#MadisonTUG LT Spotlight Interview - Bo McCready

Version 4

    #DataFam - I would like you to meet Bo McCready. Bo recently resigned from our #MadisonTUG Leadership Team (LT) to move south to Austin, TX. As I'm typing this on April 27th we have a winter storm warning in Madison and the snow is coming down. I'm still realizing how smart Bo is but I digress. Bo was a long time lurker in the Tableau Community but he has a really inspiring story of what can happen when you get engaged...


    Bo Headshot.JPG

    Patrick: Tell us about your background and your Tableau experience.

    Bo: I have a Master’s in Public Affairs and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin. I spent years avoiding quantitative work, but then I read Moneyball and decided I wanted to think more about how stats could help me understand the sports I loved watching, and it turned out I was pretty good at doing it myself!


    I’ve been using Tableau since 2012. We started using Tableau in the Madison Metropolitan School District as a complement to other tools, largely to produce better looking representations of data. Over almost seven years, we grew it into our primary platform for making sense of data! My knowledge of Tableau also has helped me grow from an analyst to a manager to a director.



    Patrick: What do you like to do outside of work and Tableau?

    Bo: I love trying new foods, music, sports, film, and hanging out with my wife and two little daughters.

    Patrick: What was your first exposure to the Tableau Community?

    Bo: My first exposure to the Tableau Community was at TC16. It was my first time at a non-academic conference, and I couldn’t believe how fun, positive, and supportive it was!


    Patrick: Why did you choose to compete in the 2018 #MadisonTUG Top Viz Competition and how did it go?

    Bo: When I saw my first Iron Viz competition, I thought “this is great! I wonder if I could do that.” When the opportunity to participate in the #MadisonTUG version, I knew I wanted to give it a shot. Our team had a great time and we were proud to win the audience vote.


    Patrick: Tell us about your journey to having your work so broadly viewed.

    Bo: The first big step in my journey was deciding to share my work on Twitter (follow me at twitter.com/boknowsdata), which I joined in October of 2018. Then, at the end of December, I decided to start sharing projects on Reddit at r/dataisbeautiful. I made the unconventional (for Reddit) choice to use my real name so I could start developing a portfolio. In January, I made a project about the three point revolution in the NBA that got over 10,000 upvotes and made the front page of Reddit. That was my first big “success” for a creative project.


    Later that month, I used IMDb data to plot the evolution of film genre popularity. Something about that project resonated with a lot of people, and it’s been liked and retweeted thousands of times on Twitter. In total, I’ve had six different projects go over 10,000 upvotes on Reddit and my Tableau Public vizzes have gotten more than 300,000 views. Sharing your work with a broader audience can be tough at first, but I've gotten so much fun and helpful feedback that's helped my work improve. I'm a big believer in designing vizzes that resonate with a lot of people and don't require a lot of expertise to understand,


    Patrick: What are your plans for #TC19?

    Bo: I’m submitting a proposal to give a presentation focused on my Tableau Public work and what it takes to make a popular viz. My project about film genres is my best known one, so that’ll be the centerpiece, but I’ll bring in several others and try to share some lessons about what I think makes for a viz that gets people talking and thinking. I’m also entering the Iron Viz feeder competitions (here's my April entry). There are so many amazingly talented folks who will make vizzes, so I know my chances aren’t great, but you never know!


    Patrick: What advice do you have for people about getting involved in the Tableau Community?

    Bo: I like to encourage people to start vizzing by picking a topic they know or care about personally. It’s a lot easier to find insight in a dataset if you know what you’re looking at! Once you have an idea, reach out to some people whose work you admire and ask what they think, maybe even sharing an early draft! I’m always happy to help people out when they ask, and almost everyone I’ve reached out to has been gracious and helpful, even when they didn’t know me.


    The most important thing to do is take the first step, whatever that looks like for you! Maybe that’s attending a TUG meeting. Maybe it’s publishing your first viz on Tableau Public. Maybe it’s joining Twitter and following all the awesome designers out there. I wish I’d gotten involved years ago, as it’s been tremendously valuable both professionally and personally.