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I’m currently in Lagos, Nigeria doing in-home interviews (after 5 days of the same in Shanghai, China). More on this adventure soon, I promise! Right now I’m too deep in it to write about this experience– it’s going great, though. In the meantime, here are a few words on how I decide which clients to work with.

My mom loves to say that you can have Ease, Elegance, or Economy– sometimes two, but never all three. Taking an Uber instead of the bus is easy and elegant– but not as economical. Cooking at home is economical — but it’s not as easy or (in my case) as elegant as eating out. You get the picture.

I’ve taken this alliteration a bit further down the alphabet with my decision that all my clients must be at least two, and ideally all three, of the following:

Lovely: As in, nice people. Funny, smart, and considerate (no yelling at me, 11pm calls, or yelling at me on an 11pm call). They are people I enjoy being around. We don’t have to be best friends– but a “lovely” client understands that they need research (and that I know what I’m doing), loops me into enough of their business and its current situation so I can be of the most help, and checks with me before promising other people what I can do.

Learning Experiences: I’ve learned enough about a lot of things (blenders, life insurance, and meningitis to name a few) to do my job over the years. Projects like the Native American tribe who hired me to understand public opinion on casino payouts, the beverage company who sent me on in-home visits in Mumbai and Casablanca, and, lately, the evaluation of a re-entry program for men 60+ being released from prison are ones that get me super juiced. Learning about a topic or product I care about (or that I never even KNEW I cared about), and helping other people understand it better or differently is the best part of this work.

Lucrative: ’nuff said.

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