While signing out at a facility with multiple rooms, and picking up DVDs of the sessions at the front desk before exiting, another moderator stood nearby, awaiting his turn to do the same.

While watching staff make the labels and sort items into tote bags, he turned and said:  “Are you Naomi Henderson?”   I acknowledged his question with a nod, but wondered why his face did not ring any bells of recognition.    He continued:  “The reason I’m standing here waiting for materials at a focus group facility is because of a course you and your husband, Luc, taught more than ten years ago.   I can still hear your voices reminding me to:

  “Be with people, not with paper.”

  “Watch what respondents do – not just what they say.”

   “Keep the study purpose in mind with every question asked.”

He went on to say that his company sent him to RIVA for Moderator Training and that he got a lot out of the course and collected great data for his company’s clients.  But, frustrated with working for others, he branched off on his own.  He went on to say:  “I’m doing well…and it is so nice to see you to say ‘thanks’ in person.”

Hearing his accolades reinforced the key principle of the moderator courses at RIVA:  “Marry best practices to authentic interviewing styles and the result is a moderator who is present in the moment, focused on achieving client goals, and keeps his/her ego in a suitcase outside the focus group room to be picked up on the way out the door.”

I am a proud “Mama” hearing him praise his training experience and his longevity as a freelancer.  I know that RIVA has produced lots of moderator “babies” who have now grown up to become outstanding qualitative researchers.  I remember the reason I started teaching courses for market researchers more than 30 years ago:   I wanted to leave my industry better by having been in it.   Talking with that RIVA graduate is proof that I’ve achieved that goal.



  1. Nick Scheponik says:

    Hi Naomi,
    It’s always great to read your posts. I can completely relate to your story. I had the priviledge of taking a RIVA course 4 years ago and am still applying the learnings in every facet of my research practice (not just focus groups). Keep up the great work!

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