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Member Spotlight – Chris Hauck

22 Sep Posted by in Cactus Call | Comments Off on Member Spotlight – Chris Hauck
Member Spotlight – Chris Hauck
 

 

 

Chris Hauck
Partner
Lynx Research Consulting
Boulder CO

Hometown:  I don’t really have one.  I grew up all over the world in places in West Africa that I can’t really go back to, so I don’t have an official hometown.  If I had to pick it would be either Miami where I went to High School or Fort Worth where I went to College.

Years in the market research industry: 30

What duties does your current job position include?  I am first and foremost a consultant just like the other partners at Lynx, responsible for client relationships and taking care of their projects.  We had a client recently say that Lynx Research is one of the few firms of our size where the president of the company is more likely to be writing a report for you than doing something else.  In addition, I act as our spokesperson in industry and our marketing guy, but I really share in those activities and I share in the management of our company.

What’s the best aspect of your current job position?  I love the consultative, interactive and just creative component of what I do.  Working with people to come up with a unique approach or design while helping our clients succeed.  It’s funny that for a guy who mostly works from home, my favorite part is the intellectual collaboration component of the job.  Working with people to get the best work from all of us is my favorite thing.  I live for those moments when someone calls me and wants to bat a study around with me.  I love the creative process.

…and the worst (if there is one) ?  I think the stress of selling consultative research services for a high touch and high care company in a world that is getting more and more low touch, low cost and is increasingly dependent on quick and dirty is the worst part.  We see more and more client side companies bringing their work in-house on the cheap and that aspect of the job is much more challenging today.  We have a lot to offer clients, but the door has to be open just a crack so that we can show them.

What do you see coming in the market research industry during the next five years?  I really hope for a resurgence of our industry.  I’m an optimist, so I think that the industry will swing back from cheap and easy solutions to more of a mid point, where the need for more challenging studies and for good consulting is valued again.  I don’t think we will ever go back to a world where clients aren’t doing any of their own work, but I would love to see some more balance.  We had a speaker at the UTA MSMR conference a few years ago say “probability sampling is dead” and I think the pendulum will swing back as it always does for absolutes.  Probability sampling may be dead for customer experience type studies, but probably shouldn’t be in brand equity, ad effectiveness, forecasting and a variety of other types of valuable studies.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back to the days where I did my choice studies through phone-mail-phone, I like change and growth and improvement.  But all change isn’t always the best for every situation.  I think we will see some balance, some recognition that DIY isn’t the solution for every research question.

How did you first come to work in market research?  I got lucky.  I was getting my MBA in the late 80’s and got tired of all of the accounting and finance classes.  At the time, I could take a couple of classes outside the business school and I happened to take a class designed to prepare Journalism MS students to write their thesis papers.  It was taught by Jerry Grotta, who happened to own a small marketing research firm.  He helped me find my passion for marketing research and consulting.  It was like a bright light hit me…..”you mean I can make money and have fun at the same time?”  And not play for the Dallas Cowboys or Texas Rangers…….What??

What led to you to joining the MRA?  You mean the Insights Association, right?  In my role as our marketing guy, I am pretty selective on how we spend our money.  OK, fine, some might say I’m a little cheap!  We focus the majority of our attention on the MMR/MSMR programs, but that has brought me to support our industry through the Insights Association.  I really enjoy my interactions with our industry and I love talking to people.  I think just about everyone likes a good, interesting and meaningful conversation.  I’m at my very best sitting around a table after groups with a beer in hand exploring what we learned and solving the world’s problems.  I think the Insights Association is a good way to get that in your everyday life.

To what other professional organizations do you belong?  Our budgets are tight and my time is limited.  So the Insights Association and the UTA and SIUE boards are the primary places I spend my time and funds in the industry.  One of my business partners, Jill Eberle, is heavily involved on the UGA MMR board.  I think working with new industry members is our way of adding value and being of service.

What is your educational background?  I have a BBA and an MBA from Texas Christian University.  After my undergrad years of playing sports and generally acting like an idiot, I think TCU was the only place that would consider my good GMAT score and lousy grades.  I really did love my life in purple.  I also like to think that I was educated in all the places I lived and visited growing up, Africa, Europe, South America and the US.

Where else have you worked in the past – including non-MR positions?  I started my real adult grown up career in marketing research.  I did time with a small firm, then on the client side, then at a couple of larger suppliers.   All those experiences lead me to starting my own firm with a really good friend who had been my client at the time.  I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found this, to have become passionate about it and to enjoy it today.  The challenges are new but the intellectual passion is still there.  Prior to finishing my MBA, I like to think that I had so many crummy jobs that I have a wide experience in what you really don’t want to do when you grow up.  Delivering beer or soda to convenience stores on the wrong side of town, bouncer, bartender, roofing in the Texas heat or working the night shift at a motel will remind you to work harder in school.

What do you do in your spare time – hobbies or activities?  At my age, if you want to stay sharp, motivated and capable of rushing to make your flight to do a solid day and night’s worth of groups, or pull an all-nighter to finish a report for a client, your hobbies had better include some component of taking care of yourself.  I work out every day, I meditate, I mountain bike as often as I can and I really spend a lot of time with my family.  We live in Boulder CO, which might be the healthiest town in the US.  That can be motivating, if not a little demoralizing at times.  Everyone here is either an ultra marathoner (50-100 mile runs), and extreme climber or on someone’s Olympic team.  There are bikes everywhere, not just to get to the grocery store, but to do a three hour ride up a mountain and back…….  It’s a little crazy here that way and I’m not extreme in any way.  I like to think I’m Boulder’s lone couch potato – but by Dallas standards I’m probably an extreme athlete.  Early in my career, I used to know all these guys who would spend their weekends golfing.  I took a different path.  I wanted to be with my family, from when the kids were little to today, where my kids are just finishing high school or starting college.  I want to see them and be with them.  We are tight and love our time together.  I wouldn’t trade that time for a hobby or an activity.

Do you have any unusual talents?  I was an athlete in college, and somehow, after decades of sitting behind a computer screen, I’ve still managed to have a crazy muscle memory for stuff that I used to do when I was a kid.  I can still teach young wrestlers a thing or two about hand control and a strong stance.  I can’t sit through high school wrestling without contorting myself into weird positions in the stands.  I also learned to play bass guitar as an adult and up until a year ago, played in a rock band.  I ride a snowboard in the winter.  I speak French and can fake Spanish when necessary.  I can also look at a marketing research problem and come up with an interesting solution.  I’m full of little tricks.

What would others be surprised to know about you?  I can meditate for an hour …..without checking my watch or falling asleep.  I actually enjoy it.

Favorite book or movie?  Jerry Maguire – I know it’s cheesy, but it always reminds me to keep what’s important in mind when plowing through life.  When I get down, or feel like I’m failing at something or just struggling, sometimes I watch Jerry just to get my head back on straight.  James Clavell’s historical series based in the far east (Shogun, TaiPan, Gai-Jin, King Rat and Noble House) are pretty great and I am a huge Bourne series fan, both in print and on film.  Matt Damon totally captured that character.  Nope, sorry, not a business book in sight.

What is your ideal vacation?  I like to visit places and get to know the people.  I really want to rent a place for a few months in the great cities of the world.  Hong Kong, NYC, London, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, etc and really get to know the place.  Go to the local sports (Go Chelsea!).  My favorite trip is any that includes an evening in a London Pub with a friend.  I just love the intimacy of a London pub, with a pint and a good conversation.  I think my least favorite would be a long solo camping trip.  The key word being solo.  I spend too much time alone as it is.

Final comment or quotable:

Let’s go with the late great Dicky Fox (Jerry Maguire) “if this (points to his heart) is empty….this (smacks his head) doesn’t matter”