Professional Q&A: David Morris
I’ve had the privilege of knowing David Morris, Chief Operating Officer of NeoInsulation, for just over a year now. He mentions in his answers his focus on getting good at getting better. I’ve seen that in action as he and I have been in a continuing education environment together. He truly lives what he shares below. Let’s learn David’s background, what drives him, and what he likes about Edmond.
Q: Do you live in Edmond, work in Edmond, or both?
A: I live in Edmond. My family moved to Edmond from Houston in 1983 when I was 7. In 1999, my wife and I moved away, but came back in 2009 and have been here ever since.
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school?
A: I grew up in the neighborhood around Fink Park (5th and Rankin). While that area has turned into a “hot” part of Edmond, when I was a kid, it was very quiet, and there weren’t many other kids or young families in the neighborhood. My parents still live in the house we moved into in 1984.
After we moved to Edmond, I started mid-first semester of second grade at OCS. I went to OCS all the way through graduation and then attended Oklahoma State.
Q: What did you do before joining NeoInsulation?
A: I’ve had a very non-linear career. My first jobs were in HR and Recruiting, and then I spent almost a decade living in St. Louis, working for a local church during and after graduate school. As my family grew and the demands of life started to shift, we recognized we were ready to get back to Oklahoma.
When we moved back in early 2009, Chesapeake was the hottest company in town. Because of my extensive teaching background in the church, I was offered a position in training in leadership development. I spent four amazing years at Chesapeake and made some great friends who I still keep up with today.
In 2013, I accepted a position at Weir-Mathena in El Reno. Mathena is where my career really took off. I ended up in the role of Director of Operations Support, where I oversaw HR, Training, Health and Safety, Field Quality, Fleet, and all of our Process Improvement initiatives. I’m motivated by learning new things, so the variety of that job was a blast. I’m not sure I’ve ever been around a more impressive leadership team than the group I served with at Mathena. I spent three years in management meetings wondering why in the world they allowed a fraud like me to be in the room with them (and I still don’t know the answer to that question). During this time, I began to understand how a business runs and what’s required to succeed. I was blessed with a front-row seat to watch excellence in action and learn the daily habits that lead to achievement.
In mid-2016, the former CEO of Mathena asked me to join him as he was starting a boutique consulting firm, JM2 Capital. I always thought I would enjoy being a consultant and jumped at the chance. The focus of our business was providing growth strategy and process improvement for small to mid-sized businesses. This job allowed me to spend my days with CEOs and business owners from all types of industries. It furthered my understanding of what made a business succeed (or fail) while also scratching my itch for learning. I learned how to assimilate information quickly, sifting through data and rapidly distilling out the critical from the tangential. That’s a skill I still rely on today.
Q: How did you get involved with NeoInsulation?
A: While I loved consulting, I recognized that I didn’t love being a consultant. My wife says that I’m not happy unless I’m in charge, and you’re never in charge when you’re a consultant. The company I work for now was a client of mine at JM2. After working with them for two-plus years in that capacity, the owner invited me to come in full time. I already loved the product, the people, and the potential of the company. It was a difficult decision to leave JM2, but I saw a rare chance to have a direct impact on the future of an exciting company. I joined NeoInsulation full-time in August 2018 in my current role.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I’m wired to be motivated by new challenges, which running a growing small business is full of. Depending on the day, you’ll find me on the road selling to customers, designing improvements to field operations, trying to open an office in a new region, negotiating potential partnerships, overseeing manufacturing and product development, recruiting new employees, and working on strategic growth projects. It’s a bit of a whirlwind, but almost never boring. I have a team spread out around the country, so I spend a good bit of time in airports.
As with all of the jobs I’ve had, the thing I enjoy most is the team I get to work with. NeoInsulation is a unique culture where it truly feels like we’re all pulling in the same direction. It’s easy to lead an organization when it’s full of hard-working, smart people who believe in the mission of the company. They make me look good.
Q: What’s something you’re passionate about in your personal life?
A: At the risk of coming across as cliché, I’m most passionate about my faith and my family.
In high school, I played the position of Center on our football team. The thing I liked about that position was that I was the only offensive player who touched the football on every play. The offense literally couldn’t run unless I did my job. I think of my Christian faith in much the same way. It is the core belief system that enables everything I do, from family, to work, to friendships, and other passions and pursuits in my life.
I can’t overstate how much my family means to me. I have failed as a husband and father in innumerable ways yet continue to be met by grace and love. My wife is one of the most lovely human beings God ever created and continues to be the best partner in life I could imagine. She continually shapes me and calls me into more as a man and leader. I actually really like my kids. I have four of them ranging from 12 to 18, and I think they are the most interesting and amazing people I know. Knowing what a jack-up I’ve been as a father, I am constantly humbled by their strength of character and all they accomplish. As a bonus, I think they’re all hilarious.
On the more boring side, my wife and I run marathons together, and I love weightlifting (the gym is my fantasy land where I pretend I’m still in my mid-teens rather than my mid-40s). Also, many years ago, it connected with me that everyone I admire is a reader, so I’ve tried to adopt that habit and usually have 3 or 4 books going at a time on a wide range of topics.
Q: What do you like about Edmond?
A: When I was a kid, I rolled my eyes every time my parents told me that Edmond is a great place to raise a family. Now I tell my kids the same thing. It’s a place that’s big enough to have everything you need, but still small enough that you see someone you know everywhere you go. It’s the perfect blend.
Q: What is your number one tip for other professionals, either for work or life in general?
A: I have often said that the most difficult person I work with every day is myself. I can be guilty of taking myself way too seriously and having ridiculously high expectations. For many years, I was obsessed with being “the best” at whatever I did. As I found myself facing more and more things that I wasn’t prepared for or hadn’t done in the past, it was threatening to my sense of identity.
Recently, I’ve been focusing on this phrase: get good at getting better. I’ve recognized that the desire to be the best can actually hinder me from taking risks and trying new things. A focus on getting better, however, shifts things for me. I don’t have to master everything I do; rather, I can continually develop and improve my competence in anything I do.
Getting better – personally or as an organization – comes down to two things: having the right mindset and building momentum. I now try to start new tasks by asking two questions: Can I engage in this activity with a focus on learning and growing, rather than the pressure of having to be the best? And, can I break this down into smaller accomplishments that build a sense of progress (momentum)?
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About Tim Priebe
Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.
Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.