INTERVIEW 14:
RICHARD HACK

1.Tell us your story … 

My name is Richard Hack, founder of strategy consultancy Rhyme & Reason and owner of a hot sauce company.  My background is in marketing and I started an advertising agency with a friend of mine back in 2000 and did 16 years of that and then decided that I wanted to create my own brand so with 4 other partners began a sauce business.  Food manufacturing was quite new to me but we’ve learnt more and more about it everyday. The products that we sell include hot sauce, ketchup and BBQ sauce and we market across Australia and internationally in Hong Kong, the UK and the US.  You can find the sauce at www.diemens.com.au or you might be able to find it in your local supermarket or grocery store or you might see us on the table at Grilled Burgers.

2The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand our clients’ customers and segments within the market. How do you get to know your customers?

Forecasting is always important and research that helps you forecast is critical, especially if you’re planning for something that doesn’t already exist or if you’re planning to change in the future.  Otherwise, I find behaviour is the best indicator of understanding customers because a lot of the time people say certain things or believe certain things but their behaviour doesn’t necessarily represent that. I’m a big fan of data and behavioural data wherever possible to understand customers.

3. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you approach problem solving?

Information search first of all.  I think if there’s an important problem that you’re addressing, you need to school up and become the best expert and with the time and resources that you have available.  Time is important as you don’t want to experience inertia and make no decision because you’re confused –you need to react in a timely manner.  If Information search number is one, evaluating alternatives number is two.  Ideally you’re not doing this solo and you have others around that you can bounce hypothesis off.  If you have the opportunity to test hypotheses, fantastic, if not, weigh up the alternatives, reconsider the research that you’ve done and make a call. But making a call is the most important thing.  And once you’ve made a call, I really love the term ‘strong views, loosely held’ so when you make that call, you commit to it, you give it everything but if you see something occurring that suggests you’ve made a wrong call, then don’t be too dogmatic, don’t be too stubborn and be ready to shift quickly if you have to.

4. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. How do you interpret Brexit in the UK and how that eventuated?

In the lead up to the Brexit vote and during the vote, I was very much surprised that British made the choice they did and I couldn’t really wrap my head around why they would not want to be part of the EU.  But since then, I happen to be reading a book called ‘The Accidental SuperPower’ which is geo-politics and there’s quite a lot of content about Europe and the relationships between the countries within. Reading that book and without going into detail, it made me lean the other way where I think if I were living in the UK, voting for leave would have been something that I supported because I didn’t have the understanding of geo-politics that I now have.

5. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful, ‘a stunning visual journey through the most revealing trends, fascinating facts and vital statistics of the modern world’. Because first impressions matter, have a scan through and tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why?

I choose this one because I did a project with Häagen-Dazs where it was breaking down taste buds and the palate to identify flavours of ice-cream and then to map what’s different about people’s palates. Palates and the way we get taste is like a unique fingerprint which is why we all like different types of food. So I picked this one as while it isn’t necessarily a direct reflection of that, I’m interested in taste buds.