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February 26, 2013

Move Over Data: Booth’s got a new tool in town

By Linnea Meyer ‘14  |  february, 2013, Issue 2
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Linnea repeats, repeats, repeats herself.

At Booth, we hear over and over again that data is king. Foundations classes are inherently data-driven, as we gather and use data in class and on homework. "Touchy-feely" classes, such as Managing in Organizations, are backed by rigorous psychological and sociological studies. Even LEAD is driven by data from the 360 Evaluation to the Hogan Personality Inventory to first impressions.

Call me heretical, but I think data needs to share the spotlight. If data is king, it has a queen: repetition. Repetition gives significance to data. Without it, data is just a bunch of points. With it, data becomes a trend, a pattern, a proof.

Duh, you say, you knew that. But I'm not just playing with semantics here. Repetition is a powerful, oft underestimated or even forgotten tool. If you use it smartly, repetition can help you take charge of the data around you by creating trends to your advantage. Behold my anecdotal data:

Repetition covers your butt: I see this all the time in improvisational theatre: someone walks onstage, realizes the other players already began, so screams something ridiculous and runs off...then repeats this again and again, transforming a mistake into a funny callback.

You can do this too! Say you're at TNDC and see a cute Boothie wave, so you wave back, only to realize the initial wave wasn't meant for you. So repeat it! Turn the wave into a series of stretches, as if you're tired...or better yet, turn it into a rhythmic dance move.

Repetition makes your message memorable: Professor Craig Wortmann highlighted exactly this power of repetition when presenting to the Public Speaking Group this month, using Dan Pink's Ted Talk on motivation. Pink embeds a single key message – "There's a mismatch between what science knows and what business does" – by powerfully declaring it four times. (Watch for it around 5:20, 11:40, 17:30 and 18:05.)

Now, how about you? While you may not (yet!) be a Ted Talk speaker, your life will likely be full of high-stakes presentations with peers, bosses, and clients. To ensure your main point gets heard – despite smartphones or sleepiness – repeat it a few times during the presentation, especially at the beginning and end.

Repetition makes you memorable: In a workshop with Booth Women in Business last month, Professor Ann McGill offered advice on managing our personal brands, or how others see us. She explained that by focusing on three to five of our authentic characteristics – such as "honest" or "confident" – and committing to highlighting them in how we look and act, we can create a consistent image of ourselves, or a brand.

From recruiting to networking to starting at a new job, you can use this behavioral repetition to become the "you" you want to be. Quite simply, you are the data, and if you want that data to mean something, you need to repeat it. Such repetition creates a consistency that will bring your brand to life, for others and even yourself.

So, what does our data tell us?Repetition transforms the accidental into the intentional. Repetition imprints ideas. Repetition shines a spotlight on us. Wow, I sense a trend in our data here...something repeating...Could it be the power of repetition? =)

Last Updated 2/25/13
Last Updated 2/25/13