I fell backward into market research after training to be a city planner. Before that, I taught elementary school. Following a decade of acquiring market research at a semiconductor company, I am now providing market research to technology and telecommunications companies globally. And blogging about it.
“Blogging: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.”
So, it should be handy that I have an undergraduate degree in English & American Literature & Language. Except that I took most of my classes outside the department in electives like Visual & Environmental Studies. And my favorite professor taught Landscape Architecture.
Graduate school was no less broad / eclectic / misguided. Ostensibly there to study Transportation, I studied beer, beer making, beer distributing, and beer drinking. Also trains. The outcome was a mixture of tourism, hospitality, manufacturing, marketing, and indeed Transportation called ”The Texas Beer Train: a preliminary feasibility study for a tourist railroad system in Texas”. Fifteen years later, Austin proudly introduced its first light rail line! Weekdays only–food and alcohol prohibited.
I traded the slow municipal pace for the fast-paced private sector. My job was all about the question,
“Why does a human want our semiconductors?”
You know, semiconductors: pieces of sand that move electrons around. This question plagued me for ten years. “Why does a human want our semiconductors?” Thousands of hours. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Millions of data points. And a slowly-dawning realization,
Humans do not want semiconductors.
Humans want to DO things. The question of why a human wants our semiconductors was the wrong question! It should have been, ”What do humans want to DO, and how can our semiconductors help?” It should have been about the VERBS not the nouns…Hey, there’s that English degree coming in handy!
What I want to do is tell you something, and a semiconductor is helping me write this. If you want to read it, a semiconductor will help display it. And in between, semiconductors help store, retrieve, and deliver it…Hey, there’s that Transportation thing!
So my haphazard education and training really did lead me to redefine a vexing question and change jobs. All of which makes me one of the world’s most curious people. And that’s how I fell backward into market research.
Maybe I’ll help you redefine your own questions. Meanwhile, I’m still working on the answer to, ”Who am I, and why am I here?”