Gordon Strodel, Archetype Consulting

Gordon Strodel

Data & Analytics Solution Owner for Slalom Boston. Background in Mechanical Engineering. Obsessed with solving problems elegantly and permanently.

📍 Boston, MA

Tableau Conference 2018 - A newbie's perspective

Tableau Conference 2018 - A newbie's perspective

True Confessions: 2018 was my first visit to New Orleans and Tableau Conference!

Here’s my brief recap on my experience both in New Orleans and at #TC18.

The New Orleans Experience


New Orleans is an interesting city.

One of the most intriguing things is the second-story balconies that line the older parts of the city, particularly the French Quarter. These balconies were hot-spots for restaurants after 7pm and the sun started to set. Many of the porches were decorated with flower boxes and tropical plants.

Being a southern city, there were fair amounts of palm trees, which always draw my attention being from New England.

While the city had an upbeat vibe, you could tell it was still recovering from the hurricanes that hit it several years ago.

In the mornings, I had the opportunity to go running on the boardwalk which runs along the bank of the Mississippi River. The early morning stillness, the noise of the river, the faint hum of the city, and the occasional bell from a steamboat were certainly unique! New Orleans has done a nice job with the boardwalk and I appreciated how well lit it was at 6am!

Picture of the New Orleans River Walk

Picture of the New Orleans River Walk

New Orleans also has streetcars to watch out for! Here’s a view of Canal Street, one of the main streets downtown.

Street Car in New Orleans on Canal Street

Street Car in New Orleans on Canal Street

The Tableau Conference Experience

Overall, Tableau conference was a good experience and I am very happy to have attended. Going satisfied a desire I’ve had for some time: attend Tableau Conference! Luckily, I had a great company to sponsor my trip, for which I am very grateful! Here’s a few thoughts post-conference on the experience:

  1. Prepare for a lot of walking! As you can see in the slides below, I easily did 20k-25k steps per day between walking to conference center, walking around, and walking around the city after hours.

  2. Enjoy meeting people. With 17k attendees, you have lots of opportunity to meet people from all over the United States and world. And best part is, everyone there uses Tableau, so you instantly have a intro and conversation starter. “Hi my name is Gordon, I’m from Boston. How do you use Tableau?”

  3. Learn how people use Tableau — That’s one of the reasons you are there, right?

  4. Deepen your connection with the Community. One of the best sessions I went to was focused on Tableau Public and was held after the conference at the hotel across the street. It was called “Fanalytics” — and I' had the opportunity to meet with a smaller group and engage on a topic interesting to me. Really cool to meet people with similar interest in a smaller group format.

Overall, Tableau pulled together a fantastic event. There was always food/snacks, coffee, and opportunities to meet people. The app was very helpful for finding your way around and managing your schedule. The new “Braindates” feature was also really cool!


The introvert in me found the event overwhelming.

The space was so large, it was hard to find people.

Many of my Braindates didn’t show for unknown reasons and offered no apology for the missed meeting.

The soundtrack via Spotify was great, but was playing nearly everywhere. It was hard to find a quiet spot to talk or take a client call. Nevermind a quiet spot with a comfortable chair.

I wanted to find people from Boston, or find other consultants, or find a quiet spot to connect 1:1 with someone. But when so much was on-the-go, such a packed agenda, I had trouble finding that.

Many people are constantly walking event to event…as if the emphasis is placed on the events to attend instead of the connections to make.

For a conference of 17k people, at times there was a strange sense of loneliness.

For a company all about data and making connections, there was a strange amount of focus on agenda versus making connections.

My advice for Tableau, work to create spaces and vehicles for deeper and quality connections at Tableau Conference.

Ensure there are breakout spaces to reserve or jump into. They should have comfortable seating and a quieter atmosphere.

Emphasize braindates and the importance of making those connections.

Do more sessions like “Fanalytics” where people can connect in small groups.

Create and sponsor more sessions based on interests, geography, or demographics — much like some of the activity on Monday before the conference.

But most of all, keep doing a great job with the best data conference in the world!

And thank you for a good time in New Orleans!


Here are the slides from my presentation at Boston Tableau User Group recapping my experience:

Photo Credits:

Disclaimer: I am a consultant who works for an analytics company with a Tableau partnership. I was in no part solicited or paid for this review. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any other related party.

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