How to learn PowerBI like a boss

That was a fun title. I came across the phrase “like a boss” after watching too many youtube videos and now tend to associate it with “doing something really well”. It is also a pun to me as personally I have been at a management role for years so I am at a disadvantage of mastering a tool because now practice and time now is a luxury. However, constant learning is part of game, having some level of familiarity with the tools can help a manager so much from talents evaluation, strategy planning or even your day to day. If the team is busy delivering, the least thing you want to happen is to distract them by saying “can you help me plot this”.

This article will cover some of the ways that I am learning PowerBI and I will also include some resources here and there.

Use it when you can

This is kind of a golden rule for learning anything, right? When you are learning a second language, the teachers always say speak as much as possible, and as often as possible. A tool like PowerBI is not an exception, it has a great overlap with tools like Excel, Database and many others. I guarantee you that there are plenty of opportunities you can use PowerBI every day. When those opportunities come up, the challenge is how do you balance your work efficiency and your learning speed. It is probably not a good idea to learn how to use IT when you present to your executives, but if you are alone at home trying to do some JIRA reporting, maybe give it a whirl.

There are several ways of helping it.

  • Pin PowerBI to your taskbar so you see every day
  • Temporarily delete/hide other competing tools, try not to use R, Python or Tableau if possible
  • Make a goal of spending 30 minutes everyday after work for PowerBI

RTFM

Like reading the source code of Pandas, for proprietary softwares like PowerBI, there is no better way to learn the features by reading through the materials published by Microsoft.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/

Community

It is important to have some comrades along this journey. Someone that you can communicate and share. If you have the privilege of working in large corporation that happen to have coworkers that also learning who already specializes in PowerBI. Then you are in luck. Spend more time with them, pair programming and IM them about your questions definitely is a good way. If not, PowerBI has a forum, just like stackoverflow is the wunderland for Software Developers, by asking and answering questions on the forum is certainly a good way to be part of the community.

Last but not the least, youtube is always your best friend.

A good channel to follow is the “Guy in a Cube” which Adam and Patrick talk about some of the functionalities of PowerBI in a very practical and concise way, absolutely subscribe and follow through their videos.

Course

Also, one thing I do have to say is controversial is to take courses. Systematic learning vs fragmented learning are definitely different ways of learning. One thing I found difficult about taking courses is you learn solutions without the problem. They teach you all the functionalities but without a lack of context or real life problem that you personally want to solve. However, I do have to say that systematically take a course and follow it through has the benefits of covering all the aspects at one stop. Even if you still need to look up certain functionalities when you use, you will have a systematic index in your brain that you can find the solution easier than going through every problem by a Google search.

Self Paced Learning from Microsoft

PowerBI from EDX

Conclusion

不积小流无以成江海,不积跬步无以至千里

Taking shortcut in learning is a pretty dangerous mindset to get in, so dangerous that it will hinder your growth once you learned the basic tricks. A good mentality to have is to recognize that you are a student and have an open mind and take actions to learn in a ruthless way.

Today, I just learned how to use slicers rather than Filter Pane to save real estate on your screen. What have you learned?

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