Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Getting Help, Psychological Help!
So we had an idea. What next? Our idea involved experts in a field we weren't very familiar with. Psychology. We didn't even know what type of psychologists we wanted or needed. And thus began our most difficult task to date. Finding an adviser willing to lend us a hand and people to help develop our product.
I called a psychologist friend of mine. I figured he'd be willing and able to help. And that's where I began to learn of the vast field of psychology - clinical, educational, forensic, health, human factors, industrial. The list goes on. He helped us narrow down our search to something in the behavioral/personality and industrial organizational realm. Now that we had that, I thought it would be easy from there.
I must have sent 300 emails to professors at leading institutions, to experts in the field gathered from google searches, to friends and family, to anyone who would listen. And I got maybe 2 responses. Even from Berkeley, which was my alma mater, professors wouldn't write back. I couldn't believe it.
But what I learned is that all it takes is 1 response. 1 person to help us out. It turned out that a professor at Berkeley did write me back eventually. And though she was intrigued by the idea, it wasn't what she was trained to do. So she turned me over to Haas professor. And this is where I learned of a great trick. Referrals! I found that the response rate of people when you are referred to them is exponentially better than random emails. Somewhere in the 90% success rate. So if you know you want to speak to someone, find a connection to them and approach them through a referral. It works wonders.
Dr. Cameron Anderson, a Haas organizational behavior professor, was our first advocate. He liked the idea and was shocked that it wasn't being done already. He agreed to help, in a limited capacity, because he was on tenure track this year and too busy publishing.
That's what really got us started. Finding the people to do the work was even more agonizing. But I'll leave that for the next post.