David Morse is author of three books: Multicultural Intelligence: Eight Make-Or-Break Rules for Marketing to Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation, Kissinger and the Yom Kippur War, and the 2020 book, An American Legacy: Racism, Nativism, and White Supremacy.
David served as CEO of New American Dimensions, a multicultural market research company, which he founded in 2003 to elevate corporate America’s ideas and notions about multicultural consumers.
A social justice activist, he is a frequent speaker on multicultural markets, and is known for having worked with some of the most successful organizations in America in developing marketing and inclusion strategies focused on multicultural Americans. He holds a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird American Graduate School of Global Management, a Master of Arts from California State University, Los Angeles in history, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire in Psychology and Japanese.
MY PERSONAL STORY
I was born in the mill town of Manchester, New Hampshire in the early 1960’s. Not an auspicious beginning for someone destined to focus on multicultural marketing. It was a small city with strong ethnic traditions – French Canadians, Greeks, Irish, Poles, and a few Jews like me mixed in. But let’s face it. We were all white. And though I would learn differently a couple of decades later, apparently all straight.
I was gay. But I didn’t know it at the time. I must have repressed it. It was so uncool to be a gay teenager in 1970s New Hampshire. In high school, we made fun of the straight people. Those were the people who, unlike my friends and I, did not do drugs. But thanks to a remarkable teacher named Stephen Thomas, I found my true calling: The theater. Or so I thought.
It didn’t go very far, but I did manage to star in a few plays, including playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. But I did get off the drugs. And into languages. I studied French and Latin through high school. In college, at the University of New Hampshire, I majored in Psychology with a minor in Japanese. And I discovered another calling: Meditation.
After graduation, I moved to Japan, after being invited by my Japanese professor to attend Kobe University. I lived in a Zen Buddhist temple and meditated at length every day. I even visited a Zen monastery. I wanted to become a monk. But I was young and spoke very mediocre Japanese. “Wait a year,” said the abbot. Meditate, learn Japanese, and then come back.
Well, I never went back. I moved in with Mika, my Japanese girlfriend. (Well, let’s say that today I’d be called bisexual). Mika knew I had dabbled with guys, but she was okay with that. After about a year we moved to Los Angeles.
It was at that point that my closet doors came tumbling down. Let’s face it. Other than Japan, I had never been outside of New Hampshire, except for a couple of spring break adventures in Florida. In those days, the guys would line up along Santa Monica Boulevard looking for, well, relations.
Because I spoke some Japanese, I got a gig at American Honda managing a market research department. But I wanted to do something bigger. Something global. At that point, I had come to realize that my true love was culture. So, I went to Thunderbird, a school in Phoenix specializing in global management, to get my master’s degree. It was around that point that Mika and I went our separate ways, though we remain good friends.
It was in Phoenix, in a gay bar, that I met Jimmy, a Navajo Indian, who has been my partner for the last 28 years, even during the three years I spent in Mexico City, working as a brand manager for Gillette. I missed him tons, and in 1995, I moved to San Francisco, where he was living, and I took a job with Levi’s in market research. It was fun but I needed more. I needed more culture. Multi-culture.
In 1999, my dream came true. I accepted a job as president of a Hispanic market research firm: Cultural Access Group. It was a job for which I was completely unqualified. I knew marketing. I spoke Spanish. I understood Mexican culture. But president?
I got off to a bad start. Much of the senior staff quit. But I hired my own team, several of whom are still with me. We repositioned the company as multicultural, not just Hispanic. We grew it by millions of dollars. It was an interesting time. The 2000 Census showed that Hispanics had surpassed African Americans as the largest multicultural group in the United States. Multicultural was hot. And we couldn’t have been more passionate about letting the marketing world know that.
In 2003, the entrepreneur in me won out, and I launched New American Dimensions, with several colleagues as business partners. I was outspoken in advocating about using English as an avenue toward reaching U.S. born Hispanics, which was taboo at the time. I started writing about the LGBT market, another taboo. And we did fun stuff. We interviewed African American men in barbershops about their experience. We studied Hmong in Minneapolis and Fresno. We did studies with Hmong, Native Americans, Muslims, LGBTS, and any other segment you could think of. In 2009, I wanted to share what I knew, so I wrote Multicultural Intelligence.
But I wanted more. I had always had an interest in history, and I enrolled as a graduate student at California State University. I published another book, Kissinger and the Yom Kippur War.
But what Jimmy and I really wanted was a baby. Around 2008, I began to investigate surrogacy options in India, a country I had come to love for its spirituality. Two years later, when I was 49, our first daughter Ruby was born. Our second, Sophia, was born in 2012. They are the loves of my life.
These days, I’m learning to get by on very little sleep. I devote my life to Jimmy and the girls. I write books. I teach market research at UCLA Extension. I meditate.
And sometimes, like now, I look back. It’s been a good life. I think it’s fair to say that I have never felt more contented. Now if I can only figure out what to write my next book about…