10 Questions is an ongoing blog series in which Tableau Zen Master Dan Murray interviews some of the brightest folks in the world of data.
The first time I met Emily and Matt together in person was standing in a very long line at the Tableau Conference in Washington DC a few years ago. Tableau asked me to give a speech on their behalf (in Richmond) on the first day of the conference, so I went to Richmond and missed day one of the conference. I returned in the evening just in time to board one of the buses with Matt and Emily. We had a grand chat. They made the line wait fun and informative.
Matt and Emily are both bloggers, into social media and, of course, their Tableau Wannabee Podcast can stake a claim as the first podcast dedicated to the world of Tableau.
Q: When and how did you meet each other?
Kund: We actually met over Twitter right before San Diego. I was joking over Twitter that I was the official unofficial tweeter for my agency. Matt must never sleep because he was following along all of the TCC tweets.
Francis: Like most of the people I know in the Tableau world, it was through Twitter. It’s an odd thing that when you meet someone face to face now, you already know them pretty well as you have been conversing for a while.
Q: When did you two get the idea to do a blog post? And, why the name “Wannabe?”
Kund: I’m not sure who had their blog post first, but I called my site “Wannabe Awesome Me” because I want to be the best version of myself. We chose “Wannabe Tableau Podcast” because we both had “Wannabe” in our blog names.
Francis: It was after the Washington DC Tableau conference. I had been meaning to start writing a blog for some time but never felt like my voice was really worth listening to. Then, after meeting so many of my Tableau idols, I thought the time was right. As for the name, I am always learning, always wanting to improve and be the best I can be – so forever a Wannabe.
Q: When and how did you both discover Tableau?
Kund: Someone in my division championed Tableau, I had training on it (by Freakalytics) and then I sat on it. It wasn’t until a couple years later when I led a team of analysts where I saw how Tableau could be helpful. I started using Tableau Public in late 2013, around the time of the TCC13, when I felt inspired and my engagement soared.
Francis: We had a visit from some guys from the Broad Institute in Boston and they were showing some dashboards that they used to monitor their genome sequencing pipeline. I thought that they looked a lot better than the static ones I was producing, so I asked what it was. I downloaded the demo, pointed it at a random database and started creating things I never thought possible. I then sat with our head of pipelines and she was amazed at what I could produce right in front of her.
Q: What do each of your do in your day jobs?
Kund: I’m an analyst in the federal government. I’m actually moving into a new role, so my involvement with Tableau will be from an end-user perspective. I’m officially a Tableau/data viz hobbyist now!
Francis: I work at a Genome Sequencing Centre where we turn samples of DNA into massive data sets. I work in the team that provided software to track the lab activities, and my role is to produce reports and dashboards that allow people to monitor the processes, check quality and ensure timely delivery of the data back to the scientist.
Q: What are your favorite dashboards in the Tableau community and why?
Kund: Tough question, Dan! In terms of story points, I thought Donna Cole’s story was brilliant; it elicited a powerful emotional response. And, I pretty much love anything that Anya A’Hearn does. Her dashboards are so clean. I aspire to have Anya and Kellly Martin’s eye for dashboarding.
Francis: I enjoy dashboards that don’t look like Tableau. Mark Jackson has created some great looking ones lately. But, for me, Ramon Martinez is just amazing. Every one of his dashboards is a superb example of layout. He is my viz idol. If I can get to anywhere near his level, I’ll be happy.
Q: You are both very active on Twitter. How has social media helped your understanding of Tableau?
Kund: Twitter helped build relationships for me, and it’s through those relationships that I can ask for help or have really good conversations that lead to a deeper understanding of Tableau (especially as it relates to data) and data visualization. For example, I met Jonathan Drummey over Twitter, and he is helping me get a deeper understanding of how Tableau works with data. Actually, I could go on about several of the Tableau Zen Masters; they are leaders in the true sense of the word.
Francis: I have used it for two main things. First, it’s my main source of inspiration from other people posting their dashboards, blogs, hints, tips, etc. It’s a constant source of new ideas and information. Second, I use it to get help. I have tweeted out questions and gotten a load of replies within minutes. So, for me, it’s my first port of call for help.
Q for Matt: When did you first get the idea for the funny videos you always get out around the Tableau Conferences?
Francis: The first video I made was one of the Hitler reacts video. I thought it would be funny to make one of him reacting to not being able to use Tableau. I didn’t think it would be as popular as it was, but it got 1000 or so views. For the San Diego conference, I did a remix of Gangnam Style which got played on the big screen at the baseball ground. Last year, it was Frozen. Who knows what this year will bring, but I really enjoy making them.
Q for Emily: What is your role at the Treasury? How are you using Tableau? Are you involved in a user group in DC?
Kund: I work for a bureau under Treasury as an examiner. We use Tableau when appropriate either to accompany written analysis or to provide reporting to all staff levels. With respect to user groups, I help organize our internal group and helped establish a joint user group with other similar agencies. I occasionally attend DC user group meetings.
Q: What features do you hope to see Tableau develop in the next few years?
Kund: From what I saw in stage, I think that they’re headed in a great direction. In keeping with this idea of making the product consumable, I think it would be awesome if they continued to make the application more user-friendly to those of us who don’t think like a database.
I’m also in the auto-save camp. I would really like some flexibility in dashboard/view design. I’ve mentioned a few times that I think that Tableau should buy scrapbooking software and cull out some of the tools found in there. Hey, this felt a little like the three wishes question we ask on the podcast!
Francis: I’d like more control over the look of dashboards, transparency, snap-to-grid alignment, formatting and themes that can be saved and copied across workbooks.
Q: Why have you had Andy Kriebel on your podcast so many times? You’re feeding his ego. 🙂
Kund: Actually, Andy was tied with Jon Schwabish for a number of appearances. Matt’s dramatic sigh from our first episode in 2015 when I mentioned Andy’s name was outstanding! I think Andy is a great guest to have on because of his wealth of knowledge from a data viz and Tableau perspective, and he wants to give back and share what he’s learned.
I love that we can joke about him! Can you do me a solid and do some coding magic so that if/when Andy reads this, either this question goes away (I mean, c’mon, he’ll think this is the best question ever) or just redact the stuff about his wealth of knowledge? 🙂
Francis: He’s cheap and doesn’t seem to work much, so he’s always available. He talks a lot, so it fills airtime – quantity, not always quality.
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