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Maven News

My Maven Story

7 min read
By Enrique Ruiz
Feb 23, 2021

Most days, I still find it hard to believe I’m a part of Maven Analytics.

Not so long ago, I was taking Chris’s courses myself as I looked to kickstart my career as a data analyst.

Now I work alongside Chris and the rest of the Maven team, taking big steps towards empowering everyday people to change the world with data.

So how did I get this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

If there is anything that my path to Maven has taught me, it’s that “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities don’t present themselves to you, you find them. And that’s just the start.

As I find myself doing what I love for a living much sooner than I could have imagined, I look back at the 5 key steps I took (unknowingly) for getting my shot, taking it, and not letting go:

1. Find your passion

My Maven journey is directly tied to Excel, and my Excel journey starts in the summer of 2014.

I was fresh out of high school and getting ready to start my college education as an Industrial Engineer. I had experience working at a couple of manufacturing companies and I was in line for an internship at a third one during the summer. On paper, everything was lining up perfectly.

The problem? I realized I despised manufacturing.

After making the decision to leave the internship on the first day, the existential crisis kicked in. To fight the panic, and to get away from production lines, I reached out to a family member and asked him for a job at his construction business. At the time, it represented something to keep me busy while I figured out what I was doing with my life. What an understatement that turned out to be.

Part of my job was to put together a series of Excel reports to track key metrics for the concrete testing lab. The existing reports were lackluster, to say the least, and I knew I could do better. I had only used Excel on the surface in school, so I turned to Google and YouTube for inspiration. I started using formulas no one at the company had seen before, writing VBA code, and building UserForms. Looking back, I did a terrible job. None of my reports ended up being of much use and certainly weren’t user friendly (I’m looking at you, UserForms). At one point, I used a macro to accomplish the exact same thing the VLOOKUP function does. Yuck.

Nonetheless, Excel had me hooked. I found my passion.

After realizing this, I started actively seeking Excel out.

In a university project we had with a manufacturing company (ah, the irony), I asked to own all Excel related tasks. As I was working my magic, or so I thought, my project leader came up to me and asked why I wasn’t just using a PivotTable.

A PivotTable? What’s that?

The gif below best explains what went through my mind as he briefly explained them to me:

Rocket_GIF

The lid was off, and I finally started to deliver real business value using Excel. And people around me started taking notice. A few months later, a classmate of mine sought me out for an analyst position that had opened at his company. I took the job, and we took the division by storm. Together, we implemented project after project, looking to push the limits of Excel.

One of those limits? 1,048,576 rows.

Enter Chris Dutton.

2. Seek out the opportunity

My introduction to Chris was through his Power Query, Power Pivot, and DAX course. To put it lightly, I was blown away. Not only was the concept of data modeling in Excel a complete game changer for me (millions of rows?!), but the course’s delivery itself left me speechless. This guy was GOOD.

A few months after finishing his course, I went back to refresh my memory on creating a rolling calendar table. As I browsed through the lectures, I noticed an announcement Chris had published a few weeks back. The post was an open call for Teaching Assistants to help him manage the Q&A forums on his courses.

At the time, my goal was to set up a BI consulting firm in Mexico like Maven Analytics (Excel Maven back then), so the opportunity to work with Chris was something that I couldn’t pass up!

The catch? To apply, you had to work through a series of Excel challenges. See the first below:

TA_Challenge

Challenge accepted.

I worked my way through his Excel obstacle course, thoroughly enjoying myself, and came out the other side victorious. The final piece of the puzzle was to send an email his way stating the reasons why I loved Excel and I’d make an excellent teaching assistant. I did just that, putting everything I had into the email to stand out. This was my big chance!

Here is Chris’s reply a few days later:

Nicely done Enrique, and thanks for the great feedback! I have several TA's up and running at this point, but I will absolutely keep you in mind for future opportunities.

Proud, but with a sunken head, I showed my family the results of my efforts. Oh well, another opportunity will come. This story could have easily ended right there. My mother had a different idea: “You should tell him that you’ll translate his courses to Spanish!”. Seek out the opportunity.

And so, I did. Fast forward several emails and a test lecture and we had a contract signed. I got my shot.

3. Be ready to seize it

Here’s the thing about opportunities that isn’t said out loud enough: they will just pass you by if you’re not prepared for them.

Think about it.

I didn’t just get this shot because my mom had the idea for me to translate Chris’s courses. This was the byproduct of years of going out of my way to develop my Excel expertise:

  • Seeking out the Excel tasks in my school project got me my first analytics job.
  • That analytics job led me to purchase my first Maven course.
  • That course’s announcement invited me to contact Chris.
  • Finally, my hard-earned Excel savvy allowed me to not only complete his challenge, but to convince him that I was worthy of the Maven brand.

I sought out the opportunity, but I was also ready to seize it.

4. Put in the work

Getting your shot is just the beginning. Next, you need to take it.

Yes, I had the contract. Now there was just the small matter of actually translating, producing, and publishing the course. It was time to roll up my sleeves and put in the work.

Make no mistake, making quality online learning content is DIFFICULT.

Even accounting for the fact that the Formulas & Functions curriculum was already built, I still had to go through and re-do every single slide, screenshot, exercise, and recording in Spanish. All while juggling school, work, and the rest of my young life.

This is where the first step is crucial. If you find your passion, putting in the long hours is worth it.

Several months, and 300+ hours later, I launched my first Udemy course.

Add another year, a change of city, and a new “primary” job, and the entire beginner Excel stack was available in Spanish: Formulas & Functions, Charts & Graphs, and PivotTables.

5. Keep the momentum going

By the time I finished my third course, my day job was taking up more and more of my time and energy. Chris reached out to see if I was interested in producing original English courses, but I had to refuse. I just couldn’t set aside the time I knew was needed to deliver a Maven-quality course, especially from scratch!

While Maven Analytics was growing as a company and bringing in new people, I began to lag behind.

Then, a global pandemic hit. I flew back home to work remotely and spend time in lock-down with my family. Naturally, in steps mom. Again.

“Enrique, the time to make the leap with Maven is now. Keep the momentum going.

What would I do without her?

And so, I came on board as a full-time Maven instructor teaching the MO-201 Excel certification prep course. I had the experience of producing the Spanish courses, but this was a completely different BEAST. This involved writing out the curriculum, finding real world exercises that fit, building the course slides, and recording the whole thing.

It was the toughest thing I’d ever done, and I loved every minute of it. The perfect combination of analytical and creative thinking. And let me tell you, nothing beats the feeling of getting positive feedback from a student and knowing that you made an impact in their life. NOTHING.

This led me to grow into the Learning Experience Designer role at Maven, tasked with supporting the production and development of all Maven learning content and resources.

It’s been a long journey to get here, and there’s a long way to go!

Looking for your Maven?

  1. Find your passion
  2. Seek out the opportunity
  3. Be ready to seize it
  4. Put in the work
  5. Keep the momentum going

Get to work!

-Enrique

Author

Enrique Ruiz

Enrique is a certified Microsoft Excel Expert and top-rated instructor with a background in business intelligence, data analysis and visualization. He has been producing advanced Excel and test prep courses since 2016, along with adaptations tailored to Spanish-speaking learners.

Enrique is a certified Microsoft Excel Expert and top-rated instructor with a background in business intelligence, data analysis and visualization. He has been producing advanced Excel and test prep courses since 2016, along with adaptations tailored to Spanish-speaking learners.

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