Mark Snodgrass recently earned Black Belt status in the Dojo, which only a handful of users have obtained. He followed in the footsteps of a fellow Dojo challenger, Sweetwater Sound’s Grant Smith.
As the director of member data strategy for insurance company NLC Mutual, Mark is in Domo “all day, every day,” he says—mainly so he can help members in their Domo journeys.
I caught up with Mark to ask him some questions about his use of Domo, what he likes about the Dojo, and more. Read on to find out what he had to say!
Q: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today, Mark! And congrats on becoming a Dojo Black Belt! Before we dig into that, can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
A: I’ve been in the workforce for about 20 years now. I started out as an entry-level IT person at a credit union. I have a degree in psychology—not computer science or anything like that—but have always had a knack for computers. I then joined an insurance organization, where I was their lone IT person and got to do a little bit of everything including work with data. I grew into being the CIO there before I left in 2019.
Around 2018, I was introduced to Domo through the organization I work for now: NLC Mutual. I was able to spend a lot of time in there being part of a proof-of-concept (POC) that they were doing, and I picked up on it easily and loved that we could create charts within seconds. I’ve been using Domo for about four years now.
Q: You’ve obviously learned a lot in those four years. Is there anything you would say to a new Domo user, based on your level of expertise now?
A: Sign up with the Dojo and get in there and poke around! That really helped me learn how to use Domo. Also, I watched a lot of the videos in the Knowledge Base. I love those short videos that Gary Gibbs made. I watched his because they were great short hits, explaining what particular features offer and can do.
But then when I stumbled across the Dojo and started seeing people ask different questions, I was like, “I didn’t know you could do that. I didn’t know you could put this together with that.” So, that exposed me to another level that might not be in a video. I was kind of a lurker in the Dojo for quite a while, just reading questions and seeing what the answers were—and learning quite a bit.
Q: A lurker. I love it. At some point you had to start feeling confident answering people’s questions in the Dojo. Do you remember when that was?
A: Yeah, probably around 2019, right after I got hired by NLC Mutual. I started to feel more confident in my skills as I had just completed the certification process that Domo had just rolled out to be a Major Domo, and I thought, “Well, they want me to help everybody with Domo implementation, so I must know what I’m doing a little bit.” And once I started seeing questions, I was like, “Oh, yeah, I just did that. So, I can answer that.”
So, I started doing a little bit more and a little bit more, and it grew from there—and I got competitive with the gamification aspect.
Q: The gamification aspect is so fun. Do you consider yourself to be pretty competitive? Or what is it about the gamification aspect that appeals to you?
A: Yeah, I’m pretty competitive. But it’s just nice to get those achievements—and nice that you guys incentivize it. I’m a sucker for a gift card, so I’ll spend 15 minutes on there—whether it’s answering surveys, hitting milestones in the Dojo, or whatever—just to get a gift card out of it.
Q: How would you say that the Dojo has helped you up-level your Domo skills?
A: People will ask a question on there, and more often than not I’ll say to myself, “Huh, that’s a great question. I don’t know the answer to it. But let me go see if I can figure that out.”
It’s been a great way to challenge myself, because I might not run into the questions that get asked there in my daily work. I’ll spend a little time making a card or ETL, put it on my overview page, and tuck it away in case I come across that need in the future.
Q: Can you think of a favorite answer that you’ve provided, or solution that you’ve been able to post in the Dojo?
A: I love it when the answer is very straightforward. Just today, I was able to expose someone to a built-in feature that maybe they overlooked or missed. Those are my favorite ones. Some people think, “Oh, it’s got to be some elaborate Beast Mode or Magic ETL,” when a lot of the times it’s just like, “Use this chart property, and it’s done.”
Q: Last question, Mark. What does it mean to you to be a Dojo Black Belt?
A: I think it’s the satisfaction of reaching that highest point and solidifying that. Being a Black Belt is validation that I know what I’m doing. And it’s nice to be able to help so many people. That’s pretty cool. It’s nice to be able to give back.