How Swinging a Hammer and Fetching Beer for Your Dad Are the Foundation of Entrepreneurship

By | Be Honest, Motivate Others, Take Risks

My Dad just butt FaceTimed me. I know it was a butt FaceTime as I am almost positive my Dad does not know how to FaceTime. I am not even sure he knows what it is. Anyway, the missed FaceTime from my Dad made me smile, and got me all nostalgic. I started taking a trip down old memory lane – when my Dad taught me everything I knew. Don’t tell him I said that though. I don’t want him getting a big(ger) head. He will likely get the cliff notes version of this BLOG post from my stepmom anyway.

I grew up in the time of no seatbelts, staying outside until the streetlights came on, wearing sunburns with pride as they represented a good day out in the sun, riding in the back of a pick-up truck all the way to my grandmother’s (like 30 miles and often in the dark), when chores were not optional or paid for and often included “get me a beer from the cooler”, you ate what you were given when you were given it, got ready for school and went to the bus stop on your own (from the age of 5), did your homework yourself, were responsible for your own grades and you didn’t talk back for fear of what was going to happen to you – with death being the best of all potential punishment options. And most importantly, you did not speak or make even the slightest sound during the weather portion of the news each night. Ever. For any reason. No matter what. I am not kidding. I am 44 and still refuse to speak during any weather forecast.

If our bikes were not put away, my Dad would hide them and tell us they had been stolen. If we didn’t put our toys away, they got thrown away – and they were not replaced. If we were told (not asked) to do something, we did it. If my Dad was working on the car, we were working on the car. If my Dad was working on the house, we worked on the house. If my Dad was working in the yard, we worked in the yard. When it came time to drive, we had to know how to change a tire AND the oil (we weren’t cruising down to the Jiffy Lube).

My Dad taught me a ton of life skills. He taught me:

  • How to swing a hammer (TIP: do not miss the nail as it makes a dent in the wood and absolutely do NOT hit the nail crooked as only idiots do that)
  • How to use a drill (uhmm, do not even tell me you stripped the screw – again you may die)
  • How to change a tire (it did not matter if it was snowing or raining or blazing hot with 100% humidity)
  • How to patch a wall (and sand it flush, by hand, and repaint it – this came in handy in my teen years after a few small social gatherings I accidently threw)
  • How to hang drywall (you know in case at age 8 I needed to build my own house)
  • How to shingle the outside of a house up on staging with no safety equipment (imminent death was always a few seconds away at any given time)
  • How to change the oil (and let me tell you, getting oil on the driveway, which was basically a dirt patch and not even paved was not an option you wanted to explore)
  • How to use tools (if you banged your thumb you waited until the project was finished for any type of medical attention which was likely a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer)
  • How to mow the lawn perfectly (if you left an “island” and your rows were not perfect then you were in deep shit)
  • How to sail a boat to Cape Cod (sometimes in gale force winds, 12-15 foot waves, and zero visibility – fear of dying was a regular event)
  • How to clean the bottom of that same 22’ boat (while it was IN the ocean and moving around on a mooring or anchor lol)
  • How to swim (by throwing me off a dock)
  • How to work hard (for 12-15 hours a day – tired and/or sick were not an options in our house)
  • How to earn a living (which did not include all the work you did for free around the house since you lived in it and all)
  • How to write thank-you notes (because being an ungrateful punk would get you a slap)

My Dad wasn’t actually a tradesman. He worked at the same company that manufactured heart and lung equipment for three decades. He wore a tie to work (sometimes with a short sleeved button down, but that is another story). He worked his way up from an entry-level job, to the boss. I remember his office – it was a MESS and had like seven ashtrays and at least two or three of them had cigarettes burning in them at any given time. He got to work on time every day, never left early and I don’t think he ever took a sick day. I was “lucky” enough to work there (as my 2nd or 3rd job as I always seemed to have multiple jobs) and various points filling tubes with some sort of stuff (probably poison) for hours on end. It was the worst, most boring job ever (sorry Dad, but it was terrible) – but my Dad would eat lunch with me sometimes. I pretended I didn’t care if we ate lunch together or not, but I did.

Ultimately, all those things he taught me, were priming me to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t know it at the time and he probably didn’t either – although he may claim it was all some well laid-out plan he had. He taught me through actions, behavior and tough lessons. He taught me:

  • Excuses will not get you anywhere in life
  • We have to do a bunch of shit in life we don’t want to – it’s just part of the deal
  • How to be self-sufficient and support myself
  • To take responsibility for my own actions
  • Accountability and follow through are paramount – finish what you start
  • Persistence and resilience – life will knock you in the teeth
  • The importance of a strong work ethic and putting in a day’s work for a day’s pay
  • Manners and respect

My Dad, Big Jim as we call him (he is not big, but he can be loud and has a big personality) was not the most nurturing. He was harsh, definitive, boisterous, opinionated and strict. He was constantly shouting things like:

  • Use your head for something besides a hat rack
  • Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades
  • If you want to cry, I will give you something to cry about
  • I brought you into this world and I can take you out and make another one just like you

And perhaps his most famous saying “proper prior planning prevent piss poor performance” – at five years old, I didn’t even know what those words meant, but I knew the saying. I always thought he made that up. He didn’t. But he liked to say it, a lot. And I am glad he did.

He made his fair share of mistakes. Many things he did (or didn’t do) would get parents today arrested in a heartbeat. His main goal was to make sure my brother and I were halfway decent people and, productive members of society who weren’t entitled assholes. I think he did ok.

If I Could Change One Thing

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Invoke Passion

Ok. So if I were actually granted this wish, I might choose a different one. But right now I am super fired up, which is code for pissed off. I have done a lot of self improvement work, and one thing I feel like I’ve changed, is limiting the amount of time I spend obsessing over what other people think of me. Everyone cares about this to a certain extent, and we should. But if other people’s opinions, approval and/or acceptance of us becomes a ruling force in our lives, we stand to live a very unhappy existence.

News flash. You (and me and all of us) can’t control other people. I know you may be thinking to yourself you can, but ultimately you can’t. You can’t control what other people think or feel about you. You can’t control how other people (adult folks anyway) act or don’t act, what they do or don’t do etc.

When I think about all the time in my life I have spent worrying about this person or that person, it is crazy. It took getting hit by a car (literally) to let go of some of this. I simply don’t have the time or energy or health to put into that obsession with other people. You either like me, or you don’t. You want to be my friend or you don’t. I want to be your friend or I don’t. You want to work for me, or you don’t. Basically, the toxic people had to go – either out of my life completely, or at least out of my mind. Sorry, toxic peeps don’t get my energy or my emotions any more. I’ve taken away your rights to control my mind.

However, there are times I still find myself letting toxic people sneak back in my life somehow. I cant even hold them responsible. They are toxic and don’t get it. Most toxic people have a common trait – they are so self-obsessed they don’t even know they are toxic. They believe their problems in life, relationships, work (basically any and all areas of their life) are someone else’s fault. Basically, anyone else in the world, except them, are to blame. I’ve got news for you, if you run across more than one asshole in a day, you may want to check yourself. I feel sorry for these people actually, as if everyone else is to blame, you will be perpetually unhappy. Your life will be full of drama, chaos and disatisfaction. If you have energy for that sh*t, then keep on keeping on, as they say. Whoever they is. People do say that right?

Today I found myself totally fired up by someone. Even worse, it was like a 20-word text. I completely lost my sh*t. My body temperature rose, I started gritting my teeth, I typed and erased like 80 replies to the text, and then proceeded to act super mature by yelling and screaming a bunch of not-so-nice insults. I even screenshotted the text and sent it to a friend. Cause I’m that mature – and don’t you know I have suffered injustice and you should all feel bad for me?

I have a lot of people in my life who love and care about me. They accept me for who I am. They love, or at least put up or ignore, my crazy. They don’t make me feel bad. We mutually support each other. They enhance my life and I try my damn best to enhance theirs. So why, oh why, do I let that one person, who doesn’t matter one bit, get me all worked up? Because I am human. I am not perfect. I let my character defects creep up. I can ignore the dozens of people I care about and focus all my time and energy on that one pain in my ass – or a I can get mad, say a bunch of bad words, write this BLOG and let it go.

You should too. Free yourself from the crippling grip of those people who suck your energy. Let them go. I assure you they will be fine. They will just glom on to that next person who will tolerate their stickiness. I can pretty much guarantee it.

The Woof Woof of Word Clouds

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Word Clouds. We’ve all seen them. Maybe we’ve made (or tried to make) them. But what is the point?

I’ll tell you. Every year, we do a group exercise with SoapBoxSample and icanmakeitbetter where everyone is asked to submit words to describe the coming year. Then we combine them all into a word cloud and give a printed copy to each person to display on their desks (in a fun, colorful frame.) We started doing this back in 2015, as a way to mark the end of not-so-great era. You can read about that first word cloud creation here.

Since then, it’s become a tradition. A blown-up version is posted in my office and in the conference room.

Language is powerful. But visual cues can be even more so. When you combine words with visual elements you can end up with a powerful one-two punch that can help people focus their efforts, become inspired and create a shared experience.

Aside from the personal benefits to the individual, having visual cues in the workplace (like colorful art) can provide a sense of place. Who wants to work in a boring, generic space that looks exactly like every other office? Not me.

What does our art say about us? Maybe it says that employees are so engrossed in their work that they might forget what year it is. But hopefully it conveys a sense of shared values, the concept that we are all working together to achieve something, and the uniformity of duplicate images on each desk conveys that we are all on the same page.

 

Company culture is something that I think about a lot. Creating a single image that every employee has a personal connection to is a powerful tool, and also it looks pretty. And also it’s fun to guess who contributed what word. One of our project managers contributed the phrase “Woof-woof” for this year’s cloud. Guess he’s planning on getting another dog?

What word would you use to describe 2018 so far? Tweet me your words @jax_rosales

Dudley Makes Me Happy

By | Be Genuine, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

Why is everyone seemingly so damn miserable all the time? I am starting to lose my patience with those who “suffer” from what seems to be eternal misery. It’s like some crazy martyr way of life people choose to lead. Did you notice the word “choose”? That’s right – I am calling all you serially unhappy folks out. You do have a choice you know. I promise.

As humans, shitty things happen to us, around us, to ones we love, in the world we occupy. No doubt. I am not trying to say that there aren’t 10 million things to be miserable about. I have a solid personal list of my own situations I could choose to focus on and bring me down. Trust me. I am going through some real hell right now in my life. Sometimes I get angry, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated and impatient. But I have learned that it takes a ton (like a shit ton) more energy to be miserable than it does to be happy.

Being miserable is sooooooooo exhausting. It makes everything more difficult than it needs to be, sucks all your energy, kills your immune system, interrupts your sleep and becomes a vicious cycle. I can also pretty much guarantee that unhappiness in the form of self-pity is probably THE MOST DEBILATATING. The good news is 1) you don’t have to live like this and 2) you can decide to get far, far, far away from people who are like this, as they will bring you down with them.

I choose to find joy within some of the most difficult times. Do I have bad days? – hell yeah. Do I wish things were different right now? Yes. Do I wish I lived in good health and pain free? Yes. Do I wish that my loved ones had not moved on to heaven so soon? Yes. Do I wish I had more hours in the day? Yes. Do I wish I didn’t have another surgery coming up? Yes. Do I wish….well, you get the point.

I have learned I have to protect myself from extended misery. How?

  1. Practicing Self-care
  2. Sleeping
  3. Cutting negative people out of my life
  4. Doing more of what makes me happy
  5. Talking to trusted friends/family to help me through difficult times
  6. Telling the truth all the time
  7. Forgiving myself for not being perfect
  8. Doing the things I enjoy as much as possible
  9. Being intentionally present
  10. Laughing – mainly at myself, but my home and office are full of laughter

And let’s not forget, surrounding myself with things I love. Like Dudley! He is my new friend. A reindeer made of logs made by a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old. I named him and talk to him. I paid too much for Dudley, but I like him and he makes me smile. He makes my family smile too, not because they like Dudley, but because they think I am insane and they laugh at me and my relationship with an inanimate wooden reindeer that I paid too much for. Occasionally my husband reads my BLOG so I won’t tell you how much Dudley cost, but seriously, isn’t he cute?

Dirty Hair, Messy House and an Impromptu Baby Shower

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks

I recently had shoulder surgery. I went into surgery very optimistic (aka dumb) thinking my arm would be in a sling 7-10 days and I would have a few months of painful physical therapy and then voila – magically better. Turns out, that is not the case at all. Looking back, it’s also like all the people around me knew what was really going to happen, but they just humored me and nodded in encouragement. I suppose, in the end, things are just how they are anyway so in these situations, ignorance prolongs misery, and I guess it is worth it. Why squander the hours that could have been useful worrying about what is going to happen? If it’s going to suck, may as well just wait until it sucks instead of worrying about how it will suck.

When I woke up from my surgery, I was in a full on terminator contraption – an immobilizer that wrapped around my waist and back and held my arm out from my body. It did not allow it to move at all. You see, I needed an anchor and a pin so I had to be in an immobilizer for 6 weeks. Six weeks in a bulky, scratchy, itchy contraption that needed adjustment every five seconds. And yes, I had to sleep in it. I am still only doing range of motion physical therapy for at least another month before I even start strength training.

So I have to wear this brace. It is so big and bulky that we have to buy Double XL sweatshirts from Walmart to go over it. I cut off all my hair as I knew I couldn’t blow dry or style it. I don’t bother putting in contacts as it is a pain. It was starting to seem like Christmas decorations would just be up early for next year since I couldn’t manage to get them down. I had started this home redecorating project (no, I don’t think things through sometimes thanks for asking) that is half in the works and half just boxes of crap everywhere. Our dog is not getting walked and digging up the back yard. Basically, both I and my entire house are one great big sh*t show.

Oh, and I can’t drive. My doctor said maybe around the ten week mark. Are you kidding me? It is so maddening. My husband and my daughter’s Nanny drive me everywhere. It is lovely. It’s not like I really go gallivanting about, but not being able to get in the car and just go, is crazy making. And my husband doesn’t put up with my foolishness. If I am like “hey let’s stop at [insert random store here]” he always wants to know what I need to get there. How the hell do I know what I need if I haven’t even gone in yet? RIGHT? Like if I actually NEED something I just order it on Amazon Prime. It’s not about needing things. Geez.

Then, last week, the unimaginable happens. I am on a conference call in my home office, with my disgustingly dirty hair, glasses, no makeup, sweatpants that are 3 sizes too big because they are easy to pull up, and there is a knock on my door. Assuming it was on those Amazon Prime deliveries (you know, something I NEED), I answer the door, with my headset, totally unsuspectingly to find SoapBox’s marketing assistant at the door wearing one of those masks people wear given the crazy flu epidemic. I have no idea what she is doing at my house, but feeds me some line about visiting a sick family member and was sent to see what I need help with. I embarrassingly help her weave her way to the kitchen table through all crap that is everywhere and keep going on my call. Then I finish and realize that she maybe can give me a ride and then I ended up back on the phone with I.T.

From my office I hear her yell, someone is at the door. This time, it MUST be an Amazon Prime delivery. I open the door to find my front steps full of SoapBoxers with their phones in the air filming me. “Surprise” they yell. Some are nervously laughing, some looking down at the ground fearing for their lives (or at least their jobs) and others just kind of holding their breath to see what happens. You see, since I can’t make it the 70 miles each way to the office right now, our VP of Operations thought it would be fabulous to bring the whole team to me for our annual kick off meeting, That’s right. TO MY SUPER DIRTY HOUSE WITH SH*T EVERYWHERE for a surprise visit. Oh, and let’s forget that I could not look any worse if I had tried. I wanted to scream obscenities, punch someone in the face, slam the door and run up the stairs (maybe fire a few people and then die), but I am not a total a**hole.

Instead, they all come piling in. They have computers and food and balloons and cake. Why balloons and cake you ask? Turns out we are also having an impromptu baby shower for one of our staff members. They had some amazing Greek food delivered from a local place I didn’t even know existed. I pretty much blacked out, but in between moments of clarity I observed some things.

  • This was my team and they are awesome. We are slow at hiring to make sure people are “right”. This team is totally right.
  • They were laughing and teasing and seemed like a group of friends at a reunion – not just employees working together.
  • They like working at SoapBox – while some were hesitant (like are you sure we should drive to COO’s house and surprise her hesitant) they were all happy.
  • They take care of each other (me included) – that it was I want from a team.

And finally, Dan Parcon, our VP of Operations is in deep doodoo. That’s right. Payback for this one will be of EPIC proportions. We have had a five year “prank” game running (I always win and he has zero points), but this was good. He tried to call truce. I thought he knew me better than this. There is NO TRUCE. This is only the beginning…

Confused Robots, Puppy Love, and Super Judgy Mirrors

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks

I’m so not the cool kid anymore…

OK. So some may argue I was never the cool kid. But whatever, coolness is in the eye of the beholder (yes, I know that is not the right saying). Anyway, I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t totally jealous that two SoapBoxers attended CES this year and I didn’t get to go.

I read articles from afar, watched some live videos and was totally intrigued with what they would come back with. I was especially interested in how they would come back and convince me that all the coolness and crazy gadget viewing was 1) related to their job and 2) had some sort of value for us and 3) could help SoapBox support client needs, and that it was not just a trip to Vegas on the company dime. I needed to be sure what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas. You know what I mean?

Well, this article by our Director of Marketing, Adriana Hemans, pretty much sums it up. She managed to tie all coolness and relatability together. Not only that, but I got super excited thinking about our current and future clients we can help. Hey, I get this is a long article. I also know you have time to read it. Just substitute reading this article for one of you time wasting activities. Don’t EVEN try to tell me you don’t have any. Blog to follow on that topic.

There may, or may not, be a few shameless SoapBox plugs sprinkled in. I have taught her well. : ) Enjoy.

Highlights from CES 2018 and Why Researchers Should Care

Where can you play ping-pong with a robot, fall into love with a mechanical puppy and see inside a refrigerator without opening the door? At CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Every January tech companies from around the globe convene on Las Vegas to showcase their products — gadgets and gizmos that consumers can look forward to one day owning — sort of.  They won’t be coming to a store near you anytime soon, and a lot of them leave you wondering – who would actually want that? In the aftermath of CES 2018, many critics pointed out that most of the products on display would only appeal to two types of people – people with money to burn and lazy people with money to burn. But we don’t have to rely on guessing who would buy these things, because we can actually ask people and find out. (Yay research!) SoapBoxSample conducted a mini poll* to gauge people’s awareness of CES and to find out if consumers would actually buy any of these high-tech gadgets. (You’ll find the results sprinkled throughout this article. I had to find some way to get you to read the whole thing.)

The research industry has been accused of being slow to adapt. While analysts are locked in rooms figuring out how to produce non-biased sampling frames, people are out making robots with Artificial Intelligence. The very same robots you can see at CES. The tech industry could benefit from paying attention to what consumers actually want (something research can supply), but researchers should be paying attention to the tech industry because big changes in the way people use tech in their everyday lives provides new opportunities for gathering data.

“Alexa, let’s do a survey”

At CES this year, Google came out looking like they were trying too hard. They built a three-story installation in the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot. They also clearly shelled out big bucks for an advertising presence that plastered the entire town with the phrase Google wants you to remember – Hey Google. Amazon didn’t exhibit at all. They didn’t need to, because every other device at CES boasted about being “Alexa compatible.” All the free marketing garnered by Amazon, in contrast with Google’s flashy displays made Amazon look like the cool kid who doesn’t have to try to be cool.

People love the Amazon Echo. They consider Alexa to be a trusted part of their family. This is good news for researchers. When people are taking voice-activated surveys through Alexa (coming soon), the higher levels of trust will evoke more accurate, detailed, and honest responses from respondents.

Car tech – knowledge drives enthusiasm

You can’t talk about CES without bringing up the cars. They’re sleek, they’re stylish, they glistening under the showroom lights. I’m not a car person at all (my car has roll-up windows), but these vehicles were really beautiful. As a non-car-person, what I appreciated about the new smart dashboards and infotainment systems is that they were built to provide the driver with more insight into the inner workings of the car, something that I wouldn’t be able to assess by opening the hood.

As car manufacturers are scrambling to bring the first self-driving cars to market, they also have to convince people that self-driving cars are safe. Last quarter SoapBoxSample published the results of an internal study on the public’s perception of self-driving cars. Almost half of those surveyed believe that self-driving cars are dangerous and would not feel comfortable sharing the road with them. Only 28% said they looked forward to owning one. Developing smart dashboards that give drivers detailed information about how the car is operating is one way that car manufacturers can combat negative views of their product’s safety.

Related: Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? An Infographic About Self-driving Cars

Beauty tech – look better, feel worse

I tried out the HiMirror, one of CES’s #beautytech products. The HiMirror measures your pores, dark spots, wrinkles and dark circles. Just what women need, right? A super judgy mirror. Their marketing promised that the in-depth analysis would result in better “skin care goal-setting”. But what is the goal, to stop aging, or to sell products? The next generation of the HiMirror will probably show targeted ads for skin care products. I think I would rather skip the recommended products, and not know that my dark circles had increased by 3%. Turns out most people agree with me. Our poll showed that 68% of respondents would not want to use a high-tech mirror that measures skin imperfections.

It’s not so much consumer electronics, as it is competitive electronics

Is there really a consumer demand for a laundry-folding robot the size of a washing machine that requires you to manually tag each item of clothing you own, and can only fold adult-sized clothing? (And by the way, it takes longer than folding by hand.) Of the nearly 1,000 people who answered our poll, 79% said no thank you to the $980 laundry-folding robot.

Are the companies that produce these robots more focused on giving consumers what they want, or trying to out-do their competitors? What you might notice about this year’s line of robots is that their designs are very similar. White casing, black trim — almost without exception. Did the robot manufacturers forget to do their competitive analysis? (Shameless plug – did you know that SoapBoxSample’s passive metering application is great for understanding how people interact with your brand’s competition online?)

Can Americans fall in love with a robot dog?

I’m not a dog person, or even a pet person, so I didn’t expect to catch feelings for SONY’s robot dog Aibo. But it won me over instantly. Aibo is life-like, expressive, and responds to voice and touch. Knowing that his OLED eyes were mechanical did not make them any less puppy-like. Aibo is currently only available in Japan and costs $1700. SONY has said that they expect to sell at least 150,000 units. Could Aibo gain the same type of popularity in the United States?

Americans are waaaaaay into their pets. Here are some highlights from SoapBoxSample’s 2016 survey of U.S. pet owners to prove it – more than 60% of pet owners sleep with their animals, 40% of dog owners dress their pets up in costumes, and 73% of pet owners believe their pets are “smarter than average”. Could a robot dog one day occupy the same space in our hearts (and in our beds)? According to the results of our poll – heck no. When asked if they could see robot pets becoming more popular than live pets, 89% said no.

Related: Valentine’s Day Pet-fographic – We Know Americans Have a Close Relationship with Their Cats and Dogs But Just How Close Are They?

The future is full of glitches

If robots had emotions, the Aeolus would have experienced total confusion during its live demonstration. The booth presenter repeatedly ordered the bewildered bot to pick up a remote control off the floor, which it finally did after about a minute or so. (This scenario would be nothing new for the 8.4% of U.S. households with teenagers.) But the limitations of the robot’s responsiveness are no hurdle when compared to its price tag. The company wouldn’t name the actual cost, other than to say it was “less than a vacation for a family of four.” For the purposes of our poll, we guessed the price to be $10,000. Turns out most people don’t really see the value in it.  Over 83% said they would not be picking one up anytime soon.

I need a fridge with a camera in it

The ThinQ smart fridge unveiled by LG has a 29-inch touchscreen on the door. If you knock on the screen twice it becomes transparent so you can see the contents inside. But my favorite part was the wide-angle camera inside the fridge. How many times have you thought to yourself, “I wish I could look inside my fridge while I’m at the store so I can see what I need to buy”? Maybe never, but you know who else wants a look inside your fridge? Researchers. The smart kitchen of the future is a paradise for people who hate making lists, and for research ethnographers. With cameras inside every appliance, researchers can see inside the homes of their subjects without setting foot in the door, and more importantly, without disrupting the routines they are attempting to study.

Within the 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space occupied by CES, there were devices that could change our everyday lives, and some other ones that were pretty dumb. There were also plenty of opportunities for researchers. Tech companies seem to have bought into idea that they should be creating things that the public doesn’t know they want yet. Based on the public reaction to some of the products at the show, this might not be the best plan. Tech companies need consumer research more than ever to tell them if there’s a market for what they are attempting to create. Researchers should keep a close eye on developments in tech — there are lots of opportunities coming along for research to become less invasive, cheaper, more efficient and more accurate. The two industries should work together as we move into the next phase of consumer technology.

*P.S. By the way, this poll was a lot like the exhibits at CES, fun to look at, but lacking scientific validity (probably biased and non-representative).

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others
So many topics capture my attention, from Hot Cheetos to cleaning up dog poop (yes, really). Anything could end up on Telltale Ten. I just write random stuff. Sometimes people read it, and sometimes they don’t.
 
On a rare occasion (like a handful of times in a few years), probably much to the dismay of the higher ups,  I like to get all businessy, and write about things related to my industry – market research specifically. Oh, you didn’t know I was in Market Research?  That’s ok. My family knows that, but have no idea what that means even after twenty years.
 
A recent piece I put together about passive metering was published in the Quirks January edition. If you’re in Market Research, you may have seen it already. If you’re not, you probably have no idea what passive metering is. Basically, it’s a way for researchers to get an in-depth look into what people are doing online. If anyone were to track my online behavior, they would probably be deeply confused by my recent searches. I’d love to see a researcher try to put me into a segment based on my online behavior. I’d more likely end up in an institution instead of a segment.
 
Good thing I’m the researcher, and not the researchee.

Google now processes, on average, over 40,000 search queries every second; this translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. The way people engage with brands and online content is constantly evolving. No single day of digital behavior is the same as another. If I want to learn about the newest fitness gadget, I search it online. By the next day, I may be over fitness and want to know how to convert my home to a “smart” home, so I search it up. Later that same afternoon, I may want a new refrigerator that can build me a shopping list. Or, I may just want to buy something mundane like shampoo (you know the kind that makes my hair that cool silver-purple color) , so I simply look it up on Amazon and click “buy now.” If brands want to stay competitive, they need to able to keep up with radical, fast-paced changes in consumer online behavior.

Brands have a great appetite for understanding how people behave and make decisions online. They need to understand their customer’s purchase influencers beyond demographic and attitudinal data; passive tracking data captures how consumers move across the digital world, allowing brands to keep up by tracking their customer’s digital journeys – in real-time.

Adopting a passive metering strategy is not without challenges. The challenges range from technology implementation and respondent adoption to understanding of the data. There are oceans of it, and it is totally unstructured. Despite these challenges, more and more clients are diving in and having success finding those nuggets of “data gold” they would never have uncovered with surveys alone. Brands need to start somewhere, and rather than trying to uncover the holy grail of all that Passive Metering can do, simply looking for trends in the data at a high level can deliver those unexpected “aha moments” brands want.

Keep in mind, consumers are complex. Passive Metering is a super effective starting point to understand what people are doing without disrupting or influencing their behavior. However, there is no one simple research formula or methodology that is all-knowing. Blending methodologies has been — and will continue to be– crucial for brands to really understand their customers. The opportunities for connecting digital behavioral data with traditional survey data, 3rd party data or even longitudinal data available through other innovative research approaches such as Insight Communities, translates to in-depth, actionable insights brands need.

We keep hearing Passive Metering is coming as the next “big” thing in research. Truth is, it is already here. It has been here for years. I encourage researchers to stop overcomplicating it. Take the risk of not knowing everything in advance, find great clients to experiment with and dive in. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.

Jax’s Favorite Things

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas

I know what you’re thinking – “Who does this chick think she is, Oprah?”

Well no, but I do know a thing or two about gift-giving, gift-receiving, and how to avoid giving someone something that they want to re-gift, throw in the trash or “accidentally” feed to their dogs. Need some last-minute gift ideas that don’t suck? Read on.

 

  1. Kmashi ChargerFor the person who’s off the grid (or maybe off their rocker)

This is not the type of charger that you can haul around in your purse all day, although I’ve been known to haul much stranger and heavier things. It’s for when you need to disappear into the wilderness for multiple days and you need to charge multiple devices multiple times — seriously. Juice up.

  1. Seat HoodieFor the sweaty person

It’s a seat cover for your car so that when you are sweaty and sticky and gross, your car seat doesn’t have to be. For me, this is for after workouts. But for others, there may be other reasons they are sticky and gross but let’s not get into that. Cover it up.

 

  1. Eight Greens Youth SerumFor the skin sensitive (AKA vain) person

The best part about this stuff is that it’s called a youth serum, instead of an anti-wrinkle serum. That means you can give it someone without offending them. Not to mention, serum seems fancy. Slather it on.

  1. Packing CubesFor the frequent (or frequently disorganized) traveler

I know what you’re thinking, why do I need what is essentially a bunch of smaller cases to put inside my large suitcase? Two reasons; it helps you keep your stuff organized and it helps you squeeze more stuff in. (I’ll still be packing chocolate bars in my shoes to smuggle them back from Germany though.) Stuff it in.

  1. Bone BrothFor the trendy foodie

I’m no food scientist, but I do know that bone broth is good for you. I know this because I believe everything I read on the internet. The internet says that bone broth is a good source of protein and minerals. Making it yourself is really time consuming. So I buy mine from a place. Slurp it up.

  1. GuessturesFor anyone

You could play this game at a college keg party, a four-year-old’s birthday party or at the old folk’s home. It’s a seriously fun game that you can play at any occasion, with any group of people — young or old, drunk or sober, sane or insane. Get your game on.

  1. Butcher BoxFor the anti-vegan person

Before meat gets a sin tax like tobacco, you can stock up on your delicious cow flesh with this monthly beef subscription. It’s all organic, grass-fed, and tasty. Get fed.

  1. Pink Himalayan SaltFor the salty person

Yes, it’s another food one. I like to eat, ok? (I may have been hungry when I wrote this.) But this salt is fancy because it’s pink. And also it has minerals. Shake it out.

 

  1. I Donut Care hatFor the person with a sense of humor (or a cold head)

This is a terrible picture of me, but guess what? I donut care. I got this hat at H&M. I don’t think they sell it there anymore, but they have other, equally bizarre things you can put on your head. Bust a cap.

 

  1. Creative Cursing Profanity GeneratorFor the person who likes to swear (and then laugh at their swearing)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really need to step up my insult game”? Do you think find obscene and obnoxious things funny? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you might need this book. If you’re not into the whole “socially acceptable” thing, give it as a gift. Get creative.

P.S. None of these companies paid me any money to endorse their products. These are things I actually like and use. (But if someone reading this works for one of the companies mentioned above, feel free to send me some free sh*t.) Happy holidays!

Five Years of FRESH!

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Motivate Others

Gangsters, gamblers, and mob wives. Oh my!

Why have a typical work party when you can throw a mob-themed Casino party? SoapBoxSample celebrated it’s 5-year anniversary this year, so we went a little crazy. Especially me. I don’t typically wear a bright green poker suit to company events…or do I?

I learned a lot about my staff. Turns out, Michelle Henik (Senior Project Manager) is actually a card shark, Allison Flowers (Senior Research Director) does a great New Jersey accent and Elinor Gaida (VP, Research & Analytics) leads a double life as a speakeasy flapper girl. Mike Halberstam (ISA Chairman) loves to have his picture taken (like nonstop) and Mike Chavarria (VP of Business Development) and Aaron Cole (Director of Systems and Programming) may have a future Texas Hold Em’ rivalry to settle. The rest may be too scandalous to include in print…

As a side note to SoapBoxers. I felt it best to tell you in a public forum. All those pics you took at the selfie station you thought you were only texting or emailing to yourself? Yea, well I got a full download. A FULL download, I have them ALL. #truestory

Check out some of my favorite photos from the event.

What is All Over Your Hands?

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

A Salty Story of Entrepreneurship

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. For like two years, they were the bane of my existence. I had to listen to relentless begging from my kid. All my friends eat them. They aren’t bad for you. I swear I didn’t eat them (despite the distinct hand swipe stain on her uniform pants). Listen. I don’t personally have anything against Hot Cheetos. My kid just happens to be allergic to cow’s milk, so these are super no bueno for her. And that cheezy stuff gets all over your hands which is sort of annoying.

Why am I even talking about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Shouldn’t I be talking about Christmas (sorry, Holiday) Carols or seasonal baked goods? Well I re-read the story of Richard Montanez twice in the past week and wanted to share. Many of you may already know it, but too bad. You should hear it again – it is good.

Spoiler alert summary – Richard Montanez, a high school dropout, invented one of the most iconic American snack foods of all time, for Frito-Lay, while he was employed there as a janitor. Montanez called up the CEO with his idea. Yup, the janitor called up the CEO – and was put through! Today Montanez is the Vice President of Multicultural sales for PepsiCo America, and he teaches MBA classes at a college near his home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

The story has been told before, but my favorite version is from The Hustle, my favorite newsletter. (I plan to keep giving them shout outs until they agree to let me guest blog, or send me a cease and desist letter — whichever comes first.)

Recently, a student asked him how he was teaching without a Ph.D.

“I do have a Ph.D.,” he responded. “I’ve been poor, hungry and determined.”

In case you missed the two hyperlinks to the article posted on The Hustle, you can click here to read it.

What I love about this story is the idea that every employee can make a huge impact on their company no matter their role. I also love finding and hiring people that exhibit traits of GRIT — guts, resilience, initiative and tenacity. And Richard Montanez is a prime example of this. Mental grit is what powers a person through personal tragedy, and IMHO, will get you farther than anything else. (Further reading — The Power of Mental Grit.)