Tag Archives: success

Five Things I’ve Learned While Reaching for Success

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates  blog.

For many people, January 1st is the day of change. It’s the day to begin putting apples instead of cookies into the office kitchen or start arriving at work a half hour earlier every day to take advantage of quiet time. But really, there’s nothing magical about January 1st. It comes in the middle of winter for some people and in the middle of summer for others. It has the most daylight hours for some and the fewest for others. It’s a date with no special significance other than the year is incremented by a unit of one. In other words, there is zero reason to wait 4, 6, or 10 months until the year is incremented to start something. Indeed, in waiting, you’ll have lost 4, 6, or 10 months that could have been spent building a new brand, or innovating your services. Charles Dederich (1914 to 1997), founder of 1960s drug rehabilitation organization Synanon, famously said, “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The point is simple. Stop waiting and start doing.

Tight deadlines have left me without time to find typos in a client report and SQL code that didn’t do what I thought it did. Of course, if I were to pause in my tracks until I had reached the ultimate of perfection in everything I do, I’d still be rehearsing for my grade 2 class’s rendition of ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ Perfection is a dangerous and unnecessary roadblock to progress and success. We need to take pride in and appreciate the work we’ve completed thus far and know that even better work awaits us tomorrow and next week. In the immediate intensity of a project, work might seem subpar. And maybe it is. But achieving perfection in all things all the time is unattainable and undesirable. Mike Knapp, the Founder of Shoes of Prey, says we need to get in front of customers even if the product or service isn’t perfect. Reject the need to be perfect.

When it was time for my cohorts and I to apply to post-secondary education, we were instructed to choose three university programs. If two schools said no, maybe the third would say yes. We were primed for failure. Robert Pirsig’s book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintencance” got 121 no’s before if got a yes. Jay-Z got no’s from every record label before he decided to launch his album himself. When you have an idea or goal that you truly believe in, keep pushing until it happens. Don’t give up because you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t take no for an answer.

I’m a huge fan of Twitter. I chat about market research, statistics, charts, conferences, diversity of conference speakers, plus a lot of nonsense. What you won’t see me tweeting about, however, are my lows. I don’t tweet about the days I’m sick or unproductive. I don’t talk about my failures. To an outsider, my career path looks linear. I went to school (after getting rejected a few times), got good jobs (after hearing no many times), and success magically occurred (though I was laid off from one job). Everyone’s path to success has a completely different set of ups and downs and twists and turns. It may seem like everyone else’s path led directly to success but in reality, your path is probably no more complicated nor difficult than theirs. In fact, having experienced their own collection of ups and downs, older start-up founders are more likely to be successful than younger founders. There is no clear path to success.

More than anyone else, you know what you love and what you’re great at. You have a unique perspective of why you like or dislike certain products or services, and how you could improve them. As much as you’d like to spend weeks or months analyzing the competition, or strategizing the best ways to beat the competition, you can’t control what they’re doing. Your strength is your unique perspective, your unique team, your unique strategies. As someone striving to build products and services that people want and need, you need to focus on what you can do, how you can be great, why your perspective is great. Sure, it’s essential to know what your competitors are doing, but there’s a much bigger world out there. Don’t focus solely on the competition

If you can adhere to these five quick tips, you’ll be ready to make today is the day you start rejecting perfectionism. Know what your success looks like and refuse to take no for an answer.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. Sklar Wilton & Associates has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them solve tough business challenges to unlock growth and build stronger brands. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Recognized as the number one Employee Recommended Workplace among small private employers by the Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell in 2017, SW&A achieved ERW certification again in 2018.


13 Reasons Why You’re Not Successful

I’ve seen many of these reasons in myself and perhaps you in yours. The only way to be successful is to cast these aside and, as Nike said, just do it. Click through the image for the original article.

reasons why you're not successful

Talent Leadership: Adam Portner, Dan Hess, Diane Jordan, Matt Valle #CASROmanage #MRX

Welcome to this series of live blogs from the CASRO Management Conference in Chicago. All posts appear within minutes after the speaker has finished. Any errors, omissions, or silly side comments are my own.


    • Adam Portner, Senior Vice President, Research Now; Session Moderator
    • Diane Rafferty Jordan, Senior Vice President, MarketTools, Inc.
    • Dan Hess, Co-founder/CEO, Dealradar
    • Matt Valle, Senior Vice President, GfK

    Diane – All about building AND retaining the right team

  • Markettools has been around 14 years, investors were ready to move on.  How would they retain the team as the buy took place in the marketplace.
  • Company change is not just business, it IS person. How will employees take the information about the sale.
  • 3 pillars
    • lots of personalized communication
    • culture of engagement, people do a lot of water cooler talk, wanted to focus people on external, client centric, put this energy to good use
    • recognition and rewards,
  • Managers need to be visible, credible, and sincere. In person as much as you can. The management team must do this. Quarterly town hall meetings, regional meetings, give people the chance to ask questions [nice to hear that this is all stuff Research Now does 🙂 ]
  • Most important piece is allowing mid-levels managers to really understand it and become aligned with what is happening. most of the communication happens AFTER the executive team leaves the room so the other managers must have the competence to discuss.
  • “Why have you stayed for so long” as opposed to “Why are you leaving the company” Answers – clients and career development
  • Monthly case study meetings – the speaker got accolades and everyone else learned more about the company and their tools, feel proud about their company [LOVE this idea]
  • Culture of engagement – Turnover is very high in India, they did a lot of cross functional training. Strategy has been successful. Allowed them to broaden skills without moving up chain of command that didn’t exist. This creates processes for produce improvement as well.
  • Recognition – People are motivated by different things. Some people do NOT like public recognition. [me] Some people want money, some people want more time with their kids (let her train in a different office and bring the kids along for the “holiday”).
  • Think about retention today. You must live it every day. People won’t just start being honest today.
  • Matt Valle
  • Starts with a great slide – a big pile of words and he just reads it. [very funny 🙂 ]
  • Who cares, so what, about talent management? Want to win big, for company, for self, for family.
  • “We hire the person, not the position”
  • Trust Test – When evaluating new people, would I trust this person to give me counsel about my brand, or about the technical aspect if need be? Would P&G hire this person?
  • “Adjacent thinking” – Take people who are close to MR but have a different perspective.
  • Do you want to hire “bodies”? Don’t make the wrong hire just because you need a warm body.
  • 1837 – State of Michigan became 26th state. Queen Victoria ascended to throne. P&G opened it’s doors. P&G is still the best of the best after 100 years.
  • P&G is known for innovation. Floride in toothpaste, diapers. They say their core strength is consumer knowledge. What consumer company says THAT!
  • Do we want people who “do their job and then leave”. Accountability and ownership is a big issue. How do we instill ownership in the team.
  • Exposure – when people do a great job, shout it from the mountaintops. When you let your own light shine, you give others the permission to do the same.
  • Consistency is important [hear the theme?]
  • Incentives are important [the theme is really coming through!]
  • Consistency and incentives are daily issues.
  • Dan Hess
  • Don’t lose sight of fact that the rank and file of the companies, there are huge opportunities untapped, people are locked into a comfort zone
  • LON – Local Offer Network, deal/offer company
  • Wise words of an early mentor – don’t send me piles of numbers, make a recommendation. Never send a message without a recommendation.
  • Big data and brilliance – Researchers, data equations, numbers. Big revenue – Consultants, tools, the final solution. [ouch!] People at junior levels need to learn how to apply numbers beyond the traditional way they’ve been learned.
  • “It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong.”
  • Risks – exclusion from the most important decisions, research becoming an expensive paperweight, boutiques become attractive for add-on projects, innovation is squelched
  • Hire human beings – seek the elusive data junkie who plays guitar in a garage band
  • Empathy goes a long way, it can’t be taught but it can be influenced
  • Forbid mindless data dumps unless requested
  • Encourage teams to take reasonable risks
  • Adam Portner
  • Merging of two companies and brands – e-rewards and research now, doubled the number of employees. Moving headquarters from a public company to a private company. 17 cities world-wide.
  • Biggest challenge – how to best led hundreds of talented employees through the integration
  • keys to success
    • create something new, it must feel like a marriage of the best parts
    • execs must be deeply involved to instill confidence and commitment
    • create certainly quickly with clear and direct answers to eliminate secrets, rumors
  • HR issues
    • Properly manage the people, account for impact on emotions and expectations
    • monitor employee satisfaction, conduct frequent surveys [of course!]
    • get employees involved at all levels so everyone feels comfortable to seek answers
  • Try secondments – temporary assignment in different jobs, let people try out a new office, a new role and meet new people. Create an we instead of an us and them.
  • Cultural integration guidelines
    • Client communication to ensure they feel valued and can continue to expect high quality service
    • Vision and strategy communication so employees understand the vision and value of the merger
    • Systems integration to everyone uses the same evaluations, rewards, standards
  • [a lot of this information was taught to RN from Denison Consulting]
  • Integration goals
    • maintain intense focus on customers
    • don’t overstress capabilities
    • stay focused on value drivers
    • maintain stability of the management team
  • Group discussion now
  • Is it culture or is it motivating people? [LOVE this question. highly debatable] You have to know what change is the last straw for people.
  • What do you hire for versus what do you train for? [i don’t hire a young person who doesn’t know excel. sure i can train them but they obviously have no interest in data if they don’t already know something about excel]
  • Paradox of rewards – the more flexibility you have, a reward system can make people become mercenary

The Mismeasure of Success

[tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]On numerous occasions, people have told me that they’ve been instructed to do something in the social media space. They were given no instructions on what that something should be, whether ads, PR, CRM, research or otherwise. In the words of Nike, just do it.

For those whose performance is not based on success, I wish them much joy in the fun task that lies ahead of them. For the rest of us, I wish you much luck in being a mind reader.

If, for some reason you have realized that research is the right goal, then you are one step ahead of the game. But, in order to really get your game on, you need to be two steps ahead. Remember all that survey and/or focus group research you did? Remember how that annoying researcher kept asking you “What is your objective?” Well, the same applies to social media research.

What is your objective? Do you need to discover product weaknesses? Strengths? Do you need to build on your segmentation strategy. Are you trying to evaluate brand strength? All of these goals have different research processes and analyses. You wouldn’t just throw any old survey out there and expect it to meet a multitude of unknown goals. Nor would you do so in SMR.

Besides, when you have a goal in mind, it’s far easier to succeed in measuring it.

Read these too

  • Building a bad reputation before we even start: Privacy in social media research
  • 2011 Market Research Unpredictions #MRX
  • Six things that terrify me in market research #mrx
  • To Mid-Point or Not To Mid-Point, That is the Question
  • Where is the privacy fallout?
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