This week at SoapBoxSample we held an all-hands meeting where we talked about the things that keep us motivated — through the stress, through the long hours, and through the demanding projects. One of my biggest motivators has always been working out. Almost any type of physical activity helps me focus, centers me, and just makes me feel good. But why should I have all the fun? I like to encourage (some would say force) my staff to get outdoors and do the same. This week Matt Thurston, the COO of icanmakeitbetter (our insight community platform) flew in from Austin to spend some time with the Van Nuys office. I encouraged (it was optional I swear) Matt and our Senior Account Executive Anthony Bean to head up to Runyon Canyon at the end of the day to check out the best view that Los Angeles has to offer. Seeing them conquer that hill make me think it was time to revisit one of my favorite blog posts — Work Out Road Show. Yes, it is possible to stay in shape when you travel for work. And sometimes the best way to see the sights is while you’re sweaty and out of breath and being harassed by a small blonde drill sergeant who looks like Amy Poehler.
What do a former roller derby player, a French-trained Sabreur, the President of SoCal Toastmasters and an international marathon runner all have in common? That would be Aaron. To be more specific, it would be SoapBoxSample’s Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole.
The first employee of SoapBox, Aaron is a fashion extraordinaire (who refuses to buy his clothes in America), a recovered hair-dyeing addict, a current tattoo addict, a vegetarian, an artist, a Spartan and a world traveler.
Come to think of it, he may have way too many hobbies to actually be doing any work. Hmmm….
He also has somehow managed to buy the exact right gift for my daughter every single year, from talking storybook dogs, to fuzzy slippers and phone cases, he has an uncanny knack for buying her just the right Christmas gift each and every year. If I didn’t know him so well, I’d think it was creepy. But he likely does all kinds of research as that is just the way he is.
Oh – and he trained his dog, Charlie, to run races with him. They also have been known to wear matching costumes for Halloween.
Aaron is also this week’s guest blogger! Check out Aaron’s guide to digging deep and pushing beyond your limits.
A Guide to Completing a Marathon in the Outback …Without Getting Yourself Killed
Guest Post by Aaron Cole
I was all alone in the middle of the Australian Outback, running up a sand dune. Dehydration and exhaustion threatened to overtake me. This was Mile 19. I still had 7 more miles to go. How did I complete my mission? By following the simple, but difficult, steps outlined below.
I’m happy to say that I not only survived the Australian Outback, but that I also finished in 4th place overall, was the first American to cross the finish line, and beat my own personal best time by over 15 minutes with a final finish time of 3hrs 23min 25sec.
When I first decided that I wanted to complete a marathon on all seven continents, I immediately began looking for the most unique, exciting, and memorable races I could find. For my third continent I settled on the Australian Outback Marathon; 26.2 miles of grueling masochism through one of the world’s harshest environments. (I also raised nearly $1,000 to support The Wilderness Society to help protect Australia’s many endangered and at-risk species.)
Curious how this went from an idea to a reality? Here’s how I did it.
- Have a Vision and Purpose: Running a marathon wasn’t enough for me, I also wanted to raise funds and awareness for The Wilderness Society. Whether for your own benefit or the benefit of others, having a vision and purpose is essential as it serves as the foundation for your motivation and drive.
- Set Goals (and Follow Through): In the 16 weeks leading up to the Outback Marathon I averaged 50+ miles of running per week. It. Was. Not. Easy. Some days I didn’t feel like putting in the work, but I had a vision and I knew that if I didn’t accomplish the goals I set for myself, it would jeopardize my ability to accomplish my mission.
- Just Do It: Like the slogan goes, you’ve got to get it done. When I felt tired, weary, or my schedule was jam-packed, it created obstacles for my training plan. It’s not easy to run 50+ miles when you’re working Monday through Friday and then lose your weekend to other responsibilities, but if you want to accomplish something great, you’ve got to put in a greater amount of effort. This involved many late night runs, running while on the go, re-organizing my schedule, and a whole lot of commitment.
- Prepare for the Specifics: If your goals aren’t targeted and purposeful, you won’t be successful in your mission. In order to prepare myself, both physically and mentally, I ran a lot of hills, long distances of up to 22 miles, and sandy beach runs. This gave my legs the experience, built the resistance, and helped to get my head in the right mind frame for the challenges I would face in the desert of the Outback.
- Support and Accountability: Putting in this much time and effort can be draining, and it can be easy to slip, so having a support network is essential to keeping you on track! Family, friends, business associates, or anyone else that can lend positivity and support are all crucial to your success. I joined several running groups, finding camaraderie with my running mates and even gaining new tricks and tips to improve my skills. I also found greater consistency in my training, helping me to accomplish my 50+ miles per week goal with significantly greater ease!
- Have Fun Along the Way: As I mentioned, the time and effort you put in to accomplish your mission can be draining at times, so you need to find ways to re-fuel your energy. This will vary from person to person, it’s really what’s works for you. For me, however, I used food, travel, and other races to keep me motivated. Rewarding yourself with a giant cinnamon roll with blueberries, almonds and cream cheese after a long and hilly 22-mile run is pretty much the best thing ever!
- Take Care of Yourself: It can be easy to overlook your own personal well-being when you become so engrossed in accomplishing your goals, but the impact of an injury can be far greater than the moments you spend to rest and recover. Even in a more professional setting, it can be easy to burn out if you don’t have a way to vent the stresses and take care of your mind and body. I had to nurse some injuries, ease back on training, and allow myself the time to recoup, which in the end resulting in even greater improvement, allowing me to far exceed my performance expectations!
- Dig Deep: All the motivation, support, and sense of purpose you carry may feel irrelevant when you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. But I’m here to tell you that nothing is impossible, and any obstacle can be overcome. This is when you need to dig deep and draw from within. For the last 10 miles of the Australian Outback Marathon, I was running in complete isolation; not another runner for over a mile in either direction. I was combating dehydration from the desert’s dry heat, and come Mile 19, the final sand dune drained the last of my strength. The remaining 7 miles I had nothing left. I was running on fumes. But I never stopped running, I never lost sight of my mission, and I dug really, really, REALLY deep.
- Celebrate and Recover: Victory! With your mission complete, it’s time to bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Savor this success and know that you’ve earned it! But don’t be too quick to jump into your next mission, give yourself time to recover so that you can tackle the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.
After all this I’ll bet you’re feeling ready to tackle a marathon of your own, right?? Maybe not. But that’s okay, because these strategies apply to more than just running marathons, you can apply this to any dream or goal you wish to accomplish. Whether your passion is to open your own restaurant, grow your business by 50% in the next 12 months, or even something as simple as learning how to roller skate, if you follow these steps, I can guarantee your success.
However, if you don’t find success with these steps, please direct any complaints and refund requests to Jacqueline Rosales c/o Telltale Ten!
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I can be competitive. Like, super competitive. I recently made it a competition with our VP of Operations to see who could get to my boss’s office the fastest. Not kidding. Competitive people tend to gravitate toward other competitive people.
My friend Ashley Seeger (who was featured in one of the first Telltale Ten BLOGs, My Friends Are Cooler Than Yours) embodies that trait like no other. After a crazy ACL injury and a few other life events, Ashley made the decision to focus on her business full-time. She leveraged her growing boot camp and class groupies, and recently opened up her own gym and training facility called Becoming Badass. As a startup leader, I can tell you that being competitive can help you succeed. (Being a little bit crazy is helpful too.) Ashley is learning to take her race mentality, and apply it to growing her business. Oh, and she decided to take on a bikini competition, a 24-hour endurance race in Australia, and compete in World’s Toughest Mudder (among some Spartan and Ragnar races) all during her first year of business. Ashley shares a few key tips on competition in this week’s Telltale Ten.
Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)
By Ashley Seeger
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that there is competition on every corner. The stressors that come with opening a new business can be intense. Keeping up with your competition can be one that eats at you. For me, competition comes in a lot of different forms — competition with myself, competition with things in my life that are vying for my attention and competition from other businesses. Competition motivates us to do more, do better and grow as a business. If we were the only one doing the “thing” why would we need to improve? Instead, competition forces us to do our best. It can also derail us and cause us to lose focus if we don’t channel it correctly. Here is how I use competition to motivate me instead of distract me.
1. Master your trade. What are you good at? What is your passion?
Keep your focus on what YOU are good at. What do you love the most? What is your unique value proposition? What is special about you or your business that others cannot easily replicate? When looking at your competition you may be tempted to veer from your lane into what they are doing. But ask yourself – what are you a master at? Do you find your passion or expansion opportunities in competitive offerings? If not, then stay in your lane. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-ALL-trades, how can you improve what YOU do?
2. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about the others.
In other words, mind your own business. Literally and figuratively. Instead of worrying that others are going to do more, be better etc., use that energy for your own business. Once you have identified what is working for you, set a plan to improve what you already do. How can you be the BEST at what YOU do? Figure it out and then DO IT! Have integrity and take pride in what you do. You cannot control what your competition is doing. You also can’t be blind to it. This is a balancing act. Be mindful of the landscape, industry, trends, direct and indirect competition. But don’t be obsessed with it – and definitely don’t try to just copy it. Be aware of your surroundings and competition, continuously try to improve what you do and don’t let the competition be a threat, let the competition motivate you to be the best.
3. Leverage what you know, but don’t rely on today’s skills to get you through tomorrow.
Entrepreneurs need to always be learning, seeking more info, and getting out of their comfort zone. Just like on the race course, you have to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. You also have to train and be coachable. If you are not willing to learn new things, or accept advice from others who know things you don’t, you will likely fail. I am an athlete. I have always been an athlete. I am a coach. I am a good coach. Running a business is TOTALLY new to me. If I don’t embrace what I don’t know, and seek it, my competition may prevail regardless of how good of an athlete or coach I am. I have to find and recognize my weakness and then go after it!
If you want to check out all the badass things Ashley does, check out her website at www.becomingbadass.me. For someone new to business, she sure has mastered marketing and branding. It rocks. Truthfully I am jealous. You can follow her Badass adventures on social media at [Insta: @_ashleyseeger, YouTube: Ashley Seeger, Facebook: Ashley Seeger]. Oh, and to the tune of getting out of her comfort zone and delving more into the “business side” of running a business, she just joined LinkedIn! You can connect with her here where she will be posting her BLOG, news, making connections and learning new stuff.
There is a sign hanging in her facility that reads “Do Only Difficult Things” – that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship.
As we move through the different chapters of our lives, we inevitably change. The people, places and things around us impact our mindset, mood, behavior and happiness. While it can be painful at times to leave some things behind, it can be equally exciting to experience the new things. When I find myself in a period of discontent, I know I have work to do. It is not anyone else’s fault. I choose to take responsibility over my happiness.
You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around. You may not be able to control certain things that happen to you, but you can control how you react. You may not be able to change other people, but you can change yourself.
A special woman gave me this many years ago. I searched the internet to find the author and found varying versions of it, but not this exact one. I attributed it to a “wise, beautiful lady”. This was the perfect thing for me to find today. I needed this reminder…
Life is a Theater
Life is a theater. Invite your audience carefully. Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.
There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize, your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going-anywhere relationships or friendships.
Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people, do you feel better or do you feel worse? Which ones always have drama, or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you? The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around.
In short, you don’t have to tolerate shitty people.
Last year I attended VidCon 2016 with my 9-year-old daughter Ella and wrote extensively about the weird and wonderful world of online video influencers. (Read last year’s posts here.) This year I went back with my now-10-year-old. (Congratulations to me for another year of parenting. Yes, I do think there should be awards for this.)
After last year’s VidCon, it took us 300 of the next 365 days to figure out what the heck we had just witnessed. This year we had a decent plan for success — to identify, connect and partner with influencers and their audience to help us grow our online research panel. (Our plan for VidCon 2018 is so good that if we told you about it, we would have to kill you.) What also helped us out this year is that we brought along Nicole, SoapBoxSample’s new sales and marketing admin. Rather than explain how strange it is to suddenly be surrounded by “celebrities” you’ve never heard of, but thousands of tweens are going crazy for, I thought I would let Nicole explain it for me. Also, if you ever go, definitely try the acai bowls.
Connecting with Social Media Influencers at VidCon 2017
This was my first time attending a conference with SoapBoxSample. I was beyond excited to go to VidCon and honestly didn’t know what the heck to expect. I was attending with the COO of the company, wanted to make sure I was on my P’s and Q’s but was going into it scared as sh*t, and having no idea what to expect.
Ok…leading up to VidCon I did lots of research on who is who and what is what, and how we might connect with these social media stars and YouTube sensations. I stalked these influencers for months prior to the event and set up some appointments with them via Twitter. Looking at VidCon’s website and reading recaps from previous years, you can see there are thousands of people there. But actually going there and seeing for yourself the thousands of people is a whole other level of crazy. And call me crazy, I actually loved it. I loved seeing the performers, eating the acai bowls, and looking up to see a YouTuber getting swarmed by adoring fans.
Our mission was to understand the digital landscape in general, and to connect with the Millennial and Gen Y audience, so we can help our clients figure out how to market to them. I wasn’t there to just “look,” I had to do some gorilla marketing too, pass out cards and try to get sign ups to our online research panel, MySoapBox. I’ve done this in the past so it should be easy breezy right? Negatory. You have to know how to approach someone; whether it’s a parent, a teen or an online influencer. After all this was said and done I had to send a recap to both of my bosses. Geeze, this part was hard. How the heck do I recap VidCon? That place is nuts! My recap is going to sound nuts. Oh well, I am a firm believer in being upfront, and with that sometimes comes blunt phrases that I wish I knew how to make sound more “business-like”.
Day 1 Thoughts
- What the hell is this?
- Who are these people?
- Where do I start passing out Join MySoapBox cards/what do I say to engage them?
- I’m so glad I wore tennis shoes!
Day 2 Impressions
- Ok, I am ready to get these cards out – finding more creative ways/things to say.
- This is pretty cool, I need a YouTube channel!
- There are so many people, and they love getting “stuff”.
- I need a FREE fidget spinner for James (my son.) I don’t understand why I’m fighting adults for these.
Random Thoughts as I Was Falling Asleep
- Should I keep Jacqueline away from the Dunkin’ Donuts lounge? Unlimited free coffee and a fanatical COO is either the best or worst combination ever.
- I never knew my job would involve learning how to pull my phone out and take a picture faster than a sharp shooter.
- How much time does Jacqueline’s daughter spend on social media to actually know who all of these people are and what they do? She’s a pretty active kid so that makes it all the more confusing.
- I wonder if there are new rules about swearing in front of your kids. Jacqueline does it a lot, and her daughter seems pretty unfazed.
By the end of the conference, I wanted my own YouTube channel with thousands of screaming tweens following me through the convention. lol. I connected with my boss on a level that was pretty amazing (I mean we share the same birthday so it will be that way regardless). I learned a lot, watched a lot and really enjoyed seeing the various levels of influencers try to connect with their audience. I think the most important take away from this conference was finding new ways to connect.
Not only was I learning how to connect with my boss, I was learning how to connect with our audience to understand and figure out the best ways to engage them. I am most excited to partner with online influencers and grow our panel to help our clients connect and engage with a notoriously hard to reach audience. After meeting with the ones we did, their personalities seem so fun they are about to become my new best friends and don’t even know it yet. Ha Ha!
“Hello ma’am, do you have access to the internet and would you like to take a survey?”
As a young, bootstrapped startup, SoapBoxSample is fortunate in that we can draw from the vast experience of our parent company ISA (Interviewing Service of America). ISA has been in the Market Research business for 35 years. It’s humbling to think of how many lives have grown and changed over the years. Children have been born and grown into adults and had children of their own in that time.
Some of the ISA people still question my unconventional leadership style, but I’m happy to say I’ve made genuine connections with a lot of them, including Gregg Stickeler, Senior VP of Client Services, who celebrates his 27-year anniversary with ISA today. He may not admit it, but I believe his initial feelings toward me were disdain. I also think he now has grown to like me, or at least tolerate me. When I asked Gregg to guest blog he took it seriously enough to do some extensive research, which is fitting considering all of his years of experience. Congrats Gregg!
For me, the number 27 is much more than just a random number. It holds quite a bit of significance in my life. Here are just a few fun facts about the number 27.
- 27% of the Earth is land.
- It takes 27 days for a human cell to re-grow.
- The Moon orbits the Earth every 27 days and coincidentally, the Sun revolves on its axis in those same 27 days.
- The total number of letters in both the Hebrew and Spanish alphabets is 27.
- It is the atomic number of Cobalt.
- There are 27 bones in the human hand.
- It is my daughter’s lucky number.
And on June 27, 2017 I will be celebrating the 27th anniversary of becoming a member of the ISA team. Yes, 27 years ago a young Gregg Stickeler uprooted his life from the East Coast and started a new career and a new life in Van Nuys, California. And boy what this guy has seen.
When I started with ISA in 1990, we had just expanded from 48 telephone station seats to over 55. Well over half of these positons were equipped with a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), in order to perform Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI – which on the East coast we pronounced Kay-Dee and on the West coast, Ka – Tee). The majority of the interviewing was done in English though we had a handful of bilingual Spanish interviewers and an on-call staff of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese speaking interviewers. We ran a number of tracking studies as well as ad hoc studies. Usually up to five different projects would be running at any given time.
But we grew and so did I.
In the next few years we expanded to over 100 seats, all CATI, now crammed into three phone rooms (all at 16005 Sherman Way in Van Nuys, CA). I moved from Manager of Telephone Operations to Project Manager to Director of Client Services. Our Quality Control department was renamed Quality Assurance and Interviewers were now dubbed Data Collectors. And we added a Focus Group Facility named Creative Data.
And the years passed. I was promoted to Vice President and my future wife (which I did not realize at the time) joined the company. We expanded our phone capacity by nearly 60 seats, opening a facility in Alhambra (just outside Pasadena with a large Asian population – at this point we were doing over 25% of our studies in a language other than English). Lopy Williams, who had served as my right hand in the phone room, opened that facility and quickly proved we can expand, without problems, beyond the walls of our Van Nuys Headquarters (yes, we were a Headquarters!).
But according to the normal ebb and flow of life, you’re up one minute and down the next. Soon after ISA’s expansion my father passed away.
As the seams were bursting in our office (we had taken over additional office space and were at 150 seats in Van Nuys), we moved a few miles east to 15400 Sherman Way, 4th Floor, the location we still occupy to this day. Our entire headquarters phone room was now in one area, sporting almost 200 stations. Our next great challenge, Y2K. The year 2000 was quickly coming upon us and it was time to convert all the data we had (study and internal) to comply with the new century. Months were spent rewriting software, reevaluating data, and figuring out how to put all the pieces together. Thankfully, I was nowhere near this issue. The phone work continued to expand and I was heavily involved in staffing and scheduling and client interaction. In 1999, that was the easy part of the work.
And time marches on. We made it through the Y2K conversion fairly unscathed, our phone work continued to grow, and we were again looking to expand. We opened a 75-seat facility in Lancaster, CA. (I was kind of hoping for Pennsylvania as it would have given me a chance to get some shoo fly pie).
Creative Data, our focus group facility, became Qualitative Insights (and eventually Q-insights), I got married and we had a son, named after my Dad.
And suddenly there was a buzz about doing surveys online. Yep, actually hoping enough people were on the world wide web to get enough surveys done that way instead of using phones. And we toyed with the idea. Around this time I received the title of Senior Vice President. My daughter was born.
Our ability to do surveys online was added to our product mix, my Mom passed away, and then, on my 54th birthday (oddly 27 times two), we launched SoapBoxSample, our division specializing in online sample.
During the first few days of SoapBox’s existence, I remember thinking to myself, “Why is Amy Poehler in our office, and can she keep it down?” I thought it was cool that ISA was entering the age of internet research in 2013.
Three years later, we added icanmakeitbetter, an insight community platform. Once I learned to stop calling it “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter,” I really got excited about the platform when I figured out that it was another way I could share photos of myself wearing outlandish costumes with my co-workers.
It’s been an interesting 27 years. So many things have happened in my professional and personal lives which have remained intertwined since I walked into the lobby at my new company that Wednesday. (I can’t believe I was three minutes late, but I was only living in California for two days and was still getting used to the traffic). I have found new friends and lost a few of them along the way. You can read more about my personal and professional adventures on my blog, stickeler.blogspot.com.
You’ve heard of student exchange programs, but what about a blogger exchange? Turns out the Market Research industry is full of interesting people with interesting things to say…
My friends at Research For Good not only write a bookmark-worthy blog, they also make a donation for every survey completed to end global hunger. So definitely check them out.
This piece by Ashley McAllister looks at the “Gamer” audience and how people who meet the technical definition of a “Gamer” (one who plays video games) are still reluctant to self-identify as a “Gamer.” As researchers, our job is to connect with (and understand) all types of audiences, and this is a great explanation of the cultural reasons why people are hesitant to claim themselves to be part of a group.
Gamers Under the Microscope
By Ashley McAllister
The definition of a gamer is something that has long been under the proverbial microscope. It’s a label that carries a bit of stigma so we asked a few colleagues what sort of persona comes to mind when they hear the word “Gamers”. Most of them said the same thing (nerd). The comments we received were not an anomaly, here are two articles which talk about the gamer stereotype.
Both of the articles above examine the way that the traditional idea of a gamer is one of the past. Case in point, in a recent study completed by Pew Research they found that around half of America play video games, but only 10% identify as a gamer. So why is there still such a big drop off of people who openly identify as gamers?
A study printed in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests that today’s reluctance to identify as a gamer is down to game players feeling they still don’t meet the cultural and social predeterminations that have been sets. These include:
- Playing certain types of games/owning a certain console
- Spending certain amount of hours playing a week
- Socialising about your gaming hobby
As Market Researchers we need to understand who our gamers are to be sure we don’t isolate all those who play games. For us, our definition of a gamer evolves as the industry grows – or as JCMC’s study puts it: “[the] gamer identity is for a significant part dependent on how being a gamer is socially constructed in a cultural context.”
So who is today’s gamer? We’re here to help you find out.
In our ALL NEW Gamers info sheet we’ve highlighted some statistics from our sample looking at who is really playing Console/PC/Handheld games.
This article was originally posted on the Research For Good blog.
Why Your Office Should Be a Pet-Free Zone
It’s Toss it Back Tuesday — which just happens to fall on Teacher Appreciation Day. There’s a reason why we have Teacher Appreciation Day, and not Teacher’s Pet Appreciation Day. I wrote a blog last year about why teacher’s pets make me insane. As a business leader, I need honesty and authentic responses from my team. And like any good teacher, I know some lessons are worth recapping. Also, I needed an excuse to share my fifth grade report card with you. Ever wonder what type of student I was? It’s not always the “good” kids who succeed. Sometimes it’s the ones with bad handwriting who need to “work on self-control”.
Save Your Apple — No Teacher’s Pets Here
What I love: positive people. What I hate: insincere people. If you agree with everything I say, eventually I’m going to catch on that you’re telling me what I want to hear instead of what you really think. Your ideas and opinions have value, but not if you don’t share them. Saying yes to everything just makes you a robot. I prefer to work with humans. Until robots are better than humans – maybe then I will like them as much as humans.
I need people around me to push back. I need input. I am not always right. In fact, I love to be wrong as that means someone either 1) came up with a great idea or 2) saved me from a bad idea. If I knew all the answers, I wouldn’t be working at a Market Research Company (I can think of about 5 people who just read this and gasped – get over it. It is true).
Be a disruptor. If you are in first grade, this may not be the best advice. As a matter of fact, when I went to my daughter’s first grade open house, her teachers told me she was a lovely, smart girl. The teacher said she had no doubt Antonella would be President one day. As I was smiling with pride, the teacher quickly added “But she is not the President of my first grade class and we need to work on it.” I then smiled bigger.
Advice of the day: Say what you really think. Even if you think it may not be well received. I challenge you to do so. The people I admire most know how to disagree without being an annoying ass. I get so jazzed when someone pushes back, states their position and makes a compelling case for me to change – that is what makes a good day.
So as long as you are not in elementary school – go for it. Disrupt, disagree, drive change.
MySoapBox Members Have Heart
In my first few weeks at ISA (before SoapBoxSample had even launched), I spent a lot of time in this small, somewhat dark office by myself trying to figure out what the heck I had gotten myself into. Launching an Online Research company from the ground up was complex.
The first week or so, I was in a panic. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do first. There were a million things I needed to do, and had figured one of those out (after figuring out where to park my car and go to the restroom of course). I knew I wanted to create a company that fostered relationships. One with a great culture that extended out to our clients AND our respondents.
The Telltale Ten and The Five Respondent Promises were pretty much the first thing that was” decided” on. The MySoapBox respondent promises are:
- Your Choice
- Your Rewards
- Your Decisions
- Your Impact
- Your SoapBox
We are SUPER serious about fulfilling these promises to our members. We decided it would be super cool to have the MySoapBox panel members, submit the charity of their choice they would like us to donate to. We publish the names of three charities each month to the members, then throughout the month every single member can vote for the charity they want to receive the donation. The charity with the most votes, gets the check.
I love the members’ stories about why they are passionate around their chosen cause when submitting for consideration. I love the excitement when their charity gets picked. I love the letters the charities send us when they receive the donation. I love that people want to give back and this is a way for us to help them do so. I also love that this one small act, actually fulfills all five of our respondent promises.
There is a side benefit too. We find out what our panelists’ interests are and learn about causes we might not otherwise have known about. It helps us build a personal connection with our members. It helps build mutual trust and respect. I love that stuff.
Curious the types of charities our members have voted on? Well here is the list of all the winning charities since the launch of the MySoapBoxPanel. (Click the links to learn more.)
Don’t Raise Your Kid to Be an A$$
About two months ago my ten-year-old daughter was waiting on pins and needles to find out if she made pre-team at gymnastics. She wanted it so badly and was totally obsessed. We had no clue how she would fit it in with her other activities, but she was certain this was THE most important thing…like ever.
Finally, the news came. It turned out to be the best news ever. Well, from my perspective, not hers. She didn’t make the team. She was going to miss practice the day the coach was giving out the news and had to ask in advance. She wanted us to ask for her. There was no way we were going to do that. She timidly approached her coach (who is a total hard ass) and squeaked out, “Did I make it?” Her coach said no, and then proceeded to tell her what she needed to work on.
When she got home that night, she disappeared upstairs. My husband and I decided to go up and talk to her. We started to feel badly we made her go to the coach on her own, and started to second guess whether we were too strict with her. We walked up the stairs expecting to find her crying or otherwise sadly engrossed in some YouTube video. When we got up the stairs, we found her in the gym – practicing her strength and the skills her coach told her she needed to work on.
It was at that moment, I knew that her failure was absolutely the best thing that could have happened.
She then asked us to start taking her to more classes. She started taking two tumbling classes a week, an intermediate girls class and going to open gym for two hours on the weekends. She was incessantly handstanding all over the place. She did all the strength and core work at home. She would leave for school at 8 am and some days not get home until 8:30 pm. At that moment of failure she had a choice; quit, settle to just take classes, or work her a** off at something she was not naturally good at.
The week after she didn’t make team, I was at a business dinner and shared how happy I was she didn’t make the team. Another mother at the table looked at me like I was the worst mother ever – I didn’t care. She was seemingly appalled by my celebratory reaction to Antonella’s failure. Kids need to learn that they don’t get everything they want. Life is full of disappointments. You have to work (hard) for things you want and even when you do, you may not get them. They also need to learn that without failure, you don’t succeed.
Fast forward to last Monday night. Ella was working late after tumbling class on her back handspring and some other skills. We were the last to leave the gym around 8:45 pm. Late night for a 5th grader. She got home from gymnastics the next day and I happened to meet her in the garage as she got home – ready with my usual mom prodding about school, her friends, practice etc. She smiled coyly and looked down at the ground. She then told me Coach Brooke asked her to stay after. That’s when the coach told her she made pre-team. She had no idea. I had no idea. Her hard work had paid off. Her coach took notice. Antonella had EARNED her spot. It wasn’t given to her. Her coach followed up the good news with, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from pre- team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”
In life we fail, in order to succeed, to keep working harder. Many adults haven’t figured this out yet. I am so inspired by Antonella. She makes me proud. I may also succeed at one of my life goals which is to not raise an a$$hole.