Podcast

Episode: 333 |
David Goldstein :
Mekko Graphics:
Episode
333

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

David Goldstein

Mekko Graphics

Show Notes

David Goldstein is the founder of Mekko Graphics, a plug-in to PowerPoint that gives you charting superpowers.

Mekko Graphics is a popular tool among many management consultants, particularly at Bain.

In this video episode, David shows the range of charts that Mekko can create and demonstrates how to use the tool.

To learn more visit: https://www.mekkographics.com/

Mekko Graphics was acquired by insightsoftware in 2020.

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I’m here today with David Goldstein, who is one of the co founders of mecco graphics. David, welcome to the show. Thank you. So, David, I’m really looking forward today. I, you’ve told me that we’re going to get a demo of mecco graphics, show me how it can be used. And, and then actually walk me through creating some charts. Give us for listeners who haven’t heard of mecco graphics, give us the quick capsule summary of what it does.

David Goldstein 00:42
So mecco graphics is a charting software that works in PowerPoint and Excel. And it is basically a replacement for the standard PowerPoint charts oriented towards people doing strategy work. So strategy consulting, private equity due diligence, FPA in finance, and and marketing strategy are the big, or the big segment. So what the what the what I tell our customers and prospects are, if we if Microsoft was going to make a charting package that was just oriented towards strategy, it would look a little more like mecco graphics, then they are more generic. They’re more generic charting offerings.

Will Bachman 01:26
What’s the story behind it? How did you get this idea of creating your own, you know, like charting plugin for PowerPoint.

David Goldstein 01:34
So we, we started out as a custom app dev company, and one of the large strategy consulting firms had an RFP for charting software for themselves. And we are, we bid on the RFP, and we got it, and we built it for them. They did that same kind of strategic analysis that, that they’re really good at and decided that they didn’t want to, they didn’t want to be in the business of selling software. And they let gave us the opportunity to, to sell mecco graphics to to others. So we, we morphed over the course of 25 years, from a app dev company to to a product company, and now to two subsidiary division, a product line in a larger software company.

Will Bachman 02:31
Fantastic. So let’s jump right into it. Why don’t you go ahead and share your screen, David, and show us first we’ll go through some of the types, I think of slides that mecco can help you create, and then you can demo how you actually go about making some of those.

David Goldstein 02:46
Great, so you’ve got my screen? Yep. Perfect. So I’m just this is sort of the standard intro to mecco graphics that I would give to, to a customer, a new customer or prospect. And my focus would be twofold. One is the charts you can make in mecco graphics that you can easily make in PowerPoint or Excel. So this example here, the marimekko chart, is probably the truck we’re most known for. So if you’re not familiar with, with a macro chart, it is a 100% stacked bar chart, where the bar widths also vary. So in this chart, the width of the Asia Pacific bar is proportionate to their share of global energy consumption. And the height of the segments within the bars are proportionate to the share in this case of oil, natural gas and coal within within each region. So this is a great chart, if you’re mapping out a market, say by product line and by competitor or by region and by competitor. Typically, it’s built with the biggest bar on the left. And often it’s built with the largest segments on the bottom of each bar. But from a strategy perspective, it’s it’s a lot of data in one in one slide. And there’s a clear message here that Asia is an outlier with respect to its use of coal. And this really drives home this that message better I think, than, than a lot of other charts.

Will Bachman 04:26
Yeah, and it’d be very difficult to do this with the basic PowerPoint implementation. You’d have to manually do it effectively and sort of know just the width of each of each bar chart of each vertical bar chart.

David Goldstein 04:39
Yes, this is not not fun to try to, to make within with with native with native PowerPoint.

Will Bachman 04:50
And to create that chart, and you think you’ll show us later how to actually create this, right? But you I would imagine, you would all you’d probably need is Just an Excel table to buy in two dimensions with the, the continents on one column and the and then the percentages, or the numbers across the right. Is that it?

David Goldstein 05:14
Yeah. So basically it would be I can even show you show us the data behind this behind the chart. Okay.

Will Bachman 05:20
So this is actually Okay, so you’re actually showing the actual absolute values, you’d have a table with the absolute values here, of each one of those resource utilizations. And then that converts it into percentages for you.

David Goldstein 05:35
Yeah, yeah. So here, it’s just you can see that their continents are across the top. Yep, the regions and the resources are down the side.

Will Bachman 05:48
That’s very cool. Okay, so then it, it automatically calculates all the percentages of vertical and horizontal, it puts us in there for you.

David Goldstein 05:56
Yeah, it calculates the width and the heights, and it puts it all and you put in what you want, whether it’s the percentages or the values or the values and the percentages, however, you want to display it, however you want to sort it.

Will Bachman 06:07
Yeah. So like if we if we wanted to, if we could go back to the chart, it, let’s say that instead of showing each individual percentage of the vertical bar, let’s say that you wanted to say show just the percentage of the total, the total rectangle? Like if I want to see what’s the Asia Pacific Cole percent of total global consumption? Is that is that possible?

David Goldstein 06:34
Yeah. So we got it. I added it down here as a data row, which is one option.

Will Bachman 06:38
Yeah. But like, not the percent of total. But like, if I wanted to see Cole Asia Pacific,

David Goldstein 06:46
as a percent of the overall total, yes, you can do that as well, pretty easily. You just need to go and change the basically the denominator for the percentage, so you would just go in here. And in this section called calculated percentage, you just click grand total. And it’ll change it to the percent of the grand total. Oh, that’s

Will Bachman 07:05
really sweet that that would. That’s a really interesting alternate view. And it’s, it’s nice that you can just do it with a click of a button.

David Goldstein 07:13
Yeah, we try to be to be cognizant of what our customers are doing. We listened to them a lot. And this was one of the features we probably added. I don’t know, maybe two or three versions ago.

Will Bachman 07:24
Yeah. Awesome. I imagine you could also if you want it to be kind of weird, but you could probably show like Asia Pacific coal, as a percentage of all coal consumption. If for some reason you wanted to kind of see that. So that you could I mean, eyeballing it almost looks like Asia Pacific is using, I don’t know, 60 or 80 70% of the global call, say could do something.

David Goldstein 07:49
Yeah. So you probably, Yeah, that’d be a little more tricky to do. But it would be doable, you probably want to do it with a with a data column that you would put over here. Gotcha on on the right hand side. So you would just add us a little spreadsheet. Yep, add a column here. See, I slipped the calc, put the calc in the column. And it would appear as a column here, and it would align with the appropriate with the appropriate

Will Bachman 08:16
row. All right, great. Well, let’s take a look at some of the other slides.

David Goldstein 08:20
So this demand Mecca, we also do what we call a bar mecco chart, which is basically a variable with bar chart. So this is a little less common, but I find it a good chart. If I’ve got a measure of performance that I want to set to the height of a bar, and a measure of size that I want to set to the width of the bar. Interesting. Okay. So it tells you quickly are your biggest also your best,

Will Bachman 08:44
right? Because you often would show just the growth rate, but then you have no sense of like, over what base is that growing. So this shows you at the same time, the growth rate, but it also shows you like the versus what volume? Exactly. So like the growth within China, that fourth bahrein even though it’s only 6.2% growth rate, there’s a lot of revenue, passenger kilometers, so like the absolute value of that growth might be bigger than the first three segments that have higher

David Goldstein 09:23
growth rates. Exactly. Yeah. And you can see that within North America is just is really at the bottom but also pretty big.

Will Bachman 09:31
Okay, yeah, very nice. Color sucks. Well, by the way,

David Goldstein 09:34
Oh, thank you. So I’m also it’s, it’s pretty easy to I’ve seen consult strategy. consultants use this too, for things like profit pools, where you’ve got the profit margin in different parts of the value chain as the height and the size of that section of the value chain as the as the width. Right? That’s sort of a classic, classic use of that as well.

Will Bachman 09:56
Okay, great. waterfall sorry. Yeah. And that last one that one is not, you know, there’s nothing native in PowerPoint that would let you do something like this. It would be no. You’d have to do that others hand basically.

David Goldstein 10:11
Yeah. I mean, you just would draw rectangles. Yeah. And have PowerPoint.

Will Bachman 10:16
I’ve done that before my days as a business analyst. Okay.

David Goldstein 10:21
Well, it’s a, it’s better than what I understood from the consultants who pre software, they were on play. They were using Exacto knives and transparencies to make to make these charts. So So if anything is better than that, but this is a, this is much more efficient.

Will Bachman 10:43
Alright, let’s go to waterfall. Alright.

David Goldstein 10:46
So waterfall is you can do in power in recent versions of PowerPoint in Excel. But I think our software is has some real powerful features. It has the ability to add the axis break to the waterfall chart. So you can shrink the big bars and focus on the change bars. Yep. And also this feature here we call a bar comparison line. So you can show the overall the overall change in in this line up here.

Will Bachman 11:14
Yeah, and the last time I did one of these in PowerPoint, it didn’t have the ability to put in those little horizontal dotted lines. Maybe it does now. But your software does that automatically, right?

David Goldstein 11:26
Yes, yeah, I’m not I don’t know if I haven’t tried that in, in native PowerPoint. Okay. We also do the bubble charts, which you can do in PowerPoint. But you can add groupings in our software, and add the quadrant lines, and even the axis breaks if you need them. Okay. This is more just a standard 100% stacked bar chart. But I added a couple of data, three data rows to the bottom of the chart. So it’s so you can sort of see see where the tech giants made their money and also how much money they made in the same in the same chart. Very cool. This charts real popular among PE firms to do market profiles or customer profiles from an acquisition target. That’s, that’s a common use of this kind of chart. We do the horizontal bar charts like this one. And we added a couple of data columns to this chart to capture these percentage changes percent difference from from New York and in the cost of a latte. Okay. And just standard trend charts, stacked bar charts. But nicely, you can add the category column on the right hand side

Will Bachman 12:44
automatically, instead of having to put it in yourself as a text box.

David Goldstein 12:48
Exactly. And it’ll automatically align with the legend. And with the last bar in the chart. So it reads nicely from from left to right. Okay. And you can add this feature here we call the growth light. And then probably less for consultants. But for internal use, you can make four charts on a slide so you can build little dashboards. If you’re doing this for sort of monthly reporting the dashboards can be can be helpful.

Will Bachman 13:19
Sure, no, I could definitely imagine doing this. If you’re putting together one pagers on a bunch of companies. I mean, this is a format that I can easily see using quite often.

David Goldstein 13:30
Great. Um, and we also have a Gantt. Okay, so you can do sort of a one. It’s not Microsoft Project, but one slide project plans are really useful in in consulting engagements.

Will Bachman 13:43
Can you open that one up and show us what the background data looks like?

David Goldstein 13:47
sure that this is all there’s no spreadsheet behind this. Okay, so you’re just typing in just typing these things in. You’re setting your calendar up top. You’re choosing what you want to display. Here. I’m choosing months and weeks. Yep. And then you’ve got a hierarchy for for your tasks. And subtasks can go down three levels, you can add these extra columns. And then here, you’re just dragging. You’re just putting bars in and dragging them to where they need to be. Gotcha. All right. And the same with milestones, you just put the milestone in and drag it where you where you want it to go. Okay. Yeah. So yeah, that’s the sort of the high level look at sort of the different the the the different kinds of charts, we have some sort of simple PowerPoint productivity tools that we build in. So you can do value chains and text boxes and you can resize shapes in PowerPoint. You can email save and print selected slides so that sometimes if you’re working with a colleague and you just want to show these two slides, you can just click and click email and it’ll just email those two. So just things that that PowerPoint is lacking that, that our users, our users have asked us for. Okay, Harvey balls is another example.

Will Bachman 15:15
Oh, that’s good. Often, Harvey balls, I always have to go to some former document where I’ve used them before and copy, copy the RB balls.

David Goldstein 15:27
Yeah, we just put them up here. So I’ll make a little easier to find, and even an agenda slide. So you can add agenda slides to the deck as well.

Will Bachman 15:33
Oh, very nice. So okay, so why don’t you show us now, you can have from the beginning how to create one of the charts in this deck, just how you if you have a blank page, how would you create create one of these?

David Goldstein 15:47
Sure, so I’ll do this one, I’m put in a new slide in my deck. So mecco graphics adds this ribbon to PowerPoint, macro graphics charts, and you choose the chart you want to add on the left hand side. Okay, so the most popular charts are available on the button, and the variations on the charts are available on these drop downs. So I would just click stacked bar. But a stacked bar chart on my slide, it’ll open up the mecco graphics data editor, which is just a little spreadsheet control. And you can sort of see the way the data are laid out where the columns are going to correspond to the bars, and the rows are going to correspond to the series which go across the bars. So I’ll go back to excel. Grab the data for this chart. So the data for this chart, the columns are the years, the rows of the airlines, and then I’ve got my CAGR data in a CAGR column on the right hand side. And we do have a built in CAGR formula. So if you don’t, you don’t have to remember that CAGR formula equals CAGR first value, last value number of periods, okay. So you can build if you wanted to have multiple CAGR columns, you could easily do that as well. So I’ll just copy this, paste it into my little spreadsheet. And it’ll draw out, it’ll dry out the chart, in sort of basic form a close little spreadsheet. And then you can sort of work on the chart. Typically, I’d start people off in the format section of ribbon. And the first button I click is this bars and series button, which is going to bring up this little form series has got a list of all the rows in my spreadsheet bars has a list of all the columns. So I can go to this last column and say, show it as a CAGR. Because it’s right now it’s on the chart as default. So I can just say show it as a kegger. And it shows up as a kegger. On on the right hand side, I could do the same with a series, if I wanted to show data rows at the bottom, I could just say show it is a data row. And it appears at the bottom is a data row. So you can build little tables on the chart, you can show it as a line, if you want to turn this into a bar line chart and move it to a second y axis if you wanted to turn it into a two y bar line.

Will Bachman 18:20
Now, if I get the mecco graphics and create charts like this, and then send it to a client that does not have mecco graphics, what what what what will they see?

David Goldstein 18:34
They’ll see this they’ll see the picture. Okay, so our charts are just pictures within within PowerPoint. So if you don’t have mecco graphics, it’s just, it’s just a picture. If you have mecco graphics, you can double click on the picture and edit it.

Will Bachman 18:50
Okay, so it’ll show up as an image that’s been pasted into the slide, not as an editable set of elements that they can go and edit.

David Goldstein 18:59
Exactly. Yeah, if for some reason they wanted to edit the elements, they can always ungroup the picture, in which case, it’ll be a series of text boxes, the labels will all be text boxes, and these will all be rectangles. And you could go in and play with the rectangles but then you lose the connection with the data. I gotcha. All right. So from here, I would click on the chart button, which brings up the task pane. We were really big on task panes. And the task pane lets you control this format chart task pane. lets you control the overall look of the chart. So I can add a legend here. I can hide my Y axis, I can draw those dashed lines between my segments. Then I can control the labels that appear in the segments of the bars. So I want to show labels in all my segments. And maybe I want to show values instead of names. And the values tab allows me to do number formatting. So I can do data scaling here. If I want to change my number from 1000s to billions, I can just divide by 10 to the sixth. And I can format the numbers either using that number format, or just on the right click. I can say, Well, I want these all to be one decimal place of $1 sign as a prefix, and it’d be for billions as a suffix. And you’ll notice that when I did that, my task pane changed. Now it’s more generic. But if I click on legend, you’ve got all the ability to format your legend here, I click on axis, I’ve got all my axis. Features show up in my task pane. So you can work in the task panes. If you become more familiar with the software, you can also just work in the software itself. So you can drag down to change the axis maximum drag to change the ticket intervals, drag to change the bar widths, you can right click and say hide the different aspects of the of the axis if you want, whoops, you can easily move your axes around, free up the whitespace. You can hide some labels, if they’re too small, just by selecting them. Right click Hide. That’s cool. Take small labels and drag them out of the segments to if you prefer a nice, right click reduce the label size. Well, that’s very easy to do. Right click Change the color and change the color of American Airlines across all the years. Or just highlight if I want to call out that one segment, I can do that as well, with just just just a click, or right click

Will Bachman 22:20
now doesn’t matter. Glenn,

David Goldstein 22:23
I was gonna say we have these features you can add to the to the chart like the growth line that I showed you in the example and just click up here to add one, you can have multiple growth lines. So you can drive your message home very easily. Yeah, if you wanted to show that differential growth with a couple of these growth lines.

Will Bachman 22:46
Does mecco graphics currently work or any plans on with Google Slides that some people are using now?

David Goldstein 22:56
It does not work with Google Slides at the moment? It’s definitely something where we’re looking looking into I mean, I’ve heard about the demise of PowerPoint for I think, at least 1015 years, right? It’s still it’s still the the primary the primary tool that consultants are using and that companies are using, although we’re starting to see we’re starting to see more Google Sheets.

Will Bachman 23:25
Yeah. So if someone has a PowerPoint right now, how does it work to get mecco graphics? And and also, what’s the what’s the cost? Is there a free trial period? So how do you physically, you know, get it and and get it added to PowerPoint.

David Goldstein 23:46
So you go to our website and download the mecco graphics trial. Good. You’ll get a 30 day trial. You can it just it installs on your computer as an add into PowerPoint. And as an add into Excel. Okay, you can do the same thing. You can do the same charts. You can do the same charts in Excel. And then after the 30 days or even sooner if you want, you can you can buy the software, just again through our website. For cost. We sell it as an annual subscription. The cost for a single user annual subscription is 399 a year. And we have volume discounts starting at four users.

Will Bachman 24:34
Great. All right, well, and that website again is what Microsoft mecco graphics comm Neko graphics.com. Great. So we will include that link in the show notes. So great. David, thank you so much for joining today. This was really great to check out your tool and thank you so much for joining

David Goldstein 25:00
Gregg, thank you. Well thank you for featuring us.

Related Episodes

jay-altizer-bain-alum-dallas-tx

Episode
440

Food Industry 101

Jay Altizer

Episode
439

Craig Beal on the Travel Business

Craig Beal

Episode
438

Rob Ristagno on Customer Segmentation

Rob Ristagno

Episode
437

Equity Research

Neeraj Monga