A Study of Perseverance and Inspiration: Merrill Shugoll's Story in Profiles in Success

April 16, 2018

Last year, when Merrill Shugoll, President of Shugoll Research, was asked to participate in the Profiles in Success series, she did not hesitate. The series, a collection of personal stories and words of wisdom from a diverse group of business people, is designed to inspire current and future small business owners in the Washington, D.C. area. Profiles in Success emphasizes entrepreneurialism and participants discuss the importance of mentoring and creating a supportive network for future business leaders.

The resulting article in Profiles in Success highlights the many defining moments of Merrill's life, including meeting her husband, her time spent as a student at American University in Washington, D.C., the joys of raising a family, and the transformative year of 1984 when she joined Shugoll Research. Below is a summary of Merrill's story titled "Following the Breadcrumbs."

Early Career

Merrill began her career in the marketing research department of an ad agency in Washington, D.C. She enjoyed marketing research, guided campaign development, and contributed to the success of many brands. In 1984, she was made an offer she couldn't refuse; to join the company that her mother-in-law created in 1957. Thus, Merrill's career at Shugoll Research began. "I'm a naturally curious person, so I couldn't imagine a better profession," she says. "I love to learn about people and understand why they feel the way they do and behave the way they do. As they tell stories about their lives, they leave breadcrumbs, and we follow that breadcrumb path to insight."

Today Shugoll Research is a leading marketing, policy research, and consulting firm, helping a global roster of clients across a variety of industries including healthcare, the performing and visual arts, education, and consumer services. "Typically, clients come to us with business challenges to solve or opportunities to take advantage of," she says. "Often they need to decide whether to make major capital investments. We help them by designing a study that will collect the intelligence they need to supplement management intuition and guide those business decisions."

Activism in the Community

One of the primary focuses of Shugoll's client base is the arts. Merrill and her husband, Mark Shugoll, have fostered a very active practice in arts research. In 1997, Mark created ArtSpeak!, a program designed to inspire teens to engage in the arts. The program brings students and leading Broadway, jazz, classical music, dance and design artists together to discuss careers, answer questions, and perform. In addition to ArtSpeak!, Shugoll Research has developed a non-profit rate structure to help theaters, opera companies, symphonies, and museums afford their marketing research services. This unique and diverse client base has allowed Shugoll Research to thrive over the past four decades.

Advice for Future Leaders

What advice does Merrill offer future generations of business leaders? Merrill believes that the mentoring of young people entering the work force today, regardless of industry, is vital. She also believes that "becoming a member of a relevant association is a great way to network and meet others in the field," and that "it's important to explore professional opportunities and learn from the people who have done what you want to do."

For more advice from Merrill, please see the entire article "Following the Breadcrumbs" from Profiles in Success.

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A Study of Perseverance and Inspiration: Merrill Shugoll's Story in Profiles in Success

Merrill Shugoll, President of Shugoll Research