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Archive for February, 2008

Take A Quick Break And Try This Challenge Of Your Hand/Eye Coordination!

Friday, February 29th, 2008

My uncle sent this to me and I thought I would share it with the readers. Basically this will definitely challenge your hand/eye coordination.

This is supposed to be some Air Force Test.

The object of the game is to move the red block around without getting hit by the blue blocks or touching the black walls.

If you can go longer than 18 seconds you are phenomenal . It’s been said that the US Air Force uses this for fighter pilots. They are expected to go for at least 2 minutes.

Give it a few tries and post your score…… good luck…….

http://members.iinet.net.au/~pontipak/redsquare.html

The first few times I couldn’t get past 5 seconds. My all-time high is 24.3 seconds which I only did once.

This is really challenging.

I look forward to seeing your scores and comments.

Interest Free Is Great…Until…

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

When we moved to Texas a few years ago, we quickly noticed that the house we bought had built-ins (which was really nice and was a look we loved). The problem was that none of our TVs would fit in these built-ins — not one. After being in mourning for a day or two–after I sold the two large screen TVs we had–I journeyed out and needed to find new TVs. We ended up purchasing all of our electronics from a place that had interest free options. This was a huge selling point for the customer service person and he kept repeating that we have interest free options which our competitors don’t. Not only was it interest free, but it was interest free for 3 years–yes I said 3 years! Since we needed TVs in our new home, we signed the deal and the rest is history.

Last week I was paying bills and sent in the last payment. I noticed how much interest I had accumulated in the 3 years…over $8,500! Amazing. I knew when I signed up for the program that I would pay it off before it was due so I wouldn’t pay the interest but…what if I was wrong? One of my friends had mentioned to me some credit card companies change the last payment date and try to have you miss the due date. Since I paid it off a month early I have no idea if this is true.

During the holiday season, lots of stores have interest free options. Interest free is great until you miss the final payment.

  • Has this happened to you?
  • Has this happened to anyone you know?
  • Do you look for interest free deals when you purchase items?
  • If so, I would be curious if it impacts your buying decision.

It worked out for us and I would certainly do it again.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

I Am Just Graduating. The Big Question Is, Client Or Supplier: Which Way Should I Go?

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Since I am on the advisory boards for the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin, and Southern Illinois University and mentor lots of students, I get asked this question very often.

Client or supplier: which way should I go?

  • Is it better to start in one direction or the other?
  • Which part of the industry is more enjoyable?
  • Where can I learn more?

And of course the really brave students will ask…

  • Where will I make more money?

For me this is a real difficult question because I have NEVER worked on the client side but definitely have an opinion. (There’s a shock! Of course I have an opinion! I’m from Boston!)

First of all I am not sure you can go wrong with either choice. As someone who truly loves the industry, I am just excited that the person is choosing to be part of it. When I think about what I enjoyed and looked for in a job way back when I graduated from Hofstra University it was:

  • Learning new things
  • Working in different industries
  • Being exposed to seeing new products and services
  • Being challenged during the day

Because of that, I truly believe someone graduating and wanting to start in this great profession, should start with a supplier. I believe the learning in year one can be much greater at a supplier because of the mix of projects, industries and different methodologies that you are exposed to in your first few years. By doing this it will become a platform for growing as a professional down the road and give you many options.

There are many benefits for going the client way. You are much closer to the ultimate decision process and yes, you probably will make more money starting out.

Let the debate begin.

I would really like to hear from both clients and suppliers about the benefits of going in either direction.

  • What did you do and why?
  • Have you worked for both types of companies?
  • What were the challenges?
  • What is your recommendation: client or supplier?

I really look forward to your comments.

Everyone Gets Into One, But…How Do You Get Out?

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Well I hope I have your attention with the title of this posting. During the course of the year everyone feels a little blasé, maybe a little down, maybe a little bored and maybe–just maybe–you are in a rut. Yes it happens to everyone. The question is, what do you do about it to get yourself out of that place that most people don’t enjoy?

Here are a few things that I do:

  • Change it up a little bit. As much as I love routines maybe it’s time to drive a different way to work. Go to the gym at a different time, choose a different vacation spot or perhaps go to the newest restaurant in your town.
  • Ask for help? What, are you kidding me? I don’t want to tell anyone I am in a rut! Wrong! It is time to rely on your friends and loved ones. I have found them to be a great resource and can give you a different perspective quickly since they tend to know you so well.
  • Read a book. Get out of the house, get in the car and drive to Barnes & Noble or Borders and purchase a book. READ IT! Set a goal of when you would like to finish it by. It isn’t hard to read a 200 page book in 10 days if you read 20 pages a day. It is difficult if you leave it until the last night and try and read 200 pages in a few hours. Besides, you probably won’t enjoy the book as much and understand the message if you cram like we all did while we were in college.
  • Relax – go get a massage. It gives me a chance to relax, forget about life and just sleep and dream for an hour. For me this really works.
  • Go to a movie…by yourself. Pick a movie you will enjoy, no need to compromise with your spouse or friends on what movie you want to see. Go to the concession counter and buy the large popcorn and soda and sit back and enjoy the movie by yourself!

No need to panic or get very emotional when you get in a rut. It does happen to everyone.

The real question is how long does it last?

I believe that is totally in your control.

  • How do you get out of a rut?
  • Do any of my ideas work for you?

I look forward to your comments.

How Do You Fill In The Blanks Of This Statement?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I am sure all of us from time to time think about the past. Maybe you go as far back as when you were a child and might do something different. Maybe you think about high school and wish you would have taken a French or Spanish class a little more seriously. Perhaps you think about what your life would have been like if you made a different choice or started that hobby, sport or job earlier than you did.

So now that I have gotten you to relax (hopefully) and think about your past, how do you fill in the blanks on this statement:

I wish I would have ____________ earlier in my life.

For me it is an interesting question. Does my answer involve my professional life or personal life? After much consideration it is my personal life. Since sports are a very important part of my life, I wish I would have started stretching and working out with a professional trainer earlier in my life. There are a number of reasons why I chose this as my answer:

  1. My body isn’t flexible at all. Most days I get out of bed and can’t even touch my knees.
  2. I have a number of aches and pains, and feel if I had stretched out properly they would probably be much less.
  3. I would have loved to have played tennis into my 70’s and 80’s which would have probably been possible if I knew how to take better care of my body.

How do you fill in the blanks of this statement:

I wish I would have ____________ earlier in my life.

I look forward to your comments.

Attention Researchers: Would You Touch this Election with a 10 Foot Poll? by Steve Runfeldt, Guest Writer

Friday, February 15th, 2008

"If enough of us refuse to answer, the polling data will become so unrepresentative and unreliable even the media would have to admit it was useless." — Ariana Huffington on her blog, The Huffington Post shortly after the New Hampshire Democratic Primary.

On January 8, Hillary Clinton won that race by 2 points, a 10 point shift from what most polls had predicted. Watch any news program today and you are likely to hear a political pundit deriding the validity and reliability of political polls, and by extension, surveys.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, wrote a column in the NY Times, titled "Getting It Wrong", saying, "All the published polls, including those that surveyed through Monday, had Senator Barack Obama comfortably ahead with an average margin of more than 8 percent." To his credit, Kohut defends the overall reliability of polling methodology and suggests factors for further study.

Some of the factors that have been suggested include:

Sampling problems — Some have suggested that certain demographic segments of the voting population are underrepresented because they do not cooperate with pollsters, suggesting that these people tend to be lower income, less well educated and more racially biased.

Media interpretation and bias — Some have suggested that the poll results were in fact accurate, but that the media is poorly educated in how to read and interpret poll results.

Racial bias — Some have suggested that many white voters are more liberal when speaking to pollsters than they are when alone in the voting booth. Would online polls be more representative?

Gender bias — Some have suggested that women would not want to seem biased toward Hillary Clinton, or men might be embarrassed to admit that they were going to vote for a woman, so their actual votes would be underrepresented.

Voting machine error — Some bloggers believe that the polls were correct, but that the voting machines were in error.

Bias in political polling — Much of the public opinion simply does not trust political polls. Certainly push polling and other disreputable practices further this distrust. I once was asked to help a local campaign with a poll when one activist suggested, "Why don’t we just tell them we took a poll. Who would know?" I had to tell her, "I would know."

So, what do you think was going on in New Hampshire?

And what do you do in commercial market research, when the actual results differ significantly from what you or the client expected? Do you challenge your results, or the expectations? Have you ever encountered a client who just did not trust surveys?

Looking forward to your responses.

Steve

P.S. The CNN/ UNH poll (http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/05/top10.pdf ) predicted a tie +/- 5%. The actual difference was 2 points. Maybe not all of the polls were entirely wrong.

###

Steve Runfeldt (Senior Account Executive for Quantitative Research) came to Schwartz Consulting Partners in September 2007 with a total of 27 years of research experience. His expertise is in innovative research design, statistics and analysis. He has a BA degree in Psychology and Anthropology from Brandeis University, graduate work in Behavioral Sciences, Genetics and Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University and Comparative Psychology at Georgia State University. Steve has worked as project manager, statistician and director of Internet research at Elrick & Lavidge (now TNS), principal and VP of Research at Customer Sat.com and founder and CEO of Justaskthem.com.

Steve is recognized as a pioneer and innovator in the field of Internet survey research, having introduced some of the first methods for online sample control, real time online reporting and customer relationship management. As head of justASKthem.com he designed and managed one of the first online customer satisfaction management systems which enabled AT&T WorldNet to become the industry leader in customer service satisfaction. Other clients with whom Steve has worked include AMD, American Century, Cover Girl, Pac Bell, Price Waterhouse, Procter and Gamble, Roper Starch, SBC, Siemens, the U.S. Navy, the World Bank, and others.

In 2005 Steve developed a new method using Flash technology that allows websites to collect consumer feedback through a short 3 question inline feedback application. When installed on a web shopping cart this method has achieved as high as a 70% response rate.

As a member of the Marketing Research Association Internet Ethics Task Force, Steve helped to write the association’s Internet market research survey guidelines. He has been a keynote speaker, panel moderator and workshop presenter for groups such as the Marketing Research Association, Emory School of Business, University of Georgia Marketing Research Program, the Institute for International Research and the International Quality and Productivity Center.

Attention Movie Goers: Time To Enter The Academy Awards Contest And Pick The Winners…Yes There Is A Trophy Involved!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

If you are like some of my friends, you love going to the movies, have an opinion and typically know the winners of the Academy Awards before they are announced. Now is your chance to see if that really is true.

Take 2 minutes and fill out a quick survey with what you believe will be the winners of these eight major categories and one tie-breaker question. The person with the most correct answers will get a trophy sent to them to proudly display in their office. You will need to complete this by Friday, February 22, 2008.

Click here to enter the contest.

80th Academy Awards – Nominations

LIVE Telecast: Sunday, February 24, 2008

Performance by an actor in a leading role

George Clooney in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah” (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises” (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal)
Julie Christie in “Away from Her” (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in “The Savages” (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement” (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone” (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Achievement in directing

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight), Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

Best motion picture of the year

“Atonement” (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight) A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Adapted screenplay

“Atonement” (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
“Away from Her” (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay

“Juno” (Fox Searchlight), Written by Diablo Cody
“Lars and the Real Girl” (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
“The Savages” (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins

We will post your answers on the blog. Remember, you have until Friday, February 22nd to get in your picks.

Good luck to everyone!

We look forward to your picks and comments.

Facebook And LinkedIn: What Am I Supposed To Do? What Am I Missing? Help!

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Not a day goes by without someone sending me an invitation to be a friend on Facebook or to be a contact on LinkedIn. Let me start by saying I have had a LinkedIn Account for over a year and have had almost 200 invitations. Some of those invitations I have accepted while others were from strangers and I didn’t. Even though I accepted some of these invitations, I don’t use LinkedIn at all! I never think about LinkedIn! In fact when I am thinking about finding certain contacts at a company, it would never cross my mind to use LinkedIn! I tend to share my contacts with lots of people. Some would say I am a pretty good networker. So why do I want to share my contacts with total strangers? I have a feeling I am making a big mistake!

  • What am I missing?
  • How do you use it?
  • When does it work the best?
  • Do you have any success stories you can share?

Facebook is probably worse for me. I seem to be getting many invitations to join. The reason I did join and open up an account was that a contact of mine, Toby Bloomberg, mentioned there was a market research group with over 600 contacts in it and I should check it out. I did, but that was pretty much it. I don’t check out the site or group daily or even weekly.

I really think I am missing something and should be using this site much more effectively. I probably need to buy a Facebook for Dummies book! I have asked a few of my contacts how they use it and they appear to be in the same boat as me.

  • Are you on Facebook?
  • How many contacts do you have?
  • What is the best way to use it for business?

I really look forward to your comments.

What Motivates You? Here Are A Few Things That Motivate Me…

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Motivation is to me perhaps one of the most important and meaningful 10 letter words. What motivates you? Clearly it means something different to everyone. I realize that the answer can be very personal to some people. I hope they will feel comfortable sharing it with the readers of this blog.

Everyone is motivated by something! That much I am sure!

When I think about what motivates me, a number of things come to mind in NO particular order:

  • Trying to make a difference each and every day
  • A fear of failing
  • Accomplishing business and personal goals
  • Providing for my family
  • Not letting people close to me down
  • Giving something back to the industry or helping people

Think about it for a minute or two.

What motivates you?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Everyone Got Them, But Over Time Our Opinions Have Changed!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I remember being so excited opening up presents as a kid, thinking, "That is for me!" I remember tearing off the wrapping paper only to find gift cards and thinking, "What is this?"

It isn’t a toy! It isn’t anything that I asked for! And what am I going to do with this?

This past week I think my kids had the same expression I had many years ago. Life has changed a little bit. According to a number of reports I heard on the radio, holiday gift card sales might be as high as $35 billion this year. Yes I said $35 billion! Holiday gift card sales will account for almost 6% of total US holiday spending this year–up 5% from a year ago–according to Stamford, Connecticut-based Archstone.

I remember giving out gift cards years ago and people would look at me and think "He took the easy way out. He couldn’t think of something to get me so he took the lazy option." I was thinking all along, "You have everything and now you can get what you want."

Amazing how times have changed. You can buy gift cards everywhere: Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Target, Barnes & Noble and of course there are American Express Gift cards. In my opinion those are the best. I can get whatever I want wherever I want it!

The other amazing statistic I heard was that 20% of all gift cards are never used! I couldn’t believe that number, so I asked a number of friends and family and sure enough, many of them have gift cards they have never used and WILL NEVER use them! The merchants are either in an area they don’t go anymore, or they are a store they never shop at or a restaurant they never eat at.

  • What is your opinion of gift cards? Friend or foe?
  • Did you give out any gift cards this holiday season?
  • Do you have gift cards that are over a year old?

I look forward to your comments.

P.S. If you want to send me one, American Express, Sports Authority or Barnes & Noble would work out just fine for me!