Instead of joining the ever-growing list of podcasters who review every single Star Trek episode, I decided to make content based on something I love so much I can’t stop doing it.
When some new issue in the news captures my attention, or if I want to learn a new skill, such as a new software program or how SEO works, I start researching the hell out of it. And I love doing it.
But I never thought my skills were particularly interesting. Even after my research skills helped me pick up the slack on more group projects than I care to remember and got me through many personal and professional challenges, after repeatedly impressing everyone but myself, it finally dawned on me that I had a talent.
Whatever skill seems like “no big deal” to you is usually your best skill. It was not until I started working as a career coach that I realized that fact. If you’ve developed the skills to do a particular task so well that you’re continually asked how you did it, that’s likely one of your top skills.
What research means to me
To borrow a rather dusty (but valuable) tradition of speechwriting, I’ll use a definition. According to the OED, “research is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.”
Not only do I think of research as a systematic investigation, I think of research as a path, not a destination. That appeals to me, given my interest in being a lifelong learner. Information may change, but the method of finding, analyzing, and comparing information can give you the best possible outcome with the information that is available.
Because of this, research skills make you flexible and adaptable in a rapidly changing world. To sum it up, what’s so great about research is that research is essentially self-empowerment. Instead of relying on someone else’s research abilities and opinions, good research skills can empower you to make your own decisions that aren’t filtered through someone else’s perspective, which may not be in your own best interest.
What research does for me
And on an even more personal note, my background in a highly religious environment shaped my interest in searching for information instead of being told what to think and how to live based on someone else’s interpretation of The Bible.
My interest in research is also what led me to marketing because it combines well with my other top interests: content creation and human behavior, especially the decision-making process and the rationality of belief.
To paraphrase Dan Ariely, humans don’t behave rationally, but they are predictably irrational.
Probably why Data always had such a hard time figuring us out. Well, that and the writers didn’t know what to do with him half the time.
Our irrational world makes research skills especially useful. Since I prefer to focus on facts, I believe this outlook helps me remain neutral while the world becomes increasingly polarized.
Research: Good for everyone!
When society lacks neutrality and research skills, myriad problems are caused. As of May 2021, the pandemic still isn’t done with us…despite the availability of free vaccines.
COVID-19 has not mixed well with rampant disinformation and growing anti-vaxxer sentiment. Research skills have been so helpful for me, which has prompted me to share my skills with others. Every time I check the news, I see how badly the world needs more research-minded people.
Unfortunately, many people just look for information that supports their beliefs or worldview. Experts that have spent their lives working toward the betterment of mankind are being disbelieved in favor of Facebook friends promoting essential oils or (God forbid) drinking bleach. Lacking the self-empowerment of research skills, they grasp for solutions that help them make sense of a world that has progressed too quickly for them.
Even in a far less dire situation than a pandemic, this outlook is still harmful to the individual and harms society when the uninformed elect draconian legislators. Even if they’re not spreading disease, the misinformed spread bad ideas and “alternative facts” with viral social media posts. At the very least, this has the unfortunate effect of making one look like a doofus.
I have no grand illusions of my videos changing the world, but my tips and tricks for research might help a student finish their research paper a little more quickly. Someone who wants to find out how to research their career skills for the best salary match for their skills and passion can find the shortcuts for effective career planning. (My blog of career search tips at CrossRoads is also a great resource!) Anyone struggling to lose weight or keep it off could benefit from my research methods as I’ve been able to lose (and maintain a loss of) 80 points as of this point. I’ll share the trial and error journey I’ve taken along with the tips that helped me along the way. Asking the right questions and sorting good from bad information helped me when conventional advice didn’t. And if all this channel does is help a few people stop themselves from looking like a doofus, that’s OK with me.
The skills I thought were no big deal have already helped others, and I hope my videos will help me reach more people to share my love of research. You can check it out on my page Ready2Research. By subscribing to my YouTube channel, you’ll be the first to know of new videos so that you’ll be ready to research any question that comes your way.