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  • MARK CONNOLLY

The analysis is strong with this one

The combination of the release of Disney+, Baby Yoda memes, and the release of The Rise of Skywalker has had me in a Star Wars mood this month.


[Mandalorian Spoiler Alert]


The Mandalorian introduces us to Baby Yoda. While it isn't actually Yoda and it isn't exactly a newborn - it's still a cute, powerful creature. At 50 years old, this "baby" has continued to show flashes of its strength with the force throughout the show. Beyond giving me a reason to post Baby Yoda wearing a Santa hat, it gave me an idea for today's post.

While we still don't know where his future is leading, Baby Yoda clearly has a special gift. Other characters in the show realize this and are constantly battling to get a hold of the kiddo. It's not clear in the show if Baby Yoda realizes this about himself though. Now I'm not saying I'm Baby Yoda, but when I was younger I didn't realize my own passion and the potential of analytics. This is the story of my first spark of interest in the power of data and analysis.


This is the story of my first spark of interest in the power of data and analysis.

Most of my freshman and sophomore years of college were spent commuting back and forth from the suburbs to campus in the city. I spent a good three hours commuting every day. To put it politely, this wasn't something I enjoyed. From day one, it was a pretty big goal of mine to move downtown and start living on my own (+ a few roommates). To make this goal a reality, I needed a job and I needed one that would work with my school schedule.


After a little searching, I found a job running Laser Tag birthday parties. Yes, really. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10am to 8pm we'd constantly run parties for kids of all ages. The parties were 2 hours long with the time divided evenly between laser tag games, arcade time, pizza, cake, and presents. We could run 4 parties at any given time and became pretty skilled at keeping the chaos that a kid's birthday party brings under relative control.


At the end of the party we'd settle up the cost. It was a flat rate per kid in the party plus any additional cost for food. This went directly to the company but as a host we were often given tips. We were of course paid hourly for our work but the real money was made on tips. Don't get me wrong, it was a blast running these parties but I had this goal to get to the city. Every dollar counted.


After one long weekend with a disappointing tip total, I had the realization that I could be smarter and not leave these tips up to chance. What things drove the tips I'd receive? What could I do to improve my earnings?


I began an analytic attack on this tip question.

I began an analytic attack on this tip question. I started tracking everything: time of day, day of weekend, size of party, birthday age, number of pizzas etc. I was hoping I could find something in this data to help inform which parties I'd sign up for or which days I'd ask to work.


At the end of my first month doing this - two things were becoming clear. The first made a lot of sense, the bigger the party, the bigger the tip. The second insight really caught me by surprise. When I wore a blue shirt I made about $10 more per hour.


Now it might be something with the color blue in general, maybe it was the combination of the blue with my blue-green eyes, or maybe it was just a pure coincidence but after that first month I started exclusively wearing blue (even today you're more likely than not to see me with some hint of blue on). The trend held and I continued to get solid tips, eventually hitting my goal and moving down to the city my junior year.


I didn't realize it at the time but this was the first time I got in touch with my analytic calling. It makes for a fun story today but now I'm curious - when was the first time you realized the analysis might be strong with you?


When was the first time you realized the analysis might be strong with you?




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