Raw Data By P3 Adaptive
Something Bigger than Yourself, w/ Microsoft’s Miguel EscobarListen Now:
Today, we reunite two old friends with a penchant for writing books for people adjacent to tech as we welcome Miguel Escobar to the show. If you use Power Query or Power BI, you might have heard of Miguel. He is the co-author of several books on Power Query, Power BI, Power Pivot, and DAX. He is also part of the expert trifecta that created Skill Wave training and he is now an integral part of Microsoft working to make Power Query better for all users. He and Rob reminisce about book deals, DAX, training, and writing in a voice for the people, instead of for the tech giants. But, most importantly, you get the inside scoop on the data-cleaning drudgery that was Excel and analytics before the DAX and Power Query data revolution.
Miguel and Rob trade entertaining stories of how Excel gives people a competitive edge in the job market but somehow remains a fundamentally underappreciated skill during the educational years. After all, it’s not just about the tool, what matters is what people do with it, how they use it, and how it has changed the trajectory of their careers. After hearing a few of these stories, you’re going to want to send a tweet to Tom to encourage him to finally admit that Power Query deserves a spot in the Software Hall of Fame.
This episode isn’t all about Power Query, though as we also learn a little about the eclectic taste in music our hosts share as well as some interesting tidbits regarding songwriting and the musical process. Miguel opens up about his passion for music and composition as he shares some personal insight into the process of collaborating and creating music in the digital world. If you listen closely, you can even hear some of his work spliced into this podcast in a musical first for us. Of course, you can hear Miguel’s song: Someday, Somehow (feat. Chris Cron) in its entirety across multiple musical platforms. Be sure to give it a listen and share it with a friend.
As always, if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform to help others find us.
Also in this episode:
Good Will Hunting – I don’t understand the piano
Miguel Escobar: Geo Flow using Panama’s Census Data
DAX formulas for power pivot: A Simple Guide to the Excel Revolution
Major Key / Minor Key culturally different
Power Query Saves Christmas w/ Gus Miranda
Rob Collie(00:00:00): Hello, friends, today, we welcome Miguel Escobar to the show. It is not an exaggeration to say that Miguel and I go way back, like to the beginning of this whole thing. This whole Power Platform revolution, this journey of discovery that traces back well over 10 years in my life. Well, that exact same timeline is true of Miguel's life as well, and what a journey it has been for both of us. So imagine this, it's 2010. You haven't heard of Power Pivot yet. There is no such thing as Power Query. That's still three years in the future. And you, you're Miguel in this story. You're working in Panama where you live, and you're basically functioning as a human ETL process for Box Office receipts, you see this video from Mr. Excel and your life is never the same again. A few years later, you are in business, you have created an international consortium with fellow rock stars, Matt Allington and Ken Puls.
(00:01:02): You know that Panama, Canada, Australia access that's responsible for so many things in the world? You've heard of the access of evil. Well, this is the access of query. Now, in many ways, that collaboration with Matt and Ken called Skillwave, you could think of that legitimately as like the pinnacle of a career. Ken and Matt are amazing, as is Miguel. But today, Miguel finds himself working at Microsoft on Power Query, still living in Panama, enabled by this brave new world of remote work. And I cannot underline this enough, Miguel wants to be, no, needs to be part of something larger than himself. I think that's true of many of us, certainly true for me. But even though I think most of us share that desire, Miguel is very clear with himself that it is a guiding principle in his career and in his life.
(00:01:59): And that is a distinction, very much worth noting. We talk a fair bit about music because he's really, really deep in music and also brings that international collaboration vibe again to that space. Speaking of music, we actually have courtesy of Miguel, some of his original music, and you will hear it in this episode. So if this was Saturday Night Live, Miguel would be both our guest host and our musical guest rolled into one. At one point, we had an authentic and heartfelt conversation about why I stopped providing detailed product feedback to Microsoft. And then near the end, we address a grave injustice. The injustice in question being Power Query's purgatory status for the Software Hall of Fame. And fortunately, Tom was here to co-host and play the role of villain. I do think that I started to detect near the end there some signs of Tom's heart thawing on this crucial, crucial issue such as the power of Miguel. Okay, enough preamble. Let's get into it.
Announcer (00:03:06): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?
Announcer (00:03:11): 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(00:03:35): Welcome to the show, Miguel Escobar. How are you today, sir?
Miguel Escobar (00:03:40): Pretty good, man. How are you?
Rob Collie(00:03:42): Fantastic. You can't get past it. My first impression when you join here on the video portion of this chat, quite the setup behind you there. You've got the acoustic panels, which look varied, like avant garde. It's like a sculpture on your wall. We've got the drum set. Is that a purple bass guitar? See, I have no musical talent whatsoever. However, I think bass would be my thing.
Miguel Escobar (00:04:07): Didn't you used to play the guitar back in day, man?
Rob Collie(00:04:10): No, no. I wish. I'd hate to interrupt your legend. Paint me as more talented than I am, but I distinctly have these memories of being at concerts and before the band comes out, looking at all the instruments on stage and thinking to myself, oh my God, they're going to come out here and those inert objects, they're going to pick those things up and they're going to turn that into, Jerry Was a Race Car Driver, and it's like, just blows my mind. So, purple is my favorite color, and I love bass. 98% of the music I listen to features the bass somehow. I see behind you a purple bass guitar. I got to say it's probably not a decoration for you. You probably actually know how to use that thing, and I'm very jealous. You've got some songs out, isn't that right?
Miguel Escobar (00:05:06): Yeah, man. I mean, you wrote a book. That's an artist as well, man. So you're an artist as well.
Rob Collie(00:05:10): I pulled this off my shelf today. Did you know that I had a copy of this?
Miguel Escobar (00:05:17): Yeah, man, you told me. I wonder if you have any in other languages because you have the one in Spanish.
Rob Collie(00:05:22): No. Okay, so there's only three editions of my first book. The English edition, then we had the Spanish edition translated painstakingly by you, and then we had the Australian edition, which I know you're like, wait a second, don't the Australian speak English? Yes, they do. They do. But apparently, and this is just a joke, apparently Australians have better eyesight, so they go with a smaller format of book.
Miguel Escobar (00:05:45): I see.
Rob Collie(00:05:46): A smaller page size. And also because it was just really expensive to print over there relative to in the US. And so when Matt Allington wanted to have the book reprinted so he could sell it in Australia, it was way cheaper to print it in Australia than have it shipped there. And there was a big, big, big price difference in printing it at full size versus like 80%. So I had this other version of the book upstairs, I didn't bring it down here with me. It's kind of the mini me. It's the netbook to the laptop sort of analogy.
Miguel Escobar (00:06:15): That's a whole new level, man. I have to speak with Ken. So we can actually make that happen as well.
Rob Collie(00:06:19): Yeah.
Miguel Escobar (00:06:19): I don't think that we have a specific 80% version.
Rob Collie(00:06:23): Maybe things have changed too. This was just the options that Matt could find for printing the book in Australia. So let's let people in on the backstory here. I wrote my first book on DAX, geniusly titled, DAX Formulas for Power Pivot. Worst book title ever. I regretted it almost immediately. And at some point you and I had been interacting in the comments section on my blog. I think you suggested, "Hey, can we do a Spanish edition"? And we did. Right? So do you remember how that played out?
Miguel Escobar (00:06:57): I reached out to you, "Hey, what are your thoughts on having this in Spanish"? Then you put me in touch with Bill and then we actually figured things out. I don't remember how everything started to be honest With you.
Rob Collie(00:07:09): I don't either.
Miguel Escobar (00:07:10): It was over 10 years ago at this point.
Rob Collie(00:07:12): Yeah, long time, right?
Miguel Escobar (00:07:13): Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:07:14): Do you regret going through that tremendous amount of labor translating this thing. That was no joke. I don't think we sold a million copies or anything.
Miguel Escobar (00:07:24): I don't regret it, man. I see it as an eyeopener. It gave me the perspective on how different people from Latin America are in reading a book or how they interpret the book. And what is the Spanish neutral, what is actually Spanish from Spain? What is Spanish from Panama? You are here, man. So you probably heard a lot of people in Spanish speaking like Spanglish.
Rob Collie(00:07:44): I'm not sophisticated enough of an observer. Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama. I would never come back from those places and say, "Hey, the dialect was different". I cannot differentiate.
Miguel Escobar (00:07:55): But I'm pretty sure that while you were here, you overheard someone saying something in English and then switching back to Spanish right away.
Rob Collie(00:08:01): Yeah, I think that happens. But I always chalk that up though. Almost like American cultural imperialism.
Miguel Escobar (00:08:07): Kind of. And I guess that Panama is quite specific because we had the US base all the way until 1999. The Canal was under US administration. So a lot of the culture that we have, it is heavily influenced by the US.
Rob Collie(00:08:25): A tremendous amount of industrial activity and military activity concentrated in what is a very geographically narrow country. It's going to have a tremendous amount of influence, I bet. I want you to read the title of the translated book because I don't want to murder it.
Miguel Escobar (00:08:43): It says Formulas DAX para Power Pivot: Una guia simple hacia la revolucion de Excel.
Rob Collie(00:08:49): Awesome.
Miguel Escobar (00:08:50): And that was the key. The key was that little thing that is actually ingrained like I towards the Excel revolution. That was key.
Rob Collie(00:08:57): That subtitle saved it.
Miguel Escobar (00:08:59): That was the motivational part.
Rob Collie(00:09:00): Yeah. DAX Formula's is for Power Pivot is a title was trying to scare people off. But then the Simple Guide to the Excel Revolution.
Miguel Escobar (00:09:08): It's like if you have something like a guide towards the major scale.
Rob Collie(00:09:13): Sorry, the what?
Miguel Escobar (00:09:14): The major scale in music-
Rob Collie(00:09:15): Oh, you're talking over my head now? Yeah. So the major scale, minor key, that kind of thing.
Miguel Escobar (00:09:22): That kind of thing. And then at the bottom the subtitle says, How to Make a Song Sound Happy.
Rob Collie(00:09:27): So while we're on that topic just for a moment, as a really impressive little side light, I can't begin to define what the minor key versus major key, what that is. I've read the definitions a million times. What's interesting to me is that it's claimed that there's nothing about the major key that should be happier. It's just a cultural thing that the major key is considered happy, and the minor key isn't. So you can hear the imperial march from Star Wars, which is in the minor key. It's very foreboding and scary. And then you hear it in the major key, and it's like this uptempo John Phillips is a [inaudible 00:10:05]. But apparently some cultures consider the major key to be scary. Blows my mind.
Miguel Escobar (00:10:10): Yeah, there's a lot of things like that, little nuances like that that can actually help you when you're trying to convey a message. If you want to make it happy, you want to make it dreamy, for example, you got to find the skill. At the end of the day, it is all math, believe it or not.
Rob Collie(00:10:24): Yeah. Yeah. I remember reading Quincy Jones badass music producer talking about you've got to also use that left brain to make good music. Right brain is important. Bring the left brain too. Then the interviewer later on asked him, "Well, what's an example of that? Who's doing a really good job of that these days?" And his answer just floored me. It was like Paul Allen, we're out on his boat. We're doing it. Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen, unfortunately no longer with us, but to hear Quincy Jones say Paul Allen, I really wanted to know, did he ever release anything? I have no idea. I think you said you wrote a book or did you say books?
Miguel Escobar (00:11:06): Yeah, I should probably say co-wrote because it wasn't just me.
Rob Collie(00:11:10): I got to tell you that I owe you a retroactive apology of sorts. I mean, not of sorts. I really do actually feel bad about something today, was when I went to get this book off the shelf. Your name's not on the spine, man. I mean, mine isn't either, but my name's on the front and yours isn't. And I'm thinking to myself like, Hey, what kind of arsehole does that? And then I go, I don't remember, but it must have been me. No, who did this? Who's the villain? And I'm thinking like, oh my God, it had to be me. What was wrong with me at that point in my life? That is not cool. At least I hope I would never allow something like that to happen today. And I'm so sorry, bud.
Miguel Escobar (00:11:51): I never even thought about it. Now that you're bringing it up.
Rob Collie(00:11:54): Yeah, now you're angry. Now you should be.
Miguel Escobar (00:11:59): Nah, at the end of day, I think that I told you this, and I think I told Bill this, if you want to make it public as well, there was no advanced royalties or anything like that. It wasn't really about the money. I think that the vast majority of the money was going for you guys, for Bill and yourself. I just wanted to share this revolution with everyone in Spanish. And I guess that at that time I was one of the pioneers in the Spanish community about Power Pivot. Totally. And then Power Query came along and then that changed my life basically.
Rob Collie(00:12:33): We'll get to that for sure. So I actually do remember even before you said it, I do remember that part of us talking about the translation of the book. I do remember you very clearly saying to me, there's not a lot of awareness of this power pivot thing down here in Latin America. And a big part of it was that there's no translated content. And this is back at a point in time when it still hadn't yet dawned on the broader BI community that this was something that, for example, daks was something that they needed to be in on.
Miguel Escobar (00:13:05): Yeah, this was the end of 2011, I believe. Early 2012.
Rob Collie(00:13:09): We were really super early to this revolution. We barely had English content.
Miguel Escobar (00:13:16): It was just Jules, Casper and Marco basically, and Chris Web.
Rob Collie(00:13:21): Yeah. Some of those other people, maybe not Casper, they were still splitting their time between old and new. And I didn't have any legacy to take care of. I didn't have any legacy content to take care of or any legacy reputation to maintain. So I had the luxury at the time of being all new stuff, and yet that's still a very small amount of content. So I do remember you saying that part of the mission was to raise awareness. I absolutely do remember that. Do you remember how you discovered Power Pivot so early?
Miguel Escobar (00:13:51): I think that it was a video from Bill. It was a video from Bill in 2010, something like that. He was probably saying something like Power Pivot is like Pivot Tables on some steroids. It was one of those videos. I was like, I got to try this man because I need it. And it went from there. The first person that actually taught me about Power Pivot and DAX, it was one of the Power Pivot workshops that Marco and Alberto did in 2011. I had that back in November 2011, I think. And I was still in my last job before I went solo, basically.
Rob Collie(00:14:24): So they were teaching those workshops in person or did you do it online?
Miguel Escobar (00:14:28): Online. That was online. They also had some in person, I didn't have the funds to actually travel all the way and pay those fees.
Rob Collie(00:14:36): Hey, look at that. They were doing virtual training in 2011, pioneers. That's a really, really, really long time ago for doing live virtual training. Once again, hats off to them. I'm out of hats. I've been taking so many of them off to Marco and Alberto. I don't have any hats left to take off. So you discovered it through a Bill Jelen video, a Mr. Excel video. Doesn't take much of a genius to say this, right? You were huddled around the Excel campfire. So what was your job?
Miguel Escobar (00:15:06): I was a sales analyst for 20 Century Fox here in Central America. Have you ever heard about a site called Box Office Mojo?
Rob Collie(00:15:14): Yeah.
Miguel Escobar (00:15:14): So imagine that. I was a guy reporting the Box Office of the day for all Central America. But yeah, I was a guy that set up the whole structure, the whole data mart, the whole BI for that company back then, and it was all around Power Pivot.
Rob Collie(00:15:30): Awesome, awesome. Yeah, I do now remember, so were you just getting all these data feeds from theaters and stuff?
Miguel Escobar (00:15:36): Back then it was the Stone Age. So every single theater finished their shift, imagine, at 11:40 PM something like that and they will have to send an email to me, with this spreadsheet or pdf, something like that. Nowadays it's more automated because it goes directly as a feed to our third party, this other party that just consolidates everything. It aggregates everything and then sells it to the company. And that's exactly how, for example, someone like Box Office Mojo gets their data. They just buy it from the third party.
Rob Collie(00:16:09): Wow. Okay. So these were emails.
Miguel Escobar (00:16:12): These were emails.
Rob Collie(00:16:13): I can imagine the quality-
Miguel Escobar (00:16:14): Yeah, man.
Rob Collie(00:16:15): ... of this data was top notch. I can imagine it, there's probably some emails, some real outliers that are along the lines of, "Yeah, it's about the same as last night".
Miguel Escobar (00:16:28): People just forgot to put a number. They maybe put the number of attendance, but they didn't put what was profit or revenue for that specific...
Rob Collie(00:16:36): Or they had the shift key down when they pressed the 1, so you get an exclamation point. It's so hard to spot that looking at thousands of stuff.
Miguel Escobar (00:16:44): And around that you can imagine, hey, we will put something in place to validate that the data makes sense. You wouldn't want to see something like, "Hey, you made $1 million on the screen", or I guess you'll call it studio, we call it screens down here in Panama. You only had two people, so each person paid half a million to actually see a movie.
Rob Collie(00:17:01): Yeah, yeah.
Miguel Escobar (00:17:02): You'll have things like that to actually help you make sure that you have some data quality
Rob Collie(00:17:06): And you didn't have Power Query. Then you got all these separate emails that even if the data quality was perfect, right? If they hadn't messed anything up and oh my God, all of the columns that they were sending you were always exactly the same order and name the same things. If all of that was going according to plan, but you're still lacking the Power Query move. Were you doing the things what I was doing, which using the DOS Prompt to copy two CSV files into the same file. Were you using VBA? I lived it, but it sounds awful.
Miguel Escobar (00:17:39): It was beyond just Power Pivot at that point, because that was kind of my first PM approach ever where I had to create the overall process around how we're going to be handling data. And we did end up hiring someone to actually take care of all the data and be the creators steward of the data. And then there will be the data analytics side. Power Pivot will just connect into that database.
Rob Collie(00:18:05): So you had a human Power Query?
Miguel Escobar (00:18:07): A human, yeah. At that point, it was a human Power Query. Nowadays that person primarily, it's more of an auditor, just makes sure that the data that is actually in there makes sense. And she validates every now and then with the theaters if the figures reported by this third party are actually correct.
Rob Collie(00:18:27): Right. So going backwards a little bit, how did you get that job?
Miguel Escobar (00:18:30): I just applied, man. I had a phone interview with the person that was going to be my manager and my one step above my manager. Still friends with that guy. My manager retired. But yeah, the one that was above me-
Rob Collie(00:18:43): Skip level. Yeah.
Miguel Escobar (00:18:45): Yeah, skip level. He's a really cool guy, man. He did a voiceover in one of the Fox movies. I remember it was Rio. Rio 1 or Rio 2. I can't remember which one.
Rob Collie(00:18:54): That's awesome. Rio is like working in a movie studio, right?
Miguel Escobar (00:18:57): Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:18:57): Or at least adjacent to all of that. What I was really fishing for was that when you were applying for that job, you had to know that this was going to be a spreadsheet job. It's kind of like, I'm going backwards to where was the first collision with spreadsheets where you were like, Ooh, I like this. When did that happen?
Miguel Escobar (00:19:17): So the first time that I actually got acquainted, I guess with spreadsheets. I've been working since I was 18. Primarily because my family was in a really, really bad financial state. But the reason why I started working was I just wanted to get the debt out of my family completely. For me back then, just coming out of high school, the first thing that I was able to find was a call center job. So I was a call center agent. I remember that the first time that I spoke with someone, it was for a project in San Diego. It was for a newspaper called The San Diego Union-Tribune. And I was the guy who you will call, you will probably tell something like, "Hey, I didn't get the newspaper today. When are you going to deliver"? I will probably tell you like, "Hey, no worries"-
Rob Collie(00:19:59): I'll be right there.
Miguel Escobar (00:20:03): And then within around four to five months within that job or me playing that role, there was a job opening and there was this role that they called the workforce coordinator. Those people, they use a lot of Excel. I just wanted to have that side change.
Rob Collie(00:20:22): It's a step up, right? If you're good at Job X, sooner or later someone comes to you and says, "Hey, how about job X plus one"?
Miguel Escobar (00:20:31): Yeah. It seemed like a different path. So I spoke with this person, my manager, Anna, she was amazing, still a friend of mine. She was the one that actually taught me how to use Pivot Tables.
Rob Collie(00:20:41): Like your vampire mother person who gave you the disease, a very benevolent disease, Pivot Tables.
Miguel Escobar (00:20:49): Yeah. She taught me everything that I knew at the time about Pivot Tables, and I saw that as a competitive edge, learning more about technical stuff on Excel. There was a huge demand for analysts around Panama. There's a lot of multinational companies, primarily from the US here in Panama.
Rob Collie(00:21:07): When you first said, "Hey, I started at 18 with Excel, I wanted to get my family out of debt." My first picture was, oh, he's plotting the interest payments and all of that and formulating a dig out plan in Excel. If I understand it correctly now, which you really did, was just go get a job, do a good job at it because you were motivated, right? And then get noticed and get offered the next job up, which just happened to be involving Excel, right?
Miguel Escobar (00:21:33): Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:21:33): And now here, here's the key thing though at that moment is that most people get that job in your story and go, oh, oh, this Excel sucks. Maybe they stick with it, but they are not going to take to it. That's the thing that we always like to laugh about. It's the data gene. Not everyone has it.
Miguel Escobar (00:21:54): What I can tell you is Anna... I guess Anna, I haven't spoken with her in a while, but yeah, she, she's doing great last time that I saw her. She's not so technical anymore into Excel. It's me usually trying to catch her up, "Hey, look at what's actually new". So it's more like the Padawan is now the master.
Rob Collie(00:22:13): That whole Padawan is the master thing, is a very common feeling for me. All the people that I helped introduce to this stuff that can run absolute circles around me today, including you. Not a bad place to be helping people take to something that they end up far exceeding you in. Once you get your own ego out of the way, it's pretty awesome. Totally random question. Do you play the guitar with fingers or a pick? Bass guitar.
Miguel Escobar (00:22:35): Bass guitar? Fingers Only. If it's something like super punk, then yeah, it does require a pick.
Rob Collie(00:22:41): It's just one of those things I'm always very curious about. It blows my mind that the guy in Tool plays with the pick. Primus Claypool, no pick. It's just like what? Or if you watch The Terrible, I mean, it was great in the same sense like a train wreck is great. If you watch the Metallica documentary, some kind of monster when they're auditioning Trujillo and they're like, "Don't you need a pick"? He's like, Nope. And it's like, hmm, okay. His thumb is a pick. That was an important side light. Had to get that out of my brain.
Miguel Escobar (00:23:16): [inaudible 00:23:16]is to see if you actually heard the song, man. I sent it to Christopher, but I don't know if you actually heard the song, my song?
Rob Collie(00:23:23): I promise you I listened to it. I also promise you I don't remember it. These are not the same thing.
Miguel Escobar (00:23:29): Here's the thing, I'm looking at the Spotify analytics that I don't see you here, man. Your name isn't here.
Rob Collie(00:23:33): Oh, come on. Oh, I don't have a Spotify account.
Miguel Escobar (00:23:36): What do you use?
Rob Collie(00:23:38): I use Apple Music.
Miguel Escobar (00:23:39): So those are the only two platforms that give the artists some sort of statistics around your track.
Rob Collie(00:23:47): Are you on Apple Music?
Miguel Escobar (00:23:48): Yep.
Rob Collie(00:23:50): Well, so maybe that's where I listened to it. Now you can go check Apple Music and tell me I'm a liar too, but what's the name of the song?
Miguel Escobar (00:23:58): Oh, come on man. You don't even know.
Rob Collie(00:24:00): No, I don't remember.
Miguel Escobar (00:24:02): Oh man.
Rob Collie(00:24:03): I don't remember anything. This is not an indictment of anything particular to you. I mean, okay, look, I remember some very, very, very specific things. I have this brain that takes a snapshot at random moments that I don't choose, and I get super, super, super high fidelity memory of that like 25 years later. What happened three hours ago at my house? I don't recall a lot of times. You'll see examples of both. You don't remember that? And staggering, I can't believe you remember that. I don't have a reliable memory at the middle of the bell curve.
Thomas LaRock (00:24:32): That's just called getting older.
Rob Collie(00:24:34): Yeah, getting old hasn't helped, Tom. I mean, it really hasn't, but I can't really just blame this on age.
Thomas LaRock (00:24:40): So there's always something wrong with you.
Miguel Escobar (00:24:42): I wonder what kind of music do you like, Thomas? Do you like the rock music or?
Rob Collie(00:24:47): Tom, you're being queued up with a question.
Miguel Escobar (00:24:51): What kind of music are you into?
Thomas LaRock (00:24:54): I clicked on the link and I decided I wanted to hear the sample.
Rob Collie(00:24:57): Okay. I remember the fact that it was featuring another artist with you. I remember that. See, I promise you, I've done this.
Thomas LaRock (00:25:03): So you had a question of me, what music I listen to? All types. I listen to everything. I mean, it depends on the mood and the setting and all that, but I find almost all music enjoyable.
Rob Collie(00:25:17): What a hipster answer. Come on, Tom. Give us the real answer, Tom. What are the last three artists that you listened to? Give us something specific.
Thomas LaRock (00:25:24): I'm sure one of them was The Beatles. Well, no, sorry, the last one was Bell Biv DeVoe.
Rob Collie(00:25:28): Yeah, it was Bell Biv DeVoe.
Thomas LaRock (00:25:30): Dev. And then before that I had the Pitbull station on, and I think it had The Beatles on earlier.
Rob Collie(00:25:37): Do you listen to Elvis? Do you listen to Johnny Cash?
Thomas LaRock (00:25:40): Some of their stuff, yeah.
Rob Collie(00:25:41): Yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:25:41): Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:25:42): Johnny Cash is kind of hard to take.
Thomas LaRock (00:25:45): Johnny Cash, I never appreciated anything of his until probably the movie came out. But just before then, I think he had done his version of Hurt, which was really well done, and I think that's when I started discovering more and more of his music. His recording from the prison there that's in the library of Congress now. It's a significant thing. Its well done. Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:26:10): All right. I'm utterly failing to get Apple Music search to bring you up, Miguel.
Miguel Escobar (00:26:15): That's okay, man. That's okay. So-
Thomas LaRock (00:26:17): Well, it's likely a failure of Apple.
Miguel Escobar (00:26:19): I'm going to send you the file itself, and if you want to use it even on the podcast as the background music, I gave you consent, man.
Rob Collie(00:26:26): All right. We will find a place to splice it in for sure.
Miguel Escobar (00:26:28): Go for it.
Rob Collie(00:27:06): So Chris Cron, is he singing?
Miguel Escobar (00:27:08): Yeah. He's a singer and co-songwriter of the song.
Rob Collie(00:27:12): Yep. This is me establishing that I'm pretty sure that I listened to it. I could tell that it wasn't you singing, right? I wasn't thinking he was on ukulele or something. So how do you know him?
Miguel Escobar (00:27:25): So when I started working with my songs, I couldn't come up with lyrics at all. I came up with the hook that you hear. It's just someday, somehow, that's the hook that I created. I mumbled some of the stuff and I reached out to him on a site called Sound Better. That's how I met him. So pretty awesome to work with him.
Rob Collie(00:27:46): Have you ever read the lyrics to Blues Travelers' Hook?
Miguel Escobar (00:27:49): Absolutely, man. Makes no sense. But that's the whole point of the song.
Thomas LaRock (00:27:53): Of course, it makes sense. It makes total sense.
Rob Collie(00:27:55): It's devastating.
Thomas LaRock (00:27:56): Yeah.
Miguel Escobar (00:27:59): That guy is amazing at playing the harmonic as well. Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:28:03): Tom, when you bring up the lyrics to Hook for a moment, read us the first few lines.
Miguel Escobar (00:28:07): It doesn't matter what I say. Yeah. Doesn't matter what I sing.
Thomas LaRock (00:28:10): It doesn't matter what I say so long as I sing with inflection.
Rob Collie(00:28:17): Yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:28:18): Yeah. That makes you feel that I'll convey some inner truth of vast reflection. It's just fucking brilliant. I've said nothing so far and I can keep it up for as long as it takes. It don't matter who you are. If I'm doing my job, it's your resolve that breaks. It's just awesome.
Rob Collie(00:28:35): Yeah. Yeah. So you got the hook. So you just met this other artist on the internet and you collaborate over the internet? There's a video of one of the EDM composers shared his song somewhere. Basically asked people to submit vocals for it. There's a live reaction video of him listening to a vocal track that was submitted to him for it, and it just blows his mind. He thinks it's so good, and he goes and gets like his girlfriend, he's like, "Come listen to this. Its so good. He nailed it". And then he goes, "Okay, I don't like what he did here. This part right here. I don't like that at all, but he's just nailed it". Right. Have you seen this video?
Miguel Escobar (00:29:09): Isn't that Deadmau5?
Rob Collie(00:29:11): It might be. I can't really track those people by faces and identities very well. I don't pay that close of attention. But I did see that video. Such a human thing to see him loving that. And writing lyrics turns out to be for a lot of bands, it's an interesting challenge. I didn't know until very recently that when Neil Pert joined Rush, he took over all the lyric writing, Geddy sings everything, and I just always thought of Geddy as the lyricist because he's the vocalist. Turned out he had no interest at all in writing lyrics, zero. He's like, "No, no, I just want to go and you, Neil, just give us some words and I'll sing them".
(00:29:51): Tool finishes all of their music for an entire album and then gives it to Maynard to write lyrics and record vocals. He's completely asynchronous from them. Also kind of blows my mind. I think of these songs as having the personality of his lyrics, but he actually does it in reverse. He makes his lyrics fit the personality of the music, and that's in a way even cooler. So this is a time honor tradition. Clearly you are as good as Rush and Tool. You use the same process.
Miguel Escobar (00:30:17): Well, I consider myself as more of a composer, I guess, because I really don't write the lyrics. The best that I can do is that I can try to come up with the melodies for the vocals and then some maybe hooks around those. But yeah, imagine that I'm working on some other stuff right now and I'm doing the same process. The good thing is that I do have a really structured team behind me helping me with production stuff and engineering stuff.
Rob Collie(00:30:46): And so do we.
Miguel Escobar (00:30:47): Yeah. Crazy good people that are helping me. But same thing with you, man. Quality of people. I'm meeting you and didn't even think that I will meet you.
Rob Collie(00:30:57): It turns out the Internet's done some good things and some bad things and it's made a lot of this community possible and collaboration. I remember living in Cleveland, and actually I could probably still say this to this day, I have more friends in other countries than I have in the city I live in. Being a work from home nomad, and I don't live in a city where I grew up. Large proportion of the people who live in Indianapolis area and certainly in the Cleveland area or people who grew up there. It's very common to run into people who went to the same middle school that your kids are going to right now. Adults that went to the same schools that your kids are going to at the moment. It's like, oh really?
(00:31:35): My sense of community is at great distance for me. And I certainly have a lot of friends in the United States as well, and collaborators, peers, colleagues. It's not at all dependent upon geography. In fact, it's in spite of geography. You can tell by how much I lean forward on the music stuff. I'm really, really interested in it, really passionate about it and I can't do it.
Miguel Escobar (00:32:01): You just need to try, man. You don't even need to know how to play an instrument. You can just program stuff.
Rob Collie(00:32:07): For me, it would be more visceral at drawing me in if I could learn to play even something simple on a real instrument that I've heard. I'm a very experience it sort of person. I think I would need that before I ever sat down with some sort of computer and dragging notes around. A younger version of me would've thought that, Yeah, I'll just sit down with the computer and start laying things out and it's just going to be great. I'm just going to be good at it. I know better now. That's not what's going to happen.
Miguel Escobar (00:32:35): What do you have in mind? One instrument and just try them?
Rob Collie(00:32:38): There have been some false starts on this front. I borrowed for six months, a bass guitar. A, you can borrow it, but if you don't take it out of the case very much, nothing really happens. It turns out just having the bass sitting in the corner doesn't convey any skill. I finally one day, decided to get a little bit disciplined, got out some bass tabs, plugged that thing in. I had the headphone amp and so what I do, I went looking for the simplest bass riff that I could think of that I liked. The opening to Primus' Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers. Okay. It's just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It's almost like jaws, boom, boom, boom, boom. It's two notes over and over again. I was having a hard time reading the tabs because I think it was saying something about an open note. So in hindsight, it might only be possible on one of Les's fretless basses.
(00:33:32): I definitely didn't have a fretless bass. I mean, what the hell is an open note? This doesn't sound right. And even trying to do just that pattern, boom, boom, boom, boom, that was harder than I expected it to be. It was so demoralizing. I put the bass back in the case and I said, "Okay, I'll come back to it tomorrow". And of course tomorrow never came. I'm like that. I do have to collide with things sometimes a few times and sooner or later I'll have time and energy to try it again and I'll probably bounce off again. But I have to bounce off a few more times. I've also never been the read the manual person unless I'm willing to go get an instructor, which would be smart. I also saw there's a Rocksmith, its kind of like Rock Band or a Guitar Hero, but you actually use a real guitar that looked compelling. Miguel, even on Guitar Hero with the five buttons, when it switches to the five button version from the four button version, it's like, oh boy, I'm in trouble.
Miguel Escobar (00:34:26): I'm hoping that in a year from now you hit me up saying like, "Hey, I can play the best now, let's come up with a song".
Rob Collie(00:34:33): You and I both are hoping, we are both hoping for that. We are on the same side of that table.
Miguel Escobar (00:34:39): But hey, what I can tell is that there are many applications that are really good at helping you with tabs. The first ever application that I used was music annotation application called Guitar Pro.
Rob Collie(00:34:53): Okay. One of these days. So we've been bouncing around on your timeline. So at some point you, and Ken, and Matt formed this international conglomerate, Powerhouse. So how does that come to pass? It sounds like the beginning of a joke, an Australian, a Canadian and a Panamanian walk into a bar.
Miguel Escobar (00:35:13): So the story is, thanks to you and Bill, Ken and I met and we created the book that we know as M is for (Data) Monkey released in 2015.
Rob Collie(00:35:21): That's right.
Miguel Escobar (00:35:22): From that point forward, Ken and I decided to build a business together. Back then it was called Power Query Training. The concept was so good and the logo was so good that people are still using that logo of Power Query Training as the official Power Query logo. Not sure if you noticed.
Rob Collie(00:35:39): Okay, can you link me the logo again?
Miguel Escobar (00:35:41): That's a logo that I created with my uncle here in Panama and people still use it, man.
Rob Collie(00:35:45): I also made one at one point too. I think I just stole one off of Ribbon or something because I didn't have one.
Miguel Escobar (00:35:51): People are still using that one as well.
Rob Collie(00:35:53): I'm going to make sure to open this in a new tab. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's really good. So two of you wrote M is for (Data) Monkey, right?
Miguel Escobar (00:36:01): We created this business, which is the Power Query Training. We started delivering workshops similar to the one that I had from Marco in 2011. And then we started making on-demand courses similar to what you were doing with Chandoo back then.
Rob Collie(00:36:15): Yeah. I had Power Pivot Pro University, which was amazing for a while. So you had Power Query Training, so some live training and some on-demand video training.
Miguel Escobar (00:36:24): But it was completely focused on the universe of Power Query. We decided, hey, we should probably expand this so that we can cover not only Power Query, but we should probably talk about other things in Excel that are also important. And Power BI, which was gaining notoriety, was maturing. And it wasn't until 2019, I believe, when we decided that, hey, we should probably expand this even more, do some rebranding and join up with someone else and Ken suggested that we should probably unite with Matt. And that's how he came to me. Matt is a great guy. He's even your friend. You know him, man? He's amazing.
Rob Collie(00:37:01): He's superb as is Ken. Really, truly fine people. The three of you. An alliance like that, a collaboration like that, even amongst such good people at its formation, if you went to Las Vegas, they'd give you odds on it working or they'd give you an over under on how many years it'll last before creative differences tear the whole thing apart.
Miguel Escobar (00:37:22): Yep.
Rob Collie(00:37:22): I'm not asking you for any secrets. How did y'all successfully navigate that partnership? Clearly you're not all going to always agree and always have the same opinions. How do you make that work, especially the time zone differences that are involved?
Miguel Escobar (00:37:35): I think that it was probably for the best if it was just me and Ken imagine that if we disagree on something, we wouldn't have anyone to vote on either side. So a third was necessary. And at the same time, we had a bigger vision. We wanted to compete with big guys. If you check the platform today, I work on that platform. Anyone that has tried it has always left amazing reviews.
Rob Collie(00:38:00): This is Skillwave?
Miguel Escobar (00:38:01): Yeah.
Rob Collie(00:38:02): All right. And-
Miguel Escobar (00:38:03): Skillwave.training.
Rob Collie(00:38:03): Skillwave.training. And when you talk about a platform, you're talking about your own website, your own content delivery service and that kind of thing. And you built that?
Miguel Escobar (00:38:11): We built that. And personally I was looking at it as a startup, that would've been like my investment and long term because you can only have so many hours to provide live training or to provide consultancy. It seemed like a good investment. I was with them until 2021 when I accepted the offer to join Microsoft.
Rob Collie(00:38:32): I was going to say, and that's when the big fight happened. A huge falling out. No, that's not what happened. He took a job with Microsoft. Collaborating with those two gentlemen so successfully for a number of years. What is it that brought you to Microsoft from that situation?
Miguel Escobar (00:38:50): You know how someone that joins the Army has his call of duty?
Rob Collie(00:38:54): Call, yeah.
Miguel Escobar (00:38:55): You know how they basically want to join. They want to serve the country or they want to serve a purpose. And that's kind of what happened to me when it comes down to Power Query. It changed my life. I wanted to work with those that helped me change my life with Miguel, Seth, Aaron, Cory, Matt, so many other people.
Rob Collie(00:39:13): So to give back, to be part of the thing that had given to you and to play on that stage. I can see it drawn to Galactic Center. Now of course, you and I are passing in the hallway high five and going in opposite directions. You, from the field went to Microsoft and I went the opposite direction. And we both seem to be enjoying our respective choices and respect that even if it means walking away from something so good. Wouldn't it be nice if life didn't make you make those tough choices like everywhere you left, if it was just a place that sucked? It just never works that way. Trade offs are brutal sometimes.
Miguel Escobar (00:39:46): The whole COVID thing just changed everything really. So what happened, I started making more decisions for me. That's why, for example, I have the song and this musical project. I started working on things that I wanted to work on, primarily. Joining the team and helping people the same way that the team helped me is one of those.
Rob Collie(00:40:06): What's a day in the life look like for you on the Power Query team?
Miguel Escobar (00:40:10): It depends on the day really. But imagine that it's full of meetings.
Rob Collie(00:40:14): Yes.
Miguel Escobar (00:40:15): Really full of me.
Rob Collie(00:40:17): Yes. Yes. We love that. Right. That's the best.
Miguel Escobar (00:40:24): Sometimes what I do is that, and this is for fun, what I try to do is just go into the channels that we have internally so we can answer questions from people. Questions like, "Hey, how can I connect to SQL Server? If I wanted to pass a native query"? "Hey, this is how you do it, this is the most efficient way". We sometimes get questions that are not specific to Power Query, but that you could use Power Query with. So imagine data modeling questions.
Rob Collie(00:40:52): The juxtaposition of these two things you mentioned so close together is actually kind of funny to me. So you go mostly, I just spent a lot of time in meetings and I answer a whole bunch of forum questions. It sounds like this is what you're doing during the meetings. Oh, you probably have to pay attention. But I love answering questions. That used to be the best. That was why the comments section of the blog was so much fun. It was like people would ask me questions like, "Isn't your formula wrong"? And I'd say, "No, my formula's right". And go, "Yes, you're right, my formula is wrong. And thank you Casper", a couple of times. But yeah, answering people's questions, there are problems that you've never encountered before. There's that artistic act of creation of creating a solution, a novel solution to this problem.
Miguel Escobar (00:41:41): In some cases it enlightens with you on, hey, there's this gap in the product. There's this opportunity where you can potentially invest.
Rob Collie(00:41:48): Yeah. There's the obligatory section of any interview I do with a member of the Power Query team at Microsoft, when are we getting our five additional ribbon tabs of common transformations that today I have to get into M to address. For example, remove duplicates, but allow me to keep the order, but allow me to specify who wins ties, right? Shouldn't this just be in the graphical interface? I've got lots of examples like that, but I never really keep track of them all because I don't really feel like there's ever going to be any traction on this.
(00:42:23): Once we go what feels like a full decade with exactly the same ribbon tabs and exactly the same buttons, I know that's not exactly the same. There's been some additions. I just feel like there's no appetite for finishing this off. There's just so many things that I find myself doing over and over and over again. I'm like, oh, I've got to go look that up again and I got to go into the advanced editor and I got to paste the M in, and change the Ns and the LETS or whatever so that it lines up with the previous lines and I get very grumpy.
Miguel Escobar (00:42:51): You're speaking it with the right person, the PM owner for the Power Query Editor. So the only thing is that this is the first time that I'm hearing, man. Why haven't you reach out to me for-
Rob Collie(00:43:00): Oh, because I don't actually know what everyone's responsible for. It's really hard to tell from the outside.
Miguel Escobar (00:43:05): But I'm your friend, man, from the Power Query team just reach me out.
Rob Collie(00:43:07): Okay, I'll give you the completely honest answer here. There's a point at which, I'm not talking about you specifically. I'm talking about the job. Especially the job I used to do. It's changed since I've been there, but there's still more of it that's the same than different. One of the jokes I like to say is that one of my job criteria, one of my job duties at Microsoft was ignoring customer feedback. It's part of the job because there's so much of it and there's so little time that you have to develop both thick skin, you need filters, you need all kinds of things, otherwise, you'll go insane because you can't feel all of that that's out there and go and execute on 1% of it, which is what it feels like you have the budget to do, and feel good about yourself.
(00:43:48): So when I left Microsoft, I kind of expected that me being one of them, one of the tribe that lived that way now on the outside using the tools, when I raised my hand, I would somehow get a lot of preferential treatment. I'd get through the filters, I'd get through the immune system. It turned out to not really be true.
Thomas LaRock (00:44:11): How'd that work for you?
Rob Collie(00:44:12): I just became one of the people out there subject to the same filter, and I'm jumping up and down going like, "Come on, come on. It's me. It's me". Like, "No, no, no, no. You're on the other side of the fence now, Rob. Sorry". And so it becomes personally discouraging. I got to also allow for the fact that there's also a little bit of my own ego in it at times. Some of my ideas that I would passionately espouse, especially shortly after I left Microsoft, turned out to not actually be good ideas. And I've got to be really careful about that. So the reason why I don't come back to you, Miguel, is I've been burned so many times and felt that rejection and I don't want to feel it again. And I certainly don't want to feel it with you. So why run the risk. I think that's subconsciously what happens.
Miguel Escobar (00:44:53): Well, I'm telling you, as a friend that is trying to give me just suggestions, a former PM trying to give me suggestions on what will be great for the product, I value it. But yeah, you got to have to trust me on how I interpret your feedback.
Rob Collie(00:45:06): That's fine. I know now I've been long enough removed to mostly separate my ego from all of this. I want to say I have separated, but as soon as you say you're over something, now you're not wary of it. And so you're not going to be over it because it's going to creep back in. So you've always got to be recovering from something rather than recovered.
Miguel Escobar (00:45:24): I completely understand where you're coming from around as a PM. Just as a human being, it is impossible for you to try to gather the feedback from over N-million users. It's impossible. There's great people in Africa doing amazing work in Power Query. I try to stay on top of it via LinkedIn and some other channels. Also in Spanish because I know Spanish and Latin American in Spain, you can use the translation that LinkedIn gives you. But yeah, trying to stay on top of everything is not a realistic goal. That's what I used to use to gather demand and things around Skillwave. Nowadays as a PM it's completely different story on how they gauge the impact of every single feedback and the impact of every single feature that we use. And they tell me that we have to support that.
Rob Collie(00:46:12): There's been a lot of backlash lately in the community about the Ideas site. Supposedly this is the place where the community's voice is heard, but it's where things go to die. I don't know if it's a consensus, but just the people who complain tend to be the loudest. We had a whole episode where we spent 20 minutes looking at the Ideas site going, "Oh, look at this one with all these votes. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope". In fact, Miguel, I think even at one point in time, people at the company, we had a Slack channel where we were recording for Microsoft. All the places that were sort of the same transformations we find ourselves doing over and over again, that seemed like they could just be a button that we collected that information and we had a Microsoft employee in that Slack channel to archive it and nothing came of it.
(00:46:57): And this is someone that like. I've learned over the years to try not to take it personally. And when I don't take it personally, I take it instead as the organization isn't capable of it. And once I decide the organization isn't capable of it, then I just shut up. I mean, this was several years ago. I have no idea if we've archived that and kept that channel and all the submissions we had, and maybe we didn't even have very many submissions and nothing ever... I have no idea. But I do know that we went to that length to try to support this initiative and nothing happened, but we're talking like 2018 that we were doing this. And so that's how long this has been on my list.
Miguel Escobar (00:47:33): I consider you as a friend, Rob. If you reach out to me and you need help, whether it's through Microsoft or just personal, I will make room for you.
Rob Collie(00:47:43): That's such a sweet thing about you. You're amazing.
Miguel Escobar (00:47:45): What I want you to get from this is that I'm talking to you. I'm really talking to you as a friend. So this is a message to you. If you need me, I'm here, man.
Rob Collie(00:47:54): Well, I appreciate that. You know how you said to call, right?
Miguel Escobar (00:47:58): Yep.
Rob Collie(00:47:58): When I get really amped up about things like the extra buttons that we're missing, it is like 80/20, 80% that I feel like the world needs this, 20% that I do.
Miguel Escobar (00:48:09): That's your personality. A lot of the things that you do when you talk about it, you talk about it as a vision or some of our revolution similar to the book that you have. A lot of the stuff that you write has that underlying meaning. You try to convey that idea, convey that message that is motivational.
Rob Collie(00:48:28): It truly is something amazing that's been going on.
Miguel Escobar (00:48:33): That's why I'm here, man. I want to make amazing things. And if you have them send them.
Rob Collie(00:48:39): Going back to what you were saying before, amazing things have happened around the Power Platform in the human plane.
Miguel Escobar (00:48:46): Absolutely.
Rob Collie(00:48:46): If you just look at the human beings, you completely ignore the impact on businesses and bottom line and all of that. And you just look at the people involved in these stories, they have finally found home, it's crazy. We're in the middle right now of writing a very, very, very short fairytale. Like Rudolph Red Nose Reindeer who had this supposed defect. The nose. And that defect later turns out to be the savior. And I think a lot of people look at the Excel crowd, like Rudolph. A lot of people actually pity the people who Excel. It's the weirdest thing. As an Excel person, I'm on that team. It's really hard to, why would you pity us? But they do.
(00:49:32): "Oh, you just sit around with spreadsheets all day. I'm so sorry". That is a very common thing to be told, which is why a lot of spreadsheet people, a lot of Excel people don't go around advertising that that's what they do because A, they don't want to be pitied, and B, they don't want to be told they have to do something. Right. It's like being the one with the pickup truck. You got to help everybody move. Right. They will simultaneously pity you and make you do shit. It's the worst dynamic. But then you encounter the Power Platform and it's like, oh my red nose saves Christmas now, doesn't it?
(00:50:10): It's really kind of the only time I've ever been part of something bigger than myself. This change that all these people like you, you didn't come up through computer science school. You didn't come up as an IT specialist, quote unquote, "just" a human being. I put just in quotes for irony. Not just a human being, first and foremost, a human being that discovers a string of technologies that allow you to do something for yourself and for other humans, and discover your own sort of superpower, right? It's like your origin story. I can't get enough of that. If no one's absorbing it, if someone's missing out on all of this it seems like a crime that needs to be corrected. We need to go fix it. And I'm still that way to this day.
Miguel Escobar (00:50:52): If we get super philosophical about it, these are just tools. What matters is the people and what people do with those tools. And it what's going to happen with this tool or with any other tool. To be honest with you, if I didn't make it with Power Pivot, I'll tell you right now, based on the motivation that I had to help my family financially, I would've made it with any other tool. It didn't matter.
Rob Collie(00:51:14): See, I don't think so. I don't want to say binary. No. But I will say that it wouldn't be anything close to the same. There is something about these particular software tools. I'm always talking about the modern wave of tools, blah, blah, blah, as if the tableaus and the clicks of the world are equivalent look the same. They are not equivalent. And it's orders of magnitude difference.
Miguel Escobar (00:51:37): It's a different approach. The opportunity was there and at the time there were other technologies coming up as well. We had the opportunity to jump Power Pivot, that's the pioneers. And thanks to that, I can see that I am where I'm at today, thanks to you really with the revolution of Power Pivot. Then when Ken and I jump into Power Query and we wrote the book, thanks to you referring us to Bill and writing it together, that was another opportunity that couldn't have come on without you. So in a sense, I have a lot to thank you for what I am today, man. So thank you.
Rob Collie(00:52:13): I appreciate that. This is what humans do. Oh, it's so funny, I would say growing up at Microsoft, because I was. I was still growing up when I worked there. It's just so easy to hear cliches and take them for granted like, it's the power of team and the power of collaboration. It's like, yeah, yeah, that's just what managers say, blah, blah, blah, right? Just spare me. Then you go from working for a hundred thousand person Goliath of a multinational company like Microsoft to starting a company with your wife like I did. And now you're like, Oh. Having Bill as a contact and having him live nea?rby. When I lived in Cleveland, he lived down in Akron. We could drive to see each other. Having him as a contact turned out to be amazing because he gave me a publishing deal that, forget the money, the money in the end, you don't get rich writing tech books it turns out, even with a good deal.
(00:53:12): But he gave me a deal that allowed me to be myself. He said, "Hey, do you want us to go hire one of the outsourced tech editors"? And I'm like, "No, I'll bristle under that sort of environment". And I sat down to write the book. The first time I tried to write it in the technical voice, I tried to emulate other technical books that I'd read. And it was just so exhausting that I gave up, started over and started writing it like me. Not because I thought people would like it better, but because that's the only way I could get it done. And I hope to get away with it. Now, if I'd been writing for Microsoft Press, they would've never allowed my voice style through. They would've homogenized the hell out of it.
(00:53:52): "No, you're not allowed to start a sentence with the word and, You're certainly not allowed to put a smiley at the end of a sentence, Rob. You're not allowed to break character in the middle of a paragraph and make a joke". All sorts of things like that. But I did all that for me and turned out people loved the book because of that. They loved it more. And they come tell me like, "Oh, it's so genius what you wrote in that book". I'm just like, "I'm so lucky I got away with it". Over and over and over again. I have learned now on the outside of Microsoft, just how powerful working on with a good team in supporting each other, that whole like, oh, we're bigger than the sum of our parts that I used to think of as just like a dumb cliche, my God, its so clearly true. I had to come outside the perimeter to learn that.
Miguel Escobar (00:54:35): I can tell you the moment that I joined with Ken, it changed everything even better when Matt joined. We created the dream team.
Rob Collie(00:54:44): It was, and it is. Minus a member, Rush didn't go on after Peart.
Miguel Escobar (00:54:50): I want to have Tom talk about how he doesn't want Power Query in the list of the top software-
Rob Collie(00:54:54): Oh yeah. The Software Hall of Fame. Yeah. Yeah. Tom is a degenerate. Yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:54:58): So since you mentioned Power Query online, my question is why would you have pointed us to the Power Query online experience? Actually, a better question is, I know there's a difference between online and not, but the Power Query I find in Excel, is it identical to the one I find in Power BI or is there a difference?
Miguel Escobar (00:55:17): So if you split this into backend and front-end, the backend that you see for Power Query the engine, the Power Query engine is the same online and desktop. The front-end is different. The front-end that you see in Power Query online, it's the one that will be replacing the one that we have in Power Query desktop.
Thomas LaRock (00:55:39): So is the one online more robust at this point in time, that has more features or the other way around?
Miguel Escobar (00:55:46): Yeah, it has more features. The most prominent one that you're going to see is that we have a diagram view. So we no longer have query dependencies views like you have in Power View Desktop, we replace that with this new diagram view that you see and it looks amazing.
Thomas LaRock (00:56:04): Okay, so I will try Power Query online. So what you really mean is I need to try Power BI online?
Miguel Escobar (00:56:12): Unless you have a Mac, I'm actually doing a Mac and you have a Excel for Mac, you can try Power Query in Excel for Mac as well.
Rob Collie(00:56:18): Okay. So what Tom was really getting at there was, is Power Query online, like its own distinct thing or is it just Power BI online?
Miguel Escobar (00:56:29): We call it Power Query online because it can be hosted in multiple places. So for example, the same experience that you have in Power BI dataflows is the same one that you have in Power Platform data.
Rob Collie(00:56:38): Okay.
Miguel Escobar (00:56:39): So not to call them distinct, they're using just the same front-end. Then maybe they have some specific buttons. Like the AI Insights is specific to Power BI dataflows because you have premium and Power [inaudible 00:56:54].
Rob Collie(00:56:53): So this is the-
Miguel Escobar (00:56:53): And you can leverage the premium.
Rob Collie(00:56:54): This is the root of Tom's objection to Power Query in the Software Hall of Fame. Some would call it splitting hairs being a little bit of a stickler. Others would call it maintaining the standards. Someone's got to stand on that wall.
Miguel Escobar (00:57:09): Yes. That's right.
Rob Collie(00:57:12): And so we established the rules of the software Hall of Fame's that it has to be a product. Now that rule was meant to disqualify things like protocols, like HTTP, TCP/IP or algorithms, RSA Encryption Algorithm, programming languages like C. Like M for example, would very clearly not make the Software Hall of Fame because of this rule. Now, the intent of the rule was to wipe out all those things. The intent of the rule was not to wipe out Power Query. But Tom has weaponized it for his nefarious purposes because he doesn't like anything good. And here we are. His claim is it's not a product.
Thomas LaRock (00:57:52): So I have a quick question-
Miguel Escobar (00:57:54): Go for it.
Thomas LaRock (00:57:54): ... adjacent to all this, is it possible, and I have Visual Studio Code open right now. So there is Power Query M language, there's an extension for VS Code.
Miguel Escobar (00:58:06): There's two. There's one, which is language service. If you just want to write Power Query Script. And there's the other one. If you look for Power Query SDK, that is Power Query as an extension for VS Code.
Thomas LaRock (00:58:18): I was going to say, what would this really let me do within Visual Studio Code?
Miguel Escobar (00:58:22): The primary scenario is for you to create custom connectors for Power BI. However, this an SDK that will let you create extensions. And extensions is the umbrella where you can create anything that has to do with Power Query. It could be a new custom connector, it could be a library of functions, it could be something else. And we call those extensions.
Thomas LaRock (00:58:46): So inside of VS Code, I could connect to a CSV file, do some transformations on it, build all that really neatly using this extension?
Miguel Escobar (00:58:56): Yes, there are some limitations at the engine level. They were purposely made because the intent is that you will only use this as a development tool, not as a production tool. So as such, the preview of the data is only for about a thousand rows. There are other limitations that I can send you for the full EULA that we have around that engine.
Rob Collie(00:59:23): This is the time honor tradition. So for instance, there was a DLL shipped with Office for a long time. I suppose it still is. It ships with Excel, actually. I think it was like MS OLAP or msmd.serve. I think that's what it was, msmdsrv.dll. And what this really was, was the entirety of the analysis services engine, the traditional analysis services engine, right? By default, that would've been just giving away the SQL Server analysis services product on every desktop. So the limitation placed on the DLL was that it could only be hosted by one process at a time. It was single user. It wouldn't accept multiple queries from different locations simultaneously.
(01:00:05): In other words, you couldn't use it as a server. You could only use it for a single user at a time inside of Excel. It would not load into another process that would accept queries from multiple places. And that was a deliberate hamstringing of this DLL. By default, that DLL could have done everything. You can view it as something sinister, we're going to cut this thing off at the knees. But no, they were giving it away. So it's totally fair to limit it in a way that doesn't cannibalize other businesses while still encouraging certain behaviors that are beneficial for everyone. So I think it is a net positive thing. But again, you'd get accusations from outside Microsoft, "Look at what people do. You're so villainous". What? We're giving something away for free.
Thomas LaRock (01:00:51): So here's the crux of my position.
Rob Collie(01:00:54): We don't want to let this one go. Miguel, this is the good stuff. We need to settle this.
Thomas LaRock (01:00:58): The Software Hall of Fame, we had to put restrictions on who's eligible and we talked about being a product. So the thing that I come back to about it is that Power Query is a feature that you can find amongst many Microsoft products, but you can't just get Power Query by itself. And then somebody says, well, it's the M language or it's this VS Code extension and you know, can just write your own code. And again, code is not something that we allow in the Software Hall of Fame. And now I tried to tell people I don't make the rules, but then I realized I do make the rules.
Rob Collie(01:01:39): No, not really. Not really.
Thomas LaRock (01:01:41): It's not in because it's not an actual product.
Rob Collie(01:01:43): I made the rules. Tom's just interpreting them.
Miguel Escobar (01:01:47): Tom, one question that I have for you, so I'm going to put it back in music production because I really wanted to talk about Avid as well.
Rob Collie(01:01:55): Oh right. Yeah. My wife was making the case for Avid. We had this to-do item to go make a case for Avid and we never did.
Miguel Escobar (01:02:01): Probably the majority of these songs that you listen to, they were probably produced or mix or master using Pro Tools from Avid more than likely.
Thomas LaRock (01:02:10): Okay, Avid is something you can purchase?
Miguel Escobar (01:02:12): Mm-hmm. It's a service nowadays, so a subscription. So imagine that you have a session of a song, so you're going to listen to my song, you want to master it and you want to make some changes to the queue and everything. To make that happen, you use things called plugins. Those plugins are sold as products on people's pages. And what they do is that they do have their own interfaces, they have their own functionality, they have their own extensions, everything, it's just that it's integrated into Pro Tools. As well, I can use that same plugin in something else like Logic, logic Pro in Apple. I can use it in FruityLoops, which is another DAW. And I can use it in something else like Ableton and other DAWs. Would you call those plugins products? What do you call those? Because by themselves they can be standalone and be used as standalone software.
Thomas LaRock (01:03:05): So I mean, I would call it the plugin, but Plugin is certainly closer to a product. And the simple thing is what's the skew for Power Query? Can I purchase Power Query right by itself? To me, that's the simplest, it's like I know pornography when I see it, right? It's like I know a product when I see it. Can I buy it? Is there a skew?
Miguel Escobar (01:03:30): My point is here, and the analogy here is Power Query is that plugin that you put in or that framework that you put in other products or in other frameworks. It's not really Power Query by itself. The product itself is dataflows. That is the product. Dataflows uses Power Query. So, if you want to make something inside of-
Thomas LaRock (01:03:52): So there we go. So dataflows should be in the Hall of Fame, no question.
Rob Collie(01:03:56): Wow. The thing I want to [inaudible 01:03:58] in the Hall of Fame Power Query, because dataflows is nothing without Power Query. Power Query is still something without dataflows-
Thomas LaRock (01:04:04): Exactly.
Rob Collie(01:04:06): ... but dataflows is nothing without Power Query. To continue this metaphor, take it into the software world like there's WordPress templates and plugins that you can buy for your WordPress site. And if one of those WordPress templates just happened to revolutionize the world, which hasn't happened, right? There's no WordPress plugin that's revolutionized the world either. But you could imagine it happening then that WordPress plugin would be eligible.
Miguel Escobar (01:04:28): I mean something like WooCommerce for example. WooCommerce-
Rob Collie(01:04:31): Yeah, WooCommerce is about as close to Software Hall of Fame consideration as you can get and be a WordPress plugin. It's not going to get in. That's like the high water mark. I think technologically speaking Power Query is a very, very clear parallel to something like a WordPress plugin, because it could be a product. It's just that Microsoft had decided we're not going to release it as like a standalone like SSIS.
Miguel Escobar (01:04:55): At the moment that is true. We don't have any plans to make it a standalone.
Rob Collie(01:05:00): You have though, like dataflows is Power Query in that-
Miguel Escobar (01:05:03): Yeah, dataflows.
Rob Collie(01:05:04): That's it. Power Query's in. It's just a naming thing. That's all it is.
Miguel Escobar (01:05:09): Because you cannot have dataflows without Power Query.
Rob Collie(01:05:11): That's right. But I'm not calling it dataflows because Power Query deserves credit for all the other things that it does. Like Saving Christmas. What's this week's episode is Power Query Saves Christmas. You got to go listen to that, if you haven't, your product saved Christmas with the help of Gus Miranda.
Miguel Escobar (01:05:26): All I'm Tom is you got to induct one. Either Avid, or Power Query, or Dataflows today. That's one-
Thomas LaRock (01:05:33): Well, we have to discuss Avid. Rob and I, I think we have another discussion on the agenda.
Rob Collie(01:05:41): Yeah. I just haven't actually scheduled it, so I suck. Pro Tools though.
Thomas LaRock (01:05:45): Okay. Still be another board meeting before the end of the year. I believe there's another-
Rob Collie(01:05:52): Oh yeah, yeah. We have a ringer coming in to tell us what we got wrong. We do have one additional Software Hall of Fame themed podcast coming up. We're recording it in December.
Thomas LaRock (01:06:01): So Avid should be on the short list of stuff for us to discuss.
Rob Collie(01:06:07): I hate to admit this, but on the Software Hall of Fame site right now, do we have Power Query in or do we have it on the sidelines?
Thomas LaRock (01:06:14): Power Query is awaiting for the review.
Rob Collie(01:06:17): It's like on deck? We haven't decided? Is that the category we have Power Query in? All Right.
Thomas LaRock (01:06:23): It's pending further review.
Rob Collie(01:06:25): Pending further review.
Thomas LaRock (01:06:26): Which is our way of saying it's kind of like Pete Rose. We'll get around to it eventually.
Rob Collie(01:06:32): Miguel, what this comes down to, it's just a matter of how much I want to go distract my team from doing important work. But if it weren't for that trade off, we'd be putting Power Query in today. Inertia might keep it from-
Thomas LaRock (01:06:43): No, you can't do that. We have to have a vote. We have to have a vote. We have to have numbers attached to it. It needs, what? A floor.
Rob Collie(01:06:52): Listen-
Thomas LaRock (01:06:53): You can't just do that.
Rob Collie(01:06:53): ... just like Congress, I'll make sure that I've got the votes before I bring it to the floor. All I need is Connor. I'll just say, "Hey Connor, if we do this, it'll really Tom off". He's like, "I'm in".
Thomas LaRock (01:07:08): You might have me, shit.
Rob Collie(01:07:11): All right, Miguel, this has been a real pleasure. It's probably the longest we've ever talked to each other.
Thomas LaRock (01:07:17): Same.
Miguel Escobar (01:07:18): Yeah, man. The only times that we've spoken were super brief.
Rob Collie(01:07:23): I love that about this podcast. Its professional excuse to do the things that should have been done already. Yeah, man, you're just such a warm soul, so genuine. I'm really glad that you're working on the product team. People like you helping decide the future of tools like this is a real real boon for the world. I mean, I'd press that button over and over again. We need more Miguels helping build software. Thanks for spending all this time with us.
Miguel Escobar (01:07:52): It was nice talking to you, Tom. I think that this is the first time that we've met. Nice meeting you as well.
Thomas LaRock (01:07:58): It is the first time we've met. Wonderful to have met you, sir. Keep up the Good Work. Power Query is not a product.
Miguel Escobar (01:08:05): The only contact that I have from Tom was like from when I first joined Twitter and there was always this guy-
Thomas LaRock (01:08:12): Oh shit.
Miguel Escobar (01:08:13): Always about bacon and data, man. Always about bacon. Yeah.
Thomas LaRock (01:08:17): I am always about bacon.
Miguel Escobar (01:08:18): But it was fun.
Thomas LaRock (01:08:18): I'm about bacon and thumbing my nose.
Miguel Escobar (01:08:21): And that's why I follow him.
Rob Collie(01:08:22): It sounds like, I don't... Bacon's not special. It's just part of life. I've got some bacon right here. He just lifts a big handful.
Thomas LaRock (01:08:29): I do. I did, but I ate it.
Speaker 3 (01:08:31): 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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