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Tableau CMO Elissa Fink.
Tableau CMO Elissa Fink.

Elissa Fink is a self-described extrovert who heads up marketing for Tableau Software, the Seattle-based data visualization technology company. As Chief Marketing Officer, she reviews and consults on a variety of projects to determine the best way to evangelize Tableau’s products.

Fink’s main focuses is telling the Tableau story and leading a team of marketers, advertisers, and salespeople. She’s been with Tableau for nearly ten years and watched as the company rapidly expanded in Seattle and abroad.

“Each day I’m focused on how we can help people, prospects, and customers with how they use data in their businesses,” she said.

We quizzed Fink for this week’s installment of our Working Geek feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: Seattle Fremont HQ

Computer types: Dell laptop and MacBook Air – both on a daily basis. And I love it. Dell is for power business apps but the MacBook is amazing for toting to meetings, travel, battery, etc.

Mobile devices: iPhone, mini iPad, Kindle PaperWhite. I’ll also count my husband’s iPhone since I’m his tech support person.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Well of course I could not live without Tableau — even before I joined the company. Evernote. Jump. Dropbox. Waze. Hootsuite. Excel. Sonos. Spotify. New York Times. Kindle the app. My 9-year-old’s games. My 3-year-old’s games.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? We just moved into a new workspace and I love it. It’s got a modern industrial feel, with an amazing wood beam ceiling and glass, steel and natural wood everywhere. My space is pretty simple – I have a very large monitor on my desk that lets me see data visualizations, dashboards and spreadsheets side-by-side. I have a second even larger monitor on the wall across from my desk that anyone can plug their machine into. My standing/sitting desk ends in a rounded conference-style table so I can have meetings there – we can use either monitor to review dashboards, creative projects, spreadsheets, etc. I also have a sitting area on the other side of my desk so I can hold groups up to 8 – this helps my office double as a conference room when I’m out at other meetings or traveling (which is often enough).

Fink at Tableaus
Fink at Tableau’s Seattle office.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Be yourself. It takes a ton of effort to pretend to be different than you are. So if you can be your authentic self, you can use all your energy doing your best, being present for your family, and focusing on your work.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I’m mostly a LinkedIn and Twitter person for business with occasional forays into Facebook to see how friends are doing. I keep a presence on other networks but these are the ones that have stuck.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Good lord – do I have to tell you that?

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? I just counted and I’m sad to say 32. Good thing I’m an extrovert.

How do you run meetings? Start with a laugh or some reminder that we’re all just people working together trying to make something happen. Then get right to it. At the end, summarize and confirm next actions and the person responsible.

Everyday work uniform? Black dress. Some kind of sweater/jacket. A necklace I love.

How do you make time for family? I gotta say, I’m not the best. But if I’m home and they’re awake, I’m with them. Weekends are nearly sacrosanct. Thus, this being a Tuesday, I am writing this at home at 5:30 a.m. while they sleep.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Laughter and (I admit) swear words. At home, I love goofing around with my kids and husband. I love hearing them laugh.

What are you listening to? I hate to show my age but I am a huge Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers fan. On his next concert run (and I hope there is one even though he’s even older than me), I’ve promised myself and my family that I’ll be following them for at least a few weeks. Other than that, I have become a forced listener of Teeny Bopper Top 100 mostly due to my daughter’s evolving tastes.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I love great fiction and biographies – I am always reading at least one – and I usually get in at least 30 minutes a day (usually just after my son wakes me up in the middle of the night). For news, I absolutely love the New York Times app. I also enjoy the Economist – and I always start at the end with the obituary. They cover the most amazing people. Of course, GeekWire is a must-read. I use Pulse to read my favorite blogs and news sites like BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Wired, TechCrunch, a bunch of marketing sites and blogs, and so on. And I also use leftover miles to get old-fashioned magazines at home.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Just finished The Orphan Master’s Son, an amazing novel about North Korea, and just started a biography on Winston Churchill – can’t remember why Churchill but so far, so good.

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? I used to be a night owl but now find myself up early. So I’ve evolved into an early riser who is not a morning person.

Where do you get your best ideas? I don’t know that I have a formula. My usual practice is to take a problem, consciously tell myself to put it in the back of my mind and then let my subconscious mind do its work. I try not to force creativity.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? I’m lucky to work in a great culture where I can be myself and learn from each of the people I work with every day, rather than emulate one person. For example, I admire our CEO’s leadership and foresight, our sales leader’s forthrightness and tenacity, our CFO’s bias for action and our key inventors intelligence and humility. I also draw inspiration from my team, who teach me more than I teach them. Outside of Tableau, I’m interested in how leaders of great creative agencies work, especially those that get the best work from their teams on a long-term, ongoing basis. To me, that is quite a feat.

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