Sam Ladner

RRS Who is your role model, and why?

Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, because she stays above the fray yet commands respect.

RRS What is the core message of your talk?

Being a researcher is hard, particularly emotionally. But it’s ultimately worthwhile.

RRS Why is your subject matter important to researchers?

We don’t often talk about the “inner game” of being a researcher, that is, the emotional and even spiritual challenges that are unique to this role. Many of us are surprised at how hard it is, not to do actual research, but to have the emotional wherewithal to navigate the organization’s response to our work. Even the most skilled researchers can find themselves completely defeated by the slings and arrows of organizational culture, and doubling down on research excellence, sadly, does not solve this problem. Researchers shouldn’t shy away from this challenge, however, because it’s also an opportunity to make our lives even more meaningful. Our particular roles offer us something few other roles do, that is, the ability to bring change. But it cannot be done without some skills beyond just good methods. This talk will help you use your methods to their best effect, and will teach you to protect, enhance, and ultimately celebrate your status as a truth teller.

RRS What do you want attendees to take away from your talk?

I want researchers to have a sense of empowerment. I want them to feel that they can, in fact, deal with organizational push back, and with the emotional costs of telling hard truths. I want them to be feel excited about the prospect of having such a challenging role, and a renewed sense of purpose and meaning.

RRS How can attendees prepare in advance? Do you have a book, blog post or any other relevant information you’d like to share?

Researchers can read posts on my Web site samladner.com or my book to get a feel for my perspective. This talk is new, and I’ll be synthesizing some new themes with my older, more established perspectives. For the truly enterprising, they may wish to read about the myth of Cassandra.

RRS Summit Organizers

This summit is organized by research practitioners from Spatial Research & Design and Blueprint UX, local UX design companies, and global technology leaders Samsung, Facebook, and mCloud. The organizers are passionate about research that inspires new ideas and improves product design/strategy.


Our goal for the summit is to strengthen the Pacific Northwest research community by sharing research approaches, methods and ideas for contributing to better human-centred product/service design.

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