Editor’s Note: The GRIT Insights Practice Report features up-and-coming insights industry leaders in the GRIT Future List. Find out what this year’s honorees have been up to, their best career advice, and get inspired for the future of MR, in the GRIT Future List Spotlight.
Where do you see the future of insights heading in the next 10 years?
Of course, it will be technology-led. But that’s not the most exciting part. Rather, it’s the ability of machine intelligence to get better at interpreting and decoding the subtext behind what people talk about all over the world.
Artificially intelligent systems are already doing an incredible job at organizing data and running some of the first layers of analysis – in the process of reducing common forms of researcher bias and human error. The more AI systems can do the interpretive analysis that humans have traditionally been relied upon, the better we get at pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with big data. We’re already on this path at MotivBase, and I expect to see many more companies in this space in the next few years.
What advice do you have for folks hoping to start a career in insights?
Three key pieces of advice:
- Read outside of academic coursework. Don’t ever stop. Learn about the work of social scientists the world over, especially French theorists who have shaped the modern world of research.
- Learn to be reflexive. It’s a critical skill in being able to identify the flaws and limitations in one’s own thinking. It also creates a desire to constantly seek improvements in the work we do.
- Learn about a culture that is nothing like your own. Ideally, a culture that speaks a different language. Watch their television shows and movies and learn to appreciate their idiosyncrasies. It is the only way to develop skills in understanding cultures and building empathy.
Since starting your career in MRX, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Having the courage to quit my job and start MotivBase – the only company in the world that uses anthropology and AI to decode the subtext behind what people talk about on the internet. Four and a half years ago, I could not have predicted that we’d be working with 100+ clients, delivering technology-enabled agile ethnography. I certainly would not have predicted that our work would lead to more than $5 Billion in new revenue amongst our client companies. This must be my greatest accomplishment to date, although it still feels like I’m just getting started with MotivBase.
Who is your career role model or source of inspiration?
There’s no single role model, although I seek inspiration from many prominent social scientists. Anthropologists Franz Boas and Margaret Mead are great sources of inspiration for me. Specifically, the fact that for most of their career, their work went up against mainstream and dominant thinking at the time. Yet they persevered to eventually created what we now know as the modern field of cultural anthropology.
[It’s impossible to mention their names and not acknowledge the impact of their work on modern society. So, here’s a link to a book about their work that will inspire you.]
I often feel the same way when it comes to what we do at MotivBase – we practice an art and science that isn’t commonly known or accepted. People who don’t know us tend to approach us with a fair bit of trepidation. It helps that we now have incredible success stories behind us, but it’s still never easy when you go up against established norms and frames of reference. But that challenge is what gets me out of bed each morning.