“You Better Step Outa My Grid”
Dick Moffat Helps Me Debut the “Official” Excel (XL) Gang Sign

I Think We Can All Agree This Was Long Overdue

See a need, fill a need.  That’s kinda my credo.  And we clearly needed a gang sign that represents the worldwide cartel of Excel Ninjas.  (And their innocuous front group, the Excel Monkeys).

OK maybe that wasn’t it.  Maybe I’ve just felt left out of the whole long-running fad of posting ridiculous pictures of yourself on Facebook, flashing gang signs (a practice that IMO should rank much higher than #6 on the list of 15 dumbest Facebook picture types, but it does get properly skewered in this music video).

OK that wasn’t it either.  Really, I just think this picture, and this IDEA, couldn’t POSSIBLY be any funnier.

An Opportunity for Ridiculous Irony

That fine example of American leadership, Rahm Emanuel, is purported to have said “never waste a crisis.”  Similarly, I like to say, “never waste a visit from Dick Moffat.”  We recently met up to swap DAX techniques and war stories, and I knew we had to do a picture.

“What would be most ridiculous?” was naturally my first thought, and what emerged was, in my opinion, some of my finest work:  the XL gang sign.

I mean, who could be a better cohort for this than a pacifist Canadian grandfather, Access/Excel MVP, and author of a top-5 all-time popular post on… wait for it…  cube formulas?  (That post is 1.5 years old and STILL gets 50 views a day!)

I mean, the most “gangsta” Dick has ever looked was back when he used to do oatmeal ads:


A Bold Move:  The Gang Sign Goes Open Source?

When discussing this with our COO (Frank Fulton), he pointed out that this was not something we could responsibly exploit for our own benefit, and that we were obligated to open source it.

It took some time for me to warm to the idea.  I mean, while still basking in the glow of invention, it’s hard to change gears and immediately just give it all away like that.  I mean, at least let me protect it with the GNU Public License or something.

But I think it’s for the best.  Precise licensing terms will be announced shortly, once our massive legal team has had time to iron out a few issues with the Federal Court of Appeals.

Show Dick How it is Done – Submit Your XL Gang Sign Pics!

If you look again at that picture up top, it’s clear that one of us took to this task a little more naturally than the other.  I need your help.

Send me your pics of you (and maybe your spreadsheet crew) flashing the sign.  I’ll post the best ones next week and maybe even throw in a few small prizes.

Send pics to:

[email protected]

Some suggestions:

  1. Look “hard.”  Sell it.  Scowl.  Look unfriendly but don’t overdo it and get snarly.  You’re not 1980’s Hulk Hogan.  You gotta have that cool indifferent look of badness, as modeled here by a more recent Hulk Hogan.
  2. Get Creative with Your Irony. Standing in front of a bank of huge monitors on Wall Street would work.  A massive cubicle farm, also good.  Wearing an Apple t-shirt, whatever – just give it something.  I mean, I accessorized with Dick Moffat.  That sets a high bar right there folks.
  3. Pay attention to details of the sign itself.  Remember, you have to make it backwards for you so that others see it the right way.  Left hand is the “L.”  Thumb points out (to your left).  Right hand is the X.  Index finger is closest to you and points to your right.  Middle finger crosses it to your left.  Or take advantage of the open source licensing and modify it to your liking.
  4. Channel your long-simmering feelings of disrespect.  You are the exploited, ignored backbone of the international business world.  Seriously, you are.  The entire “BI” industry claims to do what is 99.99% done by YOU all day, every day.  Channel that rage.  Oh yeah, you know where this is going…
  5. Now is your time!  Remember, PowerPivot truly is a revolution.  Our revolution.  YOUR revolution.  Anyone who tells you that Excel will never “be real BI” or tries to pigeonhole it as “BI for small teams only” doesn’t yet understand how much PowerPivot has changed the rules.  Put THAT thought in your head…

…and then go take a ridiculously funny picture.