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Thanks for listening to Raw Data By P3 Adaptive...Have a Data Day!

Nov 24, 2020

For Thanksgiving week we think it's only appropriate to discuss the alcohol industry. For this, we welcome P3 principal consultant and alcohol industry veteran Paul Boynton. He and the crew discuss the tremendous amount of data that exists in the alcohol industry, hostages VS volunteers in training sessions, the culture at P3, and some great uncomfortable stories from Rob's days at Microsoft. Any great holiday get-together has to include a few laughs, and that we do. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

2:00 - P3 and The Human Element
5:25 - Are you a hostage or a volunteer?
9:15 - Paul's Power BI moment of clarity
14:30 - Power BI Training stories
22:15 - The Gateway Formula
25:50 - To Maintain or Not Maintain the Status Quo
29:55 - Company cultures, Rob's epic Bill Gates and other horror stories
45:35 - Let's talk about booze, data, Category Managers, planograms and the Wild West that the alcohol industry still is
55:25 - How analytics leaves the computer screen, and how the human element comes into play
59:05 - Alcohol pretty much sells itself, but it's a data goldmine
1:05:00 - The 3 top opportunities in the alcohol industry for applying data more effectively
1:11:30 - Transformation in the alcohol distribution world and new ideas that are very strange and kind of cool
1:18:40 - PI Charts, Dark Mode, either love them or hate them!

Episode Transcript:

Rob Collie (00:00:00):
Welcome friends to the first ever Thanksgiving week edition of Raw Data. And we have an appropriate guest for Thanksgiving week. Paul Boynton is one of the principal consultants here at P3 and he has a lot of experience with the alcohol industry. And we talk a lot about that industry. We talk about some of the unique ways in which it's structured, how it runs, what the opportunities are for applying data and Power BI for wins. But we don't only talk about booze in this episode. We also talk about things like how the mere existence of the Datesytd function made Paul bitterly angry when we first met. We talk about the differences between hostages and volunteers when it comes to being in a training class, and how every now and then a hostage turns into a volunteer. I forget how we got into this. I relay a couple of stories about some meetings that I had with executives back in the day at Microsoft that were relatively unpleasant, but at the same time treasured memories of mine. All that and more, he's a very funny guy. So let's get after it.

Announcer (00:01:05):
Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?

Announcer (00:01:09):
This is the Raw Data by P3 podcast with your host Rob Collie and your co-host Thomas LaRock. Find out what the experts at P3 can do for your business. Go to Raw Data by P3 is data with the human element.

Rob Collie (00:01:27):
Welcome to Raw Data. Paul Boynton. Yeah, now we're going to have some fun here. Not that we haven't had fun before, but we're definitely going to have fun today. You know that whole tagline, data with the human element?

Announcer (00:01:41):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rob Collie (00:01:42):
Paul we just need you to drop your robotic nature just a little bit for us today. Can you do that for us? Can you be?

Paul Boynton (00:01:48):
I can put the wall down.

Rob Collie (00:01:50):
All right. All right. Well, I'm happy to hear that. So you're a consultant principal consultant here at P3. I know that ultimately it's your boss here sort of asking a question, but what's it like being a consultant P3? Be honest.

Paul Boynton (00:02:04):
Okay, I'll answer that with another question. How does it feel as a CEO for your employee to tell you they don't think of you as their boss?

Rob Collie (00:02:13):
That's great.

Paul Boynton (00:02:14):

Rob Collie (00:02:15):
I think that's great. I mean, because factually speaking I'm probably just not, you know?

Paul Boynton (00:02:22):
No, yeah definitely. I like to think of us as more than just a boss, employee for sure.

Rob Collie (00:02:29):
And I like to think of myself more as like a mascot, like a religious movement and I'm just part of it.

Paul Boynton (00:02:36):
You're just part of the mascot. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Who I quote in sight regularly in training and things like that. I get to borrow a lot of your credibility as mascot to make myself look cooler.

Rob Collie (00:02:50):
This is an appropriate use of me, yes.

Paul Boynton (00:02:52):
Say, "Hey folks, Rob says, 'People don't know what they want till they've seen what they asked for.'" And that just, saying it came from you all of a sudden makes it way cooler.

Rob Collie (00:03:04):
There's an authenticity about that. Some people would absolutely just say just to share the principle. I can't do that. If it comes from someone else, I am compelled to immediately before I even say it attribute it to someone one else. But I've been on calls with certain executives from Microsoft when we're talking to a customer or something like that. And the executive will use one of my lines as if it was his originally, and I'm on the call.

Paul Boynton (00:03:30):
Hah, hah.

Rob Collie (00:03:33):
You won't.

Paul Boynton (00:03:34):
Yeah. One of my favorite quotes that I came up with just now.

Rob Collie (00:03:38):

Paul Boynton (00:03:38):

Rob Collie (00:03:41):

Paul Boynton (00:03:42):
Yeah, you're filled with those, so yeah. I definitely think this company, that human element is for real, it's a really special group of people that you've assembled here. So really glad to be on talking to you.

Rob Collie (00:03:55):
And I didn't set out to assemble such an interesting human group. I didn't, the interview that I designed five years ago, and we've refined a bit since then and certainly gotten really good at scaling it. I was just looking for people who could do the job.

Paul Boynton (00:04:14):

Rob Collie (00:04:14):
There wasn't anything on there that was looking for, "Ah, are you going to be fun to work with. Or you're going to be stimulating or enjoyable to work with." There wasn't anything like that.

Paul Boynton (00:04:23):

Rob Collie (00:04:23):
In theory a robot could pass the test, right?

Paul Boynton (00:04:27):
In theory.

Rob Collie (00:04:28):
But no. So we end up with some really, really, really compelling people. Just a lot of fun to be around. And that's a bonus as opposed to, it wasn't a requirement.

Paul Boynton (00:04:38):
What was the pass rate again for the actual case?

Rob Collie (00:04:42):
I think we make offers in 2% or less-

Paul Boynton (00:04:45):

Rob Collie (00:04:45):
... of scenarios, yeah.

Paul Boynton (00:04:47):
Somehow you've managed to create a process that brings together a number of shared attributes. Like the love of grilling.

Rob Collie (00:04:54):
Yeah, there's nothing-

Paul Boynton (00:04:55):

Rob Collie (00:04:56):
There's nothing about grilling in the interview.

Paul Boynton (00:04:59):
No, but a lot of us love grilling and meats. Another one is board games. People love board games, which is special, and beards strangely enough.

Rob Collie (00:05:10):
Which is weird. Because I'm not really into any of those things.

Paul Boynton (00:05:14):
And yet, and yet, flies to honey.

Rob Collie (00:05:18):
Yeah. All right. So let's start with where you and I first crossed paths. When we crossed paths, we had no idea that we'd actually end up working together.

Paul Boynton (00:05:26):
Absolutely not.

Rob Collie (00:05:27):
The first day that we were interacting I remarked that I wish I had been like recording the whole thing from my point of view with Google glass or something like that. So set the stage for us, Paul.

Paul Boynton (00:05:39):

Rob Collie (00:05:40):
What was going on there?

Paul Boynton (00:05:41):
Yeah, and this will probably come up a little later. I was a category manager at Constellation Brands and you had come in to teach Foundations for us. So the Constellation leadership brought in P3 to do Power BI training. And I was one of what you refer to in the industry as a hostage.

Rob Collie (00:06:02):
Yeah, and we talk about this a lot. We talk about hostages and volunteers, right?

Paul Boynton (00:06:07):
For sure, for sure. So I was definitely in the hostage group, these are individuals forced against their will to take trainings when they'd rather be working.

Rob Collie (00:06:17):
Who wants to sit in a multi-day training. That sounds awful, doesn't it? I mean, it really does.

Paul Boynton (00:06:21):
It does.

Rob Collie (00:06:22):
Yeah, I mean, it's just like, I don't want to do that.

Paul Boynton (00:06:24):
Let alone fly out for it. Even though getting a hotel is nice, but yeah, we had to fly to Chicago and really, I had no idea what the training was about when I showed up. I didn't know that it was going to do Excelly kind of stuff. I just knew it was a training. It was another training that was blocked on my calendar. So I didn't really even really want to be there.

Rob Collie (00:06:47):
You're just forced into it. And so, whereas when we hold one of our public classes where people can sign up, it's not a private training for a particular company, it come from any company, you have to go out of your way. You don't just accidentally fall into this class. You have to go out of your way to sign up for it. That's the volunteer crowd. And it's a different kind of crowd. When we go do a class for an individual company, there's one volunteer in the room, the person who thought it was a good idea. At least half the room that's just like, oh my gosh, two or three days of this, this is going to suck.

Paul Boynton (00:07:18):
And we also don't project an agenda at the front either very intentionally, which-

Rob Collie (00:07:25):
That's true.

Paul Boynton (00:07:25):
Which can also make people uncomfortable. You really don't know what you're getting into with the training.

Rob Collie (00:07:34):
Just other than it's going to be amazing anyway.

Paul Boynton (00:07:36):
That would be, you start out with intro to happy and we don't believe you. And then slowly but surely then we buy in. So yeah, so I was definitely in the hostage group.

Rob Collie (00:07:45):
So were you even really paying attention at the beginning?

Paul Boynton (00:07:48):
Probably not.

Rob Collie (00:07:49):
Probably checking out a little bit. We try really hard. I try really hard to hold everyone's attention. It's why I'm so exhausted at the end of a class.

Paul Boynton (00:07:59):
At the same, I'm not a one foot in one foot out kind of person. That's just not how my brain operates. So even with my girlfriend, for example, she'll have shows that she watches I don't care for, but in the nature of compromise you say, "Okay, I'll watch this show with you." But I don't just watch Real House Wives or something passively. I get into it because if I'm going to be there, I might as well say, "Okay, so what's going on with this relationship," and something like that. So even though I'm not personally invested really, because I care about this other person I am. And so as a show of respect to you spending your time teaching me, I probably cared in the same way that I care about Real Housewives. Watching that with my girlfriend.

Rob Collie (00:08:44):
There's no higher compliment that I could be paid.

Paul Boynton (00:08:47):
I thought you'd feel that way.

Rob Collie (00:08:48):
So when you're watching Real Housewives, do you occasionally sit there, you're sitting on the couch and all of a sudden you're like, "Oh no, she didn't."

Paul Boynton (00:08:57):
Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe. And to be fair, my girlfriend doesn't watch Real Housewives. It's more of the Call the Midwife style.

Rob Collie (00:09:08):

Paul Boynton (00:09:09):
Anyways, so yeah, first part of the training, loose paying attention, but keeping up, it's kind of a sign of respect.

Rob Collie (00:09:17):
And then at one moment I showed something. I forget what it was.

Paul Boynton (00:09:21):
It was dates year to date. I'll never forget.

Rob Collie (00:09:24):

Paul Boynton (00:09:25):
Yeah. You said, "Does anybody have to do dates year to date calculations?" And my have my head just went whooz. My eyes opened up, I said, "Okay, how's this going to go?"

Rob Collie (00:09:35):
So for those of you listening at home, this usually happens late in the first day. So what Paul is really saying is he wasn't really paying attention for about six hours. And then I show this one formula and it's just so easy.

Paul Boynton (00:09:55):

Rob Collie (00:09:55):

Paul Boynton (00:09:56):
Calculate sales, dates year to date, calendar date.

Rob Collie (00:10:01):

Paul Boynton (00:10:02):

Rob Collie (00:10:04):
Everything changes.

Paul Boynton (00:10:05):
It's over. You finished that calculation. This was an absolute nightmare in Excel doing these kinds of dynamic dates year to date calculations and so fundamental, especially to seasonal businesses and things like that to just, to understand these cumulative totals like that. So time intelligence really sort of blew my mind, and Power BI.

Rob Collie (00:10:29):
So your job there was category manager, which from the outside doesn't translate into does a ton of Excel all the time.

Paul Boynton (00:10:38):
People don't even really know what category management is, frankly. That makes no sense to most people.

Rob Collie (00:10:43):
Actually a very strange arrangement in a lot of ways. Let's definitely come back to that. Make sure we talk about.

Paul Boynton (00:10:48):
Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (00:10:49):
The weird relationship between retailer and supplier.

Paul Boynton (00:10:51):

Rob Collie (00:10:53):
So funny.

Paul Boynton (00:10:54):
It is. Yeah. That's [inaudible 00:10:55].

Rob Collie (00:10:57):
It is, but it's really intriguing. I think, especially for people who've never been exposed to it. So anyway, let's cut to the chase. I show this formula and from what, not quite the back row, but maybe third from back row, you were ways back there.

Paul Boynton (00:11:11):
I think it was the back row. Again, I did not want to be there, so when-

Rob Collie (00:11:14):
Okay, fine, I was trying to promote you a few rows.

Paul Boynton (00:11:18):
I respect that.

Rob Collie (00:11:19):
Okay. You're in the back and all of a sudden in this room, and this was a big room. There were probably 40 people in there, maybe more, and you just scream, "No."

Paul Boynton (00:11:29):
Oh, come on.

Rob Collie (00:11:30):
And you were angry.

Paul Boynton (00:11:30):
I was.

Rob Collie (00:11:30):
It wasn't just, you weren't smiling. You were angry. Can you tell us why you were angry?

Paul Boynton (00:11:36):
Yeah, I even asked you that question I think later. Just, I was angry because I was thinking of the 90 hour weeks and the late nights putting reports together and copying and pasting. And it just sort of hit me all at once the amount of life force stolen from me by a spreadsheet.

Rob Collie (00:12:09):
Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Boynton (00:12:11):

Rob Collie (00:12:12):
I think this is the appropriate reaction.

Paul Boynton (00:12:14):

Rob Collie (00:12:14):
This actually is the way you should think about it.

Paul Boynton (00:12:17):
Right. And so I was angry at Microsoft, and it's a free add-in that you check a box and there you go. But it's buried in the add-ins that you got to change the comma. I mean, goodness.

Rob Collie (00:12:34):
Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Boynton (00:12:34):
It's buried. And I was just mad that nobody told me that I could have my life back if I check a box and type dates year to date.

Rob Collie (00:12:48):
Yeah. So the Power Pivot add in just hiding in there isn't really helping anyone, is it?

Paul Boynton (00:12:54):

Rob Collie (00:12:54):
And now of course, years later you might just skip that all together and just go to and download the free.

Paul Boynton (00:13:02):

Rob Collie (00:13:02):
Desktop app.

Paul Boynton (00:13:03):

Rob Collie (00:13:04):
And off you go. So it's just all sitting right there and no one was telling you about it. So that's why I wanted it recorded at the time was that your reaction of anger? Like, "Why have I been deprived of this?"

Paul Boynton (00:13:14):

Rob Collie (00:13:15):
That is, it's your life.

Paul Boynton (00:13:17):
It is. And I do talk about that in my trainings. I talk about life force. I use that word being given back to you. There is a report in the about me slide where normally consultants put their face and say, "Here's all the cool reasons I'm important and why you should listen to me." I just tell the story of this report I built. And one of the aspects is it used to take 400 hours a year of my life, working hours a year of my life to produce this biweekly report. And then using Power BI that came down to two hours a year. So that gives you perspective on not only the efficiency of the tool, but just the waste generated by the current process that the current tools produce. And a lot of that was just copying and pasting and doing checks. I mean, it just, it was a waste. It was a waste.

Rob Collie (00:14:12):
Is not just an amount of time. The contents of that time are particularly dehumanizing.

Paul Boynton (00:14:19):
Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

Rob Collie (00:14:20):
It's not smart work. You need to be a smart person to know where you're headed, but then you go do hundreds of hours of dumb work, repetitive tedious to get there.

Paul Boynton (00:14:32):

Rob Collie (00:14:33):
If you're listening to this and you're either your contemplating what BI tool to adopt or like most of the world you're still up to your eyeballs in spreadsheets. Something I tell people anyway all the time is that like, "If I told you the truth about how much better this is, you will not believe me." So I almost have to undersell it. You just talked about a 200X time saved.

Paul Boynton (00:14:59):

Rob Collie (00:15:02):
Who is ever going to believe 200 X until you do it?

Paul Boynton (00:15:07):
That's true.

Rob Collie (00:15:08):
Until you do it.

Paul Boynton (00:15:09):
Until you feel it as well. Until you feel what that release, that relief is like. That's the other piece is knowing what it can do, but then committing to actually learning it. Those are very different things. And when I conclude the trainings, I really, I pull out my soapbox and I just tell them, "Hey, this is worth while. The sooner you decide to commit to reinforcing what we've learned over the past few days, the better and better you're going to feel about that decision. Don't put it off."

Rob Collie (00:15:42):
I think you're really wise to lean into your personal journey when you're sharing this all with others, when you're committing a class or even you're doing some consulting work with someone. When someone's setting out to become a public speaker for the first time, it's usually pretty terrifying. I'm not saying this is your first time be as a public speaker. I'm saying in general for other people.

Paul Boynton (00:16:00):

Rob Collie (00:16:00):
Because we know it's not your first time. We'll get back to that. But one piece of advice I always like to give people and it's cliche, you've probably heard it before. Everyone's probably heard it before, but just in case, that you are the world's number one, leading expert, foremost authority on your own story.

Paul Boynton (00:16:17):
I like that.

Rob Collie (00:16:18):
And so you can go up there, don't talk about yourself necessarily like in a self-serving nature, but you relate an authentic path that you've been on and not yeah, you literally are. You can have full confidence in that.

Paul Boynton (00:16:32):

Rob Collie (00:16:32):
And the audience appreciates it too.

Paul Boynton (00:16:33):
And that we make mistakes, that this is hard when you get started. I don't know everything. I don't know everything about this, no way, but I'm learning and I continue to learn and I continue to see benefit from that. So I want them to feel that too. I did originally apply to P3 to be a trainer. I wanted to do that more than really the consulting work. Just because of that visceral, oh, come on feeling that I got in the training I wanted to give that to more people. And in the trainings I do now there's usually one person. It just turns on for them, the light bulb then, oh my gosh. Then they start the possibilities. The worlds they can explore start to flood in.

Rob Collie (00:17:23):
I had the opportunity one time to teach, years ago, I taught a foundations type class, Power BI type class to a team of Excel analysts at a particular company. And they didn't heed the advice to go immediately apply it. So they went back to their jobs and started doing them the old way, thinking, "Yeah, I'll just get around to it. I'll start using the new stuff next week." Next week never comes, you know? And so a year later the curtains had been on fire. But when I went there the first time they were so far behind. But now the whole building was on fire and even the concrete was burning.

Paul Boynton (00:18:01):

Rob Collie (00:18:04):
So one of the things that really struck me was that there was this one woman who'd been in the class the first time who simply couldn't have been bothered to be there. Now she was new in the role. She'd just been reassigned to via one of these analysts a couple weeks before. So the reality of her life hadn't set in yet. So I'm here teaching this thing and she's just like, "I'm doing the equivalent of just like," she was clearly on social media the whole time. By the way, students, if you're in a class of 30 or 40 you think you're getting away with something, no, you are not. We know exactly who's checked in and who's checked out, and I'm used to this. There's always, you can never capture everybody. But yeah, she was so above it. And sitting in the back and everything.

Rob Collie (00:18:46):
The next time, a year later, she was front and center. She was in the front row. She was paying intense attention. She was asking some of the best questions of the whole class. And then a year later I watched her on LinkedIn. She left that job and went to become a full-time BI analyst.

Paul Boynton (00:19:05):
What? Yeah.

Rob Collie (00:19:06):
And she, I mean, it was a striking transition.

Paul Boynton (00:19:09):

Rob Collie (00:19:10):
It was really cool.

Paul Boynton (00:19:12):
What inspires that kind of transformation in people? I mean, yeah you could say, "Oh, exposure to the tool." But what is it really?

Rob Collie (00:19:19):
Oh, no. It was the year of pain and suffering that she'd endured-

Paul Boynton (00:19:22):

Rob Collie (00:19:23):
... in between.

Paul Boynton (00:19:23):
Exactly. It's pain and suffering. To me doing these trainings it's like, I really do feel we are the good guys and that we do in a weird way make the world a better place. I really genuinely feel that. Because yeah, these people are suffering under the pressures of the business. They're constantly having to find more efficiencies, hard, shut down their laptop when Excel crashes, because they're trying to do something incredible that is just impossible in their current space. So, it's that pain and suffering. And which is, like you said earlier, if you were to tell people, "This will actually improve your life." No way, nobody would feel, "Oh gosh, no, it's Excel. It's just another version of Excel." No, not at all.

Thomas LaRock (00:20:15):
So I got a quick question because, Paul, what you described. I tried to explain to people that, and it's not just a Power BI thing, it goes back to when I first met Rob and he was writing his book about DAX. And Rob used to tell me all this time how this stuff would change my life. And I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." So what you described though, it's that I've tried to tell people that somewhere in Excel or Power BI, somewhere in there is your gateway formula, right?

Paul Boynton (00:20:53):

Thomas LaRock (00:20:53):
Like gateway drugs, there's a gateway formula somewhere in here. And I think sometimes in your training classes you guys almost are doing that jelly effect, because you're going through all of these formulas and you know one of them is going to stick to the wall.

Paul Boynton (00:21:07):
I like that.

Thomas LaRock (00:21:08):
And there's going to be somebody in that room at that moment that just yells, "No way."

Paul Boynton (00:21:13):
Yeah. Yeah.

Thomas LaRock (00:21:14):
And it kind of happened for me. I was trying to find this, I thought I'd written this blog post long ago, but where there was some formula in DAX which just did this calculation and it just reduced hundreds of lines of T-SQL to just this.

Paul Boynton (00:21:30):

Thomas LaRock (00:21:31):
And because my life has always, or used to always be inside of SQL server and T-SQL and so old school pivot type stuff. And how many hours did I spend on things like that when I could have just been in Excel, done the data and brought it back in. It's just, I forget which formula it was for me I was trying to find it, but there's that gateway there's that aha. And that also leads you to this point of where you say, "Can I share this with others? Can I make a living at this? This is sexy."

Paul Boynton (00:22:08):

Rob Collie (00:22:09):
I think that blog post might actually be on our site, Tom.

Thomas LaRock (00:22:11):
Oh, okay. Maybe that's why I can't find it on my site.

Rob Collie (00:22:13):
The one you're looking for. If you're looking for it on your site, I think you wrote it for us-

Thomas LaRock (00:22:16):

Rob Collie (00:22:17):
... on our site.

Paul Boynton (00:22:17):
I did have a gateway formula that's worth sharing. It is a measure that returns the top 100 market items not being sold in a given store. So as a category manager, my job was to work with the retailer to make sure that all of the, and it was alcohol company, make sure all of the products have the right space and distribute, the four pieces of marketing, the product, price, place, promotion. Well, on the 7-Eleven account there's 6,500 alcohol selling stores. That's a lot of beer products at a lot of locations. So our sales people were having to bring these giant laptops and lean up against the bagel rack in the refrigerator and have three minutes to craft a selling story on the fly with the franchisee who's got 10 customers in line. There's a lot of pressure to bring stories to the forefront very quickly and very effectively.

Paul Boynton (00:23:20):
And I wrote with the help of [Narr 00:23:24] actually at P3 wrote this measure that returns those products and right there on an iPad, no longer on a laptop, our sales people could put all of it on an iPad, click the store and be able to say, "Hey, our product is the number two in the market not being sold in your store. And look here, you haven't sold this product in six months. Maybe we give the number two product a shot in that space." And that changed the entire way the Salesforce went to market. I mean, imagine that transformation. Everybody's now got iPads and they're one button press away from really compelling selling stories. It just, it was a game changer. It was a complete game changer.

Rob Collie (00:24:10):
That's the happy ending of that story. I could tell another version of that story that would be equally believable, which is, you went and you came up with this measure, this one formula to rule them all, and it's available on an iPad and it's going to change everything. And then someone looks at it and goes, "Hmm, nah, we're just going to stick with what we're doing." That happens too. doesn't it?

Paul Boynton (00:24:35):
Oh my gosh, yeah. I had to fight for these tools. I was fortunate enough to work on a team that was really, I guess you could say progressive, the 7-Eleven account is, 7-Eleven is a massive, massive retailer. I don't think people quite realize how large 7-Eleven is.

Rob Collie (00:24:57):
6,500 stores.

Paul Boynton (00:24:59):
6,500 alcohol selling stores. Yeah, it rivals Walmart. So there's a lot there. The account is very flexible in that franchisees are the business owners. They make the decision corporate. They sort of joked to themselves that they were professional recommenders because they can't really tell the franchisees what to do with their business. So they were always open to really creative things. So we got to do a lot of stuff other places in the company couldn't.

Rob Collie (00:25:28):
So it's not like McDonald's where the rules are handed down from up high?

Paul Boynton (00:25:32):
Yeah, I mean there's McDonald's, they have franchise too, I think.

Rob Collie (00:25:37):
They do. But there's a really strict code of conduct essentially. You can't fire up and start selling hot dogs.

Thomas LaRock (00:25:44):
And you have to use their equipment you have to buy from them.

Paul Boynton (00:25:47):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there's definitely a mix of that too. And in the alcohol industry, I guess we could talk about the alcohol industry since we're here. There's a way of doing things in the alcohol industry. When it works, it works, and why change something that works? Well, you have this young guy or come couple guys coming in and saying, "We can actually put these on an iPad and we can make more money." And you just get these blank stares because it just, it doesn't make sense that that would be one worthwhile to do.

Rob Collie (00:26:24):
Now you used the words a couple guys, because in this case it was a couple guys.

Paul Boynton (00:26:27):
It was, it was.

Rob Collie (00:26:28):
Yeah, because you're not saying that in general, it was you and another and another guy, right?

Paul Boynton (00:26:32):
Shout out to Mike Neff, my brother in arms.

Rob Collie (00:26:35):
Mm-hmm (affirmative), respect.

Paul Boynton (00:26:36):
Respect, respect. Yeah. Because we fought this, the contrast you made earlier. The other side of that story is you make this amazing tool and nobody gets to use it because it's just not approved.

Rob Collie (00:26:49):
I think it's written that you got to fight for your right to data.

Paul Boynton (00:26:54):
To data, yeah.

Rob Collie (00:26:56):
Yeah, I've heard that somewhere.

Paul Boynton (00:26:58):
Yeah, I really.

Rob Collie (00:26:59):
It's kind of burned into my brain for some reason that I don't know, like a guitar riff or something.

Paul Boynton (00:27:03):
Well, it's just not good enough to have great analytics anymore. You have to have a great story. You have to, you have to, people have to buy in. It's just not good enough. The most impactful report, even sometimes the most beautiful report can wither because the individuals, the brilliant people behind putting those analytics together, they don't know how to sell it. And so this space where you have business intelligence, this big data and these really cool visualizations, the piece that can't go on, the how-to document is having an individual know how to communicate this to leadership and really sell it, is a special person.

Rob Collie (00:27:46):
I often say when asked like, "You know who our competitors are." We obviously have people who are in the same business as us. They don't approach it necessarily the same way we do. But our number one competitor really is the status quo.

Paul Boynton (00:27:59):
I love that.

Rob Collie (00:28:00):
If I could eliminate one competitor, it would be the notion that things can't be better.

Paul Boynton (00:28:07):
Yeah, it's a dangerous way of thinking too, really.

Rob Collie (00:28:12):
Oh, but it's also not dangerous. The whole thing, like you know no one ever got fired for hiring IBM or whatever. This is a recurring theme on this show actually at this point. And still to this day, but certainly in the past you think that a football coach, their number one motivation is to win games, but they're actually their number one motivation is to not get fired. And these might not be exactly aligned.

Paul Boynton (00:28:34):

Rob Collie (00:28:35):
The absence of flaws, the absence of perceived flaws makes it harder to fire you. So the more you conform, the less risks you take.

Paul Boynton (00:28:47):

Rob Collie (00:28:48):
You know-

Paul Boynton (00:28:49):
Gosh, that makes me uncomfortable.

Rob Collie (00:28:49):
Optimizing for not getting fired.

Paul Boynton (00:28:51):
Makes me so uncomfortable.

Rob Collie (00:28:52):
Optimizing for not getting fired and optimizing for improvement are unfortunately not identical.

Thomas LaRock (00:28:57):
I think you just explained all of Norv Turner's coaching career.

Rob Collie (00:29:03):
I mean, this is just human. This is everywhere. And this is something that culturally does have to be created top down.

Paul Boynton (00:29:12):
It does.

Rob Collie (00:29:13):
You're going to be rewarded for taking smart risks. It's not two strikes and you're out type of policy. You also, as a leader, need to create an environment in which bland conformity to the status quo is itself maybe not an F on the grading scale, we're going to set it at a C minus. You're going to get dinged for not thinking.

Paul Boynton (00:29:36):
Oh, well yeah. That would be interesting in practice. "Excuse me, Paul. You've been really normal this year. Very normal this year. Going to have to dock your pay for being unexceptional."

Rob Collie (00:29:55):
It's easy to say in a way, in my shoes, because this company started with just me and my wife seven years ago. So we've had the opportunity to build it from scratch. We've been able to have a culture that does lean that direction. It's a lot easier to do that from scratch and grow that way than it is to retrofit a new culture-

Paul Boynton (00:30:16):
Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (00:30:16):
... into an existing org, of course

Paul Boynton (00:30:18):
The size of the org also really matters here. Because I'm having a conversation with my CEO right now. That wouldn't happen in the other organizations I've worked in. I mean, it was rare. I think maybe one of my favorite CEOs is Sam Gilliland, Saber Travel Network. This is a guy who met me once at an intern luncheon, just welcoming the summer interns. Next time I saw him passing in the hallway, knew my first and last name and what program I was in during the internship. He's like, "Hey, how's it going over there in brand? Paul Boynton, hey, how's it going over there in brand marketing?" It just blew me away. But that is so rare to have that kind of intimacy with your decision makers.

Rob Collie (00:31:07):
I'm pretty sure that Bill Gates would remember me, because again, he has that recall from our one interaction and remember my name and all of that. And then remember how stupid he thought I was. He might even remember all of the insulting things that he said to all of us. It wasn't just me.

Paul Boynton (00:31:23):

Thomas LaRock (00:31:23):
I was going to say, just you.

Rob Collie (00:31:25):
No, no, but I mean-

Thomas LaRock (00:31:27):
Wait, now I need to know, what was he angry with you about?

Paul Boynton (00:31:30):
Oh yeah. The Bill Gates story. You haven't told the Bill Gates story yet?

Thomas LaRock (00:31:34):
I think he has, I've forgotten.

Rob Collie (00:31:36):
Not on the show, I don't think.

Thomas LaRock (00:31:37):
Oh no, not on the show.

Rob Collie (00:31:38):
So we were doing a review with Bill, basically all of office's plans, everything that we've been working on in office around XML.

Thomas LaRock (00:31:48):
Oh, forget that I've lost interest. XML, forget it.

Rob Collie (00:31:51):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. All right. XL and XML.

Paul Boynton (00:31:54):
If you're listening to this, skip ahead about two minutes.

Rob Collie (00:31:57):
Oh no.

Paul Boynton (00:31:58):
I'm kidding bro. I'm kidding.

Rob Collie (00:32:00):
This is fascinating, because when we have Connor on, we're going to talk about this again, which is, in the early 2000s the crisis of confidence or whatever, but the world of data was changing in some really fundamental ways. And the ground under foot was becoming really soft and squishy and you couldn't trust it anymore. And this thing we were talking about on a previous episode, I think it's actually our first episode talking about curly data and how data was sort of no longer just neatly shaped in rectangles in tables. And so while the SQL org was busy going all in on this XML storage thing to go side by side with the relational storage, which as far as I can tell was not very successful in the end. And it's been replaced by other things.

Rob Collie (00:32:50):
The office apps were having the same sort of revolution, XML. Everyone had to be dealing with XML. And so we were pitching our plans for XML and Office and I was in charge of the Excel XML plans. We were giving a demo, we were supposed to be really quick and just get over with and move on to the next thing. And Bill asked a question, and a series of terribly unfortunate things happened at that moment. This is like a one in 10,000 that these could all happen end to end, but they did. And this sort of thing happens in my life a lot it turns out. So he asked a question. So the first thing that was bad was that no one could answer the question, but me. It sort of like falls down the chain, you know? So none of my superiors could answer it. So it came to me. Okay. So that's the first problem. Second problem was that I misunderstood his question.

Thomas LaRock (00:33:39):

Rob Collie (00:33:40):
The third problem was, is that the question that I thought I heard, when I went to give an answer, my answer actually sounded like a credible answer to the question he was actually asking. Normally you discover the misunderstanding when the answer is giving. It's like, "No, no, no, no, no, that's not what I'm asking." But instead my answer was compatible with think he was asking, but it was a horrible answer to the question he was asking.

Thomas LaRock (00:34:03):
Oh boy, oh boy.

Rob Collie (00:34:04):
It's like, oh my God. All right. So I mean, he was really, really, really angry. I mean, just so angry at us.

Paul Boynton (00:34:15):
That answer must have been really bad?

Rob Collie (00:34:16):
It was really insulting, the things he said. He was snarling and yelling and swearing and it was bad. And my boss started to figure out something was off, "Maybe I don't think, this isn't quite what was happening." So he decides to show Bill what actually happens with the product. So he clicks to show Bill what he thinks is going to show Bill that is going to be better.

Rob Collie (00:34:43):
Here's the next unfortunate thing. A couple days before our developers had accidentally introduced a bug, which had not been detected up until that point, which led to about a 45 second hour glass, like it should have been instant, but instead the hourglass just sat there for 45 seconds. So we were looking bad and all that did was just have us all sit there so he could go off on us for another 45 seconds. And I mean, it was brutal. And then it finishes and he looks at it and he goes, "Oh," and this is word for word. Remember, there had been profanity. There had been swearing, there had been pointed insults hurled at our intelligence. And he saw the screen and he goes, "Oh, oh, that is okay." And then the next sentence, "I'm amending what I said before. I'm amending what I said before." Not I'm sorry or oops. That was a silly misunderstanding or any of the social things. And the formality of I'm amending what I said before. After this weird mix of geek and sailor tear down swearing. It was just, it was really, really, really bizarre.

Paul Boynton (00:36:09):
Strong tonal shift.

Rob Collie (00:36:13):
You know, we moved on and agreed to never speak of it.

Paul Boynton (00:36:16):
Wow. So he took the next meeting with you never?

Rob Collie (00:36:20):
Well, yeah, I mean, you could say this is an accident. Even though I was instrumental in building the BI stuff for the next wave, I was tellingly absent from that meeting. I didn't get invited by my own team to go back. Because again, somewhere multiple there is up on the chain, someone was trying to not get fired.

Paul Boynton (00:36:37):

Rob Collie (00:36:38):

Paul Boynton (00:36:38):
Oh yes. I get it, trying to not get fired, the incentive of trying to not get fired. I was on a job. There was a consulting engagement where one of the collaborating consultants said something cool. He goes, "A lot of work involves the spotlight. And when the spotlight hits you, you do your dance, your song and dance, and then the spotlight moves and you're off the hook." And so this spotlight is just traveling around constantly, looking for its next target. And your job is to just light up when it hits you and then get off stage.

Rob Collie (00:37:13):
Oh my gosh.

Paul Boynton (00:37:14):
And I love that metaphor for a long time.

Rob Collie (00:37:17):
Nothing describe 90s and 2000s Microsoft at certain levels, better than that. The reviews with the executives, especially on the windows side of the house, not so much the office side of the house, the office side of the house is pretty humane by comparison, but Windows and the developer platform stuff and therefore Bill and his culture that he had sort of originally developed at Microsoft. I mean, those people were vicious. And another time I was in a review, it didn't have Bill in it, but it had Jim Allchin, who was not a Bill clone, but also similarly. Pretty tough, really tough. And instilled fear and was okay with instilling fear. At bare minimum, you can say that he was okay with being feared.

Paul Boynton (00:38:04):
Fair game.

Rob Collie (00:38:05):
So this review with the windows vice president was supposed to be about kicking our ass. I've been working on something else, I've been working on this Windows installer thing, MSI technology. This is before I worked on Excel. This whole meeting was to grill us. It was to hurt us. And there were elements in the room that were there to undermine us. It was blood sport at the highest levels. And in the middle of all of this, while we're getting our ass kicked about something, we're talking about how we use the windows registry or something like that. This other guy Rob Short, who I actually really liked. He worked in Windows and it was part of this culture, but I actually really liked him. He's just been sitting there just like minding his own business. Like he just has to be there.

Rob Collie (00:38:44):
You know, he's just part of the committee, he's just been sitting there just like tuned out for hours. And when we explained the way that we've been using the registry and someone else had been criticizing the way we use the registry, Jim just goes, well, that just goes to show us once again, that our storage system is a piece of shit. And he turns on Rob Short and he just starts ripping into him-

Paul Boynton (00:39:08):
Laser beams.

Rob Collie (00:39:08):
... the spotlight turns. In the space of one second, Rob Short goes from being just like a disinterested bystander to like, "whoa, whoa, who, fighting for his life?

Paul Boynton (00:39:20):
Yeah. Yeah. Like a stage hand, crashing onto stage.

Rob Collie (00:39:25):
Yeah, man, I am so enriched by having almost court gesture type job in the room at those times. I didn't belong in those rooms in my 20s where I was.

Paul Boynton (00:39:36):
Yeah. You were a comic relief, I guess. Did you actually crack jokes or?

Rob Collie (00:39:40):
Oh yeah.

Paul Boynton (00:39:41):
Because this seems pretty dead in that room. It's pretty-

Rob Collie (00:39:44):
I was terrified about the whole thing. I mean, there was still part of me that was able to detach and watch with bemusement everything that was going on.

Paul Boynton (00:39:51):
Yeah. You know, let's see, I've got a fierce session coming up at two o'clock this afternoon.

Rob Collie (00:39:57):
It was like a whole day of fear.

Paul Boynton (00:40:00):
Well, yeah, this kind of reminds me of something. My mom says a lot, "Is you can never go wrong making your boss look good." And I just really believe in that. That's one way of making sure you're on your marks. When the spotlight shines on you is to, just do what you can and make your boss look good. They're supposed to be the people who fight for you. Not yell at not fight you. They're supposed to be the people who would break down barriers and give you the tools of resources you need to succeed. And so this person who's supposed to be giving you the tools of resources you need to succeed is grilling you with everything they got. Yeah, I wouldn't want to show up.

Rob Collie (00:40:42):
Late 90s windows at Microsoft was a broken culture. It had worked for so long, you know? I mean, this is the problem, right? When you're successful at something you don't necessarily know which are the things that made you successful. And so, they've been smashingly successful with this culture and Microsoft really kind of started with this culture. It was really clear that it started with Bill.

Paul Boynton (00:41:09):

Rob Collie (00:41:09):
Of course. We're just going to keep doing the same thing we've always been doing. It's worked for us. You get indoctrinated into it. It was something I've talked about before, which is nerd bullies. Oh. Almost every single person in those rooms who was being so vicious to other people, you could look at them and you could say, On yeah, I can see you in middle school and in high school. "You were getting picked on and made fun of and stuffed in lockers, just like the rest of us were, and now you're paying it back, sort of to your own kind. It's really unbecoming. We don't need to do that.

Paul Boynton (00:41:43):
No not at all. And even when a company, and really a company is just a collection of people. And that's all it is. It's just a collection of people. And even when a company figures out what they did right. Usually time is passed and now, "Great, You've got that understanding, but it's not going to take you to the next level." You know, what got you here isn't going to get you where you want to go. And so people end up sort of, they sort of trip and fall into a ditch of success. It's like, if you are successful, there's a tendency to, at least what I've seen in organizations to sort of ride those coattails until you trip and fall in a ditch.

Paul Boynton (00:42:25):
And then you go back and look at what went wrong more than how you should have kept up with what was right. It's kind of a backwards way of thinking to sort of wait until you fail to build more successes, instead of encouraging people to constantly innovate and find new things and fail early so that you can figure out what doesn't work sooner rather than later.

Rob Collie (00:42:50):
I think I just saw part of the matrix when you were talking, I saw some things that are almost interrelated, fundamental truths. So there's the Peter principle.

Paul Boynton (00:42:58):
What's that?

Rob Collie (00:42:59):
Whereas that you'll get promoted repeatedly by doing a good job until you finally get to a job where you're not very good. And that's where you stop. You end up being sorted by the machine into a place where you're not very good.

Paul Boynton (00:43:09):
And it's kind of a funny concept.

Rob Collie (00:43:13):
It is, right? So you got to be careful of this, both as an organization and as an individual. But then there's also the innovators dilemma. Where you've been successful and it gets you to a certain point and now you're kind of trapped by your own success.

Paul Boynton (00:43:27):

Rob Collie (00:43:28):
Microsoft for a long time had this, exactly this problem, their success was all tied to the Windows platform. And so when something like Linux would come out, their only move was to demonize it, seemingly. Back during the antitrust case when I worked for office and Microsoft was being threatened with breakup, in the office org we were secretly going, "Yeah, break us up. Don't throw us in that Briar patch."

Rob Collie (00:44:02):
Because we would then be free of the Windows monopoly. We could go build really good stuff for Mac. We could go build really good stuff for Linux. We may even build for Android. I don't know. The thing is we would be free to do what we wanted to do. What would be best for the productivity consumer without having to salute the Windows platform. Good news, bad news for Microsoft. The Windows platform has sort of lost, its it's still really important. I'm talking to you right now on a windows PC. When we run Power BI on our Windows PCs, but it's not the same stranglehold on the world of computing that it used to be by any stretch.

Rob Collie (00:44:38):
And we were talking about this with Hope in a previous episode that I think that the changing of the guard to Satya was obviously there's a change of personalities and all that kind of stuff. But it also you just really kind of needed to get the old mindset out. The new Microsoft is a lot more open to collaboration and integration with many, many, many, many, many different platforms. Whereas famously Bomber basically slapped an iPhone out of an employee's hand in front of thousands of people at a company meeting.

Paul Boynton (00:45:11):
My phone.

Thomas LaRock (00:45:13):
I'm surprised he slapped the phone and not the guy across the face.

Paul Boynton (00:45:15):
Yeah. I know, I know, both"

Rob Collie (00:45:19):
Like two thirds of the people in that room are like slowly sliding their iPhones into their pocket at that moment.

Paul Boynton (00:45:24):
Right? Yeah. Yeah. That was like bringing a Starbucks into 7-Eleven headquarters.

Rob Collie (00:45:32):
Oh, you can not do that.

Paul Boynton (00:45:33):
Yeah. That was, it was, it's criminal for sure.

Rob Collie (00:45:36):
Let's get back to that. Let's talk about booze and data. These are popular things. The whole notion of category management, which is a retail thing, it's not just a liquor thing. Let's start there. How bizarre is this?

Paul Boynton (00:45:52):
Yeah, very.

Rob Collie (00:45:54):
So, let's say I own a massive retail chain. Let's say I'm in charge of it. I'm just the emperor of it. We'll call it Retail CO. Well, I need stuff to put on my shelves to sell I have relationships with all these suppliers, Procter & Gamble for soap and jillion products, whatever. And then I need to stock my beer aisle. And so I need to have relationships with all the alcohol and beer supplier manufacturers and all of that. I need to act in my own best interest. I need to, as a retail owner, I need to make the most money possible. So the first thing I do is I go out and I put all the suppliers in charge of what goes on my shelves.

Paul Boynton (00:46:36):
It is bizarre. It works differently between categories. In the alcohol industry, what you described, absolutely correct. The category management role was born really out of, I think mainly groceries, I think is where it really started. So groceries, they have a bunch of categories and they need to procure products. They need to negotiate prices with retailers. They need to determine how those products are actually laid out on the shelves. It's not just random. And there's rent paid by these retailers for Primo spots, as well, on the shelf. Different areas of the store have of different price points. So trying to organize all of that procurement under some sort of procurement role really didn't make sense. So they split it out into the categories. They created a role called category managers. So there's the condiments category manager and the bakery category manager and so on and so forth.

Paul Boynton (00:47:35):
Well, alcohol is really different. There are, what we call the planograms for alcohol are much more nuanced and complicated than a lot of other areas in the store. Toothpaste doesn't have as many subcategories and package configurations as beer does. And it's also not as costly to, I don't know, chill and stock and inventory. So most will retailers rely on the alcohol supplier to draw the planograms for how the beer is laid out in the store. Because that work is so intensive, it's not cost effective for the retailer to do so. And the retailer has the space. So they get to say ultimately what goes on the shelves and what doesn't. But because the suppliers want to put their products on the shelf, the retailer gets to say, "You want to do that? Fine, I'll just have you draw the sets for all the products though, not just your supplier company's products, but I want you to also determine where all your competitor's products go."

Rob Collie (00:48:51):
Yeah, this gets weird, right? It's like, let's say I have five kids, which I don't, but if I did, it'd be like on one hand the analogies here would be like, "Turn into the five kids and say, 'Hey, between the five of you, I need you to figure out which one of you is the favorite one?"

Paul Boynton (00:49:07):
And they get to sit in the front seat.

Rob Collie (00:49:08):
Right, right, right. Or maybe more accurately is looking at the five kids and saying, "Okay, kid number three, you are my favorite. You get to decide how much food everyone gets."

Paul Boynton (00:49:21):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's I like that. And there's a validation process. So you have what are called the captains, the category captains. And that's one of the larger suppliers. We're not going to give the privilege of drawing sets for Walmart, for the thousands of stores, Walmart stores, to some craft brewery in the middle of nowhere. Your Anheuser-Busch's, your MillerCoors, your Constellation Brands. These are organizations that hire interns, have large personnel in charge of drawing sets for all these stores. And it's a really, really big deal. And that's why suppliers also have category managers. So even though a supplier is only responsible for one manufacturer's collection or assortment of products, the demands from retailers are so great that it's worthwhile on your larger accounts to have category managers on the supplier side.

Rob Collie (00:50:24):
It's just category managers all the way down.

Paul Boynton (00:50:25):
So there's category managers for the retailer. And in many cases, a supplier alcohol special and it's a little gray. But there's a validation process. So let's say Constellation is category captain for a particular region of a retailer. They'll draw those sets. And then it goes through a validation process where the other major suppliers get to have a look and say, "Wait a second. I'm only seeing your product in this store. That's not okay." And there's a round table where they sit down with the retailer and so on. So, that's the minutia of it.

Rob Collie (00:51:04):
That sounds like a lot of fun.

Paul Boynton (00:51:06):
It is, it's very labor intensive and so space, they call it space planning. So space assortment, the right packages and the right geographies. You've got to look at the demand. Is this a high Hispanic area than import products? Your Mexican imports are going to have more weight than other ones. So now that I've introduced that, imagine all the other variables that can be introduced to optimize an assortment and the layout, the actual shelf and the orientation of products on a given space determines how much can fit.

Thomas LaRock (00:51:46):
I'm trying to wrap my head around this. Because this is a really weird arrangement you're describing. And I had no knowledge of it, what level are we talking? Are we talking? I can't imagine my local liquor store down the street, everything has been laid out by somebody else. It's Damien, Damien's the one that decides where the beer ago. So are we talking like, this for Costco? Is this just for some other, what stores are being laid out?

Paul Boynton (00:52:18):
Yeah, here's another fun piece here. So ultimately somebody has to put those packages on the shelf, right?

Thomas LaRock (00:52:26):

Paul Boynton (00:52:27):
So the alcohol industry is in a three tier system by law. So you have the suppliers, the distributors and the retailers.

Thomas LaRock (00:52:36):

Paul Boynton (00:52:36):
So the suppliers and the retailers traditionally are the ones that draw the sets and for the large retail change, those relationships are formalized. So, you'll have Walmart has a set of stores that all obey the same planogram. That's the law. This store must set the cooler to look exactly like this, every product in its place, so on.

Paul Boynton (00:53:01):
At the lower level, like what you're talking about, mom and pop liquor store down the road, well, they get control over their own store. They don't really have access to the Walmart data. So they work with their distributor to determine what are the good products. What's kind of the good mix of things to put in my store so the liquor store will have a good idea of what sells. And they talk to the distributor to say, "Hey, here's what's selling, how's our stock? Look on these kinds of products. What's new?" And the distributor has that relationship.

Paul Boynton (00:53:37):
But if you take it one step a little higher, 7-Eleven, for example, that's a franchisee model. So 7-Eleven corporate can't tell the 7-Eleven franchisees how to lay out their store, they can just recommend it. And even if they choose to accept it, it's the wild west for the competing distributors who then eventually show up and deliver the product. Because one distributor, it has the rights to Bud Light and another distributor has the rights to Modelo. So once the product is actually delivered, it's kind of the wild west. Now you can kind of sell on the fly and change things up.

Thomas LaRock (00:54:19):
So I'm a distributor. I show up, I got my product. I'm going to stock the shelf. Do I just move something else out of the way?

Paul Boynton (00:54:28):
It used to be that way. It used to be that way that you could really just go yoink, and just put that product in the back of the room, up still there, it still, I haven't stolen it. I've just taken it off the shelf.

Thomas LaRock (00:54:41):
And then the other distributor switches it back. He's like, "Why is my stuff in the back?"

Paul Boynton (00:54:47):

Thomas LaRock (00:54:48):
Oh my God.

Paul Boynton (00:54:48):
Exactly. And that's how it used to be. That's how it used to be, until we got the ability to draw these sets on a more systematized base. That's where this space planning really came from was to help sort of put more structure around it. But in the franchisee model and at these lower levels, it really, distributors also have category managers.

Rob Collie (00:55:11):
Wow. I got a real Bugs Bunny, like Elmer Fudd type of vibe from that situation you just described. Can you imagine a cartoon where they keep switching each other's products out?

Paul Boynton (00:55:21):
Oh yeah, it's unreal. Some of the things that you'll see where we were constantly having to check the retailer data and make sure the planograms were being followed, there were incentives provided to the franchisees for following the planograms. But we never knew. We never knew what was really on the shelf. And I think this is a great example of sort of where analytics leaves the computer screen. We had a situation where in Texas sales were down, and 7-Eleven just wanted to know why sales were declining in Texas. Well, there wasn't really a good obvious answer in the data. So my colleague and I just got in a car and started driving around store to store, trying to figure out what's going on. There was an increase in competition. Some of the bigger stores did have construction that slowed down sales, that's true.

Paul Boynton (00:56:17):
But this is so funny. Our biggest discovery and recommendation to 7-Eleven was to put beer and wine to go signs outside of the stores in Dallas. All the other competitors had signage on the outside that said, "Beer and wine." You can't put particular brands, that was against the law, but you could put beer and wine in big, 80 point font block letters on the outside. And 7-Eleven was the only convenience chain that wasn't doing that. So, that's the kind of recommendations that we brought back. There's so much going on that at some point you just have to go out into the market and validate for yourself. What's actually on the shelf? What does the store look like? Is it dark and scary because they haven't replaced the lights, or is it super clean? And they just opened a hotel next door and that's why they're doing so well.

Rob Collie (00:57:15):
It's funny. In a way we're coming from a world that was judged sort of strictly by human factors, like tribal wisdom and gut instinct and experience. And in a lot of ways we present data, a data driven technique as a superior method to that. You can't take it to an extreme, you have to integrate the two. And we talk about this with Michael Self, and he's been on a couple times. It's like this integration of the human knowledge with the data. There's no rules for how to do it right.

Paul Boynton (00:57:51):

Rob Collie (00:57:52):
You can always have one overruling the other inappropriately. By the way, that story I told about the crew that I taught twice, their whole business, and the people in the room I was teaching didn't do this, but their whole business was shoppers. They would send people around to all of the stores in the country, various, and validate that the displays for various products were there, they were configured properly. If there had been a TV demo that was supposed to be running, was it actually running? Was it plugged in?

Paul Boynton (00:58:22):
Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (00:58:22):
Was it showing the right stuff? And most of what was being reported was ultimately all of that data that was being collected by hand. Now I'm sure a lot of that now you think that eventually we're be getting to the point where you still probably need a human to go in there, but you could just have them with the camera. And it's like doing some AI-driven image processing. I mean, you could certainly do that with the planogram. To see whether the planogram was accurate. You just walk down the beer isle with the camera and go back up to your car. By the time you're up to the car it's giving you a check mark or an X.

Paul Boynton (00:58:52):
Yeah, they're trying, they're trying to do these kind of visual checks, putting weight sensors and things like that. I mean-

Rob Collie (00:59:00):

Paul Boynton (00:59:01):
It's a lot to manage. Just move so much.

Rob Collie (00:59:05):
So even though I'm not naive about this industry anymore, I can still sort of bounce back to a naive perspective and I can tell two different stories about alcohol and data. On the one hand, I can say, "Look, alcohol has been here forever. It's a product that sells itself. It just isn't that complicated. People need their booze. And so it's just going to happen." I'm sure there's quite a bit of that personality in that industry. But then I could also say, "Oh my gosh, how perfect of a laboratory for data is this? It is a zero sum game being played against competitors with literally like at 7-Eleven, there are six doors to fridges that have beer behind them. That's it. It's not going to be seven tomorrow, it's six." And you know what? It's not just a zero sum game from the perspective of the various suppliers who are making beer, it's a zero sum game from the perspective of the retailer. There's nothing more optimization friendly then something that constrained.

Paul Boynton (01:00:24):
Well said. It is the perfect, perfect industry for business intelligence to come and just shake things up entirely. I see predictive modeling. So being able to actually predict the velocity, what we call a velocity, just how quickly do products come off the shelf?

Rob Collie (01:00:48):
Like in feet per second, or?

Paul Boynton (01:00:50):
It can be measured in actually a variety of ways. But mostly they call days of supply. How much do you put on the shelf to ensure there's always something on the shelf? And then, how do those requirements compete with the requirements of other products and their demand? So being able to forecast, how many times do you buy beer on a Tuesday at 3:00 PM? Not too often. So even in a given week-

Thomas LaRock (01:01:19):
Since the pandemic?

Paul Boynton (01:01:19):
Even in a given week there's fluctuations in demand. So getting that level of granularity to say, "Oh, I have exactly the amount of product I need on the shelf when I need it." Huge. Assortment, making sure that you don't have redundant packages, packages that do the exact same thing for the shopper. Price. Huge, huge.

Rob Collie (01:01:39):
Yeah, the old fashioned cave man, Rob Collie comes in now and says, "But look, once you get this stuff figured out, once you get it figured out, it's the same thing over and over again, every day, every place." Just know you-

Paul Boynton (01:01:53):
But didn't you hear about our Lime-A-Rita? That's a 24 ounce can that's coming out this spring. Oh no.

Rob Collie (01:02:01):
I did not.

Paul Boynton (01:02:01):
Well, you should get rid of that other 24 ounce can and put this in place.

Rob Collie (01:02:09):
I was literally setting up a suggestion, which is that if you're thinking about this, if you're listening to this and going, you're sort of thinking something along the lines of what I just said, it's not going to be like that. Here's another one that, listen, I love it when people steal things. So here's one that's, I'm presenting it as fodder for being stolen. There'd be no greater compliment than to have it stolen. I like to say the average has a population of zero.

Paul Boynton (01:02:31):
That's cool.

Rob Collie (01:02:32):
If you take all of the stores that have their own things going on and you average them all up, you're going to get a picture that painted for you. And you're going to assume, your next step is to assume that every store is basically doing about the same thing. They're all behaving the same way.

Paul Boynton (01:02:46):

Rob Collie (01:02:46):
So if you take everything that's happening at all of your stores and you blend it together into an overall average, you're going to get a picture. And the natural human thing to do is to assume that every one of those stores is basically behaving like that average. But in practice, you really go and look, most of the time you'll discover that every store is different. It's a bunch of different micro trends. And when you average them all up, you get a picture of a store that you go looking and there aren't actually any stores that look like that individually.

Paul Boynton (01:03:17):

Rob Collie (01:03:17):
And so being able to keep track of things, and this is another one of the places where a data-driven technique is just always going to be superior to just human instinct, you need to decompose it.

Paul Boynton (01:03:29):
Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (01:03:30):
You need to be aware of that. You were mentioning earlier different neighborhoods with different populations. As soon as you said something, I started thinking about, "Oh yeah. In the hipster neighborhood there's probably no middle class of beer, right?"

Paul Boynton (01:03:43):
Oh yeah [crosstalk 01:03:44].

Rob Collie (01:03:43):
It's only the high end and low end.

Paul Boynton (01:03:46):

Rob Collie (01:03:47):
Old Milwaukeen Pabst. And then the stuff that costs $5 a bottle.

Paul Boynton (01:03:52):

Rob Collie (01:03:53):
You know?

Paul Boynton (01:03:53):
Yeah, for sure.

Rob Collie (01:03:54):
You're not going to find Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in there, so over that, you know?

Paul Boynton (01:03:59):
And how do you get to that information without just talking to somebody or looking at the rest of the market? Or you have a market, great beer market. We had this situation in Colorado, when it went to full strength, alcohol, we did a bunch of canvassing. And there is an area doing very well with beer sales, one store not selling beer, what's going on? Why aren't we selling beer? If you were looking at the numbers on high, you'd be like, "We're losing money. We need to get our product in that store." You go and you talk to the owner, they're Muslim, they're not going to sell alcohol. So where does that data point come from? There's this holistic, granular approach that just requires so much data and so much data collection that it wasn't possible in Excel. It just wasn't possible. Now we actually have a mechanism to go after that kind of information. It's enormous. I mean, being able to get to that level of specificity at the long tail.

Rob Collie (01:05:01):
Even within a single small city, I've seen this. Different ends of that same city, people's preference for favorite cigarette or whatever is totally different than on the other end. And yet, again, the average tells you that every store sells three packs a day of this and four packs a day of that. Nope. No one sells three packs a day of that brand. There's one store that sells 11 a day.

Paul Boynton (01:05:25):

Rob Collie (01:05:26):
And the other sell none.

Paul Boynton (01:05:27):
Right. Exactly. Right.

Rob Collie (01:05:29):
It's just like, you've got to be careful.

Paul Boynton (01:05:32):
For sure. There's so many great sort of narratives in that vein. I think in the alcohol industry it has a kind of special place with those narratives. Because the product set is so diverse and also its geographic reach is so spread out that you can just, there's a never ending number of variables that can have meaningful impact on purchase behavior.

Rob Collie (01:05:54):
Yeah, everyone thinks that their industry [inaudible 01:05:58] is so special. I'm sure if we had someone on here talking about soap, they'd be telling us, "Oh no, soap is the most interesting and challenging, diverse-"

Thomas LaRock (01:06:08):
Soap has Tyler Durden.

Rob Collie (01:06:10):
Oh, it does, yes.

Thomas LaRock (01:06:12):
It has that going for it.

Paul Boynton (01:06:13):
So here's the other thing, what does a soap corporate event look like versus an alcohol corporate event?

Rob Collie (01:06:20):
I'm not talking about how much fun it would be.

Paul Boynton (01:06:28):
You know? You're right. And I'm not saying the alcohol industry is more or less opportunity just inherently than any other. I would argue that it is a strong candidate for focus at this point, because it's such an old industry that desperately needs it.

Rob Collie (01:06:47):
Well it's an industry. And so as soon as you tell me it's an industry, this has been the repeated lessons since I left Microsoft, is that, oh my gosh, the world has, and this is good news, the world so much left to do in terms of improvement.

Paul Boynton (01:07:01):
Yeah. And we're just talking about the retail perspective. That's not even including the actual manufacturing of the product and forecasting it, which could apply just across the board.

Thomas LaRock (01:07:13):
See, I would expect that the big, in dev, the real suppliers manufacturers, I would suspect they have a team of data analysts doing all that. I can't imagine they don't.

Paul Boynton (01:07:25):
You'd think. I mean, they're trying, I agree with you. They are trying, it's just hard. It's hard work. It's a difficult, it's challenging. It's just difficult work and there's not a whole lot of people in the world who just can do it is kind of the challenge.

Rob Collie (01:07:46):
What would you say would be sort of like, I don't know, I'll just pick a number, top three opportunities in the alcohol industry for applying data more effectively?

Paul Boynton (01:08:01):
Inventory management for distributors. So understanding inventory turns and how you're managing your inventory. The second one is incentives management. So actually this is pretty focused on distributors right now that I think about it. I just think that there's a lot of opportunity there.

Rob Collie (01:08:21):
Well, they're right in the middle, literally. So it wouldn't, it's not a surprise necessarily.

Paul Boynton (01:08:26):
Well, and they're also natural monopolies. So their competition is really against themselves. They're always trying to beat their best lap. The more efficiently they can get product from their warehouse to the store, the more money they'll they'll make. Because there's not another distributor in the area selling Bud Light. The Bud Light distributor is selling that Bud Light. So they're in a competition against themselves. So really nice self-contained there. So incentives are really interesting because different suppliers will provide different dollar amount and different criteria for meeting certain incentives for distributors. So, "Hey, we have a new product, Constellation Brands launches a new product." And if this distributor earns X number of placements, they get X number of money. And those are complicated. Those get really, really complicated. And in the hands of the driver, the person who actually goes out and delivers the product, they've got this big binder of a lot of cases, a binder of printouts that says, "Oh, if I sold this franchisee, these products, I'd make this much bonus to feed my family. Or I could say sell them this products, and for the month, eh."

Paul Boynton (01:09:41):
You see what I mean? That arithmetic gets complicated very quickly and there's a lot of money on the table. So inventory management, incentives, dollar management, and then the third one more broadly, I think assortment optimization is probably the dark matter of the universe in alcohol. It's just such a black box to try and understand how packages when they sit next to each other, how they affect one another. So if you're ever wondering why there's a billboard worth of Bud Light, the 18 pack, seven ounce aluminum twist off bottle, do we really need all of those? And this isn't to hate on Bud Light. I'm just saying, where do you put that product? Where is it best served? Is it best served everywhere or just in a few places? So wrapping our heads around that I think is going to do quite a bit, quite a bit. Those are the top three.

Rob Collie (01:10:38):
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to know that I did not give Paul advanced warning, but I was going to ask him for the top three opportunities. He's just a natural look at that, you know?

Thomas LaRock (01:10:49):
So if you'd like, though, I can help you. I know where to put the Bud Light.

Paul Boynton (01:10:57):
Let me guess, hmm.

Thomas LaRock (01:10:59):
Yeah, the Bud Light should go right next to the Bud Light Seltzer, and that should be in the garbage.

Paul Boynton (01:11:04):
And that should be in the garbage, oh my gosh. Shade, shade, throne.

Thomas LaRock (01:11:09):
Shade throne.

Paul Boynton (01:11:10):
Speaking of Bud Light, I don't know how much time we're dealing with here, I'm just having a really good time with y'all.

Rob Collie (01:11:15):

Paul Boynton (01:11:16):

Rob Collie (01:11:17):
Time has no meaning.

Paul Boynton (01:11:18):
Time has no meaning.

Rob Collie (01:11:19):
In between these walls.

Paul Boynton (01:11:20):
What is it but a direction of entropy?

Rob Collie (01:11:22):
True. True. Totally. Yeah, I mean, that's how I think.

Paul Boynton (01:11:25):
Yeah, right. So we're in a strange place in the alcohol industry where it's the, what got us here a ain't going to get us there, back to that. There's a lot of people retiring from distributors and handing off their business to either the next generation of that family, if it's family owned, or there's a lot of consolidation going on in distributors. There's just a lot of transformation in the industry happening right now. The fact that imports are selling, are growing faster and are about to overtake in total dollars your domestic premiums. This is a really flex point. And we're also getting all of this data and business intelligence, so we're looking for constant new ideas. Huge preamble to set up a really strange idea. I pitched, I attempted, I should say, to pitch to the brand team at Constellations that they should get involved in eSports somehow. Because the age group of people who are playing games and watching eSports is now really the alcohol drinking age.

Paul Boynton (01:12:29):
And there's a really growing industry. I said that, and then not even a few months later, Bud Light came out with a Twitch channel and Miller came out with a Twitch channel. And the brand for Modelo is the fighting spirit, brewed with the fighting spirit. I mean, what a better matchup with fighting games or Counterstrike or something like that.

Rob Collie (01:12:51):
Because nothing improves those quick Twitch reaction times quite like that.

Paul Boynton (01:12:57):
Quite like a-

Rob Collie (01:12:58):
5% alcohol by volume beverage.

Paul Boynton (01:13:01):
You're right. It doesn't, it's not really good for the competitors.

Rob Collie (01:13:04):

Paul Boynton (01:13:04):
But that's an example of just something that you just wouldn't have thought of, three years ago that alcohol companies would be sponsoring early 20 year olds playing video games. Bud Light actually, I just read yesterday, they're releasing a console, a game console, that chills two beers.

Rob Collie (01:13:26):

Paul Boynton (01:13:27):

Rob Collie (01:13:30):
My console is hot. I would use it to make coffee.

Paul Boynton (01:13:35):
Not this one, this one is cold.

Rob Collie (01:13:37):
You know, that makes as much sense as windows making a phone. When we have Connor on, we're going to talk about something called a Windows phone, and it's not what you expect.

Paul Boynton (01:13:48):
These are strange new ideas the industry's having to grapple with and there's just so much cool stuff out there for alcohol to do.

Rob Collie (01:13:59):
There's going to be a performance beer. You just know it. It's going to be a beer that has some sort of rainforest-

Paul Boynton (01:14:08):
Like a [crosstalk 01:14:08] drink?

Rob Collie (01:14:08):
Yeah. Kind of. But it's going to be like some sort of rainforest extract that supposedly offsets the effect of alcohol on reaction times. And there's no real studies that support this, except for the ones that were paid for by that particular manufacturer. And it'll be ...

Paul Boynton (01:14:25):
Yeah. Brewed with a Tiger's roar.

Rob Collie (01:14:27):
That's right. That's right.

Paul Boynton (01:14:28):
You have tigers scream at the-

Rob Collie (01:14:31):
No it's like tears of a hummingbird.

Paul Boynton (01:14:37):
Something just bizarre, I wouldn't put it past them. There actually is a coffee alcohol, right? Not coffee flavored beer, but coffee with alcohol in it. Shooters with [crosstalk 01:14:51]

Rob Collie (01:14:50):
Yeah. I actually got, I've ordered from Drizly one time, local beer delivery or whatever, one time. And so I get their newsletters and I swear, I got one the other day that said, "There's nothing quite like waking up to the taste of this coffee alcohol."

Thomas LaRock (01:15:08):
Yeah. No, nothing [crosstalk 01:15:09].

Rob Collie (01:15:08):
They just come right out and say, "This is your morning liquor."

Paul Boynton (01:15:13):
What's it called? Hair at the [inaudible 01:15:14]?

Rob Collie (01:15:15):
I have no idea. We call bad idea.

Paul Boynton (01:15:20):
Bad idea.

Rob Collie (01:15:21):
That will sell. It might sell great in the Rock. This is one of those products that we wish we could uninvent.

Paul Boynton (01:15:28):
Yeah. Oh the, what, the pet rock?

Rob Collie (01:15:31):
No. In the movie, The Rock, he talks about VX gas and says, to make it sound really bad he goes, "Listen, this is one of those things that we wish we could uninvent." It's that bad. It's that bad.

Paul Boynton (01:15:41):
Oh I thought Rock with Sean Connery.

Rob Collie (01:15:42):
It's not a good thing at all. We do not need tailored-

Paul Boynton (01:15:50):
This is a bad idea.

Rob Collie (01:15:50):
... alcohol drinks for the morning.

Paul Boynton (01:15:51):
Like Moon Shoes or the skip it.

Thomas LaRock (01:15:53):
We already have Baileys [crosstalk 01:15:56].

Rob Collie (01:15:55):
Yeah, that's true. A couple times I get upgraded, back when I used to fly, the early morning flight, it's leaving at 5:30 in the morning, it's yep. There's a lot of Baileys being dolled out on those flights.

Paul Boynton (01:16:10):
Excuse me. Champagne, please. I like my mornings cold.

Rob Collie (01:16:13):
Yeah, yeah. Well, if you need them cold. Just put them in the new Bud Light console.

Paul Boynton (01:16:20):
You've got to check that thing out. I don't even know how it works. But I mean, really guys? Okay, that's maybe a little too far, but it's one of those things where it seems really dumb, but if you saw it, you'd be, "That's pretty cool." I don't know if I need to buy one, but I might come over to see yours every now and then.

Rob Collie (01:16:41):
One of the ad campaigns for Bud Light Seltzer really struck me. This is a company with essentially infinite resources. They can execute anything, nothing's beyond them. They're going to do the absolute, most expensive, best research, whatever they can before they roll out an ad campaign. And there was this line in one of these ads, and actually it was repeated in multiple ads where this guy, and he actually says, it's slow so that you remember it. He says, "If you like Bud Light, you'll like Bud Light Seltzer. If you don't like Bud Light, you'll love Bud Light Seltzer." It's delivered almost like a joke. But these words were very, very, very carefully considered.

Paul Boynton (01:17:28):

Rob Collie (01:17:28):
They're aware of you're polarized. You don't have a middle of the road opinion about Bud Light. You're either in or you're out. And they say something that on the surface just sounds patently ridiculous.

Paul Boynton (01:17:43):
Right. That no matter what, you're on the positive side of this.

Rob Collie (01:17:46):
In fact, it is patently ridiculous, right?

Paul Boynton (01:17:49):

Rob Collie (01:17:49):
And yet, they know that's going to be effective.

Paul Boynton (01:17:56):
Man, yeah, they really can do whatever they want.

Rob Collie (01:17:58):
Yeah, that's not an accident.

Paul Boynton (01:17:59):
Oftentimes do. And I oftentimes do.

Rob Collie (01:18:04):
And I struggle with this, because we're a smart company marketing a smart service. So there's a tendency to try to explain to people, tell them the truth. Like here's why it's better and all that kind of stuff. And then you see something like that. And you're like, "What?" Maybe we should be doing something like, "If you like data, you'll love P3 or you'll like P3. If you don't like data, you'll love P3." Should we be that dumb? Should we just say something like that?

Paul Boynton (01:18:33):
This is, ah gosh, sometimes simple is better. This reminds me something of the back and forth about pie charts, this whole hate. There's a hate defense fest against pie charts.

Rob Collie (01:18:49):

Paul Boynton (01:18:50):
And Bergs and I, another awesome P3 consultant, Bergs. We were talking and we have a client who was over the moon with a pie chart and a slicer on a page. I mean, we showed it as a draft of what's possible. They looked at it, thought it was the finished product and said, "This is," we're good. This is amazing. And that led to the phrase, "Just give a pie chart." You don't need to overthink it. It's simple, it works. You just give them a pie chart.

Rob Collie (01:19:24):
Yeah. But then the chart police come in and they say, "But it's proven, the studies have shown that human are unable to appropriately," you got to say it in the Captain Kirk voice, "unable to appropriately compare the sizes wedges in a circle." So they say, bar chart or column chart instead. And yeah, I mean, a lot of pie charts do get really ridiculous. If you've got 30 slices in a pie chart, you're not conveying any information.

Thomas LaRock (01:19:51):
We're going to head down a rabbit hole and we're going to spend like three hours.

Rob Collie (01:19:55):
We're going to fight, is what we're going to do.

Paul Boynton (01:19:57):
Oh, I love this.

Rob Collie (01:19:57):
Yeah, let's get after it.

Thomas LaRock (01:19:59):
It's like an anchor man.

Rob Collie (01:20:01):
Now it's real. Now we're going to get-

Thomas LaRock (01:20:03):
Yeah. All the groups are just going to come out from the alley.

Rob Collie (01:20:06):
It's when we all stop being polite, start getting real, like on MTV's real world. Okay. So in college, I'm pretty sure that we were, we sort of had an internal trigonometry that allowed us to perfectly divide a pizza into three arcs.

Thomas LaRock (01:20:21):

Rob Collie (01:20:22):
No one was going to get cheated. I had a strong set of opinions about this stuff, but basically my stance is this, that the audience is kind of in a way they're almost always right.

Paul Boynton (01:20:31):
Yeah, yeah.

Rob Collie (01:20:31):
If you got an audience that says, "Listen, I want an oil gauge type of visual." They're telling you what they want. You might as well get them to engage with it, give them what they want.

Paul Boynton (01:20:40):

Rob Collie (01:20:40):
And yes, the research on all these other sorts of things is valid. There is real science behind it and I'm not in the science denying camp.

Paul Boynton (01:20:49):
Oh good. I'm glad you feel that the empirical research is, yeah.

Rob Collie (01:20:54):
It's just that there's something that gets a little out of control when people sort of turn this sort of toughty purism into a defining character trait of who they are.

Paul Boynton (01:21:06):
Oh yeah. That's definitely a lie, bridge too far.

Rob Collie (01:21:10):
And a lot of people do this and it's like, "Okay, the world's not going to fall over if we use the wrong visual here, if everybody still likes it and they can make sense of it."

Paul Boynton (01:21:21):
Yeah, talking about grades in art class.

Rob Collie (01:21:24):
Well, I mean, there's psychology and physiology behind it. It's more legitimate than, it's more objective than the subjective art.

Paul Boynton (01:21:34):
Well, yeah but there's good line work. There's good color. I mean, there's some general ideas there, but ultimately the audience matters, you know.

Rob Collie (01:21:40):
I mean people at MVP summits, they used to walk around, some of them with badges, sewed on patches on their backpacks, that was a pie chart with a line through it, no pie charts. It was important enough to-

Paul Boynton (01:21:54):

Rob Collie (01:21:54):
To essentially they bumper sticker it.

Paul Boynton (01:21:56):
Wow, it was an identity.

Rob Collie (01:21:58):
Yeah. I'm like, "Well, now you're in a weird spot that doesn't have any value. Don't do that."

Paul Boynton (01:22:06):
I'm a no pie chart person. No, no pie charts.

Rob Collie (01:22:11):
Yeah. Also another really good example of this is never do a dark background.

Paul Boynton (01:22:16):
Oh, we've-

Rob Collie (01:22:17):

Paul Boynton (01:22:17):
We've gone back and forth about this. We've gone back and forth.

Rob Collie (01:22:19):
I'm fine. The science indicates it's maybe, I'll be generous, and let's say it's 60/40 that white background dashboards are more readable as opposed to dark background. But if the dark background dashboard is three times as likely to be engaged with, there's still more throughput through my dark dashboard funnel than the other person's funnel.

Paul Boynton (01:22:43):
They're easier to read is supposed to translate to usability. That's what gets lost sometimes is that, "Okay, great. You've measured the degrees of contrast." But ultimately that comes down to how many calories are people spending in their brain to think about your report?

Rob Collie (01:23:00):
But then the whispering voice comes in and says, "But coolness matters."

Paul Boynton (01:23:05):
Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (01:23:06):
"It just does," you know?

Paul Boynton (01:23:07):

Rob Collie (01:23:08):
And every application on the planet has now added a dark mode.

Paul Boynton (01:23:11):

Rob Collie (01:23:12):
And people are rabbit about this, might as well. We actually have one person we worked with, another consulting firm that said to me, and this person only consults with the big league, only ever is talking to C-suite executives and some of the largest organizations in the world. And we were talking about this and laughing and he goes, "Yeah, listen, if you're not using dark dashboards to communicate with these people, you're just missing it. It's free money, just free money." And he's right. It's cool.

Paul Boynton (01:23:44):

Rob Collie (01:23:45):
You see a movie and they're looking at some sort of dashboard display. It's always going to be a dark dashboard on a movie.

Paul Boynton (01:23:50):
Dark dashboard on a movie, usually some kind of color. And sometimes images are really, really helpful for the background to have a kind of faint sort of suggestion of an image. So I'm definitely not anti-color on backgrounds. I think from a developer standpoint you get a lot more color option when you just have a lighter background. But hey, your audience matters. If the brand guidelines say. "All dashboards have this logo scheme or color background." Well, that's what you're going to do because those are the brand guidelines. And you just want to be consistent I think more than anything else, right? You just want to be consistent. You don't want to be flip flopping between dark and light backgrounds and the same report. You don't want to have a suite of reports that have dark backgrounds in one place and light backgrounds in other place. You make up the rules as you go. But there are some general principles like consistency and contrast and things like that. So no, I'm not anti-color background.

Rob Collie (01:24:50):
Oh I'm glad to hear that.

Paul Boynton (01:24:54):
I have opinions. I'm going to have opinions.

Rob Collie (01:24:54):
I bet you do. I bet you do.

Paul Boynton (01:24:56):
And I tattoo them to my back.

Rob Collie (01:24:59):
In places that no one sees.

Paul Boynton (01:25:01):
Right, right. Yeah. Like I have a tattoo, it's just a filled in rectangle with a line through it. Like, no dark background.

Rob Collie (01:25:09):
No bevels.

Paul Boynton (01:25:12):
I am all about drop shadow though. I do love drop shadow.

Rob Collie (01:25:15):
Oh, you goosh. Are you 12 years old?

Paul Boynton (01:25:24):
I love it, I do love it.

Rob Collie (01:25:25):
Yeah. Well, Paul, this has been a blast. We haven't even talked about everything we planned to talk about.

Thomas LaRock (01:25:31):
We're going to have you back on.

Paul Boynton (01:25:32):
I love that.

Rob Collie (01:25:33):
It's terrible.

Paul Boynton (01:25:34):
Talk about woofing and interceptive shipments and-

Rob Collie (01:25:37):
Woofing and-

Thomas LaRock (01:25:40):
And pie charts.

Rob Collie (01:25:41):
And pie charts. We'll definitely talk about some pie charts.

Paul Boynton (01:25:43):
More about pie charts later after this break,

Rob Collie (01:25:46):
We're going to get Luke to tell some of his liquor industry tales. He's got a couple up his sleeve from back in the college days. I was going to put you on the spot at some point, Luke, but we just, we ran out of time, you know?

Paul Boynton (01:25:57):
I just really enjoyed the conversation. I really am doing something that I love, I'll just say that my mom is famous for. She says, "I wish two things for my children. Number one, I pray for them in profession, a career that brings them joy and fulfillment." And I have that, and I definitely have that, and I'm not just pandering. I really do experience joy and fulfillment in this role. And the second thing is that she prays for us to have the love of our lives. And it's carefully ordered there that first comes the joy fulfillment from a professional career, then comes the love of your life. So definitely, I feel like I've checked the box on the first one and look forward to a long stay.

Thomas LaRock (01:26:44):
You left the second one out. You checked the first check box.

Paul Boynton (01:26:47):
Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (01:26:48):
She's going to listen to this maybe.

Paul Boynton (01:26:50):
She is. She is.

Rob Collie (01:26:52):
You better not leave that check box unchecked. Come on.

Paul Boynton (01:26:55):
Liz, I love you.

Rob Collie (01:26:58):
There you go.

Paul Boynton (01:26:58):
There you go.

Rob Collie (01:26:58):
There you go.

Paul Boynton (01:27:00):
Rob, not so much. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. You're great. You're great. Thank you.

Thomas LaRock (01:27:07):
Sadly your boss is kind of a jerk though.

Rob Collie (01:27:12):
I'm mostly harmless.

Thomas LaRock (01:27:13):
Mostly harmless.

Announcer (01:27:14):
Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 Podcast. Find out what the experts at P3 can do for your business. Go to Interested in becoming a guest on the show? Email Luke P, L-U-K-E-P Have a data day!