a pop of personality


Editor's Note: SAS' Evan Mann contributed to this post.

First came SAS' reputation as a great place to work. Next came a storytellers article series offering a glimpse of the people behind the brand.

Now there's the SAS Users YouTube Channel, where tutorial videos provide a window into some of our personalities—trainers initially, but future contributors will include experts from other areas of SAS.

"Our goal is to make the SAS Users channel on YouTube a ‘must-visit’ channel for those who have the desire to grow their analytical skill set and to learn SAS," said Principal IT Software Developer Michael Penwell, who manages the channel. "It's for both new and experienced users."

My SAS Support Communities teammates Anna Brown and Thiago De Souza produce the videos and Karen Feldman, Senior Technical Learning and Development Specialist, lines up the on-camera talent. Brown explains the idea behind this approach: “Infusing personality into these how-to videos welcomes users into our SAS family in a way we never have before. With this no-script, natural style, we hope that they feel like they’re not being told how to do something in SAS – but rather they’re learning right along with us, together. We’re simply a guide to help users achieve whatever they can dream up in SAS.”

A casual, conversational approach

As Brown describes, instructors walk viewers through the subject matter using a casual, conversational tone - almost vlog style. This approach lets their personalities come through.

Anna Yarbrough, who joined SAS Education last year, travels to teach SAS programming. She likes interacting with SAS users IRL and relishes a good coding challenge. She keeps an eye out for users' questions on her videos and enjoys the digital banter. When this video on merging data sets published, it received the most user comments right off the bat. Why so much interest in merging data?

"When working with structured data," said Yarbrough, "it’s never going to all be stored in one massive data set. There will be smaller tables that can be linked together based on a common column or columns like social security number, or patient number, or something else that uniquely identifies each row of data."

"When you can bring these tables together," Yarbrough added, "you have the ability to answer more complex business questions. I think people are really interested in covering this topic, as well as converting columns from character to numeric, just because it is something that needs to be done all the time."

While building out the videos, Yarbrough recalled questions she had when she first learned SAS. (Don't be surprised if they become topics for future tutorials.) "It's really important as an instructor to be able to put yourself in the shoes of our newer SAS programmers," she said. "Even though we spend so much time covering this content, we need to remember what it’s like to hear about these topics for the first time so that we can present material in a clear and easy-to-follow way. It’s been awesome interacting with users through YouTube."

Check out the first few

Ari Zitin: Decision Trees and Neural Networks

Kathy Kiraly: SAS to Excel

Kathy Kiraly: Excel to SAS

Anna Rakers: Online Resources

Mark Stevens: Certification Tips

Mark Stevens: Performance-Based Questions

Peter Styliadis: Two Common Scenarios

Anna Yarbrough: Character Functions

Anna Yarbrough: Merge Data Sets


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Ready to Learn SAS? It's Time to Meet Your Instructors!

About Author

Beverly Brown

Principal Social Media Specialist

Beverly helps SAS users help themselves and one another through SAS Support Communities. In 1994, she started out in public relations roles that include managing corporate PR and assisting SAS executives with media interviews and speaking engagements. Before that, she was a reporter at North Carolina’s largest daily newspapers, The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer. She has a husband and son and loves to run, which enables her chocolate habit.


  1. Beverly Brown

    Hi faq, it all depends on what you want to accomplish through your writing. Let your purpose be your guide, then seek training and opportunities to practice and hone your craft along those lines. Careful who and what you emulate because practice makes permanent. 😉

  2. Great blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I'm hoping to start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm completely overwhelmed ..
    Any recommendations? Kudos!

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