2020: A Year in Review

I honestly don’t know where to start. I don’t think there’s any combination of words that could do these past 12 months justice. So much has happened, yet sometimes it feels like not much has happened at all. The greatest action asked of us this year was to do nothing — maybe that was the cruel irony of it all. The commotion of our changing world clashing with the silence of our living rooms was an odd dynamic. But I digress.

This year started off fairly normally by me traveling to Portugal with my wife on vacation. I met my co-worker and Alteryx ACE, Nick Haylund for the first time. Although we had talked numerous times before on Slack and Zoom, meeting him while sipping a Portuguese beer at noon in Lisbon was a little bit more entertaining.

About a month after we got back, our life, and the life of most everyone across the world, changed in a way that no one would have guessed. Unlike millions of people, my wife and I were lucky to keep our jobs and continue living semi-normal lives. I wanted to try and make this year as productive as any other despite all of the set backs, and I was fairly pleased with how it all turned out. Besides my daily running goal lasting just about as long as Tiger King’s #1 Netflix rating, I did accomplish a lot of the things I set out to do. Here is a summary of some of those things:


Although I was bummed that didn’t get any love in terms of Tableau awards/recognition (Zen, Ambassador, Vizzie, TC20 swag etc), I still stayed heavily involved in the community throughout the year. This included:

Two of the things that stand out to me on this list are running #SportsVizSunday and Zach’s podcast. Although we said a fond farewell to James Smith as he departed the leadership team, we welcomed two new members who have been constants in the #SportsVizSunday community almost since the beginning, Kate Brown and Bo Plantinga. Not being able to work with a man that I now call friend was tough, but bringing on these two made it so much easier. I am really excited to see the impact they make in the community!

Another big change to #SportsVizSunday was the format in which we shared the weekly contributions to the community. Previously I had prepared a weekly thread highlighting that week’s sports vizzes that were submitted using the hashtag #SportsVizSunday or ones that I saw on my timeline. In November we switched to a blog to highlight these contributions. So far the change has proved to be a very positive one! Here are some of the blogs highlighting weekly #SportsVizSunday content.

And lastly, Zach’s podcast Data + Love was so much fun. I have listened to every episode (I think), and it’s always so much fun to hear where Zach takes each podcast. Our time together was full of laughs and making jokes at Luke Stanke’s expense. Thanks again Zach for having me!

I was extremely delighted to have one of my visualizations recognized by Tableau Public as one of the top 10 favorited vizzes of all time. I definitely didn’t realize it was that favorited, so that was a cool surprise!

Thanks to everyone in the Tableau community who either participated in #SportsVizSunday or interacted with me online to help make this year a little easier. Tableau’s community is special and certainly a highlight of using the platform.

Power BI

At the end of 2019 I put Power BI on my list of things that I wanted to be more involved in in 2020. I was already starting to do some Power BI for work and I knew that there was a lot of potential there work-wise, so I decided to dive head first in the Power BI community. Getting to know folks like Alex Powers, Sekou Tyler, Barrett Studdard, Marco Russo, and Dave Eldersveld all made for a smooth landing in the new community. Here are some of the fun things that I did with Power BI this year:

Tableau & Power BI

While I definitely stayed connected to both communities throughout the year, one of the roles I enjoyed playing this year was one of community bridge builder. Throughout the year I blogged about the two platforms and engaged with both communities on social media, oftentimes about the other platforms! Here are some examples of those:

This thread on Twitter is what started a lot of my conversations with the two communities. Here is my write up about what I learned.

Throughout the year I highlighted people on my blog who were active users of both Power BI and Tableau. Here are links to those 3 interviews:

In addition to these community posts, I wrote a series of blog posts for the Power BI legend Marco Russo’s website OkViz called Power BI for Tableau Developers. Here are the list of those articles (one more to come in 2021):

In a blog post that got a lot of engagement on social media, I wrote a price point comparison between Tableau and Power. You can check it out below.

To wrap up the blogging, I wrote a series of blogs on design that are applicable to all BI platforms.

If you weren’t counting, that adds up to approximately 50 blog posts this year. I already have some more in the hopper for 2021, so keep an eye out!

Lastly, I got to present as a Professor for a Day to Kevin Lee Elder’s data analytics class. I had so much fun! We covered topics from how to be a BI professional to the differences and similarities between Tableau and Power BI, and much more. I really appreciate him having me and I was so impressed with the depth of knowledge and experience that his students get during the program. It definitely made me jealous!

Closing Thoughts

I really tried to branch out from the Tableau only mindset this year, and I think my blog catalog from this year shows that. I also snuck in a couple of certifications in Alteryx and Google Data Studio. All in all, I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do this year: combat the depressing circumstances around us with positive professional growth. It took a lot out of me, but damn I feel like I did it. *deep exhale*

In addition to all of the professional learning, I learned a lot about myself this year. I learned that I really liked seeing my wife and kid every day during the shelter in place orders and quarantine restrictions. Even though the initial glamour of it wore off sooner than one would hope, I still loved the time spent around my family. It really reminded me of what and who was actually important in life.

After months of being very cautious and only going out for groceries, in September I decided that my family and I needed to get out of Cincinnati, so we took a trip to visit some family friends in Colorado. It was a much needed get away in the midst of a very trying time.

It was during this trip that I laid out some of my goals for 2021.

  1. Continue blogging, but to a much lesser degree.
  2. Scale back my involvement in #SportsVizSunday and lay the groundwork for transitioning that initiative to another leader in 2022. 4 years of #SportsVizSunday has been such a blessing, but I think I’ve put all I can into it. There are so many more talented and passionate people in the community, it’s time for me to step aside and let others take the reigns (such as Kate and Bo have this year).
  3. Take a day every other month off of work and dedicate it to a family only day. No phones, no Twitter, no work. Family time only.
  4. Replace some of my #SportsVizSunday and blogging time with more exercise and reading. I realized I didn’t read a single book this year, and my goal of running consistently lasted about 2 weeks. I need to get back in the gym and the library (virtually, of course).
  5. Do 2 or 3 quality vizzes as passion projects. Sure, maybe they won’t get VOTD or tons of likes on Twitter, but I want to do them because I enjoy doing them. I already have some ideas…

That’s it. That’s all. Normally I don’t care about New Years, but this year….I care. Get here as soon as you can 2021, and I will talk to you all next year! Peace.

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