Chapter 19   The Cell Master.  Tommy Miles  from Houston TX, USA

interview date:20.July.2004
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 Tommy Miles. I am 24 years old. I recently got married to a wonderful woman, and have no children. I am currently a full time accountant and a part-time Excel consultant.

In my job as an accountant I also provide Microsoft Office support to the company I work for, as well as helping to automate daily tasks using VBA or other methods.

When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
In my previous job I actually used Word more than Excel. The first time I remember using Excel was to create a Mail Merge database for a form letter created in Word. It was nothing exciting, just a list of names and addresses.

When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?

My first formula was probably some sort of VLOOKUP or something simple along those lines. I don't actually remember my first code...except for the fact that it was probably "recorded".

On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
On average...around 8-10 hours a day.

Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
Most rewarding for me is VB. Not to take anything away from Excel's native formulas or functions, but VB offers me more flexibility in design. I tend to think of my code more along the lines of improving efficiency for someone's daily tasks than helping them with simple calculations. Now, if I knew the structure of formulas like some of the previous CellMaster's...I doubt my answer would be the same.

If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
Do not get frustrated! There are too many excellent resources that can help answer your seemingly impossible questions. Use the Help files, use the internet (message boards, newsgroups, etc.), read books, talk to co-workers, just don't spend 6 hours trying to figure out why your formula isn't working. There is most likely a readily available answer to be found.

Please provide a sample of your first work (either as a formula or vba code) in Excel and tell us about it.
I really don't have any of my "first VB work" to show. Most has been reworked at least a thousand times now.

First formula was probably somewhere along the lines of:


What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
Depends on what type of code I'm working on. If it is something really involved, I like to be alone with no distractions so that I can completely concentrate on the project. It's almost like an actor preparing for a big scene.

If it is something simpler, I usually have some music playing so that I don't get bored with it.

If there special preparations that must be in place before you can begin, what are they?
For preparation, I like to speak with the person that will be using the app as much as possible.

This helps to reduce the amount of time spent on re-working it later on. If I get good feedback up front, it gives me a better understanding of what they are expecting.

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.
For me, the main goal in life is to be happy. So, for the people that have not decided upon a career choice in life, don't choose solely based upon the monetary benefit of a particular career. If you can't be happy and satisfied at your job (which is where you will spend 35%-40% of your waking hours) then you will not have a good life, no matter how much money you make.

Just find something that satisfies you, and make money at matter what it is.

Thank you very much for answering the questions.

This Black belt is yours...

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