Why yes, this title is a reference to this epic-y brilliant jazz album! There’s been a longer stretch between blog posts lately, so what’s been going on with the Spreadsheet Whisperer? Well, I took a mini-vacation, got tech-stuck and unstuck several times over, visited family in the hospital, and started setting up TDAA as a – what?! – small business. Lots is movin’ and shakin’ and growin’ over here, just like the darling pea plants in our front yard. I’m adjusting to summer rhythms, eating as much watermelon as possible, and anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Philadelphia’s public pools. In a nutshell, I’m as busy, voracious, and quirky as usual. And as usual, I have some thoughts about spreadsheets, databases, and our cultural moment to share. Don’t turn that dial!
Last week, as I was mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed, my eyes got stuck on a brilliant Tweet. Of course *now* I can’t find it (grrrr), but the quote went something like:
When you encounter an error message, read it out loud.— sages of Twitter-verse
Something about this “hot take” has stayed with me. As I untangled my thoughts today, I think there are really three pieces of wisdom to share:
- Slow down, pay attention
- Use as many senses as possible
- Actually read the darn thing
If I had actually internalized this advice, I would have stopped myself from a number of stressful, frustration, or just time-intensive tech rabbit holes over the last week! (Readers, rest assured, even so-called “techies” get stuck all the time!)
Speaking of stuck, today I was trying to build some Salesforce reports that use the beloved “Power of One” summarizing trick and I couldn’t quite get the data to display the way I wanted. Refreshing the page, retracing my steps, googling, balling my hands into fists, and self doubt were all failing as problem-solving strategies. I had read some documentation, but skimmed over some important parts because my pride told me that I already knew it all. When I “read the error message aloud,” I finally realized that the two data tables that I was trying to summarize weren’t connected to each other in the right way – and the explanation I needed was before my very eyes!
On Friday, I got stuck trying to make a List View editable for one of my co-workers to do some data cleaning. I tried restricting my view by Record Type, checking Field Security and Profile permissions, quadruple checking Enhanced Inline Editing, and even confirming Picklist Values. I bet you know what’s coming. If those things had worked, then I wouldn’t be writing these sentences! It turns out that the field wasn’t editable because it wasn’t on the pagelayout. I didn’t know about that stipulation – or if I did know it once-upon-a-time, I certainly didn’t remember it now.
You don’t need to know Power of One or Salesforce in order to relate to my experience and take-away. Being less frantic, more curious, and more vocal can REALLY make all the difference! I’m glad I didn’t explode or throw my computer out the window, but I also wish that I had slowed down and treated each scenario as a learning experience.
So, repeat after me: I will slow down and read error messages aloud!
I can’t hearrrrrr you!
I’ve also been having a long conversation with myself (and some of you!) about all of the unbelievable experiences, opportunities, and relationships that have come out of this blog, which I like to call “my favorite lil corner of the internet.” In the past 16 months or so, I’ve written 109 blog posts, ranging from spreadsheet tips to “think pieces” (rants) to database advice to a deep dive on Salesforce features that I’m trying to figure out. I’ve covered pragmatic tutorials and conceptual sketches and so much more.
Along the way, many of you have written to me, asking if I can help your organization make meaning out of data or heal the person/technology divide. It’s SO FUN and truthfully never something that I thought was going to happen! I feel incredibly excited/inspired/fulfilled by these consulting projects, which have an unintended side effect of less time spent writing here. So far, the tradeoff feels ok because I’ve always been someone who prefers to “go deep” rather than “go broad” (this has nothing to do with catching a football). But I feel a little bit sad when I face the music that I haven’t been maintaining my 2-posts-per-week pace.
Perhaps another way to think about it is… my goals have stayed the same, while I’ve experimented with new mediums. I tried out a webinar format with my pal Emily – it was awesome and I learned SO much. I’m trying out recorded video modules with one of my clients right now, which is exposing me to all kinds of interesting questions and new technologies to learn. Even plain-old consulting is an awesome way to get to know changemakers/spreadsheet users and help them further develop their technologies, skills, and confidence. Writing is one of many avenues available for helping changemakers make the most out of spreadsheets, data and technology – but it’s certainly not the only one available to me. My curiosity is insatiable and I’m so grateful that I get to KEEP exploring these themes with all of you!
All this to say, it’s exciting to share that I finally filed for an EIN and I am in the process of legally making TDAA into an LLC! Soon, I’ll need to open a small business bank account, pay taxes on consulting $$, set aside funding for blog maintenance and administration, start working with an accountant (??!!!) and more. I guess I’m a “small business owner” now! In all the “conversations with myself” that I’ve had up until this point, this one is probably the most unfamiliar! I don’t think having LLC paperwork and a bank account is going to change much around here, but it’s a milestone worth sharing – worth celebrating, even! I’m in uncharted territory, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.