouraged me, inspired me and motivated me to explore new ideas. 

JC: What is one thing that is holding you back from achieving success?

JM: Consistency and prioritization. I have to hire someone, so I can focus on the meaningful work and not just the menial.

JC: What do you do to overcome that?

JM: I am very good about staying on task for work and business, but personally there are ebbs and flows. What I’d really like is a more consistent flow. I do all I can to create accountability and a support system like workout partners and my accountability triad. 

JC: What is one piece of business advice that has stuck with you?

JM: That one is tough. My team teases me about “Jenny-ism’s” all the time so there’s not really one piece of advice. It’s more what I’ve learned: “be authentic, have integrity.” If everything flows from there you will be less likely to find yourself in situations where you would second guess yourself. Knowing where your edges are helps to identify your hard no’s and deal breakers almost immediately.

JC: What is a book that guides you?

JM: Too many to list as they’re stepping stones along the path. The ones I continually use or listen to: Sacred Six, Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. I listen to a lot of lectures and podcasts too. 

JC: What is something you are working on right now?

JM: Financial organization, setting up systems to stay organized and improving my financial literacy. I’ve also cleaned up my diet to lose my COVID-19 pounds. I’m a stress eater. I enjoyed a lot of pie: cream pie and berry pies. I also ate too much chocolate while sheltering in place. I’m back to the gym, running and embracing vegetables. I have discovered that at my age vitamins and supplements like flaxseed oil and fish oil make a real difference in my physical health, focus and mental clarity. 

JC: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

JM: I would encourage anyone who works with teams to use Sacred Six for your company. It is a great tool for on-boarding, and I have an amazing, well integrated team because of it. We read aloud our Sacred Six core values, mission statement and the first page of our business plan of “whys” at the beginning of every annual meeting. How we work so well together is head-scratching to my colleagues. We’ve seen other agencies attempt to work together and fail within 2-4 years. We KNOW the Sacred Six is the step they missed in deciding to work together. 

The final thing I’d like to share with you is the impact of our artists:

One of the things that reinforces our mission is when we see the impact of what we do on a community, particularly in arts and education. I work with an artist, Janet Ivey, who has a STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) camp and astronaut academy. 

To see how that has grown and the community… When COVID hit, she started doing Daily Dose of Science for an hour everyday because kids did not have anywhere to go. At first she did it for free while she worked out the technology. During that time, she built a list of more than 300 parents. Once the schools started getting their homeschooling programs together, Janet considered canceling the program, However, a core group of parents asked her to continue even if she had to charge for it. They pleaded that it was making such a difference in their childrens’ lives that she had to find a way to continue. 

Some could afford to pay and others couldn’t. Janet decided to continue the program collecting from those that could pay and offering scholarships to the families that couldn’t. The kids came up with a name, Janet’s Planet Emporium of Science & Wonder. This core of families became the base of a community. Seeing that impact, we turned this into one of our offerings.

Those nine core families spent a month Air B&Bing this summer (2021), so their kids could be together and do four weeks of science camp in person with Janet as she toured her program. One of the girls is select mute, and because of this program she has started talking. This child is beginning to blossom because she found her people. 

Janet has another program, A Daily Dose of Science. In one of the Zoom meetings a 17-year-old girl from India asked such smart questions that the Rocket Scientist being interviewed emailed Janet to ask if they could mentor this girl. That's not the only instance of Janet's influence. There are 14 year-olds getting internships at aerospace companies because of her efforts to put these programs out and engage kids. There are kids that will have their Jr. pilot’s licenses before they have their driver's licenses. That is the really cool thing when you see the hearts and the minds changing.

JC: You love people and like music, this has led to some amazing success in your life; not just for you but the world around you, too. That’s impact.

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