Cartoons and Data: the perfect match

Before I launch into talking cartoons, I’m going to tell you a little story about how this blog got started.

A few months ago, Susan Kistler (former Executive Director of the American Evaluation Association and now evaluation guru and leader of The Smarter One) reached out to me asking if I’d write a blog about how crafting helps me to be a better evaluator for aea365. After nearly fainting from being star struck via email (and feeling extremely honored!), I quickly replied YES.

I have to admit I’m quite proud of the post I wrote. In fact, that very post is what got me started with blogging – I had so much fun writing it and it really allowed me to finally realize how my two worlds were so interconnected.

After reading somewhere that Susan was a whiz with WordPress, I asked for some advice on starting a blog. You see, I had been tossing the idea around for months (maybe years..), but I was torn because I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be a crafty/DIY blog or a blog for evaluators (#DataDivas if you will). The only thing I had landed on was that I wanted to use WordPress as my platform. Susan & I quickly became virtual friends and I’m still blown away by her kindness. Susan is extremely busy (at the time she was in the midst of launching her new initiative, The Smarter One) and not only did she email me some tips, she even hosted a Google Hangout so she could screen share and walk me through a few essentials!

Human kindness, you guys. It’s just the greatest thing.

Aside from telling you how much I adore Susan (and how this blog got started!), I’m actually writing to tell you about a super useful webinar I watched last week. In addition to running a great tip-a-day blog for evaluators, AEA also offers Coffee Break webinars a few times a month. They’re brilliant 20 minute webinars – just long enough to include the most pertinent details but short enough so you don’t miss too much work time.

I discovered Chris Lysy’s evaluation cartoons (found at Fresh Spectrum) via Stephanie Evergreen’s blog (aka: the data visualization queen!) a while back. Chris’ illustrations literally make me laugh aloud every time I see them. Why? Well, they’re evaluation cartoons (I mean, c’mon – nerdy cartoons! – that’s hilarious!) plus he brings humor to the frustrations evaluators know all too well. When I saw that he’d be hosting one of the upcoming Coffee Breaks, I jumped on registering!

Chris also wrote a great post on his website as a teaser for the presentation. He outlined reasons we should stop wasting data and how we can do that through the use of interactive dashboards (you know my love for Tableau, thus I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the presentation!).

Here are a few of my favorite cartoons from Chris’ post:


A personal favorite: Nobody wants 500 page reports.

Perhaps because I’ve watched too many of my colleagues be driven crazy with the pursuit of a PhD or maybe because journal articles seem so archaic to me, but long reports are really not my thing.

Avoiding becoming long winded (be it in an email, report or…blog post!) is something that could be applicable to anyone in any field.

{Please forgive the fact that this post is so long. As my mother would say: “Do as I say, not as I do”}

So I leave you with my favorite of the cartoons…

Because bedazzled charts mean people will understand it, right? Wrong.

Because bedazzled charts mean people will understand it, right? Wrong.

Head over to Fresh Spectrum so you too can appreciate Chris’ use of cartoons to encourage simple, usable evaluations.

Tableau: My #DataDiva Story

Last fall I had the pleasure of attending Tableau Software‘s conference (#TCC13) in Washington, D.C. to speak about my work with the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

chalk talk

This conference was one of the best I’ve ever been to! Aside from the speakers and presenters inspiring my inner #DataDiva, the food was amazing and events Tableau’s team had planned were so fun!


They always have the best dessert!

While I was there, the Tableau team interviewed me about my work. Just a few weeks ago they posted it on their Customer Stories page and I wanted to share it with you!

I’m with a new organization now, but the video will give you an idea of some of my past work and why I’m so passionate about being a nerd! 😉


Being happy means being nice? Who knew!

Growing up I was always the feisty little sister. As an adult, I’m still the more outspoken of the two of us. The weird part about this is that I’ve become more of an introvert while my sister morphed into the extrovert.

My path to introvertedness has long been underway, but became more noticeable as I made the leap from that “save the world” college student to full-time #DataDiva. I’ve always loved working, but I thought I wanted to be “on the ground” – talking and interacting with the community and being a part of the hands-on implementation of programs. Little did I know, I’d find great happiness (and comfort) in the solitude of number crunching.

As you can see in the graph below, although I’m happy, I’ve still got a few years before I surpass “all the rest of you” to become one of the happiest of nerds.

nerd chart

That being said, I’m always looking for new ways to improve my mood. 😉

While I was scrolling through my bloglovin’ feed this weekend, I ran across a post titled “One Simple Thing Anyone Can Do To Have A Better Day,” I immediately opened the post. Who doesn’t want to learn how to be happier?! PLUS [unlike many others..], they promised I only had to do one thing. Win/win, right?


According to the post from Tiny Buddha, all you have to do is be nice to people! I loved the situation that Megna described in the post because it’s one we’ve all been in!

As an alumni, I get calls from current USC students who’ve been given the daunting task of soliciting donations. School pride? Yeah, I got that. Extra cash to donate? I don’t always have that. However, I do always have the time to be NICE to these students! I mean, how horrible would it be for that poor undergrad to hang up and fret that one day they’ll become the cynic on the other end of the phone line? Let me tell you young lassies, you have a choice! You too can be a happy [but broke] young professional nerd one day!

And so, I leave you with this:

kindness cat