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Archive for April, 2012

Time To Be Like Bobby And Improvise…

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was staying at a hotel and used the hotel valet service. The first time I went to get my car I said “Hello,” to a valet (his name was Bobby) and quickly noticed he had 4 paperclips in his mouth. He quickly took them out and put them in his pocket and said, “Hello. How can help you?” I gave him my valet ticket and for some (dumb) reason asked him how many paperclips could he fit into his mouth at one time and he responded with an answer of 12. I was amazed he knew the answer and asked if that is something he has been doing awhile because that isn’t very common. He said, “The other valet people use these rings but since I have lost the use of my right arm I improvise and use paper clips.” I was amazed and impressed with his response and proceeded to ask him what happened. He said he was in a very bad motorcycle accident and then named about 12 bones he broke, including 5 in his face, discussed his nerve damage and the loss of his right arm.

Thankfully it wasn’t that busy and I could continue our discussion. I was amazed with his positive attitude and ability to overcome the accident. When we discussed this he said, “I never should be alive today.” He said the impact of the accident threw him off his bike and he hit a pole. All the doctors said he defied logic and shouldn’t have made it through the accident. He said, “I am lucky to be alive and always look for ways to improvise!”

  • What a great story!
  • What a great person!
  • What a great outlook on life!

I believe there is so much to learn from people like Bobby. In an economy such as the one we are in all of us need to improvise every day of every week!

  • The question is, do we?
  • Do you tend to improvise more in your personal or business life?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Attention Sports Fans – Tipping At A Stadium???

Friday, April 27th, 2012

It is April which means the weather is getting beautiful and the baseball season is upon us. In fact, by the time you read this posting we will be almost a month into the season. A few weeks ago I was at a stadium and I watched a vendor sell beer, and I was curious how often he got a tip. I watched him serve about 10 people or so and it looked like he got a tip about 30% of the time. I realize my sample size is small, but I am curious about when readers tip at a sporting event.

Before I ask you to respond I gave it a little thought and here is what I do. I rarely tip the usher because 99% of the time I know where my seats are and don’t need the usher to assist me.

I will tip a vendor who is walking around selling items like ice cream, water, hot dogs or other things but don’t tip a server if I go and get the food.

Now your turn:

  • Do you tip the usher for taking you to your seats?
  • Do you tip a vendor walking around in the stands?
  • Do you tip a server if you go get the food?
  • Do you have a standard tip you give everyone – like a $1 or $2?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Did You Hear What LG Is Coming Out With?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I just read an article that was discussing the future of digital reading. It is really interesting and cool to find out the device will be very flexible. By flexible, I mean bendable, not multipurpose. LG has announced the first malleable, plastic e-ink display, and while it’s hardly iPad Retina clear, it will be appearing in devices as early as this summer.

    • The six-inch display is made of plastic, it sports a resolution of 1024 x 768, and it bends at an angle of up to 40 degrees.
    • It’s also thinner—at just 0.7 millimeters—and lighter than its glass counterparts, weighing in at 14 grams.

I think this is very cool and will be extremely popular.

  • What do you think?
  • Have you heard about this?
  • Would you buy one?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Isn’t It Always Option Number 3?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

A few weeks ago I rented a car from Budget and because it was a small city I had to go to the counter as opposed to using their fastbreak service. I was next in line and overheard the person in front of me take option number one with regard to the 3 different fueling options. I must admit I was a little surprised that anyone would take that choice and asked the customer service person what are the benefits to taking that option? She mentioned two – the price is 17¢ cheaper than the local gas stations, and the convenience that you don’t need to refill it yourself. She seemed confident in her responses and the fact that I was going to take the same option as the prior customer. Before I tell you what I said, here are the three different refueling options that most car rental companies have:

  1. You may purchase a tank of gas at time of rental and return the vehicle with as little gas as you prefer. 
  2. You can let them refuel for you and only pay for the fuel required to replace the fuel you used, and for the service and convenience of refueling the tank.
  3. You can stop and refuel the tank yourself, immediately prior to returning the vehicle.

My answer to the customer service rep was no – and I don’t understand why anyone would take any option but number three. She was taken back a little because she thought she effectively explained the program and the benefits and didn’t predict my response. I also added that the reason that option number one doesn’t make sense is that even though you are saving 17¢ per gallon by paying for it up front – very few (if any) customers will return the car almost empty. Let’s do the math. If a tank holds 15 gallons you are saving $2.55 by buying the tank up front which equals about ¾ of a gallon of gas, or about 19 miles if the car averages 25 miles to the gallon. Most people won’t take the fuel level that low, so the only benefit really is convenience, and for that you will pay and in some ways a lot.

The second option is they refuel it for you at $9.00 a gallon – clearly that makes no sense. I can see someone doing this if they are going to be late for a flight, but planning do to this up front makes little sense.

In my opinion, the third option is the only viable one and after I explained this to her, she understood and handed me my keys.

What do you think?

  • What option do you take?
  • Does your choice change if the rental is for personal use as opposed to for business?
  • If you own a business, what do you do if your staff takes option number 2?
  • Do you agree with my logic?

I look forward to your comments.

Time To Grow Up And Realize GREAT Athletes Change Teams!

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The dust has started to settle but I am still upset and disappointed that Peyton Manning is NO longer an Indianapolis Colt. I am NOT a Colt fan at all but I am old school and really love when professional athletes, especially superstars, play their entire career in one city!

Growing up, my favorite baseball player was Carl Yastrzemski. He played 23 years with the BOSTON Red Sox! 23 years! Amazing! He played against, and I rooted against, Brooks Robison, who played 23 years for the Baltimore Orioles!

I can go on and on about great players (back in the day) playing for only one team! LeBron James is probably the best basketball player in the NBA—will he be remembered as a Cavalier or a Miami Heat player? Or who knows—another team?

I look in my kids’ closets and see so many shirts of players that don’t play for that team anymore. I know times change, and I know I am old school, but this really bothers me!

  • Does it bother you?
  • When you favorite player gets traded or signs with a different team, do you root for that team as well?
  • Don’t you wish superstars only played for one team?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Sports Fans – I Have Never Seen An Athlete Care Any Less Than This One

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I am not sure how many professional sports games I have been to, but it is a lot. I must admit, as I get a little older I not only watch where the ball or puck is, but what the players are doing and where they are moving when they aren’t in play. Over the past few months I have been doing this a lot for the Dallas Mavericks and focusing on a few players, especially Lamar Odom.

Let me start by first saying I have never disliked him, thought about him a lot, or even focused on his career when he was in college or playing for the Lakers. In fact, I knew very little about him until he became a Maverick. Because I like the team I typically will like most, if not all, of the players.

During the past few months I have never ever seen a player who cared any less than Lamar Odom. He rarely moved on the court and clearly was never engaged with the team. It was almost like he wasn’t trying. He appeared to have the attitude like, “Hey, I have won my NBA championship trophies, won the 6th man of the year award for the 2010/2011 season, and I don’t have to prove myself at all.”

It’s interesting because the Dallas Mavericks are an overachieving, blue-collar, hardworking bunch. Think about the nickname of one of their players Brian Cardinal – ‘The Custodian.’ He cleans things up with his blue collar style.

Watching Lamar Odom over the past few months was almost like watching a reality show with someone stealing money in front of you. Funny – perhaps that is his next reality show with Khloe.

I realize that Lamar has had to deal with a lot of things. The death of a daughter, his cousin getting murdered, and being a passenger in a car accident that resulted in a fatality, is a lot to handle. I won’t even focus on his marriage being under a microscope, their reality show, and some of the other stuff he is involved with. While I can sympathize with what he is going through, I can’t accept the fact that he was late for meetings, didn’t try on the court, and disrespected his teammates, the NBA, and the city of Dallas. Everyone goes through their own stuff. I wish he would have been smart and mature enough to take a leave of absence from the team and the NBA; take whatever time he needed to clear his head and resume his career.

Of course that could never happen with an 8.5 million dollar salary!

  • What are your thoughts about my position?
  • Have you witnessed other athletes who cared as little as Lamar did?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Researchers… These People Are Talented And Looking For A Job

Monday, April 16th, 2012

There are a lot of things I love about my job. One of them, that is very rewarding to me on many levels, is being on the advisory board of the A.C. Nielsen Center at the University of Wisconsin. The passion of the program and the intelligence of the students is amazing. To be in a position to mentor these kids is an honor and something I am very proud of.

Next month the program will graduate another class of amazing students. Here are some of the graduates seeking positions in our great industry.  As a way to assist in their search I wanted to highlight them in this post. Below is a picture of each of them with a little information about them.

I know many of the readers of this blog are in the research industry and I am hoping you will post any tips you have for them and any jobs or websites that you might be aware of that could help in their search. In addition, please let me know if you would like to see their resumes and I would be happy to email them to you right away.

Amanda Decker


Amanda returns to the A.C. Nielsen Center for her second year following a summer internship at Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.  At Janssen, Amanda managed both qualitative and quantitative research projects for Janssen’s HIV portfolio, including research for a new product launch.  She found her internship to be a great opportunity to apply both her market research learning from the UW as well as her business expertise from prior work experience.  Prior to attending the UW, Amanda worked for KPMG LLP managing projects and supervising engagement teams for over 30 clients across various industries.  She also has an educational background in business and is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with dual undergraduate degrees in accountancy and business administration.

Amanda is excited to return to Madison where she is very involved outside of the classroom and serves as Vice President of the Graduate Business Association, Treasurer of the MBA Food & Wine Club, and also works on research projects as a project assistant for the A.C. Nielsen Center.  She hopes to take advantage of all Madison has to offer during her second year!

John Faustgen


John Faustgen comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center from Omaha, NE where he was a Technical Project Manager at Gallup. There he found a passion for telling stories with numbers and chose to continue his education in Marketing Research. Wisconsin’s specialized curriculum and fantastic facilities brought him to Madison.

This summer John interned at MeadWestvaco in Marketing Insights.  His other experience includes being a Consultant at International Decision Systems and a Business Analyst at Target. He enjoys participating in most sports, including tennis, running, and squash, traveling, and watching TED Talks. John is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he majored in Political Science with a Management minor.

Heidi Freund


Heidi comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center from the Milwaukee area with a background in marketing research for higher education.  Although most recently with Cardinal Stritch University, she realized her passion for research while conducting research on media preferences and generational differences for Interact Communications, and further developed her skills while employed with Kaplan Schweser.  Heidi graduated from Viterbo University with both a BM in Vocal Performance and a BBA with specializations in Marketing and Management. She chose the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue her MBA in Marketing Research not only because of the program’s strong reputation, but because of its friendly, supportive environment.

Heidi spent the summer interning for the Dial Corporation, a Henkel company, in Scottsdale, Arizona where she not only had the opportunity to work on both qualitative and quantitative projects, but also enjoyed what her new surroundings had to offer.  She’s looking forward to her second year at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, where she will continue serving as Second Year Honor Board Representative and working as a teaching assistant for undergraduate marketing courses.

Soledad Querol


Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Soledad moved to the US in 2006 where she started her marketing research career with Investor Group Services as a Junior Research Associate.  Upon gaining her US Citizenship and moving to Chicago, she joined RS Consulting in 2007 where she continued to develop her experience while implementing her multilingual skills for the resolution of complex business problems in seven different countries. Among others, Soledad led voice of customer, value propositions and competitive analysis projects and trained colleagues in in-depth interviewing.  Throughout her experiences she led numerous projects as manager focusing in qualitative research and market strategy development and became a project leader, motivator, and facilitator of consumer driven initiatives for business growth.

Soledad returns to the Nielsen Center after a fantastic summer internship at Colgate-Palmolive where she led a shopper study and a consolidation project of past 5 years of research that enabled her to apply her research and strategic skills. In her free time, Soledad loves to spend her free time with family and friends.

Hanjin Yu


Hanjin comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center from China, where she got her B.S. in engineering and economics. Driven by passion for marketing and interests in data analysis, Hanjin feels marketing research is the perfect career for her. Prior to her MBA program, she worked at Ipsos China for about six years. Hanjin’s research experience covers from usage and attitude study, advertising, branding, and campaign evaluation, to product, concept and packaging tests. In 2007, Hanjin obtained six-month on-job training in Chicago and Cincinnati, where she fostered her skills on advertising study. Hanjin selected the University of Wisconsin – Madison because of its high reputation in marketing research education. Hanjin works as a project assistant in MBA Career Management Office during her MBA studies. She assisted on Employment Analysis, Alumni Survey, and Company Research of Potential Employers.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

I know the students are anxious to read all of your comments and thoughts that could help them.

Should I Sign You Up For Pay As You Go Insurance?

Friday, April 13th, 2012

I recently read an article that talked about saving money and one of the ways that was highlighted was PAY AS YOU GO CAR INSURANCE.

Your rates depend on:

    • How much you drive

The article discussed that as job growth stalls, and money is tight, more drivers are warming up to cost-cutting pay-as-you-go car insurance programs. The article said that if you meet all pay-as-you-go requirements, it’s possible to save up to 30% on car insurance premiums.

Two of the nation’s biggest insurers are now responding to this growing demand for pay-as-you-go coverage.

Late last year, State Farm, the country’s largest insurer, introduced a telematics-based effort dubbed In-Drive to drivers in Illinois. Additional states are slated to receive In-Drive in 2012.

Allstate, the nation’s third-largest insurer, recently expanded its Drive Wise pay-as-you-go program to Ohio and Arizona after an earlier rollout in Illinois.

If you join a telematics-based program, you’ll typically be asked to install a device in your car’s diagnostic port (located below the steering column) that records information such as:

  • How many miles you drive
  • How often you brake hard
  • How smoothly you navigate turns

(Funny, a few years ago I presented at a conference the idea that my car gave me a speeding ticket. With this new technology that could be easy to do.)

For those of you who have driven with me, you are probably thinking that I would never qualify to get a discount based on my driving ability – and you are probably right. But let’s get past that and think about the overall concept.

  • Would you install a device that allows your behavior to be monitored and could save you money?

Overall, I do like the concept and I’m very curious. What you think?

  • Have you looked into one of these programs?
  • Do you know anyone who signed up?
  • If it was offered in your state, would this be of interest to you?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Technology?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

A few weeks ago I attended the ‘2012 Schlesinger Summit,’ which consisted of 24 professionals from the research community who were brought together to discuss trends, threats, and opportunities in the research industry.

As usual, I was planning on staying at a Marriott property, but this time I decided, with a little help from S.S., to stay where the summit was, The Trump SoHo® New York. What a beautiful property with many amenities.

There wasn’t a lot of time to watch TV, but when I finally settled down it was about 11:00 pm and I had the clicker in hand. At this hotel the clicker was very big, and yes, confusing! It took me awhile to figure out how to turn the TV on (come to find out many attendees couldn’t even do that). Once I figured that out, I hit another button that closed the window shades, and another button that turned all the lights on. I was a little nervous to find out what some of the other buttons would do.

I woke up at around 3:30 am and the TV was on and clicker was close. Well, the next thing I knew I had the blinds going back and forth a number of times, and of course like a fool, I hit the button that turned the lights on. Yes, a very funny scene unless you are the thing I threw the clicker at.

The interesting thing was that I didn’t find any instructions on how to use this clicker or a guest who had stayed the night who figured it out. The hotel was beautiful, the amenities were great, but the clicker and all of its technology were a little troublesome.

  • So I ask you, is there such a thing as too much technology?
  • Have you ever had a situation where the technology was fantastic but tough to understand?

I look forward to reading your comments.

I Wish I Hadn’t Thrown Away My_________?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was in an airport bookstore and I came across a number of magazines. One of them was Mad. I didn’t even realize it was still around but it made me think about my childhood and all the Mad Magazines I had that turned into a collection. Needless to say, I threw it away a long time ago, which gave me a little reason to pause and think about things I tossed over the years that I wish I hadn’t.

Here are a few things:

  • My Stamp collection. It was never that big but it would have been really nice to have passed down to my kids.
  • My uniforms from all of the sports leagues I played in. That would have been really cool to have looked at uniforms from different years and showed my kids, who are now playing most of the same sports.
  • Matchbox cars – I had a pretty big collection and I would have loved to have my kids enjoy that over the years.

Your turn:

  • What are the things that you wish you didn’t throw away over the years?

I look forward to reading your comments.