Cell Phones + Toilets

More people have cell phones than toilets, revealing a true shift in priorities and a serious need to get areas in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa plumbed.

While there’s no exact number to rely on, it is estimated that nearly 8 billion (7.9) people have a mobile phone.

A number that seems large, until you realize it’s huge when you learn there are just 8.1 billion humans on the entire planet.

Take that statistic and throw it against the fact that across the world, 1.5 billion people still do not have access to a toilet.

So, on any given day, more than 18% of people (nearly 1 out of 5) don’t have a toilet to sit on while using their phone.

What does this say about humanity?

Super Bowl Solar Surprise

Go Chiefs! And go Usher! Super Bowl 58 did not disappoint.

Perhaps you pondered where all the electricity for the whole endeavor was coming from. 621,000 solar panels, to be exact. And that’s a number Las Vegas can take to the bank. With over 300 sunny days per year, the area is prime for receiving and storing solar energy.

And the high environment score isn’t all passive. Allegiant Stadium team members actively collect all the used rubber pellets from the turf for recycling. Tiny bits add up to more than 46 tons of rubber since counting began. The smell must be serious.

Score one for Mother Nature!

Break Time

As humans, we make hundreds of choices throughout the day. Drive here. Eat this. Answer that. We choose where to be, when to be there, and what we’re going to do when we get there. Many of us live in this cycle of decisions like we’re running in a hamster wheel.

Taking a break from work is proven to benefit your outcome, as well as your outlook. Like this guy. Be more like this guy.

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Step Away from The Work

Did you know that taking a break from a task is just as important as practicing a task? Tally one for the break-takers, water cooler visitors, and coffee pot fillers.

Stepping away requires your brain to fire differently, allowing it process what you have actively been doing. Our brains compress memories and then replay them in our heads faster than if we were actively conducting the same activity.

So next time you’re practicing that important presentation and desperate to learn it all quickly, step away and do what the NIH calls “wakeful rest”, because your brain continues to practice. In fact, it learns at a faster rate than if you continued to slog through. Nice!

So take a moment. You deserve it. Your brain’s got this.

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How We Learn

Note taking. It’s like breathing. I can’t imagine life without it. Mind to hand to pen to paper. That is how incoming information sticks.

But alas, people assimilate data differently. A LOT differently. In fact, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of theories and frameworks of how humans learn.

Princeton University, NJ

Bottom line? Success lies in process, not time. In addition to penning (no pun intended) the term “effortful learning”, the folks over at Princeton equate learning to weight lifting, or in other words, it takes more than just a gym membership to get shredded. You need to work at it.

They also believe challenges (“desirable difficulties”) enhance the learning process. So next time you find yourself preparing for an important presentation, try getting through it without your notes. Try writing it down without your slides. Try speaking it without any slides. Tackle it from every angle. It’s practice and you’re going to mess up. Keep at it and you’ll prove Princeton right. Again.

What’s your process for learning?

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The Game of Would You Rather

If you have ever had the chance to mull this game over with children or adults, I assume you found yourself chuckling at the very least as you consider the most absurd against the even more absurd.

I learned of this game a few years ago while road tripping with my aunt, who learned it from her students. She teaches first grade. My expectations were low.

The game begins by somebody either reading from the Would You Rather books (which I dare point out come in Large Print) by author Dan Gilden, or simply making up absurd options, like: Would you rather have knives for fingers or clubs for hands. What?! Yep. That’s the game. Think about it. This is serious. Clearly I’m clubbing it.

To play effectively, each person must weigh the options presented and essentially decide which would be the least offensive to themselves and/or others. The key to the game is to get the other players to explain their answer, revealing fears and preferences you would not have learned otherwise.

While playing the game made for a great road trip, with laughter so hard I needed to snort in order to inhale for life, it also makes a great interview question. The options presented can be real or absurd, but if they’re on-topic, you may find yourself uncovering more than you expected: the true gems of marketing research.

Have you ever asked questions this way? What’s your favorite Would You Rather question?

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Boost Attendance

As a researcher, I conduct a lot of interviews. Some are one-on-one, or “individual” and others are in groups. Some interviews use video, some use audio, and others are group text chats with or without a visual component. Regardless of the means of communication, all human research has the same challenge: recruiting.

Filtering, validating, and setting expectations for the right people is THE most important part of any research study. That’s true whether you’re seeing them in-person or working with them online.

The final chapter to recruiting is go time – the reason you paid a recruiter in the first place. Your participants need to show up!

So what will help make that happen? As a marketing researcher who has been working online since 1996, I’ve relied on these tips that have stood the test of time:

  1. A thoughtful + clear agenda with time commitments everyone sticks to
  2. Manageable objectives, only bite what team members can chew.
  3. Short meeting time commitments. Keep it simple + such.
  4. Start on the half hour. More people will show. It’s weird.

CNBC reported that researchers at YouCanBook.Me revealed the best time and day to have a meeting, and the results are sort of surprising. It’s obviously not Monday or Friday, I can tell you that from personal experience.

Reporter Logan Hailey offers some tips to run a highly effective meeting, all good ideas. Especially now, with the massive increase in virtual meetings and uncomfortable Zoom waves. Zoom themselves has some meeting tips for their own platform, and there are dozens of other means to connect that may suit you, including GoTo/Join.me, WebEx, GoogleMeet, FaceTime and more.

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Tell Me Three Things

A respected and beloved colleague in marketing research, Jeff Walkowski, recently published a book, Mr. Online’s Playbook, full of suggestions for better interviewing when you’re not in-person. Available on Amazon, a great buy. Happy new year to you, you deserve it.

I opened my cherished copy and randomly flipped to page 99. Not surprisingly, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Tip E-30, where Jeff explains how to encourage participants to respond more in a bulletin board (asynchronous) environment. His tip, and I’m paraphrasing, is to specifically request the amount of response you’re seeking by literally asking for X# of reasons detailed, or Y# ideas explained, rather than “Why did you like or not like it” or “What else can you think of”. As a moderator of bulletin boards, I can assure you, probing is painfully required in order to get participants talking, so this tip is ahead of the game right out of the gate. Love it.

What tips for interviewing, online or in-person, do you find most useful?

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Finding Your Funny

I came across this online article from The Atlantic and literally LOL’d myself into a good mood. It’s a great read about the weirdness of human behavior and how we animate ourselves to accommodate new means of communication like Zoom. The author, Faith Hill, is a comical social behaviorist from whom I can’t wait to read more. Please, Faith, do more!

Faith Hill’s article put me in such a good mood, it got me thinking. A dangerous course of action, in some cases, but this time all turns out well.

I googled (can you believe that’s a verb?) what we can do to put ourselves in a good mood and that lead me down a bit of a retail rabbit hole, from which I may never fully recover. A massive amount of email spam is sure to come my way from all the self-help articles I found myself dismissing (yet clicking, damn the click!).

What I discovered beyond all the sponsored content is that mood boosting can come from anywhere and can be anything. It depends on your personal preference, which leads to limitless possibilities. From looking at calming pictures to watching cat videos.

It seems we intuitively know what will boost our mood. The key, as with most beneficial things, is to do it. Take the time and watch the cat videos. Laugh at humans failing at almost everything you can imagine. Put the laughing Chewbacca woman on auto repeat. Boost your mood and you’ll always be happy you did.

So whatever legal behavior makes up your secret sauce to getting through the day, you just keep doing it. Life is short. And life can be hard. So take that break and do what makes you happy for a moment. You just might find yourself smiling. And who doesn’t need more of that.

Please share what you do to boost your mood! The Chewbacca Mask Lady Works. Every. Time.

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Getting a Grip on Grammar

My love of words is beyond explanation. Well, actually, the love is explanation. Grammar is my jam, and my jam may be different than yours. But words… words we can nail down. Even for the things we didn’t even know had names.

That thing that mechanics lie on and use to roll under a car when doing repairs? It’s called a creeper. Makes sense, still sounds weird. And probably going out of style, as almost every repair shop these days seems to have a lift, negating the need for said creeper. Words all come from somewhere, and this one came from a patent submitted in 1916 by a man named Axel, Axel Peterson. Can’t make this up.

That paragraph mark that shows when you reveal the formatting in your Word document? OK, maybe only I do that, but I think you’ve seen it. Did you know it has a name other than paragraph mark? And that name is rather cute: pilcrow.

While words may always be swimming around my world, I began to wonder who makes the grammar rules we were taught and accept? For example, did you know two spaces between sentences is no longer considered acceptable? And that “the” has disappeared from words like hospital and university? I hear newscasters doing it. I read respected news outlets doing it. Did someone one day just start doing it differently and everyone followed? Not possible, says my mind, so I dove in.

Space Space

Apparently the two spaces between sentences makes me an old fart, says The Wall Street Journal, said the practice “made sense in the mechanical age.” Mechanical age? And Google returned “common questions” to my search like “Why do boomers put two spaces after a period?” Now I’m a boomer from the mechanical age? What is going on??

Apparently this one wasn’t a committee, but rather the gradual transition to word processing from typewriters to computers, as computers “automatically format spacing”. Well computer, you’re just a really really smart typewriter and those of us from the mechanical age are hitting space-space whether Word notes it in error or not. I want to revolt and rally around the space-space, but I admit, I just don’t have the stamina. No fighting The Man on this one.


However… let’s talk about the loss of “the” in “American” English to certain longtime, comfortable terms.

Did you know there is no global oversight body that dictates English grammar? It’s some weird cultural collective change. I know the total number of words expand and contract over time, as different ones come into popularity or devolve into archival status, but grammar, the structure of our words, changes?

I’ve heard the Brits speak this way my whole life, but I had no idea they were fighting a tacit grammar battle, and won! Have you noticed? Apparently Google hasn’t, as I couldn’t find any article about how Americans are now using the British rules, but if you listen carefully, US media has accepted the grammar change without a fight or even an argument. Just the pink slip. Or pink slip.

How do you say it?

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