The Keanu Reeves of Data, w/ Evan Rhodes - P3 Adaptive

The Keanu Reeves of Data, w/ Evan Rhodes

Director of Client Services, P3 Adaptive

Listen Now:

Evan Rhodes is one of the three Directors of Client Services here at P3 Adaptive.  It is no wonder why he is one of our leaders here.  There is very little that can stand in his way when it comes to excellence, he makes everyone around him better, and he wants to win by doing things the right (not only the correct, but the ethical) way.

And, to top it all off, he looks a LOT like Keanu Reeves.  And he’s just as cool as Keanu!

References in this episode:

Spider-Man Pointing Meme

The Balanced Scorecard

Rob’s Value Above Replacement Blog

My Buddy/Kid Sister Commercial

Myrton Hanks Celebration Dance

Episode Timeline:

  • 1:50 – Evan is our very own Keanu Reeves doppelganger, his role at P3 Adaptive, and his Origin Story
  • 10:20 – The Balanced Scorecard, understanding the value of analysts, the iterative process and learning from failures
  • 36:50 – A different breed of consultant and consultancy, Evan’s personal PBI applications-Disney wait times and Fantasy Football


Rob Collie (00:00:00): Today we're completing the P3 director trifecta. We've had Ryan and Chrissy, our other two directors on the show before, and today we welcome Evan Rhodes. Evan's rise to the director position at P3 has been like a shot of caffeine for our business. And that's Evan, the human caffeine shot. And that's a low little bit of a paradox given that Evan speaks in a very measured, relaxed and matter-of-fact tone basically about everything.

Rob Collie (00:00:30): Of course, we cover the usual. We talked about his origin story and his path to P3. And even though on multiple previous episodes, we've talked quite a bit about the new breed of consultant that's required for today's world, I think that today's conversation with Evan might give you a bit more of the texture of that than we've gotten into in previous episodes.

Rob Collie (00:00:52): We also talk a lot about a book from the late '90s, The Balanced Scorecard, and how that idea is incredibly powerful and is really now coming into its own. Thanks to Power BI. Then near the end, the wheels really came off in a good way, talked about modeling wait times at Disney, talked about fantasy football, and along the way we acknowledged that Evan is the only P3 employee to ever be mistaken for Keanu Reeves. I hope you enjoy it. We sure did, so let's get into it.

Announcer (00:01:26): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?

Announcer (00:01:30): This is the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive podcast, with your host, Rob Collie. Find out what the experts at P3 Adaptive can do for your business. Just go to Raw Data by P3 Adaptive is data with the human element.

Rob Collie (00:01:51): Welcome to the show. Evan Rhode, our very own Keanu Reeves lookalike. How are you, man?

Evan Rhodes (00:01:59): Doing great. Great to be here.

Rob Collie (00:02:01): With COVID, your opportunities to you mistaken for Keanu have fallen off dramatically. You haven't been out jet setting.

Evan Rhodes (00:02:08): That's true. That's true. I don't get it as often as I used to when I was out traveling the country in the world, so I'm sure it'll happen again soon.

Rob Collie (00:02:16): Think about it. COVID is just so cruel. It's taken so many things from us. Being mistaken for Keanu, I know it's a crucial part of your life. Damn you COVID.

Evan Rhodes (00:02:26): Absolutely. And I'm sure Keanu is upset he hasn't been mistaken for me.

Rob Collie (00:02:30): I'm sure he gets that all the time. Gosh, I can't imagine the number of Evan Rhodes autographs he's had to sign-

Evan Rhodes (00:02:36): I'm sure-

Rob Collie (00:02:37): ... in his-

Evan Rhodes (00:02:37): ... people have come up, "Didn't you teach me Power BI a couple years ago."

Rob Collie (00:02:42): And he's just learned to eventually just, he just started saying yes.

Evan Rhodes (00:02:45): Absolutely.

Rob Collie (00:02:45): It's it easier if he just plays along with it.

Evan Rhodes (00:02:47): I like to believe that he picked up the book and learned some [DAC 00:02:50] so that he could answer questions.

Rob Collie (00:02:52): He's a good spot. Imagine if we could just get a picture, we'd send him the book and just have him there like, be sitting on an airplane. Someone take a picture of him holding the book, like he's deep in thought studying it.

Evan Rhodes (00:03:01): That would be great.

Rob Collie (00:03:02): That would be a major coup. Well, maybe someday you'll round the corner in an airport and he'll be coming around the other corner and he'll stop and you'll look at each other and it'll be like that meme where the two Spidermen are pointing at each other.

Evan Rhodes (00:03:17): I think I'd even know what we'd say. It'd have to be Ted meet evil Ted.

Rob Collie (00:03:21): Something like that. Yeah, that's right. That's right. I'd forgotten about Bill and Ted too. That was pretty funny. All right, so we've had two of our three directors on the show. We are now completing the tripod. You're one of our three directors. In your own words, what is your role here at P3?

Evan Rhodes (00:03:42): My role covers a few parts of the company. As a director of client services, lead a team of the consultants and help them, support them in their projects and all their efforts. And also work with our business development team to keep bringing on our new clients.

Rob Collie (00:03:58): Chrissy, her alter ego is the Microsoft relationship.

Evan Rhodes (00:04:01): Right.

Rob Collie (00:04:02): And your alter ego is business development.

Evan Rhodes (00:04:06): Correct. As well as other special projects I get assigned.

Rob Collie (00:04:10): Yes.

Evan Rhodes (00:04:10): We set a bit of the all-around athlete, the decathlete, if you will.

Rob Collie (00:04:14): That's right. Which has been a theme here on this show. We talk a lot about, life is a decathlon. Career is a decathlon. And yeah, so we have a number of decathletes. And really, you think about it actually, everyone at our company has that going on. The hybrid of someone who is good at business thinking, good at problem solving, good at communication, has a relatively high EQ. All of that plus the technical capacity to execute at a high level in a tool set like the Power platform, that is an amazing new force. And you've got to be in the 90th plus percentile in a lot of different things in order to be that kind of effective consultant for us.

Rob Collie (00:05:03): Again, we've said this a million times on this show but in case this is your first one, if you're 90th plus percentile at a bunch of different things that are all relevant at the same time, that means your 99th percentile at the overall sport. And that's what the decathlete metaphor has come to mean on this show.

Evan Rhodes (00:05:20): Absolutely. I think that's what makes us special, makes what we deliver to clients special, that we have these unicorn special individuals that cover all of those skills and cover them, like you said, highly. I probably wouldn't win a medal for any of those individually, but the fact that I place high on all of them, as you said, my overall points score is high.

Rob Collie (00:05:45): You'd be bronze medalist in the biathlon, in crew and luge. It just turns out that skating, rowing and shooting at the same time is what we need to do.

Evan Rhodes (00:06:00): Absolutely.

Rob Collie (00:06:02): All right, so you started here as a principal consultant. How long ago now?

Evan Rhodes (00:06:06): Three and a half years.

Rob Collie (00:06:08): That's a long time in this fancy modern world we've got going on here, right?

Evan Rhodes (00:06:12): It was hard to believe that it's gone by so fast, but three and a half years ago already.

Rob Collie (00:06:18): And again, with the velocity at which our business moves in which we execute projects, that's a really compressed fast forward. Like Kellan says, that anyone's first six months working here, you get more exposure and experience in that six months than you would typically get like in five years. So for three and a half years is a awfully long time. It's about, you might be thinking about retirement at this point.

Evan Rhodes (00:06:43): Yeah. I think I have a few more years left on the tires.

Rob Collie (00:06:47): Yeah, another Bill and Ted movie contract. What's your path. I know bits and pieces of this. What was your career path prior to P3? And I should have introduced you is Keanu Reeve's MBA. I should have thrown that in there for instance. So give us the bouncing path. Most people we've had on the show, most people we know actually, don't have this hyperlinear path through their career. Are you going to break that trend? Are you going to be like, "No, I called my shot, blaze the path straight across the landscape?"

Evan Rhodes (00:07:23): Absolutely not. There's no called shot. This was a meandering path that found its way, and very lucky that it did and happy that it did. I've had lots of great experiences professionally that really prepared me to be that decathletes I think that I am. I think that's why we are decathletes, is because we didn't call our shot or take that linear path. They don't teach you how to be a decathletes in college. In fact, it's the exact opposite. They really want to teach you how to do one thing. And I think in modern day business, you can't. You have to be multi-skilled.

Rob Collie (00:07:58): I don't think college even taught me how to breathe natural atmosphere. It's like, "No, no, it's all oxygen tanks." There's no pollen.

Evan Rhodes (00:08:09): And I was a communications major in college, so was basically a major of, I don't know what I want to do. I think I want to go to law school, so we'll get this communications degree. Which is definitely a very far cry from data analytics, business intelligence. I took gender communication classes. I recall that as one of my classes that I took.

Rob Collie (00:08:35): Does that make you a more effective husband?

Evan Rhodes (00:08:38): I'd like to think so. I think you'd to ask my wife, but I'd like to think so.

Rob Collie (00:08:42): Why do we have you on this show? Get away from the microphone.

Evan Rhodes (00:08:46): Absolutely.

Rob Collie (00:08:47): We want to get to the truth.

Evan Rhodes (00:08:50): True. So my path started in sales and business development, and business operations management. I was working for an industrial distributor selling tape and glue, sandpaper and managing a branch. They moved me down to Birmingham. They said, "You're going to move." I was young, maybe a year or two out of college, put in charge of a staff of people. Told to manage people, manage inventory, manage the finances of the branch.

Evan Rhodes (00:09:21): I look back at it now and I can't believe that I was given that kind of responsibility at that age. But it was an absolute amazing experience. I learned a ton about myself and managing people, how to do it effectively. I learned from failing at it a bunch, as much as I did for my successes, and then decided it was time. I wanted to do something else and I needed some more in-class learning to expand what I didn't get in undergrad so decided to go back and get my MBA.

Evan Rhodes (00:09:57): While I was doing that, I had the opportunity to intern. It was a great decision I made to intern at a local consulting firm. While I was doing that, the head consultant, the partner, I basically shadowed him for a year and a half to two years.

Rob Collie (00:10:15): Wow.

Evan Rhodes (00:10:16): And saw him advise and consult businesses and pick up knowledge and he would always give me books to read. And one of the books he gave me was a book, The Balanced Scorecard. He was a big believer in that concept and I still am. I love The balanced Scorecard. I would start working with him on developing these scorecards and it was all manual. Everything was manual, we were drawing them out, writing them out.

Rob Collie (00:10:42): This is great. I don't really read business books. I'm aware of them. I'm aware of some of the ideas that are in them. But The balanced Scorecard is one that I've paid some specific attention to. That doesn't mean that I read it. It's not getting carried away. But there are chapters and pages at least in the original of that book that are like, "No, no, if you need to get out a pencil and paper and just draw a scorecard and write the numbers in." You're not prototyping with pencil and paper. They're like, "It's totally okay if you need to just write it." I'm like, "Oh my God."

Rob Collie (00:11:20): This is an idea, The Balanced Scorecard, that was, I think in many ways before its time. The willpower and the technology wasn't there to actually execute that idea terribly efficiently. I'm cutting you off, but its out of excitement. Let's get into The balanced Scorecard.

Evan Rhodes (00:11:37): Yeah, you are absolute right. This wasn't that long ago. This wasn't, "One of these days electricity is going to be the real deal." This was 10 years ago. Seven years ago that we were still drawing them or manually just coloring cells in to make it look like a column chart. That you just didn't have access and ready access to the data. But the concepts behind it of how to manage a business by drilling down to those few metrics that really matter and how you roll those up. You can get all the way down to departments and individual levels, it was brilliant and I loved it and I immediately took to it. But we were making them. I remember drawing them on a piece of paper and thinking, this can't be the most effective way to do this because it's going to change.

Rob Collie (00:12:28): Who's been messing with my colored pencils? I can't find my violet colored pencil. How am I supposed to consult without my pastels. Really, it's interesting how separate these universes were, this Balanced Scorecard universe. The book originally came out like in the late '90s, I think, and from the BI world. The terminology in The balanced Scorecard is cascading. We call that drilling, drill down. The ability to filter. To look at individual regions of the company or individual product lines or whatever. They call that cascading.

Rob Collie (00:13:10): You know then, the universe next door, where the technology being randomly wonderingly developed to eventually do these sorts of things well for you. We were calling it drilling. These two worlds just didn't even overlap. You got one world talking about drawing it with pencils. So cool.

Evan Rhodes (00:13:27): Just shows you how big that disconnect was back then between data and IT, if you will in business. The concept of, this is a great way to manage the business. We should figure out a way to get the data to help drive it. When it started right as an article, I think even in Harvard Business Review. And it took a long time before that and the concepts of being a data-driven organization married together.

Evan Rhodes (00:13:54): And for me, that was one of those things I started to see, was this is great. And I loved working for this consultant, but he was a pen and paper guy. He would write his notes. He would write, everything was pen and paper. Just yellow legal pads, crazy. It was all almost no computer.

Rob Collie (00:14:17): Let's call him analog.

Evan Rhodes (00:14:18): Analog.

Rob Collie (00:14:19): Make him sound cooler.

Evan Rhodes (00:14:20): A brilliant business mind, but again, I think some of it's just whether it's analog, generational. But that concept of marrying data was just foreign. Businesses didn't do it. And I think the other is, as you said, it was before it's time. There wasn't really a tool to help you do it effectively.

Rob Collie (00:14:39): Yeah. The punchline here is that until you had Power BI, and literally I think specifically, Power BI, you really can't do this. You can't do it effectively. The metrics that matter the most to a business are inherently going to be cross silo metrics. They're not going to come from one operational system, one line of business system. Isn't going to spit out all the data that you need in order to truly manage your business. You've got to span across these silos and then you combine that together with the need to cascade, the need to drill.

Rob Collie (00:15:20): And then crucially combine it with the need to iterate, get really specific on what these metrics are. You need to be able to move fast. You can't be waiting for some SQL engineer to occur in order to refine this metric. A couple of the most dramatically successful and impactful projects that this company executed back when it was still just me and my wife in the early 2010s were scorecards, and they were cross-silo, drillable, cascalable scorecards.

Rob Collie (00:15:54): And I remember that the versions that went live, that actually went into production, the file names, the original file names for them, because these were still Excel Power Pivot, we didn't even have the Power BI yet. These things had version numbers like 25. V25 was V1. There's so much iteration and it happened so quickly. We went from V1 to V25 in the space of like a month and a half. A lot of sanity checking and focus grouping and all kinds of stuff. Those three things, cross-silo, drillable and, I don't know what the word is, iterable? Is that a word, iterable [crosstalk 00:16:35].

Evan Rhodes (00:16:35): I think it is now.

Rob Collie (00:16:36): We're going to look it up. I'm going to try it out in scrabble later. There's only one tool that checks those check boxes.

Evan Rhodes (00:16:41): Absolutely. And you think about the time it took you to make those, do those 25 iterations, how much longer it would be if you had to draw them.

Rob Collie (00:16:49): I'm going to say at least 50% longer.

Evan Rhodes (00:16:52): Yeah, if you had to get out your colored pencils or whatever tool we were using.

Rob Collie (00:16:58): Person you're interning with is like, "Listen, I thought we've been over this a million times. We cross hatch at 45 degrees when we shade our column charts."

Evan Rhodes (00:17:11): Get out the triangle and the ruler and start crosshatching.

Rob Collie (00:17:16): That's right.

Evan Rhodes (00:17:17): So we fast forward, I graduate and I ended up at a continuing medical education assessment company, which just, it's like the coolest name. It sounds very smart. It was a very interesting business. What they do is to figure out how to best educate physicians. They receive money from pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to say, "We have this medication or this procedure. We want to understand, do physicians actually know how to prescribe the medication, how to treat patients."

Evan Rhodes (00:17:51): The company would work with physicians and specialists to develop surveys and do assessments on it. And I was part project manager, part analyst. I would manage these projects and also I was doing statistical analysis, so using an SPSS and some other tools, again, to figure out how to best educate physicians. That's when I first discovered Power Pivot.

Evan Rhodes (00:18:18): I remember, we were still using SPSS for stuff but occasionally, we'd dig into some Excel, and playing around with pivot tables. And I still remember it to the day. For me it was distinct count. I refused to believe there wasn't a way to figure it out and I kept digging and reading and searching, and then I came across Power Pivot and it opened that window and started to learn, I can do all of this other stuff as well. I can do some of this statistical analysis and Power Pivot off our data sets.

Rob Collie (00:18:51): Yeah, the distinct count function. It should be given its own PNL at Microsoft. It's responsible for so many conversions.

Evan Rhodes (00:18:59): Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rob Collie (00:19:01): I need a unique count of something in a pivot table. Now I go Googling.

Evan Rhodes (00:19:07): Yeah. And then I found it and it was one of those, this absolutely amazing. This is brilliant. This is game changing. Why aren't they shouting this from the rooftops? Why is this hidden?

Rob Collie (00:19:18): They've corrected that, haven't they? Oh wait. No, actually they haven't. It's still hidden in Excel.

Evan Rhodes (00:19:25): That's still hidden.

Rob Collie (00:19:26): Yeah. Power BI is getting plenty of play.

Evan Rhodes (00:19:29): Right. That was amazing. I learned a ton. It's really, probably one of those places I really flexed the analyst muscle a bit.

Rob Collie (00:19:36): There's so many words and terms that when people first came up with them, were exciting for about five minutes. A few different terms like business intelligence. That was a hot term at one point. And again, five minutes later, it had devolved into bureaucratic IT gridlock and it became boring. On a recent podcast with the show, we were also talking about IT, information technology. If you can allow yourself to hear that phrase again for the first time, it hinted at a very aggressive and agile and responsive world of just really smart operation.

Rob Collie (00:20:17): But now we talk about IT as if it's like some Soviet, wait in line to get your license to go there and wait in another line for a loaf of bread, maybe. And it's like we're starting to reclaim some of these terms and recapture or capture for the first time, some of the excitement and possibility that those terms hinted at right. Like analyst, allow yourself to hear that word again for the first time. Really, we're going to analyze our business. We're going to do things.

Rob Collie (00:20:49): The way you said, "I got to flex that analyst thing." It's like you got to put the analyst and analyst, and not what we've come to think of analysts is just a person that just crunches the Excel report and it's like no one listens to them. And the reality of a lot of analysts jobs is that dull thing, and it shouldn't be.

Evan Rhodes (00:21:05): And it's a shame. A lot of times in organizations, they make the analyst as, well, they're smart. We don't really know what to do with them. We don't really know where to put them but we don't want to get rid of them because we like them.

Rob Collie (00:21:18): Well, we know we need them.

Evan Rhodes (00:21:19): Right. But we don't know for what.

Rob Collie (00:21:21): Shit would collapse if they left. We know that. It's a really weird dichotomy.

Evan Rhodes (00:21:27): And we're not mature enough to listen to them when they tell us what we should do based on the data.

Rob Collie (00:21:34): Yes. That is the saddest part.

Evan Rhodes (00:21:36): Isn't it. It's a waste of talent. But then you find organizations that do it well. And I don't think it's a coincidence that organizations that do that really well are successful. That understand that we're going to hire smart people and we're going to put them in a position to figure stuff out. Understand what's happening and help advise us on what to do. Where organizations get scared or maybe senior leadership gets scared is they think, "Well, we should always do everything the analyst tells us." And they don't see it as a tool.

Evan Rhodes (00:22:11): It's one tool in the tool bag. Being a data-driven decision organization doesn't mean that you just do whatever, the data said turn left, so turn left. It means, well the data said turn left, let's look at some other stuff and make a decision. It's part of the decision making process.

Rob Collie (00:22:27): It's a two-way street. If the traditional analyst's job, if it got more interaction, more engagement from the people who actually have their hands on the controls, it would give an opportunity for the analyst to become a lot more calibrated, a lot more savvy and seasoned. Because you're right, sometimes the data and the recommendation that comes from just crunching the numbers isn't properly calibrated for business savvy or whatever. And how do you get those reps if no one ever takes you seriously?

Evan Rhodes (00:23:02): Right, you don't or you find someone that does. I've been extremely lucky that I had some phenomenal managers and leaders that I worked for, that put me in that position after I left the medical education company, it's funny there's, I guess maybe now that I'm 40, you look back and there's certain days or moments that are just seared into my memory that I'll never forget. And I'll never forget walking to a job interview at the place I was before I came to P3. I walked in, I was meeting with the CEO.

Evan Rhodes (00:23:39): Before I got to his office, there was a giant whiteboard and they had KPIs written on the whiteboard and they were partially smudged and you could tell that they hadn't been written on in a while. And this is an amazing guy who went to West Point and was an army ranger. But also got an MBA from Duke. And he was very data-driven and he was just, he was an amazing guy. Actually, his name was Rob as well, so my last two bosses and CEOs were named Rob, so I guess it's a pattern.

Rob Collie (00:24:07): Well, the similarities in there, I've never repelled out of a helicopter.

Evan Rhodes (00:24:13): But I remember meeting with him and one of the things he said was, "We want you to come here and help tell us what we should do and how the business is running and how we can improve." And it was one of those amazing opportunities, is someone who wanted to do the continuous improvement, business process improvement, data-driven focus yet also business-focused, to be put in that position. And also what the CEO says.

Evan Rhodes (00:24:40): And this is coming, it's a mandate from the top that we're going to put you in front of business people. You're going to sit in on meetings of the executive leadership in C-suite and you're going to be right there with all the top decision makers to hear and figure out what metrics we should use based on the strategy that we are employing and we're going to deploy, what metrics should we use? And that's going to be your job. I got to sit in and list and have that visibility that no one at my level was getting and very few analysts would get, which is lucky.

Rob Collie (00:25:14): Super lucky. What a cool thing.

Evan Rhodes (00:25:16): So cool.

Rob Collie (00:25:17): Because again, we know that the world doesn't always make sense. It doesn't always do that. It doesn't always operate the way that we want it to. Tell me when you first walked by that whiteboard and you went in to meet with this guy for the first time, did you go, "Hey, have you considered using colored markers? We can use colors on your whiteboard. I can crosshatch."

Evan Rhodes (00:25:36): I remember looking at it and saying to myself, within nine months, that'll be gone and there'll be a TV there, displaying reports. And it wasn't long after I'd started that I remember seeing a green button. I was exploring some stuff in the Microsoft world on my computer there and there was a green button that said Power BI preview. Before it was yellow. I remember, for at some point it was green and clicking that button and just, again, it was one of those, wow, this is going to be the thing.

Rob Collie (00:26:13): Before they chose The DeWalt color scheme?

Evan Rhodes (00:26:16): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:26:16): Power BI?

Evan Rhodes (00:26:17): Yeah, it was before that. Which as a Cleveland Browns fan, I always somewhat didn't care for the Pittsburghs dealers color spectrum they used. And I remember then creating, and I'd been creating stuff in Excel for a while and amazing reports. And one time I made an Excel report for my boss and she said, "Evan, this doesn't even look like Excel." And this was-

Rob Collie (00:26:39): High praise.

Evan Rhodes (00:26:40): Yeah. This was flexing some of the things from a previous guest, Wayne Winston, whether it was buttons and adding the things you could do in Excel if you really knew how to get into the depths, the bowels of Excel to make it look like software. Then it was Power BI. I had used and played with the Power Viewer, which was a really good college. That was one of those perfect fails, because it validated the concept, but proved that it had to be better. Anyone who's used Power BI and Power Viewer, you saw elements of Power Viewer in Power BI. It was just better. It really was the perfect release.

Rob Collie (00:27:21): That piece of software was one that in the end, everybody universally disowned. The Excel team backed away from it very, very quickly. The Power BI team wanted nothing to do with it. I agree with you, it was testing some concepts.

Evan Rhodes (00:27:37): And I think those that... You knew it wasn't great, but it was one of those failures where you learned so much from the failure that the next thing you did was incredibly successful. That the failure was completely worth it. That's where the Power BI stuff started.

Rob Collie (00:27:55): That's even true really, of the engine behind it all. The previous multidimensional analysis services product was anything but a failure. It was very success. They'd still learned a number of things along the way with that product. They learned a lot. They learned a lot of things that were important and good, that were necessary.

Rob Collie (00:28:14): They also learned proportionally, what parts of that ecosystem were regrettable. And they had an opportunity to retrace their steps with the tabular engine that underpins Power Pivot, underpins Power BI. And oh my gosh, what an amazing editorial process. We all benefit just tremendously from that decade plus of learning that they experienced on the first rev.

Evan Rhodes (00:28:44): I think that's the way it always ought to be. I have never made something the first time and went, perfect. Mic drop. I'm done. I don't need to go back and perfect or iterate or look at it. There's nothing I can do to improve it. I did it the first time and it was amazing. Whether that's the first time I made a brisket, or I smoked a brisket, the time I cooked something. Whatever it was, it wasn't perfect, and you learn from that.

Evan Rhodes (00:29:11): I like to joke sometimes when we're teaching a class, the first Power BI report you make is the best, most amazing report you have ever made in your life. Three weeks later, you'll go back and look at it and go, "Wow, this is bad. I can do so much better." That was the experience. And I look at some of those first reports I made and at the time they were game changing, new ways to present information.

Rob Collie (00:29:35): I was on that same curve for a long time. I've witnessed exactly what you said and I've said exactly the same things to classes back in the day. Your first efforts are going to be amazing. They're going to change the game completely. And you're going to realize that they sucked. And this is fine. And then you're going to up your game and you're going to go, "Now this, this is hot." A few months later, you're like, "Nope, I was so cute back then. That was the amateur hour." And it just keeps going. At no point in time does the old stuff actually become non impactful? It was always good. It's just that your powers keep growing and growing and growing. It's such a cool feeling.

Evan Rhodes (00:30:15): Yeah, very cool feeling. I don't remember if it was nine months, whatever it was, but we did have TVs displaying Power BI reports. It was very early on in the tool, we had something wired to a dummy laptop through the wall with an HDMI. It was before enterprise gateways, so the laptop always had to be on, so that it would refresh, the models would refresh. But it was running and it had the aquarium visual.

Rob Collie (00:30:46): You got to have the aquarium visual. What serious business can you be conducting without appropriately sized fish swimming around representing business entities?

Evan Rhodes (00:30:56): Absolutely. And it played so nicely and I remember playing with all sorts of things, having it the pages, I could have multiple reports up on tabs and I think Google Chrome and it would rotate the tabs. So it would look like different reports and the scroll bar with an RSS feed that had sports scores or entertainment news, so I made it almost look like just a central hub of information. It was pretty proud of that.

Rob Collie (00:31:23): Well, it's not a surprise that so many of our canonical demos that have been built at P3 have your fingerprints on them. Another thing we could have mentioned in the intro, is you're also the demo builder.

Evan Rhodes (00:31:35): I am the demo builder. I guess that's the communications degree. Is always, even in those classes back in college and business school was how to present and communicate information creatively and intuitively, but not just for me, the slide of bullet points down the left hand side and a randomly placed picture somewhere always to me was like nails on a chalkboard.

Rob Collie (00:32:05): We've noticed this. Your PowerPoint game is legendary.

Evan Rhodes (00:32:10): It is. I've officially retired, I think from that. It's one of those where I've decided, the award is... It's like the Lombardi Trophy. It's just named after me at this point, the slide development at P3, so it's time to let some one else win the award.

Rob Collie (00:32:25): Oh yeah. In other words, you're starting to come to terms with how much time it takes.

Evan Rhodes (00:32:32): I think so. I think the PowerPoint with the scrolling Star Wars text, that was the finale.

Rob Collie (00:32:38): That was the Magnum Opus.

Evan Rhodes (00:32:39): That was the Magnum Opus. Yes, that was-

Rob Collie (00:32:41): Leaving on the high note.

Evan Rhodes (00:32:42): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:32:44): You're talking to someone who would routinely spend 30, 40 hours of work to prep a one-hour presentation for a conference that was bullet point free and all kinds of niftily animated clip art and all that kind of stuff and sometimes even hand drawn, et cetera. But for internal team meetings though, you know what you see for me these days, actually for a number of years now is black and white default template bullet points, that's it.

Evan Rhodes (00:33:10): When I first started, I think you had, your game was still strong. As I started presenting in the team meetings, had to up my game to keep up. I've definitely spent nights before the meetings trying to select the right stick figure to demonstrate the concept.

Rob Collie (00:33:28): And you've had the extra difficulty of not having access, direct easy access to the artist that draws the custom ones for me in other words. If we ever resume in-person in conferences, I think you'll see me come out of my semi-retirement, get back on that game. I just don't find remote conferences as a presenter. I just don't find them as energizing. I have a much harder time engaging with it than the in-person.

Evan Rhodes (00:33:53): I agree. If we keep on this without question, nonlinear path right to P3, at the first Microsoft Business Insight Summit, before I had registered and a little bit before, I got an email from a guy who was also in Birmingham and his name was Austin. And he said, "Hey, we're both from Birmingham. We're both going to the conference. We should meet up." And that's when I met Austin Senseman.

Rob Collie (00:34:20): What a freak show. I mean in a good way. He's that guy. He starts conversations.

Evan Rhodes (00:34:28): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:34:28): He just walk up to you and say, "Hey."

Evan Rhodes (00:34:30): Absolutely. And he has a gift. He has an absolute gift at it. We instantly became friends and always stayed in contact, and for a while he had said, "You should come to P3." I think at that time we were about to have our second daughter. My wife was pregnant. It was not the best time to be on the road. But about two years later, I remember sitting down with Austin and talking to him. I'd built a business intelligence, if you will, architecture, infrastructure, I'd built a team of people. You can say, I probably had teched myself out of the job. Everything was running.

Evan Rhodes (00:35:14): And we'd hit a point where there wasn't a lot of new stuff. It was a lot of maintenance. And I remember talking to Austin and said, "Well, what do you want to do?" I said, "Well, I want to do that again at a lot of places. I don't want to maintain this. I don't want to just walk around and make sure the machines are running." Talked to my wife about it and she said, "Well, then you should just go do that. Just keep doing that at different places." And Austin said, "Well, that's what we do. So come up."

Rob Collie (00:35:43): What an awesome thing. I've told so many people so many times that the origin story, the reason why most of our consultants end up coming to us, is one of invalidation at their previous job, the previous workplaces, the thing we were talking about. The analyst or whatever your job title is, that is not sufficiently utilized. That is not engaged appropriately. Their contributions aren't respected or valued at the proper weight.

Rob Collie (00:36:10): And that's very, very, very unsatisfying. It becomes really completely intolerable once you become good at Power BI. Because now the gap between what you could be doing and what you are doing is just so wide. It's the matrix thing again. It's that itch you can't scratch. But this is the other version. You weren't being invalidated in your prior job. Sounds like you got all the kinds of support that you would typically want and that you would ever hope to ask for, but you did it.

Evan Rhodes (00:36:38): Right.

Rob Collie (00:36:39): Woohoo, you achieved the desired transformation, culturally, everything. So now what? Now there's another itch created by a positive environment. I think that's awesome. I'm now going to change that narrative that I've given so many times. There are two types of [inaudible 00:36:58] stories to be able to bring that same success, that same transformation repeatedly to organization after organization. That is just such a powerful thing.

Rob Collie (00:37:12): It's what's been powering me for a decade plus. Not just the transformation for the organization, but also the transformation for the person slinging the tools. The, quote unquote, analysts role. The changes that it makes in their life is just intoxicating.

Evan Rhodes (00:37:25): It is. It's an incredible experience and it was, it's funny you mentioned it. I always did feel, and we hear the story a lot, and a lot of people do. Whether it's people we work with, whether they're analysts that feel invalidated. And I always felt like I half get it. But there was always, you're right, the part that was not. I had everything I could want. It just was okay. You're in a good place. Everything you need is you've got, you don't really need me anymore.

Evan Rhodes (00:37:59): It was almost like they, they didn't need me. It was exciting. It meant then that I had done my job, and I trained other people to continue to do it, which was also a big piece for me, was I've always believed that when thinking about managing people, the best managers make other people better. If you don't make other people better, then you're just a very good single performer. But if you make other people better, the exponential value that that provides the organization is huge.

Evan Rhodes (00:38:32): So teaching others how to do Power BI, grabbing a marketing intern and saying he has potential and teaching him everything about the tool to the point where he took ownership of it and people across the company were using it for all sorts of things that weren't even initially what we were doing at the corporate level, showed me that it's a multifaceted but really, let me not just from a BI, Power BI technical capacity but from a leadership level as well.

Rob Collie (00:39:04): So you basically worked yourself out of a job and some people would be like, "Yachty, now I don't have to do anything. Let's see how long I can coast here." But I really think the kind of people that would ever succeed at that in the first place are almost exactly the same people who wouldn't be satisfied just to mail it in after that. You want to go do it again. You need to feel that value. You need to feel challenged too.

Rob Collie (00:39:28): This also underlines why our business model, one of the reasons why our business model works. If you can cue to project successfully in a short period of time, you're working your way out of a job. It's like how the traditional consulting industry would view that. Why would you do that? Why would you burn through something in a month that you could have milked it for 18 months? It's okay to work yourself out of a job. There are many others, it turns out.

Rob Collie (00:39:58): Even within a particular organization, we do a one project for you and we do it really well, really quickly. It wasn't like what you did at your prior employer was one project. You had many projects in order to feel like you were done. So we're always auditioning for the next one. The fact that people higher to do the next one is just really testament to like, that was a really good deal. That was a really good trade. We pushed the P3 button and things went really well. Let's push that button. Let's try it again.

Evan Rhodes (00:40:27): Yeah. We probably all bid in that story where we tell someone we're a consultant and eventually comes up, get someone on the hook, you find a way to make them dependent on you for ever. And it's just you.

Rob Collie (00:40:40): Yuck.

Evan Rhodes (00:40:40): Yeah, yuck. You. That's not us at all and I have to be able to sleep at night. We consider it a win when we've developed and collaborated with someone, an organization, and helped train them to the point where they are fully capable of taking ownership for their reporting and their decision making processes. It's a win for us. That's a great day. That's validation that we did a phenomenal job. They are ready now.

Evan Rhodes (00:41:10): And you're right, it's probably that's the culmination of several projects, but however many projects that is, when they're ready, that's great. And we know because there's another organization out there that we can't wait to go help have that same experience. That's why I use that term, the shaper, all the time right in our company meetings, we love to be their shaper to help them to get to the top of the mountain.

Rob Collie (00:41:35): And I used to be really hung up along these lines. I predicted that this would look, with our clients, that it would look a little bit differently than what it's turned out. I used to think that the way that an engagement with a client would ultimately mature and, quote unquote, end, would be with them understanding the decks as well as I did or as well as we do. And sometimes that is the case. That does happen from time to time.

Rob Collie (00:42:05): Or at least they understand it sufficiently that they would never need us to help them again. I think even the more satisfying end game is when at least for the moment, they don't really have any needs. They're like, "We actually have exactly what we need for the first time ever to run our business efficiently." And their attention then naturally goes elsewhere. These things we're telling them, the report scorecards, whatever, are telling them all the things that they need to know.

Rob Collie (00:42:32): And so now guess what, how do they go and actually do those things? They turn it into the action that of course is what the whole thing was about, and sometimes that leads them to different places or something like COVID happens and the status quo is completely wiped away. So they've got new needs. But I've actually really enjoyed, I think that second end game. Technology's just a means to an end. I was really obsessed with the idea that everyone was going to learn DACs to the extent that I had.

Rob Collie (00:43:03): No, it's not realistic necessarily. We've found that there's certain brain wiring that's compatible with excellence on it that's not running around in everybody. But also even more importantly is not actually all that necessary. It's not the star. The technology isn't the star. It's the hose and the water. The water's what makes the grass grow. The hose doesn't do it.

Evan Rhodes (00:43:26): Right. And I think that's where we're trying to hit. Is the never ending cycle of looking at reports is isn't really the end game. It's getting the report to answer the business questions to drive their action so they can just take action. They shouldn't always be tweaking and building and never actually using because then we never hit the thing that they really need. So again, that was three and a half years ago and it's been an absolute blast.

Rob Collie (00:43:59): Well, it's been a blast for us as well. We don't really have any standard questions on this show really, but one that's halfway a standard is using Power BI for things like in one's personal life. You mentioned that you have a couple of applications for Power BI in your personal life. Can you tell us what those are?

Evan Rhodes (00:44:19): Sure. A lot of people, maybe at P3 wouldn't have guessed or know about me, is I really love Disney World. I remember going there as a kid, but I guess with two young girls, the magic that they have, the joy that they get out of it, so being able to do that, I love it. It also for anyone's ever been, you can't just show up. There's also this piece of me that just loves the planning and organization part of it. You can almost approach it like a project. I built a Power BI model many years ago to figure out whether or not we should get the Disney meal plan when we went.

Evan Rhodes (00:45:02): This was a bit of, well, they had some new features in Power BI, you can connect to the web. So we're going to connect all these menus at Disney World and we're going to build a model to pick what I think everyone's going to get at the restaurants that we're going to go to.

Rob Collie (00:45:15): Wow.

Evan Rhodes (00:45:16): And then we're going to balance the cost of that against the cost of a dining plan and balance out the offset of what should we do and which should we go with? Just incredibly nerdy on really multiple levels.

Rob Collie (00:45:32): For those of you listening, this is what overkill sounds like.

Evan Rhodes (00:45:34): It is what overkill sounds like. I like to balance it as well, it was work research. It was research to test if I could connect to the web and how it would work.

Rob Collie (00:45:44): I love stuff like that. When you know deliberately that's overkill but you know you're going to be learning something along the way, that's the right kind.

Evan Rhodes (00:45:50): Yeah. Of course there was a schedule made. I used a calendar, Custom Visual, and we had pictures loaded. But what I'm probably most proud of is that it worked. I did the analysis, it told me, don't do the Dining Plan. We didn't, we came out ahead, so it worked. We're going back in 31 days from the date of recording. And I actually now connected to live wait times at all the rides that we're going to go on, and it gives me a daily poll of ride times, so there's several.

Rob Collie (00:46:25): Oh my God.

Evan Rhodes (00:46:25): So I have average wait times, so I've been tracking the different wait times of the rides to help determine what we should do and built a Power BI model that tracks it, so just again, complete overkill.

Rob Collie (00:46:39): Let's really get into this. Okay. So then you need that combined with, you need to basically extract a graph, not a chart, a graph out of Disney, where all of the nodes in the graph are the individual rides or attractions. And then the arcs, the lines between the nodes are the walk times between those. You can put a number on those arcs because it's a weighted graph. So the only graduate level course that I've ever taken was on graph theory, algorithmic graph theory, perfect graphs, whatever.

Rob Collie (00:47:11): It was really pure brain candy. That's all it was. It had no real effective practical application in life whatsoever, but I wanted it to. I badly wanted it to. I kept walking around the world afterwards for the next like five years waiting to use graph theory. I've now completely forgotten really everything about it. I wouldn't be able to do anything in that space whatsoever if something came along.

Rob Collie (00:47:35): But this is the traveling salesperson problem from computer science, which is notoriously difficult problem. But you've got extra wrinkles in it. You don't just have walking distances, which would be the traditional traveling salesperson problem. You've also got wait times at different times of day. There's seasonality within the day for the wait times.

Evan Rhodes (00:47:59): Yeah. So some rides you have to hit early. Because the wait time increases where some will go down. So the first ride you go to, the decision you make there is going to impact every other decision that you would make.

Rob Collie (00:48:14): Oh yes. You can't use a greedy algorithm here.

Evan Rhodes (00:48:17): No.

Rob Collie (00:48:18): If you end up at the back of the park at the beginning of the day to catch that one ride that spikes in wait time and never comes back down for the rest of the day, well, that impacts all of your future choices.

Evan Rhodes (00:48:29): It does. And there's another hidden variable that you can't discount.

Rob Collie (00:48:33): Go on.

Evan Rhodes (00:48:34): And that's the fact that my youngest daughter who's five loves the little mermaid. And even though that's a generally easy ride to go on, you can't discount the fact that even if we get on it quick and do it early, she's going to want to do it multiple times.

Rob Collie (00:48:49): So you can't even really walk past it.

Evan Rhodes (00:48:50): Oh no, there's no walking past it, but there's a chance that we'll do it multiple times, which means that big thunder mountain backs up and gets along but she wanted to do aerial two times.

Rob Collie (00:49:03): When and if humanity cracks the quantum computing challenge, and the traveling salesperson problem goes from essentially NP complete unsolvable to solvable, the Disney problem will remain. Now, that's what we call the hard problem now, is the Disney problem.

Evan Rhodes (00:49:22): And would that mean everyone follows the same orderly path around the park and you just get a people mover and everyone to moves around from thing to thing and there's no more wait time, but that would ruin the magic, so to speak.

Rob Collie (00:49:38): Does Disney still have the reserve ahead thing, where you can reserve a time on a ride? Does that still exist or do they getting rid of that?

Evan Rhodes (00:49:47): It's on pause. They do, they don't now during the reopening. They paused it, but I'm sure it'll come back.

Rob Collie (00:49:54): I wonder why they paused it.

Evan Rhodes (00:49:55): I don't know.

Rob Collie (00:49:56): Is it because they don't have sufficient data. They need to get some training data to retrain the system?

Evan Rhodes (00:50:01): I don't know.

Rob Collie (00:50:01): At Cedar Point, we've learned that you just get the bracelet. I don't know if they've also switched to a reserve ahead system, but if there's a fast pass concept at park, you're so pot committed to the whole concept of being at this park. The amount of time and the expense and everything, just to be there, the fixed cost. Oh my gosh, no, you can experience three times the roller coasters if you pay this ridiculous fee. It's totally worth it.

Rob Collie (00:50:30): But then everyone should do it. It's like a TSA pre-check. I was laughing when I first got my TSA pre-check. I'm like, "Sooner or later everyone's going to have this and then they're going to have TSA pre-precheck." And guess what, there's that clear thing.

Evan Rhodes (00:50:45): Right. Skip to the head of the pre-check line.

Rob Collie (00:50:48): That's right. Pretty soon there's going to be... The clear line is going to be long.

Evan Rhodes (00:50:55): Right, and the transparent clear, whatever they're going to call it.

Rob Collie (00:50:59): When you own a fixed resource, like the checkpoint at an airport, you basically can just hold people as indefinitely at any ever increasing premium rate. Oh no, the airfare is cheap, but the fee to get through security.

Evan Rhodes (00:51:16): Yeah, that's the expensive part and they don't even try to hide it anymore. They sell it while you're waiting in line, "Hey, you don't want to be waiting another half an hour here. Buy this and we'll get you right to the front right now."

Rob Collie (00:51:26): Yeah, you could pay your way to the front of the line, right?

Evan Rhodes (00:51:28): Right. It's almost predatory.

Rob Collie (00:51:32): Keep in mind, this is a government owned and operated operation. Not clear. But the checkpoint is. And this private company, I think, is like the catfish sitting at the dam that just eats the junk coming out of the dam [inaudible 00:51:49]. Never has to go anywhere, never has to hunt for food, nothing. It just sits there and eats and becomes like 400 pound monster. That's what I feel [inaudible 00:51:57] standing there in line saying, "You can skip to the front of the line."

Evan Rhodes (00:52:01): Some of the airlines own part of it.

Rob Collie (00:52:04): For like a split second, that seemed reassuring to me, but not really.

Evan Rhodes (00:52:08): I think Delta part ownership and clear. They're just hitting you on all parts.

Rob Collie (00:52:13): Time is money. It makes sense. Even the highways in Seattle have a fast pass concept to them now. Did you know this?

Evan Rhodes (00:52:21): Really?

Rob Collie (00:52:22): Yeah. The price of crossing the bridge, the 520 Bridge in Seattle, is a very variable rate.

Evan Rhodes (00:52:30): Really?

Rob Collie (00:52:31): It varies during the day. It's just based on current demand. It just elastically fluctuates in terms of how much it costs across the bridge.

Evan Rhodes (00:52:39): Wow.

Rob Collie (00:52:40): There's no toll boost or anything. It's all electronic, and if you cross without a transponder, they get a picture of your license plate. It's one of those things. We can talk about the TSA line, whatever. This is a state government and federally funded highway. Now, the money is going into public coffers at that point. It's so weird. There's no right answer to this.

Rob Collie (00:53:04): Should wealth convey a time advantage on public infrastructure, but at the same time, but so you could say, no, no, no, that's not fair. That's not right. It's almost like the equivalent of wealth purchasing better legal treatment, which we all know also exists. But at the same time, something like this, maybe supply and demand should dictate it.

Evan Rhodes (00:53:27): It's an interesting concept.

Rob Collie (00:53:28): I can really see both sides of that. Think about Seattle is a relatively liberalized place implementing such a concept. It's eye opening. I think it's pretty interesting.

Evan Rhodes (00:53:38): It is. I remember driving in Houston for work a couple years ago and something I'd never seen before, which was a toll exit. So they had two exits to get off the highway. One exit was a standard normal exit. The other was a paid exit, and it was a little shorter. And in Houston where traffic is just awful, I guess it has value. But I remember thinking to myself, "There's no way I would ever pay money to exit the highway if I could exit the highway for free."

Evan Rhodes (00:54:11): And I remember commenting to some people while I was out there and they said, "Oh no, it could save you half an hour. During rush hour, getting off the normal exit, it could be half an hour or so, so the paid exit's worth it." And to me, it almost felt like entrapment. You want to get home for dinner, you got to pay to exit the road. Otherwise, you don't.

Rob Collie (00:54:34): If being able to charge for it makes the second exit possible and overall, everything goes better as a result, then I think we can all get on board with this idea. However, if the second exit, all it's doing is dumping premium cars onto the same backed up surface street and therefore making the original line even longer, oh no. Which is exactly by the way, what happens with the fast pass concepts at theme parks? It's a dirty feeling. Cut in line in front of everyone. It's not like they've added a second roller coaster. It's not like that. There's only one roller coaster and you're taking their seats.

Evan Rhodes (00:55:18): Yeah, and it is. It's that I'm sure everyone who's been on both sides of it, where it's, "Oh, I just walked right on. It was amazing." Then you get the others side of the feeling when you're in the regular line and you've been waiting forever in the hot sun, you've waited two hours for a minute and a half thrill, and you get to the front and this whole group comes in that fast line. And there's a train and now that train is full. And now you got to wait a whole and you're just seething that.

Rob Collie (00:55:48): Yeah. And you've even, because you know your position in line, you've even figured out which car you're going to end up getting into in the next train. And then the fast passers come in and they take those seats.

Evan Rhodes (00:56:01): Oh yeah. And you're just so mad and you're like, "I was going to go in the blue train. I was going to be in this seat." And you really, the worst part is if you even work it back, you did the math out and you aligned yourself in which car you were going to be in.

Rob Collie (00:56:17): That's right. And this totally scrambles it because-

Evan Rhodes (00:56:18): Scrambles it.

Rob Collie (00:56:20): ... five people came in the odd number. One person sat in the bench.

Evan Rhodes (00:56:26): And invariably, not only do you not get the one you want, but you end up having to sit on the ride after the guy or person who just did a water ride. So now the seat is-

Rob Collie (00:56:37): That's right.

Evan Rhodes (00:56:37): ... wet and you were totally trying to avoid that in the first place. And now you're going upside down but you're wet because you sat in a wet seat and you waited two and a half hours to sit in a wet seat and be mad.

Rob Collie (00:56:48): That's right. I've lived that, for sure. To the extent that when I do get the fast pass, I'm coaching everybody, okay, do not make eye contact.

Evan Rhodes (00:57:03): Just look down, get on the ride, don't say anything.

Rob Collie (00:57:07): It's so brutal.

Evan Rhodes (00:57:08): Yeah. No, cheers are clapping. Just eyes forward.

Rob Collie (00:57:13): One time we were at Cedar Point and because now we used to live in Cleveland. One time we were at Cedar Point and someone had thrown up on the train, and so we watched them hose it down. And you know what they did then? They just launched the train with no one on it to dry it off.

Evan Rhodes (00:57:31): Air dry.

Rob Collie (00:57:32): We're just going to set it out there. And it comes back clean. Plus by the time it comes back around, the people who get on it, they were around the corner and they don't get to know that was the puke train.

Evan Rhodes (00:57:47): Whenever it's like, oh no, please, you can go ahead of us.

Rob Collie (00:57:50): It's like money laundering. The train goes away and it comes back pure.

Evan Rhodes (00:57:56): Yeah. No Lysol wipes, no spray, no electrostatic spray. Just a little water and some air.

Rob Collie (00:58:03): That's right. That's right. We've come to the conclusion though, that always get the fast pass.

Evan Rhodes (00:58:08): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:58:08): Don't make eye contact. If it happens to be the day that I'm at the park, please don't get the fast pass. I want the fast pass to work. What's the second personal usage?

Evan Rhodes (00:58:21): The other personal usage has been for the ever important, always needed and unfortunately has not paid off as fantasy football draft analysis. I've been doing fantasy football for years. I used to way back when go with my dad. There was a group of people and they would do it. This was in the '90s. This was when we were drafting like Scott Mitchell. And it was all on paper and every week the person in charge would mail out the results. And I think that person used to not have to pay because they would do all the points and tabulations.

Rob Collie (00:58:57): Oh gosh.

Evan Rhodes (00:58:57): They're probably going through box scores and sending out spreadsheets. So I've done it forever. At P3, we take it seriously. It's fun, but obviously as analysts, people who work with data, there's an added bonus. And unfortunately, every year I seem to lose to you in the semi-finals. I've started to develop a model to try to help with that drafting strategy. And unfortunately, what I've also come to is that's only half of it. It's still the mid-season plus the luck.

Rob Collie (00:59:34): As a multi time champion of this also competitive league, let me bestow some wisdom.

Evan Rhodes (00:59:42): Please.

Rob Collie (00:59:43): This is the secret. You have to embrace the uncertainty of it all. Analysis most of the time is an attempt at certainty. And there was a time when there were certain strategies that you could apply in this game that weren't necessarily obvious, but the numbers bore them out. And those days are over. Most of that knowledge is commoditized now. Everyone has the same knowledge. I too started in the '90s, before the existence of really the industry, the fantasy football industry, and also the game, the NFL game has changed too. It's a much more dynamic game. We should link article, Luke, about value above replacement from our blog, that ultimately convinced us to go to a two quarterback, super flex format.

Evan Rhodes (01:00:31): Which I protested greatly.

Rob Collie (01:00:34): It's better though, isn't it? You enjoyed it.

Evan Rhodes (01:00:35): No.

Rob Collie (01:00:36): It's good. It's good. You want all the positions to be interesting. I'm only 500. I've only won half of the years that we've run this format. I won 100% of the years we ran the other format. We really cut my winning percentage here, Evan. You should be excited about this.

Evan Rhodes (01:00:55): Yeah, that's true.

Rob Collie (01:00:57): Anyway, so everything that I do, the secret, if there is one, is to understand that you just simply can't know what is going to happen in an NFL season. You just can't know. It's unknowable and it's going to be changing. There is no status quo. The status quo is worth nothing. It's going to change moment to moment, and everything I do ultimately comes back to that.

Rob Collie (01:01:20): It's not that I have an opinion about a particular player. This player's going to be this, I've got a secret. I've got an inside line. If we took a stock metaphor, I don't know how to pick stocks. I don't analyze companies and do anything like that. This is more like the algorithmic type of trading. It's more that kind of thing. Which is different than how I played the game back in the past. But you know what? You also mentioned that other thing, luck. I mean, Jesus, I have got very lucky.

Evan Rhodes (01:01:49): Luck definitely has something to do with it. For me it was, I remember reading an article several years ago that talked about the change in fantasy football and that you really have to change your approach to a weekly game. And one of the things I do look at is I'll go back and to analyze the league and how many points you need to score to win. It's fluctuated and ours is a high scoring league, but let's say you got to score 185 points on average to win. If you don't score that, chances are you're not going to win.

Evan Rhodes (01:02:23): And as I start to look at a team and break on their projections and then spread that over a season, I get an idea of how many points on average would I project that I'll score in a week, and based on who I take and what else is available, will I score, if I'm building a team out and start to see that this team is not going to score 185, I more likely need to be lucky than good. And if you're projecting out and you're looking at 190, 195, on a week to week basis, you at least have a chance to win. And yes, I've never won and I keep losing in the semis but I guess I am always in the top third.

Rob Collie (01:03:04): You're a worthy rung on the ladder that I climb every year. Something's got to get me to the top.

Evan Rhodes (01:03:10): I am not an opponent you want to face week to week, but my teams are always consistent. I don't have those fluctuations of massive 250 point games a lot. I'm always 190 points, so I lose some and I win some. But I never seem to. So I'm actually beginning to evaluate and using a model, do I need to rethink that? How do I get there? But now you're telling me, I might as well just embrace it and throw a dart at a dart board.

Rob Collie (01:03:43): It turns out that getting lucky is what needs to happen in order to come out on top out of 10 people who are playing the same game against you. Getting lucky, I have no control over that. What's weird though, is that if you realize, oh I have to get lucky, you change your strategy. My strategy is now built around getting lucky. That's as much I'm going to tell you.

Evan Rhodes (01:04:06): That's interesting. Now I have to figure out how that would work.

Rob Collie (01:04:09): We're going to drag Luke in this year too. He doesn't know this is coming, but we're going to have a good league this year. You can feel it, right?

Evan Rhodes (01:04:16): I can.

Rob Collie (01:04:17): There's a lot of good candidates to fill. This year isn't going to be one of those years where we've got like two people in the league that we controlled into it.

Evan Rhodes (01:04:23): Bi weeks.

Rob Collie (01:04:24): Yeah, that's right. That's right. That's right. And we have the 18-game season this year.

Evan Rhodes (01:04:28): And did you hear, there was a whole thing about how they put a bi week at what, week 14, week 15 and it messes up fantasy football.

Rob Collie (01:04:37): But it really doesn't. It put a bi-week into 14, week 14. But this year we'll go 15, 16, 17 for the playoffs. So who cares?

Evan Rhodes (01:04:47): I'm looking forward to it. Maybe we'll increase the size, but no more up, I stopped managing my team. None of those. So the challenge gets better every year.

Rob Collie (01:04:59): Luke, are you aware of the tradition that the winner must make a celebratory karaoke video?

Luke (01:05:05): I've heard the legends of some of these videos and by the way, I was in this past year's league. That's how terrible my team was.

Evan Rhodes (01:05:14): I was going to say, Luke was in it.

Rob Collie (01:05:16): Oh, that's terrible. Luke, you're fired.

Evan Rhodes (01:05:22): I know what my video is. I have been planning my victory video for three years now. I'll give you the tease. Do you remember the commercial back in the '80s for the toy, My Buddy.

Rob Collie (01:05:40): Oh yes. I totally do. I even know the song.

Evan Rhodes (01:05:45): I think we all do. Everyone [crosstalk 01:05:47] who's listened to this, you're going through in your mind and you're going, My Buddy and kids sister, is I'm going to do a video holding the trophy and recreating the My Buddy commercial, doing all those things with the trophy like it's my buddy.

Rob Collie (01:06:05): That sounds awesome.

Evan Rhodes (01:06:06): But I have to win first.

Rob Collie (01:06:07): Well, as my team is about to high step into the end zone to defeat you this year in the playoffs, on the one yard line, maybe I'll take a knee, just so I can hear the [crosstalk 01:06:18]-

Evan Rhodes (01:06:18): Just so you see it. We'll see.

Rob Collie (01:06:22): Maybe I won't.

Evan Rhodes (01:06:24): I don't think you will. I don't want you to.

Rob Collie (01:06:27): Don't worry. It won't happen. Even if I went into the game thinking, okay yeah, I'm going to throw it, no.

Evan Rhodes (01:06:34): As a fantasy football player, you're not a take the knee. You're a flippin and Cartwheel into the end zone-

Rob Collie (01:06:40): That's right.

Evan Rhodes (01:06:40): ... type of player.

Rob Collie (01:06:41): If I could, I would do the Merton Hanks head Bob after... The best football celebration dance ever is Merton Hanks' chicken dance, fight me. He's an executive now somewhere. I forget, you wouldn't expect it based on all that chicken dance. Did he have any brain cells left after? That's the traumatic, what he used to do. All right, hey Evan, thank you so much.

Evan Rhodes (01:07:13): Thank you. This was fun.

Announcer (01:07:15): Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive podcast. Let at the experts at P3 Adaptive, help your business. Just go to Have a data day.

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