Posts Tagged insights

The Value of Kindness

In these turbulent and uncertain times, a little kindness goes a long way to creating brand value.

For disenchanted and disenfranchised millennials, and those who share millennial values, an act of kindness has never been more gratefully received. If brands want to create empathy and connection they would do well by looking at how they can show random acts of kindness to lift the mood right now.

Campden Desk Beer dropped at We Work the day after Brexit.

Campden Desk Beer dropped at We Work the day after Brexit.

This is especially true for brands in categories where ‘mood enhancement’ and ‘affiliation’ are motivations they want to own, so when Camden Town Breweries desk dropped beer samples at We Work Southbank, the Friday after a Brexit which had left We Workers shocked into silence, feeling awkward, confused and embarrassed; there were smiles all round.

But it can be bigger than that. When there is an apparent lack of viable trusted leadership and honesty in politics, to be a leader yourself, who shows compassion, is transparent and essentially acts in a way to build a better feeling world, you can also create a way to differentiate and create life-long loyal fans. Boutique brands in artisan food and drink categories such as Camden Town Breweries and Vinomofo have successfully driven this trend until now. One brand KIND, actually stand for acts of kindness. Their manifesto states ‘Our aim is to make the world a little kinder, one snack and act at a time. One simple belief underpins it all: There’s more to business than just profit’. Now doesn’t that make you want to purchase a second delicious snack?

It is worth highlighting that the sharing economy we live in today values genuine acts, and a focus on others – rather than introspective analysis of internal balance sheets. Brands that get this will win and establish a strong platform to nurture in the long term.

Perhaps goodness or kindness should be a tracked value. Brands that display a genuine interest in being better global citizens, in relation to becoming more financially valuable could benefit from a virtuous circle of ‘betterment’. As we explored in our previous article Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, creating consumer habits drives higher customer lifetime value, allows for flexibility for companies to increase prices, and supercharges growth. If we can make a simple gesture of thought and kindness a habit, we will generate goodwill with customers and create value.

In the meantime, We Work enjoyed the Camden Town Breweries beer drop, and no doubt the brand will stay front of mind next time there is cause to visit the bottle shop.

Key Insights in 15 Minutes

Information InsightsI recently paid full price for an app for the first time. Yes, I know, shocking.

I couldn’t actually believe it myself. It is so unbelievably rare that I find an app that adds enough value to my life that I will pay for it. Even apps that truly do add value, don’t seem worth paying for because I’m used to getting them for free.

So why did I pay for an app? And which one did I pay for?

Blinkist provides insight in small chunks or “blinks”, which anyone can quickly grasp and apply. It creates short summaries of up to 500 of the most popular non-fiction books that can be read in about 15 mins.

Blinkist includes heralded works from Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow to Clay Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma.

While there is loads of information out there, it’s much harder to find insight: something that makes you think differently and adds a new perspective to your current problems.

While I love the democratized nature of publishing, it does mean that everyone feels pressure to publish (whether its to build your own personal brand or to build SEO for your website). This results in a constant flow of information, much of which is repetitive or not useful. Even if I had time to read all the non-fiction books, free books and self published articles that exist, it’s much harder to extract insight from all the noise.

It’s a shame because as our problems get more complex, we need more insight. We need to learn from those who have gone before us, those who have developed a POV or thesis we can learn from. We also need to constantly learn from different fields and from those with a new perspective. The only way to remain innovative is to constantly seek and find insight that can spark new ideas.

Blinkist allows me to quickly find the insight that is most useful. It also allows me to quickly grasp the core concepts I might need in a particular book, while the full book sits on my shelf waiting to be finished. Or better yet, it allows me to skip the books that are full of fluff so I can spend more time finishing the ones that matter.

Introducing Idea Accelerator

Idea accelerator GIF - repeat

To sign up for a demo of the Idea Accelerator, click below:

Sign up

We know that exploring and testing ideas and concepts globally can be time consuming and expensive.

That’s why, we created Idea Accelerator, an online platform that allows us to explore and iterate concepts, packaging designs and communications with consumers globally and in real time – so you can accelerate idea development and your innovation pipeline.

This proprietary approach enables us to recruit, quality and interact with respondents in multiple markets concurrently. Using Idea Accelerator we can moderate a detailed discussion with respondents in real time, exploring likes, dislikes and ways to improve and refine an idea or concept. Study participants can interact with visual, written or video ideas or concepts in detail via desktop, tablet or mobile and response data is tagged and captured for analysis and aggregation for each individual idea or concept.

About the Idea Accelerator:

  • Accelerates the innovation process (a multiple market concept study can be done in hours vs. weeks and months with traditional approaches)
  • Identifies specific elements that are working and not working in a idea and concept and why
  • Enables “in the moment” crafting of ideas and concepts with consumers
  • Allows for immediate idea and concept testing and retesting — can get ideas or concepts in front of consumers within the hour
  • Improves success rate in quantitative concept testing
  • Inexpensively enables exploring and testing ideas and concepts in early development
  • Removes the “test, pass, fail and replace” model currently often used to craft concepts
  • Reduces cost of failure


At antedote we use proprietary technology and multidiscipline thinking and enjoy partnering with our clients to move their products and services forward, taking ideas from concept through development and launch.

Cards Against Innovation: What the world’s most offensive party game does right

consumer research cards against humanity

Your users know your product better than you do. Are you accessing and extracting that insight to make your product better? It takes a lot of confidence to put your idea out there, and let your users run with it. That is why I love Cards Against Humanity (CAH). (If you don’t know the game…catch up quickly).

It seems obvious that the best new ideas are going to come from the people playing the game. That isn’t something to be threatened by; it’s something to capture and capitalize on (as CAH did by publishing under a creative commons license which allows users to adapt and remix the game, like this Cards Against Originality app by Dawson Whitfield).

In the last year, I traveled a lot and spent a lot of time with people of various cultures around the world. One of the things I loved exploring on the road was the universal love for CAH. I loved picking apart the seemingly universal desire to be naughty or offensive or just plain crude and laugh at it.

The game is one of those things that people will tell you won’t work with certain people, or certain cultures, but in fact it does. (Even though it currently only comes in Anglo versions: US, CAN, UK, AUS)

People even approach ‘being offensive” in the same way:

  • There is a grace period with new people. “Can we play with them?”
  • The opening round with new people or people of mixed cultures is timid, but slowly takes on a mind of its own.
  • There is universal code/energy around “things you shouldn’t laugh at”.
  • There is a universal look for “I don’t get that one, should I say I don’t get it”.
  • There are things that are universally understood (read: sex jokes) and things that are universally misunderstood (read: sex jokes).
  • You always underestimate someone. “There is no way XX person is going to get this or join in”
  • There are a range of things that are culturally specific (i.e. jokes about class aren’t funny to anyone who isn’t British) and a range of things that are culturally neutral (i.e. jokes about relationships)

However, the users quickly start to tailor the game to the needs of the group. It works in the same way as drinking games (i.e. “we play by these rules”).

I believe soon you will start to see a range of like-minds creating their own versions of CAH (i.e. women, computer scientists, etc.). And this can happen to any brand: your users can create new ideas, which are specific to them, their culture and their needs. These user generated ideas can lead to products that are more relevant than those created in a closed conference room, simply because they were created by the people who love and use them.

At antedote, we know how important it is to approach innovation with the user in mind. Our proprietary technology allows us to tap into user creativity and incorporate it into products and ideas before they launch.

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts early in the development journey with consumers globally and in real time, please click below:

Learn more

Introjii – Insight into the World of Introverts

Insights Introjii

These days much of our communication exists at a distance. It’s been this way for a long time now, but this hasn’t replaced our need for visuals in communication. When you isolate a person’s voice or words, it’s tough to get your point across.

I was excited to learn about Introji the other day through Fast Company. Introji is an app in development that will soon give introverts a way to communicate through texted emojis.

As an introvert myself, I immediately saw the value in this. Some times I’m at a loss for words when a friend invites me out at night, but I’ve been gone since the crack of dawn and in meetings for work all day, or I’ve been out of town all weekend and need to let people know I have plans, even if these plans include finally spending some time at my apartment reading a book.

I’m curious to see what other forms of visual communication will emerge over the next years. In the research world, it’s incredibly important to speak to people in a way they understand, and let them answer in a way that suits them. One of the ways we talk to respondents at antedote is through our digital ethnography platform. You can gain rich insights from people when you ask them to share their candid thoughts and feelings through video, pictures, and drawings. In research, a pictures really is worth a thousand words.

insights introjii 3

Insights Introjii 2

insights introjii XX

insights introjii 5


antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Podo: In-the-Moment Capturing for Research

insights research camera

insights camera

Good-bye selfie stick!

Podo, the world’s first ‘stick and shoot’ app-controlled camera was released on Kickstarter, garnering much media attention from the likes of Tech Crunch, PSFK, GigaOm, and The New Web.

Podo is compact enough to slip into your pocket, and allows you take instant photos, videos, time lapses and double exposures by just sticking the small device on to any solid surface (wood, glass, cement, etc.) and then using the free app to snap (see the video below). Its popularity and need is evident by the campaign reaching its goal of $50,000 in just 16 hours.

Podo has already garnered several awards including “Top Startup” at the Plug and Play Accelerator and a “Global Brains Award” at the Global Brains Summit, but [President] Eddie Lee most looks forward to seeing how people use Podo. “I’m really curious to see what other people come up with, when cameras aren’t limited by the reach of our arms,” he says. “I think this will allow people to be creative and spontaneous.” – PSFK

In research, self-recording by consumers is usually limited to at-home environment where they can self- record using their laptop camera or to usually blurry, unusable footage with their mobile phone camera that can only capture as far as their arm goes.

Now with the availability of the Podo, researchers can expand the scenarios from which they can retrieve photos and footage from consumers. As we move as an industry towards real-time research, simple devices like Podo that encourage living in and capturing the moment will be tapped by researchers as a quick and easy tool to analyze human behavior in its entire context.

We are also excited to see what other creative uses other industries will make from the Podo.

Support Eddie Lee’s Kickstarter campaign here.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

What Falling in Love Can Teach Us About Ethnography

insights love questions

insights love questions

The “36 questions to fall in love” are everywhere right now, an old hypothesis by psychologist Arthur Aron to “accelerate” the falling in love process. As Mandy Le Catron says in her viral New York Times article, she got hooked after being burned in a relationship, and she decided to “turn to science, hoping there was a way to love smarter”.

To me, purposefully falling in love with a near-stranger doesn’t necessarily sound like loving “smarter” – it sounds like creating a sense of control and immediacy around love. When I first heard about the 36 questions, I thought, “Well, duh. That’s what we do in ethnography” (except without, hopefully, the falling in love part). The idea of controlling immediate intimacy and understanding is what makes modern-styled accelerated ethnography work, and many of the principles that we use are ones that I saw echoed in the 36 questions to fall in love.

Here are some ways that I found the 36 questions to fall in love could help during ethnography:

  • To start, participants have to be willing to be in that room – either to “fall in love” or to act as ethnography respondent. This is small but important, which you can appreciate if you’ve ever had a reluctant respondent (or one who felt under-paid).
  • Increase intimacy of the conversation as you go, to accelerate the process while ensuring everyone’s comfort as you get to that deeper level of conversation.
  • Use open-ended questions and conversation starters. This gets the respondent (or the love-seeker) to guide the conversation themselves – underlining their priorities and getting their real story.
  • Sprinkle in projective techniques to provoke different, thoughtful conversation.
  • Leverage the beautiful power of silence. Of course, researchers don’t want to make our respondents fall in love with us, but it can be quite useful for digging deeper in the conversation.
  • Foster focused conversations between others. The questions often ask the love-seekers to share something, then get a response to what they’ve shared from their partner – getting to a place of self-driven conversation similar to running discussions or groups.

Of course, it’s logical – ethnography is based on psychological principles, as are the 36 questions. But next time I’m with a respondent, I know I’ll be thinking about the 36 questions: How can I use Aron’s love-science to get to a deeper level of insight?

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tool, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Image credit: pedrosimoes7 (cc)

6 Tips for Practicing Empathy

Today we honor a great hero who dedicated his to life to ending racial and economic inequality, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was an iconic leader who inspired us to have empathy for people from all walks of life.

Empathy has been on the tongues of many lately, from educators to businessmen to politicians, as an important trait necessary for successful relationships at home and at work. Differing from sympathy, which is feeling sorrow for someone else’s misfortune and may come from a place of perceived superiority, empathy is the ability to understand and share the other person’s feelings and perspectives, to figuratively “walk in someone else’s shoes”. Here’s a great video on the difference between the two.

Below are 6 tips from Antedote on building empathy for others. Much of it seems like obvious common sense, but in daily practice, it is often easy to forget to do. Beyond our personal lives, being empathetic is also critical in our research work to truly understand consumer behavior and motivations and reach deeper insights.

6 Tips for Practicing Empathy


  • When someone else is talking to you, truly listen and focus on their words as opposed to thinking and creating your own response to it. Take a few moments before verbally responding to consider their emotional state and the motivations behind their words.



  • Be curious about others outside your social circle. Next time you’re at a café, strike up a conversation with a stranger. Even more points to chatting with someone who does not share your gender, ethnic make up, or age group. Go beyond talking about the weather. A good icebreaker is to offer them a genuine compliment and then ask a question that follows up on learning more about how they acquired that skill/trait. Allow the other person to talk about themselves.



  • Share a hidden part of yourself. When someone shares a story with you, open up and share a story of yourself as well to show them that you understand what they are going through and where they are coming from.



  • When meeting someone different than us, recognize your own preconceptions and prejudices and where they stem from. Do not let them govern your actions. Instead focus on finding commonalities between you and the other person.



  • Put into practice the Native American proverb, “Walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him.” Do activities that you wouldn’t normally participate in to literally see how it feels to live someone else’s life. Attend a service of a faith that is not your own. Spend time in a neighborhood that you never hang around in.



  • Don’t instinctively go with your default reaction. Try to internally take the opposite point of view first, then work from there. Try to even argue the opposing view.


By practicing empathy in our daily lives, we can help to strengthen our relationships with our family, friends, and our greater community to build the caring world that King dreamed of.

Content of Character Quote

40 Days of Dating

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 1.42.18 PM

They say it takes 40 days to change a habit. And that’s just what two friends attempt to do when they agree to date each other for 40 days.

As a qualitative researcher, I’m always looking to uncover the most meaningful insights – and there are plenty of insightful nuggets you can take away from this read. I personally love the fact that we get a glimpse into one of the most common experiences of human existence – dating – and we get to view it through both pairs of eyes.

It’s fascinating to see how two people, sharing the same experience, can walk away from it with different things in focus. As a sucker for all things related to love stories I was hooked from day one. Even if you’re not – I think the way they told their story is an excellent example of sharing something complex in a simple, beautiful way.

The way they recorded their experience was based on an agreed set of journal questions that they would answer daily. This simple set-up made for an easy read that kept me engaged and not only helped me feel more connected to Jessie & Tim but also made it easy to quickly notice where differences in their perceptions occurred. I often think of innovation as meaning “simplification,” and 40 Days of Dating demonstrates a unique way of storytelling that exemplifies this for me.

What Insights Do Kids’ Drawings Reveal?


Surveys, questionnaires, polls and other forms of self-report are popular ways of gathering data for numerous reasons. They are a cost-effective, fast, and easy to distribute to large samples. However, there are many dangers in relying only on self-reporting data.

Respondents can both consciously and unconsciously be less than honest in order to uphold an aspirational image they have of themselves (in a survey, you may respond that you go to the gym 5 days a week, when in actuality you go to the gym twice a week); or respondents may answer on availability heuristic, the tendency for people to rely on immediate examples that come to mind when evaluating a specific topic (if the questionnaire asks if you are social, and you just went to a birthday party that day, you would be inclined to base your answer on the fact you went to a birthday party recently); or respondents might even interpret the question in different ways unrelated to the purpose of the inquiry.

Because of self-reporting’s unreliability, many researchers have experimented and developed new methods to obtain more accurate data, such as Roger Mills-Koonce from UNC-Chapel Hill. His team is exploring ways to understand children’s mental representations and interpersonal relationships within their family through pictures. In the study, researchers asked 6-year-old children to draw their families on a piece of paper and then they analyzed them. The study was done on 6 year olds because they were old enough to hold the crayons, yet young enough to have not yet internalize society’s idea of the “perfect” family.

It is not a new concept to interpret drawings, but the important part about Mills-Koonce’s work is their effort to make abstract data more reliable by developing a system of objective evaluation so that anyone can interpret the drawings similarly and arrive at the same conclusions.

At Antedote, we believe in leveraging the latest technology to develop new methods that will allow us to get to the heart of true insights. One of our latest tools for discovering fresh insights in crowded marketplaces (which had recently won the 2014 MRS Award for Best Innovation) allows us to bring order and sense to otherwise abstract data. We applaud and join the efforts of researchers like Mills-Koonce for pushing the industry forward with new innovative systems and approaches.

Emoji Insights – Understanding the new digital language of your consumers


A recent New York Magazine article, “Smile You’re Speaking Emoji- The Rapid Evolution of a Worldess Tongue” explored the recent emergence and wide spread adoption of the emoji. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have seen or used 001-joy “Face with Tears of Joy” and 006-smiling-face-with-heart-eyes “Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes”, two of over 250 emoji symbols, in your text messages or social media updates. You might even own emoji pillows and emoji shirts, or have read Emoji Dick (an emoji translation of Melville’s classic Moby Dick). It is clear that emojis have pervaded our communications, across nations and generations (used by teens and moms alike).

One of the greatest appeals of the emoji is its ability to illustrate what words sometimes cannot as well as carry multiple secret meanings.

 These seemingly infantile cartoons are instantly recognizable, which makes them understandable even across linguistic barriers. Yet the implications of emoji—their secret meanings—are constantly in flux.

…As Jenna Wortham, a New York Times technology reporter, wrote in an essay about emoji for Womanzine’s emoji issue, they “have become an ever-evolving cryptographic language that changes depending on who we are talking to, and when.”

…This is the fun of emoji. The nailsnail-painting emoji , in some circles, has come to mean “I’m not bothered” or “Haters gonna hate.”levitatingman Man in Business Suit Levitating could mean “jumping for joy,” or it could mean “mystery.” (Online speculators have already nicknamed it “the Man in Black emoji.”)

– Smile You’re Speaking Emoji, Adam Sternbergh

As the emoji tongue continues to grow, how can businesses stay relevant and understand the new digital language of their consumer? Different emojis have different meanings in different circles, and even those meanings are continuously evolving as we speak (or type6-winking-face). It is not enough to reference an emoji dictionary because the combination of certain emojis, plus who is talking, and to whom, and when, can reveal the undertones and motivations behind a message so much more than simply recognizing tongue as “Face With Stuck-Out Tongue With Tightly Closed Eyes”. Through deep consumer insights, businesses can crack open the more nuanced pieces of the emoji language to better understand how their digitally-savvy consumers communicate and to focus marketing endeavors in a more effective way.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest innovation tool, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

What your acquired tastes can teach you about the product experience

When I was younger, my dad always encouraged me to try new food and to be open to the unusual and unfamiliar. I remember when I was 6, my dad sliced open this potent prickly yellow fruit from China Town that had the dining room smelling like old gym socks. I remember trying not to gag as I watched my dad delightfully eat the fruit, spoonful by spoonful.

In an effort to make me try the fruit, my dad offered to pay me a dollar for every bite I had. I saw the large bowl of fruit and contemplated what I could buy if I ate them all. I did want a new Sky Dancer. “Go on it tastes like ice cream! $1 for every bite!” my dad coaxed. With my brand new Sky Dancer in mind, I held my breathe and tried my first bite of the fruit.

I made $1 that day.


Durian, along with smoking and flammable goods, are banned from Singapore’s mass rapid transit.

The fruit was called the Durian. Its smell is so notorious that it is even forbidden on some forms of public transportation in Southeast Asia (along with smoking and flammable goods).

I was recently reminded of my first Durian experience when my colleague, as tradition when traveling abroad, brought back some unique snacks for the office.

These snacks from his hometown in England were unfamiliar treats to me. On the desk there were Oven Baked Marmite Cashews, Giant Parma Violets, Pot Noodle, Turkish, Picallil Pickles to name a few. Looking at the diverse array of ingredients on the desk and unable to imagine how they would taste, I recalled Harry Potter Bertie Bott’s Jelly Bean’s odd flavors like Horse Radish, Booger, Earthworm, and Soap.

IMG_3155IMG_3156IMG_3157IMG_3152 (1)

Being my father’s daughter, I tried the snacks he brought back. My colleague claimed that this was comfort food for the people back home, but the unfamiliar tastes were not to my liking nor were there anything I would try to “acquire” liking.

Why is it in some communities, people will go nuts over marmite, durian, or whatever it is, whereas someone else in a different community would spit it out in disgust?

What motivates or allows us to acquire those certain “acquired tastes”?

One theory is exposure. In psychology the theory of mere exposure is that you are more likely to have feel positively towards something that you are exposed to often. In 2000, Zajonc conducted a studyin which it showed participants a series of foreign words, which they were asked to rate based on each word’s connotation. The words that were shown repeatedly were rated, on average, one point higher in positivity than words that were only shown once.

Another reason that people are motivated to like certain food are its effects. And often the effects outweigh the taste. For example, coffee and alcohol are both beverages that I doubt anyone would describe as incredibly delicious on their first sip. Many first time coffee drinkers describe the beverage as bitter. Similarly, for alcohol, does anyone ever truly love his first glass of scotch?

As evidence by the growing movement for Flavor Reversal, people love to shock their taste buds with the weirdest of the weird. Flavor Reversal blurs the lines of savory and sweetness in unconventional ways. Have you tried the avocado donut or the salad flavored soda pop? The enjoyment of the different tastes and textures provides an experience that puts your taste buds into shock…or maybe for some, gustatory bliss.

There is merit to brands and products having a look, feel, and taste that is familiar. The more exposure they have to a consistent look, feel, and taste, the more positively they will view the brand/product.  

On the other side of the spectrum, novel tastes are “in”. The only caution is the sustainability of continuously churning out new flavor after new flavor, latching on to the latest foodie trend. There will always be a new craze that will rise to popularity as another one subsides. How are you building a long-lasting experience that will keep consumers loyal to you?

A desired benefit/effect of a product can also successfully motivate users to try and like something different or unsavory. What is the benefit of using your product? What is the story your users want to hear? How can the product consistently deliver that story throughout each touch point of the consumer’s experience?

If you are one who is adventurous, here are some notorious acquired tastes from around the world to explore.

Natto from Japan – fermented soybeans
Asafoetida from Iran – dried latex exuded from the tap root
Stinking Toe from the Carribeans – “the West Indian Locust”
Marmite from the UK – dark brown and salty food spread whose slogan is fittingly “Love it or Hate it”

What are some of your favorite “acquired tastes” in your local community? And how did you come to “acquire” the taste?

Instagram Launches Autoplay Video Advertisements

Recently Instagram launched 15-second autoplay video advertisements on their platform. Although Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom has been known to be very hands on with their brands when they first launched static image advertisements last year, there are still complaints among users that the brand ads are not attractive and simply don’t fit the beautiful feeds. There is also uncertainty among users if the video function even really belongs on the platform.

Launching idea after idea, advertisement after advertisement, may not be the best way for these tech companies to thrive, as their followers begin to grow more irritated. Tech companies have to start exploring new ways to remain relevant and profitable in the rapidly changing landscape. The time is now to truly understand user’s needs and to ascertain deep human insights to find the golden opportunities to grow the business and brand.


The 5 Mindsets of Makers

We met with Parker in her Oakland home. She welcomed us as friends and took us to the second floor of her home to chat. We met her cat and sat down in a dining room with an unusual feature —a small refrigerator of raw hair care products buzzing in the corner. The wall was bedecked with comics and drawings, and Parker sat in front of our other host, a hulking mechanical robot statue (an inheritance from her dad). Parker’s home was, to put it mildly, a place of creativity and independence.

“It’s part of life. You take chances; you’re going to fail. It’s part of being an entrepreneur, part of being an artist. Not everyone is going to like it or get it. I want to do something positive, I want to create value. I’m all about creating value for other people and I think I can do that in a way that creates value for me.”

Parker is a maker. She structures her entire life around being able to work with her hands and create things that connect her to other people. She works out of her own home as a hair stylist and is also the lead developer on Persephone, a natural hair care line based in Berkeley that incorporates local eggs, beer, and other raw ingredients. In her so-called spare time, Parker works as a graphic designer and experiments with her next venture: a line of luxurious, sun-protecting and vegan body balms.

Makers have created extraordinary things and even created non-existent categories, and they are clearly doing something right. Most notably in recent months, Palmer Luckey, 21-year-old inventor of Oculus Rift, sold his business to Facebook for two billion dollars. Similarly, Eric Migicovsky, creator of Pebble, took his company to Kickstarter and raised $10.3 million en route to pioneering a category he began tinkering with in his college dorm room a decade earlier. Stories like theirs are neither hard to come by nor exclusive to tech — if anything, it’s the rare industry that hasn’t in some way felt the impact of the emerging and innovative Maker movement.

The lessons that innovation leaders inside large corporations should draw from Makers, however, have been as muddy as the visions of these individual practitioners tend to be crystal clear. In many cases, the primary recourses have been acquisition or fast following — neither of which are sustainable strategies. This is why we at antedote undertook a study of Makers earlier this summer, conducting a series of interviews to tap into the patterns and habits of Makers like Parker that could help to guide the rest of us. What we found was far more than the stereotypical lone tinkerer in the garage. We found networks of driven individuals who love to create and share — and it is those networks that fuel their innovation.

At first glance, Parker herself is an entirely independent person—she works from home a lot of the time, she’s started multiple of her own businesses—but as we spoke with her, we realized that making for her was about creating a connection with other people. This fits a pattern among great innovators. As Professor Andrew Hargadon of UC Davis has noted in How Breakthroughs Happen, innovation is an inherently social process: individuals working on entirely different things link up and generate new, breakthrough ideas. Makers aren’t lone geniuses—they’re connected in a shared ecosystem for innovation.

Through closer examination of these Makers’ networks and behavioral tendencies, we identified five mindsets that these groups tap into to drive their work. Moreover, these mindsets of Makers reside in the people who already work in large organizations. Companies that can unlock and channel these energies through incentive, careful structuring, and ecosystem development can access new innovation opportunities — and make their teams a whole lot happier, too.




Who they are: The Advocate is someone who drives efforts forward and champions others, carefully selecting what to champion based on broad-based but relatively shallow knowledge of many different fields. They are the most outcome-focused of the makers, and often create frameworks and environments for other makers to thrive.

How to ID them: Look for enjoyment of knowledge in a wide range of topics and a natural drive to teach and share with others.

How they thrive: This is the person who love to be in contact with as many people as possible—as they spread ideas and thrive in an environment where they can show people the possibilities.

Examplar from our research: Marilyn: a co-founder of a cooperative marker space in San Francisco, has worked as a fashion designer, an author, and an illustrator but is most passionate about equipping others to become makers themselves.


Who they are: The Engineer is the skillful experimenter. They approach problems head on and trust that they have the expertise to find solutions, or can learn along the way. They don’t fear failure, in part because to them the greatest failure is in missing out on the chance to solve an exciting problem.

How to ID them: Look for a person with deep skill in their field of work, someone who gets excited about using and creating new tools that can fuel the creativity of themselves and others.

How they thrive: They are at their finest when exchanging ideas with other skilled makers to produce breakthrough solutions around challenging technical questions.

Examplar from our research: Marek: a roboticist and homebrewer who is as proud of the partially automated and robot-enabled brewing system he helped to design and construct as he is of any specific beer he’s ever made.


Who they are: The artist values play and creation, but also feels the need to execute an idea that comes to mind. They want their creations to resonate with others, and often design with a specific person in mind, in spite of stereotypes of being self-driven.

How to ID them: Look for someone who puts their whole selves into their work, and strongly needs their work to resonate with others.

How they thrive: They thrive with tangible objects and space to create freely and openly. They work well with entrepreneurs who can figure out how to scale, modify, and monetize their creations for larger audiences.

Exemplar from our research: Warrick: a designer who won a contest to build the largest art installation in the history of Burning Man based off an initial proposal he created himself that he’s now enrolling many others to bring to life. 


Who they are: Inventors want to help solve other people’s problems or their own problems. They have a vision for how people’s lives can be changed through creating.

How to ID them: Look for fearlessness when it comes to undertaking a task, as inventors strongly believe that there is a way to execute any idea, including ones beyond their immediate means to deliver.

How they thrive: Their imaginations are endless and they effortlessly see the possibilities in the world around them. They are full of ideas and often excel when they partner with people who have the tools available to see their ideas become a reality.

Exemplar from our research: Elaine: a retiree with multiple sclerosis who sought to develop an all-terrain walker that would make her life (and those of others like her much easier). She worked with contract manufacturers to make the vision into a venture.


Who they are: The entrepreneur has a clear grasp of the big picture and sees all kinds of opportunities in front of them. They enjoy strategizing and often are able to find a way to make things work, even if it involves redirecting.

How to ID them: Look for someone who sees how ideas can connect to provide solutions that will reach many different people, someone who can pinpoint strategy and the opportunity for profit.

How they thrive: They thrive when crafting vision and strategy. They work best when paired with partners who excel in creating the ideas that they can turn into businesses.

Exemplar from our research: Greg: a small business owner who connects people with ideas to fabricators and manufacturers in Asia. He takes on partners whose ideas he believes can scale, based on his knowledge of launch logistics and market demands.



Interestingly enough, while all the makers that we spoke with exhibited at least one of these mindsets, they all found a way to build up a network that contained all these traits and behaviors, replicating the advantages of a more full-blown startup. Parker, for instance, is a hybrid of an artist and an entrepreneur who is incredibly resourceful. She closely connects with her customers as a hairstylist, and understands the values of her target customer. She has a supportive boyfriend (a fellow entrepreneur and artist) and collaborates extensively with her supportive team at Persephone, including engineers and advocates She uses existing research done on everything from SPF to earth friendly ingredients, and accesses online forums for information and feedback from fellow makers. She is incredibly well networked, and in a way that allows her to uniquely flourish as an artist and individual.

There are Makers in every company, people who are enthusiasts and creators, and through giving them space to be who they are and allowing them to share with others, companies can build networks of Makers that can naturally drive innovations. Through identifying these traits in their own people, companies can leverage these capabilities, allow individuals to excel in the roles that interest them, and adopt a more Makerly mindset that can keep them moving forward in the face of adversity.