Take Note

Do you have notes everywhere? Sticky notes? Napkin scribbles? Thoughts to remember? It’s OK. Really.

If you’re one of those people who writes notes by hand, technology is here to help. You can continue to jot down ideas that are then digitized into typed, searchable form.

Moleskin & Neo Smartpen use their own special pen and paper to digitize your handwritten notes.

Wacom Smartpad and Bamboo Slate digitize your writing and doodles using a highly sensitive tablet on which any kind of paper or pen can be used.

Livescribe uses a special pen to digitize both your vocalized and handwritten notes.

Evernote and One Note are platforms that can convert written words inside to text, which covers everything from written notes to typed documents to wine labels – whatever printed items you want to easily recall at a future time.

How do you decide which tools, if any, to buy?

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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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