Yesterday was a wonderful day for me. 
Remember the US NGO I talked about in my April 1 post, that matched me with, to train their staff on Microsoft Excel. Well the first phase of the training happened on Monday, and the feedback I got yesterday was awesome. The training coordinator was extremely happy and sent me the second best mail I have gotten this month (second to the MVP award mail). And I also gave a presentation somewhere else, which went better than I expected.

Also, I have completely rebuilt my company site, You can check it out. Already putting my new web skills to practical use.

There's a joy that comes with knowing you've created something of value. Even when you are not paid for it. And it's a joy I now experience very often. I often get amazing and joy-filling mails (+ BBM messages) from very nice people about my blog posts, how they have been of value to them. And it has been my biggest motivation to keep writing daily.

I owe most of my knowledge and skills to helping people for free. I have learned more Excel tricks by helping people than by reading books. Freely sharing my knowledge online has deepened my knowledge of finance, stocks investing, writing, teaching and ICT. And best of all, creating value has made me more valuable. I get lots of opportunities, paid and non-paid, because of the good reputation creating value has gotten me. And people hardly doubt my competence. In fact, I believe most people over estimate it. They think I can do things I'm sure I can't.

I've resumed being active as a UN online volunteer and almost getting my next project. I would be writing a business environment analysis article on Nigeria for an NGO.

Finally, I want to say a big thanks to everyone that gave me a phone app idea. I will be sure to give you a feedback soon.

In life, the most important metric/KPI is steady long term growth. It applies to every aspect of our lives. The richest farmers are not the ones cultivating maize and beans, plants that produce quick gain and finish their life-cycle in a year. No. The richest farmers are the ones cultivating Cocoa, Rubber tree and Palm trees. Trees that grow slowly and almost forever.

Even in the finance and investment world, it's also true. A microfinance bank invests in opportunities that will produce gains in 1 to 3 years. Commercial banks invest in opportunities that will produce gains in 2 to 10 years. The big investment banks focus on opportunities that will produce gains in 10 to 100 years.

Time is the greatest resource. And the best way to use it is in spending it on things that will outlive you. In planting trees. Trees of quality friendship your children and their children will benefit from. Trees of a solid financial plan that will make your money outlive you for the benefits of those you love. Trees of a healthy lifestyle, acorns of daily/weekly exercise, that will make you look and feel great till whatever age you wish to reach. Trees of goodwill and honesty that will inspire people long after you are gone. Trees of hardwork and focus that will get you more than all you need in life.

We all need to plant trees more. To see beyond a week, a month and a year. To not just plant maize and beans. To stop starting all over every year, cultivating and harvesting. To cultivate more now, so we can spend the later part of our lives harvesting.

I've come across people who are obsessed with immediate gain. They work harder than most of us but all spent in planting maize. And every year, they have to repeat the same amount of work. They compare themselves with others and try to match their harvest. They try to squeeze out the most from what they have, and now. They are always in a race, a sprint. Their long term plan is simply to repeat their short term plans more often. To spent less time reaching their harvest, and not to spend more time planting trees.

Unfortunately, I'm like that. I don't even see beyond a month, except in running my finances. I honestly don't know where I'll be in a year's time. I don't invest in quality friendship, in fact, in any friendship at all. My financial plan is to not starve. The only parts I'm doing well in are daily exercises and honesty. And, thanks to my new entrepreneur status, hardwork too. But I hope to start changing slowly. To begin planting a few acorns in my fields of maize.

Yesterday, I met with someone a friend recommended I meet. He, like me, recently quit his job to start an Excel Consulting and Training Business. He's way more knowledgeable on the market trends and opportunities than me, having being in the training industry for a long time before going on his own. And the one thing he assured me was that the market is huge and we all can thrive without clawing one another. And luckily for me, I'm possibly the only one doing very complex Excel VBA programs. So I'm much more relaxed now. And before something else changes my new relaxed mood, I want to churn out as many phone applications as I can. And I need you all.

I need you all think about an application you've always wanted. Maybe a phone app that will save you the stress of typing out, then, then and then You would be happy to have a phone app that has all your favorite websites, the ones you read almost daily, in one place. You just tap on the one you want to read. But you want it done in a more intuitive and cooler way than Favourite on a browser. And maybe also include ability to share any interesting posts you read (especially hot gossips on Linda Ikeji's blog).

And maybe you fly a lot. And would love to have all the booking web pages of Airlines in one place. You don't have to memorise their names and web addresses, you will always be sure you've checked everyone's prices before making a choice.

Or yours is traffic report aggregator. A simple phone app that will aggregate all traffic reports from Giditraffic and other smaller traffic reporting handles. You don't want the distraction that comes with viewing it directly on twitter app.

Or you love to know the current exchange rates. Dollar to Naira. Pound to Naira. Euro to Naira. Cedi to Naira. And even CFA to Naira. 

Or you are into stocks. And want a simple phone app that will let you see the daily stock prices and percentage change.

Or you're a sports fanatic. And don't want to miss out of anything happening in the sports world.

So give me your ideas. Or help fine tune mine. Let's build apps that we will find very useful. Not another facebook or twitter or instagram. But something that meets our daily basic needs. And for Nigerians, mainly.

I’ve finally fixed my fixed my confusion.

I’m going to build my business slowly. Making sure that I don’t replicate my previous work-life. What’s the use of being on my own if it’s to build another 9 – 5 life for myself and to join the rat race from the sideline. Why should I be in a hurry when I know so little and am bound to make lots of mistakes. Why should I be in a hurry when I’ve got the rest of my life to spend doing this.
My biggest moments of joy are not money related. They are moments when I did the almost impossible, even when they cost me almost all my money. I love to live life on my own terms. To be my own boss, slave, board of directors and entire company staff. To measure success using my own metrics. To be able to change my mind whenever I want to and as often as I want. To do only the things I enjoy. And to take my time, ignoring the competition and trends.

I hate to think that all I’m doing is just to be better than the competition. More than I desire to be the best at what I do is my desire to, first, be myself. To be the best at being me. To put myself first before money and business. To live the life I dream of and not scheming ways to squash the competitor’s dream. To discover myself first before discovering my perfect business strategy. To not just focus on the destination but thoroughly enjoy the journey. To stop postponing my happiness and doing things just because they will put food on the table.

Living is not a choice between joy and riches, security and misery, adventure and fulfillment. Letting go of security is not equal to embracing misery. Choosing joy is not losing all chance of getting rich. Pursuing one’s dream is not a one way ticket to dying poor and unfulfilled. Life is not black and white. The options are never just two, yes and no. Sometimes, all we want are on the other side of fear, not security. If one never tries, then one has no right to claim it’s impossible to live a perfect life. A life that you don’t want to change a thing about. Just perfect.

I’m lucky to have discovered myself and my real dreams. And I won’t give up being the real me and pursuing my dreams because of fear of losing security. God has given me one life, and I consider it more noble to spend it on creating the unique value He’s made me unique for rather than trying to fit myself into a mold I don’t enjoy being in.

Today's Excel special post is on menus. Helping you make sense of the Excel menus, using Excel 2010 for illustration. I chose Excel 2010 because it's extremely similar to Excel 2007, and understanding it will make Excel 2013 not hard to understand.

So here we go.

We've got Home menu, Insert menu, Page Layout menu, Formula menu, Data menu, Review menu and View menu. There is one more menu that is hidden by default: Developer menu. It won’t be discussed because it is used mainly for including a macro (program) in an Excel file.

The home menu is Excel’s most used menu. It has very straightforward sub-menus.

Clipboard: Allows you to copy, cut and paste in Excel
Font: Allows you to set font size, color, background color (fill) & turn on bold or italics or underline.
Alignment: Allows you to set the position of whatever you've typed (or copied) into Excel. It also allows you to set how it’s written: horizontal, vertical or slanting.
Number: Allows you to set how a number is shown in Excel: regular number, currency, scientific, percentage, fraction… 
Styles: Allows you to set the format of an Excel cell based on the data it holds (aka conditional formatting). It also allows you to convert a selection of cells to table, and to set quick formats for a cell.
Cells: Allows you to insert new cells, delete cells and change cell format.
Editing: Houses the very useful Sort and filter tools, Find & Select, Find & Replace, and also Autosum which helps you sum all numbers in a selection.

 The Insert menu houses some of Excel’s best tools.

Tables: Allows you to insert PivotTable, PivotChart and Table. Inserting a table in Excel allows for quick formatting, and better formulas (via named ranges). PivotTable and PivotChart has been explained in my previous posts.
Illustrations: Allows you to insert images and shapes.
Charts: Allows you to insert charts.
Sparklines: Allows you to insert charts that fit into one Excel cell. Makes some reports beautiful and easy to read.
Filter: Allows you to filter out field values you are not interested in.
Links: Allows you point a cell content to a website or an email address.
Text: Allows you to insert texts and objects (pretty much anything, including a PDF document)
Symbols: Allows you to type out equations and special symbols.

The Page Layout menu does just that: setting up your Excel document’s page look and for printing.

Themes: It’s not very useful; it sets the look of the Excel window itself. 
Page Setup: It allows you to set how the page comes out when printed. Most used are the Orientation (to set as Portrait or Landscape) and Print Area (to select on the cells you want to print).
Scale to Fit: It allows you to set how much is printed per page. Most frequent use is to force Excel to print on one page, or fit all the fields (columns) on one page width.
Sheet Options: You wouldn’t want to change the default. It allows you set whether Excel gridlines be printed or not, and headings too. Default is no/off (unticked).
Arrange: It lets you rearrange overlapping objects (shapes, images, textboxes…). Or align them.

The Formula menu gives you access to Excel’s built-in formulas.

Function Library: It has the formulas grouped by category. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it helps you locate the formula to use. It’s good to look through it once in a while to have an idea of the out-of-the-box analysis Excel can do.
Defined Names: Lets you name a selection of cells. Can be very useful when analyzing a big database.
Formula Auditing: Allows you to check for errors in your formulas and see how your final result is being calculated.
Calculation: Allows you to set when the formulas in your Excel sheet are calculated: automatic (whenever a cell value changes) or manual (at first entry and when you force them to be recalculated).

The Data menu allows you to work with external data and do basic data formatting.

Get External Data: It allows you to import or link to an external data file (non-Excel file). You’ll use it whenever you have a data in text file and need it to work on in Excel.
Connections: Allows you to make changes to the connections/links to an external data file. Or force a refresh of the connections to capture changes made in the external data file since last connection.
Sort & Filter: Allows you to sort data and do some filtering too. Filter allows you to specify values to display.
Data Tools: Allows you do very basic data analysis. Especially removing duplicate entries, and splitting one field into several (text-to-column). Example is splitting full name into First name and Last name.
Outline: Allows you to group (and hide) several rows. Useful for large data reports with few categories; helps to group categories.

The Review menu is for spell checks, commenting and setting access restrictions.

Proofing: Allows you to carry out spell checks and word meaning checks.
Language: Allows you to translate the Excel file content from one language to another.
Comments: Allows you to include comments in an Excel sheet, view all comments at once or delete comments.
Changes: Allows you to set access restrictions and track changes to the Excel file. Also allows you to share the file.

The View menu allows you to change the window layout of the Excel document. It doesn’t change anything in the actual document, just the way it’s displayed.

Workbook views: Allows you to set how the workbook (Excel file) is displayed.
Show: Controls what not printing details are shown: Gridlines, Headings, Formula bar and Ruler. The one you’ll be interested most in is Gridlines. If you want your Excel sheet to look more like a Word file, untick the Gridlines. That’s what’s done to every Excel sheet you see that has no Gridlines.
Zoom: Does what it says: sets zoom.
Window: Allows you to freeze headers so that when you scroll they will never be out of view. And also allows you to split the Excel sheet display, so you can compare two different parts of the sheet.
Macros: Allows you to see the macros programmed in the Excel file (if there’s any macro in it)

And that's my easy to grasp explanation of Excel menus. Don't forget to contact me for Advanced Excel training, Corporate Excel training and Custom Excel Solutions/Programs.

I'm now enjoying the biggest benefit of being on my own: time to attend those weekday events I couldn't while working a full-time job. 

Two weeks ago, I registered for a Windows Applications Development bootcamp. A week long event. And this week is the event week. A senior engineer from Microsoft USA is handling the entire training, and it has been very intensive. The result -- I'm now a Microsoft Phone App developer. And I've published my first Windows Phone app, a very easy to use and intelligent calculator. Built from scratch by me. And unconventional, like me.

Actually, my knowledge of Visual Basic (which I use for making Excel programs and business reports automation) greatly helped. Once I can think through what my app will do, coding it is fun and easy. I think extremely well in Visual Basic. I've tried learning C# but like Java, I find it frustrating. So following a veteran's advice, who codes both VB and C#, I decided to build my Windows Phone app with the VB I'm good at and not the C# the class is based on. And even the trainer was impressed; I probably built the coolest app in the bootcamp.

If you remember my April 6 post where I said I hope to become a good Windows App developer by year end, well, something pleasant and surprising, even to me, has happened. I now consider myself good at building Windows Phone Apps. I have been taught all I need to know about the Visual Studio IDE and I have an excellent VB skill. I've got a creative mind. It's now a numbers game. I'll be churning out Windows Phone Apps like I'm paid to make them. 

And on the other hand, my web development training is going great. I met so many professional web developers and designers at the bootcamp. Got lots of contacts, help and advice. I'm already seeing huge improvement in my web programming skills. I've not slept well for some days now. The hours fly really fast. I sleep at 1am and 2am almost everyday.

If I keep learning and working at this rate, the Nigerian online space will be flooded with lots of my creations. From phone apps to web apps. And I'll be happy till my savings run out.

One of the benefits of being openly social online and offline is that you stop bothering about one single person. Hearing people's honest personal opinions of you almost everyday, via emails or face-to-face conversations, makes you a lot less sensitive and a lot more predictive. And you'll not only realize than sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but that sometimes it rains. That tables turn often, after a while.


I grew up as the super sensitive nerdy kid. I took people's comments about me very personal. And I had a not so happy childhood. Naturally, people complain more than they praise. It's just the way we are. On a road that experiences traffic jam for just 6 hours in the entire 24 hours of the day, all you'll most likely hear if you could analyse all comments about that road will be complaints. And so I heard more negative comments about me than positive ones. And I took them all personal. And ended up unhappy for the greater part of my childhood. 

Then in my late teens, thanks to the crazy people I lived around in the University, I realized that comments about me are simply individual opinions, and as the same people are wrong about a lot of things, they are usually wrong about me too. So I moved into the "Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose" mindset. Some people will like you, for both wrong and right reasons, and some people will hate you, also for both wrong and right reasons.

Then I began blogging in 2009. Writing out my heart online and being on over 20 social networking sites. The whole world shrinked from a plane ride away to a click away. I realized that at the core, every human is the same. Regardless of location and education. I began to see a part of me in others and a part of them in me. And then realized that sometimes it rains. It's always never about winning or losing. People care more about being heard than being right. And on the few times they are right, things change. Situation changes and the people involved also change.

Now, in my social interactions with people I don't just think "They like me or not", "They are right or wrong", "They know me or not", "They win or lose". Most times, especially when they think I'm some jerk, I simply tell myself -- today must be a rainy day.

I remember my first serious use of Excel, I struggled with typing anything into Excel. Making corrections were a nightmare. And the worst was when what I typed was longer than the cell width/space. Then, working on Excel was my surest way of getting frustrated.

And today's post is for people who are at that frustration phase. Where you can't seem to understand how Excel handles your data. I'll be giving you the help I wish I had 3 years ago.

And here it is.

In Excel, you type into small rectangular boxes called cells. I would be referring to everything you type or copy into Excel as Data. 

Every cell has an address, because each cell is an intersection of a row and a column. The cell selected in the image on the left, is addressed as cell A1. It is the intersection of column A and row 1.

Sometimes, what you type into a cell takes more space than the cell has. Don’t worry, just expand the column width by dragging the right border of the column header.
Like this: 

Excel recognizes 4 different data types: Text, Number, Boolean & Formula.

Text: Whenever you type alphabets, or a mix of alphabets and numbers into Excel (without preceding with =), everything is recognized as text.

Number: If all you type into a cell are digits, they are recognized as Number by Excel.

Boolean: FALSE and TRUE are Boolean entries. You’ll hardly use them. They are used for setting up complex formulas. But always take note that whenever you type false or true in a cell, Excel will put it upper case and see it as Boolean.

Formula: Once you begin a cell entry with =, Excel treats everything you type after as a formula. In the image on the left, I was multiplying the number in cell B2 by 45.

On Wednesday I bumped into a beautiful friend at Genesis Deluxe Cinema, The Palms, Lekki. She was surprised. But I wasn't; I'm always bumping into people. So she had the Captain America 2 movie ticket and it was showing in about 30 mins time. The last time I had gone to the movies with a friend was in 2011. Friends. Two lovely Kenyans. And I sat in the middle. So I bought the Captain America ticket too. And also sat in the middle, just this time it was in the middle seat in the middle row, beside her.

Captain America is a movie about heroes. And I really didn't enjoy it too well; the other folks around us kept clapping and shouting whenever the good guys beat the bad guys, and half through all of Fury's talk. You would think it was a comedy we were watching. I'm sure most of the people in the cinema box with us that day didn't grow up watching a lot of good cartoons. 'Cos I don't think anyone who has watched over 40 hours of Tom and Jerry as a kid will find death cheating stunts that new or amazing. And obviously no one who has watched Igor, Treasure Planet, Sinbad, Antz, Anastasia, The Incredibles, UP, Over the Hedge, Barnyard, Chicken Little, Toy Story, Shrek, Mulan, Frozen, Tangled, Aladdin, The Lego Movie, Wall-E, Ratatouille, How to train your dragon, Monsters Inc, Monsters University, Wallace & Gromit, The Little Mermaid, Coraline, A Bug's Life, Despicable Me, Arthur Christmas, Bolt, Mega Mind, Rango, Kung Fu Panda, Hercules, Madagascar, Cars and Ice Age, will be blown away by such a movie. It was too predictable, except the Fury faking his death part (but that's now the trending thing, and almost everyone in Stolen and Red 2 faked their death). 

Sincerely, I think it is a great movie and you should go see it if you haven't already. Just that I'm not so much into hero movies. And today I'll be sharing the major reason I don't fancy them so much. I'll be sharing the one thing we all love more than heroes.


So let me ask you this deep question. Think of all the remarkable events in your life, the good ones and the sad ones. The events you'll never forget, events that shaped your life, events that shook you and events that brought tears of joy to your eyes. And here's the question. What pattern best describes your experiences?

  • They were all experiences in which there was a hero, you or someone else, who did the almost impossible
  • Most involved a hero (you or someone else, again) who did the almost impossible
  • Most are events that shook your life to the core and you benefited more from people who shared their own experiences with you than those who were trying to play hero.
I'm hoping you pick the last option. The truth is, in real life, no one likes a hero that much. We only adore them, then get used to them and then find out that they've got feet of clay. And we only talk about them, not with them. 

The one thing we like more than heroes is a good company. Either in form of cool caring friends, or a strongly bonded family or funny colleagues. And that's what I love to watch in movies. Ordinary people putting extra-ordinary efforts into building the life they want. Not extra-ordinary people in extra-ordinary situations doing extra-ordinary things.

When I'm down and need a movie to boost my moral, I don't watch Superman or Batman, I watch The Intouchables, Nobody's Fool, Amelie and films like that, patterned after reality. Ones I can find a company in, and most especially, someone who took simple steps to become better.

No one hangs out with heroes. They only inspire from behind the screen. In real life, they make you feel less, incapable and unhappy.

I can now say I'm full-time into web programming. Or is there a more appropriate way to describe spending over 8 hours a day reading and practicing web programming?


It has not been fun. Some of the books I'm reading give me headache. Reading the life stories of full-time web developers online has assured me that it's a long arduous journey to becoming a good web developer. But I'm willing to go the distance. I have got lots of business ideas that I want to test out online. I want to build an online stock trading firm, where you just sign up like you do on Facebook and trade stocks with much less transaction fees than the brick and mortar brokerage firms. I want to build a local parcel/courier firm that lets you send a parcel to anyone in Nigeria as long as you know their name, email and phone number. No need for a physical address. I want to start (probably the first) real online payment system in Nigeria. Interswitch is trying, but still far from good. And Paga is not user-friendly and open enough. On the crazy side, I want to build a smart home app. An app that alerts you when your gas cooker is on (or just turned off), when someone is fiddling with your entrance doors at night, when your bulbs are still turned on at 8:00am on a non-solar eclipse day, when junior has sneaked into the living room to turn on the TV at 12midnight, when electric stove and electric kettle and electric iron has not been unplugged for the past 4 hours... And when a fire alarm or smoke detector goes off in your house, regardless of where you are. I'll name it Presitisimo or Faucet-Origo.

I also want to build web apps that solve real problems, problems no one is taking a real stab at. And I also want to create web apps that will appeal only to guys like me, who want to live at the bleeding edge of technology. Apps that will do things we only see in movies in this part of the world. And a couple of apps that will look like a product of Hogwarts, pure magic.

And most importantly, I want to become like the guys I've always admired. The guys building amazing opensource software. Guys who are active on Github and building the almost impossible. The next bitcoin. The future of web. And the future of technology.

For once, I can say I'm spending my time on the things I enjoy. And not just preparing myself for the future, but trying to join the guys building that future. I no longer want to be at the consuming end of technology, playing catch-up all my life, wishing some of the cool stuffs the guys in other countries make will someday get here. I've got 21st century ideas. Ones as cool as any other idea in the world. And I'm going to bring them to life. 

First of all, Happy Easter! 

I hope you are enjoying the 4 days weekend. Me, I have been reading all the programming books I bought, spending as much as 10 hours at a stretch oscillating between reading and dozing. Most programmers are terrible writers. The one who wrote the book I spent the better part of Friday reading wrote the book like a manual, a very boring manual. When I finally got to the last page on Saturday morning, it was like freedom. I've got two books down, one to go. 

Back to today's special post. Beauty or brain? Which do you prefer?


I can't wait to hear your opinions. 

In the meantime, here's mine.

  • In a friend, I prefer beauty. I always ask Google, not friends, for advice. So the brain is not that important to me. And I'm never ashamed of any of my friends, no matter how dumb s/he is, as long  as s/he is trustworthy and easy to get along with. I prefer a friend who is simple and sincere, dumb or not dumb, to an Albert Einstein.
  • In a colleague, I prefer brain. Nothing can be more frustrating than having a dumb colleague. He's always adding to your work and making the whole team look dumb.
  • In a spouse, I prefer none. I don't fancy a wife whose got more beauty than brain or more brain that beauty. I agree that there's no standard way to decide if one has got more beauty than brain or the other way round. But at least I'll like it not to be obvious. Not someone you see and immediately you'll conclude that she's got more brain than beauty or beauty than brain. 
Some philosophers, especially the Socratic ones, believe that we seek in a companion the very things we lack and wish we had. And some people have stretched it further to explain why dark skinned people often marry light skinned people, not-so-tall marry tall... 

Well, I don't think it applies to everyone. Especially me. Whatever I lack, I try to get it for myself and not acquire it through someone else. Maybe it's because I'm too narcissistic and have trouble finding any fault in myself. Or I'm too individualistic and seek very little from others. Or I'm just plain different, a weirdo. I'll leave you to decide that. 

I'm my vision of a family, I don't see beside me the hottest most beautiful woman or the brainiest with IQ of 190 or a light skinned woman to match my shiny dark gold brown skin or a not-so-tall woman to take off some of my height... All I see is a simple family. Like the one I grew up in. Where everyone is alike. No hotshot.

So that's my opinion about beauty or brain.
What's yours?

We've all experienced that unpleasant feeling that comes upon us when we see someone doing much less than us getting more glory than we think fair. 

Until this month, I used to be immune to that feeling. I grew that immunity like we do to measles. I was initially overwhelmed by it. I knew lots of people getting more for less, compared to me. And a few that made me feel God was unfair. Then I got used to the unpleasant feeling, and took consolation in comparing myself to much more unfortunate fellows. And after a few years, I hardly notice the feeling. Until last week.

Before resigning my job, I had a simple plan: To be the best Excel consultant in Nigeria. I never bothered to think about how people will know that. I felt if I could just quit my job and focus on Excel full-time, everything will work itself out. People I have done Excel projects for will refer their friends and families. Then their enemies (competitors) will get jealous and hire me too. And I'll only pick the most interesting projects and charge as high as I want. A simple plan, and one I have seen work for some entrepreneurs.

Since resigning I have been having a tough time following that plan. I'm torn between publicity and productivity. To make myself visible or to make myself extremely good. At first I thought I could combine both. And I have attempted that this past two weeks, and the stress is almost killing me. A 2 hours networking event ends up taking my whole day. I have struggled more to update my blog daily than I have in the past 6 months. I've been writing articles at midnight more frequently. And some of the feedback I get from people are very discouraging, I spend a large part of most days trying to get over them. And still write a good blog post. None of those feedback are on the quality of my job or my qualification, they are all focused on how I present myself to the outside world. Publicity.


Now I'm forced to make a choice between publicity and productivity. And it's becoming a choice between fighting discouragement and doing what I enjoy. If not that my earning a living is tied to this decision, I won't even think twice before going for productivity. After all, when I was working full-time and did almost zero publicity, people were calling me for Excel training (companies and individuals) and I was getting freelance Excel dashboards and programming jobs. I even turned down most because I was already sleeping for just 3 hours on most days. Unfortunately, it seems everyone who needs my service is on vacation. But I know they'll call someday and mail me again. Just that till then, should I focus on being better or being more visible. Especially when being better means learning the hardly touched part of Excel, the part that almost no one will require my service on because they don't even know it exists.

Since 2010, I have never been this confused.

In today's post I'll be showing an easy professional way of making Pie Charts and Column Charts in Excel. (The steps here will work fine for Office 2007 and 2010)

Pie Chart is very easy to make in Excel.

We’ll be making one from a fictitious population table. Here is the Excel file with our charts already made

In making Pie Charts, always have your values sorted, and in descending order preferably.

Select the table, goto Insert menu and insert a Pie Chart. 

Here’s the default chart from Excel.

To make it great, we take just one step. Goto Design menu and click on the first Chart Layout option.

Let’s make a column chart from the same table

Data analysts usually stay away from the 3-D charts. They make visual comparison difficult. We only use them when supplying the PR department with fancy reports.

For this example, we’ll be using the first option in the 2-D Column charts.

It’s called a Clustered Column chart. But I prefer to refer to it as the regular Column chart. The other two options are stacked column charts, they pile two or more values on one bar.

Here’s the default Excel makes for us.

Not very good. We need to make it look better.

Goto Design menu and click on the 3rd Chart Layout option.

Congrats! You've made a professionally looking pie chart and column chart.

Necessity is the mother of all innovations. And since resigning my job, I've found innovative ways of cutting down on my living expenses.


For about 2 years and 5 months till April 4 2014, I had been eating out at only Chicken Republic, KFC, Barcelos, Georges, Kilmanjaro, TFC, Sweet Sensation, Bukha Hut, and, when they are the only ones around, Tantalizers and Mr Biggs. And on some weeks I do this the entire 7 days of the week. And my colleagues at work gave up trying to make me eat at cheaper eateries.

I eat only twice a day and not a lot too. And food is the one expense that has no obvious price benchmark. Good food are usually overpriced and the cheap ones are seldom good. Even among the eateries I listed, I have just 3 favourites that I used to frequent a lot. 

Now, I eat before leaving the house and hold my hunger till I come back. And on the very few occasions I couldn't hold the hunger till I got home, I ate at much less expensive eateries. And to be sincere, I think one gets what one pays for. The maxim, "Price is what you pay, value is what you get." also applies to food. Per calorie, the cheaper restaurant wins, but if you've got good taste and value hygiene, the expensive ones are not that overpriced. 

Thank God for my mum. She forced me to begin cooking at age 12. And up till I went to the University, I was her dedicated kitchen assistant. There were days I did all the cooking at home. And I remember the day my dad complimented my cooking, and overdid the compliment, saying I cook better than my mum. There was a mild drama that day. Now I get to make my special dishes and favourite meals. And save money too.

Number two.
I have stopped swimming regularly. Used to be weekly, then became twice a month. Now, I have no plan to go swimming till I begin making some regular substantial income. The good thing is swimming is like riding a bicycle, you can never lose the skill. You'll almost take off from your previous skill level even after years.

Number three.
I have cut down on my internet data consumption. In my first week after resignation, I used up about 10Gig internet data. And as the internet charges come right out of my pocket, I had to limit my internet activities to mails, blogging, and very few downloads. It's the major reason I cancelled all my online programming courses. I now avoid video tutorials. And it's probably the hardest cost cutting measure I've taken.

I'm not talking about running a business in Nigeria. I have little experience about that. I'm talking about all the processes (or should I say all the stresses) you will go through to take your business from an unregistered idea to one registered with CAC and having a corporate account.

It is almost 6 months since I registered my company as a Limited Liability Company with CAC, and I'm still struggling to get a corporate account. Now don't take this as the usual; I'm probably the only one experiencing this.

In October 2013, I had my company registered. And for the first time (or so it seems) I read the Memorandum of Association and the "Objects for which the company is established" is a work of genius. It has all the objects of almost all the businesses that can be established except banks. So I've got flexibility, I can wake up tomorrow and say I want to go into Real Estate or Petroleum or Cement manufacturing. But till that tomorrow comes, it's giving me some tough time already. Yesterday, after 6 months of putting together all I needed for a corporate account opening, I was told that since I would be dealing in real estate, oil and gas, manufacturing and trading, I should go get a SCUML from EFCC.

I guess no one can have a humbler beginning than me. To begin a conglomerate that does real estate, oil and gas, manufacturing and trading as one young man doing Excel training and VBA. In fact, what I'm doing and planning to do the entire life of the company is in the AOB section of the memorandum.

But let's move to the fun part. Why it took me 6 months to put together the photocopies of my incorporation documents, photocopy of my international passport, one passport photograph, 2 filled reference forms, photocopy of our PHCN bill, and photocopy of TIN. 

The problem was the TIN. The company tax identification number from FIRS. A friend charged me N30,000 to get me the TIN last year. He asked for all my incorporation documents, company seal and stamp. That week I got to late super late on one of the days. I went to get a Stamp and Seal made. Fast forward two months. No TIN and my entire company was still him. Then fast forward 3 months. I had quit my job and gotten my company back from him, but no TIN. Then I became frustrated and decided to do the TIN myself, hoping it won't cost me more than N10,000. So this Monday I went to the FIRS office at 2B Lateef Jakande road, Agindingbi, Ikeja. It's just beside LTV8/Eko FM. And in less than 40 mins I had the TIN and for free. So I paid N30,000 and 5 months for a TIN that was free. Oh, I need to rephrase that. I lost N30,000 and 5 months for a TIN that was free.

Today, I'm going to EFCC's office at 15 Awolowo road, Ikoyi to get the SCUML. I tried reading up on it. There's an entire government run website dedicated to it, Amazingly it allows for SCUML registration online. But the bank says I'll need to come back with a document, so I'll have to go to the physical office.

And about my memorandum of association, if you've waited as long as I did and paid for premium (fast track) service like I did, you wouldn't want to repeat that waiting and paying cycle. You'd accept whatever was made you even if your intended business falls under the AOB section.

BTW. My company's services brochure was finally done yesterday. You can get it here. Or view it in the frame below. Thanks.

Excel lets you lock some part of the Excel sheet so that they never scroll out of view. 

Normally, you’ll want to do this for the header of a long table (a table with hundreds of rows). So that as you keep scrolling down to the last row, the header row is always visible. 

It’s a very useful feature and is known as Freezing Panes.

It’s located under View menu.

It has 3 options:

1. Freeze Panes. 
You first select the cell after the rows and columns you want to freeze, and then choose this option. If you want to freeze the top row and first column, you’ll select cell B2 (after column A and row 1). 

2. Freeze Top Row. This is a straightforward option. It  lets you instantly freeze the top row. Very useful if you want the headers to always stay in view.

3. Freeze First Column. Also straightforward. It lets you freeze the first column. Very useful when working on a biodata file with lots of fields and the first field column contains the names you want to keep seeing as you scroll to the last field/column.

So let's move on to splitting window in Excel.

Excel lets you split the view of an Excel sheet into two. So you can work on two different parts of the sheet at the same time.

This is very useful for visually comparing two far away parts of the Excel sheet. I use it a lot when doing Stock Analysis. When I want to see what the impact of increasing the growth rate in cell D4 will do to the company’s profit margin in far away cell G115.

It’s also in the View menu.

See the red arrow? Notice the jump from row 12 to 110? That’s where I split the Excel sheet.

So now you know all you need about freezing and splitting in Excel.

Not many of you know that I'm writing a novel: Akin Smith.

It's a project I began in October 2012. My goal with the novel is the share with the world the Lagos I grew up in and the hidden beauty it has. The beautiful dandelions and lotus that are often overlooked. To take the reader on a journey through Lagos with the aid of a 13 year old guide, Akin Smith.

The novel was inspired by Vikas Swarup's award winning novel, Q & A.

Last year I sent an excerpt from the book to Farafina, the publisher of Chimamanda Adichie's books. I got no response. Which is the usual thing for me. I always have to dig my way to anywhere I'm going. So I joined an online writing club and shared the same excerpt with the global literary community. I got amazing feedback. Established authors from the international community cheering me on and almost re-writing the excerpt for me while giving me suggestions and corrections. They made me feel like a fellow writer. There was a particular veteran, over 50 years old and with published works, who took my work really seriously and gave me the best feedback I got.

Then I realized why Farafina didn't reply. It was badly written. I wouldn't take the piece seriously if I wasn't the author. So now I'm taking the whole project offline. I will be rewriting the novel from scratch and completing it offline. Then I'll self publish it on Amazon Kindle. Already published one book on Amazon as a test last year.

I'm done rethinking my post-quitting-my-job strategy. Surprisingly, I'm sticking with my original plan. I'm putting my fulfilment way ahead of profit/money. I'm sticking with building a lifestyle business, going solo, growing slow and creating as much value/content as I can each day. I'm cutting down more on my non-directly creative activities: networking events and some marketing activities. I have already taken the biggest bet: quitting my job. I'm willing to take on smaller bets, even the counter-intuitive ones.

My slightly revised strategy:
  1. Take a self-study French course daily.
  2. Learn HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL. Already doing this intensively. Even dipping into my survival savings to buy the best books available, and IDE software too.
  3. Complete my novel. And start another.
  4. Attend only extremely important events. No classification basis, judgment based on feeling.
  5. Figure out a way to reach my target Excel-based services market from my room.
So I'm cutting down on attending networking events. I'm backing out of all the programming courses I registered for on Coursera and codecademy. I'm also limiting my MVP activities to online ones. Few offline activities.

And as for my novel, I'll make sure every one of you (my esteemed blog subscribers) get a free copy of the final version.