As my children begin their careers, I have started reflecting on what I learned from my childhood that has served me well in my own career. What I always go back to is the one phrase my mother repeated – “Pay attention to what’s going on around you.” She pushed us to look beyond ourselves to see the big picture. We were expected to analyze the situation at hand and identify how we could make ourselves useful.

That simple phrase has been a cornerstone of how I have tried to live my life and to do my job. Paying attention has helped me to notice the little things that really matter. It’s watching my grandson’s expressions as he learns something new. It’s seeing confusion on the face of a parent new to 4-H and asking how I can help. It’s taking note of the questions that clients and respondents ask to better understand their needs and their situations. Ultimately, it’s recognizing that others might need help even before they ask for it.

As a market research analyst, paying attention is what I do. It’s about observing others. It’s about identifying the big picture and taking stock of the little details that drive decisions. To find what motivates someone takes attention and really hearing what that person has to say.

In my years doing market research, I have had the opportunity to continue to learn from others’ experiences and grow as a human being. As my children’s careers and lives move forward, I hope they too take stock of what is going on around them and continuously learn and grow.

Caren Karns

Director, Research Analytics