If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it. – Yogi Bhajan
Over at Mr Excel Power BI Forums, I have just made my 1000th post!
It’s been a bit over a year since I decided to stick with the Agile BI world as my full time career. I was going back and forth with sticking to what I had done for 20 years… (developing software) and leaving that all behind for the exciting world of Agile BI and Power Pivot. I was having a hard time getting excited about working for somebody else… so hear we are
Figuring it was best if I actually knew more than my clients, I read and re-read books by Rob Collie and “the Italians”, Marco and Alberto. I watched, and re-watched videos and all 22 hours of Rob’s online training. And then, I started trying to help folks on the forums.
And, naturally, that is where the learning really began. Who knew!?
It turns out that reading something, and writing something was not like… that similar
Getting’ my Help on…
I’m not going to bother spending much time discussing how I learned an amazing amount of Power Pivot by (often researching) then answering questions – as it is kind of obvious that would happen.
What was less obvious to me, and maybe everybody except Rob, is that I really missed helping people. Without fail my favorite jobs at Microsoft were writing “internal tools”. Sure, I guess it is neat to write code that is running on hundreds of millions of desktops (as a developer in Microsoft Windows), but I much prefer writing code that makes life easier for… some dude down the hallway.
Rob convinced me that “Ya know, I think you can have a good career in a ‘Scott as helper’ role). It actually sounded a bit weird to me when he said it, but thinking back to college… I spent a lot of time in computer labs helping folks get their projects done. Just because it was…. well… fun.
And now, I get paid for… kind of the same fun!
While I do help folks writing Power Pivot models (and hopefully learn ‘em up a bit) or do a training or write some reports… I also do a bunch of other random things that my background lets me do. Writing C# code to pull data from a data source not supported by existing tools, or PowerShell to help automate a daily refresh process or writing some CSS/jQuery for SharePoint, or helping optimize some SQL. They are all equally fun to me… but mostly because I feel great about filling a skillset gap for an actual person who is super thankful.
Okay, I admit this post has less to do with the actual 1000 posts, and more to do with… what I enjoy about my new career. But hey, if I didn’t write those 1000 posts I wouldn’t have been confident enough to consult anybody, and wouldn’t have had the joy of helping folks.
Anyway, I occasionally do a “co-training” with Rob, where we both get to train people. These are always super fun for me. Mostly Rob has to do all the talking and I just provide support… good deal, eh? At one of our earliest trainings we are merely trying to show some concept in Power Pivot… say, a CALCULATE or whatever. But during the process the people in the room just LIT UP. “What the heck happen to Singapore!?”. They are so excited to see their data in some new way, and they are throwing around theories on why the numbers look weird. This never gets old. And it happens all the time.
“Oh my God! Don’t MOVE! I need to take a screen shot. That is going to blow my partner’s MIND!”. I rarely get quotes like this when I expect it, either. I am just doing my thing, trying to teach somebody how filters work or whatever, and I just forget how amazingly powerful the tools are. People are seeing insights for the first time and they are excited, and I freakin’ LOVE IT.
It would be impossible to point out all the folks that I have learned from in the past year. There are Robs, Marcos, Albertos, Jens, Kens, Kaspers, Chris’s, Avi’s, Matts, Dereks … and just too many folks to name them all. Getting to hang out with some of these folks at the PASS BA Conference was just fantastic. And here is the common thread: These people care.
There is a reason that Rob’s blog is so wildly popular. Well, there are probably many reasons… including what a practical wealth of knowledge he is throwing down, with a dose of humor and putting a piece of himself in each post. But, I think what really comes through is that he cares. Not just about people and technology, but… about how this technology will empower you to make better decisions with less drudgery. He has no desire to like… entangle himself in your business so that he can extract consulting dollars. That’s not who he is. He wants to empower people with knowledge. That’s it. (Well, okay… he also wants to kick traditional BI in the face until it dies a horrible and painful death ).
And I think that is really true of all the folks in this community. They are super generous with their time and knowledge. They want people to learn about the Power BI technologies and use them to kick some butts! Maybe that changes when the most frequent questions stops being “Uh… What is Power Pivot exactly?!” but… I honestly doubt it. I just think these are awesome people who really care. I feel so lucky to be in that community of folks.
The Only Constant…
You know what they say… the only constant is change. Certainly I do not view my role changing any time in the near future. I’m gonna help some folks, teach some folks, empower some folks. But… I’m currently a bit freaked out by how much PowerBI.com and Power BI Designer are kicking ass. Heck, just the addition of variables in DAX formulas is blowing my mind (seriously, I don’t think people understand what a game changer that is). But having this whole other landscape of tools outside Excel and outside SharePoint… it’s un-nerving. Folks know and love Excel. Every business in the WORLD has an Excel ninja. That’s a lot of Ninjas!
So, while I am excited about the hot new freshness, I’m also a bit freaked out by the schism (is that a word?) between Excel and Power BI. It always bums me out to tell a customer “Oh man, Power Pivot is great… but you don’t have the right Excel” or “Power Query is great, but it doesn’t work with your SharePoint” or “Oh sorry… Power View is using Silverlight it won’t work on your tablet”. I want to empower people – and if the schism creates new “well… um… sorry customer…” moments I will be sad n stuff. Hopefully this all works out in the long run…
- to Rob for pushing me into this career.
- to the bunches of folks I have learned from this year
- to you for reading my blog!
- to Bill / Mr Excel for providing the great forums… without which, I would never have had the confidence to actually start consulting folks.
- to the Academy for, err wait… wrong speech.