Madison Modern Excel User Group Inaugural Meeting

March 28th 2014

This month I became an accidental Modern Excel User Group Organizer.

I first heard about Modern Excel User Groups from Rob Collie when he first announced that he wanted to start Modern Excel User Groups around the country and called for organizers. I thought it was a great idea. I was excited that someone with the reach Rob does was putting his weight behind building up a genuine community around Power Pivot with the aim to spread the knowledge far & wide.

But, I thought, there was no way in hell I'd want to be the organizer.

So I emailed and said that I was really interested in attending if one started up in my area. I said nothing about organizing.

A while later, and I'm at MADPASS (the Madison Area SQL Server User Group) and Greg Kramer approached me and said he was organizing a Modern Excel group in Madison with Ben Niebuhr and would I be interested in helping, or even being an organizer? Without even thinking, I said yes, I'd love to help.

And that's how I became an accidental organizer.

Our first meeting was on Wednesday 26 March 2014 at the Madison Public Library. It was a fantastic success. I had no idea what to expect - I didn't even meet Ben until I was already standing up in front of the room introducing myself to everybody. We had 23 people show up representing a good dozen organizations in the Madison area - health care, utilities, manufacturing, financial services, government. Men & women all with very different job titles and very different backgrounds but all with a common theme: they work with data in Excel. The crowd were also engaged and came ready to share their stories and their thoughts. Ben and Greg did a fantastic job putting a polished look on what was essentially a massive experiment.

My favorite moment of the evening was a conversation I had with someone I used to work with. She confided that she felt like an imposter at an Excel user group because she didn't know how to VLOOKUP. I told her she didn't need to know because Power Pivot replaces it anyway. She then told me a story about a report she built in Excel for two of her newer co-workers to run each month. I asked her a few questions:

Does the report involve copying data into Excel from a database or other report? Yes.

Does the report involve manipulating that data once in Excel? Deleting columns and rows, adding in formulas? Yes.

Does putting together the report involve a series of carefully followed steps? Yes.

I told her that she was definitely the right person in the right place and to come back next month.

If you're in the Madison area, our next meeting is April 17th 2014 at the Madison Downtown Public Library at 6.30pm. Check out our Eventbrite here. Follow us on Twitter at #madmeug and join the Midwest Modern Excel User Group sub-group on LinkedIn.

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