In the UK and US, some people are pushing to make it compulsory that every child while in school should be taught how to program just as they are being compulsorily taught English and Mathematics. You might think it's extreme but there is a valid reason to it.

Everything is increasingly having a computer in it. It's not just the phones, computers and tablets that use programs and applications. Wristwatches, fridges, TV, cameras, drones, air conditioners, electric cookers and almost all home appliances are beginning to run applications. Increasingly, people who have the ability to program will never run out of opportunities to build something great and very useful. They will always see new opportunities to turn their ideas into gold and perhaps change the world forever like the Google guys and the Facebook guy did.

If there is one thing you can learn that is sure to be of unimaginable benefit it is learning to program, especially web programming. The beginning is often slow and like an uphill task but once you get a hang of it you'll be set for life and doing things that can grow big and change the world.

And to help you on this journey, I have curated places online where you can learn programming and web design for free.

This is one of those special sites dedicated to teaching everyone -- children, youths and old people -- how to break into the thrilling world of programming. They believe that coding makes you more creative and gives you the ability to give your ideas life. 


This is one of the most popular site that provides a very interactive and game-like way of learning to program. I have used it and I'm extremely grateful to the people who put in the remarkable efforts to build it and make it available for free to everyone.

It provides you a video style interactive training on the popular programs that power the web.

This one of the world's most popular site for learning for free. It has one of the biggest course collection in the world and grants you free access to everything. Most important to us right now, it's got a very solid collection of programming courses that will build your competence in programming and web design.

This is another great place to learn to build websites, apps and games. There are some paid courses, but you can learn a lot from the free ones.

Bonne chance!
PivotTable is Excel’s premium tool for working with huge data table and even data stored in other database systems like Access, SQL servers and MySQL servers.

Below is an example of a large data table we will use PivotTable on to do some very relevant quick analysis. It is a table of sales for a particular Pizza Restaurant for a day and it has 5000 entries. You can download the practice file here: PivotTable and PivotChart File

So how can we make a report that will show us the sales performance that day by the different type of Pizzas the restaurant sells.  A report like the one below:

It’s quite easy with PivotTable.

You start by selecting the sales transaction table or selecting one of the cells in it. Then go to Insert menu and click on PivotTable.

In the screenshot above, I selected one of the cells in the table, clicked on Insert menu, clicked on PivotTable, confirmed that my entire table has been selected and clicked on OK.

You will be taken to a new sheet that looks like the one below:

At first it looks really different, like you are no longer in Excel. But it is very easy to work with. The core part is the part of the right with name PivotTable Fields. It has a list of all the fields in the original data table. The part below the field names are where you actually set up your report.

Whatever field you want to display its unique entries, one per line/row, you will drag to ROWS. Let’s do that for the Pizza Sold field so we will be able to see all the pizza types the restaurant sells.

Then if it is that you want to display those unique entries one per column, drag the field to COLUMNS. Let’s see what will happen if drag that Pizza Sold field from ROWS to COLUMNS.

So now you understand how ROWS and COLUMNS work. 

Drag Pizza Sold back to ROWS, that is where we need it for our quick analysis.

Next is VALUES. Whatever you want to do a mathematical calculation on, you drag to the VALUES part. Common calculations you will find yourself doing are counts (to see the number of times each unique entry occurred in the original table), sum (to add the values a particular field) and average (to average the values of a particular field).

In our case, let’s drag Quantity and Amount Sold fields to VALUES. 

Can you see how quick this is? We have just analyzed a 5000 sales record table in seconds. Now we have a report that shows us how many of each Pizza type was sold and the total sales amount generated.

Those are the type of lightning fast analysis PivotTable allows you to do.

There is now one part we haven’t touched: FILTERS. As the name suggests, it simply gives us the capability to filter our report. We will drag Time Range to FILTERS to see which sales occurred at the peak period (before 9:00am) and after the peak period.

And that’s how PivotTable works. Very easy to use and powerful.


Whenever you insert a chart using data generated via a PivotTable, that chart is a PivotChart. It has some extra functionalities it inherits from the PivotTable which makes it a little different from the regular charts we have already discussed.

Below is what the PivotChart for the PivotTable we just created look like. To replicate that, just click anywhere in the result of the PivotTable, go to Insert menu and click on the chart you want to insert.

Notice the extra elements on it? Even the Time Range filter is showing on the chart. Besides those extra elements, a PivotChart is same as the regular charts and the same kind of formatting you can do on the regular charts work on PivotCharts.

Once again, you can download the practice file here: PivotTable and PivotChart File

The one task I consistently beat my expectations about is writing. The moment I put my hands round a pen or place then on the keyboard, it's a new me that takes over. The whole of my brain awakens and I become supercharged. It's more than the effect coffee has on me. I avoid taking coffee and writing creatively at the same time, it gives me a fast heart beat and makes me feel like my head will explode.

There used to be days I wished I was a writer. Those days are over because now I am a writer. I write daily. I no longer hope for the day I will publish a book. I simply know that I will publish a book, and many other books after. 

I began writing creatively in 2004 and have always been impressed by the articles I create. So I can say I took to writing effortlessly, like finding what has always been within me. But to become a good, fast and interesting writer, I did some work and learned from the masters.

In this post, I will be sharing with you four tips that will make you a better, faster and more interesting writer.

  1. Write before you learn. The biggest mistake you can make as an aspiring writer is to want to learn every rule and style before writing. It doesn't work that way. You have to write to discover your style and become better by editing your work. You don't learn first and write later; you write and learn at the same time. So you have to write as much as you would if you knew all the rules and could make no mistake.
  2. Read other people's works. You have to expose yourself to the works of others, see their style and steal whatever appeals to you. And just as a course on Physics will begin with theories propounded over 600 years ago and gradually build up to theories recently discovered, so also your reading should include classics. You will learn more from books that made it through hundreds of years than books that are hype grown. And you will be able write the type of articles that can survive hundreds of years.
  3. Read books on grammar and style. There will always be mistakes you'll make that experience can't correct or even make you aware of. Only knowledge can point them out to you and help you fix them. So you have to read on grammar and writing. Writing is more than penning down your thoughts, it's more about communication. You want to pass across an idea not just some words. It is a deep knowledge of grammar and style that will enable you achieve that.
  4. Write daily if you can. Just make sure you write creatively as often as you can. It burns into a practical skill all the knowledge you have acquired from reading on grammar and style. It makes you a faster and better writer. It is the only way to becoming a professional writer.
And those are my four tips for becoming a better, faster and interesting writer.

Happy handover day!

Most of my entrepreneurial friends who are not into manufacturing or sales of physical goods, do a sort of general consulting. There are a couple I still don't know what primarily they consult on. Also they are all doing fine, business-wise and financially. So the point I will be making in this post is purely operational, regarding the day-to-day operation of the business.


This week has been a very hectic one for me and the stress is sure to spill into next week. I have three course manuals to get done as soon as possible, just done with one yesterday after about a 10 hour stretch of typing. The assignment for one of my MBA modules is due this weekend; I have a lot of research and writing and referencing to do (planning to spend the whole of this evening and tomorrow and Saturday on it). I have three pending jobs to do and still don't know how I'll find time for them. Then next week I have a training to conduct on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And Monday's are my toughest day of the week as I consult on a big client project. Monday's and Tuesday's, but I will plead for absence on Tuesday.

There have been days I get called in the morning to come facilitate a training that same day. Most jobs I get, the client wants them done almost immediately. And sometimes I find it a little tough switching from training to programming and then to report analysis even though they are all tasks I do in Excel. It makes me wonder how my general consulting entrepreneur friends are able to cope with their work.

I benefit immensely from going the path of a specialist. I am able to reuse everything I do. Every Excel training I take makes the next one easier to take. Now it's almost like I run an Excel show, dazzling and empowering participants to do things they never thought possible with Excel. And all the preparation I make before the training is to wear my best clothes and show up.

Last week I helped a US organization fix an Excel issue. We did a Skype meeting and in the space of the 1 hour 30 mins spent on understanding the issue and fixing it, I wrote an Excel VBA program to automate the activity they wanted done. It is a very hard thing to do, to learn about an issue and think out a solution while on a Skype call with screensharing that is the equivalent of being watched (something that greatly interferes with programming effectively). I couldn't even google for any code piece or check to see if anyone had fixed a similar issue on StackOverflow. I had to start from ground zero amidst the distraction of having someone hear your thoughts and view your PC screen. If I had been mixing Excel programming with web programming, it would have been tougher.

Also every material I write is original and rich with practical insights, the result of working on live projects and different companies with my Excel skill. Being a specialist makes you work less for great results. You are able to do much more in little time and fix issues people have been battling with for weeks. But the best part is that you are able to charge more even as you expend less energy.

Every week I am always busy, but most of my work are now sort of autopiloting. I have become so good and experienced at a lot of things that I get them done without feeling like I have expended much energy. The work that stresses me are the ones that are new, and the new technologies/applications I am trying to learn. I think being a specialist is more effort rewarding that being a generalist.

There are some quick tips in Excel that would turn a bland looking data into a nice looking one. One of the best tip is to apply a table formatting to the data.

An example, is taking a table like the one below and turning it in a well formatted one.

Select the data and go to Home menu, Format as Table. Choose a color theme.

If you want to email the Excel file to a colleague, you can copy the table and paste in Outlook and you’ll have the beautiful looking table in the body of the email. Your colleague will have no excuse to give regarding not seeing or acting on the data.

So what if you needed to print it for your boss.

Here’s what you get from Print Preview.

So how can you make Excel print this table on just one paper?
Very Easy.

Go to Page Layout menu, and under the Scale to Fit section, set the Width and Height to 1 page.

So let’s see the result.

Goal achieved! But it could have looked better if it had used more space, the space below. So we need to try out one more setting and see if it will give us a better result. We will set the Orientation to Landscape.

Let’s view the result.

Bravo! This is much better!

What if our boss wanted just January to May data and not the entire table?
Also very easy. 

Highlight the table from the beginning up to May, leaving out June. So we are highlighting just what we want to print.

Under same Page Layout, Click on Print Area, and select Set Print Area.

And that’s it! So let’s see the result.

There we have it, no June data included!

One more big tip. 

What if you have a big table that will print into many pages but you want the header to repeat on the first row of every page?

Below is a sample.

Notice that the page two has no header to help you identify what the fields are.

So here’s how to fix that.

Still at Page Layout menu, click on the small icon at the bottom right corner of the Sheet Options section.

In the dialog box that comes up, set the Rows to repeat at top.

Select Row 1 that has the headers.

And that is all!

So let’s see the result.


So these are the basic ways you format your data for printing.

Remember I mentioned that I was going to be interviewed by a much bigger blog. That blog is and the transcript of the interview has been published (one of the sentences put me as the first and only Excel MVP in Africa and I should have it changed to only Excel MVP in Africa, when I make time out to contact them).

Below is an excerpt from the interview, you can read the full script here.

ASA: Let’s digress a bit. A lot of people want to own a business, but taking that step; there’s the fear of uncertainty. How would you describe your readiness at the point you decided to quit your job? Like, what and what did you have sorted out? Income source, business plan…

Michael: I quit my job in April 2014. But to be sincere, I had quit in October 2013. A senior colleague, who was like a mentor told me that I should first go build like six months savings. That was the only reason I had to wait till April. So I saved up. By then, I was already making money on the side from Excel consulting.

And about how it started. When I changed job after about a year, and joined 21st Century Technology, it was because of my Excel skill. They had to create a role for me that didn’t exist initially. So the people at the company were like “what really is your role?” One day, a colleague came around on a Saturday morning and he was like, “you are at the office on a Saturday? You really take this thing serious.” He looked at what I was doing and was like “Wow, you are really good with Excel. Why don’t you make a business out of it?”

That was where my passion for a business based on Excel was awakened. I contacted a friend for business cards, started talking online about what I can do with Excel. I went to online job platforms, Odesk, Freelancer and set up account on my Excel expertise. My part-time Excel business began.

Gradually I started getting jobs in and outside Nigeria. It wasn’t like I was starting from zero when I finally quit my job. I already had something going in that line. It was like taking something that was part-time and making it full-time. Basically, I had a life savings that would cover my business expenses and bills for nine months.

Also I informed everyone I had done jobs for that I’m now doing this full time. Telling them I need their support. And people will always want to support you with things like this. I didn’t really have a business plan. I felt I’ve been doing this part-time. Now I have not just 2 days a week but seven days a week to work on my business. I wouldn’t know if that affected my business, because everything kept changing every day. What I thought 2 months back was not what I think 2 months after. It was like facing reality on a new level. So business plan, I didn’t have, but I can’t say whether it would have made any difference if I had.

The other thing is that I try to focus on value. Someone once told to focus on my branding; “package myself”, that was the term he kept using. Go and print flyers. I printed flyers but some of the flyers are still in my room. They didn’t fly.


I even paid money to be listed on one business directory. Till today, I don’t know if I was listed. Almost 2 years now, nothing to show for it. So I tried to focus on value. Though it looked almost like not well packaged but I was able to get clients. Once someone needs your service and they are sure you are good in the field, they don’t care about your packaging. They don’t even care what your office looks like, whether you are talking to them wearing a pair of jeans and t-shirt. If I was to go back and redo things, all the money I put in making flyers and other traditional advertising, I would not have expended my life savings on that.

I did a lot of things for free and now I am benefiting from them. After I started I did a free online training and I’ve never had of anyone doing Excel online training in Nigeria. So it put me on a new level. People couldn’t consider me like yet another consultant. It took me 3 agonizing months to build video content. And now it’s that video content I use for our online and class training. That was my biggest and most rewarding investment.

 ASA: In the last few months of running your business, what would your say is the toughest decisions you’ve had to make?

Michael: The toughest decision is more on my personal weakness. Being a techie person, I’m more of the kind of person who wants to do things myself rather than ask someone for help. Business doesn’t work that way. I built my website myself, content creation, marketing. I was doing almost everything myself. If I could, I would have registered the company myself without getting a lawyer.


So the toughest decision for me was to get and partner with people. I was almost like forcing myself to be who I was not. It was inevitable. But today I’ve partnered with people to be my marketer, to help with strategy. Though it’s still not as smooth as it should have been, the marketers are the ones who have made it possible for us to do monthly training, since January now. Before them, my effort to do that did not quite work out.

ASA: That brings me to the next question. We all have personal weaknesses, but we just have to adapt to get what we want. Right?

Michael: Exactly

ASA: Considering the African environment and using yourself as a case study, do you think anyone can become an entrepreneur or are entrepreneurs born? Like, is there a bunch of people who can actually be entrepreneurs or is it something anyone can become?

Michael: On the surface it looks like a question with a simple answer. I’ve looked at so many people I look up to; people who when they give me advice on business, I’m like, if these people knew this much, why are they not running their own business?


Not in a way to belittle them, but seriously, why does he still keep his job. So I found out that the truth is anyone can be an entrepreneur, but I don’t know if everyone really wants to be. Because there are some people who I feel what they want is best satisfied having a regular job. They are happy with a regular job. They don’t care about how well you are doing as an entrepreneur. They are not tempted to become like you. With that, I feel everything is all about fulfillment. There are people who get fulfillment being an employee. They only hope to be CEO of a particular company someday.

As for entrepreneurs born or made, I don’t think there are born entrepreneurs. They are made. You can be lucky if you grew up in a community of entrepreneurs; maybe friends or family who support entrepreneurship. Their influence will help you in making progress. But it’s not like you are born an entrepreneur. You have to decide that this is what you want.

People keep saying I don’t have the personality of an entrepreneur. I’m terrible with phone calls, terrible with replying to emails. I will rather do things for free than even charge money. You owe me money; you will be the one reminding me that you owe me. So there are a whole lot of things that would seem to want to make the entrepreneur journey almost impossible for me. But I know I’m getting better. Because I’ve decided that this is the only way for me.

What I want is: I don’t like doing things when I know I can do something better. I read a lot. I know what’s being done around the world. You know when you read about something, and you come back to where you do something the world has stopped using 20 years ago, so that you can be relevant in your job. I should be able to live a life where I am working on something that I know is cutting edge. That was what led me to become an entrepreneur. Everybody has their own reasons. So I believe entrepreneurs are made.

ASA: Inspiring! You talked about your blog. Your blog has actually helped your business.

Michael: A lot!

ASA: Right. Because, as much as it’s competitive online, there is opportunity for just about anyone to get in and make an impact. So what’s your advice for small businesses and entrepreneurs on embracing digital media?

Michael: I will start by saying that the story of starting my business would not have been possible without my blog. Even getting the MVP award. People have contacted me because of what they saw on my blog. Most of the works I did before quitting my job were because someone went to my blog, looked for my contact and called me.

So the advice I will give is this. Like you said, it’s very competitive out there. It’s almost getting saturated but the truth is the saturation is in one part. Almost everybody in the Nigerian blogosphere is focused on gossip. Everyone wants to be the next Linda Ikeji, or BellaNaija. So to set yourself apart, it’s not hard. You may feel that you will not be getting as much traffic as news and gossip bloggers. But you will get quality leads and connections. People will see you differently. You’ll have a lasting impression.

Blogging is one of the strongest marketing strategies. I’ve had to meet with people, make friends based on my blog that are now business clients, enriching my life. Embracing the digital media by creating real genuine content, doing things that are of value to people will always set you apart regardless of the amount of traffic you get in comparison with the trend-focused kind of blogs.

Starting my business too, I’ve found advertising online much more rewarding than the flyers, that didn’t fly [laughs]… and other traditional media. I feel small businesses are losing out a lot if they are not on digital media.

ASA: Absolutely. Do you like movies?

Michael: Not too much. But I watch once in a while.

ASA: What one movie that no matter how many times you watch, you want to watch it again?

Michael: Don’t laugh! I enjoy animation.

ASA: [laugh] We seem to share the same likeness there. I enjoy animated movies.

Michael: Oh. The one that, in fact, I watch whenever I feel like things are tough is Treasure Planet. The story line, it’s almost like going against all odds. One of my favorite quotes is from that movie. A part where, ok for someone who has not watched it, so you don’t get confused. There was a quote where Captain Silver was having a heart to heart chat with Jimmy. Jimmy was asking him how he got the wounds he had. Because half of his body was burnt, almost like a cyborg. He was like how did that happen. So Captain Silver said, “Sometimes, when you are pursuing a dream, you have to give up some things to get your dream”. Jimmy then asked him, “Was the dream worth it?” He said, “I’m hoping it will be worth it”.

So, sometimes you don’t have to look at what has happened to you. You have to look at what you want to achieve. Even if you feel you are paying too much, you still have that hope that someday, if you keep ahead, it will be worth it. All this struggle, pain, all this hitting your head here and there is going to be worth it.

So, I watch that movie whenever I feel down.

ASA: True! It’s about taking action every day, with the assurance that someday, it will be worth it. One more question about Excel. What is the most amazing thing you have done with Excel? One.

- See more at:

A lot of us consider investments as buying shares, putting away money in a fixed deposit account, using up money to start a business and buying land.


Today, I will be opening your mind to the different ways we invest. Investment is more than just putting away money in a system that is expected to grow it for us. There are many other ways we invest and they become very obvious when we get a hold of the true definition of investment.

Investment is simply delaying consumption. You might consider it a too simplistic definition, but that is the true definition. Whenever you get your salary and decided to not consume everything you are basically investing. Now if you put the money under your bed rather than in a high yield savings account we can say you are making a bad investment. All the same, regardless of how you preserve the money or attempt to grow it, as long as you do not spend it on your immediate needs you are investing.

Let's talk about the less obvious ways we invest. When you turned down an opportunity to work full-time after your secondary school education but went on instead to do a university degree, you delayed consumption (the usual result of getting a salary) to acquire the human capital you hope will get you more money to make up for the opportunities you rejected while schooling. So every time you spend on educating yourself, whether through a formal system or just by buying and reading lots of books, you are investing. 

Also whenever a man quits his job to start a business, he gives up a steady monthly income for no income at the start and even spends his life savings and (in some cases) borrowed money to build something he hopes will more than make up for the present sacrifices. He is investing. Whether he succeeds or fails is another matter, but it doesn't change the fact that he invested. You can say he made a good investment if he succeeds and that he made a bad investment if he fails.

In summary, most investments can be classified under the following broad categories
  1. Financial investment. Putting money in a system that promises to grow it for you or at least preserve it for future use (as is the case of putting it a secured case under your bed).
  2. Growing your human capital. This is giving up immediate earning opportunities, more pleasant use of your money and comfort to increase your education, your ability to create more valuable things.
  3. Entrepreneurship. I like to consider this as the ultimate investment. It is putting your money, time, knowledge and efforts into what you believe will grow big someday and more than compensate for the initial trouble. 
So now you see that even though you don't have any brokerage account holding shares of companies or a bond account or even a savings account, you still engage in investment. As long as you don't spend all the money you earn on immediate needs but have some kept away for future need you are an investor. And even when you don't earn any income and it is because of your decision to complete your studies or further it, you are also making an investment.

I have never been good at learning from my failures. I often find myself unable to do anything about them or even avoid them. I still have all the habits people told me I should let go of since I was a teenager: being extremely shy, reading more than interacting with people and being too straightforward, It's almost like my habits picked me and not the other way round, and I have no power in letting go of them. So learning from my failures caused by those habits I need to get rid of is probably my greatest failure. But I learn, and daily too. Just not from my failures but from my successes. I learn to repeat my successes.


I frequently examine my life and pick out the things going right and the things not going right. I try to be as objective as possible. And always there are a lot of things going right and a lot of things not going right in my life. But I have a path I'm heading, a life-long goal I'm after; and it's very clear to me. I know when I'm no that path and when I am not on it.

Usually, my failure and success are the sides of the same coin. The same personal attribute that make me successful at one thing makes me fail at something else. So each time I focus on fixing the cause of my failure I often damage the cause of my success. An example was in 2012, I tried to fix my being unsocial. I got down all the things social people do and that I was going to do. I joined a lot of social and networking groups, attended events, joined in the small talks and tried to blend in anywhere I went. It was a disaster. Not the results, as I was visibly progressing and even getting accolades from my friends who noticed the new me. The problem was the effect it had on me. I wasn't feeling at all like me. I was always getting too tired everyday from talking (which gives me headache), listening to discussions that headed no where and running around with no aim beyond just being more social. Then it opened me up to other risks I didn't consider. I'm not good at turning people down, even when their request is clearly exploitative. That year I got exploited thoroughly.

What I do about my failure and success, which I see as the sides of the same coin, is to try to get the effect of the success to be more than that of the failure. I consider the failure as the sacrifice I have to make for the success, so I simply focus on getting a very big success that will make the sacrifice worth it. I try to learn from my success and come up with ways of repeating them on a bigger scale.

Ultimately, I see fulfillment as achieving my goals (which are the constituting pieces of my life-long goal) in spite of my failures rather than by getting rid of my failures.

I keep getting emails supposedly from banks I don't even have an account with. It's either they want me to update my account details due to a new regulation or they want me to confirm that a recent transaction was by me.

There are times it's from banks I have account with. I remember getting an email notifying me that a debit transaction had just occurred on my GTB account and included a link to see the details of the transaction. It almost caught me. I had to restrain myself from clicking on the link and going to the bank's website to check for myself via internet banking.


So without having to be an internet geek, what are the easy ways to avoid falling for this online scams designed to steal your bank account login details.

  1. Never click on a link in an email coming from a bank, even if you are sure it's your bank and the email is legit. Take the pain to go to their website or the ATM if you need to confirm anything.
  2. Never reply an email you are sure is a scam mail. Nothing you write in the email will make the sender repent, you've only given him more data about you -- a confirmation that your email is valid and probably your full name that shows when you send mails.
  3. Avoid logging in to your bank account on just any PC. Some PCs (and probably yours too if you visit gambling, porn and torrent sites) are infected with malwares that record your keystrokes. They continuously record everything you type and send them to the malware owner. Before long, they'll have all your login and passwords to your bank, email, Facebook, Twitter and every other site you log into.
Those are the three ways to avoid giving your bank account login details to criminals online. Know other ways and willing to share?

It's been probably over a year since I last shared the details of the phone apps I use regularly. And between that time and now, a lot of things has changed. 

Today, I will be sharing my new top phone apps. Apps I find very useful. Hopefully, you'll see one or two that will be of value to you too.

First, I'll show you the screenshots of all the apps I have installed by their names and icons.

And here are the apps I use most, one by one.

Google Adsense

GTB Mobile Banking


Withings Activity/Fitness Monitoring App


Diamond Bank Mobile Banking app

FCMB Mobile Banking app

Power BI


Google Drive







Google Hangouts

Advanced English Dictionary



OliveTree Bible app




I hope you were able to find one or two apps you don't currently have that might be of use.