With the New Year quickly approaching and before I head out onto the ice covered roads of Minnesota tomorrow morning, to head to my family Christmas in the middle of nowhere, I wanted to take some time to reflect on 2018, a year I will always look back on as being pivotal in my career. Let’s rewind to set the stage.
A NICE END TO 2017
As 2017 was winding down, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a job hunt, seeking to move on from a role and a company where I struggled to see any sort of future for myself. So, I had put myself out there, having no idea of what the future might hold. But in my job search, two things were clear; 1) It was important for me to find a position where I would be working with Tableau every day (we’ll get to why this was important in a later post) and 2) having not used Tableau in my job for nearly two years, I would need to convince somebody that I was worthy of such a position (yes, you read that correctly, I had previously left a job in which I used Tableau daily for a job in which I did not have access to Tableau…was I crazy? We’ll cover this in that later blog post). With 2018 right around the corner, things were starting to look up, regarding the job search. In early December of 2017, much to my surprise and delight, I was recognized by Tableau Public as a Tableau Public Featured Author! Not only was this an absolute thrill for me, but it also served
as reassurance that all of those evening hours spent working on my Tableau Public Portfolio were starting to pay off. A few short weeks later, I agreed to join Daugherty Business Solutions, as a Data and Analytics Consultant, working out of their Minneapolis office! With 2017 ending on a high note, I was pumped to bring on 2018! In October of 2017, I had written up some VizGoals for 2018 (shown below with a little something extra from my daughter). When I wrote them down, I was probably a month or two into my job search and these goals would serve as additional motivation for me to find a Tableau related position, as a few were directly dependent on obtaining such a role. Although a couple were fairly generic, I’m happy to report that all of these goals, for 2018, were checked. While achieving 1, 3 and 5 will truly be a continuous effort, numbers 2, 4 and 6 are discrete 🙂 Time to reflect on an unforgettable 2018.
IT’S A BOY!!
On January 20th, 2018, my wife and I welcomed our second child into the world. A beautiful, healthy, baby boy. Today, Kellen is just over 11 months old and together, he and his big sister keep mommy and daddy very busy and constantly on our toes. Although our house is absolutely crazy at times, we feel very thankful to have been blessed with two wonderful little kiddos. Oh, and just for the record, on Kellen’s first full day on earth, the Minnesota Vikings were demolished in the NFC Championship game by the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-7. Welcome to life as a Minnesota sports fan, bud!! Just kidding, he can be a fan of whoever he wants to…except for the Green Bay Packers…and the New York Yankees…and Duke basketball…and USC football…and Alabama football…and…
JOINING DAUGHERTY AND BECOMING CERTIFIED
Nine days after Kellen was born, I started my new job at Daugherty Business Solutions. Working for Daugherty has been a breath of fresh air. While I get to work alongside and learn from some incredible people every day, Daugherty has also been extremely supportive in my professional development. Just a few weeks after joining the Daugherty team, I reached a goal that had been on the docket for awhile; becoming a Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate. Having been in my role for nearly a year now, I feel that 2018 would have looked entirely different for me, had I not been given the opportunity to join Daugherty, so I’d like to say thank you to Tim Herby and team for seeing the potential in me and taking a chance.
VIZ OF THE DAY
Somewhere early on in 2018, I made a mental note that a new goal of mine was that I wanted to create a visualization that would be good enough to be considered for a #VOTD. Having seen so many amazing Viz of the Day’s, it was like I just had to find out what it felt like to be selected, but the question was how? After reading a few blog posts, I formulated a plan for what would be my first dedicated attempt at capturing a #VOTD. And luckily enough, when I posted my ‘The 50 Greatest Scorers in NBA History’ viz (which was inspired by Michael Mixon’s The Level is in the Details) back on May 30th, on the eve of the NBA Season Opener, it was selected the next day, as #VOTD. And since I already had all the data for each of the top 50 scorers, I began working on a Michael Jordan viz soon after, capturing the scoring of every game throughout his NBA career. Less than a month later, that viz would also become #VOTD. I was super excited, but as one co-worker put it “Well, it’s basically the same viz, so the Jordan one doesn’t really count.” I know he was just giving me a hard time, but that was all the motivation I needed. I was now on a mission for a third #VOTD. Sticking with the sports theme, I aimed at a viz that would be published prior to the NFL season opener. My recent infatuation with jump plots led me down the road of trying something out with them. I don’t recall exactly how the idea came about, but I thought using jump plots could be a cool way to show the wins and losses of NFL teams, with wins jumping above the axis and losses falling below. So, with some inspiration from Chris DeMartini and Sam Parsons, I put together the ‘NFL Win-Loss Margins’ viz that included every game for every team, in the Super Bowl era. I had a lot of fun working on the viz and was really proud of how it turned out. On September 6th, the day of the NFL season opener, it was selected as #VOTD.
I remember sitting in a November 2017 TCTUG (Twin Cities Tableau User Group) meeting and being blown away by a presentation given by Luke Stanke and thinking “Wow, how cool would it be to be THAT good at Tableau?!!” Well, I’m here to report I am not THAT good at Tableau, as I still have a long way to go with the tool. However, in 2018, I was fortunate enough to be asked to present at the TCTUG, a total of three times. I first spoke at the July TCTUG, at Cargill, where I shared my ’50 Greatest Scorers in NBA History’ viz. And more recently, I spoke at both the November and December TCTUGs. I was excited to share my ‘The Magic of New Orleans’ viz (more on this later) at the November meeting, at General Mills and in December, with Daugherty hosting, I shared a Tableau Style Guide that I had spent some time working on. These were all great opportunities to not only get practice speaking in front of anywhere from 75-150 people, but also to simply share my passion for Tableau. Back in November 2017, when I was sitting in that room watching Luke do his thing, I thought there was no chance I could ever be up there presenting. I would be way too nervous. But, it turns out, when you’re REALLY passionate about something, some of the nerves go away, and are replaced with joy and excitement!!
TABLEAU CONFERENCE 2018
Holy shit, talk about living up to the hype!! Tableau Conference was an unreal experience, one I will not soon forget. The energy over the entire five days I was there was impressive and the passion around Tableau and DataViz from everyone I spoke with was contagious. I was fortunate enough to be in town from Sunday through Thursday. From the sessions to the people to the food and music of New Orleans, I couldn’t have asked for a better first Tableau Conference. I often found myself star gazing as I wondered which of my DataViz idols I would see next. While, I met a lot of people at #TC18, I learned that meeting somebody can come and go in a flash. And while I would have loved to have had longer conversations with many I met, that’s something to shoot for at #TC19…maybe fewer sessions and more hanging out? No matter how quick the conversation was, the important thing was making the connection with so many people in this amazing community. Another exciting part of #TC18 was having two vizzes on display in the Tableau Public Viz Gallery. ‘The Magic of New Orleans’ viz, which I mentioned earlier, had won the New Day for Data Viz Games contest a few weeks prior to conference, so it was on display for that. Additionally, the Tableau Public team had chosen to display my ‘Jordan Career Scoring’ viz as well. Wow, what a feeling to see your work on display for over 17,000 Tableau enthusiasts to check out!!
IMPROVE AND LEARN EVERY WEEK
While I did participate in several different community projects throughout the year, I didn’t do as well in this area as I had hoped. I was most active in #MakeoverMonday, completing 22 of the 52 weeks, if my math is correct. I also started out well with #SWDChallenge, but then fell off as the year progressed. I completed a few weeks of #ThrowbackDataThursday and a couple each of #SportsVizSunday and #WorkoutWednesday. This means I did not participate at all in #IronViz feeders, #VizforSocialGood or #ProjectHealthViz and that simply cannot happen again in 2019. While I need to support all of these community projects, I understand a huge part of my growth and development will come through participating in them. That is why in 2019, I will be taking on a much more structured approach to growing not only my Tableau and DataViz skills, but also my knowledge of data, analytics and data visualization, in general. Before our little man Kellen was born, I found it pretty easy to stay tuned into what was happening in the community via Twitter, blog posts or Tableau Public. But, as my responsibilities as a father increased upon Kellen’s arrival, it became much more difficult to keep up and I would often find myself not getting around to reading that blog post I meant to read or not doing the #MakeoverMonday I was planning on doing or not starting that book I had planned on reading or writing that novel I was always planning on writing (Family Guy reference for those who are now confused)…but, you get the point. After all, my goal did say Improve and Learn EVERY week, not SOME weeks, MOST weeks or WHICHEVER WEEKS IT IS CONVENIENT.
So in 2019, the approach will be more structured. To ensure I am learning and growing EVERY week of the year, I will begin planning out the material that will be covered each week. Maybe there’s a Tableau Conference session I’ve been meaning to watch or a Tapestry Conference presentation or a new blog post I haven’t read or another awesome Hashtag Analytics episode I have yet to view or maybe I want to finally participate in my first #VizforSocialGood project. Each week, under the Twitter hashtag #PlanToGrow, I will share my plan for that week because a) I’m selfish and want to hold myself accountable and b) I want to share the great resources with others in the community, who may not yet be aware of them. An example week could look something like below.
#PlanToGrow 2019-01: Participate in #MakeoverMonday and #WorkoutWednesday • watch Hashtag Analytics S01E07 • read Lindsey Poulter On Your Marks, Get Set, Go • Book of the Month: Alberto Cairo, The Truthful Art
It will look something like that. And if I do more than those things during the week, then that’s a bonus. But at least each week will begin with a plan and that’s better than I’m doing right now. And by all means, if you’d like to join in, be my guest!! Thank you so much for reading, have a safe and happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2019!!