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  #1  
Old 10-05-2018, 05:00 PM
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Default The First Rule of Excel

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fir...54380?mod=e2fb

Quote:
A-HED
The First Rule of Microsoft Excel—Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Good at It

When Anand Kalelkar started a new job at a large insurance company, colleagues flooded him with instant messages and emails and rushed to introduce themselves in the cafeteria.

He soon learned his newfound popularity came with strings attached. Strings of code. Many of Mr. Kalelkar’s co-workers had heard he was a wizard at Microsoft Excel and were seeking his help in taming unruly spreadsheets and pivot tables gone wrong.

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“People would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I hear you’re the Excel guy,’ ” said the 37-year-old metrics consultant from Oak Brook, Ill. Mr. Kalelkar said he has become “a little more passive-aggressive,” warning help-seekers, “Don’t come to me, go to Google first.”

Excel buffs are looking to lower their profiles. Since its introduction in 1985 by Microsoft Corp., the spreadsheet program has grown to hundreds of millions of users world-wide. It has simplified countless office tasks once done by hand or by rudimentary computer programs, streamlining the work of anyone needing to balance a budget, draw a graph or crunch company earnings. Advanced users can perform such feats as tracking the expenditures of thousands of employees.

At the same time, it has complicated the lives of the office Excel Guy or Gal, the virtuosos whose superior skills at writing formula leave them fighting an endless battle against the circular references, merged cells and mangled macros left behind by their less savvy peers.

“If someone tells you that they ‘just have a few Excel sheets’ that they want help with, run the other way,” tweeted 32-year-old statistician Andrew Althouse. “Also, you may want to give them a fake phone number, possibly a fake name. It may be worth faking your own death, in extreme circumstances.”

The few Excel sheets in question, during one recent encounter, turned out to have 400 columns each, replete with mismatched terms and other coding no-nos, said Mr. Althouse, who works at the University of Pittsburgh. The project took weeks to straighten out.

“Let’s just say that was a poor use of time,” he said. He advises altruistic Excel mavens to “figure out what you’re getting into” before offering to lend a hand.

Microsoft’s Jared Spataro, a corporate vice president for Office and Windows marketing, wrote in a recent blog post that “Excel’s power comes from its simplicity,” calling it “an incredibly flexible app.”

A company spokeswoman said the program has recently added artificial intelligence features that are “opening up new possibilities for all users.”

Nevertheless, years of dealing with colleagues’ Excel emergencies have taught John Mechalas to keep his mastery of spreadsheets a secret.

The trouble often starts with a group email asking if there is anyone who knows Excel really well, said Mr. Mechalas, a 48-year-old software engineer at Intel Corp. in Hillsboro, Ore.

“People say, ’Oh, this is just a really quick thing,’ ” he said. “Then I look at it, and it’s not a quick thing.”

These days, Mr. Mechalas will lay low until someone has a dire need before offering his expertise. His willpower was put to the test earlier this week, as he suppressed the urge to yell “just come to me for help” while staring at a badly tangled spreadsheet during a presentation.

“I’m an altruist, but it’s not my job to save the world,” he said.


Colin McIllece, 36, a New York purchasing analyst, said being good at Excel has benefits. “It’s kind of like being a wizard,” he said. “You say, ‘I can think of a spreadsheet for that,’ and it’s like you performed a magic trick.”

Mr. McIllece recalls one fiasco where a colleague presented him with a huge document saved into a jumble of folders and teeming with dreaded # symbols, usually an indication of an Excel error.

Like Mr. Kalelkar, he is now more likely to show colleagues they can find answers to their problems though Google searches—a method even the most experienced Excel users often fall back on. People who keep bothering him get their instant messages ignored.

As an Excel expert, “you become indispensable, and that’s a double-edged sword,” Mr. McIllece said.

Jen Lipschitz, a 32-year-old data analyst and project manager from Quincy, Mass., says colleagues often turn to her and the rest of her department for help with their Excel travails.

People say, “ ‘This is Jen, she’s in the smart department,’ ” Ms. Lipschitz said. “If they can’t figure out why the data is being weird, they’ll just go ask Jen down the hall.”

Ms. Lipschitz’s solution: “I’ll just stand there,” she said. As co-workers are explaining the problem, they will frequently figure it out for themselves.

She believes some people get overwhelmed by the possibilities of Excel, a program that manages to be at once simple and mind-bogglingly complex.

“People get intimidated that Excel can do so many things,” she said. “They forget that they need to try.”
I am very disappointed that none of y'all were quoted....or were you?
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2018, 09:33 AM
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Nice article.

As I read a great part of my professional life passed before me.
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Old 10-06-2018, 09:48 AM
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Every once in a while I would run into a legacy spreadhseet that had been created years ago, with
a hodge-podge of (undocumented) add ons every year. End result was that nobody really knew what was going on in the workbook. Took weeks to fix. A few times it was so bad I chose to simply build it up from scratch to get rid of the old, ungainly workbook.

Lots of operational risks hiding in the reporting space due to poor spreadsheet construction and development.
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Old 10-06-2018, 10:35 AM
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Probably everybody here experiences this... Complete some complex project, create a unique new product design or some other mathematical, actuarial, or financial creation that completely stretches your knowledge, capacity, or whatever. Response.... crickets.

Spend 15 minutes creating a simple spreadsheet for somebody to solve some simple problem... Break out the steak and Heineken... Dolan you're a genius.
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Old 10-09-2018, 01:17 PM
Dr T Non-Fan Dr T Non-Fan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campbell View Post
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fir...54380?mod=e2fb



I am very disappointed that none of y'all were quoted....or were you?
I was just about to ask someone to paste this. Thanks!
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Last edited by Dr T Non-Fan; 10-09-2018 at 01:27 PM..
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Old 10-09-2018, 01:53 PM
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http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...d.php?t=225265
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
Probably everybody here experiences this... Complete some complex project, create a unique new product design or some other mathematical, actuarial, or financial creation that completely stretches your knowledge, capacity, or whatever. Response.... crickets.
In conclusion, using modifications on the classic GLM combined with cross validated Random Forests across 6 thousand fields and bivariate fields, with cluster analysis on the text fields, I was ultimately able to greatly increase the data while not overfitting, and as you can see from the C statistic that...

So.. there's no ROI.

Yeah, no ROI.

Ohwell.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:55 PM
Chuck Chuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sredni Vashtar View Post
In conclusion, using modifications on the classic GLM combined with cross validated Random Forests across 6 thousand fields and bivariate fields, with cluster analysis on the text fields, I was ultimately able to greatly increase the data while not overfitting, and as you can see from the C statistic that...

So.. there's no ROI.

Yeah, no ROI.

Ohwell.
I said "socket", not "sprocket".
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  #9  
Old 10-09-2018, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
Probably everybody here experiences this... Complete some complex project, create a unique new product design or some other mathematical, actuarial, or financial creation that completely stretches your knowledge, capacity, or whatever. Response.... crickets.

Spend 15 minutes creating a simple spreadsheet for somebody to solve some simple problem... Break out the steak and Heineken... Dolan you're a genius.
I've had the great fortune of being on teams where everyone was pretty competent so I've never been overrun with requests. But I did have a guy offer to buy me a beer for copying his formula down the column. The Financial Recoveries team kept telling me they didn't like excel because "it was hard to type all the formulas". Eventually I came to realize that they were typing the formula (often something very simple like A2+B2) into every row, hundreds or thousands of times. I opened it, hit ctrl+d, and sent it back. I was genius-for-a-day.
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  #10  
Old 10-09-2018, 05:34 PM
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first rule is save often
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