Jim Mourey believes creative hobbies can make you a better businessman.
The Belleville native works as an assistant marketing professor at DePaul University and a freelance corporate consultant. But he also sings in an a cappella group called the Uptones, performs at The Second City improv theater, and writes children’s books.
“I made a promise to myself that no matter what I did professionally, I would always continue singing and acting,” said Jim, 34, who now lives in Chicago.
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“I’ve always been passionate about performing. There’s an energy you get when you’re on stage. It’s a thrill, and when you have creative outlets, it gives you balance, and I think that’s important.”
He’s still a huge fan of those programs, viewing them as affordable ways to help kids reach their creative potential at a time when many schools are cutting extracurricular activities.
I’ve always been passionate about performing. There’s an energy you get when you’re on stage. It’s a thrill, and when you have creative outlets, it gives you balance, and I think that’s important.
Jim Mourey on his secret to success
In February, Jim served as guest author for the Belleville District 118 Young Authors Conference. He has written, illustrated and self-published three children’s books, “Butters the Fly” in 2014, “Rabbit with a Habit” in 2015 and “Mr. Fox has Lost his Socks” in 2016.
“It was great that he came back to tell his story, and the fact he was a student in District 118. ... It was just extremely inspiring for our kids,” Assistant Superintendent Tracy Gray said.
Jim also is the driving force behind a new partnership between The Second City and Odyssey of the Mind, an international creative problem-solving program. Students will be able to take online sketch-writing classes at a discount.
“Odyssey of the Mind and Second City are essentially the same thing,” Jim said. Both involve skits.
Jim’s efforts in business, education and the arts have not gone unnoticed. In April, he was one of five Washington University graduates to receive the Emerging Leaders Award from Olin Business School.
In the past, most awards have gone to grads working in business, according to spokesman Anne Peterson. But officials were impressed with Jim’s varied resume and decision to teach.
“He has a special interest in the next generation, and that’s what led him back to education,” Peterson said.
Proud parents Jim Mourey Sr. and Sherry Mourey, now of Smithton, attended the ceremony, along with siblings Chad Jennings, 41, and twins Kimberly Mourey-O’Neill and Kelly Wright, 35.
“We’ve always known (Jim Jr.) would be successful,” said his father, 61, attendance officer for District 118. “In third grade, his teacher said, ‘The sky’s the limit. There’s nothing he can’t do.’ He was way ahead in his work, and he was helping other students.”
Jim dreamed of being a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and performed in about a dozen plays at Belleville West, including starring roles as Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” and Mowgli in “The Jungle Book.”
When he calls, he’s always upbeat, very positive. He’s always got a story to tell. When he comes down to visit, he takes the train from Chicago to St. Louis purposely so he can work while he travels. He never stops.
Jim Mourey Sr. on his son, Jim Jr.
“My favorite role was Dr. Einstein in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace,’” he said. “He was a drunk German doctor, so I had to speak with a German accent and stumble around on stage, which was weird because I don’t drink.”
Jim earned a business degree at Washington University and worked in management and consulting for Los Angeles-based Ferrazzi Greenlight before earning a doctorate in marketing at University of Michigan in 2013.
A career in education seemed to be his most fulfilling option and, once in Chicago, he started improv training at The Second City. Today, he helps write sketches and performs with a troupe called 9th Grade Physical Education.
Jim also leads study-abroad trips and teaches classes in France through DePaul. He wrote his own textbook for a Consumer Behavior class, called “Urge: Why You Really Want What You Want (and How to Make Everyone Want What You’ve Got).”
“It’s about how psychology applies to marketing,” he said. “I wrote it in two weeks.”
Jim recently began teaching an improv-based Discover Chicago class, introducing freshmen DePaul students to the city and coaxing them “out of their shells.”
His father verifies that he is an overachiever who doesn’t get much sleep.
“When he calls, he’s always upbeat, very positive,” Jim Sr. said. “He’s always got a story to tell. When he comes down to visit, he takes the train from Chicago to St. Louis, purposely so he can work while he travels. He never stops.”