How did you get there? David Paull

There is of course tough competition, but David Paull has to be one of the most affable colleagues in our industry. I was lucky enough to meet David about six years ago at Quirks in New York, and it immediately struck me, that David is definitely one of those rare folk who’s IQ and EQ, are off the charts. Hostage to lockdowns, David and I caught up to discuss his career so far, how young researchers might flourish and his awesome new venture, Lillian Labs. Enjoy!

Morning David! Lets get straight onto it then, so, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point?

I started my career in technology sales and was recruited for an opportunity to run a small tech group for a large market research company. I later acquired that business and started Dialsmith, which is our company that develops the Perception Analyzer and Slidermetrix tools. Those tools are used globally for for in-person and online moment-to-moment dial testing of video and audio content such as adverts, presentations, political speeches, tv shows, etc.

And if you had to distil everything you’ve achieved right down, what would you say are three secrets to your success so far?

  1. Surrounding myself with people who are very good at things I don’t do so well.
  2. Knowing how to sell and negotiate because, really, we’re all in sales (regardless of your job description).
  3. Treat everyone (and I mean everyone) with the utmost kindness and respect.

So, come on, if you’re allowed to say, what’s the most interesting, crazy, fun project you’ve ever worked on?

For about 10 years we had adapted our data collection dials to be used for judging and scoring of sporting events. We partnered with a major skateboarding league and travelled the world running scoring at their skate events. It mainly happened over the summer and was a fun change from the normal day-to-day. It was a major fish out of water story, but a really good time.

Not being in the office and around colleagues, it is incredibly challenging, for younger researchers to stand out. What two bits of advice do you have for a junior researcher, working from home in lockdown, on how they can best stand out and impress their teams?

  1. Always slightly overdeliver, on time. Be the one who makes no excuses and takes initiative to do just a little but more than is asked.
  2. Become really well-versed in something that’s strategic to your company and offer to create content around it. Maybe a weekly blog post, or LinkedIn articles, or a podcast. If your company is larger and has a marketing team, what they care most about are qualified leads. For that they need strong SEO and content, deliberately created around strategic topics, is one of the best SEO plays. Hone that pitch and see where you can contribute.

And thinking more long term now, what two things should junior researchers focus on as they progress in their careers?

  1. Following on from the previous question, establish yourself as someone in the industry who is well-versed in a particular strategic topic. That way, in addition to your work, your personality and thought leadership will make you more known than your junior position might otherwise offer.
  2. Become indispensable to those you work for. You will need them to either help you advance within your company or be a reference for you down the road. Take work off their plate, show initiative, overdeliver (even just slightly), and bring them solutions not problems.

So you’re launching a new agency, what do you guys stand for? How do you plan to make a difference?

Yes, we’ve launched Lillian Labs, a qualitative agency focused on concepts, products, and messages. Many of our methods are rooted in social psychology and behavioral science.

I’ve created Behavioral Storytelling, which is a framework for crafting stories and narratives to influence and persuade based on how people process information and make decisions.

I believe that stories are the greatest drivers of any action. They’ve launched companies, built countries, waged wars. If you can tell a story that pulls all the right levers, it will be hard for anything to stand in your way. However, that’s no easy task and I’m thrilled to devote much of my professional attention to it.

I’m excited to be teaming up with you on our Behavioral Storytelling Podcast (small plug!)

And so tell me, do you have anyone who has helped your career so far that you’d like to acknowledge and say thanks or give a shout out to?

NOPE! I did it all on my own! : ) Yes, of course. Reg Baker, formerly of Market Strategies (which is now called Escalent). Reg gave me my start in the industry and helped me develop along the way. Bob Qureshi of i-view London. Bob and I have been colleagues and friends for years, but where he has most helped me is as an advisor. Everyone needs that one person they can talk to and get sound advice. While there are countless others, I’ll just conclude with our team. As an entrepreneur I would truly be nowhere without the incredibly dedicated people I have the privilege of calling our team.  

Thanks David! You’re a legend. We’re so lucky to have you in our industry. Keep on creating. Best of luck with your new venture, Lillian Labs.