Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Lessons in Research Compared to an Olympic Relay Team
June 28, 2007, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Research, Thoughts

Learning about greatness in research by looking at the makings of an Olympic swimming medley relay team:

  • While many people know how to swim, only a few have the discipline to make it to the Olympics, and just a small handful win Olympic medals.
  • Just about anyone can call themselves a researcher, but only a small handful have the discipline and skill level to be considered exceptional.

  • It takes time to become good enough to swim in the Olympics.
  • It takes time to become a great researcher. Success does not happen overnight.
  • Training consists of swimming lap after lap after lap after lap…
  • Training in research consists of practicing the basics over and over and over again.
  • Members of the relay team all know how to swim, but each contributes to the team effort by swimming a leg of the race in their specialty stroke.
  • Great researchers all know the basics of research but each has a niche market in which they specialize.

  • An Olympic-caliber swimmer always has a one or two select events in which they excel more than others.
  • A great researcher has one, perhaps two (related), industries in which they excel; generalist researchers rarely become great at any of the industries in which they search.
  • Olympic-caliber swimmers get better at their best stroke by spending a lot of time working on that stroke, refining and perfecting techniques.
  • Great researchers become great within their niche market by spending a lot of time researching associations, networking with industry contacts, and learning everything they possibly can about the industry.

All of these research examples can also be applied to recruiting as well.

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Reflecting Back on Five Years of Internet Research
June 26, 2007, 5:03 am
Filed under: Research, Thoughts

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of when I started my career in internet research. I was reflecting on this over the past weekend as I was experiencing a first in my life – my first time riding an upside-down roller coaster. Yes, I know – being 28 and never having ridden a roller coaster is pretty sad. I rode Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain at Disney World plenty of times as a kid, but until I went to King’s Island this weekend and rode Face Off and Vortex, I’d never been on a roller coaster that takes you in all directions. It was scary at first, but I went with someone I trusted and who told me what to expect and I had a wonderful experience. I cannot wait to defy the laws of gravity again.

My beginnings in internet research started out in a very similar manner. My goals never actually included internet research. It was a necessity based on the fact that I was still waiting tables 1 ½ years after graduating from college. I waited tables to put myself through school, and I have the utmost respect for restaurant workers, but I never dreamed I would graduate with honors and still be doing it nearly 2 years later. I moved up to Cincinnati from Florida in 2002 to take a job as an internet researcher with a local recruiting company. To be quite honest it was a scary move for me. I was moving 1000 miles away from everything that was familiar to me, to take a job which I really didn’t know much about in a city in which I knew two people. My research training consisted of one week with the girl who had held my job two years prior, and then I was on my own. To this day, however, I am thankful to Jon and Melissa for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to be the researcher in their office.

Along the way I found people whom I trusted and who guided me in learning the in’s and out’s of internet research. Yvonne Hallman was the first of these. She was the first person referred to me through the MRI network as a seasoned researcher, and she discussed different resources with me and how to use them. Another person who was key to helping me develop early on as a researcher was Heidi Bolinger. She and I started off in research around the same time. We met at a regional conference and were both concerned with the fact that there weren’t any sessions at the conference that were relevant to our work. We began communicating back and forth to establish some training and recognition of the research function within the MRI system. Tino Langner, who was helping us head up this lobby from the corporate standpoint, provided important training and feedback, and assisted Heidi and me in building up a discussion group for researchers within the MRI system. We could then communicate easily with each other and share ideas and search techniques. There were many other people I consider as influential in helping me get to this milestone that were part of the MRI family; too many to mention. All of them offered tidbits of advice from their own experiences and I took it all in.

You will come to points in your life where your current situation is not moving you forward in your own personal and professional growth goals. I experienced this when I was a competitive swimmer and I left one team to join a team coached by more experienced coaches. I loved my first coach – he later became an employer and trusted friend to me while I was a county lifeguard – but even he realized I needed more of a challenge. Good coaches, and good employers, will realize this and encourage people to pursue their dreams and goals. Most of course will encourage you to do this while staying with the company, but there are instances where this is just not possible. I joined SearchPath in the summer of 2006 for this reason; to expand my career in internet research and experience more. While beginning this new chapter of my research career, I have developed relationships with some phenomenal people along the way. These people have stretched me, encouraged me to try new things, and helped me develop both professionally and personally. Jim Stroud has been a wonderful mentor to me and I consider him not just a source of research knowledge, but a friend as well. I have learned so much from Shally Steckerl, from Rob McIntosh, from Mark Berger, from Dan Sweet, Glenn Gutmacher, Rithesh Nair, Joel Cheesman, Amitai Givertz, Suzy Tonini, Dave Mendoza, Maureen Sharib, Karen Mattonen, Guy Kawasaki, and so many others that I can’t even begin to name everyone. Friendships that I have developed within my SearchPath family – Amanda Williams, Paul Wolfe, Andrew Devore, James Cutter, Mary Ann Geis, and many others – each of these individuals took personal time to reach out to me and befriend me. Tom and Amy Johnston – they gave me this opportunity, and I know it’s been an uncomfortable one at times for them to have someone work remotely outside of the office. They gave me freedom to be creative with research and to spread my wings and develop professionally.

As I reflect back on the past five years, there are some very important lessons that I’ve learned along the way:

  • ALWAYS take a chance. The biggest mistake you can make is being afraid of making any. You never know what wonderful opportunity lies around an unfamiliar corner.
  • Be patient. I read a book about a successful entrepreneur who when asked about his ‘overnight success’ replied, “Becoming an overnight success was the longest night of my life.”
  • If you think you’ve arrived, you have a long way left to go.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to learn.
  • Humility is an important part of the learning process. Never assume that you can’t learn anything new, or that you’ve ‘heard this all before’. If you knew it all, you’d already be successful in that area.
  • Reading keeps your mind sharp. Read daily.
  • Having more than one mentor for different aspects of your life is important. Every person has strengths and weaknesses; take advantage of learning from their strengths and know that they are constantly working on their own weaknesses.
  • Have integrity in all that you do – nothing tarnishes a good name worse, or quicker, than dishonesty.
  • Be kind to everyone. Take each person at face value; don’t judge a person based on someone else’s opinion. Form your own.
  • Don’t be afraid to stand up for something that is important to you. That’s how new ideas get recognized and accomplished.
  • Work hard, but play hard too. Don’t neglect simple pleasures in your life.
  • If you want opportunity or a chance to try something new, ASK! You’ll never get to experience new things if you never ask for the chance to do so.
  • Lastly, and most importantly to me, be appreciative of the people who sow into your life. No one ever becomes successful in any endeavor on their own. Success is always a team effort – never forget to thank those who were an integral part in your success.

Thank you to all of the people who have played a part in the past 5 years of my life. Those who know me well know that I have a strong faith foundation, and I personally know where this comes from. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given in these years and the relationships I have built, and I am looking forward to many more to come.

How To Pay a Researcher
June 22, 2007, 2:46 am
Filed under: Research

Recently, I was inspired by a post I saw on Recruiting Bloggers called ‘How To Pay a Recruiter‘. While the article discussed how (most) recruiters are competitive hunters and would be most motivated by small draws and good bonuses, I thought to myself, why not give some methods on how to motivate and pay a researcher? After all, recruiting and researching are two different functions and should probably be considered differently along the lines of compensation.

I’ve actually been asked this question since I started researching. Mostly, the people who ask me this are recruiting office owners or managers who have been considering hiring a full-time researcher for their own operations and want to know where to start off with negotiations on compensation. Sometimes, it’s other researchers who are trying to figure out if they’re being fairly compensated for the amount of work they do and/or their level of experience. And then there are just some nosey people who want to know what I earn….just kidding!

To start off, something to consider when figuring out a fair compensation is what drives your researcher. What is the motivation to do a good job? Everybody is different in this manner. I wrote a post several months ago on this very topic, and if you disregard what motivates an individual, you might miss the mark on compensation. From what I have gathered, the majority of researchers are not wired like recruiters. We enjoy the thrill of the hunt, but most researchers are not ‘sellers’ and therefore may not be motivated by big commissions like their recruiting counterparts. This is good to consider if you were thinking about presenting the same pay structure to your researcher as you do to your recruiter.

Another thing to consider when deciding on compensation level is experience. While I don’t believe you need to break the bank for a seasoned researcher, you must take into consideration that you are paying for experience as well as resources that your researcher has accumulated over the years. Be careful that you don’t insult an experienced researcher by not considering this! Researchers who have been in that job function for any length of time will have resources that they are aware of and network contacts that will give them a running start when they join your organization and cut way down on ramp-up time. A brand new researcher will find resources over time, but there is a significant ramp-up time to do so.

From my standpoint, there are a few different methods with which you can fairly compensate a researcher.
  1. Straight salary.
  2. Straight salary with quarterly/yearly bonuses.
  3. Base salary plus commission on placed candidates.
  4. Commission only.

From my personal experience, a combination of a fair base salary plus a small commission on placed candidates is the best way to compensate a researcher, especially a brand-new one. My thought process behind that is this: you give an incentive to the researcher to find as many contacts as possible through a share in the commission without basing too much of their compensation on something over which they have almost no control.

Consider this: once a researcher hands over a contact list to a recruiter, that’s the last time they control anything in the recruiting process. That recruiter may not call any of the people the researcher found; those contacts may not be interested in the job; the hiring authority may not wish to interview them. While one could argue that a recruiter also does not have control over these situations, the recruiter has their hands in the process more so than the researcher and therefore deserves to have more commission on a placement. The researcher on the other hand controls step one of a possible 20+ step process and that’s all.

This of course may not apply for independent researchers who will typically either charge an hourly rate plus a placement fee, or will work on a commission-only basis. But for anyone out there who is considering hiring a researcher, just make sure to put some thought into the motivating factors as well as an appropriate pay structure before making an offer.

I would love to hear any thoughts on this topic! Please leave a comment if you have some thoughts on researcher compensation.

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Kaleb Schwade – Networking Doing Good Things
June 14, 2007, 3:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A friend of mine in Tampa pointed me to this particular story this evening which has apparently has caught the attention of people worldwide. Josh and Kristy Schwade are the parents of Kaleb Schwade, a little 6-month old baby boy who is in intensive care due to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Kaleb is fighting for his life after a child care worker shook him so violently, he is now blind and fighting to live. It is estimated that every year, 1,200 – 1,400 children are shaken. Why anyone would shake a child that violently is beyond my comprehension. The interest behind this particular case, however, is that Kristy has been blogging about her son’s hospital treatment on MySpace. In doing so, she has sparked the interest, prayers, and well-wishes of tens of thousands of people worldwide.

I wanted to see just how far reaching this interest has gone: I found a news station in Oregon covering this story. There is a CraigsList posting from Colorado Springs. There was an eBay auction page in Korea selling baby furniture where the proceeds are going to support the family. There is a “Prayers for Kaleb” discussion group on CafeMom. A MySpace account, HelpKaleb!, has been set up for supporters to donate and offer their prayers and well-wishes. On this site, Kristy’s story is available for reading in English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese. There are links to click to offer financial support as well.

The amazing thing about all of the support is that this tragedy occurred at the beginning of May. This news has reached the far corners of the world in one month! This is a wonderful story of the power of networking. It isn’t just for career enhancement or for keeping in touch with old classmates; this is also for real human interest issues and supporting a hurting family.

If you pray, and even if you don’t, please keep this family in mind. It does my heart good to see social networking doing good things and the amount of support and prayers that this family has in this moment when they need it most.

Birthday Shout-Out to my buddy Jim
June 7, 2007, 5:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I had to take this moment to give a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout-out to my dear, dear friend Jim Stroud.
Jim has been a source of knowledge and inspiration to me over the past year and I could not let his special day go unannounced, no matter how much he might try to keep it quiet 🙂

Enjoy your day Jim! Happy Birthday!

One Little Life Lesson
June 5, 2007, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Thoughts

I have observed successful people for the majority of my adult life, and I wanted to share a life lesson that I have learned from the best of the best:

No matter how busy you are, always make time to talk with people who seek you out.

I’ve watched so many people blow off individuals who have later gone on to accomplish great things. I’ve also observed people who take time to have a conversation with others, return phone calls, and just be there. While I believe it is good to keep yourself productive as much as possible (notice I did not say “busy” because you can be busy but not be productive!!), if you give the impression that you are so “busy” all the time, people will eventually stop trying to get time on your schedule and you will miss that window of opportunity to be an influence in their lives. This applies in both your professional and personal lives!

Don’t get me wrong: it is important to filter your conversations. Don’t waste a lot of time with people who just want to gripe and complain about things without seeking solutions to their challenges. You are not a trashcan with a hairy lid! But make time to network with and listen to people. I believe in this wholeheartedly, because you’ll never know if a seemingly insignificant conversation in your mind may have inspired someone and changed the course of their life.

Registration Now Open for SourceCon 2007
June 4, 2007, 5:15 am
Filed under: Recruiting, Research, SourceCon

In case you have not heard, there is a conference coming up in September called SourceCon 2007. This conference is the first of its kind, a global sourcing conference geared specifically for sourcers and researchers! Finally, something just for us!

Registration for this conference is now open! The conference will be held in Atlanta, GA at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead from September 11th – 13th. The event will be MC’ed by none other than Searchologist and All-Around-Nice-Guy, Jim Stroud.

This should be a great learning experience for anyone who does or has interest in any kind of research and/or sourcing. I myself will be in attendance and hope to meet many of you there!