An Excel model is just a very simple way for you to put the relevant information that you want to connect and correlate and analyze in one place. So it's possible that you're pulling data from here, there, everywhere, and you want to put it somewhere, it's like a filing cabinet. But it's much more than that too because it's a place for you to start connecting it and see those parts. As you might imagine, the very first one you put together just for yourself is going to be pretty rudimentary, right? It's, you didn't really spend the time and attention to make it super fancy and so it'll probably look like the client on the left hand side, right? It's just for you super basic, it helps you to float, that's it. No bells, no whistles, no power, right. Well over time what's going to happen as it becomes more and more finished and more professional and client ready, we'll talk about the different things that should be involved. So let's start with the very basics, right? So [LAUGH] just learning Excel here in the bubble, right here you can say, isn't there a whole specialization and course on Coursera around Excel and the answer is yes, and in no way in the next five or six minutes am I going to teach you all of Excel, that's silly, right? What I will say is some of the best ways to learn is through practice. And then also to watch three or four minute very short, high impact videos on how to do specific things. My favorite and I have read several books and taking courses and visited websites, my favorite actually is Excel Jet. They have these kind of handouts which have, 500 different Excel formulas and shortcuts and I think 121 videos on how to do the most important things. And even though Excel might have 500 or 1000 different things you can do frankly, you end up using the same 20 over over and over again. So if you learn those 20 honestly you'll be in pretty good shape. I would say you should get in the habit of collecting Excel models. So if your colleague worked on a project and it doesn't violate the nondisclosure, it's okay for him to send it to you, it's great to start collecting those Excel models because it's just like presentations or executive reports. The more of the missy, the more you'll recognize what good looks like. So I listed, it looks like nine things and I'll go quickly. Excel is endless, I mean you could just keep learning more and more even myself, I've been using Excel for 20 years and I learned something new last week, right? So it's up to you how great you want to become at it, but let's at least be proficient okay. So here are the basics, number one, know what you're looking for and that's true with anything. With any kind of analysis, you know what you're looking for before you go in. It's not helpful to get a bunch of data and just start doing stuff, right. [LAUGH] It's like watching a three year old cook in the kitchen, it won't be tasty, don't do it, okay. Identify the boundaries like what are the edges of the puzzle, right? What's the max, what's the min, what's the average, what's the mean, what's the mode, what's the outliers? You need to take three steps back and see the entire picture because very soon after that you're going to start cleaning the data. All the data sits here except there's one way out there that's obviously kind of an error or something that you need to take out of the dataset and explain later on. So there's a lot of standardization and cleaning and formatting and things like you need to do to make your Excel into a number, something that you can actually calculate, okay. And then I would probably argue that these two commands are the ones that are going to take you the farthest. If you learn how to filter and sort and use pivot tables that's going to solve a lot of your problems. Another favorite of mine is vLookup. My wife when she would interview people for a position at her department she used to ask them on a scale of 1 to10, how good are you at Excel? 10 is like master level, 1 is basic and they would say I'm probably a 7 or 8. And she'd be like okay great, what does vLookup do? And frankly if they call themselves a 7 out of 10 in terms of proficiency in Excel and didn't know what vLookup was, no chance of getting that job, right. It's just that important, right. To cut to the chase for those of you who don't know what vLookup is you have two Excel files and let's say the name John is in this one and the name John is in this one. This one has my age, this one has my address. It allows you to find John in the other file and bring over the address, okay. It's just a chance a way for you to connect to Excel files. The big conclusion vLookup make sure you know how to do it. If you don't know how to use it, I'd probably argue to go to Excel Jet right now. Just push pause, [LAUGH] go right now, learn how to do it. It's not that complicated and it's going to make you a much better analyst. The next couple of things be very clear about what's data and what's analysis. Keep a list of all the data definitions, sometimes what you'll find is that sitting around a table, you'll have three different people from the client and they all disagree on the definition of a number. Well you can see how problematic that will become because you as a consultant you're making conclusions from that number of, let's say it's 46. But if these three people have a different definition of what 46 means, you're not going to be able to actually get the project completed successfully. Last two things does it pass the sniff test, right? It's like you have an apple, right? And on the outside of the apple it looks good, but when you smell it you realize it's a rotten apple right? Same thing with Excel, when you start looking at the data and your cleansing it and you're putting it together does it make sense? Or is it telling you that there's 27 hours in a day? There are not 27 hours in a day. And so always remember even though you're being very analytical also be a human, and humans know that there are only 24 hours in a day. Last two points or keep a running list of questions and things that you're trying to test. Don't fall in love with your Excel, don't fall in love with your data. The Excel model and the data is there to serve a purpose and the purpose is helping you break down problems and make recommendations and help your client, right? So there are times when you start getting so in the weeds of doing the Excel work that you lose perspective and you forgot what it was you were trying to do. Remember you're trying to solve a problem and the data is just helping you to do that. The last one I would say is a software package called Tableau. And there's another one called click, it's a little bit more advanced. You can get I think a 90 day free trial online and I think for annual it's actually probably worth it if you really are going to take this seriously. And if you join a big consulting firm they're going to expect within two or three months of your joining you get very good at this. The reason I mentioned it is two fold, one know what it is even on Coursera there's going to be a Tableau specialization of course that you can take. But also it's different in the sense that unlike Excel it allows you to kind of wander and get smart on the data as you do things. In the olden days, so when I was growing up and I wasn't consulting you would do all the dirty work and Excel first and then you would show a graph at the end, because you had to do the dirty work first and clean everything before you could see it. But with Tableau you can just throw the data in there and it's smart enough that it can actually display it as you go, it's that powerful. So it kind of reverses the process where you don't have to wait till the very end to see it. You can actually see it while you're doing it. In terms of key takeaways, this is the first of two modules on Excel modeling, so I'm going to keep this very short and very direct to the new graduates. There's really high expectations that as a new person coming into a consulting firm, as an analyst or consultant or a senior consultant, you are going to be very good at Excel. You might be okay when you first join, but within three months, I mean, you should be nothing short of a eight out of ten or a nine out of ten in Excel. So with that in mind, before you start or as you're in the recruiting process, go ahead and start getting good at Excel right now.