About this blog

After more than 25 years operating a trial consulting practice together as co-founding partners of Magnus Research Consultants, Inc. and Magnus Graphics, Inc., and more than 30 years of marriage, Dr. Melissa Pigott and David Fauss decided to share some of their thoughts, experiences, pet peeves, and perspectives on operating a small “mom & pop” business. The intended audience for their writings is other business owners, as well as employees of small businesses. Trial consulting is a professional service business, as was David’s photography business. There are many unique issues faced by professional service providers; Melissa and David share some of their insights on running a successful business.

Is your consultant a criminal?

This is a strange topic: Is your consultant a criminal? In this context, it is related to your trial consultant. When one hires a new employee, most often, a variety of background checks are conducted. A lawyer’s criminal history is policed by Bar associations; similarly, other licensed professions are vetted. But, what about professions not […]

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In the decades Magnus has been in business, we have found out many things about our employees, vendors, and prospective employees that, absent our checking into them, would have remained hidden.  Often, these secrets were nothing serious, for example, the office administrator we hired, even though we knew she had been arrested for D.U.I.  Then, […]

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Output = Effort x Ability

Social psychologists, as well as other types of psychologists, have studied achievement motivation for many decades. In goal directed situations, there are several ways in which someone can achieve the desired outcome: ability, effort, and luck. Success and failure also depend, of course, on the difficulty of the task being undertaken. When considered together, these […]

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I clearly remember that early employee to whom Melissa referred.  How could I ever forget her?  She tried so hard; she really gave it her all.  But, often, that was not enough.  This made it difficult to manage her without deflating her sense of self.  Reacting to “I tried so hard,” by pointing out her […]

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Exude Competence

Many years ago, when I was working for another trial consultant, one of the clients spoke to my boss and told her that I “exuded competence.” The boss was happy to hear this and to tell me. I took it as a high compliment because it reinforced my goal of doing what I say I’m […]

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David is right.  We have to exude competence if we are to convince others that we possess the expertise necessary to perform a job.  When I first became a trial consultant, way back in 1989, the person who trained me was a particularly tough task master.  He greatly disliked my psychologist’s way of pensively contemplating […]

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Leadership styles

Many people wonder how leaders emerge. Some people endorse the view that certain people are “born leaders,” while others believe leadership is a skill that is acquired. Organizational psychologists have studied leaders, leadership, and leadership styles for decades to determine what traits separate effective leaders from leaders who lack effectiveness, the situations in which leadership […]

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I often learn new things in reading what Melissa has written.  As someone whose graduate work was in the Organizational Behavior field (the business school version of I/O psychology), leadership is a familiar topic.  But, considering her perspective on how leadership plays out in the jury decision making process is enlightening.  Melissa is the expert […]

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Work Life Balance

The term “Work Life Balance” seems to have existed for a long time. In writing this post, I did a bit of quick research and found the concept was not well defined until the last 20 years. Researchers have identified 3 key balance components: time, involvement and satisfaction. When work or life (family) demands are […]

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Due to the lasting impact of COVID-19 on our nation’s workplaces, the issue of work/life balance has taken on a new urgency.  Although many corporations are requiring their employees to return to the office full time, and some workplaces, such as hospitals, never allowed remote working, other employers are struggling for ways to keep their […]

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The Last Thing Said to a Loved One

As our family and friends know, both of David’s parents passed away recently, within a few months of one another. And, as almost everyone who knows David and me is aware, I adored both of David’s parents. I will go as far as saying that both David’s mother, Carole, and father, Herman, were nicer and […]

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It has been a rough year for me, my brothers, and Melissa with the loss of my parents, 106 days apart.  Their decline was long and difficult.  Collectively, we did many things to manage their care and quality of life.  That fact that they had made similar efforts to care for their parents or other […]

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Price based decisions

Melissa and I recently made a big purchase. A roof. It was not something I’ve shopped for willingly. The failure of the old roof after storms made it a necessity. It is a big purchase, bigger than anything we’ve ever bought, other than a house. Shopping for a roofing company was a reminder of how […]

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When it became necessary to shop for a roofing contractor, I went about it in the same way I search for just about anything.  I researched local roofing companies, asked people for referrals, and checked ratings from various sources.  I eventually obtained 4 bids and 1 refusal to bid (due to the complexity and danger […]

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Do You Still Need to Practice?

Recently, I remarked to my bass guitar teacher, Phill Fest, that many of my friends question my need to take bass lessons, due to the fact I have been playing the bass guitar for over 20 years. (This was the subject of a previous post, in which I mentioned that, although I have been playing […]

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I took piano lessons as a child, but fishing seemed much more fun than piano, so I didn’t play piano long!  But, call it what you want, practice, playing, fishing, getting better, and staying strong at anything takes time and effort.  I’ve written about Dr. Fran Kinne before. She started playing piano at age 3 […]

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Thou shalt not smoke

Just when you think you’ve experienced it all…well, then, something new happens. Magnus moved into our current office a few months ago. We were in the old one for over 24 years and the new one is definitely an improvement over the prior office, in most ways. The new office is in a 2 story, […]

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Magnus’ former office building offered few opportunities for interaction with the other occupants of the building, which is a small, 1 story structure with 4 individual office suites.  Although the on site property manager smokes cigarettes, he is always polite enough to smoke outside.  For the entire time Magnus has been in business, we never […]

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The Destruction of Goodwill

Negativity bias has a long history of research within social psychology. Negativity bias refers to the tendency of many people to assign greater importance to negative information than positive information. Considerable research has revealed that negative adjectives and descriptions contribute more to people’s overall impressions of others than positive adjectives and descriptions. It is important […]

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Goodwill can be fleeting.  I am thinking about some other recent interactions and encounters where it has disappeared quickly.  A fast food restaurant which forgets to include the dipping sauces, or hands out sub standard (for them) food comes to mind.  Another restaurant which has great Vietnamese food but frequently gets the take out order […]

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