The (Music) Man. The (Microsoft) Myth. The (Excel) Legend.
John Walkenbach, one of Microsoft’s most prolific MVPs (2000 – 2010), began his Excel career in 1996. That was the year he started The Spreadsheet Page (which, in 2008, became its own website) on his consultation website J-walk.com.
In the years before Excel John studied psychology, but he lost interest not long after working in the field professionally. He then found himself backing into the banking sector when it was the only job he could find. From there, he moved to financial services and eventually landed a job as V.P. of market research for HomeFed Bank.
During this time he found his passion for Excel. So when HomeFed Bank failed, John decided to try self-employment and never looked back — in part, he says, because of the lack of need to wear a tie (or shoes).
And this is when J-walk & associates (associates being himself alone) began. Although a consultation firm on the surface, John made most of his income through his Excel books and articles. As it turned out, John had a knack not only for using excel, but also for teaching its complex formulas. John’s ability to write clear and easy to understand code was unrivaled.
“My writing is based on two guiding principles: Keep it simple, and teach through illustrative examples that can be expanded upon by the reader.”
Quite the resume.
The Blogging years
In 2002, after 8 years of writing, consulting, and developing Excel add-in products, John started his widely loved blog j-walkblog.com.
Here, John would write posts on... well... everything, multiple times a day. Even he couldn’t keep up with the range of topics he covered, which included TV dinner reviews, brain surgery, Hollywood, and crustless sandwiches. He even wrote a few jokes.
“One part of my blog that I really hate is the categories. When I switched blogging software a few years ago, I spent about two minutes thinking about the categories. I really need to revise them — but that’s a lot of work.”
After a year, John chose to close down the blog. But he then received so many emails from fans saying how much they enjoyed it, that the blog was back up by the next day. And for the next 9 years, he would post “stuff that you may or may not find interesting,” multiple times a day. 40,736 posts in total.
In 2011, John retired after a long career that helped countless people. Since then there has been a void in the Excel community that many talented people have tried to fill. Some with great success — though none have captured John’s character or matched his writing style.
A Post-Excel John
Since his retirement, John’s been enjoying the Tucson weather and slaying the banjo — a passion he discovered during his reign as an Excel guru — with his band The Tune Monkeys. And it’s been left to us to continue driving the Excel steam train and helping as many users as possible discover its wonders.
Thanks for everything John.
If you’d like to get to know John as we have, you can read his online interviews.
A little bit more John (Quick Take)
Wondering what John’s favorite things are? Take a look:
City: Missoula, MT.
Music: Old time Appalachian style banjo/fiddle music.
Food: BBQ ribs.
Book: “Tough Question, but I’ll go with “Gödel Escher Bach” by Douglas Hofstadtler.”
Gadget: “I’m not much of a gadgeteer, but I’ll say it’s my Canon SD870 IS.”
Movie: “Another tough one. I’ll go with ‘Memento.’”
TV Show: “I don’t watch TV anymore, but I enjoyed ‘The Simpsons.’”
Chocolate: “Those little Hershey’s Kisses are pretty tasty.”