A Researcher’s Role Model

I’ve recently just started working at Voodoo – fresh from University via a short interlude in Italy.

Starting a ‘proper’ job for the first time is one of those things you only ever do once. Inevitably, I worried about how I should present myself. And who should be my role model?

One of the first things my new colleagues at Voodoo made clear is that finding out what really drives people is hard. We all put up fronts, say things we don’t really mean and in general make it hard for us to find out what is really driving them.

The multifaceted nature of attempting to understand people would send my science studying university friends running for the hills. They like finding the single ‘correct’ answer. Fortunately, that didn’t sit well with me. This ‘single answer’ thought process, in my very honest opinion, is narrow minded, archaic and quite frankly, boring as hell. For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by what really makes people tick.

But how? Voodoo’s mantra is to make research fun and then to simply ask nicely – and persistently: then the veiled information will begin to reveal itself amongst the bullshit people usually tell you and themselves. Sounds simple enough, right?

So who should I aspire to emulate? Out of nowhere, a person came into my mind.

Louis Theroux.

I remember my first exposure to a Louis Theroux documentary: how, somehow, his combination of humour, silliness and integrity revealed something bigger, a deeper truth.

His work is hugely entertaining and can bring tears of laughter to even the most miserable of people, but it became apparent Louis’s on screen persona was nothing to be laughed at. His indisputable likability, charm and laidback nature can only be described as a form of journalistic bewitchery, which enables him to make the interviewee feel as if they have the upper hand. He doesn’t patronize or pretend to be like his subjects. But he gains free rein to ask shockingly personal questions and voice his brutally honest opinions without receiving a punch square in the face.

The depths of inner revelation that comes out of the most dangerous, unusual and occasionally psychotic mouths demonstrates his profound skill. Louis always gets his man or woman. Yet his mask of innocence and foolishness remains in place to the end.

I think I’ve found my role model – someone who has mastered the art of asking nicely. Whether you want to know why a convict decided to make it onto America’s most wanted list or why Maureen chooses Rich Tea over Malted Milk the method remains the same.

By Elisha Warren

Trainee Research Executive