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Archive for January, 2008

What Do You Do For The Big Game? Here Is What I Do!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

In 2006 over 141 million people in the United States watched the “game”. Lots of people have parties, some people go away on trips, while others are very fortunate to be able to go to the “game”. The “game” I am referring to is The Super Bowl. It is played in early February and people watch it for different reasons. Some watch it because their team is playing in the game. Others may watch it because it’s a fun time to watch all of the commercials, while others watch it because they are just fans of the sport.

I remember reading that on Super Bowl Sunday, more pizza is sold than any other day in the year, out selling New Year’s Eve, Halloween and New Year’s Day.

I love Super Bowl Sunday. I enjoy the game, the food, the halftime show — everything about it. The thing I enjoy the most is I know who I will be with every year. This day has turned into a family day–almost a reunion of sorts–for my cousin, brothers-in-law, friends and college roommate. About 12 years ago I had this idea of getting everyone together and going away for the Super Bowl. For many years we have gone to Las Vegas (destination this year), but recently we have gone to Mexico and last year we ended up in the Bahamas. We always have a great time, see a number of shows, play poker, get very little sleep and cheer our teams on.

So now you know where I will be and what I am doing.

  • What do you do for the Super Bowl?
  • Do you have a family reunion?
  • Do you cook up a storm?
  • Do you order in pizza?
  • Do you look forward to the commercials?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Of Course It Won’t Happen To Me…Guess What? It Did!

Monday, January 28th, 2008
  • Did you know that 26% of Americans report having personal or financial information stolen?
  • Did you know that 21% of people whose financial or personal data were stolen knew who stole the information?
  • Did you know that in a recent survey, 63% of those interviewed had unauthorized purchases on an existing credit card?
  • Did you know that in that same survey, 22% of those interviewed claimed that someone obtained a new credit card in their name?

The survey I’m referring to was conducted by Experian.

Frankly I was a little surprised at how high those numbers were. One out of five people had a credit card opened by someone else! Yes I know people who have been affected by identity theft and fraud. I have asked myself, "Could it happen to me?" Quickly I said no. That turned into I hope not. And it did.

I am not sure how, but someone got one of my frequent traveler cards for a hotel. Thankfully it wasn’t a credit card. But what they were able to do was make reservations all over the United States and show up and cash checks — bogus checks. Those checks didn’t have my name or address on them but the policy of the hotel is still to cash the checks because I have high status at this hotel chain. Not only did I know that I could cash checks, I never thought a hotel would cash checks without looking at ID — which is what most of the hotels did.

Identity theft is real. Just to put that into perspective, this blog gets 1,000 hits per week. That means that 250 people will be affected by identity theft. Yes 250 readers of this blog will be affected. The number is huge!

I thought I was being very careful and have no idea how this happened. Right now I am focusing on cleaning up this mess which has been a royal pain in the #$%^&*(.

A few things all of us should do:

  • Examine the charges on your credit card statements before paying them
  • Shred all documents that have account numbers
  • Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.
  • Cancel all unused credit cards

And of course never give your social security number to anyone

  • Has this happened to you?
  • How did you handle it?
  • Do you have any tips to prevent identity theft and fraud?

I look forward to your comments.

How do you “DO WHATEVER?”

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I used to play tennis all the time with a person who had the license plate WEIT. I remember looking at it for a few minutes one day and was trying to break the code – figure out what it meant. After a few minutes I was stumped and forced to ask my friend. Their response was "what ever it takes"! I thought to myself that is great. My friend was in real estate and was very successful–always one of the top performers in the office. Each and everyday the person would live by "what ever it takes" always going above and beyond for clients.

I read an article recently that reminded me of WEIT. The article featured Tommy Dean who works the concierge desk at the Four Seasons in Austin. He prides himself at doing "whatever" to satisfy his guests.

  • Yes he has played piano at a wedding when the pianist was a no show
  • Yes he made arrangements (rented a private jet) in a minutes notice when a famous guest wanted to go and visit the desert.
  • And of course Tommy once arranged a sunrise hot-air balloon ride for a young couple. The man intended to ask his girlfriend to marry him once they were aloft. There was one problem, however: Afraid to take the ride, she refused to go up in the balloon. Panic-stricken, the man called Tommy from the balloon. Their solution: That night, after a romantic dinner at the hotel, the couple returned to their room, where they found a miniature hot-air balloon—made by Dean from a truffle box that contained the engagement ring, and a helium-filled, red balloon—floating around. Dean said the girlfriend “howled with laughter at the sight of it, but her laughter turned to tears of joy when she discovered the ring and the real meaning of the entire day’s events.”

Tommy Dean’s motto is "Do Whatever!"

  • Describe the last time someone did whatever for you?
  • How do you do whatever for your clients?

I look forward to your comments.

Client Point of View

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

We all know that clients are very important. In some ways they set the stage for the direction of the research industry and whether the latest methodology is accepted. I really enjoy meeting and speaking with clients. It is probably the best part of my job. The seven clients that contributed to this blog all have different backgrounds and represent different industries. What they all have in common is they are professional researchers, have been in the industry for many years and represent large research budgets.

Please sit back and enjoy getting to know seven special people:

What is your most memorable research project you have ever worked on?

Jon Last – Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Research and Brand Development – Golf Digest
(To see all of Jon Last’s responses, click here)

What’s that adage about always remembering your first time? My first exposure to MR was where we conducted a study of top level executives for a conference center client about the effectiveness of meetings. The goal of the project was to generate publicity for the client, and the "shout it from the rooftops" headline that we derived was that these execs felt that over half the time spent in meetings was wasted. We quantified the dollar value that was wasted and garnered incredible amounts of press for our client. It was this project that flicked on the lightbulb for me that marketing research could be incredibly powerful on multiple levels.

On a lighter note, I will never forget some focus groups we were doing when I was in the cruise industry. On a check-in, I went to the back room to find our CEO, incredibly enthused by the input of a particular respondent. He begged me to let him come into the focus room and address the group. I tactfully explained why this was a bad idea and then pulled the rest of my team aside, encouraging them to watch him and hold him at bay. Of course, it was to no avail. Just as I was wrapping up the group, he came bursting into the room and started "selling".

Regina Lewis, PhD VP, Consumer Insights InterContinental Hotels Group
(To see all of Regina Lewis’ responses, click here)

1997 extensive in-home ethnographic study of how women were using the internet. I did this in conjunction with P&G, and it really changed the way we all (I was at women.com Networks at the time) viewed chat, info seeking, and much more!

Jill Donahue, Brand Insights Manager Nestle Purina
(To see all of Jill Donahue’s responses, click here)

I was working for a footwear retailer and we were conducting ethnographies to see how woman organize (or not) their shoes. One woman not only had a separate closet for her shoes, she had religated her husband to the basement storage area for his everyday clothes. Amazing!

Dan Womack, Manager InsightsAflac
(To see all of Dan Womack’s responses, click here)

For me, there is one project I’ll never forget and the reason has nothing to do with the research I was conducting. On the evening of September 10, 2001, I flew to Austin, TX and prepared to moderate focus groups early the next morning. That day, a few of the last respondents to arrive for the first group were talking about hearing vague reports of a plane crashing into a building in NY City. That was all any of us knew until after the group was finished.

My second group of the day was mid-morning. The show rate was surprisingly good, but the research wasn’t. We spent very little time discussing the products I came to study. Instead, we used the time to discuss something we all knew was far more important.

I spent much of the next two days waiting, worrying and talking with the two flight crews that were also stranded in the same hotel. I was fortunate to have a rental car and, on the third day, I decided to drive the 1500 miles back to Virginia. I’ve never loved business travel, but I have never been happier to return safely from a trip and hug my wife and kids.

Jami Guthrie, Senior Director, Global Consumer & Market Intelligence Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
(To see all of Jami Guthrie’s responses, click here)

It was a segmentation study in an adjacent category that we (as a company) knew very little about. The reason that it is my most memorable is because the learning was completely new and so insightful. It allowed us to look at our brands and the opportunities through a completely different lens. It was great to see how engaged everyone in the company was with the learning and more importantly, how quickly we took action against it.

Bill Tanner Director, Strategic Research & Audience Development Dallas Morning News
(To see all of Bill Tanner’s responses, click here)

I was in Hangzhou China, in January, many years ago, doing parent- child dyads in a school with a TV monitor set up. A window was broken in the observation room, a cold winter wind blowing into the room. We were bundled up as best we could but it was impossible to stay warm. The monitor flickered and there was a military training event going on outside making it hard to hear. I asked that we move to the hotel the next day where we set up in an empty dining room. Unfortunately, the next day’s sessions at the hotel were stilted. Parents did not open up as much as they had in earlier sessions. It turned out that the hotel once was a major Communist Party Leadership hangout and still a place often visited by the hierarchy, so the next day, it was back to school. Fortunately, the window and monitor were repaired.

Bob Graham, Consumer Research Manager Energizer
(To see all of Bob Graham’s responses, click here)

Hard to say. At Micrografx, I did an international project with focus groups in London, Paris and Munich. It was fascinating to observe the cultural differences among respondents in different countries. I’m prouder of some of the other projects I’ve worked on (where I used a new method or analytical tool), but I think the international one was the most memorable.

Continue reading “Client Point of View” »

What Sporting Event Would You Like To Go See Outside Of The USA?

Monday, January 21st, 2008

As you know I am a sports fan and have attended lots of games. Yes I have been to the World Series, a number of all-star games, the Stanley Cup finals, the US Open in both golf and tennis and tons of other sporting events.

When I think about sporting events, most of them are in the United States. Yes I have gone to a Canadian football league game. I’ve seen rugby on an island in the Caribbean. Yes I have gone to a bullfight in Mexico — something I would only do once and we left early. But not many others.

The question is if I could go to any sporting event anywhere in the world which one would it be? I have friends like Mike M. and Ed S. who love soccer overseas and beam with excitement when they talk about world cup games in other countries. Owen J. is the same way with soccer teams he grew up watching as a kid.

  • Is it golf’s British open?
  • Is it the Australian Open or Wimbledon in tennis?
  • Is it the Monte Carlo grand prix in auto racing?
  • Is it the Olympics?

I think for me it would be Wimbledon. I love to watch tennis and that event looks incredible. I would love to go and watch tennis on the out courts and eat strawberries and cream for breakfast as I watch the matches. I am sure they have some type of store that is filled with memorabilia that I would like to look at for hours.

  • What about you — what would your choice be?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Question Of The Day: What Does Your CEO Drive And What Does That Say About Them?

Friday, January 18th, 2008

I was reading a very interesting article yesterday in USA Today. It was discussing what CEOs drive and what does that say about them. You may know that Sam Walton drove a pickup truck and Warren Buffet drove an older model Lincoln Town Car. A survey was done by Theladders.com , a job-search site for those making over $100,000 – and interviewed 3,000 people. BMW (13%) was the most popular make driven by the C-level executives on the survey.

I found some pretty amazing things mentioned in the survey:

  • 7% said they have tried to hide their car from co-workers
  • 5% of all execs timed their departure so more people can get a glimpse of their car
  • 2% of C-level execs said they have pretended that someone else’s car was their own

I was shocked as I read those things, thinking, “does that really happen?” I am not sure I recall a single time where a boss of mine pretended that they owned someone else’s car.

  • If the CEO drives a car that is an older model — does that make them cheap?
  • If they drive a sports car, does that mean they live life in the fast lane?
  • If the CEO drives a minivan does that make them practical?

Do you know what your CEO drives?

What does that say about them?

I happen to drive a BMW — what does that say about me?

I am a little scared asking the last question but I do look forward to your comments.

I Like Routines — Do You?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I was thinking the other day about routines and how they help many of us get through life. As I was thinking, I started to list the things in my life that I do routinely every day or every week:

  • When I am not traveling I arrive at work by 6:15am
  • I workout 5 times a week
  • I sleep in only on Saturday – which means I get up around 9:00 am
  • When I am in the office I try not to schedule more than 5 hours of meetings a day
  • I schedule our operating and executive meeting on Mondays
  • I have scheduled the monthly presentation to the company on Tuesday
  • I always arrive at work with 4-5 pages of notes containing a to do list for the day
  • I weigh myself everyday and if I have put on a few pounds – I will skip dinner
  • I don’t like coffee but will have a cappuccino after going out for a nice meal
  • When I get to work I always check my Daytimer and Outlook calendar before I do anything else

For me routines are a good thing — they allow me to be organized, efficient and aware of what I need to do and when I need to do it. For me if something isn’t a routine there is more of a chance that I will forget and ultimately won’t do it.

  • Are routines a good thing for you?
  • What is on your list?

I look forward to reading your comments.

I Will Be Playing Texas Hold ‘Em In Las Vegas And Would Love Some Advice!

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Growing up, I played cards very often. I remember traveling to Montreal, Canada and playing cards with my Aunt Freda as a child. I still play gin with my sister (yes LB – you beat me last month in Atlanta) and brother-in-law. Some of my fondest memories are playing poker. The game usually included my best friends Gary and Andrew. We played lots of different games with many wild cards. As I got older I was invited to play in a weekly game with Rick, Lippy and others which was a lot of fun. Over the years the crazy games of poker that had wild cards turned to Texas Hold ‘Em. I have played a few times since I have been in Texas but not a ton.

I am going to Las Vegas at the end of January and planning to play in a hotel poker room and possibly a tournament.

I need your help. What advice or strategy do you have for me?

  • Have you played in tournaments?
  • Do you sit and wait and fold your cards until you had a read on the table?
  • How are you handling your betting when you are the small blind?
  • What about the big blind?
  • If you are in a tournament and get dealt a pair of aces, are you all in no matter what?
  • Should I wear sunglasses?
  • How about a Boston Red Sox hat?
  • What is your favorite hand?
  • Do you have a favorite website or book?

I really look forward to your comments and advice.

Most Box Office Hits Have Them, But That Doesn’t Mean Those Are Great As Well!

Friday, January 11th, 2008

What do all these movies have in common?

All of these movies as well as other have sequels. Some are just given a number like the Rocky, Godfather and Superman movie series while others are a little more creative and choose to change it up a bit like the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

  • The question is what is the best sequel?
  • Which one really missed the boat?

For me I love action and comedy movies so I started to think about those types of movies. When I pare down my list I come up with the Lethal Weapon movies. There are 4 movies in the series and I really like all of them. They seem to have a great mix of action and comedy all rolled up into a fun movie to sit back and watch. The characters are great together. With each movie they seem to add the perfect person to mix in with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. I think Joe Pesci is hysterical! The bad guys are great and seem realistic.

Okay, there have been a lot of bad sequels. Yes Grease II was bad. Yes European Vacation was bad. But for me, Caddyshack II starring Jackie Mason was the worst. I loved Caddyshack with Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight. Caddyshack II has a weak cast and a terrible story. In fact not sure I can watch it for more than 30 seconds without changing the channel.

Let me know what you think of my choices.

What are your choices for:

  • The best sequel?
  • The worst sequel?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Who Is Your Favorite “Character” In Sports?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

You probably need to give some thought to this one. Who is the biggest character in sports? By character I don’t mean someone who is playing someone on TV like Billy Dee Williams who plays Gale Sayers in Brian’s Song. What character means to me is someone a little different, who might be a little strange.

The reason I thought of this is recently Evel Knievel passed away. To me he was a character, part human, part showman, part daredevil and clearly part crazy.

I thought about Andre the Giant in Wrestling, William "the refrigerator" Perry in football and John Daly in golf. In my mind all great choices and worthy of consideration but didn’t get my vote.

To me the biggest character in sports has to be Dennis Rodman. He was a GREAT athlete. He was a fantastic defensive player who specialized in rebounding and led the lead for many years. He clearly did things his way. He changed his hair often, he had piercings and tattoos everywhere. He dressed up as a girl to promote a book. He criticized owners. And as a player, he would start a fight if he had to, or throw an elbow while rebounding. He had it all. He appeared to party all the time and had the cops show up at his house many times to shut down the parties to prove it.

He was involved in professional wrestling and was married to Carmen Electra. He even made a few movies, appearing with Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Team and also starring in Simon Sez.

He also had the best nicknames:

  • "Dennis the Menace"
  • "Rodzilla"
  • "D-Rod"
  • "Rod the Bod"
  • "Worm"

He did all that and in his spare time won 5 (yes I said 5) NBA Championships. To me, Dennis Rodman gets my vote as the biggest "character" in sports!

  • What do you think of my choice?
  • Who gets your vote?

I look forward to hearing your comments.