Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Personal Relevance: Two Thumbs UP

I'm now twice the age I was when I graduated from college, the first time.  I've made a conscious effort to remain relevant as each milestone ticks past me. In addition to the serious business of staying on top of the Market Research field and lots of trivial knowledge from reading hundreds of books, I've also tried some unorthodox things.  Such as...I've started going to see bands in clubs about once a month.  I'm way out of my depth and on the way to hearing loss someday but it is energizing to me.  And... I've stopped wearing a watch because someone told me that people under 30 don't look at their wrist for the time and they don't strap a device to their body with only one function.  I stopped giving two thumbs up to anything because I read that no one under 40 knows who Fonzie is and that two thumbs up makes you look... old. 
Hey there, Fonz.

It's not really aging that has me worried.  That's gonna happen no matter what.  It's relevance that keeps me up at night.  I know that my body is going to let me down, slowly but surely.  My hips have already forsaken me, proving the point.  But my brain is definitely rocking harder than it did in my 20s.  I think about all of the bad decisions I made at that age - just look at your old haircuts and you know what I mean.  I know the skills and experience acquired over time are paying off for me and my clients.  BUT how do I make sure I stay sharp, stay current and therefore, retain value over time.  Developments in our industry and technology are moving so fast, it's hard to keep up.  I sometimes feel like I'm swimming in an Endless Pool of Knowledge with the very real possibility it's going to smash me into the wall with the force of progress.

Attending conferences like The Market Research Event is an efficient way to sharpen the saw so to speak.  Reviewing the schedule gives you an idea of the topics burning through the industry - setting the stage for what you should worry about missing.  With concurrent sessions you have to accept the fact that there is more here than you can chew, but that choice of topics helps assure you'll finding something of interest.  Most important to me is the meet-ups between sessions.  These are the moments to reconnect with colleagues, meet new people by staring at name tags and screwing up your courage to say "hello" to someone who may hate you in the future.  (Never miss an opportunity to meet a new ex-client!  hahaha).  Make yourself attend a session you are not interested in and listen hard for something new.  These are the things that make you more relevant to your clients, your coworkers, and yourself.

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Today's guest post is from Kelley Styring. Styring is principal of InsightFarm Inc. a market research and consumer strategy consulting firm. She has led insights for Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Black & Decker and NASA prior to founding her own firm in 2003. Kelley is a published author and has been featured in USA Today, ABC News, Good Morning America, Brandweek, Fortune, Quirk's Marketing Research and The Market Research Daily Report from RFL Online.  She will be live blogging from The Market Research Event 2012 this November 12-14 in Boca Raton, Florida.  If you'd like to join her, register today and mention code TMRE12BLOG to save 15% off the standard rate!

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