An Iron-Interview

A month ago, I participated in the IronViz competition. Here are some thought and advices for future competitors. This article is a short version with only my answers. But don’t hesitate to look at the full interview with Jacob and Joshua answers.

How did you prepare for the competition?

Tristan: After winning the IronViz Safari feeder, I started to participate in MakeoverMonday (by Eva Murrayand Andy Kriebel). It helped me build a dashboard and a story with new data every week, and sometimes data that I found not interesting. Once I received the Iron Viz dataset, my main goal was to find a story and build a dashboard around it. I had some key things in my mind as I built it: make the story interesting and make sure the public wants to use it. Jade Le Van, my sous-vizzer, helped me during that process with great advice. In Las Vegas, she also helped me to repeat the complete process of creation and speech. She tried to distract me by speaking, playing music or even putting her smartphone flash on my face so I will feel “in condition!”

What was your first thought when you received the dataset

Tristan: “Je suis foutu,” meaning “I’m screwed” in English. How I, a young French, could compete against two Americans with a completely US-centered dataset about home values. But I love data and I love challenges. So I started to use my condition as a force and I built I dashboard with things I could understand, simple and engaging. A dashboard that even I could enjoy using.

Some tricks to share?

Tristan: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And definitely use the Pause Auto Updates button! Every drag and drop issues a query and with nine sheets in my dashboard, I couldn’t afford to wait a few seconds after every move. So I hit the pause button and I knew exactly where to put all the dimensions and measures in rows, columns, filters, colors,… After placing all elements, I hit again the play button and just wait for one query. That was my game changer but there are many more things to gain seconds. It needs a complete article!

Tell us more about the day of the competition, how did you feel on stage?

Tristan: I usually don’t sweat the stage. Lots of people noticed that I was quite zen about it. Truth is I wasn’t afraid about 20-minutes dashboard creation. I repeated a lot and I was confident about finishing it in 20 minutes. The speech part however… If it had been in French I would have probably enjoyed it much more! I spent the day before the competition in my room, repeating the speech. Again and again. A few minutes before being on stage, I was really nervous about that speech. And then Elissa Fink came and told me “Don’t be ashamed of your French accent, we loved it” and voilà, you know the rest!

Would you do something different now that the competition is over?

Tristan: I: came in Vegas Monday afternoon, after a 16 hours long trip. And left Thursday, just after lunch. I missed a lot of people and cool things happening during the TC. IronViz was probably a bit too much in my head. I should have allow me to spend more time enjoying being for the first time in United States with the best community!

Any advice for future competitors?

Tristan: For the feeder, just do it. Even if you think it’s not good enough. Do it. And if you are not selected, ask for advice and start again. Worst case scenario, I just became better in Tableau! If you are selected for the final, enjoy it as much as you can. It’s an awesome event and like Curtis Harris told us a few second before the beginning, something you’ll never forget.

What are your best memories?

Tristan: Winning a competition is great, but you are always alone when you win. Even if there are hundreds of people saying congrats and wanting to take pictures with you, you live it alone. And for me the best moments are always moments that you can share. So being in the green room, all (ironviz contestant, sous vizzers and MCs) equally stressed, equally anxious and a bit lost, all sharing events in your life to try to think about something else.. That was my best memory. Second best was, without doubt, the Data Night Out and our little trip in Vegas with the great David Freifeld!

Iron Viz contestants, sous vizzers, and MC’s in the green room
moments before the competition