Meet The Hustler Who Led Obama’s Cutting-Edge Digital Analytics Team3 min read
Meet Amelia Showalter, an independent hustler who parlayed her role as Director of Digital Analytics for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign into a bustling consulting practice.
As part of AND CO‘s “Hustlers” series, which spotlights interesting and entrepreneurial people who are forging their own paths in business, culture and beyond, we sat down with Amelia to learn about her journey and what makes her tick.
When did you realize the approach you took for the 2012 campaign could translate to other businesses?
A/B testing, also known as randomized controlled testing, is a method and mindset that can apply in so many situations. We did so much testing on the Obama campaign, but I realized that everyone could be doing more testing. I decided to become a consultant to help spread the culture of testing—which I am still doing now as the Co-Founder and CEO of the new boutique data firm Pantheon Analytics.
Would you ever go back to the political sphere?
I’m still in the political sphere! As a freelance consultant, most of my clients were political organizations. Now, with my new role at Pantheon Analytics, we may end up having a broader client base—but I suspect politics will always be our primary sector.
Where’s your favorite place to work?
My home office has a vertical monitor that I can plug my laptop into. Having that big vertical screen is so helpful for data analysis!
What are some of your best and worst work habits?
My worst work habit is being a night owl. For instance, I am writing the answers to these questions at 1:30 a.m. On the other hand, sometimes I get into a really good groove and do great work late into the night!
What’s the biggest perk of working independently? What’s the hardest part?
It’s amazing to have the freedom and flexibility of working independently. I get to travel when I want, set my own schedule, and choose clients I feel enthusiastic about. The hardest part is when a few contracts end concurrently and it’s unclear whether they’ll be renewed/replaced. In my four years as a consultant this has happened to me a few times—super stressful! But it always worked out in the end.
What opportunity would make you quit your independence?
Technically, I just did! I am now running Pantheon Analytics with my business partner, Evan Zasoski. But since Evan has always been a freelancer for the last few years, we are hoping to preserve the best aspects of freelancing in our new venture.
Tell us about your speaking gig at SXSW.
I wanted to demystify freelancing, particularly for data professionals. So, I contacted my friend Talia Borodin, who is also an independent data consultant. We decided that hosting a meet-up would allow for a really good discussion between ourselves, other data freelancers, and those in traditional jobs who are looking to make the leap.
What’s one tool or utility that you couldn’t live without?
Microsoft Excel. I use fancier stats software as well, of course. But Excel actually has a lot of great functionality if you deploy the right formulas and plugins.
What is the most important trait for freelancers and solopreneurs to have?
Optimism. (Editor’s note: AMEN!)
If you could be living and working in any year or era, which would you choose and why?
The future! Obviously we’re facing some significant setbacks politically and environmentally right now. But I am hopeful that eventually we will get back on the right path.
Know of an inspirational and interesting “hustler” among us? Send your nomination to [email protected].