Do you know how to research? by: Isaiah McPeak

A special kind of camp is on the horizon… the type of camp, club leaders, coaches, and students can really sink their teeth into! How do you research? Have you ever really been taught, or did it just come instinctively? What if I told you, you could learn how, and it could help you foundationally for the rest of your life! This is going to be an opportunity you don’t want to miss…

In the Beginning…
The first year I did my own research for debate was the 2002-03 season on trade policy. I read six economics textbooks on my own that year, and my partner and I were called “Rolling Thunder” for our two rolling suitcases of original research.

Then I got a debate coach in Indiana, named Lisa Alexander, who challenged me to research everything I ever thought at a deeper level than I had ever imagined.

I found my mind not so much changed as nuanced on issue after issue when digging into original research and even all the footnotes that original research relied upon.

How it Morphed Into Life Skills
After high school, I went to Patrick Henry College on a debate scholarship. I became a research captain almost right away, before becoming head coach a couple years later. (That’s when I started, by the way, which started as a 2,000+ page research sourcebook that used 75% journals/non-Google sources).

Next, I became an intelligence analyst. I worked for the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity doing cultural and country studies, publishing handbooks for soldiers, and analyzing Iranian human rights. Later, for Homeland Security doing biodefense and border work. After all, intelligence analysts are just debaters who have to advise soldiers, generals, and decision makers! The exact. same. skills. apply.

And THEN I transferred analyst capabilities to starting and growing businesses. Once again… a debater’s ability to survey tons of information, synthesize, research harder to get to the bottom of something, ask better questions, and end up with clarity became the backbone of product design and consulting.

So I found myself in my early 20s as an executive with CEOs of client companies flying to see me, going head to head vs. McKinsey Consulting in the halls of Fortune 500 companies, selected to speak at the Chief Strategy Officers summit for producing their Strategy Case Study of the Year (once again, based on research).

Now I am designing a kid’s phone called, along with my co-founder/CEO Dane Witbeck, and it’s based on research again… ethnographic research, user interviews, survey data, market data, journal research, neuroscience, therapy, and behavioral design.

And once again… those are the exact same skills I learned in debate.

But There’s a Problem with Debate Today
When I started researching back when I was a debater, it was way harder. My partner and I had to go to the library, which we did a few times a week, or pay something like $1500 for Lexis Nexis access!

Now you can get Lexis for $35. But you can also buy research off of sourcebook companies or bum it off of other debaters. And so we spent the year limiting our conversation to what the world of debate companies that must throw together resources RAPIDLY think is important.

Unless you join a club I coach… where we don’t do sourcebooks until January, just to see what others are doing. We follow Dr. Srader’s approach to get in-depth and wait to choose our for-the-season case until December.

I Want You to Have This Skill
Research Camp 2020 is meant to equip you with the skills that you can use for the entire rest of your life, starting now with debate: how to get to the bottom of something, find the schools of thought, and go to a level of research depth of a real researcher. And I can show you how to do it with modern tech tools that make it achievable and do-able!

I was blessed to have Lisa Alexander as a coach steer me somewhere different. It’s an amazing feeling to say “actually that’s just one of the six economic indicators used to evaluate this subject,” or “you’re mixing compensatory and retributive justice models that contradict at their core!”

The structure of the camp:

  • Part 1 is the Research Camp. It’s intended to complement clubs and coaches around the country that already have a skills camp.
  • Part 2 is the Mars Hill (a club in Phoenix, AZ) camp, which is just such a camp by one of my favorite coaches: Laurie Dawson.
    You can do just Part 1 or both Parts 1 and 2!

So Come Learn These Skills
Check out the mindmap above. I’ve ghostwritten an entire book in mindmaps and run product design teams in mindmaps. (You’ll learn to mindmap at Research Camp!).

Isaiah McPeak invites you to Research Camp!!

Click here!

Isaiah McPeak is a Master Yoda of digital product creation, product management, high executing team dynamics, communications, and cross-disciplinary influence. The source of his force is his mastery of the neuroscience behind behavior, motivation, and dropping guard, met with a classical rhetoric and ancient philosophy twist.

He has started six organizations, designed and shipped over 200 digital products and feature sets, successfully been part of four startups raising pre-seed funding and journeying to growth stage (5 money raises, $6M total), personally sold over $35M in services and software, and coached CEOs and keynote speakers.

He is co-author of Upside Down Debate: A Deeper Why to Persuasion and a frequent speaker and trainer in Austin, TX’s tech and startup communities.