There is an Easter Egg in Excel!

Posted on April 22nd, 2011 in personal - 31 comments

Did you know that MS Excel has a hidden, life altering Easter egg? This is a story of how I found it and discovered joy. Read on.

Almost an year ago, I have quit my job with one of the leading IT companies in the world, to embark on an uncertain but very exciting journey. I have started my own business around MS Excel – creating & selling awesome Excel products & training programs [visit our online store].

This is a continuation of the Chandoo.org Start-up Story posted around the same time last year. Grab a cup of coffee and read it in leisure. Do not expect any Excel tips. 🙂

[PS: if you are new to Chandoo.org, Read this and this before reading this post.]

There is an Easter Egg in Excel

What is it like to run a small business

When I wanted to leave a stable & well-paying job & start a business several things bothered me. What if my business never picks up? What if I do not generate enough money to sustain my family? What if I grow complacent & make mistakes? What if I get bored or lonely or get demotivated? What if I cannot handle the thousand little things that go in to running a business?

They say, leap and a net will appear. And leap I did. And just as if a switch is turned on, I found answers to all my doubts one by one. I discovered the joy in running a small business around my passion. I made mistakes, but I kept learning. I found help from friends. I made new friendships. I learned how to reduce, automate, outsource areas of work that are not critical. I hired people to help me with customer service & emails. And not one moment, I felt tired, bored or demotivated. In fact, I feel excited every single day about what I am doing.

How is my business doing?

Here is a quick summary of the business:
(April 2010 to March 2011)

  • Total paying customers: 2,175 (Repeat customers: 175)
  • Revenues: ~$200,000
  • Top products – Excel School (743), PM Templates (1148), Dashboard Training (199)
  • Consulting clients – Microsoft, Wao Marketing, eNor and more.
  • Speaking & Training – Office 2010 Launch Event, International Excel Workshop @ Maldives
  • Total Visitors to Chandoo.org – 2.5 Mn
  • Visitors who spent more than 15 minutes on site – 787,000
  • Number of comments received – 7,790
  • Number of articles written – 217
  • Press Coverage – MSN, Economic Times etc.

What did I learn in one year of doing this?

Many things. Hardly a week goes by without picking up some new skill or idea. But the most important things have to be,

It is not risky: I had this notion of taking huge risk by leaving a plush job. But then, the risk magically disappeared on day 2. Instead, I see immense opportunity for fun, knowledge, satisfaction and profit. All of which were not possible with my day job beyond certain extent. [Related: Is it scary to start?]

It does not take 80 hours per week: During the first 6 months, I used to work a lot. Most of the time I was inefficient. Then, I analyzed my time (in Excel, what else) and found that I could reduce the number of hours spent on e-mail and other activities to focus on what I love most – Excel, interacting with people and sharing new ideas. Now, I am spending <6 hours per day and I am happy with the results.

You need a supportive family: At least once a day, my son or daughter would walk up to my office-cum-guest-bedroom and knock on the doors, often violently, and scream – “daddy, da.” (meaning, Come out Daddy). Although, my heart would race to go out and hug them, I would say no and continue working.

There were days, when Jo (my wife) would feel lonely as I was locked inside the office room for a product launch or marathon recording session or crafting a dashboard etc.

Kids on Christmas Morning...

But, thankfully, I have an understanding wife. So, they would be all smiles when I walk out. Also, I have learned to structure my working hours around my kids sleeping hours. For eg. I would get up at 4AM to do recording.

Saying NO is 100 times tougher than saying YES: While I feel immensely thankful for the growth in my business, it has also bought in a new challenge. There were too many opportunities. So many more than I can handle. I get requests for consulting, training, product development, testing, collaboration and more. Initially I used to say YES to everyone. Soon, I had a pipeline of things to do, with no clear plan on when I will finish everything. Then, I started being picky. I started accepting consulting work for projects which are challenging. I started collaborating with one company at a time. This reduced the workload. But the challenge of saying NO is so much more than YES.

Taking it easy is not so easy: When this blog was my side-business, I used to take it very easily. But during the initial months of making the switch, it was hard for me to take this easily. I would freak-out when my site went down, when a customer dis-liked my product or when I get an email with “Urgent” in the subject.

I learned to slow down things. For eg. I reduced the number of posts per week from 5 to 3. I also roped in more people. Hui, Paramdeep & a few guest authors to write on this blog. Ravindra to help me with emails & customer service. Naturally, this restored my sense of humor and ability to learn new things.

Ask and you shall receive: This is the most important lesson. I used to worry whether anyone would purchase my training or products. But then I realized that by just asking you to purchase, you would consider it. This is how I was able to generate revenues from Excel School, PM Templates and other products.

What next?

The road is waiting...

I am excited about the way my business has turned out. While I generally avoid from making long-term plans, here are a bunch of things I would continue to do,

  • I would like to grow this business slowly and learn new things all along.
  • I will continue to share my knowledge, mistakes and ideas with you.
  • I will spend a great deal of time with Jo and kids. I love taking long walks with Jo, playing with kids.
  • I like connecting with people all around the world and will continue to do so.
  • I will continue making awesome products, training programs.
  • We (our family) will continue to spend less, live meaningfully and give back a portion of what we make to society.
  • I will continue to treat you, my dear reader, as my top-most priority.

Wishing you a happy Easter

I found an Easter egg in Excel. Instead of finding it on Easter day, I find it everyday. And I feel excited, fulfilled, grateful & honored.

I wish you will find your Easter egg. It might be in your profession, hobby, religion or community. I wish you will discover the same joy as I did and continue to spread it.

And if you have already found it, then I feel very happy for you.

Thank you.

Easter Egg photo from tillwe.

Written by Chandoo
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Home: Chandoo.org Main Page
? Doubt: Ask an Excel Question

31 Responses to “There is an Easter Egg in Excel!”

  1. Rahul says:

    You are really awesome!! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Your story is really inspiring. Keep up the good work.

  2. Jon Peltier says:

    Wow, those kids are growing up fast. It's good you've learned how to find time to enjoy them.
     
    You might add one point, which you have clearly demonstrated: luck favors the prepared.
     
    May you have continued good fortune.

  3. Gobish says:

    Truly Inspiring....... On your ways......... Following all your posts really energize me in my Journey.

    Wishing you the best ......

  4. Busymanjohn says:

    Hi Chandoo, as I have said many times before, keep up the great work, you really do inspire others to do more and learn about how great a tool MS Excel is, whether it's Classic Excel or the more dynamic 2010 version. I have often thought about starting up my own web site for Excel training . sharing of knowledge, but often thought "I don't know enough to help people" but perhaps that is not true afterall, maybe I should set up a website and take a leaf out of your book. Wishing you and your family a fabulous Easter and that you spend real quality time with the kids, they are worth all the hard work and worry over the years to come ( mine are 18 and 16 years old now ).

    Thanks again Chandoo.

  5. Shorusan says:

    Thanks for sharing! Btw, there used to be "easter eggs" within excel prior to 2007...:) too.

  6. Roger Fisher says:

    Thank you for this and all of your posts. They are truely helpful and inspiring.

  7. E. Sok says:

    Congratulations, Chandoo, very inspiring your story is. More power!

  8. Edward Chan says:

    You always inspire me, Chandoo.
    You are not only my teacher in Excel, you are one of my teacher in my life.
    From your work, I learn that I can create! Not only creating magic in Excel, but also in our daily life.
    Currently, I am struggling about my own career path, after watching your post, I feel much much better.

    Let me thank you once again, Chandoo.

  9. Istiyak says:

    Chandoo..........you rocks. Also thank to 'JO' For give the support to chandoo. Nice it sawn that if we want to do something than surely we can do it. What a hard work chandoo.

  10. Mark (Los Angeles, CA) says:

    You're a good man, Chandoo...and so well balanced! Keep up the great work and continue being awesome in all that you do!

  11. Nice to hear a success story in these troubled times.
    Nice to see a man with his "yin-yang" together.
    Nice to find someone willing to share his successes with others.
    Thanks for everything and, a Happy Easter to you and your family.
    Shalom

  12. Danièle says:

    The smiles and twinkle in your kids eyes say it all!
    Success after all should only be measured in how happy and fulfilled you are.
    Your leap of faith was a huge leap but there was always going to be success in the eyes of most of your fans because you do have the humour, the curiosity, an the thoughts-outside-the-square that makes you web site compulsive reading all bundled up with a real wish to share and infuse both knowledge but also happiness, as you have done today.
    Thanks you for your special Easter post, last year and this year.
    THANKS

  13. Christopher Carr says:

    Chandoo, I've always loved the technical expertise I've gained from your site. It has helped enormously in my work and I thank you for it. However, to be perfectly honest, I've always had to "get past" your infectious nature. Everything being "awesome" drove me crazy. But this post is extra special. You have captured in so few words exactly what it means to work for yourself. I feel inspired and confident just reading them. In the words of the Everly Brothers, "I bless the day I found you".

  14. Prasad says:

    it's really inspring & awesome. Thanks for sharing. I has awaken me

  15. ruth says:

    Thanks for such an inspiring post. You have helped me a lot to develop my Excel skills and at work I'm considered a whiz in excel even though I am still learning. You have made me realise that believing in your abilities is the greatest strength we have. Thanks for everything, and happy Easter.

  16. Alan says:

    Well done Chandoo. Prove that if you set a plan and believe in it, it can be done.

    Inspiring stuff!!

  17. Dear Chandoo,

    I think this post of yours has an excellent piece of wisdom. A great deal of encouragement for all the entrepreneurs. It is so reassuring to note that the path you have chosen is leading you to satisfaction mental as well as financial. May you continue to enlighten us with your Excel experimentations and live experiences.

  18. Mara says:

    Chandoo,
    Happy Easter! You are so great! I will always support you in whatever you do because you care about your readers. You are truly an inspiration to me!

    I know you will continue in your success.

  19. les goins says:

    WAAAY cool...! 🙂

    DELIGHTED at your success, but, not suprised...
    I look forward to your AMAZING Excel and (personal) emails, every day...
    good things happen to good people... looking forward to signing up for your school, soon as $ are little better...VERY BEST to you and your delightful family!

  20. Durga says:

    Hi Sir,

    Almost every day I visit your Site to draw inspiration in excel and trust never been disappointed on the same.
    Keep up the good JOB to enlighten us with your Excel GYAN and sharing the same....

    Durga

  21. Tim says:

    Thanks for sharing your storing; it's very inspiring both from a business and a life perspective.

  22. Smitha Goutam says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    Your story is truly inspiring. I follow your site almost everyday.

    Thanks and Keep up the good work

    Smitha

  23. Vijay says:

    Hi Chandoo,
    Yours is truly inspiring story! Keep up the great work and wish you and your family all the very best!

  24. Pedro Wave says:

    I have not the courage to take the way that is following Chandoo.
    Just allow myself publishing a blog on graphical user interfaces in which I wanted to share my experiences on Excel altruistically by now.
    Chandoo, you are a crack!

  25. Lood says:

    Beautiful pic of kids - just as colourful and cheerful as daddy! 😉

  26. Michelle says:

    Chandoo,
    Your story is incredibly inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I believe we are returning to an age of small business owners again - on the internet!

  27. DaveG says:

    Chandoo

    You deserve the success you are experiencing. You have managed to combine a deep knowledge of a subject that you enjoy with a naturally giving nature and turn it into a business. And to top it off, you are managing to keep your family life going well, too.

    It is inspirational to see someone not only enthuse about their success but also share information on how the business is doing - good and bad, especially when family is such an integral part of your life (normally these things are closely guarded secrets, or have a marketing spin put on them). Thank you.

    And to echo John Peltier - your kids are growing up fast. Enjoy them every day.

  28. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

  29. [...] you want few more challenges, try our Easter eggs from past – 2009, 2010,  2011 & [...]

  30. Ladeji says:

    A wonderful Easter to the Excel Guru. i will send you Easter Hen. It will lay more Easter eggs for to send around.

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