Raw Data By P3 Adaptive
A Data Wildling Goes Embedded, w/ Mary Fealty
Analytics WildlingListen Now:
Mary Fealty (@Br0adtree on Twitter) is a prime example of the spirit of “Why not?” that we’ve been exploring as of late! She is a Power BI early adopter (we like to call folks like Mary a Power BI OG!), and her experience and knowledge place her as a leader in the data solutions field. Mary is an “Analytics Wildling,” and we think her way of looking at things is a peek into what the future of BI is like.
Check out what Mary does at BroadTree Solutions!
References in this episode:
Rob Collie (00:00:00): Hello friends. Today's guest is Mary Fealty, and oh my gosh, what a luminous human being she is. We had just a fantastic time. I in particular really enjoyed this conversation. Because along the way, it became so clear to me that Mary is such a kindred spirit to me. If you listened to the episode with my grandfather, Bob Pop Collie, you start to see where I think I got my personal spirit of, "Why not?"
Rob Collie (00:00:32): In the course of this chat with Mary, is became very clear to me, that she was a fellow member of team, "Why not?" Of course, we got into her own personal why not origin story. There's a surprising twist in there, that I'll leave for the episode.
Rob Collie (00:00:48): In the course of this conversation, I think we also coined a new term, "Analytics wildling." We discovered that term quite by accident, while introducing a potential new running feature for the show. We're tentatively and conservatively referring to this new feature as The Five Questions of Doom. Her answer to one of those five questions of doom was initially very disappointing, and I was also very disappointed in Tom's answer to the same question. I say disappointing in jest. But then it took a turn for the very much not disappointing.
Rob Collie (00:01:23): For the debut of this new feature, I can't imagine anyone ever matching her answer to one of those five questions. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her. I'm so glad we did this. I also think that no one really personifies the future of data better than her. We had an awesome time. I think that'll come through in the audio. I think you'll hear it for yourself, and let's get into it.
Announcer (00:01:47): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?
Announcer (00:01:51): This is The Raw Data by P3 Adaptive podcast, with your host, Rob Collie, and your co-host, Thomas LaRock. Find out what the experts at P3 Adaptive can do for your business. Just go to P3adaptive.com. Raw Data by P3 Adaptive is data with the human element.
Rob Collie (00:02:15): Welcome to the show. Mary Fealty, how are you today?
Mary Fealty (00:02:19): I am very, very well.
Rob Collie (00:02:20): That's great. I've known you as a Twitter personality for a long time now. I know, it's a weird thing, this internet. The inter-tubes, or whatever we call them. But yeah, I've been following you for a long time. Figured, "Hey, let's reach out across the pond." Where are you located?
Mary Fealty (00:02:38): I'm based in Northern Ireland.
Rob Collie (00:02:41): It's become interesting, with the whole Brexit thing, right?
Mary Fealty (00:02:44): Sure.
Rob Collie (00:02:44): Once again, the whole Ireland, Northern Ireland thing is back in the news, thanks to Brexit. It's incredibly complicated. I've lost track of what's really going on. I really have no idea. But it's an interesting time, to say the least, over there, with supply chain, and all of that.
Mary Fealty (00:03:01): Yes. There's a thing called protocol, and that would appear, I'm not much wiser than you. Politics and I are, particularly Northern Ireland politics, is something I steer away from. It's just better that way.
Rob Collie (00:03:14): Yeah, I understand.
Mary Fealty (00:03:14): But I have a brother who is a political pundit. I just rely on him for all information around what is actually happening, if I'm interested enough. On this occasion I'm not. Brexit happened, that was unfortunate. It's causing an awful lot of problems, and potentially major problems. But let's hope it never comes to that.
Rob Collie (00:03:39): Leaving the gym today, we were talking to someone who said, "Yeah, I'm going to leave here, and I'm going to go try to find Diet Coke somewhere. I haven't been able to get Diet Coke. It's not on the shelves around here." It's like, "Oh man, what has the world come to?"
Mary Fealty (00:03:52): I know.
Rob Collie (00:03:52): You know? Luke, do you still drink diet coke by the gallon?
Luke (00:03:56): I'm a Diet Pepsi guy. You might have seen me chugging on it. I've already had issues with trying to find it, but I always do. I think south Florida, we're just diet conscious, or whatever. I don't know.
Rob Collie (00:04:06): Well, you're a priority, because you're the most dangerous, south Florida.
Luke (00:04:11): Just the entire state?
Rob Collie (00:04:13): We don't want a south Florida uprising.
Thomas LaRock (00:04:15): South Florida Man.
Rob Collie (00:04:16): We really don't want to be poking that bear. Indiana? Why not poke Indiana? What's Indiana going to do? Are you experiencing things like that over there, Mary? Just-
Mary Fealty (00:04:28): No. Thankfully, we're not. There's a lot of stuff about it in the media, but in reality, no. Nothing yet. You get a lot of stuff now saying Christmas is going to be challenging. We'll get there, and we'll find out if that's true or not. But so far, honestly, we're no longer going in to the supermarkets to see what the stocks are like. Because of everything, we've gone online shopping. You're not necessarily going and seeing areas that might be-
Rob Collie (00:04:55): Empty shelves.
Mary Fealty (00:04:56): Yeah, so no. So far, so good.
Rob Collie (00:05:01): All right, well that's reasonable to hear. It's reassuring. But apparently, it sounds like you have our Diet Coke. That's where it's all gone.
Mary Fealty (00:05:10): Yeah, it could all be here.
Rob Collie (00:05:12): All right. What do you do professionally these days?
Mary Fealty (00:05:14): What I do is, I have my own company. It's Broadtree Solutions. It is a small company, of me. I provide small to medium businesses with data solutions that almost, we're probably at about 98% of the time, those solutions are using Power BI. I have a sizable amount of customers, where I provide probably simple, but highly effective solutions for them, around their data needs. Usually presented in Power BI in some fashion.
Mary Fealty (00:05:53): It's not a particularly large business, and it will never be a particularly large business. I do what I love, which is, not everybody can say that. I absolutely love working with Power BI. The fact that people pay me to do it, value what they get at the end of it, just keeps me very happy.
Rob Collie (00:06:12): Is the show Letterkenny available in Northern Ireland? Have you heard of Letterkenny?
Mary Fealty (00:06:17): The place?
Rob Collie (00:06:18): Well, okay. See, now of course it would be a recognizable name. It's about a fictional town in Canada.
Mary Fealty (00:06:25): Right?
Rob Collie (00:06:26): Where is the real Letterkenny?
Mary Fealty (00:06:28): The real Letterkenny is in Donegal, which is above us here in Northern Ireland. But weirdly, it's part of the south. Think of Ireland, right?
Rob Collie (00:06:35): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mary Fealty (00:06:36): You picture it sitting there, beside Britain. We're up at the top. But above us is Donegal, and Donegal is part of the south, if that makes sense. Letterkenny is the primary town of Donegal.
Rob Collie (00:06:54): Okay, I get the tie in. There's a lot of Scotch-Irish, a lot of Irish descent in Canada.
Mary Fealty (00:06:57): Absolutely, my partner's Canadian.
Rob Collie (00:06:59): Oh yeah? Okay.
Mary Fealty (00:07:00): Yeah yeah yeah.
Rob Collie (00:07:01): The reference was, one of the repetitive sayings on the show is, "Do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." That's where you're at.
Mary Fealty (00:07:13): That's where I'm at, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:07:14): You said something really, I think worth magnifying, just a minute or so ago. Which was, "Simple, but very effective." You said this is just some of the stuff that you do, so it's not the entirety of it. But I completely get it. I completely get what you're saying. Another recurring theme on this show is, we're always talking about how the pundits of the data space, their job is to always talk about something in the future. Something far in the future.
Rob Collie (00:07:42): I saw somebody the other day, who I respect. I forget who it was. Her theme these days is, "Beyond dashboards." In order to be in that punditry business, you have to be pushing that edge, right? Always.
Mary Fealty (00:07:54): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:07:54): But the reality is that the next big thing in data isn't any of those things. The next big thing in data is having the basics done well, for the first time ever.
Mary Fealty (00:08:04): Yes.
Rob Collie (00:08:04): The vast majority of the current value yet to be realized is getting those things, the things that we would all want to consider to be table stakes, getting them done well for the first time ever is magical. When you say, "Simple, but very effective," inside my brain I'm just nodding. I'm like, "Oh yeah." Not that everything we do is simple either. But don't underestimate the impact of what we would consider simple for our clients. I got the spirit of what you were saying. You said it in three words, and I said it in 300, which is my usual thing. But I'm with you.
Mary Fealty (00:08:45): Yeah, and you're right. Some of these things, behind the scenes, are not simple at all. Some of them are really challenging, which is part of the fun. But ultimately, what an SME is looking for, is not the enterprise stuff. They don't need that, and I don't provide that. That's absolutely fine, because it's overkill. It's way beyond anything that's within their remit, or their needs. That sums up what I do, in the simplest way.
Rob Collie (00:09:14): This is always basically an impossible question to answer, but we make our best effort. What's a typical client look like for you?
Mary Fealty (00:09:20): I do have a very, very common thread with the bulk of my customers. That is insurance. I have an awful lot of insurance brokers as my customers. The primary reason for that is, that's my background. Their data is, we talk the same language. As a result of that, then I'm able to work with them very closely. I understand their business, and I understand what it is they need very quickly. Because they don't have a huge amount of time to sit down with somebody.
Mary Fealty (00:09:52): There's no such thing as requirements gathering. These guys, their focus isn't there. They just want something, and they want to be able to say to somebody, "This is what I need." Most people aren't going to be able to understand that need, unless you've got some experience, and I've got a huge wealth of experience there. That's what my most technical customer will look like.
Mary Fealty (00:10:13): Outside of those, because that's bread and butter. That's everyday. Those customers come back for more. They have another need, and they have another requirement. I'll deliver on that. But then the stuff that comes along outside of that would be anything from, I've worked on pretty sizable projects. I've done really random things. I've pushed Power BI into areas that it never was really designed for. But because it's my go to, I can always figure out a way of making it do things that perhaps it wasn't designed for.
Mary Fealty (00:10:49): Then other ones would be much bigger players. I get the opportunity occasionally to work on much bigger projects. I don't like long term projects. I don't have the attention span for a long term project. I like things to be fresh, and just get the job done. But I have done a few of them, and I've been very proud of what I've delivered.
Rob Collie (00:11:13): Keeping things fresh is crucial. When it was still just me, years ago, I had an early client. I had all of this weight, this angel and devil on either shoulder, that were constantly talking to me. The devil on my shoulder represented the ghost of consultants past, who were always looking down on me, going, "Oh, you're doing it wrong. Tsk tsk."
Rob Collie (00:11:39): There was this moment where a client needed, and this was back when we still just only had Power Pivot. There was a moment where my client was going to go and make the same modification to 50 different reports. Or I think it might have been a cube formula report, and there were thousands of cells that they needed to modify. But it was the same modification for each, and they were going to go do that with labor on their side. I was like, "Oh, no no no no no. Let me write you a macro."
Rob Collie (00:12:02): I wrote the macro, and it was a great little macro. It did the job. At that moment, the devil popped up on my shoulder and said, "Now you've got them. You've got this macro. You can charge them almost anything you want, every time you run this macro. Because whatever you charge them for this, it's still going to be way better than them spending the 100 hours it would take them to go and do this on their own. You've created something of tremendous value here, Rob. Don't blow it. Whatever you do, Rob, don't give them the macro. Don't give them the macro," says the devil.
Rob Collie (00:12:32): I ran it one time, billed them for running it, and then I gave them the macro. There was just no way that I wanted to be involved in running that thing for them. The altruism of being good to them was real, and the desire to monetize it was also real. But those things, I put those things in the back, and let them fight with each other. It was just like, "No way. I am not going to be so bored, as to run this macro for them." I'm talking about a click, and then a save. That was going to be so boring, and so tedious, that I wanted nothing to do with that. I did not want to be in that loop.
Rob Collie (00:13:13): I ended up doing the right thing, and that's been basically our ethos ever since. It was this one time in our early history, we had this choice. Milk it, or no? It was like, "Oh man, milking it sucks. That is not fun," so we don't do that. So I get it, you want to be solving challenging problems, novel problems. When you get to the point where it's super duper labor intensive, you aren't really needed. Someone else can do all of that, once it becomes repetitive or whatever. I completely understand.
Rob Collie (00:13:48): Insurance, that's your background. Can we dig into that a little bit? You weren't Broadtree Solutions from the beginning.
Mary Fealty (00:13:54): No, no no no no. Gosh.
Rob Collie (00:13:56): You did not emerge on the scene, with the logo and everything. Where were you before? How did you first come into contact with this stuff?
Mary Fealty (00:14:05): Right, so we've got to go back. I worked in insurance, and have done, since probably about 19, is when I first got involved in the industry.
Rob Collie (00:14:14): When you were 19 years old?
Mary Fealty (00:14:15): Yeah, yeah. Then in the late '90s, I started working for this very large firm as their sales manager. I had a team of people who worked for me. This is really going back to the nitty gritty stuff-
Rob Collie (00:14:30): I like it. That's what we do.
Mary Fealty (00:14:30): But anyway, this is, is that okay-
Rob Collie (00:14:32): The origin story. We want to go back to-
Mary Fealty (00:14:33): Yeah, yeah. This is the origin-
Rob Collie (00:14:35): ... the primordial ooze, as the Earth cooled.
Mary Fealty (00:14:38): This is it, yeah. I had a team of staff who were earning a bonus. The method for calculating the bonus was really labor intensive. This is not a new story. This is an everybody story, I suppose. But that was irritating. My brother was about, and I happened to say to him, "This is a really intensive way of having to do stuff.". He says, "Oh, have you used Excel?" I was going, "I don't know what that is." He starts up his computer. He had one, I didn't. He showed me Excel, and I went, "Oh, right. Okay."
Mary Fealty (00:15:10): He started talking to me about how you could use this to simplify things. I went, "Right, right. This is fascinating." I just was like, "Wow," and went back to the office. Obviously he wasn't there. Managed to speak to my boss, and say, "You've got to get me this program called Excel. You've got to get me it. It's critical. It's absolutely critical." He says, "You can have this, Lotus 123." I went, "No, no. I don't want that. I want Excel."
Rob Collie (00:15:37): "No, not that one."
Mary Fealty (00:15:37): Yeah, yeah. "I've seen it. I know what it can do." He agreed. He thought, "I'll shut her up," and managed to get me the software. That's insane, software, Excel. But yeah. I remember then, trying to figure out what it was that my brother showed me how to do.
Rob Collie (00:15:55): Is this the same brother that's the political pundit?
Mary Fealty (00:15:57): No, no. This is a different brother. This is-
Rob Collie (00:15:58): Okay, I was going to say, I can't imagine them being the same.
Mary Fealty (00:16:01): Oh gosh, no. They are not the same. They are not the same, no. This is the project manager guy who's, yeah, yeah. He fits the Excel knowledge. So I'm going, "How did he do all of that?" But you know what it's like.
Rob Collie (00:16:12): I do.
Mary Fealty (00:16:13): You start figuring it all out, and you go, "Oh, right, right, right." Really did involve VLOOKUPS from day one, which was done very pearly, but nonetheless, made it work. That was the beginning of it. I think that just blew my mind. I was able to enter just a bonus structure. That was part of it, because I wanted to change the bonus structure that existed, but I couldn't figure out how to sell this concept to my bosses, and managed to figure out, using Excel, how I was able to demonstrate, this was definitely worth a punt, of changing the bonus structure. Could be more costly, but could be way more beneficial, etc. The performance of the team changed dramatically.
Rob Collie (00:16:52): Wow, this sounds really familiar.
Mary Fealty (00:16:54): It was real. It was absolutely real. It was partly driven by the fact that there was greater motivation. But the ability to manage that, and measure it, and be able to provide people with daily updates on where they were. All of that stuff just made such an impact. But that was me hooked. Absolutely hooked on the power of data.
Rob Collie (00:17:16): What a cool story. What a really, really, really cool story. Did you simulate the impact of the change? You'd run some scenarios, some examples?
Mary Fealty (00:17:26): Yes, there was an element of that. There was a lot of the what ifs. "What if we do it this way?", and, "This is what it will cost," but this is the value. But probably in, I can't pretend that it would have been highly sophisticated.
Rob Collie (00:17:39): It doesn't have to be. It's not Monte Carlo.
Mary Fealty (00:17:42): Yeah, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:17:43): It's not like we're introducing random variables to measure fluctuation in Six Sigma. Upper bound, lower bound. We call this war gaming at P3, behind the scenes in the back office. When we want to make a change like that. We build one of those simple, but still very, very effective spreadsheet models, and plug a bunch of different scenarios into it. Scenario is just a fancy way of saying changing a few cells, and writing down what comes out. Yeah, no Monte Carlo for us either.
Rob Collie (00:18:14): We certainly don't run simulations that predict, "What's the possibility of a pandemic?" We're not Wall Street. In fact, even Wall Street isn't good at that. They claim to be, but they're not.
Mary Fealty (00:18:25): Yeah, no.
Rob Collie (00:18:25): Who could have predicted this?
Mary Fealty (00:18:27): No one.
Rob Collie (00:18:27): What a cool story. This is just another reference, I can't resist. Have you seen the movie Needful Things?
Mary Fealty (00:18:33): No.
Rob Collie (00:18:34): The devil comes to this New England town, and starts this progressive acceleration of getting people to fight with one another. The movie builds to a climax, and everyone's at each other's throats. The devil confides in the sheriff. He says something like, "But in the end, I always give them weapons." In the end, we always give you Excel. They always give you Excel, and that's when it gets real, doesn't it?
Mary Fealty (00:18:59): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:19:00): I could see that gleam in your eye. Very specific. I could almost see you going through this process.
Mary Fealty (00:19:05): Oh, I mean Excel, right? That was using it that way. Then my next Excel moment, it was a chap who would have come into the office to see us for whatever reasons. Anyway, we were sitting together, and he was a real Excel man. He showed me pivot tables. I just sat there going, "What is this magic you are doing in front of me?" That was fine.
Mary Fealty (00:19:27): He left, and then I was going, "Right, what did he do, and how did he do it?" I think I must have spent about a week, trying to figure out how the hell he did what he did. This was back in the day, where you just couldn't Google things. You had to try and figure it out. Trying to do it from memory, going, "He definitely did this." But I did figure it out.
Mary Fealty (00:19:48): That was another moment of just sheer, that was the first one, was just being able to use it, and use it effectively, and have it actually do something for me. Then the second one was just pivot tables in general. Just going, "These things are just absolutely mindbogglingly, crazily valuable. How can the world not know all about pivot tables?"
Rob Collie (00:20:06): So VLOOKUP first, and then pivot tables?
Mary Fealty (00:20:08): Yeah, I never was the biggest fan of VLOOKUP. Don't know why.
Rob Collie (00:20:14): Well, the only people who are fans of VLOOKUP are the people who are on their first day of using it. It's just so much better than manually copying and pasting data-
Mary Fealty (00:20:25): Yeah, yeah. Yeah, the alternative. The alternative to VLOOKUP, absolutely. Absolutely.
Thomas LaRock (00:20:28): Yeah, the alternative, use a database. But that's okay.
Rob Collie (00:20:31): Stop it. Just stop it. Let's stay realistic here.
Mary Fealty (00:20:35): Yeah, that came later. That came later.
Rob Collie (00:20:37): Yeah, of course. Of course. You know, it's a gateway drug.
Mary Fealty (00:20:40): Yeah, yeah yeah yeah.
Rob Collie (00:20:41): I might want to revise my Max von Sydow as the devil statement. "But in the end, I always give them pivot tables." Maybe that's the real quote. Yeah, so you were learning pivot tables, without the benefit of Google.
Mary Fealty (00:20:56): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:20:57): As a little bit of a self plug, you were also learning the old, old, old pivot table interface. Which was about as computer science intimidating as they could possibly have made it.
Mary Fealty (00:21:07): That might explain why, yeah. Because it was not easy to learn. You think back and go, "Why?" But it wasn't.
Rob Collie (00:21:13): All those objects that landed in the grid. It was this weird perversion of the grid. It was just so unnatural. It took me a long time, even working on the Excel team, to find my first real world application of pivot tables, and then figure it out. It was hard. Even working on the team, it was embarrassing. You couldn't go around and ask people, "What are pivot tables for?" You had to just bluff that you knew.
Mary Fealty (00:21:41): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:21:41): Your first killer app was the bonus or commission structure?
Mary Fealty (00:21:45): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:21:46): When it comes to knowing the insurance agency, is it primarily through that lens? Policies, and premiums, and all that kind of stuff?
Mary Fealty (00:21:57): Very, very much of that nature, yeah. It's all about just, what numbers are we counting? I became quite obsessed. Not just about the numbers, but collating the data itself, and storing the data. Recognizing that it had value, even though I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Because you had to get it out of a system. It wasn't immediately available. You had to make a choice to go and get it. It was there. There was no database to go and query. You had to actually find a way to get it out of the system, and then start utilizing the data within.
Mary Fealty (00:22:25): I was doing that, and then storing it externally. Well, Excel at first, and then. Because it was back in the 65,000 rows day, so I had to find an alternative. Then that was Access.
Rob Collie (00:22:38): That used to be one of the five reasons why Access was valuable, was to work around the 65K row limit in Excel, for pivot tables. Because a pivot table cache could hold more than 65,000 records, but the sheet couldn't. Okay, where are you going to get the data from, if the sheet can't hold it, right?
Mary Fealty (00:22:58): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:22:58): The million row expansion was one of many nails in the Access coffin. It was pretty funny. Then M, and power query, that Tom is very diligently learning. I'm just kidding. I still owe you my greatest hits training session there.
Thomas LaRock (00:23:17): Yeah, I have to get to it.
Rob Collie (00:23:18): Yeah, me too. Me too. It's not like I've ponied up to really push you. I just shame you on social media every now and then, and hope that that little low effort is sufficient.
Rob Collie (00:23:28): Mary, going back to your first brush with Excel, and the commissions, and the bonuses, and all of that. One of the key elements of that success was that you did manage to get buy-in from your manager, right?
Mary Fealty (00:23:41): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:23:41): Someone up the org chart had to buy into what you were doing. That's both buying into the idea itself, just in general. Buying into implementing the changes. But also, somewhere along the way, buying into your spreadsheet. We would like to take these things for granted, that people just see the inherent value in these things. However, that seems to be not the majority case.
Rob Collie (00:24:10): Have you always been similarly successful in getting that kind of buy-in? Have you lived that charmed life? Or maybe you're just super, super skilled, and just a savvy political navigator, and we all need to take your class.
Mary Fealty (00:24:31): Right. I think I have been reasonably successful getting buy-in. Not always, but often, because I've already thought about it. I'm not asking for something just for the sake of it. I've thought about it, and I truly believe that it's something, whatever that is. I'm able to put forward a persuasive enough argument.
Mary Fealty (00:24:48): Maybe there are other things going my way as well, or have been other things going my way. But I think usually, I haven't had too many battles I can think of.
Rob Collie (00:24:57): That's nice. Of the millions of people listening to this podcast, just kidding, of the millions of Excel people listening to this podcast, they're all crying out, "Why? Why can't that be me?" To what extent do you think building reputation of success has helped you in that regard? You pull off that first major change, with the commission structure. That probably earned you a lot of credibility within that circle, right?
Mary Fealty (00:25:25): Sure, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:25:26): Your second, third, and fourth act, all of those are likely to have people think, "Well, we pushed that button last time, and it worked really well. Let's push it again," you know?
Mary Fealty (00:25:34): Yeah, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:25:34): How often have you found yourself, and I'm asking, before you switched to being an independent consultant. Still back in the previous era. How often did you find yourself in a completely new room, where no one knew you?
Mary Fealty (00:25:48): Well, actually not that often. I can't say that I was that person. I worked in that company that I joined, I stayed with them for 18 years. I was not the new person in the room very often. It was a superb company. I'm somebody who has to learn. I have to be always moving forward. There has to be some sort of puzzle. Not necessarily hugely complex stuff, that's just not who I am. But something interesting, something engaging, and that company provided that to me in spades.
Mary Fealty (00:26:21): I got to work on all this insurance going online. Selling online. I got to be part of a brokerage in Northern Ireland, being the first people of that scale to go into that environment. We had to figure out how that was going to work. We had to work with developers to figure out how it was going to work. It wasn't that it was done before, because it wasn't. It was pretty new. I was very much a part of that, so yes. They're just examples of what happened during that timeframe. It was exciting, and I got to work on some seriously fun, I found them fun, projects.
Rob Collie (00:27:00): Yeah, I would too.
Mary Fealty (00:27:01): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:27:02): After 18 years of being there, I've got to ask, not at the very end, but as you approached your 18th year there. As you're walking down the halls, I can just imagine this aura of ones and zeroes. People are getting out of your way in the hallway like, "Okay, here comes the data ..." Did people develop any nicknames for you?
Mary Fealty (00:27:27): Did I have any-
Rob Collie (00:27:28): Like Data God, or Spreadsheet Master?
Mary Fealty (00:27:31): I don't recall a particular nickname. I can't think of one. I mean, I was certainly known for my Excel knowledge. That was a given. Anybody who wanted to know anything, if they asked me, they could be, an hour later, they might be able to leave my sphere, and I would stop talking about it.
Mary Fealty (00:27:48): But the other thing that happened to me there, in that company, which was just, wow. I really did have such an enjoyable time. There was me, working away, doing my thing. New management came in, and decided to bring in other people, into the MI team, which was now me running the MI for the company. They brought in one chap who was my first experience of working with a highly, highly educated chap. It was a physics PhD guy who joined.
Rob Collie (00:28:19): That'll do it.
Mary Fealty (00:28:19): It was. It was just, "Wow, this is exciting." This was really, really new, new, new. Just to work alongside somebody who had that brain par. I had to show him how to write SQL. Now, writing SQL literally probably took me about two years, before I could have thought, "Right, I'm pretty comfortable with what I'm doing." It was books upon books upon books of reading, and reading, and going, "I'm never going to get this. I'm never going to get this." It really was, I found it really hard. I think within six weeks, that guy was ahead of me. I was like, "What?"
Rob Collie (00:29:05): SQL speaks to certain types, doesn't it?
Mary Fealty (00:29:07): Yes, and I would say, "How are you able to do that? How can you do that?" But at the same time, it was fascinating. It was really, really fascinating to be working alongside somebody who was just so clever. It was a beautiful person as well. A really, really nice guy. By the time I left, he was one of three PhDs. It was like, "Right, I think my time here is done." I had no more, "What can I do in comparison, in terms of produce?" That was my time to walk away, and that's what I did.
Rob Collie (00:29:45): Where does your path cross with Power Pivot?
Mary Fealty (00:29:47): Oh, so right. As soon as I got out on my own, I got myself my own Excel, and it had the Power Pivot version. Or was it that I had to go to 2010? That was probably it-
Rob Collie (00:29:59): You had to go to 2010, yeah. That sounds right.
Mary Fealty (00:30:00): That was probably it. As soon as I left, that was it. I knew about Power Pivot. I wanted Power Pivot into the organization at the time. Going, "We need to get this thing." "What is it?" "I don't know, but I know it's really good." I spoke to some people going, "Are you using Power Pivot?" They went, "Yeah." I was going, "Is it as good as they say?" They went, "Yeah, yeah." I went, "Right, right. What the hell is it?"
Mary Fealty (00:30:24): It's funny, I can't really remember the specific details. But that was my beginning of starting to get engaged with Power Pivot. Because one of the things I did do, I was trying to look back and figure out when I did certain things. I think the first thing I developed professionally, in Power Pivot was, 2012 would have been the first delivery of a Power Pivot solution.
Rob Collie (00:30:50): Awesome.
Mary Fealty (00:30:51): That was having to, before that, I'm not the quickest learner.
Rob Collie (00:30:56): Neither am I.
Mary Fealty (00:30:56): I'm so not. I really do have to just keep pushing, and keep pushing, and go, "I know the penny will drop. I know it will drop," and it doesn't drop fast. But once it drops, it sticks. It was your book, without question, was my absolute. That was my bible. I read it over and over again. I read the same things, certain paragraphs. Not that there were too many paragraphs, thank-you. Over and over again. Just going, "Right, you're going to get it. You're going to get it," and I did. I did. I can actually do this commercially. I can make this work.
Rob Collie (00:31:30): Yeah. 2012 is when the first edition was published.
Mary Fealty (00:31:34): There you go. I did do a check, and I'm pretty sure it was ... Do you know what? I'm going off to check that again.
Rob Collie (00:31:39): We like precision.
Mary Fealty (00:31:40): I actually did, yeah. That's the thing. It's-
Rob Collie (00:31:43): Let's not mess around. Let's know the date.
Mary Fealty (00:31:45): I knew 2012 felt a bit too early. Sorry, I've got to now look. Not nearly quite as good as I did two seconds ago.
Rob Collie (00:31:53): Oh really? What-
Mary Fealty (00:31:53): It was 2014.
Rob Collie (00:31:54): Oh.
Mary Fealty (00:31:54): 2014, so apologies.
Rob Collie (00:31:54): Oh god.
Thomas LaRock (00:31:57): Oh.
Rob Collie (00:31:57): That still only puts you in the-
Thomas LaRock (00:31:58): That's past the curve.
Rob Collie (00:31:59): The first 0.01% of early adopters.
Thomas LaRock (00:32:03): That's, yeah. That's not early adopters-
Rob Collie (00:32:06): I mean, we-
Thomas LaRock (00:32:06): She was way behind the curve.
Rob Collie (00:32:08): Oh yeah, she lost a couple of zeros on her percentage-
Mary Fealty (00:32:11): January.
Rob Collie (00:32:11): Yeah.
Mary Fealty (00:32:12): It was January.
Rob Collie (00:32:13): Oh, January. Oh, well-
Mary Fealty (00:32:15): January, that's important. That's important.
Rob Collie (00:32:19): That is important, yeah. Yeah. I think that still absolutely qualifies you for OG status.
Thomas LaRock (00:32:21): Oh, absolutely.
Rob Collie (00:32:23): Yeah, I mean that's, the words Power BI hadn't even happened yet, I don't think.
Mary Fealty (00:32:29): No, gosh. No no no no no.
Thomas LaRock (00:32:31): No.
Mary Fealty (00:32:31): There was no Designer. There was no Power View at that stage, I don't believe.
Thomas LaRock (00:32:35): At that time, Power BI was called Tableau, I believe.
Rob Collie (00:32:38): Oh, no.
Mary Fealty (00:32:40): Oh, I had already tried Tableau, way back before that. I liked it. I liked Tableau-
Rob Collie (00:32:45): Yeah, Tableau was like the beta release of Power BI. It wasn't fully functional yet. They were just missing some features. Okay, so you went solo before Power Pivot. A lot of people go solo, for example, Imke, who we talked to-
Mary Fealty (00:33:07): Yeah yeah yeah. Absolutely.
Rob Collie (00:33:09): Power Pivot and Power BI, that was her jumping off point. But you stepped out of the corporate world to go solo, armed only with traditional Excel. That's next level brave. How did you decide to do that? You mentioned that you were working with PhDs. It sounds like you had a little bit of imposter syndrome, or maybe you were just bored.
Mary Fealty (00:33:32): Well yeah, right. There was a number of things. But 18 years with one place is a long time. I really had had this fantastic, really professionally, just a fantastic time. Working on so many different projects, and so many different things. Really, really, I suppose making a difference. That was a huge part of the buzz that I got from the actual work.
Mary Fealty (00:33:56): Let's be realistic. When you've got three people now working alongside you, and you're their manager, and what they can produce is just, to you especially, when it's what you love, yet these guys, their game is just so high. Imposter syndrome became massive. It was like, "What value can I bring to the role?" I didn't feel like I could
Mary Fealty (00:34:19): Then I thought, "Right, okay. If that's my reality," I needed to change my thought process, from this being a negative, to, "What could I do?" It was going, "Right, I think I'm going to have to leave." That was okay, because it was going, "Right, I have to leave. If I have to leave, how am I best to think about this in a positive fashion?"
Mary Fealty (00:34:37): I had this little saying going on in my head, of just going, "If you always do what you've always done, you always get what you've always got." I was going, "Right." This was my little mantra to myself.
Rob Collie (00:34:49): Did you write that for yourself? Or did you pick that up from somewhere?
Mary Fealty (00:34:52): Of course I picked it up.
Rob Collie (00:34:53): Come on, it's-
Mary Fealty (00:34:53): Somebody said it, and I've just gone, "I love that."
Rob Collie (00:34:56): Okay, but it sounds like the sort of thing that you could have come up with for yourself though.
Mary Fealty (00:35:02): But it was. It was literally that. Of going, "Right, I've been here. I've done it. Now why not just step away, and just walk away, and see what happens? Because it can't be the same. At least life will be different."
Rob Collie (00:35:13): We make GIFs for every guest.
Mary Fealty (00:35:15): Okay.
Rob Collie (00:35:16): How would you feel about your GIF featuring those words? That mantra?
Mary Fealty (00:35:21): If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got?
Rob Collie (00:35:24): Yeah.
Mary Fealty (00:35:24): If you can get all those words in.
Rob Collie (00:35:28): Oh, we can. We will take our graphic design team, and we will, we have one person. They won't quit until the job is done. Unless it's after working hours. Then of course they will stop.
Mary Fealty (00:35:44): But yeah, that was the mantra that I just held onto. I went, "Right, okay. I'm going to do this then. I'm going to do that," and I hadn't a plan. I juts thought, "Well, it will be different."
Rob Collie (00:35:53): Okay, so you'd heard of Power Pivot. In those early days, you were like Ken Puls, with this really strong intuition that it was going to be amazing. But not really knowing what for.
Mary Fealty (00:36:05): I hadn't a clue, yeah. I just knew that there was something really important about Power Pivot.
Rob Collie (00:36:12): So in that first thing you delivered, in 2014, do you remember what it was?
Mary Fealty (00:36:17): Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a suite of reports. It was a little bit dashboard-y, ish, in Excel. A huge amount of pivot tables, obviously. Because it was all driven through Power Pivot. Just a series of different reports, that allowed my customer at the time, well, the same customer, I still have him. Just his ability to look at his data in a summarized fashion, that he wouldn't have had any opportunity to do before.
Rob Collie (00:36:43): Do you remember what about that solution was possible with Power Pivot, that wasn't with just regular Excel?
Mary Fealty (00:36:51): Oh, everything. It was the DAX. It was the DAX that totally and utterly changed everything. Just to be able to go in, I was really good with pivot tables, I believe. I was really comfortable doing the different calculations, etc, to make it work. But compared to in your book, about the fact that you write a measure once, and that's it.
Rob Collie (00:37:14): That portability.
Mary Fealty (00:37:16): That portability. Just going, "I've got that now. That's nailed. I never need to ever think about that again. That's formatted. I don't need to ever have to format that again." Being able to write specifics. The amount of measures this bloke ended up with was ridiculous. He no more needed them, but I couldn't stop. It was like, "Oh, I've got an excuse to write a new measure, that's going to measure something else independently." It was the DAX that was the thing. I just loved it.
Mary Fealty (00:37:40): I just remember working inside, in Power Pivot, and watching the calculation just return back what I wanted it to return back. Then being able to filter it, and watch it change based on what was filtered. Going, "Oh, I'm really enjoying this," so yeah.
Rob Collie (00:37:56): I can feel it. I can feel it, just in your voice.
Thomas LaRock (00:37:58): Rob, a question for you. Because in my thought, listening to all this, I'm thinking, pivot table is the original low code functionality. There could have been something low code before that. But I'm not that old, I guess. In my mind though, it's the idea that, "I can just click a check box, and change how the data's being represented. I don't have to know or write code. I just have to understand, when I check this box, what then gets represented." That's so much easier for almost every human on the planet, than to sit there and think, "I have to write some piece of code."
Thomas LaRock (00:38:37): Even for the folks that deal just in Python, all that stuff you want to do, it's another line of code. It's something else, or it's a summation of all these different functions that you put together, so it's just a one line thing. But it's still code you have to do, and have experience with. But with Excel and Power Pivot, it's just so easy.
Rob Collie (00:38:55): Yeah. The whole Excel experience, and the Power BI experience, sits right on that border between no code, low code, and, "Okay, now we're doing real code." It's right there at that crossroads. Even the traditional pivot tables, they're like the end of a whole powertrain, to use an automobile metaphor. VLOOKUP is the transmission, and formulas are, let's call them low code, or well disguised code. Or, I don't know, whatever you want to ... But like you were talking about, with Python. Even if you want to change a filter, you've got to go change your code, right?
Thomas LaRock (00:39:29): You've got to go change your code.
Rob Collie (00:39:30): You've got to go change your code. Oh, you want to change your group by? What entities are you summarizing? Oh man, you've really got to go change your code. Nope, not in ... This is where, Jeffery Wang on a podcast, I was listening to him. He made this really strong distinction, between Power BI, and all the other BI tools. Which is, Power BI is a model-centric tool. Whereas all the other tools are report-centric.
Rob Collie (00:39:53): The amount of code or whatever, the amount of work you have to put in to build a BI solution in these other tools, is linearly proportional to the number of reports you've got. Each report requires a significant amount of labor, because you've got to go build a very particular view for that very, blah blah blah. Whereas once you have the model, the reports are, you're going to spend more time formatting the reports than laying them out.
Rob Collie (00:40:19): You've got time, because the bones of the report are done at the flick of a wrist. Now you have the time to get in there, and really obsess about, "Oh, look at the thing I can do with the bookmarks." That kind of stuff. It's a big difference, isn't it? I loved your answer. What was possible with Power Pivot in that first solution, versus regular Excel. You're just like, "Everything."
Mary Fealty (00:40:39): I suppose it was also something new. It was like, "Oh, this is exciting. I like it. It's worth it," and I know it is. It is what I wanted it to be. I remember, say under these people, going, "Have you got Power Pivot?", and he says, "Yeah, yeah." Then going, "It really is this good." I understood their answer then, even though I didn't know what it was. It was like, "Yeah, it really is that good."
Rob Collie (00:41:02): It turned out to be as advertised.
Mary Fealty (00:41:04): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:41:05): Fast forwarding a little bit, I'm assuming that, maybe this assumption is invalid, that you've basically switched to Power BI, from Power Pivot?
Mary Fealty (00:41:12): Oh, yeah yeah yeah.
Rob Collie (00:41:13): How did your customers, how did your clients react to that switch?
Mary Fealty (00:41:17): It was much easier to get new customers. Much easier.
Rob Collie (00:41:19): Okay. I'm going to just naively ask you, why? Why was it easier to get new customers?
Mary Fealty (00:41:25): Why? Because it wasn't Excel.
Rob Collie (00:41:27): Yes.
Mary Fealty (00:41:31): Excel, as complex as ... Not really complex. Not in an M-code kind of complex. The complexities within it, all the various tools that you were using, the end result is still in Excel. From a consumer's perspective, it devalued it.
Rob Collie (00:41:48): Yeah, completely.
Mary Fealty (00:41:48): Because it was Excel.
Rob Collie (00:41:51): So much of our work, my first job outside of Microsoft, which was really just my first client, is the way I've come to think of them. Where I was nominally CTO. So much of what we did was hide that it was Excel.
Mary Fealty (00:42:04): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:42:04): We went so far as to have a custom written version of the page, that suppressed we used Excel services, because we delivered over the web to subscribers. We were very sophisticated. But then we went through, and turned off all of the SharePoint chrome, in SharePoint, because we had to use SharePoint. We turned off everything that made it look like SharePoint, which means all of these extra noisy buttons and menus, and blah blah blah.
Rob Collie (00:42:28): Even then, the web part for Excel services brought so much Excel baggage with it. So many commands, and the menu, and all these things. So we had to turn that off. But then, we needed some of those buttons. The reload button, which was really the, "Reset filters." We needed that button back. You could only get rid of the whole toolbar. We had to sniff the wire, and find out what commands were being sent by the client, back to the server, to get the reset, and introduce our own button.
Rob Collie (00:43:01): Then of course, so many of the blog posts on my website back in that time, were about all these tricks you could do to make Excel itself not look like Excel. The obvious ones were always, turn off the headers, and turn off the grid lines.
Mary Fealty (00:43:12): Yeah yeah yeah, did all of that.
Rob Collie (00:43:14): You're not even in the game if you don't do that. When you spend so much of your time thinking about just hiding that it was Excel, which was not an option to you by the way, back then. Because running your own SharePoint server back then was something that you would wish on your enemies. It was hard to run those servers. That was a big part of our operation. You were having to send them files. You were having to send them spreadsheet files, right? That was your only way to give it to them. Yeah, totally devalued, right?
Mary Fealty (00:43:42): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:43:42): "Why would we pay so much for Excel?" You just could never get around that.
Mary Fealty (00:43:45): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:43:46): Do your customers use an instance of Power BI, that you administer? Or are they using their own tenants?
Mary Fealty (00:43:54): No, I'm now at the position where I host my own embedded service, that they access it through my embedded area. Whether they have Power ... Which they don't. Very few of them would do. They just simply log onto mine. It's so much nicer. You think about what Power BI was like at the very beginning, and think of what it's like now. It's unbelievable, the change. You think, "Thank goodness for me." Anyway, "Thank goodness I don't have to learn it now." I learned it in that drip feed, where it just was simple changes, you don't really notice are happening. You can absorb them.
Mary Fealty (00:44:34): It's almost now, if you go to the Power BI service, it's almost too noisy, I find, for my customers. Because they just need it to access a report, and therefore have invested into the embedded platform. It's worked out so nicely. It's just a nice, clean, simple way for them to get to their reports.
Rob Collie (00:44:53): Okay, so let me get really clear here. We've used the word embedded a couple of times.
Mary Fealty (00:44:57): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:44:58): I'm wondering if we're using the lower case E embedded, or capital E Embedded?
Thomas LaRock (00:45:03): What's the difference? What do you mean?
Rob Collie (00:45:05): All right, so when your customers log in, do they see the Power BI portal? No? Okay. Your website has done some custom work. You've done some custom work on your website, so that you suppress all of this noise, and all they see are their reports. You're actually using the Power BI embedded capability. The real embedding capability.
Mary Fealty (00:45:29): Correct, yeah. There's the premium, which I'm not using, obviously. I'm not-
Rob Collie (00:45:34): Once you have a certain number of clients, it would actually be pretty economical-
Mary Fealty (00:45:37): Perhaps. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But again, I don't need the complexity. I really don't. So I use, there's the Azure embedded, and I use it.
Rob Collie (00:45:47): Awesome. Now did you do all of that embedding work on your website yourself?
Mary Fealty (00:45:50): Right. My advice to anybody who might think about using this methodology, do not attempt to do it yourself, okay? If you would like to waste 18 months of your life, constantly trying to figure out how this works, and constantly failing, and constantly never really making it past step one, go for it.
Thomas LaRock (00:46:12): Sign me up.
Mary Fealty (00:46:14): Otherwise, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:46:14): Yeah, "Sounds great."
Mary Fealty (00:46:16): My advice to anybody who wants to go down this route is, get somebody, a developer to do it for you. Have them return back to you, a fully functioning, unbelievably gorgeous product, in less than a week. Compared to the 18 months you have wasted, trying to figure it out. Because you're thinking, "I'll learn how to do this. I learn how to do things. I can do this." No.
Thomas LaRock (00:46:41): If I understand it, what you're saying is, if somebody wants to do this, they should seek professional help?
Mary Fealty (00:46:46): Very much so. Get a developer.
Thomas LaRock (00:46:50): Seek professional help, yeah.
Mary Fealty (00:46:52): If they do it my way, you should probably seek professional help. Because they know what they're doing. It's all web, and they're phenomenal, so yeah.
Rob Collie (00:47:00): Yeah, I was getting pretty excited though. We were talking about wasting 18 months of my life. I was really thinking, "Maybe, I bet I could stretch that to 24 months, easy."
Thomas LaRock (00:47:06): You know, it's not often we get a chance to waste 18 months of our lifetime, just doing nothing, sitting around. Those opportunities don't just come up.
Rob Collie (00:47:17): We've also built ourselves a couple of Power BI embedded portals. We have one for our experimental product, Cover Hawk. Which is currently only being used by American high school football coaches, to visualize football data. That is a 100% Power BI embedded service. Again, guess what? The people who built that at our company are web developers, who know what they're doing.
Rob Collie (00:47:43): We run into a big, you probably even ran into this same situation, where there's this timeout. Where suddenly, an hour later, or 30 minutes later, all of your visuals turn into Xs. You're like, "Oh, well that's no good. Oh, we've got to renew that token? Okay." Right?
Thomas LaRock (00:47:59): Oh, wow.
Rob Collie (00:48:01): It's like, "Until you reach the point where your visuals are all turning into Xs, you haven't even gotten real yet."
Mary Fealty (00:48:07): Right, right.
Thomas LaRock (00:48:08): Wow.
Rob Collie (00:48:10): It's the classic Microsoft, "We give you the parts to the Porsche," you know? "Now go assemble your Porsche. It's a kit." It's pretty complicated, I agree. But for people who know what they're doing, it's just a day's work.
Mary Fealty (00:48:23): It's nice to just go right, "I never have to think about that again," or never have to try. But yeah, to me that works out so, so nicely. So nicely. It's a much nicer experience, and it's my brand as well.
Rob Collie (00:48:36): Yeah, I agree. I'm actually, I want to say this the right way, that doesn't sound like backhanded praise. I am really, really, really impressed, that you identified that possibility, and followed up on it, and got it done. That's a high bar. I'm impressed. I respect that immensely. Because the quality of the experience, the quality of the user experience, is everything. Data people very often forget this. You did not, and you went to pretty great lengths.
Rob Collie (00:49:08): I think a lot of people, even if they realized that this was possible, and the experience would be so much better, all you have to do is just start reading a little bit about it, and become super intimidated. I know that you hired it out, but at the same time, that intimidation can absolutely, I think, scare you off of even attempting it. Whether you're going to do it yourself, or otherwise. You had to persevere in that headwind.
Mary Fealty (00:49:34): It just, it made sense. It just made sense to me. I wanted to try it, to be honest. I never know for sure how anything's going to pan out. But I just knew I wanted it. Because here's the thing about Azure, which I love. That you can experiment like hell. If it doesn't work, you can just go, "Okay. Kill it. Okay, I might have invested a lot of time, but it was my spare time. I could do that."
Rob Collie (00:49:55): Yeah, why not?
Mary Fealty (00:49:57): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:49:57): I see that in you so clearly, and I love that. We're not going to succeed in life by avoiding failure. That's not the move. That's not the operating system that gets us where we need to go. You've got to lean into the good possibilities. What are the best possible outcomes? Yeah, and there's failure along the way, getting to those things. Sometimes you never get there, sadly, right? But then, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and you go for that other outcome. I get multiple tries at this, you know?
Mary Fealty (00:50:30): Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:50:31): I can see that you're wired similarly to me in that regard. Like, "Yeah, why not?"
Mary Fealty (00:50:36): And it worked out so well. So much better than I even hoped for.
Rob Collie (00:50:40): Where did you learn that spirit? Do you know where that came from? Just to give you an idea, we just had a podcast with my grandfather, of all people. I'm pretty sure that I got my spirit of, "Why not?", from my grandfathers. Both of them. Maybe a little bit from my mom. Definitely not from my dad. My dad's an avoid failure operating system guy.
Mary Fealty (00:51:02): Right, okay. Okay.
Rob Collie (00:51:06): Just an alternating generation thing. Me and his dad are on the same page, and there's this guy in the middle that's like, "Nah."
Mary Fealty (00:51:15): Okay, so if I was to say, "Where did I get it from?", I would say, I would be quite certain that it would be from my mom. I never knew my grandparents. All four of them were no longer around when I came along. But my mom was a really awesome woman. In my mind anyway. Obviously everybody's mom is, or parents are. But I just thought my mom was especially awesome.
Mary Fealty (00:51:37): She was just an amazing role model. She didn't get married until she was 39. Her and my dad, they both were very late people getting married. Kids came along in their 40s, and three of them came along. There was a big age gap, which was different, but she came from a different time. She lived through the war, as an adult. They both did, but she was a nurse. She experienced the whole ...
Mary Fealty (00:52:04): When I even think about what she went through during the war, it was phenomenal. I'm sure my dad did as well, but we didn't talk about it. But she went through all these amazing experiences. Horrendous experiences, awful ones. That was just typical of her life. Her life was very rich. Not with money, but just a very rich life. I think she just was a very determined individual, and very foreword looking. Very positive. I think that a lot of her strengths, I got some of them.
Rob Collie (00:52:35): There's an interesting parallel here, I think. Which is, because your parents were so late in life having children, and my grandparents were early in life having children. Then my parents were super early in life having children. What we're finding here, is that your parents and my grandparents were basically the same generation.
Mary Fealty (00:52:53): Yeah, got it.
Rob Collie (00:52:55): There's something about the generation in between. The Boomers I guess, right? That by comparison are so safety seeking. The sense of possibility that my grandfathers brought to the table, there's extra dimensions. They're just like, "Look, the world is wide open. Everything is made out of plastic. You can bend it, twist it. It's all going to bend to your will if you try." I don't see as much of that in their kids. I was just lucky, right? I just got a lot of exposure to these people, you know?
Mary Fealty (00:53:27): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Interesting.
Rob Collie (00:53:30): It's pretty formative. It might be ultimately similar forces.
Mary Fealty (00:53:34): Perhaps, yeah. Because I do think it was a lot to do with just how the world was, and how they had to make it work. It was really tough experiences way back, and that had to be overcome. All of that, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," is a truism if ever there was one.
Rob Collie (00:53:52): There's a non-fiction book, which I haven't read, because that's what I do. I don't read non-fiction.
Mary Fealty (00:53:55): Do you buy them?
Rob Collie (00:53:56): I buy them sometimes. But it turns out, just putting them on the shelf, they don't just leak into you. It's weird.
Thomas LaRock (00:54:01): I have so many on my Kindle, all these unread books. I buy books constantly, and they just ...
Mary Fealty (00:54:07): Oh, it's wicked.
Rob Collie (00:54:08): Yeah, your Kindle is now physically heavier, with all the information in it. You're just completely unimproved by it. It's so weird, isn't it? I love buying books for other people. It's like, "Oh, great. Now they can go do the work."
Thomas LaRock (00:54:21): "Report back to me."
Rob Collie (00:54:23): There's a book called The Fourth Turning, and it lays out this theory of generational cycles. There's a joke that goes with this. It isn't part of the book, but it might as well summarize the whole thing. Which is, "What makes strong people? Hard times make strong people. Strong people make good times. Good times make not strong people. Not strong people make hard times." That's essentially the cycle that they lay out in this book.
Rob Collie (00:54:56): Now of course, it's become this doom and gloom, apocalyptic thing. There's some very unpopular personalities in American political culture, who have really seized on this. But it's hard to argue with it. We're coming to that crescendo again, and it's basically every fourth generation. But in your case we skipped one, right?
Mary Fealty (00:55:18): We definitely did. We definitely did, yeah. No, my mom was born in 1920.
Thomas LaRock (00:55:24): Wow.
Rob Collie (00:55:24): So in your family, we'd call it the third turning. We wouldn't call it the fourth. There's one less turning.
Mary Fealty (00:55:31): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:55:31): I've never really asked anyone else on this show that particular question, because there's something about the way you look at things, that just really jumped out at me. Again, that, "Why not?", thing, right? I'm like, "Oh, here we go. Kindred spirit. Where does this come from?" Turns out, same sort of place it came from for me.
Mary Fealty (00:55:52): Do you find, do you have plans? Have you got a plan ahead, of whenever you're going by, doing something? Mine's plan-less. It's just go. It's just go.
Rob Collie (00:55:59): Yeah, sort of caricature this, in the way that my grandfather and my father both approached home improvement projects. My dad helped me hang a cabinet on a wall one time. The way I could describe it, he was like, "Okay. We need to do it like this." He's like, "What do you think is ... Oh no, that's not going to work, because of this and that." He's in this paralysis for 45 minutes, just trying to plan this out. We end up with this over-engineered solution, that if a nuke hit half a mile away, the whole house would be gone, but those cabinets would somehow still be suspended in space.
Rob Collie (00:56:40): The basketball goal that we had put in, in our driveway, had a cubic meter of concrete poured by a truck as the base. Then he also had the metal pole filled with concrete, to make it even more durable. But, this is really important now folks, he also put a layer of sand in the pole, that straddled the boundary of the ground. Because if someone was ever going to come along with a welding torch, and want to cut this pole out, they wouldn't be able to pull that off if there was concrete there. Holy cow, right?
Rob Collie (00:57:13): Whereas my grandfather, I was putting in a closet for my mom. He and I were at my mom's house. We were laying down the plates, the two by fours that were going to form the base of the wall. It was going to straddle the carpet. It was going to go from tile to carpet, because that's where we were putting this.
Rob Collie (00:57:30): I'm like, "So we're going to rip this carpet up, right?" He was like, "Nah." We just start driving these nails straight through the two by fours, through the carpet, and into the concrete slab. The way he gets a project started, he just goes in and starts demoing.
Thomas LaRock (00:57:46): That's awesome.
Rob Collie (00:57:47): I'm definitely more like my grandfather than my father.
Thomas LaRock (00:57:50): That's a time saver right there. "We're going to pull up this carpet." "Nah."
Rob Collie (00:57:54): Well, there's also a motivational component to it. It's like Cortez burning the ships in the harbor.
Thomas LaRock (00:58:01): Oh, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:58:01): Telling everybody, "Look, we're not going back unless we succeed well enough here, that we'll have the resources to build more ships." That's a gangster move there, right? That was something else. Once you start knocking out a wall, you're committed. So yeah, I think that's also, Mary, we're twins.
Mary Fealty (00:58:28): Wow.
Rob Collie (00:58:28): It's important, it turns out every now and then, you get involved in a project that's more than you can handle, right? This company is an example of that. I got committed. I got out into the deep water. Fortunately, there were other people with me at that time that knew how to build that ship. You almost have to have a little bit of naivety about how hard something's going to be, in order to attempt it. If I'd really known how hard it was going to be to build this company, if I could have had perfect knowledge of how hard it was going to be, maybe I wouldn't have done it.
Thomas LaRock (00:58:56): Yeah, you would have done it.
Mary Fealty (00:58:58): Yeah, you would have still done it. But you don't need that much foresight. It's part of the fun, isn't it, of it?
Rob Collie (00:59:04): It is. But there are people listening to this right now, who are just absolutely horrified. Their hands are getting clammy, listening to the way that we talk about things. Like, "No, you have to know what you're doing."
Mary Fealty (00:59:14): And where you're going.
Rob Collie (00:59:15): There's another personality type that is out there, and it's common. We should be aware of its existence. It's foreign, but it's valuable.
Mary Fealty (00:59:24): Yeah, absolutely.
Rob Collie (00:59:24): Those people tend to be really, really, really useful for doing things that people like you and I are not capable of doing. It does take all kinds. Especially when you decide to go and do something crazy, like scale the company, instead of being one person. Which, I guess I could have stayed there, right? Who knows? It doesn't sound like you have any ambitions of scaling.
Mary Fealty (00:59:47): Really and truly, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:59:48): You're in that Letterkenny zone.
Mary Fealty (00:59:50): Yeah, I'm in my sweet spot. Yeah, absolutely. I think I maybe had grand designs in my head, possibly. But never for a large company. Just certain things. But over time I've gone, "No, this really suits me."
Rob Collie (01:00:06): Well, having a custom branded Power BI embedded portal built, that's pretty, once you've done it, now you know that it wasn't as hard as it seemed. But not many people have had that done for them. Not many people have done it, and still, not many people have hired it out either. It's very uncommon. Not a lot of one person shops out there, with Power BI embedded going on.
Mary Fealty (01:00:30): Perhaps, but it's definitely worth investigating, and pursuing.
Rob Collie (01:00:35): Oh, yeah. There's no way, this Cover Hawk thing for high school coaches and players, no way can we put the full Power BI portal in front of these people. No way, right?
Mary Fealty (01:00:47): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:00:48): They would reject it, and rightfully so, right? There's no judgment here. They should reject it. They need an appliance, you know?
Thomas LaRock (01:00:55): Right.
Mary Fealty (01:00:55): Just need something that does it, and does what they need it to do, and nothing else. Everything else is just distraction.
Rob Collie (01:01:02): Yeah, I completely agree. Okay, so here's the new experimental segment, okay?
Mary Fealty (01:01:08): Okay.
Thomas LaRock (01:01:08): Okay.
Rob Collie (01:01:08): All right. Mary, this is perfect. The person with the spirit of, "Why not?" You're here for this. Okay, the next two words are going to surprise you. Quentin Tarantino has a theory, that you can only like The Beatles or Elvis. Maybe you don't like either of them, but you can not like both. No one likes both. This is even originally in the Pulp Fiction movie, but they cut the scene where she's asking John Travolta which one he is. But later on she says, "An Elvis man will love it, this restaurant," so there's a little vestige of it still in the movie.
Rob Collie (01:01:44): Okay, we've got five questions for you like this. You are allowed to pass on one of them. Here we go. We're going to steal Quentin Tarantino's question, Elvis or Beatles?
Mary Fealty (01:01:55): I'm going to go Beatles.
Rob Collie (01:01:56): Beatles.
Thomas LaRock (01:01:57): But the thing is, she could say both.
Mary Fealty (01:01:58): Oh, I know. So hard.
Rob Collie (01:02:02): You want to tell Tarantino that he's wrong?
Thomas LaRock (01:02:03): I will. I'll tell him he's wrong.
Rob Collie (01:02:05): Yeah? I bet, yeah, that would actually be fun, wouldn't it?
Thomas LaRock (01:02:09): He is wrong.
Rob Collie (01:02:09): I'd love to argue with him about anything. That would be fun. It doesn't matter, pick something. I'll take the opposite side just for the heck of it. All right, so Beatles over Elvis?
Mary Fealty (01:02:19): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:02:20): Okay. Any color commentary to go with that?
Mary Fealty (01:02:22): Right, so here's the deal. I would have, way back, probably have much more easily gone Elvis. But I've really gained a huge appreciation for The Beatles over time. Their music just is like, "Wow." Maybe it's nostalgia, I don't know. But I just get a real buzz out of hearing The Beatles.
Rob Collie (01:02:40): There's a spiritual depth to some of, not all of the Beatles, right? Octopus' Garden isn't what we're talking about. There's actually, by the way, a subgenre of this, which is Lennon vs McCartney, which gets really interesting. I end up Lennon.
Mary Fealty (01:02:59): Yeah, I would probably be Lennon.
Rob Collie (01:03:01): In this game. Again, the spiritual depth. McCartney was much better at the pop stuff. The depth came from Lennon. Apparently there's a branch to this question. Are you also on team Lennon, Mary?
Mary Fealty (01:03:13): Yes, I am.
Rob Collie (01:03:14): Okay.
Mary Fealty (01:03:14): I am, funny enough. Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:03:15): Okay. All right, so that's question one. Question two, creamy peanut butter, or crunchy peanut butter?
Mary Fealty (01:03:21): Oh, crunchy.
Rob Collie (01:03:22): Crunchy, okay. Look at that confidence. That's not a both. I'm a creamy peanut butter guy myself. My wife is team crunchy. All right, Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones?
Thomas LaRock (01:03:33): Neither.
Mary Fealty (01:03:34): Thank-you for that. Here, do you want to know something interesting?
Rob Collie (01:03:37): Sure. Yeah, that's what these questions are about, really.
Mary Fealty (01:03:39): Okay. I was in Game of Thrones.
Rob Collie (01:03:41): What? Okay, no one's ever going to do as well on this question as you.
Thomas LaRock (01:03:53): Yes.
Rob Collie (01:03:55): All right, go on.
Mary Fealty (01:03:57): This is one of the things that I did when I first left, started up on my own. You know what it's like when you're starting up. You're not exactly busy all of the time. I signed up to become an extra. I thought, "I'll do that. That sounds like fun." It was the second gig I got, was being an extra on Game of Thrones. It was season five.
Rob Collie (01:04:20): All right, I'm looking this up. Season five.
Mary Fealty (01:04:22): It was, "Winter's coming, winter came." That season, which I thought was super cool. Even though I didn't really watch it. I spent three weeks as a wildling.
Rob Collie (01:04:31): Three weeks as a wilding?
Mary Fealty (01:04:33): On the set of Game of Thrones.
Thomas LaRock (01:04:34): Oh my god.
Rob Collie (01:04:37): Oh my god, this is the most amazing thing. Do you have screenshots? Come on.
Mary Fealty (01:04:40): I do, but I have to find them.
Rob Collie (01:04:42): All right, well send them over. From the perspective of the traditional BI people, you were a wildling. Right? They were trying to keep your Power BI kind at bay, and they built this gigantic wall, and we just went around it.
Mary Fealty (01:05:01): No, it was amazing. It was absolutely amazing.
Rob Collie (01:05:04): Wow, that is so cool. You were doing that off and on for three weeks?
Mary Fealty (01:05:09): Every Monday to Friday, for three weeks. It was a three week gig. I mean, there was never, ever a time I could have done it since. But I was able to do it then, of going, "Stuff it, I'm doing that."
Rob Collie (01:05:19): You still don't have a preference in Game of Thrones versus Lord of the Rings?
Mary Fealty (01:05:24): No, I don't like either.
Rob Collie (01:05:25): You don't like either? Tom, you don't like either of them?
Thomas LaRock (01:05:28): I don't.
Rob Collie (01:05:28): I was feeling such commonality, and now it's all evaporated.
Thomas LaRock (01:05:32): I've watched the Lord of the Rings, the recent trilogy, and eh. But I-
Rob Collie (01:05:38): Oh, no. The Hobbit trilogy was terrible.
Thomas LaRock (01:05:40): Okay, so I will just say that I have never watched one episode of Game of Thrones, a complete episode at all. I think history will show that I was correct.
Rob Collie (01:05:50): No, you were wrong. For a while there, it was the best thing I have seen on any screen ever. Now, it doesn't mean that it held up at the end. It did come apart very poorly. But for a while there, there was nothing better on any screen, that I'd ever seen. It was something else. Now of course, all these amazing arcs that were being developed, were completely wasted. It was just the worst. It was just-
Thomas LaRock (01:06:15): There you go.
Rob Collie (01:06:17): These people should never work again, is my opinion. But season five was very strong.
Mary Fealty (01:06:23): Yeah?
Thomas LaRock (01:06:23): I'm good.
Rob Collie (01:06:24): The Two Towers is actually one of the best movies ever made, in my opinion. It's not just fan service. There's something really, really powerful going on there, in a Lennon sense. It's not a McCartney movie, this is a Lennon movie. There are moments where I actually have tears well up in my eyes while watching The Two Towers. That doesn't happen in Fellowship of the Ring, or Return of the King. But The Two Towers is epic.
Rob Collie (01:06:46): All right, so we've lost respect for our guest, and our co-host.
Thomas LaRock (01:06:50): I'm sorry, you've lost respect for me? That would imply you had respect for me.
Rob Collie (01:06:53): All right, all right. We're going to give you all a chance here. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Mary Fealty (01:06:58): Oh.
Thomas LaRock (01:06:58): Could you narrow down which Star Trek you're talking about?
Rob Collie (01:07:01): It doesn't matter.
Mary Fealty (01:07:02): No, no, totally. Easy, easy, easy. All the slate, Star Trek.
Rob Collie (01:07:05): Okay. The final question, Apple or Android?
Mary Fealty (01:07:08): Oh, Android.
Rob Collie (01:07:10): Android, and why?
Mary Fealty (01:07:11): I liked Apple, I did like Apple. But-
Rob Collie (01:07:14): Mm-hmm (affirmative), when did they lose you?
Mary Fealty (01:07:15): I don't know. Just, when their phones and devices lost their power too fast, in my opinion.
Rob Collie (01:07:24): The battery.
Mary Fealty (01:07:24): Yeah. I just thought that was not a good consumer choice on their part. That's the real reason. I just didn't, and I thought, "Nope."
Rob Collie (01:07:32): Yeah, Apple's this weird juxtaposition, of the most friendly and elegant human factors, considerations. There's something about their stuff that's really happy. While at the same time, so brutally upgrade driven, and capture, and make you pay a premium for things that you really shouldn't have to pay a premium for. It's hard to square the two, isn't it? You wish that those two parts of the company could become uncoupled.
Rob Collie (01:08:03): I was reading the other day about Apple's fight with the EU, over USB-C chargers, versus their Lightning cable. Apple has now bought themselves two years in this process, this legal process. You know what they're going to do? What I was reading, was that they're just going to take all the ports off, and sell a proprietary magnetic wireless charger. You can't make them put a port in, but if they have a port, the EU can ...
Rob Collie (01:08:29): The EU is becoming sort of the international version of California. With the United States, California forces corporations to make products at certain standards, that the rest of the 49 states don't. As a result, companies, it's more economical for them just to make everything to the California standard. Californians are a little bit more sensitive to things like this, it turns out.
Rob Collie (01:08:50): The EU, we're rooting for you. Get the USB-C port. Make Apple play ball. We're all dying here. Do you know how many cables I have? I would love to charge my iPhone with USB-C, but apparently that's never going to happen, because they're going to take all of the ports off.
Mary Fealty (01:09:12): It makes me think, when they were offered the choice of, "Press the button for the macro, or give them the macro," they chose, "Press the button."
Rob Collie (01:09:21): Oh yeah, totally. That's the evil side of Apple. There is a legitimately human focused part to that company, and then there's also this, "No, we'll keep making these really expensive devices." It's just, ugh.
Thomas LaRock (01:09:34): They're a hardware company, masquerading as a software company.
Rob Collie (01:09:40): That's right.
Thomas LaRock (01:09:40): Their operating system is a horrible, at times, user experience. For example, when the first phone came out, I couldn't attach a photo to an email. I had to go into my photos, and then say, "Send this as an email." I couldn't just say, "Hey, let me attach something." The idea of attaching something to an email was a foreign concept in the year 2008, to the folks in Cupertino? It's just this idea that, when it comes to the usability of their OS, they're in their own world.
Rob Collie (01:10:07): That's a rare miss for a company like them.
Thomas LaRock (01:10:10): It is, right? But they're in their own world. Because you know what? "The next phone, that we know you'll buy, you'll be able to attach something." Right? That's how they do it. "The next phone, guess what? You don't have a headphone in this phone anymore. You're going to have to go buy something different."
Rob Collie (01:10:26): Yeah. "This is an adaptor that cost us a penny. But we'll sell it to you in a very slick package, for-"
Thomas LaRock (01:10:35): It's that abuse of the customer that has led to an entity like the EU to say, "We're tired of you abusing us, and so if you want to sell into this market, you're going to have to do what we want." I'm totally onboard with it. I'm like, "That's great."
Rob Collie (01:10:47): Agreed. Agreed. It's such a complicated universe these days, right? Apple is at the same time leading the charge against data tracking by advertisers, which, okay, somehow this must align with their world plans for domination and everything. But okay, I'm in. I loved having all of my apps recently prompt me, "Do you want to allow tracking across apps?" They just beg you, they say, "Oh, this allows us ..." They try to scare the hell out of you. "If you don't turn this on, you're going to suffer." I'm like, "No I'm not."
Thomas LaRock (01:11:17): Yeah, right?
Rob Collie (01:11:20): I'm like, "No tracking. No tracking. No tracking. No tracking," over and over again. Anyway, what was it? The enemy of the enemy of the enemy of the enemy of my friend is my friend? Or, I don't know.
Thomas LaRock (01:11:30): Still your enemy.
Rob Collie (01:11:32): Yeah, maybe. It's all enemies.
Thomas LaRock (01:11:35): All the way down.
Rob Collie (01:11:37): Yeah. Go EU, get them. Apple's going to win. They're just going to say they're going to take their ball and go home. "No ports for you." To, "The EU is why we can't have nice things."
Thomas LaRock (01:11:49): Or is it ... She's not even in the EU, so-
Mary Fealty (01:11:56): I know, exactly. We're out, remember? Although I don't know, I'm not sure. Are we out, in Northern Ireland? So many-
Rob Collie (01:11:58): Yeah, I know. It's very strange.
Mary Fealty (01:12:01): Maybe? Yeah, who knows? Who knows?
Thomas LaRock (01:12:02): You could drive across town though, and you'd be back in the EU.
Mary Fealty (01:12:08): Yeah, yeah.
Rob Collie (01:12:08): All right, well anything else we should talk about, that we didn't get to?
Mary Fealty (01:12:11): The only other thing of note, that I would say to go, how would I position myself, as somebody who's really, in my opinion, a ridiculously small player in this game? The fact that I am here tonight, in my case, is just bonkers in my head. But it's just, "How the hell is this even happening?" But here it is.
Rob Collie (01:12:28): You mean this podcast?
Mary Fealty (01:12:30): Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Thomas LaRock (01:12:30): I think she does. Yeah, no.
Mary Fealty (01:12:32): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:12:32): Oh, no. No one's ever belonged on this podcast more than you. This has been amazing.
Mary Fealty (01:12:38): The other thing then, it's something I'm really, really proud of, within this whole Power BI world, is that I was the first female speaker at the London Power BI Group. That, to me, now I wasn't the first speaker, I was the 12th, I think, speaker. But I was the first female speaker at the London Power BI Group, which is one of the largest in the world. I've never spoken before, until then.
Rob Collie (01:13:01): Wow, that's cool.
Mary Fealty (01:13:03): I thought so. I thought so.
Rob Collie (01:13:05): Mary, holy cow am I glad we did this. This has been amazing. Another, "Why not?", soul. Oh my gosh, basically raised by the same generation.
Mary Fealty (01:13:16): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:13:17): Really cool. First and only Game of Thrones star. An analytics wildling.
Thomas LaRock (01:13:25): Oh, that's awesome.
Rob Collie (01:13:29): Yeah, that might have to be your GIF. Are you okay with that being-
Thomas LaRock (01:13:33): Yeah, that has to be your GIF.
Mary Fealty (01:13:33): Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rob Collie (01:13:36): Yeah. I don't know if the mantra is compatible with the wildling meme. We'll figure it out. But we're going to go wildling.
Thomas LaRock (01:13:45): Get a picture of her logo that has the tree, and then the wildling coming around it.
Rob Collie (01:13:52): Yeah.
Mary Fealty (01:13:52): Very good, very good.
Rob Collie (01:13:53): This is just one of those things. I was just looking through Twitter like, "Who would be interesting to talk to?" Wow, what a ringer you are. Such a great conversation. Thank-you so much.
Mary Fealty (01:14:02): Oh, thank-you. Thank-you. Honestly, as I said at the beginning, when you asked, it would be an honor. It really, really has. It's been an incredible honor.
Rob Collie (01:14:11): Well to whatever extent you experience imposter syndrome, let me tell you, don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that to yourself. You're the real deal. No reason to put disclaimers on anything that you do. Oh my gosh. It's what it's all about. You are the world of data. The future of data is people like you. Everyone else that claims it's something else, it's like, "No, they've got an angle." They've got a reason to push that agenda. No, this is the real deal here. What a great conversation. I'm going to go bounce off the walls the rest of the day.
Announcer (01:14:45): Thanks for listening to The Raw Data by P3 Adaptive Podcast. Let the experts at P3 Adaptive help your business. Just go to P3adaptive.com. Have a data day.
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