Tableau Community Spotlight: An Interview with Emily Kund

Today, I am blogging my one-on-one discussion with Emily Kund.

Emily Kund - Headshot

Emily Kund Bio

Emily Kund is the founder and co-host of the Tableau Fringe Festival. She is a self-described fit nerd who wants to make a difference.  Besides being a mom to two awesome kids, Emily founded a women’s empowerment initiative tailored to school-aged children called Pretty Strong Smart. She loves fitness and you can often find her in the gym.  Emily is a trained life coach, trained habits coach, and trained leadership facilitator. She is Mrs. Maryland US Continental where her charity is the Junior League and her platform is women’s empowerment.  She believes in living fully engaged and taking action.  Also, Emily believes by leading herself and helping others lead themselves, we can make a difference in this world.

My previous blog on Emily:


Michael: When I think of people who are changing the world for the better, your name always pops into my mind. Your positive attitude, go-out-and-get-it advice resonates in everything I read from you. Where does this positivity come from?

Emily: I think I see other people who are just always sad or miserable and I feel bad.  You know the people that if they won the lottery, they’d complain about the taxes?  They miss the point that they won the freakin’ lottery! I don’t want to live my life that way, so I don’t.  And I guess I’ve read enough personal development books to know that there’s at least one good thing that comes out of every situation.

Michael: You have several websites that deal with a variety of subjects. Would you mind providing the URLs and a description of each for my readers? Can you also briefly state why they would want to visit each site?

Emily: Sure! is my visual analytics consulting site.  This is a practice I recently founded to help executives and Boards get the information they need to make well-informed decisions.  It’s been engrained in me for so long (probably since about 2000) about the importance of having management and the Board have information to make well-informed decisions, that it seemed natural to have this as a focus of my practice.  I started the practice for two reasons; I wanted to have a more flexible schedule to be present and spend more time with my children and because I wanted to do more data visualization/visual analytics than my full-time career of 19 years would allow.  I’ve spent the last 20+ years in banking as a regulator and within the operational areas of a bank, so I’d like to focus my work in that domain. is my leadership site.  I LOVE leadership, like, I nerd out over it.  By the way, everyone should attend (either in person or simulcast) Leadercast Live about an hour outside of Atlanta. It’s an amazing (and inexpensive) leadership conference.  It packs a ton of value for the cost of the ticket.  I facilitated a fundamental leadership course the last couple of years and I thought tech in particular could use a good dose of leadership.  Whether that’s self-leadership or understanding the concept of followership and the leader-follower dynamic.

Of course, I have the which is all things Tableau Fringe Festival and for my women’s empowerment initiative, and I’ve kept live because it has all of my old dataviz blogposts going back to 2013.  Now that I work for myself and I have more time, I can spend some time making TFF and PSS more valuable resources.


Michael: You founded the Tableau Fringe Festival several years ago. Can you tell my readers why you did so, and why they want to attend and/or participate in the upcoming one in August?

Emily: You can credit Paul Banoub for this.  Paul’s talk wasn’t accepted in 2015. Paul is an amazing resource and at that time, the conference was still growing by leaps and bounds and there would have been a lot of people who would not have heard Paul’s message.  So, I thought that if Tableau wouldn’t have Paul speak at the conference, then I’ll start my own conference.  I also didn’t get selected to speak that year, so I thought that if I could ask a few more people, we could have a virtual conference.  As it turns out, I gave up my slot so that someone else could speak.  It was amazing.  I know there are others, but the three talks that stood out for me; Paul’s on COE/Server, Emma Whyte’s called The Font of All Knowledge, and Chris DeMartini’s talk on how to jump plots in Tableau.  Not only do I like giving people shout outs, but it’s also the reason why people should attend (and apply to speak at) upcoming TFFs.  The Tableau community has some amazing resources and I think it sets Tableau apart from others.  Not everyone will be able to speak at conference—just from a numbers perspective.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a valuable message to share.  My goal is to get folks to share their message and help increase their visibility.  Zens traditionally received a lot of recognition and respect and if you’re rooted deep in the community, they still do.

But if you’re the gal out in Iowa who has done some amazing things, but you don’t have the title or following, how do people know that you’re a great resource?  TFF aims to help with that.

But if you’re the gal out in Iowa who has done some amazing things, but you don’t have the title or following, how do people know that you’re a great resource?  TFF aims to help with that.  We are getting ready to announce the speaker selections and wow!! there’s so much good stuff the applicants have brought to the table in their abstracts. Attendees have what I like to call ‘informative fun’. They learn a lot and have fun connecting with people in the community through chats during the conference.

Michael: You have also been involved in the Tableau Data + Women community. Can you tell my readers a bit about this and how they can get involved?

Emily: I’m a big believer in diversity and have this personal philosophy that if I see something that isn’t right, then I should (try to) do something about it to make it better. Data+Women efforts help raise awareness about the gender gap and provide resources to women to help them get the skills they need, be present, and get the raise/promotion/job they want.  That’s MY viewpoint on D+W. I think the objective can be slightly different depending on where you are, but seeing the lack of diversity in tech and data is something that should improve across the globe.  To get involved, look to see if there is a Data+Women or She Talks Data chapter near you and if so, help organize events or speak.  Or maybe it’s just meeting a bunch of folks for brunch to chat about what’s going on and how you can help each other.  Unrelated to data, I am part of a mastermind group that meets once a month and it’s been great! Someone could even start a mastermind group (and if you want help, just ping me—I will help provide the resources).

Michael: I recently saw George Will on a television show. He is a fairly conservative political commentator. In summary, he feels the negativity we see toward women, minorities, immigrants, human rights, etc. will pass, as they have before in our history. I am paraphrasing here, but he felt the American people will only allow it and tolerate it for so long. Do you feel some of the negativity we are seeing in our Country will come to an end soon (or significantly reduce)? Also, what can we as individuals do to help foster better equality, tolerance, and human rights?

Emily: Wow! This is a big question and I don’t even know if my answer is comprehensive enough, but I’ll give it a go.  It feels like the United States aren’t so united anymore.  Do I think it will end soon?  I think that’s relative. Six more years of our current state seems like too long to me, but if I think about it in terms of the history of our country, it’s a short period.

I want to touch on something that you mentioned in the question…that these issues will pass.  I agree, one way or another, they will pass.  But that may mean civil disobedience in the meantime.  It may mean that people get so pissed off that they are compelled to take action. The other day, the White House originally denied the request to lower the U.S. flag to half mast for the five people killed in the Capital Gazette shooting.  After public outcry, that decision was reversed.  This leads to me think—what kind of culture are we creating?  One where protest (Dakota Access Pipeline for example) and public outcries get the desired outcome we’re looking for.  And, does it really need to get it to that point?  Are we so far gone that we can’t work together?

I think each one of us has our own tipping point and until we are tipped, we’ll live with the current state.  Personally, I was having a discussion the other day about mass shootings. I’m pissed. I have been upset for awhile, but the shooting that was in my community was a tipping point for me.  So what to do?  I am a big believer in taking action.  It’s why I started Pretty Strong Smart. I wanted to focus on children so that that empowerment was part of their value system from an early age, so they wouldn’t have to have conversations in their 20s, 30s, 40s, etc on why equal pay and understanding and taking action to have diversity in leadership is a good thing.  Our actions don’t have to be these big things.  It’s the everyday stuff—Drew Dudley refers to it as Everyday Leadership.  For example, if a guy is in a meeting and sees that a woman made a good point but is being dismissed, that guy can speak up and call out that the woman’s point was excellent.

With respect to mass shootings, I’m still figuring out how I can play a supporting role in ending these tragedies as my community recently experienced with The Capital Gazette shooting. I also believe in voting based on my platform issues and will vote for a candidate accordingly.  Finally, when I worked in DC, I had the opportunity to hear some amazing speakers at special observances.  One of those speakers was Barney Frank. I believe he mentioned in his talk that silence was acceptance. That really resonated with me and since then, I have not been silent because it’s important to me that people know what I do and do not stand for.  I also had the opportunity to hear HOFer Darrell Green who said that things are caught before they’re taught.  That was a powerful message, so I try to live my values, so that my kids can catch them—-living your values is something everyone can do.

Michael: Are there particular women in the Tableau community you would like to give a shout out too? I am familiar with the great data visualizations created by Lilach Manheim and Pooja Gandhi.

Emily: Lilach and Pooja are awesome. I’m also a big fan of Kelly Martin. Kelly because her work was relatable and beautiful.  Anya A’Hearn because she sees things before I do—like data plus women or getting the message out to kids (which is something I’m working on), Leigh Fonseca for being one of the first women consulting companies that I saw.  Sarah Bartlett for being so supportive, smart, and friendly. Fi Gordon because she has a rockstar attitude, and ‘gets it’. Brittany Fong for being the activator-for getting stuff done (along with beautiful work). Chloe Tseng for being super supportive and making a vision come to fruition. Brit Cava for the being a STEMinist (who also loves a good flex Friday). Ann Jackson for being inspiring (I now participate in Iron Viz) and being supportive as I start my consulting journey— I think she gets it that there’s plenty of room for all of us.  That’s not an all-inclusive list and I am sure I have missed someone pretty obvious and for that, I apologize.

Michael: What is next on your “To Do” list? What can the Tableau community expect to see from you in the near future?

Emily: Well, now that I’m not working full-time for someone else which precluded me from doing more or better work, I would say, expect to see that—more and better.  Because I think in bullet points sometimes, I’ll just run down the top few items where I expect to see change.

Blogging– I’ve been writing on the Analytics to Inform site, so keep an eye out for my posts on there.  It feels good to write again.

TFF-I really want to make TFF administration better—and that’s on me—not the regional teams.  From shortening the turnaround time on video editing to other administrative items, I want to take TFF to the next level.

Tableau Wannabe Podcast-I am looking forward to pouring more energy into this and really making it valuable. I’ve been loving the community conversations that we’ve introduced.  In some sense, I’d like to see us get back to early days (2015/2016).

I’m also working on a couple of other initiatives and when the time is right, I’ll share them.  I’m excited for the future and super fortunate to have an amazing support system within the Tableau Community. I want to continue to give back however I can, so if someone is reading this and wants to connect with me (on pretty much any topic), let me know—I’m happy to help!

Emily’s Tableau Public Link:!/


Tableau Public


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