Ciara: Hi Paul, tell us a little about yourself?
Paul: I’m originally from Long Island, New York. I went to college and grad school at Syracuse University in upstate New York. My wife and I were living in the DC area for 7 years. Then when my daughter was born in 2018 we decided to move right outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
I have 15 years of data visualization experience, almost 8 with Tableau. Becoming involved in the Tableau community over the last few years, and especially the Tableau Forums over the last year has really expanded my ability and my network. It’s been especially great to help others in the community through my Forums work, as so many others have been there to help me along the way.
Almost two years ago now, I became a first-time father. My daughter has changed my outlook on life and my work. Parenthood forces you to think about your work-life balance and how to be the best parent you can while trying to be happy and continue progressing in your career. It’s all made me quite grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had through Tableau and the data community, especially on Twitter.
And to all other first-time parents out there, it gets easier in some ways and harder in others. You’re doing great just by being mindful of it all.
Ciara: What would your favorite hobby be outside of work?
Paul: I’ve been enjoying reading more lately. I recently finished Hans Rosling’s ‘Factfulness’ which made me realize I know much less about the world than I previously thought. Though I like to think I know a little more now after reading the book. I also highly recommend ‘Range’ by David Epstein. It provides some inspiring perspective on why opening yourself to a lot of different experiences and being more of a generalist than a specialist is really helpful not only for your personal growth but also for overall global progression.
Ciara: How long have you used Tableau?
Paul: I’ve been using Tableau since 2012, starting with version 7. I was working at a consulting company. We were contracted to the US Department of Health and Human Services providing tracking and analysis around the state healthcare exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. My boss at the time wanted a tool that was more powerful than Excel and that we could create dashboards and stories with. We brought in Tableau and I’ve been using it ever since.
Being a sports analytics fan, I’m always on the lookout for great data sources - football-data.co.uk and tennis-data.co.uk are remarkably good, Github is a priceless resource & I’ve seen so many random Google Docs filled with links to open data. The data is out there, it just needs folks to get stuck in!
Ciara: How do use Tableau? At work? In your personal life?
Paul: I’m now the Director of Business Analytics at Lifesize (a video communications company). I’m lucky that I get to use Tableau every day. I’ve been working on building out an analytics platform powered by Tableau to provide insights to our executives, Sales, Marketing, and Finance teams.
Before the summer of 2017, I had never created an account on Twitter. That all changed once I found data challenges and the data community #datafam. The data challenges really helped me work on my creativity.
At TC18 in New Orleans, I had a Brain Date with the Data Duo (Pooja Ghandi and Adam Crahen) where they talked about how the Forums are such an amazing place for helping others and for improving your own skills too. At that point I hadn’t been on the Forums much. Once I signed onto them and started answering questions I was hooked! Not only is it a great way to give back to the Community but it’s given me so much. With the data challenges and participating on the Forums, my Tableau knowledge has increased exponentially.
Ciara: Where do you find data for your personal projects?
Paul: You can really find good data anywhere. I’m a big sports fan and turn to Google when I want to find a new sports data-set. If you like any type of sports, there’s data out there for it.
Data.world also has many different data-sets for you to work with if you need inspiration.
Ciara: What type of data interests you?
Paul: Definitely sports data. Political data is interesting too - although it can be a hot topic.
Ciara: What’s your favorite part of the Tableau Community?
Paul: Just how approachable and helpful everyone is. Zen Masters and other Ambassadors are always willing to help or point you in the right direction. It’s such a great collaborative community. It’s amazing when you go to TC and get to meet people in person that you’ve only met online before. Straight away you start talking as though you’ve already met.
Ciara: Out of the Tableau projects that you’ve worked on, what would be your favorite?
Paul: At TC18 I saw Neil Richards’ presentation on Data Viz as Art and I had never really done a viz that was more on the artistic side at that point. I ended up getting inspired by a dreamcatcher I saw at an Airbnb to create an NFL viz in the design of a dreamcatcher. I used Kevin Flerlage’s No Polygons blog to create the design.
Ciara: What is your favorite feature of Tableau?
Paul: I started using Tableau at version 7 and I think it was version 9 when Level of Detail calculations was rolled out. Before that, I had to do a lot of calculations within SQL so LODs completely changed how I used Tableau. I even gave a Fringe Festival APAC talk on LODs!
Ciara: What do you want to learn more about?
Paul: I’m a couple of versions behind in Tableau Server at work. We just got Set Actions and don’t have Parameter Actions yet so I’d like to get more hands-on experience with those. There are also some cool new mapping features I’d like to try out.
Ciara: What is your biggest feature request for Tableau?
Paul: Two come to mind. The first is to be able to adjust the row height of a text table to the size of the text (idea #1715 if you would like to add your vote! https://community.tableau.com/ideas/1715 ). Another feature that would be very helpful for me at work is the ability is to join published data sources from Tableau Server or Online to other data sources ( https://community.tableau.com/ideas/5566 )
Ciara: What does being an Ambassador mean to you?
Paul: It’s really an honor. My time on the Forums has become something I’ve enjoyed so much. It’s great to give back to others and it’s really helped spur my own Tableau growth as well.
Ciara: What advice would you give new members of the Community?
Paul: I still have Imposter Syndrome sometimes. I think new people to the Community might see all this amazing work from amazing people and be intimidated. My advice would be to do what you can, reach out to others if you want to learn more, and remember it’s such an inviting community. There are so many resources and people to help.