By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
Morris Morrison, a Fairmont native, nationally known motivational speaker and entrepreneur, urged business leaders in the community to always strive for excellence.
He was the guest speaker during First Exchange Bank’s 19th annual Groundhog Day Breakfast Friday morning. The free event, held at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in Fairmont’s I-79 Technology Park, had a near-record crowd of more than 250 people. This year’s theme was “Forecasting Your Success.”
Morrison, owner of The Morris Morrison Development Group LLC, kept the audience entertained and inspired by talking about his own life and telling tales of lessons learned. During his high-energy presentation, he offered advice on how individuals can position themselves for success.
Originally from New York City, Morrison was left an orphan as a baby after his birth parents died. When he was around 1 year old, he went to live with his adoptive parents in Fairmont, where he grew up. He later lost his adoptive parents as a teen.
When Morrison was 15 years old, he visited the woman who raised him — whom he called his grandmother and “his angel” — at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown for the last time before she passed away. He held her hand and promised her that he would be successful and do something with his life.
Morrison became dedicated to doing everything he could to keep that promise.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Fairmont State, where he got a chance to play basketball and served as student body president and president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He went on to obtain his master’s degree from WVU and to work for companies like Equitable Resources, BB&T Bank and Pfizer Inc. He now lives in Lake Norman, N.C.
Morrison credits the state for the skill sets he learned and the business success he has achieved, and praised West Virginia’s colleges and universities for producing good products.
“West Virginia has a level of pride unlike any other state I’ve ever seen,” he said.
He said businesses that are thriving today have strong leadership and a positive work culture, and also welcome change. Morrison told the audience members at the breakfast that in order to see business success, they have to keep growing personally and professionally.
“When you commit to excellence, it changes everything,” he said.
Individuals should use their gifts to help their community and follow their instincts, which will help lead to business growth, Morrison said. He encouraged the crowd members to surround themselves with people who inspire them.
“Powerful things happen when we associate ourselves with the right people,” he said.
Morrison told the story of meeting his other grandmother for the first time just five months before he married his wife, Lisa. He said getting to hug his grandmother that day was one of the most powerful moments of his life, and he was able to dance with her at his wedding.
Morrison explained that his two grandmother figures had actually communicated years ago and put their differences aside to work together to support him. Just like that, business leaders must also come together to make Marion County and West Virginia strong, he said.
President and CEO Bill Goettel talked about some of First Exchange Bank’s keys to business success.
For more than 81 years, the bank has been working hard to meet customers’ needs, he said. The financial institution offers a complete line of products and services, and its employees have positive, can-do attitudes.
First Exchange bank has office locations throughout Marion, Monongalia and Wetzel counties, and will also be adding a mobile app later this year.
“As a community bank, we are looking to meet the needs of the communities we serve in everyday life,” Goettel said.
Bill Yoho, vice chairman of First Exchange Bank’s board of directors, said communication and asking the right questions are essential to achieving financial success and other goals in life.
The bank’s slogan “In Real Life” focuses on customers. If clients are pleased with the banking services, First Exchange Bank is able to grow, he said.
Yoho said the financial institution’s employees live and work in the community and help others. The bank has financed a wide array of loans for projects, homes and vehicles.
“We want to be a part of your success,” he said.
Email Jessica Borders at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.