How the Tableau Community helped me find my voice
I downloaded Tableau on March 3, 2020 and started posting visualizations to Tableau Public later that month. Since then, my involvement with the Tableau Community has only grown and I am so honored to be serving my second term as a Tableau Public Ambassador. Before joining the community, I was very nervous and the thought of posting my work for everyone to see was daunting! But the more I posted, took part in initiatives, and networked through events like Remo hangouts, I discovered what the community was all about. I felt like I found a family, the DataFam, and there was an immediate sense of belonging. With their support and encouragement, I was able to gain confidence, find my voice, and eventually speak at Tableau Conference. This blog will explore my journey in the Tableau Community, how it helped me and how it could help you, too.
When I first started, I participated in Makeover Monday every week and received feedback from both the community and the #MMVizReview sessions. This helped immensely with getting used to sharing my work and applying the feedback to my future vizzes. I still remember creating my first ever Makeover Monday submission (which was also my second viz ever!) and being so nervous to post it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of, as the community is very nurturing. I continued to post my vizzes every week, ask for feedback and be inspired by the beautiful work that was created by the community. Everyone has such a unique viz style, and seeing the different ways in which the same dataset was visualized gave me the courage to both experiment with design and challenge myself every week.
Priya's first Makeover Monday viz, #MakeoverMonday | Berkeley Course Offerings 1900 - 2011
I wanted to say a huge thank you to Andy Kriebel, Eva Murray, Charlie Hutcheson, and everyone involved in this initiative for helping us all to improve our data visualizations! Although Makeover Monday is on hiatus, I highly recommend taking a look at the archives and trying out the past datasets, particularly if you’re a beginner, and posting your work on Twitter for feedback. Receiving feedback is definitely a great way to accelerate your learning and pinpoint areas to work on, as well as recognize aspects that you are doing well. There is also a wide range of amazing initiatives in this community that you can take part in and there is something for everyone—you can find a full list every Friday on Tableau’s “DataFam Roundup” blog.
There are so many people who have been a huge part of my journey from the very beginning. Within the first few months, I remember having calls with community members such as Kevin Flerlage, Ken Flerlage, Toan Hoang, Sarah Bartlett, and Zach Bowders. These calls meant so much and made me feel more like I was part of the community as I was able to get to know everyone on a more personal level. What still blows my mind to this day is that all of these people took time out of their weekends to have a call with me - someone who was just beginning in Tableau and so new to the community. This shows just how supportive the community is, and that everyone wants to help and see you succeed. Thank you for all that you do to inspire, teach and help the community—you are all amazing!
If you are new to the community, there are so many ways that you can get involved. You can participate in a huge variety of initiatives, ask for feedback on your work, attend a Tableau User Groups session, volunteer to speak, and also promote others and offer your support. The community provides a safe space to share your unique voice, and people want to hear it. I encourage anyone reading this to give it a try!
These meetings would not have been possible without my mentor, Adam Mico, as I was far too shy to arrange them myself at the time! Having a mentor in the community has been absolutely invaluable and I learned so much from our discussions; whether that is regarding feedback on my work or goals to set for the future. A mentor can hold you accountable and help you to stay on track, as well as be there to support you. This is so important to me, as my main goal for the year was to conquer my fear of public speaking. A year ago, I would have never dreamed of speaking in front of large groups of people without getting pre-presentation jitters and stage fright. Now, although I do still get nervous (who doesn’t?!), it has become much more manageable to the point where I actually look forward to presenting now! Thank you, Adam, for being there for me since the beginning of my journey and helping me to achieve my goals!
If you are interested in having a mentor, Mentoring Meetup plans to relaunch next year and is an excellent way to be paired up with someone from the community who can help you on your journey. Viz Feedback Office Hours—which is hosted by Michelle Frayman and Zak Geis—is also fantastic for receiving feedback on your work to help you improve further.
From the moment I began planning the session, not only did I want to introduce and encourage others to get involved, but I also wanted the main focus to be the diverse voices and stories of the Tableau community. We all have such different journeys and experiences, yet we all somehow crossed paths to be part of the same collective. Hearing the stories of community members, what helped them find their voice, and their advice to newcomers provided a glimpse into the extremely positive impact this community has. The fact that so many people were excited to be part of this session and share what makes this community special speaks volumes. Thank you so much for sharing your unique stories and voices—you inspired so many people and I am unbelievably grateful.
Members of the Tableau community who shared their stories in Find Your Voice: How Community Builds Confidence TC21 session
At the time of writing this blog, Tableau Conference has officially come to an end. I am so overwhelmed and touched by the response of the community, thank you so much for your lovely comments. My goal with this talk was to help at least one person not feel so afraid, as I know it can seem intimidating at first. I have received messages from those that are new to the community saying that they now want to get involved, and I cannot explain how proud that makes me as I know it can be hard to take that first step. Thank you so much, Tableau, for giving me this platform to share how incredible this community is.
Throughout this last year, I have learned that it is so important to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. You cannot grow unless you put yourself in situations you’re not used to, and this forces you to adapt. Eventually, what once made you feel uncomfortable becomes easy —that’s when you know to move on to the next challenge and conquer that. For anyone who is reading this that may still be unsure about posting your first tweet or uploading a visualization to Tableau Public—I have been there, and I know exactly how you feel. The community will support, encourage and help you to grow. I highly recommend getting involved, as I truly believe you will improve and learn more than you ever have before, as well as form long-lasting friendships with like-minded people along the way.
By engaging in the community, I was able to find my voice—and so will you.
Connect with me
You can watch my Tableau Conference talk on demand, Find Your Voice: How Community Builds Confidence.