Researcher finds secret to success in prayer

| September 23, 2010 | 1 Comment

James Cahill is founder and president of Marketing Roundtables, Inc. in Burnsville. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

“How’s it going?” James Cahill, 71, asked the grocery store manager he met while conducting market research in a store.

“Boy, it’s just terrible,” the man replied. “Unless we get some increased traffic in the store today, they’re going to start taking money out of my pay to cover the store’s overhead.”

Cahill didn’t miss a beat. “Let’s pray,” he suggested. Almost immediately, the store began to fill up with customers.

The next morning when Cahill returned to the store, he ran into the same manager. This time, when he asked the man how it was going, the man exclaimed: “You won’t believe it! Not only did we meet our budget, but I’m getting a bonus!”

Cahill, founder and president of Marketing Roundtables, Inc. in Burnsville, laughed almost in disbelief as he told the story, just one of countless times during his career when prayer has made a difference, he said.

A typical day for Cahill begins with eucharistic adoration, a recitation of the rosary, the Stations of the Cross and Mass.

“You just have to pray,” Cahill said. “That’s the answer to everything really.”

A marketing pioneer

Cahill started Marketing Roundtables in 1989 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture hired him to do research for farmers interested in selling their products to consumers. Rather than conducting expensive focus groups, Cahill asked local store managers if he could interview customers in their stores.

“Jim immediately saw the strength of in-store research, and Marketing Roundtables has focused on intercepting shoppers in stores and interviewing them on the spot ever since,” his nominator wrote. “He was truly a pioneer of this methodology.”

Today, the company’s clients include both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

Still, Cahill’s faith remains intertwined with the way he does business. His son and business partner, Luke Cahill, wrote: “All of our Fortune 500 clients are fully aware of the importance of his faith. He has prayed with many of them.”

Cahill is a person of integrity. He never cuts corners. He never skews data to please his clients. “We’re just not going to do business the worldly way,” he said.

Next year, Cahill’s son will take control of the business when Cahill retires.

“Working with Luke and turning the company over to him gradually was my greatest accomplishment,” Cahill said.


  • Title: Founder and president of Marketing Roundtables, Inc., Burnsville
  • Parish: St. Bonaventure, Bloomington
  • Spouse: Norma Cahill
  • Children: Tim Cahill, Molly Volker, Luke Cahill, Mike Cahill
  • Activities: Member of People of Praise ecumenical Christian community, volunteer at Trinity School at River Ridge


Category: Leading With Faith