Vol. 13, Number 4
QuickTips: Moderating Momma
Michelle Finzel, firstname.lastname@example.org
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! E-mail email@example.com.
As QRCs, we accept that we live a somewhat jet-setting lifestyle. We follow the business, and the business follows the markets and so on. And while we jump between exotic and glamorous cities, lounge in the middle seat of our flights, and luxuriate in our two or three-star hotels, life goes on back home as well. But not without us. The technology available to us today is an immeasurable blessing in that it allows us to stay connected with our businesses (I am a QRC and also run a full-service research firm and field service) and our families (I have a husband and two little ones, ages 6 and 3) while we’re on the go. However, that constant accessibility can also turn our work-life balance into something more akin to a work-life balancing act.
How are we supposed to juggle it all, even from hundreds of miles away? Yeah, well, I’ve no clue, really. But here is what I have done to try to make it all work out as best as possible.
- Synchronize swatches! I have finally switched completely over to a virtual calendar, and that calendar is synchronized with my husband’s calendar and my company’s calendar as well. All appointments are blocked out on all calendars so my office staff know when I am available or not, and my husband can be reminded of doctors’ appointments, school closings, and lacrosse practices without worrying about misplaced lists and accidentally thrown-away sticky notes. In fact, it is my husband who deserves all the credit for this fantastic idea. Go hubs!
- Network. A personal network is as important as a professional one. It is imperative to know several people in your area who can help you out with feeding pets, carpooling to birthday parties, and having the family over for dinner while we are working evenings, traveling out of town, or working late to put the final touches on a proposal. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but making sure to return the favor is great way to foster new friendships and breathe a bit easier when times are busy.
- Trust others. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have a hard time delegating responsibilities to other people. I know myself best and therefore trust myself best to accomplish what needs doing in the way I want it done. However, it is simply impossible to do it all, so let others handle some stuff, too. When you let a spouse or a grandparent help with the homework that you usually handle, or let a colleague manage a new project that requires more attention than you’re able to give, everyone benefits. People feel good when they’ve been able to help others, and (shudder to think) sometimes other people are better suited to a task than even you are. Trust the people you’ve allowed in your life, both personally and professionally. You won’t become any less important or necessary or missed. Just less stressed, and who wouldn’t want that?
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Michelle Finzel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Casey Bernard Captivates Audience at UTA MSMR Conference
Kelly Heatly, email@example.com
Casey Bernard (Austin, TX) presented at The University of Texas at Arlington’s MSMR 5th Annual Alumni Association on April 3, 2014, to an audience of current students, alumni, and industry colleagues. Casey co-presented “New Hybrid Approaches to Qualitative Research” with colleague Jeanne Corrigan. Casey is a UTA MSMR alumna who graduated in 2003.
Casey Bernard presenting at the UTA MSMR Conference in April.
Casey and Jeanne discussed the advantages of designing qualitative studies that combine online activities with in-person interviewing, supplemented with quantitative elements. Casey detailed the online component of a recent case study that involved diary exercises using computer and mobile device access, followed by in-store shop-alongs, for a CPG manufacturer.
The presentation was engaging and compelling, particularly for current MSMR students, many of whom were exposed to a hybrid qualitative methodology for the first time. QRCA members Kelly Heatly (Dallas, TX, fellow alumna) and Brian Olson (Independence, OH) attended the conference and enjoyed the presentation.
Thanks to Casey for representing QRCA and quallies so well!
Taking a Break from the Daily Grind
April Bell, firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the unexpected challenges I've discovered in being self-employed is learning how to pull myself out of the work, to "unplug," to get away!
April and daughter Autumn hitting the slopes in Taos, New Mexico.
This year, 2014 started out with a bang, and I have found it even more challenging to schedule my downtime! But, I did something different over the Christmas break; I preplanned and booked flights for a family vacation. What a concept!
In February, for my birthday, we took my daughter Autumn on her first "ski trip" to Taos, New Mexico. Although it was only a few days, it definitely helped to get away to the mountains and breathe in some fresh air—it rejuvenated me!
While her first ski adventure looks easier in the pictures than it actually was in real life, we had a blast. I can't wait for our summer vacation to Jackson Hole! If I can just get through May….
Judy Langer, email@example.com
There’s a difference between looking and really seeing, as all good quallies know. Now that I’m involved in photography – again – I'm more aware of the world around me, and so much of it is interesting to me in a new way. Back in my 20s (way back), I was intrigued by photography and even did some darkroom work (ugh). My interest lapsed for a long time, except on trips abroad. Then, I'd try to record the daily life I saw around me rather than taking the standard (boring) shots of the sights that postcards capture so much better.
I decided a few years ago to leave my full-time job, work from home and let my business wind down. I wanted more freedom to explore and have fun. A friend encouraged me to join The Transition Network (thetransitionnetwork.org), an organization for women over 50 who are thinking about the next phase of life. Workshops on editing photographs digitally (so much better than the darkroom!) and photographic composition got me excited about picking up an earlier love. (By the way, that’s what a lot of people do when they reduce their workloads or retire.) I joined a small Transition Network “peer group” for photography; we meet monthly, do photo shoots, give ourselves homework assignments, and critique our pictures. I've had greeting cards printed with my photographs that I've given to friends and even sold at The Transition Network’s holiday breakfast.
Now, I'm attuned to the quirky and the mundane that have a beauty of their own. Three loves have come together – going for walks (good exercise and feels good), exploring New York, and taking pictures. And a few more loves: taking pictures of the people I love, of my sweetie cat Banjo, and of dogs (especially dachshunds).
» Judy Langer shares her photography portfolio.
Special Announcement – Mother's Day and Father's Day Tributes
Mother’s Day is celebrated across the globe in March, April, or May. Father’s Day follows in May or June for most countries. We want to pay tribute to your dear Moms and Dads in Personal Connections. As most members live in North America, we will publish the tributes in the June edition of Personal Connections. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!
Please send a summary stating the most important/useful/influential life lesson you learned from your Mom or Dad (100-150 words). What did you learn? How did you learn it? In what way has it influenced your life? Include a photo or two with names and date taken, if available. Please send to Michelle Finzel by May 30: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New Member Interview: Claudine Wargel, Clinton, IL
Mike Courtney, email@example.com
Claudine Wargel, C. C. Wargel Market Research, tries to make friends with a calf at a northern Illinois dairy farm. Some of Wargel’s favorite work includes gathering feedback for associations and non-profits, such as those representing dairy farmers, soybean farmers, and international sheep conservators.
Please tell us a little bit about you. I'm guessing you were born young. What is your earliest memory? Any childhood nicknames we should be aware of?
Grace, unfortunately. I’ve always been a little accident-prone. Fortunately we’re talking about minor accidents and goofy stuff—like almost falling off the altar during my son’s confirmation.
Who were you and what did you do before you got into marketing research?
I started out as a magazine journalist, and then moved into public relations to expand my income. While working in PR for not-for-profits, I became very fascinated by the market research I was reviewing, and decided I’d like to equip myself to conduct MR.
Please tell us about your company, what brought you to this company, and your role within the organization.
C. C. Wargel Market Research is my own firm, and I’m the sole proprietor. Along with off-site contractors and vendors, we conduct quantitative and qualitative research primarily for associations, as well as businesses involved in agriculture. I grew up on an Illinois grain and livestock farm, and enjoy helping associations and executives better understand the challenges and needs of various types of farmers throughout the United States. I personally touch every piece of research, and I often moderate—which is probably my favorite research task. I love it because it’s dynamic and stimulating. It’s exciting to feel like I’m discovering valuable artifacts for the client.
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?)
Ideally, it’s very quiet. I’m based at home, and my self-employed husband works down the hallway. I collaborate with off-site vendors and independent contractors, so much of my professional interaction is by phone and email.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered thus far as a qualitative researcher? How have you managed (or overcome) this challenge?
Probably being asked to conduct research at times that are not convenient or conducive for the targets. For instance, I’ve been asked to conduct focus groups among farmers during either planting or harvest season. That’s extremely tough. I try to coach clients to respect their targets’ boundaries and time constraints. If they want to understand these targets, the first thing they need to accept is that there are times when they are simply not available. Also, many times it’s more effective to conduct IDIs via phone, or put together a virtual focus group.
What are some of your favorite projects?
- Focus groups gathering consumer perceptions of farmers and farm practices
- Focus groups with large farmers about tires used on their tractors and equipment
- Focus groups with truck dealers and ag equipment dealers/service department heads about use of soy biodiesel fuel
- Focus groups with children getting reactions to a video about “where milk comes from”
Claudine Wargel, C. C. Wargel Market Research, and Sharlet Teigen of Demeter Communications examine cattle feed at a northern Illinois dairy operation while collaborating on research about consumer perceptions of dairy farmers and farming.
What motivated you to join QRCA and what do you hope to gain from your membership?
I love learning, and so I hope to find good opportunities with QRCA for continuing education. Also I have little opportunity to interact with other researchers, and I’m pretty hungry for those opportunities.
We are both in your favorite city with a day in between groups. What do we do? Where do you stay?
Chicago. Palmer House. Lunch at Atwood Café. Shopping on State Street, with plenty of stops at Starbucks.
What do your family and friends think about your career? Do you find yourself moderating the family dinner discussion? What would your family be like in a focus group?
My extended family thinks of MR as pretty intrusive, based on their own experiences. I assure them that most people end up enjoying their interactions with me, and we always provide an incentive. Many folks actually enjoy our interviews and discussions, and feel they learn from the experience.
Mac or PC? iPhone or Android?
PC but use iPhone. Works for me.
Hypnotism and brain reprogramming are becoming useful tools—what bad habit or subconscious trait would you most like to change?
I would give up sweets. That would be a big plus. But I’d really like to learn to be a hypnotist!
You have just been invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to speak at a (non-research) conference. Who is in the audience and what do you talk about?
I’ve reviewed a vast amount of research on, and written a white paper about, farmer adoption of technologies and farmer decision-making processes. That would be the topic. The audience would be PR and advertising agency staff trying to learn to develop more effective creative and campaigns.
Other professional things you should know about me include:
- I am a big fan of DiSC evaluation and training—this evaluates behavioral styles and helps people understand each other better, particularly when it comes to communication behaviors. It can be applied throughout life—from family to the workplace. LOVE IT.
- I still do some writing and PR work, so report writing is a real breeze for me (since I started in journalism).
- I sometimes do reduced-rate strategic planning for local not-for-profits. I know how to do it, and that way they can afford it.
Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
- I’m passionate about education. I serve on our local education foundation board of directors.
- I have two long-haired cats, and am searching for a lab-mix puppy. Help!
- I’m United Methodist.
- Hobbies include boating, making jewelry, book club, clearing/cleaning in our 14 acres of timber, and sewing.
- I’ve been married 22 years and have two sons (13 and 15 years old). THEY ARE A BLAST! They are big hunters (deer with bow) and fishers (one is on his school’s bass fishing team and is at a tourney today).
- Heading to St Louis for a Cardinals game and to shop for furniture! We built a home “on the edge of the earth” (very rural) my friends say, about two and a half years ago.
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?
Ruzzle. 75%. I’m pretty good.
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QRCA Members Get Published!
Editor’s Note: QRCA members often contribute articles to industry publications. QRCA has established many content partnerships that provide a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise of our talented members. Each month, Connections would like to recognize those who have recently been published and share their articles to all members. Information provided by Laurie Pumper, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s announcement:
If you are a regular user of Twitter, you probably know @QRC, the account curated by member Frankie Johnson, and followed by almost 2,000 people. The account began in 2008 as a way for Frankie to save the qualitative research content that is easy to miss in the fast moving Twitter stream. Soon, many others were following @QRC so that now it is one of the most popular qualitative research feeds on Twitter.
@QRC provides links to current articles featuring UX, ethnographic and qualitative research content. The focus is on practitioners and clients in the business and marketing space. The articles are collected in a Flipboard magazine that can be viewed online or on a mobile device. One reader described it as “an awesome treasure” – and treasure trove, it is.
Flipboard is an app that is as beautiful as it is useful. Check out over 170 articles in the current issue at https://flipboard.com/profile/qrcflip
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Editor’s Note: The Kudos Corner appears occasionally in Connections – whenever members want to publicly salute others who do good things for the organization. If there’s somebody in QRCA that YOU would like to commend for any contribution (large or small) to QRCA, please let us know at email@example.com. All submissions will go to the Editor-in-Chief of Connections and will be published anonymously.
This month’s Kudos...
The Board wants to recognize Steve Appel and Chris Kann for their years of leadership of the Public Relations Advisory Group (PRAG), as well as the dedicated members of PRAG who have helped QRCA enhance our brand and visibility in the research industry. They have built partnerships with and gotten media placements in a variety of industry publications. QRCA and its members are better recognized as a result of their efforts!
Another big thank you goes out to Rebecca Bryant for leading the Brand Communications Committee! She and her team have increased Qcast attendance, worked to hone our messaging to the outside community, and done research with qualitative research buyers to better understand how QRCA needs to position itself. Rebecca and Isabelle Albanese did outstanding research work last year with research buyers and summarized that work in an excellent presentation in San Diego.
Thanks to Mark Sumpter, Kendall Nash, Susan Sweet, Farnaz Badie, Barbara Gassaway, Laurie Tema-Lyn and Kate Wagenlander for their willingness to serve on the 2014 Nominating Committee! This important team will spend the next few months seeking out and interviewing candidates for the 2014-16 Board of Directors, ensuring a diverse and strong slate of candidates for members to vote on this summer.
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New QRCA Members
Please welcome QRCA’s newest members. Feel free to email new members directly and help them transition to our association.
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