From Marketing Whiz to Crafting Client Success Stories and Prioritizing People
When you were in the fourth grade, you likely were still thinking about being a firefighter, an astronaut, or a ballerina. You wanted to live in Disneyland, swim with mermaids, and travel by hot air balloon. But for Kayla Morrison? She had more realistic plans; she dreamed of the dreariness of Seattle, Washington.
“I’ve always loved gray, rainy days, beautiful Pacific Northwest trees, and being by the water,” the Oklahoma City native explains. “Finally moving to Seattle in the summer of 2021 was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.” Morrison finds peace amidst the constant grays and finds it to be ideal cuddle time with her pets, Ozzy (a rat terrier) and Jam (an orange tabby). But more than that, the city is symbolic of Morrison’s ability to make things happen.
She set a goal—living in Seattle—and she accomplished it.
And Morrison’s taken her goal-focused and action-oriented mentality to her clients, garnering amazing results and building strong relationships. Her degree in strategic communications and her background in marketing have perfectly positioned her as the voice of reason and strategic partner for Zen Media’s clients and employees alike.
Morrison makes sure that Zen’s clients have an excellent experience from day one, and ensures that everyone at Zen is still exercising their strategic muscles, testing new tactics, and optimizing work with long-term clients. She prioritizes relationships, strategy, and processes—and she loves every minute of it.
But her first post-graduate jobs weren’t as… zen. “My first post-grad jobs were strictly marketing and sales, which seemed to align with my degree, but something was missing,” she says. “I found myself thinking about the jobs I had enjoyed the most: a summer job at the snow cone shack or serving tacos and margaritas during college. I missed being able to consult people in order to directly meet their needs. I missed taking care of customers, making them feel welcome, and building relationships.”
Then her zen moment hit, so to speak. “When I was offered my first role at Zen Media, it seemed too good to be true.” Morrison’s combination of emotional intelligence, which helps her connect with clients, and strategic can’t-stop-won’t stop energy made her the perfect candidate for the job.
In the few years Morrison has been with Zen, she’s helped drive success through building strong and loyal client relationships, onboarding and leading a growing team of expert account executives and project managers, and launching marketing campaigns that have garnered measurable results. And the hard work has paid off—“We’ve grown nearly 10X since I started, which has been so exciting and motivating,” Morrison says.
She admits that with a growing team, it’s easy to lose the small-team feel and sense of community that Zen had when she first started. But, always willing to attack a concern or issue with strategic insights and energy—Morrison has made sure that the Zen culture and employee connections are still strong even with the massive growth Zen has sustained over the last two years.
She stays involved in all things Zen by helping to create and run all sorts of Slack groups for different interests, spanning everything from paw-rents and crafty hour to plantrents—a personal fave.
As the name implies, the “plantrents” Slack channel is dedicated to all lovers of plants, from newbies to the more experienced. It’s a place where coworkers go to show off their latest plant acquisitions, ask for advice on plants that need a little help getting by, and overall, just commiserate about the ups and downs of being a plant owner. And for Morrison, plants hold a special place. She started her collection when she had just moved to Dallas for her first post-grad job.
“I didn’t have time for a pet at the time, but I wanted to care for something and start a new hobby,” she says. And this hobby, as one might say, has bloomed.
Her indoor plant collection is clustered around her windows, and ranges from pothos and English ivy to her beloved Fiddle Leaf Fig—her dream plant, which has doubled in size since she brought it home.
Each endeavor Morrison tackles is undertaken with that same mixture of empathy and strategy, even her gardening skills and shared gardening endeavors with her plantrent peers. Beyond the Slack channels, Morrison makes it a point to get involved when it comes to planning company events—which are mostly virtual, keeping in line with the 100% remote lifestyle—as well as ice breakers, holiday parties, and more. She stays as involved as possible, and helps motivate other employees to do the same with these personal touches and thoughtful ideas.
“I love the fact that, despite our growth, we have become even closer with each other. Our culture has strengthened, and we have more collaboration and empowerment than ever before.”
One key area Morrison has been focusing her collaboration efforts on recently is process mapping. “I think by now everyone on the team knows how much I love a thorough, well-documented process,” she admits. “It’s been incredible to see our processes not only just exist, but also be in a constant state of optimization. How can we be more efficient, how can we make this better for us and our clients?”
She’s all about reaching peak efficiency while still prioritizing human connection—and it’s the connections that keep her so passionate about her work.
Plants, pets, processes, and passion are Morrison’s winning combination, and the combination that helps her drive success for clients, teammates, and plants alike. Being a driven and goal-oriented leader doesn’t read as synonymous with “zen” for most, but for Morrison, starting each day among coworkers who she considers friends, and completing each day playing with Ozzy and Jam by her windows of greenery in dreary Seattle, is living her best life. “This is zen for me.”