Archive for March, 2012

Using Hyperlinks Functions In Your Excel Files To Increase Productivity

Excel function tutorials

One of the key things that I use excel for is actually something that you might not know is possible. This is a very different function than the type that I usually discuss here but I personally save a lot of time every day. Basically, both at home and at work, I use excel as a quicker way to access certain documents or places in order to both save:

-avoid having to always think about where a specific file is saved

How do I do it?

In any excel file, I simply write down the name of the files that I wish to link to, it can also be a directory, or even a webpage. Here are some of the things you could link to:

-excel file

Here is what it would look like:

Then, you can simply add the hyperlinks, simply select the cell and then click on “insert/hyperlink”

You can then select the type of link on the left side and then browse to the document in question.

The text on your excel file will change color as you can see here:

In fact, you can even write the subject of the email (in cases where you send the same email to the same people often). I’m telling you, just start using it and you will never want to go back:)

Unfortunately, since the paths would be different from one computer to another, I cannot really make this file available for download, but feel free to ask any questions regarding the hyperlink function, I’ll be more than happy to help.

Have You Tried Living Like a Student?

Personal finance

A common misconception for college students is to believe that they’ll save more money once they finish school. Sure, as a college graduate, you’ll be making more money. Your paychecks will be much higher than before. The reality is that you won’t always save more money once you enter the field. Why won’t you save more money? Lifestyle inflation creeps up on you when you start making more money. You rent a nicer place, you buy a new wardrobe, you replace the old car, you drink better booze, you eat better food, and you generally spend more money.

When you finally decide what to do after college, I highly recommend that you get into the habit of living like a college student. My experiment for today is that you try to continue the same lifestyle that you had in school once you start working.

Why should you live like a student?

  • Save money for the future.
  • Avoid lifestyle inflation.
  • Maintain the simple lifestyle.
  • Decide what you want to do next.
  • Save up for future travels.
  • Figure out the rest of your life.

Once you decide to live like a student as an experiment, you can continue on with this post.

How can you live like a broke college student?

There are many ways to continue living like a student. I wanted to highlight how you can save money by pretending to still be a student. Below are a few quick tips:

  1. Avoid eating at fancy restaurants.
  2. Buy your food at the grocery store.
  3. Take the bus to work.
  4. Pay yourself first.
  5. Drink and go out on the cheap.
  6. Stay in student housing.
  7. Avoid that brand new car.

You can stay young forever and save money as you plan for your future expenses in your 20s. You can also have as much fun as you did in college.

How long should you live like a student for?

Should you live like a student forever? How long should you maintain this lifestyle? I suggest that you maintain the student lifestyle until you hit your savings target. Whatever this number is it’s your call. We all have different goals. If you want to have kids in the future, you’re going to need to save more. Your savings will also depend on your future employment plans, if you plan on starting a business,travel plans, and whatever is on your mind.

The good news is that you can enjoy the ride. We often forget to enjoy the moment. It’s not about the destination. It’s all about the fun that you have getting there.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” — Greg Anderson

That’s how you can live like a student. Hopefully you’ll reach your financial goals and set yourself up for your 30s and the rest of your life.

The Importance of Systems

Personal finance

One of the books I’m currently reading is Michael E. Gerber’s “The E-Myth.”

The Importance of Systems

To me, the basic thesis of the book is the importance of systems.  In a successful business, there should be an innovative and steady system in place for almost any activity that is regularly conducted by the business.   Gerber describes how McDonald’s became the largest restaurant in the world: it’s because they had systems in place—-that’s why you can go anywhere in America and buy a burger from McDonalds, and it will taste the same.   (Although, McDonald’s burgers definitely taste different in Europe).

Some of the benefits of having systems are:

1) It makes it easier to train employees;

2) It makes it easier to meet client expectations;

3) Systems save time and money because they are more efficient; and

4) Systems allow for innovation.

I have to admit, I’m not much of a systems person.   I’ve always been more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy.  The closest thing I have to a system is a list of “things to do.”  When I read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done,” it terrified me.  Truly. But now that my business is (ever so slowly) expanding, I see the importance of having a more systematized office.  “Winging it” may work in college, but in the real world systems become all the more important.

My Retreat

This weekend my Wife is going to visit some college friends.  Accordingly, I’ve decided to take a “company retreat” to explore how to implement systems into my business.  The joke, of course, is that I am the sole employee of my business.  So the retreat will just be me and my thoughts.  I’ve already made some cursory decisions heading into the “retreat.”

1) I will create written instructions for all of the basic functions of my office: everything from how to answer the telephone to accounting.

2) I will create a packet for new clients explaining each step of the process.  I will give them an extra copy of this packet and have my company’s name and contact information therein.  I will encourage them to give the extra packet to any friends who might find the information useful.  I will also spin the information contained in the packet into blog posts, perhaps an article for a magazine or newspaper, etc.  I will also create an e-book from the information and put that on my company’s website.  My hope is that this will be a marketing device, an informational product that will help clients, and a way to produce clients who better understand my process.  It may also save them money by cutting down on telephone calls.  Part of my job is to educate my clients.  This packet will help create a uniform system and ensure that each client has the knowledge needed to make decisions.

3) I will work on my current accounting/banking systems.

4) I will work out a real business plan, brainstorm innovations for practice and billing, and think about company technology.

5) I will create a true marketing plan and think about how much growth I am hoping for in my business.

6) I will spend some time just brainstorming in general.

The Takeaway

My hope is that I will leave this weekend with a more systematized methodology for my business.  I want my company to be state of the art and for my clients to have a great experience.  I think this weekend retreat will help with that.

Another important concept in Gerber’s book is the idea of “working on” rather than “in” your business.  He says that most professionals who start businesses are not entrepreneurs but rather “technicians suffering from an entrepreneurship seizure”   When you’re working “in” the business, you’re a technician or an employee.  But to expand your practice, you need to also work “on” the business and be the CEO.  I think that makes a lot of sense, and Gerber’s definitely correct that most professional education programs do not teach its students much about how to run a business.

I’ll let you know how my efforts at systematizing my practice go following my weekend “retreat.”  I would also love to hear any ideas you have on systems or the importance of systems.

How To Use The Average Function In Excel

Excel function tutorials

Today, I wanted to take a quick look at a very simple function, the “average” function. You might ask why you would even need a function right? I mean, couldn’t you simply sum all of the numbers and then divide by the number of data points? Certainly. However, the average function provides a lot more flexibility. How so?

Flexibility In The Excel Average Function

-You can use a large data range
-You do not have to adjust the formula

Think about the example where a teacher needs to get the average grade for a variety of things (average grade for a class, for a year, etc). Instead of always selecting the data and then either finding out the number of instances or using a function such as countif to count, she could simply use the average function. Here is an example of a data set:

To calculate the average grade for each student, I would start with Jacob and apply the following:


Or to get the average English grade, I would do:


This way, I could easily simply add students in the list and the average would be updated automatically, which would not be the case if I updated it manually. Thus, it also reduces chances for an error.

You can see the end result here:

And also, you can download the spreadsheet here

Are You Competitive?


I might be a bit odd, but I love to compete. I don’t play for second place. I want to win. I want to win all of the time. I hate being apart of a weak team. I just enjoy the feeling the comes from winning and knowing that you succeeded.

I was playing beach volleyball the other day in the sunny Puerto Plata. The game was fun, but there were just too many weak links on my team. I would get frustrated when they wouldn’t take the game seriously or they would mess up a play. I hate losing. And yes I do realize that it’s just a game. The thing is that when someone says, “it’s just a game,” it’s usually an excuse for not being good. It’s usually an excuses for losing and trying to not feel bad about the loss.

I enjoy competition. I find that competition is what pushes you to go harder and push through the tough times. When you don’t have a competition or anyone going against you, then you just don’t try as hard. When you know that failure is an option, it keeps you accountable and on track with your goals.

I read blog income reports because I get jealous. When I see how much money bloggers are making online it makes me jealous. I want to compete. I want to make as much money as them. I don’t want to make less money. I don’t want to be in second place. I look at the success of others as motivation to see what I can accomplish.

Without having any goals to chase after or someone to compete with, I just don’t go all out. Being competitive is the drive that gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s what keeps me up late at night. It’s what has me drinking that extra cup of coffee.

I just find that there’s not enough competitive people around these days. Everyone wants to be nice and take it easy. I don’t believe in taking it easy. I want to go all out all of the time.

Why leave the gym without doing that last set?

Why go to sleep before finishing that blog post?

Why not try something new?

I just want to know, are you competitive? What are some examples of how competition has forced you to work harder?