Get Your Geek On!

Over the last month and a half, I have been immersed in technical learning.  I won't bore you with the details, but it involves databases and Crystal Reports.  I wrote a longish post that is still relegated to the "draft" graveyard.  It would likely bore most to tears.

It is too easy for any of us to say, "I can't learn 'that'"--with "that" being any number of things that seem too complicated for us to master.  The truth of the matter is that to learn something means carving out precious time from other activities, and fully engaging one's grey matter (or mush as mine sometimes feels like) in the task at hand.

I'm motivated by frustration.  I like to do my work quickly and accurately.  Because I work with large amounts of data, it is important that I understand how to acquire and manipulate it. Excel is my go-to, but it is limited in terms of accumulating information. When I worked for larger companies, I had an IT department that shielded me from this knowledge. Data was given to me on a silver platter.

As I do mostly small business consulting, amplifying my ability to work with the front end of the data and having working knowledge of wider methods in working with such data, allows me to better serve clients.  Because I generally have the broadest knowledge of where all information is coming from and where it ultimately ends up (such is the nature of being a CFO), having a better understanding of the granular aspects helps me discover new opportunities to use data.

Okay...enough of that.  I want to share with you what I used to help me acquire this information in the privacy of my own office.  Please take a look at the Get Your Geek On! menu for some cost effective resources that will help you gain understanding (and in some cases mastery) of all of those technical things that you've managed to dodge in your professional life. If you have a blog, learn how to manipulate elements using CSS. If you regularly work with databases at work in glancing blows, but want to have a more confident approach to your work, consider taking relational database courses and understand SQL.

For my own part, I was amazed at the amount of high quality, low-cost learning that was available to me. I used Teach U Comp, and Infinite Skills to learn Crystal reports. I let go of my Teach U Comp subscription, because they had limited offerings, but the Crystal Reports was quite good.   I also used and Infinite Skills to understand better databases as well as using their Crystal Reports tutorials--all very excellent.  My only dismay is that I had not tackled these sooner.  I even reviewed some Excel stuff--my bread and butter--and learned a tip or two.  I'm now interested in learning VBA...but I may be getting ahead of myself.

These videos are the equivalent of a cooking show.  If you learn by watching and then by doing,  then these are a great resources. Consider using these tutorials to gain better working knowledge of any of the Microsoft series of products (Outlook, Work Excel, Access, etc).  Being able to effectively leverage the technical tools that are available to you will enable you to get your work done more effectively (no matter what your level) as well as improve work process at an individual, group or company level.

The cost?  Well, each of the resources that I noted costs $25 per month.  So for $75, I learned Crystal Reports to be able to build upon my skills.  Already I have used that skill to save time AND to improve informational reporting.  I dropped Teach U  Comp, but I have kept and Infinite Skills.  It is in an investment in my professional (and personal) development.  The subscriptions allow you to stop at anytime.  Check out the websites (see my "Get your Geek On!" links), and see if you have some time to increase your learning.  I promise that you'll be glad you did.


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