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Archive for October, 2007

Best Date Movies of All Time

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Most people enjoy movies and probably find themselves from time to time looking for great date movies. You have the popcorn. The drinks are all set up. The kids are in bed. The house is fairly quiet. It’s time to pop in a movie that both you and your significant other can enjoy. If your house is like mine, the conversation about picking out movies goes something like this:

Merrill – What about an action move tonight?

Trish – You know I don’t really like action movies.

Merrill – Ok…what do you want to watch?

Trish – How about A Perfect Man or something like that?

Merrill – Not sure I like the title of that one. What about an action movie? This one is really different!

And then of course we compromise. Let’s try and build a list of great date movies so the previous conversation doesn’t need to happen.

Here are six of my favorites that everyone can enjoy:

  1. Sleepless in Seattle
  2. Jerry Maguire
  3. Six Days Seven Nights
  4. When Harry Met Sally
  5. My Best Friend’s Wedding
  6. Bull Durham

What are your favorites?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Give me a Y! Give me an O! Give me a G! Give me an A! What does it spell? Pain!

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I really enjoy playing sports. I always have for as long as I can remember. Even today I still play softball, tennis and football once in a while and run on the treadmill five times a week. One of the things I regret as a youngster was I never stretched. Never! If I was playing a sport I would show up 2 minutes before we were about to start and would jump on the field or court. That was a mistake – in fact a huge mistake since my body isn’t flexible at all and in pain a day or two after playing a sport.

Recently I have been hearing from a number of people how much they enjoy Yoga. My wife loves it and has been talking about a special kind of Yoga called Bikram. Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury and is commonly also known as "hot yoga." It’s easy to understand why – it’s supposed to be practiced in a 105 degree room with 50 percent humidity! Oh by the way I left out one of the most important pieces of information: The class is typically 90 minutes and the instructor doesn’t let you leave the room!

I have never taken a Bikram Yoga class but have started to think about trying it once… just once. I am not sure I can do any of the poses but I am willing to try. There is a good chance I will pass out and throw up. I have heard from so many people it can make your mind and body stronger and very flexible.

  • Have you tried it?
  • What was it like?
  • Did you enjoy it?
  • Am I making a mistake thinking I can survive being in a locked room for 90 minutes in 105 degree heat?

I look forward to your comments.

A Presidential Point of View (Part Two)

Friday, October 26th, 2007

In this, the second part of a two part series, we’ll continue to explore the habits, practices and leadership styles of seven presidents within the market research industry.

Who do you admire the most in the research community?

Carl Iseman
(To see all of Carl Iseman’s responses, click here)

I admire several people who are dedicated to the development of marketing research as a profession, have committed significant time and effort to MRA, while doing an excellent job in their own sphere….you’re right up there along with Merrill Shugoll, Jon Last…people with great leadership abilities who care!!

Michael Halberstam
(To see all of Michael Halberstam’s responses, click here)

I’ve always admired Howard Gershowitz. There are several other people who I’ve met over the years who have, through hard work, moved up to very senior level positions. I find this very admirable. I also admire quite a few of the folks here at ISA who started as data collectors and are now in highly responsible positions.

John Heakin
(To see all of John Heakin’s responses, click here)

I grew up in a generation where Research Suppliers were much smaller and more local than what we have today with global players dominating the scene. Being on a first name basis with Bob Lavidge of Elrick & Lavidge, Foy Conway of Conway-Milliken, Verne Churchill of Market Facts, Joe Rabin of Rabin, Jack Honomichl and so many others was just so special I cannot really communicate it. But no one tops my all-time MR hero, Frank Walker of Walker Information. Frank transformed a smallish interviewing service in a middle market into a national research company. But his unselfish leadership gave marketing research the Your Opinion Counts campaign he created, and I believe he should be credited as the Father of Respondent Cooperation and all the public relations efforts MR has today as he also created the Industry Image study that he conducted bi-annually at his own expense in the 70’s and 80’s. The results of these studies were presented at every research conference of every organization and highlighted declining respondent cooperation rates. Frank is the reason every MR association works on this and most likely why we have CMOR.

But, having said that, nothing tops the thrill I had in presenting Dr. George Gallup Sr. in my role as Chair of the 1981 MRA National Convention in Chicago. I first met Dr. Gallup in 1975 when I was really quite young and new to the business. He was a luncheon speaker at the 1975 MRA Convention in Chicago. Of course I knew he was considered the Father of Marketing Research, and I was sitting right in front of him as he took the podium which was on the dais. He had a very big chest and very broad shoulders and as he put his really big hands around the podium he bellowed in a deep baritone, "Throughout my career, I have always considered myself an interviewer." The crowd jumped to its feet roaring in approval. If ever a man knew how to win over an audience, this was it. With chills up and down my spine, I knew I was in the right place. So fast forward to 1981. Now quite elderly, and less vigorous than he had been in 1975, Dr. Gallup was receiving a career recognition award from MRA at our black-tie ball. As Chair, I entertained all the speakers in the Program Hospitality Suite. Maureen was just 31, and a beautiful and delightful young woman blessed with great enthusiasm. Dr. Gallup immediately took to her and never left her side the entire evening. When I announced it was time to go to the Ball, he offered Maureen his arm and I led the two of them into the Ballroom. He was happy, she was happy, I was happy. Sitting that night on the same podium as the greatest man in MR history was a lesson in humility that I have never forgotten. I got the President’s Award for Service to the Industry that night in front of Dr. Gallup. It does not get any better than that.

Ken Roberts
(To see all of Ken Roberts’ responses, click here)

After all of these years, I still have to say Sandy Cooper.

Ann Tancredi-Brown
(To see all of Ann Tancredi-Brown’s responses, click here)

Early in my career at Yankelovich, I most admired Florence Skelly. It took a lot of grit and creativity to be female and the president of a research company in the 70’s. Later, I would have to say I most admired Robert Shulman. He always had a new idea and his influence on my career was huge. I will always be grateful. Today, I seem to hold in high regard a colleague who is unfailing in his support, always willing to help if he can and who never forgets a birthday. Amazing!

Merrill Shugoll
(To see all of Merrill Shugoll’s responses, click here)

There are many respected research professionals I admire. Merrill, you certainly are one of them. However, I admire none more than my mother-in-law, Joan Shugoll, who is one of the smartest, classiest research professionals and human beings I have had the privilege to know.

Peggy O’Connor
(To see all of Peggy O’Connor’s responses, click here)

I most admire the interviewers who can do this work with confidence and quality.

Continue reading “A Presidential Point of View (Part Two)” »

Favorite Board Game

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

After a day of traveling or at M/A/R/C, I get home and take off my jacket and tie. Next on the agenda is to play with the kids. Maybe it is watching them outside ride bikes or maybe it is playing baseball (which in our house means I pitch they hit, I chase, they get tired and I clean up). Sometimes it is a game called ZINGO which is kids’ bingo with pictures instead of numbers. Actually it is a fun game for the kids and frankly I enjoy it as well.

When I was young, I used to play board games all the time — after school, Saturday or Sunday it didn’t matter. It was always fun. A good family event. Some of the games we played were:

  • Monopoly
  • Connect four — which I still love and play
  • Battleship
  • Sorry
  • Twister
  • Trouble

My favorite was Battleship. For me it was a combination of strategy, mystery and fun all in one game. I don’t have the game now, but who knows? Maybe I will play it with my kids one day soon.

  • What games did you play as a child?
  • What was your favorite?

I look forward to your comments.

Interview with Bob Lederer

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Have you ever thought about interviewing the interviewer? Well a few weeks back I got the chance. Today’s research spotlight is Bob Lederer, President of RFL Communications. His newsletters are a must read for me month after month. I have known Bob for a number of years and he is one of the rare individuals that I learn from with every interaction I have with him.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Bob a little bit.

What advice would you give entry level market researchers?

They should tap into as many individuals and reliable sources (sorry to be self-serving, but like our newsletters) as possible. Every time I speak with a recent graduate, I hear validation that their perceptions of the industry while they were in school were so far from the reality they face on the job. Alumni from two of the MR grad school programs have purchased our newsletters for the program to help the students get better in touch with the facts.

It also appears undeniable that even if you want to work on the client-side that starting your career on the vendor/agency side is preferable for the pure learning experiences they offer.

I’d also strongly encourage them to think big. I think the MR industry is one of the most fascinating businesses to be in, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in several. The business world is brimming with new opportunities, but you have to discover one or more that resonate with you, and then set on the long and challenging journey to live your dream and reach your goal.

Continue reading “Interview with Bob Lederer” »

Look Around Your Cube Or Office. Are You Unprofessional? According To This Piece Of Research I Am!

Friday, October 19th, 2007

On my flight to New York last week I read an interesting article about office clutter. Specifically they were pointing out items that a person had in their cubicle or their office. According to Steelcase’s 2006 Workplace Index Survey, most employees would appear more professional by having fewer personal items on display, a study says.

I’m not sure I agree with that at all. I look around my office and I think it is clean, organized and VERY personalized. My thought is that I spend a tremendous amount of time in my office and I want to be very comfortable.

In the 2006 Workplace Index Survey, 95 managers were given descriptions of professional and unprofessional workers. They were then asked to construct the office of each worker by placing stickers of dozens of items, from staplers to family photos to plants, onto images of an office.

If more than one in five items in your office or cubicle are personal, you may be viewed as unprofessional, according to University of Michigan research. Are you kidding me? I must have 50 items in my office that are personalized. Anyone who knows me could pick out my office in two seconds. Yes I have a signed picture of John Daly winning the British Open, Yes I have an original Boston Garden Chair that is signed by Larry Bird. I could go on and on.

The researchers found that the professionalism of each worker was reflected in the proportion of objects that referenced their personal life.



% of workers who have this item in their office

Do I have it?







Paintings and/or posters






Flowers and/or plants



Radios or CD players



Wall paint






Decorative lighting



I have 5 out of the 9 items, so I assume I am unprofessional. In fact, I have 40+ pictures in my office so I am really, really unprofessional.

I look forward to your comments and knowing if you are unprofessional and hearing what you have in your office.

This Johnny Is On The Spot

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

During the course of a business day you go through lots of emotions. As a manager, a tremendous number of twists and turns can happen in an hour let alone in a full day of work.

I recently watched a video that really got me to think. I thought I would share it with you. I promise you it will be 3 minutes well spent today:

As I was watching the video, my mind was racing and my emotions were all over the place. Yes I thought Johnny was going to die. I thought so not once, but twice.

There were so many messages in the video:




Will you be a Johnny today? I know I will be trying really hard!

I look forward to hearing your comments and what you felt while you watched the video.

Are You Kidding Me?…WHO Got Twelve Million Dollars?

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Maybe the title perked your interest. Hopefully now, you have decided to read on. Let me start by saying I like dogs. Actually, I love dogs! Growing up we had Peppy running around the house, then we had a beautiful fun loving dog named Duchess and now we have Boston, a cute Yorkshire terrier.

I was reading an article the other day and was surprised to find out that Leona Helmsley set up a simple pet trust for her white Maltese, Trouble, ensuring that Trouble will continue to enjoy a lifestyle other dogs can only dream of. I’m sure you’ve heard by now…Trouble ended up getting twelve million dollars.

Let me start by saying I never met Leona or her husband Harry, nor do I have anything against the little cute and fluffy white Maltese Trouble. Yes we have all heard the whacky stories of Leona. The stories where they were portrayed as very mean and cheap individuals. Some say that Leona, who served a prison term for income tax evasion and fraud, was regarded as a 1980’s symbol of arrogance and greed.

With everything that is going on in the world (most of which is bad) – couldn’t Leona give the money to charity? Or at least most of the money? She may have given away millions to charities over the years but to set up a trust that has twelve million dollars in it seems ridiculous to me. Why not do something nice at the end of your life to try and change your image? Here is a thought: why not do it just to help people?

With reality shows all over the place why not a new one entitled "What Should I Do With My Money?" Let’s assume that Leona was the first guest on this show and had a chance to read this blog. What would you say to her?

Here is what I would have said: "Leona, education is so important. Why don’t you set up a ten million (give Trouble the other two million) dollar trust to ensure that underprivileged kids can go to college? Pick a high school in New York City and every year give away ten scholarships to kids that probably couldn’t afford to go to college. Show them the way. Set up some internships at your hotels. This way you are helping these kids who in turn can get solid educations, find jobs and help their families in the future."

Leona is asking you, "What Should I Do With My Money?"

I look forward to your comments.

If You Love To Watch People, Where Is The Best Place To Go?

Friday, October 12th, 2007

I am about to let you in on another secret: I love to watch people! I am not kidding; I really do. I truly believe you can learn so much from watching people–from how they handle situations in a positive way, to how obnoxious some people can be, to how flamboyant others dress.

I just returned from Las Vegas, which might be one of–if not THE best–places to watch people. I was having a discussion with Jason Miller who is also in the research industry, and we came up with a few other choices besides Las Vegas. They include:

  • Venice Beach, California
  • Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA
  • South Beach in Miami Florida

Jason and I both agreed that Las Vegas was the best people watching. We love the fact that everyone is dressed to the max or like Elvis. Everyone in Vegas seems to have a story and who knows what is fact or fiction.

  • Are you a people watcher?
  • What is favorite spot?
  • And what do you think about our choices?

I look forward to your comments.

Attention Researchers: What Do You Think Of This Type Of Research?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

As you know, I love this industry. I love the challenge of solving problems for clients. I love seeing new products and services before anyone else does. I love the entire interaction with a company and their research partner who helps them decide whether to move forward or not with a particular concept. I love the people. This industry is filled with passionate, dynamic, insightful and intelligent people. Mostly, I love the fact that market research can truly MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Please watch the video and then read on….

Let me start and say I don’t agree with the Ford Swap Your Ride campaign. They state we didn’t tell them we were from Ford. They told them they were doing market research. They also state "we didn’t tell them what to say." Is that what researchers do? The research industry in the United States is over 8 billion dollars. Maybe I am going out on a ledge here, but I am thinking that none of that research is done with companies that tell respondents what to say.

I don’t own a car made by Ford but if I did I don’t think I would feel really good that a company needs to misrepresent itself for a promotion. Please understand–I don’t have a problem with the concept; to swap your ride makes sense to me. But the Ford team is very smart and could have come up with something more creative without taking a shot at this great industry.

Ford, you didn’t have to set up a fake marketing research company; there are thousands in the industry who could have done a great job for you. It will be interesting to see if respondents believe Ford when they are conducting "real" research on their next project.

  • What do you think?
  • Are you as upset as I am?

I really look forward to your comments.