The Panda Snowman


This week as I’ve gotten my semester grades from my Data Visualization and Applied Data Science classes at Indiana University, I wanted to write about a non-data issue – persistence. It’s been a topic I’ve been reflecting on quite a bit as I am one course away from my master’s degree, as 2017 winds down and I take a survey of the past year and I face the exciting challenge of changing careers in 2018.

In this video of a Giant Panda from the Toronto Zoo, the panda repeatedly tries climbing a snowman and will not give up after falling. He first climbs on top of the second ball tier of a snowman and the snow and him fall over in spectacular fashion. He doesn’t let that stop him and climbs again on top of the base of the snowman. He hangs on for dear life on his stomach before tumbling again headfirst into the snow. Third, fourth and fifth tries only last at most one second. Finally he rolls around in the snow – having not ‘accomplished’ what we as viewers probably thought was his goal of climbing and staying on top of the snowman.

My data science journey began officially in January 2016 – almost two years ago. I’ve written in this blog about characteristics of a data scientist – thinks analytically, uses Statistics, uses storytelling and machine learning. These technical traits only begin to describe what I think it takes to be a successful data scientist. Anyone trying to uncover patterns with data to answer questions needs to be persistent like the panda. As I’ve learned technical skills in graduate school, I have had to persevere. When working full-time, taking a full load of coursework and taking care of a family has seemed way out of balance, remembering to be persistent has been key.


Even though I don’t have the hard data, I would venture a guess that the majority of people with careers that bring them joy have at times felt like the panda falling off of the snowman. A speed bump (or two or ten) comes along the way. But then you get back up, regroup and try again. Even if success isn’t what you thought it would be, you persist.

I’d love to hear from you as to examples of persistence in your data career. What are some ways you stay motivated to persevere? I’ll be taking a few weeks off from the blog over the holidays and will start the blog back in January.



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