Pressing pause for
GA M BL E
BY NORA BURNS
“Wait! You did what?” That’s the reaction I get from most speakers when I share that I pressed “pause”
to conduct primary research for my business.
Five years after I left my corporate role, business was
thriving with workshop delivery, consulting, and keynotes
on HR-related topics. But that wasn’t necessarily enough.
As speakers, we strive for excellence and challenge ourselves: How can I get better? How can I be more informed,
Along came my “aha” moment. In the midst of a consult-
ing session, a lightbulb went off. It had been nearly a decade
since I was on the candidate’s side of the hiring process. My
notepad from that day says it all: “Nora! Apply for a job!”
Primary research is very different than researching a topic
on Google, and a project plan is critical. As professionals, we
need trusted advisors. Who are your go-to advisors? Who could
help you frame a project plan and provide candid feedback?
I reached out to Mark LeBlanc, CSP, retained his services
as a coach, and together we worked out the plan for 100
To have a solid sample size, Mark and I determined the
magic number: at least 100 interviews would be needed.
That’s a really big number.
To avoid location bias, the interviews needed to take place
across the country. They needed to be positions from front
line to director level. There needed to be variety while still
maintaining the ability to consistently track data.