I’ve had the pleasure of being able to meet and work with a number of remarkable people. My first “real” job after grad school was at Louis Harris and Associates in New York. Lou had won fame as John Kennedy’s polling consultant in 1960, and when I knew him, had a nationally syndicated newspaper column on public opinion.
LHA as it was known was an incubator for many market research professionals and major research firms. It was said that if Lou had been able to keep all of this spinoffs, his firm would have been the largest in the industry, instead of simply one of the most respected.
His emphasis was on understanding people’s motivations — the logic underneath the numbers. That’s what is missing in a lot of studies of consumers today, and one of the key elements missing in polling for the last election. Bluntly, if there is no logic underneath the numbers, the numbers are probably wrong.
He passed this week. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but I’m still grateful for the opportunity to work with him. I learned a lot.
There’s a lot more about him in the Washiongton Post obituary: