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August 12th-14th in Seattle

23 Feb 2023

Tips on communicating with executives – from an executive

Art Steinmetz

Private Investor
We were joined by Art to we discuss how he has shown organizations the power of open-source tools to drive innovation.
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Episode notes

During our conversation, Art shared his perspective on open source data science and how these tools helped contribute to the company’s bottom line. 


He also shared a few tips on communicating with executives – from an executive’s point of view, included below: (20:31)


  1. Data visualization is the most powerful way to get a narrative across quickly.


Spend time learning good visualization techniques. Even if you’re a math whiz and a coding whiz, understand good visualization. It’s an aesthetic issue. It’s an art.


There’s lots of blogs, lots of literature that talk about good visualization and bad visualization.


For example: Don’t use a linear scale when you should be using a log scale, simple stuff like that because I’ve seen so many bad charts. At best, you’re going to lose your audience quickly. At worst, your audience will draw the wrong conclusions and make bad decisions.


  1. Don’t use a PowerPoint presentation when you should be using a memo that people can read in a narrative


The physicist Richard Feynman was on the Challenger disaster panel. One of the big takeaways in that inquiry was shortcomings of PowerPoint for technical work..


So the other point I would make is, don’t use a PowerPoint presentation when you should be using a memo that people can read in a narrative.


All of you are familiar with the problem of seeing a PowerPoint slide. You’ve got landscape orientation and you’ve got this incredible amount of 12 point text filling up a slide.


Sometimes you’re subjected to sitting in a conference room, having that thing with 2 minutes worth of text on a slide that you’re supposed to process. Of course, nobody looks at that at all as they’re listening to, hopefully, what the speaker is saying.


It’s a complete waste of everyone’s time to create and display this giant PowerPoint, this massive quantity of text on a PowerPoint slide.


So don’t use PowerPoint when a pre-read memo would do the job.


And yeah, some people aren’t going to read the memo. But treat your audience with respect anyway and tell them you’re going to assume people have read the materials.


Then if you’re going to have a PowerPoint or a slide deck: have three, four bullet points at most on a slide with compelling visualizations that tell your story.


That’s going to earn you far more respect than showing that you’ve crammed your PowerPoint with a million words.


Example of Shiny generating discussions and helping investors: (37:30)


So for instance, at Invesco right now– one of their folks has created a Shiny app that if one of our customers (our brokers) shares their customer’s (end investor) portfolios with us – we can run an analysis on that to help them optimize their tax situation– when they should take capital gains, when they should take capital losses, what they should sell to realize a loss or a gain.


Then if they want to keep the portfolio complexion the same, what should they then buy on the other side to keep the portfolio complexion– the overall risk or aggressiveness – the same.


He built a Shiny app that does that.


All of the Invesco salespeople can look at all of the advisors that they serve (in that Shiny app) and that generates discussions.


Salespeople love to have opportunities to call their customers up and have an interesting discussion. To say, “look, here’s an issue you have that I think I can help you solve.” 


Then if the discussion goes further, with one click, they generate a detailed PDF report on exactly what the gains and losses are across the portfolio. And the salespeople just love that tool.


Full Speaker Bio:


Art Steinmetz is a private investor located in New York City. He is an avid amateur data scientist and is active in the R statistical programming language community.


Additionally, Art is passionate about advancing financial and mathematical literacy, which he believes are essential elements of the next generation’s success. He is a trustee of his alma mater, Denison University. He serves on the board of “Rock the Street, Wall Street” whose mission is to “equip girls with the skills to succeed financially throughout their lives and potentially pursue careers in finance.”  Also, Art is the former board chair of the National Museum of Mathematics (“MoMath”). In 2015, he was named “Man of the Year” by The YWCA of New York City and, in 2017, he was given the “Corporate Trailblazer” award by Black Women of Influence for his efforts in promoting STEM education among girls and minorities.


Art is the former Chairman, CEO and President of OppenheimerFunds. After joining the firm in 1986, Art held a number of positions over his 33-year tenure, including analyst, portfolio manager and Chief Investment Officer. Art was named President in 2013, CEO in 2014, and in 2015, his role was further expanded to include Chairman of the firm with $250 billion under management. He stepped down after guiding the successful sale of the firm to Invesco.


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