Category: Uncategorized

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

On-site for an Excel session / Q&A with a client today in Brooklyn, and I wanted to share an analogy that seemed to resonate with the team.

BEFORE you automate or improve a complex spreadsheet process, answer this question: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Shout out to my friend John DeMato for teaching me this phrase.

Said another way, are the upfront costs WORTH the benefits moving forward?

First, answer these 2 sub-questions:

a) What are the COSTS of the current process? (e.g. time, effort, money, credibility, etc.)

b) What are the BENEFITS of automating / improving the process?

To help make this more tangible and relatable, let’s use the lime vs. pomegranate analogy.

If you want a splash of lime on your salad once in a blue moon, then by all means, cut it in half with a knife and squeeze that juice with your hands. No need to improve the process.

In contrast, if you are a family of 6 and everyone drinks pomegranate juice weekly, it’s probably worth investing in some kind of a juicer to help automate at least some of that process.

Taken to the extreme, if you run a juice shop, serving hundreds of customers daily, with every fruit under the sun, there’s no chance of squeezing by hand anymore, am I right?

Back to Excel.

If the benefit is greater than the cost, then go ahead and improve the process. If not, then do NOT improve the process.

Here’s that idea again, written as an Excel formula:

=IF(Benefit > Cost,”Improve”,”Do NOT Improve”)

But wait, there’s more!

Here are 4 levers to consider before you answer:

  1. Audience – who is it for?
  2. Type – what is it exactly?
  3. Quantity – amount needed?
  4. Frequency – how often needed?

If the juice is in fact worth the squeeze for YOU on a particular project, send me a message with the word “juice” and we’ll see how I can help you extract all that delicious nectar, without all the heavy lifting.

#foodforthought #automation #analogies #yeahabsolutely #excelcuriosities #excelwell #sharetheexcellove

Zoo mental map

After a nice filling lunch at the Bronx Zoo, the kids finally went down for their nap! Naturally I took advantage of the “downtime” to explore the lesser walked paths, and create a mental map of one of my favorite places in New York City.

I love exploring like this when I have time, because not only is it a great way to relax and get the creative juices flowing, but it also helps me create a fuller picture in my head of where things are, and how things connect.

That way, next time I visit the zoo with the kids I will be able to efficiently navigate from the brown bears, to the giraffes, to the Jungle World exhibit without getting lost in the African trail. I don’t know about you, but I call that a win.

In Excel, I always recommend that when you receive a new spreadsheet, you take some time to explore the different sheets, formulas, data connections, etc. to familiarize yourself and create a mental map. Doing so will create a fuller picture in your mind, and allow you to easily navigate to the desired area, and even fix issues if they arise because you know where everything is.

Want some help creating a mental map of a spreadsheet? I may know a guy who can help :).

#mentalmap #openexploration #funoptimization #brownbear #parentwisdom #excelwell #sharetheexcellove

Find joy in practicing fundamentals

At the playground, my son Barak is once again on a loop. He is climbing up and down the steps, over and over again, and could not be more content in the process. It is beautiful to watch, and he is already showing signs of being my favorite kind of student – one who finds joy in practicing the fundamentals.

Once the fundamental skill of climbing up and down steps is mastered, Barak can easily leverage that skill to enjoy more advanced activities such as climbing up to and then going down the big slide. Super excited for him!

While not every student is built this way, I currently have a 1-on-1 Excel training client who is also exhibiting this same trait, and it is already serving him extremely well. For example, by mastering the building blocks of writing formulas he is able to apply those skills to an infinite number of possible calculations to solve his unique business problems. This approach will undoubtedly get him far in business and in life.

My hope for you is to not only practice the fundamentals, but actually find the joy in it. Doing so will help you continue to reap the benefits for the rest of your life of those fundamental skills.

P.S. Not even 10 seconds after filming this video Barak went all the way to the top of the playground structure, and went down the big slide. Thank you for proving my point Barak!

#practicefundamentals #babysteps #patiencepaysoff #parentwisdom #excelformulas #excelwell #sharetheexcellove

Balance of planning & doing

I am currently building a new Excel training program, unlike any other I have created before. Like with any creative & complex project, it requires a great deal of both planning and doing (i.e. the actual work of building the product).

Too much planning and I can easily get sucked into the perfectionism black hole.

Too much doing without enough planning and I can find myself spending weeks or months barking up the wrong tree by creating something irrelevant or unnecessary.

Even after running my business for the past 13+ years, I still find it challenging to strike the right balance of planning and doing.

What usually pushes me out of that mud, is giving myself just enough space to plan out a high level road map of where I am going. I may even flesh out a few of the initial details to help get the ball rolling. However, once I find myself getting caught up in too many details, I step back and remind myself that it’s time to start building.

The best part is that taking action, and actually beginning to build something will inevitably shed light on what aspects of the project are necessary, and which are in fact irrelevant.

Starting to build even before the full picture is clear gives me the space to adapt and course correct in a way that I otherwise would not be able to do.

Stuck in the planning stage? Stuck in the doing stage? Stuck in the process of finding a balance between the two? Leave a comment or a message and I’ll see how I can help.

#planning #doing #balance #bizownerlife #productivity #efficiency #excelwell #sharetheexcellove

Stroller struggles

After 2.5 hours I finally fixed our Baby Jogger City Select double stroller. After years of wear and tear the brake mechanism finally broke. Fortunately no children were harmed!

Big thank you to Baby Jogger for sending a completely new replacement brake mechanism at NO EXTRA COST. Just one of the many reasons we love Baby Jogger, and recommend them to every parent.

Couple takeaways from the experience:

  1. There was a single point of failure in the brake cable, rendering the entire brake dysfunctional.
  2. The process of replacing the brake was not as clear or intuitive as I would have liked.
  3. Supporting your customers not only maintains trust, it also helps customers look past certain issues.

From the spreadsheet perspective:

  1. If possible, build-in redundancies or backups for a single process/calculation, so that if one fails there is another one in place to seamlessly swap in.
  2. Stress test your spreadsheets for common issues that might arise, and see if the process of fixing the problem is clear and intuitive. Create written step-by-step guides to fix, and/or bake in some extra clarity/instructions to make that process as intuitive as possible.
  3. Support your clients/stakeholders. If you make a mistake, fix it at no cost to them. Failing to do so will break their trust in you, and rightfully so.

Happy strolling!

#strollerstruggles #backup #intuitivedesign #trustisparamount #parentwisdom #excelwell #sharetheexcellove