A very Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you had a terrific holiday season and are excited about what 2014 holds for you. I know, I am. As most of you know, I made the decision to leave Epsilon at the end of September last year. After a really busy few years building Hyper into the largest independent marketing services company in North America and then integrating it within Epsilon, I needed time to take a step back, connect with my family, re-evaluate my priorities and give some focused attention to what I wanted to do next.

This has turned out to be a great decision. I have truly enjoyed the simple pleasures of not traveling three days a week, not commuting into the city when in town, helping out around the house, dropping off my daughter at school, visiting my son at college, learning to cook, writing my next two books and while the weather cooperated here, playing a bit more golf. It has been an amazing few months.

But as you know, I’m not the type to relax for too long… I believe it is time to get back in the game and begin the next chapter of my journey. I am very pleased to announce that I have purchased a majority interest in independent market research firm Shapiro for the purpose of forming a new insights and ideas company, which will be called Shapiro + Raj. Founded in 1955 by Leo J. Shapiro, Shapiro started as a market research firm grounded in principles of social science and behaviorism developed at the University of Chicago. We formed this new entity to help marketers integrate data and deliver insights and big ideas by pairing behavioral dimensions of market research with the latest in analytical capabilities. This is an entirely new offering in the marketing research and insights space. More details on this announcement can be found in AdAge.

My passion has been to help marketers grow their brands and business by first serving the needs of their best customers. This concept is central to my best-selling book, Brand Rituals™: How Successful Brands Bond with Customers for Life and is a concept I have talked about and presented on for over 10 years. The big question has always been, how do I know who my best customers are? How do I serve them better than anyone else? How do I use them to acquire new customers? In this new economy, marketers are suffering from information overload – data from syndicated sources, primary research, digital channels and transactional behaviors. Much of this information is siloed within disparate pockets within their organizations and not leveraged to its full potential. The goal for Shapiro + Raj is to help CMOs and their marketing organizations change consumer attitudes and alter behavior using all this information in an integrated and holistic manner. We believe that by identifying the do/say dissonance, we will help our clients’ brands get to actionable insights that will inspire great ideas.

Shapiro + Raj is the start of a lifelong dream for me – a chance to build a new strategic capability for this new Cambrian economy. A chance to quickly and efficiently solve huge problems for some of today’s leading marketers, many of whom have become friends over the years. A chance to work with a group of incredibly bright thinkers and to build a culture of respect and trust while having fun along the way. It is an exciting start to another journey.

Here’s to a great 2014.

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