Paying it forward

I received a request yesterday for some Excel help. It came via Twitter from an intern working for quite a big internet company in San Francisco.

There was nothing in it for me beyond shits and giggles. But I helped.

I received a dataset and did half an hour’s worth of analysis last night. We were going to speak about it this morning UK time, but his internet failed him, so that didn’t happen. But I instead spent another half hour cleaning up the analysis and polishing things off, then I was done. I spent another hour or so on a video call tonight explaining the steps I went through.

To me, it was simple stuff. Some text manipulation and data cleansing, some PivotTables, that was pretty much it.

To him, he was blown away. (“This is incredible.”) The first draft of the output was well-received, and it looks like the second iteration has put it to bed.

The commitment for me was relatively trivial. A couple of hours’ effort, a few moments wasted waiting for a Skype call, a little electricity. But to him, I get the feeling that the output is immense, and that it will allow him to shine that bit brighter in his internship.

I’ll likely never meet the guy. But helping him feels good. Really good. I guess it’s what the Americans would call “paying it forward”.


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