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Alter Everything

A podcast about data science and analytics culture.
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

Have you ever referred to yourself as “non-technical” or been afraid to jump in and share your analytics knowledge? Our guest Chris McEleavey joins us from England to remind us that all skill levels have something to learn – and something to teach.







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Episode Transcription

MADDIE: 00:00

So I am here with Chris and let me try and pronounce your last name. As you mentioned on our email thread, you were like, "People can never get it right." So I'm going to try and then you can tell me if I get it wrong. And then I want to try again. I want to try twice.

CHRIS: 00:11

Come on. Come on.

MADDIE: 00:14

Okay. So Chris McCleavy.

CHRIS: 00:17

One of the most common attempts, but no.

MADDIE: 00:20

I figured. I figured it would be wrong because it seems obvious.

CHRIS: 00:23

I've heard literally every way this can be pronounced, so feel free.

MADDIE: 00:29

Okay. So my second attempt is Chris McAleavey.

CHRIS: 00:33

Close, but no cigar. Actually, both of those are way closer than most. I've heard literally every possible way you could put those letters together. It's McEleavey.

MADDIE: 00:42

McEleavey. Okay. Great. That's way cooler than what I came up with, but I'm going to take that as a win because like you said it was pretty close.

CHRIS: 00:51

Oh, you were very close. Very close.

MADDIE: 00:53

Okay. Good. So McEleavey?

CHRIS: 00:55


MADDIE: 00:56

Great. Awesome. Well, welcome Chris McEleavey to the Alter Everything Podcast.

CHRIS: 01:01

Thank you very much, Maddie Johansson. Or do you go with a J?

MADDIE: 01:04

It's a J. Yeah. But I get Johansson a lot as well.

CHRIS: 01:09

Well, thank you for having me.

MADDIE: 01:13

[music] Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. As you just heard, I'm Maddie Johansen and I'll be your host joined by Chris McEleavey.

CHRIS: 01:24

I'm a founding partner and technical lead in Bullien. So yeah, my background is in ERP business implementation, consultancy, business intelligence, and all that kind of thing. And I am from Durham in northeast England. You may have picked up the accent.

MADDIE: 01:43

We had a chat about what fueled Chris's passion for analytics, why making enablement fun is really important, and why so many of us self-identify as being non-technical and whether or not we should change that mindset. Let's get started. So, Chris, I'm curious if there's any sort of data story that has really resonated with you and really helped fuel your passion for data and analytics.

CHRIS: 02:17

Yeah. Yeah. So this is a generic one. It's not really related to an actual project or anything. This is something that early on resonated with me which it sort of got me interested in data and this has become something that I've gone back to as I've been more and more experienced dealing with analysts and dealing with managers and dealing with the technical teams and how everyone looks at data differently. So you may have heard of the story, but there was a piece of analysis done by a Hungarian mathematician during World War II and it was a piece of analysis on fighter planes that were coming back from sorties. So they were obviously riddled with bullets and they did a piece of analysis to say where's the dense concentration of bullet holes in the airplanes. So they did a bit of analysis and they basically heat-mapped an airplane to see where the bullet holes were being hit. And they realized that there were certain clusters of bullet holes and then there were areas that just weren't hit.

CHRIS: 03:12

So the difference in the way a managerial, in this case it would be the generals or the brass, would look at it compared to an analyst. So the brass looked at it and they said, "They're coming back covered in bullet holes on the wings and on the rear tail and on the fuselage between the tail and the body. So we need to reinforce all of these areas." Where the analysts looked at it and said, "No, we need to reinforce the areas where there are no bullet holes." And of course, the brass were confused. "This is where they're getting hit. They're getting hit in these areas." To which the analyst replied, of course, "No. The planes that are coming back are taking hits in these areas. The ones that are getting hit in the other areas are not coming back." And I thought that was a stunningly beautiful piece of analysis and it just illustrates how different people look at data. So it's not only having the data, it's just knowing the story the data is telling you. And I just found that fascinating.

MADDIE: 04:06

Seriously. Yeah. Wow, that's such, as you said, a beautiful piece of analysis. What a cool way of thinking. And not to be too corny here, but I mean, people in our community are finding that mindset in themselves by practicing. I think that's really, really cool. I don't think analysts and data scientists get enough credit, to be honest, so.

CHRIS: 04:29

Oh, I totally agree.

MADDIE: 04:30

And I can see how that definitely sparked your passion.

CHRIS: 04:33

It was one of many things, but yes, I've completely drunk the Alteryx Kool-Aid unfortunately, so I just--

MADDIE: 04:41

I have too.

CHRIS: 04:43

Yeah, I love what I do and that's why I set up my company and we're going great guns. I've had a great few years and long may it continue.

MADDIE: 04:53

Awesome. So we had a conversation before this recording and you had told me a little bit about how you got to using Alteryx and really embracing it. And you had told me that you really embraced it because you were frustrated with some of the old processes in place that you had to sift through. And I'm sure a lot of our audiences can relate, but I'd like you to just kind of walk us through that because I'm sure people would want to hear that story.

CHRIS: 05:22

Yeah. So my background as I briefly mentioned was ERP systems. I was implementing ERP systems. And what they were using was-- oh god, I'm just getting a flashbacks mentioning them, but things like business objects and crystal reports and they were writing a lot of things in VB macros and Excel. It was just horrible. Just awful. So you would sit and watch something churn for 45 minutes until it broke and failed. So I always thought there must be some better way of doing this. And it was actually one of my clients who showed me a BI platform and that was Qlik Sense. It was QlikView at the time. And I got into Qlik and then I realized that was where I wanted to move rather than doing the business consultancy side of things. I wanted to go into the BI side of things because I was very interested in data. Just data stories in general fascinated me. When I was in the BI space, I started learning Qlik and I started doing QlikView, Qlik Sense, a bit of Power BI. And again, my very average brain kept hitting a barrier of this requirement for coding and everything was just slow and it just took a lot of work to do simple things. Then my boss at the time asked me to evaluate a platform and said, "Just kick this around for a bit," and that was Alteryx. And I just remember that moment when I saw this. It was my first time of seeing it, I didn't get it. Again, average brain. And I can remember seeing it and thinking, "I can do all of this in Qlik," but then I started to play with it and literally two or three days in, I was, "Yes, I can do all of this in Qlik, but why on earth would I?" That's where I was with Alteryx. All of a sudden instead of doing things in three, four, five days. And that was me who was-- okay, brain aside, was a fairly advanced user of these platforms. I could just rattle this off in 10, 15 minutes.

CHRIS: 07:08

It was incomparable the speed that I could do things with. But also things that I wasn't capable of doing in coding, I could just drag and drop and I was away. There was zero bottleneck. And what I realized at that point was there are more people like me than there are like the data scientists out there who can quickly just start coding things. There are more people who understand data, who understand what they're trying to achieve, but maybe don't have the coding skills or that sort of background to be able to do those things. And I realized then that Alteryx just completely opens the door for all of those people to start doing this and not rely on IT or a small group of coders who sit in a darkened room and don't talk to other humans. So I just thought it was such a powerful platform to be able to move this on. And I don't really like the term the democratization of data science and analytics, but that's exactly what it is. It allows me a very average person to start doing some incredibly advanced things. So yeah, I was kind of hooked from day one and that was it for me. So I started focusing on this. My boss, again, I'm going to give my boss a shout out actually. Rob Hankin. He recognized something in me and effectively gave me complete autonomy and said, "Off you go." So we started going to market with Alteryx bringing that to the client base. We started showing that-- I had that feeling so I wanted to share that with the clients and that's how I got into that. And yeah, shout out to Rob for that. He let me more or less do my own thing with that and we had great success with it. So yeah, following a few years of that, I decided I wanted to laser focus on Alteryx so I went and set up my own business, and here I am.

MADDIE: 08:52

Thank you so much for that background. You kept saying that you as an average person could do this or you with an average brain.

CHRIS: 09:01

That's me bigging myself up as well.

MADDIE: 09:03

Well, that just stands out to me because I feel like there's a conversation happening in the greater community about people saying like, "Oh, I'm not technical." Or if you're in marketing and you say, "I'm not technical," but it's like the truth is that you are using data and you are reporting on your KPIs or whatever you're being measured on. If you are an athlete, then you're taking in data and you're applying data to your career. And so I think that term of saying that you're not technical or saying that you're average I think is something that so many people use, but I wonder if people just don't know that they can use these platforms like Alteryx and that it is possible for them. I wonder if that makes people feel like they are just average in comparison to a data scientist who was professionally trained or they know all of the programming languages. What are your thoughts on that?

CHRIS: 10:07

Absolutely. I think the reason is that the term technical is a moving target. What was technical 20 years ago is not technical now, it's just part of the standard job. I mean, if you went back 30 years and you'd have people saying, "I don't need to know computers. I'm an engineer." Now you can't be an engineer. It's just a standard set part of the job. A teacher would never need to be computer literate. Now you cannot get a job unless you are computer literate. It just becomes a moving target of what is acceptable as a base level of technical ability within a row. So I consider myself extremely non-technical, but then people will look at what I do and think, "Wow. That is an incredibly technical person." It's not. I just have the tools that allow me to do some incredibly complex things without that technical background. My degree was in politics. I know enough about that to know that I want nothing to do with it. So I don't have any kind of data science background or anything like that. I just sort of picked it up and fell into it mostly because of frustration but I'd say a massive dollop of it was laziness.

MADDIE: 11:16


CHRIS: 11:17

Which by the way I think is a fantastic way of bringing things forward. I don't want to do the same things twice so let's have Alteryx do it. I think that's a great driving factor in the advancements.

MADDIE: 11:28

Whenever a podcast guest, Bingqian Gao, said kind of something similar, she was like, "I love all tricks because of one of my personality flaws which is that I'm lazy and I hate doing things more than once." And so she loves building macros and really getting into the advanced things in Alteryx that you can do so that way she doesn't have to do things more than once because she is lazy. And so yeah, I completely agree. I think that sometimes being lazy can be such a motivating factor to be smarter and more efficient.

CHRIS: 11:57

It is. And we kid ourselves because what tends to happen - certainly happens with me - is I'll do something initially out of laziness. I don't do that again, but then it's a case of now it's freed up some time to do some more Alteryxing.

MADDIE: 12:10

Yeah. Well, and one thing too that you said earlier was that you were approached with Alteryx as the knowledge worker. Your boss brought it to you and said, "Try this. Let's start using it." And I think a lot of people would probably be jealous of that because we talk with people and they're like, "Oh, I really want Alteryx. My company is still vetting it right now," or, "We're still looking at how it's going to work or how we're going to implement it." And so I wonder if you have any-- number one, if you have any tips for people who are trying to convince their bosses to get this platform for them. But also, this kind of leads into a little bit of your day job now so maybe you can talk about that a little bit as well.

CHRIS: 13:00

Yeah. Thanks. So obviously, in my role that's one of the things we do, is we take Alteryx out to prospective clients and we want to grow the Alteryx footprint across the board because I'm still staggered that people don't have it. It's bizarre to me that people don't have Alteryx. And I go so many places and that's sitting spending hours in Excel. First of all, friends don't let friends Excel. And when I come to power, it's going to be banned. So I'm coming for you Excel users. But the way I would strongly recommend that you actually approach this is by proving it so they simply don't have a choice. It's incredibly easy to do in Alteryx. So what I would do is engage with the clients and I would show them what it does, make them-- really get them thinking about how they can apply this. Then tell me something that you're doing that you're doing repeatedly for an hour a day. I talked to someone today who does two days a week manual work in Excel. I'm going to take 45 minutes and replace all of that. And that includes the testing. So we're going to go out and just massively change what they do for the better. So don't sit and shout about it because talking about a platform, all people hear is I've got X and it does Y and they're not interested. Prove it. Go and remove that repetitive task that you are doing every day, put it into Alteryx and say, "Now I don't do that anymore. It's automated. Now can you tell me why I can't have it?" And we're quite happy to help you with that. Obviously, we'll come and help you. And build that and help you roll POCs out internally because it's all well and good an external consultant or salesperson coming and saying, "This is what this platform can do." I don't care. I want it to fix a problem and prove it and we're more than happy to do that.

MADDIE: 14:43

That's great. And when you work with these companies, it seems like it must be hard to go in and completely start from scratch and really absorb all of the information that they have about what's going on with their data story or anything that they're doing with analytics across different departments or what have you especially if it's a larger company. So I'm curious how you approach that first conversation. What are the things that you really want to help them build right at the outset?

CHRIS: 15:19

I love it, first of all. So I would-- passion, that is the first thing. I'm actually going to go out and show that I love what I do. I really enjoy this and you're going to feel like that as well. But yeah, it is. I mean, everyone's different, but ultimately you'll hear people say, "Well, you don't know what our data's like," and I'll say, "Is it letters and numbers stored in digital format?" It kind of stumps them. "Yes, of course, it is." The day is the same. Most people have the same problems. It's specific to them in terms of what that number means, but it's still a digital number. So once you've done it as many times as I have and if you're as old as I am, then you sort of realize that there are a lot of what appear to be different problems on the surface. You've actually done it many times before. So listen to them. Let them talk and tell you what their problems are. And then you can apply it to, well, previous experience really but also the experience I've gleaned from listening to people on the community and listening to the podcasts. So it's handy for me then because I can relate it back. But obviously, a lot of it comes with just getting at the coalface and talking to clients. Also, staying with clients. Don't leave them once you finish the projects. Stay in touch. Get feedback from them and find out what they've done since you've left. And all of this, you're just constantly learning. That'd make a good slogan.

MADDIE: 16:45

I completely agree. Sorry, hold on. There's a truck going by my house. I'll let it pass just so it doesn't pick up on the mic. Okay. So yeah, I think when people say you don't know our data, that makes me curious to know if they already have maybe what you would call a data strategy or if they haven't thought about a big picture data strategy. I'm curious how many companies out there still don't even have a data strategy let alone Alteryx?

CHRIS: 17:16

Pretty much all of them. So it's quite staggering actually that a lot of even these multi-- actually, I'm going to say especially the multinational corporations. The larger they get, the more fractured their operations are. And so they struggle to have an umbrella under which their data strategy can be managed and controlled across departments. Smaller more agile businesses are more likely to have that because they've grown up with it. But especially if you're going into large banks or anything like that, then it's less likely to be centered. So that is something that I work a lot on as actual data strategy with larger companies. So last year and on an ongoing basis, I'm doing work with a company called IHS Markit where we did that rollout in North Carolina and New York and in South Africa. I'm currently engaged with guys out in Johannesburg. So they're doing a large-scale rollout and they're trying to standardize how they consume their data and how it's rolled out to end-users. So an overarching data strategy. It's not just Alteryx, it's also talking about the core systems. And we've done a lot of work with those guys. And shout out to Martin Railton if he's listening. I'm sure he is. He listens religiously.

MADDIE: 18:30

Oh, good.

CHRIS: 18:30

So he brought us in to actually do this and we're engaged across the board with them. And I'm also currently working a lot on US time. So I'm working with Petco out there. Similar sort of thing. A large-scale rollout across multiple departments doing many different things. So Petco have got a great operation there. They've a perfect example of a large company who have grown beyond their data strategy and they're taking stock and they've got great people in there who recognize that this needs to be done. They've brought in Alteryx as part of this. They've brought in other platforms and they're bringing them all together. And I'm working closely with them to actually implement this across the board, get things streamlined, get a lot of manual processes to be automated. And they're taking on Alteryx at pace. They are really, really taking and running with it. So yeah, shout out to Shannon and Dell Michael and the annoying one with the beard I think I forget. I forget. Sorry, Jeff.

MADDIE: 19:31

Jeff. We'll have to send Jeff something nice for that.

CHRIS: 19:38

Sorry, Jeff. [inaudible].

MADDIE: 19:38

A piece of swag or something.

CHRIS: 19:40

Yeah, I agree.

MADDIE: 19:43

Cool. So when people start to realize this and they realize, "Okay. We need a data strategy. We need somebody to come in here and help us," what are some common missteps that you see when building that strategy? Or when people build it internally, what do some times people-- what do they forget that they need to go back and change? Or what are they maybe afraid of when getting started? Because it seems like such a monumental project to really attack.

CHRIS: 20:12

That's a really good way of putting it. It's so daunting to start, but it's really not. The data strategy basically is just a way of looking at all of your data sources and all of the things you need to get out of your data sources in terms of analytics and reporting across the organization. It's the same as if it were sole trader with two people in a room looking at their data and reporting on it as it is with an organization like Petco who've got almost 30000 employees. It's exactly the same, it's just scaled up. So one of the mistakes they often make his silo-ing each area of the business so that they operate completely independently of one another. And you end up doubling up on all kinds of things doing the same thing twice, reinventing the wheel when another department has already done it. So I would say bring things centrally. Maybe set up a team like a central team of excellence in Alteryx, for example, would be something because they would then have an overarching view of all of your data sets, data sources, and then they would know what is being analyzed where, what data is being used where. That's one thing. The other thing that they often make mistake of is settling and saying, "Now we're done. Thank you very much. We've done that bit. We're finished." That's never the case. It's never finished, you've just moved on to the next step. So just never stop developing what you're doing. Just keep going. Data is so interesting. There's so many things. You're never going to complete data science. So keep looking at it. Another thing as well as is constantly look outside of your own organization to see what other people are doing. I certainly don't know everything so I learn something off every engagement. Every time I go on site, I learn something new. And my brain can't hold all of that. So if I have one more engagement like that I'll forget how to drive or something. But just keep doing it. Keep looking. Go to conferences. Go to these things. Don't be closed off when someone comes to you with an idea. Listen to new people who join the company as well.

MADDIE: 22:09

That's great advice. And you mentioned something just in our previous conversations about the enablement that you like to do as well as you just said when you go on-site you like to be open to learning from other people. So what does that look like? And how do you in turn kind of flip that and train people and enable them to use Alteryx and lean into the data strategy?

CHRIS: 22:38

Yeah. Absolutely. So a big part of my job - has been for over 10 years now - is the training side of things and actually bringing that to new users. And more recently, I've-- obviously with the development of Bullien and the fact that we're growing and we're bringing on new consultants, is internal training and mentoring, and I'm thoroughly enjoying all of that. I have a very specific way of approaching the workshop training with our clients. One thing I would say with Alteryx is - and I'm sure this would resonate as well - is I personally don't find learning in a classroom with generic data, we're just walking through generic scenarios. I don't find that very useful. I also don't think Alteryx is something you learn out of a book. I think it's like chess. It's incredibly easy to learn how to play and it's very difficult to be good at it, but to become good at it you just got to play. So my approach is I like to go onsite with a group of people and I show them Alteryx. I'll walk them through some generic scenarios and I will maybe go through one or two of the challenges because I think the weekly challenges are spectacular way of learning Alteryx. And I know there's some people listening to this that are nodding their heads in agreement. It was one of the biggest areas that influenced me learning this platform because I'm self-taught. So I just started doing the weekly challenges. So I wrote a tool that allows you to track the weekly challenges that you've done and put in a leaderboard with other people and I give that to my clients.

CHRIS: 24:06

So I add a little bit of competition. And there's an interdepartmental competition within that. So I get them trained up, get them on there. But then day two of the training, I will say, "Bring your own data." Bring a problem to me that you have and we will say to it, "We'll work through this. We may not finish it, but we'll get a certain way into the development to get you to a point where you can take it on following the training and you can fix that and you can build that." And it just makes it's way more relatable. This is real life. This is your work that you struggle with on a day to day basis. This isn't talking about pencils when you are - I don't know - an airline. They don't relate. So I just find it way more impactful if I sit down with them and just work through the problem they have. Because they can see the actual benefits of it as they're going through it. With all of that, I'm now doing this internally of course with my new consultants. I'd like to give a shout out to a young consultant who's joined us fairly recently. You might have seen him rocketing to stardom on the community. His name's the OC. So he's within a few months. He's come on, he's passed the core exam, he's passed the spot certification exam, and last week he passed the advanced exam. All within a couple of months. So I mean, I wish I had that brain. He's like an Alteryx sponge. Oh, merch idea.

MADDIE: 25:39

Seriously. Oh my gosh, I love that. So Chris, let's say that I am a really advanced user of Excel. I love excel. I know that it's time-consuming, but I feel like I am the expert within my department. And you are introducing Alteryx to me and I'm a little nervous about it. I don't want to spend my time going to training. I just want to sit at my desk and do my work because I know what I'm doing and people value what I'm doing. Let's say that maybe my best friend at the company doesn't know Excel at all and she's a beginner but she is also kind of nervous about Alteryx because they're going to teach it to her as well. What's the mindset that both of us could have theoretically coming into this training? Because we don't want to be negative about it, but at the same time, it's just hard to kind of deprogram that feeling that we both have had in our minds of maybe she's not technical and maybe I'm just again really proud of my advanced Excel knowledge.

CHRIS: 26:47

Yeah. So I mean, you know my views on Excel. When I come to power. These skill sets are not going to waste because the first thing I would say is that these skills you need-- so right at the beginning when I'm introducing them to an Alteryx training course, I would say the skills you need, the people I want on this course are people who are advanced Excel users because they understand data, they understand data structure, and they'll understand all of the formulae, how data hangs together, how we calculate things. They'll understand all of that. Yes, it's done in a different way and, yes, we want to get them out of the Excel mindset, but the actual data skills and data knowledge and some of the syntax-- okay. We're not using docs in Alteryx but it's fully transferable. And those are the people we need. So I would just be positive about it. Go in there and say, "Look, you guys have the skills. You just don't have the platform. Imagine what you've done as an advanced Excel user, what you could do with a more advanced platform like Alteryx. You could transfer those skills and you don't then have the limitations of Excel. And the sky's the limit." Be positive. And failing that, threats of violence.

MADDIE: 28:02

And yeah, I mean, same thing I'm sure can apply to the friend in this situation who is a very beginner. If she has a positive attitude, then I'm sure that definitely is the first step. But I think also it probably comes from some of the training tactics that you like to use in terms of making everybody feel comfortable. I mean, I haven't taken one of your trainings but I can imagine that that's probably important to you. Especially as you said as somebody who's self-taught that's probably really important to you to make sure that everybody is able to learn.

CHRIS: 28:37

Absolutely. And I think I've mentioned this before and you could probably gather that I don't take myself too seriously. And I think some people do. Why not have fun with it? People are there to learn and if they're disengaged and feel threatened - I'll go back to the previous question - they're not going to be engaged with what you're saying. Understand where they're coming from. And you were there not long ago. I can remember being daunted. I kept a very low profile in the community for quite a long time because it was a bit daunting when you see people like MarqueeCrew and all of these people that are on there doing incredible things and I'm there like an untrained puppy. So you need to realize that that's where they are and relate to it but also just make it fun. Alteryx is fun. I thoroughly enjoy it. No, I don't get out much, but it's a really enjoyable platform. Last night, for example, I finished work at 1:00 AM and I needed to wine down after work before going to bed. So what did I do? I went on the community for an hour and did some solutions. And that was my winding down after a day of Alteryx because I enjoy it. I actually do. So keep it fun, keep it relatable, and you can only move as the slowest person in the groups so be very careful about going too quickly. There's no point in going too quickly. Don't pack too much into a training course. Move along and make sure everyone is engaged with what you're doing. But yeah, make it enjoyable. Why not?

MADDIE: 30:08

Definitely. And I love the shout out to MarqueeCrew. Mark Frisch, he's one of our aces. And I'm sure if anybody listening out there if you're on the community you've seen his handle all over the community because he's very active. And I think I completely agree with your sentiment of you see these aces and these super users on the community and it is a little intimidating and it has nothing to do with MarqueeCrew as a person because he's the greatest person and he's really--

CHRIS: 30:43

No, he's not.

MADDIE: 30:43

--really kind.

CHRIS: 30:44

He's not. He's violent when drunk. Sorry, Mark.

MADDIE: 30:49

And I think that when we see these super users, it can be easy to be intimidated. But if you reach out to them, they would love nothing more than to help you. Just as you said at 1:00 AM you were just trying to help other people too. So yeah, I think that the community in general I would just personally encourage people to, number one, introduce themselves. I think that's the easiest way to kind of break the ice if they're nervous. We have an intro page on the community where you can just say, "Hi, I'm new here," or, "Here's my skill level," or, "Here's what I'm hoping to work on," and people will respond. We always have somebody responding to those intros to welcome you so that way you have that first connection. But then also if you say like, "Okay. Yeah, I'm in healthcare and I don't know what I'm doing. I'm brand new here," chances are somebody will reach in and they'll kind of try to sort of make a connection with you and specifically help your problems. So yeah, I think that breaking that ice is really important. And I'm curious what your advice is for people who are just getting started and maybe are a little intimidated.

CHRIS: 31:55

That's a great question. Put yourself out there. The Alteryx community is the best community of any software platform in the world. And I honestly believe that. I'm a member of quite a few. Again, no social life, so I'm on quite a few of these other things. Qlik and things like that. Excel back in the day. And the beauty of the way this works, obviously, the idea of gamefying the community has helped a lot. And that just brings out the inner geek in everyone because it adds a little bit of competition and they get their stars and their badges and, no, I don't live for those. But it's just that little hit of dopamine, isn't it?

MADDIE: 32:34


CHRIS: 32:35

But it's gone so well. It's just such a good community. And the way people react on the community is not like other-- I don't want to disparage any others, but people know exactly where I mean. And you can go on to others and it's quite a poisonous atmosphere. They'll just be bickering amongst themselves. There's none of that on the Alteryx community. As you said, the aces just-- the reason they're an ace is they're passionate about what they do. They love what they do. Because you couldn't get to that point with Alteryx if you didn't love what you do. And people who love what they do want to share it with others and that's what the people in the community are like. I was really nervous about getting involved in the community because - I don't know - I had a very low social media profile as it was and I've kept kind of low profile. But then the more and more I got involved with Alteryx and the more I was involved on the community I realized that there's absolutely nothing to be intimidated about at all. And in fact, I mean, I believe it was Joe Mako on the previous podcast who was talking about imposter syndrome. And everyone has this. I actually don't because I'm actually an imposter. This is a different thing. But you have the abilities to do Alteryx. If you're sat there with an advanced Alteryx qualification, you know what you are doing with Alteryx. And you know what you're doing probably better than most people on the community because there are 200,000 people or something.

CHRIS: 33:57

So there's no reason why you can't just go on and share. And it's getting yourself out there, it's starting conversations. And then when you get to-- when we're actually allowed outdoors and able to go and converse with our fellow men, then we'll be able to go to conferences like Inspire which I'm really missing because I love Inspire. And go and see these other people that you talk to in the community. Meet them in person. And it's fantastic. It's a really great resource, but also, it is-- from the technical side of things, there are geniuses out there who I rely on probably more than they realize because I obviously take the credit for it. But I'll be stealing some of their things, and how do I do this? I go in the community. It's there. Someone's already done it. And I use it regularly because, again, never stop learning. No one, not even MarqueeCrew - not even you Mark - knows everything about Alteryx. And it's a constant learning thing and the community is a great place for that. The OC our new consultant has recently jumped in and I just said to him, "Just throw yourself into it. Just get out there and do it." And he's just jumped in and swam with it. So he's thoroughly enjoying it. He's now completely hooked. I've got to tell him to stop actually because I see him posting things at 2:00 AM. Get a life OC.

MADDIE: 35:17

He's learning by example. He's learning from you.

CHRIS: 35:20

Well, exactly. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I can't really say much, but.

MADDIE: 35:24

So yeah, you said that learning from other people is really important to you when it comes to your activity on the community. And we had a conversation earlier this week and you had brought up that you wrote a tool with one of our community members. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

CHRIS: 35:39

Oh. Oh, yes. So I've written a few tools. Just again, through laziness, I do a lot of things and I don't want to do it twice, so I've written a few tools that are more basic like HTML table passing and things like that. I did one in coding for more data science among you. But recently one thing that's always annoyed me is the record ID tool and I want it to be grouped. So what that means at the moment is you put on a multi-row formula and then you put an if statement and refer it to the record above. And it's a bit fiddly. So I wanted the ID tool to have exactly as it is now, but then say, "I want to group it by," and just click on it and then have that reset at each change in that group. Seems quite simple, but it's a little bit fiddly and it led to me learning a lot more about the action tool in macros. But yeah, I spent a time building that. And then when I was kind of happy with it or it was working, I sort of threw it out to a few of the advanced users and I got some great feedback. And I'm going to give a shout out to Josh Bercow. I think that's how you pronounce it, Josh. Joshua, sorry. He's out in the US and works with PWC. And he helped me just-- basically kicked it around, did some testing, gave me a bit of feedback, and I then applied those changes and then it looked like a home-built macro. So he pulled out his wizardry-- and here just insert, "Chris doesn't know how this is done." He went and did all the wizardry and made it look like an actual Alteryx tool. So it looks all sweet and sexy. So shout out to the incredibly talented and fragrant Mr. Joshua Bercow.

MADDIE: 37:14


CHRIS: 37:16

I assume.

MADDIE: 37:21

Thank you so much for joining me, Chris McEleavey. It's been great talking with you.

CHRIS: 37:26

It has been wonderful talking to you. And anytime.

MADDIE: 37:33

Thanks for listening. Be sure to join Chris and I on the community at community.alteryx.com/podcast. There you can also check out the latest from our data science journalist Susan Currie Sivek who did a roundup of Alteryx tools created by her amazingly talented community including the tool Chris mentioned. You can also join us on social media by using the hashtag alter everything podcast. And be sure to send the podcast to your other data enthusiast friends. Catch you next time.

MADDIE: 38:19

So speaking of non-work hours, what are some non-work related things that you've done with Alteryx?

CHRIS: 38:29

A few of you listening to this might also remember that I did the fantasy football. So real football where we use our feet, not our hands. I did a fantasy football thing on Alteryx where it goes and scrapes the Jason from the Fantasy Premier League site, runs it through predictive models, through the prescriptive model. And I think I originally butchered it from a baseball model. I don't remember if I've slept since then, but yeah. So I built all this and I started running a predictor. And I was doing pretty well, but then I run out of time. Actually, I didn't have any more time to do it so that was really fun. That was actually posted on the community, but I think that probably is out of date now. But that was funny. I enjoyed doing that. But yeah, I'm going to be doing some other things. You actually gave me a good idea because one of the other things I do is I make wine. So yeah, I've never thought about using analytics to do the wine. So yeah, watch this space. I might do that. I think you were just angling for a bottle, but all right.

MADDIE: 39:28

I wouldn't be opposed to it.

CHRIS: 39:31

We'll see.

MADDIE: 39:32

Next Inspire you'll have to bring some bottles of your own wine and we'll have a tasting.

CHRIS: 39:36

I will. I'll bring a crate.

MADDIE: 39:38

Yeah, bring a crate. We'll have a tasting. It'll be great.

CHRIS: 39:42


MADDIE: 39:42

But yeah, if you ever do do something with any of your other hobbies like your winemaking, I would love to-- I think I'm sure our audience would love to hear what that would be because I'm trying to think how would you apply Alteryx to that process. I'm sure there's something cool out there, but yeah, you have to let me know.

CHRIS: 40:00

I'm sure. And if anyone else listening to this could let me know as well of any ideas, throw them out. That'd be great.

This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).
Special thanks to @andyuttley for the theme music track, and @jeho for our album artwork.