Today’s Scene (Just add a Foot of Snow)
An obsessive and intrusive habit
Quick anecdote. For a couple of years now I have been accosting people in public places when I see them using Excel. On an airplane? In an airport? In a doctor’s office waiting room? You aren’t safe in any of those places.
If you’re using Excel, some weirdo is gonna walk up to you and ask you two questions:
- Do you use PivotTables?
- (If Yes) Do you use PowerPivot?
The first answer tends to be “Yes” about a third of the time. That’s disproportionately high relative to the broader population, in which only about 5-10% of people use pivots. There’s a selection bias in play here of course, because someone who uses Excel enough that it’s on their screen when I walk by is more likely than average to be an Excel pro, and therefore more likely than average to use pivots.
But for two years the second answer has always been “no.” I then explain that they should be, they express shame, they promise to check it out. Sometimes they even get a demo.
Recall that just a few days ago, I predicted this would be the year where we start running into PowerPivot via random personal connections and conversations.
This morning, at 10:15 eastern time, at the Starbucks on Cedar and Fairmount in Cleveland Heights OH, I noticed a well-dressed man sitting with his laptop, engrossed in Excel 2007 or 2010 (couldn’t tell, just saw the Ribbon).
Being a “work from home day,” I took stock of my own ensemble: Unshaven? Check. T-shirt and tennis shoes under a coat covered in dog fur? Check. Beanie-style snowboarding hat with a pom-pom ball on top? Check.
Perfect. I moved in for the kill.
I’m positive he thought I was going to ask him for money or something, and the smile that came over his face when he heard the pivot question was one of sheer joy and relief
OK, so “yes” he uses pivots. Now for the second question, the one that engenders shame when the person has to say “no” to a question that so clearly, I think they should say “yes” to…
ME: “Do you use PowerPivot?”
HIM: “No, I don’t, but my team does. We use a lot of SharePoint.”
Quite the rollercoaster in that sentence. In sequence, my brain flashes the following reactions:
- “He said no. Yep, just like every other random sample to date.”
- “Whoa, his team does??? Wait, he doesn’t know what PowerPivot is does he? He’s bluffing!”
- “Hold it hold it! Anyone who follows up a PowerPivot question with a SharePoint reference actually DOES know it. And quite well!”
Fantastic. I let him get back to work rather than chatting him up. Took some serious willpower.