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Mico Yuk (@micoyuk) is the founder of BI Brainz (the leader in enterprise visual storytelling), and the BI Dashboard Formula (BIDF) methodology, where she has trained thousands globally how to strategically use the power of data visualization to enhance the decision-making process.  In the last nine years, her company has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble, Honda, Kimberly-Clark, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle, Qatargas, Ericsson, and FedEx.  She has also authored, Data Visualization for Dummies (Wiley 2014).

Her ‘blunt’ twitter comments and blogs have been mentioned on sites likes CNET, SAP Insider, and TDWI. Since 2010 she continues to be a sought-after global keynote speaker and trainer and was named one of the Top 50 Analytics Bloggers to follow by SAP.  In her spare time, she enjoys the returning to her birthplace in the Caribbean to enjoy the ocean. Learn more at micoyuk.com.

Social Profiles and Websites:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/micoyuk

FB: http://facebook.com/micoyuk

Personal Website: http://micoyuk.com

Blog & Podcast: http://analyticsonfire.com

Company Website:http://bibrainz.com

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    4 months ago #

    Hello Mico, thank you for spending this time with us today

    Can you talk more about the concept of "enterprise visual storytelling"?

    What are the most common mistakes you see businesses making here?
    How do you get this right (other than hiring you, of course)?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hi Glen!

      Haha love the last comment. We created a methodology so you wouldn't need to hire me or any consultant if you're willing to learn. :)

      Sure... that concept is fairly broad but let me break down our meaning:
      - Enterprise - We focus primarily on the Fortune 500 companies. Due to their size and complexity, what works in their environment is overkill for smaller companies.
      - Visual Storytelling - At BI Brainz we use this term to encompass the process of visual storytelling. For us that entails creating your KPIs (key performance indicators), making them actionable, building your visual storyboard (3 part data story), and finally building the visual analytics to sit on top of it.

      I realize that is a very loaded response but that is why we use that term. It encompasses what we teach and the entire process.

      It's also critical that enterprises utilize visual storytelling as data sizes continue to merge.

      Thanks for great question Glen.

      Mico

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    4 months ago #

    Bonjour Mico,

    Merci for doing this AMA.

    1) What is your favorite cultural thing from the Caribbean?
    2) What is the future of visual growth marketing?
    3) What is the place of artificial intelligence vs. human visual storytelling in the future?

    Thanks for sharing your expertise with us :)

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      4 months ago #

      Hi Arsene!

      Great questions!

      1) The Caribbean? Has to be the beach (I'm a junkie, followed by the people (very multicultural) and the food). Island folks are so homely! Do visit sometime if you have not. We love newbies!

      2) Visual Growth Marketing? I need a bit of clarification on what medium you are referring to? Visuals as a whole outperform other mediums 8 to 10. Today anything that has pictures or even a video will outperform text. What is exciting to see the evolution of tools like canva who are helping to make the generation of these visual mediums much faster and scalable.

      3) I actually don't see these as being separate, what I tell our customers is that AI and specifically ML is the future of visual storytelling as companies begin to mature our HI (human intelligence) and KI (knowledge intelligence). While I see the ideas of visual storytelling as being a manual process for some time, I envision ML taking what has been done manually and making it smarter. Not only by learning from the data provided but also by being able to utilize outside data and factors that were otherwise unavailable or the average human cannot process.

      It's surely an exciting time in this area. Keep in mind, regardless of how 'automated' these processes become, I still see user adoption as being an issue, hence we cannot completely eliminate the human component!

      I was a speaker at the Real Business Intelligence conference at MIT last week, and the keynote speaker, Cathy O'Neil the author or 'Weapons of Math Destruction' make a powerful statement. She said, we need to remember, that using ML to fix problems, if we are using historic data, then all ML is doing is propagating history, which cannot provide a solution to the problem. New data has to be collected to solve new problems, as the machine is only as good as the data it is provided!

      3 Share
  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    4 months ago #

    Hi Mico thanks for this AMA,

    What has been the effective strategy to apply to have well known firms as clients?
    Thanks in advance

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Great question!

      1) Social media (I always spoke my mind online on topics that I cared about in our field)
      2) Reputation (that led to me building a reputation and influence in the BI community)
      3) Giving Freely (I was obsessed with helping techies like myself master building and designing amazing data visualizations, so I created tools for myself that I share freely with the world)
      4) Customer Experience/Trust (our sponsors are priority one for me.. I build relationships before I build dashboards)
      5) Consistency (speaking at events, keeping in touch with our customers and community. I've been in the same place online for over 7 years and I will continue to share my crazy ideas and tools)

      One thing to note, we have execs that work with us because they truly believe in our BI Dashboard methodology. We not only teach but also use it to do implementations and we continue to improve it. A lot of execs love our passion and we also get results. That is how we continue to grow word of mouth.

      Passion, consistency, and persistence.

      Mico

  • NS

    Nia Sweetz

    4 months ago #

    Hey Mico,

    Where was the idea for BI Brainz born? Was it something else before (if so, why did you pivot)?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hi Nia,

      Great questions!

      BI stands for 'Business Intelligence'.
      Brainz.

      Well we could not buy Brains (long story), but then we thought about what we represent. In the BI field, we are the only black female lead BI consulting firm we know of. We are quite young as well and we are known for creating our own unique methodology and tools. We tend to focus on more right brain approaches in a very technical field so we thought the combination of the Brain + z = our right brain approach and way of thinking. :-)

      Hope this makes sense.
      Its a bit weird but we like it!

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    4 months ago #

    Hi Mico, thank you for being here.

    Can you talk more about the journey of the BI Brainz academy?
    1. What told you that there was the need for this?
    2. How have you been able to grow it - any strategies that have worked more than others?
    3. What are your plans for where this - short and long term?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hi Dani!

      Great question. It's been an amazing and one we only just began, that's for sure.

      1. The idea for the academy was driven by the overwhelming response to our webinars, sessions and my keynotes around the globe. For us its a way to centralize and organize all of the cool tips and tools we provide to make it easier to find and follow.

      2. We are actually in the process of relaunching it but our free tools and webinars are key drivers for growth.

      3. Short term is to create a central location for our content. Long term vision is to have the biggest online BI academy in the world with the most student success stories. My passion resides really in helping others to avoid the pitfalls I encountered as a BI consultant and to share my passion around data visualization.

      My goal has always been to help 10,000 other BI folks like myself elevate and success in their careers. I plan to hit that goal in the next 3 years!

      Mico

  • PK

    patrick kana

    4 months ago #

    You do you get better as an entrepreneur?
    How can we become "pro entrepreneurs" like you?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      4 months ago #

      Hi Patrick!

      I am by no means a perfect entrepreneur and very much a work in progress for full transparency.

      The key to growing and continuously improving as an entrepreneur I've found is:

      1) Developing Smart Routines/Consistency (from your am routine to daily cadence keep hacking and streamlining this until you are working smarter and not harder)

      2) Continuous Learning/Curiosity (I listen to podcast daily in the shower, keep my kindle books up to date, and my curiosity levels are sky high so I'm always seeking new information)

      3) Your Surroundings (I had to get out of my comfort zone to grow and align myself with the right influencers mentors, coaches, and advisors, but also people who are way ahead of me in business)

      Honorary 4th
      4) Set a big goal - Create a plan - Stick to it

      Pro Entrepreneur wise .. one word. Passion.
      I'm blessed now to have a company that is growing globally with an amazing team and 2 amazing CEO's in the UK and South Africa, but at first I was a single consultant who was determined to make data visualization creation in enterprises easier. So much so that I developed and tested my own methodology. I had a goal, and then everything else followed and continues to follow.

      Hope this helps!

      3 Share
  • VM

    Vanessa M

    4 months ago #

    Hi Miko, congrats on BI Brainz, interesting stuff you do there! I was wondering if you or your community uses imagery at any step, especially on the Storytelling side? I think it would be amazing if we could help you there since we're here to innovate the way content is used. Thanks and good luck!

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      4 months ago #

      Hi Vanessa,

      Absolutely, lets chat. Just DM me and I'll shoot over my email. We have alot of in house designers/developers as well which is how we do our visuals, but we're always open to new ways to work especially if it will save us time and money!!

      Mico

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    4 months ago #

    Hi Mico
    Can you share any details of any marketing experiments that were either big wins for you or led to some unique insights?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      4 months ago #

      Hi Javier,

      Great question.
      Building a multi-million dollar business from social media is not easy.. even today!

      We have done literally hundreds of marketing experiments most of which were failures, but when we won they were big. Below are my top 3:

      1) Live Webinars - Since training is one of my favorite things, we decided one day to test out doing live webinars to scale to a wider audience. Through a single email and posting a few social media posts to our community, we are consistently able to attract 700-1200 people around the world per webinar! The key we have found to this is that we always deliver value, and we don't do webinars every two weeks, hence when we have something to say the world listens. We've been doing this since 2008!

      Now lets discuss hacks for getting to this number in a niche industry.
      We use specific LI groups that are super targeted to send out one message which is scheduled, we also ping our influencers in that topic and ask for an RT on tweets, and we always create a great visual and landing page (in lead pages) that works on all devices.

      2) Social Media Automation - Due to my busy schedule this is one experiment I spent a lot of time on as I didn't' want to take my profile and personality and turn it into to an automatic news channel! In the older days I used the good old Feedburner to stream and find content, but then our CMO, Soo Tang Yuk attended a marketing event with Ryan Deiss I believe and came back with a small tool called upflow! While skeptical I decided to put in 'all' the words I could find around data visualization hoping it would post great content. What I found, however, is that posts were so random at times, I was frantically checking and deleting post and my followers were not going up or engaging. I think took the opposite approach and reduced it to 2 words and it has been dynamite! I still check on post my Twitter daily, but my content is so reflective now of me that I usually my own feed to keep up to date on the world data visualization. :-) (key learning = less is more sometimes)

      3) Ask method - We have just started tested Ryan's method and will see how this goes!

      We are always experimenting and trying new marketing tools. we junkies I admit!
      We also have subscriptions to MeetEdgar (still to be tested), Buffer, Hootesuite and the list goes on.

      Haven't found a perfect one yet, so we focus on how we use them.
      We are 100% data driven as well as we know our audience and customer base very well.

      We even use Nimbl and moved from Salesforce due it social media component! I used to spend hours trying to find how leads were connected to us in our various online communities.

      Hope this helps!

      4 Share
  • MY

    Mico Yuk

    4 months ago #

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm taking my time to give as much insight as I can and not have typos!
    I will answer all of these questions in the next few hours as I was trying to avoid rushing.

    Thanks for your patience and the questions!

    Mico

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      4 months ago #

      Thanks for spending this time with us Mico!
      Cannot wait to read the rest of your responses 🙌

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    4 months ago #

    So cool to finally have you on, Mico!

    What kind of framework would you use to analyze data to spot big opportunities for growth (& growth experiments)?
    Im very curious as to how you identify your magic metrics that drive sustainable growth.

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hi Anuj,

      Great question though I'm tempted to do a blog post size response. :-)

      One word. Test, test and test some more.
      Growth wise we tend to try new processes, then we are a stickler for collaborative documentation (we use Quip for this)!
      As we test we update that documentation.

      We've found that grworth is a good mix of innovation + documentation + consistency.
      Find what works and keep doing more of that..
      Dump what doesn't.

      For example.. lets' say we have 3 proven ways to continue to grow our audience:

      1. Free Webinars
      2. Free downloads (podcasts / blog)
      3. Blogging on other targeted platforms

      We would continue to do monthly but we would play with the following metrics to try to get even more growth from them:
      1. Free webinars (is our day/time optimal, could we add a poll, could we add a questionnaire in front, are we really using crazy egg closely to evaluate response to the page, should we push it in these new channels?). We compare
      2. Free downloads (evaluate what mediums are the best? Infographic? Cheat sheet? template? video series? Should we add mobile opt in to see if that adds a boost?)
      3. Blog Post (reach out to other influencers on platforms we have interest in and request an intro to guest blog)

      In addition, we want to always have 1-2 innovative techniques in the trial, for example:
      4. Try new social network (if we're a visual company, is Instagram worth a try?)
      5. Update Templates (what about updating our most popular give aways and alerting the community to share with their colleagues?)

      Once again if 4 or 5 doesn't past the 90-day test, can it and replace!

      I'm admittedly a podcast junkie and there is some many good marketing ideas there. One of my favorites is Ryan Deiss, Jeff Walker (product launch guru), Social Media Marketing Podcast and so on.

      Just don't live in a bubble. Keep trying and growing as things change.

      Hope this helps!

      Mico

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        2 months ago #

        I'm glad you gave into your impulse to write a blog post sized answer :). Super helpful!

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    4 months ago #

    Hi Mico

    Does BI Brainz have a North Star Metric? If yes, what is it?
    How have you managed to rally your entire team around it?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      4 months ago #

      Hi John!

      Great question.

      We use WIGS (Wild Important Goals) internally to track our goals both on a company and individual level and meet monthly to check in on updates, changes, any barriers etc. To ensure it's always accessible we use a tool called Quip so that you can update, access and view them anywhere and on any device!

      We do have have a single world that we focus our WIGs on each year, and this year it is Growth. In all areas, people, customers, revenue, and even our social media following!

      Everyone has their own WIGS that then tie up into the company's WIGS. This way they are accountable on an individual level but aware of the company's WIGS. These change or evolve on a quarterly basis.

      Hope this answers the question. Such a great one.

      PS - We are considering moving to OKR's (Objectives and Key Results) based on research I've recently done. :-)

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    4 months ago #

    I have a similar question to Dani about your podcasts.

    1. Why did you feel the need for to start doing these?
    2. How have you managed to grow the audience for them?
    3. How do you think your podcasts are different from others in the same space?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hi Tri,

      Thanks for the candid questions:
      1) The podcast idea is the child of me and my colleague Ryan Goodman (owner of Centigon Solutions). As young CEO's we have been privileged to work with customers around the globe and wanted to share those stories with the world. We got tired of watching vendors coach big customers into 'client stories' before they got on stage. We just wanted the 'raw' story, both good and bad from real leader in the Fortune 500. I am also an avid podcast listener. I bought a shower radio on Amazon just for that. I do 1-2 per day, so it was something I was anticipating for a while!

      2) To grow we used a few techniques
      a) our existing blog/social media channels (the obvious)
      b) interview great influencers who are friends but also have their own following
      c) our customers would spread the podcast through their entire company (something we did not expect)
      d) used John Lee Dumas from the 'Entrepreneur on Fire' Podcast Get Started Guide e) Offer free give aways at the end!
      f) incorporate comprehensive blog post and infographics that were easy to go viral
      g) Outsource all audio to cashflowpodcasting.com (this was a God send). We are no audio engineers. Lots of scars from our early attempts.
      h) we just got started!!

      3) As far as we can see, we are the only ones with execs from companies like Shell, John Hopkins, Kimbery Clark who are discussing their real business intelligence journies. These are relationships that took years to build and I am so grateful they were willing to take this journey with me! Most other podcast have vendors or analyst just teaching or speaking to each other. It was not easy task getting these guys to talk.

      Hope this helps!
      Just get started!

      Note: Original response did not post for some reason

  • AT

    Arnold Tumewu

    4 months ago #

    Halo Mico, greeting from Indonesia,

    I have a basic question, what is enterprise visual storytelling? thank you

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hey Arnold!

      They say simplicity is always the hardest to achieve. :-)

      It's the art of using your data to tell a story.
      In our BI Dashboard Formula methodology, we do this via our visual storyboarding template. We then use that to create of data visualizations (infographics, dashboards, reports, scorecards etc).

      We use the word 'enterprise' though visual storytelling can be done for almost any kind of data because we created a specific methodology to deal with the challenges that large companies encounter when going through this process.

      Hope this helps.

      Mico

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    4 months ago #

    Hey Mico

    1. From a CEO perspective, what kinds of data are you most interested in (ie what does your dashboard look like) that tells you about the health of the business)?
    2. From all the dashboards you've now built for all your clients - do you see any patterns at all in what CEO dashboards tend to contain more often than not?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the great question!

      1) haha.. this question is two part. As a creative I am very interested in more unstructured data such as social. I could spend all day analyzing behavior. Business wise however I do measure the same metrics as other businesses such as net profit, sales pipeline, revenue, etc. My heart is in the community data ... which I've found has a direct correlation to the overhall financial health of our business.

      2) Yes! The latest visual trends has changed over the years. For instance 8 years ago it was interactivity that gave Exec (and me) data viz wet dreams. Fast forward, then it was dashboard on mobile (remember RoamBI app). Today we are seeing the evolution of tiles and the extensive use of mobile devices. there is also a want from predictive and prescriptive analysis. Drill down reports from the dashboard have been a consistent request from the day I started and likely wont be going anywhere soon. Last but not least, look/feel is always important with this audience. They like big shiny objects.

      Other Note: To be frank, I can't wait for the BI community to get beyond what 'charts' to choose. I'm bored.

      Hope this answers your question.
      Mico

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    4 months ago #

    What do you think makes a good data analyst? What skills should they have?
    For beginners, what path would you recommend for them to up their game?

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      4 months ago #

      Hi Danielle!

      Great question. :-)

      I was an analyst and have worked with some of the best around the globe. Below are 5 key skills that were consistent among them:

      1) Super Communication skills - Not just in being friendly, but particularly in managing tough situations such as difficult users and tough deadlines. This is also both in person and digitally. My favorite book is 'Let's get Real or Let's not Play' by Mahan Khalsa. Sales book, but very useful when leading meetings with users!

      2) Super Organizational Skills - Not necessarily on a PMP level (though that is a bonus), but the ability to stay organized and keep something as simple as the meeting agenda in tact is huge!

      3) Always Prepared - the best analyst I've worked with are always prepared! Not just for the meeting but for the attendees. They ensure everyone has what they need ahead of the meeting to be ready to avoid wasting time on formalities. They also spend a lot of time addressing any open issues digitally to again avoid wasting time and they have a good feel for what everyone's stake in the room is ahead of time.

      4) Relationship builder - They have good 1-1 relationships with their users and other team members. They can on these when required esp for tight spots!

      5) Visualization Skills - and I don't mean being able to draw a Picasso, just the ability to get up in a room and communicate by drawing and bringing to life what the users are seeking to accomplish to gain a consensus! Design thinking is a must for analyst today IMO

      Honorary Skills
      6) Must like people! Always surprised when I meet an analyst who doesn't like others.
      7) Must love & respect data (seems obvious, but with data comes the responsibility of accuracy, privacy, and transparency. those lines cannot be blurred)
      8) Not be tool focused - Focus on insights, not tools

      Hope this helps!

  • IM

    Ismail Maiyegun

    4 months ago #

    Hey Mico! Thanks for spending time on the AMA today!

    Just a note that you are a bad a$$ and I know you will crush whatever you set your mind to :) Few questions for you:

    1. How do you think startups (particularly those in Silicon Valley) should think about BI from day one and what are some of the biggest mistakes you see with these companies (even though I know you mostly deal with Fortune 500 companies)?
    2. What education pathway would you recommend for those looking to pursue a similiar career path?
    3. What was your AHA moment that BI was where you could differentiate yourself and build a big business around?

    Keep rocking!

    • MY

      Mico Yuk

      2 months ago #

      Hey Tunde!

      haha... thanks always being one of my supporters. You are amazing!

      1. Great question. We have dealt with a few unicorns at BI Brainz (no names called). It's quite a fun experience as they tend to be more agile and innovative (depending on which department you deal with). However, because of those two advantages (agility and innovation) they have the ability to think 'outside the box' when it comes to BI and push past to take advantage of more advanced analytics that includes some form of artificial intelligence. I've also found that companies in the valley tend to be more data driven which is how many of them became unicorns to begin with. With that said, we've seen some of the same mistakes that most of the fortune 500 make as they grow. Data starts as part of the culture, but as they grow it may not trickle down through the organization. While speaking at MIT I recently learned about Airbnb's 'DataU' program. I encourage other companies in the valley to follow Airbnb and create an educational mecca internally for data that will keep it as a part of their DNA.

      2) Career path? I'd more focus on traits. Curiosity, Passion, and persistence are key. My engineering degree definitely thought me how to think, but my love for data visualization and wanting to serve the community is what led to where we are today. My need to serve our BI community lead me to random marketing events. I went Yanik Silver's 2nd ever Underground Marketing event in DC almost 8 years ago and that changed my life. Be curious and never stop learning. I love the bookstore, and that has served me more than any other form of formal education to date.

      3) When I saw the reaction that our community had to the 'pretty stuff' data visualizations, and I realized that BI was a techie field that really struggled with creativity it was a match made in heaven. I was both a want to be artist (from high school) and a techie. :-)

      Thanks for the amazing questions!
      Hope this helps others.

      Mico

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