I have trained a class of people who paid hundreds of thousands of Naira to learn data analysis with R and I have equally paid a lot in books and online training to horn my R skills. For Python, I haven't yet trained a class on it but I have paid a lot too on books and courses to learn it.

Hands down, the best training resource is hands-on projects. After that, training classes and books rule. And today I will be sharing with you the best free training resources I have personally used. They all deliver better value that some of the resources I paid for.

Let's start with R
1. You can't beat Udacity's real-world project based training on R for data analysis free course: 

2. There is also the amazingly rich and fully free DataCamp Introduction to R course:

3. Finally, you should try out Swirl:

Now on to Python

1. You definitely should read the official Python Tutorial: . It's a short read and helps you get a very good grasp of how Python works.  Don't forget to set it to the version of Python you use.

2. Then give the everly amazing Udacity course on Python Introduction a try:

3. Time to deep dive into Python for Data Analysis on DataCamp:

4. Finally, take the aspects that delight you in the comprehensive Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science:

And you are well on your way to becoming a proficient data analyst. 

Best of luck!
Last week I completed the version 1.0.0 of my Nigerian Tool Excel web app. I submitted it to the Microsoft Office App store. But today I got a feedback that they want me to implement some changes before they can approve the app.

I have made the changes requested and am hoping it would be approved soon. Then I can share it with you all and you can use it for free (for now).

I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses. Just like every other person. I believe that we all have equal potentials, that you and I have as much potential as the most successful people we admire and that the fellow we look down on has no less potential.

Then why are some people living a better life than others? Why are some people more successful than others? Most interestingly, why are there people who look and act like the bottom of the barrel, potential-wise?

I don't know. But I do know that if anyone sets his mind on reaching a particular height in life, he can. That the deadbeat can become anything he wants to be. And that is what I tell myself to inspire me to look beyond my weaknesses.

People are my biggest weakness. I have horrible people skills. And it is shaping the course of my life and business. I have very few friends: the ones who didn't give up on me. I am struggling to build a team for my business. And that is my number one biggest challenge.

My number two biggest challenge is not unconnected to my near non-existing people skills and the trouble it's causing me is specific to my business. Negotiating. I don't know how to negotiate business deals. I am always undercutting myself in the end, for most.

This year I am going to tackle these two challenges. They are blocking me from achieving my potential. I know it won't be easy, I will make a lot of mistakes and I don't even now how to go about it all. All I know is that, the same way I don't give up when I am programming and up against a big problem, I won't give up on this. I will keep trying all I come across till I make progress and ultimately, succeed.

Luckily, some/all of you have a different set of strengths and weaknesses. If your strength is in this area, please help a brother. Would appreciate some practical tips and even books to get.

Thank you!

There are two broad categories of people I meet -- those who have thought out two seasons each with 40 episodes of what they are going to do, and those who are too busy to think.

Which one are you?

The thinkers are busy doing what is not along their line of interest, so they try to compensate for that by building castles in the air about what they really have interest in. But the other group are too busy working on the episode one of their own dreams that they've got no time to think beyond episode two. 

Some people go from thoughts to action while others keep piling up thoughts.


Comfort zone.

Too many people don't want to leave their comfort zones. They would rather fantasize than take the risk of acting on their dreams. And the deadening part of it is that they give themselves a false sense of pursuit and satisfaction by offering small sacrifices to their dreams. They buy books, take courses, spend money and do everything that doesn't take them too far from their comfort zone. In the end they don't do the very things that make dreams come true -- 100% go for it.

All the books and training they go for give them the blocks for building their air-borne castles. They keep acquiring new thoughts and grand ideas. They keep executing in their head. They never transition from thoughts to action. The stake is too high for them even though they never accept, to them they are just waiting for the opportune time. 

I feel like saying there is no opportune time, I feel like saying they should stop postponing the very life they want. I feel like saying they should shift their focus from "what if it doesn't work out as expected" to "what if it works out better than expected". I feel like telling them "no pain, no gain". I feel like telling them that they are captains of their own destiny and the sooner they steer the ship in the direction of the dangerous adventure they genuinely want the better. I feel like telling them to show more courage and make the sacrifices that matter. I feel like telling them to go from thoughts to action.

But I can't. Because the dangers are real. Their fears are valid. Not all dreams deliver. They've got responsibilities that demand some level of all-round stability from them. They've got, maybe, too much as stake.

All I can say is that if you are not pouring yourself into what you have interest in, then start building interest in what is consuming your time. Stop wasting thoughts.
These last two days I have driven myself to complete a Python Data Analysis course I bought over a year ago, and the main motivation is that I am now seriously trying to use xlwings' Python for Excel. It allows me to use Python in Excel -- to create new formulas and to embed in my Excel VBA. You should take a look at the teaser videos on their homepage,,and you'll see why I am hooked.

I will be sure to update you with my progress.
On Tuesday, 21 February 2017, we held a webinar on practical tips to becoming a business data analysis professional. It was a very interactive webinar and I tried to cover all the fundamentals that anyone interested in a profitable venture into the data analysis field in Nigeria should be aware of, even up to the amount of money you can make from it part-time and full-time.

You can watch the video at

And below are the screenshots of the slides.

To never miss out of future webinars, do join our webinar directory at Webinar Sign Up Form

Two weeks ago, someone in our MVP community asked a question about Excel VBA vs Python. He is an expert Excel VBA programmer and uses it a lot at his job but now he is considering going fully into the data science field and was considering picking up Python. He wanted to know if anyone has gone a similar route, from Excel VBA to Python, and what the person's experience was.

It was my turn to shine. I am very silent in the community mostly because some of what they discuss are above my knowledge or outside my area of use of Excel. But this was a great opportunity to raise my head and show they that I also know some things. And below is the answer I provided.

First, I am probably in same category with you. Already great at VBA for all my automated data analysis work. And like you I have been exploring the world of Python and R. I have even managed to be competent enough in R to teach a 4-day class in it to BI folks from banks and telecoms companies here. And as for Python I am using it for the stock analysis application backend that my company is building. But all these experiences are recent – about a year and half with the usual slowness at the beginning.

At the start, majorly due to the huge buzz around Python, I thought there were things I couldn’t do with VBA that were possible with Python. Now, I only think so very faintly. Except building a web app with Python (which, arguably, isn’t data analysis), there is nothing I have seen someone build with Python that isn’t replicable with Excel VBA. Just factor in that maybe I haven’t seen thousands; I have seen just a low hundreds. Is it from data scraping to stochastic search algorithms to time series? We may not enjoy the ready made advantage of Pandas but a good VBA programmer will achieve the same.

I find three levels of differences:
  1. Market opportunities and buzz differences. I am used to clients being surprised by how much I use Excel to achieve for them – from automating the customer site survey and commissioning tasks for a telecoms company that used to pay a third party $50,000/monthly for same results using many manual labour to solving a travelling salesman algorithm question. People constantly underestimate Excel. In contrast, they don’t underestimate Python. For the consulting end, it might not be a big deal since you can always show a proof of concept or be more creative in convincing the client to go with you over the Python guy. But in the job market, they don’t even give you the chance. Every data science role wants Python and/or R. Excel? What is that?
  2. Embedded applications. Or should I call them backend tasks. Service workers. Web workers. The names are many. Because you always have to lug around the full Excel application, you can’t use VBA effectively to handle backend tasks for lean applications use. I have been trying to not fall for the temptation of using Excel for our stock analysis applications backend data scrapping and storage into the cloud SQL server. It can do it but not very efficient use of resources. And when it comes to service workers that are supposed to reduce the strain on your web deployed application built on top of your data analysis/science, VBA is out the picture.
  3. Pandas, Numpy and all those life easing libraries for advanced analytics. Unfortunately, we don’t have such luxuries in Excel VBA.
 Again, I am more like describing an elephant from touching one part of it. So take this as my biased perspective.
It's not his long vacation that is worrying but the secrecy around it and the non-definitive return date that makes it all worrying for the common concerned Nigerian like me.

I would be very happy to see the president back hale and hearty, anything less does no one no good. So I am not in the camp of those who wish him ill health or hoping he doesn't come back. But I am sad, sad that we have a government that likes keeping us in the dark and let EFCC keep us busy with sensational news, the type we all love. I am sad that they keep telling us for the last two weeks that he would be back "this Saturday".

I want them to tell us once and truthfully where our President his, what he is really doing there and when he is coming back. Thatszall!

You can read more and join at

I got the news from HP LIFE and below is a copy of the details.

A special opportunity for HP LIFE users - Join the BeChangeMaker social entrepreneurship initiative. The deadline for application is March 9, 2017.

WorldSkills International and the HP Foundation are working together to inspire young people to take action and to increase their awareness of social entrepreneurship as a career option through an online social entrepreneurship initiative, called BeChangeMaker (BCM). WorldSkills is the largest platform of skills excellence and development in the world with members in 76 regions and countries.

BCM consists of a series of online social entrepreneurial skill trainings that enable young people with vocational background and great ideas to explore their career potential as social entrepreneurs.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 years old who has begun or finished vocational education and training, and is interested in creating social impact in their community and the world can join. BCM deadline for application is March 9, 2017.

BCM participants are encouraged to learn about social issues using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to use their knowledge to identify social issues in their communities, design solutions and test scalability.

At the end of the project, three teams will be chosen to receive seed funding, which includes further training by business incubators/accelerators in their own countries, to support post-project development. Learn more.

Remember to register for the 3 upcoming HP LIFE webinars:

Design thinking, March 8, 2017 at 11am Pacific Time - register now
Design thinking is a process to help you ideate and prototype new products and services. This webinar will focus on customer empathy and research, the first phase of design thinking. The skills in this phase are essential for defining the real customer problem and testing potential new solutions. To get the most out of this webinar, complete the new HP LIFE Design thinking course before you watch the webinar.

Crowdfunding, April 4, 2017 at 11am Pacific Time - register now
This webinar explores the potential of crowdfunding to empower entrepreneurs with both financial capital and social capital. Learn about the different types of crowdfunding options, debt, perks and equity, and how to make your crowdfunding campaign successful.

Grow and scale your business, April 26, 2017 at 11am Pacific Time - register now
You will learn how to think about business growth and build a growth engine that works. After the webinar you will be able to visualize and validate the assumptions behind your growth engine using the Growth Funnel Board. You can use that board to identify and prioritize next steps.

All webinars will be recorded and available to view at any time on HP LIFE.

Sorry I had to use the picture of Donald Trump. I can't say it is the most relevant picture to use but it was the best I saw while searching google for "ignorance hold you back". And it looks lovely.

Today, I completed my first professional financial article for post consideration on a global finance blog. And this post is to encourage you that if I, without any finance education background and any proper formal finance/investment training, can break into the field of corporate finance, you should never let your ignorance hold you back. My journey so far has been one of ignoring my ignorance.

While many people will give up because they know that they are not skilled enough I put myself forward because I know that I will never be skilled enough. I have learned that the things I didn't achieve were the things I didn't attempt so I now attempt everything I want to achieve without paying attention to my competence level. I take my focus away from what is the worst that can happen to what if I succeed.

Today, I am a recognized (by paying clients) finance and investment expert and not just locally but internationally. Today, I am breaking into the world of financial journalism writing for big name blogs that operate in the international arena. It is not a matter of whether my article will be accepted or rejected but a matter of this is a new beginning. If they reject the article I will find another publisher who would accept it or self-publish it on The Motley Fool.

If you have a dream you want to see come true, then you have to start knocking on the doors of those who can make it come true. That's what I do. I put myself out there, get someone to pay me to do what I don't know and then set myself up for success. I used to think it is being a fraud or setting myself up for failure, but now after doing it repeatedly and for three years I see that if you focus intensely enough and have a big deadline chasing you, you can learn anything. You can deliver on promises made and even above expectation. 

So my dear friend, as you move into this new week, start doing the things you want to do and becoming who you want to become.

I have been reading up on the frontier markets, which Nigeria falls under, and came across a worrying fact.

There are three categories of equity market to the global investor: Developed Markets, Emerging Markets and Frontier Markets. According to S&P Dow Jones Indexes Country Classification System:
  • Developed markets are the most accessible to and supportive of foreign investors. Generally, there is high degree of consistency across these markets.
  • Emerging markets generally have less accessibility relative to developed markets, but demonstrate some level of openness.
  • Frontier markets are typically much less accessible to foreign investors, exhibit notable limitations in their regulatory and operational environments, and support a smaller investment landscape. Markets tend to be much less robust and in the earlier stages of development.
According to CNBC Africa, there are about $500 million foreign investors money in our stock market and a large portion of them are from index funds like the MSCI Frontier Markets ETF, Guggenheim Frontier Markets ETF and Global X Next Emerging & Frontier ETF. And the non-index ones often rely on the market classifications in allocating their investment funds.

The bad news is that many of the global bodies that create these market classifications are reviewing Nigeria's inclusion in the Frontier Markets category. The most popular bodies are the MSCI, FTSE and S&P Dow Jones Indices. And one of them, MSCI, is set to make its final verdict in two months. MSCI and FTSE, last year, cited the foreign exchange market restriction as the main worry, making it difficult for investors to repatriate their capital. And as the situation hasn't improved since they placed Nigeria on the watchlist last year, there is a high likelihood that we will be evicted from the Frontier Markets into what they term a Standalone Market (the equivalent of no classification).

If they kick us out then things are going to get worse for our stock market. The sell-off will cause a big drop in the market value/capitalization. Bank shares will probably be the hardest hit as most foreign investors target our financial sector first and then the consumer goods industry. 

If you are trying to get into the stock market you might want to wait out this period of uncertainty about our status in the global investment community.
I have been given opportunities to write for two big international finance blogs.They are both non-paying gigs but I see them as the start of something big for me.

I have been reading the materials from my last year six months Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Financial Journalism course. 


I plan to focus on frontier markets using my practical experience with the Nigerian market. I have proposed a few topics to the editor of one of the blogs and he has helped me with some useful feedback on what audience they target and what they expect overall from me. 

Unfortunately, my current blog writing style won't cut it. I have to be more journalistic and less me me in the articles I would be contributing. And being for a finance and investment niche, I would need to do some research and gather facts for the body of my article rather than sling nice sounding words around like I currently do with my blog. The hardest part is that I have to write for an international audience -- more than 50% American. What can I write that won't be lost on them? What do I know that will be useful and worth reading about to them? The only conclusion I have found so far is that I should stick to writing about the frontier markets. 

In one of the blogs, I am allowed to write about more abstract financial stuff. Like the technical bit of financial modelling and valuation but with a unique twist that will interest their audience. 

Now I am reading up on how to do this professionally and then I will start reading up on frontier markets. I have already subscribed to market news on Flipboard. Next is to setup a google alert on frontier markets and scour Bloomberg Terminal for all in their archive about the frontier markets.

I will be sure to share with you the links to any of my articles that get published. 

Wish me luck!

I want to be a writer. A professional writer. To write a lot. Write novels, write articles for online and print magazines, and write all the stories I have lived with since I was born.

My original affection for writing started from my primary school days. I read too many books as I wasn't allowed to have the play-filled childhood most children have. Then naturally I began to have my own stories. I would read a novel, feel unhappy about how the story ends, and then rewrite it in my head. I would make stories from happenings at school, mostly about getting back at my bullies and a couple about winning some particular hearts. I loved poems. I liked the way they say a lot without saying much. The depth they squeeze into shallow words. I loved to read and write poems that rhyme. So I did most of my early writings in rhyming poems. I would occasionally write conventional articles (prose) for competition. And when I started reading more philosophical books I began writing more prose.

Now the bulk of my affection for writing is that all my heroes except one were professional writers. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain), Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw were all life long writers. Steve Jobs was the non-writer. Writing brings me closer to their type of heroism, the type I admire. To put it more plainly, writing helps me become more like my heroes. And the type of writing they did wasn't the teaching type, the raise no sands type, the let lying dogs lie type nor the there-is-a-line-to-not-cross type. And that is what makes me specially admire them. The ability to turn your inside out in words.

And that is what I really want to be in life. 

You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about being a great father with a wonderful family, changing the world, making the world a better place and achieving greatness. I strongly believe that if you are true to yourself and not subject yourself to unnatural theories about how things should be, you would achieve all those. The moment I started ignoring the theory that the more vital information I hold back the more valuable I would become, I stopped suppressing my natural desire to share what I know. And I have seen my value rise because of that, though not instantaneously. I now regularly get emails from people thanking me for freely sharing my knowledge. By being honest and straightforward, I have healthy relationships with people. People trust me and I trust them back. Even the few who abuse my honesty and trust have had little effect on me. I hold no grudges, I move on and I keep being me. I always go about with my own sunshine. I have little expectations from others and allow them plenty room for mistakes. And that's the real me. And I am sure that everyone, though differently wired, are good people naturally. And if you figure out the real you and let it shine forth, you will make the world a better place and have a wonderful family.

Microsoft Nigeria has been very nice and agreed to provide meeting space to Nigerian Excel Users community. And we are not going to let that offer go to waste.

If you are an Excel lover, then you should join the bubbling community of other Excel Power Users in Nigeria at 

We are planning our second ever meetup and the first meetup for this year for April 15, 2017 at 10am to 3pm.

We would love to see you join us as we together explore the amazing world of Excel for solving business problems and doing very creative stuffs. 

We will keep the members updated with the details of the agenda: how to be a presenter, who would be presenting and the topics presentations would be on.

Again, join now at, don't delay! See you in April!
It's worrying how fast the day zooms. I am not an early riser. So on most normal days, I get up at 9:00am. And from that moment till past 12 midnight I am working and feeling like why is the time speeding too fast.

I now feel that 24 hours a day is no longer enough. Not because I have deadlines chasing me nor because I have a daily todo list. I don't have a daily todo list. It is because I still feel energetic at 12 midnight that I have to pull myself forcefully away from work and go sleep so as to avoid the headache that comes with not sleeping deep enough. 

One one hand, I am glad that this is how my typical day turns out as it indicates that I am being productive and constantly working on things I am passionate about. It is only a work you enjoy that will compete daily with your sleep time. But on the other hand, it means that my work is taking over my life completely. 

Today, I woke up at 8:55am. I printed and scanned some documents. I worked a little on my Excel add-in. I did a small analysis for a Whatsapp group I have been a member of since April 2016, the group created for the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Intake 3. I showed them via charts who were the most active members of the group, what time of the day we were most active, what day of the week we were most active and the most popular topics/words by month. It was my valentine gift to them. It was a very interesting one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A couple of the members couldn't believe that one could glean such amount of data and analysis from a simple Whatsapp group chat. In the mid-afternoon, I went to LAPO Microfinance bank to stand as guarantor for my dad. He is borrowing one ridiculously small sum of money. I already told his account officer that there are many things we can sell among his properties that he wouldn't even notice to pay off the loan, so she needs not worry about whether I can pay if he defaults. Even if he defaults, we will raise the money from him, his possessions actually. Then I went to meet the tax consultant working on our income tax filing. By the time I was done and back home, it was already 8:40pm. I worked a little on the Excel add-in again and made impressive headway. The thing is now working great. I can feel myself nearing the publishing date of the add-in on Microsoft app store. And now I am writing today's blog post at 11:20pm.

I still feel like working more before hitting the sacks. I am not feeling sleepy at all. But then I have a meeting at American Tower Corporation tomorrow morning and another at Microsoft in the afternoon, if I don't want to get there late and acting like a dullard, I had better sleep early.

I wish I can get more than 24 hours in a day.

I started today by working a little on my Excel add-in application. I am already done with creating APIs for the FX rates and Stock Indices.

Then I left home for a couple of strategic places. I started with the Tax office to file in our January VAT. Then I went to Federal Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC). I wanted to find out from a staff, rather than limit myself to what I saw on their website, what the end-to-end process of registering is.

I was told that I have to be a member of a professional body that has an enabling Act backing it up. I told him about the other director being already a member of a Medical Laboratory Scientists body in Nigeria, and that would that be good enough. I also asked him that since I am member of foreign professional bodies, will joining IoD (Institute of Directors) be acceptable. He said yes and that though IoD does not have an enabling Act, it is accepted. That it is the only professional body given that exception.

But from their website, a lot of other similar bodies with no enabling Act are listed as acceptable. Unfortunately, I didn't see the Medical Laboratory Scientists one. So, maybe the other director too has to join one of the bodies listed on the FRC website.

I then left FRC for a client's place. Went to drop some official documents for vendor registration.

Finally, I went to IoD office at Glover road, Ikoyi. I got there very late, 5:45pm, but they were still open. Well, the receptionist said it was just coincidence that I met her still at her desk as it was past her official closing hours. I asked about the registration steps to be a member of IoD. And as usual, I got a version different from what is up on their website. A fee of N275,000 for my first year (inclusive of the induction and other new member fees). And it is compulsory to attend a N150,000 course (IoD Nigeria Company Direction Course 1) before I can even start the membership application. But on the website, the course was optional.

The other professional body I find interesting/relevant to me is the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS). I checked through their website for registration steps. Everything looked straightforward except having to get recommendation from two existing members. I think they forgot to factor in that they don't have that many members. I don't know anyone who is an existing member. I will give them a call tomorrow and ask if they can get me those recommendation. Like banks used to do in their aggressive target days.

IoD would make a good body to join and I was okay with the N275,000. But the additional N150,000 and time away from my work to sit in a class I don't need made me rethink its tangible value. NCS is more technically relevant and reasonably priced. So for now, I am tilting towards NCS unless I can figure out how IoD will tangibly benefit me since I no longer do networking nor plan to attend talk talk seminars/conferences.

Ultimately, I just need something to get on with my FRC registration.

How many of you measure your success by how far you've come since your kindergarten days?
Do you compare how much you do now with how much you did when you were just five years old?
Do you decide how much harder or softer you have to go based on how hard you worked when you were ten years old?

If we have learned to put the memories of our childhood behind us when making the big life and career decisions, why then should you keep holding tight to your business' childhood days? It is the easiest way to get out of touch with the changing world, to lose touch with your evolving customers and to become the very dinosaur, the this-is-the-way-we-used-to-do-it-before-you-were-born, businesses we constantly criticize. 

Excelling in business is like climbing an infinity high mountain. There is always a greater height to attain, but the moment you look back and feel you've arrived then you start carving a plateau for yourself. Whenever you focus too much on how far you have come, you neglect how much you have changed. It wasn't the same you as it was at the start. The current you has more knowledge, more skills and more experience, which demands greater use. Like they say, with more power comes greater responsibility. With every new height you attain in business, it is your new responsibility to reach for a greater height.You must do more with the more you now have.

I try to live my business life by this principle. I don't try to slow down, I only try to be more efficient. To achieve more with the increased business muscle I amass. I have learned to manage clients, to identify the problem ones and the desirable ones. I use that knowledge to have a healthier mix of clients. Reducing waste in our resource allocation. I have learned the importance of having a structure and process, and now I am trying to put process around the core aspects of the business. I am currently learning to build a team. Having a technical team is a big goal for the business this year. It is a new skill I am trying to acquire -- team building and management. And I know once that is attained there will be another height to climb.

I work just as hard as I did on the first day of the business. Sometimes, even harder. It is the exact opposite of when I was in a paid employment. Even the toughest job I had that got me coming to the office on weekends to meet my assigned targets became a lot easier by my sixth month on the job. And by the end of my first year, I was cruising. I could get everything done before closing hours and had enough time to help other colleagues with their work. But in my own business, despite the stratospheric growth in my competence and skills, I am just as hard pressed for time as I was at the start. New heights are always within sight.

Succeeding in business and keeping your sanity is possible if you constantly celebrate how far you have come, but if you want to excel, to achieve your business potential then you just have to forget about the childhood memories of your business and press on to the ever present higher ground.

All the best!