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Excel | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother
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Redneck Mama Excel Formulas

I asked yesterday if you wanted more impromptu blogs. The answer was yes. Then I was asked to write a blog with imaginary Excel formulas. Here goes.

The first time my boss told me 20 years ago he wanted an “If” formula in a spreadsheet, I told him they didn’t exist. 

So he got the book and showed me where they were and told me to figure them out. Then I realized they were like what my logic class had taught.

The 3 parts of If/Then statements are If, Then, and Not.

Little did I know that years later, I would be teaching Excel and would GET to introduce If functions to classes. If someone has no background with them, they can be intimidating.  When you look in the whites of your students’ eyes and see an “Oh crap” creep into their gaze, you know it’s time to meet them where they are. Make the tough stuff manageable. Summarize the important stuff so the key points are understandable.

So I invented the Redneck Mama If Then Example:

=If (I come home from work at night and my children are already asleep, Mama’s happy and the world is full of rainbows and unicorns, Mama’s not happy and if Mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy)


IF: When my children were babies, I worked evenings after my husband finished his job. When I got home from classes, near 10 p.m., I wanted both kids in bed asleep.

THEN: When that criteria was met, all was right with the world.

NOT: If that criteria was not met, then I was not happy. When I’m not happy, my kids aren’t happy, and I could guarantee you my husband would not be happy either.

Summary: An If function is something we all live all the time.  Math just puts it into a formula. In addition, sometimes we have multiple ifs. Excel takes that into account to and will let us nest If/Then statements as needed.

Once I understood the 3 parts of an If function (If, Then, Not), I sometimes wished the real world were as manageable as arguments in Excel.

Time taken to meet today’s challenge: 30 minutes plus a little help from my favorite graphics helper.

My question for you: What would you like my next impromptu blog topic to be?

Training Investments

Instant gratification is my favorite part of teaching computer classes to companies. I love moments, when someone gets a new concept and realizes its potential.

Then there’s the groan reaction. When I hear an “Oohhhhhhhh” of dismay, I grow concerned. But generally, that means I’ve shown an advanced feature to someone who just realized how much faster and easier their job could have been. Examples from Excel classes:

  • A human resource manager had set up spreadsheets without keeping the cells on layered sheets in the same place. Three-D formulas would not work. “I would have saved myself hours of time if I had known this six months ago. If I tried to fix my work now, it would take 60 to 80 hours I don’t have.”
  • An analyst grew more upset as I explained advanced sorts, filters, and customizing criteria.  Then he said, “If I had known 10 years ago what you just showed me in the last 2 hours, I would have cut 500 hours off my workload. Every year.”
  • When I showed how the Get Data feature made it easy for Excel to retrieve information from websites to place into a spreadsheet, a whole room started to groan/laugh and look at their quality control expert who had struggled countless hours trying to get a cut and paste of website info into a spreadsheet.
  • An accountant said she could redo all her reports much faster after discovering how to create pivot tables and pivot charts.

Now here’s the kicker: imagine the quality control guy tells me what he’s tried to research online. Instead of a traditional resource, I go to Twitter and show him the leading expert in our area, with whom he can converse and make sure he has the best, most accurate information.

Imagine the company that trains its employees on Excel, Twitter, and the latest tech advances.

Well-trained employees find new ways for computers to make and save the company money.

Smart companies know their information investment doesn’t stop with hardware and software.

Good training on computer systems is not an expense. It’s an investment which reaps long-term benefits for you and your company.