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Whether you're a clerk or a CEO, you spend a lot of time managing data: List of customers, list of tasks, list of rooms... Obviously you manage it in Excel, because that's the best tool you know about it, or at least the only one you know about. Excel has this incredible attractiveness because it all starts with an empty grid, and it's like having a whiteboard where you can freely dump your brain.

As you go along, you'll feel that you're spending a lot of time in a spreadsheet tool. You'll want to match records from two tables and you'll do it manually, sometimes for a thousand records. You'll want to sum up all records with a few criteria and the formula gets too complex to write in a single cell: You'll start adding columns for temporary results and calculations. You'll want to use your colleague's data and you copy-paste it from their spreadsheet, but find yourself annoyed when they update their records: Are yours going to be updated too?

What you need here is a database. All websites on the internet store their data in databases, because it's so easy to match, sum up, share and work online. And learning SQL will be the first gateway in displaying the data you want, in the format you want.

Oh, by the way: Every IT person has learnt SQL at school, so you'll always be able to get help from your computer friends. Plus they enjoy questions about SQL much more than questions about printers or viruses in your Windows copy: Tease them and you'll witness how friendly they get!

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