Data analyst Harrison Kreisberg borrows his life philosophy from analytics: He strives to be "better than random." A model that is better than random doesn't have to produce perfect solutions, but it should suggest solutions that are better than what would have happened if the model never existed. In other words, the model should "add value," as Kreisberg puts it. Accordingly, Kreisberg says, "I hope that in whatever I do—whether it's at work or with my friends and family—I add value."
A masterful analyst, Kreisberg has added value to numerous political campaigns, including the 2008 Barack Obama campaign. Currently, he works as a senior strategist at the analytics firm BlueLabs. In 2013, Kreisberg's team at BlueLabs helped Virginia's Terry McAuliffe grab the last few points he needed to win his gubernatorial bid. Kreisberg helped identify not only which voters McAuliffe's campaign should contact for optimal results but also which type of contact—television spot, online advertisement, print flyer, or old-fashioned door knock—each voter would respond to best.
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Kreisberg, who speaks fluent Spanish and French, also adds value by serving as a tax counselor to non-English speakers in Washington, D.C. When Kreisberg began volunteering two years ago, he didn't know anything about taxes. "Embarrassingly enough, my dad was still helping me with mine," Kreisberg says. But Kreisberg volunteered anyway because he supported the Earned Income Tax Credit program's vision. "The campaign work I do is ultimately about fighting for programs like EITC, and having a tangible way to follow through is incredibly satisfying," he says.
Kreisberg believes that small, daily actions—like helping a co-worker craft a sensitive email, or listening to a friend talk through a problem over lunch—add value too. "I hope all these interactions leave people feeling better than before I was involved," he says.
Kreisberg has lived in seven cities in the United States and Canada, and each place has changed him in some way, he says. Montreal inspired Kreisberg's love of hockey. Virginia stirred his interest in social studies, thanks to the state's rich history and Kreisberg's two stellar middle-school mentors there. Calgary encouraged Kreisberg to follow U.S. politics with even more enthusiasm, because his U.S. roots defined his identity there. Now, in Washington, D.C., Kreisberg says he falls back on a "steady stream of moose and maple syrup jokes."
Kreisberg is happy to add that he has no idea where he'll go or what he'll do next. "I think there are so many places that analytics can take me," he says, "and I hope that in 10 years I'll be doing something that isn't even considered a part of our world right now."
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