I'm the Chief Operating Officer at MotiveQuest, a leading online anthropology market research company. At MotiveQuest we use social media to figure out what makes consumers tick and lead our clients to better communication, innovation, and branding opportunities.
We've developed linguistic analysis software that allows our marketing and brand strategists to analyze millions of conversations at a time, and to dig beneath what people say to understand why they do what they do. We use this understanding to deliver terrific consumer insights to brands like Kraft, Ford, Samsung, and AT&T.
When you listen to what people naturally say to each other, rather than their answers to questions you pose to them directly, surprises and insights are guaranteed. It never gets old.What was your first “real-world” job?
My first post-college job was as an analyst at Gartner, an IT strategy firm. I was responsible for helping clients evaluate and purchase multi-million dollar enterprise-wide software systems. I learned to analyze, prioritize, and model hundreds of variables in order to reach a single big decision. There's no better way to learn than to be responsible for the big picture - from sweating the small details to distilling the analysis into a sleek presentation of what really matters.What are 1-3 professional accomplishments that you’ve achieved over the years?
Helped grow a company from start-up to small business, without outside funding. We bootstrapped our way to stability and success, which required great creativity and resourcefulness, not to mention a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Created a team of trusted strategic advisers to some of the world's biggest brands. Our team is fearless and honest with clients, and our clients respect us for telling it like it is, even if the message is painful.What drives your professional career?
Mastering one thing and moving on to the next. The start-up and small business environment is perfect for this, since everyone at a small company has to serve multiple functions and the company's needs will change quickly. I highly recommend that students consider working for a small business; you'll get hands-on experience that you probably won’t at a big company. There's no better way to learn than to be thrown into the deep-end and told to figure it out.Three pieces of advice that would be helpful to any student.
(1) Don't leave school without learning how to write. This will easily be the biggest factor in helping you land the jobs you want throughout your life... or keep you from getting them. Every pixel you generate matters, whether in presentations, essays, emails, or text messages. Ask your instructors to candidly critique your writing, even if it's not part of your grade.
(2) In the absence of results, show effort.
(3) Gertrude Stein said, “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” All the knowledge in the world is useless if you haven’t learned to be a good thinker. Use your classes to learn to think better, not just to accumulate knowledge.