Thankful Thursday – Ben Jones

My first interaction with Ben Jones was at Fanalytics at TC16, of which he was the MC/host. I really didn’t know much about Tableau Public at the time, but was excited to learn more. I also didn’t really talk to anyone outside of my table, as I was still getting used to the whole “it’s ok, just talk to people” mentality.

Fast forward to TC17, and I went to a little Community meetup in the Data Village. I talked to a couple people, wandered aimlessly for a bit, and then happened to run into Ben. We talked for probably 10 minutes (a long time for my first conversation with someone), about my TC experience so far, Tableau experience, certification, my work at Ancestry and how we had a Tableau Public presence in prior years, and various other things. When I ran into Ben again at Fanalytics, I wasn’t really sure with all the people he meets at TC if he would remember me. Instead, he asked how my certification exam went, and we kind of picked up where the other conversation left off. I don’t recall, but hope that I actually asked some more questions about his work with the Tableau Public team. But some people are so good at making the conversation about you that you don’t realize (or at least I don’t) until after the conversation is over that you basically talked about your experiences the entire time with perhaps only the occasional (or nonexistent) return question. Ben is one of those people.

TC18 was much the same. I ran into Ben, happened to be with a couple Ancestry colleagues, so I introduced them. During the conversation, Ellie Fields (currently VP, Product Development at Tableau) happened to be walking by. Ben could’ve easily just said hi to her as she passed and let her continue on. Instead, he stopped her and said (paraphrasing here), “hey, Ellie, these are some of the folks from Ancestry, and they’re doing X,Y,and Z with the product.” A very small thing, but also once again making you feel like you (and what you do) matter, and helping you connect and feel a part of the community.

Last year, through his new venture, Data Literacy, and his book, Avoiding Data Pitfalls, Ben has begun sharing even more of what he’s learning with the greater data community in helping overcome some of the big hurdles that we run into as data people. I’m still working on his book, but as I thumbed through, the example that I happened to stop on (the banana ripeness survey) was so enlightening and told so clearly I can still recall the main takeaways, now more than 2 months later (even though I feel like half the time I forget what I’ve read in the last 15 minutes). I was able to catch a few minutes with Ben at TC19 (which is getting harder and harder to do, with so many people who, like me, have made the connection, and just want to say hi), and was finally able to reciprocate a little of what he so often gave me in our conversations as we discussed the effect cancer can have on our lives (and wives).

Ben and I (with Cesar Picco, Anna Foard, Brittany Fong, and Ryan Sleeper) at TC19

Ben has been instrumental in my feeling comfortable, welcomed, and belonging in the Tableau community. I’m positive I’m not the only such person. If you haven’t checked out Data Literacy or Avoiding Data Pitfalls, I encourage you to do so. They are excellent opportunities to learn from one of the great contributors to the dataviz community.

So thanks Ben, for making me feel welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *