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A Presidential Point of View (Part Two)

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.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Carl Iseman:

Leadership style: I like to think of myself as a team builder and personal coach…my objective is summed up in my definition of management:

  • The accomplishment of predetermined objectives through others.
  • I like to identify people with potential, work with them to understand their needs, help them reach their personal and professional goals and then get out of their way when they’ve earned their autonomy.

Michael Halberstam

I don’t think I have a formal leadership style. I do my best to help motivate our team, help set direction, provide strategic direction and resolve conflicts. I am good at delegating authority and allowing others to lead.

John Heakin

I’m creative, patient, and humble. When I was younger, I think I had a bit of a reputation for being charismatic as Heakin Research had captured the imagination of field service people across the country as we grew, and led the MRA. But wine mellows with age, and so now that I’m 63, I’m just happy to be thought of as an established professional.

Ken Roberts

Lead by example, treat people with respect, empower them to do right.

Peggy O’Connor

My leadership style is fair and compassionate.

Ann Tancredi-Brown

I try to lead by example. I am one of those who believe that power and authority is "earned". I would have to say that I believe in making decisions and moving forward, a benevolent despot.

Please list 3 words that describe yourself

Carl Iseman:

Confident, understanding and curious.

Michael Halberstam

Nothing comes to mind.

John Heakin

Competitive, committed, honest.

Merrill Shugoll

Honest, Caring, Curious

Ken Roberts

Mentoring, curious, passionate

Peggy O’Connor

Strong, caring, committed.

Ann Tancredi-Brown

Mother, wife, organizer

What inspired you to get into the market research industry?

Carl Iseman:

I wasn’t inspired, I was desperate!! After 20 years as a hospital administrator and VP in a very large retail corporation, I knew I wanted more independence and autonomy…I wanted to be the master of my own destiny without being beholden to a Board or other controlling body…owning a focus group facility gave me the freedom I desperately wanted.

Michael Halberstam

I don’t believe I was really inspired. It just worked out that way. I was an interviewer for Suburban Associates beginning in 1978. I liked talking to people and found the job fun and very educational. While I had not formal training in research or business I seemed to have an affinity for the industry. As l moved up through the ranks I sound I like what I was learning. I especially like the people and clients I was dealing with. Everyone seemed helpful and determine to do things in the right manner. Almost thirty years later I’m still in the business.

John Heakin

I was President of the student chapter of American Marketing Association at Southern Illinois University in 1969-70, where I majored in Marketing. As student members, we got the Marketing News and Bob Lavidge was national President that year. So on the front of every issue was a "Letter from the President." In reading everything Bob wrote to AMA members for a year, I felt as if I knew him, and since I was still a student in a small town, he was the only marketing professional I knew. So it was an easy transition to think I wanted to be like him.

Merrill Shugoll

One of my first jobs was in the marketing research department of an ad agency. I found the work intellectually stimulating and the people were bright and creative. The profession seemed to fit me like a glove. It is so much fun to play a part in the success of our clients’ businesses and all because we are able to help them better understand the essence of their marketplace and the needs of their customers. Everyday is about a different product/service or a new problem and fresh solutions. I love it!

Ken Roberts

I’m the oddball that started in M.R. right out of school. It was that or actuarial work. A course I took in school interested me.

Peggy O’Connor

Years ago there were only two research companies and I applied through an ad in the paper and was put in charge of my own filing cabinet to work on the first million dollar study ever done for Life Magazine . I still have some of the incentives that were given to participating respondents. I think they are now called collectibles.

Ann Tancredi-Brown

It was by chance, not planned

How do you motivate your employees?

Carl Iseman:

I motivate employees through caring and understanding. I want people to enjoy working at AIM, I want them to have a sense of ownership and share in the success of the company. We celebrate a lot, we feel for the personal trials and tribulations of our staff, we understand that work is something we all have to do, but we also understand that there’s life after work and we respect that. My office is an open door, I’m not Mr. Iseman, I’m Carl to all staff and clients. And finally and most importantly, since I strongly believe we are only as good as our staff, we encourage their participation in planning and evaluating how the company and its employees will progress.

Michael Halberstam

Many are motivated by a paycheck but others are motivated by a pat on the back or a few words of encouragement. Of course, we always use monetary motivation especially for the AE’s team. Based on our examination of the industry and our competitors we feel we pay above the industry norm. Another thing that helps is our openness with the staff. We share financial and strategic information with them on a monthly basis which allows them to see the results of their work. Their idea and participation are extremely helpful.

John Heakin

I tell them that we don’t just want to be the best there ever was, we want to make history. We build some of the largest and nicest mall based offices in the industry. I tell them as a boutique company, we compete on quality and service with a smile and can-do attitude. Everything must validate, and no corners are to be cut. We will do it the right way or not at all, and if we miss a deadline, that is a better choice than lowering our standards. People have pride and self respect. They want to work for someone with high standards. My record of industry leadership is well known and people in my area respect that. If it’s just about money, they are not the person I’m looking for.

Merrill Shugoll

  • Treating them with respect
  • Coaching them, providing positive reinforcement and providing constructive feedback
  • Compensating them fairly
  • Offering a variety of special programs/allowable perks
  • Empowering them to make decisions.


Ken Roberts

We work hard at building a true team environment. This includes simple things such as bringing pizza or beer in for lunch occasionally, the entire office went sailing this summer, I have a company BBQ at my home every year. I think it’s important it is at my home and not a public place. The entire office runs in the Chase Corporate Challenge. We congratulate everyone for the good work they do – share the compliments from clients. We also let them have the growth, both internally and with outside education, they want and need. Most of all, we treat everyone with respect. They know that just because I am the boss, it doesn’t mean I always have the best answer.

Peggy O’Connor

Motivation of employees is a very complicated subject. First, they must have inner motivation that we can build on. We do extensive on going training to give them confidence. We lay out their job description so they understand their space within the company and finally we play games and competitions to keep the excitement and buzz in the room.

Ann Tancredi-Brown

I would have to say that our staff is motivated by the enthusiasm for the business that Harriet and I share and that we "hopefully" demonstrate to our staff. I will be one of the first to help….if we have boxes to ship, I love to tape…I don’t expect our staff to do anything that I wouldn’t do or haven’t done myself.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?

Carl Iseman:

I have a lot of varied interests; however my wife and my daughter come first. I’m my daughters self proclaimed coach and am proud to watch her grow into a young adult who cares deeply about people and the world around her. In the time left over I work on restoring my classic Porsches, relaxing on Martha’s Vineyard and tend my gardens both there and at home, read climbing books and work on my art collection.

Michael Halberstam

Softball, playing with my 5 1/2 year old daughter, memorabilia collecting, comic books. There are also lists of things around the house that need to be done. I also like to read.

John Heakin

There is nothing better than a sunny fall Sunday in Chicago where I can read the paper leisurely, go to the Country Club for Brunch with Maureen, and then settle into my easy chair to watch the Chicago Bears smash the Dallas Cowboys. Except for downhill. My favorite is Colorado in March for the warm sunny days. Maureen skiing likes Snowmass and Aspen, I like Steamboat and Durango.

Merrill Shugoll

When I’m not working, I’m with my family enjoying theater, concerts, dance and every sporting event imaginable.

Ken Roberts

Exercise, running (run 3 5k+ races a year), photography, food and wine (have built up a substantial wine cellar), hanging out at our weekend place in the middle of a forest.

Peggy O’Connor

Cook, eat out, entertain, read and play tennis and play with my animals (4 cats, 2 dogs and 1 husband)

Ann Tancredi-Brown

I enjoy spending time with my teenage daughter and husband.We have a collection of American Indian Art. I collect pottery, my husband and daughter collect carvings and paintings. I like to garden and read.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from leaders in our industry and what they think about during their day. Feel free to post a question or comment to any of them.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

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