A Message From The Board: Greater NY MRA President-Elect Janet Baldi

As I was driving to work the other day, I was overcome by an intense rush of gratitude for the fact that I have a job I love in an industry which has surrounded me with great people.  So I started thinking more about what Market Research means to me and thought an acrostic would be appropriate.

M-A-R-K-E-T R-E-S-E-A-R-C-H

Mentors –   Where would I be without my mentors?  This is the perfect place to thank those who have inspired me to become the person I am today.  I couldn’t possibly list everyone here, but there are a few incredibly special people who have truly shaped me.

Of course I have to start with my Dad, Joe Baldi, who taught me that you can achieve anything as long as you set your mind to it. He taught me how to build strong relationships and how to constantly nurture them and to be honest, ethical and fair no matter what the circumstance.

Audrey Ross was the first field director I worked for when I entered the industry 20 years ago at FRC Research.  She had a tremendous influence over me both professionally and personally.  From Audrey, I learned the importance of quality in data collection and how to remain true to myself.

Bette Anne Champion has been a role model I’ve looked up to since we met through the MRA five years ago.  I worked closely with Bette Anne while co-chairing the New York/Philly Joint Chapter Conference program.  She is a great thinker and showed me how to analyze a situation from all angles before making any decisions.

I’ve lived a very full life so far, and there are countless others who have impacted me dramatically, but I’m only on “M” and have 13 letters to go!

Attitude -  Anyone who knows me will agree that I have plenty of attitude!  But seriously, we all know how challenging this industry is, so it’s critical to have the right attitude.  We have to stay positive even when a project has a seemingly impossible deadline, when a questionnaire requires programming that doesn’t even exist yet, and when a 50% incidence actually comes in at 5%.

Relationships -  This is truly one of the greatest aspects of my job.  I value each and every relationship I’ve built over the years.  Some have been incredibly rewarding while others have been challenging, but I have learned from all of them.  When I joined the MRA, I had no idea how many amazing people I would meet and I quickly made many lifelong friends.  Every day I make a point to reach out to someone I haven’t spoken to recently, or to check in on a friend or colleague who I know is going through a difficult time.  My relationships are what I value the most in life.

Karma -  This one is easy.  Treat other people the right way and they will reciprocate.

Ethics -  As I mentioned earlier, my Dad told me that I’d often be presented with different choices and the only way to know I’m making the right decision is to go the ethical route.  It’s always tough to tell a client that a deadline will be missed or that a mistake has occurred, but it’s critical to maintain our integrity – and our clients respect us for that.

Tenacity –  To succeed in the Research industry, we must have an incredible drive to accomplish our goals.  It might be as simple as sitting on the floor of your office surrounded by mounds of questionnaires that need red-checking, or as complicated as shepherding a multi-country tracker through a year-long field period.

Resourcefulness-  We have to know who to reach out to when we need help.  Thanks to my incredible relationships, I know exactly who to call when I have a question about a test kitchen or about the feasibility of interviewing Fortune 500 CEOs on their spending behavior.

If you practice good karma and maintain strong ethics, you’ll never lack resources to help you!

Excellence -  Never settle for anything less than excellence.  From yourself or from anyone around you.

Self-Confidence –   The more I’ve learned and grown in my career, the more my self-confidence has improved.  I know that I’m great at my job and I am often amazed at what I can accomplish in a day.  I’ve fought against my fear of public speaking, which will be strongly tested this year and next as I take on the role of President of the NY Chapter.  Pushing myself to conquer things I’m uncomfortable with has boosted my confidence tremendously.

Exercise -  Without the gym, I would not be the person I am today.  I started forcing myself to exercise so that I could improve my health, but it means so much more to me now.  Exercise allows me to stay focused, keeps me calm in the busiest of times, and also helps to balance out those post-conference drinks and dinners!

Adaptability-  Anyone in our industry knows that our daily to-do list is generally out the window by 9:30 am.  Re-prioritizing is a way of life as things get delayed, deadlines get tightened, methodologies change, etc.  As an industry, we’ve certainly had to adapt as new methodologies have emerged, technology has changed our timelines forever and procurement departments have squeezed all of our budgets.

We must roll with the punches to do our jobs well.

Respect -  Like karma, respect is only achieved when you respect others.  As the field director of a full-service research supplier, I’m considered a client by the malls, facilities, phone rooms and online providers that I work with.  And my clients are my internal project staff.

I treat everyone with the same respect because it’s the right thing to do.  We’re all just people trying to do a good job.  Likewise, I don’t appreciate it when I am not respected. Disrespect reflects poorly on the disrespecter.  Given the choice between these two types of people, who would you work harder for?

Collaboration-  None of us could do our jobs without our colleagues and partners.  And if we work in a vacuum, we are wasting the knowledge and skills of the people around us that would help us deliver a better service.  At RTi, we often send emails around the office asking who has done a certain kind of test or how they handled a tricky issue.  Why re-create the wheel if someone has already come up with a great solution? How many times have you asked the entire office to lend a hand packing up a job in order to make the last Fedex pickup?

And what is a better example of collaboration than the MRA?  It’s an entire organization dedicated to getting people from all disciplines to work together to deal with current issues and also to shape the future of our industry.

Humor-  The only way I get through my grueling schedule (have I told you about my commute?) is to always have fun and laugh.  My colleagues often stop by to share a joke or tell a funny story.  We could be talking through specs for a new bid and I’ll remember something crazy that happened over the weekend and immediately interrupt.  I love to post strange questions or song trivia on my Facebook page.  During even the most intense meetings, we are sure to have at least a few laughs.  And I’m sure you’ve all heard me laughing away during our cocktail hours!

So I’ve shared my list.  Now it’s your turn to share yours!  I invite you to post your acrostic below.