Top Ten Takeaways From SampleCon 2016

By February 23, 2016Create Value

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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!

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