THE CELL MASTERS
Chapter 14   The Cell Master.  Juan Pablo Gonzalez  from Bogota, Colombia

interview date:29.July.2003
Please introduce your self. You may be as thorough as you wish. Feel free to include or omit any detail about yourself.
My name is Juan Pablo Gonzalez. I'm 25 years old, or will be in about 3 weeks and I live in Bogota, Colombia. I am an Industrial Engineer, and have actually done some career-related work with some large companies like Xerox, AIG and the Santander Central Hispano financial group, as well as working as a part time Excel consulting with MrExcel.com, up until last February, when I decided to turn my life around, and dedicate my self to Excel...

Currently, I'm the Project Designer for DealerWare LLC, company responsible for the F&I Menu Wizard (www.fimenuwizard.com) and a full time Excel consultant at MrExcel.com.

When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
The only thing that I do remember is that I hated it, basically, because I already had Quattro Pro and Lotus, and didn't think that another product might have something interesting to offer. I still only used them for their 'basic' stuff, simple formulas / charts.

When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?
My first spreadsheet used SUM and AVERAGE... that was about it... nothing fancy.

VBA code came very natural to me, because I have been programming for as long as I can remember, in an old Texas Instruments computer, later in a Atari Computer, then Basic, Pascal, Delphi, Visual Basic, etc., etc...

I don't remember the specifics of it, but I do know that I basically sucked at it, because I only knew around 20% or 25% of what Excel's built-in features and functions could really do, which is where the real power of VBA is.

On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
On average, around 10 hours, mainly, because I *do* enjoy it! And it's mostly VBA code, work related.... ;-)

Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
I have to say formulas. I think they're the most challenging, and from where I have learned a lot, because for me, VBA is 'the easy way out', and not always the 'way to go'

If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
Practice, try, screw up. Don't be afraid of doing something stupid...... everyone does, eventually. The help file is a very good resource, but for me, the best way I have learned (And I still apply it) is 'going at it'. I try, and try, and try, until I find a way to do it.

Also, learn how to use Excel, then, apply that in VBA... that way you can create the best, the fastest, and the most reliable applications around...

Please provide a sample of your first work (either as a formula or vba code) in Excel and tell us about it.
Well, I don't have any of that... I'd be too embarrassed to show it too! So, I prefer to show some other stuff I've done. For example, the VB HTML Maker, that was created mainly because I wanted to practice my VBE skills.

The program is available here, http://www.mrexcel.com/vbaddin.shtml, the code is unlocked so you can see what I did, and improve it!

What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
I work at home, in a room that is completely dedicated to work... I have my computer, my MP3 collection where I have mainly Spanish music (Like Mecano, La Oreja de Van Gogh, among others) and Enya.

If there special preparations that must be in place before you can begin, what are they?


I usually try to 'see' the program/code/formula in my head, sometimes using some pen and paper help too, and then I 'attack' Excel to make it do what I 'saw' in my head.

Finally, please give us something to think about - a reminder of your words here; a phrase that has helped you; a link to your own website. Anything that you think is important for the readers to remember.
Well, the people that know me know that I love a good challenge. They keep me on my toes, thinking, learning, trying... not only in Excel, but in every aspect of my life. I love to learn new things, and have come to really appreciate the honor it is to be able to teach others something, no matter how important or stupid it may seem, so, try to pass around the things that you're good at, that way, everyone can benefit from you, and you can benefit from everyone.

Also, learn from what others have done. There is great knowledge on the Internet... and if you can combine that with your own creativity, then, nothing can stop you.

Thank you very much for answering the questions.

This Black belt is yours...

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