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.

Great San Francisco jobs are at San Fran Jobs.


4 Comments so far
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I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy of spending almost all of your time doing what you’re good at or training to get better at it.

Many agencies struggle to train their best recruiters to be good at sourcing or selling. And train their best salespeople to be good at recruiting. And train their best sourcers (assuming that they even recognize the distinction) to be good at recruiting or selling.

The swimmers that go to the Olympics don’t train to be good on their weak strokes. They train to be the very best in the world at their best stroke or two.

Pick a (single) skill you’re good at and pick a niche you work well in. Then train to be the best at only that skill in only that niche.

That is how you become the best in the world, clueless bosses be damned.


Comment by Dan Sweet

Amybeth – thank you for sharing your great thoughts. I enjoy reading your blog.

Comment by Sean Patrick Fanning

Great post and very true on all accounts! Definitely and enjoyed read =]

PS: Congratulations on yesterday! All those laps are paying off! I think it’s time to drop the “still in training” as you’ve certainly proven you are the Research Goddess hands down!

Comment by Mike

[…] Research In the spirit of the Beijing Olympics that have just concluded, I wanted to re-post my article from last June which compares researching to an Olympic relay team – with some added highlights from this […]

Pingback by Lessons In Research Compared To An Olympic Relay Team « Amybeth Hale - Research Goddess

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