The First Rule of Microsoft Excel—Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Good at It

At the same time, it has complicated the lives of the office Excel Guy or Gal, the virtuosos whose superior skills at writing formula leave them fighting an endless battle against the circular references, merged cells and mangled macros left behind by their less savvy peers.

.. “If someone tells you that they ‘just have a few Excel sheets’ that they want help with, run the other way,” tweeted 32-year-old statistician Andrew Althouse.
.. “Let’s just say that was a poor use of time,” he said. He advises altruistic Excel mavens to “figure out what you’re getting into” before offering to lend a hand.
.. As an Excel expert, “you become indispensable, and that’s a double-edged sword,” Mr. McIllece said.

Seth Godin: Life, the Internet, and Everything

I’m thrilled that almost everyone I meet has no idea who I am and what I do. Because I don’t want lots of people showing up and saying, “I read this, I read this, I read this. Can I have your autograph?” That’s not the point. The point is, will someone come up to me and say, based on what I learned from you I taught 10 other people to do this, and we made something that mattered.

.. Whereas, the other way to think about it is, how few people can I influence and still be able to do this tomorrow? Because if we can influence just enough people to keep getting the privilege to do it, then tomorrow there’ll be even more people. Because we’re doing something genuine that connects, as opposed to doing something fake that’s entertainment.

.. Oprah Winfrey problem, which is that every writer who wanted to make an impact 15 years ago dreamed that Oprah would pick them.

In a media-saturated world, we want to get picked. Like you, every day people show up to me and say, “pick me, put me on your blog.” If you would just talk about me, then my art will reach everyone I want to reach. But if we distinguish that from Darwin, the first lizard that crawled out of the mud and started walking on legs didn’t say to the media, “please pick me so that more for walking lizards could come along.” That’s not the way it worked; it’s bottom-up. So what I say to people is, I’m not in charge of what’s good. I don’t get to pick what’s a purple cow, what’s remarkable — anything. The world is, the bottom is, everybody, I’m on the bottom too, everyone is. So tell 10 people. There are 10 people who trust you enough to listen. And if you tell your thing to 10 people, if you send your e-book to 10 people, if you do your sermon to 10 people, or show your product to 10 people and none of them want to tell their friends, and none of them are changed — then you failed. You didn’t really understand what was good. But if some of them tell their friends, then they’ll tell their friends, and that’s how ideas spread. It’s this 10 at a time — 10 by 10 by 10. How do you put an idea in the world that resonates enough with people if they trust you enough to hear it. Then it can go to the next step and the next step.

.. I don’t have employees, so that way I don’t have meetings. I don’t spend time on Facebook and Twitter because that would be a huge suck of my time, and I could deny that I was wasting time, because everyone does it. The challenge for me with technology is this leveraging me in a way that makes me uncomfortable — that puts me in a spot where I have to dig deeper to do the work that I’ll be proud of. If that’s what it does, that’s what I want.

MS. TIPPETT: So your answer, if it’s harder, what did you say? If it’s challenging…

MR. GODIN: Right. If the leverage makes it harder for me to do that thing I’m defining as art, then I want to do it. The Kickstarter project I did — I did it because it was interesting, not because it was a financially important thing.

MS. TIPPETT: To raise the money for The Icarus Deception?

MR. GODIN: Right. But it wasn’t to raise money; it was to raise a tribe, to get 4,500 people to say, “we haven’t read it yet, but we trust you, go write it.”

.. Now those are pretty high stakes. And it meant I didn’t have any excuses left. I couldn’t say, well my editor wouldn’t let me do it, or my publisher wouldn’t let me do it because they weren’t a factor. It meant that these people trusted me and gave me a tool that could bring it straight to them. That raises the stakes.

.. the opportunity for each of us to be artists is that it’s precisely when you are doing something that no one has done before that you are not going to get the loudest applause, that you will not get picked. And that then requires us to develop some different kinds of internal resources. Right? I mean, how do we internally have faith in what we care about?


New York Times: Tech Stack Interview

This is the fourth episode of Stack Stories, sponsored by STRV. Hosted by Yonas, Founder & CEO, StackShare and featuring special guests Nick Rockwell, CTO of The New York Times and James Cunningham, Ops Lead at SentryFollow us on SoundCloud or subscribe via iTunes.

.. The New York Times is one of the largest publications in the world with 150 million monthly uniques on their own site and 2-3x that number on third-party platforms like Facebook.

..  In the few years he’s been there, Nick has brought the paper from managing their own data centers and using a LAMP stack, to the “modern age” – using React and GraphQL and migrating to Google Cloud.

Listen to the full interview or read the lightly edited transcript below:

Everybody Hates Millennials

In his view, Gen X is the last generation with memories of an adulthood unsullied by technology, helicopter parenting, full-blown leftism in academia, and other such forces that have made Millennials a world-destroying force.

.. “Before Generation X gets made redundant, I’d like to see us make a last stand,” he proclaims.

.. but surely those young people who increasingly come from non-traditional families are not all getting “helicoptered.” And academic leftism took root in the academia decades ago, thanks to the Boomers (who hardly escape this book blameless; Hennessey considers them and Millennials to be “cut from the same cloth”).

.. “Your generational affiliation provides you with the grammar, syntax, and the context necessary to understand and interpret events,”

.. it is not Millennials themselves from whom America needs saving. It is, rather, the forces of technology, as embodied by the tech overlords of Silicon Valley, who most threaten America.

.. serious explorations of how the more everyday use of tech is changing us: shortened attention spans, reduced human interaction, decreased intelligence. And he leavens it all with a recollection of his tech-free childhood, personalizing his jeremiad, even if there might be some romanticizing nostalgia involved.

.. Hennessey tries to render us willing accomplices to the Silicon Valley “conspiracy”

..  “Encouraged by Silicon Valley’s string of tangible technological successes, not to mention its utopian promises, few millennials will admit a downside to moving every form of human interaction onto the web or disrupting every established way of doing business,” he writes. He calls us, variously, “digital natives,” “digital junkies,” and “digital Maoists.” We are essentially the shock troops of the Digital Age.

.. Millennials are both obsessed by technology and to blame for the woes it causes, Hennessey contends. That conflation, however, is a tactical error, and arguably a logical one as well. Yes, Millennials have ended up — again, by sheer happenstance — as early adopters of technology that has become widely available. At best, though, this makes us second-order antagonists. Or perhaps, I suggest at the risk of indulging in stereotypes about my generation, might this make us not villains but rather victims?

.. Are not the real villains the tech overlords who seek to bestride our economy and refashion it in their own image? Yes, many of them are Millennials, such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But others belong to different generations: Apple CEO Tim Cook is a Baby Boomer; Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are both Gen X-ers.

.. one wonders whether he really wanted to write a neo-Luddite tract but decided (or was forced to decide), for whatever reason, to present his argument in its chosen form. For the struggle against technology cuts across generational lines.