Our on-going What, How, and Why series takes an in-depth look into the hearts and minds of Ignite 360’s ensemble of insights and strategy experts. It brings you into the inner circle of what we do, how we do it, and the why behind it all.

Let’s begin with a note on music. Specifically, I’d like to talk about one of the greatest musical composers and conductors of all time – Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein was known for his long tenure at the New York Philharmonic and it was here he made his most indelible mark. As conductor, he mastered the craft of directing the orchestra toward the goal of making beautiful music. A good conductor keeps time and signals when each instrument group should come in or out, when to crescendo, and when to diminuendo. He or she easily handles the technical aspects of the role. A great conductor, however, anticipates and transforms. They inspire through passion and are never complacent with the status quo. And, Bernstein certainly fell into the latter category. Not only was he a renowned conductor but he was also a composer. He created musical scores for such hits as West Side Story and Peter Pan. Known as a “prodigious talent,” Bernstein’s compositions fused together elements of jazz, theater, and traditional music. He drew from the influences of Copland, Stravinsky, and Gershwin as he developed and mastered his own style.

We have our own Leonard Bernstein at Ignite 360. Her name is Tori Palmer-Kern. Tori is our prodigious conductor keeping our client engagements running smoothly, ensuring we all come in (and go out) on time and anticipating what’s needed to inspire project success. As project manager for the past 4 years, Tori has taken on the role of composer as well, touching almost all facets of our projects and drawing from each of the experiences needed to become a highly skilled researcher.


So, what does Tori do? She manages, nay conducts, our client projects – overseeing recruitment, scheduling, and logistics. All of this effort is in the pursuit of finding both interesting and relevant consumers with whom we can engage… to learn their perspectives, experiences, and needs in order to get to those deeper insights. In her own words, Tori describes her role as navigating the unpredictability of people and human behavior.

“Some have compared this to herding cats. No day is ever the same and I enjoy the puzzle of figuring out how to work with this unpredictability.”


One of Tori’s many integral project roles - fieldwork performed with energy and poise

One of Tori’s many integral project roles - fieldwork performed with energy and poise

As noted, Tori is able to take on the different pieces and parts of each project from screener development to moderating as well as analysis. From front end and set-up to back-end and final recommendations to our clients, she sees the greater whole of each initiative which has provided her with a unique understanding of what success looks like for our clients. Tori likens the ‘how’ of her work to that of a puzzle maker.

“Each piece of the puzzle plays a critical role and the experience working within each area [of a research project] has allowed me to figure out how to best maneuver and make key decisions.”

And the one skill most critical to our conductor? Well, much like other great conductors, it is the ability to anticipate while staying comfortable with the unknown. Much can be planned for yet the execution of an insights program, like music, remains an active and fluid process.

“I would say you need to be able to think ahead and execute a plan while being comfortable with the fact that you cannot control everything. You need to be able to think on your feet and quickly react to changes – whether it’s a changing target, a challenging recruit, interview cancellations or an impending snowstorm on the day of research.”


Growing up in a family of journalists, Tori has the DNA of a reporter. And while a big part of her role demands a detailed and relentless focus on schedules and logistics, her underlying passion is uncovering the stories about people and connecting to those people and their stories.

“Human behavior is fascinating to me and I love being able to hear and share the stories of a diverse range of people.”

Tori’s ‘why’ can be best illustrated with an example. In one of her very first projects at Ignite 360, she was tasked with organizing an interactive Lifeology™ insights game-play session where client team members engaged directly with consumers one-on-one. The consumers were diverse with demographics far different from those of the client team. Yet, as the session got underway, the differences faded away as common values and needs were revealed.

“You could sense a little bit of nervousness and discomfort at first, but the dynamic quickly changed to laughter and bonding reminiscent of an evening with close friends. Some even exchanged heartfelt hugs goodbye. It was truly amazing to see the connections being formed over the course of a 90-minute session.”

And, with that, the music crescendos as each musician comes in on cue to yield beautiful, growth-driving insights. Thanks, in large part, to Tori’s prodigious conducting prowess.

Learn more about Tori. Interested to know how Ignite 360 could make beautiful insights music with you? Check out our capabilities, email us at hello@ignite-360.com and follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter or Instagram. to keep up with the latest Ignite 360 adventures.