John Dibling

John still remembers his first computer fondly: a TRS-80 Model, circa 1978. He taught himself BASIC then TRS-80 Assembly Language programming, in the process learning about the inside workings of computers. Thus his fascination with technology was launched, and it’s never stopped growing.

Before joining Bonnie in building Thinkpiece, John built his technology and financial chops as a trading analytics programmer and software engineer. After running out of funds to finish his PhD in theoretical physics, John completed his bachelor’s in computer science with a (prescient, we might add) emphasis in AI. John worked for several financial services technology companies until his wife and collaborator Bonnie announced that she wanted to start her own market research firm. John stepped in as the technology lead who’s equally comfortable talking with software engineers and c-level executives.

Though he tends to downplay the title, John also serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. While helping clients extract maximum value from market research to move their products and services forward, John also helps with the day-to-day tactical running of Thinkpiece. And when the team has any computer issues, he still gets a kick out of solving them.

Fun fact: A man of many talents, John has worked as a professional chef and a semi-professional poker player. He also brews his own beer, and is happy to send you a sample.

“Our clients are smart, hard-working, passionate, and sometimes saddled with square pegs that they need to fit in to round holes. They deserve success. I want Thinkpiece to make a difference in our clients’ pursuit of that success.” — John Dibling

Kip Brown

Our resident branding expert, Kip started out as a sales guy who quickly learned the value of understanding customers’ needs before trying to sell them something. He carried this knowledge with him as he transitioned into the world of advertising, at a time when the concept of “branding” was just finding its footing.

As a marketing director for The Martin Agency, Kip worked on nationally recognized and Effie award-winning B2B brands built on insights gleaned from research. After 20 years on the agency side, Kip made the leap from creating campaigns to researching their audiences. To this day, he still gets excited about diving into the nitty-gritty of what makes brands — and people — work.

Over the course of his career, Kip has seen that great research coupled with a deep respect for the customer experience lead to breakthrough branding. After helping his colleague and friend Bonnie launch her research firm Thinkpiece in 2014, Kip officially joined the team as a moderator who brings a unique brand perspective and extensive B2B experience. He also brings a rare talent for asking the right questions, listening carefully to the answers, and ensuring clients hear those insights as well. If his work reveals opportunities and helps his clients act on them, Kip knows he’s done his job.

Fun fact: Along with his Effies, Kip has also won two best actor awards for theater roles he played as an 18-year-old and as a 65-year-old.

“I get energized by what I do. I love branding. I study it. I believe in it. And I want to continue to humanize it so that it is really understood by people everywhere.” — Kip Brown

Kristen Balisi

Don’t let her title fool you: Kristen may sound super left-brain on paper, but her creativity and insights into human behavior are what make her reports such a big hit with clients. Kristen’s research bootcamp started at the University of Chicago, where she earned her MA with a focus on narrative and autobiography, philosophical and religious thought, and served as a writing mentor. In the process, Kristen learned the importance of gathering, interpreting, and communicating evidence to make an effective argument.

Which is essentially what she does for Thinkpiece clients. As the Senior Analyst (and Thinkpiece’s first official employee way back in the day), Kristen works side-by-side with our moderators to craft the right questions; shape the research design; extract the maximum insight from respondents; gather, track, and think through the collected data; then weave the findings together in a comprehensible report that generates action instead of gathering dust.

For Kristen, one of the many rewarding aspects of her role at Thinkpiece is the process of clarifying the messy realities of the audiences our clients are trying to understand. She embraces this mess, enjoying the plethora of unique voices, experiences, and motivations respondents bring to each study. She thrives on piecing these different perspectives into a clear, accurate, and honest narrative that the client can trust and use to make better business decisions. For Kristen, the goal isn’t to water-down the complexity of the research, but rather to make it accessible and applicable.

Fun fact: Kristen has a creative side, which she expresses by signing, gardening (sometimes both at the same time), and cooking without recipes.

“Answers are often complex. Good research communicates that complexity without dumbing it down, skewing it inappropriately, or opening the door to misunderstanding.” — Kristen Balisi

Liz Ezell

For Liz, research is at its core about truth-telling. That includes providing clients with honest answers to research questions — even if those answers aren’t always the easiest to hear. At the same time, she strives to deliver insight that clients can grasp and use to make progress toward their business goals.

Liz’s love of tell-it-like-it-is research started in graduate school, while earning her master’s degree in sociology. While a grad student, Liz was trained in the scientific process, including both qualitative and quantitative research methods, which embraces the exploration of observations in the quest to answer questions. She honed both her analytical skills and insight into human nature working on grant-funded academic research projects investigating therapies for depression. This experience taught her the value of paying attention to details, as well as being objective and aware of any potential bias.

Liz took these lessons with her as she moved from the academic to the business research realm. As Thinkpiece’s analyst, Liz takes the lead on writing the final reports delivered to the client. That includes making sure every step of the research project puts the team on the right path to create a usable report. To that end, Liz works alongside the moderators while developing and designing the research plan, recruiting respondents, and collecting the data. She’s an integral part of the team, and helps keep us all honest.

Fun fact: Liz is a die-hard Duke basketball supporter, so don’t be surprised if you find blue face paint in her desk drawer.

“Measure twice — or three times — and cut once.” — Liz’s favorite quote

Cori Bussetti

Cori has connections, and they serve our clients well. Over her 20+ year career as a research assistant and field manager in market research, she’s built excellent relationships with recruitment partners who are more than happy to help her quickly find and recruit just the right respondents for our clients’ needs.

As Thinkpiece’s field manager, she juggles multiple responsibilities with skill, grace, and aplomb — including managing, monitoring, and communicating all field logistics, strengthening vendor partnerships, keeping everyone in the loop about project status, and making sure the recruitment process goes smoothly. Along with finding recruits, she excels at finding solutions.

Luckily for us, Cori is extraordinarily well organized and detail oriented. Seriously, you should check out her checklists. Her ability to find order in chaos may be the reason she thrives in fast-paced environments with lots going on. A great communicator, she’s also a wonderful collaborator with our vendors and clients alike.

Fun fact: Unable to resist a sugary or salty treat, Cori wanted to be a candy taster when she grew up. Which explains her sweet nature.

“I want to provide the best possible service to our clients, so they trust us to do our job and have a worry-free experience.” — Cori Bussetti