Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 208 – Michael McCrary – How PureSpectrum Has Redefined Research Automation

Today, my guest is Michael McCrary, Founder and CEO of PureSpectrum. Founded in 2015 PureSpectrum is a modern day technology firm that aims to be the AWS for empowering research automation. Prior to founding PureSpectrum, Michael helped pioneer both Cint as Managing Director and Lucid as President. Additionally, he served as SVP of North American sales for Greenfield Online.






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On episode 208 of the Happy Market Research Podcast, I’m chatting with Michael McCrary, founder and CEO of PureSpectrum.  But first a word from our sponsor.


This episode is brought to you by G3 Translate.  The G3 Translate team offers unparalleled expertise in foreign language translations for market researchers and insight professionals across the globe.  Not only do they speak hundreds of languages, they are fluent in market research. For more information, please visit them at G3Translate.com.


Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast.  My guest today is Michael McCrary, CEO and founder of PureSpectrum. Founded in 2015, PureSpectrum is a modern-day technology firm that aims to be the AWS for empowering research automation.  Prior to founding PureSpecturm, Michael helped pioneer both Cint as Managing Director and Lucid as President. Additionally, he served as SVP of North American sales for Greenfield Online. Michael, thanks very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


It’s my pleasure.  Happy to be here.


So, we’d like to start the podcast with an introduction of how you wound up in market research, right?   Nobody starts their journey in kindergarten… “I want to be a market researcher.”


No, they don’t.  [laughter] Interesting question.  Before I got into this industry, I worked in publishing in New York City for a company called Meredith Corporation.  And at Meredith Corporation, I had the responsibility of selling a magazine called Midwest Living.  And being in New York City, the Midwest was thought of as the fly-over states.  So I had to become pretty proficient in using data to support the ad sales initiatives.  It was a beautiful magazine. People on the West Coast would know Sunset as its comp and Southern Living in the South and Yankee…  


We had both, by the way, in our household.


Yeah, me too.  So I knew data, and, oddly enough, I was connected to Keith Price and just outside of business.  And that was the time when Greenfield Online had just sold its customer research business to TNS and was going to be focused exclusively on data collection sample.   


So, what year is this?  This is like ’99, 2000?


It’s after the dot.com bust.  So it’s around 2002. And I’m in print magazine, and I can see the handwriting on the wall that this isn’t going to go well because you had advertising starting to take off online, but it was …


That was a tough time for print.  


It was still actually good at that time because there was a lot of skepticism.  If you go back to 2002, there was still… Television was still the big, dominant winner in ad dollars.  Print was still pretty big. Now that looks very different today, but nobody really knew exactly what was going to transpire with online.  There were a thousand different sites. This was before automation took place… the exchanges, and the platforms. Just a thousand calls from a thousand websites.  So being in a big company like Meredith gave scale and leverage. So, I knew I wanted to do something online. And I was familiar with data, and it just so happened that Greenfield Online was hiring people to do sales.  And I, obviously, had no idea what I was doing when I got there, but had great… You know, you think about the people who are on Greenfield Online. I’m very proud to say I’m part of the Greenfield Mafia. The people that came out of that company…    


I mean Greenfield, for those who don’t know, they were the early movers in the… and a dominant player by far…in the online sampling space.  Super early, super early. You and… There’s a company called Zoomerang that started right around that same time, now acquired by SurveyMonkey, of course.  They were the go-to source for sample.


Yeah, it was Zoomerang; you had Greenfield Online; you had Survey Sampling; you had Harris Interactive.


And that was when Survey Sampling was pulling their phone bank into garnering emails for exactly building that list up.


Absolutely, so it was pretty limited competition.  And I’ll never forget actually starting to work there.  For those that work in magazine or ad sales, your year, you can live and die by making the list or not.  So you spend a lot of time proactively selling, giving in to the plan. That’s up front for television. It’s the planning.  You might not be out for the whole year but, if you’re not on the first cut, then you’re constantly behind.   

Then getting into this industry, where I was so used to proactively always selling, always trying to get people to consider Midwest Living, which wasn’t the easiest sell in New York City, I started getting these things called the RFPs and RFQs.   And I just wasn’t used to this like inbound like, “Hey, how much would you charge me to do this, right?” Anyway, I just liked it.  So I almost instantly felt like this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. To me, sampling and market research is both cerebral; there was an element of it being tech and online, which I was happy to be able to say that I was in the online business.  And ever since then, I’ve never had a desire to be out of this industry. I really enjoy what we do and the people that we deal with.


So, talk to me a little bit about… there’s two things that stand out to me.   And I had never actually processed this before. The Greenfield Mafia – I love that!  And that’s exactly right. I mean Hugh Davis, Keith Price, yourself. Who else notably came out of that?     


Alright, so you have George Llorens; so he’s one of the co-founders of Innovate even though they were acquired by Matt Dusig and Gregg Lavin were acquired by Greenfield and we were public. They weren’t part of the GMI or e-Rewards.  For those of you who don’t know, Dynata Research, now e-Rewards back track. I don’t want to forget… Terence McCarron. He has started a successful business of his own.




Richard Thornton, right?  He has a very senior role at Cint, and he was part of Mark Simon, who’s still with Toluna.  So there’s just so many people that have gone on either to be important leaders in companies that became important or founded companies that are important or trying to become important.   


Yeah, it was a super fun time.  It was like a lot of the people that are in leadership right now…  By this I mean like long term, more institutional leadership in the industry – not like hired guns.   I mean they’re still around, and they’re doing freaking crazy things like the Dynata acquisition of Reimagine, yeah.  That was a big deal.


Yeah, that is a big deal.  [laughter] I’m very, very happy for both Research Now as a side group and Keith and Hugh and other people that aren’t known there, like John Almeida and those that are partners in Reimagine ‘cause I really think most people discount how hard it is to start a business, get through the first couple few years, and then to scale it, and then for it to become more valuable than just the founder, to have a business that has scale.  So I’m really happy for Keith and Hugh and John for putting this overnight success of ten years together.


Yeah, I think that’s a great point in terms of the grit associated with building real shareholder value and…  If you follow their story… Even forget the name of the company when they first started but it obviously…


Reinvention was the first name.


It was Reinvention.  That’s right. It was Reinvention.  Then they bought Critical Mix, of course, which gave them a survey platform.  And they’ve done what? Two big sample acquisitions, company acquisitions along the way?


I don’t want to get it wrong, but they’ve definitely made some really smart acquisitions along the way.  And I really respected the way they were able to keep the founders around and not try and mush the cultures in.  I think they’ve done a good job over the years upholding a good umbrella of cooperative businesses while allowing them to flourish as independent as well.    


So, you and I have talked separately outside of this conversation about the overall size of the spend in the sample space.  And we’ll call it (I mean this number isn’t right) but we’ll just call it 2 billion dollars.


I think that’s…  Probably on the high end is 2 billion, and the low end is probably

1 billion, and it’s probably 1.5.  I think it’s hard to quantify ‘cause we have a kind of a casual industry that doesn’t have to document these items.  But I think 1.5 feels right.


So, you’re at 1.5.  Now the rolled up, as you said, Reimagined Holdings and then [Dynata], SSI – it’s just this humongous beast. There’s not a bigger company by a long shot.  They’re a large part of the global spend. In fact, if you going to do a project at scale, it might be hard to do it without Access.


It’d be hard to avoid them, yeah.  I mean I don’t say that in a negative way.  It’s just I don’t think people give credit to companies and the convenience of scale that they can bring.  Where it might be one thing to work with a company in one country, but if you need to do something in 10, 20, 30 countries, the scale and expertise to pull that off.  There’s only a handful of companies that can really individually do that. Yeah, they’re large. They’ve definitely been very… They’ve pulled off these series of mergers.  It was to be see, the other ones pending approval, but they’ve done a good job. I’ve seen other meagers acquisitions not go well from my perspective.  Just for clarity’s sake, we are not part of Dynata.  I know people get confused about you know…


PureSpectrum being tethered to Dynata?


Correct, right, right.  Because both, a couple of years back, there was a press release that ResearchNow made an investment and Critical Mix made an investment.  So, I’m here to say on the podcast that there is… The business still has the same independence as it always did. But I have a lot of respect for things going well.  I am not the kind of person that wishes any company, even competitors in our space, and I don’t even know how to define a competitor and a friend anymore. But I really root for everybody to be successful, and it is a big enough market both in the sample and then the larger addressable market, which I think is pretty well documented by SMR to be more than 25 billion for primary research of a 70 billion overall data and insights pie.  There’s enough for good companies to all have a role and a place in it.


It feels like the industry has been expanding.  I know that we’ve had the SMR number now of about $75 billion space, a really big space, of which you’re seeing a lot of growth in social media and listening analysis.  But I just got off a podcast earlier with the Chief of Customer Insights and Innovation at FourSquare, Gail. In that conversation, she had this great point of view, which is market research has never been more exciting because we HAVE a seat at the table.  She’s literally involved at … Not only is she in the C-level, she’s actually the rudder of the ship when it comes to business decisions. And so, I think the point that you’re making is important, which is a rising tide, that rising tide principle. As an industry, just have to keep it together and continue to figure out how we can add value in order to…  as opposed to shoot the cannons, right? [laughter]


Well, I think there are a lot of people who wonder about traditional research and how it’s going to make it because there’s so much more data.  You leave personally a trail of data everywhere you go on your mobile.


My wife cleans them all up.


[laughs]  Yes, I have three kids; so there’s plenty of things to clean up for us too.  But there’s so much data there’s been a fear that traditional survey research is going to perish, or get smaller.  I remember talking to Jeff Miller at Burke ages ago, and he said that every Big Data is supposed to replace market research.  Where he’s basically saying, “You know they said that about social media; they said that about this.” And he felt really confident.  I really struck me the confidence. There’s certain thing that research does. It’s just not about data. It’s about analysis; it’s about recommendation; it’s about predicting, not just what’s going to happen, (of course, you get that right or wrong) but oftentimes why times are happening ‘cause there’s a lot what’s happening around us and data there.  But to be able to make sense of why it’s happening… And the next level, I think, is where it gets really brave is to try to tell people what they’re supposed to do about it. That’s a level up where someone like Gail is probably talking about. She’s probably not just using surveys in her insights. There’s probably tons of data that is being generated in their business today:  customer data, website visitation data, after-use data, and this data is there. And the appetite for data is not only growing but it’s going to continue to grow. But the augmentation of that or synthetization of that to be able to make a business decision quickly… And I think that is where… I don’t know if we’re transitioning here, but I think the speed at which businesses move compared to the speed at which our industry has moved, then our industry being this market research survey industry to me that’s where the big intersection.  So the speed at which decisions are made doesn’t fit with our current with our operational models.


And that’s something that I’ve heard.  There’s two things there, right? One is the speed element; it’s critical.  And also we’re about (I’ll give it five years) behind normally from a technology adoption perspective relative to ad tech.  But the other part of that that is really interesting is the context. So, it isn’t enough now for a market… I like boiling it down to the restaurant example; this is my go-to, right?  So, if I’m a restauranteur, I can’t care about when the customer walks into the door and when they exit the door. If they have a bad parking experience and you and wife have to walk a quarter mile in a marginally unsafe thing, the whole dining experience is screwed.  


The story that gets told includes a bad part.


Totally.  It makes the food not taste as good.  So you as a restauranteur, it isn’t enough just to do a survey.  You’ve got to understand the business context of how that data is going to impact the business so that you can help understand the full view of the user’s experience, so that it connects and drives change in the company.   


It does, right?  So, I think everybody has a tendency to let the pendulum swing too far one side to the other.  So, I could sit here and argue to you that only the high-end consulting firms are really going to add value at the boardroom and give you the compelling argument that they get to know the business; they understand the subject matter; and that’s how you get a seat at the table.  And I could turn to the other side and say, “It’s all about automated research products and how a company like McDonald’s or Taco Bell can do 30 different versions of a product test with a similar or maybe slightly larger budget but in a time… it just can happen the way it couldn’t happen before.  So that has a massive impact on what they can do in their business more so than the expensive consulting group at the table.” And they’re both true, right? So it’s important to make sure, as a business, you’re not trying to do both unless you’re really big. Then you can maybe spend both, but you have to be able to serve what the customers need because, ultimately, all of our customers are the brands and corporations that are trying to bring things to consumers and the traditional methods of going to the agencies and things, it’s still the primary way that they do research.  But we need to help them be successful.




If we’re not doing that all the way up and down the value chain, then there’s a problem for us to be concerned about.  But, as long as we can meet their needs and help them be successful and roll out the spicy chicken nuggets instead of the sour chicken nuggets, and one’s a success and one’s a failure, then we’re adding value to their shareholders and their company.    


So, let’s put a point on it.  What are you seeing as trending at a macro level in market research?


I think there’s different layers.  If you are a brand, I think you’re trying to make sure that you are pleasing your internal customers because everybody is ultimately serving somebody who’s delivering to the bottom line of the company.  So, the insights professionals that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with this year have made it really clear to me that they need things to be quick, and they need people to be able to help them be successful to drive the business, right?  So, I do see automation and productization. It’s not like it’s brand new, but I think that it’s becoming more… People are seeing the benefits of it; it’s starting to be done right. [chuckles] It’s like everything’s bad, like false starts, but I think that people are really starting to get it right.  I think a lot of the agencies… so the market research agencies, they’re coming to grips with the fact that they need to become more technically adept and that they need to have their, you call it, data streams or data lakes or whatever their own internal references – but the way that they move from RFP to data and recommendations has to become faster.  

There are technology platforms and companies out there that can help them because the big problem with all of this is it’s expensive and it’s hard.  Automation, if you will, or technology… most people don’t have a CTO or a million dollars cap ex sitting around to go and build something internally.  So that’s why you seek companies that are technology and platform companies getting outsized valuations because they can bring solutions that can help their customers thrive without probably wasting money, trying to build it themselves.        


Yeah, I do think that’s right.   Decipher – that’s one of the things I realized early on is doing, building a survey platform is really, really hard, and it’s an evolving process.  So, whether it’s mobile adoption, which happened, of course, around really 2006 – 2010… big shift there in responding consumption. And then just all the AI that can go into building a survey platform or a survey out of specifically the platform.  Like SurveyMonkey does a good job of predictive questions based on your methodology. So, you’re got these different… It’s really hard to do that. So, then to try to expand, to try to expand our technology expertise into like, say, panels, ‘cause that was for us was the natural, “Why don’t we just do our own panel?”  That was freaking hard. So we actually started and stopped that initiative two times. So, getting to your point, like we’d be so much better off incorporating an existing expert as opposed to trying to build it ourselves.


No, you’re absolutely right.  Oftentimes, the expertise in the agencies are their abilities to do analytics and insights or to understand methodologies – quite frankly, things that I don’t know.  




They also don’t know how to build good product, good technology that has the right amount of features for everybody but not too many features.  




Something that’s usable and powerful.


Love it.  So, definitely focused is the thing that we need to have more than ever before because out of focus comes speed, comes velocity, and by trying to do too many things, you dilute that focus.  And I think that’s what I’m seeing in the marketplace. The people that are going to win are the ones that are… Kantar is a great example: They’re going through a ton of refocusing right now with consolidation of the brands.  So there’s a lot to be said, I think, of repositioning the company. They say, “This is what we’re good at; this is what we’re going to focus on, and then we’re going to bring in experts to help us get the rest of the way,” which is exactly the message to their customers.


Yeah, and I think anybody who feels like they’re threatened by having technology partners, they should be concerned about the value of their business.  So, if you’re not adding a lot of value on top of what the technology does, then you should rethink that. I do want to also talk about because we… most of what we do is to automate field and sampling.


So, do you want to talk a little bit about PureSpectrum?  


I do but in the broader sense, some of what I’m seeing as well on this automation of sample, sample delivery that follows the similar type of arc where there’s a lot of hype, and it’s a wild, wild West for a number of years.  And what I’m seeing right now is actually – and some people don’t believe me when I say this – but a lot of stabilization in pricing, right, because there’s been a lot of suppliers who’ve become more comfortable, more technically capable with selling, the word is programmatically, which is really just about doing technology integration with different buying and selling mechanisms.  So what I see a whole lot more of is suppliers have become much more systematized in making the choices of what’s a good survey experience, a good price. And when those things happen, they are making better choices than people make. The salesperson that potentially may have sold a big job a big discount that creates all the binds and kinks in operations that people are used to living with in this world of, I call it, second round or phase two of programmatic where there’s less desire to do harm to suppliers or take advantage of them ‘cause, I think, there was an error of maybe there  was – not on purpose – but just people thought that they could do things they couldn’t do before. But now we’re seeing that the buyers are much more thoughtful around the sustainability and how…


I literally had that conversation with Miriam at Microsoft, and she said, “I can’t increase my budget.”  So I put the question to her, “Would you pay more for higher quality?” She said, “I can but I would do half as much,” so meaning there’s a 2X on the current cost per complete that she’s willing to pay, assuming that there is the quality to back it up.  


Absolutely.  I think most people like the concept of “cheaper,” but then there’s always a cost of “cheaper.”  There’s always going to be something else that happens, whether that’s uncertainty in the data, whether that is an actual issue with the data, that maybe it takes a lot longer to get done.  It’s never… it’s almost your zero-sum game. So finding that equilibrium where the benefits of the programmatic revolution in our industry, which has been boiling for years now, it’s starting to really take fruit where’s…  It’s like the adults are in the room, and now like, OK, like, this doesn’t make sense if it happens like that because you can’t do this without the value being there for the…we’ll call them the suppliers, the panel companies.  They need to be able to remain profitable. I always say I never want an airline to be unprofitable. I want my flight safe.


Totally.  [laughs] That’s exactly right.


So, as a buyer of data through survey participants, you should want them profitable.  You should want for them to be able to invest in different ways of engagement and recruitment.  And the number of things these companies – the good and high-quality ones – have to do to fight fraud, right, because any time you’re doing an online offer where money is available, you’re constantly playing whack-a-mole on how to defend against the fraud.  If they can’t invest in those mechanisms and they have to cut corners on where they recruit because the CPI’s are going down, it creates an unsustainable cycle. It’s kind of the life blood of… The market research industry is getting people to take surveys; so, we shouldn’t destroy it.    


Right, yeah, it’s a non-renewable resource.  So, why PureSpectrum? 2015 – You’re sitting there, and you’re thinking, “You know what I’m going to do?  I’m going to start this company.” Why was it that space?


So, it was a lifelong dream of mine to found a business.  And I think if you were to talk to my, quite frankly, my three prior bosses and CEOs, they all knew I had aspirations of starting my own business at some point.  I probably not a great employee by the time I got to this point because I was so ready to be able to call the shots and take the responsibility of, quite frankly, of all that happened in the business.  I was probably restless. I’m basically unemployable at this point is what I’m saying.

So, I actually didn’t know what I was going to start when I came back to California.  I got good advice from a good friend that… He basically told me there’s only one person on planet earth that has been in the leadership role you’ve been in in two companies that are in the technology space around sample.  You can’t separate your head from your body, and your head actually knows this industry, going back to Greenfield and into what we believe the future’s going to be. So you should highly consider being in that space. I won’t reveal who this was, but this was actually somebody from one of the two other major companies, who gave me that advice, “Don’t try to become a real estate tech platform because you don’t know anything about it.  You know all the nuances of this industry and where you think it needs to go. So do that.” So I made that choice to do that. And it’s been going on a little over three years now since I made the decision not to take a job somewhere, and not to start some other business, to start this business. And, it’s been a wild ride.


So, what exactly does PureSpectrum do for our audience?  I know.


Yeah, no, it’s a…  If you break it down ‘cause it can become kind of complicated and make people get really… makes their eyes cross.  We work very closely with panel companies, and panel companies that tend to be technologically really adept and savvy.  And what we have done is we have created a website called an application that allows buyers – researchers and companies that buy access to online survey takers – to be able to input or place their orders on our system.  By placing those orders on our system, we’re able to in real time transmit the details of those orders to the suppliers that they want to work with. So, if you think about the traditional back and forth that happens of “How much does it cost me to get a thousand completes in the U.S., nationally representative by age, region, gender, and income?”  And all of a sudden it shows up and it’s got 55 quotas. You know it’s a lot harder than just that national wrap, right? Our system, actually, can help give the suppliers exactly what they’re supposed to do with what’s called an API connection. So it’s our system telling their systems exactly what’s needed. And then we’ve worked a lot over the past couple of years on making sure that the survey platforms, companies like Decipher or even a Qualtrics – I’ll just throw out some names, Confirmit, the normal names that you would hear or CMIX platform.  That’s actually where all the information really lives ‘cause after someone writes a survey and a questionnaire, they create all these details. They don’t need a 1,000 completes; they need 25 males, 18-24 who are Hispanic in Florida, and then they need 975 others, but those are also very small, little segments of what they need. So a survey becomes all these micro-surveys. So we have focused really heavily with our customers on really being able to get a high level of alignment operationally so that we can get that data from the beginning of the workflow into our system so that we can give the supplier all of that information in real time.  

So, I’m passionate about it because it’s, I do believe, one of the largest issues in our industry (and that’s not just sample; it’s market research and insights) is how many hands touch this information and, like the game of telephone, how it doesn’t get transmitted correctly.  And there are every day hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people who want to take surveys. They go to surveys; they get turned away. And that’s detrimental to the longevity of it ‘cause every time you have a bad experience… You mentioned the restaurant. Like they actually went to the restaurant, and the door was locked.  And the door was locked, and it might even had said, “We don’t need males in the restaurant today. Sorry.”


This literally happened to me yesterday where a GLG, $35 project – I never do these projects – I was charging my car; so, I had the time to kill.  I’m like, “Ah, I’m going to see if I can make 35 bucks. It sounds OK, right, for 15 minutes. Second question in – quote is full. I’m like, “Are you kidding?”  It’s so mean. [laughs]


It’s lame.  It’s like, “I value your opinion.  Ehh, not on this one,” right? I just think it’s a real issue, and it’s a real economic problem for our industry.  It drives cost up. So, when people ask me, “Are you doing this so that you can drive down and commoditize sample?”  The answer is, “No.” There’s so much more opportunity cost just on failure to get the right person the right survey.  There’s millions upon millions of dollars of money saved at the supplier level, at the buyer level, and all of it just because it happens better.         


Got it.  So there’s really…  If you kind of like oversimplify things with two different types of buyers or customers, I should say, right?  One are people that purchase people, completes on the platform. And then the other, of course, would be panel companies that opt to partner with us and deploy or sell their people sample on the platform.  And the beauty of it is that we are… This is my favorite statistic actually. For me, this was one of the lynchpin moments in understanding the real value of PureSpectrum and that is we have a three times better completion rate than other options that are in the marketplace because we optimize the quota stream based on availability; so, we’re overrecruiting against those “closed,” filled quotas.  And that creates just a much better user experience.


Yeah, absolutely right.  There’s kind of an emerging, less-known part of our business too, which we call “storefront.”  We know that, if we have the ability (I’ll use a really tough word) to “control” the end-to-end data process, that we know we can perfect information.  In fact, I would be willing to take hedge bets on the per-click economics of selling because, if I know I have perfect information, then we will not send anybody that’s not needed to a survey.  We won’t. So, storefront is our empowerment platform where we help typically agencies who have product-ties methodologies, things that happen over and over that need just different stimuli, kind of going back ten minutes ago, where they are not technically capable of building their own storefront where their customers or their internal customers can say I’d like to run another concept test with this copy or with this image.  And it’s very modularized. Although it requires a lot of involvement from the customer upfront to set up their product, it is human-free. The labor to actually execute from picking the product to…


upload stimuli, sample frame,


…sample, export data, create standard visualizations – all that happens without the handoffs between people.  So it’s really, really, really efficient. And we love that sort of business because the more, again, control or information we have, then the precision of being able to deliver exactly what’s needed is there.  


So, October 25th, I’m driving back with William Van Heusen on my staff from the Bay Area.  Just did an interview with Stacey Walker at Adobe. And I’m getting on to the 101 and give you a call and say, “Hey, you interested in sponsoring the podcast?”  You’re like, “Yeah, I’ll sponsor all the podcasts.” And then we sort of moved into market services and expanded and, ultimately, you acquired Happy Market Research middle of January.  So, why Happy Market Research?


That’s a great question.  I’m still beating myself up over that one. [laughter]  No, so, the obvious is you and I have known each other for 15 years and you are super capable and competent.  And our business PureSpectrum has grown, and I would like to see it continue to grow. So I wanted you to be part of the journey with us.  So that was one of the most obvious things is one – to be able to have you join the business. The other is I really love the podcast. I love it because it creates a risk-free environment for anybody in the industry, ‘cause I do love the industry, to be able to come and talk about what’s going on, where they see it going, what’s annoying them.  So, I remember talking to you about it and saying, “Like we’re keeping the podcast, right?” And you’re like, “Absolutely, I want to keep doing the podcast.” I was like, “Great!” because I really want the podcast to be there. Your mission was to serve the interests of the market research industry, add value to market research. And that’s no different than PureSpectrum’s… you know, why we wake up every day.?  To solve problems and help the market research industry. I don’t know. To me, it made a ton of sense, and you already had three fantastic and talented young people working at the company. So was happy to bring them on board, and looking forward to many, many years of growing the business and helping lead the industry where we believe it should go.


Totally.  It’s good already; it’s a lot of fun; it’s going to get more fun.  Love the plans we’re having for 2019. So, last question: three characteristics of an All-Star employee?


Alright, we’ll start off with the youngins, right, people coming in.  This is their first job or second job. So, I really don’t like the kind of the naysaying about the millennials because we’ve had WONDERFUL experience with people coming straight out of college or first job, second job.  The ones that have really at this company stood out to me, they are curious. They don’t… When you say, I need you to go from A to Z, you don’t have to tell them the thing they need to do to go from A and then to B and then to C and then to D.  They’ll clarify, they’ll figure things out, and then they will actually try to get to Z themselves. And I think that’s an important element of our culture here is letting people even bite off more than they can chew while letting them know that they can come for help.  I’ll say to other young employees there are basics like be on time, ask for vacation (don’t say when you’re going to take it), just some professional etiquette and courtesies that people should be mindful of. Because there are some people that have been at it where you actually did have to have your vacation approved well in advance.  I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but just… there’s no entitlement. Like don’t have a sense of entitlement. I’ve got to think of a third one here: I don’t know, take pride in your work. If it’s something you’re going to do, don’t mail it in. Try to do a good job even if it’s not your favorite part of the job. Try to find a way make even the least interesting parts be good.

I’ll flip to the other side:  All-Star employees that are more senior.  So, I go out of my way not to get in the way of people that I believe to be at a certain level in their career because there’s nothing worse than trying to tell somebody how to do something that they’re probably better than you at just because you feel like you need to approve everything or be in the middle of everything.  If I could give a recommendation to people who are a little bit farther along in their careers, be willing to take risks, be willing to tell your boss that his ideas or her ideas are bad ideas if you feel like it’s a comfortable enough environment because oftentimes I’m seeking not for people to do what I tell them to do but for them to tell, inform what the company should do.  Another thing, final thing and then I’ll stop; I think that’s three and three, that’s six things. I actually believe that all of us at this company, we work for the company. I know there’s a flip side of that coin that people work for people, but I try to inform what I do with my time and what I want other people to do with their time, as a manager leader as to “What is that doing for the business?”  And it’s almost embarrassing because like Office Space, the movie, from the 90s, “What can you do for Initech?”  But really the business needs to be cared for; it needs for people to be doing the things for its best interests but that becomes circular.  So, the company needs leadership that knows that the company can’t flourish without great employees and the company must give back to the employees too.  And that is super important so that people know that they have the ability to turn off the phones at night but also know that if they have a customer that needs help that they… you know it’d be good for the company if they can do that, but to make sure there’s an appropriate set of boundaries.  So the symbiotic nature of if you are doing things that help the business grow, the business will grow and that the company should provide growth opportunities for the employee too.


My guest today has been Michael McCrary, CEO and founder of PureSpectrum.   Thank you, Michael, for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


I love the podcast.  Thank you, Jamin.


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