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One Spreadsheet at a Time

On Monday my 14-year old Hannah asked me to teach her how to use Google Sheets. She is working on the budgeting project in her entrepreneurship class. This was one of the top five moments for me in 2020. Usually when kids come to me with homework, I feel slightly terrified. I was not a good student in school, and now I am paying a price for it. Algebra or geometry I can usually conquer with logic and trial and error. Economics or business law I can help with after an easy dive into my memory bank. (No, I don’t draw supply and demand curves at work all day long). For biology questions, however, I refer the kids to Khan Academy or to their mother unit.

But spreadsheets, I spend several hours a day living in them. For every company we analyze we build in-depth models in Excel (very similar to Google Sheets). I love spreadsheets. I am fascinated by how powerful that tool is. I read somewhere that in the ’80s companies hired people with knowledge of spreadsheets, just as today they hire C++ or Java programmers. Fast-forward a few decades and today the ability to manipulate a spreadsheet falls into the same column as mastering the use of a calculator.

Hannah and I will be finishing her spreadsheet project this weekend. I am really looking forward to it. I never thought teaching spreadsheets to my daughter would evoke so many positive emotions. Maybe she’ll get turned on to spreadsheets and then decide to be an investor like me? Okay, I am taking a deep breath… one Google Sheet at a time. But a father can dream.

Vitaliy Katsenelson

I am the CEO at IMA, which is anything but your average investment firm. (Why? Get our company brochure here, or simply visit our website).

In a brief moment of senility, Forbes magazine called me “the new Benjamin Graham.”

I’ve written two books on investing, which were published by John Wiley & Sons and have been translated into eight languages. (I’m working on a third - you can read a chapter from it, titled “The 6 Commandments of Value Investing” here).

And if you prefer listening, audio versions of my articles are published weekly at investor.fm.

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