2019: A Year in Review

Just so you know, I am writing this on New Years Eve, and as many other parents can relate to, I just put my kid down to bed, grabbed a beer, and started this post with the hopes of finishing far before midnight in order to get some much needed sleep. No New Years parties for this guy!

2019…what a year, am I right!? Lots of crazy stuff has happened this year, both good and not as good. This past year has seen a lot of change in both my professional and personal life. In September of 2018 my wife and I welcomed our first child Nolan into the world, and in February 2019 I left a job I loved dearly at GE Digital and joined the Tessellation team. Both of these changes had their challenges, but both have proven to be huge learning opportunities as well.

After a year of consulting at Tessellation, I now know that joining this small company was one of the best things I have ever done. I have learned more in my one year here than I have learned at any other time in my life. I have been able to work with some of the best companies on the planet and some of the best people I have ever met. My travels have taken me from Newport Beach, California to Berlin, Germany and many places in between.

In addition to all of the fun work experiences, I tried to be more involved in the Tableau community again this year. Here are some of my 2019 highlights:

  • Tableau Public Featured Author – at the beginning of the year I was chosen to be a Tableau Public Featured Author, which was a HUGE honor. Being selected gives your profile on Tableau Public huge exposure to the community as it’s directly linked to the Tableau Public home page.
  • More #SportsVizSunday Fun – I love interacting with the Tableau community through this initiative. They provide me inspiration from their work, joy from their passion, and knowledge from getting interact with all the brilliant minds involved. Plus, getting to befriend both Simon and James in the process has been super meaningful and I really enjoyed getting to deepen my friendship with them this year.
  • Tableau Conference Speaking – getting to speak at Tableau Conference in Berlin was an amazing opportunity. It was such a great experience to meet James and Simon in another country to speak about our love for sports and analytics. Huge thanks to Jordan Scott and Caroline Yam for allowing that to happen!
  • 5x Tableau Public Viz of the Day – even after getting 11 VOTDs, being chosen for this honor is always so humbling. I still remember the first time I got VOTD, it really inspired me to strive for more. This year it was even better to get to share the honors with my fellow collaborators Chantilly Jaggernauth and Luke Stanke.
  • SpencerBaucke.com – this year I really got into blogging, which was a new thing for me. I had never blogged about anything, so it was fun learning how to do that and also have another avenue to express myself to the community. I posted 22 blog posts ranging from Cleveland Dot Plots to recreating Tableau vizzes in PowerBI. Those were actually my top two blog posts by views, with my Filled Bar Chart blog coming in third.
  • 2nd Viz Gallery at TC – the first viz I had featured in a Viz Gallery at Tableau Conference was my recreation of President Lincoln’s map on slavery in the American South. That was at last year’s Tableau Conference 2018 in London. This year my viz with Chantilly Jaggernauth on the Great Migration made it on the wall. The Viz Gallery is such a fun part of TC, and it was an extreme honor to be on there again, especially this viz. If you’re not familiar with what the Great Migration is or how it shaped America, make sure to check out our viz. Being able to have a platform to speak about these topics is one of the reasons I love Tableau. The feeling I got when sitting there watching people read through my viz who may have never read about this topic before was really special for me.

My Tableau Public Viz of the Days for 2019:

In addition to all the awesome Tableau community involvement this year, I learned a ton from work during this 2019. I wanted to include a section in this post to share some of those lessons as I am sure they are applicable to many people in this community. Here are some of my top lessons from 2019, my first year as a consultant:

  1. Listen – this year has taught me more than any other to LISTEN. This advice is not just applicable at work, but in all aspects of life. I have gotten to work with/from some of the smarts individuals I’ve ever met both at Tessellation and with clients. You always learn far more when you’re not talking than when you are.
  2. Understand the Big Picture – when working on client work, it is easy to get sucked into the tiny details of an individual calculation or interaction. Make sure to first grasp the WHY for your project before getting to the HOW. Understanding the WHY will almost always inform your HOW.
  3. Tableau is just a Part of the Solution – I feel a need to put this in because of the audience that will be reading (largely Tableau community). Don’t get me wrong, Tableau is a great solution, but it’s far from the only one and it’s just a PART of any solution. Make sure to understand your data, how it flows from point A to point B, and what it represents. Your end solution might be PowerBI, it might be a data portal where you export csv’s, don’t always get bogged down with the tool, focus on the right solution.
  4. Learn SQL – if you haven’t already, learn SQL. Sometimes you will have a data engineer with you, sometimes you won’t! In that case, you’ll probably need to know how to bring in a variety of tables and join them together to make your desired view. Learning SQL will make this process so much easier.
  5. Your Final Dashboard Won’t Always Be Tableau Public VOTD Worthy – this is one I want to emphasize for people transitioning to using Tableau on a day-to-day basis. Looking at Tableau Public is inspiring. There are a ton of authors doing amazing things on there every day, but most solutions in your workplace won’t require you to create custom Powerpoint images and do xyz cheat to create an obscure chart type. Most of the time your metric definitions and calculations will be the hardest part of your job, so make sure you know how to do those.
  6. Be Flexible – your requirements gathered at the beginning of the project should be the final requirements, but often it doesn’t work like that. Things are going to change during the course of your project, how you respond to it will determine whether your project succeeds or fails.
  7. Bad Data, Bad Dashboards – I feel like this is a clique that someone has probably said before but it just popped into my mind. Your dashboards are only going to be as good as your data. Make sure that your data is accurate, updated frequently, and in the correct structure. Spending more of your time on the back end of things will only improve your experience on the front end.
  8. Have a Growth Mindset – if you’re familiar with the Expert v Growth mindset categories, make sure to try and have a Growth mindset. When you’re a consultant you will be faced with a constant barrage of scenarios where you can decide that you’re either an expert in the field, or you know enough to do the work but that there is so much to learn from your surroundings in the meantime. Even though you might be bad ass at what you do, you will be able to learn a lot no matter what situation you’re faced with.

This year has been amazing, it truly has. I have learned more and seen more this year than any other year in my life, so I am really excited for what 2020 is going to bring! I wish all of you a Happy New Years, and I hope that you found this post insightful. If you have any reactions or feedback after reading this, please feel free to DM me or email me at spencer.baucke@tessellationconsulting.com. Have a great 2020!

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