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Analytics: more than just a day job

Tuesday, 11th August 2015

Prepared by Antony Ugoni, Head of Analytics, Seek and Chairman of IAPA Specialist Advisory Group, 11 August 2015

At the recent "Challenge the Chief" event, I had the opportunity to meet various newcomers to the field of data and analytics. One of the points we discussed was the importance of analytics being more than just a day job.

My take on getting into the industry and doing well is to stand out as a leader. In any endeavour, it is rare for somebody to emerge as a champion or leader if they simply clock on and off……the best of the best are consumed by their endeavours, and often talk of living and breathing their pursuit. With this in mind, I was delighted to come across the following in the book I am currently reading (Think Like A Freak – Levitt and Dubner). I present it to this group simply as another data point for their consideration to emerge from the pack as the stand outs. I was so enamoured with this writing that I have actually inserted it into my linkedin profile (with appropriate acknowledgement to the authors of course). I share below an excerpt and highly recommend reading.

Why do so many frown so sternly at the idea of having fun? Perhaps out of fear that it connotes you aren’t serious. But best as we can tell, there is no correlation between appearing to be serious and actually being good at what you do. In fact an argument can be made that the opposite is true.

There has been a recent surge in research into “expert performance”, hoping to determine what makes people good at what they do. The single-most compelling finding? Raw talent is overrated: people who achieve excellence – whether at golf or surgery or piano-playing – were often not the most talented at a young age, but became expert by endlessly practicing their skills. Is it possible to endlessly practice something you don’t enjoy? Perhaps, although neither one of us is capable of it.

Why is it important to have fun? Because if you love your work (or your activism or your family time), then you’ll want to do more of it. You’ll think about it before you go to sleep and as soon as you wake up; your mind is always in gear. When you’re that engaged, you’ll run circles around other people even if they are naturally talented. From what we’ve seen personally, the best predictor of success among young economists and journalists is whether they absolutely love what they do. If they approach their job like – well, a job – they aren’t likely to thrive. But if they’ve somehow convinced themselves that running regressions, or interviewing strangers is the funniest thing in the world, you know they have a shot.

If you're interested in discussing further, please connect with me on LinkedIn

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