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Every day someone new is thrown into a data-driven/Excel situation and they don’t know where to start. So, they flail, panic, curse, pray and beg, and either figure it out or they don’t figure it out. I wondered, “what might a better introduction look like?”

Teaching someone how to write an IF statement doesn’t do much without a context. So, this 9-video series is something that I created a while ago and is based on a workshop that I taught called: Excel Uncensored. Together we built a calculator that determines the raw cost of a recipe (including packaging) and accounts for peculiarities like: you can have 1 oz of butter, but an egg can only be measured in whole numbers.

The point was to go beyond stand-alone tips and tricks, and isolated needs. “How about we build something together?” Through building something, the students would get exposed to a lot of Excel’s functions, and features AND learn about layout, formula triggers, validation, and how this can all hang together as a useful, efficient tool. So. The point wasn’t the finished Cooking Calculator. The point was to elicit as much, “I didn’t know Excel could do that!” and have the students do it themselves.

They didn’t have mastery of Excel after 4 hours but, the exposure and thought processes were more important. Topics that were covered:

• integrated development
• protection to prevent typing over formulas
• preventing formulas from calculating wrong data
• easy addition of new data
• using dropdown lists for easy and consistent input
• Functions: IF, VLOOKUP, IFNA, OR, AND, SUM

Part of the motivation was also in a common way of learning to play music. If you want to use a new scale or technique, they cannot stand alone. At some point they must be converted into pleasant music. To get there, it helps to make a simple song. It could be a horrible song that won’t ever be played in public, but it’d be the new technique or scale within a musical context.

So, get on with the get-on of making some music. Please. Use this video series or share it with someone who’s needs a quick dose of Excel fast!