Dear Analyst #100: Hitting a hunned! A look back at the top 5 episodes of Dear Analyst
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Holy cannoli. Somehow we’ve hit 100 hundred episodes of the Dear Analyst podcast. This podcast started off as an experiment because I was lazy and got tired of writing. I figured speaking about Excel and data analytics would be easier than coming up with prose. Ironically, I’m still writing because all the show notes for each episode are summarized through this blog and in the LinkedIn newsletter.
I started publishing episodes more regularly during the pandemic because I was always at home and what else was there to do? Perhaps I was also fulfilling my millennial obligation to have my own podcast as well. This episode is a look back at some of my favorite episodes and I’ll include snippets of these older episodes as well. To all you data nerds out there, thank you for listening to the podcast and reading the show notes. I could say something trite like “I’m doing this all for you.” The reality is I do it for myself to explore topics I’m interested in :).
1. Episode #1: The inaugural episode about paste special values in Excel
The first episode was published on March 3rd, 2019. I had no idea what I was doing (I still don’t). At the time, I thought talking about a relatively technical subject where most people learn via video would be a good idea. Was I ever this young and naive? I had started working at Coda less than a year at this point and was creating content at work comparing Excel and Coda. Needless to say, I was questioning a lot of the common behaviors we do in Excel and paste special values was one of them. I pretty much just read the original blog post I wrote about this subject and framed it as a “why” paste special values is not that great versus “how” to do paste special values.
2. Episode #28: Filling values down to the last row of data
Explaining formulas and technical concepts over audio is tricky. As a listener, you’re trying to visualize the Excel file I’m explaining. This episode is deep in the weeds of how to fill values down to the last row of your data. The reason why this is one of my favorite episodes is because the blog post with the show notes has become one of the most trafficked posts on thekeycuts.com. I guess a lot of people are looking for ways to fill their values down? Prior to this episode/blog post, the post with the most views is this post on how to split costs with friends (published in 2014). From an SEO perspective, I didn’t expect this blog post to get so much search traffic in such a short period of time.
3. Episode #50: First guest on Dear Analyst, Shawn Wang
Episode #50 was also a big milestone for the podcast. As such, I invited a guest onto the show instead of just me talking about some Excel or Google Sheets tip. This turned the podcast into more of a Q&A type of show rather than a “how-to” show. Now I have the privilege of interviewing and learning from some of the top professionals in the data analytics industry. Shawn (aka swyx on Twitter) is pretty well known in the ReactJS and Svelte community. I heard him speak on some other web dev podcasts like SyntaxFM and didn’t know he had a banking background where he wrote thousands of lines of VBA code for Excel. After I learned this fact about him, I knew I had to have him on the show.
4. Episode #91: All things Peloton
During the pandemic, I started riding Peloton more and got pretty addicted to the post-ride analytics from the platform. You see a big output number after a ride and you instinctively want to beat that number the next time around. Elena originally couldn’t talk on the podcast because she was still a full-time employee at Peloton when we first started chatting. Due to NDA and PR/comms concerns, we agreed it wouldn’t make sense for her to be on the podcast. Some time passed, and I Elena moved to a different company. We got back in touch, and Elena was able to share more about her role as a product analyst since she moved on from Peloton. I got nerd out about Peloton’s analytics and learn how the sausage is made via this episode with Elena.
5. Episode #38: The first “Excel mistake leads to catastrophe” episode
I published a few of these episodes and the reception has generally been pretty good for these episodes. The story line goes something like this: analyst makes some basic formatting or formula error in Excel and this error ends up costing their company millions and billions of dollars. Episode #38 was the first episode exploring one of these Excel errors: JPMorgan loses $6.2B because of an Excel error. While most news outlets just report the facts about what transpired, I thought it would be interesting exploring the actual Excel error in this episode and how one would fix it in the future.
When we read these click-baity headlines, we immediately tell ourselves: “I would never make this mistake in Excel.” The reality is that these errors can happen to anyone regardless if you’re an entry-level analyst or an experienced Excel guru. These errors are so simple to make and most of the time, they are a result of some default setting in Excel we overlook.
Thank you, thank you, thank you you’re far too kind
And that’s a wrap on 100 episodes! I appreciate all 10 or 100 of you who listen to this podcast. Maybe one day it will be 1,000. I don’t know how much longer I’ll do this thing and what direction it will go in, but that’s part of the journey ain’t it?
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