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Ep. 243 – Recap 2019: Analyzing Common Factors Across our Guests that led them to Happy Careers

In this episode, we’ll uncover the common factors across our guests that has lead them to happy careers in consumer insights and give you two key ways to drive organizational success from the hottest company in CX, UX, and MRx.

Happy Market Research is closing the year with a four-part podcast series, highlighting industry challenges, trends and much more.

This year we hit 80,000 downloads, interviewed 250 guests, heads of insights at Microsoft, P&G, and Samsung, we also had guests from leading agencies like Nielsen and TNS as well as several startup founders.

Referenced Guests:

Joaquim Bretcha, President of ESOMAR

Marian Anderson, Director of Insights at Microsoft 

Stephen DiMarco, Chief Digital Officer at Kantar 

Steve Portigal, Founder of Portigal Consulting

Kylan Lundeen, CMO of Qualtrics

Bryant Leech, Director of Design Solutions at Nielsen 

Emmet O’ Briain, Founder of Quiddity

Find Jamin Online:

Find Chueyee Online:

Find Us Online: 

Music: 

This Episode’s 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, and we know that’s a unique language. For more information, please visit them at G3Translate.com.


[00:03]

JAMIN:

Thanks for tuning in! You’re listening to the Happy Market Research podcast, I’m Jamin Brazil, the show’s host.

In this episode, we’ll uncover the common factors across our guests that has lead them to happy careers in consumer insights and give you two key ways to drive organizational success from the hottest company in CX, UX, and MRx.

This is the first episode in a four-part series of 2019 highlights.

This year we hit 80,000 downloads, interviewed 250 guests, heads of insights at Microsoft, P&G, and Samsung, we also had guests from leading agencies like Nielsen and TNS as well as several startup founders.

For this episode and this series, I’ve asked our producer Chueyee Yang to join me in the studio. Chueyee, how are you?

[00:55]

CHUEYEE:

Hey Jamin, I’m doing pretty well, you know, this has been such an exciting year for Happy. We’ve grown so much and also learned a lot throughout the process. Like you said, this year we decided to create a highlight reel, but we’re going to break it down into a few episodes so it’s easier to digest.

[01:14]

JAMIN:

Before we get started, I wanted to give a big thanks to our sponsor 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, and we know that’s a unique language. For more information, please visit them at G3Translate.com.

[01:45]

CHUEYEE:

For those that don’t know, this year, Happy Market Research adopted seven core questions that were asked across our guests.

Market research is the key to understanding human decision making, and a big part of that is the context of the individual. This leads to our first core question of, “How did you get into market research?”

[02:06]

JAMIN:

There are a few different reasons we decided to include this as our opener.

First, it gives us an opportunity to understand the guest in a totally unique way. It is amazing how much you learn about somebody with this question. In fact, I’ve known a few guests for years but it wasn’t until I asked them this question on the show that I got a more complete picture of who they are.

The other reason is because we love this question. For example, on the Insights Association’s forums, the number one thread by a factor of is, “How did you end up in research?”

So, Chueyee you’ve edited and produced all of our episodes this year, which is amazing, thank you. What is the commonality of how our guests started their market research careers?

[02:50]

CHUEYEE:

It’s kind of funny how you asked Jamin. The one commonality is that there is no commonality.

Here are some highlights of how Joaquim Bretcha, President of ESOMAR; Marian Anderson from Microsoft; and Stephen DiMarco from Kantar, got their start.

[03:07]

JOAQUIM BRETCHA:

I guess I fell into market research by a natural fall. Since very young, I was always interested in society, in politics, in geography … I was responsible for organizing seminars, conferences; for taking Spanish managers to visit retailers in Europe and the U.S. to learn from those countries how retail was evolving and consumer patterns were evolving. So I became an expert in retail and consumer understanding.

[03:43]

MARIAN ANDERSON:

Politics was it for me. I was very, very interested in what motivated political behavior and political strategy. I had the opportunity right out of undergrad to go work for Mark Penn and work on political messaging, doing political polling. Honestly, I was interested in working in politics in any strategy regard. It happened to be polling that the opportunity presented itself, and that started my research career. And I haven’t looked back.

[04:12]

STEPHEN DIMARCO:

I was actually a DJ for the campus radio station. So I’ve always had a strong interest in marketing and music. I started my career at a record label doing everything you can imagine and decided that, while I like music, the music industry isn’t for me. So I thought long and hard and really committed myself to marketing and helping marketers becoming better marketers.

[04:35]

CHUEYEE:

While each persons’ path has been different, we see that they all have curiosity and empathy. In many cases, these traits were developed in their early years.

[04:47]

JAMIN:

Here is a great example of how one of our guests early years lead them to market research.

As a teenager, his father did a career pivot and went back to school in his late-30s.

Emmet O’ Briain didn’t think it was odd that his dad went back to school after nearly two decades working on an assembly line, but a lot of other people did.

[05:04]

EMMET:

It’s never too late to learn. The philosophy of life-long learning, I got that from my dad. But also, it’s great value in doing things differently. Striking out on your own doing things that other people might not encourage you to do or might discourage you to do that if you sort of have the motivation and the incentive that following your own path is rewarding intellectually, spiritually – if not always financially – but it’s a good way to go. So I would think that was very much an inspiration for me.

[05:38]

JAMIN:

His father completed university and became a teacher. This was an incredible lesson for Emmet. It taught him it is never too late to try something new as long as you have the courage and willingness to follow it through.

Emmit’s mother’s job, on the other hand, required manual work but her real passion was gardening which served as an outlet for her creativity.

[06:00]

EMMET:

The idea of creative is very important to me in research. And I think it’s important for any business that you’re able to think laterally; you’re able to make connections between things that aren’t obvious. So, I think the environment that you’re raised in just has such a huge influence on the type of values and the type of things that you see as interesting or that interests you.

[06:21]

JAMIN:

Making connections between seemingly unrelated things is exactly in the center of the crosshairs of consumer insights.

Today, Emmet is the Founder of Quiddity, which offers methodologically innovative research, particularly in the use and analysis of naturally-occurring data, and especially language, in consumer and social research.

JAMIN:

The other aspect of their character which sticks out is how they put themselves in the drivers seat of their life. What I mean is, lots of us go through life just doing the next thing we are supposed to do. For example, I’m not in high school any more so now I am going to college. After college I’m going to get a job. There is a passive script to life and an active script. One is written by our parents or society while the other is an audible we call as needed or felt.

Our guests all seem to have this drive to take charge of their lives and are willing to venture off the scripted path.

Probably my favorite example of this was our interview with Steve Portigal. He started in User Experience before User Experience was a thing.

[07:00]

STEVE PORTIGAL:

I was very fortunate. I think this is part of the happenstance through a series of “Oh, you should talk to so and so.” I met somebody at a conference, and they gave me some names, and then you were maybe emailing or maybe phoning or leaving voicemails. Months later I ended up with a job at—and this is what brought me out to the Bay Area where I am now—a job at this industrial design consultancy. I wasn’t a designer, but I was working on human-interface design, and there was also this emergent practice in user research that was happening there. And I kind of apprenticed into that. It’s cool way to apprentice when it’s not like anyone really knows what they’re doing as opposed to it being handed down to you and here’s how we do it. We didn’t know how to do it. We didn’t know how to write a proposal, how to quote for it and how to describe it at an advocate for it, how to scope it, and so over the next few years, we got good at, I think, the business part of it.

[08:30]

JAMIN:

Market Research has been around since the golden days of radio. However, over the last 20 years we have seen a massive increase in corporate spend in User Experience and Customer Experience. While there are shared methodologies between the industries, the key difference that I’ve observed is where they sit in proximity to the user of the research. For example, user experience usually sits with product while market research sits under marketing.

It is through the work of people like Steve that have brought the consumer voice close to the point of decision.

[09:11]

CHUEYEE:

Similar to our market research peers, companies have a story on how they found their way into market research.

In 2017, Qualtrics announced it’s 8 billion dollar sale to SAP.

Early this year we had Kylan Lundeen, the CMO of Qualtrics, talk about the company’s evolution.

[09:30]

KYLAN:

When I joined the company out of business school, it was still very much an academic research tool. And I say “tool” very sort of specifically. And the very soon thereafter, we kind of committed to an academic research platform. Then we went into a corporate research platform. Then we went into sort of like, generally speaking, insight platform because it was sort of beyond this kind of market research that people were doing. And then we moved into experience management. And again, looking back, all those steps see really logical, but they were terrifying at the time. Each of one those felt like we were really taking a risk. Where we had core audience that was really important to us and that we wanted to continue to sort of prioritize and put at the center of everything. But we needed to expand sort of the messaging and our product offering to include different people, which means the messaging gets a little bit diluted to that specific audience at first. So every time it felt really risky, and, I’ll be honest, when I first met Ryan… He and I had a chance encounter in Palo Alto. He was out there closing the first round of financing from Sequoia and Accel and we had breakfast together. And there were two things…

And what year is that?

This is 2012. So, in 2012, I had breakfast with Ryan Smith. Again, he was closing the first round of financing. There were two things in this meeting that appeared to be true instantly that have proven to be true over time. So the first one was that Ryan, as a CEO, appeared to me to be a bet-the-business kind of person, meaning he did not come across as the kind of person that going to say, “Hey, I know Wall Street thinks we’re going to grow at 9% this year. Let’s go blow everyone’s mind and let’s do 11%.” That was not ever his DNA. He was like, “Look, I want to go completely, invent, and take a category all the way to top, or I’m not just interested in doing this.” Like so, “Let’s go be the largest enterprise software players in the world or else what are we doing?” He just had sort of energy of like, “Look we’re going to the moon, and if want to sign up, let’s do this.” So, that’s interesting because back to that original point, that’s what happened, right? Like he’s bet the business over and over again between going from academic research tool, to an enterprise research tool, to an inside platform, to now experience management. Each of those has been a bet-the-business decision and have led to phenomenal results for us in the company. So just couldn’t be more excited to be part of that.

Yeah, yeah. He appeared to be a bet-the-business kind of person, and he also appeared to be a bet-on-people kind of person, meaning that I got the sense from him in our first breakfast ever meeting that he assumed people could do it before he assumed that they couldn’t do it. And so, you can imagine those things together were incredibly powerful. Someone emerging from business school – now granted I had been in the private equity space for five years, but the idea of moving to a technology company that was going to shot for moon and that would always assume someone could before they couldn’t. What that led to was a) if you’re in a hypergrowth technology company, there’s unfair opportunities in front of you all over the place ‘cause they’re just desperate for new talent to lead new functions in areas and in tactics. But then on top of that, you have a CEO who from a very top-down approach has built a culture where they’re going to ask you to do something, and it’s yours to lose. It’s not like, “Hey, well, let’s go…” Normally, in most businesses, a role opens. Someone leaves the company or someone’s promoted and there’s a vacancy. There’s a process where 35 qualified people all apply for that role, and may the best person win. At Qualtrics in a hypergrowth tech company, it’s exactly opposite: there’s 35 jobs that need to get done and they’re struggling to get talent into the building fast enough. So they ask you to do all of them. As long as you don’t drop the ball, “Hey, congratulations! That’s your new responsibility.”

[13:26]

CHUEYEE:

Qualtrics drove the biggest cash outcome of any consumer insights company through 2 things:

Willingness to chart new frontiers based on where the market leads.
Always bet on people. Start with a positive framework, “they can do it.”

This is the same DNA we found in our guests.

[13:36]

JAMIN:

In every way, market research is about the human story. We listen and identify the unobvious patterns in human behavior. Then, we build a narrative that brings to life those findings so that companies can build trust and intimacy. It sounds easy. But it is hard.

The more we understand about ourselves the better we can see the consumer and their context. This is why I think it is so important that we spend time getting to know each other and how we see the world.

JAMIN:

In the next episode, we get to our second question, “What is the biggest challenge facing researchers today?” We’ll highlight responses from the perspective of insights managers at large brands and consumer insights agencies.

[14:31]

BRYANT LEECH:

I think in terms of the biggest challenges is really how far we want to push that automation down the road and ere where that balancing act needs to be.

[14:33]

JAMIN:

What is keeping insight professionals up at night? That’s next time on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[14:49]

CHUEYEE:

Happy Market Research is hosted and produced by me, Chueyee Yang and Jamin Brazil.

Special thanks to our referenced guests…
Joaquim Bretcha, President of ESOMAR
Marian Anderson, Director of Insights at Microsoft
Stephen DiMarco, Chief Digital Officer at Kantar
Steve Portigal of Portigal Consulting
Kylan Lundeen, CMO of Qualtrics
Bryant Leech, Director of Design Solutions at Nielsen
And
Emmet O’ Briain, founder of Quiddity

To subscribe to the podcast, go to iTunes or check out the happy market research website at happyMR.com

You can follow us on Twitter at @happyMRxP.

Thanks for listening and see you next week.