Don 'The Pollster'Sunday, September 22, 2019
We've admired them from afar and, for some, had their stories brought to life by this newspaper. But never like this. The Jamaica Observer Sunday Finance Q10 (10 questions) lays bare the stories of some of our most accomplished, erudite and fascinating men and women in business to bolster the confidence of our next generation and make the unattainable seem within reach.
This week Q10 features Don Anderson, chief executive officer of Market Research Services Limited (MRS) and sports fanatic.
When he's not conducting the Business and Consumer Confidence Survey for the Jamaica Chambers of Commerce or political polls, he's at the Liguanea Sports Club, enjoying a game of squash, his favourite sport — he always has his gear on hand (just in case).
Q10: How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
ANDERSON: The achievement of your goals to me equals success. Success is a variable, [it] depends on what you have strived to be, and as long as I have achieved what I set my goals to be, I believe I have been successful.
Q10: What's the best advice you've been given in business?
ANDERSON: Be yourself; play every game on top of the table. Even though I have walked into board rooms all over this world and in environments where people play the game under the table, once you play the game on the table, you can sleep a little bit better in the nights. Therefore, be honest with yourself and be honest with others.
Q10: If you could compare yourself with any animal, which would it be and why?
ANDERSON: A good, smart dog, who is a companion to others, with the ability to protect but at the same time, not necessarily be aggressive.
Q10: What were you like in high school?
ANDERSON: I came from the great town of Port Antonio — born and lived in Port Antonio for the first 20 years of my life. I went to Titchfield High School, where I was always sports inclined. I believe I was a complete student; I got through my — what was called then O and A levels — comfortably, as a matter of fact, within a year I was able to get a scholarship to the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. I then balanced what I got academically with my involvement in sports. I captained the Titchfield High School team in cricket, football, and hockey and I am on record as being the first captain of the cricket team that led the school to the Headley Cup Championship in 1965. I was a very sports-orientated individual who recognised the importance of balancing sports and academics and I carried that with me through university.
Q10: What is one quote/mantra that you live by?
ANDERSON: Moderation in everything I do. I'm not going to be an extremist because, to me, it takes you off into tangents that are sometimes difficult to pull back from. Be conscious of everything around you, but by the same token, don't be an extremist where you become so opinionated and dogmatic. Some people may say 'Oh, but you're involved heavily in sports', but there are sports things that I pull back from as I know when to not go overboard.
Q10: What are your goals outside of work?
ANDERSON: To gain and maintain the respect of people around me, regardless of their circumstances. Respect is mutual, you have to earn it, but you have to show it at the same time. There are a lot of people who believe that because they're in managerial positions that they don't need to show respect because they're in charge. I say this because I have managed five Olympic teams for Jamaica, as head of the delegation — in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and London. There you have to relate, exist, and cohabit with people from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds, but be the leader at the same time. A boss is someone who dictates, quite often as far as I'm concerned, and that's different from being a manager who understands the people around them and who is able to command the respect, without fear, but by virtue of who you are, how they see you and how you relate to them.
Q10: What does family life look like?
ANDERSON: Family life is great. I have two adult children from a previous marriage and two younger kids, Sara-Marie and Victoria, who are both in high school now. My good wife Kishka, who thank God, is the person who really runs the organisation today. There are certain things like the political polls that come straight to my door, among a couple other projects, but she's the engine of the organisation these days.
Q10: If you weren't the CEO of MRS, then what would you be doing?
ANDERSON: I wanted to be a banker when I was growing up and just coming out of high school, but I never ventured in that direction; but if I wasn't at MRS, I think I would probably be either an economist or an attorney. The latter has always appealed to me and I actually tried to enroll in one of these distance learning lawyer courses and then pulled out; [but] these kinds of things you can't see it fitting into what you're doing.
Q10: If you could go back and give your 21-year-old self a valuable piece of advice, what would you say?
ANDERSON: I'd say to be more rooted in my Christian faith. I have always had the foundation in my life as my parents were both deacons in the Baptist Church in Port Antonio; I knew what being a child of God was. I was baptised early when I was still in Port Antonio but probably at that stage, I wasn't as aware of the importance of God in your life. I think probably to have maintained and broadened that into a much greater acceptance of the good Lord, might have been what I would have said, now that I know what I know.
Q10: Who is your favourite athlete of all time, and why?
ANDERSON: Merlene Ottey has a special place in my heart because she has demonstrated a level of commitment, discipline, sense of purpose, and single-mindedness that for me is second to none. When you add to that the fact that she is an extreme nationalist, someone who always travels with her national honours and displays it openly wherever she is, she has convinced me that she is worthy of my praise, admiration and support at all times. I was inspired to write my book, “Seoul to Beijing” in 2011 because I was terribly distressed to hear people maligning Merlene for her decision to run for Slovenia after the Sydney Olympics. As the chef de mission of the Jamaica team for the Sydney Olympics, I knew first-hand what she endured from her fellow athletes in those games when she was chosen over others to run the 100 metres. I intervened in that conversation and set the record straight and that intervention convinced me I had to write my book, to let others know some of what takes place in an Olympic environment.
Compiled by Abbion Robinson
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