Tag Archives: AMSRS

Because it’s 2015: I challenge you to make your #MRX conference Diversity Approved

Demand that your conferences be Diversity Approved! (Tweet this post!)

When Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was asked why his cabinet was 50% male and 50% female, his answer was simple.  Because it’s 2015.  Such a simple answer to a long standing problem.

As I look back over 2015, I see that “because it’s 2015” didn’t apply to every market research conference. Some conferences had speaker lists that were 70% male.  Some conferences had speaker panels that were 100% male. No conferences had attendee lists nor industry lists that were 100% male let alone 70% male.

There are many reasons that men might be over-represented as speakers, but few that are acceptable.

  • Random chance.  As a lover of statistics, I accept that random chance will create some all male panels.  But since I’ve never seen an all female panel, random chance is not what’s at play here. If you’d rather see the math, Greg Martin calculated the chance of having all male speakers here. It’s not good.
  • 70% or more of submissions were from men.  That also is an acceptable reason.  If women aren’t submitting, then they can’t be selected. So on that note, it’s up to you ladies to make sure you submit at every chance you get. And don’t tell me you’re not good enough to speak. I ranted on that excuse already.
  • You haven’t heard of any women working in this area.  This excuse is unacceptable.  You can’t look for speakers only inside your own comfortable friend list.  Get out of your box.  Get online. There are tons of women talking about every conceivable industry issue. Find one woman and ask her for recommendations. You can start here: Data science, Marketing research, Statistics, Tech.
  • The best proposals happen to be from men. This excuse is also unacceptable. It demonstrates that you believe men are better than women. You need to broaden your perception of what ‘better’ means. Men and women speak in different ways so you need to listen in different ways.  It’s good for you.  Try it.

  • Women decline when we ask them to speak.  It’s a real shame particularly if women decline invitations more often than men. But any time a woman declines, ask her for a list of people she recommends.  And then consider the women on that list.  No women in the list? Then specifically ask her if she knows any women.
  • It’s a paid talk and they only sent men.  Know what? It’s okay to remind companies that their panel isn’t representative of the industry. You can suggest that they send a broader range of people.
  • We didn’t realize this was a problem. Inexcusable. Diversity has been an issue for years. People have been pointing this out to market research conferences for years.  The right time to fix things is always now.

When was the last time you prepared a sampling matrix balanced on age, gender, and ethnicity and then were pleased when it was 70% female, 70% age 50+, and 90% white? Never, that’s when. You stayed in field and implemented appropriate sampling techniques until your demographics were representative.  This is absolutely no different.

diversityapprovedSo, to every conference organizer out there, ESOMAR, CASRO, MRA, MRIA, ARF, MRS, AMSRS, ESRA, AAPOR, I challenge you to review and correct your speaker list before announcing it.

  • What percentage of submissions are from men versus women? Only when submissions are far from balanced is it acceptable for the acceptance list to be unbalanced.
  • Are there any all male panels? Are there any all female panels? (By the way, all female panels talking about female issues do NOT count.)
  • Are more than 55% of speakers male? Are more than 55% of speakers female?
  • Is the invited speaker list well balanced? There is zero reason for invited speakers to NOT be representative.
  • Did you actively ask companies to assist with ensuring that speakers were diverse?

If you can give appropriate answer to those questions, I invite you to publicly advertise your conference as Diversity Approved.

Will you accept this challenge for every conference you run in 2016? Will you:

  1. Post the gender ratio of submissions
  2. Post the gender ratio of acceptances
  3. Proudly advertise that your conference is “Diversity Approved”

Demand that your conferences be Diversity Approved! (Tweet this demand!)

Sorry Hugh Mackay, you’re wrong if you think the digital world is disconnecting people #AMSRS 

Everything was going great during Hugh Riminton’s fireside chat with Hugh Mackay until the very end. Until the point when Hugh Mackay suggested that the digital world was making it harder for people to actually see and connect with each other.

Now, as a very generalized rule, I generally agree. But it’s a point of view that will resonate much more with extraverts who make up arguably half of the population. And extraverts are the half of the population who, by definition, regularly see and personally interact with lots of other people. Putting a digital device into their hands may very well change the number of in-person interactions taking place. 

But for people on the introverted side of the curve, the silent half, the quiet half, the half that doesn’t blather on for hours because they need to hear their own voice, the half that stays behind closed doors much of the day, the half that loves libraries and forests and other places of peaceful solitude, the digital world does not close doors. Rather, it opens doors.

For some people, the digital world is the only door to the outside. For some, the outer world is too loud, too complicated, too busy, too distracting. For others, it is too stressful, too fearful, or too anxiety provoking. The digital world offers them a way to experience the wider world with less stress and distractions. It allows them to practice interacting with people in a slow and calculated way. 

Pish posh, you say. Get over it, you say. Well, then perhaps you ought to completely change your personality, or maybe just stop being scared of heights or flying or bats. Maybe now is the time to register for that class in empathy. The world is not built like you. Stop expecting everyone to be the same as you.

As for the rest of us, we’ll continue to take full advantage of the digital world. It’s a wondrous thing.

Takes a licking and keeps on sticking #AMSRS 

As I think back to all the talks at #AMSRS 2015, a number of them have managed to stick with me even a few days after the event. Let me mention just a few.

  • Chris Savage spoke about having a relevant career. He talked about about being an expert, helping other people, having a point of view, and that YOU have the power to push your career. I’ve always firmly believed that my career is 100% under my control. Although bosses may hire and fire me, I am the person who decides which job to accept and which job to leave. I decide when to ask for a raise or a promotion. I decide when to do a good job or a great job (or a bad job). I decide when to volunteer for a task or spontaneously help a struggling colleague. If you believe that you are at the mercy of other people, then you need to reevaluate your entire outlook.
  • Todd Sampson demonstrated how elastic our brains are, even as we grow older and old. I can’t count how many times someone has told me they’re too old to learn Twitter or SAS or MacOS. I’m sick and tired of people saying they’re too old to learn something. You’re not too old. You’re lazy and you’ve given up.  Stop giving up. Stop making it someone else’s fault. If you don’t like where you are in your career, it is your responsibility to change it.
  • Brian Fine reiterated the mantra that NPS is insufficient. Does 7/10 tell you everything about how I feel today? Does 23 tell you everything about Apple Computers? A single number will never be able to tell you the entire story. Don’t let yourself be fooled with a simplicity that doesn’t actually exist. Today, I’m about 2/10, now on the 28th hour of transit home from Sydney having slept about 2 hours and stared unblinking at a TV screen for the rest. I’m tired and sore and took a real licking (I walked about 120 000 steps around North Head, Middle Head, and I walked from Coogee to Sydney all along the coast) but I’m also happy to replay lots of great conference memories in my head.
  • Roz Rowen gave a talk about Bogans that I can’t even briefly summarize. By the end of the talk, all I’d figured out was that it was something about people who wear flannel shirts. I wear flannel nighties so maybe it was a talk about me. Anyways, though we both speak English, all I can say is that I speak Canadian, she spoke Australian, and never the two shall meet. Our world is a wonderful mix of culture even among people who are so similar. Pardon me while I enjoy a mickie and a poutine on my chesterfield while wearing a touque.

Finally, I absolutely must end with a hug-filled shout-out to Leslea. I mentioned to her that I was going to play the ukulele, she noted that quite a few members of #AMSRS were singers, I suggested a flashmob, and she created the magic. She recruited the choir, arranged the harmonies, led rehearsals, and made my little song great. You totally rock Leslea. AMSRS is lucky to have you. 🙂

A fireside chat with Hugh Mackay, interviewed by Hugh Riminton, #AMSRS 

Live blogged at #AMSRS 2015 national conference. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.


  • It is harder to listen than it is to speak
  • Hugh has been in the business for 60 years
  • His dad went with him to his first job interview, as all dads did back then
  • he knew in the first week that MR was for him
  • there were no TVs, no computers, no women, no multiculturalism, he rode his bike to work without a helmet or lycra
  • job was face to face interviews at the doorstop, when through the questionnaire with a pencil, marks the analysis on a piece of paper
  • radio audience measurement was a big thing in 1956, attitudes to brands of petrol or retail stores
  • fascinated him almost right from the beginning
  • MR is a branch of social science – why people do what they do in a commercial context, but every question is far more than commercial
  • the great advertising firms are the best at knowing why people do what they do [not psychologists or sociologists!]
  • biggest change has been the gender revolution which began quietly in the last 60s and roared after the 70s, women were second class citizens, they couldn’t leave australia without their husband’s permission
  • [hugh mackay doesn’t need an interview to carry the conversation 🙂 ]
  • multiculturalism wasnt in our vocabulary
  • this changed most societal institutions
  • morphed from women’s movement into gender revolution, men have been slow and reluctant to get on board but here we are, not a men left standing who doesn’t know there’s been a revolution
  • younger men don’t know what this discussion is about, they don’t know what the discussion is [that’s what it ought to be!]
  • politicians exploit our existential angst – use it to get what you want, get people fearful of things [marketers try to do this to but in a more relaxed comfortable way]
  • he feels he is soft on the media, overrate the power of the media to influence public opinion, media reports what happens and then enforces predispositions, but media doesn’t ferment fear when they report on messages that are designed to create fear
  • we’re in a new phase of instability and it’s not bad. we are listening for the new messages.
  • there is a difference between winning an election and losing one. bad candidates make less bad candidates win.
  • we’re disengaged from politics but more engaged as citizens  – think LGBT rights
  • advice to a newbie – definitely get into the career, in the 60s research was thrilling because mass communication opened up and truly pioneering research was happening, now is another period like that, thrilled by how rapidly things are changing, all new ideas and we’re overdue for pioneering experimental work especially online which is still largely mysterious and being approached in a deeply unscientific way
  • when people communicate digitally it’s a different human experience than face to face, most nuances of human communication that are rich, posture, gesture, expressions, are gone
  • [he knows what a tweet is, i.e., stop saying you’re too old to understand this stuff!]
  • it’s fundamentally changed our view or privacy and identity, most young people have multiple identities, making it easier than ever to not see people [for me, it’s made it MORE possible to see people] The place of the person is disppearing and will come back in 15 years
  • machines can do everything THEY do better, people will do the rest

What lies beneath the multiple screens by Raymond Lo, #AMSRS


  • People still watch a lot of TV, 22 hours a week, 79% of australians will second screen while watching tv
  • what are the motivatioal links between the 1st and 2nd screen, how can we monetize that
  • difficult to capture accurately, ethnography approach may influence behaviours, activities differ by day of week
  • people downloaded an app for passive behaviour – websites visits and apps in the foreground
  • app doesn’t drain the battery, no app updates, people forgot the app was there and they forgot to delete the app
  • also did a diary study in half hour blocks, prompted them twice per day
  • grazing is a habit, filler activity, 80% of multiscreen behaviour is unrelated, driven by FOMO (fear of missing out) and FONK (fear of not knowing)
  • higher the engagement with the genre the more likely the multiscreen behavior is related
  • dramas, movies, sitcomes have the higest engagement, when people multiscreen its highly related
  • news and kids shows play in the background but multiscreening is generally unrelated
  • genre dictates a stay with me or look at me disruption strategy
  • multiscreen behaviour is best captured passively, grazing is unconscious and prolific making it difficult to record

How to get a job in business when you’re handicapped with a PhD #AMSRS 

In a breakout session, Clifford Lewis spoke about why companies should hire people who have PhDs. He gave many solid reasons why someone with a phd is a good investment. Now  I’d like to consider this thought from another angle.  

Forget why someone should hire a phd.  Consider how you as a phd can get a job in private business. What are the negatives you bring to the business world, because you do bring negatives and they aren’t insignificant.  

  1. Every project isn’t rocket science. For the most part, we aren’t saving lives. Every business problem does not require a comprehensive review of existing research, a twenty page methods proposal, and careful selection of the most technically correct method. Know how to use your best judgement about what is accurate enough and actionable enough. Know when to quit fussing with minuscule technical issues and press on. 
  2. Get it done in three weeks.  Sure, it would be nice to nitpick through every possibility over six to twelve months. That’s what you did in your phd.   But you’ve been paid because you’re supposedly experienced enough to know how to do the right things without spending all the time to research what is the right thing. Get.  It.  Done.  
  3. Use real words.   You’ve learned some fancy words over the years and those words have helped to you talk to academics.  Now put those words away.  You’re talking to business people who have their own language.   Don’t force your delightful vocabulary on them. YOU need to learn a new vocabulary.  
  4. Don’t talk down to people.  Just because you know a lot about one specific topic doesn’t mean you know more than everyone or are smarter than everyone.  If this is what you think, go back to academia. In the business world, you won’t realize when the person you’re talking to knows WAY more than you but they aren’t cocky and arrogant like you. 
  5. Don’t force people to call you Doctor Pettit. I know you worked hard for that title.  It’s an honour to be able to use the title. But really, get over yourself.  While you put in long exhausting days to get your degree, other people put in long exhausting days building a business.  They too were broke and ate cup of noodles along the way.  They too dug for quarters in the couch to make ends meet.  Use your precious title when it makes sense and that does not mean with your coworkers.  

Why is it hard for a phd to get a job in the business world! Because PhDs have a history of being annoyingly arrogant. Before you came around, other people made your career prospects more difficult. But this can stop with you.  Speak like a real person, be respectful of other people, work with deadlines in mind, and it will be far easier to find an awesome job with an awesome boss.  

How to keep yourself relevant and contemporary by Chris Savage, #AMSRS 

Live blogged from #AMSRS 2015 national conference. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.


  • you can thrive if you adopt certain habits
  • he has always been the youngest person in the room in the business world, then he went and started his own business, then realized he was the oldest person in the room
  • the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary – Vidal Sassoon
  • you need to work on yourself harder than you work on your job [totally agree, as a massive introvert, it is a TON of work to not be introverted at a conference and on stage. and then you say, well you’re not introverted at all! Job well done 🙂 ]
  • a good artist copies, a great artist steals – Picasso
  • you should do the same – take everything you can from other people. – the early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese 🙂
  • 80% of the secret of success is just turning up – woody allen
  • [Chris is a great speaker! Someone to learn from for sure]
  • Conditions are always perfect = everything is always changing, its hard to stay current, its hard to grow – but you can grab hold of your career right now, you can control your destiny, you are in control of your career
  • do you get upset when you’re critiqued? well, get revenge by proving them wrong and fixing it [i HATE feedback. it takes me a while to accept it and then try to fix it]
  • Brand yourself. you are a brand at work. when people say your name, it creates a feeling. 
  • your brand is made up of four things – score yourself on these items
  • 1) i am know by my colleagues to be known as brilliant at outcomes
  • 2) i am known by my colleagues to be expert at something
  • 3) i am known as someone with a point of view about the future
  • 4) i am known as someone who is trustworthy, colleagial, supportive
  • score each out of ten for a total possible score of forty
  • recalibrate your brand every few months, a new job, a new boss, a new project can change your score at any time
  • Brian Tracy – book says the same four things
  • 1) get better at your core competency
  • 2) push yourself forward, offer to do the pitch, speak to the client, host the lunch
  • 3) work on your likeability, people who determine whether you progress will have to spend more time with you, so make sure they like you, go to the social events, be interested in other people, 
  • 4) work harder than anyone else, doesn’t mean work life balance, it means consistency and efficiently
  • the world needs banking, it does not need banks. the world needs rooms for people to sleep in but not hotels. the world needs tranportation but the world does not need taxis. the world needs research but the world does not need market researcher companies. 
  • will the world need what you do in five or ten years? will you be fit to deliver what the world needs in five or twenty years?
  • Do you have the best job in the world?
  • 1) i make a valuable and powerful difference in what i do in my company
  • 2) i continue to learn and grow
  • 3) it’s fun
  • 4) its good for my life and family
  • 5) the rewards are fair
  • if you’re 35 and above, you’re good. If one score is really low, think about what you need
  • what got you here won’t get you there. the world is evolving too fast
  • your career is a marthon – need ambition, plan, preparation, pacing, nourishment, drive, fans
  • career rocket fuel – fill the tank with learning and challenges
  • ignite your strength – you’re running a tream and getting training and being a key person
  • pass the torch – how can you set others up for success [well, you ought to be doing this all along]
  • your leverage is your experience – people want to know what you know
  • key person of influence – what does your bumper sticker say?
  • clarity – credibility, publish content – scalability, diversify your skill set – visibility – connectivity
  • be kind to yourself along the journey, we’re all fighting a tough battle
  • [he had more materials but he ended ON TIME, as every good speaker does. love it 🙂 ]
  • don’t let yourself down

Power of laughter by James Guerrier, Viacom #AMSRS 

Live blogged at #AMSRS 2015 national conference. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.


  • research drives reinvention across the business
  • can we harness the power of laughter? [well the answer must be yes!]
  • 3600 respondents in 12 markets, 10 minute interview, 25 minutes interview with facial scanning
  • two thirds of young adults say they are very happy, more happy in mexico, south africa, Poland, Russia; less so in Italy Spain Singapore 
  • are you a heavy laugher? two plus per day. [that alone makes me laugh, its depressing that some people don’t life at least twice per day]
  • heavy laughers have more friends, more positive outlook, better sex life = perhaps we should laugh as much as possible
  • also better physical shape, and better social life with more friends more dates
  • heavy laughers watch their comedy channels more often
  • young adults get the power of laughter
  • behaviour is unconscious, emotions drive our behaviour, emotion sells
  • does emotional always win over the rational?
  • did facial coding using a webcam, don’t have to rely on recall after the fact, it’s cross culturally relevant – emotional expression is the same across the world
  • challenge of web cam facial tracking – terrible lighting, terrible aim and focus, pets jumping in people’s faces – they can’t measure facial expressions of cats and dogs 🙂
  • 12 million individual measures from just 250 people [big data? oh yeah]
  • compared funny content and serious content
  • emotional engagement is much higher for audiences watching comedy, halo effect for advertising, those following comedy have higher emotional flow than those following factual content
  • pattern held across markets
  • average uplift was 57% higher globally, highest in Poland Singapore Spain, lowest in Russia United Kingdom Germany 

How to build a successful market research career in the 21st century by Teri Nolan, David McCallum #AMSRS 

Live blogged at #AMSRS 2015 national conference. Any errors or bad jokes in these notes are my own.


  • Would you have predicted a collaboration between lady gaga and tony bennet? [omg, never!]
  • how many changes are in form or substance?
  • now you can be doing a job that didn’t exist in the 80s
  • many medium sized companies have disappeared and a few larger companies now exist, training has disappeared from the medium sized places it used to be
  • we need more specialists and polymaths, but don’t become a prisoner of your specialist skill
  • MR is the same five questions asked over and over for decades – applies to soap, cars, politics – heard of, what do you buy, where do you buy, how do you use, what do you think
  • new realities and rebrands/fads
  • fit for purpose – quick and dirty rebrand
  • agile research – this is just quality control and efficiencies, henry ford processes
  • story telling vs reporting – but all good presenters have the gift of the gab?
  • new statistics – challenge our reliance on traditional statistics like p-values
  • people want security/stability which is dependent on mobility, careers will change and outlive the organization
  • People want flexibility/work like balance so you need work life integration
  • people want progress/performance reviews means we want real time feedback
  • people want loyalty/tenure requires a shared meaning
  • your boss wants you to be successful, have a stellar career
  • we value the same things regardless of age, we just do it in different ways
  • the pyramid of career growth can restrict growth, fixedf permanent structure doesn’t serve the needs of tomorrow
  • the future career growth may look like flat interconnected tasks, horizontal, in different roles, acquiring new skills and specialities along the way

Building bridges from academia by Clifford Lewis #AMSRS 

Live blogged at the #AMSRS 2015 national conference. Any errors or bad jokes in the notes are my own.

  • phd researchers have a bad reputations [yup i don’t say i have a phd unless it is necessary, if i do tell people they think i am pretentious or too smart to talk to. if you’ve met me in person, you know neither of those are true]
  • most phds move into private business, a miniscule number become professors
  • are phds undervalued? are they too detailed?
  • three benefits of hiring a phd – do phds know too little beyong their thesis? do they have any practical skills? perhaps phds are really good at challenging new methods and innovations, not fearful to speak up about new methods;  learn to adapt their style to different people; good at learning a new topic or approach; good at project management; good at self education; definitely persevere with passion
  • “the academic” type of research – phds learn to do lit reviews or as business researchers call it desk research; they know how to design research that is scientific including qualitative research and these skills don’t come from an undergraduate degree; understand scientific rigor; have expert knowledge in an area that can be extremely useful [in my case, my dissertation was on data quality of online surveys]
  • lack real world value and practical skills – research ready, budget management, presentation skills and delivery, quick learners, and your company can charge more money for you
  • [my favourite interview question “what do you think of my painting?” the interviewer wanted to see if i could have a regular conversation not a research conversation]
  • academia vs business – timelines are very different, budget is very different, it’s like learning a new language
  • advice to employers – mould the phd graduate, ensure training from a senior staff member, give feedback and support to recalibrate for business, get phds involved in company thinking, encourage them to talk at conferences
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