Hi Tableau Community! Get to know Tableau Social Media Ambassador Luke Stanke in our latest Tableau Ambassador Spotlight! Read the interview with our content maven and social media lead Marissa Michelotti below.
Marissa: Where are you from?
Luke: Originally from Green Bay but I live in Minneapolis.
Marissa: What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
Luke: Pizza. I make pizza from scratch. I spend all free time obsessing about the perfect dough. I also search for the best pizza when I travel.
Marissa: How long have you used Tableau?
Luke: 5 years. True story: I explored Tableau as a possible tool for the organization I was at in 2010. I decided it wasn’t strong enough to meet our needs. Four years later when I needed to make a map I checked it out again. I’ve been using it ever since.
Marissa: How do you use Tableau? At work? In your personal life?
Luke: I use Tableau almost every day of the week. Just in the last year I’ve built cutting-edge data tools in Tableau, trained 100+ of people in-person, and helped develop a resources for a community of practice. In my free time I’m busy helping co-coordinate Workout Wednesday with Rody Zakovich and Ann Jackson. On top of that I do some sports analytics on the side – sometimes parts of those visualizations make it to Tableau Public.
Marissa: Where do you find data for your personal projects?
Luke: I don’t have a go-to spot. Outside of the Superstore dataset, I generally try to avoid using popular and commonly used data. This sometimes means extracting data from the internet or coding it myself. For my recent Harry Potter visualization, I hand-coded interactions between characters the first book myself (I wasn’t satisfied with my machine learning matching). Other times I find data that is privately-owned and I ask very nicely if I can come up with something cool.
Marissa: What type of data interests you?
Luke: I treat all data equitably. If there is a story to tell, I want to find it.
Marissa: How have you learned to use Tableau?
Luke: I learned the basics by watching the videos on Tableau’s website over-and-over again. I sharpened my skills by sharing my work with my peers. When I see cool work being done, I try to re-build the same thing on my own. When I can’t figure it out I ask for workbooks. I thought I knew Tableau pretty well but co-coordinating Workout Wednesday with Ann and Rody has sharpened my skills to a whole new level.
Marissa: What data sources do you typically use?
Luke: AWS Athena, Google Sheets and BigQuery, Spatial Files, and the trusty comma separated file.
Marissa: What your favorite Tableau project you’ve ever worked on?
Luke: I can’t provide a ton of detail on the project but a colleague and myself spent several months developing forecasting tools that applied models directly in Tableau – skipping the need for Python or R.
Marissa: What is your favorite feature of Tableau?
Luke: Anything mapping.
Marissa: What do you want to learn more about?
Marissa: What’s your biggest feature request?
Luke: Oh boy… I think I’ve contributed quite a bit to the development backlog but I would really love 2 things: 1) Google Fonts supported on the server-side; 2) Ability to add more layers beyond dual axis so that I can stack polygons, custom shapes, and lines all at once.
Marissa: How did you discover the Tableau Community?
Luke: I wanted some ideas for a project and a colleague told me that Tableau Community was on Twitter so I created an account. Very anti-climatic.
Marissa: What’s your favorite part about the Tableau Community?
Luke: The people who push for #TableauFF. I don’t actively contribute new names but the fact that people are trying to identify new talent contributing on Tableau Public is really powerful.
Luke: Many things but among them: 1) showing the art of the possible. Some might think some of the work is unapproachable but I want to prove that you can do a lot more in Tableau than bars, lines, and dots. Tableau is a canvas and with a little math you can create anything. 2) Support the growth of individuals across the community. Far too many individuals say I don’t do math or that looks to hard. My role is to say: you are wrong, you can do that, and if you are using Tableau you have to know some math – I mean you are working with data! 3) Identifying new, up-and-coming diverse talent in the Tableau Community. I hope that Workout Wednesday allows individuals who would normally sit on the sideline to to say I can do that and I’ll prove it!
Marissa: What advice do you have for new members of Tableau? Of the Community?
Luke: 1) Don’t say you can’t. 2) If you can’t find an answer on the web then reach out to the community on Twitter. 3) Your craft will never be perfect so work on it every day. 4) Join Workout Wednesday (you might not be able to complete every challenge but it the solutions are very valuable!).
Marissa: You seem to enjoy being creative with Tableau. What is your favorite type of viz?
Luke: My background is highly quantitative. I like when I see a visualization take advanced mathematical concepts – predicted values from a model, for instance – and display the values in a highly approachable way that allows a user to interact without knowing it!
Marissa: Is there anyone in the community you have worked with closely, or is there someone that inspires you?
Luke: Working with Rody Zakovich and Ann Jackson over the last half year has been awesome. Rody knows every trick in the book. There is NOTHING that can stump him. Ann and I got the opportunity to work together for a year but never spent time on the same project. Ann overs frank, objective feedback on the work I’ve created over the past year. Both Ann and Rody take her craft very seriously and for that I have the utmost respect. When you work with individuals that want to convey a very high-level message but also make sure its executed in the nuances and in the process its easy to get inspired.
Thanks for all you do for the community, Luke! If you would like to learn more about #WorkoutWednesday follow Luke on Twitter here: @lukestanke