Mike Farkas

Senior Research Director

I suffer from insatiable curiosity. I want to know everything about everything; I need to know the how and the why. I'll travel anywhere and eat anything. I'll do anything once (as long as it doesn't involve heights!). I live to collect experiences; all I need is my passport and my camera.

What inspires you?

I find a lot of inspiration in music. I want to hear a story, or an idea I've never thought of in a way that I've never heard before. But I'm also very visual and find a lot of inspiration in photography. I gravitate towards landscapes and architecture taken from unusual angles or perspectives. The common thread here is that I'm inspired by people who see the world differently. Maybe because I feel like I tend to see the world a little differently, too.

Tell me about one of your favorite people in the world.

My grandmother on my mother's side. She's so sharp and has always been ahead of her time; she's just a fascinating person. She lived in and around New York City for most of her adult life and was constantly exposed to good art, music, and theatre. She seems more progressive than many people in her generation. But that generation also shaped her—she's a very thoughtful, generous, and kind person. People gravitate to her because of that.

What's one of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?

This is from my band director in high school: "Early is on time, on time is late, and late is death." It sounds simple, almost silly, but holds deeper meaning than just show up on time for things. It's about being respectful of other people. It's something I've always instinctively known, but his simple articulation of why resonated and stuck with me.

What's one quality you admire in someone else and wish you had more of?

I wish I had a greater gift of gab. I feel like I'm not great at small talk, so I've always been impressed with people who can do it with a natural ease. I'm more of a listener; I want to be as thoughtful as possible when I speak.

Why is being people-first important to you?

As a researcher, data is great, I love data. But the data with the most meaning, that can be the most transformative, doesn't come from cash registers or government agencies. It comes from people, telling their stories and sharing their experiences. By being empathic and listening to these stories, we collect richer data that results in far more powerful insights.

What's one thing you love about working at Bovitz?

I've worked at a few other places, and I feel like we have the best people in the business—not just from a technical perspective but also just being good and decent people. I see amazing potential in everyone. That's what gets me going every day—knowing that I'm going to work with great people. Our people aren't in it for themselves; they're in it for the greater good. There's this feeling that we're all in this together and that we all want to see everyone succeed.

Tell me about some of your colleagues.

I feel like I've learned tons about leadership from Mike Browning. Having him as a boss and mentor has made me a better researcher, businessperson, and people manager. I'm super impressed with Emmeline. It sounds cliché, but she really is wise beyond her years. She's such a pro; I feel like she's been doing this forever. Her instincts are just incredible.

Who's on your dream client list?

Brands that emphasize quality, that create the best possible product without compromise. So, Porsche, for example, because they prioritize not just function over form, but the most perfectly engineered function over form. Or Singapore Airlines because of their insane attention to detail. These brands have philosophies that mirror our own. They value getting it right.

What's your favorite part of the research process?

When everything comes together and you have a great data set, a clear set of objectives, and you can just roll around in the data and find the story and the insights. And you can just be committed to doing that; you can lock yourself in a room and just have fun with the data. I also enjoy setting up the data by taking the tabs and translating them into something meaningful. I like the mechanics of that—playing in Excel or SPSS to move the data around—because it helps me understand what's in the data set. Some people might find this step boring or monotonous, but I enjoy it because I get to use a totally different part of my brain. And then when I get to the analysis phase, I'm primed and ready to go with finding the story.

What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

Travel is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. I love to get off the beaten trail and immerse myself in other cultures; it's exciting to get out of my comfort zone and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I want to do what the locals do, eat what they eat, drink what they drink. I can think of few things less appealing than being locked up in an all-inclusive resort or cruise ship.

In the Industry: Since 2005

At Bovitz: Since 2012

Education: BA in Telecommunications from Michigan State University

His best quality: Curious