The October Sessions. So, the way I've been hyping this series, I'd better come through the door strong, huh? I'm thinking this interview qualifies.
Founder of a publishing house.
One of Forbes 30 under 30.
Owner of a writing and marketing service.
Entrepreneur Magazine contributor.
And this is before we even drift over to her Twitter tweets, TikTok videos, the degrees behind her name, or her massive social media following. I mean, why only come through the door strong when you can knock it down with a powerhouse?
The October Sessions. Dr. Morissa Schwartz. Let it begin.
KD: First off, let's get into the overall picture of Morissa Schwartz. Say the world was your platform (which, technically, it is), give us an overall scope of what makes Morissa...well...Rissy.
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I love this question. It is deep...but I will start shallow and work my way down.
On the surface, I am a Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur who owns GenZ Publishing, a book publishing company for innovative and underrepresented authors and Dr. Rissy’s Writing & Marketing, a top-ranked marketing company. I have a Doctorate in Literature with a focus on philosophy and a Masters in Corporate and Public Communication. I have over 250K social media followers who I love to share positive posts with. I love music, arts & crafts, video games, and comedy.
If we get a little deeper, I believe in empathy before anything else. The platinum rule is to do unto others as they'd want done unto them, and I always try to live by that. My favorite books delve into philosophy, how things work, and how to make a positive impact.
KD: Let that be a lesson for the rest of the class. There really are 27 hours in a day. Okay, I did this during the "Share Your World" series and I wanna keep it going here: Let's give a shout-out to your corner of the world by telling us the best thing about your neck of the woods.
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I am in the sixth generation of my family to live in NJ. My great-great grandparents moved here to escape persecution from Russia in the late 1800s, and my family stayed in the oldest NJ town, Woodbridge, where my parents own a mom & pop floor covering store that is a staple of the town.
I am in the first generation of my family to move out of Woodbridge. I now live in this really cool part of NJ that is in the middle of everything. I live on 2 acres where my neighbors are alpacas and cows, but I am 10 minutes from the nearest shore and 5 minutes away from the train station where I can travel to NY or Philly in under 45 minutes. It’s a really great place to be.
KD: I dunno why, but as I'm reading your response, the nerd in me is wondering if there are any comic book superheroes that come out of New Jersey. Like, I think Mysterio's from Jersey, but he's a supervillain so he doesn't count. Course I'm referring to the actual comic book version, not to be confused with the Marvel Cinematic...nevermind. Anyway. What do you do for relaxation?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I love music. I have been singing since childhood. One of my fondest memories was being a finalist on a reality singing competition on MTV. I am also part of a rock group for the past 6 years and an opera group for the past 12. I am also teaching myself to play piano. I am intermediate level 3 currently. While I listen to music, I usually read or play video games. My latest video game obsession is Slay the Spire. I just beat Ascension level 20, so I am now revisiting Dead by Daylight before I go back to working on completing the remaining Slay the Spire trophies.
KD: I'm old enough to remember when MTV stood for Music Television. They used to play these music videos. Rock and opera? Wow. Just...wow. Okay, now I gotta look up these games and start playing. That is, after I finish The Last of Us 2, and Avengers, and...wait, this isn't about me. My bad. Lemme switch gears right quick. From relaxion to the daily grind. Between GenZ Publishing, Dr. Rissy’s Writing & Marketing, and various article contributions, I would imagine time management to be an absolute daily necessity. That said, how do you make time out for you?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: Thanks to my To-Do List and an amazing team, my life is manageable. Previously I was doing all that I do while being a full time student, so since graduating, I feel like I have so much time. But really, I just block out my time and have an amazing team who works so hard and saves me so much time.
KD: Hey class, remember those 27 hours I mentioned earlier? It's a package that comes with a "To-Do list and an amazing team". I've got to get me one of those packages. I'd spend my extra three hours writing and playing video games. But that's just how I roll. Okay, so here comes a three-parter. What genre of music/movies & shows/reading do you listen to/watch/read more than others?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: Favorite genres to watch - comedy, horror/thriller, MCU.
Favorite genres to read - comedy, philosophy, memoirs.
Favorite genres to listen to - rock, alt, indie.
By the way, favorite genres in game play - strategy, platformer, survival/horror.
KD: Coffee, tea, or...?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: This may sound odd, but I do not like hot drinks.
KD: Wait, what?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I LOVE cold drinks though. Stopping at 7-11 for Coca Cola Slurpees is my version of a Starbucks run. I love it!
(It should be noted that I'm a solo-grande-zebra-mocha guy myself. With whip, of course.)
KD: How would you describe yourself as far as personality and character?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: Many people are surprised to learn that I am introverted, since I post so much online. But I am a great listener. I also always try to choose kindness and empathy. I am a driven person who follows my dreams once I set my mind to them. And I am extremely loyal. When I commit to something or someone, I refuse to let them down.
KD: I can honestly say, I would not have guessed you lean towards introvert. Okay, but how do you think your friends would describe you?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: They would call me goofy (I joke around a lot), kind, and loyal. They would say that I usually listen more than I speak, but that if I am passionate about something, I will let my opinion be known.
KD: And how active are you on social media?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I am super active on social media. I have been at it for about 10 years, and my, has it and myself changed in that time. I love TikTok and Twitter best, but I am on pretty much every social media platform. Social media gets a lot of flack, and there are certainly drawbacks to it, but there are so many great aspects of social media. It connects people and presents many opportunities. Also, you can customize your experience, so when people complain about seeing so much ‘negativity’ on social media I like to remind them that they can block and remove that negativity through customizing their experience.
KD: That mute option on Twitter will do wonders for one's sanity. So, we touched on your publishing house earlier. I wanna circle back for a sec. Regarding Genz Publishing, what got you into the publishing industry?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I self-published a book in high school. Some people (who I now know in retrospect were being cruel) said that was not real publishing. So I became determined to get published by a traditional publisher. I queried about 100 publishers in college. I heard back from 4 and was published by one. That experience showed me what I loved about publishing and what I knew I wanted to improve if I owned my own publisher. So the week after I graduated college, I tweeted that I was starting a publishing company, was excited by the interest it garnered, and the rest is history!
KD: Clearly from the queries there's a lot to be said for determination. Okay, name something you wish you would have known or learned way earlier than you did?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: Be genuine. For so long I thought I had to act a certain way, especially on social media. My posts were ‘professional’ but they were so boring. Once I figured out that having fun, being my goofy self, and talking about topics I enjoyed (even if they don’t have to do with what I do professionally) were OK, everything improved greatly.
KD: Personally speaking I'm a huge fan over your interstellar and celestial photos. Like, each one is more awe-inspiring than the one before. So, geek or nerd...where do you land?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I am a geek for many things: classic/alt/indie rock, certain books, movies, shows, and video games, learning…
KD: I kinda wanna piggyback off my celestial reference for this: Your Twitter timeline posts incredible pictures of space from time to time. Give me something you find absolutely fascinating about space and something you find to be downright terrifying.
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: There is so much about space that is just mind-blowing. The sheer size is something I will never comprehend. More than that, though, is the idea of tracing the beginning of time through space. Technology is working on it, and I am in awe.
KD: Tracing the beginning of time through space. That right there is thought provoking. I am both fascinated and terrified by black holes. Like, they're the ultimate cosmic power. They eat planets, stars, and suck down light. To this day I still think about that Stargate SG-1 episode with that black hole. Shivers down spines and stuff. Okay, so pet peeves. Got any?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: People who I don’t know who just say ‘hi’ in my inbox. If I don’t know you, I don’t know what to say to that and get dozens each day. I appreciate people reaching out, but please introduce yourself and say why you are writing! Otherwise, I don’t know if you are a bot or what.
KD: And just like that I'm glad I already had a rapport established with you prior to this interview! So let's switch gears again. Every business owner, entertainer, or person of influence has had that “I have arrived” moment. What would you say was yours?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I had several little moments. The first was when I broke a Guinness World Record to promote my first book. I always loved entering contests and the World Record was the ultimate contest that told me I was on the right track. Then, I suppose when I graduated grad school. And finally, when I was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30.
KD: Most people are lucky if they have one such moment, you just listed three. Can you name something you wish you would have known or learned way earlier than you did?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: Everything is made up. You can make your own way. Don’t be afraid to do things differently.
KD: All three of those lines is how I approach the stories that I write. So, with October starting the final quarter of the year, what would you say is your biggest accomplishment of 2022 thus far? Looking ahead, what's a goal you have for 2023?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: Becoming Forbes 30 Under 30 was a dream I still cannot believe happened. In 2023, I just hope to continue to spread positivity to those around me and online. I want to make people smile.
(Okay, peeps, hit Dr. Rissy up on Twitter if that last interview answer made you smile as it did me.)
KD: Speaking of Forbes, this question is directed to the entrepreneur in you. How do you combat those “I may be in over my head” moments? Wait, do you even get moments like those?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I have absolutely had many of those. My father has been an entrepreneur since well before I was born. He told me that something would go wrong in business every day. I thought he was just trying to scare me. Now I know I am lucky if only one thing goes wrong each day. There are so many pieces…so many opportunities for things to go wrong in business. The key is realizing this, not feeling sorry for yourself, and moving forward.
KD: That's the voice of experience speaking right there. So let's dive into a different type of "moment" (and yes there was a reason I put it in quotes...just can't remember what that reason was). Can you tell me about a "wow" moment you’ve experienced in your life? Like, if you wrote a memoir, it would have its own chapter.
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: In middle school through high school, I entered many contests. Video, writing, singing, arts & crafts…you name it. It was so fun. Entering these contests allowed me to experience so many dreamlike experiences from a young age. From being on two Time Square billboards in high school, to meeting celebrities I admired, to neat prizes and trips…it was amazing and allowed me to write my first book.
KD: Wait, are you writing a memoir?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I actually published a memoir in 2015. It was about my experience in my school age called ‘Notes Never Sent'.
KD: What are things that you wouldn't mind others knowing about you and your world?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: I have two yorkie mix rescues and love them with all my heart <3
KD: Aww...fuzzy wuzzy and what not! If peeps wanted to reach out and connect, what would be a preferred method?
Dr. Morissa Schwartz: https://twitter.com/MorissaSchwartz
KD: And for the "plug" section, if you have a business, project, website you'd like to promote, go for it!
My thanks to Dr. Morissa Schwartz for kickstarting The October Sessions! As for you, the reader, thank you for engaging with me. I hope you enjoy reading these sessions as much as I have conducting them! Feel free to share your thoughts! I can be found on Twitter @kdwebster4!
Okay, until the next session...