What are the characteristics of a good leader? In this first episode of the Here We Grow podcast, host Marcia Barnes dives deep into the mind of Jim Morris, a renowned mission-driven servant leader with strong ties to Indiana University and a personal mission to stop childhood hunger. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable leadership insights from a true trailblazer.
To learn more about the podcast and Marcia Barnes’ book Here We Grow: The Marketing Formula to 10x Your Business and Transform Your Future, visit https://mathbeforemarketing.com/podcast/.
- Takeaway One: Real change happens when we know and trust each other. Start by developing relationships with people from different backgrounds and nurturing them throughout life.
- Takeaway Two: A humble servant leader balances self-esteem while serving others. Recognize and value the strengths of others, fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment.
- Takeaway Three: Being mission-driven means working towards a greater purpose. Embrace partnerships, foster positive relationships, and invest in the community to create lasting impact.
About Our Guest
Jim Morris is currently Vice Chairman of Pacers Sports Entertainment Inc. A native Hoosier, Mr. Morris is a highly recognized local, national, and global leader with corporate, civic, and non-profit roles.
After graduating from Indiana University, Mr. Morris served as chief of staff for Senator Richard Lugar during his mayoral term in Indianapolis. During this period, he earned an MBA from Butler University.
He then served for 16 years as president of the Lilly Endowment. He was also chairman and chief executive officer of IWC Resources Corporation and Indianapolis Water Company.
Mr. Morris has served as executive director of the world’s largest humanitarian agency, the United Nations World Food Programme through 2007. He continues to serve as the United States permanent representative to the Executive Board of UNICEF.
His public and private service includes many other roles including:
- Indiana University – Trustee and Board Chairman
- Indiana State University – Trustee and Board Chairman
- Boy Scouts of America – National Advisory Board
- U.S. Olympic Committee Treasurer
- Riley Children’s Foundation – Chair of Board
- IU Foundation – Member
- The International Center – Member Board of Directors (International Center)
Jim Morris has received many honors and Valve+Meter was greatly honored to share in his experience and wisdom.
Jump into the conversation**:**
[00:00:00] Leader’s mindset: love, serve, win, guide.
[00:04:13] His mother’s example taught Jim Morris kindness and compassion.
[00:19:46] Relationships and trust are key to success.
[00:39:30] Lessons from Mr. Lilly on faith, generosity, and community focus.
[00:47:56] Feeding and educating children changes lives.
[0:00:05] Marcia Barnes: A leader’s mindset is, “I love you.” “I’m here for you.” “We’re going to win together.” “How can I help you?” “I’m motivated to serve.” When you can establish that love and serve clearly, people give you permission to lead them. Once you have permission to lead, you’ll get so much more done than you would by trying to manage people.
You really can’t serve others without having a certain amount of humility as a leader. God gave us dominion over creation, not one another. Transformational leaders concentrate on having dominion over work, not people. When you approach leadership with humility, it’s easier to see the value in others and to guide their developmental path around the areas in which they’re strong. You learn about the people you lead, see them as a whole person and a whole job, and value how they’re created and what they’re capable of doing.
You want to learn from your team members and give them opportunities to teach you. Some view humility in business as allowing yourself to be walked over. I view it as a continuum. On one side, you have the person who says, “I know everything and can do it all myself. I’m the boss and you all report to me. I am entitled to have your respect.” This person has unhealthy self-esteem.
On the far opposite side, you have the person who says, “I’m not worthy. I never do anything right. I don’t want to try this again because I made mistakes the last time and failed.” This person has unhealthy low self-esteem. Neither of these mindsets work for leadership.
In the middle of this continuum, you have the transformational leader. This person flawlessly balances self-esteem and is a humble servant leader. They believe they are perfectly created to deliver value and serve others while moving their business forward. They know they have what it takes to win today and past experience will help them do the same in the future. Transformational leaders are always continuing to learn and develop themselves not to move up in the business, but to serve others.
[0:02:16] Announcer: This Is Here We Grow, a show for growth-minded leaders looking for transformational impact. Hosted by Macia Barnes. True leadership comes from a mindset of helping others reach their potential rather than focusing on one’s own gain.
In this episode of Here We Grow, we speak to Jim Morris, who exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader as the Vice Chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment and the Chairman of the Board of Governors for Riley Children’s Foundation. In their conversation, Jim and Marcia discuss the transformational growth that is possible when leaders focus on helping others reach their full potential.
[0:02:59] Marcia Barnes: Today, we have my good friend, Jim Morris, stopping by to talk with us about connecting people, and relationships, and leadership, and all the things that you’re very wise about, Jim. Just kind of remind people, Jim is the current Vice Chair of the board at the Pacers Entertainment, right?
[0:03:16] Jim Morris: That’s correct.
[0:03:17] Marcia Barnes: And then, in your past, you worked with Dick Luger. You were his Chief of Staff. You ran the Lilly Foundation for several years. Sports Corp is kind of your creation. You were heavily involved in that as well. Worked with the UN on the World Hunger Program for several years. Today, you hang out with the Pacers all day. Big background.
[0:03:37] Jim Morris: Yeah. Well, I’ve been a lucky guy. Lots of good opportunities have come my way. And I’ve been fortunate to work with a good number of remarkable, really quite extraordinary people. And maybe I’ve been the glue that helped hold it together. But more often than not, the brilliance came from others.
[0:03:59] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. I know that you originally are from Terre Haute, right?
[0:04:03] Jim Morris: Yes.
[0:04:04] Marcia Barnes: And you were raised by your mother?
[0:04:06] Jim Morris: Yes.
[0:04:07] Marcia Barnes: Is there something that your mother taught you that’s been the big thing you carried forward in your adult career?
[0:04:14] Jim Morris: Well, I think, more often than not, you learn by watching, and listening and by example. My mother, it was just the two of us for most of our lives growing up. She worked very hard. She was a lovely lady. Nice to everyone. She worked at Indiana State University and the registrar’s admissions office for most of her career. And I think always had that special interest or drive to be as helpful as she could be to young students who needed some help or needed a boost. And I watched her be a very loving, caring, good person.
[0:05:00] Marcia Barnes: Well, you have taken that forward a long way, Jim. She must be very proud. Yeah.
[0:05:06] Jim Morris: Well, she passed away a good number of years ago. And I think the older, you get you maybe spend more time thinking about your parents and what they meant to you. How hard they worked. How they wanted to make a difference in your life. And often, you don’t express the gratitude while they’re still with us. And I’m very thoughtful about what my mother did for me. And I suppose I wish I would have done a better job of telling her that.
[0:05:37] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. Often, we get caught up in the day-to-day, right? And we don’t tell the people that are closest to us what we really think.
[0:05:44] Jim Morris: Yep. That’s correct.
[0:05:45] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. But not an easy job in those days to raise a child and be the income earner as well, right?
[0:05:50] Jim Morris: Right. Yup.
[0:05:52] Marcia Barnes: That’s commendable too. I think that’s probably where you get your huge respect for women in leadership too.
[0:05:58] Jim Morris: Well, she worked very hard to make life good for us and I’m sure sacrificed a lot for me.
[0:06:06] Marcia Barnes: Yeah.
[0:06:07] Jim Morris: Very grateful.
[0:06:07] Marcia Barnes: Yeah.
[0:06:09] Jim Morris: I think about her every day.
[0:06:10] Marcia Barnes: Oh, absolutely. Your wife, Jackie, and you have been together a long, long time. Two kids.
[0:06:16] Jim Morris: Three.
[0:06:17] Marcia Barnes: Three kids, eight grandkids, right?
[0:06:18] Jim Morris: Right. We’ve been married 58 years.
[0:06:20] Marcia Barnes: 58 years. Wow. You either are really in love or you don’t like to quit things, Jim.
[0:06:27] Jim Morris: Well, we’re really in love. And certainly, probably the best thing that ever happened to me was we had a blind date at IU. That was when I was beginning of my sophomore year. She was a couple of years ahead of me at IU. And we’ve been together ever since. Great.
[0:06:47] Marcia Barnes: Wow. Yeah.
[0:06:48] Jim Morris: And we have three kids. They all went to IU. They all married IU spouses. We have eight grandchildren. Four have now graduated from college. Only one from IU. We have another granddaughter at IU now, and we have a granddaughter at Butler. Then, we have a junior in high school at Brébeuf and a seventh grader. He’s 12. Incredible golfer.
But Tim, our oldest son, his three girls went to Belmont Wheaton in Miami. The oldest is a singer-songwriter of Christian music in Nashville. Exciting stuff. The second is a youth pastor at a church in Long Beach, California. And the third is in the advertising business in Dallas.
[0:07:48] Marcia Barnes: Awesome.
[0:07:49] Jim Morris: Proud of them.
[0:07:50] Marcia Barnes: Yeah, absolutely. You’re reproducing a lot of faith-based leaders there too, aren’t you?
[0:07:56] Jim Morris: The first to graduate from IU is in the sales and advertising business in Chicago. And he just graduated this year. We’re following him daily.
[0:08:08] Marcia Barnes: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, it goes by really quick, doesn’t it?
[0:08:13] Jim Morris: Yes, it does. Yeah.
[0:08:14] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. The little ones, you’ve got any more that you think will get to go to Indiana? I know that’s been a project for you.
[0:08:19] Jim Morris: Well, I hope that the two boys that are still in – one in junior and one in the seventh grade. I hope both of them will go to IU. The junior – both good students. He’s on the football team at Brébeuf. Center on the team now. And as I said, the 12-year-old is a phenomenal golfer. We’ll see where all that leads.
[0:08:45] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. That’s awesome. You know, Jim, I’ve always really found it quite commendable the depth that you go into to make this a great city and to make sure that all of our people are having the best experience possible. You’ve been involved in Boy Scouts, Wheeler Mission, Gleaners. You were in charge of the Lilly Foundation for many years. What is it that you’re paying attention to today? What takes up most of your mental space?
[0:09:12] Jim Morris: Well, I’m 80 years old and I find myself asking the question, “What should you be doing at age 80?” Certainly, different than when you were 25, 45, or 55. You still have the same interests, drive, and passion to make things better and to help things grow and be built. But I think the best thing you can do now is to be thoughtful, share your experience with young people coming along, to be as helpful and encouraging and offering a boost to those to have responsibilities and opportunities now.
I’m still with Pacer Sports and Entertainment. We have the most remarkable owner in all of professional sports in Herb Simon. He bought the Pacers with his brother Mel for all the right reasons. They love this community. They felt gratitude to the community and have every day wanted to do things that were helpful and move things ahead.
But they’ve assembled a remarkable team of people from our President, Rick Fuson, who’s been with the company 40 years. Brilliant. His passion for the city, his attention to detail, and his creativity. Now this is on the business side of the company. Not the basketball side.
I have a brilliant lady by the name of Mel Raines, who’s President of Operations, and an equally bright guy. President of – we call it Revenue, I guess. Todd Taylor. But they have been successful and much of the credit for this goes to Donna Wilkinson, who has been our HR, Senior VP. Duke undergrad, Vanderbilt MBA. She’s done a brilliant job of recruiting people who see the big picture.
I always say, “See their opportunities in their largest context.” People who want to win basketball games and give great basketball to our fans in our city and our state, but also, understand that the big picture is that we’re building a community. Building a entity that brings people together, that reduces adversarial relationships, that inspires kids.
If our athletes and our coaches do their jobs well, they really uplift, encourage, inspire young people. Boys and girls both. They set the standard for other coaches, and coaches are among the most important people in a young person’s life. They’re teachers. They’re youth workers and they love their sport. Oftentimes, a young person will spend more time with his or her coach than anyone else spends with them.
I see the opportunity. And I think our HR people and our senior staff have done a really good job of exemplifying or being the model for seeing your opportunity in its largest context. And our opportunity is bringing people together and reducing adversarial relationships. Black, white, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat, you want the Pacers, and the Colts, and the Fever, and the Indians to do well.
[0:13:07] Marcia Barnes: That’s a good point.
[0:13:08] Jim Morris: It builds community. And there’ll be a story in every paper in the world the next morning after we have a game. And it enhances our city’s reputation.
[0:13:19] Marcia Barnes: Well, just what happened in March Madness in 2021. The work that you and your cohorts have done to build this as a sports city. If that hadn’t happened, we’d have never had that opportunity to host the tournament.
[0:13:32] Jim Morris: 2021 was truly among the most extraordinary things that any City ever produced. I had very little to do with it. But the Indiana Sports Corporation and the organizing committee, which is a part of the Sports Corporation, given COVID, there was great concern, consternation, and uncertainty what would happen to the men’s final four. And it was ultimately decided that every one of the 67 games would be played in Indianapolis or within a few miles of Indianapolis.
The entire tournament in the middle of COVID was held here. Televised every game. And the way our community rallied to wash clothes, provide meals, and drive people, it was a consummate volunteer effort. But it was done by a community that had had enough experience to pull it together to know how to do it, but actually did it superbly well and made an NCAA tournament possible that year.
[0:14:46] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. It would have been looked at as next to impossible to have the result that you did with that or they did with that. And you say you didn’t do it. But the Colts, the Pacers, the Sports Corp, all those things are things you’ve had your hand in over the years.
[0:15:01] Jim Morris: But there are lots of hands in the pot. And I’ve been fortunate, really fortunate to work with, over the years, hundreds of people but specifically, 25, 30, 40 friends that had an enormous commitment to helping Indianapolis become a more caring, more respected, more successful city.
And we loved our friendship and we loved our partnership mentality. We represented all the dualisms of the time. But what a gift it was to be able to focus on building a great university, building a great downtown, building a tremendous cultural life. The same can be said for sports. And all the time with an enormous commitment to the downtown, to the university, and to young people.
[0:16:01] Marcia Barnes: Right. Yeah. It’s a remarkable, remarkable city and sports culture, for sure. And several other parts of that too. Being able to host the Super Bowl a few years ago was kind of a precursor to know we could do March Madness. Because we could pull off that type of an event. We pull off the greatest spectacle in racing every year every year, right?
[0:16:20] Jim Morris: Every year. And, of course, we did the sports festival. We did the Pan American Games. 40,000 volunteers. An event almost as big as the Olympic Games and for a small city, which we are in the largest context. I suppose the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, well over a hundred years old now, gave us confidence that we could at least put our toe on the water and begin to think about trying to do things of this magnitude.
I mean, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway owned by an incredible family, the Hulman family, loved the sport, loved the city, loved the state. Were unselfish. Great humility. And then we had the good fortune to have Roger Penske buy the enterprise. And he bought the enterprise for the same reason. He loved the city, but he loved the sport. And he knew this was the single most important facility race competition in all of automobile racing.
And it is the single largest sporting event in the world. And we have it every year. Lasts almost a month. Roger has now put additional races in place. The place never looked better. But there’s a partnership mentality with the state, with the city, with the 500 festival, with all the racing teams, with the brilliant leadership of Mark Miles and Allison Melangton, Doug Boles. And of course, Roger Penske himself is the most attentive to detail and doing things right for all the right reasons.
It does set the bar pretty high for everything else that has followed in our city. But when we had the Pan American Games, the speedway, the Hulman family said, “Hey, why don’t you have the opening ceremony out here? We’ll give you our facility and it’ll be a great place where you can have a huge crowd. We want to be a part of that.” And that’s the spirit that causes greatness to occur.
[0:18:38] Marcia Barnes: Right. I heard that Roger Penske on the year when they were going to let people come back in during COVID. But they were going to test everybody that was coming into the race. They were going to give them the COVID test. He personally took 18 different COVID tests to figure out what the customer experience was. Because he wanted to understand what we were going to ask every single attendee to do.
[0:19:01] Jim Morris: Yeah.
[0:19:01] Marcia Barnes: It’s remarkable servant leadership in my opinion.
[0:19:05] Jim Morris: A remarkably good man. Honorable. Decent. Smart as a whip. And will always do things right.
[0:19:12] Marcia Barnes: Right.
When you think of the people and the relationships that you’ve cultivated over the years, how do you think of relationships? The value of relationship? How to make a meaningful relationship with someone? I guess I’m asking you how do you be friends? But you’re just known as such a connector of people and someone who cultivates great relationships. What does your process look like? Maybe process is not the right word. Or habits might be the better choice.
[0:19:47] Jim Morris: Well, I’ve been very fortunate. I went to Indiana University and had four great years there. Married a great lady. I’ve had great family, friends. I worked for a remarkable guy by the name of Dick Lugar who felt that you could find common ground with anyone if you made an effort. That it would be hard to find somebody if you worked at it, you couldn’t get along with.
Then, I have to say, at IU, and then for many years, I had the chance to know Herman Wells and to watch him build friendships both for himself, but for the university and ultimately for the state and for all the things he cared about.
I’m 80. And if you reach out and are committed to developing relationships with all sorts of people, often people who come from very different backgrounds from which you came, if you make some good friends, and some acquaintances and some partners when you’re 21, and you make an effort to stay in touch, nurture those relationships, repeat it when you’re 22, and continue to repeat it every year until you’re 80, you end up knowing a heck of a lot of people. And it becomes an enormous blessing in your life. Real change in the world, I think, only takes place when people know each other and have some degree of trust.
If you start off working on simple things, small things, then you make progress, and you get acquainted, and you begin to trust, and like, and enjoy, and that strengthens every year, by the time you’re in your middle 40s, you’ve got a cadre of folks you can really – number one, you enjoy doing things together. And you know each other well enough. And you begin to have a great deal of trust and there’s no substitute.
[0:21:58] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. I think the other thing I see you do is you never start the relationship to get something. You start a relationship to find out how you can help someone. And that I think can be a barrier for a lot of people to get authentic relationships because they want a relationship with someone so that they can get. And until you find out how you can serve, it’s hard to receive, you know?
[0:22:21] Jim Morris: Well, I think I often said to young people you ought to spend 20% or 25% of your time just building relationships. And often, for no other purpose than enjoyment, and to have friends, and to have associates that you like to do things together. You enjoy being with.
Often, those relationships are focused on common interests and people who care about building a great city, people who care about not wanting a single child to be hungry, people who share their faith. They enjoy their families. Some of our best friends have come through common things our kids were doing. They were in Cub Scouts together or Little League Baseball. And the parents get friendly. And the kids become friendly. And then the grandkids become friendly.
It’s really not very complicated. And it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t trade my friends. In our house, we say thank God for faith, family, friends, community, and vocation. And I believe that.
[0:23:42] Marcia Barnes: Yeah, that’s beautiful. Your relationships have kind of helped create a path for you over the years into different experiences. But as a Hoosier in Indianapolis, you’ve had some great experiences here and then you get dropped into the United Nations World Hunger Program and moved to Rome for eight years, was it?
[0:24:02] Jim Morris: Five.
[0:24:04] Marcia Barnes: Five years. To work on solving world hunger, right? What was that like?
[0:24:11] Jim Morris: What was that like? So, President Bush had initially invited me to be the US ambassador to the three UN Rome-based food agencies. Jackie and I went through Ambassador training for two weeks at the State Department in 2002, and at the end of the 2-week experience, which you’re required to do to be confirmed as a US ambassador, I was sort of summoned to the seventh floor of the State Department and said, “Jim, how would you like to be nominated by the United States to lead the United Nations World Food Program?” Which was one of the three food-based agencies I was going to be the ambassador to.
I was sort of overwhelmed, amazed. In fact, probably nothing in my life had prepared me to deal with the hunger issue. Now as soon as I say that, to be a person that has huge responsibilities dealing with world hunger, with almost a billion people hungry in the world, feeding people in 120 countries, especially a commitment to women and children, incredible logistical operation. An incredible fundraising responsibility. Trying to understand the difficulty and challenges of the issues involved. I mean, it was a brand-new world for me.
[0:25:51] Marcia Barnes: Right.
[0:25:52] Jim Morris: Now, I’d had a responsibility managing large numbers of people and large budgets. I’d had fundraising responsibilities. And I had a wonderful tutor in Dick Lugar who cared deeply about the problems of young people who were vulnerable and at risk. I had the same kind of experience with a great man by the name of Dick Ristine, who I worked with at the Lilly Endowment.
And then had been on the periphery of humanitarian issues in a very small way. The World Food Program, 18,000 employees, a multi-billion-dollar budget, offices in 100-plus countries. The same time the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is a magnificent human being from Ghana. Such a great person. Humble, smart, but honorable. Asked me to be the Secretary General’s special envoy for seven countries in Southern Africa. Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia.
And that was a time when the HIV pandemic was just enormous. There was an incredible drought right across Southern Africa. And these were places that were struggling in many respects from the beginning. I did that as well as helping to run the United Nations World Food Program. But there were thousands of people. Some international servants, some locally based, who were so passionate. There are few things in the world that people agree on. Like, they agree on the notion that no child should be hungry.
[0:27:50] Marcia Barnes: Right.
[0:27:52] Jim Morris: You had this well-prepared, passionate, driven, smart group of folks who were there to get the work done. My job was to encourage them, to support them, to see that they were treated fairly, that they had good benefits, and that they had the support of governments at the highest level in the countries where they were working. I had some modest experience dealing with issues like that.
But at the end of the today, thank God for an extraordinary team of people who cared. And I was always so proud to be an American. The United States is the most generous country in the world in terms of helping to address the world’s humanitarian agenda. Other countries would maybe be helpful and do small parts or some significant parts for a whole range, a panorama of reasons.
The United States by and large always provided help because they felt the moral imperative and that we simply didn’t want, especially children and especially women, but anyone to suffer, to be hungry. Our country, a high degree of nobility, of integrity, of – and we had enormous technical resources. The US Land-Grant College System, the County Extension System, and agricultural research in our country leads the world, and we were willing to share that, still are, and almost give it away just to help that little girl in Malawi at age five not starve.
[0:29:46] Marcia Barnes: Right. And you made good impact on that, right?
[0:29:49] Jim Morris: Well, we did make – we sort of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It’s like going to the Children’s Hospital and saying, “Isn’t it so sad that all these kids are so sick?” But then you say, “Well, my goodness. Isn’t it so wonderful that we have great Children’s Hospitals like Riley or Peyton Manning to take care of kids that are sick?”
You sort of are driven to say we ought to be able to eliminate child hunger. There should be no hungry child in the world. But you can make progress and do it better. My motto was always let’s do more, let’s do it better, and let’s do it together.
[0:30:30] Marcia Barnes: Oh, nice. I love that. I love that. After the World Hunger Program, you came back. And that’s when you went to work at Pacers. Is that right?
[0:30:39] Jim Morris: Mm-hmm. Well, I did it for five years. I could have done a second term. I traveled almost full-time. We love living in Rome. But we are Hoosiers and we had kids at home, grandkids at home. My oldest son had lived in Hong Kong and London during part of the time I was in that position.
When I would head off for two weeks, Jackie would either come home or go to London with the three granddaughters there. But I was exhausted after five years for all sorts of reasons. So, I came home and I had helped Herb and Mel Simon acquire the Pacers with Ted Boehm and Dave Frick and others. We had worked with Herb and Mel to get that done.
And Herb said, “Jim, well, why don’t you come and help us out a little bit?” And we’d had that tough time in Detroit. And Herb and Mel loved the sport, loved the city. Wanted it to be done right. Indiana people love basketball and wanted it to be played right. I said, “Why would I do this?”
I concluded that everything that I care about, the well-being of vulnerable children, how people get along, reducing adversarial relationships, the reputation and the quality of life in my city, my state, building a great downtown. The downtown is the most important part of any city. It’s the one neighborhood that belongs to everyone who lives in that community. That everything I cared about I could do working with the Pacers and the Fever.
And so, I’ve been there since 2007. 16 years now. And we had a great team. A great basketball team. Good coaches. Great players. But I was on the business side, the community side. And Herb Simon and his family, Mel, both sets of kids of both guys cared deeply about the community and cared about how to use this opportunity to make things better for Indianapolis. It’s been a great partnership.
[0:33:10] Marcia Barnes: That’s lovely. Certainly, the team has done a good job in anchoring our city sports map there. But it’s not just sports that you do at the Pacers, is it? The facility has entertainment, and concerts, and all those things coming in. Plus, you are very civic-minded with the use of the facilities there, too.
[0:33:27] Jim Morris: Well, once again, it’s not me. And I’m not unduly humble. But it’s the tone that Simon set for the enterprise. They always wanted the community to feel like the teams belonged to them. Certainly, the building belongs to the community. It’s the busiest building in the state of Indiana. 550 events a year. Over two million visitors. But it’s available for funerals of public safety people who are killed in the line of duty. We’ve had high-profile celebrations of life of great Hoosiers who needed a large place to celebrate their life. We do commencements. Huge number of fundraisers.
[0:34:17] Marcia Barnes: A lot of nonprofit use. My friend, Jennifer Browning Holmes, said that you helped her use the facility to get the Indianapolis Women’s Leadership Conference going.
[0:34:26] Jim Morris: True.
[0:34:27] Marcia Barnes: And having that facility is what really helped them to launch into really significant numbers. Yeah.
[0:34:32] Jim Morris: Good. Yeah. But soon we’ll have 65,000 of the brightest young people in America coming to Indianapolis for a week or 10 days for the FFA Convention.
[0:34:46] Marcia Barnes: Great group.
[0:34:47] Jim Morris: You could not put a value on having that group of people plus the entire leadership of AGGRA business from across the world in your city for a week and a half.
[0:34:59] Marcia Barnes: And for many years running, right?
[0:35:01] Jim Morris: For many years running. And it takes place at the Convention Center, at hotels, and at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
[0:35:10] Marcia Barnes: I always loved FFA and 4-H. I was a 4H’er. But if someone comes across my desk for a job and they’ve got 4-H or FFA on their resume, I’m pretty good with that person.
[0:35:22] Jim Morris: Yeah, true.
[0:35:23] Marcia Barnes: They’re usually hard workers.
[0:35:24] Jim Morris: I would add, if they were a member of 4-H, FFA, and an Eagle Scout.
[0:35:30] Marcia Barnes: Oh, there you go. Or Boy Scout.
[0:35:31] Jim Morris: Right.
[0:35:32] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. You have done some amazing things to support scouting. Were you a scout when you were a child?
[0:35:38] Jim Morris: Yes. Scouting was really important to me. I belonged to Troop 8, Pack 8, and Explorer Post 8 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Worked at Scout Camp in the summer. Worked at one of the national jamborees in Colorado Springs. Went to Philmont in New Mexico. I learned a lot in scouting.
I think when you think of values and how does a person form their values, I think you probably start with the Ten Commandments and the basic teachings of the Gospel. But then if you’re a Rotarian, the four-way test and the Scout Law, Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, those are pretty good ways of figuring out what you stand for.
[0:36:30] Marcia Barnes: They are indeed. Yeah. I was a Girl Scout too. Girl Scouts is how I knew I was going to be a salesperson at some point, was from selling those cookies, you know?
[0:36:39] Jim Morris: Well, in Boy Scouts we sold popcorn. And I think I probably won a bicycle one year for selling popcorn as a Boy Scout.
[0:36:49] Marcia Barnes: Well, we both have stories that go back to selling as Scouts. That’s great.
One of the things that we discuss in my book, Here We Grow, is the importance of transformation. And we define transformation as a noticeable change in form or a substance. And so, then we look at transformational leadership as helping people go from here to there to make that transformation.
You are and you have been around a lot of transformational leaders over the course of time. Who do you see in our city or our state that stands out to you as a transformational leader?
[0:37:33] Jim Morris: There are many. At the top of my list, I would probably have Herman Wells, Father Ted Hesburgh, Dick Lugar, our great mayor, Eli Lily, Dennis Bland. Those would be five just to start off with. I look at Ardath Burkart, this lady, we were the largest city in the United States that didn’t have a public broadcasting station, and she went to work with a group of ladies. They called themselves Ardath’s Army. And they got Channel 20 put in place. Today, it’s one of the best public broadcasting stations in the country.
Father Hesburgh is a remarkable man. A priest first, but built a great Catholic University. I asked him once. I said, “Father, do you consider yourself to be a Hoosier?” He said, “Well, I’ve lived here 75 years. I think I qualify.”
[0:38:37] Marcia Barnes: And that’s Notre Dame, right?
[0:38:39] Jim Morris: Notre Dame. He was a great person and a good person. Herman Wells from Little Jamestown, Indiana. Went to Indiana University. A student. Became dean of the business school. Became president of the university on an interim basis. And did not ever have and earn a doctorate degree. But this man was driven because he wanted the best for the young people in the State of Indiana.
And he built the Auditorium so the Metropolitan Opera could come to Indiana. The first time they’d ever performed outside of New York. He used to say, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” And he was a man of deep faith, a humble man. A kind man, but brilliant.
I would put Mr. Lilly in the same category. They were good friends, by the way. And Herman Wells and Ted Hesburgh were good friends. Mr. Lilly said, “Take what’s been given to you and make it better.” And Mr. Lilly was a perfect gentleman and so focused on kindness and gratitude. And a man of deep faith.
[0:39:55] Marcia Barnes: And generosity.
[0:39:56] Jim Morris: And generosity. But his generosity came from his faith. He was not selfish. He wanted to share what he and his brother and his father had. They created the Lilly Endowment in 1937 to share what they had earned. And they were focused on opportunities for young people. Building a great community. Private college education. Opportunities for minorities. Their work in religion was focused on strengthening all faiths. It was not evangelical or proselytizing but it wanted to support the development of clergy of laypeople. Very focused on character, which is an extension of faith.
[0:40:48] Marcia Barnes: A very wise thing that they do is they fund pastors to go on a sabbatical to give them a good rest break, right? They’ll fund a plan to send a pastor on a sabbatical to recover, rejuvenate, and get focused on what God has for them next.
[0:41:04] Jim Morris: Yes. I mean, they understood effective leadership and they were focused on teachers. Focused on pastors. Focused on youth workers. They wanted life to be better for Hoosiers.
One of the great things about the endowment is, off and on, it’s been the largest foundation in the world and always among the top. But it stayed pretty loyal to what the founders had in mind. And many foundations haven’t been able to have that discipline.
[0:41:40] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. There was an article in the IBJ just in the last couple of weeks about how most people don’t understand how much Lilly does for the endowment. Well, in Lilly Corporate of course, too. But how much they do for the city in that giving. It’s quite remarkable.
[0:41:57] Jim Morris: But the success of Lilly Corporate makes the success of the endowment possible.
[0:42:02] Marcia Barnes: Right. Yeah, absolutely. And they’re a great company and great corporate citizen here in our city too.
[0:42:08] Jim Morris: Will always do the right thing. Absolute integrity. Good people.
[0:42:12] Marcia Barnes: Right. What are you excited about in the coming season with the Pacers? I’m from Milan, Indiana. Went to IU. Started in 1981 when we won the National Championship. I’m all about the basketball. What are you excited about in the coming season with the Pacers?
[0:42:26] Jim Morris: Well, I’m excited we have Tyrese Haliburton. We traded for last year. Kevin Pritchard and his team really had a great trade with Sacramento that brought a couple of really fine players to us. We lost some fine players. But Tyrese Haliburton has become a real on-the-floor leader of our team. I’m proud of him and that he’s on the national team competing for the world championship right now in Manila, the Philippines. I’m hopeful that that will lead to his being on the Olympic team next year.
[0:43:03] Marcia Barnes: Awesome.
[0:43:03] Jim Morris: But we’ve had good drafts. We got a tremendous young man from the University of Houston. We got a good shooter from Belmont. We’ve had a couple of more trades. We would have made the playoffs last year with the exception that Tyrese Haliburton was injured for 10 or 11 games. And we lost nine of those games. And that took us out of the playoffs. But this team has had a good time together. And they’ll add some strong talent. It’s going to be good. And of course, we have one of the great coaches in Rick Carlisle and a great management team in basketball. Our Fever are playing much better this year than last year.
[0:43:49] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. We had a heck of a draft this year too, right?
[0:43:52] Jim Morris: We had a great draft. We got the number one pick from South Carolina. Great lady. A great basketball player. And an academic All-American. And then we drafted number seven in the draft, Grace Berger, who was the spark plug and the passion of the IU women’s team that was so good last year.
[0:44:14] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. I figured you’d be happy about that.
[0:44:16] Marcia Barnes: Very happy. That didn’t take much to make me happy. All good. But with the building now in wonderful condition. We’ve had this major renovation. We have the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza on the north side of the building, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of our city. It celebrates the notion of unity. A place for everyone to come together.
There’s some magnificent sculpture. There’s a beautiful sphere 23-plus-feet in diameter, which is the same distance for the 3-point shot in the NBA. But a place for kids to play basketball. And in the wintertime, it will be converted to an ice rink. Nicer and bigger than Rockefeller Center.
[0:45:07] Marcia Barnes: Oh, wow.
[0:45:09] Jim Morris: On the Steak ‘n Shake building is a magnificent mural of 43 significant citizens of Indianapolis over the last 200 years. And then in the near distance is that wonderful picture, a painting, a mural once again of Eva Kor. The refugee from Nazi, Germany who she’s now passed. But from Terre Haute. And she spent her life talking about forgiveness and reconciliation. This beautiful building, this new plaza, the history of our city, and then to have her overlooking it all.
[0:45:49] Marcia Barnes: It’s remarkable.
[0:45:49] Jim Morris: It’s remarkable.
[0:45:50] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. Love and forgiveness are the two things that Holocaust Survivors will talk about being important to be able to survive and thrive after that.
[0:45:58] Jim Morris: Right. And you can’t do it without love.
[0:46:00] Marcia Barnes: Right.
[0:46:02] Jim Morris: But, boy, it must be tough. I had several good visits with Nelson Mandela. A remarkable man. Sort of like a West Point Cadet. 6-foot 6, Ramrod Street. My wife and I had been to Robben Island, one of the days before, where he had spent 28 years in prison. And I said to him, “Sir, I can’t imagine that you aren’t the angriest, maddest person in the world.” And he said, “You know, Jim, it was never about being angry. Never about being mad. It was only about fairness for my people.” Pretty powerful stuff.
[0:46:47] Marcia Barnes: Very powerful stuff. Spoken from one great man to another in my opinion.
[0:46:51] Jim Morris: Yeah.
[0:46:51] Marcia Barnes: Great.
[0:46:52] Jim Morris: Spoken from a truly great man to somebody who was privileged to listen.
[0:46:57] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. Jim, you’re 80-years-old. Let me tell you what the rest of your life needs to look like, you know? I believe in God. I believe He gave me a plan for you. There’s so much up here in your mind about healing, and bringing groups together and leading in our city. You got to get what’s stored up in there out into other people so that we know how to carry the ball forward. That’s your legacy.
[0:47:25] Jim Morris: Well, you’re very kind. I do have a passion for the well-being of vulnerable, hungry, sad, lonely children. No child should be left behind. No child should be hungry. And given the right support, and a caring adult in a child’s life, and good nutrition. The World Health Organization would tell you that hunger is the single greatest health issue in the world. But you feed that little girl, age five, and make it possible for her to go to school. And even if she’s only in school for a few years, everything about her life changes for the better.
God loves us all the same. He doesn’t love the well-to-do child any more, any less than he loves the child that’s struggling and needs help. And the Bible doesn’t talk about geographical limitations. It talks about the community and kids at large. I believe the best reputation a city can have is to be able to put its hand up and say, “We do not have a single hungry child.” And if you take care of all of the tough issues related to a child growing up, I think by and large everything else will fall in place.
[0:48:51] Marcia Barnes: Right. Another great Indianapolis leader of transformation: Jerry Throgmartin. Before he passed, he and I were speaking at Shepherd Community Center for a fundraiser. It’s he and I on a panel being interviewed. And he said, “The Lord commanded us to take care of the poor. To feed the poor and take care of the hungry. To give shelter, it’s not a suggestion, it’s not part of a 12-point plan. It is a commandment to care for those that are less fortunate.” And that was his reason for why he was giving, you know?
[0:49:23] Jim Morris: Well, he was a great man. And we lost him far too soon. And he had a great heart. And he’s a very smart man as well. A great business leader. But his faith guided him. And the Shepherd Community Center, Jay Height could be on my list of the most influential, effective people. This man of deep, deep faith. And he lives it every day.
[0:49:51] Marcia Barnes: Right. Sometimes, people get frustrated about business people, business owners, wealth, the separation of wealth, and stuff. But if you really look – and you don’t have to look very deep. But if you make an attempt to look at generosity from corporate leaders and businesses, Indiana has some incredible stories in it.
[0:50:13] Jim Morris: Yes, we do.
[0:50:14] Marcia Barnes: What the Cook family has done in Southern Indiana. I’m on my way in a month or so to spend some time at West Baden. And the generosity that they’ve exhibited there and the whole way that they look at giving is just very impressive. And there are just tons of companies in the state that are doing those types of things. They’re healing the world with their wealth is what they’re focused on.
[0:50:35] Jim Morris: And providing opportunities. There’s no substitute for good economic opportunities for people to have the ability to take care of their families, and to have a decent income and a decent wage so that they can balance all of the ways they used their time.
I admire the way the Lilly family led the company. They always closed down between Christmas and New Year’s. They always closed it early at the end of the day so people could have time with their families.
Irwin Miller, the Cummins people. The people at One America.
[0:51:17] Marcia Barnes: The Hillenbrands in Batesville.
[0:51:19] Jim Morris: The Hillenbrands, incredible. There are just lots of great banks, and insurance companies, and many manufacturing operations. You look at Sonny Beck and the Beck’s seed company. Or Brian Reichart at Red Gold.
[0:51:35] Marcia Barnes: Josh Wildman at the Wildman Group. They’re giving 20% of their profit away to help these types of causes, you know?
[0:51:42] Jim Morris: There was a time when Indianapolis had 120 companies giving between 2% and 5% of pre-tax profits for charitable, religious, civic, literary, and community purposes. My friend, P.E. MacAllister was –
[0:51:57] Marcia Barnes: Oh. Another one. Yeah.
[0:51:58] Jim Morris: – was a man of great faith. Great faith. If you came to see P.E. MacAllister and asked for his help and you asked him to help something that he didn’t have a great interest in, but he saw your passion, and your enthusiasm, and your commitment, he would help. And the list goes on.
[0:52:23] Marcia Barnes: Yeah. A couple of other folks that are friends of yours that I went down a rabbit hole – I had a sick day yesterday. And I had just had the TV playing. I wanted to listen to music. And I got on a string of the Gaithers, Bill and Gloria Gaither up in Anderson, Indiana, and listened to their music for 12 hours yesterday. But what an impact they’ve had on Christian music over the years too.
[0:52:48] Jim Morris: Well, Bill and Gloria Gaither are national treasures. They’ve written a thousand hymns.
[0:52:54] Marcia Barnes: You sing them in your church all the time. Yeah.
[0:52:57] Jim Morris: Sure. One of the great stories of Bill Gaither, he had some extra time on a Friday afternoon in Memphis and he went out to Elvis’s home in Memphis, Graceland. And he sort of just stood next to a tour group that had a docent taking them through. The docent said, “Now this is the first Grammy that Elvis one, received for singing the song, He Touched Me.” And Bill Gaither never said a word. But he wrote it. He and his wife, Gloria, wrote it.
[0:53:30] Marcia Barnes: That’s right. He did. Yeah.
[0:53:32] Jim Morris: I mean, that’s sort of the epitome of who’s your life. Jackie and I went up last week to spend a day with Bill and Gloria. And we went over to Anderson and spent a couple of hours with Carl and Betty Erskine. And Carl, of course, the great, great pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, now in his 90s. They’ve been married over 70 years. A man of enormous faith. A leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The most humble, fine, glorious couple you could imagine. They could have lived anywhere in the world as Bill and Gloria could. But I love it they’ve chosen to be Hoosiers and lived their whole lives in Madison County.
[0:54:22] Marcia Barnes: And go to the Pacers games.
[0:54:24] Jim Morris: And go to the Pacer games. Erskine plays the harmonica. And he has often played this national anthem at the LA Dodgers. But then come back and play it at the Pacer game.
[0:54:38] Marcia Barnes: Nice. Nice.
Jim, we could talk about these things all day long. I so appreciate you joining us today.
[0:54:49] Jim Morris: Yeah. My pleasure.
[0:54:51] Marcia Barnes: Thank you so much for everything you’re doing for our city and our people. And modeling the way for leaders to be able to follow you. Thank you.
[0:54:59] Jim Morris: Well, I don’t know that I model it, but I search for it. And I have to say, Marcia, I admire you so much for your writing, for your heartfelt commitment to doing things right and to bringing the best out in others. And the way your book has sort of shown the path and given people and encouragement to – if they have a roadblock or some difficult days, to know that a little creativity, and a little faith, and a little love from the Lord will sort of give you a new path to once again have a chance to hit the ball out of the park.
[0:55:42] Marcia Barnes: Amen to that.
[0:55:44] Jim Morris: And I feel the same by the way about your colleague, David Lindsey.
[0:55:48] Marcia Barnes: Oh, yeah.
[0:55:49] Jim Morris: What a great man. It breaks my heart that he doesn’t live here full-time.
[0:55:53] Marcia Barnes: Right. Right.
[0:55:55] Jim Morris: But all good. Thank you for this gift.
[0:55:58] Marcia Barnes: My pleasure. Have a great day. And we’ll package this up and send it over to you to give a listen to.
[0:56:03] Jim Morris: Good deal. Thank you.
[0:56:04] Marcia Barnes: Thank you.
[0:56:06] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for joining us for Here We Grow. This show is proudly brought to you by Valve+Meter Performance Marketing. Be sure to check out the show notes for exclusive content that will help you become a transformational leader. For more visit, mathbeforemarketing.com/podcast.