I vividly remember my first business experience with pivot tables. My boss did (what seemed to me) advanced wizardry to show me some interesting trends in our shipping frequencies. He apologized about how clumsy he was in re-creating his pivot table through trial and error, and conceded that I probably knew far more than him since “I just graduated from college, and he was just an old-timer.” Haha, he couldn’t be more wrong…I literally had no clue what heck was doing, but I did know what he did was spectacular. My brain started churning through all the ways I could use it — if I only knew how! So I played around with an excel file I had, and I….immediately got frustrated and gave up! It wasn’t until a few years later, through the MBA program and an analyst job did I force myself to learn more about pivot tables, and ultimately attain extreme comfort in using them.
In actuality the learning was quite easy, didn’t take that long, and really just required one person to sit down with me for ~15 minutes to get the basics. From that point on, with the basics in my back pocket, I could confidently trial and error my way through any future challenges. And when the going got really tough, all I had to do was Google, word-for-word my problem…and whammo…a full search page of tutorials and YouTube videos explaining exactly how to perform my precise request. The video below is my attempt to give everyone the benefit of the 15 minute sit-down I had with my friend in learning the basics. Please feel free to comment if you have any further questions on things I didn’t explain fully or you would like more details on. You are fully capable of learning pivot tables really quickly…all you need is this video, a few forced trials and errors in your own data set, and access to Google for specific challenges you face. You truly can become quite proficient in pivot tables within a day, you just can’t get intimidated and keep grinding. You can’t mess anything up playing around in a pivot table, so don’t sweat it! Get to learning!