How can I get good at Excel?

The Thought Process

This is a question I often get asked so I am going to point back specifically to somebody who’s got my book. He got my book several weeks ago, the book on Excel formulas. Then he got in touch and said, “how can I get good at excel? Because I like your book but I want to get really good at Excel”. I turned right back to him and I asked, “why do you want to get good at Excel? He said, ‘so I can get good at V look ups, do pivot tables and VBA macros.’ So I said, ‘okay, why do you want to do those things?’ He said, ‘so I can do a better job for my boss.’ I said, ‘okay, why do you want to do a better job for your boss?’ He said, ‘to get more interesting work’. And I said, ‘that’s good. Why do you want to do more interesting work?’ He said, ‘I want to get more exposure to senior people. If I do interesting work, that will get me more interesting projects.’ I said, ‘good. Why do you want to get exposure to senior people?’ So he said, ‘look I am an ambitious guy and I want to do good things in my career. I want my career to go like that and with that comes salary.’ I said, ‘good, now you’re talking. Now we’re onto something and making sense.’

I led him down that path where before he was just saying what he wanted to get. But I wanted him to go through that thought process to understand why ultimately it is that he wants these things. A lot of people do the same thing; asking me for help with V-Lookups, pivot tables . Macros etc. I tell all those people to take a step back, don’t do this in a haphazard random fashion. Take a deep breath and start at the top where we’ll find that all we want is to be really good professionals.

I work day in day out with professionals, with accountants, controllers, PMO’s and every kind of analyst under the sun that you could imagine. Data analysts, MI analysts, BI analysts, reporting analysts, business analysts and finance analysts etc I have done all those roles myself and I continue to do them. At the moment I work in investment banking as a senior executive doing those things. 10 years ago I wasn’t. I was very junior and earning £27,000. In a period of 7-8 years I rose up the ranks and I got my salary close to £200,000 by doing the right things. Excel was a starting point for all of that. So I say to people; have some strategy in your approach, have some strategy for your career and provide some context for why you want to get better at Excel.

The Right Teacher

So what’s the reason for telling you all this? Well, when people think about how to get better at Excel, the first thing they’ll do is go online to see what’s available. They’ll try and improve their skills via Google, which I don’t recommend and I will talk about that tomorrow. Or they’ll find a book, Excel for Dummies, it’s a popular one, which is a shame, I don’t do 'Anything for dummies'. They’ll find a 2 day or 5 day course that they have to attend in person or they’ll find a course online. However, do any of those people understand and appreciate your ultimate goal to have a great career and become a prestigious successful professional? Will they help you to do that? Most of them won’t.

Most of these people, Excel teachers and writers of books on Excel, started as mid junior and then exited their career having had enough and just wanting to do Excel simply because they like Excel. When I was a junior 10 years ago, ­­I worked with such people. They were really good at Excel and they helped me to improve my skills. Over the last decade I have risen several levels and they are still at the same level they were. In fact I have hired a number of those people who taught me! They didn’t really get the bigger picture, these are the same people who run the Excel websites, forums, YouTube channels or write books who are so passionate about Excel. But that makes them dangerous. Their passion is Excel and all that Excel can do.

Allow me to go off on a tangent for a moment as I want you to consider my position as a senior exec. As you can imagine, I have to be on call 24hrs a day in some form or other, be it email, telephone or on/offline conferencing. A bit like all the apps on your phone, I have dozens of functions all wrapped up into my phone. A phone, like me in my job, has many functions but essentially all you need a phone be is effective in a few things: make calls, send messages and take the occasional selfie! I realise that modern phones are capable of so much more with the intention of ‘making my life a bit better’ but I’m not interested in that. When we look at anyone who is even half successful they all about doing less, focusing on the key things.

So, when I am using my phone I only ever want to do these three things because everything else is a waste, it’s a distraction from what my core proposition in life is. My core proposition is to help people do great things. Whether that’s the company that I work in, delivering very big projects to top senior people in banking, or passing on the right skills to help my students become amazing and go on to have prestigious careers because they want to have the skills. I coach them, and mentor them even further with their strategy. I help them to get the prestige and help them to get the promotion and the salary, and all that comes with it.

I am all about doing things which are going to make people sky rocket. That’s what I did for myself and that’s what I do for my students; the people; and the stakeholders that I work with on day to day basis in investment banking.

Zero to Excel Guru, is my course which  is all about teaching you Excel in a way which is purely going to make you a better professional. It’s not about giving you everything in Excel. It’s not about teaching you every aspect of pivot tables or every aspect of VBA. It’s only about getting the few core things that matter. I go deep into teaching you how that 10–20% of Excel is going to change the way you work and how those core skills are going to make you save time, lots of time. That’s what real focus is.

My course also teaches you how to market those skills and make a difference in your career. That is what I want your thinking to be like which is  why I only encourage professional accountants, controllers, PMO’s, analysts etc. to align with my course. If you are not one of these types of professionals then honestly I am not the teacher for you. However, if you are one of those people nothing is more effective for you than my course so I thoroughly and highly encourage you to click the link below, signup and I’ll see you inside.

Thank you.