The Research Method

I’m no academic or professional researcher but here you can read how I go and research the subject of success.

The Research Method

I started my journey by just simply asking some people how they define success. These were spontaneous conversations in cafe’s over video conference etc. Little by little a developed a protocol and right now this is more-or-less what I do

  1. In a 1:1 meeting, either scheduled or not, I ask the question, unannounced, hoping for an honest / spontaneous answer: How do you define success for your life.
  2. Sometimes I add “not just for work”
  3. Then depending on the answer I might ask one of the following questions:
    • How do you measure that?
    • Are you successful right now?
  4. Then almost always I ask what I call the “Tragedist question”: Imagining someone that experiences a tragedy, can they still be successful?
  5. I take lots of notes and add them to what is now a big spreadsheet.
  6. I process the Successtimonies and tag them when common themes occur such as: “family” or “impact” or “Happiness” etc
  7. I extract bits of knowledge and inspiration for talks and writing

The Dataset

As of November my dataset consists of:

  • 166 Successtimonies
  • Googlers 86% Non-Googlers: 14%
  • Female: 28% Male: 72%
  • Diverse set of professional backgrounds:
Product Manager36%
Ops / Other7%
Sales / Commerce7%
Comms / GTM / Marketing4%
Executive, C-level, entrepreneur, Founder etc1%

Research Bias

My research is admittedly biased, but I’m OK with that. I am enjoying the journey, and the many conversations I am having. Here is how I know my research is biased:

  1. Demographically biased: I interview people I encounter in life so the demographic is biased towards who I meet and it consists of a lot of folks within tech
  2. Relationally biased: I pop the question as a surprise. Most people I interview aren’t that close to me, so one can question whether I am getting honest answers
  3. Content bias: People might “hide” concepts within other concepts. For example, someone might mention impact which for them might also include career even though they don’t explicitly mentioned “career” as part of their successtimony. In this example they “hid” career inside “Impact.

What’s Next

Currently I am just enjoying the journey. I plan to go until at least 250 Successtimonies over the next few years. One thing I should probably do is to deliberately interview people outside of the demographics that I encounter spontaneously in day-to-day life.