With exceptional intelligence like yours, it’s no wonder that you’re as inventive as you are. You’re a very innovative person, so of course you love all things “high-tech”. You’ve sometimes been seen as a “builder”, but the things you enjoy building the most: Automations, tools, and maybe even a robot or two!
Props, friend, your mathematical and statistical expertise is absolutely world class. Better yet, you know how to take that expertise and apply it to quickly uncover boatloads of business value (READ: save your company time and money, or straight up increase its annual profit!) You’ve got all the subject matter expertise you could ever need to convert business data into some major cha-ching…
Here’s the hold-up: Excel — your trusty tool that’s helped you get this far in your spreadsheet modelling career — you’ve outgrown it. It can’t handle the dataset sizes you need to analyze. It can’t perform the complex operations you need it to. It’s freezing and crashing is enough to make any person mad. Not to mention the tortoise-like speed it takes when getting just about anything done.
I know it’s frustrating but take heart. You’re industrious (you’re reading this after all, aren’t you?). You always find a way — especially when others tell you it can’t be done. This doesn’t have to mean learning to program, unless you really want to dilute your genius and spend your time learning a skill that will NOT move the needle in terms of how much money your time bills for.
Allow yourself to dream bigger (just a bit). Don’t tell your mother I said this, but sometimes the easy way can get you a lot further than hard, boring work, like coding!
Optimize your spreadsheets. Who convinced you that crazy fast spreadsheets — I’m talking 100x faster than Google Sheets and 4x more powerful than Excel — are out of the cards for you? O.K. maybe you just enjoy restructuring your spreadsheets and reconfiguring your Excel set-up just to try to get it to run without freezing?!? Nah! Who am I kidding? All those Excel optimization hacks out there are like switching rooms in the Titanic.
With dataset sizes (and your manager’s expectations) continually growing, hoping that formula optimizations will fix Excel’s implicit performance limitations is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. If you want to give them a try though, here are some of the more popular performance optimizations. Or, if you’re ready to step up into a next-generation, high-performance spreadsheet solution, you can give SheetRocks a spin here.
Get acquainted with browser-based spreadsheets, STAT (because we both know that Excel can’t get it done). Odds are you’ve already tried out Google Sheets – who hasn’t right? And it’s nice and all if you’re working solo with a few 10s of thousands of rows of data.
But if you’ve ever tried to use Google Sheets to collaborate in real-time with 5+ teammates, or to analyze over a million rows of data – then you’ve seen how truly weak its performance engine is. I wish I could suggest an optimization to fix that for you, but there’s just no fixing Google Sheets’ limitations.
The good news! If you’re reading this then you’re light years ahead of the 99.9% of spreadsheet modelling professionals who still haven’t heard the news that the next-generation of spreadsheet has arrived (READ: a collaborative, low-latency, browser-based spreadsheet that’s both highly secure and over 100x more powerful than Google Sheets!).
I’m giving you permission (right here, right now) to capitalize on this competitive advantage and turn all your spreadsheeting collaboration dreams into reality by trying out SheetRocks spreadsheets for yourself.
You’ve got options! Some data sourcing methods have more return on investment than others though. If you’re using Excel on-the-daily, then you may have heard about its built-in datasets: Stocks and Geography. Stocks updates with the latest prices and changes on the NASDAQ and Geography will tell you about the population of each country on Earth, as well as the gasoline prices there (?!?).
If you want data on more than public stocks and geography though, your Excel options are limited. If you want to bring in a developer or learn to program, you can connect PowerBI – but IMHO, with these options Excel leaves spreadsheet pros like you pretty darn high-and-dry!
When it comes to integrating new, custom built-in datasets, there is literally no spreadsheet on the planet that offers you more than SheetRocks. Because you see, on the backend, our spreadsheet is programmable and integrates with all sorts of relational database systems. But with that, we’d never ask an oh-so-analytically-astute professional like yourself to deviate from your zone of genius by learning to program! Instead, inside of our Founding-Members program, Planet SheetRocks, we offer our customers up to 3 custom data integration services per month (meaning we do all the coding for you and just build your datasets directly into your spreadsheet portal). How’s that for cool?
Planet SheetRocks is slated for retirement when we hit 2,000 members though, so if built-in data integrations are up your alley, I encourage you to start your SheetRocks trial today.
I’m not gonna lie – there’s about a 0% chance of ever getting Excel or Google Sheet developers to build you a custom formula or function. Sorry to say, there is nothing I can suggest for getting around that. With massive vendors like Microsoft and Google, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
The good new: Since SheetRocks is a new SaaS spreadsheet that specializes in helping spreadsheet modelling experts get easier, faster, and more powerful results from their spreadsheet operations… naturally we love developing custom formulas and features just for spreadsheet super users like you. In fact, the spreadsheet rockstars we have inside of our Planet SheetRocks program enjoy requesting up to 3 custom formulas per month! Care to give it a whirl? Start your SheetRocks trial today here.
In late 2016, I was in a private meeting with the Engineering Director at 18F. I clearly recall the feeling of shock that came over me when she described spending $350,000/year on a time-tracking system which had previously worked just fine... in a free Google Sheet!
You see, for years we’d been doing time-tracking in Google Sheets just fine. But when we hit Employee #50, our handy-dandy Google Sheet failed us. With the collaborative requirements involved in time-tracking, our only option was to build a custom application from scratch to do the exact same simple mathematical operation for us at a larger scale.
I sat coding on my porch like I do on warm summer nights. We were a few months into the pandemic lockdown then…
There I was, an overwhelmed dad taking care of two young boys full-time while also managing a 50-person development team. I was frustrated by how slow my spreadsheet was running, when suddenly, almost like a bolt of lightning ⚡ , the thought hits me. “Why does a spreadsheet do math a million times slower than my CPU does?”
I started thinking about it. “Why can’t spreadsheets do better than that?” As I dug into it, there didn’t seem to be any good answer to that simple question.
So, I started experimenting, at first without any data, just by writing simple performance benchmarks. I did some testing to see how fast it would be if I wrote a basic program that does the same exact calculation as my spreadsheet.
My “little program” was 1,000x more powerful than a traditional spreadsheet!
Spoiler alert: I applied for funding on Christmas day 2020 and by late January I was a full-time, VC-backed founder at SheetRocks, Inc.
… busy co-founding the United States Data Federation for the US Federal Government.
… busy leading data projects for 5 years at 18F, the US government’s digital services agency (as well as running the engineering team for Healthcare.gov).
… busy co-patenting 2 of my electrical engineering innovations, while co-authoring multiple research publications at Yale on the topic of atomic physics.
.. busy earning my bachelor’s degree in Physics from Yale University, where I co-founded the microgravity experimentation team.
… And oh yeah, there’s that master’s degree I earned in electrical engineering over at Columbia, while serving as CTO of a hurricane prediction company.