#data16 Day 3

Admittedly I’m jumping from day 1 to day 3.  I hit a micro wall on Tuesday.  But now that I’ve pushed through to Wednesday – it is time to focus on the amazing.

First up – paradigm shift.  I had a very novel vision of expectations and how to “get the most” out of the conference.  This involved the idea of attending several hands-on sessions and maximizing my time soaking in how others solve data problems.  The ‘why’ behind the initial decision: I have a particular love for seeing how other people pull apart problems.  I was once asked what my passion was by a colleague – I said that I loved understanding the universe.  Pulling apart anything and everything, understanding it, cataloging it, figuring out how it fits into existence.  So faced with the opportunity to see how others tackle things was something I had to do.

So what was the paradigm shift?  The conference isn’t just for seeing people solve problems.  It’s about seeing people communicate their passion.  And this happens in a million different ways.  This morning it happened with Star Trek and making data fun and serious.  Later it was 300+ slides of humor secretly injected with sage wisdom.  The word that comes to my mind is intensity.  I think really what I started seeking out was intensity.  And there’s no shortage.

My takeaway: Focus more on the passion and intensity from others.  Soaking this in becomes fuel.  Fuel for improvement, potential, and endless possibilities.  I can always go back and learn the intricate, well documented solutions.  I can’t recreate magic.

Second item – commitment.  Commitment is accountability, following through, sticking it out, dedication.  Commitment is daunting.  Commitment is a conscious choice.  I made a commitment to myself to be present, to engage with others.  Following through has been difficult (and very imperfect), but it has been unbelievably rewarding.  Thinking back to my day 1 thoughts – I fall back to community.  Committing to this community has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

My takeaway: Human connections matter and are second to none.  Human connections make all the gravy of data visualization, playing with data, and problem solving possible.  (Also when you commit to dancing unafraid at a silent disco, you end up having an amazing day.)

Final item – Try everything that piques interest.  (This one I will keep short because it’s late.)  If you sense something is special, RUN TOWARD IT.  Special is just that: special.  Unique, one-of-a-kind, infrequent.  I think the moments I’ve had while here will turn into what shapes the next year of my life adventures.

My love note for Wednesday – in the books.

Prepping for #data16

The last 6 months have been a huge whirlwind for me in terms of Tableau and the Tableau community.  I started out the year attending a Saturday workshop on Tableau and am now a Desktop Certified Professional and two month veteran Tableau User Group leader.

The whirlwind has been part of my 2016 vision – to get more involved in Tableau and reaffirm (maybe strengthen is a better term) my commitment to data visualization.

Right around this time last year (think TC15) is when the rumbling of ideas mentioned above started to take shape.  I wish I had been a little more agile and pushed to go to TC15.  I know it would have been an overwhelming newbie experience.  Alas, I didn’t do that, so I’m now jumping in to TC for the first time this year.

To help usher others into the conference and to leverage my community, I thought a great topic for our upcoming user group session would be the conference.  Selfishly it has multiple purposes: get seasoned Tableau users interested in coming to our monthly user group, not be lonely in Austin, and (most significantly) force myself to dig deep into the heart of what I can expect at #data16.

So here’s what I’ve learned so far, and the mistakes I’ve made so far:

  • Pre-conference starts Sunday/Monday – I scheduled my flight pretty late on Monday and may miss out on portion of the Data + Women meetup
  • Hotel booking during conference purchasing – I didn’t do this because I was afraid to have my corporate card charged, didn’t realize there was no charge until October (now I am maybe 6 miles away from the epicenter)
  • Hands-on training sessions are 2 hours – that really eats away with sheer bulk learning opportunities
  • The month leading up to the conference is zooming- I should have prepped for a Phoenix mixer pre-conference, and scoped out a time/place for us to meetup in Austin.

Tips and tidbits I’ve picked up along the way that I think will be extremely valuable:

  • Pack extra battery/power for electronic devices
  • Bring business cards – I actually caught this one in time to get some printed
  • Ramp up social media – I’m trying!
  • Plan out food
  • Get the app – the app is all powerful
  • There are social/networking opportunities not to be missed, meetups and the nightly gatherings
  • Prepare for swag (admittedly I need to get more courageous about asking vendors for swag)

And one of the most valuable tips I read was to step outside of my industry comfort zone.  I think this is one key piece of advice that will go the distance.  I love understanding how people solve their problems and then using their solutions to help solve mine.  Some of the heartache in the healthcare industry may be easily solved by a perception shift on tools and techniques used in the financial world.

My game plan for #data16 is to be as transparent as possible (without acquiring a stalker) about my whereabouts and keep everything casual.  I’m committed to minimizing FOMO and maximizing living in the moment.  And as part of my mission to enable others to harness the power of data visualization/visual analytics (and the power that Tableau has toward that), I feel it’s my duty to demonstrate and make the entire experience accessible.  Some of my favorite UG feedback has been that I make Tableau and data fun and accessible.

Look for me to share my humble deck after Thursday’s PHXTUG meeting and I hope to hang out with you at #data16 (even if that means virtually!).