Happy Birthday, Data Literacy! Reflections on Our 3rd Year

Today is the final day of our third year of operation, so as co-founder and CEO, I’d like to wish my fellow team members, our advisors, partners and clients a fond Happy 3rd Birthday!! As of tomorrow, we will have successfully made it all the way through the “terrible two’s!”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about 40% of U.S. based small businesses with employees don’t make it to their third birthday. About half survive at least five years. And that’s not taking into account a pandemic, which hit right after we finished our first full year as a fledgling training & assessment outfit. So it feels good for all of us that we’re not only still standing, we’re expanding.

As 2021 comes to a close along with our third year of operation, I’d like to take a look back at the significant developments and milestones that signaled health and growth. Here are the aspects of Year 3 which Becky and I are most proud of. 

1. We Breathed New Life into the Blog

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After finishing 2020 with a dismal four month drought on the Data Literacy Blog, we kicked off 2021 with a big announcement of a new course on January 4th. Then, we decided to pump a lot of energy into our blog. Instead of going it alone, we partnered with talented people in the data world like Alli Torban, Allen Hillery, and Inna Saboshchuk among others. Alli even debuted a comic book series titled The Illustrated Guide to Data Literacy (more episodes soon to come!). Heading into the final stretch, this is blog post #27 for the year. Watch our blog for more great content in the year to come!

2. We Became a Crew!

John C. Maxwell once said “it takes a team to do anything of lasting value.” Well, 2021 was the year in which we became a team. I already mentioned how we started the year by partnering with talented creators in the data world like Alli Torban. We kept going on that path all year, hand-selecting two new trainers, Susan Gracia and Anna-Maria Steverson, to lead live sessions of our courses with both corporate and public groups. Then, in October, we brought Megan Hanno on full-time to help us run operations. All of these talented and dedicated professionals have taken this company to places I could never have taken it by myself, and my gratitude for each of them is overflowing.

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3. We Launched 2 New On-Demand Courses

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What we do better than anyone in the world, we feel, is to help people get past “dataphobia” once and for all. So many people are intimidated by data, and they feel like they simply don’t have what it takes to work effectively with it. We believe that’s not true, and we enjoy being a part of their “light bulb moment,” when they realize that data is for them, too. One of the ways we do that is through on-demand courses that people can take at their own pace. We started the year, on January 4th, by launching the Data Literacy Level 1: Learning to See Data course, and we put our first “Accent Course,” 17 Key Traits of Data Literacy, into the world on November 2. More courses are coming in 2022, and maybe even a subscription service!

4. We Partnered with Great Organizations

There are many dedicated organizations out there that are on this mission along with us, helping the world to learn the language of data. Summer 2021 turned out to be the “Summer of Partnerships” for us. First, we combined forces with QuantHub to launch a pilot program that allows learners to take our world-class Data Literacy courses through QuantHub’s leading data upskilling and assessment platform. Next, we teamed up with the Data Visualization Society on the launch of their membership program to provide exclusive discounts to their members. Third, we heeded the call of Data Science for Everyone and launched our Data Literacy for Education program, putting much needed data training in the hands of teachers and students for less. We’re open to more partnership like this, and we’ll continue to look for ways to join forces with other organizations to achieve our mission.

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5. We Added Open Badges to our Offerings

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While making plans to roll out our courses with one of our biggest customers, a leading hospitality business in Australia, we made the decision to give badges to their team members that get to the finish line. We realized that this perk would be an exciting and motivating one to provide to all of our trainees, including those who take the courses directly on our site. So in August of this past year we launched our Open Badge program. Now learners who fully complete our existing on-demand courses automatically earn the Data Citizen and the Visual Interpreter badge. As we roll out our Level 2 and Level 3 courses next year, the Data Explorer and the Data Communicator badges will also come on line.

Looking Ahead to Year 4

I’m hoping and expecting that this next year – our fourth year – will be a breakout year for our organization. In our first three years, we have weathered a few big storms like COVID-19 and cancer, and we have proven to ourselves and to our clients that our courses and our assessments work. It has been an exhilarating ride thus far, and we have learned so many valuable lessons about running a small business and growing data literacy. I’m currently in final production of a book titled The Introspective Entrepreneur where I’ll share with you what it felt like to be on that roller coaster, turn by harrowing turn.

But the ride is just beginning. Thanks to our first customers, and using the momentum we have built, we have big plans for the year ahead. Before 2022 begins, we’ll announce the winners of our 3rd annual Data Literacy Awards. Then, we’ll start the new calendar year back in the studio working on Data Literacy Level 2. We’ll also get back to live (virtual) public offerings starting on January 10th with Data Literacy Fundamentals, led by the talented Anna-Maria Steverson of Netflix. And we’ll publish more great books through our Data Literacy Press publishing arm, including books written by people other than me!

I can’t wait to see the fruits of these efforts. I can’t wait to grow the team even more. And I can’t wait for the strides we’ll make in YEAR 4! Come along for the ride – you’re more than welcome to join the Data Literacy movement, and we sure could use your help.

Take care,