September is a good time for reflection and attempts at renewal. I've just returned from a two-week break, with partially recharged batteries, and after a prolonged period of non-blogging it feels a suitable time to consider where things are and look at where they are going.
Freelancing during a pandemic
It is 6 months to the day since I last worked away from home on a trip to Brussels delivering training for the EU Council. A lot has been going on since then, as nobody needs reminding. I miss travelling a great deal. I took it for granted when it was a fixture across my working weeks. I look forward to the chance to get back on trains and in planes when its safe to do so, though I do not expect to ever match the same extent of travelling again.
There's been a lot of disruption caused by the rescheduling or cancelling of prior work commitments and there remains uncertainty about the longer-term economic impact that may come next, something everyone is facing, not just me. Nevertheless, with many experiencing vulnerability in their careers, I'm very fortunate to still be in position to have continued operating commercial activities to a reasonable level. I don't have kids and, aside from a charismatic squirrel who visits the garden and the occasional sitting of my Mum's chart-curious dog, I am able to working comfortably from home, which is a luxury not all have. I appreciate it.
One thing that has gone surprisingly well, during lockdown, has been a swift, inevitable pivot to online data visualisation training. I still maintain that classroom teaching is the optimum environment - to detect energy, to establish a rapport, and be more responsive - but my experiences online have been really positive.
The last few months have seen me revise my training offerings to fine-tune for online delivery, and run over a dozen public and private online events, as well as academic Masters teaching for UCL, reaching attendees spread across the globe.
I have a number of corporate events booked-in over the coming weeks but I am always welcoming of any new opportunities for scheduling more. If you're organisation would be interested in holding a private online course event, check out the range of formats and drop me a line.
For public events, I have online classes for both of my main format offerings, the Fundamentals of Data Visualisation (equivalent of 1-day classroom training) and Masterclass in Data Visualisation (equivalent of 2-day classroom training) lined up in the coming months.
I will keep adding new dates once courses fill up. I will also keep switching the start times to try make them viable for people across different time zones worldwide. Also, but only when the time is right, and the appetite exists, I will be immediately receptive to any opportunities that allow me and delegates to return to a class setting - either for public or on-site client events.
The Seinfeld Chronicles
I posted last month about the imminent completion of one of my biggest projects, to visualise every episode of Seinfeld. This has been an enduring passion project for he past couple of years, but so frequently interrupted and paused due to other priorities, and has grown considerably beyond the size of task I initially embarked upon.
In effect I have accidentally written a book. Or rather designed a book full of visuals and a bit of writing. Just before starting this post I sent my work to the printers meaning the final product will be in my hands in the next week or so.
As I explained in the post, I am printing a limited number of copies and making these available for people to buy on a 'pay what you want' basis. Taking off the costs of shipping, all remaining funds collected will be donated to a charitable cause. I am finalising the choice of charity but I can say it will be an organisation related to matters of the environment. I expect to be ready for public launch in the week commencing 21st September.
In the meantime, if you would like to add your name in advance to a no-obligation-to-buy reserve list, giving you first refusal to potentially buy a copy of this work, please just email me.
Season 2 of 'Explore Explain'
In the coming weeks I will be resuming interviews with some of the best in the business to form the recordings of the second season of my podcast and video series, Explore Explain. Once again, this will be a 9-episode season with my aim to have all episodes published before Christmas.
If you've not yet had chance to dip your toe in season one, click the image below to reach the full compilation of episodes. I'm biased because I'm involved but the guests were universally great, interesting people and, quite simply, I felt smarter from spending time in their company chatting about vis.
The last item on my agenda for now relates to a matter I've been considering for over a year now, and something I had spent time sketching out during my early 2020 draft plans for the year. Then the Thing happened and threw all plans off-course and into a ditch.
I'm basically exploring models for establishing a paid internship to enable someone to come work with and learn alongside me and/or under my wing. For this to reasonably operate as it should, normal working conditions need to resume - with travel, and space, and chance to experience things that aren't just restricted to a single room and a single rectangle of screen space. That's not going to happen this year, and probably not until some time mid-2021, I hope.
It isn't so much wanting to have a second pair of hands, as helpful as that inevitably could be, it is more about wanting to give an opportunity to develop somebody else, someone who may be at the start of their working career looking to specialise in this subject area or even move into it from elsewhere.
I'm especially keen to create a pathway for people who are less privileged than me, who maybe hasn't had the lucky breaks in life so far, and who maybe from a demographic typically under-represented in this field. It is likely this person will need to be somebody who is located near where I am based to ensure the convenience of what will be necessary personal interaction.
For now, this is just an initial notice to share my intention. I'm months away from making it happen (please don't anyone apply for something that doesn't exist!) but I felt I needed to write it down publicly to ensure I commit myself to doing it.