Excel University Overview

Excel University is a safe and fun place to learn Excel. But, I don't teach just to increase the number of Excel functions you know.

I have a specific purpose: I teach so you can get your Excel work done faster.

You see ... it's all about efficiency.

But, Why?

I developed Excel University to focus on efficiency because I want to help others avoid the difficult Work:Time ratio I once had.

In a nutshell, my Work:Time ratio was too high. I had 50+ hours of work to accomplish in a standard 40 hour work week. I had more work than time. Having more work than time meant I was too busy and too stressed.

Too Busy and Too Stressed

Here's how my typical day would start. I'd fill my coffee cup and sit down at my computer. I had a bunch of Excel workbooks I needed to update. I'd open the first one and:

  • realize it was a mess
  • see side calculations everywhere
  • update cell values manually
  • rewrite formulas
  • copy/paste new transactions
  • update formatting, and so on ...

I felt like there should be a faster way, but didn't have time to figure it out right now. My plan was to update it manually again this month. I'd improve the workbook next month.

By the time I finished the first workbook, I noticed my coffee was lukewarm. Yuk. I had more work than time and felt overwhelmed. I felt a little like this dude:

Young businessman is sitting on desk and screaming because of unmanageable work. Isolated on white.

And, maybe you feel this way too ... maybe you can relate.

Can You Relate?

Maybe you spend the morning updating your first workbook, and when you finally close it, you are so far behind you have to work through lunch to do the next workbook. You avoid answering calls, you have a ton of email to reply to, and realize you’ll have to work late again.

You are behind schedule. To catch up, you work ... a lot. Even on weekends, and even though it means missing a few personal/family events.

You do not have your idea work/life balance.

You try to learn some time-saving tips and tricks. You discover that Excel is a big place ... and that it can be hard to learn.

Hard to Learn

You sense you may not use Excel to its fullest potential and recognize it may be able to save time.

Maybe a friend suggests checking out a specific Excel function, perhaps VLOOKUP. Your friend tries to explain it and draws something like this on your whiteboard:

vlookup

You appreciate the tip, but need more info. You do a search for VLOOKUP. You find a million results and click through the top results:

  • One article shows how to use it, but when you try it you get a bunch of errors
  • The next article says you should use INDEX/MATCH instead
  • So, you spend time learning about INDEX/MATCH
  • Another article says SUMIFS is a better option in some cases
  • The next article tells you to use XLOOKUP instead
  • Another article say VLOOKUP is dead because you can use Power Pivot relationships
  • Then you read that Power Query can merge tables without VLOOKUP
  • But, you aren't even sure if you have Power Pivot or Power Query or XLOOKUP

So, after spending a few hours on all this research, you give up … and just decide to do it manually. Just for one more month. You are busy right now, but you’ll figure it out next month.

And the cycle repeats.

Next month, you are still stressed and still have more work than time.

To make matters worse, in addition to your normal job, you get handed new "urgent" projects. I call these ... fire drills.

 

Fire Drills

When I was the accounting manager at a public company, I had my "normal" job of closing the books and so on. My "normal" job was a lot of work on its own.

One day, I was feeling overwhelmed and my CFO gave me a new assignment. I basically said "NO." Which, turned out to be the wrong answer. I ultimately did complete the assignment and everything was cool.

But here's the thing. My normal job kept me super busy. Any new assignments, especially "urgent" assignments, were super stressful.

And, maybe this happens to you.

You may already be behind on getting your monthly workbooks done, but now you get new projects. Plus, there are several emails in your inbox from folks who need you to create some new reports and perform some analysis for them ... "ASAP."

Which, by the way, it is crazy that your email can be used as a to-do list that anyone can add stuff too ... am I right?!

It's as if people can just walk by and drop more to-do notes on your computer:

Sticky Notes on Screen

You don’t have time to get your own stuff done, let alone all of these additional requests.

These urgent fire drills are creating a lot of extra anxiety.

Plus, all of these fire drills prevent you from doing more meaningful projects. You know the ones ... the projects that are important but not urgent.

Important (Not Urgent)

You plan to complete some bigger, more important, projects at your company. These big projects are important, but not urgent. The more pressing monthly updates take a lot of time. As do the urgent requests from others.

The important tasks need to get done, but since they aren't urgent, they tend to get postponed.

If you are familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix, they are highlighted below:

eisenhowermatrix

The important projects go on hold ... until next month. And then the next. And the next.

Time slips by. Because of all of the mundane repetitive tasks you have to get done, the big important projects just sit there. Undone.

And, depending on where you work, the inability to complete important (but not urgent) tasks can cause you to miss opportunities. Missed opportunities can be problematic.

 

Missed Opportunities

You are at max capacity. You are buried. You’d love to explore other opportunities within your company, for example, doing something that creates value. Maybe a project. Maybe a new analysis. Maybe a new role. Maybe a way to bring on new customers. Maybe a way to improve service to your clients. Maybe exploring a new product idea. Maybe a way to increase sales. Or decrease costs. Something great!

But, you are time constrained. And fatigued.

By the time you finish all of the urgent and repetitive tasks that are required, you are tired. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. By the time you finish your repetitive tasks, you just don't have the energy to start something new.

So, instead of stepping boldly into new opportunities, you stay stuck in the status quo. These are missed opportunities.

Opportunity Missed and Taken

But, you've been thinking about this. The solution is simple. You'll just spread the current workload over more people. You just need more people and more help. More people will create more time.

More People = More Time (?)

Let's step back and think about the Work:Time ratio. Since we are unable to change the "Work" part of the equation (the work has to get done), we'll change the "Time" side. We'll just create more time by getting more people involved.

After all, the amount of work expected from me is unreasonable to begin with. Right?

Well, the truth is, it is unlikely that more staff will be added to the equation. People are expensive.

In fact, the opposite is more likely. Staff will be reduced. Companies are trying to do more with less people all the time. When staff reductions occur, the remaining employees get additional work.

So, you do what any reasonable person would do ... the bare minimum. Avoid new projects. Survival mode.

 

Survival Mode

Since you have too much work already, you figure that you'll just avoid new projects. And, you'll do the bare minimum.

In the long term, this really isn't the best plan ... is it?

Doing the bare minimum won't get you noticed, and won't get you good raises.

Avoiding new projects means missed opportunities to work with others and expand your influence. It means avoiding eye contact, avoiding co-workers, and disengaging.

Not a great career plan.

The other option is to simply live with the stress and work late nights and weekends.

Another option is to quit. Or maybe that decision is made for you, and they let you go.

None of these are great options.

If the entire narrative above sounds familiar, it is because I know how it feels because I lived it. That was me.

Fortunately I discovered a way out of the mess. I figured out a solution to the Work:Time dilemma. It was a combination of process and key skills.

Process + Skills

I couldn't change the work product that was expected of me. (I still had to provide the same reports, journal entries, and workbooks.)

But, I could change how long they would take to prepare.

Excel helped me get the same amount of work done in less time.

Excel had all the features I needed to work fast. Really fast.

I developed (1) a process and (2) the Excel skills that enabled me to work faster. My project used to take 2 weeks (each month) ... and now I could get it done in 2 days.

Same work product. Less time.

I now had more time than work! I felt more like this dude:

I felt relaxed at work. The stress and late nights/weekends were gone. Plus it enabled me to help others and embrace new projects and opportunities.

About Me

I love teaching people how to use Excel to work fast. Just like I did.

It is all I do. I'm a full-time Excel trainer.

I am a CPA, but I don't do any tax returns or audits. I just teach Excel. And I love it.

In fact, I earned a special certification from Microsoft called "Microsoft Certified Trainer" which is perfect for me 🙂

I don't really enjoy talking about myself much ... but I've won all kinds of awards, Microsoft recognized my contributions by awarding me the Microsoft MVP, my courses get the highest reviews, I run a top Excel blog, I'm invited to speak all over the country about Excel, I've written 4 Excel books, and 40+ articles published in various magazines.

I've taught more than 500 live in-person sessions and over 1,500 webinars. At last count, I've trained more than 100,000 people worldwide on how to use Excel more effectively.

Jeff Lenning
MVP_Logo_Preferred_Cyan300_RGB_72ppi
MCT_logo (3)

I love what I do and am honored when my work is recognized. But what is most important is what I've leaned during my journey.

My journey was filled with stress, pain, and anxiety. But, the knowledge that I gained is invaluable. I'm grateful for my journey.

  • It took me about 10 years to learn how to USE Excel effectively (which features and functions, and how they all fit together).
  • It took me another 10 years to learn how to TEACH Excel effectively (how to explain each topic and present topics in the correct order).

I teach the 2 things that enabled me to get that 2-week per month project done in 2-days per month. They are the process and the Excel skills.

Let's first look at the process, which I call the Speed Loop.

Speed Loop (Process)

This process is what I developed to help me focus on improving my workbooks to save time.

sl_clean

I use an investor metaphor to teach the Speed Loop. An investor makes a financial investment, hopes the asset appreciates in value, and expects to realize a gain upon sale. That is, the investor seeks to get more back than the amount invested.

Here, we are investing time, appreciating the assets (our workbooks), and expecting to realize a gain (saving more time than invested).

 

Invest Time
Our goal here is to locate our recurring-use workbooks and prepare them for the Speed Loop.

  • Identify – recurring project workbooks (these can provide future efficiency dividends)
  • Insert – lead sheets (a set of standard worksheets)

Appreciate Assets
Our goal here is to incrementally improve the workbooks over several cycles

  • Automate – manual update tasks based on current Excel skills
  • Anticipate – errors and prevent and/or detect them
  • Accumulate – additional Excel skills needed to automate more tasks next period

Realize Gain
Our goal here is to leverage our time savings and reinvest our efficiency dividends

  • Rebuild – the set of workbooks as a whole, from scratch
  • Reinvest – locate the next set of recurring project workbooks, and go around again

If you'd like to learn more, I teach the Speed Loop free. I've prepared an on-demand webinar. It includes the Implementation Guide PDF and the Excel Lead Sheets template:

The other things I teach are the core Excel skills needed to automate the manual tasks.

Excel Skills

I teach Excel skills in many formats.

Some formats present individual topics. For example, conferences, blog posts, articles, YouTube, webinars and so on. They are presented in no particular order because they are all isolated topics.

I also teach them in a sequential and organized format in my on-demand courses. These are modeled after a college course, where you watch a lecture, do homework, and take tests. This on-demand course format is the most effective way for me to teach (and for students to learn) Excel.

The most rewarding part about teaching is seeing the results of my students. I LOVE hearing their success stories and about the efficiency they have achieved.

Student Success

It is amazing we have the technology that allows me to help so many people all over the world. The green shaded countries are my Excel University student countries. I enjoy hearing the success stories of my students.

StudentCountries20170804b

Bob works in New Mexico.

He took a 4-hour project down to 5 minutes.

Lee Ann works in Alabama.

She has saved over 3 hours per month on one project.

Luis is from California.

He has saved hours with a single function.

Tina works in North Carolina.

She saved 2-3 hours per month on a project.

Trustpilot Review - Tom
Trustpilot Review - Corina DeDecker
Trustpilot Review - david
Trustpilot Review - Carol-Anne Lunshof
Trustpilot Review - Teresa LaBonte
Trustpilot Review - Daniel Marcotte

If you'd like to hear directly from my students, watch this short interview video:

These students all took the time to train with me, and their training enabled them to work smarter and more effectively in Excel.

But ... you may feel like you are too busy to train.

Here's what worked for me when I felt like I was too busy to learn Excel.

 

Too Busy to Train!

When I felt stressed out at work because I had more work than time, I realized something. I realized that if I did nothing ... nothing would change.

I quickly realized the irony of my predicament. I'm trying to learn how to save time, but I'm too busy to learn how to save time. Ironic indeed.

meeting w excel

What I did was I intentionally scheduled time to focus on process improvement. I had to make the time. If this is actually a scheduled event in your calendar, you can focus, close your door, and people will leave you alone during your meeting. It is basically a meeting with you and Excel.

I improved one thing each month.

  • One report.
  • One workbook.
  • One journal entry.
  • One formula.
  • One PivotTable.

And each little improvement enabled me to save time next month. And more time the next. And so on. It was like an automation snowball. The efficiency kept growing each month. Until finally, I had balance. Work:Time balance.

This is EXACTLY how I did it. It worked for me. It has worked for my students. And I know it can work for you.

I want you to use Excel the fast way, but I also want you to learn Excel the fast way. Don't learn it like I did ... that would take a decade and tons of mistakes.

If you want to learn Excel as fast as possible, I've built the training program that will help.

Although I offer tons of free content, I do charge an enrollment fee for the formal training programs that took me 5 years to build.

"Pay to learn Excel? I don't think so ... there are tons of places to learn Excel for free." I know, let's talk about that.

Learn Excel free!

There are tons of wonderful resources online where we can learn Excel free. But, there are a few issues with this approach:

  • Random tips and tricks
  • Takes too long
  • Don't know what you don't know

Let's just chat about each briefly.

1 - Random collection of tips and tricks.

As you bounce around the web, reading blog posts, watching YouTube, reading discussion forum posts, checking out articles and webinars ... you end up with a random collection of tips and tricks.

Often these tips and tricks conflict with each other. One expert suggests VLOOKUP, another says INDEX/MATCH, another suggests XLOOKUP, another says SUMIFS, and others suggest Power Query or Power Pivot.

Yikes ... that was just researching a single function. And at the end of the day, you may be able to hack a solution together. But you aren't sure that it's the best way to accomplish this task in this workbook.

You see, there are many ways to accomplish any given task in Excel. But some ways are faster than others.

In my training programs, I present topics in an intentional order. I also compare functions so you are comfortable knowing the pros and cons of each. And which one is most appropriate for a given situation.

2 - Takes too long.

Another issue with searching the web is that it takes too long.

You do a search and read half an article before you realize it won't work for your workbook. You watch half a video before they get to the point, and when they do, you realize it doesn't apply. Perhaps a topic is only halfway explained. When you try to implement it, you realize it doesn't work in this case. But you aren't even sure why. So, back off to the search you go.

You know what's interesting about all of this? You currently have more work than time. Yet, this approach causes you to spend more time than is needed to learn Excel.

My programs offer the most efficient way to learn Excel. After all, I'm all about efficiency!

It reminds me of the move The Matrix. Have you seen it?

There is this scene where our hero, Neo, is accumulating combat skills. The operator "uploads" the training information directly into Neo's mind. When the upload is complete, Neo opens his eyes and says, "I know kung fu." After our training, you'll be like: "I know Excel."

3 - Don't know what you don't know.

The other big problem with searching is that you don't know what you don't know.

For example, you've heard about VLOOKUP and do a search for it. You find a tutorial and implement it into your workbook. What you don't realize is that over time VLOOKUP can break down, especially when you insert a new worksheet column between the lookup and return columns. Down the road, you start getting errors or unexpected results and have to go figure out how to fix them.

Had you known to search for XLOOKUP, your formula wouldn't break in that situation.

What you don't know can ultimately cause problems, errors, and manual fixes later.

Is it really free? At the end of the day, it doesn't cost $$ to use these resources to learn. But, it does cost time. It is the standard trade-off between time and money.

Maybe you have already been down that road and are ready to explore a paid training option.

Problem is ... there are too many options! How do you know which one is best? How do you know which one to choose? Let's chat about that now.

Too Many Options!

There are many outstanding training options available these days. Here are a few things that make Excel University unique:

  • Progression. I don't offer a random collection of standalone courses and unrelated tips and tricks. I offer a sequence of courses that fit together in a progression. Undergrad 1-4 and then Masters 1-2. They all fit together and introduce topics in the optimal sequence.
  • Relevancy. If you work in accounting/finance, the topics I teach will be relevant to your work. The examples I use will resonate with you because of my background as a CPA.
  • Everyone Welcome. Even if you don't work in accounting/finance, you are welcome! You will learn the core Excel skills that are helpful to many Excel users. No formal training or background in accounting/finance is needed.
  • Extreme Gamification. The Campus Pass training program (discussed below) offers Extreme Gamification. Gamification simply means using game-like elements to make the training fun (more like a game).
  • CPE. Excel University is a NASBA-approved CPE sponsor. This means we issue Continuing Professional Education credit for our Courses. In all, the 6 Excel University courses offer 100+ CPE hours. (What can I say ... Excel is a big place and I have a lot to say about it!)
  • Format. There are many different training formats available, including live webinars, PDF downloads, YouTube videos, pre-recorded webinars, and more. The format I use at Excel University is modeled after a university class. But, instead of a live lecture you watch a pre-recorded lecture video. You stream it on-demand, and can rewind, pause, and replay as desired. When you are comfortable, you download the Excel files and practice the exercises hands-on. If you get stuck, just reference the full written narrative, solutions videos, and answer files, or post a question in the discussion forum. I have put a lot of work into creating the format that provides the most effective way to learn Excel.
  • Pace. I have carefully designed the training to enable you to work at your own pace. The videos are pre-recorded so you can pause, rewind, and replay as needed. Plus, you can work on the homework at your own pace. For topics you are familiar with, you can skip the hands-on exercises. You can control the playback speed of the video, going faster or slower than the originally recorded speed.
  • Certifications. I also offer two Certifications which can be placed on your LinkedIn or resume. The Excel University Graduate Certification is earned when you complete the 4 undergraduate courses and the Excel University Masters Certification is earned when you complete the 2 masters courses.
  • Recommendation. When you earn one of the certifications, I write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. If you accept the recommendation, it will be displayed so others will know that you are awesome at Excel.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure. Students train with different goals. Some students just want to skim the surface while others want to dig deep. Some already know VLOOKUP, some don't. Some students want to do every exercise. Some want to do all the extra credit exercises. So, students can literally choose their own adventure. The only requirement is that if you want to earn the certification/certificate of completion, you'll need to pass the tests with a score of 70% or better. The homework is not turned in or graded. You can skip lecture videos. You can study the lessons in order or jump around as desired. You can truly choose your own adventure.

It took everything I learned about teaching Excel over the past decade to build Excel University.

 

Still Too Many Options!

Perhaps you are interested in training at Excel University, but, when you go to the course list you quickly find too many choices and options. No worries, here is my suggestion for finding the right program.

  • If you don't need CPE (Continuing Education Credit), I'd consider getting a Campus Pass. This is because it is offered on a pay-as-you-go model with no commitments. It is billed monthly and you stop it when you want. Plus, if offers extreme gamification, billing discounts, and includes the entire undergraduate and masters programs.
  • If you do need CPE, start with the undergrad courses. Start with 1 and go in order 1-4.
  • If you already know all of the undergrad topics, head straight to the masters courses and take them in order 1-2.

How do you know if the training will be too easy, too difficult, or just right? Let's talk about that as well.

Too Easy? Too Difficult? Just Right?

People have a wide range of existing knowledge, skills, and experience. So, how can we build a program that meets everyone's needs?

Short answer is, we can't.

I don't want to sell training to someone if it won't be a good fit. So, let's just have an honest discussion about who my training was developed for, and who it doesn't serve well. That way, you can decide if you want to dig in.

Excel University courses aren't designed for true beginners. If you have never opened or used Excel before, you'll want to get comfortable with the basics first before training here. And, by the way ... I'm super excited for your Excel journey!

Excel University is designed for people who are already comfortable with the basics.

Excel University isn't designed for people who rarely use Excel. If you open Excel maybe once a month, then you won't see the true benefits. Yes, I can teach you Excel, for sure. But, you won't experience the dramatic time savings simply because you don't spend much time in Excel.

Excel University is designed for people who work in Excel often, as in, they open it pretty much daily. If you manage several workbooks and update them periodically ... yes, I'm for you.

In summary, if you are comfortable with the basics, ready to get good, use Excel frequently, and update workbooks over and over ... you are my people. And you are who I serve. This University was built for you.

If you decide to give it a try, and then find it is not at the right level or is not a good fit for ANY reason ... no worries. Just let us know, because:

  • We have a full-refund policy for the first 30 days.

No questions asked.

 

This sounds great, but I'm not ready.

You may feel like Excel University would be a good fit, but you just aren't ready to begin.

Maybe you'll do it next month, or maybe next year.

But if you don't commit to getting started on your journey, month after month will go by without any change.

Your Work:Time dilemma will persist.

You don't want to look back a year from now and be in the same situation you are now. You'll feel like you just wasted another year.

You can't go back in time to begin your training, but you can start now. It reminds me of a quote I heard recently:

  • "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

If you start training now ... then in a year from now you'll feel more relaxed. You'll have more time than work 🙂

 

More Time than Work

I'm not sure what having more time than work will look like in your life, but here's what it looked like for me.

  • Emotionally. I felt less anxious. Both at work and at home. Instead of waking up with a knot in my stomach, I was excited to start my day at work. I did not feel stressed out. I didn't feel overwhelmed.
  • Physically. Since I had a bit more freedom in my schedule, I actually starting riding my bicycle to work, and would often ride at lunch too. This extra exercise was good for me, and so refreshing. I think it gave me more energy during the day as well.
  • My workday routine changed as well. Instead of starting my day feeling behind, I felt ahead. I could plan and be proactive instead of being reactive. I guess I felt more in control over my workday and schedule.
  • My role changed a bit too. Instead of just doing all of the routine, mechanical work ... I was able to do more fulfilling projects. More important projects. Projects that enabled me to express my creativity. I found the process of automating things with Excel extremely rewarding. I had more job satisfaction because the stuff I was working on was more fun.
  • Visibility. I also started to get better visibility within my company. You see, my reputation kinda grew outside my own little department. Soon, people from other departments started asking me to help them automate their stuff as well. And hey, I had the time! And it was fun, so I gladly helped.
  • Job security. One unexpected benefit was increased job security. I knew how to automate stuff. I knew how it all fit together. I knew how to update and maintain it all, and I knew how to help others.
  • Work/life balance. My work/life balance improved. I never worked late nights or weekends. I was able to attend all of the family events, social gatherings, and even had time to take a night class at my local community college (a Linux class).

At the end of the day, I'm grateful that I was able to learn how to use Excel to get my work done faster because it has enabled me to be more intentional about how I spend my time. And time is our most precious resource.

It reminds me of a show I watched about Bill Gates. They were talking about Bill's daily schedule and how events were booked to make the most effective use of his time. Then they said "time is the one thing Bill can't buy more of."

My courses teach everything I learned about getting the same amount of work done in less time with Excel.

 

OK, let's do this!

If you are ready, you can get started immediately.

Course access is granted instantly, so you'll be inside learning moments from now.

My best training option is the Campus Pass ($39>$29>$19):

If you are a CPA or need CPE credit, then you'll want to take a Course instead because they are offered for CPE credit:

If you'd like to learn more about the difference between a Course and a Campus Pass:

Please contact me if I can provide any additional information or assistance ... thanks!

Thanks

Jeff