…what it misses and what it shouldn’t mean to you (or me)
On March 9th, Tableau announced that I am part of the maiden ‘Tableau Visionary’ cohort (a name change from the former Tableau Zen Master title). The designation identifies those who share their Tableau mastery, teach, and collaborate with others in a public-facing and impactful manner.
I came into the community intending only to give back. So when I started getting celebrated for community contributions, it became super intoxicating and a reason I didn’t expect to drive me (but it didn’t hurt). I never expected any Tableau features, any Viz of the Day, an Ambassadorship status, let alone ‘Visionary’ status. Regardless, it’s a humbling and mind-blowing honor.
What it means…
My journey was very jagged. Many times, I could have used a mat that reads, “Bang Your Head Here.” Career progression was flat, and I accepted it. It impacted my happiness, my home life, and everything. I created a spreadsheet with a retirement countdown calendar (when I left working my government job, I had nine years, one month, and 26 days until retirement).
In August 2019, I joined the family for a last-ditch effort to use outside of work. I was afraid to fully commit because I feared disappointment — were the people in our community, if I met them, be what they seemed like online? The answer is yes, but even much better. They are genuine and well-rounded people that share a vision of inclusion, acceptance, and fun!
The past year has been an incredible rollercoaster that tested me in ways that I needed all of the pain points, thick skin, and seasoning from the prior 45 or so years to make it possible to succeed.
I’m proud to be a Visionary, especially with a more appropriate name change of what the cohort represents. Last year, I wanted in but wasn’t ready. I had a significant impact in some respects but didn’t produce content that met all of the requirements. With that shared, that can’t be said about everyone that missed the ‘call.’
What it missed…
This next part is the most difficult for me to write. I know there was an exhaustive review of candidates. Everyone on the cohort list has earned it — the 12 selected to the group had an equal binary gender distribution, age-range distribution, and were linguistically diverse. Still, I cannot be my genuine self or a community leader withholding these missing items.
People of Color (BIPOC)
I would have loved to have seen qualified people of color included. I will not name names to exclude anyone, but there are several that I consider Visionaries right now. I blame myself a little bit for that; I only nominated a couple of people because I put off nominations because of life changes.
For our non-English-speaking people in our community who have made a tremendous impact, we have an English-only nomination template. We would love to see that change to highlight non-primary English-speaking people making a huge impact but not as visible to the predominantly English-speaking community.
Not seeing yourself represented is very painful and difficult to process if your goal is to support a community. Last year, I didn’t see an ‘out’ neurodiverse person selected. I know, besides me, there are neurodiverse people in the cohort, but I did not know that last year. It’s even more challenging for those who don’t see themselves (or anyone like them) in those selected as part of such an esteemed group. Therefore, we have to do better. Because others may be discouraged and not want to nominate others or themselves, I pledge to make time to focus my nominations on more under-represented people.
A step for Tableau to take (besides creating language-accessible nomination forms), if they haven’t already, is to consider soliciting nominees from the Equity Task Force and highlighting their candidates.
What it doesn't mean…
You may have the opportunity to continue making an impact, inspiring people, and highlighting by Tableau and the greater community. There are thousands of people doing that by vizzing, helping others on community forums, blogging, leading or participating in internal and external TUGs, supporting work efforts, and just showing the art of the possible through data and data visualization. We are improving data literacy for millions of people. We are helping others gain insights at rates much quicker than we ever had before. We are on the precipice of something great, and it feels like we are in our infancy in this regard. If that doesn’t motivate you to impact, I do not know what can.
I came from literally nowhere. I was just an anonymous government employee who more or less gave in to not fitting in. I planned to sleep-walk through life; after many years, I pushed through and overcame the ceiling I (or others) placed on me. Your breakthrough is coming regardless of a label.
I know I’ve had as much inspiration (if not more) from newer people exploring our community than those I have followed or befriended for years.
You have the opportunity to impact so many others. Please continue on your path; optimistically, a great reality and purpose, title or not, can greet you.
A special thank you to Bridget Cogley, a principal community thought leader and Hall of Fame Tableau Visionary, for her feedback.