Meet Tableau’s 2022 Iron Viz Finalist CJ Mayes

As the clock ticks closer to the Iron Viz Championship, we will be getting to know our top three contenders in this "Meet the Iron Viz Finalists" series, where you'll get to learn a little more about them and gain a sneak peek into what it took for them to get here.

The Iron Viz Championship is less than a month away. We can’t wait to witness the ultimate data competition at Tableau Conference and see whose visualization will reign supreme. Our three 2022 finalists, CJ Mayes, Kimly Scott, and Will Sutton, out vizzed hundreds of amazing “Visualizing the Arts” Iron Viz qualifier submissions and explored what’s possible on Tableau Public.

CJ Mayes has been using Tableau since 2019 and has grown from being simply a Tableau Public user to a Tableau Community leader.

CJ Mayes TC22

Let’s begin with your Tableau Public journey—when did you start using Tableau Public, and what made you keep using it?

My Tableau journey must have started just over 2.5 years ago now. Tableau Public is a fun, safe space to get involved, and there is a community initiative that spans all topics, whether you want to improve at work or focus on a subject matter that is meaningful to you.

For me, Tableau Public serves as a creative outlet and a way to hone my skills—two things that are important to me. If you are having so much fun, why would you stop?

This is your second time entering Iron Viz. What are some things you’ve learned since you’ve entered?

  • You don’t have to tell a long-winded story, just a good one.
  • The notion that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This statement applies to some of the more artistic experimental pieces I have created, and this year I really focussed on the metrics that help showcase my story. For that reason, I feel scored better on analysis and storytelling this year than in the previous.


CJ Mayes’ 2022 Iron Viz Qualifier visualization The Art of Conversation - IronViz2022.

Tell us more about your 2022 qualifier entry. Did you know right away what topic around art you would analyze? Did you already have a data set in mind or have to look around? What made you choose this topic?

Oh, nice question. So I might have been a little disappointed when the topic wasn’t centered around sports, but I quickly got past that hurdle. My qualifier entry visualization featured the video podcast, “Diary of a CEO,” which dives into the experiences of influential individuals. The podcast I vizzed about was fairly top of mind for me as it's something I enjoy watching weekly.

Accumulating the dataset was a little tricky this year, a lot of manual data prep, but it meant that I got to re-watch many podcast episodes and reinforce my learning from them.

I chose the topic because I think, through the stories of others, people that view the visualization would learn a little bit about me too.

Comparing your first viz ever to your feeder viz, where would you say you’ve most improved? And how did you get there?

My first EVER viz... wow, I dread to think what it looked like, but we all have to start somewhere. In fact, my first few vizzes that even remain public feel like knock-offs of some of our best community leaders, but that's how you learn. Download, interpret, and apply your own ideas while breaking a few calculations along the way.

I'll let others be the judge of where I've most improved, but I think now I consider a lot more theory in my build in regards to chart choice type, pre-attentive attributes, formatting etc.

Getting there is the challenging bit - consistency, practice, and a good support network.

Do you think the Tableau Community has helped you along your Iron Viz journey into becoming a finalist? In what ways has the DataFam supported you?

The Tableau Community goes further than just my Iron Viz experience. I have friends all over the world, I’ve elevated my career, improved my lifestyle, and been able to find greater purpose through interacting with the DataFam, and for that, I will always be grateful.

It’s actually a little wild to think how much more you learn from the Tableau Community than any workplace learning equivalent.

You’re an active Community Project leader for Sports Viz Sunday. You’re a 2022 Tableau Ambassador and Visionary. You’ve even been selected as Tableau Public’s Viz of the Day multiple times. What about these parts of the Tableau Community keep you coming back?

Besides the unity of a passion for data, what these four initiatives/titles have in common is an underlying objective of inspiring others. If I see someone get a Viz of the Day and they reference me as inspiration, that truly is the highest honor. What’s better than impacting someone else’s journey?

Sports Viz Sunday was kind of my ‘in’ where I had some great support early on from Simon Beaumont and Spencer Baucke. To now be in a position where I get to give back and play a small part in what is a great Sports Viz Sunday crew and initiative is so exciting. I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by a better current group of leaders.

Thanks for connecting with us, CJ. We can’t wait to see you on the big stage at Tableau Conference. For our last question—what are you most excited about the Iron Viz championships and TC22?

I’m probably most excited to celebrate the success of Will & Kimly in person. Both are fantastic, talented individuals. I am so eager to see what they come up with. Primarily because I’m nosey, but also because I think it’s a wonderful thing where two individuals can look at the same situation or dataset and find a different story within it. I’m also looking forward to wearing a fancy black jacket. It’s like the data equivalent of the green blazer at the masters.

As for the conference itself, I’m really excited to meet people in person and get connected.

Want to know more about the other finalists too? Learn all about Kimly Scott, Will Sutton, and see all things Iron Viz right here.