The Limitations of Googling to get better at Excel


In 1972 a psychologist published a study called the Marshmallow Experiment. The experiment consisted of a random selection of children between the ages of 4 & 6 years. Each child was left in a room on their own after being offered a marshmallow and told that if they didn't eat it straight-away then after 15 minutes they could have 2 marshmallows. This was a test of delayed gratification. The results and future follow ups revealed that those children who could delay gratification and waited for the 2 marshmallows were more successful than those who didn't wait. This is relevant to how we approach our learning of Excel.

The allure of Google

Google has done great things for us, providing us with this massive repository of information, but it has also done not so great things for us. This massive repository of information is available instantaneously. We don’t think long term anymore, we’re just like ‘I want to know this; I’ll Google it’. ‘Yep, there’s what I need’. ‘Great, that’ll do.’ Goggle doesn’t qualify those people who are providing the information, so because of the inability to delay gratification and really research a good way to learn something, people are just diving in without rhyme or reason.

That’s all well and good but as my career progressed through the roles of accountant, PMO etc I discovered precisely what it is you need to do and what it is that you need to learn to be successful.

There is a very specific curriculum that you need to follow, a structured curriculum. Structured in a way that will enable you to master Excel very effectively and very quickly. If you try to do that with Google it will take you weeks, months, maybe even years because you just don’t know where to stop; you just don’t know what to do as you follow the advice from the many Excel experts readily available through Google.

Why would you seek the advice of an Excel professional on a forum that you discovered through Google? These experts could also be accountants, PMOs etc but, as a professional, do you have time to be on forums? They’re not like you with career ambition and drive because if they were we wouldn’t find them using their time offering advice on a forum. Don’t get me wrong, I have done a bit of this in an effort to give back but these people are experts at Excel, not professionals. These are two different things.

You need the right curriculum which means the right topics, rather than every single thing that Excel can do for you. You need someone to cherry pick precisely what it is you need to learn for your particular professional role, and take you deep into those specific topics.

You do not need to know everything that Excel can offer, you’re summarising, finding information, dealing with non-numerical information, treating information with rules and we can go deep with those things.

I’ve been approached by young enthusiastic professionals presenting me with all the things that you just don’t need in a professional scenario.

It makes sense to choose a curriculum consisting of the right topics and right structure, presented in a sequential manner so that your learning is so powerful it allows things to make sense in a cohesive coherent manner. The result is that, when you go back to work and start solving problems, you’ll realise all the things that you need to do, and all the things you no longer need to do! So-called Excel Experts are really bad at telling you what you don’t need, they just tell how to do it all.


My course consists of the right curriculum and it’s delivered in the right structure. You might believe that you don’t need to spend money on mine or anyone else’s course; you can just Google what you need. You don’t mind how long it takes, it’s free and you have plenty of time, maybe because you are at the start of your career or maybe you are just looking for cost effective convenience but ultimately not investing in yourself is far more costly toy our career.

People who invest in themselves are the most successful people because they take their future seriously, the forward thinking person. More importantly, when investing time and money in yourself you are taking a risk and when you take such as risk you are forcing yourself to go through with it. I can’t emphasise this enough, go through with it. Don’t rob yourself of opportunities by taking your time learning. Consider the earnings over 5 years, the quicker you learn Excel the quicker you can increase your earnings by being promoted or taking roles that cover these core skills. The best professionals are constantly investing and accelerating.

Resist that marshmallow!

…but I Google too!

I’m not anti-Googling and I’m not saying it will prevent you from greatness but I use Excel with Google in a very specific way. For example, if I have to do a complex formula or complex bit of VBA/Macros code it would have taken me 30-40 minutes to get it done. It takes me 5 minutes to Google it and 2 minutes to tweak it so I save time. At this point in my life, saving time is all about achievement and pushing myself to greater limits.

I’m past using my time to work out complex Excel things but you may still have to go through that training period.

Get on the course, Zero to Excel Guru, so that you can learn those core skills and then go back to Google. You’ll see it in a different light knowing that you can Google it and string it together in a few minutes. That is how you should use Google but wait until you are better and have gone through structured learning.