Our guest today is Dyna Boen, Managing Director at Escalent.
Escalent is a human behavior and analytics advisory firm specializing in industries facing disruption and business transformation. Their customers include Land Rover, Volvo, Johnson and Johnson, and Comcast.
Prior to joining Escalent, Dyna served as the Head of Audience Sales at SurveyMonkey and served as a key executive at Lucid and Upwave. She also gives back to the market research industry by serving on the board of directors of WIRe (Women in Research) and the Insights Association.
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This episode is brought to you by Momentive. You may have heard that SurveyMonkey’s parent company recently rebranded as Momentive, a leader in agile insights and experience management. The Momentive AI-powered insights platform is built for the pace of modern business so you can deeply understand your market, elevate your brand, and build winning products faster.
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Jamin Brazil: Hi everyone. I’m Jamin. You are listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Dyna Boen, managing director at Escalent. Escalent is a human behavior and analytics advisory firm specializing in industries facing disruption and business transformation, which is just about everybody. Their customers include Land Rover, Volvo, Johnson & Johnson, Comcast, etc., etc. Prior to joining Escalent, Dyna served as the head of audience sales at SurveyMonkey and served as a key executive at Lucid and Upway. She also gives back to the market research industry by serving on the board of directors of WIRe, that’s Women in Research, and the Insights Association. Dyna, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.
Dyna Boen: Jamin, it’s always great to spend time with you. As you know, I’m a happy market researcher.
Jamin Brazil: I’ve done hundreds of interviews with as top minds in market research. Many of them trace their role to Michigan state’s marketing research program. Are you looking for higher pay to expand your professional network and to achieve your full potential in the world of marketing research. Today, the program has tracks for both full-time students and working professionals. They also provide career support, assisting students to win today’s most sought after jobs. In fact, over 80% of Michigan states marketing research students have accepted jobs six months prior to graduating. The program has three formats. The first is a full-time 100% online program that is taught over 12 months. It starts in January, 2022. The second is a part-time 100% online program, it lasts 20 months and it starts in May, 2022. It’s specifically designed for working professionals. Of course, they offer a full-time 12 month in-person experience that starts in September, 2022. All programs include real world experience with full-time job placement support. If you are looking to achieve your full potential check out MSU’s program at broad. msu. edu/marketing, that’s B-R-O-A-D. msu. edu/marketing. It costs nothing to get more details. Take the time, invest in yourself. You are worth it. Class sizes are limited. So, please check them out today. This episode is brought to you by Momentive. You may have heard that SurveyMonkey’s parent company recently rebranded as Momentive, a leader in agile insights and experience management. The Momentive AI powered insights platform is built for the pace of modern business. So, you can deeply understand your market, elevate your brand and build winning products faster. Momentive offers 22 purpose built market research solutions that incorporate an AI engine built in expertise, sophisticated methodologies, and an integrated global panel of over 144 million people to deliver meaningful insights and hours not months. Momentive also has a team of market research consultants that can take on anything from research design to custom reporting as needed. So, you can spend more time shaping what’s next for your organization. To learn more, visit momentive. ai, that’s M-O-M-E-N-T-I-V-E. ai. Well, and I can tell you this, you were one of my first guests ever, and I’m very thankful for you taking a risk on me and participating back in the day.
Dyna Boen: Well, it was a lot of fun the first time we did it and I expect it to be a lot of fun today.
Jamin Brazil: Let’s get to it. The Insights Association recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of market research. Nominations are done by peers and are awarded based on the degree of impact that the nominees have made on the insight’s industry itself. What does it mean for you have been acknowledged by the Insights Association as an IPC laureate?
Dyna Boen: Well, Jamin, it means a lot. In fact, the day that I received the information or the award that I was a laureate, it was my birthday and I got really emotional because it was a surprise. I didn’t expect it. It wasn’t something that I applied for or knew was coming in any way. So, I think because of that, because it was a surprise recognition and because of the other people that were also mentioned as laureates, who are people, some of which have been mentors to me, friends, colleagues, business partners, along our journey in our careers, to be on a list with people that I admire and have looked up to in my career, really, it struck me right in the heart. So, I still get emotional thinking about it. I think, to me, a career is something that you pour your heart in and I’m just generally very passionate about the industry and about my role in it and my career at the companies that I’ve served and the people that I’ve served at those companies and so it brings a smile to my face and it really warms my heart that that work has been recognized. I also think a lot about what it means, because it doesn’t mean you’ve reached some kind of endpoint. It’s a recognition of, “Oh, you need to continue to serve. You need to continue to serve and bring your talents and strengths to the industry to help others”. So, since I’ve received that award, I’ve doubled down on some things that are new and things that are still coming with Insights Association, that I hope to continue to make an impact on the industry, as well as a positive impact on the lives of individuals in our industry.
Jamin Brazil: Of course, giving back as part of your ethos. You started, or with Kristin Luck helped start WIRe, women in research, which is having a huge positive impact on-
Dyna Boen: WIRexec. To be clear, Kristin started WIRe.
Jamin Brazil: Not WIRe, WIRexec.
Dyna Boen: But WIRexec, which is a program at WIRe that I’m super proud of as is the team of women who were on the founding committee for that, which is Kristin. I appreciate her taking a risk on the idea with us, Bri Moore and Heidi Dicker. So, it’s been a group effort and it takes a team as you know.
Jamin Brazil: Yes, it really does. So, many laureates they serve as mentors to other inside of the industry at varying levels of their career. Can you provide some advice for young professionals in the insights industry? Another way of thinking of it is, like if you were entering into the insights industry today, what’s some advice you wish someone would give you?
Dyna Boen: I have always felt very strongly that if you want to grow, you need to raise your hand. So, if there’s something that excites you, if there’s something that you want to be a part of, take a risk and raise your hand and volunteer. It’s often the things that aren’t part of your job description that take you to new heights and new places in your career. At every moment in my career where I’ve done something outside of what was my typical job description, it stretched me and it’s taken me to the next level. So, I would encourage anyone to do that, to raise your hand, any leader that has somebody saying, I want to help you build your vision, whatever that is, is going to be excited to have the help and they’re going to be crazy not to embrace somebody who’s raising their hand to get involved.
Jamin Brazil: Love it. That is exactly right, because it puts some burden on the individual. To stand out from the crowd and volunteer their time. I think about like all the different opportunities there are for young people or recent entrants to be able to give back to our community. It’s quite literally limitless. I think a lot of times they might hold off on wanting to raise their hand because they feel like they can’t actually add anything, but you and I both know that’s the opposite.
Dyna Boen: Absolutely. You learn as you go. I definitely I’m OK with making mistakes. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say that to get to a level of professional maturity or maybe just tenured maturity in my life. Because I think at many times in my career, I strive to be a perfectionist, but I’m much more in the camp of done as better than perfect and we’re going to learn as we go. I’m comfortable with the discomfort of that. Because if you sit and wait to do the perfect plan, you’re never going to get moving on things and get things off the ground. When I get involved with projects, I will always tell people that I’m a person of action. So, if you want movement, not perfection, but movement and growth and things to start happening, that’s where I’m a good fit.
Jamin Brazil: So, speaking of things happening, managing director at Escalent, that is a big deal. Tell us a little bit about the business.
Dyna Boen: I love the business. Look, it’s December 14th, 2021. So, it’s been quite a year and I started officially in my role in September of 2020. So, many leaders had all sorts of challenges, some growth challenges, some retraction challenges, some talent finding challenges, staffing challenges. So, we’ve all seen them all over the course of the last 18 months in various different flavors. I certainly have. It’s been a roller coaster ride and I try to ride the middle, but the ups and the high highs and the low lows are there. This year, I would say, we had a solid Q4 at the ending 2020 after what was a year of crazy, but just so much uncertainty. We were bullish about our growth plan for 2021, my team and I, my leadership team for my business in the org and we had a slow start to the year. Solid Q4 and you know how you’re in Q4 and you’re doing planning and you’re like, next year’s going to be amazing. But for my area of the business, it was a little bit of a slower start than we expected. Then we really, right around June started to see a tidal wave of change happening and we’ve truly had an amazing growth year. So, in December having this conversation, I feel grateful. I feel lucky. I have a more talented team today than what I started with at the beginning of the year. They are absolutely kick ass the best in the industry and it is because of them that I am able to say, we are having a fantastic year. So, today I’m super excited. If you would have talked to me in June, I would’ve been like, “Oh, my God”. So, but I always share the ups and downs because I don’t like to paint a picture that things are always rosy. I might be doing less webinars and podcasts when things aren’t rusty, because I’m busy trying to fix stuff. But yes, it’s the reality and so I’m feeling grateful and we’re planning for the future right now and the future is bright.
Jamin Brazil: That’s so exciting. I love hearing the negative actually more than the positive. I mean, it’s fantastic that you’ve pulled out of that, but in every way we judge ourselves based on our perception of the people around us or the companies around us, and nobody really lives up to the hype of social media and what we see there. I think there’s a lot of negativity that we build in our heads around, oh, everybody’s doing better than me. The industry’s blowing up, et cetera, et cetera and I’m not taking advantage of it. I appreciate your transparency and willingness to be vulnerable and really true, which is of course, part of who you are. Because it’s a big impact on the operators inside of the industry. You and I both know that everybody isn’t doing fantastic even coming into Q4, or out of Q4.
Dyna Boen: Well, I think memes get you through the- funny memes and videos. I honestly, they just lighten the load when things are rough and I am a pretty upbeat person. I tend to be super positive. I look at the world that way, but there’s been moments over the course of the last two years where you just got to believe in yourself in what you’re doing, even when everyone else is like, what are you doing? Like, just hang on, hang on. I’ve got a plan, we’re executing on it. When you’re a pendulum swinger, you just got to take care of yourself-
Jamin Brazil: You got to hold on.
Dyna Boen: And believe in what you’re doing.
Jamin Brazil: For sure. I think that’s exactly right. The power of the meme. So, what is one trend issue or technology that you anticipate will have a significant impact in 2022 and beyond?
Dyna Boen: I am thinking a lot about communities right now. I know that’s not the newest technology, but I see so many amazing ways to use communities for many of the clients that we serve. If we think about what’s going on and I will articulate this through the lens of consumer and retail, because that is one of the areas that my team has domain expertise in and I spend a lot of time in. So, as I think about consumer and retail, people want, and I think we saw this come out on great today. I think we saw a data point on this. It was actually measured by Alita as 90% of customers want an experience that’s unique and tailored and customized to them. The best way to learn about that for a brand or for a product or a services company is through communities. So, I saw that data point today and probably stood out for me because it’s something I’m thinking a lot about in terms of consumer and retail overall, and our customer base, especially customers that have in-person experiences, retail restaurants, retail stores, some of which are online experiences as well. I think about it as a consumer myself and when you have a good experience. So, what does that mean and how do we do a better job understanding what a unique customer experience is that truly delights that customer. The deeper insights are going to come from those community technology platforms and that type of insights learning.
Jamin Brazil: It’s funny, I just did a study on millennials this last Sunday. So, I launched against an existing community of real humans and nine o’clock, we launched a study and by six o’clock that evening, I had 200 people who provided me a combination of qualitative and quantitative feedback, including video open ends. There’s like this, there’s this connection that you can make with that level of access and that you just can’t make inside of a normal panel. I don’t mean any disrespect to my friends at any of the panel companies, they definitely serve a material partner or industry, but it’s hard to get like video open ends and things like that from non-managed communities.
Dyna Boen: Panels are a great purpose to go out outside of a community and got broader market reads. So, there’s a ton of values to that, but communities are going to tell you- I remember the first community that I ever did, it was probably over 10 years ago now. It was a baking brand. People who know what companies I’ve worked for in the past could probably guess what that brand is, but I don’t want to go into too much detail. But this baking brand had a community that people would, they didn’t even need incentives, they loved getting recipes and they loved the product so much that it just took on a life of its own. People in the community met each other outside of the online community in real life and swapped recipes and these things. There’s just so much power in that for a brand to understand that relationship at that level and you now that people love your brand when they don’t need to be incentivized at all to participate in these types of research activities.
Jamin Brazil: That’s so interesting. If we had more time, I’d love to dive in more in the topic of incentives, but that is for another day, which you and I will pick up later. My last question to you is what is your personal motto?
Dyna Boen: Well, so it’s interesting that you ask me because we just came off of WIRexec and typically, that’s a spring event, but because of travel and whatnot, we just did it in November. One of the things that’s really special about WIRexec, is that you think about your intention for the next year, and you can decide if you want to proclaim it and share it. I proclaimed and share that mine is finish strong. So, sitting here in December after all that I already shared about the year, it’s just finish strong. It means a lot to me right now. It’s not a new motto. On most days, I’d probably say dynamite because of my name, but right now, it’s finished strong because I want to finish the year strong. But it’s also, my daughter’s a senior in high school. My momming is going to be changing, the momming part of my job. So, I’m momming up and finishing strong for the second half of her senior year of high school and getting ready to send her off to college. So, it means a lot to me in my professional, as well as my personal life. I’m a lifelong runner. So, if you’re a runner and you’ve crossed the finish line, you know you need to finish strong. So, it resonates with me all the way around.
Jamin Brazil: My guest today has been Dyna Boen, managing director, Escalent. Thank you so much, Diana for joining me.
Dyna Boen: Thank you, Jamin. I love being an IPC laureate with you.
Jamin Brazil: Oh, big virtual hug.
Dyna Boen: Hugs.
Jamin Brazil: Everyone else. Hope you enjoyed the episode. I am thrilled that you gave us so much of your time. If you found some value, please screen capture, share on social media, tag me and I will send you a t-shirt for reals. Have a great day.