Raw Data By P3 Adaptive
Spreadsheet Celebrities & Power BI Playdates, w/ Chandoo
Hear from the Mozart of Excel Dashboards: ChandooListen Now:
Beyonce, Prince, Madonna…Like so many of these iconic one-word-name celebrities in the music world, Chandoo is as unique and talented as they come in the data world! His story is quite inspiring, his heart and soul are warm, and his brain is brimming with great ideas!
All Things Chandoo:
Some Creators and Channels that inspire Chandoo:
References in this episode:
- 4:40 – Chandoo’s introduction to Excel was born from necessity (like many of us!), The birth of Chandoo.org (often imitated, never duplicated), and the uniqueness of Chandoo that makes him a huge success
- 31:50 – Chandoo’s Excel Dashboarding is exquisite, his transition to Power BI, and what really matters in one’s career
- 54:10 – Chandoo the Excel celebrity and the Power BI celebrity, Lambda functions, and a curveball question for Chandoo about working for Microsoft
- 1:06:25 – Chandoo and Rob cross paths, Chandoo’s iconic hair, the Game-Changing features of Power BI, and some Power BI hacks
- 1:33:45 – What’s next for Chandoo?
Rob Collie (00:00:00): Hello friends. Think for a moment about the people that you're aware of, who only go by a single word name. They're usually musicians, Prince, Madonna, Cher, Beyonce. There are a couple of non-musician examples that come to mind like Oprah, for instance. These tend to be celebrities on the world stage. Well, today's guest is the rare exception that pulls that off within the Excel, Power BI, and data community. And I'm talking, of course, about Chandoo. Chandoo is one of the completely original early stage MVP-type celebrities within our community. He blazed a path that now hundreds, if not thousands of people have followed. And sometimes with things like this, it's really that first-mover advantage that really sets someone apart and he did, in fact, have that kind of first-mover advantage. But he is still, to this day, so incredibly unique that I challenge anyone to actually truly duplicate him.
Rob Collie (00:01:06): He is legitimately one of a kind. And for me, he's been there literally since the beginning, even physically, since the beginning. He and his family came to live near us in the United States for a summer. That first summer after which I had formed P3 as a company. With someone as gifted as Chandoo, it's always easy and tempting to sort of assume that they've always been doing what they're doing. And he is very gifted, but it's not like those gifts, where always from the beginning, oriented towards something like Excel. Just like many of us, he had to have his collides with moment, the moment where you bounce off of Excel or you stick to it and obviously, he's stuck. So, of course, we go back to and explore that origin story. And also, like many professionals in this space, Chandoo has, over the years, branched out from Excel into Power BI, creating such wonderful offerings like the Power BI Play Date, which we talk about a little bit.
Rob Collie (00:02:07): So, we talk about that, what it's like coming from the Excel background and digging into Power BI. He had some unexpected observations there that once I heard them, I was just nodding. "Yep. Yep. That's right." And that conversation also then led to a familiar conclusion that again, I wouldn't have expected from Chandoo, but of course, I should have. And another part of the conversation, we also talked about where he looked for inspiration, where he looked for stimulation and new ideas. It was great to catch up with an old friend, who was also just a wise and dynamic soul. So, without further preamble, let's get into it.
Announcer (00:02:48): This is the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive podcast, with your host, Rob Collie and your cohost, Thomas LaRock. Find out what the experts at P3 Adaptive can do for your business. Just go to p3adaptive.com. Raw Data by P3 Adaptive is data with the human element.
Rob Collie (00:03:12): Welcome to the show, the one and only Chandoo, how are you?
Chandoo (00:03:17): I am doing good, Rob. How are you?
Rob Collie (00:03:19): Fantastic. Been looking forward to this for a while. We've been trying to schedule this for probably three or four months now. And here we are like a power reserve. We saved a Chandoo interview very carefully for that six months over the podcast. Actually, how many months are we in now, Luke? Is this our 10th month?
Luke (00:03:37): Start on October, early October.
Rob Collie (00:03:40): We're potentially in our 10th month. That's what we do. We lose track of time. You're one of the sort of original internet celebrity instructors, often imitated. There's a lot of people who I've seen, sort of explicitly trying to follow in your footsteps and to varying degrees of success. You're not a formula that really others can follow because there really is, and this is awesome to say this. There really is only one you. I've learned that when we actually met. I didn't know that over the internet. How'd you get started on Excel? That was the beginning, right?
Chandoo (00:04:22): It's a long story, but that's what we're here for, anyway.
Rob Collie (00:04:25): That's right.
Chandoo (00:04:26): So, I first remember using Excel all the way back in 2000. There were times before that I used it, but 2003 is the first real moment in my life when I actually used Excel for something. And this is not even to do anything with what I'm doing nowadays with Excel or Power BI. So, the reason why I use it at that point in life is I was preparing for some computer exams. So, I just finished my graduate studies in computer science, and I started working, but simultaneously, I was preparing for some MBA exams. And in India, there is a lot of competition when it comes to getting into a good college for doing your masters. So, they have all these highly competitive exams where sometimes, upwards of 200,000 people will take the exam and just about 500, 600 people will actually be admitted into the college.
Rob Collie (00:05:20): Wow. As like a 0.1% acceptance rate.
Chandoo (00:05:25): Yeah. You look at the Ivy League and other top university acceptance rates and then, take it to India. Then, it is nowhere near, like you'd be amazed at the craziness that goes on with some of these places. There are a couple of reasons like India has billion people, right? Obviously, there's lots of competition. On top, there were fewer universities at that point of time. The government has added many more now, but still, with our number of people, it is very less compared. So, there is all these factors for that reason. The competition is very high. As part of preparation strategy, everybody would go and take a lot of extra lessons outside just to learn how to prepare for the exam. And then, they'll take these mock examinations sometimes upwards of 25 or 50 in a year just to prepare for the real thing. And there's only one real thing that's a physical thing at that time.
Chandoo (00:06:19): So, you can't really make mistakes when the real exam happens, but you have all the luxury of making mistakes in this mock-up stage or that you can learn. And because there is a lot of data coming in from all these exams, right? When I take an exam, there's like 200 questions or 150 questions and I would attempt some. I'll get some right, some wrong. I could use Excel to just keep track of what I'm doing in these exams, what mistakes I'm making, and if I spot a pattern like this automatic question, I'm making the same mistake again and again, then I will change my study of course to plan and address that particular gap or try to change my strategy, so that I won't attempt that area of questions and instead, focus my time on other things.
Chandoo (00:07:01): So, that's really when I used Excel and I made this massive spreadsheet just to keep track of what I was doing in those exams. And it kind of really helped me finally get a good grade in that and get into college for my masters. But obviously, you can say Excel is built for anything and everything. So, that was one of the use cases, but I was not really using any of the formulas or none of the power of Excel. And I didn't even know what it is capable of, but that was the one vivid memory of Excel early on.
Rob Collie (00:07:35): Do you still have a copy of that spreadsheet somewhere?
Chandoo (00:07:38): Many people ask me this. This is simply because back in 2003, 2004, internet is still kind of very nascent in India. It started off as a Yahoo Group. I don't know if you remember, like Yahoo Groups. It's like a collaboration.
Rob Collie (00:07:52): I do.
Chandoo (00:07:53): But then later on, the forums were a big thing. So, 2003 was the time when in India, we have these preparatory forums where many of us who are all over the country would log in there once in a while, share our stories of how we are preparing, what we are doing, what is going on right, what is going on wrong. So, we could all learn from each other and collaborate, and win this exam. So, I posted a story of how I prepared when I finished the exam and the spreadsheet was part of that story. And then, many people asked us, "Can we get a copy of this?" But in those days, I didn't even have internet at my home. I would go to my workplace to submit something to this forum. So, the spreadsheet was in my home computer and I think I lost it. I don't think I have it anywhere, or it's probably still in my Yahoo Mail. The password of which I no longer remember, or even use. It's gone.
Rob Collie (00:08:46): So much of things like that from that era, for me, even though I had great internet at the time, so many of those things are lost because we didn't really have the cloud file storage yet. Today, anything that I ever think is even remotely, possibly valuable, immediately gets saved to Dropbox. I've got terabytes of Dropbox space that I'm never going to ever use in my life. So, everything is saved past a certain point. But before that, it's kind of almost like in geology, it's below this certain rock layer where the earth just kind of ground, everything's gone. So, it makes sense that it's gone. Do you remember how many columns were in that spreadsheet? Roughly, was it question number and right or wrong answer, that kind of thing? Was that what it was?
Chandoo (00:09:33): It's not exactly like that. It was not even structured that way because I didn't even know how to use Excel at that point. I think I started off putting stuff in a notepad file or something. And then, I thought, "Man, this sucks because there is no way to visually see or identify things here." So just, I opened an Excel spreadsheet and started putting it there. This is not a podcast on that exam, but that exam used to have like four or five different sections. It is all quite random. You wouldn't believe, there is no set pattern or anything. The number of questions, number of sections, everything could change at any point.
Chandoo (00:10:07): There is no official director that these are the things that you would be tested, but the general outline is you would have questions on English, you'd have questions on mathematics. And then, the mathematics itself is split into couple of areas. So, one is arithmetic and then the other is it's called logical reasoning. And then, sometimes, they would further split that into understanding data and graphs and making business decisions from it. So, three or four sections, essentially. So, there's, I think, four big columns. Some of them had further split into multiple columns based on what the heck I was doing. If I think, "Oh, maybe I should keep track of this." Then, I would just put something there and fill some color in there just to remind me what it is.
Rob Collie (00:10:51): My daughter is, right now, in the middle of taking the college entrance exams, SAT and ACT here in the United States, and it would never occur to me to spreadsheet. And she's trying to get her scores to a particular level to get to a particular college, right? It takes some effort. It would still never have occurred to me. And now, I'm wondering if it should have. Never have occurred to me to make a spreadsheet, where she's performing well and where some opportunity to raise score.
Chandoo (00:11:18): They probably have access to better tools and apps and stuff like that these days. But yeah, a spreadsheet is the original app, I think.
Rob Collie (00:11:27): Yeah, it is. It is. I think that necessity is so often the spark. The Olympics just wrapped up. You watch these events where everyone looks like they're doing exactly the same thing. They're using exactly the same form. And then, it's like a couple of millimeters or something that separates the gold medalist from the fifth place. The expert watching says, "Oh, see right here where this person's little toe kind of flaps the wrong way. That was a big mistake." That's what costs them. And it kind of seems like that when there's 200,000 people competing for a few hundred spots. It's like that, right? Like one question is going to drop your rank by potentially thousands of people.
Chandoo (00:12:12): Yeah, totally right.
Rob Collie (00:12:13): The pressure.
Chandoo (00:12:14): There is a lot of pressure and I think, it is probably one of those formative things in my life, too, that having been through that journey. So the exam, I took it during my final year of college because I thought I know why go and work for some time. I might just finish my graduation and then, just go for post-grad. But I didn't get anywhere near the required cutoff to actually go in and make it for the colleges. So, and I felt really bad because I thought all this was like something that I would easily get.
Chandoo (00:12:44): I used to have this self-perception that, "Yes, I'm awesome." In college, you are in a bubble, right? You're not really aware of this wider world out there where there's another 195,000 people who are also writing this. So, that was the wakening call for me. And then I thought, "Oh man, I need to actually sit and strategize this and prepare for it." Like I'm attacking this rather than just wake up and go and right. So, that's preparation became a real thing and I prioritize that, set aside time for it every day. And then, we'll track the shit out of it every day, really.
Rob Collie (00:13:20): Yeah. Like I've told this story on this podcast before, but it's metaphorical. I go out to a field day, almost like miniature Olympics for a middle school. I was probably like in eighth grade, and I was going to run this race. It's one lap around the track, which to me seems like a distance race. Your kids can be a fast jog and that starting gun went off and I come out in the fast jog and the other guys are all sprinting from the very beginning. And there's this moment of realization like, "Oh, it's going to be like that." Next thing you know, I'm sprinting. I think I've experienced multiple junctures in my life that are like this. You think you're just going to go and do your thing and just be yourself and be excellent and just be your own self-image that you've very carefully curated for yourself without realizing it. And then, the real world goes, "Oh no, uh-uh (negative). That's not going to cut it." It's a real shock, isn't it?
Chandoo (00:14:22): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:14:22): I've had many of those.
Chandoo (00:14:24): And I think, that is necessary, especially, probably if you get that kind of a shock too late in your life, you might be too set in your ways to change anything. But when you are becoming an adult, when you are still forming your opinions and ideas about the world, having as much of these experiences as needed is very much necessary, I feel. I mean, even today, I would welcome that kind of things. But growing up, I look back and I think, "Ah, man, that was really what made me who I am today."
Rob Collie (00:14:54): Microsoft was a big moment like that for me. That was a moment that lasted years. That was a bad one. I still have all kinds of relatively civil disagreements with my ex-wife about raising our teens. And I'm always of the opinion that like, "Oh no, no, no. The earlier they can experience failure, the better because the consequences are lower. The amortized benefit over time is greater." She's of the opposite. She's there to catch them and prevent any sort of failure, very proactively avoiding failure for them. And I'm like, "Oh no, no, no, no, let them fall. It's it's good for them."
Chandoo (00:15:38): I feel like maybe, I have lucked out. I mean, obviously, every parent is so protective of their child, but early on, I think when I was in fifth class, which is like year five in school, I was sent to a boarding school and I never really went back home. I just bumped it from one boarding school to boarding college, to uni, which is also not my place. So, I was never really around my parents for them to kind of catch me if I make stupid choices. It was all like, "You figure it out." And this is all in late '90s, early 2000s when there is no internet, no mobile phone. I still remember, if I ran out of the money, I would have to write a letter, post it, and this would take minimum of three days unless I do some sort of an express mailing, which obviously costs more.
Chandoo (00:16:27): So, I'd go for the cheapest thing, postcard. And then, I'll go to my home three days later and they would have to money order the money. There's no bank account concept also. So, they'll have to send it through a postal money order. So, there's actually a lag of like seven or sometimes upwards of 10 days time. And sometimes, they may not even have the money. They might say, Oh wait, we'll send it to you after the first week of the month or whatever." It's all like, yeah. You figure it out, really.
Rob Collie (00:16:56): Yeah. There's a week of maybe not eating.
Chandoo (00:17:01): You'll have to figure it out. That's pretty much it.
Rob Collie (00:17:04): That's it, yeah. All right. So, that was your first brush with it, like for real. But then, obviously, later, your Twitter handle, is it still r1c1?
Chandoo (00:17:15): Yes, it is. I wouldn't let go of that.
Rob Collie (00:17:18): No, that is an awesome one. I mean, even people who use Excel a lot don't always know about R1C1 notation. So, you end up in a very different strata of Excel skill. At some point later, you ended up in a number of other countries at one point, right? Like you were moving around the world, working for, was a consulting firm.
Chandoo (00:17:40): Yeah. I think the real shift to Excel began a little later, especially after I finished my post-graduation. I started working as a consultant with one of the biggest technology companies in India and they basically go around the world, help other companies do their IT better. And it's a very large company. And I was working within the finance and insurance vertical of that company. Obviously, I am not really there to develop software because my role there is to understand what the clients want, translate that into technical terms, so that the software developers, designers, and testers can do their job. So, essentially, I'm a business analyst and it's a fancy word of saying that you would be using PowerPoint and Excel every day. That's pretty much what I was doing. I was building a lot of models, making presentations, taking complex concepts, and simplifying them into Word or Excel, so developers can take that and do their job better.
Chandoo (00:18:39): So, early on, I realized, "Man, if I don't know Excel, I'm going to just stay behind in this job." And that's not something that they teach in college. The college is all about, how do you prepare marketing strategy for the fortune, 500 company? And here I am, just sitting in the cubicle, figuring out, "Oh, how do I analyze this? And how do I figure out what's going on with these bunch of projects so that we could improve something?" So, Excel became the real world application that I would use six to eight hours every day. And there were all these colleagues right next to me who do all these amazing models in Excel to figure out the costing for a project or all sorts of things. And I would know nothing about that and I felt really bad.
Chandoo (00:19:21): But early on in that job, I was not really doing anything worthwhile. I was just kind of like an apprentice. So, I would only do odd jobs. So, I had a lot of, you could say free time, but I would think that as learning time. So, all I would do is I'd open up Excel. I'd click on random buttons to see, "Oh, what this does. Oh, indirect function, what this would do." So, that got me really curious and I started building some silly things for my personal life, like I'll bill a budget in Excel just to understand how things work, how to make it better. And at one point, I thought, I steadily bumped into something that looks so interesting. And I thought nobody in the world would know about this. I felt like, and I discovered something and they already had my chandoo.org website by then because I am always fascinated by tech.
Chandoo (00:20:08): So, I had website created couple of years before, really just as a personal project and I put all my personal life stories there. So, I thought, "Oh, maybe I should just put it on my blog and talk about this new thing that I discovered in Excel." And I put it there. Obviously, it's not a discovery. It's something that people have been doing for ages. It's just that in my own silo, I thought this was new. But when I put there, I got a random comment from somebody in a different part of the world. And that was a weird experience because up until that time, the only people who read the blog are my friends or people who I personally know. I'll tell them, "Hey, I have this blog," and they'll go and read it and they'll comment. But then, I got this comment from a strange dude all over in a different part of the world saying, "You know what, you could also do this to improve the chart."
Chandoo (00:20:57): And that kind of blew me like, "Oh, there is actually a community of Excel users who are collaborating and sharing information." And I started slowly doing that over time. And one thing led to another and it kind of blew really out of proportion that at some point, I was actually doing two jobs, right? This consulting job, as well as maintaining the blog in the weekends and nights, just keeping up with the traffic, as well as sharing information, collaborating with people in the comments and email. It became too much. But I also thought, maybe I could go and launch a product here to see if this could become a business. And again, none of this was intentional. It was simply, I would write an article and people will say, "Hey, if you put a template around this, we would buy it."
Chandoo (00:21:43): And then, I thought, "Oh, really? You'd pay for this? Okay. Let's just see this." So, that's how things really happen. So, this all began in 2006, but around 2009, after three years of doing that, I left my job so that I could just do this full time. And by then, I had a bunch of not really products. I had two products, main products. So, one is an online Excel class, and the other is a set of project management templates built in Excel. And that's pretty much where it kind of really went from a blog website to a business and a life thing for me.
Rob Collie (00:22:20): There are some echoes of some other people's stories in that. There's a little bit of parallel for me. I started my blog after you started yours. I started mine in 2009, long before I really knew what sort of business opportunities would come out of it. I kind of knew that there was a consulting company to be created around this new stuff, but the world wasn't ready for that. I wasn't ready for that. So, the blog existed for a long time before we became a company. It sounds a little bit like Bill Jelen story. It sounds a little bit like Adam Saxton, Guy in a Cube, right? Like it's almost always this side thing. That's just like a passion thing that eventually morphs into something more.
Chandoo (00:23:08): You could kind of say that the formula, but again, there are many people who might either give up halfway through the journey simply because life got in the way, or they'd never really got to a point where it could become a self-sustaining thing. And also, some other people might be so lucky as today. From day one, they vision it as a business. But for many of us in this particular group, I think it all happened almost like a series of accidents really, rather than... Looking back, you might think, "Oh, that was a genius strategy to have a blog and this and that." And there's nothing really deliberate there.
Rob Collie (00:23:48): Oh, I completely agree. It's like the same thing people tell me about the books that I wrote. "Oh, it's such genius that you wrote it in that informal non-tech book tone, Rob." And I go, "Well, it turned out though," but at the time, it was just a survival strategy. I couldn't get through writing that thing in the other voice.
Chandoo (00:24:09): Yeah, I wouldn't have imagine. I think that's the thing, right? It is always good to look back and try to figure out or maybe there's a picture that we draw with all these random dots on the paper. There were other dots...
Rob Collie (00:24:24): Or just let other people draw it for you. It's usually more flattering, than what you would draw for yourself, looking back. One of the things that we do on this show is we compliment our guests. We almost like attempt to make you uncomfortable with praise, but it's authentic, right? We don't go out of our way to manufacture things. So, again, I've seen multiple people, almost like explicitly try to copy the Chandoo formula. They've looked in from the outside and gone, "Wow, look at that," right? And go and try to copy it. And it's easier said than done because it turns out that the person behind the Chandoo formula is a little bit unique, like your personality and creativity and humanity.
Rob Collie (00:25:14): You integrate that into this technical stuff in a way that you either have that or you don't. You can coach it up in yourself to a certain extent, but to go with all the hard work, there are some innate characteristics that we all look into them or don't look into them and that creativity and that sense of fun and whimsy, it's easy to tell when someone's forcing it. If people have very, very, very good radar for that, you're just so dang quirky in a such a good way. I mean that completely, as a compliment, I call some of my best friends freak shows. It's so cool and to have gotten to know you personally, we haven't necessarily kept in the closest touch, but we definitely got to know each other personally back in the day, and that was awesome.
Chandoo (00:26:13): It is awesome. Talking about that formula, you could say it's a formula, but I would say it's one of the proven ways of growing your online brand and making it into a sustainable business. And it's nothing new that I invented. I think you could say, maybe I had lucked out by starting early because around 2003, 2004, that's pretty much when the ecosystem of these blogs and in personal branding was kind of like picking up in a more rapid fashion, just because there's more people with internet, there is more... For example, back in '90s, if you have to create a website, you wouldn't really know where to begin. But 2000s was slightly different because there's software like WordPress or BlogSpot and other stuff, which makes it easy for anybody to get them and then, put their...
Chandoo (00:27:03): Which makes it easy for anybody to get on and then put their story out in the front of millions of people. Of course, people may or may not read it, but it was easy for me to put it out. And I think what I did early on is I would read a lot of blogs about growing an online business and an online brand. And this was also not deliberate, it so happened that those were the guys who were loudest in the blogosphere. So if for every 10 articles that are out there, five and six of them would be about the small business or teaching stuff or selling stuff. There's a lot of that, and I would read that and I would think, "Oh, this is a good idea, maybe I should include it in what I'm doing. And this is a good idea, maybe I should do it." But there is also some things that you are gifted with, not really gifted, but those are the things that were a part of your personality even before you jumped into this business world.
Chandoo (00:27:54): You either grew up as an introvert or an extrovert, you either have flair for technology or you don't, and you either have good understanding of the language or you don't, and all of those things. So that's really our personality mix. So there is a strange combination of all of these weird things that really helped me reach the audience and say things. And also, keep it fun. I look back and I think, "Oh man, I put a joke in here without even trying." I think that's because I really enjoy... That's the way I liked to say things. My kids are now quite old and they're at a point where they're getting annoyed with all the jokes that I put, but they also appreciate that Dad probably is not going to ever be serious about... I mean, I am serious, I think about everything, but it's just that he's not going to be a strict dad, he's going to be a fun dad. That's really the kind of thing that they say.
Chandoo (00:28:53): So that's really me. And I think that was part of the thing. But people can go and take the formula, which is really what I did. When I launched my first online course, I had no clue what to do. So I read this article, they were already doing some online courses in a different field, and one of the suggestions they gave is, you don't have to record the whole thing to sell it. Up until that point, I was thinking I had to create this 20 hour course before I could actually go and sell it. But they said, "Maybe make one or two modules first and then go and start marketing, go and start selling, because there may not be a market for what you're offering, so go and do it."
Chandoo (00:29:33): So that's really what I did. I was working in Sweden at that time, and Nishant and Nakshatra were just born, and Jo was with them in India. Because of my consulting job, I'd go to all these places. So I was in Denmark and Sweden that time. And I launched this course, I said that, "Hey, there is Excel School now, please go and sign up." and I created only one module, one or two modules. Then I sold it, and I thought maybe five or 10 will buy it, it's about 60 to $100, the course. In my mind, that was a lot of money. Even today, it is a lot of money, but I felt like at that point, that is big bucks. And I think around 100 people bought it. And that really scared the shit out of me because when you take 100 times 100, that's almost $10,000 really.
Chandoo (00:30:22): And $10,000 was sitting in my PayPal account, close to that. And $10,000 is close to my salary if I'm working in India, that's my annual salary at that point in life. But because I was working in Sweden, I would get overseas payments, so it was almost $50,000, that's how much I was making at that time. But I was thinking in my Indian mindset, "I'm making all my annual salary by selling this one course, which is not even ready." So it scared me. And I thought, "Man, I need to do it right by these people. They paid for it, they bought it, I need to deliver it to them, I only made two modules." So I left my job, went back to India, finished recording the rest of it and launched the course. So that's how I learned, and that's the formula that I show in my blog and sharing my personal stories, because I want others to take these ideas as well. But I think the key thing people might miss out is putting their personality into it.
Chandoo (00:31:19): If you just want to fake it all the way, then it might be hard, but if you bring yourself in your perspective and your life and your values into it, that will make it your own, and you're no longer cloning anything you're taking the best of what is working for others and mashing it up.
Rob Collie (00:31:35): Now, at some point on this journey, not to narrow you in too much, you were running Excel School, it's general purpose. One of the things I think you became known for as an outlier, even within that space was the dashboarding that you would do in Excel. Now that's where we saw the Mozart in Chandoo. I mean, holy cow, people would look at the stuff that you would build in Excel, and it's gorgeous, it's just so beautiful. And everyone... Not everyone, but a lot of people that I knew, very wise, people knew that the quality of their work was going to be judged by the visual impact that their spreadsheets would have. And people would go to your site, and again, they would go to your site for many reasons, but the one that I disproportionately encountered was people saying, "Yeah, we go get the slick Excel visuals from Chandoo." And this is particularly relevant as the world is experiencing the onset of Power BI. And I know you've diversified, you're not just the Excel guy anymore. I mean, heck you did a Power Pivot class for that, in what, 2012, 2013.
Rob Collie (00:33:07): I honestly haven't kept close tabs on what you've been doing with Power BI. And that is a real shame because if, and again, I haven't looked, maybe I haven't looked because I don't want to feel inadequate, but as rich of a canvas as Excel is for dashboard creation, oh my gosh, Power BI has really hit critical mass on the things you can do in their report canvas. I feel like now I need to have a Christmas morning moment where I go open up a bunch of Chandoo-approved Power BI reports and go, "Oh my God." Does it speak to you? How's that transition been?
Chandoo (00:33:51): Yeah, it's been very good, but also there were a couple of things that stopped me from really going full on when the Power BI way was going up. The number one thing is, between 2015 and 2016, that's when Power BI was gaining that initial momentum, I have been blogging and talking about Power BI as well, but we also chose to move from India to New Zealand. So that was a big move, you are taking all your life that you have been rooting in one country and then now suddenly you uplift and you go to a different part of the world. It is both physically and emotionally very hard experience to go set yourself up in a different place, make new friends and start your life all over again. And also around 2015, you could say, I reached a point where, and I'm not trying to brag or anything, it's just the fact of the matter is, I reached a point where there is no financial incentive that would motivate me to do things.
Chandoo (00:34:54): I am very happy with what I have in my life. I have a very good family, enough money to sustain whatever I want to do for the rest of my life, and everything was there. So there is really no carrot in front of me that will chase me to go and get it. I mean, I would only have to do it if I am enjoying this. So for me, the enjoyment started shifting slowly from running a website to other things, like maybe becoming a better cyclist or being around the kids with their life or playing with Lego or doing video games or doing other fun craft things. Because one of the challenges of being creative in any field, I guess, you can't be creative all the while if you're just doing it not for fun reasons, but for something else. I thought, "Maybe I had my day, I'm enjoying things. I don't need to push myself harder." So that's when I turned a blind eye to Power BI, not just to Power, to Excel also. And I would only blog once or twice a month, and that's pretty much it.
Chandoo (00:35:57): I would still produce good quality content that I'm enjoying, but I got myself into a place where there are so many other things and balls juggling in the air that I thought, "Okay, this is enough." But after settling down in New Zealand and after things calmed down a bit, that's when I started thinking, "Okay, I need to figure out what I'm doing with my time. You're not really doing it for money or anything, but there is also, you have time." I try to rekindle that passion for data and for helping people become good in their lives. So naturally I reassessed like, "Okay, what are the things that we have available today? So there's Excel, there is obviously Power BI and then there is other tools coming in." Simultaneously, I would do some consulting work for the local government here in New Zealand. So I'd get into situations where the data or the challenges were different than the ones that I have experienced previously. So I'm learning a lot, and I thought, "Okay." Again, my go-to point when I learn something new is, put it out on the blog so other people can also learn.
Chandoo (00:37:00): So I created a course on Power BI, it's called Power BI Play Date. I teach dashboards and stuff like that in there. I tried to replicate some of that Xcel crafting and that sort of dashboard mindset, which tries to tell a compelling story and provide a good narrative to the end user rather than just use things for the heck of using it within Power BI. Now, Power BI is a different platform altogether. So it has its own rules and it has its own canvas and things like that, where there are set limitations imposed by the nature of things. Like in Excel, you may have to explain 10 things, but within Power BI, because of the interactions, you don't have to explain 10 things, you have to let your audience know that there are 10 things there, but only bring the important bits out and let them figure out the rest.
Chandoo (00:37:50): So I do this and I enjoy it. I run the course and I do more around Power BI these days than I do on Excel. I run corporate trainings and stuff like that as well. It is a different platform and I enjoy building stuff on Power BI. What I do find a little bit lacking though, and I think it's just still evolving, it's too early for us to go and put judgment on Power BI on this space, which is the visuals, sometimes they are not up to the mark and not everything that you want to achieve to get the correct and accurate representation of the information, are straightforward within Power BI. There's probably custom visuals AND heavy customization you could do, but one of my core principles when I build anything with any software is, that we humans should be lazy. But if I am ending up clicking 300 times to format a bar chart, then I'm like, "What the heck? This should be simple."
Rob Collie (00:38:46): Yeah. It is very clicky with the formatting.
Chandoo (00:38:53): Yeah. I mean, there is Format Painter, but I feel like even after all the formatting, it will not get you nowhere near as good as a visual that you could produce in R or Excel, or any other tool for that matter. This is simply because I think they went in a different direction, maybe deliberately to enable that sort of interact to things. So everything needs to interact, or hence not everything that you could do in other tools is possible. But it's a visual software, the whole output of whatever you create in Power BI. You might build an amazing model and beautiful measures, but nothing is visible until you put a visual there. So the visuals need to be the hero of that platform, but I feel like the focus has been heavily on the data and modeling side of things. You need those, I guess, but now that they're stable, I wish Microsoft would put in more effort into the visual space and try to make them right and make them easy for the audience to build and work on them.
Rob Collie (00:39:53): If you're interested in providing feedback, I can certainly connect you with the people that would like to hear it.
Chandoo (00:40:00): I think.
Rob Collie (00:40:02): It is very difficult. So, it's funny, the job that you worked at the consulting firm, you're the business analyst, that's exactly the job I had at Microsoft, which is trying to absorb what the customers need. And what they want and what they need aren't necessarily the same thing. Try to absorb all of that and then translate it to the tech crew to implement, while at the same time trying to simplify everything. That's exactly...So you were doing that for custom line of business software projects, probably, for the consulting firm, and I was doing it for things like Excel, but it's the same job.
Chandoo (00:40:34): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:40:34): And for the people at Microsoft who have this job, doing that for Power BI, it's actually really hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. You're so down in the details, it is a gift for someone in that role to be given any sort of thoughtful, structured feedback, or thoughtful, structured advice. Like on the visual layer, I would not be one that you would want to take that kind of structured advice, it's not really my forte, different beast, the Chandoo.
Rob Collie (00:41:10): Okay. I was going to make this joke, which is that you're doing it wrong. If you have that kind of perspective where you reached the tipping point where the financial incentive isn't the primary driver, in my experience, from watching a bunch of Microsoft executives anyway, that's when you need to tell yourself that it isn't enough. And you need to just pick a taller hill and go climb that, and never be complete, never be fulfilled. And there are so many people like that. I haven't reached that point in my life that you're describing. That's something I strive for. I think that I'll be more like you and less like some of the people that I saw at Microsoft, who had everything, and still wrecked themselves after having everything. And it was really sad to watch it. I think a lot of celebrities in business are driven by this perpetual insecurity, that you fortunately, you're not driven by that.
Chandoo (00:42:07): Yeah. I think, again, it's not portraying myself as I have no insecurities or I don't feel inadequate in any which way, it's just that at least I am aware from time to time, and I take a point... Like if I feel anxious for some reason and feel myself like I'm running towards this or that from time to time, I try to at least pull myself back and take a stop and at least try to admire what is already there, what is available and what we have achieved. And that lets me calm down a bit. Obviously there is no value in running for itself, but you don't want to be standing still and just admire the beauty. Also, there is some amount of effort you need to put in because that will make you feel fulfilled, having some fulfillment in your day, but it need not be just the amount of money that you are generating on an ongoing basis alone.
Chandoo (00:43:00): At least that's my value. They might derive satisfaction just by running and chasing more money, and that's what makes them happy, they can do it. So you remember the time when you were not there or you were there, but we all went to Chicago from Cleveland when I was in US? And Jocelyn and I, we were driving in one car. So we rented this car, and I think you were driving in another car or something. And we went to, was it Jocelyn's sister or was it-
Rob Collie (00:43:26): Yeah.
Chandoo (00:43:26): ... your sister? Okay. Yeah. So we were driving in the car and Jocelyn was telling me all about her life story and how she met you and all of that, how both of you met each other while working at Microsoft and some of the hard times that she had and all of that, it was a very deep talk because Chicago is not nearby. So it was like a good four or five hours drive if I remember correctly. The topic turned into money topic as well. And Jocelyn was saying about few different things and this and that. And the topic turned on me, and I remember canvasing to her that I find it really hard to spend money because I grew up in a very poor family. I mean, it's not probably the poorest family by Indian standards, but it is still poor family. And there were times when I was growing up, when we would not know exactly where our next meal would come or how we are going to pay for school fees.
Chandoo (00:44:17): And there were points of time where I had to pull out of school because we couldn't afford school fees and all sorts of that. There was a lot of hardship. As a kid I never really thought of that as hardship, it was just the experience. So you're growing up, but there was a lot of uncertainty, and that makes you who you are. As I grew up and as I started making money, that insecurity that if I don't have money, then I will struggle. Not only me, but whoever is dependent on me will also struggle. So that made me an obsessive saver where I will try to save everything for tomorrow rather than be in the moment and enjoy what I have today. And even when I have big money and I have lots more to spend, I would be always like, "I don't need anything. I'm happy with what I have. I'll just put it off for tomorrow."
Chandoo (00:45:07): So I was telling Jocelyn that I find it really hard to spend money with the amount of money that I make. I still try to just spend maybe 10 or 20% of what I earn and everything else is going towards the saving or investment or whatever. So you could say maybe I'm chasing that instead of chasing money, I'm trying to chase for some better tomorrow. I mean, I do realize that there is no better tomorrow, today's as good as it gets. So you need to take a moment, chill out and enjoy. But I think having that awareness is more important than just chasing. If you know why you are chasing something, then you will enjoy it.
Rob Collie (00:45:42): Agreed. The other part of that story also resonated with me, which is you had a little time to recharge your batteries, pursue some other things. And then you come back around and you say, "Hey, this Power BI thing, that is a worthy thing to explore, that is a worthy development path for myself." It's almost like the opportunity to, like your favorite movie, you would love to be able to watch it again for the first time, experience it a new. Now, Power BI isn't like Excel, it's not the same thing, it's similar in some ways, but it's the closest you're ever going to get to being able to climb the Excel hill again, is to climb the Power BI hill. And in the end, you end up with this same sort of polished, interactive output, a symphony being played over some data. And for whatever reason, sickos like me and you, that speaks to us.
Chandoo (00:46:43): Yeah, we enjoy it. And it is a very good challenging environment for you to learn and master and talk about it. It's a different experience altogether to do things in Power BI, because despite all it's visual, that's what the software is for. Unlike Excel, there is no area where you're building the calculations, everything is in this black box. Well, technically not a black box, you can still see the measures and all that, but a lot goes behind scenes than what is out there. So explaining that, and because I try to view everything from the explanation I write, because my job, I feel like is to do something and then also explain it. So every time I build something, I'm like, "Okay, how am I going to explain this?" Because I don't want people to be like, "Ta- da, this is showing up now." So it needs to be having that steps as well. So I try to think in that direction, and that is an interesting challenge in itself to take something like that and make it more reachable to the audience, I guess.
Rob Collie (00:47:44): Just thinking about that, I think about you're going through that and doing that, you're creating videos, right?
Chandoo (00:47:49): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:47:50): So I've got to thank you, you taught me Camtasia.
Chandoo (00:47:55): Oh, well.
Rob Collie (00:47:55): Yeah. And not just like, "Oh, here are where the buttons are," you taught a bit of the art of it.
Chandoo (00:48:02): Oh, well, I really appreciate it. And I think, I feel like I have learned more Camtasia in the last year than all of my life together. This might surprise you lik, "What the heck are you talking? You are using Camtasia all the way back in 2013 as well." This is because about a year and half ago, I decided to switch from blog first to YouTube first. So now all my content is primarily produced for YouTube. And if needed, I will put a blog article, but sometimes I'll just link to an older article because there is a lot of content already. And I feel like there is no extra value in writing another article just for the sake of maintaining a YouTube video. So primarily all the content that I'm creating is for YouTube. And the YouTube presents a different challenge. If I'm creating a course, people are hooked on it, they paid for it, they logged in, they're setting time to learn, so they will watch me go through all the steps for 15 minutes to understand.
Chandoo (00:48:57): But on YouTube, it's a different game altogether. The audience have many other distractions. There is also the aspect of how much time they can set aside in their day. Many times people are not really deliberately sitting down, "Okay, I'm going to have a YouTube sesh now." Instead they're doing something, and then suddenly they'll go onto YouTube to see quickly how to do certain things, or maybe they're having their tea break or lunch and they just want to watch a video. So that time span is very limited, and we want to address something valuable, provide good content and share something fun with them. So the videos need to be shorter, but they still need to be just as useful, fun and engaging. So I'm learning more on Camtasia in the last one year, like how do you combine various things, how do you add more effects, how do you present your story, how do you view this together. But yeah, it's good.
Rob Collie (00:49:52): Tom's not here today, but one of his pet peeves is the cliche you hear over and over again, "There's more data created in the last year than in the entire human history before that." Well, here's another example of that, "Chandoo has learned more about Camtasia in the last year than he has in all of human history before." And when you said that you've learned more in the last year about Camtasia, my jaw did in fact drop. I'm like, "Oh my God, I need to come see this." Basically, everything I know about video editing in Camtasia, I learned from you, and in a very short period of time, so I need another bootcamp.
Chandoo (00:50:29): You might have taken those and you might have gone really well past that point. Obviously that's really what happens with technology tools, the software evolves, we use it day in, day out. Then we realize, "Oh, we could do this. We could do that". Yeah, maybe watch some of my YouTube videos and let me know how that is, if you enjoy not just the video, but also the editing.
Rob Collie (00:50:51): When you're watching something that's well done, you don't really notice.
Chandoo (00:50:55): Yeah, obviously that's the whole point, right?
Rob Collie (00:50:58): Right, the techniques. But then it was different essentially sitting at the editing console with you and you going, "Okay, so here I would probably do something like this." And then I'm like, "Oh, I would have never thought to do that. That's that's awesome." Certain pieces of software, certain tool sets are ones that I tend to evolve my skills over time on my own. I'm not really making videos these days. Maybe I'll be evolving otherwise. I would say that my Camtasia skills are basically frozen in 2013 where you taught me.
Chandoo (00:51:30): Well, that's a nice compliment. And yeah, I think if you're not making videos, there's almost no value in learning the skills, because it just keeps changing and they have newer version now coming up every year. So sometimes you learn something, and the next year, boom, there's another way of doing it. And then we're like, "Why did they even bother learning this in the first place?"
Rob Collie (00:51:53): The people at our company that play in our fantasy football league, and who've been subjected to my fantasy football gloating videos, they owe the production quality of those to you. I can't credit you for the singing quality, the vocals in those videos are terrible. And there's nothing you could do, even Chandoo couldn't correct my singing. And no, those videos are not available for public consumption. We are not going to-
Chandoo (00:52:19): Maybe you should probably-
Rob Collie (00:52:19): ... unlisted for a reason
Chandoo (00:52:20): ... do that as the next episode of Raw Data, we're all singing.
Rob Collie (00:52:25): On the previous episode, we talked about rewriting an AC/DC song, Dirty Reads Done Dirt Cheap. AC/DC really lends itself to alternate vocals. It wouldn't be the first time I've rewritten an AC/DC song, but then someone's got to get on the mic, things get ugly. Well, I'm one of those artists, when I write the alternate lyrics, I can't let someone else sing it for me. I've got to go do it myself, and again, it's sad. It's kind of neat. I mean, on one hand you could say that you were early to the internet. I'm going to use the word celebrity because I don't think really, any other word is better, and celebrity is not the perfect word, but one of the early adopters, one of the first movers in that space. Of course at the same time, that's years later than Bill Jelen.
Chandoo (00:53:13): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:53:14): Which is crazy, right? I mean, it's like...
Chandoo (00:53:17): I mean, imagine how much vision or... I don't want to say random and [inaudible 00:53:23] all his effort. It's completely his vision to have that started and even have a publishing company and all of that empire built.
Rob Collie (00:53:32): Amazing, yeah. And as you say, he's been on the show and he has, absolutely it was not deliberate, it was still not a called shot.
Chandoo (00:53:42): Yeah, but even if it's not deliberate, I think the biggest quality with some of these people like Bill, they have is, they listen, they see what's happening, they get the feedback, they tap into their emotions, they take a deliberate action from time to time. He could have started MrExcel forum and left it there, but he realized, "Okay, people are getting help from this. I need to...
Chandoo (00:54:03): And left it there. But he realized, okay, people are getting help from this, I need to work on this, improve it better for them and people are buying these over priced Excel books that are sometimes way too detailed or way too complicated. I need to change the market. So, those are deliberate actions. You couldn't say one day he woke up and suddenly found a printing press in his house or anything.
Rob Collie (00:54:21): Yeah. Agreed. So, what has it been like, having been early to the Excel internet celebrity phenomenon, but then joining the Power BI game... Not late, but very much in progress. Just like me, when I was first blogging about Power Pivot, I basically didn't have competition. I was the only weirdo obsessed with this stuff and writing about it like violently almost. I couldn't help myself. Whereas if I started that today, I would be joining a field that is very crowded by comparison. How has that been different? And I know that it's a different point in your life. So of course, it's going to be different anyway, but what have you noticed that's different about those two different journeys?
Chandoo (00:55:10): I didn't really notice any difference, this is because the audience that I have been cultivating over time, they have also gone to a point in life where they are naturally migrating to Power BI and they already trust me, they know me, they have joined the courses or they have learned from me previously. So for them, it's easy to relate to the content that I produce because, it's like same teacher is teaching you 101 and then 102 class kind of thing. So, it's easy for them to relate. So, I had the ready audience either by luck or by that...
Rob Collie (00:55:47): Cultivation.
Chandoo (00:55:48): Yeah. So, it wasn't really like a fresh start. Like I would go and put, learnpowerbi.com as a website and put there. I'm already putting it on my website, so it's easy for people to connect the dots. But what I did notice is that audience, especially because Power BI is like an evolving platform and people have been using it way before even I started writing or we making videos about it, some of the people have already shifted away to those channels or those platforms to learn more. So, they are kind of tuning me out for Power BI because they're thinking Chandoo will teach us Excel, these other people will teach me about Power BI. So, the engagement or the feedback that I would get on Power BI related stuff is significantly lower than the Excel stuff that I would produce. So, I could clearly see that happening both on the YouTube channel as well as on my website. This is the reason why I got into self-doubt at some point thinking, should I even bother making a course about it, because it's a big investment of time on my side.
Chandoo (00:56:55): And if I'm not benefiting a lot of people, then it would be just a futile exercise of me recording videos, producing everything, marketing it, and just simply annoying people if they're not ready to buy or whatever. But then when I launched the course, to my surprise, people were willing to pay and join. And that was the good, positive feedback for me. So, I went and I did that a few more times. So, it is good experience for me. All in all, I'd say it's a very positive experience. Last month on my YouTube channel, what I've been doing is, last Friday of every month, I do a live stream. So, Power BI is one of the most requested topics for live stream and the live stream that I did on Power BI, which was in June, was a massive success. Like we had quite a few people show up and go through the thing. And even on replay... This is a live stream, right? We are talking. There is lots of valuable content, but there is also a lot of content. I'm not going to call it.
Rob Collie (00:57:52): There's valuable content and then there's content.
Chandoo (00:57:55): So, there's a lot of stuff where I would just randomly read comments and flash them on the screen to say what people are asking or muse about things and all of that. And even on replays, people are watching all of that. So, this is good indicator that now there is more. And every time I ask a question on my community like, "What do you want to see next?" Power BI was the highest asked item. So, there's more people asking for that and I believe this is simply because people explain, they like my style, define me to be their teacher. So, they want me to teach it. And I think that is a good indicator for me. I will be creating more Power BI focused videos in the rest of this year and get more into Power BI. Not to say I'll ditch Excel. I'll keep using Excel because, Excel has continued to be the big platform that is used by millions of people all over the world. And I would love to be of help to them.
Rob Collie (00:58:49): I think Excel is also experiencing a sort of Renaissance.
Chandoo (00:58:53): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:58:54): The re-imagining what all it is that can happen in Excel. Some of the fundamentals of Excel are not being changed. They're being expanded in ways that we really haven't seen, maybe ever. There's a lot of fresh opportunity, a lot of fresh topics to talk about in Excel. A lot of things to dive into.
Chandoo (00:59:14): Exactly. Especially the way they are expanding the formal language into more dynamic world and probably the terrible name, but the Lambda functions and all of that.
Rob Collie (00:59:27): On the podcast with Brian Jones of Excel, I told him multiple times, "You're going to rename this at some point. You're going to rename it."
Chandoo (00:59:38): The moment you see Lambda, you'll be like, "This is like another bot text." Nobody's going to even type that into Excel. Like, "What is Lambda?"
Rob Collie (00:59:49): Yeah. I told him my favorite thing about the Lambda functions is that you hear the name and you immediately know what they do.
Chandoo (00:59:56): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:59:58): So, are you getting into Lambda functions?
Chandoo (01:00:00): I don't want to use the beta version. This is just by choice. I don't have access to Lambda function yet. I'm itching to play. I could just enable it with a click. I know that, but I don't want to make them. Simply because I don't want to ruin my Excel by changing the user experience from time to time. And I don't have to compete with them. I couldn't be really bothered to do that. But I know what they're capable of. I watch other people do it on YouTube and I did help play with them on my personal laptop the other day. It is a very good addition. I feel like this is not to again, go and say negative things about the amazing work this Excel team is doing. There is a lot of energy put into the more abstract way of doing things. I would say Lambda and Map and Reduce are at a very high level.
Chandoo (01:00:46): And even I have done a lot of programming and I believe you may have already done some programming too. Even for us, it would be a hard concept to understand such a very generic version of things. And then actually capitalize on that raw power that you are getting now. But what would really help end users is, at least the way I hear when I talk to people or trying them is, some of the more things that should be done readily. Just to give one simple example, the other day I was training some people in Australia and they were asking, "How do I remove the spaces within the text?" So you have two words, but there's some extra spaces in the middle. And then I said, "Oh, you could use trim." And then they're like, "Trim? What is that?" Because when you hear the word trim, unless you have a very good background in the language or the history of computers, you wouldn't really guess that-
Rob Collie (01:01:39): Right.
Chandoo (01:01:39): ... this is the one that removes spaces. And then she immediately said, "Why doesn't it say remove spaces?"
Rob Collie (01:01:46): Yeah.
Chandoo (01:01:46): This is the usability that I'm talking about. We could add more synonym functions or if you go on internet and search, one of the common things that people ask with VLOOKUP is, "How do I VLOOKUP the second value or how do I get to everything with VLOOKUP?" And Excel still doesn't have a function. And they say, "Oh, you can use filter", or you can use this or that, but why not take the VLOOKUP and make, when now there is XLOOKUP also, but they had the opportunity to take the XLOOKUP and also make it more like XLOOKUP filter. So, I feel like some of that energy also needs to go into these mainstream things. Might sound like ranting here. But...
Rob Collie (01:02:26): No. This is important. I share these beliefs. I think you're a bit more sophisticated in your beliefs all along these lines, where I'm a bit more intuitive, emotional about them. You can refine them to very specific points very quickly and effortlessly. I'm going to ask you a wild question out of the blue. If Microsoft came to you one day and offered you a job, let's ignore the money for a moment. How much they were paying you, whatever and you didn't have to move. Would you accept job on the Microsoft product teams?
Chandoo (01:02:58): I might accept. In fact, this is not something that I told many people, but a while ago I did actually put my hand up for a job, because I saw one in the MVP group, we get some emails from product managers. The email content was, they're looking for a person who is at the intersection of Excel, Power BI and the data visualization. I said, "Yeah. I'm not really looking for a job or anything. I don't really have the energy to do a full-time job. But if you are happy to take somebody remote and if you're willing to take someone part-time for a couple of days a week, I might be willing to do this, because I believe I can contribute in this space." But I think they were actually looking for a specific role within a specific city in US. So, it didn't happen.
Chandoo (01:03:45): I also questioned like, it's easy for an outsider to make noise and complain and bitch about things. But when you are there, you will then suddenly come across these 75 constraints on every little thing that I want to do and there's a lot of internal drama and politics and whatnot goes on in these organizations, right? So, there might be genuinely people trying hard, but get just pushed aside, because there're other priorities or paying customers are asking you to do this or that. So, I wouldn't really know for sure.
Rob Collie (01:04:16): Well, I do. I've had that job and you are correct that very often, some of the things that seem very frustrating on the outside. Why the hell? But on the inside, there's a really good reason.
Chandoo (01:04:31): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:04:31): It wouldn't even help the world to hear it really. It's too mundane, it's really boring. So, you're never going to hear that reason on the outside. But the thing is, it's also that clarity is very hard to come by. When you're in that job, almost by definition, this isn't always true. They've been hiring people over time that came from the user ranks, the customer, that our number of former intense customers, who do now work for them and the clarity that someone like you would bring, would be absolutely worth it in a big way and incredibly valuable. Even with your very mature caveat, that some things are a lot harder than they look. I agree. There's always particular logistics about every particular position or whatever. Just take this at face value, you would definitely be an asset to either of those teams. Not that you need it. I'm not saying, "Oh, Chandoo, you're looking for you're... You're wandering, you're lost. Let me help you find yourself." No. Not at all. You might decide after a taste of that. You'd be like, "Nah."
Chandoo (01:05:43): If I didn't know any better, I would say this podcast is like an interview, like a software...
Rob Collie (01:05:48): Yeah. I'm going to open the door behind me here. And they're going to see the whole team is there.
Chandoo (01:05:53): Welcome to Microsoft.
Rob Collie (01:05:55): They don't pay me anymore, Chandoo. Why would I do their work?
Chandoo (01:06:00): Oh wow.
Rob Collie (01:06:01): So, that's cool that you're reasonably significant subset of your Excel audience, has joined you and it's called Power BI play date?
Chandoo (01:06:13): Yep.
Rob Collie (01:06:13): That is such a cool name. Someone could try to now imitate that, they come up with a class and call it Power BI playroom. And it just wouldn't be the same. You mentioned this earlier, but the fateful summer of 2013, you and your entire family, all four of you came over from India and moved in, in Cleveland. I know a couple of miles from where we lived. We were in Cleveland until 2015. So, that was when we were there and we got to hang out for... Not an entire summer.
Chandoo (01:06:48): Pretty much everyday.
Rob Collie (01:06:48): Pretty much every day, up until the point where I destroyed my knee.
Chandoo (01:06:52): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:06:55): We had just taught a class together. You and I in Columbus, Ohio. I think I was teaching on my birthday and teaching on Jocelyn's birthday, June 22nd. And she wanted to go to the trampoline park in Columbus, after we were done teaching. I also met one of the students at that class, that joint class that we did together, was Mike Miskol of command and his right-hand man at the time, Donovan. Command ended up being one of the ground floor clients that launched our company. We ended up doing a lot of consulting work for them over the years. And, we've talked about Mike on the blog multiple times. Sadly, he was the wolf. He passed away a few years ago, but that was a heck of a summer. A lot of things happened that summer. We didn't make it back from that class in Columbus in one piece.
Rob Collie (01:07:50): I remember we all went to the drive-in movies outside of Cleveland one time, after I'd hurt myself.
Chandoo (01:07:57): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:07:57): And I was sitting in the back seat of the Jeep with my leg out, across the bench. And I'm watching this drive-in movie through the crack between the headrest and the window. It was a Despicable Me two or something like that we watched.
Chandoo (01:08:14): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:08:15): Your kids were little.
Chandoo (01:08:16): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:08:17): I guess mine were too. Your children, I remember describing them as luminous. They just glowed. It was like a light meter up to them and like, "Oh! They're emitting light." Such cool young people. We missed y'all when you left.
Chandoo (01:08:38): Yeah. If I look back and think about some of the best experiences in my life, that will be definitely one of them, because there was so much fun that we had and it was, because I'm not really working and Joey's also not working. We are working in our business, but we are not really physically going somewhere. So, we had all the freedom and the weather was really good. And, you guys were just around the corner. So, if we need anything or we felt lost, we could always call you or just walk to your house and you'd be there to help us. And it was such a really fun time. And when you're having things like that, we were enjoying, I always thought, we would repeat that a couple of years down the line. We were talking about these kinds of things.
Chandoo (01:09:23): I remember leaving a small box of some utensils and stuff like that in your basement when we left, because we were thinking we'll come back another time in a couple of years and we will repeat it.
Rob Collie (01:09:33): Yeah.
Chandoo (01:09:33): But, life has different plans every time. We went back from that and things kept moving in different directions. You started your business and I had this vision that we should probably move and live in other country. So, we started looking for that and we moved to New Zealand. And even when we were in New Zealand, we would have some video calls where you'd say, "We will come and visit you for a holiday or something." And look now where we are. We can't even leave our countries if we want to.
Rob Collie (01:10:01): I know. They'd let me leave, but your country wouldn't let me in.
Chandoo (01:10:05): Yeah, exactly.
Rob Collie (01:10:07): I think you chose well. See, there you go. That foresight again. You're like, "Okay. There's going to be a pandemic in a few years. And New Zealand really seems to have their act together. And the US looks... I don't think so. You didn't see that coming, but good choice. Obviously, I was a little bummed when you didn't move to the US but now, I can't help but look at it and go, "Oh, good move."
Chandoo (01:10:38): Yeah. Again, nothing was planned. We just were thinking we would go to either Australia or New Zealand and we just kind of flipped a coin and then it was New Zealand. So, that's where we applied and we got in and we're happy we are here. But again, it was not deliberate at all.
Rob Collie (01:10:55): The future holds many possibilities. We need to come visit. You live in one of the coolest places. They chose to film Lord of the Rings there. That's how cool.
Chandoo (01:11:07): It's an amazing place and there is so much natural beauty and people are just nice.
Rob Collie (01:11:12): Do you mind telling the story of the now absolutely iconic chandoo.org avatar? Can you tell me how that came to pass? Because when you got off the airplane in Cleveland to come visit.
Chandoo (01:11:30): It's the other way.
Rob Collie (01:11:30): Really funny. You didn't look like that.
Chandoo (01:11:34): This is like... Probably there were many crazy accidents, all this journey, but this has got to be one of the craziest accidents because, I had my website chandoo.org way before I got into Excel, the original website is called... Not that it matters anymore, but it's called Modus Indoramus and it's nothing to do with anything that I'm doing nowadays. But, I thought in those days, that's a good name. So, I went with that and it used to be hosted on Blog spot. And later on, when I finished my management degree and I started working, I needed to rename that to reflect my new stage of life. So, I went with the name, Pointy Head Dilbert. This is simply because, I like Dilbert cartoon and I find that Dilbert is this technical guy. And the point, he had boss is this, or lack of better word, a dumb ass who is like a manager.
Chandoo (01:12:26): And I find myself in the junction of these two. I got my technical degree and now I'm a management degree holder. So I thought, "Oh. Let's fuse these two things together." And I come up with this brilliant name... Well, it's not brilliant, but I thought it is brilliant. Pointy Head Dilbert. And there was a point where the logo of the blog was actually Dilbert with the point he had boss's ears on his head.
Rob Collie (01:12:48): Okay.
Chandoo (01:12:48): So, I kind of photoshopped it. That was the logo. Fast forward to 2008 and we moved to US for work Joey and I and around that time, I was fascinated with MacBooks and all. I got my first computer, which is a MacBook and the MacBook got delivered home and it had this photo booth app, using which you could kind of take a selfie, but it was cute, your facial features. So, one day morning I got up and then I was doing my usual routine of checking mail and stuff like that and I opened the photo booth and I took some selfies and one of that was this iconic hair picture. So, it's really just my selfie in the Mac. And then later on during the day or the next day, I thought, "You know what? I could use this because it has pointy hair", because the hair is kind of really stretched out. And I opened Photoshop and I cropped that image and polished it a bit, a change of the saturation and whatnot, and replaced that on my blog.
Chandoo (01:13:49): And people were like, "Oh wow. This looks amazing. We love it." Yeah. Later on, I renamed the whole thing as chandu.org instead of Pointy Head Dilbert. But, that is how it came up. The sad thing is, I don't have the original picture anymore. The MacBook died. So, I have no access to the original picture, not even higher version of it. There is nothing there. The only thing that is on my website is the only one that I have. And I thought at some point maybe I could get someone to do a vector drawing of this, but I never got into any sort of merchandising or anything like that. So, there was never really a need for a higher resolution version of this. I'm not printing coffee mugs or anything. But, I am really glad that I had a picture like that and I could use it. I am also glad that I still have some hair on my head after all these years.
Rob Collie (01:14:39): Your hair was much shorter, that summer we spent together. I can see now with your current hair, how that picture might've happened. Did you also distort the hair a little bit?
Chandoo (01:14:50): No. It's the photo booth app.
Rob Collie (01:14:52): Your hair was actually that tall, that morning?
Chandoo (01:14:54): It was tall, but what the photo booth does is I think if you have an iPad or iPhone, you can actually test it. It will basically take a central point. I think the point was somewhere here on my head and it'll stretch every pixel out.
Rob Collie (01:15:07): I see.
Chandoo (01:15:08): So, that's how the hair kind of became too wild. But I did have fairly long hair at that point and I think because I just got up, it was all over the place.
Rob Collie (01:15:17): Well, what a happy accident. Because again, so iconic. I didn't know you as Chandoo, for a long time. All I knew was there was this guy on Twitter, R1C1, who simultaneously had this really quirky sense of humor and at the same time, like this mastery feel. And it was very much enhanced by that icon, by that logo. I would see that icon and I go, this is someone who lives at the top of some pyramid. You need to climb in order to have an audience with him. It's amazing how much power that had, when I didn't even know that you were Chandoo. You were just R1C1, this bad-ass, who was also really funny. It was only eventually, one day I clicked through him like, "Oh." Yeah, I expected your website to be like pyramid living bad-ass dot com. Chandoo.org was a much friendlier name. Again, you were very friendly on Twitter. It's just that I expected some sort of Kung Fu master.
Chandoo (01:16:29): That was also not intentional. I think I'm just being...
Rob Collie (01:16:32): You're just being funny. Right?
Chandoo (01:16:33): Yeah. Exactly.
Rob Collie (01:16:34): I think it's great. So, going back to Power BI for a moment, what are some of the things about power BI that you have found surprisingly delightful? What are some of the things that you've just really gone, "Wow. That is a cool thing that we can do in that environment that we couldn't do in Excel."
Chandoo (01:16:54): This is no longer true, but what I found Power BI to be amazing in is, it has this massive power query layer in the front, that lets you take anything, manipulate it in any which way you want and get the clean cut of data for your analysis. So, that's one thing that I found to be a true game changer. Because, many times when we want to analyze data, when we want to present things, we have this like an 800 meter hurdle to cross, where our data is really shit. The Power Query was like a true game changer. I mean, in a way it was coexisting in both Excel and Power BI worlds, but many times within Excel, you already begin with the data that is pasted into the spreadsheet. So, you're not really deliberately trying to clean it up more. It kind of comes in a semi clean format, whereas Power BI, because there is no holding cell where the data can be pasted.
Chandoo (01:17:52): You can kind of technically copy paste, but there's no place where the data is. It has to come from outside, because of the nature of platform. Having Power Query was like one of the big key things. And it is a mental model shift also. We don't really begin in that space. Now, we are beginning in that space where I could potentially get anything and manage it and manipulate it. And the second thing is obviously the power pivot engine, which is really dynamic and amazingly powerful. You could write a simple measure that is just doing a sum or count or whatever, but then the way you present, it really changes the meaning of it and completely presents a different insight, that you would have spent hours and days and sometimes weeks or just might even give up to try to replicate in Excel.
Chandoo (01:18:40): But those two are no longer true because of the coexistence of the same ideas in Excel world, but they feel more natural within Power BI. Whereas in Excel, if you can't do something with Power Pivot, you always would be like, "Okay. I'll get as far as I need. And then I'll use the cell structure and the relative references and whatnot to calculate the rest. Whereas power BI doesn't offer that. Everything has to be done with these two preset engines. So, you will be forced to go in and achieve more with them. And the more you get it right at those two stages, everything else becomes like a piece of cake really when it comes to visualizing and analyzing, There are other aspects too, and we kind of grown a customer trait now. So we don't no longer find that amazing to be honest, but the first time you see it, you will always be like, wow, this is good.
Chandoo (01:19:30): That kind of cross filtering and interaction is a game changer. The ability to have tool tips that are rich and informative is a good thing. That idea of using bookmarks to change the state or the display of the visual, so that you don't have to put multiple things and still get what you want. Or even some of the simple things like having a separate mobile view, where I can show different visuals or structure them differently, depending on what the audience is, looking at it from. All of those are some of those fundamental things that really, for me, at least helped that platform elevate to a different level from what is previously possible in Excel. There's many other things like even some of the simplest things like the ability to show pictures from a URL, it is nearly impossible to do that in Excel. Whereas in Power BI just happens with the simple switch of the setting. And now suddenly you have something that is so much more beautiful than a simple table.
Rob Collie (01:20:31): Yeah. I mean that composability of Excel, the network effect of all of its features, sort of interacting in the grid, leads to an environment in which, like you mentioned in the very beginning with that first blog post, you felt like you'd either invented or discovered something, that in your own silo, felt like the first light bulb, like first time anyone ever discovered fire. I know how that feels for sure. Big time. You're wiser now, you know that when you discover or invent some-
Rob Collie (01:21:03): You're wiser now. You know that when you discover or invent something, you're probably not the first. As I am also now wiser. But there's still that moment where for yourself, you invented something using things that were not necessarily ... no one ever anticipated that particular usage.
Rob Collie (01:21:18): So let me give you an example from my life in Power BI, is I quote-unquote, Invented an American football passing chart that shows where the quarterback likes to throw the ball and where he's successful at it and all that kind of stuff, right? It's just a Power BI 2D scatterplot.
Chandoo (01:21:38): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:21:39): With a football field image behind it.
Chandoo (01:21:42): Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:21:42): That's it. It's just the background image. Now, but then I had to go to your blog accidentally one time and read about jittering.
Chandoo (01:21:50): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:21:51): The concept of jittering. And I remember you had a really great article on jittering in Excel.
Chandoo (01:21:55): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:21:55): And I was like, oh, I need that in my passing chart because all my dots are going to be on top of each other.
Chandoo (01:22:00): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:22:01): And then I did a really, really, really complicated, it was really labor intensive, to achieve jittering in my chart, took a combination of M and DAX that I pity the fool that has to go back and understand what I did. I wrote a long article about it. But if you just stumbled upon my workbook and tried to figure out how I did it, oh God. And so here I am, I have invented a pass chart. You know, we forget about it. We set it aside. And then years later, a football coach from Texas, a high school in Texas, calls us up and says, "Hey, do you know that that football thing you invented is probably the best football passing chart that's available on the internet?"
Rob Collie (01:22:37): I'm like, "No". And so we went and did this thing called Cover Hawk. If you go to coverhawk.app, it's very, very, very much like an MVP exploratory thing where we're trying to see if there's some traction to this. Maybe there's a product worth developing. We even went to a conference two weeks ago in Texas. Conference of, nothing but football coaches, nothing but high school football coaches and we're just standing there like the data nerds. Two booths down from us is a bunch of tackling dummies. They're trying to sell tackling dummies and helmets and things like that and we're there as the data nerds with Cover Hawk.
Rob Collie (01:23:15): So have you had any of those that you're comfortable sharing? Have you invented anything?
Chandoo (01:23:20): I don't want to call, there've been mentions, because I feel like, like you said, we're all wiser now.
Rob Collie (01:23:28): Right. Invented in air quotes.
Chandoo (01:23:31): Yes. So there are, you could call them as hacks because the way Power BI is evolving, certain things are not possible at certain points of time. They may not be true anymore. Like now, you could do it. But at that point in time, that feature is not available or it's not as refined.
Chandoo (01:23:47): If people are finding it useful, you might invent something fun, but if nobody has the use for it, then it's just a novelty, right? Like the way you did, the football coach said it is a useful thing. Based on the YouTube videos that I have on Power BI and the comments or the views that I get, one video that I have is a budget versus actual with variance information as a combined graph. So the idea is in the world of finance, we do a lot of comparisons with what's my actual, what's my budget for a bunch of projects or products or whatever.
Chandoo (01:24:19): And many times you may also want to, okay, 100 is my budget, 120 is my actual, so we got 20 variance or 20% variance. And I want to see the variance information right there, but because Power BI yet doesn't have any customizable data labels, so you get both 100 and 120, but you can't really get 20 or 20% in there. And even if you could get it somehow, it's not visually represented so it's hard for people to see that and instantly make a mental picture of what that 20 is, which direction it is going.
Chandoo (01:24:52): So I made a graph where it's nothing but a column or a bar chart and another column or bar chart. And the sort order is also maintained on both depending on what interactions are happening and whatnot as a visual and I made a YouTube video about it. And from time to time, people tell me that, "Oh, this is a good one we've been looking." Like you know, there are custom visuals that can do this for you. But sometimes custom visuals, people try to shy away from them, just like Excel add ins in a way. Maybe because they're not compatible or there's maybe security issues or whatever.
Chandoo (01:25:25): Having a native visual is useful. That's one thing. And there are other fun projects I do to just demo certain things. But I think this is one. There is another one that I had an article and I think even a YouTube video where we are using the what-if parameter option of Power BI to user input and then build a calculator that will do some projections on what if you save $500 a month that, I don't know, some sort of investment that will give you 6%, how much money it would create in future, right? So some sort of projections. And again, at that point, Power BI didn't have the functions like FV or future value calculation things. So you had to do it in an arithmetic way using the formulas. But now it is, I believe they have added some more finance functions now.
Rob Collie (01:26:15): I remember that with PRODUCTX.
Chandoo (01:26:17): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:26:17): They didn't have the PRODUCTX function. And so Amir told me, "Oh no, no problem. You just convert it to exponents". Like you do something with the E-function or something, right.
Chandoo (01:26:29): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:26:30): And then you do a sum-x of that. And then you raise that answer to the power and now you're, and I'm like, "Oh God". And I actually did a few things like that. And then PRODUCTX came along and I'm like, "Oh, thank goodness". Yeah. I mean, because it's exactly that scenario, right? The future projection scenario. If your growth rate is the same every year, then you can use the power function, right? But as soon as there's variables happening at each year, it's all over, you need other functions. So you had to re-implement the FV function before it existed.
Chandoo (01:27:04): Yeah. So there are some of those things that I had fun. And again, what I find tricky within the Power BI space especially is because the platform is shaky and it is always moving, the goal posts are changing. What you find it useful in a hack kind of a thing may not be relevant tomorrow or 10 months down the line. But yeah, certain ideas, and I think because I don't view them as innovations, but those are good things, good practice in a way I think, just try and showing people how to do and things will eventually ... that will be normalized and then the next things will happen.
Rob Collie (01:27:40): Yeah. Well, I find those moments of hack, or invent, or work around, or whatever you want to call them where you create something that didn't quite seem possible when you got started, it was like on the fringe of possible. Those are some of the most satisfying achievements. Those feel really good. I think in a way it's like, that's almost what it's all about is that act of creation.
Chandoo (01:28:04): Yep.
Rob Collie (01:28:04): Even if you stayed a hundred percent within the known and traditional bounds of the product and you haven't invented some new technique, by the time you're done with a good report, a good dashboard, whatever noun you want to use and then the customer, in our case, the client, right? That's a piece of software they're going to now go use to revolutionize their business. You still get that feeling of creation.
Chandoo (01:28:31): Yep.
Rob Collie (01:28:31): And I think it's one of those addictions with no downside, it's a positive addiction.
Chandoo (01:28:38): Yeah totally. And I feel like in that sense, the amount of satisfaction I derive within the Power BI space, more of it comes from Power Query and Power Pivot side of things, because that's where you are really tinkering with the language that is available to you. Whereas, the visual space is still hacky. You have all these bookmarks and selection pane and toll tips and stuff like that. That'll let you go in and make it to the next level. But because there is so much click action happening, you feel like the sequence of clicks is the real source there. Whereas in Power Query or another place, what you are describing, can we replicate it with a different situation, different data and different scenario, more easily.
Chandoo (01:29:18): I think another example that people find useful, the ones that are blogged are using Power Query to look up the whole thing. But it's basically like a word search, but more, not simple words, but keyword search. So you got your X values in a column, and then you have your key phrases that you want to go and see in that and either remove them or delimit them based on any of those. So then there is no direct function. Maybe there is now, but when I was doing it, there was no direct function so I had to use the accumulate function or the list thing, which is basically like, it'll go through and it'll run some. It's a crazy concoction, but it works.
Rob Collie (01:29:59): You want to see crazy concoctions, go look at my jittering, jittering techniques. I'm not very sophisticated. It's always like a street fight with me with this stuff. You know, it's like throwing dirt.
Chandoo (01:30:10): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:30:11): It's not an Olympic fencing tournament with me. I find that very interesting that the two engines under the hood are the ones that have spoken to you the most. Coming in, I know that you can formula. You're R1C1 on Twitter. Like that's a reputation to live up to. But again, just sort of always thinking about you as the so incredibly differentiated on the visuals layer and Excel, I would have expected you to be just sort of fully enamored with the toolkit that they've given us, despite the fact that it's clicky.
Chandoo (01:30:47): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:30:47): It's clicky to set it up. It's not clicky for the end user. It is very clicky for the developer.
Chandoo (01:30:53): Yeah. I do create a lot of visuals in Power BI and I share them on the course as well as on my blog and YouTube. So there is quite a few visuals that I'm very proud of them and people do tell me that this is really good and well-composed. It's just that I find that you can't really get there unless you have a very good data and calc engine behind. So 70% of the time really goes there, right? The other 30% is really choosing the visual, putting it and coloring it. That's pretty much it. That's why I mentioned those because without that, you're really not able to deliver the visual.
Rob Collie (01:31:29): And once I heard you say it, that's where I am. It makes total sense to me. Yeah, the visuals are a very, very, very important last mile. They're only the representation of the metrics coming out of your data model. They can't be better than that.
Chandoo (01:31:46): Exactly.
Rob Collie (01:31:47): And oftentimes, when you want to achieve a particular visual effect, you actually need to go do something in the data model to power it. For example, the dashboard we use to track the podcast statistics. I index all of those, every podcast episode to day one, the time sequence, the time access across the bottom of the chart. It doesn't make sense for that to be the calendar because then I just get all of these curves coming off from different places off of the zero.
Chandoo (01:32:18): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:32:18): I need them to all start in the same place. So I can say, "Hey, look, this one's doing better at day five of it's life then this other one was doing at day five of its life". And that's really interesting. So it's this really cool spray chart where everything's spraying out like a sprinkler. Well, I had to do DAX. I had to do DAX to shift everything and the chart looks the way it does because of the DAX. And that interplay is again, one of those just like incredibly satisfying and gratifying things to do.
Chandoo (01:32:46): Yeah, I totally agree. And then you can't really get there without the measure, uplifting work. I remember doing this massive gender pay gap dashboard for one of the ministries here in New Zealand. And people look at that and they'll go, "Wow, this is amazing!" But then I know that it takes me literally 10 minutes to make the visuals, but the measures behind that, the ones that drive the calculations and then tell them what actions they need to take. And that's where a lot of hard work is, right? But writing those measures was amazingly satisfactory, like learning how to use some of the, especially, variables to break down complex calculations. And I remember the times when there were no variable, so it would be pretty much donkey work to get things done.
Rob Collie (01:33:34): Yeah. Back in my day, we didn't even have the sort by column feature. Our slicers had to have zero one dash January in them.
Chandoo (01:33:45): Exactly.
Rob Collie (01:33:45): So that we could get good sort order. What do you think the next 10 years looks like for Chandoo?
Chandoo (01:33:53): Well, that's a very interesting question. And I keep thinking about it more now than back in 2010, 13 or 2016, to be honest, because I'm also trying to visualize what's going to happen, how I can be helpful to others and how I can share my craft and how I can feel that passion going forward. Because now that I'm more aware of what could happen if I don't carefully nurture it. So one thing that I'm trying to do is I'm trying to find myself in a situation where there is enough challenge, but not too challenged that it feels like stress and then you will give up halfway thinking, "Oh, this is not worth my effort, I don't need it" kind of thing. So a positive challenge that is happening for the last year and half is that shift to video-based content production versus blog articles.
Chandoo (01:34:48): Again, purely because there is that unknown factor of how do I make videos? How do I make them engaging? How do I make them just as fun and quirky as a blog? How do I make them useful? So that is something that I'm finding interesting and learning. And hopefully that is the path that I want to be on for the next few years. I don't really know, 10 years, a really long time to commit to anything. But next few years, this is where I want to be, make more videos, change, or help people through the video platform while simultaneously maintaining blog and providing some support material there from time to time. If there is no global pandemic or anything like that, personally, we might be doing a lot more travel in 10 years because kids would be what, 21, 22 by then they might be finishing with their uni or starting their work. So they'll probably be not with us at that time. And we will find the same place as you are like an empty-nester. And I would imagine if we don't have anyone within our house, then we may want to go to India or parts of Europe, or maybe even visit the US again and spend some more time with some of the friends and family that we lost connection all these years.
Chandoo (01:36:01): That's more on a personal side, but yeah, at gender.org, I think it will live. I'll keep blabbering about one thing or another. It could be Excel, it could be Power BI, it could be some other new technology or whatever. I enjoy tech. I feel like I would enjoy it for the rest of my life and I enjoy talking about it. So that's what I would do. I may not launch courses or sell stuff that far down the line because there is an expectation when you are selling stuff that you also care for your customers and provide service and all of that. It is fun to get money and provide service, but not as fun as producing content, to be honest for me.
Rob Collie (01:36:38): Yeah.
Chandoo (01:36:38): You could outsource that and all that, but because I'm not trying to grow an empire here, I feel like it might be an unnecessary thing for me to take up that challenge. And there is also a thought that I keep toying with, which is to probably get into full-time teaching or something like that. Wherein I might go and try and get a PhD or start teaching at a university or something like that. I don't really know. I mean, from outside, it looks like a romantic thing, but then the moment I try to read up more about it. I'm like, "Ah, I couldn't be bothered".
Rob Collie (01:37:11): Yeah, it's tricky. I'm just sort of imagining this world in which you became a full-time teacher and someone just accidentally lucks into you as their instructor and their whole life would be different afterwards. Not everyone is reachable, right? So a bunch of people would go through that class and be like, "Oh, that guy was weird", but that handful would just absolutely light up.
Chandoo (01:37:31): But there are other things too. For example, these days I'm drawing a lot more inspiration because I'm trying to be on the video platform more. I'm drawing inspiration from other YouTubers who have been in the journey for quite a bit of their life. Some of the people that I enjoy watching content are, there's one person called VZ waiter. It started off as a blog, but it's basically everything about life. But because it has been around for as long as I have my website, 13, 14 years, you could see that evolution in where he's leading the trajectory, then there's Electro Boom and few other places.
Chandoo (01:38:07): When I watch them, I'm thinking they are in the life stages that I have been, or they are going through the journey and they're still maintaining that creativity and that inspiration and that fun factor because I believe in the content place, you need to have ample amount of fun. Otherwise, it would just drain you out and you lose that spark. That's where I'm looking. And I'm trying to draw inspiration from those people and try to get those values into what I do every day.
Rob Collie (01:38:35): Yeah. I was going to ask you if you tended to draw inspiration from other YouTubers, like within our space, or if you primarily looked sort of broader?
Chandoo (01:38:47): I'm looking more broader, because our space is good, but also there is this unwanted or a needed thing of comparison and jealousy and other negative feelings that you'll get. So I watch our space to learn, that's for sure. I watch our space to understand what sort of content is resonating with audience and what sort of reactions they are getting, how certain things are done, just so that I can better my craft. But when it comes to getting inspiration or setting a goal post or whatever, I'm trying to look at it more from a holistic point of view. If I want to be a content creator like X, who that X is, and that person is funny, that person is engaging, that person is awesome, and that person is also a genuinely nice person. So that's the person that I'm looking for. And there are plenty of them around the world. So there's enough content to inspire you. And that will also change from time to time, right?
Chandoo (01:39:42): There's one other thing that I thought I'll mention. So when I saw raw data in the podcast, I remember because I had a podcast back in the day and I slowly wound it down. So I no longer have episodes, but all the old episodes are still there. I think early last year I was talking to a friend that, maybe I should start another podcast or maybe a video cast or a blog or something like that. I wanted to call this as data dump simply because it's just me venting things out or not trying to be an angry, middle-aged man or whatever. It's just that was the name that I went with. I was kind of in two minds, whether to call it a podcast or maybe make it a 30 minute YouTube segment or a series of videos on my channel or whatever. But I never went with that idea because I have been through the podcast journey. I know that it is quite a bit of effort to put out podcasts every week or month or whatever time period you choose. And I didn't really want to commit myself to something that'll just become a block on my creativity.
Chandoo (01:40:46): Already, I'm doing YouTube. I have a blog and I have courses so I felt like this is not something that I want to put on my plate right now. But when I saw Raw Data come out, I was like, "Oh, that's a good name as well". Like, you know her obviously doing this, but it is good that you are doing this and reaching out to people that have stories to tell and people need to hear certain things. And the podcast is a very powerful medium. I hear podcasts all the time when I go on a walk or when I'm driving and it's a good companion to have. And it's a very solid way to build the bond with your audience as well, because you're connected at an audio level in their ears. Many times people hear this in their headphones, right? So you're literally, they're just whispering in their ears.
Rob Collie (01:41:29): Yeah. We even had recently, we hired a consultant at our company who heard of us through the podcast.
Chandoo (01:41:36): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:41:37): That's a first. Yeah, podcasts are a lot of work, especially if you want to do a good job on them and you've got that high quality bar.
Chandoo (01:41:44): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:41:45): And I do too. You need Luke. There's no way. In fact, you need more than a Luke. And there are many people now that have their hands in one way or another, to varying degrees, with every episode, in addition to just the host and the guest. For example, Luke, I know what Chandoo is, you get to make a choice. I'm going to give you a choose your own adventure here. We make a gif for every guest, for every episode. Now, your gif is going to be this. It's going to be you standing there from the waist up and a table with relatively normal hair, like what you have today. Okay. But sitting next to you as a Van Der Graaf Generator, like one of those steel ball things, right?
Chandoo (01:42:27): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:42:27): And you're going to put your hand on it in the gif and your hair is going to stand up and look like the Chandoo icon. Okay.
Chandoo (01:42:34): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:42:34): All right. Now, the question is, and this is an important choice. The Van Der Graaf Generator is going to have an icon on it. Do you want it to be the Excel icon or the Power BI icon?
Chandoo (01:42:48): I feel like you should say Power BI because it has got the power.
Rob Collie (01:42:51): Okay. All right. So it's going to be the Power BI icon. It's going to be the best of all gifs.
Chandoo (01:43:04): Those gifs were like an amazing thing as well. They add so much more quirkiness to the podcast, especially when you put them out on Twitter. Like, oh, it was fun. I liked the one with the [inaudible 01:43:18] on his monkey dancing stuff.
Rob Collie (01:43:25): I mean, you can imagine, you have this idea, and this is something I learned again, writing a book. And I learned it again when I was making the videos, you have this idea, this idea hits you about what would be perfect and then you can't un-see the idea. You can't forget the idea, but now you have to go execute the idea. And it ends up being a lot of work. A gif a week turns out to be a reasonably intense pace because the idea isn't even always clear to us. What are we going to do? What are we going to do with this one? With you, thanks to the signature icon. We know what we're going to do.
Rob Collie (01:44:03): So hey, sincerely, a real pleasure to get to talk with you for such a long time and to see you. And I really appreciate you taking the time to join us and to do the show with us. So now we've done the bio, right? We've done the history of Chandoo, right? That doesn't mean you can't come back. This podcast is in part, just a professional excuse to talk to cool people.
Rob Collie (01:44:29): Chandoo thank you for coming and seriously, just thanks for being you. I've learned so much from you directly and indirectly over the years, be a good borg. Absorb things from other good people. I've definitely borged some good Chandoo content.
Chandoo (01:44:45): Thank you so much for having me and I really appreciate what you're doing here with the podcast. And it is a really positive and fun way to get the message out to people and then tell good stories and connect to your audience. I wish you great success with the podcast.
Rob Collie (01:45:01): The podcast is only as good as the guests. Powered by guests.
Announcer (01:45:05): Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive Podcast. Let the experts at P3 Adaptive help your business. Just go to p3adaptive.com. Have a data day.
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