Raw Data By P3 Adaptive
Wolverine Sold Gym Memberships, w/ Ryan Bergstrom
Director Of Client Services, P3 AdaptiveListen Now:
It’s clear when you listen to Ryan Bergstrom tell his story as to why he is a leader here at P3 Adaptive. His problem-solving ability is incredible, and he loves to teach and help others. That vibe sounds quite familiar, the data community has a such great reputation for altruism! Ryan’s drive, tenacity, and resilience have led him on a path to success, and he’s just getting warmed up! It’s a great story that we hope will inspire the future data rock stars out there.
References in this episode:
The Saturday Night Live Wolverine Skit <br>
(The very first SNL skit to air!)
The Pokemon Optimizer Blog Post
- 2:45- Bergs’s journey begins with a degree in Finance (pronunciation matters!), living in his parent’s basement, and selling gym memberships…Ryan quickly realized that was NOT for him
- 23:45 – Rob’s dream about Bergs, the value of the new tools, and Ryan is way better than he thought at this stuff
- 52:45 – An interesting data problem Rob’s been working on
Rob Collie (00:00:00): Welcome friends. Today's guest is Ryan Bergstrom. Ryan's one of our directors here at P3. So yes, that's two weeks in a row of directors from P3. Ryan's story reminds me of an old song that I really liked, that was all about roses growing up through cracks in the sidewalk. Of course, our twist on it is, you can't keep the data gene down. Ryan's career arc began with what you might call generationally poor timing. I won't spoil the details, but you've heard the phrase pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Well, Ryan definitely did that, but you see Ryan's bootstraps, they had the word data written on them.
Rob Collie (00:00:40): Necessity, resilience, both massive themes in Ryan's life, but also he's a helper. Even at the beginning of his story, you'll hear that he was already helping his colleagues, his teammates, when no one told him he had to. And spiritually, that continues today with us at P3. I'll even tell you in this episode about a dream that I had that involved Ryan. It really, really, for me anyway, captures how I feel about the guy. He's a super valuable teammate, contributor, and leader for us at P3, and also just a great person. And I'm really happy that I know him. Okay, you know what's next. Let's get into it.
Announcer (00:01:20): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?
Announcer (00:01:24): This is the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive podcast with your host, Rob Collie and your cohost, 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 (00:01:47): Welcome to the show. Ryan Bergstrom, how are you today?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:01:51): I'm doing well. Pleasure to be here, Rob.
Rob Collie (00:01:54): It sounds so sincere, right there.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:01:56): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:01:57): Authenticity is our hallmark on this show. And you're already leading off just so perfectly.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:03): Well, I strive to please.
Rob Collie (00:02:05): Tell us a little about yourself. What's your role here at P3 Adaptive?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:08): I am our senior director of client services. Gosh, I feel like my four-year anniversary is coming up here in maybe a week.
Rob Collie (00:02:17): There's a whole sort of like entering class of people coming up on there four-year.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:22): Yeah, yeah. If this was like the X-Men, I would be like the Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, maybe Gambit, Beast, certainly Archangel, but not Jubilee or any of those new folk.
Rob Collie (00:02:37): I see, I see. Do you have a particular affinity for any of those, that first wave?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:41): Well, I mean-
Rob Collie (00:02:42): I mean, naturally you want to be Wolverine, don't you?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:44): Yeah, yeah. I mean-
Rob Collie (00:02:45): And everybody wants to be Wolverine.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:47): I'm from Minnesota. He's Canadian. They're like cousins to us.
Rob Collie (00:02:51): Not everyone can be Wolverine. So I don't if that makes him for like draft or something.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:02:55): He's generally first pick, isn't he? But I mean, no one would've picked Cyclops. No one wants to be the, "Come on guys, follow the rules."
Rob Collie (00:03:02): Have you ever seen the old Saturday Night Live with John Belushi where John Belushi is speaking in some sort of like deeply Eastern European accent? The English coach is telling him to say this, to say sentences over and over again. Like, "I'm sorry, but we are all out of badgers. Would you be willing to accept this Wolverine."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:03:24): No, I haven't seen that.
Rob Collie (00:03:24): John Belushi, of course, the way you pronounce it, Wolverine, and every sentence that the guy has him say ends in Wolverine.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:03:33): No, I haven't seen that.
Rob Collie (00:03:34): That kind of punctures the Wolverine myth for me. Is that every time I see Wolverine, I think Wolverine. All right, so senior director of client services, what does that mean?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:03:45): When I joined the company, I was principal consultant and I got to see a ton of awesome use cases across a variety of our clients, taught the Gillian trainings and just got to do it all with Power BI, with Power Pivot, Power Query, and see the incredible range of use cases that the tool set can be used for. And as we grew, I became the director of client services or one of them, helping other consultants build solutions for our clients, solve problems, whether it's act like a dispatcher and figure out who's going to staff what. And there's a ton of internal projects that we have because we're a growing company. And so we have our own infrastructure that we're continually improving and our curriculums that we're continually adding new content to. And I'm one of the people that drive that forward.
Rob Collie (00:04:38): Yeah, we just had one of our other directors, Krissy on the show and we really didn't talk much about the role of director here. It's our management job for the consulting team. It's different though because we're a remote company. Did you have management experience before coming here?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:04:53): No, I didn't. Prior to coming to P3, I worked for two different companies. I started working with Life Time Fitness. That's where my career kind of began. I was selling gym memberships, actually, I was a member engagement advisor for my first job, became a Salesforce admin, Salesforce developer, and then national sales and marketing analyst. Then I worked for a medical device company as a consumer insights analyst, Coloplast, doing just tons of analysts and development work. And from there, that's when I came to P3. So no management experience.
Rob Collie (00:05:30): So you don't have that contrast of like, "Oh, here's what it was like managing people in person versus managing them remotely." Which many people in the world have encountered now for the first time over the last year. Management's always been remote for you. It's like, "What's the big deal."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:05:46): Yeah, that's kind of how it's been. And you know what's interesting, it's occurred to me now, when Life Time Fitness is where I spent the majority of my pre P3 career. When I was working in the national sales and marketing office, I reported to our vice president of sales, and all of his lieutenants, so to speak, the regional managers were national. So, even though I was going to the office and I wasn't remote, I was certainly interfacing with predominantly, I guess, you could say remote people because it was a national corporation. From observing him as a leader and a manager, he was certainly managing remotely. I've never really put that together, but I suppose a lot of lessons that I passively learned were from him.
Rob Collie (00:06:38): Sponging it up. Yeah.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:06:40): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:06:40): One of the best things that you can be in a career, I think, is sort of like a curating sponge, picking up things that you saw other people doing that worked well or things that didn't work well and being able to replay that. So much of my development has been that, like role-playing the successful habits that I've seen from others that I've worked with. So I'm glad that you were able to bring that one in.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:07:02): Yeah, there's a Richard Bach quote from either, I don't know if it's from Jonathan Livingston Seagull or if it was from this book he wrote called Illusions. The story of a reluctant Messiah, but the quotes always stuck with me and I'm going to totally butcher it right now. So the quote hasn't obviously stuck with me that much because I'm not going to nail it, but it was essentially, "We are all teachers. We are all students. All great teachers are perpetual students." Is the more or less than none of it. You cannot lead. You cannot manage. You cannot do anything unless you're always open to new information, just coming in from other people and adjusting what you are.
Thomas LaRock (00:07:40): Since we're on the topic. I was going to mention something I learned back in my previous life. I know I've mentioned that before that I used to coach basketball. You pick up little things from everybody. So there's always this thing. You can never pretend to be somebody else because you always be second best. So when you start out coaching, you can't say, "I'm going to be like coach K or do all these things." You can never be that coach. So what you do is you say, "I really liked that play that coach just ran. I'm going to take that." I like the way temple plays defense, zone defense.
Thomas LaRock (00:08:13): I'm going to use that. And you take all of those parts of all this stuff that you've learned in, say your ether, all around you and you take what you think is the one that would reflect a part of you. And then that is what you become. So as a coach, I had little aspects of all these different things. And somebody would say, "Where'd you learn that?" "I learned that from John Thompson at Georgetown." I thought that was just peculiar for coaching, but no, that's just life in general. Just like Ryan was saying, you take that one little thing from somebody else and you say, "I liked that part and I'm going to use that for myself."
Rob Collie (00:08:49): Yeah, if we want to get really nerdy and we do. The right metaphor [crosstalk 00:08:53], my favorite metaphor anyway is the Borg from Star Trek: Next Generation. They go and absorb civilizations and they don't turn into that civilization. They just sort of like take the capabilities from that civilization that they like, that'd be a good strengthening fit for their overall collective. And they acquire those and feature those. They're like, in some sense the best of the best of all the things that they've eaten. To be Borg like is a piece of a nerd career advice.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:09:24): Be Borg like. Now, I've watched a little bit of Star Trek. I love it when I do watch it. Are they a villain in the show?
Rob Collie (00:09:31): Definitely a villain. And you know the other thing that this metaphor isn't so great is that they're also kind of robotic and unfeeling. So, you want to be bored in terms of your skills and wisdom acquisition, but everything else you don't want to be bored like.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:09:48): I really like analogies and metaphors that are kind of like the antihero of metaphors or analogies, like be bored like, because that's the good stuff. Assimilate the good stuff. But let's forget that they're the villains. One that always seems to happen in society at large is, "Oh, this is the new cell phone on steroids." And it's like, usually we frowned upon steroids. But when we're using it in an analogy, we sure seem to like it, like oh, this is the, I don't know the Hummer H3, the Hummer 2 on steroids." It's always like, "Okay, so steroids are good when we're using it as a metaphor, but it's bad when you do them or [crosstalk 00:10:26] no one recently all the time in business, we talk about Power Pivot and Power BI and Power Query like, "Oh, we want, our client said once they learn Power Query, it's like the gateway drug." And I'm like, "Okay, so drugs are good in this analogy, but in other analogies or in real life, like generally drugs, no, not a good thing."
Rob Collie (00:10:46): Yeah, we just take the good part of the analogy and discard the rest of it. This car is the regular car on steroids. Wait, wait, wait. You mean, it's going to have like a receding hairline and its rear tires are going to shrink over time and it's going to have a temper
Ryan Bergstrom (00:10:58): It's backed me in this hail damage on the car, what are we talking about here?
Rob Collie (00:11:05): No, no, just the good parts of steroids. That's great. Did you really say that you haven't watched much Star Trek? Did you [crosstalk 00:11:13]-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:11:13): I've probably watched 20 to 30 episodes. I've seen it most in movies.
Rob Collie (00:11:16): Okay. All right.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:11:17): But there's eight seasons of it or more eight. That's probably a super turn. There's like 50 million because there's 10,000 spin-offs
Rob Collie (00:11:25): Yeah, I just didn't want to let you get away with like, I was like the ringleader of the board game club here at P3 like-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:11:30): This is true.
Rob Collie (00:11:30): ... throwing down that like, "Oh, well I've heard of this Star Trek thing. I've just...
Ryan Bergstrom (00:11:35): No, no, I love it. I have no dislike of Star Trek. Look, I've played this game called Artemis. It's essentially a bridge simulator. And it's me and my geeky friends sitting around with tablets and computers land party style. And it's essentially a Star Trek role playing game, but it's so bare bones and minimalist that many of my friends like to go destroy that enemy or that enemy. And that doesn't quite cut it for me. So, I'm sitting there like, "Captain, the cruise seems morale is down because the cafeteria is no longer serving steak on Wednesdays, moleculas steak, permission for the galley to upgrade their equipment." And there's nothing in the game that has anything to do with this. And my friends just like to go, "Uh, permission granted, blah, blah, blah." But captain it doesn't end there. There's also an issue with the condiments. If we do move forward, we're going to need and the, okay Ryan. Yes.
Rob Collie (00:12:41): Yeah, I think I want to role-play with you. Yeah, the last few attempts at any sort of online gaming like that have really haven't gone over well. It felt like work. I want to circle back to a couple of things. So I heard a quote the other day that I don't know who originally wrote this. I really liked it, which is that information is surprise. If no surprise, no information. In order to be surprised, you have to have some humility, don't you?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:13:14): Oh yeah.
Rob Collie (00:13:14): If you know it all, you can never be surprised. Information is surprised. That was one that like, "Hey Borg like in the good way." Like I've said, "Hmm, I'm picking that one up. That ones being an added to the collective."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:13:28): That's the kind of quote that you hear in the slam poetry observer in you comes out and you say, "Hmm." You kind of snap your fingers."Hmm, that's good."
Rob Collie (00:13:40): Oh yeah. That's how I do it. Going back to your origin story. One of the ongoing themes of the show and really of our lives and of our company, there's a few points that all tie into the same theme, but one of them is this concept of the citizen developer. Another one is this tweener sort of the IT business hybrid. And really then sort of the thing that's kind of humorously ties them together is that the best results, the best versions of this are never intentional. Did you have any idea back in school that you were going to be a frontline celebrated data professional?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:14:17): Oh, absolutely not. When I was in school, you're being generous by asking me if I had any idea if I was going to be a data professional. When I was in school, I didn't have any ideas. I was just nothing but surprise at all the information coming my way. I studied finance, which I was taught by my finance professor that if you have a degree in finance, you say finance. And if you don't, you say finance. That was one of the things I learned in college.
Rob Collie (00:14:45): That was worth four years.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:14:46): That was worth four years. Barbecue, that was something I learned in college. I wish I could have done a super senior lab with that one. I studied accounting. Liberal arts education is interesting because you just get your tendrils into so many things. And even the things I didn't think I learned just come back to me. I'm like, "Oh, I remember studying this, or I remember sitting there." It kind of surprises you. But to your question, I think I was going to be a frontline data professional. Oh no, definitely not. I don't even think now you can get a data science degree or a business intelligence degree. I don't really think they were doing that. Back when I was in school in the early knots, pots, or whatever you call the early 2000s.
Rob Collie (00:15:24): Can we call them the dreadnoughts?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:15:26): The dreadnoughts, yes.
Rob Collie (00:15:28): Just moving on. We can cut that out, right?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:15:30): Yeah, that was a throwaway joke.
Rob Collie (00:15:32): That was-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:15:32): Look, you got to set the bar low with something so that the other ones really surprise you with the new humor information.
Rob Collie (00:15:39): ... One of the classic Mitch Hedberg sets on Letterman, he makes a joke and no one laughs and he turns and says, "Hey, can we cut that out? Can we edit that?" And suddenly then you're laughing at the bad joke. You had a built-in safe. So finance-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:15:55): Finance.
Rob Collie (00:15:56): ... finance. So you studied finance.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:15:57): You studied it too?
Rob Collie (00:15:58): No, no. I've studied people who studied finance. I borged that from you. So, finance didn't prepare you for selling gym memberships. It's an interesting turn, right?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:16:10): Interesting turn, yeah. So, when I graduated in the summer, June of 2008, it turned out that wasn't a good time to graduate and enter the workforce. Who did that?
Rob Collie (00:16:21): What was going on back then? I don't even remember?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:16:24): I don't know. I was too busy trying to get a great deal on a mortgage. No, not really.
Thomas LaRock (00:16:29): You chose to enter college for years before that. I mean, you didn't have to.
Rob Collie (00:16:33): You brought shit on yourself.
Thomas LaRock (00:16:34): Right.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:16:35): Yeah, no, no. I take full responsibility for that.
Rob Collie (00:16:37): I remember at that time in the world as the financial sector was crumbling thinking, oh my God, can you imagine coming out of college right now? I didn't know I was talking about you. We actually hadn't met yet.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:16:49): Can you imagine coming out of college right now with a degree in finance?
Rob Collie (00:16:52): Especially in finance.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:16:54): Well, so it didn't prepare me for selling gym memberships. I suppose that was like one of the other things I did when I was in school is I fell in love with health and fitness. So, being from Minnesota that's Life Time Fitness, corporate headquarters in Minnesota, best part of my day when I was living in my parents' basement at the time was going to Life Time Fitness, I'll go work for these guys. So I started selling gym memberships and I don't know I did that for maybe a year and a half.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:17:19): And fortunately for me, they used Salesforce and I just am good at technology and software. I always say this when I'm teaching trainings or talking about my story, I was fortunate to grow up on eight bit Nintendo and 16 bit super Nintendo. Back when if you read the manual, you learn to the tips and tricks. So, it ingrained in me since I was a competitive five-year-old video gamer with my friends and cousins was, if I read the manual, I will be able to beat you, because that's where the secrets are. And reading the manual obviously, a powerful thing because the internet made it one of the first acronyms. RTFM, read the something manual.
Rob Collie (00:18:03): Fun manual.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:18:04): The fun manual. Read the fund manual, yes. So I read the manual on Salesforce back then and when I was selling gym memberships and just got really good at making reports and dashboards in Salesforce to help people prospect for sales. And that parlayed my way into the corporate headquarters. No idea when I was doing it, that all of a sudden I was about to become like a data person at the time.
Rob Collie (00:18:26): But it's an interesting collision there. That always really interesting to me. I don't think I've ever really asked you very specifically this, your job is to convince people to sign agreements and become members at Life Time Fitness at that that moment in time. Was anyone telling you, "Hey, Ryan, we need you to go into Salesforce and start running reports." How did you make that transition?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:18:55): I needed to make money. I was a 100% commission. And so I needed to figure out the people that were most likely to join. So, I was just doing all kinds of customer analysis on my own and then helping my coworkers do it. There was just a problem and I couldn't kind of anyone else but myself to solve it. Because I think that that's just generally what you got to do. Don't wait for other people to solve your problems. Be proactive in solving yourself if it's possible. And it was fun, working with data is fun.
Rob Collie (00:19:24): But you didn't know that until then, right? There's this moment where you... It's like the moment in the the parking lot in the movie, a star is born. The story takes that turn. She starts singing and you realize it, one day you're going, "Oh, there's all this information in Salesforce, but I wonder if I can do anything with that?" It doesn't sound like most of your colleagues were doing that.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:19:47): No, I don't think so. I just happened to be that type of person that was a good with computers and good with software and open to learn it. There's a certain amount of people that just left clicking is enough. They just want to use information or information technology, computers, et cetera, as little as possible to accomplish their task. But they don't think, "Well, how could I use these tools to make the task different or more effective, easier, smarter, better, et cetera." And it's like the Bill Gates quote really, "If you have something really complicated, have your laziest employee do it because they'll figure out the best way to get it done." Maybe that was me. I didn't want to make a million cold calls. I wanted to make 15 to 30 good ones.
Rob Collie (00:20:35): Interesting. Most of the places where people encounter like BI for the first time, it's usually a situation where there's more than just personal leverage involved, meaning the thing that they're looking at with the data and they start falling into Excel or whatever, the report that they're generating at the analysis that they're performing is information about the activities of many, many people and probably can impact the decisions made on behalf of a number of people as well. You started in a place where you really only had personal leverage, the reason to run some BI like your BI moment, isn't a place that you wouldn't typically, that I wouldn't typically expect to be one of the, sort of the formative environments.
Rob Collie (00:21:21): I would not expect that frontline sales rep for a national gym chain in their particular location would need a whole lot of BI. I know that they'd need it. I know that data is always useful. The magnitude of leverage involved is quite a bit lower in that situation. And yet you still leaped that gap. I think that's actually kind of extraordinary, even relative to most of the stories we hear, like the first collision with data. You really had to be, I think, pretty aggressive, even more than usual to make that jump.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:21:56): Look, I was living in my parents' basement and I was hungry to get out. I needed to win for myself. And this is the beginning of my career. I studied finance and now I'm selling gym memberships. It wasn't what I wanted to do forever. And I didn't want to work in finance despite getting a degree in it. I was lost really.
Rob Collie (00:22:15): Did you hear that by the way, as he's dismissing it and pronounces it finance?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:22:19): I was hoping no one would catch that.
Rob Collie (00:22:20): He's looking over his shoulder going buy-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:22:22): I don't want to be dq'd now.
Rob Collie (00:22:24): ... buy, buy finance.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:22:25): Yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:22:25): Wow.
Rob Collie (00:22:26): Yeah, I never wanted anything to do with you.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:22:28): I just needed to do something. And I loved the intellectual challenge that creating these BI reports made and being able to help my fellow member engagement advisors at Life Time Fitness, I would make them reports in dashboard. And then we had a team and we were trying to win as a team. So I was starting to produce BI for that one location to help drive us forward. And I don't know, I guess, it was just the domino effect. When the position opened up at the corporate office that I ultimately ended up getting, it was Carrie Jacob's, my old manager that originally forwarded to me. She was like, "This is like what you do for us. You should do that for the whole company." And I was like, "Oh my gosh, that would be amazing." And it worked.
Rob Collie (00:23:14): How neat, what a great story.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:23:16): Oh yeah. My story is all about being helped by everyone else along the way. And the power of relationships is one of the absolute number one thing I learned, it's like, we are all people trying to figure this whole thing out. And you can try to step on other people or you can try to lift other people up. And if you do the ladder, it's more fun and more rewarding. And frankly, one of the most rewarding things about being at P3 Adaptive because we get to go into all these companies and just help them elevate their game. And the excitement that comes with it is just addictive.
Rob Collie (00:23:56): There was another one of those examples of a metaphor that we're taking the good parts of and not the bad parts.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:24:01): Yeah, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:24:02): You're just you're doing a brisk business and a Borged metaphors. Let me tell you all while Ryan's here listening. Let me tell you all about a dream I had one time, you know like in the 80s or 90s adventure movies, at the beginning of the movie that sort of trying to as quickly as possible introduce all of the characters, and they've got this one, there's this one person who's sort of the star of the movie. And it's usually someone like Ed Harris. And Ed's making his way through the space station or whatever, checking on everybody. He's like, "We're going down through the submarine from the bow to the stern."
Rob Collie (00:24:41): He's checking in with all the people who end up being the characters in the movie, but he's checking on them. And they're all happy to see him and he's there to help and he's providing support and everything. And that's sort of the intro sequence to the movie. I had that dream and the Ed Harris figures working his way through the submarine. But the whole time it's Ryan, it's Bergstrom here. It's his face. I's him. That's how my subconscious perceives Ryan at our company. Ryan's talking about relationships and everything and how much people supported him and everything. And I just want Ryan to tell that story in public with God as my witness, so that everyone knows that you live that or you pay it forward to.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:25:20): Rob's told me this before. So, I appreciate the story. It hits me right in the fields.
Rob Collie (00:25:25): You're Ed Harris in the abyss, you know?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:25:28): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:25:29): The glue, the one that holds it all together.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:25:32): I try. We're just the team. Life can be a team sport if you let it. And it's more fun that way for me, for the people that are playing on solo mode instead of co-op. That's cool too. I'd love to be an MPC in your game, whether I'm giving you a quest or whether I just have that fun one line, that's cool too, but let's all win together.
Rob Collie (00:25:55): I thought for a moment there, we were just going to get one of those terrible sports platitudes, like, "Well, it's team sport, run the blaze, the coach draws up and focus one thing at a time. Make sure we execute." Nope, didn't get the sports platitude. That was something completely unexpected there. There was information. There was surprise.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:26:15): Surprise.
Thomas LaRock (00:26:15): You were surprised.
Rob Collie (00:26:15): Yeah, That was definitely a surprise. All right, so you discovered the power of data in an unlikely place due to... It's almost like pressure and heat-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:26:25): Yes [crosstalk 00:26:26].
Rob Collie (00:26:26): ... it's an intense necessity. Yeah, what a rough time, by the way, the COVID graduating crowd, right?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:26:34): Oh no.
Rob Collie (00:26:35): Is the first one to experience something quite like what you graduated into. So maybe right now, not maybe, certainly right now, there are people being forged in the fires of adversity and data, like young, recent graduates who are going to be rockstars in the near future. I look forward to meeting some of them.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:26:55): Oh, they're out there. I mean, I talked to a few people who are in school right now and I have a chess coach, Rob. I'm a chess player. I have a chess coach. [crosstalk 00:27:04] I've rediscovered my love of chess from fifth grade. And my chess coach is a freshman in college right now, studying data science. Super cool dude. And I find myself down him. I'm like, "Hey look, you are totally in control to make yourself as good as you want. You don't need permission from anyone else." We've never been in a time in human history where it has been easier to learn anything. And no one's gatekeeping you. You're in control of that. And these people that are graduating right now in COVID, man, my heart just aches for them. From a technology and information standpoint, they have it all at their fingertips and the hungry ones will rise to the top.
Rob Collie (00:27:52): I agree with you that no one's actually gatekeeping, but that doesn't mean that people aren't trying. That was kind of a big theme of our conversation with Krissy is that the people who tend to learn technical skills via the abstract path, a lot of them tend to, whether intentionally or not become gatekeeper types for the vast majority of the rest of us who learn via the practical human impact route, which is a different route than the abstract route. So there are headwinds, it's not as gatekeeping is telling yourself that you can't do it because I'm not that type. I'm not one of those people. You can sort of see the shining example person and say, "Well, I'm not them." And so you self gatekeep. I agree with you. I mean, this isn't a disagreement.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:28:36): Is the woman that invented Spanx named Sara Blakely? I think so.
Rob Collie (00:28:39): Jamie look that up.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:28:43): I was reading a book called Living with a SEAL that her husband wrote, the CEO of some company that had David Goggins lived with him, but his wife was Sarah Blakely. And one of the stories that he tells is that when she was growing up, her dad every night at dinner would say, "What did you fail at today?" And they would all celebrate the failures. And I loved it. Everyone's heard that failure is the stepping stone to success. It's like, fail, fail, fail, succeed. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, all that. And that was the conversation that they had at the dinner table.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:29:16): I was like, "Oh my God, I love that. I hope with my kids, I can do something productive like that." Because look at what she ended up doing. She's started a billion dollar company. Failure after failure, but worked her way up. With respect to learning new tech skills, it's hard because you don't succeed constantly. But every one of those stumbling stones, that's learning. That's what it feels like. People can do it. They just have to be willing to not be good at something for awhile.
Thomas LaRock (00:29:46): So confirmed it is Sarah Blakely. And she's worth a billion dollars.
Rob Collie (00:29:50): That's a lot of Spanx.
Thomas LaRock (00:29:51): I was going to say, that's how much leggings are worth.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:29:53): That's how much solving a problem that affects a ton of people is worth.
Rob Collie (00:29:57): So, let's continue the progression. Here you are, you've moved upstream to corporate-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:30:02): Corporate, yeah.
Rob Collie (00:30:02): And now you're in an analyst role. You're officially a data person now. At some point along there you discover DAX. When and how does that happen? I mean, imagine if the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau had happened before, maybe you would have been forced fed Tableau and we wouldn't be here.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:30:21): Quite possibly. So, five years at Life Time Fitnesses, the national sales and marketing analyst. I was still doing it all in Excel. I was living VLOOKUPs, SUMIF, kind of land. I remember I would do these elaborate summits to be lived up to all that stuff. This was before I discovered pivot tables. And then one day I was like, "Oh wow, I've been creating pivot tables, the long division way, interesting." At that point in lifetime, we'd switched from Salesforce to dynamics.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:30:53): So I had two CRM systems I was familiar with and I got recruited to go work for Coloplast. It's a medical device company. They had a different CRM system, Oracle and the whole nice thing about me was I had this like CRM experience. But of course, I didn't think it mattered that much. I was like, "Look, it's just like how these different tables talk to each other." And I inherited these reports and dashboards when I was at that company that took forever to put together and it was bang your head against the desk and you never had time to improve them.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:31:25): And so I was spending like a week, like seven business days to put together something. And I was like, "Surely this is a button. Can I just refresh this?" Like, "Surely there's got to be a better way. There's got to be a better way." And that at Coloplast is where I heard someone say Power Pivot and Power Query. And I was like, "Well, that's something in Excel I don't know how to do." It sounds promising. I mean, with a word like power, surely it'll solve all my problems. And that's when I bought actually your book grab because I was like, "All right, well, let's read the book." I know one thing is true. If you read the manual, it's where all the secrets are. So I bought some manuals.
Rob Collie (00:32:03): This is by the way so atypical. I mean, if it's running completely counter to the male stereotype of not reading the directions, not asking for directions, I'll write a book, but I'm very loathe to read one.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:32:15): People make fun, my friends make fun of me because if I got a new, I don't know, TV, and they're like, "Oh, let's turn this new 77 inch TV on and see how it looks." I'm like, "Hold on though, I got to read the manual." I look [crosstalk 00:32:27] forward to it. I love it. I'm going to find out about a button that some feature that's like unlocks it into virtual reality or something. I don't know. But that's where all the secrets are.
Rob Collie (00:32:37): They're like, "But Ryan, the Super Bowl started five minutes ago." Your like, "Yeah, it's okay, we'll miss the first quarter, but imagine how much better quarters two, three, and four are going to be after I've read the manual."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:32:46): Look, the jerseys are not going to be tuned to the correct color of royal if I don't learn how to adjust the color saturation. Yeah, now that's the brand of geek that I am.
Rob Collie (00:32:58): My brother is like this. When he get a new Nintendo game back in the day, I'd be like, "All right, let's plug it in." And he says, "Oh no, no." He'll go sit in his chair with that manual. And he needed to read it cover to cover before he would ever even plug it in. I admired that and was surprised by it at the same time like, "Come on, lets..."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:33:16): Well, that's the only way you learn how to do the secret modes.
Rob Collie (00:33:18): You bought a manual?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:33:19): I bought a manual. I bought your book. I started reading it, slowly. And I was a few chapters in and I knew this much about power pivot. And I was like, "Okay, let's take this problem that I have in Excel where I'm doing like a summit of 300,000 contacts to 800,000 phone calls." I'm doing the summit if I'm a 20 digit alpha numeric field. And when I would hit enter on that for a weekly report, I would see the percentage sign in the corner of Excel start to calculate 1%, 2%. And I got my stopwatch out at I timed it and it was going to take 15 minutes. I had to do this every week, 15 minutes to do this. And I would go walk the stairs and it locks your computer up. So I'd walk the stairs, I'd go get coffee. I'd do whatever. And I was like, "Oh I'm sick of it." So when I knew virtually nothing about PowerPoint because I was just beginning your book, I'm like, "Let's try this." Let's try this new thing. I did what I thought I had to do.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:34:19): And I did it and it was done in an instant. And that was like I had been saved. I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is the truth." I am learning everything I can about this because I just took 15 minutes and turned it into an instant. And that's when I was bad at it. How deep does this rabbit hole go? I was jumping in. I was on my honeymoon in The Bahamas, on the beach, reading a Power Pivot and Power Query book because I didn't have time not to get better at it because I saw how much better life was about to be. I would just read the books. I read them all. I bought every book on the subject matter. I would read a third of each one and get bored and go to the next one. This is what I do when I learn I've discovered. I get so many different sources that I could learn from.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:35:16): And I end up going a third of the way through each one that I end up reinforcing the beginning concepts over and over and over and over again, before I end up making it all the way through. And I've realized that that just helps me learn better. The thing that was most frustrating was that I was telling everyone that I worked with, you got to learn this stuff. This is amazing. And they kept coming to me and saying, "Oh, that's so cool that you like reading about this stuff." I don't learn best from books. I don't learn best from this. And it just made me so mad. I was like, "Neither do I. I learned best with a private tutor, doesn't everyone?" But I learn I don't have to min-max and optimize my learning the way Tim Ferriss would have you believe. It's okay to just learn at a non-optimal pace and improve, so.
Rob Collie (00:36:08): I'm going to zoom in on something that's a demonstration of integrity. The story about kicking off Excel and watching it grind for what you would realize would be like 15 minutes or whatever, maybe even longer in some cases. There's a different personality type that looks at that and goes, "Oh, hot damn." I have an excuse to screw around for the next 15 minutes. When I worked construction, I was sort of like the junior guy on the crew. Whenever the crew didn't want to do a whole lot of work for the rest of the day, they would just come up with a bunch of errands to send me on, "Oh, go get some nails, go walk a mile and a half through the sand to get nails and come back and then we'll do something." And I get back. I'm like, "All right, time to do that thing." Like, "No man, very close to the end of the day now." That bothered you that this thing was going to take that long. I'm with you, it would bother me too completely, right?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:36:58): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:36:58): I don't take it for granted because there are a lot of people that are like, "Yeah, that's just how long it takes. And I go on and I get my coffee or I play phone games, whatever it is. So that hole there's got to be a better way. This guy has got to be better than this, like that's very common, I think, amongst our people.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:37:13): Oh yeah, I think it's the most common thing amongst our people.
Rob Collie (00:37:17): There's got to be a better way that we should make that even into an ad campaign. Write that down somewhere.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:37:21): Yeah, probably.
Rob Collie (00:37:23): Yeah, please. But at the same time, that's not true of all humanity. I think it's the data gene folks that think this way. And then the other 95% of the world don't think that way. This is something that the people don't really think about. At least in the early days we're talking to them about Excel is that Excel is very, very inefficient at searching for and finding things. Well, of course, at the same time, we've got the CPU's on our computers these days, their frequency is measured in gigahertz, billions of calculations per second. And they've got more than one core. So the average machine that we're running these days might be capable of 10 billion calculations a second without any trouble.
Rob Collie (00:38:04): How the hell can anything be slow at 10 billion calculations per second. You were mentioning numbers in the hundreds of thousands and everything. Well, it turns out that if you're at a very, very, very inefficient search algorithm, because the storage structure of a spreadsheet wasn't optimized for it, finding matches is devastating. This is my challenge to the world. If you have a spreadsheet that you are tempted to put into manual recalc mode, where you ever see the percentage calculation progress meter in your spreadsheet. If ever see that, I can tell you without a doubt that you're doing something like VLOOKUP or SUMIF or array formulas that do those sorts of things, because you're absolutely using matching.
Rob Collie (00:38:47): It's the matching that makes Excel slow. And the DAX engine is lightning fast at matching. It's not even fair. So this thing that went from 15 minutes to sub-second in calculation. It was like, "Well, now the CPU is doing what it's supposed to do." It's one of those really unexpected reasons to upgrade from Excel to Power BI is you'll never have to wait on a recalc ever again. And it's just one tiny benefit out of a dozen monsters. I guess it's not tiny.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:39:17): Well no, it's not, but it's the truth in terms of tip of the iceberg of the incredible benefit that you get out of it. It's just an entire new way of thinking about your data and getting the answers. You get this feedback loop of, "Okay, I've solved that, I've solved that problem." So, now not only have I regained that time, that effort, but I'm asking a better, smarter question. So, I'm getting to the next layer over and over and over again.
Rob Collie (00:39:46): The company you're at before P3 was called Coloplast?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:39:49): Yeah. They sell ostomy bags and catheters. So a really, really great company, helping people with really devastating healthcare needs.
Rob Collie (00:39:59): The name. It sounds like a fat cell that contains a soft drink.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:40:04): Yeah, yeah, it does.
Rob Collie (00:40:05): It's like... So how many years in there when you started slinging DAX and M?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:40:12): Probably six months to a year.
Rob Collie (00:40:14): Six months is really just enough time to kind of acclimate yourself to the role.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:40:18): Yeah, I just was constantly taking too long to get things done for myself. And very quickly I heard about these new things and realized this is the better way. And I didn't have time not to learn at that point. It would cost me more time not to learn it than it would take to learn it.
Rob Collie (00:40:38): Do you even remember the person who first mentioned it to you?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:40:43): I do.
Rob Collie (00:40:44): Good.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:40:45): It was my boss. He said, "Oh, this Polish guy that we worked with, because we were global. We worked with people from all over the place. His tinkering with Power Query and Power Pivot. You should check, maybe that's the answer." He didn't know anything about it.
Thomas LaRock (00:40:58): But he had heard of it?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:40:59): He'd heard of it and then he paid for me to get videos from back when we were PowerPivotPro.
Rob Collie (00:41:05): The 2013 videos that I shot in Excel 2010.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:41:09): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:41:12): Because I was too upset about them renaming measures to be calculated fields in 2013. There was no way I was going to record for posterity sake. A bunch of videos calling it, calculated fields over and over again.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:41:23): Once I started learning it, it was a snowball that couldn't gain speed fast enough. It was just like, "Oh, let's redo this report, let's redo this dashboard. Let's take this entire business process and change the way we do it because we're going to eliminate all of these headaches or we're going to gain this new insight." And I couldn't do it fast enough to satisfy myself. And I don't mean like I wasn't good enough. So I couldn't do it fast enough. I mean like, "Give me more, let us do this more because everything needs to be done this way." It will solve so many of the headaches.
Rob Collie (00:42:02): So why'd you leave?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:42:02): I left to come to P3.
Rob Collie (00:42:05): I know that chronologically, but what was the enticement?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:42:08): So, it was at that point and this happened to many of the people that work with P3, when they want to talk about their stories. They're getting good enough at their last job before coming to P3. And they're starting to work in all kinds of different departments, because whispers are going out about this person who can do this thing. That was happening to me. And that was really my happy place at work. I still had a ton of traditional Excel stuff, but I was like, "Oh, Power Query, Power Pivot, Power BI. I love doing this." And I remember I was talking to my boss at the time. I was like, "Hey, can you send me to this foundations at Power BI training with this company PowerPivotPro puts on? Can you send me to this?"
Ryan Bergstrom (00:42:53): The company will give me five grand to get an MBA, but will you give me a thousand or 1500 or how much it costs to go do this foundation's Power BI course because like this will give me ROI for the company? The MBA, that's going to take years to get ROI. This is going to be immediate ROI. You're going to make your money back in a week after I get back from this course. "Ah, probably not, but I'll see what I can do." Well, meanwhile, there was a blog post by you saying were hiring.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:43:20): And I had applied and I was working through our diabolical DAX test. So I'm trying to get approved to come to a P3 training. And at the same time, I'm also applying to P3 and I ended up passing that test. I had an interview with Kellan and Austin on a Friday afternoon. And before I did that interview, I had a conversation with my boss. I was like, "Hey, my favorite part of my job, the part that just fills my happiness cup is doing all this work in Power pivot, Power Query, and Power BI. You got to get more of that in front of me, send me around the company, have me do it. That's what I needed to do. Also, I got to get that training approved. I got to go do that training."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:44:03): He's like, "All right, I'll see what I can do." So, then I go home and I have the interview with Austin and Kellan and offer the job on the phone call. The happiest day of my professional career. I was this pumping. It was very much like sci, like mute my microphone. I'm like fist bumping because, it turns out I was great. "We want to hire you." I didn't know I was that good at DAX at the time.
Rob Collie (00:44:24): How would you know, there's nothing to measure yourself against an environment like that?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:44:28): So I'm trying to get into this foundations training little did I realize like I was way past that.
Rob Collie (00:44:32): Yeah, you were lying to your manager about all that ROI you were going to get. You were already past all of that.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:44:38): Yeah, so I was wrong in hindsight, but I thought that that's what was... So then I come back to work on Monday after I've been offered the job, I get the offer letter over the weekend from you. I go into my manager's office and I was like, "Hey that class that I wanted to get approval for." He's like, "Oh, you know what I'm not going to be able to get approval for it. Not going to be able to do it. Sorry." I was like, "It's totally cool. I'm going to be teaching it." And I didn't say it in a mean way with, and my manager was like, "Oh really, what?" I was like, "Yeah, they hired me."I'm going to be doing it.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:45:16): And he was just like, "Oh, that's so amazing. I'm so happy for you." And he was just an absolute, he was a great guy, great manager, brilliant person. And that was the moment. It was like, "No, no, no, I'm actually going to be teaching it. I apparently I don't need to go to it because not only do I know the foundations, I'm very advanced it turns out." And that was the beginning of me with P3.
Rob Collie (00:45:37): So there's actually a really surprising parallel that are between your story and Krissy's. You both tried to get approval to take our training and were denied and ended up here instead. So let that be a lesson to you managers out there. Someone wants to take our training. If you want to keep them, you say yes.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:45:58): Pretty much, yeah. I always think back to that conversation, that weekend, it was a turning point because I was reading the books on the beach in The Bahamas. I was staying up late and instead of playing video games, instead of doing whatever, I was reading the manual on how to properly do data modeling and how to write DAX, I was reading release notes of Power BI, because I just saw the value. I just knew that this was not the next step. This was the elevator.
Rob Collie (00:46:37): If you're listening to this and you're wondering like, "Why are there so many people that so many, that started four years ago?" That's because that's when we started hiring full-time. We didn't have full-time jobs at P3. We had a lot of 1099 contractors or whatever. But when we really turned into the W-2 two full-time version about four years ago. So there's a reason that you and Krissy both sort of appeared at the same time.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:47:04): I remember when I came on board, I got to meet Krissy. I got to meet all the other consultants working for P3. I remember having the conversations like, "Oh hey, I'm Ryan, this is what I'm going to do, board games and barbecue and I'm kind of weird. I stay up late at night and I constantly am trying to read and figure out the better way to do things. It's a curse that I have." And everyone is just like, "Oh yeah, me too. I also do that." I can't stop thinking about the better way to solve these problems. And that has just been one of the threads that every single one of the consultants that work for P3 has woven into them, as well, is we're just wired that way. There are other people that know DAX, we're the best at it, but there are other people that are incredible at it too. But what I think we're the best at is not just Power BI or DAX or Power Query, it's understanding a problem and finding the solution the fastest. That's what I think we're the best at.
Rob Collie (00:48:09): I think we're the best consulting firm. If pure DAX is an Olympic sport, I'm not sure anyone from our company would be the gold medalist in the world. It just that we'd be close. We might be on the podium, but yeah, it's the impact. It's the human impact. The shortest path to impact. And that comes through the tweeners, the people who move through the human and business plane as easily as they move through the tech plane. You are, even though you didn't expect it, didn't set out to be it weren't studying to be it.
Rob Collie (00:48:40): You have, just like Krissy, just like everyone in our company, you have a deep technical capability that we tend to associate with like I went to engineering school or something. You have that in your brain, those structures are in your brain. We just don't expect it. I think it's so beautiful. And at the same time, a little bit sad that there's so much latent, untapped quality engineering talent that's sort of languishing in tweeners. That have yet to find their valuable niche. Of course, it's part of our business model, you know?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:49:15): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:49:16): Something's truly, truly beautiful about this. As a senior director here, how recently has it been that you've been puzzling over a data model or a DAX or an M problem?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:49:29): Yesterday.
Rob Collie (00:49:30): Well, that long ago, huh?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:49:31): I was on a sales call and she was stumped and she had sent me the Power BI user form post that she made. And I took a peek at it while I was on the call with her. And I was like, "Wow, this is a really well documented problem." I was like, "You got like DAX studio queries in here. You got profile queries in here." I was like, "You're advanced, you know that right?" And she's like, "Well, I don't know about that." I'm like, "No, no, no, trust me, you are. You are an advanced user. You are very good." And I was like, "Well, I think that this is your answer. Your team needs training." She showed me her data model. I was like, "You really don't need our help with project consulting." Which I'm thrilled that I get to say that to people like, think about that. A customer called us and rather than me being like, "Oh, you need us to consult on your project."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:50:18): I was like, "Oh no, you, you got this." Like, "You're solid, but this is what you're missing." And I gave her an idea to work with and we're following back up with training. But all of the consultants on my team will periodically come to me with data problems. I like to joke that maybe I have an aura of problem solving, to put it into a video game sense because they'll be explaining the problem and I'll be so excited to throw my input and I'll have ideas and I'm waiting to talk, because I've listened enough. So, now I'm done listening. Now, I'm just waiting to talk because I want them to be able to explain the whole thing to me. And before I can offer any sort of suggestion, they're like, "Oh I think I solved it." Yeah, and I'm like, "No, I was going suggest that idea too." But no, before they get to me, they saw with themselves-
Rob Collie (00:51:08): That's-
Ryan Bergstrom (00:51:08): ... over and over again.
Rob Collie (00:51:09): Yeah, that happens all the time like by the time you're done formulating a question in a way that another human being like you've refined it to the point where you can transmit the question in the process you uncover its fundamentals, the fundamentals of the problem. And that allows you to unlock it. That happens so many times. I've been on the receiving end and the transmitting end of that dynamic, just so many times of my career. All right, yeah that's it. And the person who's being asked the question sits there and goes, "Well, I'm glad I could help."
Ryan Bergstrom (00:51:40): Yeah, that's pretty much the tone I use when I say that too. Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:51:44): That is the only tone that you're allowed to use actually, right?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:51:46): Yeah, yeah. My way [crosstalk 00:51:48] is done.
Rob Collie (00:51:49): I'm glad that we still have ways and opportunities for you to engage with those sorts of things because you know what happens, is you get into management and you get removed from all the things that brought you in the first place. Do you get a sustained diet of stuff like that or is that like I happen to ask you on a day that you just had a nice snack the day before?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:52:07): Yeah, a little bit of that, but it's relatively sustained. It's not as much as when I was a principal consultant, but a couple times a month, at least people are coming to me and showing me the things and I'm helping them out, getting them suggestions. The difference now is that the things that I get to work on are always way more complex than when I was a principal consultant, because people only come to me with the hard stuff.
Rob Collie (00:52:32): Yeah.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:52:33): And that's not because I'm better than them. It's just that that's when they are stumped and they need to bounce an idea of someone.
Rob Collie (00:52:42): I rarely get to do modeling in DAX anymore, less frequently than you. But with this podcast, the dashboards that we've been developing, I've been developing primarily with some Kellan help on the data fetching side. I've been working on this measure for a while, that it turns out that the DAX complexity of it is only part of it. The biggest problem with it is the real world. The real world nature of the problem. It's like I'm trying to calculate for a given episode how much lift it offers sort of in a durable sense. People come in to listen to this episode, do they stick around and become subscribers? But the thing is no one's telling us a subscriber count. It'd be really nice to know like, "Oh look, we went plus 20 or plus 20% or something like that in terms of subscribers after this episode." And we go, "Okay, that's a good episode for introducing our podcast to people." We should do things like that more often, but no one tells us how many people are subscribing.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:53:41): Really?
Rob Collie (00:53:42): No, we don't have a subscriber metric. We just have the number of downloads of an episode.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:53:46): How do they know what the most popular podcast in the world? Because of downloads.
Rob Collie (00:53:50): Apple knows if you're subscribed or not, but apple doesn't tell us the subscriber account. They hoard that information, and the same thing with Spotify and all of that. So all we know is how many times a client comes to our RSSV to download the audio file. And we know where it came from. We know that it came from Spotify, whatever. We haven't gotten too deep into it. It might be that there are some stats somewhere in Apple that we can get to, for instance. We have to like divine subscribers, and it turns out it's just a really noisy, noisy, complicated problem. The number of listens to episodes is going up over time. So there's just sort of a natural upward progression. So you can't just say, "Oh, it went up. It was sort of already kind of naturally going up.
Rob Collie (00:54:37): So you got to say, "Did it go up faster than it had been?" It's what you've kind of got to look at. So now you're looking at sort of the local area of the curve, right before and right after the episode. And it just turns out that if there's a real ringer of an episode, right before or right after that episode, it distorts the hell out of everything. It's just like, I've really, really, really enjoyed that problem because it is so slippery. It is so difficult and it is so valuable if we can crack it. I think the answer is we just fundamentally need more granular source data, which of course is often the case, but it's been a nice week, long puzzle to screw around with.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:55:14): Yeah, what do you like measuring acceleration?
Rob Collie (00:55:17): Essentially, but it turns out that if every episode's pressing the gas pedal a little bit and taking it off, press, press, press. How do you follow Aroon?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:55:25): Yeah, that's what I was just thinking.
Rob Collie (00:55:26): As a guest, right? If you come after the corporate VP of Power BI, you're going to be judged as bad for listens.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:55:35): Well, thanks for having a few episodes in before you go me on there.
Rob Collie (00:55:39): Oh, you're following Krissy. You're still screwed.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:55:40): Oh no, yeah. I take that back. Curses to you.
Rob Collie (00:55:48): We really screwed you over here, man. I can't wait to show you the dashboard that shows how much you suck. And here's what we call the inverted Bergs from peak.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:55:59): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:56:01): The [crosstalk 00:56:02] Bergs from trench.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:56:03): I'm going to get approached by saboteurs to put me on other podcasts now.
Rob Collie (00:56:08): It took some very sophisticated DAX to identify this, all right. All right, so you've been here for some very, very, very rapidly changing formative years.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:56:18): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:56:19): In our business. It's sort of just as almost like the mythical extraterrestrial anthropologist looking in from the outside. What are some of your observations about the nature of what we're doing and what we've been figuring out and how we're different?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:56:35): I've seen us continue to evolve really with the power platform stack because it's grown quite a bit, really in the last four years. You got Power Automate now you got Power apps. You got things that aren't quite power platform stack like Azure data factory that are coming out at new ways to do et. Al. And when I came on, we were very focused on just Power BI and Pivot and Power Query as our core competencies. They still are because there's still the greatest need for what I would call the simple things. They're not necessarily the simple things as I've learned. I was advanced. I wasn't just a foundations person, but in corporate America, the use cases we see all the time, they're not always cutting edge craziness. It's just helping people do the basics faster. But as we've evolved now, multiple times will implement these very complex enterprise solutions that our titles are principal consultants. But in the workplace you would have people with principal solution architect or senior solution architect doing these things that we're doing.
Rob Collie (00:57:48): Plus a team of people with a title that ends in the word developer.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:57:51): Oh yeah. Be developer, senior developer, pretty developer, all these things. And we're coming in and we have the end user's perspective. A joke that you make all the time is databases are often set to write only. No one actually looks at the data once they go in.
Rob Collie (00:58:09): That's right. It's stored though. It's there. Trust me.
Ryan Bergstrom (00:58:12): We go in and we're focused pretty much exclusively on how are you going to use this solution we implement to make your company better, to save you time, to make you more money, to save you money, to reduce headaches for your end users? So, we truly do have an end-to-end user experience in mind versus we're going to solve this data problem. We're not solving a data problem. We're solving human problems using data. And the majority of the work is focused on Power BI. But when we do these huge data solutions, oftentimes that end Power BI users who we have in mind. So, we're able to do the crazy backend solution architecture in a way that makes the most sense for Power BI to thrive.
Rob Collie (00:59:00): I like it.
Thomas LaRock (00:59:01): It's not going to fit in the t-shirt
Rob Collie (00:59:05): All right, so as a board gamer and a disciple of DAX, did you cross paths with some of the fun stuff over the years? Did you ever look at the Pokemon optimizer blog post, you got anything like that? Have you ever used any Power BI for personal or gaming purposes or anything along those lines?
Ryan Bergstrom (00:59:22): I used it to track a weight loss dashboard that my friend and I did last year. Every day I was sharing screenshots of my little health and wellness personal dashboard to show trend lines of where we were going to end up at the end of our little 75 day challenge. I did see the Pokemon blog. I looked at the Pokemon data model. I was quite happy with it. I've always wanted to build some sort of daily sports betting data model, but I don't sports bet. So it's really to like an idea that I think sounds fun.
Rob Collie (00:59:54): Our only two time guest on the show, Michael Salfino is now associated with an outfit called BetPrep. You should look it up.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:00:04): Okay, I'm going to definitely look that up.
Rob Collie (01:00:05): Look up BetPrep and we can bring Mike back around. Maybe not even for the show, maybe we'll talk to him behind the scenes and get some DAX in there for them or something, who knows. I don't know what they're doing over there, but he was telling a story on it's the football off season, but they did one podcast talking about the draft and he was talking about, and some of the sports they're not as thoroughly analyzed as football is at this point. During the championship game of the final four, Baylor versus Gonzaga, they allow live betting now. You can place bets at various points during the game.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:00:41): Oh really?
Rob Collie (01:00:42): And Mike was telling the story about how his buddy, who he works with on BetPrep was just killing it because Gonzaga was the favorite. They were the one that was supposed to win. Early in the game they're down like, I didn't watch the game, but apparently that I down nine or 12 to nothing in the first several minutes. And at the time out, the algorithm that's setting the odds for the live bet is still too heavily believing in the favorite. That algorithm was going, "Okay, Gonzaga's going to still come back and win this." But everyone who was watching the game was like, "Oh, I don't know." And so he just kept every time out, he would bet on Baylor and just cleaned up. There's still some frontiers out there that are even in the gambling world where there's still some sort of unguarded doors, apparently. I don't know. I would've had no idea that any of that kind of stuff was even been going on, but.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:01:35): No, you always just assume that the sports betting world has hired all the big brain betting thinkers to produce those algorithms. But it's just not true.
Rob Collie (01:01:47): Well, I mean, they have, but anything that's new might be vulnerable. I bet that next year's algorithms are going to be a lot better.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:01:55): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:01:56): That was probably a one time exploit in a way.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:01:59): I doubt it.
Rob Collie (01:02:00): Yeah. Oh man, just the idea of live betting during a game. I mean, it just seems like such a cliff to step off of. If I walked into that, I might not ever come out. I'm going to stay away from the idea of betting in real time. I don't bet at all, but for some reason I think the real time betting would really hook me and I want nothing to do with it.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:02:24): Certainly keeps you interested in the game the whole time.
Rob Collie (01:02:27): Well, if you have a decent fantasy football, you know-
Ryan Bergstrom (01:02:30): Can you imagine how much money would've been lost or one during the Patriots-Falcon Super Bowl when they were down three, four touchdowns at halftime?
Rob Collie (01:02:40): Yeah, yeah. This was something that also we talked about with Mike on the show was like, "If the win probability models keep saying that there was like a 99.8% chance that you going to lose and you still won or vice versa, is the model actually accurate?" Are the Falcons really that bad, because they've now lost multiple games where they had a 99 plus percent chance of winning in a short span of time? They just keep doing it. It's not just the Super Bowl. If they've managed to pull it off repeatedly, does that mean that the Falcons are just really, really that incompetent?
Thomas LaRock (01:03:12): Yes.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:03:12): Makes you wonder if that's a data point now in calculating the 99%?
Rob Collie (01:03:17): Yeah.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:03:17): Is Falcons equals true?
Rob Collie (01:03:19): I had the idea that them having pulled that off indicates that it's going to be harder to have a 99% win probability in the future. The model's going to get smarter.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:03:27): Oh, that too probably.
Rob Collie (01:03:31): And go, "Well, I've seen crazier shit than this", says the model. "So we're only going to give you 97 or something."
Thomas LaRock (01:03:36): Hey man, I've enjoyed this, hope you have as well.
Ryan Bergstrom (01:03:39): Yeah, this has been really fun.
Announcer (01:03:41): 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 day-to-day.
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