Awesome People List - Ep #20

Data, data, data and 1000+ FT gems (omg!)

Hi Founders and Fellow VC Friends!

If I could sing you a song in this email, I’d sing Eye of the Tiger. But I’ll spare you, and gift you the pump up lyrics 😀:

Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival*

*insert whatever rival you want: economic climate, virus, sanity

Continue singing along… 💃🏻

Anyway, back to it 😂. You know the drill, people give companies superpowers. Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. There are the people you need to know. The best part is, everyone is hirable on a part-time basis. 

In today’s digest: 

  • Meet Gabi, your data guru 📊

  • Why you’re thinking about data all wrong 🤓

  • 1000+ FT gems 😍

  • 30-second favor 🙏


Please meet Gabi, your resident data visualization expert. 

Gabi was referred to me by Daniel, a fellow investor. Gabi led the data visualization engineering team at WeWork. She left to launch Data Culture, a data innovation consulting company. While at WeWork, Gabi created an internal program that taught employees to solve big ($10M+!) problems using data. She graduated 1000+ employees globally and personally implemented several successful projects that saved the company ~$65M+. Her solutions improved construction, sales, inventory management, recruiting, and more. Prior to WeWork, Gabi worked on data visualization and storytelling for The Washington Post and taught at Parsons School of Design and Columbia University. Fun fact about Gabi: she has 3 passports (UK, US, and Canada). I’m jealous 😎!

You can hire Gabi as your interim head of data or to help with 

  • data visualization

  • data storytelling (exhibit A)

  • data onboarding programs or infrastructure

  • BI projects (hello Looker, Tableau, powerBI, and Chartio) 

She can also lead awesome (virtual) workshops for your team. 

If you want an intro to Gabi, please respond to this email and I’ll connect you.


She was gracious enough to share some pro-tips with us here: 

Most companies think about being data-driven incorrectly.

Most companies are convinced that the way to be data-driven is by: (a) gathering more data (b) building more dashboards (c) hiring more engineers. These are three common misconceptions. Instead, consider the decisions you make daily that could be informed by data. 

For example, at WeWork, we discovered that interior designers were relying on intuition and taste to decide which chairs to buy. However, community managers who worked in the buildings, had horror stories about a certain chair consistently breaking. To solve this problem, we built a rating feature into our furniture ordering app that allowed community managers to review items and share feedback. Interior designers could then avoid ordering items with poor reviews. This saved the company millions of dollars in broken furniture costs, in addition to an awful member experience. 

Do you really need that dashboard?

More than 50% of dashboards are never used. Yes, 50%+!! Before you build a dashboard, think about what decision you’re trying to inform and what behavior you’re trying to change. If it’s just “good to know,” it probably won’t get used. The most effective solutions plug into a user’s current workflow and immediately inform a business decision. Sometimes the solution isn’t a dashboard; it can be as simple as a better ‘sort function’ within a google sheet. 

What question are you trying to answer with your tool (i.e. have I reached my sales goal?). Make sure that metric is front and center. Interactivity, hover tools, and dropdowns are fun and flashy, but also require the decision-maker’s precious time. From a visual perspective, limit the number of colors within a given dashboard or tool: use gradients whenever possible. Finally, be mindful that radial shapes (i.e. pie charts, sundial graphs) are harder to read than rectangular shapes (i.e. bar charts, treemaps).

Counterintuitively, data is often the least important part of building a data-driven culture.

Data is useful, but ultimately, you need to apply data-driven thinking to supercharge your business. Most companies collect and use some form of data. You want to demystify it, give everyone access, and make sure people aren’t too intimidated to ask questions. During new hire onboarding, make sure each employee understands the data available and how to utilize it in their roles. For example, sales teams can leverage data in simple ways, like creating automated emails that get sent to sales leads. 

Want an intro to Gabi? Email me 🤩.


Full-Time Gems 😍

Our list of full-time gems now has almost 400 people on it. Totally crazy! A few companies have combined our list with others to make fancy tools. Check out this list of 1000+ people sorted by department. It’s 💯! 


Can you do me a 30-second favor? 🙏

I’m working on my gameplan for Awesome People List and I’d love your input. Can you respond to this email with 1-2 sentences on: 

  1. What’s 1 current business challenge that you’re trying to solve? Anything that’s top of mind?

  2. Are you interested in talking with or hiring an expert to help? (Yes/No is fine)

As a thank you, if you respond yes to #2, I’ll do my best to find you a top trusted person from our network asap ❤️.


Thank you in advance for answering the questions above and let me know if you want an intro to Gabi!

Stay healthy, safe, sane, AND awesome! 

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People List

Founder of Awesome People Ventures

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