An End-of-Year Toast to Doing Hard Things

My hardest class in college was a graduate level statistics class I took while working on my undergraduate degree. Not only was I the only undergraduate in the class, most of the other students were engineers, and the class was more designed around their needs--which typically involved figuring out variances for widgets on a manufacturing floor. I, on the other hand, was dealing with people, where variance is more than just a number and often quite vast. And the tests. The tests were open book and only consisted of a few questions at most. I remember one test that took more than seven hours to finish--and it was only 3 questions.


You do a regression by hand in less than an hour or two. I double-dog-dare you.



One of my daughters-in-law is a ballerina, and so I have a newfound respect for how hard they train and how hard things can turn into something amazingly beautiful and graceful. Credits to Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash.  


Having to work through the challenges of that class, while not pleasant at the time, led to greater learning and understanding of statistics for me than I could have gotten in any other way. And, I believe, led to a greater love of statistics than I might have otherwise developed. To this day, I love getting deep in data and running something more complex and exotic than just a test of statistical differences. I have even been known to come up with my own indices to help parse out insights from complex data. And, if it weren’t for the hard things I had to do in that statistics class, I doubt I would have developed any of those skills.


Looking back, it is relatively easy to see the good that comes from doing hard things. But still, it is human nature, when looking forward, to want easy things. We look forward to the armchair life. For me, in the market research world, I long for that easy project where everything just falls into place, including the insights that just appear out of the data. Yet, it is always the really difficult projects that yield the greatest insights.


As you go about setting your goals for 2020, I challenge you to tackle a hard thing or two. I can just about promise that great things will come from meeting that challenge. And if the hard things involve market research, and you need a partner to help do the hard stuff, I hope you call me. Because that’s the kind of challenge that makes adrenaline flow. And I am all about that now.


Bonus Material: Dark Horse Binge Worthy Shows


Now, lest you are disappointed in my not including a best of 2019 list in this email, as is all the rage this time of year, if you are going to binge watch something New Year’s night and/or day, here are my top streaming shows that I would bet you didn’t catch.


  1. Dark (Netflix): Leave it to the Germans to take a small town, a public utility, and a group of kids to a whole new level of complexity and philosophy. This is way stranger than other things. And darker.

  2. Glitch (Netflix) The Australians live down under, as you know. And they take the Zombie thing completely topsy turvy in this twist on the Zombie genre.

  3. Bloom (Hulu) Another Australian twist on the Zombie genre. This one involving a magical flower and some pretty complex angst and grieving over a flood in a small town.

  4. Black Spot (Netflix): Ostensibly a pretty straight-forward murder mystery, this French series is anything but. Just read the subtitles; the English audio is really, really poorly done.

  5. Fallet (Netflix): Two grossly incompetent detectives team up to solve a murder mystery with International implications.

  6. La Mante (Netflix): Another French murder mystery, about a serial murderer’s copycat and family relationships. In a twisty way that only the French could get away with.

  7. White Dragon (Amazon Prime) A killing in Hong Kong that leads to twists and turns, all without any Kung Fu fighting, which I sort of expected from the title. In the end, a well-done, complex yet well-paced political thriller.

  8. Keeping Faith (Acorn, via Amazon Prime): Set in Wales, the soundtrack alone is worth watching this for, but the incredible acting makes it work.

  9. 800 Words (Acorn, via Amazon Prime): No murder mystery, no Zombies. Just an enjoyable fish out of water story about a widower and his family moving into a small New Zealand town. Worth it just for the handyman, if nothing else.

  10. Frontier (Netflix): About the fur trade in 19th century Canada, but really all about marginalized people getting back at the system. Stellar ensemble.


Wishing you a happy and successful 2020!