Ep. 122 – Zlatko Vucetic, CEO of FocusVision

Today my guest is Zlatko Vucetic, CEO of FocusVision. FocusVision is the only comprehensive research software solution to capture real-time human insights and analytics.

Zlatko took over as CEO of FocusVision in late 2017. Under his leadership, FocusVision has won a prestigious MarTech award for customer management.


Twitter: @zlatko_vucetic

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zlatko-vucetic-b328b71/



Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/happymrxp

Twitter: @happymrxp Instagram: @happymrxp

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch/


Hi. I’m Jamin Brazil and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research podcast. Today my guest is Zlatko Vucetic, CEO of FocusVision. FocusVision is the only comprehensive research software solution to capture real-time human insights and analytics. Zlatko took over as CEO of FocusVision in late 2017. Under his leadership FocusVision has won a prestigious MarTech award for customer management. Zlatko, thank you very much for joining me today.


Thank you for having me on the show Jamin. I’m delighted to be a part of your show. I’ve been following over the last couple of weeks and it’s been truly amazing to see what type of conversations you’re having with various individuals and it’s very, very impressive that you’ve been able to have a good conversation with a lot of the various brands and enterprises out there and their relation to market research. So good work to you guys on getting something like this up very, very quickly.


Hey, thank you very much Zlatko. A little bit of a plug for the show, I’m starting to get inbound requests from major brands, most recently MasterCard to be on the show. So it’s actually pretty exciting to see how the value hypothesis is getting proven out here at Happy Market Research, which is the brands’ needs have shifted on the insights. They want to communicate that to the agencies so that agencies can better meet and address those gaps meaning that insights becomes really the rudder of the ship of these business decisions. So it’s an exciting time for me honestly and a hell of a lot of fun.


So you’re basically the Henry Kissinger of market research industry.


I hadn’t thought of it like that but there you go.


That’s good. Somebody has to be in the middle and translate the both parts as one and that’s not an easy task.


Zlatko and I, just for the audience’s benefit have a long-standing history of working together for the better part of gosh over two years. We were introduced originally in London about two and a half years ago and I absolutely fell in love with his work ethic and intelligence. He absolutely blew me away from a production or productivity perspective working with me when I was the CEO of FocusVision. And when I recognized that that role was not a good fit for me, I worked hard alongside him and the rest of the board in order to make sure that there was a smooth transition of leadership, which he assumed that CEO mantle very effectively. So I wanted to just kind of give that preface to the show so that people understood one, where we’ve come from; and then two, gosh I was in New York was it last week or the week before and we had dinner. Thank you very much by the way for buying. I do appreciate that.


Yes, of course. And thank you for clarifying that. A lot of people in the industry get a little bit surprised when I tell them that I spoke to Jamin or I met Jamin. That’s still a funny thing to experience but as you said it yourself, yeah, I think it was amazing working with Jamin at FocusVision. It was definitely a different experience for me understanding not only the entrepreneurship that Jamin had but also the innovation and really understanding the passion behind building a good product that he built over the last decade. So it was a very, very good introduction and I would say even go that far that if it wasn’t for Jamin, probably I never would have relocated with my family to the United States. So if that’s a good or bad thing, I don’t know. People ask me is that a good or bad thing. It has yet to be determined, but I think so far it’s been an awesome journey. So I actually owe that to Jamin as well.


Awesome. Thank you very much. So let’s just jump right in. Our standard opening question, what do your parents do and how has that affected what you’re doing today?


So my dad was a – he’s retired now. He was a diplomat. My mom is a financial accountant. I think my parents for me – how does that affect what I’m doing. So growing up in Denmark I think – the one thing that you get always taught through either the education system or the society is that you have to make your own money. So the first job you have in Denmark is when you’re 13-years old and that can be everything from delivering newspapers to working in a supermarket basically removing the empty bottles from the assembly line and putting them in the boxes and recycling them and sending them back to Coca-Cola and all the other distilleries out there. So I guess that’s – I don’t know how my parents, how they’ve influenced my upbringing and some of the work qualities that I have but I guess my – I think my upbringing in Denmark has a lot to do with – for me a job is a job and there is no – every job out there is equally worth it. And every time when you speak to somebody in Denmark they will tell you that before they were 21-, 22-years old, they already had nine different jobs working either as a dishwasher, cleaning things, and because we are in a very non-hierarchal society you will see people from all kind of classes from society working next to each other. So it’s a very normal thing. So I think that part has taught me that there’s always a very important thing that you do your job well regardless of what kind of job that is and that’s something that stuck with me ever since. So I’m not sure how much I can dedicate to being a part of that type of society versus my parents. I think the part where my parents have influenced me quite a lot has been on the honesty side. I’m extremely honest and direct. And I think it’s very, very important that people are especially in the business. It’s not always the case in a lot of the countries and companies that I worked with over many years that that’s always a right strategy to pursue. And it took me some while to understanding what people mean with honesty and candor versus what that truly means when you start translating some of those elements. But that’s something that I’m getting a little bit used to it a little bit more now but I guess that’s definitely a thing that I have from my parents in terms of being very, very candor and being very, very honest. That can be either job-related or a private situation or something else that needs to be addressed in life. I still truly believe that if you’re not really honest with yourself in terms of what you need to do better, how you can improve, then you’re never going to reach the final goal that you set up front.


Yeah, you see that trending over the last year, this whole concept of radical candor or radical transparency inside of corporations. And then also developing self-awareness at an individual level so that you’re operating inside of your skill. We heard that in the very first episode with Merrill Dubrow how he knows where he needs to focus and he focuses accordingly. Certainly seen that play out. Also on the grit side, I think that’s super-interesting. How did this grit or this work ethic help you succeed so profoundly at your time at Saxo Bank. You went from really an entry-level role there and within 8 years were an EVP.


Yeah, that was a great ride. I think at that time we were one of the fastest growing companies especially in Europe; in Denmark for sure. It was – there was a lot of challenge. There were two things that were driving that primarily. I think I’m extremely competitive and that drives a lot of my – a lot of the engagement that I have in terms of the people, businesses, and everything else that I do in life. I still hate to lose any kind of video game or card game to my 7-year old daughter. And I still get upset with that. But I think that’s one of the parts is that I’m extremely competitive. I want to succeed always. The second part is that what’s been extremely important for me is to undertake challenges that nobody wanted. So a lot of the different things that people were doing and saying well I don’t want that opportunity because there’s so much risk and there’s so much change in it that’s going to affect me on a personal level or on my work level, I’ve always said yes to those challenges. So I think that’s – I think in life if you want better, first of all you need to – you never stop learning and you always have to learn new things. And the second thing is you always have to take some risk in terms of the things you’re doing. Sometimes they work out; sometimes they don’t. But in general the people that I’ve seen taking a lot of – and I think Jamin, you know this better than anybody else in terms of the entrepreneurship and people being very innovative and taking slightly more risk than anybody else are the people that always succeed. In the end, it is about the hours that you put as well. I understand the entire concept about working smarter, not harder, but a lot of the things that we are trying to achieve in our lives is also a matter of the time that we take to understand them. I always go back to Mr. Michael Jordan saying for – he had to miss 10,000 shots before he understood how to make the last great shot. So I think that is extremely important in business as well. We have to fail and we have to fail many times to understand where we can improve, where we can become better, and most importantly how can we surround ourselves with the people that can improve us because we can’t really have all the competencies at the same time. So think that for me it’s been more about the grit, the risk, and being extremely competitive in what I do. And I don’t – I used to be a competitive athlete in the past so people ask me sometimes is it because of the competitiveness, because of you’re playing a sport or you were actually quite good at sports. I said no, I was actually OK at some sports but it wasn’t really that it was driving. And I think for me particularly, I have – I grew up in Denmark but my background is Croatian. So I think growing up in Denmark with a first name like mine you always feel that you have to be a little bit better. It’s not really how the society portrays you or sees you but I think there is something latent in your own soul that feels that this is something that you have to do – you have to be three times better than anybody else in order to get a chance. And I think a lot of people have it like that, especially people that have a different background than other people in the country where they’re living. So I think that’s been a prime driver of my will to succeed. So – and it still is. I guess in America there’s a lot of more people that can pronounce my name so it’s a little bit easier here but it’s something that really not only makes me outcompete on a lot of the things that I’m competing about but really think about how do I plan and how do I also manage some of the risk that I’m taking business wise.


How do you think – reflecting on being an outsider from marketing research, Chris Fanning also – one of my favorite CEOs in the space, he was the previous CEO of SSI prior to the merger with Research Now. How do you think that informs you and your business decisions giving FocusVision perhaps an edge?


I think the difference – first of all, I think the market research industry is an extremely exciting one. I started my career actually in market research doing qualitative and quantitative work for Danish Royal Hospital when I was 18-, 19-years old starting in the business school. So I worked with that in the past but I think the biggest difference here is that when you – with my background working with other industries that has a lot of academia in it as market research has but also went through a similar change when it comes to technology and enablement of technology you see some of the similar patterns. And I certainly see some of the similar patterns that I’ve been seeing in other industries happening in market research space. So I think – I’m not saying that you can predict what’s happening in the industry but you have a more casual relationship with the industry, which sometimes gives you a little bit of easier way to navigate through that. And I feel that a lot of people that work in a specific industry for many, many years from time to time they do have a problem of disconnecting from that and taking an outside view on a lot of their solutions. I think technology today and software in general has enabled us to look across the industries and start making some informed decisions about how to transform those industries. So I think coming from outside, it gives you the edge that you don’t feel obliged to adhere to certain rules that are imposed by the industry from the beginning where you’re actually – when you grow up in the industry. I think when you grow up in the industry it’s slightly different. There’s only one – not only one way of doing it but there are certain – I guess there are certain perceptions and paradigms that’s ruled the industry and that nothing can be changed and that’s not specific to market research industry. You can find that across most of the industries. So I think that’s the edge that you’re actually provided is you actually think slightly different or you see the same story that you have seen just by – just in a completely different industry.


Yeah, I completely agree with the perspective. I think the longer a management team works together, the easier it can be or maybe the greater the temptation is to keep doing the same thing over and over again. And then you miss the level-up opportunities inside of an organization. And I think having that value – the lens as the value from the outside are saying hey listen, I’ve seen the same script before but we can do x, y, z and apply that whether it’s social media marketing or whatever that may be a little bit outside of the comfort level of normal – of the normal industry.


And I think – I fully agree with that. And I think just to give you another example. I think when you look at the market research terminology sometimes it – I don’t think that the big data movement that we saw a couple of years ago, which is kind of now still a core part of the strategy for most of the enterprises out there. It’s kind of hasn’t really benefited the market research industry. And the reason for that is primarily because of the academia. And I remember the first couple of – so we were one of the first at that point in time, financial institutions that were utilizing big data to create modeling around customer behavior. So basically mimicking what Amazon does and Netflix in order to understand your behavior. And I remember we never became successful in most of those parts and the primary reason for that is that a lot of the findings were drawn in academia rather than something that’s actionable. So you will have a presentation by analytical teams where 40 slides out of 45 were mathematical models. So instead of just assuming that we trust people that they know how to do their math and just go to the findings, and the actionability of those findings, we kept refining the methodology and going back to one source of the truth. So then you end up spending two, three years on figuring that out and before you – and when you’re done – when you have the final solution none of the stakeholders in the organization actually believed you could deliver something that’s actionable. And I think that’s been a little bit problematic. And I think we need to go back to extremely not only fast data collection but also actionable insights. If those insights are not deliverable in a form that the company can act upon extremely quickly it’s going to be very, very difficult to have data-driven, big data strategy as a part of the core strategy because you’re going to lose the attention of the stakeholders.


I love that. ROI on research. Every project needs to drive cash into the business. And I think that is a major transition that has been taking place over the last few years inside of the brands.


Yeah, and as I said, sometimes people – when you speak with the people within the industry they make it seem like a tradeoff between the value added versus the academia or the right way to do it. It doesn’t have to be like that. I think that the faster we can combine those two schools of thought, the faster we can actually deliver something very, very useful, something that is correctly done but also something that drives the action. And I think right now as one of my friends said once is everybody has one fear, and one fear only regarding what product they’re building and that fear is Amazon. Amazon is right now driving any – every fear in any product organization or any organization that’s developing something that’s extremely client-driven. And I think that forces the enterprises to think differently in the way how they actually approach this market space, but I don’t think replicating that model is going to make them successful because we cannot all be masters at all but I think it has been a little bit of a – at least what I can see sometimes in the industry is there’s a lot of discussion on academia versus quick insights. And I think that’s a part that needs to be merged if we want to be successful at creating that return on investment on the research.


Congratulations on the MarTech award for customer management.


Thank you. We are the well-best hidden secret in the world. We get questions asked how many employees do we have in your startup. For the record, I would like underline that we’re not a startup. We’ve been around since 1919 in some shape or form or size. And we’ve expanded quite significantly over the last five years through acquisitions. We have a number of offices worldwide and more than 400 employees employed. So we’re definitely not a startup. And we are really honored by being recognized by the MarTech [INAUDIBLE] and the award that we received for the best innovation on the customer experience part because I truly feel that we have great products and we’ve been a part of the DNA of market research for the last 20 years but nobody has been recognizing that in the industry. So it’s good to see us getting the recognition and we are very happy for the recognition as well.


We have done a segmentation of our listenership, which we’re now coining Insights Nation Zlatko. What do you think about Insights Nation? Is that good?


Yeah. Insights Nation is good. Just make sure to trademark it before Live Nation comes to it and they say it’s too close to that name. But Insights Nation is probably right. So I think there’s a lot of discussion now on how to card frame the terms around the people within it. I think I always look at Sales Force and all these guys having their marketing cloud, client cloud. So you need to think about in terms of what can we actually – how do you bring all the people together. But Insights Nation, it sounds like something that is extremely catchy.


So with our segmentation, we’ve identified about half the audience are people that are looking to get jobs inside of either a brand, doing an insights function or a company like FocusVision where Ipsos, etc, etc. If you were entering into your career, so you’ve just graduated, what are a few steps that you would take in order to ensure that you got a job in marketing research.


I think I would try to understand first of all what’s happening in the industry. I think the industry is going through a lot of changes right now. And there is a lot of interesting, exciting things happening because of the changes of technology. So I would do my homework very well trying to understand how that fits the picture in terms of where I want to be a couple of years from now. Now I’ve also told you that I’m very, very – well, I do like to take risk, so probably my advice is not worth anything for the young kids out there in terms of what they should do. But I would actually look at the growth that you’re seeing in a lot of the large enterprises where they’re actually establishing large organizations that need to act extremely fast based on the customer feedback and based on other insights that they’re receiving from their clients. I think that would be an interesting thing to start but most of the people that I’ve met with the enterprise clients that they’re sitting on their various insights/analytical teams or any product teams or anything else out there. They started their career working in market research agency space first and I think it is sometimes good to start your career there and understand the basic of what you’re supposed to do


That’s exactly in line with what we had learned from Rogier at LinkedIn. That you could have that benefit of agency then go into brand or vice versa, but both inform each other.


Correct. I think it’s – once again, it’s one of these other discussions that it’s either one or the other and I don’t see it like that. I do see it as a more of homogenic environment where the brands and market research agencies need to create a better access to talent because the biggest problem they have out there is that there’s a fight for talent, regardless of which industry you’re in and in order for market research industry to become better at attracting that talent, there needs to be a change in how – what’s actually being offered out there in terms of the potential career but also the tasks that the people are doing. And I think that part hasn’t really been well defined and that’s primarily because market research is done by several – in several parts of organizations. So that takes some time for a lot of people to understand where they should actually go. But I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done because the fight for the talent base is really, really challenging. Everybody wants to work with Bitcoin, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality. So when you start speaking about the research analytics it sometimes tends to be slightly a second priority for a lot of the people out there starting their career in market research. But I do believe that right now this is probably the most interesting area to be in because you’re dealing with data, you’re dealing with customer experiences, and our ability to change a customer experience within a product or a brand has never been larger. So enabling that kind of possibility to really influence the client journeys and customer journeys is something that you don’t really get to do in any other industry. So I think we just need to do a better job in terms of communicating the opportunities rather than explaining to people what kind of methodologies they will be learning, how they can apply this in their work.


That’s brilliant. You know, you’re right. Getting a job is not just about you presenting yourself correctly or going through these steps, jumping through these hoops to get the interview but also – but you’ve got to have the attraction as the organization to get that top talent. I know that you’ve opened up an office in New York. I assume that was part of the reason is to get access to talent. What is FocusVision doing in order to tell that story that you just told to attract that talent?


Once again, I think right now the biggest thing that we are trying to do is really to tell the story about who we are today and where we want to take the business. And in terms of where do we want to be ten years from now. And I think that’s the story that you can attract people and you need to have that vision. If you don’t have the vision, it becomes not only difficult to get the right people but it also becomes very, very difficult to recruit people that want to have an ability to change. Money is not everything. I used to think otherwise for a lot of parts of my careers and then I became wiser as well many years ago. People do look for opportunities to evolve and to develop a skill set they don’t have. So we’re actually trying to facilitate that as much as possible. We are – most of our employees have career plans in terms of where we want them to be. I’ve been saying to each one of my employees since day 1 that I don’t want them to be here forever. I actually want to deliver their – I want them to be able to have great careers with us and then go and work for any of the dream companies that they want to do and have the dream job that they want to do. But I want to have an ability to one day to turn around and say that that person that’s a CEO of Google today, he started his career in FocusVision and this is what we gave that individual in terms of the space and support in order for him or her to grow in that particular career and get a job like that. So I’m extremely open when it comes to bringing – to making sure that people have the right careers as long as they have the right mindset in terms of doing what they believe is the right thing to do to progress their career.


That’s perfect. So on that note, what are the core characteristics, three characteristics of an all-star employee?


I think first of all it has to be grit. It needs to be somebody that’s not willing to put hours; I think it’s a little bit of a misunderstood concept, the hours. But somebody that really wants to understand the nitty-gritty detail, first of all because if you don’t understand it you cannot really correct anything. The second thing is very much of being passionate about what you do. It’s really understanding the – having the passion about improving something or creating something. If you don’t have that it’s going to be extremely difficult if somebody is standing in the corner and telling you what you need to do today, tomorrow, or the next six months. And I think the last thing, which I’ve always valued in terms of becoming a really good employee is ownership. It’s basically just taking the ownership of saying there is an issue that we are facing today. I think I might have a solution. I would like to be responsible for this part and then just taking ownership and delivering the solution. I think that’s one of the things that’s driving my career from where I started and I think for me, I think it’s a – if you want to be successful you have to be extremely focused on what you need to deliver, but you also have to take the ownership for making sure that it is delivered. Nobody is going to come and give you any task if you actually don’t make yourself available saying I actually think we can do this completely different. I always practice open-office policy or open-door policy where employees can come and tell me what I’m doing good or I’m doing bad. That’s been a little bit more difficult here in the states to be honest. I think the culture is slightly different with the employees, even though I’ve been facilitating that since day one. I didn’t get a lot of people coming through my doors and giving me that many suggestions. Some of them have. And that’s great. But I think for me growing up in especially Scandinavia, if you want to see candor and if you want to see people being honest, you should spend a day or two working for a Scandinavian company or a Dutch company because those are the most direct people in the world. I always grew up with working at a company where you could go to the CEO regardless which level you were at and you can tell him when he was doing his job good and what he needs to improve and he will actually sit and listen and take notes. And I think that’s exactly the way that you not only improve but you also empower your employees to give you feedback and thereby giving them more confidence that actually they can even help CEOs to tell them how they can improve their work and what needs to be corrected. So for me, those four things are the most important things in what the criteria and the skill set that people should look at in terms of what needs to be in place in order to be successful. And I think those four elements for me have been something that I’ve seen people through my career have that have accelerated quite well. Some people are a little bit more comfortable on the comfortable side in terms of just doing the thing they know how to do, which is also good. But I think once again, if we don’t take the risk and we don’t learn, it becomes difficult for all of us to develop. And that never really stops regardless how old we are.


I want to shift a little bit talking about Decipher and then we’ll move to the broader brand of FocusVision. So as most of our audience knows, Decipher is used by lots of companies as really the backbone of their insights. How has that being – how is that being leveraged by FocusVision in terms of accomplishing your strategy? Is it playing a major part within MarTech and is that then really the next big focus?


Yeah, I think it’s always been a focus of investing more in our software technology, especially on our quantitative survey tools. Right now we feel that there’s a shift in the market, which we’ve been seeing over the last couple of years but it’s really accelerated; not really only driven by us but most of the players in the market research space, especially the technology vendors. People are looking for more sophistication in the work that they do. First of all, market is moving much faster to a DIY solution where clients like LinkedIn and some of the other clients that I know you had on your show are really looking at internalizing a lot of research and it’s not because – people think it’s about cost. Cost has an impact but the main reason for that is the ability to deliver something fast and have those actionable insights. So for us Decipher has been a really amazing tool because we are in a slightly different position than most of our competitors in that space. I think that if we carve out that market space that we participating in, I think it’s – first of all it’s a completely different market space than most of our competitors are because they offer much more simpler solution in terms of the capabilities. So if we speak about the depth of the functionality and the power of the product, right now we’re really servicing that professional user and the good thing is that the market change that we’re seeing right now is that we’re seeing an increase in professional users, specifically among enterprise clients. So this is a core part of our strategy. The one place where we really want to invest is in our analytical capabilities because right now the market doesn’t really see the difference between the data collection platform and the analytical platforms that clear. They want all of it at once at the same price probably also. So this is something where we are actually investing quite significantly in terms of improving our analytic capabilities and bringing our product not only to the professional users but also some of the casual researchers that want to become much more sophisticated in their work. So it is a core of our strategy in terms of our quantitative offering and we do believe that we have a well-hidden Ferrari in our garage that a lot of people knew about but I don’t think that we’ve actually seen this much interest like we’re seeing now for the last couple of years. And that’s something to do with – there’s a bigger brand recognition around Decipher that’s been created for the last 10 years. And then the second part is this change in the appetite of how enterprise clients are purchasing the survey software has changed dramatically and we are seeing that change affect Decipher as well.


You think the pending IPO of Qualtrics and Survey Monkey are going to create additional opportunities for FocusVision?


Yes, I believe so. I think the Survey Monkey, I think – we don’t like to – I don’t know if that’s a – we are not really comparing our products. We don’t really compare Decipher with Survey Monkey because I think the functionality of the products are just completely different and user cases are also very, very different. Survey Monkey is for more simple research; Decipher is a far more sophisticated research. So we are catering for two different segments. But there’s definitely more attention in terms of the data collection tools on the quantitative side. I’m a big fan of both of the companies. I think I’ve been a Survey Monkey user for more than a decade in my previous life so that’s – I’ve always been a fan on that side. I think what Qualtrics has been doing over the last couple of years is tremendous. The growth that they’ve been having all over the world, they really understood the need and the change that’s happening on the technology side and have leveraged that completely. So I have the upmost respect for both of the companies and it’s interesting. You have two of the largest companies on the customer experience/survey quantitative offering doing IPOs very, very close. So that’s going to stimulate some demand in terms of what we do but I do think that a lot of the core users that we have are – have been really, really good ambassadors for us because a lot of the business that we get today is coming from referrals. And we actually do see that increasing over the next couple of years as well.


Yeah, I think it’s a really interesting point how you started out Survey Monkey and Qualtrics are really in a lot of ways euphemisms for insights are really important right now to help companies compete against Amazon. That’s the point right, and FocusVision is fairly uniquely positioned in the market because it not only has the quantitative, the Ferrari, but then it also has the qualitative side of things, GDP compliant, etc. out of the box. And so there is this sort of interesting market dynamic and it seems like opportunity that you and FocusVision are going to be able to fulfill.


Yeah. I think that part is changing as well. And I think that more the technology improves, the lazier we become, all of us in terms of how we see things and understand things. And I think I always used to have an argument saying if your user is used to simplicity of using an Uber app or Air BNB, or any kind of app out there or product or software, you better make sure that your software has the same usability. So I think we are kind of expecting now and that is happening in the market is that people are expecting to have everything at once provided by one simple vendor out there that can do everything – either do everything for them or deliver them the tools where they can do everything. Of course, another aspect that we didn’t touch upon is that the data privacy policies and security regarding data are going to be changing exponentially over the next couple of years. And I think people will be looking for really making sure that they’re working with the vendors who know and understand the data security policies that that vendor has in place. So I think part of it is data protection. The second part is really understanding the product. So today we are very fortunate to be able to offer both qualitative and quantitative tools for market research and data insights and analytics. And it’s been extremely helpful to have that ability to offer that to our clients. And I think you will still be able to find some of our clients that they don’t know that we actually offer a full suite of products but the ones that have that we have much more meaningful relationships with those clients. And for a lot of the instances we are actually I would say part of their DNA of that customer insights feedback loop and their entire organization is kind of built around ability to provide the insights and deliver on those insights. So that’s something that we’re extremely proud of. We are slightly unique in that positioning because most of the competitors that we compete out there with either cover one or the other side of the product portfolio. We are a slightly – once again, we’re in a slightly unique position for delivering a different kind of service to our clients. And this is something that we are really looking forward to not only proving but also creating an analytical layer on top of that so it becomes even easier for our clients to understand the insights.


Zlatko, you know me. I’m a sales guy 100 percent through and through. So I always have to ask this question when I’m talking with a guest. And that is is there a specific offering or product that you would like our listeners to hear about?


Right now I think the – for us, the most important thing is that we are really moving fast on building out our analytical capabilities. Some of the new products that we have in place will be launched later this year. And we have been really focusing a lot of building out various machine learning models and models that are based on the AI systems. We’re able to look at large quantities of data and start making sense out of it. So for our listeners out there, and your listeners out there, I think you will be able to see something completely different that FocusVision can offer compared to what we have today. On the other side, our flagship products and such have been extremely solid in terms of the user cases and we’ll be looking to improve a lot of those elements today. I think where we are extremely excited is that change to where we’re specifically seeing on the client side where the clients are actually purchasing multiple products that cover both qualitative and quantitative side and our ability to deliver on that. So I can’t really exclude one product or the other and say in terms of where opportunities are but I think really providing that insights engine to our clients is going to be a main focus over the next couple of years.


My guest today has been Zlatko, CEO of FocusVision. Zlatko, thank you for being on the Happy Market Research podcast.


Thank you for having me Jamin. It’s been a pleasure.


And thank you very much for everyone that is listening and leaving us reviews on Apple Podcast. A special thank you to G Frank 13 who said he appreciated the content and the thought-provoking questions. Everyone have a wonderful rest of your day.

Live at #IIeX Austin, Key Learnings from 21 Interviews

The Happy Market Research Mafia…er…I mean Podcast was live onsite at IIeX Austin this year! Below is a quick recap of some of the onsite interviews along with my big takeaways…

Casey Bernard – Nimble Modern Radio

A fellow PODCASTER! Casey is defining a new frontier, Podcasts for Market Research firms and Brands. I spoke about this as well at IIeX. 

Why podcasts? 

1. The listener feels like friends

2. Insight consumption in any context, e.g. on a flight, commuting, jogging, etc. 

3. Content recall is much higher than written, presentation, or video


Instead of a topline report, you get a journalistic podcast deliverable. Casey incorporates the actual voices of the customers and can include additional media formats including an interactive website with videos and images. 

Honestly, this is such an effective way to communicate high level insights that engage the entire company in a regular cadence. Listen to this episode and think creatively about how you can apply the learning to grow your business. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-casey-bernard-nimble-modern-radio/

David Paull – Engagious & Dialsmith 

We talk about audience engagement and podcasting. One of the biggest challenges we, as the market research industry, face is how to effectively market ourselves. While we are brilliant at the research, we have a hard time punching through to the actual buyer. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-david-paull-engagious/

Adriana Rocha – eCGlobal Solutions 

Perspectives on being a women in context of also being a software engineer, entrepreneur, and CEO. Based in LATAM and experiencing rapid growth globally, HBO is one of their marquee customers. She applied several hacks to create a ton of value for her HBO: 

1- Create an invitation only HBO Go Panel

2- Leverage trending shows, like Game of Thrones, increasing engagement 

3- Using non traditional incentives, like badges, to certify community members as content experts

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-adriana-rocha-ecglobal-research-solutions/

Andy Greenawalt – Odin Answers

Rebranded Odin Text. They pivoted from “what goes in” to “what goes out”. Odin Answers is the intersection between the text and segments that produces a just-in-time business insight. They specialize in servicing large Digital first companies. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-andy-greenawalt-odinanswers/

David Wolfe – Inguo

Brands are continuing to narrow their targeting communications to impact sales. Inguo is a spinout from the AI laboratory of NEC Corporation. The leading-edge research into advanced algorithms led to the breakthrough in data science to provide automated Causal Discovery and Causality Analysis – a first for the data science industry.

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-david-wolfe-inguo/

Forrest Sallee – Invoke

Invoke has built a consumer-driven decision making software platform. They offer a unique real-time digital testing option that gets you to data tables in under 90 minutes. Crazy!!! They use both closed and open ended questions and support both synchronous and asynchronous data approaches. 

We have an honest conversation about IIeX’s new US location in Austin. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-forrest-sallee-invoke/

Hannibal Brooks – Olson Zaltman 

This is the first time attending a market research event. It is interesting to hear his take on Greenbook’s main event, “I love the presentations. Tons of new application of AI. Loved the presentation of AI analytics of CPGs.”

A little about Olson Zaltman. As a founder in the System 1 framework, Olson Zaltman goes beyond traditional research to reveal deeper insight into your business issues — which leads to bigger and better results.

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-hannibal-brooks-olson-zaltman/

James Norman – Pilot.ly 

Pilot.ly is all about understanding your audience and using that understanding to make better decisions in a video context. Anyone who is creating content and needs feedback in real-time…Pilot.ly is a great fit. 

They have an innovative framework James calls “signal comprehension.” Respondents are exposed to any length of video from seconds to hours. Their feedback is automatically processed, analyzed and delivered to customers streamlining the creative process. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-james-norman-pilotly/

Jennifer Lauture – TD Ameritrade 

I was able to hear Jennifer’s presentation at IIeX in Austin and was lucky enough to have a few minutes with her on the Happy Market Research Podcast. She uses this event as a way to prescreen prospective venders. Believe me, this is a common thread among the other brands I talked with. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-jennifer-lauture-td-ameritrade/

Joaquim Bretcha – Netquest & ESOMAR 

May 2nd, 2019, was the first day of Market Research & Insights institutionalized by the UN. Obviously, this day has passed but please add it to your google calendar. The hashtag is #celebrateMR. This is a huge opportunity for us as an industry to celebrate our success and importance of being a unified front to both brands and legislative bodies. Market Research stands for full respect for the respondents and the insights that serves as a rudder of the brands we serve. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-joaquim-bretcha-netques-esomar/

Kerry Edelstein – Research Narrative

Research Narrative is a full service research & insights agency. They offer services in custom market research, insights and analytics consulting, media & social impact evaluation, data journalism, and insights communication coaching for research and data-focused professionals. 

Kerry has a positive vibe that just pulls you in. Her deliverable is a combination of insights and storytelling. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-kerry-edelstein-research-narrative/

Laura Drews Freund – Cranbrook Search Consultants 

With all the consolidation over the past year, there are a ton of you who may be looking for someone to help you find your next big thing. Laura offers a deep network for both brands and prospective employees. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-laura-drews-freund-cranbrook-search-consultants/

Manish Mittal – Course5

I’ve known Manish for years. Course5 was initially known as CrossTabs. Course5 has evolved to include 3 pillars: 

1- Research AI 

2- Digital analytics 

3- Market intelligence

They have been a major player who has navigated the major pivots to stay relevant and help their customers find the key insights that move the organization closer to the customer.

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-conference-series-manish-mittal-course5/

Marc Macellaio – Fuel Cycle 

Fuel Cycle’s Market Research Cloud is the first insights platform to combine online communities, product exchanges, panels, and more to power real-time business decisions. They have been around for a long time and have a deep connection with SurveyGizmo (darn those guys…didn’t get on the show!). 🙁

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-marc-macellaio-fuel-cycle/

Patricia Houston – MMR.live

A startup within MMR Research in Atlanta. Their focus is on improving consumer experience and future proofing research. Here is the core question,

“How long until panel is no more and getting people to take a survey is too much?” 

This is a very important question for us to answer as we continue to see email open rates drop and consumer attention getting shorter. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-conference-series-patricia-houston-mmr-live/

Ray Fischer – Aha! Online Research 

First off, he is the best voice in market research. For those that don’t know, Aha! Online is a Qual Platform used by many large brands to understand video. They support an asynchronous data collection approach including digital ethnography.  

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-ray-fischer-aha-online-research/

Rick Kelly – Fuel Cycle

Founded as Passenger. Now Fuel Cycle is a research cloud that has their own set of qual and quant solutions in addition to integrating external tools. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-rick-kelly-fuel-cycle/

Rob Benson – Dwindle

“Dwindling it down” 

They are a new entrant into the market research space. For those of us who have been around the space a long time…don’t forget, learning market research is a lot like learning a new language and culture. Rob and his partner are doing a great job of helping designers A/B test in realtime. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-rob-benson-dwindle/

Sheila Akinnusi – Nedbank

A senior market research manager for one of the largest banks in Africa. She attended the IIeX event with the intent to find out what the rest of the world is doing and bring home best practices. One of my favorite parts of this interview was her assertion that the Market Research is an open community that welcomes all people and groups. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-sheila-akinnusi-nedbank/

Steve Mast – Methodify

These guys CRUSHED the event! Here are some trade show tips I learned from them: 

1 – Stickers are cool even for professionals 

2 – Have fun to maximize attraction 

3 – The big opportunity for us is to embed Market Research tech into MarTech

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-steve-mast-methodify/

Tim Lawton – SightX

Solid company. This firm has the best UX for analytics of consumer data that I’ve seen. Their designers stay close to the customers ensuring their are getting from data collection to insights as fast as possible. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-tim-lawton-sightx/

Tom Anderson – Odin Answers 

This guy is the pioneer of text analytics. I’ve been a huge fan of his and his company. We even co-presented a few years ago at the CEO Summit. 

In this episode he talks about how important it is to triangulate truth through multiple data sources while including the customer voice. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-tom-anderson-odinanswers/

Vignesh Krishnan – SampleChain

SampleChain is a young startup. Vignesh brings a breath of relevant expertise to market research and technology. He was an early employee at Lucid. After leaving he started a DMP (Data Management Platform) that has tentacles into different parts of the industry including technology and sample with the intent of helping participants understand sample sources improving transparency and quality. 

Learn More: https://happymr.com/iiex-na-2019-vignesh-krishnan-samplechain/


I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s IIeX in Austin. Thank you Greenbook along with my fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

You can hear the full interviews at www.happymr.com. As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

It would mean a ton if you would share this article on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

#marketresearch #MRx #podcast #IIeX #userexperience

Power the Future of Insight Automation at MRMW

MRMW was a fun, informative and well attended show this year. Located in the heart of CPG land, Cincinnati Ohio, the speaker line up was amazing as were the exhibitors. The venue and space between speakers created a unique opportunities to have deep connections with partners. Dan Foreman (Zappi; Dalia; Bakamo; Veylinx; eYeka; MindProber; Haystack; Course5i; Voxpopme; Borderless Access; MRSS) & Baileigh Allen (ZigZag Research & Insights; Haystack, MindProber) kept things on track and fun!

The speaker lineup was among the best I’ve experienced. MRMW started with Kirti Singh, P&G’s Chief Analytics & Insights Officer and Gayle Fuguitt, Foursquare’s Chief of Customer Insight and Innovation who both gave inspirational and informative talks about the current and future state of the market research industry. Some of the other speakers included:

  • Jeffrey Hamilton, BMW
  • Rama Mallika, PayPal
  • David ludica, Facebook
  • Hetal Thaker Patel, iHeartMedia
  • Tia Maurer, Procter & Gamble

As the official podcast of MRMW, Happy Market Research had the honor of doing onsite interviews. Here are 14 of my favorite…

1. Brian Lamar, EMI Research Solutions 

For those that don’t know Brian is the best kind of people…fun, smart and humble. In this interview we talk about the role podcasting should play in your businesses along with the genius of my friend David Buttler’s recent creation, the viral Mars video:

Have a listen to Intellicast, Brian and Adam Jolley’s podcast, which offers a fresh perspective on the market research industry, sports, life and joviality.

2. Carol Shea, Olivetree Insights

In my conversation with Carol Shea, Olivetree Insights, we discussed one of today’s most important topics, “How can research move from a support function to a growth function?” The place to start is to understand what your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) will be for the research as it is often hard (*cough* impossible) to track to Revenue. For example, a KPI could be,

“How many times is the voice of the customer integrated into the business plan?” 

We also discuss tips and techniques for managing our next generation of researchers:

  1. Context vs checkbox management styles
  2. Collaboration 
  3. Get to the “Why” of the research 

You can find more information about Olive Tree Insights at https://www.olivetreeinsights.com/.

3. Courtney Akel, Georgia Pacific

Take the time to listen to this episode. Courtney talks about how market research is evolving and how that impacts us all in two ways: 

Firstly, partnerships are evolving. For example, instead of a wholesale outsource of the entire project, brands may opt to program the survey internally and then use their partners for the analytics.

Over the last 23 years in the space, we’ve seen in times of economic retraction that firms will move their cost basis outside. Over times of economic growth, firms invest internally on systems and people. The good news is regardless of the economic state, partnerships play a key role in delivering and activating insights. 

Secondly, we need to stay current with our skills. This is something I continue to hear as we are seeing more and more emphasis on data science. For her, this means learning both… 

  1. Python
  2. R

Learning to program is a lot like learning a new language. The good news is there are a ton of resources to help you. Courtney is using Codecademy

4. Gus Valen – Curator Video 

Research is a continuous process vs an event. This is picked up straight away by Gus in this insightful interview. His point of view of how market research is moving along w/the evolving customer journey is refreshing. We have all felt the tension between Observation vs Stated behavior. While Stated is easier to get, Observed can be more accurate outcome. But, is the juice worth the squeeze?

Curator Video is an end-to-end video management technology. If you have not seen them, I’d highly recommend checking them out.

5. Guy White – Catalyx

Founder Market Fit is a real thing and exactly how I started Decipher. Guy walks us through his founder journey and provides tips for early stage firms. With a background at P&G, Guy fell in love with the pain not the solution. This is key to successful innovation. If you are a technology looking for a problem…you will fail. 

Catalyx helps brands persuade more consumers to buy more, more often. They sit right in the middle of the innovation process. Find out more at http://thecatalyx.com.

6. Jill Kushner Bishop – Multilingual Connections 

Think translation and transcription are not innovating? Think again! Jill founded Multilingual Connections and has been applying technology to streamline internal work flows for faster and better deliverables. Jill tackles her business from the point of view of a seasoned expert in the field. 

Find them online at: https://multilingualconnections.com/

7. Justin Coates – Eastman Chemical Company 

Justin has been doing consumer research for over a decade and was recruited by Eastman to build the consumer insights function. As a manufacturer of chemicals, consumer insights is a new function that sits in corporate innovation.

Most of the industry is looking at the Qualtric’s acquisition by SAP for $8B as an insane multiplier. But! I’d think we are at the beginning of the J curve. Why?

When you look at the top performers in the SMP 500, you see Consumer Insights playing a key role in the decision-making process. Conversely, under performers don’t.  

The impact? As companies seek to become consumer centric, our industry is poised to crush it! Eastman Chemical Company is a perfect example of a massive firm that has historically done little to no consumer research but is right now making the shift.

8. Ludovic Depoortere – Haystack 

Ludovic had the best presentation of all time! Sorry to everyone else. 🙂

Ludovic did an experiment with the entire audience where we ate chocolate while listening to different types of music and how the music set a mood which impacted the taste. I hope he links the deck in the comment section. 

So, what does Haystack do? It is a multi-sensory research consultancy that focuses on multi-sensory, implicit, emotive, and contextual research. Creating an emotional connection to your brand is paramount. Haystack can help.

Check them out! https://haystack-international.com/

9. Maryana Stepanova – Borderless Access

A vet of MRMW, I couldn’t agree more with her about the value MRMW gives to participants and speakers. Maryana’s company is a full-service agency that has a proprietary invite only panel in 34 countries that validates respondents via social media. 

Yup! They have a website too: https://www.borderlessaccess.com/

10. Nihal Advani – QualSights 

Getting to “why” is vital. I believe we are at the beginning of a new era in market research where qualitative will play an increasingly dominant role in the insights function. 

Why? Research is basically a conversation at scale. You really don’t need to do quantitative research when you are a small firm…because you are already talking to your customers. But, as you grow that just isn’t feasible. 

With the rise of AI and Machine Learning, now qualitative tools like QualSights and Remesh give researchers the opportunity to have a conversation at scale… 

…which provides the quant perspective you’d get from a survey, e.g. “This is bigger than that” along with understanding the consumer’s “Why”. 

For more information on QualSights, please visit https://www.qualsights.com/

11. Niklas Anzinger – Dalia Research 

Dalia is a primary research firm with a proprietary mobile technology that emphasizes quality and depth of data. They uniquely enable organizations to feel the pulse of people around the world specializing in highly niche sub groups. 

As brands continue to tailor communication to niche customer segments and even to individuals, Dalia helps firms understand and successfully connect to their targets. 

Find out more: https://daliaresearch.com/

12. Rob Pascale – MAi Research

MAi Research develops custom market research solutions to address important challenges. They focus on 4 areas. Our chat centered more around their Text analytics platform which delivers broad concepts vs straight definitions. They uncover the true product and service consumption drivers. 

As an example, Rob talked about diapers (a topic I can relate to having 5 kids)… 

“People didn’t just care about leak protection but also absorbent jell. This pivoted the brand’s communication to protection from diaper rash yielding an oversized return for the company.”  

This is something every brand should checkout: https://www.mairesearch.com/

13. Rudy Bublitz – Digital Taxonomy

Digital Taxonomy has created an application that combines AI and human judgement to transform unstructured text into actionable insights. Their app is uniquely designed to be usable by literally anyone in the consumer insights ecosystem. They also have a set of open APIs. This is a neat company that is in the hyper growth stage.

Find them at: https://www.digitaltaxonomy.co.uk/

14. Will Krieger – Research America

Will has been a long-standing employee with Research America. He talks about how they have successfully managed their M&A strategy (16 acquisitions in 5 years). It all starts with employee “Fit”. For Research America, they have collaboration & integrity that helps them mesh together as a team. So rarely do you hear this from acquired firms…tons of positive energy in this episode.

Research America focuses on delivering high touch solutions to their customers for consistently delivering best in class consumer insights. 

And, finally: https://www.researchamerica.org/


I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s MRMW NA. Thank you Merlien Institute along with the fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

You can hear the full interviews at www.happymr.com. As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

It would mean a ton if you would share this article on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

#marketresearch #MRx #podcast #MRMW

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Happy Market Research Launches New Website

EMBARGO UNTIL:    Thursday, April 18, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT: Chueyee Yang, Digital Media & Social Media Strategist, chueyee@happymr.com

Happy Market Research Launches New Website

FRESNO, CA – The leading market research and insight podcast, Happy Market Research, launched its newly designed website at https://happymr.com. Given the volume of valuable content created by the podcast, our web traffic has been growing at a substantial rate making it vital we invest accordingly. The website has been designed to give users a more interactive experience with improvements in functionally and navigation.

“It has been a blast interviewing leading insight pros from top brands and agencies including Adobe, Coke, ESOMAR, General Mills, LinkedIn, Mastercard, Microsoft, P&G, Pfizer, Qualtrics, TNS, and Toluna,” said Jamin Brazil, Host of the Happy Market Research Podcast. “Each episode tells the story of how they ended up in research, current unmet needs, and keys to driving success in life and business. These interviews are our story, our journey into research, our pain points, and the core values that define us.”

The new website will enable listeners to find specific episodes and desired insights, as well as have the ability to join the Insights Nation newsletter. We are thankful for the financial support of our sponsors: Attest, Clearworks, G3 Translate, M/A/R/C Research, Schlesinger, and Toluna.

If you’d like to show your support, visit the Happy Market Research’s Patreon page.

About Happy Market Research

Founded by Jamin Brazil in July 2018, Happy Market Research is a podcast show that delves deeply into the challenges and opportunities facing the market research industry. With expertise from Brazil, cofounder of Decipher and former CEO of FocusVision, the show highlights important industry topics and has interviews from some of the top industry experts and major brands, such as Merrill Dubrow, CEO of MARC; Rogier Verhulst, Head of Insights of LinkedIn; and Stacey Walker, Consumer Insights Leader at Adobe.

8 Essential Tips For CEOs in 2019

All CEOs face significant challenges regardless of their tenure in the post. As the market evolves, so too does our objectives along w/our methodology.

Here are some tips to remember if you’re a CEO or someone responsible for a product or book of business.


We already know that our success is predicated on the success of our team. But, how do you give staff just the right amount of responsibility?

Michael J Vigeant, CEO of GreatBlue Research, has this practical advice…

I ask my staff this question, “When do I get in your way and how can I get out of your way?”

These simple questions put both autonomy and accountability squarely on the shoulders of your team.

By asking, “When do I get in your way?”, you are removing any outcome-based excuses. And by asking, “How can I get out of your way?”, you are creating a solutions-oriented conversation that requires any performance-based issues or blind spots to be addressed.

This will create a clear set of steps towards transferring work from you to them.


If you are playing the long game, add value. It is as simple as that. Founded in 1998, Cint was the first player in the sample market place. Mike Misel, SVP of Americas says,

“It is our job to make our customers’ lives easier. We think about ourselves as in the supply chain management space. We are adding value by taking their antiquated processes and bringing them into a modern place.”

By viewing your product or service through the eyes of your customer you will do 2 things:

  1. Understand their real pain points
  2. See how your solution helps them

This framework gives you a clear basis for doing business and changes the conversation from one of sales to helping. And, we all like helping a heck of a lot more than salesing.


As pricing pressures drive down overall sample costs, we have to understand that this impacts how much a sample company can spend on their people and service. This principle holds true for any industry.

Given the enormous pricing pressures among publicly traded companies, sample (people that take surveys) has taken the brunt of the pressure resulting in an increase of concern around data quality.

Meanwhile, under Mendy’s leadership, Prodege continues to have a thriving sample business. Why?

“The market appreciates our high level of transparency.”

There are many different brands of cars. Some are cheap and some are expensive. Why the variance? They each attract and contribute to a different set of needs. The motivation around buying a BMW is different than a Teslsa…which is different than a Civic.

By understanding the market and your customer, you know where you win and where you don’t. In the same way you wouldn’t try and sell a Civic buyer a BMW; you need to know your target customer and focus your solutions to their needs.

I call this the “Right Shoe for the Right Foot” principle.


Anne’s husband was one of the Freedom Riders (a civil rights activist who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and subsequent years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Morgan v. Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional).

Anne is vocal about issues around diversity,

“How is diversity going to play into the lives of our future leaders?”

CEOs have a huge opportunity to support underrepresented and suppressed groups. One of my favorite examples of this is AT&T’s multi-year commitment to The Trevor Project and $1 million donation.

Know who you are and stand by that. If you try and maintain relevancy to everyone, you’ll wind up being relevant to no one.

PS I love her website.


As a leader, we will all experience breakthrough revenue quarters along with periods of retraction. Don’t be fooled by periods of prolonged prosperity. Merrill has a saying, “Profits hide problems.” Be constantly humble.

“What type of a leader do I need to become. Take a good hard look at the resources available. Pull from many different inspirations so you have a solid foundation to build upon. For me, Founder’s Mentality is one of those inspirations.”

If you are humble, then you’ll look outside yourself which creates inspiration and maintains relevancy. As Tim explained in his talk, when he applied this self-reflection he became the leader Quester needed. As a result, 2019 will be the best growth year they have ever seen (that is my prediction based off some data and my gut).


In the early days of Decipher, I tried to sell my first accounts access to our DIY survey tool. This was met with, “I’d rather someone else program my surveys.” So, we pivoted to offer services. Over time the market evolved to adopt our DIY platform, but services always played a linchpin role in all our enterprise level deals.

Anders nailed this point in our interview,

“End clients in North America are more interested in software enabled services…but services are still part of it.”

All too often, technology is seen as the Unique Selling Proposition. But, it isn’t. What doeswin is your connection with your customers at a human to human level. That is why I’m bullish on Microsoft’s recent announcement of moving from AI to Human Augmented Intelligence.

Wrap services around your customers and you’ll expedite corporate adoption and shorten sales times.


We’ve likely all been guilty of making an announcement in an All Hands meeting about some new policy or strategic direction and expected everyone to jump right in line. Of course we know what happens…as soon as you are done speaking, people forgot and get back to doing things the same way.

My rule of thumb is that every change you introduce will take 3 months before your team can get on board. And, if you layer in an additional change before the full adoption of your first change then you are undoing any work done to date and likely will loose credibility with your team.

Camille has experienced consistent growth at Gongos. One of the reasons she gave for their success was their application of “urgent patience“,

“The Art of Urgent Patience. As the CEO, I know where we want to go. I can see it. But you’ve got to meet people where they are.”

I have never heard of the concept before…but she just nailed it. Patience isn’t passive. It is active and creates focus. Successful CEOs know change is necessary so you better get to the grind so you can move to the next big thing.


The adage, “It’s lonely at the top” is 100% true and the bigger your organization, the higher the mountain…thinner air…colder…more isolation…scarier.

I loved my conversation with Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360,

“It’s very difficult being the CEO of a company and you don’t have easy or frequent access to other CEOs. This conference is great for meeting other CEOs and hearing their struggles, wins and tactics.”

Rob is exactly right. I’ll end this bit on another old adage, “You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most.” Actively seek to level up your peer group.


I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s CEO Summit. Thank you Insights Association along with the fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

You can hear the full interviews here on www.happymr.com. As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

2 Trends in Market Research from 31 Interviews at IIeX

On February 18th and 19th, Greenbook hosted the 5th annual IIeX in Amsterdam. While the venue was among the best I’ve ever seen, there was an overriding theme that surfaced, research empowerment

After doing over 80 interviews on the Happy Market Research Podcast among some of today’s top minds in market research, a theme is coming into focus: Research Empowerment

There were a ton of great talks and exhibitors a this year’s IIeX Amsterdam. Here are my 2 big takeaways from: 

1. Regardless of where you sit in your organization, consumer experience is part of your job. 

It used to be the case that doing a survey or one-on-one was hard. Those days are long gone. Today there are a host of tools including SurveyMonkey and Discuss.io that facilitate nearly instant access to consumers. 

Today’s tools are easy enough for even my mom to use but robust enough for most professional researchers. But that doesn’t mean research rigor is in place.

Most people who need the consumers’ point of view to inform their work have the ability to do a survey. For example, about 10 years ago a colleague told me there was a study done by Oracle on what tools their staff used to conduct research. They were surprised to learn that there were about 5,000 individual subscriptions to SurveyMonkey! 

Each person who has to make a decision about design that impacts the customer journey, al needs the customers’ point of view in near real-time. Tools make getting this point of view easy. But is that good?


The problem with the democratization of research is that non-researchers often don’t understand the basics. Jake’s tweet on the right talks about many issues facing modern researchers. But show that list to non-researchers and see how much they actually understand.

The question isn’t,

“How do I get untrained researchers that are not in my department to stop doing research?” 

The question is,

“How do I empower them to get quality insights?” 

2. Insight Automation is a tool, not the answer. 

Research Automation as a value proposition has come into full bloom in market research. It addresses the conundrum, 

“Quality. Timing. Cost. Pick 2.”  

By automating the logistics function of research, we can spend more time on the “Now what and so what” of research. The real value prop is “Quality, Timing, and Cost…now you get all 3.”

Leveraging research automation can make hard things like adding external behavior data from your firms data lake become easy…even automated. This leaves you time to build a journalistic narrative that moves the company to change.

But, if Research Managers democratize insights as opposed to trying to centralize them, there must be an approval process. For example, in a recent chat with a P&G exec…they are concerned about research findings from different studies being compared over time.

“There is a lot that can change between studies including market conditions. With out setting the context or understanding what the business has done, you may misunderstand the drivers of of change.” 

Across your organization, people are doing research. This is why you have such a significant rise in data scientists and user experience researchers. Both of those job functions usually sit outside the purview of Market Research and are leveraged heavily because they have integrated insights into the daily tasks and workflows of designers and developers. 


Where and how should researchers deploy research empowerment? To answer this, I have simplified things…maybe too much…into two types of research: 

  1. Macro: These are commissioned by executives and have strategic implications for the business. Researchers must always be involved, if not outright in charge, of this type of work. 
  2. Micro: These spawn when there is a question like, “Which graphic is better?” or “What would the customer want to see here?” or “Is there a missing feature?” These are numerous and made through the organization. While they are not mission critical, the right choice has impact; so we want the person to have the tools and knowledge to incorporate the customer into their thinking. 

Most research that is done outside of the market research function is stuff we’ve been doing for decades: Satisfaction, Usability, Conjoint, Segmentation, etc. This is where we, as market researchers, can pull ahead and offer…

  1. Research automation tools such as Zappi or PureSpectrum offer firms the opportunity to standardize common methodologies and question types. This takes much of the risk out of the research. Additionally, by employing a research knowledge management system like KnowledgeHound you can create visibility on active and past projects ensuring presentations are inline with findings. This is a hell of a lot better than pretending research isn’t being done.
  2. Guidance: Once a month, a colleague of mine creates a SlideShare and then hosts a lunch-and-learn for the User Experience team where they cover a methodology, best practices, new tech, research tips, and Q&A. 

The technology should centralize the research putting research as the principle of insights and allows the organization to become better at getting and understanding the consumer voice.


So, what is the role of the corporate researcher? In part,


We need to establish best practices and guide the use of the right tools for the right jobs to ensure the implications from the customer views is accurate and impactful. 

As always, it would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. I wish you all success and happiness!

Shameless Plug

PureSpectrum has a lot to offer on this front. By partnering with existing automation solutions or by building them from the ground up, you can help improve your velocity of insights while saving money. Let me know if you’d like to talk: jamin@purespectrum.com.