My Tableau Story



Truly, I have no idea how it happened. If I told you that I grew up doing well at math, or that I was naturally drawn to art, I would be lying to you. If I told you that I opened Tableau for the first time and said, yea…this makes sense, I’d also be lying. To be honest, my first six months or so trying to learn Tableau were extremely painful. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, or who to ask questions to. I didn’t have a Twitter account and I didn’t know enough about the big data world to know if it was worth my time learning.

One day, after struggling through my first six months building poorly made dashboards almost entirely from the Show Me menu, my wife’s coworker forwarded me an email about a Tableau seminar at the University of Cincinnati. I wasn’t exactly enjoying my current line of work, I definitely wasn’t producing any masterpieces in Tableau, and I figured I didn’t have anything to lose by learning a new tool….so I signed up. Little did I know, these 48 hours would literally change my life. 

I think I learned more in a two day seminar with Tableau Zen Master Jeff Shaffer than I did in four years of college.  Blue pills, green pills, discrete, continuous, it all started to make sense. I didn’t realize it then, but it was at this point that I discovered my passion for data and data visualization.  Even after the two day seminar, I was still pretty raw, but I knew one thing: I wanted to get better at Tableau.  I didn’t necessarily know if it would lead to new job opportunities, or more money, or what would happen, but I wanted to be good at it.

In July of 2016 I was fortunate enough to join the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Performance and Data Analytics. It was there that I got my first taste for using Tableau in a full time setting. I helped launch an online portal of Tableau dashboards (CincyInsights), submitted my first #MakeOverMonday viz, and set up a Twitter account focused on Tableau and big data. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, but like anything I have chosen to do in life, I went all in. 

Even after a couple years of working in Tableau, I don’t feel like I’ve arrived anywhere. I have so much more to learn and so many more Tableau skills to master, but I am forever grateful to Tableau for allowing me to explore a side of me that I never knew was there. I also owe an extreme amount of gratitude to the Tableau community for helping me get started, for being helpful at every turn, and for providing me the inspiration to keep improving myself. Most importantly, I want to thank my wife for supporting me while I woke up nearly every Saturday morning for a better part of a year to put on a pot of coffee, turn on a Premier League match, and get to work in Tableau for a better part of the day. I also know that I’ve annoyed a great amount of the Tableau people on Twitter via DM for advice on how to build a chart or dashboard design, so to you all, thank you as well. 

That’s my Tableau story, at least this far!

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