My Hands on Jocelyn’s Knees Last Weekend – With “DAX: The Way I Like It (Uh huh, Uh huh)” Sticker Making an Appearance
(And this was, believe it or not, a 100% candid moment – as well as an incredibly emotional one)
(Photo Credit:  Rebecca Hellyer Photography)


Let’s start with some “TMI.”  My wife Jocelyn and I – the original co-founders of this company – have had a simultaneously amazing and difficult 8+ years, for both personal and professional reasons.

Amazing in the professional sense – starting a business and having it grow to a point where we can honestly say we’re re-making an entire industry is incredibly validating.

And amazing in the personal sense too – SO MANY LIVES have been improved!  We hear ALL THE TIME from people who gush about how these tools have changed their lives, and how thankful they are to US for helping show the way with our posts, books, training, and consulting.

That’s actually the primary theme of today’s post – that the personal and professional are NOT separated by some sharp and definable boundary.  In fact, my point today is that there is actually no boundary at all.

But before we go there, let’s give you the as-promised transparency and borderline-TMI:  personally, behind the scenes, reinventing OURSELVES over the past 8+ years has taken an incredible toll.  I’ve hinted at this before of course (and it’s amusing to note that the 10k-views milestone reported in that latter post is something we now flirt with in a single day), but nothing like what I’m about to share today.

Lost.  And Found.  And this past weekend… re-wedded!

Sadly in the course of doing all of this amazing professional stuff, we (my wife and I) lost ourselves AND each other.  And it was only in the past 2-3 months that we started finding ourselves – and each other – again.  Nothing brings perspective quite like such a moment.

Which partially explains my relative sparseness of posting lately.  For sure, I’ve been busy with “the personal.”  But the other reason for my absence here was that it’s THESE “kinds” of posts, like today’s, that I WANT to be writing, and that I also want to pass the torch to a new “generation” of awesome people here at P3.  They deserve their time “at the microphone,” and YOU deserve to hear from them, because they have things to share that I cannot teach.  If I’m Yoda, they are Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gonn, and Shaak Ti, and Stass Allie, and…  yeah, I’m off course here…

This past weekend I surprised Jocelyn with a semi-elaborate “Re-Wedding.”  It was the single-best weekend of my entire life – not just because of Jocelyn and I, but because of the amazing people who were able to join us on short notice.  The invite was a website – a website we are going to keep forever, because it’s much more than just an invite – it’s our STORY…

Jocelyn and Rob's Surprise "Re-Wedding" Site and Story

Click Image to Visit the Site
(And learn, perhaps, more than you ever wanted to learn about us heh heh)

So, the picture at the top of this post, of my hands on her knees – that’s of her seeing the website for the first time, in a rented van on the way up to Wisconsin (supposedly for her brother’s 10th anniversary celebration – the reveal of the secret happened en route, heh heh).

I’d be remiss, at this point, if I didn’t put in a “plug” for the value of therapy – and counseling, and whatever other mental-health/self-care labels you prefer.  It’s a cliché of course that relationships require “work,” but I think that word (work) conjures the wrong image – of gritting one’s teeth and lifting something heavy, as if “knuckling down” is going to fix things.  Yes there IS some component of that – it WAS “heavy work” to merely SURVIVE these past 8 years as a couple for instance – but to FIX things…  it requires a SMARTER kind of effort, as opposed to something brute force.  The difference between “bad” therapy and truly-excellent therapy, for instance, is ENORMOUS.  You need the right kinds of resources, the kind that helps to TELL you things that you need to hear, and at the same time, you must be willing to HEAR those things, because they are often uncomfortable.

Anyway, I could go on forever on that point, and I would NOT feel “unprofessional” for doing so, because hey, that’s the whole point of today’s post – to attack this silly notion that there’s some difference between the personal and the pro components of our lives!  But that theme itself IS more widely-applicable, and I want to get back to it.

(Hey folks – should I fire up for these sorts of other, so-called “off topic” posts?  I need it to be justifiable – yes, in the Professional sense – for me to do something so Personal.  So your votes count.)

Anyway…  back to the core theme…

I.N.P.I.J.B. – “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”

We’ve all heard this “INPIJB” phrase yes?  And some of us even use it from time to time.  Ask yourself, WHEN do you hear (or use) said phrase?  Yeah, you always hear it when someone is hurting someone else, and the person DOING the hurt wants to absolve themselves of it.  That’s a hint.

I’m here to say, today, that it IS ALWAYS PERSONAL.  When we look closely at “INPIJB,” we see that it couldn’t POSSIBLY be more silly.  When we strip away the personal, what is left?  Yeah, take away all of the people and all of the feelings in the situation – what remains?  A bunch of office furniture?  A building?  Some “professional” egos?  Some tech gadgets?  Nothing that matters remains.  PERSONAL IS ALL THERE IS.

I want to encourage you to never use this phrase, and to never accept it when you hear it.  It is always personal – for both parties.  Heck, “the professional” exists merely as a means to TAKE CARE OF THE PERSONAL.  If they didn’t pay you, you wouldn’t show up.  We all work to better ourselves and our position in life.  We all work to put food on the table – both literally and figuratively.

One more time:  “the Personal” is ALL THERE IS.  Never forget that.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sky, wedding, outdoor and nature

Jocelyn and Rob – the first two “Pros” at PowerPivotPro – Rediscovering “The Personal” for Themselves
(Photo Credit:  Rebecca Hellyer Photography)

“OK Great, Now What?  Never do anything unless it causes ZERO harm?”

No, of course not.  You’re always going to have to disappoint others from time to time in the course of taking care of yourself.  To quote Joe Rogan, “the universe wants conflict and resolution, it does not want ‘equal.’”

Some people are REALLY good at taking care of themselves.  They put themselves first.  They also put themselves second and third.  And fourth, and…  you get the idea.  These people tend to be quite fond of the INPIJB phrase.  (I’m not suggesting the inverse however – if you occasionally say INPIJB, that doesn’t mean you’re one of these selfish sorts.  But the selfish sorts DO love them some INPIJB).

Other people are SUPER good at taking care of others.  In contrast to the first group, they sacrifice themselves repeatedly, often to the point of martyrdom.  We don’t want to be THESE folks either.

At times in my life, I’ve been both of these unhealthy extremes.  I’ve been overly-selfISH and overly-selfLESS.  While the latter seems a bit more noble, I don’t think happiness lies down either road.

The challenge, dear friends, is to simultaneously be responsible to others AND to yourself.

I can hear you right now saying, “oh c’mon, we read this far for THIS little nugget?  Of COURSE we already knew that!”  To which I say, “yes and no – yeah, you never would have challenged the ‘truth’ of that statement, but there IS tremendous power in FOCUSING on it.”  I, at least, have found it to be quite useful.  It doesn’t immediately resolve moral or ethical quandaries, but it DOES set the table properly, and give you a clear lens through which to view a decision, whereas by default we often find ourselves spiraling endlessly on yes/no questions like “can I really do that to my colleagues, leave them for a better job?” for instance.  Viewing it through the “taking care of me AND taking care of others” lens has helped me resolve quandaries, and in both directions (as in, sometimes it helps me choose “my” interests, and sometiems it helps me choose others’ – and still other times, has given me the insight to find yet a third way forward.)

And yeah, when there’s a tie…  feel free to break said tie in favor of you.  But be honest about it – both with yourself and others – as to what you’re doing and why.

Resist the temptation to hide behind clearly-false sayings like INPIJB.

Rise of the Humans!

To tease a future post, I want to further emphasize that, when you acknowledge and embrace that The Personal is both the power source and the end goal of The Professional, you can move mountains – both as individuals and as organizations.

As automation and AI continue to chip away at our employment options, I think the Human sides of us are going to be ever-more-important (until, of course, the AI catches up with THAT, too, heh heh).

Stay tuned.

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Rob Collie

One of the founding engineers behind Power Pivot during his 14-year career at Microsoft, and creator of the world’s first cloud Power Pivot service, Rob is one of the foremost authorities on self-service business intelligence and next-generation spreadsheet technology. 

This Post Has 46 Comments

  1. Oh, and HUGE thanks to our very own Judy Anderson for taking time away from “The Professional” to help me with the very-personal website. Judy, the site never could have happened without you, your skills, or your intensity.

    And a shout-out to the folks at Natalka Design for all of the amazing imagery on such short notice 🙂

    1. It was an honor to have had the opportunity to meet and work with your team. thank you for sharing from such a vulnerable place. I pray your business and team continues to impact the areas in which you intend.

  2. Wonderful post Rob, thanks for sharing. I don’t mind you posting this here or somewhere else, I just want you to do more of them as you see fit. I have always enjoyed how you are able to blend the personal with the professional. Wish I could write half as well as you.

  3. Hey Rob, She’s a keeper. Remarkable self awareness displayed by the both of you. Its an important life lesson you picked up. My words of advice are; don’t forget it!

  4. Your approachable, honest and personal approach to writing (and business) is an important part of your success. Nobody is gonna have a problem with occasional (not very) off-topic posts.

    Tangentially related – my own success in consulting is probably more so from me “the person” than me the tech-geek. It’s great I know dax, sql, and c#… but they come back for the inappropriate jokes, and that I honestly and deeply care about their success. It’s personal.

    Keep doing your thing brother, and thanks for including me in your renewal.

    1. Completely agree with Scott here, this is you, no bull* and I truly believe that is part of your success because that makes you an honest and trustworthy person. Keep it up!

  5. I’m happy that boy and girl are now aligned together.

    By the way, I was recently asked to prepare a personal PowerPoint slide to be shared during a work event. Pictures of my family were at the top, and below it was a copy of the DAX sticker. My family – DAX the way I like it (Uh huh, Uh huh). A mix of personal with business.

    I appreciate the occasional personal postings – makes me feel part of a community. It helps put the personal in personal enrichment.

  6. Rob, Your posts are great and I agree with the comments above. Feel free to mingle Dax with Life. Its fun, inspirational and makes you consider how to have a well rounded DAX life(is thre such a thing?!) Congratulations to both of you. I know you worked hard to make it happen. Been there and we have had our moments. but after 35 yrs we are having a grand time and enjoying each others company.

  7. Rob, a big congratulations!! I remember the heartbreaking counterpart to this post. It always unsettled me . . . until today. A true Roganian example of conflict and resolution. Thanks for bringing us along and for setting an example of courage. Authenticity won this round. Lines and other defense mechanisms will just have to take a seat.

  8. Approachable, relatable and real – thank you for continuing to share, inspire and teach – often lessons much more valuable than random technical tid-bits.

  9. Patrice St. Clair: It was nothing personal…
    Bryan Mills: IT WAS TO ME!(fills him with lead)

  10. Have to admit had a tear in my eye at this…if we are in the self-employment game, we can’t separate our personal from our work lives…this is a wonderfully inspiring story and I hope the two of you have a wonderful life together – with all its ups and downs. I’ve been married over 20 years and I really believe the most valuable thing you can do in a relationship is to choose to accept yourself and the other person exactly as they are…thanks for sharing this story. No need to apologise for prioritising your personal over work sometimes 🙂

  11. If someone disagrees with you, this you, the one that drops life truth bombs occasionally on a site, your site, thinking it should be straight PP, they can scroll a little further and find another option. The world has enough flavors to satisfy all tastes. Let them eat something else. This post is why I’m having coffee and listening to some sick blues on Love and Theft, to wake up, get fired up, and go kick some ass personally, professionally, and maybe even binarily. I will continue to say thank you over and over again. Thank you.

    I’m going to spare the defeated, I’m going to speak to the crowd
    I’m going to spare the defeated, boys, I’m going to speak to the crowd
    I’m going to teach peace to the defeated
    I’m going to tame the proud

    Well the leaves are rustlin’ in the wood, things are fallin’ off the shelf
    Leaves are rustlin’ in the wood, things are fallin’ off the shelf
    You going to need my help, sweetheart
    You can’t make love all by yourself.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this … cannot tell you how much it means to me to know that someone else believes enough in personal vs business to share his story publicly… best wishes to you and Jocelyn

  13. Amazing post Rob. Just the way you write the books. Best wishes to you on your personal and professional life. Thank you.

  14. Love it !!
    Next time please don’t make me cry so much so early in the morning during allergy season 😉

  15. Rob,

    I glommed onto the Wisconsin location right away, being from there myself! I saw “Eagle River” and thought “World Championship Snowmobile Derby”! But, like, that’s in the winter, eh? Though there was some snow up that way, there, just a few days ago, ya know!

    It’s good to know that you’re human!

  16. P.S., though it SHOULD be: “DAX the way (Unh-hunh! Unh-hunh!) I LIKE it!” GDARISFTTTG (Grinning, Ducking, and Running Through the Tall Grass In Serpentine Fashion)

  17. Good for you Rob (and Jocelyn)! This is an awesome and inspiring article to start the day with! Looking forward to seeing you in New York soon

  18. I echo the same sentiment as shown by the other replies. Think it shows that we do not live inside a vacuum of just data/dax/power pivot/ etc. While all that is great, if that is all you focus on that will inevitably lead to burning out. So i say keep these types of post, i think you have a great balance here of personal/business/humor. Also, congrats! great story. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Thanks Rob and Jocelyn for added perspective, my wife is 8500 miles away and we know the reality of perspective and the need to connect and reconnect. Thanks for helping to frame it further for us with your story.

  20. Congratulations on your re-wedding! Wishing you many decades of happiness. May your lines always be drawn together.

  21. Very refreshing, inciteful and hopeful. Congrats on rediscovering each other! Love the BM art in the wedding invite, powerful. All the best.

  22. That moment that DAX makes you cry, but for all good reasons this time. Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment with us Rob.

  23. Definitely one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time, Rob. You and Joci need to congratulate yourselves big-time for finding a way back to each other. It is so easy to let our relationships lapse, to forget what made us, “US”, and get lost in “the professional”. Thank you for having the courage and humility to share this – I hope many others benefit from your example.

  24. So very happy for you both, I am so glad you have found your equilibrium again. My Olds have just celebrated the 60th wedding anniversary and they had a long term patch of separation as well. It takes two wonderful people to make a marriage and you and Joci have proved it again.

    The personal is why we are here at work at home and play! Blogs/websites etc that don’t take that into account may as well be written by a computer, which is why I love your stuff!

  25. A haiku of my relationship with

    Came for DAX lessons
    and Disconnected Slicers.
    Learned about life too.

    I’m also reminded of this forward you wrote 2 years ago:

    Happy – OK, I lied. This one is my favorite. If you ask us what’s the #1 service we provide these days, the most important thing we do for people, my answer will not be related to money, or efficiency, or me. Yes, we do help people quite a bit when measured in those terms. But the thing that strikes us all as most important, is making people happy…
    Welcome to Happy Data Land. -Rob Collie, November 2015

    Posts like this one align with the #1 service you provide. Keep’em coming.

  26. Congratulations on the Re-Wedding and I’m sending you both love. Thank you for writing this very honest blog – I loved it. I was not successful at the things that other people seem to find easy and normal – marriage, or friendships. Because of that, I think I appreciate the value of them more, and I see something really special here. I hope that you will both have the best of all that is good, now and in the future.

  27. Amazing and timely post for me. I vote that you keep them on PowerPivot(Pro). I have been struggling with and working through similar issues as well. It is nice to know that putting in smarter effort will lead to better results (sounds so obviously… but a great reminder nonetheless). The two of you finding your way back to each other is an beautiful ending / new beginning. Thanks for sharing this Rob.

  28. Thank you for the post Rob. I have always enjoyed reading your blog because it is so personal and approachable. You don’t just focus on the data, formulas and patterns.
    So happy for you and Jocelyn! Its great that you two will be able to celebrate together the amazing company that you both have worked so hard to build. You have positively influenced so many people’s lives and you both deserve all the happiness in the world. Congratulations!

  29. Great share Rob and congratulations from a faithful lurker. I will continue to read your posts whether on P3 or
    – Juanito

    1. I’ve been twice, she’s been once. That hardly qualifies us as authentic IMO, but yeah, that’s where we discovered that amazing sculpture and its incredible meaning 🙂

  30. This is everything I needed to hear and more today. Some affirmation that we are not just DAX/Data machines, but human with emotions as well.

    Congratulations on the re-wedding!

  31. So the reworked algorithm is no longer -> filter then calculate. But rather -> people then filter then calculate 🙂

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