What's one of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?
Whatever your path is, that’s your path. It’s not wrong, and as long as you have a reason for them, whatever decisions you make are not wrong. So, don’t worry about right or wrong decisions, just make a choice and then continue from there. I’ve heard this from two people, and it spoke to me both times because it takes a lot of anxiety out of things. It makes you lean back a lot more on your own integrity and comfort and confidence instead of getting caught up in decision paralysis. It’s so easy to not end up making a decision because you’re afraid of making the wrong one. So, I’m very much of the mind that any decision is the right decision, as long as you know why you’re making it, you’re confident in it, and you’ve taken into account all the information that you can.
Why are you working in research?
I like being surprised. The things that are normal or expected don’t really interest me; it’s the things that we all think are one way but are really another way that are interesting to me. I took a sociology course in college that made me realize how much we take for granted that isn’t actually true—like the fact that cults are much more positively correlated with higher education than lower education, which I wouldn’t have expected. Those kinds of things happen a lot in primary research, so working in research allows me to stay on top of them and then share them with others and get them to see things from a new perspective.
What's one thing you love about working at Bovitz?
Bovitz truly embodies the values that we talk about. I’ve been places that have a mission statement or values and it just feels like lip service because maybe one team does it but another doesn’t or whatever. But at Bovitz, even if something might not matter to a client, but it matters to the person taking the survey, we take it into account and truly put people first. The way we talk, the way we moderate, the way we talk to clients about consumers—it really does feel like we’re walking the walk when it comes to our mantra of people first and not just using it for marketing purposes.
Tell me about one of your favorite people in the world.
I love my family and friends and everything, but I could not spend seven straight days with them. That is not true of my wife—it is very easy to be with her. I’ve never met such an empathetic person. She’s kind, she’s loving, and she truly, truly listens. So often we find that people don’t listen, and she actually has a conversation instead of just waiting for her turn to talk. That’s super special. That’s my favorite quality about her.
Why is being people-first important to you?
Empathy is a gigantic piece of being a human. We are all a part of this human condition; the person who bumped you as they passed you on the street is not just a program running around—they have thoughts and feelings and this whole path that you don’t get to see. So, it’s important to consider not just your own perspective, but also the perspectives of others. And then from a business standpoint, virtually no company is a monopoly, so they don’t get the luxury of just sitting on their laurels and not truly trying to serve their customer. Thinking back to when Henry Ford said that his customers could have any color car as long as it was black—the world has obviously changed since then.
Tell me about some of your colleagues.
Ethan is the nicest person I’ve ever met in the entire world. I don’t think he has a bad bit of blood in his body. Nikole is always super helpful, and her ability to analyze a problem and easily come to a solution on what the path forward should be is really cool to watch. I’ve loved how much Jenny has pushed me and done so in the nicest and softest way possible; I’ve definitely been pushed outside my comfort zone, and I really appreciate that. I really like watching Al moderate and, going back to the importance of empathy, seeing how she can connect with people she might not agree with—I find that super inspiring. And Greg—just the amount of intellect he has and his ability to easily solve problems is super cool to see. Hearing his vision for the company is something I really appreciate; he always has ideas for how to move the company forward, and I really like his openness about them.
What inspires you?
The tiny things. I really like when I see people being nice to each other in ways that maybe they don’t have to be. Just kindness and empathy in small ways. Like giving up the last muffin at the table—understanding each other and being willing to sacrifice something that you like for someone else. I try to live my life by the Golden Rule, and too often I see people not doing that. But those moments of empathy remind me that that world isn’t all shit. The world can be an awful place if you watch the news, so having those moments of connection and kindness give me glimpses of hope amidst all the fire and brimstone.
What's your favorite type of research project to work on?
Ones that actually matter. Sometimes we get work just because a client—or their client—wants to do it, not because it will actually impact the organization. The best project are ones where the work actually matters—it gets seen, it gets used, and you see it in the marketplace on packaging, in messaging, in ads, etc. The work isn’t just political or done just because somebody needs to convince someone else of something. It emotionally matters. What’s the point of what we’re doing if it’s just going to sit on a shelf? Sure, we make money, but there are easier ways to do that. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if that’s all I was after. I want the work that I do to matter.
What's one aspect of your life philosophy?
I’m a big fan of improv comedy—partially because I like doing it and performing, and partially because I like the philosophies behind it. They’re good philosophies that can be applied to life as well, like the concept of “yes and.” In life and business and conversation, we often say “no but” and push back on ideas just because they’re not our own. “Yes and” is about taking someone else’s idea that we may not be fully on board with and building on it anyway. It’s a fast way to collaborate; most of the time other people’s ideas are no better or worse than our own, so this is a fast way to get to building on something and seeing if it works.
What's one way that you're the same as your childhood self?
I’m still a huge fan of video games. That’s something that my brother and I started when we were very young and are both still into today. I have dozens upon dozens of games and every game system known to man. It’s a giant hobby of mine. I love games, in general—board games or the gamification of anything. There’s an order to them, there’s a rule set, you understand the winning conditions, you can feel progress—it’s like a simplified version of something you don’t always get in real life. Life tends to be more complex, more ethereal, more tough, and games are a self-contained simpler time.
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