Alter Everything Podcast

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Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

We're joined by Chris Love, James Dunkerley, and Joe Lipski for a chat about ACEhood, Inspire London, and where they get their inspiration.






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TUVY 00:06 

[music] Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data and analytics culture. I'm Tuvy Le, and I'll be your host. We're joined today by Alteryx ACEs: Chris Love, James Dunkerley, and Joe Lipski, to have a chat about their career journeys, Inspire London, and where to get the best fish and chips. [music] All right, well, thanks for joining us, you guys. Super excited to have you on the show. Chris and Joe, I've met you at Inspire, which was really awesome to finally put a face to all the emails and some of the phone calls that we've had. And James, we will be meeting and London, so I'm really excited for that. Let's start with Chris. Can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? 

CHRIS 00:59 

Yeah, so I work for the Information Lab. I recently moved into the dark side of sales, so I help our customers to be successful with both Tableau and Alteryx. Put them in touch with the team at the Information Lab and generally do all that dark side of sales stuff like, playing golf and things like that, that I'm sure everyone expects, but never actually gets to happen. Lots of traveling around, going to meetings, in reality. 

TUVY 01:27 

Okay, and James? 

JAMES 01:30 

Oh yes, I'm a technical architect for Scott Logics, and we're a software development company. So I spend most of my day drawing pictures, these days, of architectures and doing the analysis to make sure our systems are work correctly, working with clients to build whatever weird and wonderful software they want us to build for them. 

TUVY 01:49 

Awesome. And Joe? 

JOE 01:52 

Hey, Tuvy. 

TUVY 01:53 

Hey, Joe. 

JOE 01:53 

Yeah, I work for Javelin Group as a consulting manager. We're a retail consultancy firm, and similar to Chris in the information that we partner with Alteryx and Tableau. And my job is really to help our clients, typically retailers, consumer-facing companies, brands, etc., get the most out of their data through analytics. 

TUVY 02:20 

So would you guys say that-- James and Chris, you guys are, I guess, on the dark side and James is on the light side? 

CHRIS 02:31 

I think James is definitely the technical guy who's on the coalface doing stuff. Joe, I don't know how much stuff you actually do these days. Is it all like me? Kind of talking about it and not doing much? 

JOE 02:44 

Less and less these days. When I'm doing stuff, it's fun stuff that I want to do rather than, necessarily, what the clients want to do. But more helping my team members and although, still whenever it's needed, getting my hands dirty with training sessions and enablement session. So it's always good fun to get back into the technical side of things, which I do definitely enjoy. 

TUVY 03:08 

Cool. You guys obviously are very successful: you presented it Inspire, you're actually all presenting again at Inspire London, and you're Alteryx ACEs. So, I mean, I know all about the Alteryx ACE program, but can you tell us a little bit about what you do as an ACE? And I get a ton of questions of, "How do I become an ACE?" Can you maybe give a little bit of-- share, I guess, a little bit of insight from your end as to what it is you do as an ACE? 

JOE 03:48 

So I think being an ACE is all about being an evangelist about Alteryx and spreading the Alteryx love within the community, in whatever way, shape, or form suits you best. And is [most of the demand?], whether that's on Twitter, on the amazing Alteryx community, through user groups, training events, etc. And I think as an Alteryx ACE and as a consultant for self-service analytics tools, our job is to make other people amazing at Alteryx. And that's really what you get the value out of and the enjoyment and satisfaction out of, whether that's online or in face-to-face training sessions. 

CHRIS 04:34 

I think, as well, there's an element of expertise in there, as well [isn't there?]. As ACEs, we're kind of representing some of the brightest and best users out there, of the Alteryx community. So we bring our expertise and share that with other people through the evangelism that Joe talked about. 

JAMES 04:54 

And I think we're all-- everyone's active in the communities and user groups, and we all like to tackle problems that aren't necessarily our comfort domain as well. 

JOE 05:02 

Yeah, and I think on the expertise front, I think there's the 10,000 hour rule. I can't remember who coined the term, but I don't think I've been using Alteryx for 10,000 hours, yet. But it's probably getting. We're using Alteryx pretty much all day, every day, for both fun and work. So getting that practice in to improve our own knowledge and share that knowledge with others. 

TUVY 05:27 

So, I know, Joe, you mentioned-- you presented this at Inspire, but you said that you've been using Alteryx since you were in college or university. So you've been using Alteryx for a long time. Can you tell us, what is the coolest thing that you've ever created with Alteryx? And it could be from school or recently or--. 

JOE 05:56 

That's a tough one. But yeah, like you said, university, over here in the UK, is what it's called. And exactly as you said, I've been using Alteryx since university, which was back in 2012, so six years. It was actually in 2011 when I started university during a placement year between my second and-- 

CHRIS 06:17 

We got to stop talking to you soon, Joe. [laughter]. 

JOE 06:20 

--second and final year of university. And I was lucky enough to join Javelin Group as a intern placement student there, using Alteryx for spatial analytics and location planning. This was actually when Alteryx was vertically aligned. I don't think there was any way to make it horizontal back then. So it was building workflows from the top to the bottom of the screen. And it's always funny when you see some old workflows either saved on your laptop or on network drives, and you open them up and they're in that format. But yeah, no, I think the coolest thing that I've built-- that's a really tricky one because I can't remember what I did last week, let alone six years ago. But a cool thing that I've been building recently, which I think we'll probably talk about later, is-- I love going to the gym and keeping fit. And my gym has a activities page online, which tracks every time I enter/exit the gym, how long I stayed in the gym, which one of their chains I went to. And I've built a fairly complex process which web scrapes that information. But, obviously, as it's personal to me, it has to be via a login, so I have to log in first. And that was the particularly difficult part to engineer in Alteryx, getting the login to work, downloading the cookie, using the cookies to then pull back my activity information, which I've now automated and pulled together in a cool dashboard which keeps me motivated and keeps me challenged. And, most importantly, I can see the weeks where I've only been to the gym once or twice rather than four or five times. 

TUVY 07:55 

So does it remind you if you're being lazy and you've only gone once a week? 

JOE 08:01 

That's a good idea. Maybe I should set up some email alerts. If it gets to Thursday or Friday and I've only been once, I should get some alerts. 

TUVY 08:08 

I don't know if I'd want somebody yelling at me about that. I know when I'm not going to the gym [laughter]. But yeah, no, that's super cool. James, I noticed that on Twitter, you've been posting about something that you've been building that seems really cool, and Ned was replying and-- so can you tell us a little bit about that? Not to say that that is the coolest thing you've ever done, but I just was curious because I saw it on Twitter. 

JAMES 08:37 

Sure. So this was something that came up-- I needed a way to generate templated data, data that-- a very, very specific format, and I needed a lot of them very quickly. Specifically, 4 million at first, but then 10 billion later. So, wanted to do it quickly, couldn't think of a good way to do it, where I have limited character sets for each character of a string and feeding it in. So the best way I could come up with was using the formula, SDK. Tried to write it in C++. Started off, it wasn't too bad. It worked, it produced the data I needed, the 4 million dates that I needed, in about 10 minutes. But Ned's been great since I joined the Alteryx community. He's become a great friend and helped me a lot along my journey. And he gave me some pointers on my C++. By the end of it, I think it was-- it takes it about 1 minute and 10 seconds now, to generate the same amount of data after Ned's help and optimizations and things like this. It was a fun experience. I don't do much C++ in my day job. And just get digging into C++ to get it as fast as I possibly could and kind of learn from the best, so to speak, was an exciting opportunity. 

JOE 09:47 

James you should have been on the podcast from a few weeks ago with-- I think it was Neil and Steve Ahlgren who were talking about developing Alteryx in C++ and whatever other programming languages. 

JAMES 09:59 

Yeah, I heard that podcast. One of the best. 

JOE 10:02 

I agree. It was way over my head, but really insightful into the inner workings of the tool. 

CHRIS 10:08 

This is where, James, you're totally different from me and Joe. Me and Joe would tackle that in Alteryx, but never get deep down into the code. I do envy you being able to turn that into a minute's process. 

JAMES 10:19 

Lucky to have gotten to know Ned, because I wouldn't have been able to do it before I started in Alteryx. And I completely agree with the mantra he stated on that one, that simple is hard. I thought that was a very good mantra they had in the other podcast. 

JOE 10:32 

And your formula plugins that you created and are probably more, I guess, tangible to other users around. I think there's Workday and other different formula add-ins that were really cool or I know I use. And I remember I have them in training sessions sometimes, loaded into Alteryx, and I forget that they're what James created and I have to install separately when someone says, "How have you got that expression in your formula, when I haven't? 

JAMES 10:58 

It did make my Grand Prix entry a bit more complicated. They took them all away from me and gave me a [inaudible] Alteryx. It's like, "I can't remember how to do this without them." They're very useful. 

TUVY 11:09 

And so, I guess, last but not least, Chris, what's the coolest thing that you've ever done with Alteryx, that you can share with us? 

CHRIS 11:18 

Oh, I don't know. I always come back to this word, cool. Cool, for me, is the stuff I do in Alteryx every day that just shaves seconds and minutes off my day. That, to me, is the really exciting bit and the cool bit about Alteryx, but that's not the answer you want to hear. You want to hear about something really amazing, so I'll tell you about my Enigma machine. This came from a talk that I think Dean did a couple of years ago at the Alteryx conference over in the US. He was sharing about Allan Turing and the work that he did on the Enigma machine, solving that and breaking the code back in World War II. So on the plane back, I decided to just try and build an Enigma machine in Alteryx. It's not something that's particularly easy. It's something I worked on back in my [math's?] degree days, when I was trying to-- we actually had to solve the Enigma code as part of my degree, and we had to do it under exam conditions and use some of the techniques that the Allies used to crack the Enigma code. So I kind of had some background in this. So yeah, I turned it into something that you could play with the dials on the Enigma machine, you could type in the plugboards that would-- the settings for the plugboards that the operators would use. And then you type in your message and it encodes that into an actual Enigma code. So yeah, that was really good fun to build. It took me a couple of days to get it right, but I was quite surprised to be able to do it, to be honest. 

TUVY 13:01 

That's so cool. Just a couple days. 

CHRIS 13:03 

When I put my mind to something, I'm either going to sit down and work on it, kind of, 24/7 to get it done, or it just goes onto the back burner [laughter] [with everything?], so I'm not going to finish. So I have to just sit down and get it done. I'm kind of an all or nothing kind of person, and the same goes for hobbies, the same goes for everything. I'm either doing it or I'm not, which I get told about frequently, to be honest. 

TUVY 13:26 

So that kind of leads me into my next question, which is, your passions. I'm curious to know what your passions outside of data and analytics, outside of work, really is. And I'm wondering - I guess it's a two-part question - if any of those passions fit into data at the same time. So it's a weird question, but-- for example, if you really like sports, let's say, are you obsessed with player stats or is your data completely different? I mean, is your passion completely different? 

CHRIS 14:07 

Two of my hobbies that spring to mind that probably fit into that category are board games and photography, for two different reasons. I play a lot of board games. I'm looking behind me now - I'm working from home - and I've got a stack about as high as me of different kind of board games that I play. And all those board games have got these stats and ways of winning and ways that I analyze them just to try and get to the optimal play. You're building decks of cards to try and beat enemies and things like that. So, yeah, in that way, that's something that kind of really fits into that data side of things. And then from a photography side, I guess that's channeling the artistic side of my brain. I build a lot of data visualizations, and a lot of the composition side of things that I've learned from taking photography picks right back into that-- building dashboards, the rule of thirds. And the way I compose my visualizations is very much the same as the way I compose my photographs. 

TUVY 15:14 

You should definitely take a picture of those board games and send to us, because we also love games here at Alteryx. I don't think we've had lunch without playing some kind of game as a team, so. 

JOE 15:30 

Every day, you play a board game at lunch? 

TUVY 15:32 

Almost. You make that sound like it's a bad thing. We need to-- 

CHRIS 15:36 

That's definitely not a bad thing. 

TUVY 15:37 

--unwind and-- team bonding, competition, maybe some smack-talking [laughter]. 

JOE 15:46 

Which game are you best at, Tuvy? 

TUVY 15:47 

All of them, obviously [laughter]. No, I really like Sequence. And I think Maddie is nodding right now at me, because we play that a lot. Have you guys played? 

CHRIS 16:02 

I've got Sequence right behind me. [It's here?]. 

TUVY 16:04 

It's a great game, isn't it? 

CHRIS 16:06 

I like Sequence, yeah. It's very simple, so I can play it with the kids. I'm not saying anything about you, Tuvy, but [laughter]. 

TUVY 16:12 

Okay, okay. I know I said I like smack-talking, but come on. 

CHRIS 16:18 

That's one of the simpler games in my collection. But it's good fun. Yeah, really simple. 

TUVY 16:24 

All right, well, moving on from Chris, then [laughter]. James, can you tell us what you like to do? What's your passion? What do you like to do when you're not working or building cool things with Alteryx? 

JAMES 16:39 

As, with Chris, I like playing board games. Mine tend to be focused around my two children a lot, so I think our most advanced one is probably about Ticket to Ride level, so not too tactical. But that and probably, when I get the time, cooking as well. That's my kind of artistic get out. But a lot of my time is probably spent playing and learning on other technical aspects of my job. And so I kind of spent quite a lot of my spare time doing the fun bits of my job as well as the-- as well. 

TUVY 17:12 

What's your signature dish? 

JAMES 17:15 

I would probably say the favorite one in the family house is probably the-- we do a macaroni cheese with sweet potato in it, and the boys absolutely love it. And it's fun to cook with them. 

TUVY 17:29 

Oh, that sounds good. 

JOE 17:29 

That does sound good. 

TUVY 17:30 

Yeah. And Joe, when you're not at the gym, making all of us look bad-- 

JOE 17:38 

So yeah, that's one of them. And that fits into data and quantified self. So I started tracking a lot of little things about myself, about how I travel to and from work, what time I go to sleep, how long I spend in bed, etc. And everyone I know thinks it's really weird and I don't actually do too much with it, but I like looking at the fancy graphs that you can create on which days you slept the most, etc. But outside of that, cooking and eating as well, and that's a-- like James said, I'm really into spices and flavors, so it's all about the-- or I'm not too precise with what ingredients I'm putting in, so data and analytics don't really come into there. But then, of course, in my spare time at weekends, I'm a huge sports fan, a huge football fan, so I'm pretty much going to see my team [inaudible] Crystal Palace every other week when we're at home with my dad. And, occasionally, when I get a bit of spare time, I am analyzing player stats, but I'm not as into it as some people. Although, I have made some cool dashboards in Tableau with some analytics from Alteryx around the rugby Six Nations over the past couple of years. And just like to play around, really, to improve my skills. 

TUVY 18:52 

So I'm curious, you guys have all been in this field for a long time. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts of possibly changing roles, positions. What is your five-year goal? 

JOE 19:10 

You can't ask that. You can't ask us that on a public podcast. 

TUVY 19:14 

It's okay; no one's listening. It's just me, Brian, and Maddie. 

JOE 19:17 

Until next week when it's released [laughter]. I'm not a person that sets long-term goals. For me, personally, I'm someone that takes every day as it comes, always strive to do the best in everything I do. Like Chris said earlier, it's all about putting effort into whatever you're doing. There's no point in being half-hearted, so take every day as it comes put, put your best effort into everything you do. And then, I'm always a person that, everything will work out the best, 100%, see my long-term future in data and analytics. And if Alteryx keeps developing the way it is, I 100% see my future using Alteryx pretty much every day. So I'm looking forward to it, but I don't typically think too far in advance. 

CHRIS 20:10 

I'm really glad you said that, actually, Joe, because I think we see a lot of things in the community and perhaps people look at us as people who have really strived to get to be an ACE, deliberately, and set out places in our career where we'll go to get to this point. And people talk about living with their regrets and grabbing every single opportunity you can and things like that. Whereas I'm very much like you, I didn't plan to get to a particular point in my career, I've just worked hard and I work through it, and I think the next five years, I'll do exactly the same. I'm not particular person who's saying, "I want to be at this position, by this point." So yeah, I think there's a lot to be said for just working at things and seeing what happens. 

JAMES 20:56 

I think, from my perspective, it's-- we're lucky to be in software engineering data analytics, where it's a constantly evolving field. There's so much stuff to learn, and what I'm looking for is to keep learning and keep growing and keep developing. And it's ever-changing. And Alteryx was a big kick to remind me that's what I love doing, and it did cause me to change my career when I first came across it a while ago. 

TUVY 21:21 

And are there any specific people who-- I mean, it sounds like you guys are all somewhat hard workers, but easygoing at the same time and taking opportunities as they come. Has there been mentors or advisors along the way to get you to where you are now? 

CHRIS 21:44 

For me, my old boss, a guy called Simon Hamm. I worked under him at Experian for about 10 years. And his management style and everything else really led me to where I am today. He was very open, very chilled. He'd just empower people underneath him to be the experts. He didn't want to kind of own anything, he'd just empower people. So I certainly look on him as a mentor for-- he was the first person to introduce me to Alteryx. I worked at Experian with people like Adam Riley, who's now a developer-- looks after the engine team at Alteryx. Damien Austin, who's head of professional services, I think, at Alteryx, as well as Mark Frisch to MarqueeCrew, who now is a consultant out in the US. So being from that atmosphere and being empowered to build things under Simon's guidance, I think, was a really key pivotal moment in my career development. And it took a lot for me to step away from that and say, "I'm going to now move to the Information Lab and do something with that knowledge and be a consultant under that." So yeah, yeah. I think having those kind of mentors are very important, particularly, in your early career. It's a key part of your development. 

JOE 23:11 

Yeah, I completely agree. I've, I guess, been fortunate enough to join an amazing company straight from university, and still at that same company. I've been working under the same leadership for the past six years under Carl Bradbrook and Robin Bevan, who I report up into. Although, the way they set our team up is, it's almost a flat structure, and we give everyone opportunities to do what they're best at, whether that's client-facing, whether that analytics work. And I'm a firm believer that everyone should have the same opportunities. There shouldn't be such strict hierarchies in terms of in the workplace. But also, one story that I remember extremely well, when I was learning to drive, at 17, I remember the first day when my dad took me out learning to drive before I'd even had any lessons. Got my insurance, my provisional license the day I turned 17. And I remember this story-- my dad took me out. We were driving up and down our quiet road out in South London. And then he drove to a fairly busy road and was like, "Joe, jump in the driver's seat," and basically directed me to drive straight up to a roundabout. I stalled about five times. So in the UK we have manual cars. I stalled about five times. And once you've done it once, you don't typically do it again. And it's kind of what I, again, try and instill about throwing people in the deep end. And you learn so quickly from the tough challenges you face, and that's the only way to improve, so. 

JAMES 24:54 

Yeah. I was like Joe, lucky to go into an environment in my first job where I was given space to learn and space to work and had great people around me. And, fortunately, in all the subsequent jobs, that's been the case, as well. And within Scott Logic, surrounded by fantastic people who I can learn from and work closely with. 

JOE 25:14 

And now, as a manager, it's all about just making all of your colleagues and everyone around you better than you are, and your team will be so successful. For me, it's all about teamwork and empowering everyone. It's how we work together that makes everyone successful. 

CHRIS 25:29 

So, Chris, you mentioned that you switched over and took a job at Information Lab, and earlier, you called that going to the dark side of sales. So I'm curious, for people who are listening, I think there's a lot of people who are in data analytics who are either deep in creating queries and they're in the data, they're not necessarily in front of the stakeholders. And, say they want to make that jump over to be either more client-facing or have more of a voice in the business. What would your suggestion be for them? 

CHRIS 26:14 

I think, for me. the way I enabled that was literally getting from behind the computer. I think in technical roles, it's very easy to sit there and be the expert and just send out answers and visualizations and workflows from your desk and give people what they want. But getting up and talking to people, talking to people in the kitchen, in the canteen, and going and asking them and speaking to them, making trips to their desk and finding out what their problems are, you very quickly get involved with actually what they're doing on a day-to-day basis. And so you can kind of leave that technical bubble and work into their world. As you do that you, you build up much more of an empathy for the kind of problems that they're having, and learn to speak that kind of business speak. It's only by doing that, that you can really step out from behind your desk and, I guess, make that transition. It's all about communication, for me. Communication is something that I think we still miss in the data world. We still don't have enough conversations about data with the business, so making that a key part of our toolkit is really the key to that. 

JOE 27:38 

Yeah, I completely agree. The other thing I'd add to that is collaboration, as well. In the data and analytics world, so often people are doing such amazing things on their own, working on their own on workflows, on dashboards, on building tools or software. I think really the collaboration aspect, working in teams, is something that's not missing from the community but something that's definitely in its infancy, and is growing. And the Alteryx community is obviously a fantastic place to start building up that collaboration. We have our ACE community pages, and I know very recently there's been lots of posts on there about doing things together, whether it's writing blogs together or user guides together or how to install Alteryx server in a enterprise environment, which I know Adrian Loong is sort of writing, but he's asking for each of the rest of us-- ACEs tips and tricks and little steps we've gone through, because it's never always the same for everyone. 

TUVY 28:40 

So, that brings up a good point. I think that in the tech community, data community, especially, there's a lot of sharing. I think that that's the biggest thing that I've noticed. When someone discovers how to do something or if they build something, the first thing they do is share that with other people so that they can use and repeat, which is really, really great to see, because there other industries where people kind of play it close to the vest and might want to keep their own findings to themselves. Do you guys have any-- I guess if there's anything missing. Do you see anything missing in the greater analytics community that we currently don't have as far as client success or client experience? 

CHRIS 29:34 

I think, for me, the big thing that's missing is the leadership voices. We get a lot of voices from the technical people, the users. We don't necessarily always hear from the people that are implementing this on why they're implementing it and what are the business factors and the success factors behind why they're choosing to implement a culture of analytics in their organizations. They're not as vocal in our communities as they should be. There are one or two individuals doing that, but not as many as I'd like to see. So I think if there's one challenge I'd like to put out there, it's for more of them to come forward and say what are they finding difficult, what successes have they had. 

TUVY 30:16 

James, do you see anything missing that you'd like to see more of? 

JAMES 30:20 

Oh, I think Chris's point is very-- I think that how do you build culture is-- there's lots of answers to the technical side and I think we're very good at sharing technical stuff, but the kind of cultural change stories and how you embed it into businesses and into cultures is the much harder on their own piece and an area that is very hard to get any advice on, in general. So I'd agree with that. 

TUVY 30:50 

So would it be, I guess, helpful or if you saw more of the business side in either the forums or on social-- is that what you're talking about? Or how would you like to see that feedback and communication? 

CHRIS 31:07 

I think, for me, it's most stories about organizations - and this is probably coming from senior leadership - talking about, "We used to have this. We used to have a team of people who were not very communicative, didn't know what-- using a lot of Excel spreadsheets etc., etc. This is how we got them as a leadership team from this place to using day-to-day-to-day sharing it, talking about it, building workflows, building visualizations, and having a very data driven attitude." I'd like to hear how that story evolved. What were the challenges? What things were successful? What did they actually do to implement that, as a leadership team? And for them to talk about that realistically and honestly, about what that journey was like. 

JAMES 32:07 

No, I think that would be really useful. I think there's a lot of cases that I've come across in my path where there's been silos of ownership, and how you break those down and how you help get into those spaces where people don't want to release the control that they've had for, potentially, years, and help them move to that newer culture. And it's very much a cultural thing rather than technical thing. 

CHRIS 32:30 

Yeah, yeah. How do you break down those people? We all know that those challenges are out there, but stories from the coalface of how you actually do that. I think we hear a lot from consultants about how they propose to do that. We don't necessarily hear about success stories from organizations about how they've actually achieved that. 

JOE 32:50 

At events and conferences, etc., you hear the amazing success stories, like you said, of how people got there. But the real truthful stories about the challenges and some of the problems that inevitably happen, whether they're technical or internal, cultural changes. We know everyone does have those challenges; it's never always plain sailing. And the best advice is probably what those challenges were and how the companies did overcome them. 

JAMES 33:20 

And from a consultant's perspective, we don't necessarily see the whole journey. We see the beginning of the journey quite often or the difficult point. And how they get through that when we're not there is always interesting. 

TUVY 33:34 

That's interesting. I think a lot of people, especially if they're on stage or they have this huge platform, it's a lot more enticing to talk about the good outcome. It's a little vulnerable to talk about all the challenges that you've gone through and all the hundred things that didn't work versus the one thing that did work really well. 

JAMES 34:01 

But I think that's one of the big [inaudible] things, is one of the things about Alteryx and software engineering, in general, is you want to fail fast because you're going to fail often. So being public about how we fail is as important as [of?] how we succeed. 

TUVY 34:17 

Fail fast, because you're going to fail often. I like that. So switching gears a little bit, I want to talk about London, Inspire. Everybody is just so excited here for that day to just come already. And so Chris and Joe, you guys have your sessions, you have presented in the past. But James, this is going to be your first time presenting at Inspire, so can you tell us a little bit about what your session is going to be like and how you came to come up with this idea to present this? 

JAMES 34:58 

Well, as people who know me on the community know, I live in a strange edge area of Alteryx, deep in the SDK. So I thought I'd share some light on the formula, SDK. I know the work that Tasha and Neil have been doing to promote the general newer SDKs has been fantastic, but I thought it'd be fun to highlight one of the ancient SDKs. And if I remember from the header file, it goes back to something like Alteryx 1.5, so, long before I was a user of the product. But thought I'd demonstrate and talk about some of the stuff that's possible with the formula SDK, and some of the things and pitfalls I've learned from building the abacus libraries and how I go about building them, in general. And hopefully, people will come away with the ability to create some functions themselves. 

JOE 35:45 

I remember James gave us a sneak peek into that - what? - probably about a year ago at the London Alteryx User Group and it was a fantastic insight into how the SDK works, what kind of stuff you can do, and some of the amazing plugins and add-ins and tools that James has created out there in the public for everyone, going back to the sharing and community aspect of Alteryx. 

TUVY 36:08 

And so, for Joe and Chris, since you've presented, any tips on either first-time presenters or even people who might want to submit for call for speakers next year. These are, obviously, very-- a lot of them are very technical sessions, and you are up there speaking for about 35, 40 minutes or so. How do you balance your sessions to be both engaging and educational and have the audience walk away with something very valuable? 

JOE 36:45 

So, for my talk at Inspire in Anaheim, I think, firstly, anyone that's even considering speaking should apply to do it. I remember, Tuvy, we were on a ACE panel talk, which myself and four other ACEs were talking on. And myself and Daniel Brun, good friend from Scandinavia, we were talking about some cool integrations that we were doing in Alteryx with API's and we were going to talk about the panel around cool things you never thought Alteryx can do, is one of the questions. And I remember you said to us, "Why don't you submit a talk and actually have your own talk about that?" And at that point, I was like-- I didn't really think people would actually want to come and hear what I had to say. And, obviously, by the end of it, it was a fantastic talk. We had a roomful; I think everyone enjoyed it. So just put yourself out there and do it. People definitely do want to hear what you have to say. And it's such a rewarding experience. And then, in terms of tips for making it both engaging, enjoyable, we had a balance between, I guess, use cases around what we were showing technically and how what we were showing could be applied to the business world and how others could apply it to what they were doing. So our talk, in summary, was around web scraping, API integrations, and image recognition. So really cool concepts that, I guess, you wouldn't expect you could do with Alteryx as data blending and analytics tool. But we showed some amazing examples, we had some great feedback after the session, and we've been speaking to attendees around how they've been using, I guess, what we shared after the session. And then, the one thing we did at the end is we just did our favorite free tips and tricks. And that's what I always like to see when I'm going to session, something to ensure that everyone goes away with probably something they didn't know before, whether it's a new use case, a new story, or a new tip or trick, so. 

CHRIS 38:54 

If I can share some tips as well, then I'd probably say some don'ts. I lose count of the number of Inspire sessions I've been to, now. I'm probably going to say six or seven, at least. And I've seen a lot of [customer?] speakers, and I've seen some good ones and some bad ones. So my top tips would be, don't spend a long time explaining what your company does. If you're Coca-Cola, we roughly know what Coca-Cola do. We don't need to see 20 minutes of what you do. The really interesting stuff for us, as an audience, is the warts and all perception of what you build in Alteryx. Don't give us a-- don't preach the converted. We all know that Alteryx is a fantastic tool. And I've been to sessions which are just preaching to the converted. So give us the warts and all. Tell us how you overcame some of the challenges you got to. Don't just tell us that it turned your five-week process into a 24-second process, because, I think a lot of the audience will be there and will know that it can do that. So I'm really interested in the how you did it, why you did, and some of the business value that you got out of that. What did that time saving allow you to do? What additional business benefit did it did it give you? 

TUVY 40:24 

That's good. Yeah, I mean, I don't think people think about failing stories. Not that to go up there and talk about how you couldn't do something is valuable, but the success stories are often the ones that pop up first, that people want to talk about. I guess it's really good to hear about how someone struggled through something and then showing the different paths that they took to find out the answer. Okay, so thank you so much, Chris, James, and Joe for joining me today. So we like to close it out with our community pics. So, pretty much, if you've read something or a really great meal you've eaten, that you'd like to share with us, anything that you'd like to share with our listeners here, please let me know one or two things that come to mind. And we'll start with Chris. 

CHRIS 41:30 

Yeah, so I was scrolling through Twitter, I think it was yesterday, and came across Nadieh Bremer's, Figures in the Sky, data visualization. And I think it's a really wonderful data visualization of the way that different cultures look at the stars and the way they pick out different constellations from the stars around us. The way that they're choosing, not just based on the brightness of the stars, but how they visualize the sky around us and how that differs across the globe and how the similarities, as well, map across the globe, as well. So I'd really encourage people to go and look at that and read through. It's a great article. There's some great visualization behind that. Not a traditional data visualization, but data visualization of the stars, which takes me back to when I was camping a few years ago and took my boy out and we watched the Perseids meteor shower. And he just turned to me and said, "Dad, this is the best moment of my life." And I'll always remember that, just looking up at those stars and this little eight-year-old's reaction to it, so. It's always held a-- the stars have always held a fascination for me, and this is just a great visualization of it. 

TUVY 42:45 

That is so sweet. I just clutched my heart. What's his name? 

CHRIS 42:50 

His name's George. 

TUVY 42:53 


CHRIS 42:53 

And we're going again. We're going down to the New Forest, so there's going to be really dark skies and I'm going to take my, now, five-year-old, six-year-old, Fred. And so he's going to do the same thing. We're going to stay up, have a midnight feast and a campfire, and then look up at the stars and, hopefully, our guess, we'll see some meteors and the stars again. 

TUVY 43:14 

I have to say, Maddie and I are just almost crying in our seats. Your son's names are so cute. I love that they're almost kind of like old men names, but for little kids. It's really adorable. We're just sitting here smiling, so. That's awesome. Joe, what is your community pick? 

JOE 43:40 

Mine's a weird one, but thinking about this, I was thinking again, technology and apps. And just over the past few years, we've started using apps like WhatsApp and Spotify and stuff all day, every day. And one thing that I'm particularly interested in, at the moment is, I guess, the movement of people across cities and just the improvements to transportation. So, one app that I've started using recently, or two apps, actually, are two car sharing apps that I use where, essentially, you don't have to own a car anymore. So these two apps in the UK are called Zipcar and DriveNow, and I'm sure there's different companies in different cities across the world. But essentially, there's cars parked all over London or whatever city you're using the app in. You can pick the car up with your phone. You unlock it with your phone, it's 29 pence a minute for fuel, insurance, everything. You drive for however long. If you're going on a 15-minute journey, it costs 2 to 3 pounds cheaper than an Uber, cheaper than a taxi. A similar price, I guess, to public transport, but I see this as a app and a development that's going to change the way that, particularly in cities, people move about cities. And I'm fortunate enough to live in London. And because of these apps and, I guess, the development of them, I don't think I'm actually going to own a car again. So, probably sound like a salesperson selling some apps. I do have referral codes, if you want them [laughter]. 

TUVY 45:13 

This podcast is sponsored by Zipcar [laughter]. 

JOE 45:17 

No, no, I'm joking. But yeah, they, they changed the way I get about and different places you can explore. So then, like Chris said, you can get out to the countryside in a car now, whereas, before, I would have had to have rented a car and gone to pick it up from the airport or taken a two-hour train to wherever I wanted to go, so. 

TUVY 45:35 

That's cool. Is it hard to find parking, though, when you get to your destination? How's parking in London? 

JOE 45:43 

That's one of the best things about it. Parking in London, in your own car, is impossible. The reason being, it's all permit-holders only. You literally can't park, probably, within an hour's drive of London. You can barely park anywhere, because it's permit-holders only. But with these cars, you can park in the permit bays, which are pretty much empty all the time. So parking's a piece of cake. 

TUVY 46:08 

And James, what is your community pick or picks? 

JAMES 46:13 

I guess my one came from, like Chris, looking through Twitter. I saw something come up from [info topics?] the other week. And they were abusing Tableau's new extension API and allowing you to play Super Mario in Tableau. And that fitted with my usual use and abuse of SDK, so I thought that was very fun. And then they did some other fun stuff that I've always felt like doing in Alteryx, like solving Sudokus with Alteryx, which has always been a fun game to do. 

TUVY 46:42 

Awesome. So my community pick is this nonprofit organization that I got to find out about. I went to an auction, a benefit dinner, this past weekend with Libby and a few of the teams and teammates here at Alteryx. And they work with 10 different orphanages and Mexico, putting kids through primary school, middle school, high school and even through college, and then helping them getting jobs after that. So it was a night that raised over $250,000, which was amazing, and we are actually going to plan a trip to go down to Mexico, maybe in a month or two, to visit the orphanages and hopefully bring back some good knowledge to then continue supporting them from California, here. So, it's called Corazon de vida, which is really cool. And the lady who started it actually used to live in an orphanage, so she's giving back and-- very inspiring stuff. And then my second community pick is this amazing Trader Joe's, Everything Bagel seasoning that I bought, and it is a game changer. I don't know if you guys are big bagel people, but every time you grab an everything bagel and you cut it and toast it, you lose a lot of the seasoning. So, this is a bagel seasoning blend that you can sprinkle on top. 

JOE 48:27 

Can you bring us some over to Inspire, please? 

TUVY 48:30 

I can. Do you guys like bagels? Are bagels big in England? 

S?: 48:33 


JAMES 48:34 

Yeah, growing. 

CHRIS 48:35 

Are they? 

TUVY 48:37 


JAMES 48:38 

In London. 

CHRIS 48:40 

Yeah. Not up here, north [laughter]. 

TUVY 48:45 

Well I will, then, bring you all a nice little Trader Joe's Everything Bagel seasoning blend. It's so good. And you can put it on toast, you can put it on your salads, you can put it on everything. 

JOE 49:00 

It does sound good. You have bread cakes up there, Chris, don't you? 

CHRIS 49:03 

Cobs. Cobs, yeah. We may do it with a cob [laughter], yeah. 

TUVY 49:08 

What are bread cups? 

JOE 49:10 


CHRIS 49:11 

Yeah, a bread roll is a cob. 

TUVY 49:13 

Cob or cup? 

CHRIS 49:14 


JOE 49:15 


TUVY 49:15 

Oh, cob. Okay. 

JOE 49:18 

Lots of different dialects. 

TUVY 49:21 

So those are like bread rolls? 

CHRIS 49:24 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, like a bread roll. There's all sorts of dialects across the UK. Up in Manchester, they're a barm cake. They're a cob here, in the Midlands, and a bread roll and all sorts. 

JOE 49:37 

And you think only your way of saying it's right and everyone else is crazy. 

CHRIS 49:41 


JAMES 49:41 

That's clearly correct, isn't Joe? Being from London, we assume we're completely correct. 

JOE 49:46 


CHRIS 49:46 


JAMES 49:47 

With everything [laughter]. 

TUVY 49:50 

I like the sass. 

JAMES 49:52 

You've got to have conviction. 

CHRIS 49:53 


TUVY 49:55 

Yeah, like when Chris said that I'm simple because I like to Sequence [laughter]. Chris, I don't know if I'm going to bring you some Everything Bagel seasoning, but James and Joe, definitely [laughter] bring you some presents when I arrive. Well, thank you so much, you guys. This has been great. I think people will really love listening to this episode. Really excited to see you all in London, and we'll be talking to you very soon, probably send you some emails after I finish here. 

CHRIS 50:34 

Super. Thank you. 

JAMES 50:35 

Thank you. 

JOE 50:36 

Can't wait for Inspire. Thank you very much. [music] 

TUVY 50:43 

I'm curious about fish and chips. I know that it's something that people in the UK are known for. I don't know if it's really been true for you guys. It's kind of like when people say, "Oh, you're American, you like hamburgers." I mean, we do, but can you give us some tips for where to eat, what to do, what to see while we're in England? 

JOE 51:08 

So I think fish and chips is a typical English meal. It's not overrated, but like you said, I don't think it's as common as people work out. And to get the best fish and chips, you need to be by the seaside, for it to be the freshest and the nicest, 100%. 

S?: 51:28 


JOE 51:28 

But I would say London's sort of so multicultural, Britain's so multicultural. My favorite thing about it is the diversity, the variety. It's the same with food and cuisines. You can pretty much go to an amazing restaurant of any culture, any cuisine, in or around London, probably within 15 minutes of each other on the Tube, so try lots of different things out. The traditional British thing that I would suggest trying, if you are over, is a Sunday roast. So, essentially, get yourself down to a nice gastropub, a nice pint of British ale, and a roast beef, roast chicken, whatever roast you decide to have, with Yorkshire puddings and lots of gravy. That's the, I guess, typical traditional meal that, I guess, probably most of us eat, pretty much every Sunday afternoon. 

TUVY 52:23 

It sounds like Thanksgiving. 

JOE 52:26 

Thanksgiving every week. 

TUVY 52:31 

James, what would be your suggestion or top two places that we must see? 

JAMES 52:40 

Well, you're out at the-- we're out at the O2 this time, so [rather than?] in the center of London. But I would make sure you went into the center of London and saw some of the more historical buildings. I do like walking along the river [at lighthouse?], do recommend it. Ned persuaded me, last year, to meet him at his hotel and walk along from his hotel. So I got the walk along the river most mornings, and I'd heartily recommend that. That's a really fantastic thing to do. 

JOE 53:08 

And just around the corner from the O2, which is in Greenwich, we've got Greenwich Park, which is where the Maritime Museum is, which is where the GMT time system was, I guess, founded, developed. I'm not sure what the right word for it is, but there's an amazing park that's beautiful, with a fantastic museum and lots of history attached to it, just around the corner from the conference hotel. 

JAMES 53:36 

Yeah. And you can walk and stand on the Mean Time line and find out that your phone thinks you're about 100 meters away from it and [inaudible]. 

CHRIS 53:44 

I was going to say, if I can make the case, that the UK is not just about London. I live about two and a half miles north of London, by train, so up towards Nottingham. 

JOE 53:57 

Hours, not miles. 

CHRIS 53:58 

Sorry, yes [laughter]. I live about two and a half hours north of London, in a place called Nottingham. And, yeah, there's much more to see outside London, of the UK. There's lots of countryside. You don't have to travel far to see the beautiful country we have here, so if you've got a bit of time, then I'd heartily recommend coming up to [Derbyshire?]or even going as far as the Lake District and seeing some of the some of the hills and lakes up there. 


This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).

8 - Asteroid

So I stumbled upon the developers of the Mario in Tableau extension, that was @jdunkerley79's community pick, giving a talk about creating it at the most recent Tableau Conference.


Here is where they start talking about Mario.


That 'Figures in the Sky' is really cool! Thanks for sharing that.