Curiosity: This is required to see the larger trends, motivations and drivers. I’m always surprised when we do research, even after 30 years of doing this, that I still hear and learn new things about what matters to these audiences.
A willingness to see things with a Zen beginner’s mind: The beginner’s mind is a mind that assumes it doesn’t know, and therefore investigates, interrogates, examines without assumption. Because we’ve all been kids, many of us have kids, and we live in families, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking our experience somehow projects to the rest of the world. That’s dangerous.
Creativity: It’s not just a matter of being curious and wanting to understand. You also need to be able to take that understanding and turn it into something. You have to be creative about new ideas, approaches or solutions to problems.
A sense of responsibility and purpose: The responsibility is to respect kids and what they think is important. The sense of purpose applies to the entire audience. What’s the business situation and what’s the problem? What’s the overall opportunity? On the highest possible level, how can this make a contribution to our world? Aligning responsibility and purpose with business goals produces stringer results.
Ability to see connections: I did some work with a major sports league a few years ago. They brought eight people into a room who were all working on projects related to youth: Apparel. Charitable involvement. In-school program. Digital content. The challenge was to find the thread to connect all of the projects so that the sum would be greater than the individual parts. What could the charity have in common with the clothing line, and have in common with the physical fitness objective, and have in common with the guy who wants to drive ratings so that kids are watching the game with their parents?