INBOX INSIGHTS, January 19, 2022: Two Types of People, Solving Wordle Puzzles

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Two Types of People

When you hear the phrase “two kinds of people” you’re probably assuming people that are polar opposites. People who do something and people who don’t.

For this post, I want to talk about two types of people that are complementary to one another, instead of opposites. Last week I was talking with a friend about how we both work alongside people who are deep in technology and that the role that we play for those people is of “translator”.

What is a translator in this context? It is someone who can break down the advanced ideas into more understandable concepts and teach others how to use the technology in a practical way. For example, when Chris puts an analysis together, he’ll send it to me to pull out actionable insights. If I struggle to even get to the “so what” of it, we start over and refine. The goal is to take advanced machine learning analysis and figure out how to apply it in everyday marketing.

Translators and technologists aren’t the only pairs you’ll find in a business. You likely also have doers and facilitators. Generally speaking, teams will have a facilitator who is calling the shots, setting the priorities, and managing the task list. Then you’ll also have the doers, the people doing the work. This isn’t to say that someone can’t be both, or that if you are one you cannot be the other in a different context. This is a classic dynamic and it works for a reason. Everyone on the team should have a clearly defined role that allows them to focus on what they are the best at. I am not the best at marketing or data analysis, that’s Chris. However, I am good at seeing the utility of something and teaching it to others.

The reason I bring all this up is that my conversation last week got me thinking about how to set yourself up for success. Rarely, if ever, are people successful 100% on their own. They have some kind of support system. This could be a partner, an editor, an assistant, a coach, or a whole community, to name a few. Think about a solo artist or an athlete that competes in an individual sport. They are the ones doing most of the work to perfect the skill, but they are also supported by a coach, family and friends, and other peers in their space.

Chris and I could have started our own businesses and decided not to work with each other. We each would have found success on our own. What we realized, however, is that we have complementary skill sets that make what we do that much stronger. One of our goals for this year is to focus on our strengths and rely more on one another for where we are weaker. I can speak publicly, but I am not a public speaker. I have done it a handful of times but it’s not where I am needed most. Chris, on the other hand, finds his second home on the stage. It made sense for us to take me out of that space and push him into it even more. Does that mean that my role is now diminished? Absolutely not. I have a very long list of things to focus on as I grow Trust Insights.

Think about the people in your life right now. Are they all exactly like you with the exact same strengths and weaknesses? Probably not. Now think about your company, your team, your clients. Your clients hire you because you have the skills that they need. Your team functions well because everyone is good at different things. Your company thrives because there are departments focused on different parts of the business.

At our core, we tend to lean one way or the other. Are you a technologist or a translator? Are you a doer or a facilitator? Are you a coach or a team member? Neither is better, both are important.

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– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s have a bit of fun. For those who are wondering what these diagrams are you see in people’s social media feeds:

Wordle image

They’re from a fun new word game called Wordle. The premise is that you have to decode a five letter word within six guesses, and then share just the process of your guesses. In the diagram above, we see grey squares mean wrong letter, yellow squares mean right letter, wrong place in the word, and green squares mean right letter, right place.

Animated GIF

Naturally, being data nerds as well as word nerds, we thought we’d ask the logical question: is there a data-driven way to approach this game that would increase your chances of winning? The answer is yes, of course.

First, we’d need to know how many words there are that would be in play. Since this is a game, chances are many esoteric words, as well as words with numbers, would be ruled out. So we started with the Collins Scrabble Tournament Dictionary, which is the official dictionary used to rule whether a word is permitted or not in Scrabble tournaments. We then isolated only five letter words, since Wordle uses only complete five letter words.

From there, we counted every letter in every position to get a frequency of letters in each position:

Wordle Chart

Click for a full size version

We can see:

  • The letter S is the most common in position 1 of five letter words, followed by C, B, and P.
  • The letter A is the most common in position 2 of five letter words, followed by O, E, and I.
  • The letter A is the most common in position 3 of five letter words, followed by R, I, and O.
  • The letter E is the most common in position 4 of five letter words, followed by A, T, and I.
  • The letter S is the most common in position 5 of five letter words, followed by E, Y, and D.

So What?

What do you do with this information? This is where data science often runs into trouble. Just because we have an analysis does not mean we’re able to take action with it. The goal of this information is to make guessing easier in Wordle. Thus, to turn data into action, we need to construct words that use the most frequent letters, ideally in as many correct places as possible, to rule out the most common letters.

If we use the word STORY as a starter, we check the box on S in the first position, Y in the fifth position, and O in the third position. That’s a good start.

We’d next want to use as many of the remaining vowels as possible – because vowels are word glue – and thus ADIEU, even though it’s not in many of the correct positions, fits the bill. We could also use ABIDE, which would use I in the third position and E in the fifth position.

Starting your Wordle puzzles with STORY and ADIEU or STORY and ABIDE will speed up finding what other words might be in play. Bear in mind there are 12,927 words that are five letters long in the English language, so there’s still a chance you’d get whammied by an obscure word.

More important, data without analysis is unhelpful, but analysis without action is useless. As you examine your own data, be sure you’re constantly thinking about how you could use your analysis and insights to make decisions and take actions. Without the latter, there’s no point in doing the data analysis to begin with.

Methodology: Trust Insights extracted 12,797 five letter words from the Collins Scrabble Tournament Dictionary and processed them to do raw counts of letters in each position. The date of study is January 18, 2022. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

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