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February 2016

Straight Outta Compton – Straight Up Inspiration

By | Inspire Ideas | 8 Comments


I am a super passionate person. When I get pumped up about something, I really get pumped up. Call it temporary insanity, if you will, but I find inspiration in some non-traditional places. A couple of weeks ago I had 3 trips worth of suitcases to unpack so I decided to attack the task by watching Straight Outta Compton as I sorted, folded, hung clothes and declared victory when I found things I thought I had lost.

To say I was inspired is an understatement. Just ask my husband and daughter who were rolling their eyes as I was running around the house shouting “I am a gangsta!” I am always running around the house doing or saying something crazy, but they were even a little baffled at this one.

I may be a 40-something white woman living The American Dream in the burbs, but I instantly related to the story of the N.W.A. What could I have in common with some gangstas from Compton, CA? A lot. A whole freakin’ lot. Gangstas buy and sell drugs. I buy and sell people (that’s the market research sample industry after all). Some gangstas, like N.W.A. turn into hip hop artists who revolutionize music, and some market researchers, like me, turn into crazed entrepreneurs who refuse to give up. Like Dr. Dre says, “If we keep goin’ we can take over the goddam world.”

If you haven’t seen the movie, or don’t know what it’s about, it a biopic chronicling the gritty rise and fall of the groundbreaking hip hop group N.W.A from Compton, CA in the 80’s. Everything was against them. No one believed in them. They were beat down, ripped off, suffered personal loss and just kept pushing – ultimately, they became the forefathers of a new genre of music. They clawed their way out of one-room apartments in Compton. They may, or may not, have been law abiding the WHOLE time (secret: neither have I), but the journey is all part of who we are.

I am not a gangsta in the gold-chain-wearing, I-am-going-to-shoot-you kind of way, but in the dig down deep to get things done kind of way. People ask me all the time where I get my inspiration. Truth be told, anywhere and everywhere. The grittier, the better. The more unconventional, the more inspiring. Still not convinced I’m gangsta material? Well check it out.

I have a posse. You mess with me, they’ll mess you up. Granted my posse is a bunch of super smart, mainly millennial-aged market researchers, but they are badass. They are trained Boxers you know. Trained SoapBoxers. During the first weeks of SoapBox’s existence, a certain employee slept on the floor of the office because he was didn’t want to waste time driving home at night. We did what we had to do to build our panel from scratch in 6 weeks. That takes grit.

I am into graffiti. As I pointed out in previous blog posts, I believe that even the smallest victories are worth celebrating. I thought it would be fun to commemorate the addition of each panelist that joined by writing their name on the wall. The Chairman of ISA, Mike Halberstam, didn’t feel the same way. I adamantly pointed out that he never told me I couldn’t write on the walls. He vehemently pointed out he didn’t think that was something he needed to cover in my hiring. Eventually, we all settled on this awesome piece of graffiti on our office wall.


I swear. A lot. All the time. I can’t help it. It’s my go-to. I often say I am going to give it up, or give it up in certain environments, but I don’t. I can’t. I won’t. Actually, I never say I’m going to give it up. As an entrepreneur I am bat shit passionate – crazy to some, but purely passion to me.

I speak my mind. If you want the truth, I am going to give it to you. If you don’t want the truth, I am going to give it to you. I am not always thoughtful or politically correct, and my delivery can suck sometimes. But I am always honest. It’s like Ice Cube says, “ Speak a little truth and people lose they mind.” If you don’t know who Ice Cube is, watch the movie.

And, if you don’t like something I say, you can speak to my posse.

Oh, and if you want to know more about my past, just ask. I am not saying I will actually share that information with you. You will never know if you don’t ask. Be bold. Life is short.


Top Ten Takeaways From SampleCon 2016

By | Create Value | 16 Comments


It’s been almost a month since SampleCon 2016 came to a close. We broke records this year with attendance topping 200 people, representing close to 90 different companies – and from 7 countries. We may need to open next year’s event with a “We Are the World” singing performance. We were sponsored by 19 companies and entertained by a smorgasbord of speakers from across the market research landscape.

In the nature of keeping my tradition of Top Ten lists alive, here are my Top Ten Takeaways from SampleCon 2016.

10. —  Size Matters
Over the past three years, I have watched SampleCon grow. What was once a small gathering of sample professionals vying for an industry teetering on the verge of a change became a large industry event representing sample leadership and drawing a mix of new and experienced players. The one thing that hasn’t changed? SampleCon‘s intimate feel due to its participatory format. The result is an unparalleled open, genuine, collaborative discussion.

How can you keep this discussion moving? Try picking one person to stay in touch with, every month, for the next 12 months and see what happens.

9.  — Will You Marry Me?
Engagement is possibly THE most important, most talked about, and least tackled challenge in our industry. Not only as we look at respondents but also in how we work with clients and each other. While we may not have the answer today, SampleCon attendees shared successes, asked questions and looked to cooperatively find better solutions on how we work as an industry.

How can you engage with people OUTSIDE your organization? Pick someone. Anyone. Shoot them a text, or meet for coffee. Or you could be SUPER bold and maybe pick up the phone for a friendly chat.

8. — Collaborating with the ‘Enemy’
Competition is good… being enemies isn’t! It’s time that as an industry we bury the hatchet and look to collaborate in a healthy competitive environment. I have been in the Sample Industry long enough to know that we may have been colleagues yesterday, competitors today, and partners tomorrow.

So next time, you find yourself taking the war stance, I suggest you invite a leader from that company to lunch and tackle a larger industry challenge. You may just find that it will reset your opinion.

7. – Put Me In Coach – I’m Ready to Play
Listening to the panel on millennials speak, I was invigorated by the opportunity to learn new things from them. They want to break the stereotype. They want to learn. They want to be heard. And, they may even have a good idea that us veterans haven’t thought of.

I challenge each of you to find one learning opportunity and one mentoring opportunity in 2016 with a millennial. I can’t wait to hear what you learn and how this shapes the future trajectory of sample!

6. – Starting With the Man in the Mirror
Every year, I think that the Sample industry could not possibly continue to see the exponential change of the previous year. However, it does and it’s exciting (if not perplexing). The new companies, new people, new partnerships all lead to opportunity.

One of my personal goals in 2016 is to look at areas where I am most resistant to change and focus on changing them. I dare you to try it.

5. — Humans Need Humans.
As technology has fueled automation allowing us to do more work at faster speeds, we sometimes forget the human element involved in working together as colleagues and in the experience we seek to provide respondents.

Rely on automation for efficiency, speed and reliability. Don’t let it replace the human communication element of doing business.

4. — Transparency – And I’m Not Talking About the Lululemon Kind
I remember not long ago, the discussion at SampleCon focused on the need to be more transparent about our businesses and more importantly, where and who the respondents were. Fast forward less than 24 months and the conversation has changed.

The transparency conversation has a seat at the table but now we all struggle with how much and how it will affect our bottom line (not the Lululemon bottom kind). Pick one thing you are most afraid of people finding out about how your company operates. If it can be improved, improve it. If it can’t, flaunt it.

3. — Business Is Always a Gamble

Every year at SampleCon we have a friendly poker tournament. Its a great way to relax after a long day of conferencing and its also a great way to size up the competitiveness of your fellow market researchers. Are they bluffing? Is the table too hot for them to handle? Do they have that killer instinct that will allow them to win the tournament?

While the competition may be more than half of the fun, its important to remember that ultimately we are all playing on the same team.

Next time you feel like its time to call your competitor’s bluff, remember that we may be sitting at opposite sides of the table, but this table represents the industry we all have chosen to join.
2. —  Party Like It’s 1999
Year over year, the one word that I hear when people discuss SampleCon is NETWORKING. The ability to travel to a single city and meet with companies representing every aspect of the Sample Industry is a void that was greatly needed for all of us. I love that no matter where I turn at SampleCon, I see collaborative conversations between everyone from buyers and sellers to incentive and technology companies.

This doesn’t have to stop at a once-per-year event. Be a leader in continuing the conversation in and out of your organization. Prince didn’t give up with one 2000 hit.

1. — Crazy Socks = Smart, Successful and Revolutionary!
I know people laughed at me when I had team members taking photos of SampleCon attendee’s socks. I found it humorous to see people conservatively dressed yet when their pants came up slightly, it was bright pops of color and design. I recently read an article entitled “People Who Wear Crazy Socks are Smart, Successful, and Revolutionary.” What more is there to say about the Sample Industry and how bright our future is?! After all, I steal I toilet paper from hotel rooms but flash my $900 Red bottoms.

I am a “Say-As-I-Do” and “Do-As-I-Do” kind of girl. You may just get a call, an invite to lunch, and a hand written letter or a cool pair of socks from me before the next SampleCon. And if that sounds a little too creepy, you can join us at IIEX in Atlanta where SampleCon Founding Board Members will converse, chat, joke and debate about the state of Sample.

Hope to see you there!