It’s Not About Cramming Your Plate Full
How many times have you said to yourself or preached to your co-workers "I really just wish I had more time!" or "If there were just more hours in the day!" or my personal favorite "When is human cloning going to be ready? I need some help here!" Well, sorry to break it to you brotha or sista, it ain't gonna happen. You can't defy physics, you can't not sleep (trust me I've tried), and you sure as heck can't get a special gift card that contains more hours than the rest of us early birds and night owls have.
My reality is I love getting things done and checking off tasks on my always growing to-do list. Nothing in my day is worse than when I’m scatter brained; and along with my attention, productivity flies out the window. Because of this, I put a very high premium on figuring out what I need to do to get more accomplished each day. I have read countless books on this topic and even sought advice from my hyper productive teammates. I was convinced that if I stayed focused and determined for all 1,440 minutes in a day, I would be able to work like a Ford factory pushing out 2019 Mustangs. Mind you, I needed to do this all while holding a relationship together with my wonderful wife and being Daddy to three little monsters--I mean children. Bonus: I also needed to ensure the dog had a nice life too.
As most of you can figure out this wasn't the mindset that was going to help answer my dilemma, and I must admit, I was getting seriously bent out of shape over this. Then, on one fateful day seven years ago while working as a Senior Manager of Analytics at a small shoe company out of Beaverton, Oregon, my answer arrived. I was having yet another day of frustration from all the work I had on my plate and knew full well that I wasn't going to get it all done. A co-worker saw me and out of the blue asked a question that upset me and prompted my knee jerk reaction. The question was simple, yet powerful; so deep and had such a huge impact that I have asked it a couple times a day ever since. His question to me was simply this:
Why do YOU have to do all this?
Wait what? What kind of question is that? Who do you think you are? The question was one that hit deep. Like many of the clients and analysts who I ask this to these days say the exact same thing with the same flip of the lip and disregard that I had when they respond, "Well dummy, who do you think is going to do this?" The problem is that we never truly asked ourselves this question with true sincerity. Why do I have to do this? Why me? Once I heard it this way, I was on to the next logical question: 'You mean, why can't someone else do this?" and if that was the answer I was already ecstatic! I started to see that I didn't have to do everything myself and more specifically my value wasn’t directly tied to me doing each task.
THE SKY BROKE OPEN, DOVES FLEW OUT, AND ANGELS (YES, LITTLE ALTERYX ANGELS) STARTED SINGING
Now some may argue this (co-workers included) but I am not a dummy. I understand the concept of delegation, but reality was that I didn't put enough thought into the fact that if I were to break down the tasks sufficiently, in theory I could have others do the tasks. Although it was empowering, it was nowhere near what I was going to experience.
Around this time, it was as if the universe was listening to my deep thoughts and frustrations. I was at work one day and, try to imagine this: I was trying to fix a bug in my VBA code, while also running a 1 million+ record SQL query running against the data warehouse, all the while two coworkers at my desk were asking me how I would solve an analytical problem they were stuck on. I, of course didn’t have enough going on and glanced over to my outlook inbox to see an email just in:
Hey bud, have you heard of Alteryx? Looks kind of cool, I have been using it a couple weeks and I love it.
Check it out and let me know what you think. ;)"
Kapow! To say that it was "kind of cool" was a bit of an understatement. I like to joke that I think the same way Alteryx works. I see the world like an Alteryx workflow does. Now a couple weeks later, I am still foaming at the mouth from the discovery of Alteryx, which made me feel like I just discovered the Higgs boson, and sitting at my desk in disbelief that half of my workload was built into Alteryx workflows. For someone like myself who has such a focus on getting things done, having a platform that allowed to extend that ability was dreamlike. However, I still hadn't gotten to the best part.
In the following weeks after discovering Alteryx, I started meeting with my Alteryx Account Executive and Alteryx Sales Engineers (SE) consistently. Each day was better than the next until one day the sky broke open and doves flew out and angels started to sing. An SE I was speaking with made a simple off-the-cuff statement, "You know with Alteryx Server you could automate those 40-50 workflows you have and never have to touch them. You could even have Alteryx send out the reports directly to your executives."
Wait what? YOU LIE! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had found it! I finally found a way that I could get more done every day and run workflows in my sleep. If I could get whatever repetitive task I had into a workflow or application and then publish it to the Alteryx Server and schedule it, so I would never have to do that work anymore! Holy smokes. That was a turning point in my career that I can still remember to this day.
I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU
I became a consultant mainly because of this realization. If I can show smart, productive, hard-working analysts, and data gurus they don't need to do every little thing themselves, they would surely be happier, and more excited about the awesome work they are doing. In turn, they would also discover the coolest secret that all Alteryx junkies have uncovered:
When you clear your plate from doing the manual and tedious day to day work that you currently do, you start doing the best work you have ever done, period. You free your brain and energy to work on problems that no one else is working on or has made progress on. You start solving problems that can truly take a company in a whole different realm of existence. You start asking questions that have never been asked. You start to see possibilities that didn't seem likely before. It’s the single coolest, exciting, and most empowering feeling I believe any of us can have: that we can have an impact in this world that is bigger than ourselves--not in the future but today. I know this sounds like a Kool-Aid soaked hyperbole but try it. I dare you. Ok fine. DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU!
I want you to really ask yourself the powerful question of "Why do I need to do it?" Find a way to build it, schedule it, and get it off your plate. Liberate yourself to work on tougher and more satisfying issues. Do not settle for pushing buttons, start pushing the barriers of what you do, because the world needs more problem solvers like you.
I look forward to sharing more tips in the future on topics related to getting started using Alteryx quickly and easily so that you can spend more time game changing your career, company, and the world.
I am a Data Science / Analytics evangelist focused on bringing more insights, investment, and clarity around the use of data science/analytics within the enterprise. My Experience is in Data Science, Analytics, Global Strategy, Business Intelligence, Performance Management, Data Analysis/Reporting, Data Warehousing, IT Management, Solution Design, and Innovation with both small companies and large Fortune 500 companies.
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