The Summertime Homestretch!

We are officially into the Summertime Homestretch! Here at Insights360, summer projects are gearing up. My team and I find that we are most productive when we take time to disconnect on weekends, and certainly over vacation.

But have you heard of people who have vacation days and don’t take them. What’s that about?

According to the results from Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 report, our nation’s vacation usage has fallen to 16 days a year—nearly a full week less than the average in 2000. These findings provide a comprehensive look at America’s vacation habits to date. The survey, conducted by Oxford Economics, included 5,641 U.S. employees who earn time off.  55 percent of Americans didn’t use all of their vacation time in 2015, resulting in a total of 658 million unused paid vacation days per year! Jaw. Dropped.

Is it about prestige? Shankar Vedantam in his Hidden Brain podcast, which aired on April 27, 2017, shares a study where Americans feel and are attributed higher status by others if they are SOOO busy they can’t take their vacation days.

In Europe, people would look at you and think you’re crazy.  Let’s not be crazy, my friends. Take your vacation. Hear this video message….


Prince. Master of his craft.

Have we mastered ours?

 Prince wearing the Insights360 colors!

An actor is only as good as his/her last performance. I feel the same way as a Moderator/Researcher. You’re only as good as your last groups and your last report. As in most anything, there’s no alternative for practice and a commitment to continuous improvement. In his 2008 book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell reminds us that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” With each project, I strive to master my craft by putting in the hours.  And it shows. Clients and colleagues mention it and they refer me, and that’s a great vote of confidence.

There is no other more obvious example of mastery in my generation than Prince. A legend who defied music genre and amassed a remarkable body of uniquely creative work in his lifetime. He elevated music to the spiritual. This April 21st marked one year since his death. As a native Minnesotan, I was shocked by Prince’s death. I was in the Philadelphia airport when I saw the news displayed on one of the monitors. I instinctively called a fellow music-loving client in Minneapolis to make sure he was aware of the tragedy. “What a loss… what a loss,” I kept saying.

Prince’s Memorials: Left – tributes to Prince left outside Paisley Park, Right – outside First Avenue

To honor Prince’s memory and to create fun and memorable experiences with my clients, I took a group of them to the Prince Museum at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, MN. Together we enjoyed a guided VIP tour and, with some, even a Prince Dance Party, where we danced non-stop to some of Prince’s top hits.

Next time we do research in Mpls., I’d love to take you to Paisley Park.

Prince once said “A strong spirit transcends rules.” Prince’s musical mastery and unbridled creativity will forever inspire us.

Here’s to all of us who aspire to mastery. May we be inspired by creative spirits to keep reaching in our own fields. Let’s share our passions and be bold in doing so.

Rock on,



What’s your Prince memory?

What are you currently mastering? Share below.

May Day

Work. We all do it. Love it or hate it… it’s a part of our reality. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a 9 to 5 employee, or a CEO, work is interwoven into our daily lives. Financial rewards are necessary, but, if we’re honest, they only bring certain satisfaction. Work that inspires, educates, and elevates us is a rarity.

Some of us have the pleasure of feeling fulfilled and rejuvenated by our jobs, while others find that work is something to be endured. In the worst cases, we may be subject to unjustified, unequal pay or other unfair labor practices, like discrimination.

On May 1st, May Day is celebrated around the world by many different cultures. It’s a day dedicated to honoring worker’s rights. We at Insights360 would like to honor all those workers who help make our world go ‘round and make our lives more comfortable and permit us to do OUR job in research. Muchas gracias!

May Day Today

May Day is particularly significant in France, where it is known as Fête du Travail, or Labor Day. While it is normally a day off, with the presidential elections just days away, people have taken the streets to have their voices heard.

In the U.S., many immigrant workers and advocates are protesting against the current administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and stance. We offer them our solidarity.

But it also means hope and new beginnings.

In Europe, where you still see tall, ornate maypoles in town squares, May Day recalls the celebration of springtime. Dancers intertwine ribbons, creating colorful designs. I think they’re just ‘jazzed’ that they’ve survived the winter and they’re alive to see the blossoms of yet another spring. Huzzah! Herzlichen Glückwünsch!

Let’s Rethink Work

WHAT JAZZES YOU? Okay, survival definitely would, but what else? What are your passions and how might you incorporate even just a little bit of these into your work? Your work will go from b&w to technicolor when you infuse it with a bit of fun, passion, and your intent to labor for something meaningful. Now there’s something to celebrate.

P.S. As a child, my mother and siblings celebrated May Day by preparing May Day baskets and gifting them to our neighbors. My siblings and I would drop off the baskets on their doorsteps, ring the doorbell and hide. As we hid, we waited to see their delighted reactions at the discovery of their baskets. It’s such a fond memory. Here’s a picture of some of the beautiful baskets my mother still makes today.







                        Happy Spring!

Insights360 Becomes a Certified Minority-Owned Business (MBE)

Exciting news! Insights360 is now a Certified Minority-Owned Business.

Be sure to reach out, and I’ll share more details on why working with a Certified Minority-Owned Business is good for your business too.

Business Card - Front with Hispanic Callout and MBE

Giving and Learning: Update on Refugees in Austria

While in Vienna for the annual QRCA International Conference, I fulfilled a special promise I’d made over a year ago. I returned to the Islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft (Islamic Religious Community) and made an Insights360 donation on behalf of my 2015 clients. Your generous donation will help many refugees receive services; I’m grateful to you!


Here’s an update that I received while visiting:

  • During a recent election, the public majority rejected the idea of allowing more refugees into the country. Candidates catered to popular opinion by proposing to close the borders.
  • It is critically important that current refugees are invited to “educate the educators” and train community and civic leaders, so these groups can help refugees assimilate.
  • Most refugees desire to work but are unable to do so given their refugee status. Aid relief organizations have coordinated volunteer opportunities for current refugees to help incoming refugees.


Unfortunately, a party with an anti-refugee platform was voted into office. Read more about what could happen next:

Austrian Presidential Vote Gives Edge to Right-Wing Candidate, NY Times

Austria passes law to shut off border if refugee influx is too great, RT News


Back to Basics: Research Cues from Freud

At the QRCA International Conference in Vienna, I attended many presentations; everything from semiotics to behavioral economics. The most apropos session was about Freud’s influence on how we do research.

FreudCouch_withcreditcaptionThe Sigmund Freud Museum created an online exhibition on Freud’s life to commemorate his 160th birthday

According to Peter Tolman from Jigsaw Research, Freud influenced three areas of our research methods:

  • TALK – We allow people to speak unstructured (open, rambling), we use projective questioning that allows people to project feelings onto others and we show interest, not judgement.
  • LISTEN – We observe how people talk (repetitions, hesitations, slips) and are on alert for defensiveness, projection, repression, denial and rationalization.
  • THINK – People are not transparent to themselves. We listen, revisit the date of research and then pour over it for clues; we interpret the data for insights. We “make the unconscious, conscious.”

Freud reminds us to go “back to the basics” when doing research. Let’s remember to “deeply listen” and  follow the clues our respondents leave for us.

These will lead us to a true understanding of their preferences, desires and opinions.


And what would a conference be without a little fun?




More Love. Less Hate.

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to travel for work and pleasure throughout my adult life. Every time I go somewhere, I’m energized by the people I meet. They inspire and enlighten me, transforming me with their stories.

I’ve met stewards of the land in Panama who’ve worked the same fertile ground for generations. I’ve met refugees in transit in Austria who’ve uprooted themselves in search of a better life.

They all have hopes and dreams and aspirations. They all want what’s best for their families. They all grieve and fear and feel pain.

The further I dig into their stories, the more descriptors like “farmer” or “refugee” become secondary. Real humanity starts to emerge.

In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, I wanted to extend heartfelt condolences to the affected communities.

Based on my encounters with people around the world, I know we all desire to love and be loved.

Love triumphs.


Photo source

Locally Grown

Since Insights360 launched its Tampa office, I’ve hit the ground running — reintroducing myself to facilities around the state as their LOCAL MODERATOR.  My goal is to be their “go to moderator” when they need to recommend a moderator to their clients.

Just as importantly, doing this ground work helps me identify the market and facility best suited for my clients’ needs. Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Hollywood… there are top-notch professionals running facilities in each of these markets  and I look forward to working with them all.

Fieldwork in Florida from Insights360 on Vimeo.

Whoa! I Heard This and LOVED It!

At the Florida Creativity Weekend, I attended Charles Rattner’s environmental design session and realized that my passion for design, ethnography, and seeing how environment affects human behavior now has a name: environmental psychology! Learning this has me reflecting on how to incorporate environmental design into my research methodologies. Read on…

Here are some cool tidbits:

Want to think more analytically? Surround yourself with the color red and low ceilings. Want to think more creatively? Think blue hues, high ceilings and lots of light.

interior design

Image via Interior Design


Image via Inc.

As an ethnographer, I often go into people’s homes to research how a product is used in their environment. Imagine if I took it one step further, not just analyzing the product itself but analyzing the space as a whole. How could I offer recommendations for making a space more conducive to creative thought? “Space scanning” is a service  I’d love to explore.

When I reflect on Rattner’s session, I realize that, for me, it wasn’t just about redesign in the context of physical space. It was also about redesigning my goals and my passions. Redesign is an exciting concept when you approach it metaphorically. Sometimes, it just takes that “external lightbulb” to illuminate something within you.

If you’re as excited about environmental design as I am, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts and to share resources.

Until then, here are some links from around the web to inspire thoughts about our spaces and environmental design:

Finding Home Office Space in Tight Quarters

Optimizing Space in a 45-square-meter London apt.

Converting a Convent in to an Art Gallery

Designing the Ideal Home for Wounded Warriors

The Workspace for Bicyclists

Practice Creativity

It’s a true paradox: thinking creatively requires a structure! What’s more, like anything you hope to perfect in life, you must practice, practice, practice creativity to train your brain to think creatively. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Here’s how I flexed my creative muscles this month.

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In March I attended the Florida Creativity Weekend in beautiful Sarasota. As a souvenir, here are two techniques for your own creative toolbox:


Trust me, you can use this exercise for everything — even which car to buy or where to go for vacation. Mindmapping mimics the brain’s thought patterns, giving every idea a place to live. It’s about coming at a ‘problem’ from every angle and taking a deep dive. Let me know if you want some templates.

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Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Divergent thinking encourages you to generate a LOT of ideas. Convergent thinking encourages you to hone in on those ideas, filtering and selecting the best ones based on objective criteria. You’re likely already familiar with a popular strategy for divergent thinking. It’s called brainstorming, pioneered by Sidney Osborn and Alex Parnes.

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If you’re interested in attending this creativity conference in the future, let me know. Insights360’s Florida office is only an hour and a half away.  How about doing this creative boot camp together?