Data Viz Thoughts .|: Finding Zen and Top-52 Viz Faves Published on Tableau Public in 2019

Adam Mico
11 min readDec 28, 2019

A Tableau-centric weekly blog about the viz making process, #datafam member interviews, Viz of the Week, entertainment for introverts (consisting of a music morsel & a binge bite).

This week, I discuss the reasoning behind my Zen Master nominations and share my favorite Tableau Public vizzes from 2019.

My Zen Master Nominations

On 12/22/19, Zen Master nominations began and will run through 10PM PST on 1/15/20. I nominated five people for Zen Master. This post isn’t meant to upset anyone, but rather inspire you to nominate those you feel have earned the Zen Master honor; even though I limited my nominations to five, there are many others that are truly deserving. This blog is about me being open and as transparent as reasonably possible. With that, here is my case for the five selected…

.|: Candra McRae :|.

Opening Statement

Bridget Cogley (@WindsCogley) and Mike Cisneros (@mikevizneros) recent Twitter posts (Bridget and Mike) opened my eyes after I submitted the four submissions below Candra. I looked back where I came from and I have a semblance of understanding how challenging Candra’s journey was/is and her potential impact she can have as a Zen Master.

Here is what I wrote as my final bit to Tableau when nominating Candra for Zen Master:

Candra is an African American woman and a Seattle native. She’s a member of our #datafam community, business CEO/career analytics professional, public speaker and still finds time to create sound visualizations. Candra is a person that would be a voice and vision for those that want to see a very deserving mentor to those that do not see themselves on the top of the Tableau Community ladder. She has had little recognition for her efforts and earned this honor and title.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Candra isn’t an Ambassador and doesn’t have consistent voice in the community — her accomplishments aren’t as well known as others.

My Rebuttal

Imagine being in a community and trying to get along and not knowing you are being heard. Imagine leveraging Tableau and a data analytics career to find and become the CEO of your own company, but you look at the community leadership and you see nobody that looks like you or has your perspective. Imagine trying to open up to the community and not knowing whether you will be accepted let alone have some sort of official title.

If you research her a little bit, you will see that she meets all the ‘required ink’ criteria for Zen. Going one step further… Candra has the highest ceiling of positive Tableau community influence (growth and inclusion) of anyone I nominated.

.|: Sarah Bartlett :|.

Opening Statement

To anyone who has ever stepped foot in the #datafam community, Sarah is the omnipresent force — she’s usually the 1st to greet and provide assistance. Sarah also is the organizer of the #IronQuest, co-leader of the London TUG, co-hosted #MakeOverMonday Viz Review for six months in 2019 and consistently provides constructive feedback discreetly for those who seek it. Her blog posts are always very studied and relevant to the tool, community and related experiences.

Besides that, she is a frequent guest on Tableau-related podcasts and events & could be counted on for her thoughtful and organized representation of Tableau. She also has a very sharp eye for effective best practice visualizations and shares attractive vizzes with a dash of creativity to showcase the data in its most comprehend-able frame.

To me, she’s been a constant source of encouragement; someone I could lean on a little bit if I need to understand things in the community — Sarah is also helpful as a ‘best practice’ reminder on my vizzes when I go a little silly or off-tool in my approach. Without her, this community would not be nearly what it is today.

Another bit, Sarah promotes gender equality and racial diversity in the datafam (without force-feeding). She handles both very genuinely without the slightest bit of patronizing. She understands thoroughly that for our community to grow, we need more women and no racial exclusion — she reaches out to help those that need a voice to make sure they’re heard.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Her vizzes do not test the boundaries of Tableau or combine tools outside of Tableau to make ‘mind-blowing’ vizzes.

My Rebuttal

Sarah has proven herself with consistently wonderful vizzes that most businesses would love to feature, had the skill level to compete in IronViz Europe 2018 Final & is a viz connoisseur providing expert feedback to users of all skill levels.

.|: Toan Hoang :|.

Opening Statement

In one year’s time, Toan has built a 5,000+ member Tableau community on FaceBook. Prior to that and during the community build, he publishes some of the most effective Tableau teaching tools I have ever seen in blog form… covering everything from the most basic techniques, bespoke/custom visualizations, extensions, related programming languages (like SQL) and everything in-between. He also recently launched YouTube tutorials and has a well-regarded/popular Udemy course for teaching basic and intermediate custom visualization (or bespoke) techniques.

Toan’s personal impact on me has been huge. He saw my passion to help others and asked me to be a moderator (and subsequently co-admin) of the Tableau Magicians FaceBook group. He was the person that let me know about the Twitter community and introduced me to the #datafam. He is the person that thought it was a good idea for me to begin a blog. He also has encouraged and inspired me along the way. He has great character — works tirelessly to enhance tools/learning of Tableau and is very humble.

He may not be an official Tableau Ambassador, but his visualization expertise, teaching acumen and community building capabilities should not be overlooked.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

It’s hard to tell who is Toan and who is Tableau Magic and both sort of blend in with their work and may not be as vocal community voices on Twitter.

My Rebuttal

Toan is too humble. He’s an innovator; when he gets an idea that can help people out or inspires him, he puts social media in the background to develop a tool responding to a challenge.

He also quietly provides support to many users on Twitter and strongly promotes community engagement in FaceBook. He found a new way to engage with users with the ability to curate content; it’s hard to blame someone with that focus and should not be a reason to penalize. With that, he has encouraged significant sum of people to be part of the datafam.

.|: Lindsay Betzendahl :|.

Opening Statement

Outside of #MakeOverMonday, Lindsay’s #projecthealthviz is the most impactful project in our community. Not only does she organize each month’s challenge, she is responsible for preparing the data, sharing related information to help color with context, promotes and shares constructive feedback on submissions + always tops it off with a remarkable viz of her own.

She has full-time work and a full-time family, but she balances those with the project and is also a very positive force in the community. Besides that, if she could muster up a couple minutes, she posts some excellent ‘how to’ blogs with a lot of personality to make them entertaining and educational.

Lindsay has always been generous with her time with me, a fun person to ‘talk to’ and someone that’s trustworthy.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Lindsay was not on my Top-3 list to nominate. If she wasn’t on my Top-3, she may not make a nom list of others when just doing a cursory list of Zen Master nominations.

My Rebuttal

I was going to limit my nominations to 3 and exclude Lindsay, but she checks all the boxes I have for Zen Master. She’s part of a substantial project, has a significant ‘how to’ blog, visualizes data exceptionally well (to the tune of 6 Vizzes of the Day) and is a fun-tastic community member.

Although many on this list have indubitably strong arguments for Zen Master, she may have the cleanest overall checklist marks for finding Zen.

.|: Kevin Flerlage :|.

Opening Statement

Kevin is the Tableau Macgyver (1). He has such a natural knack for the tool, incredible ideas and fun/functional designs. He uses Tableau’s capabilities inside and out to develop amazing next level visualizations. He collaborates frequently to share incredible viz-ions and helps people push their ideas to the next level. He is an encouraging force to many people of diverse backgrounds; most of the time it’s quietly in DMs and he wants to make sure you have what you need to succeed without being a credit mongerer. In addition, his blog is an amazing resource and helped me out very recently for a work viz.

Kevin was one of the 1st interviews for the blog. He was clearly very busy, but spent a lot of extra time to make sure I was happy with everything. He has always been a person that if you need something, he’s happy to help out and doesn’t expect anything in return. He has become a good friend in the process and even without that, he checks any tangible boxes for being a Tableau Zen Master one could have.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

His twin brother is a Zen Master and the Zen Master pool is full of bald white guys.

My Rebuttal

I would love to see more Zen Master diversity, but Kevin proved himself worthy of the honor by any set of criteria that could be applied to it. He is also an open-minded considerate person that would support Zen Master diversity and help mentor those who have the desire to learn regardless of follower count or background.

Data Viz Thoughts Top-52 Vizzes on Tableau Public from 2019

The following 52 data visualizations are exceptional examples of mind-blowing technique, data storytelling, design and/or great/playful ideas to apply to a viz. All Tableau Public vizzes are considered except ones that were already featured as Viz of the Week on this blog and limited no more than one viz per author. The breakdown showcases a diversely talented collection from 16 countries covering four continents. Each viz is linked to its Tableau Public post. With a nod to Josh Tapley here are the vizzes…


Kasia Gasiewska — Garbage in the Ocean
Meera Umasankar — Britian’s Coal Free Record
Rodrigo Calloni — Sustainable Event Industry
Silvia Romanelli — Overshoot Day


Christian Felix — Visualizing No Tobacco
Iram Javed — Europe Disease Prevalence
Kevin Flerlage — The Eight Intelligence Modules
Lindsay Betzendahl — You Are Perfect: Prostate Cancer (The Vitruvian Man)
Maria Brock — The Cycle
Michelle Frayman — Autism Spectrum Disorder
Pris Lam — How to Move On?
Sabrina Maalej — The Ketogenic Diet
Valerie Mais — Cigarette Smoke and Chronic Illness


Dinushki De Livera — The Firebird Suite : Infernal Dance
Jay Lewis — Bohemian Rhapsody
Jeff Plattner — The Stars of First Avenue
Ken Flerlage — Fleetwood Mac (The Members and the Albums)
Lindsey Poulter — The Emotional Valence of Broadway
Lorna Eden — Ben Howard & Ed Sheeran Tour History
Mariona Banyeres — The Violin
Neil Richarrds — Gustav Holst-The Planets
Sam Parsons — The Golden Record
Sarah Bartlett — Say What?
Sean Miller — Woodstock (1969): A Data Biography
Seffana Mohamed-Ajaz — Hans Zimmer


Adam McCann — NYC Median Income & Health Insurance
Adi McCrea — Spotlight on De Wallen
Jeffrey Shaffer — Cincinnati's Coming of Age
Nina Lindell — Buildings of Barcelona


Hesham Eissa — The Global Journey of Refugees
Pradeep Kumar — Beyond the Border
Soha Elghany — The Events of Brexit
Toan Hoang/Tableau Magic — General Election 2019
Yvan Fornes —Country Development Indicators Profiles


Klaus Schulte — P&L Visuals


Bo Plantinga — Naomi Osaka
Brian Moore — NHL All Time Scorers
James Smith — A Visual History of Formula 1
Kim Tricker — The Rarity of an NFL Tie
Spencer Baucke — NFL Combine


Alexander Varlamov — Polygonal Cities
Baljinnyam Enkhtur — Miss World
Chris Love — The Magic of Colour
Ivette Kovács — Celebrations around the World
Luca Urzi — Around the World in 80 Days
Matt Francis — The Tableau Wannabe Advent Calendar
Pablo Gomez — The share of Americans not having sex reaches record high
Swagat Jena — Know Your Ambassadors Better
Tristan Guillevin — The #Datafam Universe
Vinodh Kumar — Stranger Things: A Guide
Wendy Shijia — 50 years of China’s space journey
Zach Bowders — Happy Birthday

Music Morsel

Digable Planets — 9th Wonder (Blackitolism)

Digable Planets fused jazz and hypnotic alt-hip-hop into a hybrid of rhythm, flow and vibe. They were considered a one-hit wonder by the normies (Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That)), but those ‘in the know’ realize that Blowout Comb was one of the phattest albums of the time.

Binge Bite

I Like Killing Flies — Full Documentary

I Like Killing Flies is a documentary following Kenny Shopsin with a tiny hand-held microphone as he transitions from one restaurant to another. What you learn is his very unique and almost poetic philosophies, the importance of family and commitments. It impacted me so much, I went to eat their twice in New York (after they moved to a different location) while Kenny was still around and he sat at a table chatting as his son was running the restaurant with a cracked cell phone. BTW, the food is outrageously delicious comfort food and highly recommend the euphorically odd flavor combos and Shopsin’s TL:DR menu.


1) While this is me…



Adam Mico

Data Visualization and Enablement Leader | Data Leadership Collaborative Advisory Board Member | Tableau Visionary + Ambassador | Views are my own