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Excel TIP (Add Data Validation with a Drop-Down List)


It is important to be mindful of how you are entering repetitive data in excel. There is nothing worse than trying to validate and modify a column that has the same value written multiple ways! Look at this contact information, where the same state is recorded differently.


If you needed to filter this list on state you’d have to account for all representations of Texas!

Adding drop down validation is a great way to ensure values will be recorded consistently – and it is super easy to do in excel!

Let’s say Maggie’s Pet Supply sales team is calling a list of pet stores. One of the items they need to capture is the product they are interested in ordering


Rather than rely on the sales team to capture the correct product name, we can store the list of products as a validation list that can be selected by a drop-down.

  • To do this, add a second sheet to store the list of possible products


  • Next, highlight the column you want to be able to select the drop-down items
  • Under the Home tab, select ‘Data Validation’


  • For Validation criteria, allow ‘List’


  • Click in the Source box and then Click on the Product sheet
  • Highlight the values in the list and select OK


  • Navigate back to the Call Sheet and you can now select items for your drop down!




In Defense of the Salesperson


When my wife and I walk into an environment where we know we will be met by commission motivated Salespeople, we typically reaffirm ourselves:

‘Remember, we are just here to look’

‘Don’t ask any questions’

‘Don’t make eye contact’

Like most people, I blamed the salesperson for feeling pressured or anxious. It seems to be the general opinion that salespeople can be overbearing, aggressive and even misleading. This conception has lead company’s like Carmax to adopt a a no-haggling policy, claiming not to play pricing games with the consumer or Living Spaces, where employees reassure their customer’s that they do NOT work for commission.

Why are we uncomfortable around the commission motivated salesperson? Of course, many of us have had an obnoxious encounter- but I think the reason is more complex than they are overbearing, or aggressive. I’ll share a few of my opinions:

People are afraid to say ‘no’

I have found myself leading a salesperson on just because I did not want to reject them. I’ll give objections such as ‘I’m looking for something further down the line’ or ‘these are too expensive’. To a salesperson, these are just clues that help them point out other suggestions. There is nothing wrong with being clear about your intention – most likely, they will understand and want to educate you anyways. Take advantage of their knowledge – even if you are not looking to buy then, salespeople know the value of building the relationship.

Guilt Over Indulgence 

Self indulgence may be a rare thing for certain people. I know that most times I’m window shopping at an outlet with my wife, we know we WANT something, but don’t NEED it. I think this makes us feel guilt about our purchase. Our fear of the salesperson is more a guilt about indulgence.

The Perception of Money Motivation

The common perception is that salespeople only care about money. Well, what do you work for? It’s not unusual to work for money. Even for the associate who is not working on commission, their prime motivation for engaging in conversation with you is a paycheck at the end of the week. It may be possible that the commission based associate has the purest of intentions because their motivation is transparent.

What do you think? Do you find yourself anxious or uncomfortable in a commissioned sales environment? If so, why do you think that is?



Combating ‘they ought to’ mentality

It can feel like a battle to maintain a positive outlook at work. Between organizational shifts, office politics, and general fatigue, staying motivated can be difficult. Most days  I am able to stay productive and engaged, but nothing can hijack momentum like the wrong mentality. By ‘mentality’, I am referring to a state of mind that may influence how work is accomplished or viewed. There are obvious negative and positive mentalities, a ‘can-do’ attitude is an example of a positive mentality while ‘things never go my way.. ‘ is a negative mentality.

I encountered one particularly insidious mentality while I was refilling my coffee in the break room that I began to coin as ‘They Ought To’ mentality. Many people were huddled in a circle discussing the changes to company benefits. I could hear that one person was leading the discussion, while the others were listening and taking turns to also express their disapproval, ‘They Ought to provide additional vacation’…..’at Laura’s company they give every man 6 weeks of paid paternity leave!’…..’If you’re lucky you’ll get a 3% raise!’, who can live with that?’

Now, I want to clarify I am not stating that paternity leave, maternity leave, and other employee benefits should not be advocated for. These are all great benefits that I believe in many places can strengthen the organization that provides them.  The problem with this mentality is that it is disguised as a legitimate concern but offers no alternative solution. It is simply just stating a problem and  provides no constructive approach to resolve it, since no one can argue on behalf of the organization and no one can identify ‘they’. Regardless of what service ‘they ought to’ provide is, in most cases it has already been identified as not being available. We can argue who should provide it, but the fact remains that it is not being provided and that is likely not to change any time soon. How would the internal or external conversation go from this perspective?

Approaching the same issue in another way might look like this:

The organization or institution does not provide (x).

Is (x) important to me or my family?

Am I willing to look for other opportunities so that my family and I can be provided with (x)?

What are other ways I can get (x) without having to rely on my organization?

If someone is not interested in following through the reasoning above, then would (x) continue to be a real need for them?



Bridge Above The Water: The Hard Worker vs The Valuable Worker

I remember a monotonous and time consuming project I was working on involving a series of data manipulations and entries. My coworker Rich, our systems analyst, implored me to let him develop a way to automate the process. I told him that by the time he was done I wouldn’t need it anymore. I joked with him by saying ‘you build a bridge, and I’ll drain the river dry – either way we both get to the other side’. He chuckled and returned to work. A few moments later he turned his chair and asked, ‘What if it rains again?’

His response was brilliant. It most likely would rain again, since, well…that’s how nature works. A bridge would not be effected by the rain because a bridge was a solution and not a state – like an empty or flowing river. Regardless of how much water was in the river the bridge would always be an option. If someone was not strong enough, or did not have the time or resources to drain the river, they could use the bridge. The bridge would provide value to the entire community. When you take a step back, the bridge was definitely the better of the two solutions. It’s smarter. Sure enough, a few weeks later I was wishing I had built a bridge!

At the time I was being the ‘Hard Worker’, while my coworker was being the ‘Valuable Worker’. I would not stop until my work was done, which made me a hard worker. However, I could’ve spent my time on something more valuable.

I decided to compile  ‘Hard Worker’ habits and traits compared to a ‘Valuable Worker’ traits. Please let me know what other distinctions you can think of in the comment section!

A Hard Worker? A Valuable Worker?
spends most of their time working spends most of their time learning
knows a lot documents a lot
sticks to the process Improve the process
knows how to do their job understands why they do their job
is skeptical of change welcomes change
is aware of the deadline is aware of the mission
checks the to-do list from top to bottom prioritizes tasks
holds on to responsibility delegates responsibility
is concerned with their role only knows how other roles work together
is in competition with others collaborates with others

Excel Etiquette: 4 Essential Manners When Sending an Excel File.


Everyone was taught the same fundamental manners. Say please and thank you, make eye contact, don’t talk with your mouth full, put the toilet seat down, don’t scream at squirrels, etc. Unfortunately, when it comes to office manners – some of us were born in a barn yesterday! No offense to anyone actually born in a barn…or yesterday.

Remember these excel etiquette practices, and you’ll be highly esteemed and well-liked!

  1. Freeze the Top Row

If your Excel file is large and requires a lot of scrolling, you don’t want your coworkers or clients getting all mixed up about what column they are looking at! Freeze the Top row by navigating to View -> Freeze Panes ->  Freeze Top Row. Now the top row is visible no matter where your co-workers scroll off to.



  1. Add Filters and Sort

Although Excel is totally cool and awesome, some people don’t want to spend more time than necessary finding what they need. Add a filter and sort the data in a way that is meaningful to your audience. Go to Data Tab -> Filter.


  1. Express yourcell! Format your cells.

Add some distinction to your data by adding and outline and inline border. Highlight your selection and right click -> Format Cells.. -> Border -> Outline and Inside




  1. Name Your Sheets

Here’s a super simple one! If you’ve got more than one sheet in your workbook, add some names. Double click on your sheet’s tab and begin typing.