It’s 12:14am and I’m up preparing for the 2014 ModelOff that’s happening this weekend in New York City. I stopped to look at the profiles of the 16 competitors and there are some common themes. First, many are from the Australia-New Zealand region. When I think of that part of the globe I don’t think Excel of financial modeling. I think:
- Feral camels
- RamBro, New Zealand’s angry ram.
But in all seriousness …
In response to questions about “how did you get so good with Excel?” consistently the finalists said that they weren’t formally trained in Excel. What emerges is a willingness to dig in, figure stuff out and ask questions. As much as being good at the game, they’re also students of the game.
This is fascinating because the responses to a few open-ended questions paint an image of the limitations of a single human being:
- Being fearless in the doing of something.
- Making a habit of accessing resources.
But there’s an even deeper level: passionate commitment to succeeding in doing that thing.
Finalist Dmitry “The Russian Rocket” Kaysin describes that passionate commitment when asked about the best advice he’s received at work: The “It was like that when I got here” excuse is for whiners.
It’s a special breed of person that ends up a finalist at ModelOff. I’ll never be one. But, after reading the profiles of the finalists, what I come away with is deeper belief that being a good analyst goes beyond Excel. It demands passionate commitment to a larger objective than being good at Excel.