Putting on an Excel face

In which bravado is more important than accuracy.

Messy desk at work

A lot of living is pure bravado, there are enough challenges and setbacks each and every day that if you let it affect you then you would be a shuddering mess in the corner.

I manage to get through the day by pretending, if I didn’t it would make the day that much harder. Sometimes I have to pretend to be a calm and serene individual and this allows me to get through the morning commute, and then sometimes I have to pretend I know what I am talking about.

This is one of the key parts of my job, working in data and analytics for so many years I’ve come to realise that being correct is not so important in my job. Presenting data is a fine art, and an art it is. If it looks pretty and right then it’s probably correct.

The sweet spot is somewhere between the old style charts of Excel 97 (because that eggplant purple emits regal prestige and understanding) and the fancy whiz graphics of an Apple presentation (because a pie chart with no numbers must be important). I’ve sat with numerous higher ups who want to alter and edit the message to show that everything is all okay (unless we need money for something) and everytime it comes down to “can this be questioned?”

I once worked for an agency who would insist that I produce an ROI (return on investment, an idea of how much money was ‘made’ by spending someone else’s) between $3 and $7. Anything lower was bad and terrible and would require someone’s neck to be on the line, and anything over was too much and would raise questions. Plus we could borrow any of the extra and pad out another ROI number elsewhere.

This has created a lack of confidence in what I do, because it is not about being right but being perceived as right. I can play that game, but I just don’t like to. And I have met enough canny director’s who can see through the BS to make a dent in any column chart I may have been made to falsify, Yet when the numbers are questioned it is my integrity that is challenged, because if you are the kind of manager who wants me to lie for them then it is unlikely they are going to stand up for me when their plot is discovered.

So in the end I have to pretend to be confident, even when I am not. It is all a show. Wear a pair of glasses, point and use gestures, modulate the tone of voice. Like with data, if you sound and appear confident then what does it matter.

You may be an imposter, but you’ll get paid an imposter’s wage.

Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.

Source: The Great Pretender | The Daily Post

Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

6 thoughts on “Putting on an Excel face”

  1. This is razor-like insightful. I feel like asking when you’re running for office. I’m also thinking of state employees (I live near the capital of my state) who live that way at work. At first because they were directed to. And then they learned that the show was a way to survive and even thrive. I know state staffers who have told me this or otherwise exuded it. I think you’re right for your own sake and that of your family. For me, it’s been hard to teach subjects with integrity and then play the game everywhere else. I’ve tried to give that up, frankly (the game, that is), though I’ve also been rarely promoted. And I have no family. Thank you!


    1. I could never run for office, I have grown up with members of my family in local government and I see how the ‘game’ is played. And I don’t like playing games I can’t win! Mrs G has this problem in her school as well, she is terrible at the politics so becomes frustrated because she doesn’t want to or know how to get ahead. I think it is a lot harder to maintain that integrity than to give in!


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