Published on March 7, 2018, this week’s Tableau Public Revizited is Explain Data before Explain Data! ‘Beautiful Billboard Bar Chart’ by Tableau Ambassador Sean Miller is an example of superb analysis and storytelling. Sean found a huge outlier in the data and dug in to find out what the cause was behind it. Let’s take a look at Sean’s work.
What makes this great data viz?
Clear titles and annotations – In exploring Sean’s work, it’s clear to me he has read and taken away many learnings from Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’sStorytelling with Data. His clear, descriptive title at the top of the page tells the reader exactly what question will be answered in the visualization below. Sean’s titles/text are consistent throughout the entire viz, helping the reader to easily understand what the visualization is telling them. He does an outstanding job in this area.
Simple chart types – Another thing I like about the viz is the use of bar charts, a chart that is easy to understand and quick for readers to consume. In the first chart, the reader’s eyes are instantly drawn to the very tall blue bar at position 20. This is the focal point of the visualization and Sean pulls our attention directly to it. In the second chart, we can also see very quickly the spike in songs that spent exactly 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning in 1991.
Use of Color – While the simple chart types themselves aid the reader in quickly understanding the story Sean is telling, his fantastic use of color helps drive it home. He begins with coloring the words “exactly 20 weeks” in the title with blue text, tying them beautifully to the data below that represents songs spending exactly 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
I wanted to share this visualization because it is an exceptional job of data storytelling. By combining the techniques covered above, Sean has taken a big outlier in the data and told the story behind it in a way that takes the reader only about 20-30 seconds to consume. Great job, Sean!
As I sat down this afternoon, pondering which viz to feature in this installment of Tableau Public Revizited, my mind began to wander. I peered out the window into the frigid Minnesota temperatures outside, thinking of a place and time much warmer than the current 35-below wind chill. A place with lush green grass, sunshine, water and a warm summer breeze. A place perhaps, just like Chebeague Island, Maine.I’ve loved this viz, by Sue Grist, ever since I laid eyes on it. With its Jonni Walker-esque style it looks like something right out of a travel magazine. Let’s take a look at Sue’s beautiful piece of art.
What makes this great data viz?
Beautiful Design – This map is so beautiful and I love how Sue sort of floats the text that provide more information about Chebeague Island in the waters surrounding the island. The grayed out shape of Maine with the blue dot representing Chebeague Island is a very nice, subtle extension of the title. I wouldn’t have otherwise known where, in Maine, Chebeague Island is, so this not only looks great, but is very helpful to the reader.
Use of Color – The yellow dots on the map, indicating summer rentals, are great. I’m not sure how many colors Sue went through before landing on the yellow, but I played around with the viz a little bit and tried several other colors, none of which looked remotely as nice as the yellow she used. Tying the color of the dots to the text is best practice, so nice work there. Another thing Sue did really well was to set the opacity of the yellow dots to 65%. This lightens them up a bit and looks much more professional than if she had left the opacity at 100%. Just look at the difference in the image below.
Ease of Use – Ok, we’ve covered the pure beauty of the visualization as well as Sue’s great use of color, but my favorite part about the ‘Maine: Visit Chebeague Island’ viz is the fact that I could see myself actually using it to plan a trip to Chebeague Island! It’s just so damn easy to use. In the bottom left-hand corner, Sue added a collapsible container where you can select your ideal summer rental based on numbers of bedrooms, bathrooms and/or how many people the unit sleeps. And then, while hovering over the yellow dots, we get a preview of the rental with the ability to navigate to the rental’s website, where we could book a trip right then and there.
So, which Chebeague Island rental was my favorite? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’d have to go with the Hackel Beach House at 47 Jenks Road. For me, this rental won out for several reasons, including its easy access to the beach and huge yard which is ideal for games like bean bags, croquet, bocce ball, etc. I also love the long deck that overlooks the ocean as well as the tongue and groove interior, which really gives it that cabin feel. Lastly, I definitely saw a fire pit in one of the pictures and you simply cannot have a summer cabin getaway without a bonfire to end the night!! While there’s plenty to do around the Hackel Beach House itself, biking around the island and ending up at the Slow Bell Cafe for lunch sounds like a good time. And when the kids are napping, maybe sneaking in a round of golf at the Great Chebeague Golf Club 🙂
It was a lot of fun exploring this viz in detail, Sue. Great job!
As I sit down to write this, we’re closing in on one week since boarding the red eye flight in Vegas to head back home to Minneapolis and in that week I’ve read a handful of wonderful and thorough recaps of #data19. I’d like to share one as well. However, I won’t be breaking down sessions, new Tableau features or any of the stuff you can find elsewhere…Instead, it’ll simply consist of my personal conference highlights. With #data19 being just my second Tableau Conference, it was once again an amazing week that lived up to the hype and then some!! Alright, here are my top highlights of #data19.
No. 4 – The Stars of First Avenue
For the second consecutive year, I was fortunate enough to have a viz on display in the Tableau Public Viz Gallery. What an honor to be included among so many amazingly talented individuals from the Tableau community! This year, my viz, called “The Stars of First Avenue,” was being displayed, as it had won (on behalf of the Twin Cities Tableau User Group) the Tableau User Group Summer Viz Contest. The viz shares a little bit about the historic First Avenue music club in Minneapolis and can be found here. A wonderful surprise that came along with this was when Tableau reached out to see if I’d be interested in doing a “Lightning Talk” about the viz. These were new to the conference this year and held in the Data Village. A 15 minute TED style talk, it felt like a great opportunity to get my feet wet presenting at Tableau Conference. If you missed it, the video is available here and in it I share an emotional story about how the viz came to be. I’m extremely thankful to Tableau for the opportunity to share my story and would highly recommend anyone who’s asked to do a “Lightning Talk” next year, jump at it.
No. 3 – Braindates
Perhaps the underdog of the conference, Braindates unexpectedly became one of my favorite parts of the entire week. New to Tableau Conference in New Orleans last year, I didn’t participate in any of these, so this year marked my first time attending these scheduled meetups and they were well worth it. Tableau Conference allows for many conversations throughout the week as you run into people in the hallways, before/after sessions, during meals, etc. But with Braindates, the topic has been decided ahead of time and with a dedicated 30-45 minutes, these meetups become extremely valuable, for not only the conversation alone, but also for connecting with others who may be working in the same industry or facing the same challenges as you. I attended a total of four Braindates this year, hosting two of them, titled “Leveraging Tableau Public to land your dream job.” The two meetups I attended, one hosted by Katie Wagner and the other by Brittany Fong were tremendous, while the two I hosted were fantastic, as well. It felt great to share my Tableau journey and how I’ve leveraged the community and Tableau Public to land a job I absolutely love, while hearing from others who had a wide variety of experience and knowledge of both the community and Tableau Public. I’ll definitely be setting up more of these next year in an attempt to continue spreading the word about the Tableau Community, Tableau Public and community projects such as #MakeoverMonday and #WorkoutWednesday.
No. 2 – The Tableau Community
How unbelievable is the Tableau Community? I mean, where else do you have the opportunity to make tons of new friends from all over the world, who share the same passion as you? It’s so true what they say about Tableau Conference being a family reunion of sorts. However, it’s not only catching up with old friends, but also making new friends along the way. The people in this community are so intelligent, selfless, energetic, kind and fun that it’s flat out contagious and you can’t help but want to be around them as much as possible. Often throughout the conference, I’d find myself thinking “Wow, I’ve met so many amazing people this week!” Then I’d go on Twitter for a few minutes and find 20-30 more people I had wanted to meet, but hadn’t run into yet. The Tableau Community is truly something special and we should all be thankful for being a part of it.
No. 1 – Thank you Andy and Eva!!
One of my biggest regrets from last year’s conference was not sticking around after #MakeoverMonday Live to meet Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray. I assumed there would be another chance, but that opportunity never presented itself over the duration of the conference. I was determined to not let that happen again this year, so before the Thursday morning Keynote, I saw an opportunity to go shake Andy’s hand, give him a hug and tell him thank you for all he has done. I was also lucky enough to find Eva after the Keynote, give her a big hug and tell her thank you, as well. It may not seem like much, but being able to say these words; “thank you” to Andy and Eva, in person, meant SO MUCH to me as they and #MakeoverMonday have played such a important role in me getting to where I am today. So Andy and Eva, again, thank you so much for your tireless efforts and dedication to helping others improve in this space. It is greatly appreciated!!
Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful day!
#Data19 has come and gone, but there are still seven weeks left of 2019, so it’s time to finish strong. This week’s #MakeoverMonday data set, ‘Smartphone Ownership Among Youth Is on the Rise,’ comes to us from Common Sense. Below is a look at the viz we made over this week.
What works with the original viz
Labeling the years directly to the left of each line chart (although not needed as we will discuss later).
The line charts do make it easy to compare 2015 vs. 2019, for each age group. However…
What could be improved
Even though the viz has a label for age on the x-axis, it’s difficult for my brain to not want to think the line charts indicate change over time. Therefore, I would shy away from using a line chart in this situation, as it can cause confusion.
My go to for this type of analysis would typically be a dumbbell chart, like the image below as I feel it’s one of the best ways to show change between two periods. However, I felt the need to try something new, so I saved the dumbbells for another day.
It’s unnecessary to label every mark on the view, as it distracts the reader from focusing on the visualization.
There’s also no need for dots and grid lines at every age increment. A better approach would be to swap the x-axis (age) grid lines and for y-axis (ownership) ones instead.
Changing the title to a shade of gray and color coding the years in the title (2015 blue and 2019 yellow) would remove the need for the year labels in the view.
I wanted the focus to be on the change from 2015 to 2019, so I called that out directly in the title.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s really easy in a situation like this to just go with a dumbbell chart. However, I wanted to try a variation of Jeffrey Shaffer’s progress bars.
Since the values for 2019 are greater, I set 2019 as thin lines in the background of the thick, 2015 gray bars. I then labeled the 2019 bars as the difference in percentage points from 2015 to 2019.
For instance, in 2019 53% of 11 year old children owned a Smartphone vs. just 32% in 2015. That’s a difference of 21 percentage points.
The following blog post takes the reader through the process of building my March Madness Bracket of Champions viz, in Tableau. However, this project involved quite a bit of pre-Tableau work, which I would also like to share, so if you came strictly for the Tableau part, please scroll down to the ‘Building the Viz in Tableau’ section.
Prepping the Viz for Tableau
I first saw data portraits being used in Tableau by Zen Master, Neil Richards, in November of 2018, with his TUG data portraits viz. At the time, I was unaware of their origination, but on Neil’s viz he included that the idea was inspired by Giorgia Lupi, so I did a little research to become more familiar with the concept. It appears Giorgia introduced the idea at TED 2017 in Vancouver, through the creation of buttons for conference attendees, as a way to create connections with other conference goers. Prior to the conference, attendees filled out a series of non-invasive questions that revealed fun facts about them. A design system then turned the answer to each question into a unique set of shapes, colors and symbols. About a month after Neil’s viz, I saw Josh Tapley create a viz of badges as well, his for the Philadelphia Tableau User Group. I loved how creative and beautiful they were, so knew I wanted to try it out, the only question was what to do?
Inspiration from Giorgia Lupi
Inspiration from Neil Richards
I didn’t want to copy Neil and Josh…although it does seem like a really cool thing for the Twin Cities Tableau User Group to try one of these months!! Instead I wanted to try something a little different. Being the sports fan I am, it was only natural that my version of data portraits would somehow tie in sports. My initial thought was to make a data portrait for each of the top players in the upcoming NBA Draft. I thought the data from each player’s scouting report could work perfectly for a data portrait, as you would essentially be answering questions, just like on Giorgia’s buttons. What is the player’s position? How tall is the player? What is their biggest strength, etc? However, it was still only December and with the draft still six months away, I simply could not wait that long! So, sticking with the basketball theme, my next thought was to create a bracket, where each team is represented by a data portrait. So, I filed away the idea and a few months later, with NCAA March Madness looming, tried creating my first badge. The North Carolina Tar Heels are my favorite college basketball team, so I created the below (left), badge, which displayed the following information; the team (logo), the year they won the national championship (1993), their tournament seed that year (#1 seed), the conference they played in (bottom coloring), their win/loss record (34-4), win/loss margin by game (step line chart), and the number of players who would go on to reach the NBA (one star per player). I chose to create a bracket of past champions, as I felt it could be a fun lead up to the actual tournament and because fans are always debating which past teams were better, etc. Why not create an interactive bracket, where people could fill out their bracket of past March Madness champions and share it with others?!
I had an idea, but what did the data look like, that would support the idea? To be honest, I didn’t need much to get started. My initial data set included only the Year, the Champion, their Seed, their win/loss record and their conference. I grabbed it from sports-reference.com/cbb and dumped it into Google sheets. It looked like this.
From here, I could start building out the team data portraits. Where else would I turn for this step, other than PowerPoint?! For more on combining the powers of Tableau and PowerPoint, be sure to check out this great post from Kevin Flerlage. In his post, Kevin recommends blog posts by Josh Tapley and one by Kevin’s brother and Tableau Zen Master, Ken Flerlage, that introduced him to the concept of mixing Tableau with PowerPoint. The only other data I would end up including was game by game margins of victory/defeat for each team (for the step line chart), as well as statistical leaders for each team, which was a late addition to the tooltips.
The Data Portraits
With the initial data in hand, it was off to PowerPoint to create 32 more data portraits, one for each NCAA Men’s Basketball champion, from 1985 through 2018. Basically, all I did here was make copies of the original North Carolina data portrait and then swap out the elements for each of the other teams. For example, to create this Michigan data portrait, I copied the North Carolina one, switched the year, added/removed the appropriate number of stars, changed the seed number and conference color accordingly and finally swapped the logo and line graph and adjusted the win/loss record. The line graphs were made in Tableau, saved as images and brought into PowerPoint. The logos were saved as images from ESPN.com and brought into PowerPoint and then I added an artistic effect under the formatting tab, to give them a little colored pencil look.
Dean Smith’s 2nd title
The Glen Rice Wolverines
It took some patience, but after several hours, over the course of a few late nights, I had finally completed all 33 of the data portraits and was ready to start building the bracket! One quick note; the 2013 championship won by the Louisville Cardinals was vacated due to team violations, so I omitted them from the viz.
After taking a stab at ranking the teams myself, it dawned on me that maybe someone else, much more qualified, had already done this work. A quick google search and I was delighted to see that, indeed, this had been done and fairly recently. In April 2018, ESPN Insider, John Gasaway had ranked all champions from 1939 to 2018. I compared my rankings against his and although many of mine were within one or two spots of his, a few, most notably 1995 UCLA, were way off. I had that Bruins squad much higher than Gasaway’s ranking of sixteenth. So, to ensure the seedings in the bracket were legitimate, I decided to follow Gasaway’s rankings, with a few very small tweaks, in order to balance out the bracket and avoid having the same school play another version of itself, early on.
Of the 33 teams, there were five instances of Duke, four North Carolina’s, four Connecticut’s, three Kentucky’s and three Villanova’s. So, those five schools accounted for 19 of the 33 teams. With far too much time spent jockeying the teams around, I was finally able to produce a bracket in which none of the above schools would meet until at least the third round. So, with the rankings set, it was time to build the viz.
Building the Viz in Tableau
The Set Up
I wanted the viz to have the look of an actual bracket that you might fill out by hand or online, in your local bracket challenge pool. So, in Tableau, once I had the team data portraits placed on the dashboard, I would leverage ninety-two text boxes to draw out the bracket. Each text box was filled with navy blue and set to be 3 pixels tall or wide, depending on its position. Looking back, this part was pretty tedious, but it allowed me to design the bracket exactly the way I wanted it to look, which was nice. Ok, back to the data portraits.
My goal in building this viz was to create a fun March Madness bracket, that would become interactive through the use of Tableau Set Actions. If you remember from above, the placement of the teams into the bracket had been determined, so Step 1 was to essentially create a bracket that had not yet been filled out. To place each team into their respective position in the bracket, I created a worksheet, that looked like the one below, for each of the sixteen first round match-ups and then floated (don’t hate me Team Tiled!!) each worksheet on the dashboard. Side note: this dashboard is literally a Team Tiled member’s worst nightmare, as there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 floating objects on the dashboard.
Setting up the bracket
Calc to separate out ’93 UNC from ’05 UNC, etc
I used the ‘Bracket’ field to filter each worksheet to its appropriate bracket and then the ‘Seed 1’ field to filter to the correct match-up. To account for schools with multiple championships, I then created a calculated field called ‘Year+Team’ which combined the ‘Year’ and ‘Champion’ fields. Pulled onto the shapes card, this would allow me to assign one data portrait per champion. Once this part was complete, I was left with eighteen sheets (originally seventeen) to float onto the dashboard. Why eighteen and originally eighteen? The original viz was built prior to the 2019 tournament and featured one “play-in” game. The play-in game was built using two sheets instead of one, so that’s how we get to seventeen sheets. Also, I updated the viz after the 2019 tournament, to include the 2019 champion Virginia Cavaliers, after their miracle run to the title; the last two games of which I was fortunate enough to have seen in person, at the Final Four in Minneapolis. What an amazing sports experience!! Anyway, adding Virginia led to the need for another play-in game, thus adding another sheet and getting us to eighteen. Alright, the bracket was set up, next up was to add the interactivity.
The interactivity was set up with a few simple steps, which were repeated for each game throughout the tournament.
Create a Set for each game in the bracket. Each Set looked identical to the one pictured below. The set was created using the Year+Team field and I left all boxes unchecked to ensure the worksheets that would later be dropped onto the dashboard were blank until the addition of the Set Actions.
2. I then created a Boolean (T/F) calculation for each game like the one shown below, created a sheet for each game in the tournament and dragged the Boolean calculations for each game onto the Filters shelf of their respective sheets, setting them all to True. This would ensure that once the Set Actions were in place, the blank sheets would populate with the expected data portrait.
3. Next, the sheets needed to be placed (floated) onto the dashboard, into their positions within the bracket. I floated them on the bracket as shown in the picture below.
4. Lastly, we needed to add in the Set Actions. Once again, there are 31 game so we need 31 Set Actions. In the example below, we’re using the Source Sheet 2.1, which contains the 1995 UCLA Bruins and the 2016 Villanova Wildcats. We tell the Set Action to target the Game 2 Set, which was set to True on the blank sheet named 2.2. And then we click ok and back on the dashboard, if we click the UCLA data portrait on Sheet 2.1, we see them advance into the second round of the tournament, onto Sheet 2.2. Every other Set Action is set up just like this and together, they provide the dashboard interactivity.
Source Sheet 2.1 | Target Set Game 2 Set which is on Sheet 2.2
The Viz in Tooltips
Lastly, while I felt the data portraits provided great high level information about each champion, what they lacked was any type of information regarding the players. So, I pulled some more data from sports-reference.com/cbb and added a tooltip that, on the left-hand side, provided a zoomed in view of the data portrait and on the right-hand side, provided the user with each team’s statistical leaders in three main categories; points, rebounds and assists. The ’94 Arkansas Razorbacks were one of my all-time favorite college teams…and it didn’t hurt that they also beat Duke in the title game!!
Before wrapping up, I want to give a shout out to Kevin Flerlage for some fantastic feedback throughout the whole process of building this viz. Kevin helped me with some decisions regarding the tooltips and a nice clean way of executing a “clear bracket” option, among other great input. Also, when I was in the early stages of building out the viz, I thought it was a pretty cool idea. But after getting it to a point where it could be shared with others, for feedback, Kevin’s reaction and genuine excitement for the viz made me that much more motivated to get this thing across the finish line. Also, a big thanks to my co-workers Jim Van Sistine and Tom Coyer for providing their feedback as well and last, but not least, my friend Jason Underdahl, who said of the initial data portrait “why do you have the logo grayed out? You can barely even see it!” That’s tough love, but he had a good point! Adding the color back to the logos really made them pop!!
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful.
In October of 2017, I wrote up some Data and Analytics related goals that I wanted to obtain by the end of the 2018 calendar year. My list contained six goals, all of which I felt were obtainable, but would take some dedication and hard work, in order to achieve. At the end of 2018, I sat down to review this list and realized for the first time, that while the fifth item on my list was checked complete, it hadn’t really been FULLY completed. The item read as follows; ‘Improve and Learn Every Week.’ While, I felt 2018 had seen me take some big steps forward in my journey, I didn’t feel I had improved and learned EVERY week throughout the year. So, in 2019 I wanted to do better. Realizing there is a ton of room for me to grow in this space and endless resources available, I decided that tracking my growth would not only accelerate my learning while holding me accountable, but it would also allow me to eventually share the idea with others!! And so, #PlanToGrow was born. I started by compiling lists of blogs, vlogs, videos, podcasts, books, community projects, anything and everything I wanted to learn around the topic of Data and Analytics, in 2019. So, with good enough lists to get me through at least the first few months of the year, I felt ready to get started. Each week throughout 2019, I would Tweet out what I planned to learn for that week. Then, after checking an item off the list, I would track it in a Google Sheets document. This was because I eventually wanted to visualize the results in Tableau. But, thanks to Sarah Bartlett and #IronQuest, I was able to make the visual part of the project a reality much sooner than it otherwise would have happened. #IronQuest’s February theme was “business dashboards,” so I thought what better time than now to put my data into a visual form, start tracking my progress in Tableau and share the templates with the community?
Learning and Tracking
To be honest, I put no thought whatsoever into where I would track my data, but instead went right to Google Sheets, where I felt comfortable and knew it could easily be shared once that time came. So, my tracker began and has evolved slightly over the past month or so. It may not be elegant, but it works; Here’s how. As mentioned earlier, at the beginning of each week, typically on Sunday night or Monday morning, I’ll Tweet out my plan for the week. That Tweet will look something like…
…then, throughout the week, as items are completed, they are tracked in the Google Sheets document. I shared the project at the February Twin Cities Tableau User Group meeting and was asked how I stay disciplined in my tracking. The answer is that Google Sheets is almost always open on my computer, so on good days, as soon as I finish reading a blog post or watching a video, I’ll turn right to Google Sheets and enter in the data. Otherwise, the app is on my phone, so that has helped tremendously, as well. With blogs/vlogs being the easiest resources to consume, after a couple weeks, I found that rather than bounce around, it was a good idea to focus on learning from just one individual each week. Therefore, in a worst case scenario, if I dropped the ball on tracking for that week, a quick pull-up of that person’s blog would allow me to scroll through the content and know whether or not I had read/watched each item. And with so many amazing people in our community having more than enough content on their blogs for me to get through in a week, this just seemed to make sense.
Sharing With Others
For me, the most exciting part of this project is the opportunity to share the idea and materials, with others. Having been engaged in the Tableau community for just over 18 months now, I know firsthand just how overwhelming it can be. There is SO MUCH amazing information out there, but sometimes it can be difficult to even know where to begin. In 2018, there were many occasions in which my free/learning time was unproductive, because too much of it was wasted with trying to figure out which blog post to read, which video to watch or what viz to download and reverse-engineer. Thanks to #PlanToGrow, my learning experience in 2019 has been much more relaxing and enjoyable. It really is amazing what a difference being prepared can make.
From beginning to end, the #PlanToGrow project has helped me in several ways. First and foremost, planning ahead helps me stay focused and on track each week…no more time wasted! Staying disciplined in tracking has helped that part of the project to not fall completely off the rails. Without the consistent tracking, there is no final piece of the project, the visual component in Tableau. The visuals allow me to quickly and easily see how I’m tracking to my overall goals and what each week looks like. Additionally, I can see how my community participation has been and which days of the week I need to be more productive. Shocker…I’m least productive on the weekends! All that is great, but my favorite part of the Tableau viz is the combination of the Set Actions and URL Actions that allow for lightning quick access to every piece of material I’ve covered in 2019. So many times in the past, I would read a great blog post or watch a useful video and then several weeks later, come across a situation where that very blog post or video would come in handy. But, in some cases I would be left asking myself…”what was that video called?” or “who wrote that blog post, again?” or “I swear I saw that on Twitter, right?” only to either fail in finding it again or waste too much time in the process of finding it. There will be no more of that…every great learning resource will now be a section of the treemap. Easily accessible from either directly within the treemap or by first selecting a category from the bar chart, to narrow down the options within the treemap. I love this!!
If you would like to create your own #PlanToGrow Tracker, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps. First, you will need to download a copy of the 2019 #PlanToGrow Tracker Template from my Google Drive and that can be found here. This document includes a Data tab as well as a Directions tab that explains the process of making this your own. Secondly, you will need to download the Tableau workbook and replace my data with yours. The workbook can be found here. That’s it!! If you’d like, feel free to share your workbook on Twitter and tag me (@JtothaVizzo) so I can see it.
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!!