The Best Data Visualization Tip I Learned in First Grade

First Grade Data Visualization Tip FeatureThis is the third in a series of data visualization lessons I learned before I was a teenager. If you want to catch up, in sixth grade I learned to know how you’re being measured and in seventh grade I learned that if something seems off, it probably is.

In first grade, the biggest incentive in my life was earning gold stars next to my name on the class board. These elusive gold stars could be handed out for a variety of reasons, but usually they were earned for answering questions correctly in front of your peers. The way the five and six-year olds in the class tried to earn these gold stars, you would think they were worth a million dollars each.

One fateful day, the teacher introduced the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. After explaining what a tortoise and a hare were, she asked “For one million dollars… err… one gold star…. who do you think will win the race?”

This was my moment. Little did the teacher know that I already heard this story in kindergarten. I was not going to be fooled by the seemingly obvious choice that the faster rabbit would prevail. This was review and possibly the easiest gold star I would ever earn. I practically fell out of my chair trying to get the teacher to pick me.

That’s when I learned one of my best data visualization tips.

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Hear My Interview with the Tableau Wanna Be Podcast at TC London 2017

Tableau Wanna Be Podcast FeatureThe Tableau Conference On Tour: London just wrapped up last week, and I’m grateful to have been there for the first time. As with the US conference, the event was packed with networking, big-name keynotes, enlightening customer stories – and of course – a huge party. I can’t possibly do a proper conference review justice, but if you’re interested, here is a great TC17 London review from a new friend, Louise Shorten.

For me, the biggest highlights were hearing where Tableau is going next (and by the end of this year!), catching up with some old friends, and making some new ones. There was a down-to-earth and accessible vibe reminiscent of my very first Tableau conference in San Diego (2012). Thanks to everyone I spoke with for the warm welcome and conversations.

One of those conversations was with Matt Francis and Emily Kund of the Tableau Wanna Be Podcast. I have been a longtime fan of both Matt and Emily, as well as a longtime listener of their podcast – which just crossed the 100-episode milestone. In the 25-minute interview below, you can expect to hear the following…

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What a Lamp Reminded Me About Data Visualization User Experience

What a Lamp Reminded Me About User Experience in Data Visualization FeatureSome of the best data visualization and business lessons I’ve learned have come from seemingly unrelated experiences. For example, during a reading exercise in sixth grade, I learned to always know the measurement of success. During a typing contest in seventh grade, I learned that if something seems off, it probably is. By the way, stay tuned for more from that series of data visualization tips I learned before I was a teenager because it’s amazing how often this happens.

There are other times when everyday life experiences remind me of some of my thoughts on data visualization and firm my stance on my preferred techniques. I’m sharing one of those recent experiences and a very important data visualization user experience reminder.

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Announcing the Next Chapter in My Data-Driven Story

Announcing Ryan Sleeper LLC FeatureWith respect for my former employers and appreciation for the lessons they taught me along the way, I’m excited to announce my move into independent data visualization consulting.

The mission of the new business is simple: Be the best-possible partner resource for translating data into valuable information. We’ve reached a critical step in the evolution of data analysis. It’s no longer enough to recognize the need for data or to have the ability to collect and store data. Data are useless without the ability to translate data points into insights and communicate those insights in a way that cause positive impacts. My Tableau credentials and experience working with dozens of the world’s best-known brands make me uniquely qualified to provide your company with a competitive advantage.

The name of the new business is simple: Ryan Sleeper, LLC. Not only does this serve several practical purposes, I’ve always believed in “putting my name on it,” and being accountable for my work. Further, all of the projects I partner on will be very personal experiences.

Working with me is simple. I sell four things: discovery analytics, Tableau dashboard development, Tableau training, and “coffee with Ryan” (one-hour ad-hoc sessions). I respond quickly. I write concise scopes of work. I do what I say I’m going to do. I’ve built hundreds of data visualizations; I know how long they take to create and can provide you a fair estimate.

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The Best Data Visualization Tip I Learned in Seventh Grade

Best Data Visualization Lesson Seventh Grade FeatureEven as a kid, I could type fast. I mean really fast. In fourth grade, I remember the entire class literally huddling around my computer to watch me play a typing game. In the game, if you could type enough words in a minute, an elephant would climb a ladder, then dive into a swimming pool. This was obviously the coolest thing many of us had seen at the time, and being the only person in the class capable of creating that kind of magic, my fame had peaked.

In fourth grade, I was pushing 70 words per minute. Since babies now come with iPhones, I’m not sure if that’s impressive any more. But this was circa 1992, when in my school district, each classroom had exactly two computers. While it was tempting to rest on my grand achievement of making a digital elephant dive into a swimming pool, I kept practicing and getting even faster.

On the first day of a mandatory introduction to typing class in seventh grade, the teacher gave us all an exercise to gauge our skill levels. During the exercise, we watched a monitor and could try to type the words on one of three lines, all with varying speeds. With humility, I chose to type the second fastest of the three lines, but did not make a single mistake. The teacher asked to talk to me after the first class, and while I thought I was in trouble, she was instead informing me that I would be doing my own exercises the rest of the school year. I was already typing over 100 words per minute.

Being treated differently than the whole class all year because of my typing ability, there was no question for anyone in the class who would win the typing contest at the end of the year.

That’s when I learned one of my best data visualization tips.

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