Technology has been on a path of freeing individuals from repetitive work, making our lives safer, and opening up a new world of connectivity to us. Tech, has turned poor college students into billionaires. Tech is on a rat race to automate as much of our world as possible while making as much money possible. This race is a good thing for everyone.
However, we can’t let Tech push us aside. we cannot let Tech increase the income gap. We can’t spend our lives living behind a computer. We can’t spend our days a slave to our smartphones and notifications.
My friends think I am weird. I have turned off all notifications on my phone. I have deleted numerous social media accounts. I rarely do anything with Facebook these days. I don’t play games. I do use my phone to glance at email. I do use my phone to make phone calls. I do all of my planning in my own version of a Bullet Journal.
Time Slips By
About a year ago, I realized how much of my life was spent behind a computer. You wake up, go to work and spend the day behind a computer in the name of accomplishing something. Then you commute home and find myself again behind a computer for a few hours to accomplish the personal stuff. Before you know it, the neighbors have moved out, Donald Trump is President, and my awesome car has hit nearly 130,000 miles.
Life can get away from you. You can watch it from behind a computer melting your eyes or you participate in it in real life. Find a balance. The real world isn’t for everyone. Actually talking to people outside work is a scary thing.
I challenge you to do one or more of the following at least one per week:
- Turn your phone off for 24-hours – it is hard, but I assure you the world will not end
- Go for a long hike – Vitamin N is a mineral we don’t get enough of, so get more of it
- Have a picnic in a park – Sure, there are scary homeless people at the park, but a picnic can be a peaceful, sublime experience
- Drive to a new town and explore it – A change of scenery is good for the soul
- Paint, doodle, dance, or just observe – all of these can meditative and help to rebuild the soul
Try it out and report back what you did and how you felt. We can’t let technology steal our lives from us. There is an analog world out there to enjoy.
Implementing Analytics is a lot like making pizza. The end result is fabulous, a very yummy pizza with our favorite toppings. But how we make that pizza, can vary quite wildly. Even the ingredients we use can vary as do the toppings.
If the goal is our favorite yummy pizza, businesses have the goal of building an analytics program which represents their business model and their strategy. These Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can vary wildly, even for businesses operating in a similar market. The KPIs are our toppings. Pepperoni for some and others avoid the anchovies.
How we support those KPIs can be vary as well. What type of dough do you like? Do you make the dough from scratch or buy a premade dough? What do we add to the dough for interest? Basil? The dough is our technology stack. You can build something completely custom with anjular.js and d3.js or you can buy something off the shelf, like Google Data Studio or implement Alteryx and Tableau. There are no right or wrong answers, just the best decision for the needs of your business. Low-budget frozen pizza to high-end gourmet pizza cooked in a pizza oven, the flavors vary.
The best advice I can give is to consider the sustainability of any stack before implementing. Knowing the complexity and amount of data will ever increase is crucial. Being able to modify reports and deploy new ones fast is key to success. Don’t forget KPIs can evolve as well and need to be reviewed regularly.
Happy Pizza Making! Er… happy analytics developing?
I’ll just suck it up and admit it. I have no other choice. I am a life long learner. Whether it is a new restaurant, a new programming language, or a new data visualization tool, I am a sponge and want to know all about it. Maybe it is an addiction, maybe it is just curiosity, but either way, it is my passion.
How do I do it? Well, with baby steps. You never want to bite off more than you can chew. This is where the power of the mini habit comes in. Taking a small amount of time every day to focus on one thing even for a few minutes leads to profound productivity in the long run.
The idea is to spend about 10 minutes every day learning something new. You could learn how to paint, you could read a white paper, or you could even write a novel. Yes you can write a novel in 10 minutes a day! Whatever your goal may be many habits can lead to profound returns.
Some of my daily habits include;
1) do. 15 push-ups
2) read one white paper or 10 pages
3) write for 10 minutes
4) sketch, paint or draw
5) walk or drive down a new street
If you are creative with your mini habits, they will easily compound into achieving your goals. If you practiced the piano for 10 minutes every day and then in one year you will be a respectable piano player.
So start compounding those mini habits today. Write out your long-term goals and think about different things you can do every day to work towards those goals. Don’t forget to have a little bit of fun. Don’t forget about creativity. And don’t forget that it’s OK to be a lifelong learner.
What to do when no one wants to use your self service data stack?!? You turn to AI.
Vitamin N. You may not have heard of it. In fact, if you go to your local drug store, you won’t find a bottle of it on the shelf. That’s because vitamin N is something we get for free just by going outside and admiring the grass, the trees, the clouds, and the sun.
Vitamin N is nature. With more and more of the population living in cities and high-density apartment/condo buildings, nature is becoming more and more distant in our daily lives. While humans have dominated the earth and learned to control fire, extract resources from the planet and make some pretty incredible things with those resources, we must not forget that we are part of nature.
Just like we bring plants into our shelters, we must also make it a point to step out into nature itself. Here is how:
- Seek out parks. While hiking isn’t available, you can still sit under a tree and take in the sunshine, the rustle of the leaves, and the wind in your hair.
- In the urban environment, seek out well landscaped areas. Newer shopping areas typically have streets lined with trees.
- Do a Google Search for trails near your house. Even in urban areas like Denver, more natural recreation paths are available like the Speer Blvd aqueduct.
- Plan a weekend in the mountains. Get out and explore areas within a half day drive to a day’s drive from home. Plan time hiking and exploring the area.
- Sign up for a community garden plot. Sites like Growing Gardens might have a plot in your area. There is nothing like dirt under the fingernails and a fresh tomato!
Getting your vitamin N fix is easier than you think. Experience the birds, the leaves, and the sun. They are all a part of your soul.
It can be risky letting yourself by vulnerable. It can hurt at times, but it can also be superb.
As I embark on a new project to write a book, I ask for your patience, acceptance, and open-mind. As I look back over my life, I see some awesome experiences, some not so great times, and I see a childhood rooted in dysfunction. This dysfunction made me who I am today, for good and bad.
In “Patterns and Creativity of a Dysfunctional Life”, I hope to share my life along with some educational and restorative exercises to help anyone who is willing to try them. Having grown up with the false sense of what a perfect life was supposed to be, I struggle a bit to create the life I want and dismiss this concept of perfection.
While we are all different with varying needs, various interests, and equally varying skills and personalities, defining success isn’t so hard as it is time consuming. The life you create does not have to be based on the learned behaviors of a dysfunctional environment. In fact, the life you create must be based on your true soul, your true passions, and not from any other source.
Join me on Patreon (cancelled) as I begin this journey. It seems a bit scary, but the product of being vulnerable will have an impact on our society. A positive impact, I hope.
I had the pleasure of working with a new client who has some phenomenal dashboards built in Tableau. But the users do not want use these beauties. Why?