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Meet Marie Forleo. Named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation and one of Inc.’s 500 fastest growing companies of 2014, Marie's mission is to help people realize their greatest potential and their gifts to change the world. She’s the creator of the award-winning show MarieTV, founder of B-School and has been featured in Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine among others. After reading one of her tweets about Google Docs, we chatted to better understand how she uses the family of products to run her business. 

We want to know how you use the Google Docs family of products, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Hi Marie. First, tell us about who you are and what you do. 
I’m an unshakable optimist. I believe in a world where the vast majority of people wake up everyday excited to use their gifts to create a kinder, more meaningful life for all. My job is to help you reach your highest potential and use your unique talents to change the world. I do that through writing, teaching, and speaking each week on our show MarieTV, and through our online courses and programs.

How do you guys use Google Docs? 
As a virtual company, our team spans from Hawaii to Los Angeles to New York and more cities in between. And 99.9% of everything we create happens first in Google Docs. We constantly collaborate online and it’s all powered through Google Docs. We write our show scripts, craft and edit newsletters, generate all of the ideas for our free and premium content, brainstorm and execute strategies, track our priorities and goals, and review customer feedback. I’m not kidding when I say Google Docs powers our entire company. We love it and could simply not function at the level we do without it. We have a running joke that if anyone has an idea or initiative they want to bring to life, the first step is “Start a Google doc about it!”

What are three suggestions you’d have for other folks who are using or thinking about using Google Docs to run their business? 

  1. Make sure everyone on your team understands Google Docs and is comfortable with how the basics work (sharing, formatting, adding and replying to comments, etc.). A few minutes spent training each other prevents frustration early on and leads to massive gains in productivity down the line. 
  2. Be aware of who your documents are shared with. Realize everyone can see comments so be conscious of how you frame feedback to avoid upsets and misunderstandings. 
  3. Hot Tip: If you’re collaborating in real time in a super long document, you can quickly and easily “hop to” where a fellow collaborator is writing within the document by clicking on their icon in the upper right corner. It will bring you to exactly where their cursor is. This trick saves us a lot of time and helps us (literally) stay on the same page as each other while working in a virtual environment. 

Do you use Google Docs for anything in your personal life or around the house? 
Oh my goodness, yes. I use Google Docs for everything from tracking family expenses, mapping out home renovation strategies, brainstorming vacation plans and working on personal visions and goals. I seriously LIVE in Google Docs and I love it.

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When you’re working with spreadsheets, it’s important to turn your raw data into a story. With today’s updates to Google Sheets on the web, you’ll find even more ways to visualize and analyze your data.

Customized charts, made easier 
Charts can make even the largest data sets digestible, so we’ve made a few improvements to help you highlight what’s most important.

Starting today, you can add data labels to display the exact value of bars or points. And when you’re using line or scatter charts, you can change the shapes of your data points. Choose from stars, triangles, pentagons and more.
Your data, your way
Today’s update also includes new tools for analyzing your spreadsheet data. For example, you can:
  • Preview formula results—instantly—as you type. This feature is especially useful for catching formula errors quickly and is unique to Sheets. 
  • Filter rows and columns by conditions, including “greater than” and “text contains.” This way you’ll only see the numbers, dates and text you need. 
  • Add calculated fields to pivot tables when you want to apply formulas to pivot table data. 
  • Use the GETPIVOTDATA function to more easily retrieve data from your pivot table. 
Collaborate, confidently 
The more the merrier when it comes to collaborating in Sheets, but sometimes you need to take extra steps to preserve your hard work from accidental edits. With Sheets, you’ve been able to restrict editing to a specific set of users and a specific range, but now you can also warn folks who try to edit certain cells. This way you can collaborate with others, and remind everyone (even yourself) to edit with care.
Try these updated Sheets features on the web today and start telling better stories with your data.


Posted by Dan Gundrum, Product Manager

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Google Slides helps you tell beautiful, meaningful stories. But sometimes, presenting these stories can be a hassle, especially when wires, cables and connectors are needed.

Now it’s even easier to share your presentations on big screens—whether you’re in a school board meeting, in charge of the slideshow at your best friend’s wedding or pitching your dream business idea.

With just your phone or tablet and the Slides app, you can present easily to any screen with Chromecast or AirPlay. So you can say goodbye to wires and set-up stress. When you’re up on the big screen, you can use your smaller screen to advance slides, view speaker notes and stay on track with a built-in timer. This way you can focus more on telling your story and engaging your audience...instead of on logistics.

Get the updated Slides app today for Android or iOS. And of course, if you want to cast from the web, you can do that, too. Let us know what you think!

Posted by Ajay Surie, Product Manager

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Alice Keeler is a mother of five children, a Google Certified Teacher, and the author of the book “50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.” Recently we sat down with the self-proclaimed “Queen of Spreadsheets” to learn more about how she relies on (and pushes the boundaries of) Google Docs both in the classroom and in her busy everyday life. 

We want to know how you use the Google Docs family of products, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Tell us about yourself, the self proclaimed “Queen of Spreadsheets.” 
I am a mother of five children, have a master’s degree in educational media design and technology and am working on my doctorate in EdTech with an emphasis in games and simulation. While working on my masters degree in 2009, I realized the power of games to motivate students, so I’ve been working on applying gamification techniques and games in my instruction, built with Sheets

I’m extremely high energy and I really enjoy innovating and sharing with teachers. I also have a unique talent: I can make people love data and spreadsheets. When you can get the information you need in the format that you need it, it’s truly exciting.

How does Google Docs fit into your teaching? 
Google Docs is essential for my instruction. I’ve been paperless for years and Google Docs makes that possible. If I were to choose one word that is most important when choosing tools for student use, I would say collaboration. Google Docs transforms group work from one student doing most of the work to a truly collaborative endeavor. Each student is able contribute concurrently to a single document; enhancing, adding, and editing work.

Tell us about one unconventional way you’re using Google Docs to teach. 
I use gamification techniques to motivate students. Rather than assignments, students have quests they can choose from, in a Google Sheet. Once a student selects a quest, they use a Google Form, linked in the spreadsheet, to turn in their quests. The ability to collect quests and have it neatly organized in one place saves me hours and hours of time.

Collecting work this way allows me to give students choices in what they learn and to be more flexible with due dates, and grading and feedback become immensely easier. When having a classroom discussion, it’s important to give every student a chance to participate and have their voice heard. This is nearly impossible with a verbal discussion. Having students respond to discussion prompts in a spreadsheet not only allows me to hear from every student, but allows the entire class to hear from every student.

What are the three best tips you can suggest for teachers that are using Google Docs? 
First, give feedback via comments to students before they submit their work. I highly recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts for inserting a comment (Control Alt M) and closing a comment (Control Enter) as this significantly speeds up the feedback process.

Second, a kid’s best day is when they can teach you something. Don’t be afraid to try something you do not know, embrace and celebrate help from your students. Challenge them to teach you something new about using Google Docs.

And third, if you use Google Slides or Google Sheets as a collaborative document with all of your students, this gives you only one document that you have to assess. Look for opportunities to do collaborative activities using Sheets and Slides.
You have a big family and a ton of extracurricular activities—do you also use Google Docs to take care of things outside of school? 
I use Google Docs for everything. Woe to anyone standing next to me in the grocery line or driving me in a taxi—I will tell you all about Google Docs and how it will change your life. I have a passion for helping find creative solutions to whatever problem someone has—and educator or not, more often than not the solution is a Google Doc. I used to make wedding cakes and created a massive spreadsheet that calculates the number of servings, the supplies I need, how much to charge, creates the invoice and more. Really, what can you not do with Google Docs?

Do you have any handy docs to share?
Teachers may be interested in creating rubrics with Google Sheets. This template allows you to create a rubric on the second tab and set the percentages for each category. Insert your class roster on the first tab and use the “Create Rubrics” menu to create a copy of the rubric for each student in your class. This makes it easy to assess students using a rubric.

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From company meetings to school reports, pictures play an important part in telling your story. Today’s updates to Docs and Slides for Android and iOS help you work with images more easily, even when you’re on the go.

Insert images 
Now you can add pictures to your documents and presentations, directly from your phone or tablet. Choose an image from your camera roll, or take a new photo on the spot.

Picture perfect 
When you’re creating a presentation away from your desk, double tap any image in Slides to enter crop mode. From there, trim the sides of your image, or tap the mask image icon to crop it into a specific shape.


No connection required 
Your work doesn’t stop when your data connection does. Today’s improvements to Docs and Slides will remain available when you’re offline. You’ll just need the updated mobile apps.

Give these new tricks a try, and start adding images from just about anywhere—at work, in the air, or on the train ride home. The updated Docs and Slides apps are available now on Google Play and the App Store (Docs, Slides).


Posted by Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Product Manager

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From college kids to billion-dollar companies, lots of people are using Google Docs to be productive, creative, and collaborative. On this blog, we'll be sharing some of their stories, starting with Rentity, a website that helps people find and rent apartments. Rentity recently used a publicly shared Slides presentation to spread the word about their work and collect feedback from investors, potential teammates and clients. Here’s their story, as told through an interview with their founder, Daniel Ahmadizadeh.

We want to know how you use the Google Docs family of products, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about Rentity. 
A: Rentity connects people who are moving out with people looking for a new place to live. With Rentity, current tenants make 2.5% of their annual rent back when a new tenant is found for their apartment. We aim to give prospective tenants access to inventory at an earlier point in time, reduce vacancies for landlords, and incentivize the current tenant to be a part of the process.

Q: Why did you decide to share a public Slides presentation? 
A: We're looking to build a product that connects people to people. It felt natural to be able to essentially build it in public and allow anyone to help shape our direction to make something people want. And so we created a deck that outlines the problem, solution, business model and team—and shared it publicly, with comments enabled.
Q: How has the presentation been received and impacted your business?
A: The reception has been incredible. People have told us a range of things about what they think about having the deck public. From "bold" and "risky" to "refreshing" and "transparent" and everything in between. It's a huge benefit because the more people know about Rentity and engage with the product, the better. The public deck helped tremendously because people saw the feedback that others were providing and felt more engaged with the vision rather than seeing a non-collaborative deck which would never be able to capture/nurture a sense of community.

The presentation in turn has helped us build core values. Transparency started with Slides. Building community started with Slides. Thousands have seen our presentation to date. We believe that by being open with what we are building, we are better suited to catalyze connections and feedback loops that we otherwise would have never been able to create.

Posted by Michael Bolognino, Product Marketing Manager

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This post comes to us from Zachary Elkins, Director of the Constitute Project. The Constitute Project was launched in 2013 as a way for constitution-makers, scholars, and everyday people to explore alternative ideas in constitutional design. -Ed. 

Constitutional reform happens more often than you might think. On average, countries around the world replace their constitutions every 19 years and amend them every two years. It’s not an easy task, even if it’s common. Constitutions are often the result of deliberation, discussion and discovery—discovery that often comes from writing together.

But collaborative writing can be challenging. It’s hard to write something with other people and still make it cohesive, harmonic and readable. These pitfalls are particularly salient for constitutions—documents that are supposed to represent the aspirations and principles of a people.

That’s where Constitute comes in. A project of the Comparative Constitutions Project and seeded by Google Ideas, Constitute allows anyone to read, search and compare every constitution in the world, indexed by topic. Constitute is built for people to analyze text, but they can move from analysis to drafting by exporting constitutional excerpts directly to Google Docs—a shared space to create and debate a new “founding” document.
Today a new set of exhibits at the National Constitution Center helps bring this hands-on approach to the general public. Created in 1988, the NCC is an interactive museum in Philadelphia dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitute exhibit has two components. The first is an installation of Constitute that invites visitors to view the U.S. Constitution (and other Constitutions) in comparative perspective.
In the second component, select visitors can put this analysis to work in a space we’re calling the “Drafting Lab.” There, people can use Constitute and Google Docs to participate with fellow drafters in each of the stages of Constitution-making—from research to deliberation to drafting.
The Lab might be the first of its kind in the world: a space for citizens and drafters of all kinds to imagine, rethink and rediscover constitutional ideas. We don’t really know what happens when drafters work simultaneously on the same piece of “parchment” (a Google Doc) and share the same workspace. So the sessions in the Drafting Lab may be illuminating for both scholars and for participants.

If you're unable to visit the NCC and do some drafting in person, you can always give it a try at home by visiting constituteproject.org.

May the constitution-making begin!

Posted by Zachary Elkins, Director, Constitute Project