connections member news

December 2014
Vol. 13, Number 10

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

Welcome New Members!

Please welcome QRCA’s newest members. Feel free to email new members directly and help them transition to our association. See someone from your home state? Consider reaching out to say “welcome” — one click and one minute of your time brings immense value to a new member.

Jerry Berowne

Hub Insights
Suite 310, 166-166D Glebe Point Road
Sydney, New South Wales 2037

Nick Black

Intensions Consulting Inc.
1502-1255 Seymour Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 0H1

William O'Connor

TNS Canada
900-2 Bloor Street East
Toronto, Ontario M4X 1E1

Back to Top


QuickTips: “Climbing Kilimanjaro:  Beginning the Adventure”

Sidney Clewe,

QuickTips is a monthly column for Connections, providing members with quick and easy (and cheap or free) ways of doing our work and living our lives.  Give us your favorite shortcuts, high- to no-tech!  Email

This was another fun, motivational tool that I used to get my Dad to be enthusiastic about the trip. (The photo isn’t of us, but it’s great what collaging in Photoshop can do for you) :)

It is incredible what a goal and a calendar date can do for you.  

When I returned home from a year abroad, I found myself looking at a new type of adventure: the adventure of beginning a career and figuring out “adult” life.  More than anything, I wanted to find a way to merge the excitement of traveling with my new, stable life and career.

While spending some time with my Dad, the solution to my dilemma hit me.  I looked him straight in the eye. “Dad, for years you’ve mentioned that you wanted to climb Kilimanjaro.  Why do we keep putting it off?  Let’s do it this year.”  And that’s all it took. He agreed — with a glint in his eye and interest visible in his face.  I held out my hand for him to shake on it, reinforcing that once I commit to something I don’t back out.  My word is my word.

My Dad is 60 this year.  He’s realized that the time to reach his lifelong goals is now. So with an “I’m not getting any younger,” he shook my hand and we committed to the idea.

International travel can be daunting, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is to break it down into bite-sized pieces.  We started with the main question: How does one go about climbing to the 19,431 foot summit of Kilimanjaro?  In the words of Jeff Etherton and Regina Szyszkiewicz from the QRCA 2014 Conference in NOLA: “Wiki That!”

With the use of Wikipedia and Google, it was easy enough to find out a few things. For starters, we learned that you have to have a guiding company to even step foot on the mountain.  Without even charging us a penny, Google generously provided us a list of the top climbing companies, and we were on our way.  Through a bit of handy Internet research and a few recommendations from previous climbers [thanks for the connections, Mom!], we ended up signing up for a climb that summits on the full moon in January 2015.

The biggest part of making a trip happen is putting it on the calendar.  Pick a day. Write it in ink.  From the moment it is on the calendar, you have a more concrete goal to work towards.  Excitement builds as you can actually count down the days. So January 2015 is now calendar date #1! Check!  That’s one thing down and the rest can roll into place.

Getting a calendar date allows you to make small goals for planning purposes; the large daunting goal that seems insurmountable becomes a series of small tasks that are manageable.  Knowing we were going in January, we can now work on our next big step: finding flights.  Another check!

With those two big checkmarks out of the way, we still have a while before heading off to Africa.  But those countdown days between now and January 15 are a part of the whole experience, too.  Now is the time to slow down and take time to appreciate and enjoy the months leading up to the climb.

A friend told me something that really affected my viewpoint on the trip: you are spending so much money and energy to go on this trip, which lasts only two weeks. Why not take the time months in advance to enjoy the adventure of getting there: training, planning, fact-finding, gear buying, blogging, cooking native dishes, etc.? There is so much you can do to extend the expensive trip from 16 days into a multi-month adventure.

So far, my life lessons from the pending trip with my dad:

  • Put it on the calendar
  • Wiki That! (Thanks Jeff and Regina!)
  • Slow down and enjoy the ride

When I get back from Africa in February, I hope to be able to write again with some more life lessons learned!

Back to Top



Personal Connections

Michelle Finzel,

QRCA Adventures in New Zealand

by Manuela Fletcher,

Andrew and I recently had the pleasure of hosting fellow QRCA member Chris Kann’s daughter Elynn and her partner David Sanchez in our home in Wellington, New Zealand.  We first met Elynn when the family joined Chris for one of the “dine-arounds” at the Atlanta Conference in 2006, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to get to know the warm, vibrant and totally stunning young woman she has become.

Having only just unpacked from our trip to New Orleans, we met these two intrepid adventurers at the bus station, and over their three-day stay with us, we had a ball showing them the wonderful sights of New Zealand’s capital city.  Now Elynn and David know why Lonely Planet called Wellington “the Coolest Little Capital in the World!”

Of course we just had to share the natural delights of Wellington’s world-leading eco-sanctuary Zealandia with them.  Andrew and I are both volunteer guides there, and we enjoyed giving Elynn and David our own tour of this very special place which has helped to bring the native birdsong back to Wellington.  We were able to get up close with the been-around-longer-than-the-dinosaurs native tuatara and the somewhat scary tree weta.  We saw and heard many native birds — like our clever mimic the tui (called the “parson bird” by early settlers who thought the tuft of white feathers at their throat resembled clerical collars), our stunning songster the bellbird, the striking saddleback (a bird that wears a tan “saddle” on its back), and of course our very cheeky kakas (large parrots).  For more information and photos go to

Our indoor adventures included a visit to Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) for some history and culture (sadly, neither Elynn nor David would have been accepted as settlers in earlier times!)  And we admired the wild and wacky designs of winners of the annual WOW (World of Wearable Art) show.  A guided tour around Parliament gave the travellers an insight into our political system, and we enjoyed a tasty lunch while admiring the satirical puppets of some of NZ’s well-known politicians that decorate the walls of the Backbencher (a pub across the street from Parliament).

Wellington is well known for being a windy city (no pollution though!) but luckily we scored one perfect, still, sunny day to take our visitors to the lookout at the top of Mt. Victoria, which gives a stunning 360 degree view of Wellington in all its glory. We also visited the large outdoor fruit and vegetable market at Lower Hutt — a vegetarian’s paradise!

Sadly, all too soon it was time to wave our travellers goodbye and wish them well for their trip down to Queenstown.  In a few short days they will head over to Melbourne, Australia, to meet up with David’s Mom and family, and I know Elynn is very much looking forward to seeing her family again soon in South Africa.

While we were in New Orleans, many of our colleagues and friends said they are planning on visiting New Zealand in the near future.  We are always happy to provide the inside scoop on things to do and places to see in New Zealand, and we enjoy showing off our wonderful city to visitors who make it to Wellington.  Mark Sumpter, we are planning an exciting itinerary for your whistle-stop tour here in November!

manuela elynn david
QRC Manuela Fletcher shows Elynn Kann and partner David around in New Zealand

barbara gassaway
Barbara Gassaway

Barbara Gassaway Recognized as Top 100 MBE® Award Winner

Congratulations to Barbara Gassaway, President of Observation Baltimore and The Research Group, who has been selected to receive the distinguished 2014 Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise Award.  The Top 100 MBE® ceremony is designed to acknowledge and pay tribute to outstanding women and minority business owners in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia.  
The awards ceremony took place during Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Minority Enterprise Development Week in Baltimore at the War Memorial Hall in downtown Baltimore in October.

"The winners of this year's Top 100 MBE Award exemplify excellence and economic stability," said Sharon R. Pinder, founder of the Top 100 MBE Awards Ceremony.  "Barbara Gassaway represents the goals and aspirations of many entrepreneurs across this region."



A “5 à 7” in Montreal

On Wednesday September 17th, the Marketing Research Intelligence Association Quebec Chapter organized a cocktail/presentation at an Italian Pub in the trendy Griffintown District of Montreal.  In an effort to bring together both organizations, the QRCA Eastern-Canada Chapter took advantage of this event to invite its members to meet.

During this ‘5 à 7’—a French expression referring to the after-work time (5pm to 7pm) where one would have a drink and chat before dinner—several QRCA members got to catch up about their summer vacations and discussed the upcoming conference in NOLA.  While a few were not able to join us at the conference, excitement towards this upcoming event was palpable.

Stéphane Mailhiot from the local LG2 agency presented the importance of a brand’s origin and how the halo of a famous place or celebrity could be transferred to a brand, thereby increasing its perceived value. 

The next chapter meeting was held in New Orleans with many members in attendance.  The Eastern Canada Chapter members were very glad to let les bons temps rouler!

Daniel Brousseau (MRIA Quebec Chapter Chair) is introducing Stéphane Mailhiot, our guest speaker for the event.

Left to right: Anne-Marie Filion, Pascal Patenaude (current Eastern-Canada co-chair) and our former chapter chair Guylaine Bakerdjian (from behind). Present but not appearing: Stéphane Rivard (taking the picture) and Cedrick Hached.

Back to Top

 debbie katz
Debbie Katz

New Member Interview: Debbie Katz, Hoboken, NJ

Mike Courtney,


Please tell us a little bit about you.
I live in the suburbs of New York City in a town called Westfield, in NJ with my husband and two kids, a boy and a girl, ages 14 and 10.  Unfortunately, NJ gets a really bad rap; it’s actually a beautiful place to live. 

We moved here about 11 years ago from the city for the same reason so many families do: to get more space!  It was an awful adjustment for me.  I had wanted to stay [in the city] but it really didn't make sense financially.  I hated having to get in the car to do everything, and I hated the intense quiet at night and the sense of isolation, but now I love it all and would never move back.  Although I still love spending time in the city, I’m so happy to come home at night to the quiet, for which I am now thankful!

I'm guessing you were born young. What is your earliest memory? Any childhood nicknames we should be aware of
My earliest memory, I think, is from preschool.  I was playing with a friend and she fell and hurt her knee.  She blamed me for it even though I had nothing to do with it, and her mother said I had to go home. 

Who were you and what did you do before you got into marketing research?
I was a hospital social worker for many years.  I helped people who were going through the process of liver transplantation: ensuring they had a good support system, were not actively using drugs or drinking any longer, were in counseling or rehab if needed, and connecting them with whatever services they needed post-transplant.  I also led a liver transplant support group and family meetings when there were issues to address or concerns with support systems.  

What drew you to qualitative research?  Did you stumble into the field or was it your childhood dream to moderate? 
I definitely stumbled into it — had no idea this field even existed.  I was at a July Fourth BBQ and met a woman who co-owned a small marketing research firm in Philadelphia.  She and I hit it off and she thought my skills at moderating groups were transferable to marketing research, and she was right.  I was a pretty natural moderator right off the bat, and she taught me the rest.  Twelve years later I'm still doing it!

debbie katz daughter debbie katz son

Debbie with her 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son

Company- and Work-related:

Please tell us about your company.  What brought you to this company?  What is your role within the organization? 
After 10 years with one company and two years on my own, I just joined a global, full service marketing research company called SKIM.  Based in Holland, they are most known for their quantitative research.  SKIM is looking to increase its qualitative presence in the US, so that's where I fit in.  I loved being on my own but the work was too inconsistent and I felt limited in my learning and growth potential.

Is there a story behind your company name? 
I think it has to do with gleaning the key insights from all the rest of the fat, but now I'm going to find out for sure!

What’s it like in your office? What do your co-workers talk about around the water cooler?  (Do you have a water cooler?)  Co-workers? Pets, etc? 
I'm lucky enough to work from home, but there is an office in Hoboken, NJ, that I go to every once in a while and yes, there is a water cooler — but no pets.  It’s a great team of people.  Everyone is incredibly smart and nice and willing to pitch in and help another.

Tell us about your typical day. 
I've only been here for a couple of months, but so far I've spent my time helping with developing methodology sections for proposal writing, business development, and attending webinars.

Do you remember your first few moderating sessions? If we were able to watch a video of that first session what would we see? 
I do!  It was phone interviews with physicians for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Although I had a good, conversational style, I remember feeling unsure of whether I sounded knowledgeable, whether I was asking the right follow-up questions, and whether I was probing often enough and intelligently.  Definitely, it was easier to have my first interviews take place over the phone; it was a lot less intimidating.  I think my first in-person interviews were in the diabetes space, and I definitely did not do enough prep on the disease itself.  I definitely asked some very naive follow-up questions, and often I didn't know what to probe on at all.  It was very uncomfortable!!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered thus far as a qualitative researcher?  How have you managed (or overcome) this challenge? 
Writing reports was tough for me in the beginning, and sometimes it still is. They used to take me forever.  I would make sure I had every answer to every question included because I thought everything was important to include and didn't want to miss anything.  I learned to use the information to tell a story, rather than just trying to cram in as much as I could.  There were always key themes that rose to the top, so I learned to focus on those and use all the rest to support it.  I'm still working on getting better using visuals and turning some of the output into creative diagrams.  That's my goal for this year.

Imagine the government has given you access to the NSA database of consumer information to help you recruit the perfect respondents for an upcoming study.  How would you use that information? 
Well, that's hard to answer, because it depends what type of consumer you're looking for — but I guess I would look for the demographics that were pertinent to my study, buying habits, internet buying vs. in-store buying, major purchases vs. little ones, age-related purchasing habits (buying mostly for kids or adults)…there are just too many factors to list!

Imagine someone has created a look-alike clone of you.  The only thing left is to program the clone to act like you act.  What are the most important habits and attributes your clone needs to master?  
Being very down to earth, easy going, want to talk about life/issues/emotions and not just my kids or my shopping trip from the other day, having little patience for nonsense or people that are too self-absorbed, or people that only talk about themselves and ask you no questions.  

What is the one thing that would tip off friends that it’s not really you? 
If I started being really type A, ultra-organized, making big deals out of little things.

Industry/QRCA related:

What motivated you to join the QRCA?  What do you hope to gain from your membership?  
I wanted to attend the QRCA conference in New Orleans.  When I started looking at what the QRCA is and what it does, it seemed like a great organization of which to be a part.

What advice would you give others in the research industry who might be thinking about joining QRCA?
To go ahead, and join.  It's a great place to share ideas, to learn, and to meet people that are doing amazing, creative and innovative work.  It makes me feel good about my profession!

What topics would you like to see discussed in upcoming chapter and conference programming?
Overall, I think basing a seminar in case studies is always the best way to relay information.  This approach allows the audience to learn the most.  Additionally, perhaps some tips on report-writing, or how members approach report writing; things they have found worked well over the years.  That would be great.  Again, using an example case study, albeit with everything blinded, would be key.

Many industries including qualitative research have experienced significant changes over these last few years.  What do you imagine qualitative research and/or QRCA will look like in the year 2020? Any predictions? 
Just an extension of what it is now — more focus on online/mobile research.

Personality related:

For you, the ice bucket challenge...
was a great idea in theory but turned out to be a little silly with everyone racing to put their videos on YouTube just to show they did it.  It lost its meaning.

We locked you in a room and told you to watch YouTube videos for an hour.  Tell us what you would do.  
I love to laugh so would probably spend most of the hour watching clips from Jimmy Fallon, and the Seinfeld Internet show, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee…and then some political stuff, to make me feel like I was being productive!!

We are both in your favorite city with a day between groups.  What do we do?  Where do you stay?  Eat? Etc. 
The day would start with a nice run in a local park or around the city.  Then it would continue with walking through cool neighborhoods and finding all the great places to eat.  That is my passion.  I would definitely have researched all the best places: they wouldn’t be fancy ones — really more like holes in the wall or cafés that have something really special.

What do your family and friends think about your career?
They think it's pretty interesting — something different that they have not heard much about.  I'm usually the only person they know of who’s doing this.  

Do you find yourself moderating the family dinner discussion? 
I do find myself asking a lot of questions, but I think that's just how I am…and I make sure that everyone has a chance to talk.  Honestly, when it's just my family, I'm just trying to distract my kids from fighting with each other! 

What would your family be like in a focus group?
I'd like to think we'd be really fun to talk to.  My kids are not shy and they like to come up with new ideas.

A new phone app coming out helps you double your brainpower for seven hours each week.  What do you use your “super brain time” for?
To find a way to help victims of child abuse and domestic violence.

Its 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday.  What are you doing?  
Sleeping, for sure. I can't remember the last time I was up so early!  Luckily my whole family likes to sleep late. 

Its 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday.  What are you doing? 
Hopefully, getting ready to go out somewhere fun with friends!

What books are you reading right now?  (Real printed paper book or e-books?)
“The Distant Land of My Father.”  I'm such an old lady — I actually read real books that I take out from the library!  It’s sort of a waste of money for me to pay for books because I never read them twice, and I read so much that I would be spending a fortune on books.  I haven't found a need to use the Kindle yet.  I really like holding a real book.

Your approach to technology would best be described as...
Totally into it.  Willing to learn and use anything new but don't want it to take over my life.

Which means you are a master at...
Using my iPhone.

And still trying to completely figure out...
… Making a really cool online photo album from my son's bar mitzvah!

Mac or PC?  iPhone or Android?  
PC, iPhone.

Hypnotism and brain reprogramming are becoming useful tools; what bad habit or subconscious trait would you most like to change? 
My sugar craving!

You have just been invited on an all-expense paid trip to speak at a (non-research) conference.  Who is in the audience, and what do you talk about? 
Teens and adults who want to get into exercise.

Your thanksgiving dinner was...
Really nice this year.  My mom and my brother's family came over early.  We hung out, played some games — had a good day.  But the food was way too rich and too fattening.  Next year I'm cooking all healthy stuff.  

The Final Question:

A client tells you they'll triple your project fee if you can beat them fair and square in a game.  You get to choose the game.  What game do you play and how likely are you to win?  
Spit [a card game] — and, very likely!!

Back to Top

QRCA Members Get Published!

Editor’s Note: QRCA has established many content partnerships that provide a platform for sharing the knowledge and expertise of our talented members, and QRCA members often contribute articles to industry publications. Each month, Connections would like to recognize those who have recently been published and share their articles with all members. Information provided by Laurie Pumper,

Recently published member article:

AMA Marketing Insights E-Newsletter: “Why Eight People in a Room Still Matter”

Marc-André Leduc, a QRCA board member and president of M Leduc & Co., and Barbara Gassaway, a long-time QRCA member and chair of the DC Chapter who is president of The Research Group, explain that while it is true that online research benefits specific research objectives, the value of in-person qualitative research lies in the communication and exchange of sentiments beyond words through non-verbal language. They share the perspective that focus groups are alive and well — and that the insights are greater than the sum of a focus group’s parts.

Back to Top