A new view on your data: Pivot Tables

Excel’s pivot tables reorganize, categorize, and summarize your data dynamically however you want. Look at it one way, then in seconds, look at it another way. It has a lot of features, but the basics alone are powerful. Today I’ll show you how to use it on a simple example. Let’s take the example from … Continue reading A new view on your data: Pivot Tables

Compound interest calculations without exponents or formulas

If I invest $200,000 now at 6%, how much will I have in 10 years? One of my students recently said that if she had a magic spreadsheet that could predict her financial future, this is one question she would ask it. Some of you probably know that you can calculate this using the formula … Continue reading Compound interest calculations without exponents or formulas

If you could instantly visualize your financial future…

…what would you want to see? I recently asked this of an Excel workshop I was teaching. There was one stipulation—nothing speculative, like, “Will I get a raise next year?” or “Will the Dow hit 20,000?” They had just seen an example of saving for a child’s college education, showing progress year-by-year for each plan … Continue reading If you could instantly visualize your financial future…

What nine things should everyone know how to do with a spreadsheet?

Macworld recently ran an article, “Nine things everyone should know how to do with a spreadsheet,” by Rob Griffiths. Here’s the list: Format numbers Merge cells Use functions Distinguish between relative and absolute references Name cell references Extract data from ranges Perform logical tests Mix text and formula results Use conditional formatting I thought about my … Continue reading What nine things should everyone know how to do with a spreadsheet?

What’s with the dollar signs in Excel formulas?

Ever noticed cell identifiers with dollar signs in them? Things like $A$1. Sometimes they’re in formulas. Sometimes you select a cell for a dialog box and it shows you something with dollar signs. What’s that all about? You might try the formulas =A1, =$A1, =A$1, and =$A$1 and find they all give you the same … Continue reading What’s with the dollar signs in Excel formulas?

A SMART way to choose a car, or anything else

My daughter needed a car to drive to college. It needed to be safe, cool, and inexpensive, among other things. Too bad there's no really cool, really inexpensive car out there, so, once again, we needed to make trade-offs. We started by listing the major goals and considerations. This turned out, as usual, to be a … Continue reading A SMART way to choose a car, or anything else

Life is not a multiple choice test

Answer the following question: Being an effective decision-maker requires: a.)  asking the right question b.)  considering a rich range of alternatives c.)   visualizing the possible outcomes d.)  making a rational choice e.)   all of the above f.)    none of the above Aren’t you tired of multiple-choice tests? You get them all through school, on college … Continue reading Life is not a multiple choice test

What color hat are you wearing right now?

You happen to walk into one of my classes and find a roomful of managers wearing silly hats in a variety of colors. What’s going on here? Edward DeBono developed Six Thinking Hats  as a technique to give decision-makers a rich repertoire of techniques for thinking about a problem. I’ve found this to be a … Continue reading What color hat are you wearing right now?