The Quest for Beautiful Questions in Outer and Inner Space

Oct 04 2015 Published by neilgains under book review

In The Martian, the stranded astronaut Mark Watney has to use his wits and scientific knowledge to overcome hostile landscapes and environment, tragic accidents and the loneliness of being the only man left on Mars. The story focuses on his ingenuity in solving all the problems that he comes up against. And why is Mark Watney so good at solving all the problems that confront him? He is also very good at asking the right questions. Read more »

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What Marketing Can Learn From Brain Science

Nov 19 2013 Published by neilgains under branding

Many of our intuitions about behaviour are now being confirmed by some of the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology. Although market research is making great strides to incorporate this new understanding of the mind, there is a long way to go. Much marketing and market research practice continues to hold tightly to the belief that decision-making is rational. Which leads to three key questions for marketing:

  1. How important are emotions in advertising?
  2. How do we all really make decisions?
  3. How can we leverage emotional signals in marketing? Read more »

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Film, Co-creation and Story: Making Research More Emotional and Impactful

Jun 27 2013 Published by neilgains under storytelling

The need for emotion

The problem with data is that it is, well, data. And data in itself, however prettily presented, always lack a certain something. Even the best use of powerpoint, prezi, or any other tool is incapable of communicating consumers lives and feelings. Data, however well visualized, lacks empathy and narrative structure. It doesn’t tell a story.

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Lessons from the Master of Deduction

May 13 2013 Published by neilgains under insight

“Tell me to what you pay attention, and I will tell you who you are.” - W.H. Auden

In Mastermind, Maria Konnikova uses the stories of Sherlock Holmes to lay out best practices for deduction, observation, memory and imagination for anyone who wants to be a consulting detective (including market researchers). Some of the key lessons are worth repeating and a good addition to a previous article on Sherlock Holmes, summarised as:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Observe carefully
  3. Imagine
  4. Deduce
  5. Learn Read more »

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The Meaning of Brown - the Colour of the Earth

Jan 17 2013 Published by neilgains under semiotics

“Moralistic is not moral. And as for truth - well it’s like brown - it’s not in he spectrum. Truth is so generic.”  - Iris Murdoch

“I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.”  - Winston Churchill Read more »

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The Meaning of Blue - the Colour of the Distant Heavens

Dec 24 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai

“Silence is the most fitting connotation of beauty, like the peace of the calm, blue sea.” - Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling

“I perceive blue as a movement of detachment from man, from the human, a movement that draws us toward the centre of this colour but also towards the infinite, awakening in us a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural.” - Wassily Kandinsky Read more »

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The Guru (Archetypes #7)

Dec 18 2012 Published by neilgains under archetypes

“The syllable gu means shadows, The syllable ru, he who disperses them, Because of the power to disperse darkness, the guru is thus named.” - Advayataraka Upanishad

“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”  - Thales Read more »

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The Meaning of Green - the Colour of Fate

Dec 17 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

“So long as hope has anything of green.” - Dante

“Green, how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches.” - Frederico Garcia Lorca

Whether you live in the temperate climbs of the UK or nearer the equator in the tropics, one of the first associations with the colour green is with nature, trees and vegetation. For this reason, green is also associated with the fertility of life (and ideas). The Green Man was an ancient symbol of fertility (and still a common reference today).  Read more »

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The Catalyst (Archetypes #6)

Dec 15 2012 Published by neilgains under archetypes

“You’re familiar with the phrase ‘Man’s reach exceeds his grasp’? It’s a lie. Man’s grasp exceeds his nerve. The only limits on scientific progress are those imposed by society. The first time I changed the world, I was hailed as a visionary. The second time I was asked politely to retire. The world only tolerates one change at a time. And so here I am. Enjoying my “retirement”. Nothing is impossible, Mr. Angier, what you want is simply expensive.”  - spoken by Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006)

“To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they can control it, wish to influence its direction.”  - Theodore Zeldin Read more »

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Star Wars, Story and Market Research

Dec 10 2012 Published by neilgains under storytelling

Every market researcher dreams of the ideal client, the successful project and the satisfaction of truly understanding the client’s customers to inform a successful business strategy. What could possibly get in the way of this?

An evil empire has descended over market research, which can be summarized in the Edward Tufte quotation, “Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.” Read more »

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