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November 2016

Give This, Not That

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks | 47 Comments

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Experience Gift Giving

It’s the holiday season and America’s quest to buy more crap is at an all-time high. This is a breakdown of 2016 holiday spending so far (and it’s not even December yet!).

Black Friday — 70 billion
Small Business Saturday — 18.3 billion
Cyber Monday — 3.45 billion

All I can say is holy crap that is a lot of crap.

I don’t know about you, but my family and I have managed to accumulate so much stuff. Stuff, upon stuff upon stuff. We are a family of three who has filled 3,000 square feet of living space and can barely squeeze a single car into a three-car garage. We also have stuff stored at my Mom’s and park one of my husband’s work vehicles at his Mom’s. It is pure insanity. I am not even sure I can pinpoint when it got so out of control.

Most of the stuff is not even good stuff. Not expensive, just freakin’ stuff we have collected over the years. Truth is, I am at the jumping-off point. It is DRIVING me nuts. So as you can imagine, as the holidays are coming closer, the thought of buying MORE stuff seems literally insane. My 10-year-old has more “things” now than I had accumulated for the entire 18 years of my childhood (multiplied by 10). My husband grew up in a country that was at war, and did not even have electricity, never mind more than one pair of shoes.

How we got here is another BLOG all together and likely requires another couple years with my therapist. The good news is that the mindset shift has started. For the past 2 years (since our car accident) we realized the value of experiences over stuff. It’s not just for Christmas time either. For Ella’s birthday in September we took her and her friends horseback riding and it was so awesome.

Recently, I started to notice a cultural shift. More and more articles started popping up about experiential gift giving. I kept seeing people posting on social media saying, “my kids have everything, what should I get them?” Instead of trying to present them with back orders from Santa for the latest Hatchimal, try giving them an experience instead. There is no shortage of experiential gift-giving opportunities out there. Here is a list of ideas, broken down by the type of person (or group of people) you are buying for. Consider this an early holiday gift from me to you. You’re welcome.

For the Family

  • Zoo memberships
  • Movie tickets
  • Sporting events (if you are on a budget, check out a local sports teams)
  • Theme park passes
  • Concert tickets

For the Adventurer

  • Membership to a rock climbing gym
  • Ski lift tickets
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Skydiving lessons
  • Indoor skydiving
  • National park pass
  • Horseback riding session
  • Surfing lessons

For the Fitness Enthusiast

  • Entry fees for a race/obstacle course
  • Bootcamp passes
  • Personal training sessions
  • Spin gym passes

For the Spiritual Guru

  • Yoga classes
  • Meditation classes
  • Sensory deprivation flotation tank
  • Send one book about spirituality every month

For the Nostalgist

  • Day at the roller rink
  • Go-kart racing
  • Bowling tournament
  • Mini golf off
  • Mixed tape (ok, wanted to see if you were paying attention or not)

For the Foodie

  • Restaurant gift certificates (duh) – try places in another town. Even drive a few hours.
  • Cooking classes
  • Tickets to a food festival
  • Road trip to a food festival (day trip or overnight)

For the Artistic Type

  • Wine and painting class
  • Sewing/ crafting classes
  • Pottery classes
  • Museum membership
  • Gallery passes

For the Alcoholic

  • Brewery tour
  • Wine country tour
  • Bar treasure hunt (If you really want to get creative, make up a mystery bar tour in your own city – complete with Uber of course)
  • Wine of the month club

Instead of doing 12 minutes of gift-opening at 5 am on Christmas morning, consider giving 12 gifts (one for each month of the year) to be opened up once a month. And no one knows what it will be until they open it. Some examples include; movies tickets, bowling passes, family game night, a 2-hour drive to have lunch at a restaurant in another town, or an overnight stay in a local hotel with a pool, a hike, a nap …anything!

The act of opening a present can be an experience in and of itself. Here are some tips for creative holiday gift wrapping. I like to wrap my tickets, experiences, treasure maps etc. inside of random things. The more random and unrelated to the gift the better. I am not sure what better gift there possibly can be, than family laughter.

  • Cereal boxes – for some reason Lucky Charms box’s are funny
  • Diaper boxes (child or adult diapers) – wrap your ten-year-old son’s tickets to the latest Star Wars movie in a Diaper Box. He may not laugh, but everyone else will.
  • Tape gift cards to the bottom of cans of beans or a can of SPAM. SPAM makes everyone smile. Or a can of Fruit Cocktail. They are just funny.
  • Put concert tickets inside of toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
  • Tape gift certificates to the bottom of a plunger (can’t wait for this one this year).
  • Put something (tickets, certificates, gift cards or a small toy) inside a bag of rice so they have to dig through the bag to get it – obnoxious, messy and fun.
  • And my all-time favorite … Wrap your husband’s sporting event tickets in a tampon box and laugh hysterically when he opens it up in front of his family.

This year I recommend focusing on experiences rather than stuff, and connections instead of crap. Have some experience gift ideas I didn’t mention here? Tweet me, @jax_rosales

Lazy and Genius Had a Baby

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas | 56 Comments

Easy Food Prep Tips from Someone With No Free Time

While many Americans are running around committing countless hours to prepare a single meal of thanks, it seems as appropriate a time as any to share a few time-saving meal tips.

If you have spent any time with me, you know I eat a lot. Like all the time. And if I’m not eating, I’m generally pretty worried about when I will eat next. It’s sort of annoying and I even get aggravated with myself. And to make things extra complicated (as most things tend to be with me), I have all sorts of dietary restrictions.

Just like most people I know, whether employed in-the-home, or out-of-the-home, male, female, athlete, non-athlete, parent or child-free, the one thing I ALWAYS wish I had more of is time. I constantly listen to people telling me that they don’t have time to do all sorts of things. Truth is, we all have the same 24 hours in any given day, and have to find our own ways to make the most of those hours.

People often think I’m some sort of super hero. I’m not. I’m your basic over-scheduled, always tired, generally not-feeling-well, just trying to have fun, navigating my way through life kind of gal. I do have a secret though. I do share this secret a lot (so I guess it’s not an actual secret) and people either laugh at me, roll their eyes at me, ignore me or are fascinated by my secret. You ready? Here it is. Crockpot. Yup, that’s right. Crockpot. And I have 3.

I live, and would otherwise die, without my wonderful hunks of stainless steel and ceramic. True. I cook everything in it from overnight oatmeal to bone broth to the most amazing dinners. I do all my food prep, eat healthy and serve food that is so super yummy and nutrient-dense. People taste the food I lug around with me ( you can pretty much always find me toting around my 6-pack fitness bag full of said deliciousness) and make comments like, “Oh my God. This is so friggin’ good!” Um yeah. I don’t like to eat stuff that tastes bad. Duh.

You can find 7,890,877,678 or maybe more, recipes on the internet. And I know you have time to search the Internet. I have some favorites which I have shared below and pretty much anything you make from the Paleo Sow Cooker Cookbook is amazing.

If you have multiple crockpots, you can fire them all up on any weekend morning, let them cook all day, portion them up, freeze them or even take the lazy way out and store them in the fridge in the actual crockpot ceramic and then just put on warm up on the day you want. All meals done for a week! Or make a big pot of chicken and then you can shred it for salad, tacos, pasta, rice bowls or whatever.

I do have a few Jacqueline tips to crockpotting. Here they are:

1) Always, always, always use a crockpot liner. When you are done, you pull it out and throw it away. Give the crock a rinse and you are done. It’s like lazy and genius had a baby. Best $3 you will spend. 4 in a pack so I use multiple packs a week. You can buy tham at a grocery store, Target, Walmart or Amazon.

2) Use fresh herbs. It makes even the most basic meal taste gourmet. For instance: line crockpot with red potatoes, chopped onions, put the chicken in, add some broth, top with rosemary. So easy, tastes good and makes your house smell yum. You can get way fancier, but you can’t get much easier than that. My favorite herbs include…

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Also, fresh lemon juice

3) Apples are the magic goddess fruit of crockpot. Don’t believe me? Try this. Peel and core apples. Like a dozen. Chop them. Add like a cup or so of water. Sprinkle some cinnamon. Turn on. Yummmmm. Or get totally crazy and add chicken. Whaaaatttt??? Yup.

4) Use homemade broth if you can. So this takes a little extra time but is still made in the crockpot. I like grass fed bone broth (recipe here) but you may not be into that so you can make any type. Portion into ziplock and freeze. Soooooo next level.

5) Meat can be frozen. True story. If you only have frozen meat, go ahead and put it in there with some liquid and you are good to go. Think you have nothing? If you are super desperate and trying to fly out the door to work, school, kids events or whatever and can dig up any combo of these, you are good – frozen or unfrozen.

  • Ground turkey and pasta sauce
  • Ground beef and pasta sauce
  • Chicken and salsa
  • Chicken and enchilada sauce
  • Chicken and apple
  • Beef roast and broth
  • Pork and apple cider

Now stop complaining you don’t have time to cook or food prep. You do. You can start with all those leftover turkey bones and make some stock. Happy holidays to you and yours……

Should Researchers Be Living the Hashtag Life?

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others | 38 Comments

If you read the BLOG last week, you learned that SoapBox’s very first employee, our current Director of Systems and Programming, also is a professional (as in actually was certified in France) Champagne Sabreur. Turns out, he also follows social media trends and proposed we hop on the #mannequinchallenge. I dutifully agreed, not even knowing what he was asking me.

 Apparently he had a grand plan to stage a SoapBox #mannequinchallenge with the in-office staff. Mind you he brought this up a few weeks ago when it was SUPER cool. It is still cool, but starting to get a little stale already. He suggested I also write a BLOG post about how Market Researchers tend to overlook these trends as we are not fast or nimble enough to catch on. I dutifully responded, go for it. Congrats! You just earned yourself the next guest writer spot on Telltale Ten.  So here is Aaron (aka systems extraordinaire Champagne Sabreuring Social Media expert – he also runs marathons. In case you care about that kind of stuff.)

With the prominence of social media in our daily lives and the ability to share connections with individuals we have absolutely no connection to, it’s no wonder that viral trends gain such high levels of popularity. From the Harlem Shake to the Ice Bucket challenge, these viral sensations have the power to captivate our attention, whether we’re truly entertained by their content or we simply want to know what the heck everyone else is talking about.  These trends have the ability to spread like wildfire through their use of quick entertainment, hashtags, and celebrity endorsements. The latest entry to the #viralclub is the #MannequinChallenge.

Now for those of you who’ve been living under a proverbial rock for the past couple of weeks, the mannequin challenge involves a group of individuals posing in various positions as if they’re frozen in time while the cameraman traverses the scene capturing all of the action. The trend started with a group of high schoolers, who posted the inaugural video on October 26, 2016 with music from the hip hop duo Rae Sremmurd. Word of the original video got back to the artists, Rae Sremmurd, who then performed their own mannequin challenge in concert with help from their audience. Since then the challenge has caught the internet by storm; from a Destiny’s Child reunion to Kevin Hart to Disney World to numerous professional sports teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and many others. Seemingly knowing no bounds, the mannequin challenge even spread into the political arena with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posting her own rendition prior to the election encouraging viewers not to ‘stand still [and] vote’.

Not only is it super impressive how these trends can come out of nowhere and become so big that even celebrities and major news outlets take notice, but it’s also impressive, maybe even more so, how they can be tweaked and crafted to showcase our individual voices and broadcast our own messages. In the case of Hillary Clinton (and this is not an endorsement for, or a statement against, so just calm down), she took a viral trend that was envisioned as nothing more than clever entertainment and applied to it a relevant and meaningful message: “Don’t stand still. Vote today.”

With that in mind, it raises the question if we as researchers are missing out on a golden goose? Should the Market Research industry pay more attention to these viral trends and capitalize on their reach?

It’s no secret that some of the biggest struggles faced by online research today are 1) finding your target audience, 2) getting them to respond, and 3) reaching younger age groups (especially males) and minorities. Well this may come as a shocker, but guess who some of the biggest proponents are for these viral trends? Millennials. Many of them males, and many of them minorities. Jackpot! There’s your audience.

The challenge then becomes engaging them in a meaningful way.

We here at SoapBoxSample decided to experiment with this and posted our own Mannequin Challenge with the help of a few employees and some clever ideas (levitating balls anyone?). Needless to say, we were quite impressed with the movement we saw. We had hundreds of views within a couple of hours of posting. It’s quite apparent why we saw the sudden surge in activity, and the answer is “viral trends”.

Imagine if we had taken this a step further and tied in a survey opportunity or panel recruitment? It would have resulted in free marketing, clever marketing, that could have easily facilitated our online data collection both for gen-pop and niche demographics.

Sadly, I don’t have the magic formula for how to best capitalize viral social media trends in online research (and if I did I might be inclined to keep it secret), but I am confident that there is a formula to be had. That formula just needs to be solved. And once it finally is, who knows, the possibilities could be endless.

What Do Embarrassment, Fun and Ridiculousness Have in Common?*

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others | 47 Comments


“If you have a great team dynamic, it makes every single person on the team better. If you don’t, it makes everything a drag.” — Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-founder

If you want to work at SoapBox you have to be willing to either A) — make a fool of yourself or B) — be cool enough to get away with just laughing at those who are willing to make fools of themselves.

Working in a start-up environment can be insane. Long days that run into each other, lots of tears, missed events, high emotions, lots of triumph and lots of disappointment – and that is just an average Monday and Tuesday.

SoapBox launched in October of 2012. We started with 1.5 people and have grown to nearly 30 full-time employees. SoapBox was founded on the TellTale Ten – personal values that I believe in as a set of guiding principles for work and life.

  1. Create Value
  2. Inspire Ideas
  3. Motivate Others
  4. Take Risks
  5. Invoke Passion
  6. Be Genuine
  7. Be Honest
  8. Be Reasonable
  9. Be Clear
  10. Have Fun

We’ve spent our last 4 years living these values day in and day out. We decided (by we, I mean me, as not sure anyone else would have willingly made this same decision) the best way to celebrate our 1,460 days of survival would be on a beautiful property, with amazing food, good wine and a candlelight courtyard dinner – right after Sumo wrestling complete with blow up suits (ISA’s Chairman was among our first challenger), a Velcro wall that you ran and stuck too (ISA’s President was reigning champ), a team challenge where we threw (yes, actually threw) team members as high as possible on to the Velcro wall, and let’s not forget the egg off (basically the elementary game of tossing eggs and moving further apart until they break).

We topped the night off with a champagne sabering presentation by our Director of Systems and Programming, who was our first employee, and super fab throwback music by DJ Dan, Our Director of Client Services and our 2nd employee.

It was super fun. We giggled hysterically, cheered raucously and exchange sentimental moments *single tear shedding*.

*If you are still asking yourself what the answer to the headline is, cool. That was my intention.