About ExcelCEO

When I was a college student in the 1980s, I took a course called "Introduction to Computers." The first part of the class was devoted to WordPerfect, a popular word processing program at the time. That part of the course was helpful, but it was the rest of the semester that changed my life forever. That is when I was introduced to a spreadsheet program called Lotus 1-2-3. As an Accounting major, I loved the ability to manipulate numbers any way I wanted on a spreadsheet. When we got to the macros section of the class, I fell in love all over again. I knew I wanted to work with spreadsheets for the rest of my life. Then in the mid-1990s, the accounting firm I was working for switched from Lotus 1-2-3 to Microsoft Excel® (using Office 92). It took me a little while to get used to the Microsoft way of doing things (particularly working with that weird thing called a mouse), but I soon became a Microsoft convert.

After 20+ years of working with spreadsheets, I decided to write this course. I originally wrote it because I couldn’t find people with the necessary Excel skills to work in my group. I was the director over a department that did a lot of ad hoc data pulls and analyses for a very large corporation, and I was amazed and disappointed of how little experienced accountants knew about Excel. The recent college graduates didn’t have the skills either, which really surprised me. My idea was to write a book that I could give to employees on their first day and tell them they had three months to complete it. I would tell them “I don’t care if you work on it while you’re at work during some down time, at lunch, at home, weekends, etc. It doesn’t matter to me when or how you do it, as long as you do it.” Not only did they acquire a phenomenal Excel skill set, but finishing the course told me they could handle serious projects on their own. Once they completed the course, I knew for sure they had the advanced skills to work in my group.

The concept worked fabulously! Most of the new hires completed it within the three-month time period with few problems. Others were too lazy or didn’t have the self-motivation to complete it on their own. Needless to say, those people left the company (either on their own or “encouraged out”). Then one day, a recruiter from a large international consulting firm paid me a visit. He was trying to get me to use his consultants for some of my projects. When I told him I didn’t think his consultants had the skill set that I need, he chuckled to himself and assured me they did. After I explained to him the skill set I was looking for, he then agreed with me and said “Maybe we should just clone you.” My response was “I think I have the next best thing,” showed him the course manual and explained my program. He was so excited about it that he took it back to his company and showed it to all of his superiors. Soon thereafter, all of the people in his group were trained on my system. It was during that time that I decided to start selling the course.

In this course, I have compiled the knowledge that took me years to learn, and I present it in easy-to-understand examples, lessons, and projects. I walk you through hundreds of exercises and examples that are designed to give you the experience necessary to masterfully work Excel on your own. I explain each task or concept just like I was at your desk, looking over your shoulder, helping you each step of the way. However, I cannot teach you all of the logic that you will need in your specific situation you may encounter. I will show you how to use Excel and I will do my best to teach you the logic for many different situations, but it is up to you to apply that logic to your particular circumstance.

The projects, illustrations, tasks and examples taught in this course could be considered as on-the-job training, as it would take you many years to gain this experience on your own. In the Excel course, there are over 500 screenshots helping to show you how to do the almost 1,500 tasks you will perform. These are real world examples that you will find in actual situations. In fact, many of the exercises are actual projects that I have done over the years in my experience as an auditor, tax accountant, real estate appraiser, financial analyst, report developer, programmer and college instructor. As you work these examples, I encourage you to think about the concept being taught and use the theory learned with data and situations you are familiar with. This will greatly reinforce the concepts taught herein.

The course is based on progressive learning. When I teach a concept, I explain in full detail how to do it. Thereafter, I will assume that you have learned that concept. If you need to refresh your memory on how to accomplish the task, you can review the pages where that concept was originally taught. I encourage you to try to do it on your own before referring back, unless you are completely lost. In my years of experience, I have discovered that is the best way to learn. It should take you between one and four hours to complete each chapter, including working the examples, completing the review questions and taking the online exam at the end of each chapter.

It is important to realize that the concepts taught in this course are very versatile and there are many ways to do essentially the same thing. If you have learned a concept in a way that is different from how it is presented in this course but it achieves the same objective, feel free to use it. These courses are designed to give you exposure to a variety of ways of doing things. For example, most people are familiar with using the mouse to execute commands, but I prefer to use the keyboard. I find that I can move around a spreadsheet much faster by using keystrokes on the keyboard than I can with a mouse. As much as is reasonable, I will teach how to use both the mouse and keystrokes on the keyboard to show you how to execute the commands.

In developing this course, I created a company whose accounting system is complex enough to simulate real world activity, but simple enough to be used in the examples and projects. I didn't want the students to have to take a complete other course just to learn the accounting system of this company, but I had to make it complex enough to teach the necessary concepts. As such, I created a fictitious company called Nitey-Nite Mattresses. Nitey-Nite's business is to operate 29 retail stores across the United States. Nitey-Nite purchases mattresses, pillows and other merchandise from vendors and sells them at their retail stores. You will be the accountant for Nitey-Nite and will complete hundreds of exercises using Excel to perform those tasks. I will walk you through the keystrokes, step-by-step, until you have mastered all the concepts.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the course. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me personally at my address in the Contact Us page.

Jim Cline