I'm a nerd (this probably is not shocking to anyone). Here's a prime (& relevant) example. In high school, when my parents couldn't make a parent teacher conference, I held it with my anatomy & physiology teacher (I think it was the first time he had ever had a student hold a PTC). And those who know me know that I like to plan. What do you get when you combine a nerd who loves to plan, who asks for feedback, and who is goal oriented? You get an accountability blog post! It's been six months since TCC13 where I resolved that I wanted to keep the energy from the conference alive in order to build my profile and skill set to be a good resource at work. Am I still energized? I think so. Here's what I've done in the last six months to keep the spark alive!
Now, we have a little theory at work where you'll learn enough to realize that there is still so much to learn. I think that's where I was at with my Tableau Identity Crisis post. What do I want to be when I grow up? I ask that all the time. I wanted to raise my profile and increase my skill set, with the ultimate goal of being a recognized resource at work when it comes to visualizations. Three major things happened for me earlier this year; my identity crisis blog post was named as one of the most influential Tableau related blog posts (I seriously felt like I won a major award and I *might* have given a speech to my vanity mirror); I did a guest post for the tableau public blog (how awesome is that!!!), and Paul asked me to do Two Minutes With... for his blog. I was honored to be asked and I thought was great fun (hopefully his readers liked it too)!
And lucky me, I have an awesome support system, which was actually one of the goals I set for TCC13. I got such positive feedback from the identify crisis post and have a network that truly supports me. The list would be too long to write everyone's name down, but I do want to give a shout out to a few people...Anya, Andy K, Andy C, Matt, Kelly, Paul & Ramon! This network makes me be a better analyst (cue the patriotic music) and that's what I want. The feedback sucks sometimes and I have my doubts that I can actually do this, especially when hacking seems so commonplace and I'm still trying to remember how to do a parameter. But that's when I think back to a good ole fashion pep talk my dad once gave me (You're a Todd! You do what you can do to prepare and go in there and do the best you can)! The nerd in me takes over and refreshes my memory that the feedback will make me better and like a good little nerd, I take comfort in that.
I also got myself into a pickle. Kelly Martin & Matt Francis thought it would be neat to see what I could do with her Bubble, Bubble, Oil, and Trouble viz. This time I didn't have a question, but just a challenge to explore. Now I think Kelly's vizes are great. I made some tweaks and I don't I love it nearly as much as hers, but I did love the thought process.
I also had a goal to do six vizzes between conferences. That might not seem like a lot, but factor in a long driving commute, a job, two young kids, working out, and life in general, I think six is reasonable. Since I don't actually do the viz magic at work (I oversee it), I wanted to do some off-hours vizzing so that I could build my skills. I created a Wonder Woman viz before floating dashboards and boy, I should really go back and remake that one. It's poppy and fun and awful, but I got my first exposure to IFTTT out of it, so it's not all bad. I also downloaded some holiday sales data in November and made a fun viz (for me). Neither vizzes set the world on fire (and truth be told, some people may want to set my vizzes on fire) and that's okay. Now I have something to go back and remake. Side note: I really wish Tableau Public had folders that I could file my work in. Like a "I'm Goofing Off" or a "Channeling Tufte" folder so that people could tell when I'm having fun and when I'm try to create something that abides by visual best practices.
I recently got excited because the light bulb went off in this random brain of mine. So in an effort to build my skills, I remembered that I could download financial data for banks and do some vizzes with that data. This is perfect for me! It takes a skill that I already have, such as assessing the condition of banks and allows me to focus on the building my tableau skill set. And because there is such a breadth and depth of data, I can do little snippet now and another snippet next month or next quarter, so that I have a series! If you couldn't tell that I'm excited about this, you should see how fast I typed these sentences out...my keyboard was on fire! And another reason why I'm happy about this is because I can really focus on those things I learned at Tapestry (a little on that in a minute). The examiner in me is not totally impressed with this...I can dig much further to better understand the level, quality, and trend in earnings. However, this really just started with me messing around and now...it seems like the possibilities are endless. I feel a little like a kid in a candy store, a big data candy store.
And then there's the big one, this MS viz that I've been working on for a couple of months. I want this to be a really good viz, not just one that I play with for an hour. To that end, I used my network. I reached out to others to get their feedback and it was tough, but necessary. This is where the dad pep talk and the nerd entered. And I took a step back and thought, the viz that I put out there for comment was my fifth one I think (including two work projects). So I let that settle for a minute. For my fifth one, it wasn't so bad. And that's when I felt better (though still frustrated). I hope to finish it soon so that I can time it with WalkMS. And then I'll do a post on it, since there are a couple of stories waiting to be told about it.
Sure I have room to improve and I have lofty expectations. But the way I see it, I've made progress. I've really enjoyed the ride the last six months since TCC13 and I'm looking forward to the next six months being just as awesome!