Andrew Drinkwater

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Last Thursday (December 3), I had the privilege of joining the Ravit Show on LinkedIn and YouTube Live to discuss my career journey, Plaid Analytics, and questions from the audience. I wrote an article to share some of my learnings from the experience:

When Ravit first approached me about being on the show, I was a bit nervous with the idea of presenting live to a global audience. But the more I thought about it, about the more I realized this is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been working towards. This fall, I’ve helped my team deliver 5 webinars – the most we’ve ever done (thanks Ardi for helping me get on a roll!); this article will mark my third, which for the data professionals in the crowd is 3x more productive than I was with my first attempt at a blog.

Onto those learnings:

1. It’s a GREAT way to practice public speaking

Being on a live show is an excellent way to practice your public speaking skills. The interview format, in particular, allows you to focus on answering one question at a time, rather than having to prepare in advance every element of your speech.

The live audience engagement really helped me too – while I couldn’t prepare for questions in advance, having audience members ask questions helped me see where my experience could provide value for them. In this question from Giovanna Málaga, I discussed challenges and opportunities of working with education data:

And sometimes - you’ll get asked questions like what books you recommend. This needn’t take much practice. Here’s a few that I enjoyed recently:

  • Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight (Nike)
  • 168 Hours, by Laura Vanderkam
  • Trillion Dollar Coach, by Eric Schmid (Google), Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle

If you’re looking to read more, my suggestion is to cut back on screen time, and repurpose that time. Joining the #bookaweekchallenge headed up by Christina Stathopolous, MSc is also helpful!

2. It’s fun to reflect on your journey and see if it can help others

It is fun to look back at your own journey, and see where it can help others. Especially for the students in the audience, I felt it was important to highlight that career journeys are seldom linear – they have dips, roadblocks, and speed bumps; they’re often winding roads; and much like having a great navigator in a car, having career influencers help you on your way makes a huge difference. In this video, I speak about the idea of information interviews, a technique I learned from my colleague Candy Ho, now a professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Canada, and a leading researcher in the burgeoning field of career influencers.

3. Audiences occasionally throw you a question you didn’t expect

I suppose I should have seen this one coming, but somehow it caught me totally off guard.

If you work in data science and analytics, you are familiar with the debate over whether Python or R is better. Here’s how I responded:

Well, my preference is Python, which is likely in part due to my background in software engineering, and likely in part due to Pat Lougheed, my business partner and Chief Technology Officer suggesting he prefers it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in business, it’s that if Pat thinks something is worth learning, it always is. I’ve learned so much from him over the years – he’s been instrumental in helping me learn SQL, Python, FME, and even how to get better at Tableau (which I introduced to him way back in 2007, or version 3, for those following along).

I don’t really believe in needing a do-over on anything in life, but next time I get asked this question I will try to look less like a surprised turkey when it comes up.

After the show, I randomly selected Neeraj Satpall as the winner of the Data Visualization for Data Storytelling course generously provided by our friends and amazing instructors George Firican and Donabel Santos through LightsOnData. Neeraj asked this great question:

Based on my experience, I’d encourage you to consider participating in a live event like this. I enjoyed it immensely, and plan to continue honing my craft so that the next time I am on a show like this I can provide even more value for those who chose to share their morning with me.

The full video of my time on the Ravit Show is available here if you’d like to watch it:

Ravit Show - December 3 - Andrew’s career journey, Plaid, and data and analytics.

What lessons would you share with others about your experiences presenting? Please leave a comment and let’s start a conversation so others can learn.