The Law of Two Feet: Why you should attend the PASS Business Analytics Unconference

An unconference is a conference organized, structured and led by the people attending it. And we are having one at the PASS Business Analytics Conference!

Unconferences are founded upon The Law of Two Feet, which states that:

If during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their two feet and go to some more productive place.

The Unconference is definitely not another Panel session. Unconferences facilitate greater exchange of ideas since we don’t have a defined schedule and there is certainly no PowerPoint! You are welcome to join us, participate in the discussion and please feel free to live blog and tweet the Unconference as you go along.
Why attend the Unconference? Keeping with the Unconference style, the expertise distributed throughout the audience is greater than the expertise of the person who speaks at any one point. The Unconference is aimed at distributing the expertise, whilst also having fun!
Join us to mix with your peers in the ultimate Business Analytics peer-to-peer learning, mixiing and talking creatively about whatever topics are decided on!
Led by Denise McInerney, Data Engineer of Intuit, and myself, the agenda is created at the start of the evening. Anyone who wishes to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. Attendees are encouraged to share thoughts in open discussions with community-proposed topics.

I hope you will use your ‘two feet’ and come and join us for the Unconference. Reserve your spot for this no-cost community activity – space is limited. Here is the link to register your place. This is open to PASS Business Analytics Conference attendees only, and takes place on Thursday, 8 May 2014 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM (PDT).

If you haven’t registered for the PASS Business Analytics Conference, remember to use use code BASF2O for $150 discount!

Why I refused a session at SQLBits; it’s not about your rank, but your legacy

In martial arts it is not your belt rank that matters but the legacy you leave.” – Grandmaster CK Leow, Founder, Moodukkwan Malaysia
I’ve attended every SQLBits except two: the first one, because I didn’t know about it, and SQLBits 6, because I had been made redundant the previous day and I didn’t feel up to it.
Overall, I have spoken at every SQLBits since SQLBits 7, where I was fortunate enough to be picked to speak at the event in York. Since then, I have spoken in most of Europe and in the United States. I also held a Diversity in Technology event at the last SQLBits, and I am considering doing another event.

I was also lucky enough – and hard working enough! – to be elected on the PASS Board of Directors last year, winning the election outright with a convincing majority. I continue to work really hard on that role, and I will blog separately about what I’ve been doing since a lot of it isn’t ‘visible’ and SQLfamily members probably don’t see it.
I’m fortunate to be holding a precon this year, which is called the DataAnalysts Toolkit. We will look at R and PowerBI for a whole day. What’s best is, I will be giving you hands on labs and notes – if you bring your laptop, that is! I will announce in due course what software you need to install.
I’m holding a Friday session, which is a one-hour version of the precon.
However, I turned down the opportunity to speak on the Saturday. Why?
– I have worked, really, really hard to be a speaker at SQLBits. I am extremely proud to have been chosen, so this was a difficult decision. 
– however, I believe in fairness and the promotion of new speakers. I think that other people should be lucky enough to get a session too. I was concerned that I would be greedy in taking two sessions. There are plenty of people who would like to speak at SQLBits, and I refused, saying that the slot should go to a new speaker who hasn’t done it before.
Sometimes you have to do the right thing for the community, even if it is a wrench for yourself. 
I was lucky to get votes and to be picked, but I do worry about the time when the votes stop and I don’t get picked any more. This is a perfectly natural response. I also don’t go around my friends and family and ask them to vote for me, because that isn’t fair. If I get picked, I want it to be picked on a fair community vote and not because I emailed everyone in my department and asked a boatload of people to vote for me. I’d like to thank everyone who did vote for my session.
At the same time, I think it isn’t about the rank you hold or the number of sessions you give; it is about the legacy you leave behind. So, when I sit in sessions and see people talking about Excel and trellis charts, for example, I remember that I talked about that at SQLBits a few years ago. I was the first to talk about these topics at SQLBits, and I am happy that I trailblazed and now other people are talking about data visualisation as part of other sessions. 

I’m not criticising others who have two sessions, and I am happy for them. My focus is slightly different, particularly since I hold an elected seat on the Board of Directors. I want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted for me, and I hope that this is a visible sign that I am working for the SQLFamily and the technical community.
At the same time, I think it is important to leave a legacy, even if people don’t see it. I don’t know whom they picked instead of me, but by making a sacrifice myself, it does mean that someone new can have the opportunity that I got. 

That said, I look forward to seeing people at my session and you can be assured that I will do my best, as always.

Setting up an online time capsule for your children, using OneDrive

I’ve set up an online time capsule for my son, which constitutes all my photos of him and us together.

The death of Peaches Geldof prompted me to think about what would happen if/when I die? What memories would my son have of me? I see from the news that Peaches Geldof took a lot of family photos. 
Like most people, I have a lot of CD, DVD drives etc with lots of photos and videos on them. I doubt someone would take the time to go through all of these media drives for photos; certainly, I never bother.

I didn’t want those photos and memories to be lost. Since my son and I do a lot together, there are a lot of photos of him but not so many of us together, because I am the one holding the camera. I am going to change that. I’ve decided that I will ask passers-by to take our photographs together more so we have photos together.

How did I set up my online time capsule? So what I have done is this:

– I’ve set up a OneDrive account for my son, with an email address and a password which I have given to him. Go to for your free account.
– I’m going through all those hard drives, flashes, old phones etc with photos on them
– I am categorising them roughly by date, and creating a folder for each year.
– I’m then uploading all the photos, by year, onto OneDrive using my son’s email address and password.
– I have also done the same for my father. He is my backup.

It’s a gift that never stops giving 

Wondering how to train your team for the Analytics you want in your organisation? Look at PASS BA Conference

Whether you’re starting up an Analytics team in your organisation, there are more available positions than ever – and not enough people to fill them! Todd Nevins, cofounder and director of marketing and media relations at job site icrunchdata, noted the site’s “Big Data Jobs Index” surpassed half a million last week.

How do you get people with the skills to do analytics roles, given the skills shortage? How do you build loyalty whilst keeping up with demand for the Analytics skills?

The skills are wide-ranging. Creativity, curiosity, communication, problem solving, maths, programming, stats, business experience…. How can you hire someone who has all of these?
One route is to ‘grow your own’. Harness the enthusiasm in your team, and be the leader who leads, not the boss who drives.

Attending the PASS BA Conference is one way to give your team members the experience of the diversity and breadth of Analytics, and expose them to a range of business and technical sessions which are geared towards the organic role of the Analytics professional.
Oh, and if you are interested, quote this code above to get $150 off the price!