Salesforce Admins Podcast

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we continue our Lightning Champion Spotlight series with Benjamin Bratcher, a Salesforce Administrator at Masergy. This episode is part four of a six-part series, the Lightning Champions Spotlight, hosted by Kelly Walker, Senior Adoption Consultant at Salesforce. We talk to our amazing Lightning Champions to find out about their career journey, how it lead them to the Lightning Experience, advice on handling change management, and why Lightning Experience is so awesome.

Join us as we talk about how he communicates with his users to get support for Lightning, the keys he found to make the transition, and how he gives back to his community as a Lightning Champion.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Benjamin Bratcher.

From stage to screen.

Benjamin has a bit of an unusual background for getting into Salesforce, even for this podcast where we talk to accidental admins all the time. He actually majored in Theatre in undergrad, but after graduating he found himself working in his alma mater’s admissions office in order to support himself. “About a month after I started working there they implemented Salesforce, and I took to it really quickly. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, so it really interested me and I started to become a power user,” Benjamin says.

Eventually, Benjamin found himself promoted to a Salesforce administrator role. “At the time I had no idea that Salesforce had this huge ecosystem and was a great career opportunity,” he says, “I saw the potential and quickly jumped in.” Even with all the developments in his career, he’s still able to do some acting and fight choreography at night to get the best of both worlds. “Initially, I was worried that having a BFA in Theater would be looked down upon,” Benjamin says, “but what I’ve found is that having that experience in theater has given me a lot of skills that I’m able to use as an admin.”

Transitioning to Lightning when there’s baggage associated with it.

“When I transitioned my org to Lightning in my previous job it had already been implemented in the background,” Benjamin says, “I had been, as a business user, one of the initial test users who was asked to switch to Lightning and see what doesn’t work.” There weren’t any special customizations done for their business use cases, so it was a rather frustrating experience, and those feelings remained when Benjamin was looking really put his full energy into successfully making the switch.

“Lightning was already there but no one wanted to use it,” Benjamin says, but the director of one department, in particular, was very adamant about switching his users over to Lightning full-time. That gave him the executive support he needed to start making customizations that could have a real impact on users’ day-to-day, while also doing beta testing with a small group before doing a larger rollout.

Benjamin’s keys to adoption.

For Benjamin, adoption is all about identifying the easy wins that let you show users what Lightning is all about. One of his favorites is the Lightning App Builder. “The ability to customize the UI is just really exciting to me,” he says. Layouts are such a powerful way to make things more user-friendly and intuitive, particularly on busy pages where they need to find that one specific piece of information in order to move on with their work.

In the Lightning Champions program, Benjamin’s been able to give back to his local Dallas community. “I’ve been able to volunteer at different local events,” he says, “I got to be a helper in one of the hands-on Lightning sessions at Dallas World Tour.” He also frequently hears from the community for advice and suggestions as others make the transition to Lightning. Listen to more details about the Salesforce scavenger hunt he put together to make Salesforce training fun, and his German language skills.

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Kelly Walker: Welcome to the Salesforce Lightning Champion Spotlight on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Kelly Walker and I am a senior adoption consultant here at Salesforce. I also have the amazing opportunity of working closely with the awesome trailblazers who are passionate about Lightning and have become Lightning champions to evangelize the power of Lightning. In this mini series, we will be talking to six awesome Lightning champions to talk about their career journey, how it led them to the Lightning experience, advice on handling change management, and to focus on their stories of why Lightning experience is so awesome.

Kelly Walker: Now, Salesforce is turning on Lightning experience on a rolling basis in Winter '20. Users still have access to Salesforce Classic after Lightning experience is turned on, but Lightning Experience is where you want to be for driving business growth and improved productivity. To get ready, verify your org's existing features and customizations in the new interface and prepare your users with change management best practices. This update applies to users who had the Lightning Experience user permission, including all users with standard profiles and users with custom profiles or permission sets that have the Lightning Experience user permission enabled. For more information, check out the critical update and watch this short video titled, Understand How The Lightning Experience Critical Update Affects My Users, both of which are linked in the show notes.

Kelly Walker: All right, well today we're talking to Benjamin Bratcher, another Lightning champion in the Dallas area. Benjamin, thank you so much for joining us.

Benjamin B.: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Kelly Walker: Well, I'm excited for everyone to learn a little bit more about you. I know your journey to Salesforce is a maybe not the norm, so let's start there and help us understand really your background and how you came to be where you are with Salesforce.

Benjamin B.: Sure, yeah, I'd love to. I guess my journey started in 2015. I had just graduated with my bachelor's degree. I got to be a BFA in theater. Once I graduated I kind of had an initial shock of not knowing what I was going to do to, you know, make money, make a living. Because as most people know, as an actor, it's hard to do that as a full-time job, unfortunately. So I applied several places. Long story short, I ended up working for my alma mater as a graduate admissions advisor. Well, about a month after I started working there, they implemented Salesforce and I took to it really quickly. I've always been an early adopter of technology, so it really interested me and I quickly became a power user, started coming up with best practices on how to use Salesforce in the enrollment department and then also started leading Salesforce training.

Benjamin B.: That eventually, after about two years, morphed into the director and VP of enrollment asking if I would want to step into an official Salesforce administrator role. At the time I had no idea that Salesforce have this huge ecosystem and was a great career opportunity. I went home that evening, researched it, was pretty blown away with what was out there, what opportunities there are within Salesforce and so that was kind of a no brainer decision for me. I already enjoyed it, I saw the potential and decided to kind of go into that space.

Benjamin B.: So then I was a solo admin for a year and a half, accidental admin, although I think I kind of transitioned into being a purposeful admin because I decided that I wanted to pursue that as my career. But the first few months were very difficult and trying to figure out what's going on, just learning the system. I had a lot of help from the consultant that worked with us and then of course Trailhead. Then once I started getting some certifications, that kind of changed and I started to become the subject matter experts. But that's how I got started on the platform. So kind of ... I think a lot of people have similar stories in terms of being accidental admins or kind of falling into it and that definitely was the case with me.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. Are you still acting?

Benjamin B.: Yes, yeah. That's always been my first passion and I love being in the theater and acting. I also actually recently just opened a show where I was the fight choreographer, which was really exciting. It was really exciting getting to work on the creative side of show again. But yes, I do continue to act in the Dallas Fort Worth area, mostly as an actor and also mostly on stage, although I have done some voiceover work and also some student films, but mostly on stage. Thankfully, in Dallas, a lot of the theaters are set up so that they allow you to rehearse and perform in the evenings or on the weekends so you can balance that pretty well with a full-time job. So that's allowed me to continue my work as an actor and then also as the Salesforce admin as well.

Kelly Walker: Would you say that there's characteristics or different lessons that you've learned that you can bring into your role as an admin that you take away from your education in the theater as well as your continued role within the theater?

Benjamin B.: Yeah, that's a great question. You know, I think that's something that I've really learned a lot over the last four years of being out of my undergrad and kind of going into more of a corporate job. You know, initially I was really worried that having a BFA in theater would be kind of looked down upon. Well, what I've found is that having that training as an actor and then also the professional experience has really given me a lot of skills that I've been able to utilize as an admin.

Benjamin B.: For example, I would say communication skills are very important in a role as a Salesforce administrator and of course as an actor, that's pretty much the number one skill that you have to have is being able to recite the lines and communicate well and connect with your other onstage, you know, among other things. So communication definitely has been a skill that's that I've been able to transfer.

Benjamin B.: Along with that, creativity, I think, is also very useful as an admin. You get to be creative in designing your Lightning app pages for example, or different processes or kind of how you want to utilize Salesforce for your user group. I've been able to draw from the creativity that I've kind of fostered throughout my work in the theater and as an actor. I would say those are probably off the top of my head, the top two skills I would say that have been transferable, but I think generally, as a side note related to that, I think it's incredible that so many people who are involved in Salesforce come from non-technical backgrounds. That has always stuck with me and I've always been impressed by what people can achieve without having gone to school studying IT or information systems. Of course if you've studied that, that's incredible and you have a lot of background to draw from, but the fact that you can make a solid career and really advance without having that background is a really encouraging for me to see and also I think speaks a lot to kind of Salesforce's community and the opportunities that the platform provides.

Kelly Walker: Yes, I cannot repeat or agree with you more on that because so many individuals who have come from such different backgrounds and have really made their home with Salesforce. So we're so glad to have you. I want to dig into that communication piece because as you know, we work together very closely in the Lightning Champions program and moving to Lightning requires a lot of communication and training and overcoming feedback or just overall concerns. I'd love to understand how you embraced the transition, how you knew it was the right time, how you worked with your users and where you are today with regards to Lightning usage.

Benjamin B.: Yeah, definitely. When I transitioned my org to Lightning, that was actually at my previous job. In that environment, like I had mentioned earlier, I kind of took over as the admin and was kind of thrust into that position. Well, the person who had been in that position before me had already activated Lightning. It was already kind of just lingering in the background and I was actually as a business user, one of the initial individuals to go be a test user. I was asked to just kind of switch to Lightning and see what didn't work and then report back, which as you can imagine, was kind of a difficult experience and very frustrating because there hadn't been any customizations done at the time to allow for Lightning to be used for our business use cases. Unfortunately, in my situation there had already been kind of that initial wave of Lightning and so there was this negative connotation associated with it. So when I came in and Lightning was already kind of there but no one really wanted to use it, I definitely had an uphill battle to climb in order to convince people that Lightning is the way to go and that the UI allows for so many different use cases and business processes that Classic kind of doesn't just natively because you aren't able to customize the UI as much declaratively.

Benjamin B.: The way I approached it actually ended up being that one of the directors of the student services department was very adamant about his users switching to Lightning full-time. I took that as kind of my executive support that I needed, which I think is incredibly important if you're making a transition, and started customizing Lightning to fit to the business processes of the student services department. That allowed me to already have a smaller user group that was my beta user group that I could kind of go to and test things out with, get feedback from pretty easily. That also made it very, very smooth or a lot smoother than if I had tried to do it for everyone all at once. Once that became successful and kind of the initial customizations had been done so that they could flawlessly go through their day to day work ... of course enhancements always are continuing ... but once that was completed, I could focus my intention more on other user groups and kind of transitioned those.

Benjamin B.: That was kind of my process. I think I have more of a unique experience. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are in a similar situation or have been, but it's, I would certainly say that it's not an ideal kind of set-up in terms of how the migration would have gone in a perfect world but I definitely tried to make the most of it and tried to capitalize on that director's interested in investment in Lightning and then kind of move forward with that.

Benjamin B.: On that note, I think one of the biggest struggles is user adoption. I had that at my last job where I implemented Lightning and at my current job as an admin, which at this position, they use Lightning almost exclusively, although they do let people go to Classic. So there are certain users who have used Classic for so long and just don't see the benefits in switching. I think even once you do migrate, if you don't deactivate the ability to switch back to Classic, you'll continue to face those obstacles and try to overcome them. So I think for that, it's continuing to advocate for it and show them different small wins that they can utilize, so different Lightning-specific features that I know that have been covered at Dreamforce in different world tours, you know, the top 10 Lightning features is always one of the topics. Those are incredibly valuable to share with your users because there's short productivity gains but in the long run that really enhances your productivity. A lot of times in my experience, sales reps don't invest the time to really study Lightning and kind of go through all the material. So if you can focus more on one-on-one training or maybe even have a platform like WalkMe or something like that, that allows you to have training live within Salesforce, I think that is really valuable to also increase user adoption.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. Speaking of user adoption and kind of find that when ... is there a feature that you would really highlight maybe as your favorite or one that is just a quick win across the board?

Benjamin B.: I would say my favorite Lightning feature would have to be the Lightning app builder, I mentioned it previously, and the reason for that is the ability to customize the UI is just really exciting to me. I love getting creative in redesigning the Lightning pages.

Benjamin B.: A few months ago, one of my bigger projects was redesigning our accounts pages, so that's both the Classic page layouts, the compact layouts, the Lightning pages, among other things. I actually came up with a really cool layout that allowed me to kind of split up the detail page — which I would assume for most organizations ends up being pretty long because you just have a lot of fields — and breaking that out into different tabs and different sections. That allowed me to have an account page layout that was just one page on a monitor so you didn't really have to scroll and you could go into different tabs to kind of find more information. That, I think, made it so much more user friendly and intuitive so I would say that's my favorite Lightning feature for sure.

Kelly Walker: Well awesome. It definitely is a killer feature and empowers admins and developers, as you mentioned, to really give that a unique page or that specialized page based on users' needs, wants, whatever it may be.

Kelly Walker: Now you've been a Lightning champion for a while and so I'd love to understand what drew you to the program and really how you're giving back to the community as it relates to Lightning experience in your Dallas area.

Benjamin B.: Yeah, great question. What drew me to it initially, I found out about the program around the time I was working on the migration to Lightning. I thought that would be a really great way to kind of give back to the community in terms of what I've learned on the job already. Then also I figured it would be a really good way to kind of network and develop professionally and make some great connections.

Benjamin B.: I've loved being a part of it because of the connections you make. There's a trailblazer group, for example, of Lightning champions. We kind of get updates every now and then from the product team in Lightning and also can kind of bounce ideas off each other or get some help. But then of course, giving back is a huge part of that. In Dallas, I've been able to volunteer at different local events. Latest for example was the Dallas world tour; I was a helper and one of the hands on lightening sessions.

Benjamin B.: Then of course more inofficially, I would say just being an advocate for Lightning, talking to people, maybe supporting them as they go through the migration. I've had several people reach out to me and just ask for advice and suggestions as they embark on that journey. So yeah, that's kind of how I've been involved. I'd really ... my plan is to start writing some more blog posts. I'm mentioning this now in the podcast to keep me honest, but I would love to write some more content on Lightning among other Salesforce-related topics.

Kelly Walker: Well, very cool. Hopefully one of your blog posts relates to the Salesforce scavenger hunt. Can you dive into that idea a little bit? I just love it and want others to know more about it.

Benjamin B.: Yeah, that's great. In my last position, being a solo admin, I had a lot of freedom on how to kind of design the training and user adoption and all of that within our company for Salesforce. What I ended up doing as kind of one of the stages was creating a Salesforce scavenger hunt. At the time, I made it fairly basic. I just used a Google form and kind of broke it down in different steps and had them either answer questions like multiple choice or free text, write in the answer, or maybe even upload a screenshot. But I would ask them to complete a certain task within Salesforce. Maybe that was creating a lead or favoriting your dashboard that you're supposed to access all the time, or updating this test record that I had created to a certain status, or ... different things like that.

Benjamin B.: That would kind of start to get them a little more familiar with the system, give them a little more ownership on how to navigate it. Of course, this comes after my training videos and then the bigger training session as well. So that way, my idea for it was at least to make it a fun activity. Have them go through, get hands on, maybe ... well, honestly kind of like Trailhead, I guess maybe I modeled it after that if I think about it, but that was kind of my idea with the Salesforce scavenger hunt. Another reason is because Trailhead is very kind of generic and people customize their orgs however they want. This was very specific to our org and the way we used it so I thought that would be a good way to familiarize themselves with our Salesforce org. So yeah, that's what that was.

Kelly Walker: I love it. Definitely bringing in that creative aspect of your background and just you as a person. Well Benjamin, it has been an absolute blast talking to you and I would love to end with some advice that you would give to those in the community. I know that you speak other languages other than English, so I would open it up for you to say something in German and then really highlight or speak to the German trailblazers that we have out there in terms of some advice that you would give.

Benjamin B.: All right, putting me on the spot, that's great. [foreign language 00:21:32] Salesforce community [foreign language 00:21:51] Lightning migration [foreign language 00:22:18] Salesforce [foreign language 00:22:26]

Kelly Walker: All right, I understood Lightning transition.

Benjamin B.: Yeah. The funny thing is since most of my Salesforce experience has been in English, the technical terms are things that I find very difficult saying in German. Yeah, I definitely used a lot of English terms in there, but hopefully I got the gist across.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. Do you mind translating that into English?

Benjamin B.: Yes. I was letting them know that, just encouraging them to continue on their Salesforce journey and in their career and empowering them to make the move to migrate to Lightning and also just letting them know that there are so many people within the Salesforce community that are willing and able to share their knowledge with them and help them as they migrate. So please reach out to individuals in the community and please write me, reach out to me if you have any questions about a Lightning migration. But yeah, just encouraging them on their move to Lightning and also in their Salesforce career in general. Yeah, I wished them good luck on their journey.

Kelly Walker: All right, well we want to wish you the best of luck on your journey. It's been a pleasure working with you through the Lightning Champions Program and I can't wait to see what amazing things you do in the upcoming years, both in your Salesforce career and on stage. So thank you again, Benjamin, and best of luck.

Benjamin B.: Thank you so very much for having me, Kelly. It was truly an honor and yeah, I appreciate it.

Kelly Walker: It was so great to be able to spotlight Benjamin on the podcast this week. I love that we can use this platform to show all the different ways our awesome admins use their creativity in Lightening to get to the best productivity and end results for their use cases.

Kelly Walker: A huge part of being an admin is having the creative skills to effectively communicate with your users and your stakeholders really how Lightning is the right decision for your org and of course then build out new and exciting things for your users, like designing new app pages with Lightning app builder, creating different processes, with process builder or flow, or even how to utilize Salesforce for your user groups.

Kelly Walker: For admins who conduct training sessions, there are plenty of opportunities to make the experience fun. Our Lightning champions are the biggest advocates for Lightning. Each and every single one of them is here to help give back to their communities so do not be afraid to reach out for help. We have shared our social handles down in the show notes, and if you're not part of the Trailblazer community yet, join. There are so many others out there ready to help you succeed.

Kelly Walker: Thank you for listening and tune in to find out who we will feature in our next Lightning Champion Spotlight.

Direct download: Lightning_Champions_Spotlight__Benjamin_Bratcher.mp3
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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Julie Workman, Technical Credential Developer at Salesforce, who shares the joys of building, growing, and maintaining Superbadges and the potential they have for the community.

Join us as we talk about Superbadges’ important role a credentialing tool to prove to not just future employers but yourself that you have the hands-on experience you need to succeed.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Julie Workman.

 A Salesforce nerd at heart.

Everything is super on today’s podcast, and that includes Julie, literally. “As a longtime Salesforce nerd, to work on the Trailhead team is really exciting. I’m responsible for the care and feeding of Superbadges and developing new ones for the admin space,” she says.

In a story that may sound familiar if you’ve spent any time listening to the Salesforce Admin Podcast, Julie started out in Salesforce as an accidental admin. She was on the leadership team of a nonprofit serving families in a severely distressed community, and she needed to see all of their data in one place. Julie was trying to answer the question, “How can we get all of these different spreadsheets to tell us a more cohesive picture about how we’re serving our community and what our outcomes look like?” She couldn’t do that with the tools we had, and that’s when someone recommended she take a look at Salesforce.

Julie started on the platform before Trailhead, so she really appreciates how different things are now and what it does for the community. Things snowballed from that first role and eleven certifications later (plus another that’s been retired), she found herself on Team Trailhead.

Why Superbadges are an assessment tool and what that means.

“Superbadges are not a learning tool,” Julie says, “they’re for assessing.” They’re part of the Salesforce credentialing program, which means they’re on the testing side of Trailhead. This is vital because it gets to the heart of how the Trailhead team assesses and measures how good of a job they’re doing at teaching the material. In short, there’s a method to the madness.

The result of this methodology is that Superbadges are a key part of how you know you’re ready for the next step. “95% percent of the people who complete a Superbadge say they agree that that Superbadge has prepared them for a Salesforce certification credential,” Julie says, and most importantly, “99% agree that completing the Superbadge proved to themselves  that they have mastered the concepts through that hands-on experience.”

Where to get started with Superbadges.

If you’re trying to figure out where to get started with Superbadges, Julie recommends starting with the Admin Super Set. “It’s a grouping of meaningful and relevant Superbadges to help you prepare you to demonstrate your hands-on ability as a Salesforce admin,” she says. If you’re relatively early in your career, you can start with the helpful prework listed under the Super Set to get what you need to take the next steps. If you’re further along, pick out the first Superbadge you want to begin with and dive into the prerequisites in order to unlock it.

“Superbadges are an aspirational goal—they’re not done in one sitting,” Julie says, “they’re really something to put on your professional and development plan, as an admin or aspiring admin, to work towards.” The difference between a Superbadge and a certification is that Superbadges are really hands-on. “They are skill-based, domain-level credentials and they’re very real world,” Julie says. Team Trailhead is constantly talking to hiring managers and the Trailblazer community to get a feel for what stands out, and the bottom line is both certifications and Superbadges are keys to growth. Both go hand in hand to help you stand out in a crowd and show that you have the wide range of skills businesses are looking for.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt, and today we have a super podcast for you. That's right. It's all about SuperBadges and boy, I have to tell you, I learned a ton on this episode. This week we are talking with Julie Workman who is a Technical Credential Developer on Team Trailhead. She works on building, growing and maintaining SuperBadges. Julie has an awesome background and is super passionate about SuperBadges and the potential it has for our community. So let's get Julia on the podcast. Everything is super on today's podcast and help me welcome Julie to the podcast. Julie, we're going to talk about SuperBadges, but first I want to get started. What do you do at Salesforce?

Julie Workman: Hi, thanks. This is great to be here. I am a Technical Credential Developer on the Trailhead team, which is definitely best job ever, fantastic team. As a long time as a Salesforce nerd [inaudible 00:01:26] someone who's really excited about Salesforce to work on the Trailhead team is really exciting. So, that is what I do. I am responsible for the care and feeding of SuperBadges and developing new ones for the admin space.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean like you walked me right into that joke. So I have to ask, do you not care and feed them after midnight like [crosstalk 00:01:47]?

Julie Workman: Yeah, that's a really good question. Typically, unless we've got a really difficult situation though, no care and feeding after midnight.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, good. So before you joined Salesforce, you talked about being a Salesforce nerd. What did you do before you took care of our SuperBadges?

Julie Workman: Well, I became an accidental admin in 2013, I was in leadership of a nonprofit serving families in a severely distressed community, and I needed to see all my data in one place. So I began using Salesforce so that I could see our data from multiple advocacy programs in one place. So are the kids who are in our summer camp, are their families... do their parents know about the GED program and do the teenagers know about our mobile health clinic, and how can we get all of these different spreadsheets to tell us a more cohesive picture about how we're serving our community and what our outcomes look like. And I couldn't do it with the tools I have. So someone said, "Oh, why don't you try Salesforce?" WHich made no sense to me at the time until I realized not only are we selling, in a sense where we're selling these programs, even if they're free and we're need those important metrics, but really the program impact and the outcomes were impossible to track with anything else.

Julie Workman: So it was really, really exciting. And I dove in head first and all of this was pre-trail hood. So I definitely appreciate the value Trailhead brings. And from there I just dove head first into all things Salesforce, all things Trailhead and I have really embraced the platform, the community and everything about it. So since then I have been a member of a partner, an SEI partner team as well as leading a technology team for another enterprise nonprofit. And now here we are today, 11 certifications later, 12 if you count one of the retired original developer certs, and several SuperBadges and part of the Trailhead team. Super excited to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow, that's really neat. So boy, you touched on a lot and I think you should count retired certifications because I do. I had that one as well. And I had a moment in a breakout presentation at Dreamforce where I mentioned pre-trail head and the pop up box of 400 by 400 pixels. And the looks I got from audience was like, if I had that moment where I felt like I was telling people what it was like to go to school and walk uphill both ways in the snow.

Julie Workman: It's so true. It's so true. And hopefully we still have some good habits like reading all the release notes, but that was really a very different world.

Mike Gerholdt: IT was. I read release notes once on a drive to Chicago. I was not driving.

Julie Workman: I was going to say, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: It was also in the release notes were a little shorter. So you mentioned kind of having learning moments and jumping headfirst and SuperBadges are really all about learning. So what was your big first learning moment at Salesforce?

Julie Workman: Well, before we dive in, I got to say actually SuperBadges are not, they're not learning, they're not a learning tool.

Mike Gerholdt: Well please educate me.

Julie Workman: They're assessing. So that is something we hear actually quite a bit is this idea about how we're going to use SuperBadges to learn, but actually we're using SuperBadges to assess. SuperBadges are credentials. They're part of the Salesforce credentialing program and the vast majority of Trailhead is the go to place for gamified, engaging, very fun, free, go at your own pace learning. And so we know that the majority of Trailhead then is for teaching. SuperBadges are for testing. So it's a really different concept when we switch gears from all of that rich learning content, into assessment content. And that's actually why SuperBadges are even housed in a slightly different space on Trailhead. They're under the credentialing tab. So if you are looking for SuperBadges, they live with credentials, so right next door to certifications and so that's one of the really... that is a learning moment for sure to communicate that.

Julie Workman: But the learning moment for me, when I joined the Trailhead team, it was a wonderful learning moment. I mentioned that my background was in family advocacy and actually my degrees are in psychology and applied psychology. And part of that is tests and measures and assessments and how do we assess, how do we test, how do we teach, how do we know whether learning is taking place? That's part of my background and my academic background. So when I began to understand more about how the Trailhead team and the credentialing team builds supervisors and certifications, I was absolutely blown away that we're following this really rigorous and complex credentialing methodology. And so it lends a really, really important structure to what our assessments, what our credentials are.

Julie Workman: So it's a really a very high bar that Trailhead sets, no surprise there. There is a really high bar that we're using this credentialing methodology. We're not just sitting around kind of making stuff up and writing exam questions and sketching out a SuperBadge on the back of a paper napkin. But that it's really methodological. It's really a very high bar.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, I just assumed we were sitting around trying to write the hardest questions possible. When I first took my certification, I was like, "You're trying to write the hardest question possible." Somebody had like an Amazon gift card on their desk for this question. That was what was going through my head.

Julie Workman: I think I might've thought the same thing when I went for my first consultant certification. I think I probably had the same idea in mind. But rightly so, they're rigorous and they're challenging, but they follow a credentialing methodology. So, that's a real learning moment. Well, it's a learning moment for me that we have a job task assessment and that we have subject matter experts or [inaudible 00:08:44] engaged throughout the entire process that we're using these tools like Bloom's taxonomy and we're paying attention to what level of cognitive complexity and we have all of this structure and it's not just willy nilly. It's really really quite thoughtful.

Mike Gerholdt: It's willy nilly with some thought behind it. I love that and I love understanding that the SuperBadges are... have that credentialing mindset behind them. So I'm sitting back and I'm listening to this podcast and I'm learning a lot so far except I want to learn Salesforce and you're telling me SuperBadges are kind of that testing part. Why should I take time to do a SuperBadge then?

Julie Workman: That's a really good question because they're not easy and they're not quick to finish, they're not done, I don't think ever in one sitting. They really do take some dedication and really carving them out as a goal, just like your other professional development goals. So it's definitely something to work towards. And so the reasons, the why we can really look actually at our community and we in a sense ask our community, "Is this meaningful, are SuperBadges meaningful?" And part of the way that we do that is through a popup or a modal that you will see when you finish a SuperBadge and it says, "Tell us your thoughts." And I was really blown away and really excited to see what our community is telling us about our SuperBadges. And that is 95% of the people who complete a SuperBadge say they agree or strongly agree that that SuperBadge has prepared them for a Salesforce certification credential.

Julie Workman: And 99%, 99% agree that completing the SuperBadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through that hands on experience. So those are just really hard to argue with those numbers that these SuperBadges have meaning to our trailblazers and they're meaningful for getting ready for certifications or having them in conjunction with a certification are a great example of that is that we have the CPQ specialist, and now billing specialist and advanced billing specialist. And when you combine all of those, so the Superset, with the building super set which is new, we can talk about, but the billing Superset and the CPQ specialist, when you have those credentials combined, it's really showing that you are a Salesforce quote to cash solution specialists. Because you have that hands on expertise that you've demonstrated with the super badge set and you've got your certification through the multiple choice exam that you take in those testing conditions. So there's a pretty strong value proposition behind completing SuperBadges.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I mean you're two things. You're operating in that dentist level, like recommendation area of nine out of 10 dentists recommended, like you're at nine 9.5-9.9 if you were to nail that down. So maybe the next SuperBadges on toothpaste. 9 out of ten dentist degree, this SuperBadge that I don't know. That, and you should say CPQ Salesforce certified specialists, I don't know. You should put that into a tongue twister or make people stay at five times fast. You have two choices. Take the certification SuperBadge or say this five times fast without messing it up.

Julie Workman: You know, you've got my mind spinning, we could have [inaudible 00:12:41], you could get your enabled toothbrush and we could have this SuperBadge [crosstalk 00:12:47]-

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, talk to [inaudible 00:12:48].

Julie Workman: Yeah. I can see it.

Mike Gerholdt: I can quickly get us off topic. So, you start thinking of fun things do as SuperBadges. The first thing I'm thinking is, so if people are in Trailhead and they're doing badges and they're learning, I've now know the difference, where do I start with SuperBadges or where do I even... I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm over here brushing my teeth.

Julie Workman: Sure. So one great thing that you can do is identify your SuperBadge as your goal, and then work backwards. So if you were to go to Trailhead and look at which SuperBadge you wanted to complete, for example, I would highly recommend the admin Super set. Super sets are groupings of SuperBadges where we sort of package because there's so much continental head, we want to make sure that we have really clear paths. So the Ironman Super set is a grouping of meaningful and relevant SuperBadges to help prepare you to demonstrate your hands on ability as a Salesforce Admin. So, if you're looking at that Admin Super set, you'll see a couple really cool things about it. One is you can see that it's designated for the career of Salesforce administrator. It has helpful pre-work, which is really fantastic, if you are just starting out on your admin pass.

Julie Workman: And you aren't quite yet ready for that SuperBadge, you can start with the helpful pre-work and then beginner. And then you can also see that the Super Set is designed to be preparation for your administrator certification. So this meaningful grouping of SuperBadges with that additional context is a Super Set, which is super new. And you can dive right in. Within each of those SuperBadges, there's three in the admin Super set. You would identify which one you wanted to start with. Let's say one of my favorites security specialists. I think you're familiar with it.

Mike Gerholdt: A little bit.

Julie Workman: Dive right into that SuperBadge and you'll see that there are actually prerequisites for the supervisor itself. So before you can take the security specialist SuperBadge, you need to have completed data security, identity basics and user authentication modules. And so each SuperBadge will have modules or projects you have to complete to unlock the SuperBadge. And that's because we want it to be really meaningful for our Trailblazers who are attempting these SuperBadges. Again, they're an aspirational goal, they're not done in one setting or sitting, they're really something to put on your professional development plan as an admin or aspiring admin to work towards. And so it's a big chunk of time. It's a commitment and the credential itself is the reward, but also the recognition you receive.

Julie Workman: So we talked a little bit about the admin Super set as being a great place to start and how to start towards that SuperBadge with the helpful pre-work. But if you are coming from a user or a super user perspective, not necessarily from an admin perspective, a really great place to start for a first SuperBadge would be our brand new selling what Salesforce call specialist SuperBadge. That super badge was released just before Dreamforce and is a really great way to see what a super badge is and demonstrate your ability as a sales cloud super user.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Start with the goal in mind, I like it. And I also like that it's not a quick thing because if it was like going to the gym, we'd all go to the gym once on January 1st and be set for the rest of the year. Right?

Julie Workman: I try that.

Mike Gerholdt: I could usually make it a month. But you mentioned a good point of SuperBadges and certifications and I know my team, if you're on a hangout with me, I've got my certifications hanging behind me framed, what's the difference between a SuperBadge and a certification?

Julie Workman: The difference is that SuperBadges are really hands on. They are those skill-based domain level credentials and they're very real world. So I mentioned that I had been on a team and SEI partner team, and if you're a business analyst or you're on a consulting team, you're seeing these business scenarios and nobody's going to tell you how to solve the problem. You have a problem and you have to gather requirements, in the SuperBadges the requirements are given to you, but they're very real world. They're saying this is what the sales team needs to see, this is who should be able to see information and who shouldn't be able to see information. Our managers want to be able to receive this information at a glance. And so the requirements are provided to you in the SuperBadge scenario, but the solutions, the how to, that's the part you figure out.

Julie Workman: So that's very different from our certifications. And certifications are those testing center or online testing, multiple choice exams that are really diving into your domain knowledge as an admin or advanced admin. And so we don't see it as an either or in the marketplace where we're constantly talking to hiring managers and the Trailblazer community and asking what everybody is seeing, we're seeing two things. One is our certification growth is really on fire. It is doubling every two years, which is really astounding. But our SuperBadge growth is experiencing a 400 person grow.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow.

Julie Workman: Right? So it's not going to be an either or, it's really a both. And so if you are trying to stand out in the crowd where we've all heard those amazing metrics about the number of new Salesforce economy jobs, the number that blew me away was 4.2 million new jobs by 2025 those are net new. So how are you going to stand apart in the crowd if you have these great admin skills and there's maybe now hundreds of other trailblazers who have these wonderful skills as well, how do you stand out in the crowd? And the answer is really certifications and SuperBadges. So, together we call them credentials, they really go hand in hand to show that you have that wide range of skills.

Mike Gerholdt: I never thought of it that way and that's a great explanation. Wow. And I also... Did you call it domain level expertise for a SuperBadge?

Julie Workman: Yes, exactly.

Mike Gerholdt: That is a really great way to explain it. Right? Versus a sitting down and taking a test.

Julie Workman: Exactly, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. You've taught me a lot even though it was about SuperBadges. I've learned a lot on this episode. I'd love to know what are the parts of the job that you just really nerd out about?

Julie Workman: Well, I love everything about it. I work with the best teams, just really, really brilliant and dedicated team. So what I love is, I mentioned we have that credentialing methodology and so we have a blueprint or roadmap that we follow. I love seeing it come to life because it's really amazing. In the beginning of our development process we have a job task analysis and that's basically a set of requirements for what should this SuperBadge assess. And so we start out with this set of requirements and then we build backwards. We build out the scenario which is that fun story that you read that has this business requirements, and we build out the challenges. So, how are we going to check to see if the trailblazer has configured a solution that meets the requirements so to speak.

Julie Workman: So I love seeing that come to life and as we move through the project and start building out the challenges and we engage our community as testers and we really start to get that feedback. And it really is such impressive feedback when we get those. Like we were talking about the number of people who are saying this really shows that I know this domain level, I have this domain level expertise. I'm really can show that I'm a subject matter expert by completing the SuperBadge. So it's really amazing to see it come to life and actually there's a way that people can participate as subject matter experts and I can send you that link and if people are interested they can submit a quick form and potentially be a part of a future SuperBadge.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, absolutely. We'll include that link in the show notes. That was great. Julie, thank you so much for being on the podcast. We could sit around probably for another half hour and talk even more SuperBadge stuff because I'm glad to know that you don't feed them after midnight.

Julie Workman: We don't but they're wonderful. It's great to be a part of the Trailhead team and be a part of the SuperBadge team. One last quick note, I'll send you this one as well. We really want to cheer on our trailblazers who are completing SuperBadges, and so we have a brand new hashtag. It's SuperBadge success and I'll send that to you as well. It's #SuperBadge success and we really want to cheer you on. We want to see the people who are completing those SuperBadges and really be a part of the energy and enthusiasm that people feel when they get these goals accomplished.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I love it. Hashtag SuperBadge success. Thanks so much Julie for being on the podcast.

Julie Workman: Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Mike Gerholdt: It was super great to have Julie on the podcast. By the way, did anybody keep track of a number of times we said super? If you did, I'd like for you to tweet me that number because I'd be curious. So three things I learned from our discussion with Julie. One SuperBadges are an assessing tool. They're part of the credentialing program on Trailhead. They take dedication, but 95% of the people that take SuperBadges say it's preparing them for a credential, and an amazing 99% agree that completing the SuperBadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through the hands on. Wow, SuperBadges are a great way to get started in Trailhead and get hands on experience. If you aren't sure where to start looking at a SuperBadge requirement, and then use that as your starting point for your learning journey.

Mike Gerholdt: I like to think of it as starting with the goal in mind. And then last SuperBadges are domain based credentials with business scenarios, and you should share your SuperBadge success using the hashtag #SuperBadgeSuccess. If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter, and of course you can find me on Twitter. I am @MikeGerholdlt. And with that have a fantastic rest of your day and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: Deep_Dive_Into_Superbadges_with_Julie_Workman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re live from Dreamforce with Laura Walker, Salesforce Admin Consultant and Solution Architect. We caught up with her just as she stepped off the Salesforce Admin keynote stage. 

Join us as we talk about how far Salesforce has come, how to be your own PR, and the trick to getting champions in every department you work with.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Laura Walker.

How far Salesforce has come.

At Dreamforce 2019, Laura got to hit the stage twice, to appear in a breakout session and to introduce Parker Harris.  “To be next to someone who is looking at the whole foreseeable future of future and know that it’s all in his brain—it’s so exciting to be so close to the people who really make it happen,” she says.

Getting to this point wasn’t always easy, especially as an admin who started in 2006, back in the days of S-Controls. If you didn’t have to go through them when they were a thing, just know that Trailhead has taken the community leagues further than what even seemed possible at the time. “It’s transformed the way anybody can go and learn,” Laura says, “there’s now no reason not to be up to date as long as you invest in yourself and invest that time.”

A community that supports each other through thick and thin.

“I’ve had a rough year,” Laura says, “and the emotional support I’ve received from the community, not just the tech, kept me going for months.” The platform and tech might the thing that everyone has in common and brings us together, but we’re all human. You don’t have to know everything and you probably can’t know everything. In fact, Laura says, “If you meet someone who says they know everything about Salesforce, run in the opposite direction—it’s not possible.”

Nowhere is that more on display than at Dreamforce. “We’ve had some amazing people talk about how to get the best from someone,” Laura says, and that perspective on leadership has been inspiring going forward. Another important concept that Mike discussed on the Admin Keynote stage is the idea of embracing your own success and being your own PR. “If you are passionate about what you’re doing, it’s infectious,” Laura says. Identify your champions on each team, use them to test new ideas, and ultimately to get understand how game-changing your work can be.

Finding the champions you need.

Identifying your champions can be tricky, but Laura has some good advice for what you’re looking for, and the answer is a little surprising. Chat with the people having a rough time, the people who keep saying how much they hate Salesforce, or maybe who you’ve identified through data as struggling with specific tasks. Then see if you can make a change to make their life easier, and get the conversation started about how they can get more involved. Laura herself ran into two of her former bosses at Dreamforce who she struggled to convince to give up their spreadsheets—they both now work at Salesforce.

“When I got asked to be an admin, I’d worked for two years in sales,” Laura says, “I was one of those people who did OK but I didn’t exactly hit the target every month either.” When she moved over the platform, she found out about all sorts of things that could have helped her be a better salesperson. She felt she had to share them, not just with her team but with all of the sales teams.

“I tapped into people’s competitive nature and said, ‘Look, you can be so much better at your job, you can work so much smarter if I can give you five minutes training on something,’” Laura says. There are so many great insights about how you can make change at your organization and in your career, so make sure you listen to the full episode.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast and we're here live at Dreamforce. I am with Laura Walker who's a Salesforce admin consultant, and we just got off a stage doing a breakout session. Laura also just got off the stage last night from the Salesforce admin keynote where she got to introduce Parker Harris. So Laura, let's talk about all of the things you've been doing at Dreamforce 2019 this year.

Laura Walker: Hi Mike. I have had an amazing Dreamforce, the honor of introducing Parker Harris. What a great guy he is, and to be next to someone who's looking at the whole foreseeable future of Salesforce and know that it's all in his brain. Oh, it's so exciting to be so close to the people who really make it happen. The breakout session, so honored to be able to bring a little of my experience as an admin and consultant since 2006, and an end user, and bring those experiences and a little bit of knowledge to new admins to make a difference to what they're going to do on Monday when they get back to the office.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow, so let's talk about that. So you've been a Salesforce admin before I became a Salesforce admin.

Laura Walker: Heavens.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that's good. Let's talk about your experience leading up to this point. How has the platform, how has the community evolved as you've seen it?

Laura Walker: It's evolved beyond recognition. When I started using Salesforce, S-controls were still around.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, I remember those. S-controls.

Laura Walker: S-controls.

Mike Gerholdt: Never forget.

Laura Walker: The training was beautifully, wonderfully crafted presentations. Someone really put a lot of effort into those, but they were deathly boring to watch and listen to. I would always read them faster than I listened, so I would turn off the volume and just whip through and hope for the best. To migrate from that through to Trailhead, wow, whoever thought that up is not earning enough. Whatever it is, it's not enough. To really transform the way anybody can go and learn. Because the presentations, you had to be a user, you had to be part of ... and it was paid for.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: Now for Trailhead to be free and accessible, thank you for setting me such a great target to get to 400 badges.

Mike Gerholdt: Sure, absolutely.

Laura Walker: I'm proud and honored to have made it.

Mike Gerholdt: I can give you another target of 500.

Laura Walker: Yeah, I'm sure you will and I'm sure I'll get there, because there's new badges all the time for all the new features and there's now no reason not to be up to date. As long as you invest in yourself, you invest in that time, because everyone benefits. It's really easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day and and go, "No, I'm too busy."

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: Sometimes to take a breather, take a step back from the coalface and go, "What's the bigger picture?" I was given advice from a director a very long time ago and he said, "Many people look at the immediate future." He said, "But leaders take a step back and they look wider and they look longer, and they see what's coming and they see what we need to do next."

Laura Walker: As admins, we can look at the platform and we can look at the latest release and go, "Wow, that thing that people have been asking for that we said wasn't possible, it's going to be possible. Wow, how exciting it's going to be when I can tell them, that report type that we could never do cross object reporting, well, it's now possible and we can bring all that together."

Laura Walker: I've been lucky enough to have those kind of light bulb moments. As an admin, it's like, yeah, and that's how I got my Twitter handle, SFLozenge.

Mike Gerholdt: Nice.

Laura Walker: So, I was a pain solver that day.

Mike Gerholdt: A pain solver.

Laura Walker: So as a true admin at heart, I solve pain, and I can see pain sometimes before they realize that they're in a painful place. It ain't broke, don't fix it.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: I mean, yeah, but it could be better and it could be better to such a degree that there are significant savings in time, energy, effort, emotion. Then you have the community. So, I've had a rough year and the emotional support I've had from my community, not just the tech, I mean, the leader ... one of the co-founders of the London admin user group, Matt Morris, put out a tweet, said, "We're not just here for the tech, people need people."

Laura Walker: The emotional outpouring of support during a really rough time, kept me going for months. I was fortunate enough to go back to them and thank them and remind them, because they wouldn't have known what an impact they have on each other. Don't stop, do that for the next person along and then feed it forward.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. No, I think and we were talking right before I pressed record, the tech is the thing that we have in common that binds us, but we're also human and we can so relate to each other and the tech is what brought us together. So Dreamforce is a big family reunion, we often call it. For those listening, maybe they attended, maybe they didn't attend. What were some of the things you brought out of Dreamforce or some of the things that you're going to pay forward as you head into your next week and you head into the holidays, and you head into this time of things you've learned while you were here?

Laura Walker: There is so much here. There is so much. My poor feet, I don't think they'll ever forgive me. But the monastic section, everyone knows, "Oh, it's all about the tech and everything." The monastic section of learning to breathe. I advocate taking that time out, that take a step back, come and look at something with fresh eyes, and to actually concentrate on your breathing and center yourself is a great excuse if you need one, to go and take that time.

Laura Walker: Some of the leadership sessions where we've had some amazing people talk about how to look at your team and get the best from them. Then Obama to actually ... I was so honored that one of his mantras was one that I have used for years, which is if you want to be excellent, surround yourself with excellence. Bring that together and feed off each other and you don't have to know everything.

Laura Walker: But knowing where to look or who to ask was great advice I was given a long time ago by my chemistry master, a mad, mad man. But I loved him to bits and he was so empowering to a group of girls in a chemistry laboratory, and I was fortunate enough to be on the end of that. You can't know everything. If anyone runs up to you and says they know everything about Salesforce, run in the opposite direction, it's not possible.

Laura Walker: But as an admin, if we know enough about a wide range of subjects. I've been in a situation where I knew I needed a flow to fix what I needed to fix. I knew at the time they were new when I couldn't do it myself. So I reached out to the community and someone said, "Well, it's Friday morning over here in Massachusetts, I think, I'll give you a hand." He spent 45 minutes and I was in the UK and he set up my flow for the not-for-profit I was working with and we got it working. It was like, "Wow, I don't know anything else that would generate that kind of generosity." But everyone has an interest in making it happen.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, absolutely. So along the lines of making it happen, you said something in our breakout that really struck me and it was also something I talked about in our keynote, which is embracing your own success. You're your own get out there and be your own PR, right? And talk to your users and show them the stuff that you did. I mean, if I had a table in that breakout, you would have been banging that table like, "This is the thing you need to do." I mean, obviously I think that's something you've done. Is that something that you've seen in the user groups that really is the differentiator for people?

Laura Walker: Yep. If you are passionate about what you're doing, it's infectious.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep.

Laura Walker: If you are sat at someone's desk and you are watching them do something because you're absorbing and you're seeing where the pain points are in your business and they feel empowered because you're taking time out with them, and you go, "Gosh, that looks really painful. What can I do to make that different?"

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: Dreamforce has been great to let us know what's coming and how we can use those features to make a difference to someone's immediate day. Because if you can make that change, they feel empowered, because, "Hey, I said that was a problem and now it's fixed," and they share it with their team. It's really easy to identify with the teams who are going to be your champions. You can target them and create a good relationship and you go, "If I have something new, would you test it for me in a sandbox?"

Laura Walker: Which is what they did for me. That's how I began to be noticed as a person who could be a good admin, it was recognized in me from a mentor. So to be able to target those people, empower them, your passion then becomes infectious and grows throughout your community, then you gain credibility. Especially for new admins, it's hard because you think, "Oh, I don't know anything." But you can. You can make those little differences and grow and you're doing Trailhead at the same time and you're making changes.

Laura Walker: Then you talk to a manager and you go, "Look, I did this and it made this difference to you. I'd like to do this for you, because I've noticed that you do reports. What reports up do you do? How can I make that better for you? How can I make that easy? Oh, you take it out into a spreadsheet. What does that spreadsheet do for you that the system doesn't? Oh, we can do that in Lightning now." You can get them to have an amazing experience.

Laura Walker: There are two managers who now work for Salesforce in London, who I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to use the dashboard. I got them to use it and I trained them how to use it for their teams and they empowered their teams and they became high functioning teams. I bumped into them at Salesforce Tower and I go, "Hey, what are you doing here?" And they go, "We work here." It's like, "Really? Are you sure?"

Mike Gerholdt: Would you like me to show you a dashboard?

Laura Walker: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: So I love that topic and I want to dig deeper into it, because I identified champions when I was an admin. You were identified by, you said a mentor, but I think you've also identified users when you've gone to other places. I'm a new admin, I just heard Laura talk about identifying champions. What am I looking for? How do I identify one person from another? What are those things that you find in people?

Laura Walker: I think if you're chatting with someone about what they're doing in the platform and they go and you ask them, "So what's painful for you? What don't you like doing?" Or you have done a little bit of data digging and you notice that that particular person isn't good at doing that particular data, and you go and talk to them and they go, "Oh, I hate Salesforce. Oh, I hate it." And you make a change and all of a sudden they go, "Do you know what? That's made my life so much easier. I can now do this. Because I now put all my tasks into Salesforce and because you showed me how to manipulate a list view, I can now go and look at all the people who have not been contacted for three months and I've got all these leads coming to me and I'm using the data."

Laura Walker: You suddenly begin to hear that little bit of passion creeping into what they're saying. Nurture that, use that and go, "Okay, if I make a change, how interested would you be in coming on that journey with me and helping the people around you come on board? Because you know people in your team, they're not so great at doing this and I want to make it better for everybody." You will soon hear the people who are on board and who want to be part of that.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: Who knows, as your company grows and you need more in your team, they may become your colleagues in your team, and that's how you grow. I listened to someone last night who said, "As you get a promotion, it leaves a gap for someone else. Bring someone with you."

Mike Gerholdt: Yep.

Laura Walker: It's always bringing the next person on. How can we all move together, moving forward and striding ahead? That's not just making money for your company, it's making everyone's daily lives better at work. We're all at work far too long to not enjoy it.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: So put a path on a case and invoke the confetti. Although a friend of mine did put it in and her company never noticed, I really don't know how.

Mike Gerholdt: I love celebrations like that.

Laura Walker: I think it's great.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Laura Walker: It's such fun and you can bring fun into the office.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep.

Laura Walker: My mantra is to make someone smile every day.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep.

Laura Walker: That might be a really bad joke, that they have no option but to smile because it's so bad. But, hey, what the hell?

Mike Gerholdt: I like that. So thinking ahead, as I listened to you talk, the word passion comes up more often than not. Working through your day, are there parts of the platform that you're more passionate about?

Laura Walker: There are. I just want to touch on why I'm passionate.

Mike Gerholdt: Please do.

Laura Walker: So when I got asked to be an admin, I'd worked for two years in sales and I was one of those salespeople that did okay. I wasn't terrible, but I didn't sort of hit target every month either.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay.

Laura Walker: I moved over to the platform and I suddenly realized that there was a whole heap of stuff that, if I had known how to do this, I would have been a better salesperson. I just felt compelled to share that with my old sales team. But I had several sales teams and everyone worked in competition with one another and I had to be fair.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: But it was like, "Wow." I was able to tap into people's competitive nature as salespeople and go, "Look, you can be so much better at your job. You can work so much smarter, if I can give you five minutes tuition in something, trust me." So that passion grows from there. But my first job was, it was a service team, so my heart is in service cloud.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay.

Laura Walker: I'm in a project now where I'm bringing multiple record types together to streamline a process and make reporting easier and give exec insights that they've never had before. At the moment, the way it's set up, they're making decisions on bad data and we really have to stop doing that. So to be able to make that transformation and affect that change, it makes my day. I turn into Tigger, I just bounce my way into work.

Mike Gerholdt: I like that. It's a good visual, good visual. So let's fast forward a year from now, where do you want admins to be? Where do you want admins thinking, in terms of their career, in terms of the platform, in terms of their passion?

Laura Walker: Wow, that's a tough one. Everything is changing at such a crazy rate. I would want any admin out there to understand that we are all just normal people. We have all come on this journey, we have all started from nothing and knowing nothing and we have all moved forward in many different ways. So be a sponge, absorb knowledge from wherever it comes from, listen to everything. Forget what you don't need to know and all of a sudden you go, "Ah, someone said, but I don't know how to do that." Go on Trailhead, set your next target. If you're at no badges, set at 20. Make realistic targets and hit them. As soon as you've hit them, hit your next one.

Mike Gerholdt: Sure.

Laura Walker: People say, "Oh, go for the next promotion." Well, I worked as a Salesforce admin for four years and there was no promotion, there was nothing above me. But I was told that one day I would build a team underneath me, because the data would grow. It didn't pan out, I was made redundant and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I became a consultant with a consulting firm and I got exposure to many different verticals that, had I stayed in that one company, I never would've had exposure to.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Laura Walker: So embrace everything that happens. Sometimes things may seem catastrophic, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Just because a door shuts, doesn't mean to say another door, window, trapdoor in the floor, or hole ... Look all around, because you don't know what's going to open, where it's going to take you and what fun you're going to have along the way.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow, I can't think of a better note to end on. Laura, you're on Twitter. If people want to follow you and soak up some of your passion, what's your Twitter address?

Laura Walker: My Twitter handle is @SFLozenge, L-O-Z-E-N-G-E.

Mike Gerholdt: Perfect. Fabulous. Well, I want to thank you, and who you didn't hear from was her lovely husband who's been taking pictures with us the whole time. Silent, quiet as a mouse.

Laura Walker: That's a rarity.

Mike Gerholdt: I know. But thank you for being on the podcast, Laura. Thank you. It was a great pleasure to have you at Dreamforce.

Laura Walker: I'm deeply honored to have been part of it and thank you for organizing everything, Mike, you're an absolute star.

Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely. Thank you, Laura. Have a great time at Dreamforce.

Laura Walker: See you soon.

Mike Gerholdt: This episode was filled with so much passion and encouragement. Laura has all this positive energy just flowing through her and I'm sure you can feel that in this episode. Her passion for learning stems all the way back to the days of S-controls, long before we had this thing called Trailhead, which is amazing.

Mike Gerholdt: So a good reminder from Laura. No matter what stage of your career you're in, it's always important to take time to invest in yourself, your education, and to make it happen. Remember, I love her line about being your own PR. Embrace your own success and don't forget to bring others right along with you. I mean, a lot of it is in the work that we do, and you see that when you're talking with other people in the community, you can help them find different solutions to the problems and you can help everyone get to that "Aha" moment. That's really when the passion and excitement grows and it just spreads.

Mike Gerholdt: Now Laura's been in this community for quite some time and I highly recommend that you reach out to her, connect with her on the trailblazer community or on Twitter, where she is @SFLozenge. Don't worry, we'll put the link in the show notes. Of course, we're also on Twitter. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I. You can connect with other Salesforce admins on Twitter using the hashtag AwesomeAdmin. You can connect with me on Twitter, I'm @MikeGerholdt.

Mike Gerholdt: With that, I wanted to remind you, go to admin.salesforce.com for even more incredible resources, webinars, podcasts like the one that you heard today. It is chockfull of information to help you be an even more awesome admin. With that, I'm Mike Gerholdt, and I'll see you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Passion_of_the_Platform_With_Laura_Walker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am PST

The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. For this episode, we’re talking to Katie McFadden, Co-Founder of Common Voyage, to learn more about the unique ways nonprofits use Salesforce and how you can get involved.

Join us as we talk about how consultants create a vision for technology that supports an organization’s vision and then turn that vision into reality.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Katie McFadden.

 The complexities of a nonprofit organization.

Katie is a Salesforce Consultant for Common Voyage, a company she co-founded that works with nonprofits to help them implement Salesforce. “It’s fun working with nonprofits,” Katie says, “I personally feel like it’s as if you’re running multiple businesses under one roof because they’re managing fundraising, they’re managing programs, maybe they have events or volunteers that they’re managing, so it’s a bit of a crazy world with lots of things to track.”

With so many different business processes happening, it can be a lot for one executive director or leadership team to both create vision and execute that vision. On top of that, there are often more resource constraints involved. As Katie says, “with nonprofits, every penny matters.”

How Katie made her first pitch.

Katie first came into contact with Salesforce as a pet project at her first job, a student exchange nonprofit. “I realized after a while that there were so many good ideas for how to run the program,” she says, “but almost all of the conversations ended in, ‘Yeah, but how are we going to do that?’” So she started researching what tools are out there to help organizations get things done, which is how she came across Salesforce. “I did a whole PowerPoint pitch to my boss—it was my first time making a pitch—and she approved it,” Katie says, “and then I started learning everything I could about Salesforce and working with some consultants to build it out.”

All of this happened in the days before Trailhead was a thing. “I like to say I put myself through Salesforce nightschool,” Katie says. “I googled everything but I had a bunch of usecases and needs at this nonprofit, so I used that as an excuse to learn all this stuff.”

The Nonprofit Success Pack.

One of the big differences between the way nonprofits use Salesforce and what you might find in most implementations is the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). “If we think of Salesforce as the platform, the fundamental tools you get to build out a system, then the Nonprofit Success Pack is a layer on top of that that already understands and knows the types of things that nonprofits need,” Katie says, “I say it wrangles the way the business world uses Salesforce to fit those needs.” That includes more detailed tracking for all the types of fundraising-specific a nonprofit uses to see, for example, who is in the same household and what their relationships are.

It’s not as simple as logging onto the AppExchange and adding the Nonprofit Success Pack to your org. There’s an application process you need to go through, but on the other end of it you can qualify for a free license.

Another crazy story from Dreamforce.

Today, Katie runs her own consultancy helping nonprofits. She got the push she needed thanks to a chance meeting at Dreamforce 2013 headed to the Green Day concert that ended in him offering to put her up in Cape Town, South Africa and learn more about consulting. In her first year, she learned a big lesson: “How do you get comfortable without knowing the answers all the time?”

These days, Katie’s a big advocate of the community as a lifeline for anyone out there who needs help. “There used to be a time when one person could know everything about Salesforce,” Katie says, “but now it’s grown to such an extent that nobody does, so we become reliant on each other to figure out what we need to know.” To give back, she helped create the NPSP Videography Community to create NPSP-specific help videos to share knowledge more effectively. Listen to the full episode to hear more about all the amazing things she’s built, her favorite Salesforce features, and more.

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Full Show Transcript

Marc Baizman: Welcome to the Salesforce For Good miniseries on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Marc Baizman and I'm a senior admin evangelist here at Salesforce. Before I was an evangelist, I worked at salesforce.org and in the nonprofit world, and I made many incredible connections with people doing amazing things with Salesforce technology and nonprofits, and I really want to share some of them with you.

Marc Baizman: In this podcast miniseries, we'll be talking to a variety of folks in the Salesforce nonprofit ecosystem, including admins, architects, consultants, and salesforce.org employees. By the end of the series, you'll learn what makes the nonprofit sector special, how Salesforce technology supports the missions of some amazing organizations that are making a huge impact, and you'll learn about the fantastic community of people that are making it happen.

Marc Baizman: This week we have the inspiring Katie McFadden here with us to talk about her journey through the Salesforce ecosystem and how she became the cofounder of Common Voyage, a Salesforce consulting firm. Let's hear from Katie now.

Marc Baizman: Hello Katie. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Katie McFadden: Thank you. Great to be here.

Marc Baizman: You betcha. So Katie McFadden, what do you do?

Katie McFadden: I'm a Salesforce consultant. I work at a company called Common Voyage that I cofounded and we work with nonprofit customers and we help them implement Salesforce.

Marc Baizman: Pretty cool. Sounds great. Tell me about working with nonprofit customers. I want to hear more.

Katie McFadden: Yeah, so it's fun working with nonprofits. I think there's a lot of misconceptions out there about how complex the lives are of a nonprofit. So sometimes people think that, "Oh, nonprofit, it must be easier or simpler than the for profit world." But nonprofit space is pretty complicated, and I personally feel like it's as if you're running multiple businesses under one roof, because they're managing fundraising, they're managing programs, maybe they have events or volunteers that they're managing. So it is a bit of a crazy world with lots of things to track.

Marc Baizman: Sounds pretty cool. Pretty crazy. So what brought you into this world of nonprofits before you started consulting?

Katie McFadden: Originally, I graduated college, I came out to San Francisco, and I found a job working at a student exchange organization, and I'd studied abroad a few times. I had one of those degrees that doesn't really shoehorn you into any particular job, so I started at this exchange organization, and yeah, it was a nonprofit. I didn't really know what that meant, or what the differences were between regular businesses and nonprofits at the time. We didn't do much fundraising, actually. This is an unusual nonprofit, and that's where I got my start, kind of intro to the nonprofit world.

Marc Baizman: Cool. And you kind of indicated that you went to college for something that was not necessarily funneling you into a job. Was this a technical degree, or do you have a technical background? Tell me a little more about it.

Katie McFadden: Sure. So I actually don't have a technical background. I studied international relations, which is politics, economics, history, and I did minor in math. So I guess that's somewhat technical, but I actually went to an engineering school which had a great computer science program. And in hindsight, I wish I had studied that, but at the time that wasn't my forte.

Marc Baizman: That's okay. You've landed in it anyway, which is great.

Katie McFadden: Absolutely. I remember when I moved to San Francisco, in fact, I didn't know the city well, and I realized very quickly that it's a tech hub. And I remember thinking to myself, "I'm never going to make it in this city because I'm so not a tech person."

Marc Baizman: So you are a cofounder of a Salesforce consulting firm, is that right?

Katie McFadden: That's correct.

Marc Baizman: Okay, great. So I'm going to go ahead and say you've made it.

Katie McFadden: Thank you.

Marc Baizman: You're doing it. You're welcome. So maybe tell me a little bit more about consulting to nonprofits and how maybe that's different. You've mentioned that nonprofits is like having multiple businesses under one roof. I'd love to hear a little bit more about what kind of work that you do and how it differs.

Katie McFadden: Sure. So the consulting work is interesting with nonprofits, because there are so many different simultaneous business units or processes happening. It's really a lot for one executive director or one leadership team, especially at a small or medium nonprofit, to be creating vision for how to execute a mission, and executing, implementing and executing that. So a lot of what we do as consultants is around that. "How do we help people envision how they can run their programs, or how they can manage their fundraising?" And then, "How do we build it out in a system so that you can execute that vision?"

Marc Baizman: And would you say that nonprofits ... I should just ask, nonprofits generally have resource constraints, right? So maybe they don't have an unlimited budget and tons of people. How does that affect the kind of work that you do?

Katie McFadden: That's a great question. Yeah. You can actually feel that on consulting calls and engagements with nonprofits. With for profits, and I have consulted for a few for profits, they dilly dally more. They'll get on a call, tell me about their kids, this and that. With nonprofits, every penny matters so much more, I would say. Or maybe budgets are smaller, so they get on a call and they're like, "Okay, let's do it." They're usually very engaged. They want to learn as much as they can to become autonomous and empowered. And so there's some effects, I think. The budget constraint is maybe tricky and not ideal, but some of the effects of that dynamic are actually great, because I think the people tend to be very engaged and appreciate what they're learning.

Marc Baizman: That's great. That's great. There's nothing better than working with clients that actually appreciate the service that you offer. Right?

Katie McFadden: Exactly.

Marc Baizman: Cool. So I want to talk to you a little more about you. How did you encounter Salesforce? It sounds like you worked at the student exchange nonprofit. When and how did Salesforce come into your life?

Katie McFadden: Yeah. So I got involved with Salesforce sort of on a pet project in my old job. So I worked at this nonprofit, it was an entry level position. I was a program manager and there was a lot of turnover, so I got to see a lot of people come and go in this role. And I realized after a while that there were so many good ideas. People would come in fresh out of college and they're like, "Hey, we could run it this way," or, "We should do this with our students, make a passport program," or all these great ideas, and almost all the conversations ended in, "Yeah, but how are we going to do that?" Right? "We have no way to track that or get that done."

Katie McFadden: And it became this very discouraging culture of, "Oh, here comes another good idea. Just hush up with your ideas, friend. We can only do so much." And that really frustrated me after I recognized the pattern, and so I started researching, "There must be tools. We're not the only people trying to do stuff, right? So what's out there that can help?" And I found Salesforce. I did a whole pitch, a PowerPoint pitch. I remember it was the first time making a pitch to my boss, and she approved it. She said, "This sounds great. I'm so happy you found it." And then I started learning everything I could about Salesforce and working with some consultants to build it out.

Marc Baizman: Oh, this is great. Can you timestamp that for us? How long ago was this?

Katie McFadden: I started at that nonprofit at 2010, and maybe about a year, in 2011 or so, is when we started the Salesforce project.

Marc Baizman: Got it. So this predates Trailhead, in fact.

Katie McFadden: Oh yes. Because everything I learned about Salesforce during my big kind of a vamp up or ramp up to learn everything, this was all just Google searching. It was the Wild West. There was no formal curated content. I just had to find forum.

Marc Baizman: Yeah, let's get into that. How did you learn about Salesforce back then, in those old days?

Katie McFadden: In those wild days. Yeah. Well, I remember my boss allowed me to learn some of this stuff, but mostly we were working with consultants, so my involvement was limited, but I wanted to so much more involved than what was formally required in this position. So I like to say I put myself through a Salesforce night school-

Marc Baizman: Great.

Katie McFadden: ... and I remember that my fingers were in pain from being on the track pad for so many hours a day. It actually kind of scared me. I thought, "My fingers shouldn't be in pain. This feels really weird."

Marc Baizman: Yeah. That's not great.

Katie McFadden: I know. So I would do my day job nine to five, and then all evening long I would just kind of voraciously eat up everything I could online about, "What's a contact? What's an account? How do you import data? How do you architect objects?" And all this stuff. So yeah, I Googled everything and I had a bunch of use cases and needs at this nonprofit, so I used that as an excuse to learn all this stuff.

Marc Baizman: That's pretty cool. So tell me about how Salesforce is different for nonprofits. That's obviously a leading question, but you can ... Maybe not necessarily the technology itself, but maybe there's an application or two that might be unique to nonprofits.

Katie McFadden: Yeah, there might be an application out there.

Marc Baizman: I've heard.

Katie McFadden: Yeah. The application for nonprofits is called The Nonprofit Success Pack. And if we think of Salesforce as the platform, so it's the fundamental, all the tools that you get to build out a system, then The Nonprofit Success Pack is a layer on top of that, that basically it already understands and knows the types of things that nonprofits need, like households, donations, the things that we all share as nonprofits. And I say it kind of wrangles the way that salesforce.com or the business world uses Salesforce to fit those needs.

Marc Baizman: Awesome. Are there any kind of key distinctions that The Nonprofit Success Pack does that maybe stands out as opposed to the way that native Salesforce operates?

Katie McFadden: Sure. So yeah, a lot of The Nonprofit Success Pack functionality is fundraising focused, so we've got contacts, accounts, and households, and then we've got grants, in kind gifts, matching gifts, all these things that nonprofits do. And then there's also marketing tools that are maybe less nonprofit specific, and there's also talk about doing some program management, so things that are less consistent from nonprofit to nonprofit aren't in the application right now, but they're trying to get in as much as possible.

Marc Baizman: Sounds great. And you mentioned households, so that's a record type on the account, object to track information about where people live, right?

Katie McFadden: Correct. Yep. So we can track people in these groupings and know these children are part of this household. We can also track relationships within households, which one's the spouse, which one's the brother, the sister, all that.

Marc Baizman: Got it. Sounds good. So we've talked a little bit about consulting to nonprofits and how it differs from maybe working with other types of customers. Can you talk a little bit more about those different functional areas? So fundraising, program management, and then the volunteer management piece. I know that salesforce.org also provides an app to help with that as well.

Katie McFadden: Right. So as part of The Nonprofit Success Pack, there's the Volunteers for Salesforce app, and that helps nonprofits manage just their fleet of volunteers, right? So you've got to have applications, you've got to have online signups, people updating the shifts that they want to be part of. So all of that is managed by this app called Volunteers for Salesforce.

Marc Baizman: And is that an app on the App Exchange if somebody just wanted to install it?

Katie McFadden: It is, yeah. And it's also part of the core Nonprofit Success Pack. So whether you're using the NPSP, I'll call it just for short, whether you're using NPSP or you want the Volunteers app separately, you can get it either way.

Marc Baizman: Great. And if folks want the NPSP, there's a whole separate installer process to get that thing, right? That's not just an App Exchange install.

Katie McFadden: Correct. Yep. There's a whole application process for nonprofits to say, "Hey, I'm a nonprofit. I'd like to get the free donated licenses," and that'll set you up with The Nonprofit Success Pack if you wish, right out of the gates.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. That's great. I'd love to know maybe a little more about you and what role folks have played in your career growth over time. It sounds like you kind of started in this nonprofit, maybe worked for some other nonprofits, and you're now the co-owner of a consulting company. So your career has grown quite a bit. What role did folks play in that?

Katie McFadden: Sure. So I would say I would give major props to my friend Sam Foss. He played probably the most important role in my whole growth spurt here. So after I was working at the student exchange organization, just found out that I loved doing this sort of work, finding out requirements and building things in Salesforce, I had this thought of, "You know, maybe I want to be in consulting, because then I can do this all day long." And at the time I was counseling teenagers studying in the US, so I love exchange students, but they can be very difficult when they have issues.

Marc Baizman: Sure.

Katie McFadden: I didn't really want to go back to that, so I was thinking about that. And then I went to Dreamforce that year, and I was going to the Green Day concert. Every Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference has-

Marc Baizman: It's also the annual Salesforce concert, by the way.

Katie McFadden: True. Some people focus on the concert.

Marc Baizman: Yeah. Apparently there's a conference that goes on.

Katie McFadden: Apparently.

Marc Baizman: But we're there for the concert.

Katie McFadden: Exactly. So this year is Green Day. They always have big headliner bands, and I was waiting in line to take a bus to AT&T Park to see this concert, and the person behind me, there was this man behind me who just said kind of casually, "So how's your Dreamforce going?" And it turns out he's from abroad, which as someone who works in student exchange and has traveled quite a bit, was quite exciting. He's from Cape Town, South Africa, and he works at a nonprofit consulting firm in Cape Town doing exactly what I wanted to do. So we ended up chatting. We chatted a bunch that evening, because we were both going on the same concert. And after a while he said, "Well, if you ever want to come out to Cape Town and learn how to do consulting, let us know. You can come live with my family, and we'd put you up and everything." So a few months afterwards I-

Marc Baizman: That's amazing.

Katie McFadden: I know.

Marc Baizman: Let's pause for a minute. That's amazing. That's pretty cool.

Katie McFadden: I know. It was such luck that we were in the line and right next to each other, and in a conference with literally thousands and thousands, tens and thousands of people that we connected. So months later, I was ready to make the switch to consulting, and I basically called them up and I said, "Hey, does that offer still stand? Can I ask you a bit?" Got to vet this guy, make sure that he is who he says he is. But I went through that whole process and I did exactly what he proposed. I lived with this family. I'm good friends with his kids, and I went and worked at their consultancy, and it was neat because I didn't know much about consulting, but I knew a fair amount about Salesforce, and they had consultants but they didn't know much about Salesforce. So I was able to offer a lot, and they threw me straight into projects, and that's how I learned how to consult.

Marc Baizman: That's fantastic. And you did this from their offices in South Africa?

Katie McFadden: Yep. I was in Cape Town for two months, and then I worked for them remotely when I came back to the US.

Marc Baizman: Very, very cool. So what an amazing introduction, and thank you Sam, for all the you that you did to get Katie on board. And it sounds like you were also able to provide a lot of value back to them. Super cool. So what was the hardest part of that and maybe just of your journey generally?

Katie McFadden: Yeah. Let's say there were two parts in all of this that were hardest for me. One was learning about Salesforce in the Wild West days, so not so much a challenge ... Well, a different type of challenge for people now. There's almost too many resources now. Back then there weren't enough. That was tricky, to really figure out what I needed and qualify the knowledge that I was able to find and just try things out. So that was one of the challenging phases.

Katie McFadden: And then another challenging phase was my first year of consulting. So when I came back from Cape Town, I ended up working at another firm here based in the US, and the first year was tough. There's just so much nuance to consulting that's not just technical. I remember being on a call, and setting up my calls, and thinking, "What headphones do I wear?" You know, even the simplest things, they seem-

Marc Baizman: It's the perennial consulting challenge, by the way.

Katie McFadden: Absolutely. So there were just so many little things I had to figure out before I could feel comfortable. And how do you get comfortable with not knowing the answers all the time? I felt like I had to know every answer at that stage, and so there were a lot of lessons learned in that first year.

Marc Baizman: That's great. That's great. So I'd love to hear maybe, what's your kind of role in the community? And I'm using community pretty generally, because I know there are a couple of different communities that you're active in. So I'd love to maybe hear about that a little bit, too.

Katie McFadden: Sure. So I've been a big advocate and lover of the Salesforce community, because I do think it is a lifeline in this space. I remember someone told me a long time ago, they said, "You know, Katie, there used to be a time when one person could know everything about Salesforce." And that just blew my mind. How is that even possible? But back in the day it was that simple. But now it's grown to such an extent, I mean, Mark Benioff, the CEO, he doesn't know everything about Salesforce. Literally no one does. And so we've become pretty reliant on each other to figure out what we need to know, and that's what got me into the community. I just needed to ask questions and connect. And so since then I've been involved in certainly the local user group. I found them online, and made a lot of friends through that community. I've also been involved in community led open source aspects of The Nonprofit Success Pack.

Marc Baizman: Oh, say more about that. That sounds really interesting.

Katie McFadden: Yeah. So The Nonprofit Success Pack is actually an open source package or app. And that means that they're very open to receiving feedback from the community, and even contributions. And the neat thing about that is that we can get together as a community and define our needs, and actually put together, "What's most useful?" And say, "Here, this is what we want. Can you include it?" So that's something that I've been part of in terms of documentation. So a bunch of us identified, "We really need some more videos to document the different features, because it's hard to tell what things do just by reading these long knowledge articles." And so we started what's called the NPSP videography committee, and we put together a bunch of videos with Salesforce's help, salesforce.org, and now that's a thriving committee. There's a bunch of members and we go through creating videos on a quarterly basis.

Marc Baizman: That is amazing. How many videos are there?

Katie McFadden: At this point, probably 30 to 40.

Marc Baizman: Wow. That's amazing.

Katie McFadden: Yeah.

Marc Baizman: That is really, really cool.

Katie McFadden: Yeah. So that was just a blending of talents. I had some videography background and people would offer their voices for our videos, and we all came together to make that happen, and it's still going on now.

Marc Baizman: Oh. That is so cool. That that leads me to my next question, which is, what are some cool things that you built, or maybe some other cool things that you built in addition to these videos?

Katie McFadden: Sure. There's so many fun projects over the years. One thing that I love about being a nonprofit consultant is that I get to learn about all these missions, that a lot of them, I don't know anything about, and they're very diverse. So just a few that come to mind. I worked with an organic farming certification, actually still work with them, and I put together this whole online community for their farmers, their producers to log in and submit their organic farming requirements, and in the process learned how strict and rigid all the government regulations are for the organic certifications. That was exciting. Yeah, so that was a neat project. Also, the nonprofit I used to work with, we also had a community and we built some really slick kind of forms and ways for people to log in and view information about host families and students and their assignments. So that was probably still to date, even though I've been consulting for years, probably one of the most complex Salesforce instances I've ever worked on.

Marc Baizman: Is it because you built it and it's the best?

Katie McFadden: Well, we did work with consultants. I can't take all the credit.

Marc Baizman: Oh, okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. What are some of your favorite Salesforce or Nonprofit Success Pack or Volunteers for Salesforce features that you like?

Katie McFadden: Oh, there's so many. So Salesforce features, these days, I'm really getting into these front end features, the features that interface with the users. So a lot of building Salesforce is getting the foundation right and having the right records and fields and all that, but something that we often don't spend as much time on because it's not as critical, but it has such a big impact, is the user side. So making beautiful pages. We're all kind of UX designers, user experience designers now with the tools that we have from recent releases, and so I'm really having a fun time designing pages that are intuitive for users, and then also building flows, which is a Salesforce tool to build a wizard so you can walk a user through a multistep process.

Marc Baizman: That is great. We even did a whole little flow campaign, so definitely check that out. So I'd love for you to give advice to maybe other admins or even other consultants out there who don't work with nonprofits and maybe want to, and other admins. Again, could be nonprofit admins, could be for profit admins. Just any advice that you have.

Katie McFadden: Sure. Well, my overall advice to folks living and navigating the Salesforce world is to keep asking questions. In my experience, there's a lot to understand, which can feel daunting, but once you've gotten connected to the community through various channels, user groups, community sprints, we have NPSP days, or even online in the Power of Us hub or the Trailblazer community, once you really connect with other people, I think that's when your Salesforce career kind of comes alive. And so just keep figuring out what you want and asking people, and everyone will sort of usher you in the right direction. For profit folks interested in the nonprofit community, I think that it's a tricky transition, and so it's another one where I'd say ask around, collect experience, because I think some people think ... The transition's easier than they think. There's lots of opportunities for being involved in pro bono projects and having guidance from people who do know the nonprofit space and learning that way. So I always recommend that people check those opportunities out.

Marc Baizman: Got it. Maybe partner up with somebody who does have experience before jumping in.

Katie McFadden: Exactly right.

Marc Baizman: Got it. And then one final question for you, which is, what's a fun thing that you do when maybe you're not doing Salesforce consulting? Just something fun that you do on the side?

Katie McFadden: Well, timely question. I'm actually in the process of getting my scuba diving certification right now.

Marc Baizman: Wow, that's pretty cool.

Katie McFadden: It's pretty cool. So I'm the daughter of astronomers, and I figure scuba diving is the closest to being in space that I might ever get to in my lifetime. Who knows? I'm relatively young, so I shouldn't say, but breathing underwater where I can turn in 360 degrees in any direction is going to be a pretty trippy experience. And I haven't taken my first breath underwater yet. That's happening this weekend.

Marc Baizman: Oh my goodness. Well congratulations, and daughter of astronomers. I have to ask, are there any stars or galaxies or nebulae that are named after your parents, that they discovered?

Katie McFadden: That's such a good question. Yes. Both of my parents have a star named after them.

Marc Baizman: What?

Katie McFadden: It's my mom and my stepdad, and my mom actually has an asteroid named after her.

Marc Baizman: That is amazing. I guess we'll get the link to those in the show notes.

Katie McFadden: If anyone's interested, you can also Google my mom, Lucy McFadden. She's kind of a big deal.

Marc Baizman: Wow. That is really cool. How about that, Katie? I did not know that about you. That's cool. Well, I think that's about all the time we have for today, but thank you so much for joining me and enlightening all of us on the role of the Salesforce consultant, and just a delight to talk to you. Thank you.

Katie McFadden: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Marc Baizman: You bet.

Marc Baizman: I'm so glad we were able to talk with Katie today. She had a ton of great insight into the nonprofit world. Most nonprofits have complex business processes just like Katie talked about. The goal of the consultant is to help create that vision for the technology that supports the organization's mission and then help turn that vision into a reality. Of course, that takes time and a lot of learning and experience. When Katie pitched her first Salesforce solution to her boss at student exchange back in those pre-Trailhead days, Google was our main resource, along with using her own use cases and needs and getting hands on with how she learned.

Marc Baizman: And from there she really dug deeper into helping others answer that, but how do we do that? Critical question. Katie says the community is our lifeline, and she is so totally right. Gathering together and making connections in the community is, as you all know, hugely important in this ecosystem. If you're a nonprofit, then you have access to the Power of Us hub, and even if you're not a nonprofit, you can join the Nonprofits Using Salesforce Group in the Trailblazer community. As The Nonprofit Success Pack is an open source solution, it allows the community to get together, exchange ideas, and give feedback. And Katie, along with others, created some amazing videos to help people learn the NPSP, and we've shared that link below here.

Marc Baizman: Thanks so much, Katie. We can't wait to hear about all the other amazing things you'll do.

Direct download: Salesforce_For_Good__Katie_McFadden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got another Lightning Champion, Zoe Lai, a Salesforce Consultant at SalesFix. This episode is part three of a six-part series, the Lightning Champions Spotlight, hosted by Kelly Walker, Senior Adoption Consultant at Salesforce. We talk to our amazing Lightning Champions to find out about their career journey, how it lead them to the Lightning Experience, advice on handling change management, and why Lightning Experience is so awesome.

Join us as we talk about how Zoe’s been able to move up in the Salesforce ecosystem, what it means to be a Lightning Champion, and how she took her first org into Lightning.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Zoe Lai.

 Another accidental admin.

Before “falling into Salesforce,” as Zoe puts it, she was a digital marketing and project management specialist. She became an accidental admin, then product owner, and that lead her to her current role as a Salesforce Consultant at SalesFix in Melbourne, Australia.

When Zoe implemented her first Salesforce pilot they were on Classic, but when she went to World Tour Sydney she encountered Lightning for the first time. “It was totally a wow situation for me, so after I came back I started learning more about Lightning and tried to put together a business case to transition our pilot into Lightning,” Zoe says. 

How to drive adoption by showing off Lightning.

As far as Zoe’s favorite Lightning features go, Path is definitely up there. “It provides an easy, visual way show where a record is located and for a user to update its status easily,” she says, which makes it easier for users if they can get the hang of it. One of the main ways she drives adoption is by simply showing off how much easier the process is. 

Driving adoption and getting people to change what they’re doing isn’t always easy. “After a few implementations and transitions, I found that the first step when it comes to change management, I think you need to stop and listen to the customer and identify their current pain points when it comes to change,” Zoe says, “what are the normal, usual obstacles and understand how the team is using and why.” That gives you the information you need to come with a plan to address whatever issues your team has. It comes down to understanding that “what’s in it for me” mentality.

Why the community is key.

A Lightning Champion is a customer or a partner in the Ohana that is passionate about the LIghtning Experience, and looking to evangelize the power of the platform in terms how it’s transformed their organization and their career. “I always try to find ways to give back the community,” Zoe says, “the reason I became a Lightning Champion is because I’m passionate about the Lightning experience, and I want the community to have the same ‘wow” experience.”

When it comes to how to get active in your community, Zoe’s advice is to “keep learning and keep giving back.” For starters, you can join the Trailblazer Community and your local user group and get involved there. You can start going to community events and take your networking to the next level. Remember that everyone going to these events is just like you, or used to sit in your shoes, so don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need.

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Full Show Transcript

Kelly Walker: Welcome to the Salesforce Lightning Champion Spotlight on The Salesforce Admins podcast. My name is Kelly Walker and I am a Senior Adoption Consultant here at Salesforce. I also have the amazing opportunity of working closely with the awesome trailblazers who are passionate about Lightning and have become Lightning Champions to evangelize the power of lightning. In this mini series, we will be talking to six awesome lightning champions to talk about their career journey, how it led them to the lightning experience, advice on handling change management, and to focus on their stories of why lightning experience is so awesome.

Kelly Walker: Now, Salesforce is turning on lightning experience on a rolling basis in winter 20. Users still have access to Salesforce Classic after lightning experiences turned on, but lightning experience is where you want to be for driving business growth and improved productivity. To get ready, verify your orgs existing features and customizations in the new interface and prepare your users with change management best practices. This update applies to users who have the lightning experience user permission, including all users with standard profiles and users with custom profiles or permission sets that have the lightning experience user permission enabled. For more information, check out the critical update and watch this short video titled, "Understand How the Lightning Experience Critical Update Affects My Users," both of which are linked in the show notes.

Kelly Walker: This week on the Lightning Champion Spotlight, we have Zoe Lai, a Salesforce Consultant from Melbourne, Australia here with us and we have the amazing opportunity to talk to Zoe today about her transition to Salesforce, to lightning, to all things that come with that. Zoe, I just want to be the first to welcome you on the Admins podcast.

Zoe Lai: Thank you, Kelly. Hi, everyone.

Kelly Walker: All right. Well, without further ado, I say we jump right into it and tell us a little bit about how you came to Salesforce.

Zoe Lai: Before falling into Salesforce where I was a digital marketing and program management specialist. Then I had an opportunity to help my team implement a Salesforce pilot and then one thing led to another. I became an assistant with [inaudible 00:02:33], the product owner. Then, now, I'm a consultant at SalesFix.

Kelly Walker: Well, that's awesome. As it relates to lightning, because you are one of our amazing Lightning Champions, how did you come across that? Was it something that you were told to learn or you just saw the future of Salesforce headed that way? Tell us a little bit more about that journey.

Zoe Lai: Yeah. When I implement my very first Salesforce pilot, we were on plastic. A few months after that, I was sent to work to Sydney. There, that was the first time I saw how ... Well, I learned about lightning platform and then it was totally a wow situation for me. After I came back, I start learning more about lightning and then try to put together a business case to migrate our pilot into lightning. That's the start of my lighting journey. Ever after that, I just keep on learning on the lightning features and just amazed at the beautiful interface and how much more you can do with it.

Kelly Walker: Right. Now, for features, what is your favorite lightning feature?

Zoe Lai: There are many, but if I have to pick one on top of my head, I think, definitely path. Path provide an easy visual way to show where a record is at and for the user to update easily, and status or other pick this field that you choose. Then I found it really easy instead of just trying to find the fill status and then change status from that field, pick that field. It is way more easy to just click one of the status you want to change into and then make it a current status on the Path.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. How are your users adjusting to the Path, because that's something that they never had before? Is that new for them or a tool that they can no longer live without? What's the response then around that?

Zoe Lai: At first, they don't understand what Path does. At the beginning, they still try to find a status. They got used to it after I show them ... Actually, you can just do it from there. Just show it on their computer and then they were like "Wow, that's much easier." That just make it easier for them to update the status for their sales record.

Kelly Walker: Have you introduced that awesome new feature, the confetti at the end, to celebrate something won or closed?

Zoe Lai: I haven't got a chance to do that yet. I look forward to do that one. Well, one of my customers in the future.

Kelly Walker: Yeah. I would be interested to see or hear about their reaction when the digital confetti falls on their screen.

Zoe Lai: Yeah.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. If we think about where your customers were in classic and you having the enormous responsibility of transitioning them to lightning, and I only say enormous as it relates to the change management aspect. Can you dive into that a little bit to help us understand how you help other customers and users become comfortable with this change and maybe some best practices that you've learned along the way or some things that you've found to be hard at first and really come together at the end?

Zoe Lai: Sure. Change management is not always easy. I had a few examples and after some implementation, the "Oh, Zoe, I need to have a plan first." After a few implementation and transition, I found that the first step when it comes to change management, I think, we should stop and then just listen to the customer and identify their current pain point when it comes to change, what's the normal usual obstacles and then understand how the team is using the platform and why or is there any resistance. After I understand and identified this, then we can come up a better plan for the customer addressing those pain points. A plan can be perfect and/or designed perfect with clear outcomes, address and resource plan, but if you don't understand, try to understand the customer's pain point first, you will experience more resistance during the process.

Kelly Walker: Yeah. That's always one of the things that we find too, talking to customers. You need to find, "What's in it for me" or "What's in it for them" to really sell the new experience, the new page layouts, whatever it may be. How is it going to make me more efficient or help me sell faster, make more money or whatever my goals may be.

Zoe Lai: Exactly.

Kelly Walker: The community may have heard of this term, "Lightning Champion," but not necessarily know what it means or who is a Lightning Champion. Just explain it a little bit. A Lightning Champion is a customer or a partner in the Ohana that is passionate about lightning experience and really looking to evangelize the power of the platform when it's done for his or her career. Just, really, talk to the benefits that they've seen in making the move from classic to lightning or from building apps on lightning experience. For you, Zoe, I would love to understand why you became a Lightning Champion and really, what it means to you.

Zoe Lai: I always try to find ways to give back to the community, whatever I learn or share with the community, the resource that I know. The reason why I joined Lightning Champion is because I am passionate about the lightning experience and I want the community to have that same wow spirits and learn more about the lightning platform and the features, so that it make their day-to-day business process easier, faster and drive more positive outcome for their business.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. Are there a few things that you're doing within your community that you'd like to share as it relates to your role as a Lightning Champion?

Zoe Lai: I did a flow presentation in one of our Melbourne user group. I was so nervous. To be honest, I can't say that I'm a master of the latest lightning flow. In that session, I share what I've learned from the old version of the flow to the lightning flow. Surprisingly, after the session, a lot of people came to me and then say that, "Wow, I saw that flow. It's a thing that I'll never want to touch." After the session, they understand that they can actually try and start to use it. I was quite happy to hear that.

Kelly Walker: That's amazing, because flow is one of those things, I will admit, myself included, that seems very intimidating. I try to stick with process builder or at least, I use to as much as possible, but really, all that's happening with the new flow builder and how you can use flow within lightning. It really is changing the game. I love that you really are talking about flow and getting other customers comfortable. Now, the other thing about flow, and I always bring this up, is that we've moved into making templates available. Even if you don't want to start net new, there may be a template out there that's at least a great starting point for you to build upon. Anyone out there who has not seen Zoe's presentation but wants to start with flow but not something that you've built yourself, I would definitely check out on the AppExchange, what flow templates our partners are building.

Zoe Lai: Right. One thing I want to add on top of that is, like you said, flow seems intimidating, but how I'm learning is to look for the examples on the internet or from my colleague. I've got a colleague who is very good at building flow. He built for like within ... he can have it done within 20 minutes and complicated flow. What I do is, as part of myself learning, I would just go into those flow that he built and try to make sense and then, "Oh wow, so this is how you do this when you want to achieve that." That's how I learned, try to improve. There's, still, a lot for me to learn. I can't say that I'm mastering it yet, but yeah, that's a good way. I found that it's easy to improve your skills in building flow.

Kelly Walker: Yeah. I love that. Not just for flow but some other aspects in reverse engineering almost. You can start to see what the end result is and how we got there, and I think that's a great way to learn those features that, maybe, aren't as intuitive right off the bat. Well, Zoe, as we talk about flow, it really gets me thinking about building and building stuff specifically in lightning, maybe new processes, procedures. I would love to hear, maybe, something that you've built for one of your customers or maybe your own or that you're really proud of and you'd like to brag about yourself a little bit.

Zoe Lai: Yes. I once helped a customer transform their case management process from the outlook inbox folder to Salesforce platform. They transformed from having to manually drag the email into different folder to automatically have the email comes into Salesforce with accounting counter identified and also, stage automated. Essentially, their service agents transform from spending tremendous hours per day to only need to look at the list view that we created for them and only look at the action require list view to process those inquiry from their customer and they were very happy.

Kelly Walker: That's awesome because not only did you bring that 360 view of the customer into Salesforce, so that not just anyone who was in the email folders could see what was happening but bringing it into Salesforce so that everyone could understand the communications and the interactions that they were having. Then leveraging all of those amazing service cloud features, maybe, as it relates to macros or quick text or just productivity wins that you wouldn't necessarily get with ancillary features, especially in that 360 degree view of the customer. All right, Zoe. Well, we're doing something fun at the end of these conversations with Lightning Champions. I know you're very active in your community. I would just love to understand any bit of advice that you may have.

Zoe Lai: Sure. My advice would be, keep learning and keep giving back. Join trailblazer community. User group is definitely a great way to start. You get to network with other people, learn new things and you may find your next job in these community events.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. I cannot agree with that more. I would not be where I am today without the amazing community that I plugged into as I got started. Thank you, Zoe, so much for joining us here. Thank you for being such an awesome Lightning Champion. It's been a pleasure.

Zoe Lai: Thank you.

Kelly Walker: It was so great to have Zoe on the podcast this week. She has done so much for her Melbourne community during her four years of working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Being able to give back to the same community that has helped our champions get to where they are today is a huge theme that you'll hear throughout this mini series, and that says a lot about this program. The reason Zoe wanted to be a Lightning Champion was to share the same excitement and appreciation she has for lightning with her community. You don't have to be an expert to have an influence in your workplace or your community. As long as you are passionate and competent with what you know and share those experience with others, like Zoe did when she gave her flow presentation.

Kelly Walker: Before we end the episode, I want to reiterate that change management is not always easy. Your job as a Salesforce Admin is to make this transition easier for your users. You may have your idea of the perfect plan, but without identifying their pain points and how they use the platform, you might find resistance with your transition. Take a step back, listen to your users and hear what their needs are to make sure you're getting to the heart of what's in it for them. Thank you for listening and tune in to find out who we will feature in our next Lightning Champion Spotlight.

Direct download: Lightning_Champions_Spotlight__Zoe_Lai.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Reid Carlberg, Vice President of Trailhead Mobile at Salesforce, to share how the partnership between Apple and Salesforce lead to Trailhead GO and what he learned through the process that is super relevant for admins.

Join us as we talk about the difference between product managers and project managers, how to think about delivering value to your users, and how to listen to feedback.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Reid Carlberg.

 Launching Trailhead GO.

Reid was last on the podcast back in the salad days of the ButtonClick Admin. These days, he’s working in product management and, specifically, on something new called Trailhead GO. It’s live right now, so if you haven’t already you should definitely pull it up on your iOS device so you can follow along. “If you were at Dreamforce last year,” Reid says, “you know that we’re kicking off a strategic partnership with Apple,” and he found himself in charge of making that vision a reality.

“One of the things that I found myself thinking about,” Reid says, “is an experience that I’ve heard a lot of admins relate to, where they were kind of handed something. They got to take this thing—a lot of times it’s Salesforce—and help understand what people really wanted out of it and try and figure out how they could launch it out and be successful for the group.” 

How to use a “walking around deck.”

At Salesforce, if you’re working on something big you need to create a presentation that eventually becomes a “walking around deck.” It doesn’t necessarily describe what the product will be, but it shows you a lot of aspects of what it could be. For Reid, that meant showing what it would be like if people could get into Trailhead content wherever they happen to be. Obviously, this struck a chord with Mike and his concept of SABWA: Salesforce Administration By Walking Around.

“When you’re in a very collaborative environment,” Reid says, “you have to go broad and wide with whatever it is that you’re pitching so people can say, ‘Yes, I’ve heard about it, yes I know what the vision is, and yes, I agree with this vision.’” The thing is, as soon as you start talking to people about your vision, you’re going to get feedback about it. Some of it is going to encourage you and some of it is going to point out where you’re wrong. This discovery process is incredibly helpful because you can get your users to tell you directly what they want and don’t want before you build anything.

The difference between a product manager and a project manager.

Once you release something, you can spend a lot of energy fighting fires, as Mike says. A feature doesn’t work right, or something needs to be tweaked, for example. So how does Reid balance the need to maintain what he and his team has already rolled out with the need to keep an eye towards the future? “If I think about those things as fires, it can tend to get me worked up and have a sense of urgency,” he says, “or I can start to think about things not necessarily as fires but as opportunities.”

Changing your outlook gives you permission to take your time and perhaps group things together to see the broader picture and maybe make a bigger change down the road. For Reid, that’s the distinction between a product manager and a project manager. “When you’re a product manager, you have to do all these trade-offs and say, ‘Okay, how do I understand what value this can deliver and in what order should I deliver that value?’”

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk product, community, and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt, and today we have Vice President of Trailhead Mobile, the one and only Reid Carlberg, here to tell us about how the partnership between Apple and Salesforce led to Trailhead GO, and what he learned through the process that I believe is very relevant for admins. I'm super excited to have Reid on the podcast, so let's get him on the podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: So Reid, welcome to the podcast.

Reid Carlberg: Thanks Mike. It's nice to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: I think it's been a while, actually. The last time you were on it, was ye old days of the Button Click Admin Podcast, so let's do a quick catch up on some of the stuff that you're working on at Salesforce now.

Reid Carlberg: Sure. It has been a long time. Let's see. What am I working on these days? So these days I'm largely out of the evangelism group, and instead of that, which is what I was working on last time I was here, but instead of that I'm working on product management, and I am bringing to life a new and exciting product called Trailhead GO.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, wow. So I think that's something we should talk about. And on top of it, just being a new product, you are helping bring something to life, which is a lot of what admins do. They bring concepts to life, they bring new apps to users. I think this will tie in really nice and it gives us an opportunity to talk about something really fun that people have in their hands literally as we talk right now.

Reid Carlberg: Yeah. I'm hoping that everyone who's listening has had a chance to install Trailhead GO on their iOS device, because it is a super cool app.

Mike Gerholdt: If not, we have a link in the show notes, so you can click it, because you're right on your phone, and if you're like me, you're probably walking your dog doing it anyway. I do. I consume an incredible amount of podcasts walking my dog. I should be thinner because of it, but I'm not.

Reid Carlberg: You know, I listened to two episodes of the Salesforce Admins Podcast today while walking my dogs. One for each dog.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Good. Apparently maybe I should take a poll of how many dogs people have so that we know how many episodes will be to release.

Reid Carlberg: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. So let's talk about Trailhead GO.

Reid Carlberg: Okay. What do you want to know about it?

Mike Gerholdt: Well, you said "bring to life." Let's start there.

Reid Carlberg: Okay. So when I talk about bringing it to life, what I really mean is this whole process that came about on Team Trailhead really starting at Dreamforce last year. So if you were at Dreamforce last year or you've watched any of the keynotes or you paid attention to any of the news, you know that we announced this great strategic partnership that we're kicking off with Apple. Apple and Salesforce share a number of core values, including really putting the customer at the center of everything and making sure that we're making a positive difference in people's lives, and one of the things that we really wanted to do was we wanted to create a great mobile experience for people who wanted to skill up for the future, and that's really where Trailhead GO started. So starting really right after Dreamforce last year, I got to kick off a team, kickoff an architecture, work on bringing all the pieces together that would actually result in the app that we announced earlier this week.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Okay. There's a lot to unpack just in that part there. If you were a Salesforce admin, you're hearing this, Reid had a lot of moving parts at the very beginning of a project. What was the first thing you learned about a lot of moving parts and kicking off a project?

Reid Carlberg: Well, one of the things that I found myself thinking about as we were talking about you and I maybe getting together and sharing this story a little bit is an experience that I've heard a lot of admins relate, where they were kind of handed something, and they got to take this thing, in their case a lot of times at Salesforce, and help understand what people really wanted out of it, and try and figure out how they could launch it out and make it successful for the group. And for me, when Sarah Franklin came to me and said, "Hey, are you interested in helping us build this mobile app?" First of all, the answer was yes, but I really didn't know what saying yes to that project would mean, and so I had to go and really unravel and figure out lots about what it would take to bring this app to life. Just like honestly I think a lot of admins, when they're sort of given Salesforce and they're kind of trying to figure out, "Okay, well how do I do this?" That's what I had to do with the mobile app.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. I think you're spot on. Exactly. So you said yes, and there's a lot of moving parts going. What's kind of that next event horizon that you hit?

Reid Carlberg: So at Salesforce, the big thing that you have to do is you have to create a presentation, and this presentation becomes a walking around deck, and it doesn't really show exactly what the product is going to be, but it will show you a lot of aspects of what the product could be. And so I created a short deck. I really like to have shorter decks. Some people have 20 slide decks or 30 slide decks, something like that, that go into a lot of detail. But for me, I really wanted to focus on the high level what success would look like if we put out a great app that people could use to really get into Trailhead content wherever they happen to be. And it was maybe eight, 10 slides, something like that, and it really focused around what difference we thought it could make if we were successful. And so I had to shop that around to a number of people. I had to get some executive buy-in, make sure that it was aligned with what Sarah was thinking, make sure it was aligned with what other leaders within the Trailhead team were thinking, presented at a couple of all hands, and along the way, I want to point out, I learned a ton about what people really expected from a mobile app with Trailhead just with inside Salesforce. So that was really step one for me.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Okay. So you win because new buzzword for me is "walking around deck." Like I've been shopping, I have been talking about Salesforce administration by walking around Saba. You remember that?

Reid Carlberg: Oh, yeah. Totally.

Mike Gerholdt: I like taking Saba to the next level by having a walking around deck like that. That to me, I love that term. I love what you said. I want to know, how did you figure out who to shop the deck to?

Reid Carlberg: I just really, I shared it to everybody. I think people got kind of sick of me, to be honest. But the thing is is when you're in a very collaborative environment, and Salesforce is very collaborative, and when you're also in an environment where a lot of times participation is ... I don't want to quite say voluntary, but really emotional engagement is totally voluntary, and that's what I think pretty much every environment that knowledge workers are in today really is. You have to go broad and wide, really, with whatever it is that you're pitching so that people can say, "Yes, I want. I've heard about it. Yes, I know what the vision is, and yes, I agree with this vision." And if you can get those three things, maybe a talk to a few extra people, great. But if you leave a key person out, that can be a big problem.

Mike Gerholdt: Now you mentioned feedback, and I think I know I struggled in my early days at Salesforce gathering feedback, because I kind of just assumed what I put out there was awesome and everybody should just say it's awesome and let me move on. I think you're very thoughtful in the manner in which you gather feedback, and so I'd love to know how did you gather some of this feedback as you were walking around with that deck, and what would your advice be for admins as they're making their walk around decks and gathering feedback?

Reid Carlberg: First of all, make sure you have a good breakfast. And I say that truthfully, because it can be kind of emotionally risky to take this thing that ... I'm like you, Mike, where I'll put something together and I fall in love with it, and I'm like, I've worked on this really hard. I know what this is. I understand exactly what we're going to do. This is the vision. But as soon as you start talking to people about it, you're going to get feedback about it, and of the feedback is going to be, "Yes, you're spot on," and some of the feedback is going to be, "You missed this thing," and some of the feedback is going to be, "No, you're wrong." And I had all feedback across all of those ranges, and it's fine, right? If you could accept that feedback and work it into the walking around deck or work it into your talk track or modify your plans honestly sometimes, that's the best thing to do. But you do have to be ready for it, because it can feel a little risky to show this thing that you've been working on to people. But if you don't, I mean if you don't show it, you're never going to be successful.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. I like the term "modify your plans." I think once you're headed down a path, much like traveling down the road, sometimes you hit road construction. You need to reroute. Was there ever a point in this process where you maybe hit some road construction and the reroute was actually something you didn't think of or you had to kind of modify your plans?

Reid Carlberg: Yes, completely. The entire time I was developing it. Basically every day of every week.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, good. Okay. Great.

Reid Carlberg: If you look at this particular product actually touches every team at Team Trailhead. It touches content. It touches the people who work on your web front end. It touches the people who do TV ID, and I don't want to get too much into the weeds, but this is the very definition of a cross-functional project. And so of course there's going to be things which frankly I don't know what the answer is to something. I don't know the right way to do something, but then there are also times when I don't even know that there is a right way to do something, and I haven't asked, and I don't know who the right people are, and so there's a whole discovery process exactly like that. It's been pretty fascinating.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Okay. So there could be road construction every other block. That's fine. That happens.

Reid Carlberg: Yeah. Think about it like Chicago in the summertime or the I-70 project that we have going on in Denver right now. It's construction everywhere.

Mike Gerholdt: Perpetual. Perpetual, right?

Reid Carlberg: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: So we talked about having a walking around deck, which I'm super, super a fan of at this point now. I want to go back in time with my DeLorean and make a whole bunch of walking around decks for all the apps that I've failed at. But sometimes I would walk in two different departments that would ask me to quote-unquote "demo Salesforce" and I would have a blank sheet of paper because sometimes demoing the app isn't what they're asking for. And I guess what I'm getting at is user research, right? Like, how do you make sure that your sales person at 11:00 at night in Toledo, Ohio, eating a cold piece of pizza, isn't struggling to fill out an opportunity before the quarter ends?

Reid Carlberg: So first of all, I'm going to do a shout out to Toledo. I haven't been there in a while, but it is one of my favorite cities. It used to be a city that I had to stop in when I was a sales rep, way back in the day, believe it or not. But it's a good question. How do you help people get an idea of what it is that they really want, and what does that process look like to you as a product owner?

Reid Carlberg: And I'll tell you what we did. So we had that walking around deck where we basically aligned internally on what we thought the app should do. But at Salesforce, we really do want to make sure that we talk to customers as much as we can ahead of time, and so we took that walking around deck, we enhanced it a little bit, right? But we weren't actually working on an app that we built. We were working on drawings of an app that we built, and then we put out a call to see if anybody might be interested in talking through some ideas that we had and sharing their opinions, and we had plenty of people step up, which was great, and we just talked to them. We talked to them for 15 or 20 minutes a piece. We had trailblazers at all different levels in their journey. Some people were rangers, some people were double rangers, some people had 10 badges, and we talked to some people that were still just very much getting started in terms of trying to understand what Salesforce is and what the Salesforce opportunity is.

Reid Carlberg: And what that gave us was that gave us evidence. And so if we spent 15 minutes talking to somebody about a drawing, we were able to then say, "Okay. We understand this is important and this is not important." So for example, one of the conversations that's been an ongoing thread for the entire time that we've been developing this app is, "What type of content can we show?"

Reid Carlberg: So if you've already installed the app, you already know that we focus on the ability to complete multiple choice quizzes, but we don't have the ability to complete hands-on challenges. And that was a very conscious choice. You can't really do a hands-on challenge within a mobile form factor, so that's the easy part of the choice. But the harder part of the choice is the fact that we still show you the content that has the hands-on challenges, and that decision was a direct result of user research. What users told us, every user up and down, was that even if they couldn't complete the challenge on the mobile device, they wanted to see all the content. And so that's an example of where that user research early on helped us have some evidence for this decision, which we had to make over and over again as we developed the product.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. So you had a walking around deck. We hit some road construction. I'm curious, because I run into this when I'm building apps. At what point did you actually start showing the app? Right? Because we had the demo and we kind of had working through different communication styles, which I'll be honest with you, as an admin, going to different departments, they have different terms. You have to learn how they consume information. At what point did you start showing people the final product or a version of the final product to get their feedback?

Reid Carlberg: Really as soon as I could. As soon as there was anything that I could actually show to somebody, I tried to figure out who might be interested in it and go show it to them to try and get their feedback again. And so I think the first thing we actually showed was when we did some very basic work with TD ID. That's how everybody logs in, and as soon as I could prove that we could log in and get something, I wanted to show that off to people so that they could see that we're making progress on it. And so that process really started several months before we released it, and it continued on a very regular basis right up through when we released it earlier this week.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh wow. Okay. So we've hit a lot of event horizons throughout all of this process. I think pulling back and kind of thinking through for admins, as you work on an app and you run through different things, was there either something that you're going to move as a value or something? "Hey, I always want to make sure I'm doing this in my next project," that you've kind of gleamed out of doing this on the Trailhead GO project?

Reid Carlberg: That's a good question. I think probably the biggest thing that I learned is how to think across different timescales. I spent a lot of my life as an evangelist, and I spent a lot of my life really thinking about, "Okay, how do I go to this event and show this demo and give this talk, and how do I do this for the next event and everything else?" And that's great, but it tends to be a little bit more short term thinking. About as far ahead as we would think is we'd think towards kind of the next big event, whether that's Dreamforce or TDX or something like that.

Reid Carlberg: One of the things that's been very interesting for me as I get into the Trailhead product organization and the Trailhead team in general is moving that focus kind of outside of that shorter term thinking, and trying to make sure that I'm planning not just for this release, but what is coming up for the next release, and what's coming up for the next release, so that I can have that longer term conversation and make sure that when there's an opportunity to pick some low hanging fruit, maybe there's an opportunity to update an API or maybe there's an opportunity to update some content in a particular way, I can talk about that and I can socialize that opportunity early so it's not something that we discover kind of at the end. That's definitely something that has really stood out to me as important and is something that I'm going to take with me forever.

Mike Gerholdt: So let's kind of pull off the highway a little bit and dig into that, because I think once you release something, and I've done this with roll-outs, you spend a lot of your energy kind of, I'll call it fighting fires, right? Like the daily, "I can't do this," or, "I thought this field should be there." And it can be hard to transition to that, "I got to think three months out. I got to think six months out." How do you compartmentalize? What's your advice for, how do I balance the everyday fires versus the, "I have to plan for this, because in six months this is going to happen"?

Reid Carlberg: So first of all, I really appreciate the car metaphor, so let's keep those coming. That's one of the things I enjoy about talking to you, is I feel like it brings out the metaphors in me. I actually like to think about ... I like to choose some words carefully for my own sanity, right? So there are such things as fires which pop up that I have to put out, but if I think about those as fires, it can have a tendency to get me sort of worked up and have a sense of urgency, which may be merited, or I can start to think about things not necessarily as fires, but I can think about things as opportunities. So I get some feedback and then I can decide what to do with that feedback.

Reid Carlberg: And so maybe that piece of feedback is, "Oh my gosh. Everything is on fire, and you need to stop everything you're doing right now and think about this." Or maybe what I'm getting is I'm getting a piece of feedback that I can group together with other pieces of feedback, and then I can sit back and start to have a rational evaluation of where this feedback is kind of being grouped together and the relative importance of this.

Reid Carlberg: I think that's actually a key trait of, I want to call it a product manager versus a project manager, right? Is when you're a product manager you have to really do all these trade offs and say, "Okay, how do I understand what value this can deliver and what order I should deliver that value in?" And project managers I think have the same thing, but it's a little bit different I think mindset, because you're thinking, on a product, you're thinking about this longterm time horizon. Like, "Where do we want to be with this in three years?" And a lot of times on a project you're thinking about, "Okay, how do I get to the next milestone and how do I get to the next milestone after that?" Both are super useful. Both are super necessary. Slightly different lenses.

Mike Gerholdt: I never actually thought of it that way, and that's valuable insight. So we're, as this episode drops, in the heart of Dreamforce, right? And there's a good group of people that are there, a good group of people that unfortunately didn't make it. I want to dig into ... This is obviously something on your radar of talking about the app that you released, and admins do that as well. What would your advice be for, much in the same way that you created a walking around deck, as this product has come to life, how did you shop it around and make sure that people were aware of, "Hey, I did more than just create a walking around deck"?

Reid Carlberg: So it's transitioned from a walking around deck to a walking around product.

Mike Gerholdt: Well that's good.

Reid Carlberg: Of course I have the product on my phone, and I can guarantee you I've shown everybody I've run into at Dreamforce about it, but I think the way to think about this is, having something that you've completed and worked on and that you're releasing out into the wild doesn't mean that it's perfect. It doesn't mean that you're not going to get feedback on it, but you should definitely have a sense of pride in it. If you have a sense of pride in it and you're really willing to go out and say, "Listen, we built this thing."

Reid Carlberg: And I want to be clear, so you and I are talking about this today, but as I opened up with, this is really a cross cutting concern. It really touches almost every aspect of the Trailhead organization, and I am blown away by the quality of talent who has participated in this team. It is just absolutely amazing, and I love showing off their work. I absolutely love taking it out and showing it off to anybody, and whatever feedback they have is fantastic. Good, bad or otherwise, it's great feedback for that kind of longer term feature horizon that I'm thinking about, but I just love showing it off. So for every admin out there who's ever built an app, whether you're customizing a page layout or whether you're building something which is a really robust app automating a giant process, show it off, be proud of it, and when somebody has some feedback on it, take the feedback, take it with a smile and figure out you know how you're going to incorporate that next. That would be my advice.

Mike Gerholdt: I like it. I like it. Well, Reid, this was fabulous. I think I gathered a whole bunch about product and project management. I know you're on Twitter and I think your name changes about every other day. Do you do that on purpose?

Reid Carlberg: Yeah, my Twitter handle stays the same. You can always find me at @ReidCarlberg, but I do have some fun with changing what the description of that handle is. So I actually don't even know what it is today, so you can always go up and find out, and if you have suggestions about what I should change my name to, you should let me know.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, great. And we talked a lot about Trailhead GO and the amazing partnership between Salesforce and Apple. How do people get Trailhead GO on their phone?

Reid Carlberg: You can get Trailhead GO by going to the App Store and just searching for Trailhead GO.

Mike Gerholdt: Perfect. Thanks so much for being on the podcast, Reid.

Reid Carlberg: Yeah. Thanks for having me. This was great.

Mike Gerholdt: Congratulations to Reid and the entire Trailhead Mobile team. Trailhead GO is now alive, so don't forget to check the show notes for the iOS link to get started right now. Let's start by highlighting a good point that he made, in that product managers and project managers are often very similar but also very different in the way that they think about timelines, milestones, and success. Product managers need to start by understanding what value that product can deliver to the users and in what order they want to deliver those values. We want our products to last a lifetime as admins, so with that mindset of meeting those milestones can be stretched to think longterm, "What will this product be in three to five years?"

Mike Gerholdt: Now another thing. Feedback is also important and it can be a little bit of a bump in the road. The way that a product manager handles feedback is what will set off the project. You can take the feedback, apply it to your new amazing walk around decks and talk tracks. By the way, I love walk around decks. I love that idea. Don't ever be nervous to talk to people about the product or app that you're creating, and gather that user feedback at whatever stage, and of course, be like Reid and always show off that app. Be proud of what you've created and continue to keep learning and growing with your idea.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, if you want to learn more about Trailhead or Trailhead GO, make sure to go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can also stay up to date with us on social, as many of you do already. We are at @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. You can of course find me. I am at @MikeGerholdt, and Reid is also on Twitter. Who knows what his name will be, but you can find him at @ReidCarlberg. That's R-E-I-D-C-A-R-L-B-E-R-G. Stay tuned for the next episode and we'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: Trailhead_GO__From_Idea_to_App_Store_with_Reid_Carlberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Josie Chiles, VP of Admin Relations at Salesforce, to go over everything that’s coming for Dreamforce ‘19 and how you can keep in the loop no matter where you are.

Join us as we talk about how we’re bringing the UN Sustainable Development Goals to life at Dreamforce, what you can expect to find on the Admin Meadow, and how you can keep up with all the great content from home.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Josie Chiles.

Business as a platform for change.

As you’re listening to this episode, you’re probably already on the way to Dreamforce. This year, we’re really thinking carefully about the footprint that we have on San Francisco in hosting such a large event. We’re bringing the UN Sustainable Development Goals to Dreamforce, both across campus and specifically in the Trailhead Zone.

Josie Chiles leads Admin Relations at Salesforce, a team that includes Mike and all the other Amazing Admin Evangelists as well as the marketing side of the equation. Although she’s been with Salesforce for five years, this will be her first Dreamforce heading up the Admin Relations. “As Marc says, business is a platform for change,” she says, “and I think that we’re bringing that to life in new ways and really thinking about who we are and why we do what we do and what the impact is.”

What’s new for Dreamforce 2019.

“The first thing we want you to do when you walk into the Admin Meadow is to share with us what it means to be an admin,” Josie says. We’re really interested in all the different ways that admins are having a major impact on their communities.

This year, we’re also adding something new: one-on-one consults. “You can have a 30-minute consult with an expert and really dive into whatever challenges you’re trying to solve,” Josie says. There are a ton of exciting people signed up, including the one and only Mike Gerholdt and the rest of the Admin Evangelist team. 

We’re also adding even more slots to the Admin Theater, with 67 total slots including sessions in other theaters. Most importantly, this year we’re repeating about 15% of the content so if you miss a session and it has a (1) or (2) behind it you have a chance to catch it again. There are also 82 breakout sessions you can attend, curated by Marc Baizman. That includes Org Security Fundamentals with Laura Pelkey from last year, and Formulas for the Everyday Admin with Steve Molis, Deepa Patel, and Geoffrey Flynn for the fifth year in a row.

Don’t miss the Admin Keynote, no matter where you are.

Of course, the event you should absolutely not miss is the Admin Keynote: Transform Your Company, Career, and Community. It’s November 21st in Moscone North. It jammed packed with product news, amazing demos, and how these new tools can really make a difference in your office and in your community.

If you’re not able to make it to Dreamforce in person, there are a lot of resources to bring all of the excitement to you wherever you are. For starters, follow #DF19 to get all of the latest Dreamforce information, as well as #awesomeadmin for, well, admins. There will also be livestreaming on Facebook, including the keynote so you don’t miss a beat. And even if you can’t experience it live, you’ll get content straight from Dreamforce to your local user group and on admin.salesforce.com.

Make sure to listen in for even more tips about Dreamforce, including Josie’s footwear recs. It’s sure to be an amazing weekend, so we hope to see you there!

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Full Show Transcript

Mike: Welcome to the Salesforce Admin podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt and today-

Josie: Mike, this is Josie. We are minutes away from Dreamforce, and I really can't think about anything else. Can we just jump into what's top of mind and start talking Dreamforce?

Mike: You're right. We got to stop the presses and just change everything up, because Dreamforce is like hours away. By the time you're listening to this episode, you're probably getting on a plane to come out to San Francisco. So I'm with you, Josie. Let's record scratch this whole thing and talk Dreamforce.

Josie: Awesome.

Mike: So Josie, for anybody that's not familiar with who you are, it's been a couple of years since you were on the podcast. What have you been up to?

Josie: Sure. So I am Josie Chiles, and I lead admin relations here at Salesforce. So this is my amazing team of Mike, and the evangelists, as well as the fantastic marketing team. I've been at Salesforce a little over five years and led AppExchange marketing for most of that time. And I've been doing admin since January. So very excited for my first Dreamforce as the lead of admin relations.

Mike: Oh, it's going to be great. So let's start talking Dreamforce, and let's go big and think about all of the goals and really cool stuff that we're doing for Dreamforce this year.

Josie: Yes. So one of the really exciting things that we've been working on is how we can bring the UN sustainable development goals to life at Dreamforce. So there are 17 goals, and they're really how we should think about the future, and how we can really work together to make the future better for all generations to come. And so we are focusing on quite a few of those goals both across campus as well as in the Trailhead Zone where we're going to bring them to life in a really interesting way.

Mike: Ooh. Can you share any of those really interesting ways with us?

Josie: Can we share any? I think that it's a little bit of a surprise, but I will say that we do have a customer in our admin keynote that is doing some really fantastic things around the goal of life below water. And I'm very excited to share all that, because we've become very huge fans of this particular endeavor here at Salesforce. And so I'm excited to share that piece.

Mike: I love it. And I love to see how we at Dreamforce are really grabbing everything that we can in thinking about the footprint that we have on San Francisco and in the world with reusing everything. I know I always carry a water bottle with me, because we have all those water refill stations. So I'm excited to see how all of our goals are being met this year.

Josie: No, it's totally true. It will come through Dreamforce, and I think we really, as Mark says, "Business is a platform for change." And I think that we're bringing that to life in new ways, and really thinking about who we are and why we do what we do and what the impact is.

Mike: Cool. All right, so admin gets off a plane, gets checked into their hotel, and they probably get registered and get their badge. I'm going to say first stop is perhaps the admin meadow. So let's start our journey of admin awesomeness there.

Josie: Yes. So you walk into the admin meadow and the first thing that we want you to do is to share with us what it means to be an admin. So we really want to crowdsource a definition of what it means to be an admin and listen to all the ways that you think admins are having impact in their company, in their career and in their communities. So come share your words with us, and you'll be able to share that on Twitter as well. So even if you're not in person, you can follow along with us at home.

Mike: Very cool. And I'm so excited for how we have that set up. I can't wait to see it in person.

Josie: Yes, me too. It's always fun when the thing that we dream up in the conference room comes to life. And I think this is a particularly exciting one.

Mike: Now we'll also have demo booths, same as last year, but not same, because we do things a little different. So you'll be able to get hands on with product in admin zone and throughout the Trailhead Zone as well. But we're also doing something a little bit different in the admin meadow with one-on-one consults.

Josie: Yes, exactly. So if you have those burning questions, you can come to the admin meadow. You can have a 30 minute consult with an expert and really dive into whatever challenges you're trying to solve. So we think this is an exciting way to get those questions answered, and to be able to go back to your office on Monday and show off, or probably Tuesday, right? Everybody needs a little bit of a break. Go back on Tuesday and show off all that that you've learned and bring that impact back right away.

Mike: It's going to be great. And we have some really fabulous people signed up for the consults. I know all of our evangelists team signed up, so you might get a slot where you can sit down and talk with me. Who knows?

Josie: That would be pretty lucky.

Mike: It would be wonderful. Be exciting. So in addition of course the big jewel in the admin meadow is the admin theater, and we have a ton of sessions signed up for the admin theater as well. In fact, Josie, you helped us get some sessions in another theater as well. So we actually have 67 total theater slots this year, which is up from last year because we do have some sessions that will be in other theaters. So make sure you look at the admin role in agenda builder.

Josie: Yeah, we worked really hard on that, or you worked really hard on putting out that call for proposals, and we got so much incredible content back that we were able to make a really great case for why we needed even more spaces here for all of the awesomeness. So I'm very excited to be expanding our footprint a little bit and making sure that we can make even more of that content available, because there's just so much fantastic knowledge in this community and it all needs to be shared.

Mike: It does. And we're doing something unique this year for the theater in that we're repeating 15% of the content. So if you miss a session, there's an option for it to be repeated later. So make sure you look at the title of the session. If it's got a Prinz one or a Prinz two behind it, it means it's going to be repeated. So that's something that we used to do for breakouts only, and we're doing it for our theater sessions this year. So that should help kind of give you more options to get to all of the sessions. And speaking of which, we have 82 breakout sessions. So [Mark Baseman 00:06:39] on the team has done a really great job of curating all of the speakers and getting all of the sessions together as well as making sure that we have a good breadth of topic choices for admins.

Mike: And there will be some sessions, second floor, Moscone West and up at the Hilton, because we can't fit everything all in one location. But I want to give a shout out for a couple sessions that I think people will be very excited for. So Org Security Fundamentals with Laura Pelkey, we'll be back from last year. She's refreshed it. Laura is on our security team. You've probably seen her at world tours and also fifth year in a row. Formulas for the Everyday Admin is returning with Salesforce MVP, Steve Moelis, Deepa Patel, and Jeffrey Flynn. This session was incredibly well attended last year, in fact, every year. And it will be repeated this year, so make sure it's on your agenda. So wow, we've covered a lot. We've booked through the meadow and we've given some highlights on the track. But I think, Josie, the must attend event for an admin at Dreamforce is the admin keynote. Why don't we talk a little bit about that?

Josie: Yeah, it's got to be the keynote. So this is Salesforce for admin keynote, Transform Your Company, Career and Community. It is November 21st in Moscone North at 5:00 PM, so this is the capstone of your Dreamforce experience. And it is going to be fun, fun, fun with also a lot of really good product news and amazing demos. I know Mike, you're going to be on stage doing an amazing demo, so that's fantastic. And we're just really excited to have Parker back as our host this year and bring all of the fantastic news and everything to life for admins, and sort of show how all that you've learned at Dreamforce so far can be brought back to your offices and really make a difference again in your company, in your career and in your community.

Mike: Yeah, I think the best part about a keynote for us is the level of excitement. I know it tops up my battery every year.

Josie: Yeah, I can't wait. This'll be my first time on stage in the admin keynote, and I am really counting down the days because I'm so excited to see all of the faces out in the audience, and to be able to bring all that energy. It's such a special and unique keynote. It's a real privilege to be able to be on stage for it and I'm very excited to bring it to life.

Mike: It's going to be fun. Okay. So we've talked a lot about the onsite experience. Let's talk about if you're not able to make it to Dreamforce.

Josie: Yes. And we definitely want to make sure that whether you are in person or online, that there is a lot to experience. I would say the first thing to do is to start following the #DF19. That's going to get you all of the latest Dreamforce information, and you'll really be able to see what's happening across campus that way. And then of course for admins, #awesomeadmin is where all of our information is going to be. And that's where you can participate in what's happening in the den, get a lot of the news that's happening across campus, and see some of the highlights as they're happening in real time.

Josie: But it's more than that. We will be on Facebook live streaming key moments. So you'll be able to experience content that way. And the keynote that we just talked about will also be live streamed. So no need to miss out. You just have to mark your calendar for 5:00 PM Pacific on the 21st, and you'll be able to experience it wherever you are.

Mike: Very cool.

Josie: And Mike, do you want to talk about how people can experience it through Global Gatherings? Because there's so many other ways to experience it.

Mike: Just what I was going to bring up. I was going to say, so even if you're unable to make it to some of the things as they're happening live, a lot of the content after Dreamforce will be coming right to your user groups. So I know Mark on our team has been working directly with some presenters to make sure that their content is also brought to the team that will package it together and send it out to the user groups as part of the Global Gatherings. So if you aren't already a part of your user group, go to your user group and make sure you know when the next meeting is, because most likely, I think it's January, Josie, that all of the Global Gatherings content will come out. So you'll be able to get a lot of the content that was shared at Dreamforce. In addition for admin, we are also going to highlight some content on admin.salesforce.com

Josie: That's right. Both during Dreamforce, so we will be breaking news as it happens on edmund.salesforce.com as well as blogs after Dreamforce highlighting some of the key things that we learned, top sessions, really interesting information. And then also we will have a fantastic trail mix so you can go and get hands on with all of the new products that there are to learn about and the key things that we were talking about at Dreamforce.

Mike: So many. Okay, so we've covered keynote, meadow, track, the theater, the really cool things to do inside the meadow. Let's send them on their way. If you're an admin, and you're listening to this podcast, maybe getting ready to walk into Dreamforce tomorrow. What are some of your tips, Josie? How many Dreamforces have you been to?

Josie: So this is my sixth Dreamforce, which means that I've got a few tips up my sleeve. Let's see. My number one tip is to wear different shoes every day. I think that the key mistake that people make, even if your shoes are comfortable, is wearing the same pair of shoes every day. So move your foot around, get some new experiences. Feel the discomfort in new ways.

Mike: Yes. I will attest to that. I brought one pair of shoes with me once to a South by Southwest and man, I regretted it. Almost bought a new pair.

Josie: Yeah, exactly. One of my favorite pieces of swag that someone gave out in the campground one year, or in the expo one year, were insoles for your shoes. On Friday morning, they were all just standing there with insoles for your shoes. And I think that was the best that they knew their audience. They were ready for our needs. So that's piece number one. I think piece number two is really take it all in. There's a lot to see at Dreamforce, and I always encourage my team to spend some time, block it on your calendar, just to walk around and see what people are doing, see the different areas. You've got to kind of make that checklist of places that you want to go check out. But there's so many different opportunities to learn. And of course I'm very biased, and I would love for everybody to spend all that time in the admin theater, but that's part of why we're repeating those sessions, right? So that you have the opportunity to go explore and see what's happening across campus.

Mike: I couldn't agree more, and I would add to that by also saying kind of know your limits a little bit. It can be a lot to take in, and you can have some pretty long days. I think I've logged probably close to 23 miles over the four days of Dreamforce, so it's quite a bit of walking.

Josie: That is a lot of walking. That goes back to the shoes, but also with our focus on sustainable development goals, have your water bottle, use your reusables, stay hydrated, all that good advice. But I think, to me, Dreamforce is absolutely my favorite time of the year, and I truly love it. It does have all of the feels for me. It's so exciting to be there and see everyone, see people experiencing new things and get to experience it all together. So I think it's just also relaxing into it, having fun, taking it all in.

Mike: Yeah. And I would say as an admin, think about what you can also bring back for your users. So I know oftentimes I would think about pens or just anything that was given out that maybe I didn't need but I could use to hand out to my users to drive adoption. So there's always that to think about.

Josie: And also content. Right? What are those key things that you're learning that you can take back? I think it's always smart to start to think about the content and this is what I can do this week. This is what I can do this year. This is what I can do starting next year, right? That there's going to be all different types of information that you'll get and breaking it into, "Okay, this is something that I can do right away that's going to have that big impact."

Josie: I think what you don't want to do is go back to your desk Monday and say, "Wow, that was a lot. Where do I start?" And it's easier to start to think about where to get started as you're hearing it. Then when you go back, and you're looking at all that pile of information. So we're thinking about that too and thinking about ways to help make sure that that you can start to think about how to go from what you've learned into putting it into action. And that's where the trail mix and the blogs and the recordings, all the things that we'll be sharing after Dreamforce will also come in handy.

Mike: I like it. Well, Josie, we are hours away from Dreamforce so I'm just going to wrap everything up and just remind people, because you just spoke of resources that you can go to admin.salesforce.com to find all the resources we talked about including additional blog posts and podcasts if you want to listen to them. They're always great when you're on a plane. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @salesforceadmns on Twitter, no I. You can find myself. I am @mikegerholdt, and Josie, you're on Twitter. You are?

Josie: I'm @josiec211

Mike: Easy enough to remember. So with that, stay tuned for our next episode. It comes out the Thursday of Dreamforce. I promise you, you won't want to miss it, and we'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: Get_Ready_for_Dreamforce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. For this episode, we’re talking to Anne Young, Senior Community Engagement Manager at Salesforce.org, to learn how to build your community both online and off.

Join us as we talk about how to plug into your community both online and offline, why all questions are good, and how you can think like a community manager as an admin.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Anne Young.

 Building communities online and offline.

Anne is the Senior Community Engagement Manager at Salesforce.org, working with nonprofit and education customers, both higher ed and K-12, who use the platform to run their day-to-day operations better. That can be everything from fundraising to student success to program management. “The way I see my job is I help our community members to help each other,” Anne says, and to do that she leverages the Power of Us Support Hub.

“A consultant is a very expensive, wonderful thing that we have available to our Salesforce customers,” Anne says, “but not all of our customers are able to keep somebody on retainer and help them every day so if I am an admin at a small nonprofit I look at my other admins at small nonprofits as my coworkers and my water cooler folks who answer all my questions.” That’s not just about the Power of Us Hub, it’s also about fostering connections in the Trailblazer Community groups and in-person events like Dreamforce.

The day-to-day of a community manager.

“The Power of Us Hub is built on the Communities product, so we use a lot of the community moderation tools that are built within,” Anne says, “I find it very important to understand how our customers and how our community members are really engaging. Are they clicking from an email? Are they coming in to ask a question?” All of these metrics help Anne and her team figure out how to keep structuring things to keep things exciting and engaging.

“I always say that any community manager could really sit and just live in their community and answer questions and make sure everything’s perfect all day, every day,” Anne says, “but I think sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.” You always want to be thinking about what’s next, what the community is really asking for, or what trends you’re seeing in other communities. That’s also about curation of live events that are helpful to their customers that gives them access to smart people and new tools and, most importantly, learn from each other.

Why Anne loves helping nonprofit admins.

Anne and Marc were actually coworkers way back when, working together for several years at a San Francisco nonprofit. She got her start at Salesforce when she was on maternity leave and a former coworker reached out to see if she’d be interested in joining the sales team at Salesforce Foundation (now Salesforce.org). While ultimately that job wasn’t a great fit for her, the amazing thing about working for Salesforce is how invested everyone is in your career, not just what you’re doing for their department. Her manager connected her with the Power of Us Community team where she’s been working ever since.

“I remember how hard it was to work at a nonprofit, I remember how hard it was running programs when you’re under resourced and you have a bunch of reporting to do and you don't know what your next step is,” Anne says, “and I think that any way that I can make those peoples’ lives better is amazing.” If you’re a new admin trying to get involved in the community, Anne wants to remind of just how positive and supportive people are. “A lot of the people that are very active in our community are that way because they got something out of it early on,” she says, “they want to pay it forward so take the plunge and ask the question.”

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Full Show Transcript

Mark: Welcome to the Salesforce for Good Mini Series on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Mark Baizman, and I'm a senior admin evangelist here at Salesforce. Before I was an evangelist, I worked at Salesforce.org and in the nonprofit world, and I made many incredible connections with people doing amazing things with Salesforce technology and nonprofits, and I really want to share some of them with you.

Mark: In this podcast mini series, we'll be talking to a variety of folks in the Salesforce nonprofit ecosystem, including admins, architects, consultants, and Salesforce.org employees. By the end of the series, you'll learn what makes the nonprofit sector special, how Salesforce technology supports the missions of some amazing organizations that are making a huge impact, and you'll learn about the fantastic community of people that are making it happen. I'm really excited to talk with Anne Young, senior community engagement manager at Salesforce.org. Anne and I worked together during my time at dot org, and she has a lot of great insight into building community, both online and off. So without further ado, let's talk to Anne.

Mark: Hi Anne Young. How are you?

Anne: I'm good. Thanks for having me.

Mark: You bet. Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast. And can you tell me about what you do?

Anne: Absolutely. So my title here at Salesforce is senior community engagement manager, and my primary responsibility is working with our nonprofit and education customers, so that's both higher ed and K through 12, so the kiddos, working with organizations and schools that are using the Salesforce platform to run their day-to-day operations better. So that can be anything from fundraising to student success to program management, kind of depending on the organization's mission. And the way I see my job is I help our community members help each other. So I provide them with different opportunities to communicate, whether it be through the power of Us Hub, which is our online community for nonprofits and schools. They help each other be successful.

Anne: A consultant is a very expensive, wonderful thing that we have available to our Salesforce customers, but not all of our customers are able to keep somebody on retainer and help them every day. So if I am an admin at a small nonprofit, I look at my other admins at small nonprofits as my coworkers and my water cooler folks who answer all my questions. So we do that through the online community as well as working with the trailblazer community groups and at in-person events, like upcoming Dreamforce, and I find ways to facilitate that sense of community and really celebrate everything that they do.

Mark: Fantastic. That sounds amazing. So there's this online component and offline component, right? So it's kind of a cool melding of two worlds, if you will. Can you maybe share, I don't know if success story is the right answer or the right question, but something around people going from online to offline meeting?

Anne: Yeah, that's actually really interesting because my team and I just attended a community management summit last week that was very interesting. In the past, all of these conversations about community have been like, how to get people to engage with each other online and online and let's get people in these virtual rooms and working together, and there's really a resurgence and a throwback to, "Let's get together in a room. Let's get together in physical life and work together." So I think now online communities are a lot more about how to facilitate real life interactions.

Mark: Fascinating.

Anne: Yeah, yeah. It's pretty cool. It's like, "Hey, let's go back to block parties and in person meetings and really actually being together," which I think is cool. And yeah, in terms of a success story that we've had with our community, I see our Seattle nonprofit community group as a really cool example of people who are very active in our online community, but they also meet every month and do a lot of helping each other on the platform together. They do a lot of helping newer admins grow and learn and work on certifications together. And it's a really cool thing to see. We also work very closely with a group called Amplify.

Mark: Say more about Amplify.

Anne: Yeah. Amplify is amazing. I think we have about 3 to 5,000 members. I don't know. Do you have a fact checker on here? And they have chosen to use the Power of Us Hub as their home base where they connect, and they help amplify underrepresented voices in tech. So they started out-

Mark: Fantastic.

Anne: Yeah, absolutely. Such an important thing. They started out by working specifically with females to help to empower them to get jobs in technology and work in technology specifically around the Salesforce platform and within the Salesforce community. They found a very deeply committed group of people that were excited about the same things that they were and we've just gotten to have this really cool community within our community watching them grow. So yeah, in terms of both the online, they have this very strong online presence, a very active group and the Power of Us hub, and then they also do happy hours all over the country. Maybe even they've had world. I think there was one in London, maybe.

Mark: Oh, fantastic.

Anne: And they come to all of our in person events and usually have sub-meetings at those events. There are chapters all around the country for people to get together. They also do study groups for Salesforce certification exams, which is a really cool way to sit with a group of people virtually. I think some people do them in person too and study. I know for me, I'm not going to hold myself accountable to study for a test at this point in my life.

Mark: Not unless there's a group of people holding me accountable.

Anne: Yeah, exactly. So to have the group of people holding you accountable and helping you is really special and it's really kind of the core of what our community is all about is like, "Let's help each other succeed. Let's help each other achieve our missions."

Mark: That's so great.

Anne: It's great to be a part of. Yeah.

Mark: That's magic. So what does the kind of day-to-day look like in terms of community management? I know we've also spoken with your teammate Lizzie, but maybe if you could share a little bit about what happens. How are you using the Salesforce tools? Because I believe it's a Salesforce community, right, the Power of Us Hub?

Anne: Yeah. The Power of Us hub is built on the community's product. So yeah, we use a lot of the community moderation tools that are built within. A lot of that is used to pull metrics and find out what's going on in our community. I find it very important to understand how our customers and how our community members are really engaging. Are they clicking in from an email? Are they coming in to ask a question? Are they accessing a knowledge article? Those are all really important ways for myself and my team to figure out, how do we keep structuring things and how do we keep it an exciting day?

Anne: In terms of my day-to-day job, I always say that any community manager could really sit and just live in their community and answer questions and make sure everything's perfect all day, every day. There is plenty going on in a thriving community for that to happen, but I think sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. What's next? What is this community really asking for? What are the trends that we're seeing in other communities? and go to things like that.

Anne: Also, I work very closely with the rest of our customer success team to help find events that are helpful to our customers in terms of how can we give them ways to access really smart people and really smart tools and learn from each other, so that's something that we are building upon. We've actually been working very closely with our pro-bono team at Salesforce to do some lightning success clinics.

Mark: Great.

Anne: Say that 10 times fast. And those have been a really cool way to see people get together. But yeah, I would say no day really looks the same. We are very deep into right now planning a really wonderful experience for our community and our customers at Dreamforce to help them be successful on the platform, so that's one big thing on my plate. And one thing that's sort of been top of mind for my team is, how do we incorporate a global community? How do we be better at including people from all around the world? There's a lot that falls into that, time zones and languages and just general use of technology and preferences and all sorts of different things, so there's a lot. There's a lot to do every day.

Mark: Is the Power of Us hub English only right now or are there a couple of languages in there?

Anne: I believe we have a French language group. We have a very thriving Spanish language group-

Mark: Oh, that's great.

Anne: ... that actually has some subgroups and some of our community members have taken on to start those groups and to kind of community manage those groups within the greater community. And it's been really great when a question will come in in Spanish and my high school Spanish does not really suffice.

Mark: Nor does Google translate, I imagine.

Anne: Nor does Google Translate seem to really understand Salesforce terminology with regard to that. So it's great to have those community members that I know that I can tag and say, "Hey, can you help this person?" And they're excited to help them, which is really fun.

Mark: That's great. It's interesting. Your role as a community manager sounds a lot like being a Salesforce admin where you're trying to anticipate the needs of users, give people what they want, make sure people are connecting with each other, anointing super users or sub-community managers within the community.

Anne: Absolutely.

Mark: So that's great.

Anne: Yeah, we actually have a program within the community called Hub Heroes where we award people a status of a hero if they're kind of going in a lot and and helping each other and really being valuable to the greater community. And we write a blog about them and we consider it a great way to kind of work toward other things like becoming a Salesforce MVP or other things that people are excited about.

Mark: Oh, that's fantastic. I love the idea of recognizing heroes. What's that, monthly?

Anne: Yeah, the goal is monthly and sometimes we skip a month.

Mark: Sure. Ideally monthly. I get it.

Anne: Yeah.

Mark: Cool. I'd love to hear maybe a little bit about how you came into this role and what your journey is. I believe you were at a nonprofit previously. Full disclosure to everyone, Anne and I were on the same team and were, I guess, work spouses for [crosstalk 00:11:33].

Anne: Yeah, we were each other's only coworkers for-

Mark: Yeah, for quite a while.

Anne: A year, two years, maybe?

Mark: Yeah, a couple of years.

Anne: Yeah. At the time my daughter was about three and she would always grab my laptop and say, "Shh, I'm talking to Mark."

Mark: That's awesome.

Anne: I was on the phone with you a lot. Yeah. So how did I get here? It's actually sort of a roundabout way. I was at a nonprofit prior to coming here that focused on workforce development here in San Francisco and I was actually a part of a small team at that nonprofit that was working on our transition to Salesforce from-

Mark: Awesome.

Anne: ... many, many disparate systems we were on. We had a lot of government contracts, so it was a really complicated build and it was really interesting to be a part of it. I had very little technical expertise or knowledge. It was kind of just like, as it goes at nonprofits, like, "You're here, you're helping, pull up your bootstraps." So that was a really cool experience. I loved working in workforce development. I found it very rewarding and very interesting. That's always something that's been top of mind for me. I think living in a city like San Francisco where you see such disparity in wealth and such disparity in people's lifestyles and the things that people want to do, it's really important to find a way to build people up and give them opportunities, and I found that to be a really great place to work.

Anne: How I ended up here was actually-

Mark: Yeah, so take us on the journey from being at this organization to getting to Salesforce.

Anne: So I have a six year old daughter named Gigi and I was on maternity leave and had made the decision to take some time off and wasn't going to go back to the nonprofit where I was and was kind of reevaluating what I wanted to do with my life, and a former coworker from the nonprofit where I was had reached out to me and he said, "I am selling at Salesforce.org," or it was Salesforce Foundation at the time, and I was like, "What do you mean you sell at a foundation?" And he was like, "Well, we give away these 10 free licenses to nonprofit customers and I get to have these really cool conversations about what nonprofits are doing and what their missions are and then I help them get this donation and then buy more things and get more products that really help them achieve their mission." And he said, "They're really in need of more salespeople. You should come meet my manager."

Anne: And to me, that was just not something I had thought of doing. I was a new mom. I was at home with the baby, and I was like, "I've always worked in nonprofit." I was kind of just trying to figure out my next step, but I really trust this person and I really feel like he's someone that knows my skill set and had my best interest at heart, so I gave it a shot. I came here, I had lunch with him and then met some of his teammates and then ended up in the interview process for a sales job at Salesforce Foundation at the time.

Mark: Do you want to give this person a shout-out?

Anne: Ryan Boyle, if you're listening.

Mark: Cool. Thanks Ryan.

Anne: Yeah, he now works with a Salesforce partner, but he was here for a number of years. I was in that sales job for about a year, and hats off to all of the salespeople at Salesforce.org and Salesforce.com. It's a challenging, challenging job. And while I feel like I was successful to an extent, I knew that my skill set would be better used in other parts of the company, and that's one thing that I think is so cool about working at Salesforce is that my manager was open to making introductions for me and helping me find something that was really cool, and that's when I got to know my current manager, Alicia Schmidt better. At the time, she was running the Power of Us hub and all things community for Salesforce.org, and her role was expanding and she needed someone to help her do that. She brought me in, and I've been on her team for a little over four years. So I've been at Salesforce ... My anniversary will be in November, my five year anniversary.

Mark: Happy Salesforce-versary.

Anne: Thank you, thank you. And it's just been a really cool experience. I definitely had some trepidation about, "Okay, am I going to get that same feeling of making a difference, of really seeing transformational change day-to-day?" And now my life is different. I'm leaving a kid at home and things like that that I didn't have at my prior job, and I do get that. I get to see it through our customers. I get to see the cool things they're doing. I get to see how our technology makes their day-to-day life easier, which I think is pretty incredible. I remember how hard it was to work at a nonprofit. I remember how hard it was running programs when you're under-resourced and you have a bunch of reporting to do and you don't know what your next step is. I think any way that I can make those people's lives better is amazing, and it's pretty cool to get to be a small part of that.

Mark: That's awesome. Wow. Thank you for taking us down that road and memory lane.

Anne: Totally.

Mark: Are there any cool things that you're particularly proud of that you've done in the hub recently, like maybe a project that you've worked on or something particularly neat?

Anne: One thing that I really love is we've been doing these sort of Reddit style AMAs, or Ask Me Anythings.

Mark: For the old people or non-Reddit users out there.

Anne: Yes, yes, exactly. So what we do is we get a product team for example, to sit in a virtual room, much like the conversation that we're having right now. So everyone who is running the event is sort of in this virtual room and talking to each other. And then we tell our customers, "Okay, you have an hour to ask these product experts anything." And our customers are used to having access to their sales person. They're used to having access to their community managers. They don't get to talk to a product manager very often. So this is an opportunity to be like, "Hey, I can type a question and I'm going to get an answer in realtime." So we've been doing those and they've been really successful and super fun to run.

Mark: That's great.

Anne: It gives other people in the organization a little glimpse into what a community manager's day-to-day life is like kind of at hyperspeed, and it's just been a really cool way to get in front of our customers in realtime and also to show the power of the community's platform, for that to see like, "Okay, I'm doing this right here in this virtual room and I'm asking questions." And I love it because we have some AMA groupies that got really excited and they want to answer the questions before the product managers do and really get in there and so it's this really fun sort of competitive, fun thing to do.

Mark: That's great.

Anne: That's something I've been really excited about. I think Dreamforce is always a really special time and making sure that I'm able to highlight the awesome things that our community members are doing and getting to see them in person makes some of the struggles of your day- to-day life that you have in any job really feel worth it. I remember the first Dreamforce that I went to after I had been a community manager where I was like, "Whoa, all these people know me and wait, I know them." It was just this really cool aha moment of like, I spend all this time with these people virtually and here I am getting to be in a room with them and hear them speak and hear what they're excited about.

Mark: For a while, I think that their face was the first face that they saw when they joined the Power of Us hub. Is that right?

Anne: Yes, I believe so. I believe so.

Mark: Right when they signed in the hub, there was a welcome from you?

Anne: Yeah. Yeah. So for a while, prior to advances in technology, I was actually manually welcoming everyone into the Power of Us hub, as many as I could, so if I missed you, I apologize.

Mark: It's too late. The statute of limitations is [crosstalk 00:19:46].

Anne: Yeah. We now do have some wonderful automation in place that welcomes people based on their roles and the types of organizations where they work, so it's a little easier. Now I believe they see Lizzie's face, who is my colleague.

Mark: Got it, got it. I was like for a while, it was you and you were manually doing it, but now it's automated.

Anne: Yes. Yes.

Mark: Cool.

Anne: Technology.

Mark: Yay. Do you have any advice for Salesforce admins who are maybe just dipping their toe in the community, either online or offline?

Anne: Absolutely.

Mark: It can be overwhelming, right?

Anne: Yeah, that's what I was going to say. It's a lot. And also, I think that there are no dumb questions is the old adage or no stupid questions or whatever it may be. I think the Power of Us hub and the trailblazer community are both very, very supportive communities of people that want to help you and want to see you succeed. A lot of the people that are very active in our community are that way because they got something out of it early on. Maybe they were the new admin coming in and they were kind of daunted by what was ahead of them and they got that help so they want to pay it forward. So I would say take the plunge, ask the question is the first thing that you would want to do.

Anne: Also, we have a really robust knowledge base and we have an incredible team of content producers on customer success at Salesforce.org, rather. And they are producing every day new and updated content that can really help you be successful and help you learn. We have kind of curated some of that content into a getting started series, so there's a getting started group in the Power of Us hub that can help you kind of guide your own journey, like, "Okay, I should listen to this webinar and then I should read this article and then I should follow this person." So there's kind of a different way to learn for everyone.

Anne: And the other biggest thing I think is attend your local community group meetings. If you work for a nonprofit, there should be a nonprofit community group in your area. If there's not, there's likely a virtual one. Our higher ed community group program has grown a great deal in the last two years, so there's a lot of those around the country too, and those groups oftentimes will have meetings that are specifically focused on newer admins and how they can get started and how they can move forward. So to me, learning is all about community. It's all about getting to know these people, and there's places for introverts, there's places for extroverts. Just get out there and learn what you need to know.

Mark: Oh, fantastic. I love that. Learning is all about community. It's so perfect. Well, Anne, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

Anne: Of course. Thank you for having me. It's always good to chat.

Mark: Yes, anytime.

Mark: That was great. We got a ton of valuable insight and advice from Anne. First and foremost, plug into your community, whether online and the trailblazer community or the Power of Us hub or offline in your local area. You can check out your local community group at trailblazercommunitygroups.com. And all questions are good, even for folks just getting started. Learning is better as part of a community. So get connected to Amplify and help amplify those underrepresented voices in tech and connect with their fantastic study groups.

Mark: Finally, try thinking like a community manager as an admin. What do my users need? What are they asking for? You can create an internal community of your own Salesforce users using Chatter and get them to start helping each other. So thanks for a great conversation, Anne. We hope you all enjoyed this episode of the Salesforce for Good Mini Series, and stay tuned for the next one. Thanks for joining us.

Direct download: Salesforce_For_Good__Anne_Young.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Wendy Braid, Senior Manager of Trailhead Delivery at Salesforce. In this special Halloween episode, we’ll go over all the tricks—and treats—to pass those certification exams.

Join us as we talk about why it’s so important to know your learning style, what we can learn from failure, and how to take advantage of feedback from your last certification to pass the enxt one.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Wendy Braid.

Why it’s so important to know your learning style.

Wendy’s journey through the Salesforce ecosystem including a stop as an admin. “That was a marvelous and very difficult job,” she says, “that actually prepared me for many conversations I had as a Salesforce consultant.” Moving into consulting gave her a wide variety of experience on implementations large and small, which eventually got her into end-user training and teaching classes for Salesforce (where she actually taught Mike back in 2011). Today, she manages a team of instructors who deliver courses on everything from Salesforce core to Pardot.

“One of the things I loved about teaching classes is that, as a learner, you get to meet so many other awesome admins just like yourself,” Wendy says, “you can learn from others, you can share your experiences, and you can find your configuration buddies.” She was also able to observe what worked for people in her classes, and one big tip she has is to understand really think about your learning style. Are you a visual learner? Do you learn more easily from just reading? Auditory? Knowing what helps you learn best will help you study more effectively.

Awesome admins or angry admins?

When we asked Wendy for another trick for studying for certifications, she had this to say: “Very Awesome Admins Work Pretty Efficiently.” What? It’s mnemonic to help you remember the order of execution: Validation Rules, Assignment Rules, Auto-Response Rules, Workflow, Process, and Escalation Rules. You also say, “Very Angry Admins Work Pretty Efficiently,” but we like to keep things positive on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. The lesson here is to get creative, and Wendy has seen everything from a Salesforce security rap to some educational choreography.

The other thing about certification exams is that sometimes you need to shift your perspective on what success means. “Not passing a certification exam is actually a very big treat that you can give yourself,” Wendy says, “you’re really providing yourself with a really amazing learning opportunity and learning journey to continue on.” You can take the opportunity to dig deeper into the product and identify your knowledge gaps, which ultimately makes you a better admin.

Using feedback from one exam to work towards the next one.

Most importantly, in technology, you need to always be learning. “I was just working on a process with Process Builder last week, and I was making some mistakes in my process,” Wendy says, “and it just took a little bit of extra learning and now my process is functioning and all is working really well.” Even if you think you really know the product, there are always extra nuances to master.

Finally, “the biggest treat right now that everybody has when they’re taking their certification exams is the section-level feedback that’s provided at the end of your exam,” Wendy says. You get everything broken down by section, which helps you figure out how to best budget your prep time. Even if you pass, this information can help you prep for the next certification you have your eye on so you can take your career to the next level.

This episode features a bunch of great Halloween treats as well, from Wendy’s love of candy to how Mike would go through hundreds of dollars of candy in a single Halloween in his old neighborhood, so be sure to take a listen.

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Direct download: Certification_Tricks__Treats_with_Wendy_Braid.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Ines Garcia, Agile coach and Salesforce Guru at get: Agile and another Lightning Champion. This episode is part two of a six-part series, the Lightning Champions Spotlight, hosted by Kelley Walker, Senior Adoption Consultant at Salesforce. We talk to our amazing Lightning Champions to find out about their career journey, how it lead them to the Lightning Experience, advice on handling change management, and why Lightning Experience is so awesome.

Join us as we talk about how new Lightning features can make it easier than ever to work in an Agile framework, and how she got help from and gives back to the community.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Ines Garcia.

 Giving back to the community.

Ines comes from a business transformation background, originally specializing in PR and marketing. “For me, I really enjoy to learn how things work,” she says, “so I quickly found myself with a fundamentals workbook. I’m a pre-Trailhead oldie.” She went on to become a Salesforce MVP so she could focus on giving back to the community. “It really blew my mind, how some people will go above and beyond to help me to solve my business problem,” she says, “so every day that’s one of the places I spend a little time to help others as others helped me.”

Ines supports multiple user groups to take giving back even further, with a focus especially on mentorship. She also works with the Mentorship Center to help connect people who need guidance with those who are willing to give it. She generates content in Salesforce Weekly and Salesforce Ben and, “because I clearly have too much time on my hands,” she organizes dreamOlé, a roving conference to help the Spanish-speaking community to learn and network around Salesforce ecosystem.

How Lightning and Agile go hand-in-hand.

“It’s really important to stay on top of the innovation that Salesforce brings. It’s one of the differentiators when you have major releases in any of the products,” Ines says. That means that for her, Lighting was a natural thing to get involved with and passionate about. One of the keys to getting the most out of it is getting the chance to get hands-on with new features, so Ines has her own Developer Edition so she can get that practice in.

Ines had the opportunity to present at Dreamforce ‘17 with Mike Gill and Chris Edwards, in a talk entitled, “Make the Jump to Lightning… and Get It Right the First Time.” “It’s not only the UI, it’s the tech underneath,” Ines says, “it helps you to be much more modular in the way you can enhance and get things to the market quicker.” This helps you go to market earlier, release earlier, and get that feedback that is key to an Agile process.

Ines’ favorite Lightning features.

Ines couldn’t pick just one favorite Lightning feature, so she went with three. “Kanban is really dear to my heart because it’s a word used in the Agile world,” she says, “it means having a visual representation of the work in progress.” Her second favorite feature is In-App Guidance. “I think it’s brilliant,” she says, “I’ve seen many way more convoluted solutions for something similar in the past so you can let your users know that something new is coming up.” Finally, she loves Generate Reports From List Views, which really helps you have the visuals you need to support your work.

The Lightning Experience is coming, are you ready?

Salesforce is turning on Lightning Experience on a rolling basis in Winter ‘20, and while you’ll still have access to Salesforce Classic, Lightning Experience is the future when it comes to driving business growth and improved productivity. To get ready, verify your org’s existing features and customizations in the new interface and prepare your users with change management best practices. To help you out, we’ve put together a short video, Understand How the Lightning Experience Critical Update Affects My Users.

If you want to catch Ines in person, she’ll be at Dreamforce and next year at DreamLA 2020.

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Direct download: Lightning_Champions_Spotlight__Ines_Garcia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re checking in with Kate Elliot, Principal Success Specialist at Salesforce, discuss strategies and best practices for expanding into marketing cloud. 

Join us as we talk about how why is the most important question we can ask, how to get your sales and marketing departments talking, and the unique challenges of working in Marketing Cloud.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kate Elliot.

Why you need to understand the question behind the requirements.

Kate works in the Salesforce.org wing helping nonprofits, K-12s, and higher ed organizations get the most out of Marketing Cloud. “I come in to provide strategic guidance, best practices, training. It kind of depends on what the customer needs and oftentimes it’s a blend of all three,” she says.

If you’re an admin looking to get more involved in marketing using Salesforce, Kate recommends that your first stop should be marketing automation tools. However, Kate says, “I think a big conversation has to begin with what’s the overall purpose of your Sales Cloud CRM?” There are tools like Pardot where you keep leads outside of Salesforce until you’re ready for them to keep your data cleaner, so you need to really think deeply about how your marketing will impact your funnel on the Sales Cloud side.

“In my experience, especially working on the Marketing Cloud side, a lot of what I try to ask customers is what are your KPIs? What are you responsible for tracking on the marketing side?” They often get answers about some specific metric like opens, but it’s clear that there hasn’t been a conversation around why that metric is so important to a stakeholder. It’s important to have clarity about what your metrics are telling you because as Kate says, “When you bring in this layer of email marketing automation it can get tricky because it can make your funnel giant and a lot of times it can create a lot of inflation.”

The key questions to ask your marketing team.

When it comes to making strides with operations, Kate likes to focus in on one simple question: What takes up a lot of your day? This can help you identify places where tools like content blocks, dynamic content, and automation can score big wins for people. “Another question I like to ask,” Kate says, “is could you go on vacation tomorrow?” Most people say, “Sure, but I’d need to check my email at least a couple times,” but they can’t even consider a world where they step entirely away for a couple of weeks and everything is still running smoothly when they come back.

The final question Kate uses to get marketing teams thinking about how they can do better is to ask for an analysis of how their marketing programs have done. “A lot of times they have some data that doesn’t necessarily show what they think it shows,” Kate says. This can sometimes get a bit combative, so Kate tends to lean on the first two questions, but all three are useful when it comes to shaking up someone’s view about what makes for a smoothly running marketing operation.

Why it’s not good enough to do what everyone else is doing.

When it comes to working with organizations to revamp their communications channels, Kate’s work is generally customer-driven. With the Marketing Cloud Journey Builder, it’s become easier for customers to see what their technology is building up to and how they want to implement that in their own organizations.

“Where I see people coming up to me and asking if they’re ready to go on to the next step,” Kate says, “a lot of times they’re trying to replicate what they’ve done before.” When an organization is fixated on one specific feature or capability, Kate says, “the biggest question an admin can ask is why? What value is it adding?” You have to be crystal clear on the purpose of a text versus an email, for example—how you store that data and how people can opt in or out. Ultimately, any functionality you add needs to be a step towards the bigger aspirational vision of where your marketing is going, instead of something you’re doing because everyone else has it. “While you are directly competing with other people in your industry,” Kate says, “at the end of the day, you are ultimately competing against everyone in your inbox.”

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Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt and today we are talking about strategy and best practices for expanding into marketing cloud.

Mike Gerholdt: It was a super, super requested subject, and I am here to try and bring you the best people. So we are talking with principal success specialist, Kate Elliot. Without further ado, let's get Kate on the podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. So Kate, welcome to the podcast.

Kate Elliot: Thanks. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Kate, we were connected through another guest of the podcast, Jay Stedman. Can you tell us a little bit about your role and kind of what you do at Salesforce to get us started?

Kate Elliot: Sure. I work in our salesforce.org wing and that's with our nonprofits, our K-12, and our higher ed customers. Right now, I work on our marketing cloud team and as a principal success specialist. That means that I come in and I help customers on limited engagements. I don't perform services anymore.

Kate Elliot: I'm not support, not break fix, but I come in to provide strategic guidance, best practices, training, a little bit, it kind of depends on whatever the customer needs. Oftentimes, it's a blend of all three, to help customers kind of get from whatever stair-step they're on to move up.

Kate Elliot: Whether that's help with the strategy of, "I don't actually know where to go from here" or whether that's, "I think I know how to delete contacts, but I'm not really sure and I just want to make sure that I'm doing this correctly." I tend to help a lot of the marketing cloud admins on the .org side.

Mike Gerholdt: Sweet. You mentioned a couple of my favorite words, strategy and best practice. I want to kind of level set us there because I think, and we talked about this earlier, I think a lot of admins and for a lot of people, when they get started, Salesforce is a sales tool.

Mike Gerholdt: I know for me, in my career, it was brought in as a sales tool. And the next evolution in that is as the Salesforce admin, I need to go and I need to make friends in marketing. Those are often an entirely different group.

Mike Gerholdt: Sometimes it feels like the sales team operates one way and marketing operates another way. I would love to jump in with you and kind of have that conversation and help our Salesforce admins really understand strategy best practice for, "Hey, we're doing great with Sales cloud and my team loves the automation."

Mike Gerholdt: I'm able build things out and the executives are starting to knock at my door of how do we get marketing involved, so I'm going to pitch that to you. Executive just knocked on my door and the Salesforce admin and "Hey, I want to get marketing involved with Salesforce.

Kate Elliot: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: "What do I do next?"

Kate Elliot: Yes, I think from there, first of all, there are different marketing automation tools that are possible to use, but I think a big conversation has to begin with what's the overall purpose of your Sales cloud CRM? Because we have marketing automation tools like Pardot where you keep leads outside of your Sales cloud CRM until you're ready for them.

Kate Elliot: You're able to perhaps keep your data a little bit cleaner or do some data hygiene. As marketing is generating these leads that hopefully are getting warmed up through their marketing program, to be handed off to sales, and then experience that beautiful automation that you've just built.

Kate Elliot: There becomes a question of how soon should they enter this beautiful automation that you just built? I actually used to work in sales operations and a little bit of marketing operations and that was a question that we wrestled with so much, with just the marketing metrics, that the director of marketing had, versus the metrics that the VP of sales wanted.

Kate Elliot: And oftentimes they ended up being a little bit, not quite in opposition, but they were often contrasting each other, when you're starting to look at how your funnel converts. I think a big question that needs to be answered and asked to the executives is when you start adding the marketing piece on, so that very top of the funnel, that lead generation, how will that impact the rest of the metrics that you have on the Sales cloud side?

Kate Elliot: And then if you decide that you want to keep leads that are cold or you don't know much about them or you're still doing progressive profiling or something like that separate and held out, that could be a different product. That could be completely different processes.

Kate Elliot: There's potential gotchas there. But that's a huge strategy question that I think is really key to nail down before you start engaging with the marketing department. Someone who did that to soon.

Mike Gerholdt: Let me play devil's advocate. Should I just assume that strategy conversation's going on between those executives or do I need to tease that out?

Kate Elliot: Oh, good question. I never would assume that strategy conversations were happening between departments. In my experience, and especially in working on the marketing cloud side, a lot of what I try to ask our customers is, "Well, what are your KPIs? What are you responsible for tracking on the marketing side?"

Kate Elliot: And a lot of times we get answers such as, "Well, I need opens." And we go, "Well, what do those prove?" They say, "Well, so and so likes to see the opens because it proves a hypothesis that they have," or someone else cares about a different KPI and they never actually talk to see how those are connected.

Kate Elliot: And you're not getting to the rates or you're not getting to, if you don't open you can't click and things like that. In my experience, I think, at least asking the question and it's a bonus if they've already had that discussion and then they can fill you in on it.

Kate Elliot: But when you're thinking about how to run an operation from the top of the funnel all the way through your sales cycle and when you bring in this layer of email marketing automation, it can get tricky because it can make your funnel giant and a lot of times that can add to a lot of inflation.

Mike Gerholdt: I'm thinking so far and we're only a few minutes in, we've painted a blue sky green field in that the marketing team's been receptive to my emails and they're probably not unhappy with the tools that they have. In your experience, when you go in with customers and you're helping present this vision, work through best practices and strategy, there inevitably has to be somebody with arms folded, across the table, that's just listening because their boss told them to be there.

Mike Gerholdt: What would you advise as an admin who's trying to work through the business of bringing expanded platform to their organization and presenting a vision or working through some of those ideas from marketing, but meeting the resistance?

Kate Elliot: Yeah, I can definitely picture the people across the table with the arms folded. And I would say a couple of approaches have worked for me and especially in my role now, where I'm trying to help.

Kate Elliot: A lot of times it is a grassroots movement that's trying to move operations forward, so they kind of need some momentum. One thing that I tend to ask is "What just takes up a lot of your day?" And from that, in the marketing department, a lot of times you hear things like, "Well, I have to collate these lists," or you know, "Every week I send this newsletter and this newsletter takes me three of the five days of the week before in order to get it ready to send out."

Kate Elliot: And those are really good points where, especially marketing cloud, Pardot has some of the tools as well. Can be really helpful with content blocks or dynamic content or helping with just general automation on some of those easier tasks to automate something like that.

Kate Elliot: Another question that I like to ask as a push is I go, "Okay, great. I'm so happy that you guys' marketing department is well functioning and you guys feel like there's nothing that takes too much time. Could you go on vacation tomorrow?"

Kate Elliot: And a lot of times the answer is, "Well, yeah, I could go on vacation. I just check my email at least a couple times a day." I go, "Okay, well, what happens if you decide to take your family on a cruise and you're in international waters and you don't have access to your phone for seven days? What will happen to your marketing operations?"

Kate Elliot: And oftentimes the same people that are very proud of the operations that they have and truly are really using the tools that they have to the best of their ability. They kind of go a little pale and they go, "I don't really know what would happen. I can't conceive of that."

Kate Elliot: That tends to be the two questions where I can kind of help get someone out of the mindset that they're in, to to be a little bit more receptive to the idea that a marketing automation tool could help them go on vacation or could help them maybe take that newsletter creation from three days down to one day or something like that. Because they get the templates that they could really use.

Kate Elliot: Those are two questions I tend to use a lot. I would say the third question that I sometimes bring into the mix is I will ask them for an analysis of how their marketing programs have done. And a lot of times they have some data that doesn't necessarily show what they think it shows.

Kate Elliot: That one can be a little bit more combative. I try to avoid that one if I can, but I think the first two questions tend to help people get a little bit out of their comfort zone and ready to listen.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. I feel like, and help me through this. We started that initial conversation. Of course, I'm going to have more conversations as an admin, but you know I'm feeling pretty good like I've got maybe some flows or processes built.

Mike Gerholdt: I've done some lightning layouts in Sales cloud. We've got an opportunity process. It's humming along. As I transition over and I'm looking to add functionality with marketing cloud and I'm looking to understand more nomenclature. What are some of the gaps that I'm going to run into that you see working with customers that maybe they didn't anticipate, as an admin?

Kate Elliot: Yeah, yeah. I think one of the biggest ones is the concept of a sandbox. In Sales cloud, as an admin, you develop everything in your sandbox or that's the best practice that we talk about all the time. Where you build it, you make sure it's not going to break anything. You can do potentially even some progression testing.

Kate Elliot: Then you're able to move it into production when it's gone through more of a rigorous governance testing or whatever your internal process is. In marketing cloud, there is not a sandbox. Everything is in production. There are some ways that some orgs, you know, they perhaps purchased an additional business unit, so that it functions like a sandbox where they use it for testing or things like that.

Kate Elliot: But they're, let's say in my sandbox org, if I decided to buy one and have it function that way, I build out in automation and I'm really happy with it. It's an automation studio. I test it, it works. There's no way for me to push that into what I'm considering my production business unit.

Kate Elliot: To have the same level of rigorous testing before it goes to production is different. There's different workarounds you have to do. There's perhaps some yet, yeah, you're going to have to probably work with support or your account team if you truly want to make a business unit a sandbox.

Kate Elliot: And it's just a little bit of a different philosophy, in terms of the testing, where you know it is happening in your production org with your live data. That requires a lot more. It's a lot more thought behind how you organize things. It requires a lot more thought in your training because someone can accidentally send to your entire list where they're testing. If the right permissions aren't turned on and things like that.

Kate Elliot: I think that's the number one biggest concept that I find Salesforce sales cloud admins, when they move over to marketing cloud, rightly have a ton of questions on, because it is very much a shift in the development process.

Mike Gerholdt: I feel like I should know that.

Kate Elliot: I would say it's not, well, it's something you typically learn when you're in implementation.

Mike Gerholdt: So as the plane's on the runway ready to take off.

Kate Elliot: Yes. That's my experience.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, good. As we talked through this, I come back to some of it's strategy, the other part is best practice. I'd love to know, from your perspective, because you meet with a lot more customers than probably most Salesforce admins do. What are the categories of best practices that seem to come up on your radar the most?

Kate Elliot: Oh goodness. I never thought about it in categories. I would, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, topics. I was trying to give you something broad, so you didn't have to answer like "Well, in general it's the subject line for," because I feel like, especially when I worked in sales, people always want to know exactly what someone else exactly like them is doing. Generally so they can copy it.

Kate Elliot: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: Right? Tell me who's figured this out so that I can act like I've figured it out.

Kate Elliot: Yes. I would say there is some of that, in terms of high end, not high end, high level campaigns. I do get a lot of campaign specific sorts of best practice questions. Things like "Who's done a preference center really well?" Or "How many emails do you typically see in a welcome journey" Things like that.

Kate Elliot: And those, especially for marketing, are a little bit harder to answer, because there's so many variables to kind of factor in to an answer like that. Especially if you're trying to, and in the nonprofit higher ed space too, there's also different sizes of nonprofits. There's global or regional or whatever it is. That gets interesting.

Kate Elliot: I would say there's the campaigns specific ones. I would say there's marketing specific best practices. Things like, "Do you track opens? Do you track clicks? Are those valuable metrics anymore? Are you doing just single channel email? Are you bringing in multichannel or omni-channel, those sorts of approaches to your marketing?"

Kate Elliot: I would say that's a big series of best practices that I tend to get asked about. And then another is the product specifics of marketing cloud. Questions like "I want to set up my data so that my end users don't need to worry about writing a SQL query. What should I do?" Or, "In Sales cloud, I have these beautiful dashboards built and I want to add a component for email marketing. How can I get that back over to Sales cloud? What's the best practice there?"

Kate Elliot: They tend to fall into, I would say those kind of three high level buckets. Of course, the marketing cloud product one, you could probably split into data, implementation, governance and training.

Mike Gerholdt: Training always being a huge, huge factor. I'm thinking back through the discussion and I'm trying to work us through the implementation, right? We started off with the conversation. We've asked for best practices. I think, at least in my experience, sometimes when you onboard other departments, you kind of have to go back and have that gut check with the first department or original department that you brought in.

Mike Gerholdt: What tends to be next steps for admins after maybe they bring in marketing cloud and now they have marketing and sales in Salesforce. Is it "Am I going after service or am I going after that next level functionality?" What do you see with customers as they're working with you on best practices and strategy?

Kate Elliot: Right. I would say what I typically tend to see is you start off implementing core marketing cloud. That's maybe some marketing automation, that might be the connector, if you have sales cloud. You have kind of that loop between your sales cloud and your marketing cloud.

Kate Elliot: The next step that I tend to see is sometimes bringing in different channels. Bringing in texting. We have mobile connect. Sometimes bringing in social or ad studio to kind of build on some of the work that you're doing in marketing cloud.

Kate Elliot: For example, we have a product in marketing cloud called journey builder. We are able to have dynamic decisions, splits and things like that. But you're also able to bring in other channels. You might start in your implementation, it might even just be an automation in automation studio and then it moves to a journey where you can get a little bit more one to one segmentation.

Kate Elliot: And then the next level is, "Okay, well, now I want to bring in direct mail or I want to bring in texting or I want to bring in paid ads that all factor into these campaigns that I'm building. That's where I tend to see the kind of next step is bringing in some of these other products.

Kate Elliot: Sometimes it's bringing in more reporting. Something like a data-rama or even like perhaps a Tableau, so you're able to see what is my year over year, quarter over quarter with my engagement rates? Sometimes we have Einstein, some Einstein features and marketing cloud, too, where you could bring in and say a really popular one is Einstein frequency where you can say, "Okay, now that I've been sending for six or 12 months," whatever it is, "I can see that I have a bucket of people that I on average every month touch five times."

Kate Elliot: And I have another bucket where I send them 10 emails. I have another bucket where I'm sending them 20 emails and then I can see who's performing better. I think it's kind of that optimal. "How often should I be interacting with our customers?"

Kate Elliot: Sometimes it's Google analytics, so I tend to see more of the marketing level integrations as the next step, just to bring in other data sources or other channels and try to make a little bit more of a full cohesive campaign that could be multichannel with some more complex reporting.

Mike Gerholdt: Do you find, so kind of, I guess, abstract of our conversation of guiding an admin through. I'd love to know, as I heard you talk through that adding other channels, right? Like texting and some of the other stuff.

Mike Gerholdt: Do you find, in your role, which obviously this answer's going to influence what I ask next, but that it's often the company coming to you saying, "Okay, so we've been doing email, we feel we've got email down solid. For example, we know it's five times a month, right? Then we've got to email people and now we want to text." Or is it you coming to the organization saying, "You've got email down, right. Are you exploring these other options?"

Kate Elliot: I tend to work a little bit more with the first, but a lot of times it's presented more as aspirational, where it is "We feel like we are probably good on email. We'd love for you to take a look because really our goal is that we need to text."

Kate Elliot: Especially in the nonprofit space, it'll be, "We have this one annual campaign and we feel like we finally have an email program that's pretty good. We might be able to be a little more dynamic, but this has been working for us. Now we need to get texting in for this campaign."

Kate Elliot: So it tends to be a little bit more customer driven, in my experience. Occasionally, I'll get an account executive, or someone that has no really deep relationship with an account, reaching out to say like, "Hey, I think we should prod them along."

Kate Elliot: But with marketing cloud, especially with the journey builder product, it is I think a lot easier to see kind of the, if we're thinking crawl, walk, run, the vision of running, than ever before in marketing clouds. I think it's a little easier for customers to say, "You know, I really want to be able to drag over this activity because I can see where I could split off here."

Mike Gerholdt: Right. The reason I asked that is, I know myself included, when I was a customer and even now, you would go to Salesforce events, you go to dream force, you see this. Right?

Mike Gerholdt: And immediately you start plugging in, "Wow this would be great if my company did that." Because clearly you know they don't. You know they don't have texting for example or you wish they would do social customer service.

Mike Gerholdt: And you have to come back and present that vision. And I guess that's where I was going with that was I would love to know when you come in to those customers that you want to prod along. Because for some, in sales, I know what works, I know how to put numbers up on the board and they're the numbers everybody wants.

Mike Gerholdt: And if I keep things aspirational, then we can always aspire to do that. But at least then I don't fail putting it out there and I know sometimes, as an admin you're coming with, "Yes, but Salesforce can do this now. And it's not that hard for us to do it."

Mike Gerholdt: I would love to know some tips maybe that you could pass along to admins to help push that aspiration through and drive it to something that we can implement and move through and show a win.

Kate Elliot: Yeah, absolutely. I think passion marketing cloud, where I tend to see people coming up to me and asking if they're ready to go on to the next step or they want to. A lot of times what they're trying to do is replicate what they did before. What I see is, again or that example of the nonprofit that just has to have texting for their event. The biggest question that I think an admin can ask is "Why? What value is it adding?"

Kate Elliot: There is a lot wanting to keep up with the Jones's and that sort of thing. And especially with marketing, especially when you want to do realtime communications, you have to be crystal clear on your strategy then, of the purpose of a text, versus an email. And how people can opt in and opt out and where you're going to store all that data.

Kate Elliot: I think pushing on the strategy behind the new innovations or the strategy behind moving to dynamic content instead of building on HTML or something. To be able to show how it's a building block towards the bigger picture of where the marketing team has their aspirational vision can be very powerful.

Kate Elliot: I think it can be really easy to get caught in the trap of "Well, we have to do texting because that's what everyone's doing." Or "We need to get on Facebook because that's where this audience is." But if you don't have a strategy around it or if you're sending the same thing on a tweet that you're putting in your email, that you're putting on Instagram, that you're texting someone. If someone's very engaged, they're getting that same message then from you five times.

Mike Gerholdt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kate Elliot: Then they start becoming unengaged on channels. I think when you're presenting your vision and when you're trying to push forward on more functionality, really trying to explain the strategy on why it is different, to be able to text someone this information, versus send them an email.

Kate Elliot: And how you can be more responsive and really think about the customer first in that sense. Because it can be very tempting for people that I speak with to want to send things because they think it will look good for their metrics.

Mike Gerholdt: Sure.

Kate Elliot: But the customer doesn't care about your metrics. At the end of the day to really put yourself in the shoes of the customer and really be able to present and say, "If I was a member of this campaign, it'd be really powerful if I was able to sign up for text messages, opt out of emails, so that when I'm at this event, I can learn more about all the stories of the people here that I'm trying to help."

Kate Elliot: I just think being able to really speak to the strategy and really speak to the actual customer experience with all these channels can really help move the needle and really get that executive buy-in.

Mike Gerholdt: If I could be laying on the floor, I would be doing that right now, because your answer is amazing. Relentless focus on exactly what the customer experience is and what the vision is. And executing through strategy and learning best practice. If I had to sum everything up that you've said, I think I've probably asked you four or five different questions and all of those are the fundamental answers, which is just something that I feel everybody needs to be reminded of. It's great.

Kate Elliot: I used to be a Salesforce sales cloud admin, too. And I think there's a big difference when you're thinking about your internal users and the focus on, perhaps reporting and it's part of how someone does their job and yes, you need to think about their experience. But it can be a little bit harder to kind of go a step out, for the customer, because there is this whole team kind of in between that does a lot of things off platform.

Kate Elliot: With marketing, that's so much different because everything that I configure is going to our customers.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kate Elliot: I personally get, I will say I do get a little frustrated sometimes when I am speaking with customers and they get so tied to a process that they're doing because they want to prove something like the value of email.

Kate Elliot: And when you start doing that, you're doing something because it's the metric that your manager likes to see. I guarantee you it's not what your customer wants to see. That's just such a, for a customer, is such a confusing experience.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kate Elliot: Because if you don't know why when you sign up for newsletters, you're getting donation requests, it's confusing. You don't know why, if you sign up for a particular brand, then suddenly you're getting sister brands because you don't know that they're owned by the same company.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kate Elliot: It just gets very confusing. And then when you start adding in these other channels, that's when people start thinking it's creepy that I looked up something on my phone and now suddenly I'm getting an email about it.

Kate Elliot: And now you're texting me about visiting this store and all of a sudden it starts becoming just this overwhelming, in a bad way, experience because you're starting to get the same message from so many different channels. And you're starting to, as a customer, feel like, "Do these people really know me or are they just trying to bombard me?" And that causes a lot of disengagement.

Kate Elliot: I think with marketing, as an admin, that's just one of the huge differences. There isn't that buffer layer. Everything that you're setting up is going live. If someone can't tell you the strategy or if you can't understand, if I'm a customer and I'm just trying to do this one thing and along the way I'm going to get hit by all these other asks or messages or campaigns or what have you. If you don't understand it, your customer doesn't.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kate Elliot: That's the big thing. And I think that's a big push, that I like to push back on, is I guess maybe another question I had to ask the marketing department on this. "Have you signed up for all the emails that you're sending your customer?"

Kate Elliot: "And if not, sign up for them as an admin and count them in a day."

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kate Elliot: Especially if they're asking for other channels or other things like that. But I think it's just definitely a different mindset from being a internal admin to an admin setting up a team for external. Because at the end of the day, you could be the person that helps the sales and the marketing team talk to each other, to know that they're sending almost identical sends to the same group of people.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep.

Kate Elliot: And no one else might be able to see that, but you.

Mike Gerholdt: And all of that needs to be in a manifesto because you're spot on with everything that you said and in addition, it's also the perspective I would challenge everybody to make when they're setting up sales processes.

Mike Gerholdt: Think through what the sales processes that's going to be guiding this person as the customer comes through your organization, so that it compliments what marketing's doing. But also is thinking through what is the perspective on the other side of the table?

Mike Gerholdt: Because it's not always pushing emails every five or 10 minutes because they haven't made decision. This is great. You should do a whole session about this at dream force, if you haven't, I'm going to encourage you to do so.

Kate Elliot: We do a lot of round tables where we talk about this and they call them circle of success for more of the retail and other industry focused and we call them The Power of Us Live. It's really interesting to hear different customers talk about their perspective. It's fun to see the light bulbs go off, but I haven't done a session yet, so maybe I'll sign up for one.

Mike Gerholdt: I'm going to challenge you to do a session, that and I would also say I think your perspective is a perspective that other admins should have. Getting out and hearing what other companies are doing in different spaces. The power of joining the user group and hearing. I'll never forget being in a Wisconsin user group and having two very different companies talk about leads and watching the two admins look at each other like, "I had no idea I could do something like that." And getting that perspective is just huge.

Kate Elliot: I will just, I know we're wrapping, but just one note on that.

Mike Gerholdt: Please do.

Kate Elliot: Another thing to think about when you're a marketing admin and we actually talk a lot to our universities about this is, while you are directly competing with other people in your industry, perhaps whoever's going to buy your shirt, at the end of the day you are also competing against everyone in your inbox.

Kate Elliot: You really limit yourself if you are just looking at the same industry. Because I think a good example in my own experience is there are a lot of retail giants that are very responsive, so they know what you like, they're able to give you good recommendations, they're able to contact you at the right time, things like that.

Kate Elliot: And then when I go and get my car fixed, I get what looks like a newsletter that should be printed out in my inbox. And that's not what I'm expecting anymore from a professional email campaign, because the people that are doing it very well, they are setting the standard for everyone in the inbox.

Kate Elliot: That's also something just to think about is yes, when you're going against within your industry, it may impact your sales or your conversions and that's absolutely a competitive view you need to have. But also the people that are leading the pack just in general in this space are setting the standard for the entire inbox.

Mike Gerholdt: That's such a cool perspective. Thank you for sharing that. And is something to think about. Wow, I learned a lot today. That was great.

Kate Elliot: Well, happy to help. Happy to-

Mike Gerholdt: That was great.

Kate Elliot: I had a lot of fun.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, thanks so much for being on the episode. I definitely want to have you back. Not right away, but continue our conversation, dive deeper. Think about other things about marketing cloud. This is definitely one of those strategy best practices. You can't get enough of them. And I appreciate you taking time out and dropping some knowledge on us.

Kate Elliot: Anytime. Happy to do so.

Mike Gerholdt: Will do. Thanks Kate.

Mike Gerholdt: I am so thankful we could have Kate here to talk about strategies and best practices to expand into marketing cloud. She had some really fantastic strategies and best practices that she could share with us.

Mike Gerholdt: And I think, as a Salesforce admin, the biggest question we can ask is why. And we did a podcast on this with Kevin Richardson. It's phenomenal, but really we want to make sure that as we're driving further functionality into our organizations, they're always making sure to bring in the why, so that we understand the metrics.

Mike Gerholdt: And also, as we're expanding now into marketing cloud, that we're having our sales department and our marketing department talking together. As admins, it's up to us to facilitate those conversations across departments, so that really marketing can bring some of that data back to sales and sales can help be more productive and help marketing be more productive. We want everybody pulling in the same direction.

Mike Gerholdt: Kate brought up a lot of great information such as there's no sandbox in marketing cloud and so you want to make sure that you have a lot of training scheduled and that you're ready to move forward with that. I thought that was a great reminder.

Mike Gerholdt: And of course, there's a lot of time that I could spend talking with Kate about strategies and best practices, I think, wow, she knows so much and I'm so thankful we could have her on the podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: Now I want to remind you that Salesforce admins is on Twitter. You can find us at Salesforce admins. No I, and of course, your one stop shop. I wake up every morning. That's the first page I go to admin.salesforce.com.

Mike Gerholdt: We have tons and tons of blog posts there. Some that I've published, some that other evangelists have published within Salesforce. It's really a breadth of information. We also have webinars posted there. You can listen to additional podcast episodes. With that, I want to thank you for tuning in and we'll see you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Expanding_to_Marketing_Cloud_With_Kate_Elliot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Kyle Husni, Salesforce Innovation Lead at W.L. Gore & Associates. We discuss the Agile mindset and the steps admins can take to make their days and lives easier to deal with.

Join us as we talk about how Kyle gathers requirements for his Agile development process, why you need to work backward in order to build the right tool, and how to measure the success you’ve created for your business.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kyle Husni.

Starting on Salesforce early.

Kyle started with Salesforce from a relatively young age—his sophomore year of college. After working with one too many spreadsheets, he quickly identified that Salesforce was the future and found himself an internship to learn more about it. He became an admin and grew his skills, eventually switching to a financial services company shifting to a business analyst and product owner role. Long story short, that’s how Kyle got started working in an Agile framework.

Gathering requirements the Agile way.

When it comes to Agile, “It’s really a framework and a mentality,” Kyle says, “it’s the idea that we’re not going to spend months and months trying to get detailed requirements but we’re going to be proactive and reactive at the same time,” he says, “it’s a philosophy of constant change.” That begins with how you gather requirements. “The key is to ask what the end goal is for something—what are we trying to actually achieve?”

Like with so many requirement gathering processes, it’s about reverse-engineering that Why so you can figure out the best way to build it. “I want them to really think about the experience they’re going to have for the users,” Kyle says. Essentially, you need to work with your stakeholders to develop the ideas they have in their head and get a clearer picture of what an ideal world would look like. That helps you understand if there are any big UX requirements, and how success is measured for a particular project.

How Kyle uses rapid prototyping to see what works.

“I’m a big rapid prototyping fan,” Kyle says. Even in his role as a product owner, it’s important to him to be able to jump into a developer sandbox and scratch something out as an example of what they’re trying to build. That might even mean going as far as jumping on a developer org during the requirement gathering process to show a little bit about how things work. “That’s where Lightning has helped me a ton, is just being able to jump in on the Lightning record pages and do a lot more enhanced customization on the front-end side,” he says. You can make someone’s instance change before their eyes so they can better understand what Kyle can do to change their workflow.

“When we look at a maturity level of what kind of features are we rolling out, I try not to overtake things,” Kyle says. You want to deliver an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that accomplishes the key goals as you understand them from your requirements gathering process, without building out other things before you need them. “MVP is such a hard term because so many folks want it to be the entire experience,” Kyle says, “but my focus is always on how I can rapidly create value for the business.”

Keeping up to date with release notes.

“When release notes come out, we try to do a quick peel of our backlog to see if any new features that are coming will address any of those,” Kyle says. They also try to divvy up release notes so it’s not so crazy and details aren’t missed. That also means relying on the resources of the community, including podcasts and just what people are talking about to make sure that no new features are overlooked.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: (Music). Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt and today Kyle Husni is joining us to talk about the Agile mindset and the steps admins can take to make their days and lives a little bit easier to deal with. So I can't wait this amazing discussion. Let's get Kyle on the podcast. So Kyle, welcome to the podcast.

Kyle Husni: Thanks for having me Mike. Appreciate the time today.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, you bet. Well, I'm interested to dive into our topic, but let's get to know a little bit more about you. So Kyle, kind of how did you get into the Salesforce ecosystem and what do you do right now?

Kyle Husni: So right now I actually work as a Innovation Work Stream Lead for W.L. Gore and Associates based in Elkton, Maryland. But been a long journey to get here. So I actually started with Salesforce, is my sophomore year of college. I won't reveal how long ago that was, because it was not that long ago. But I actually worked as a inside sales rep at a bank in Wilmington, Delaware and struggled a lot as a college student who was studying Finance and Information Systems.

Kyle Husni: I kind of knew what was out there and what we were capable of in terms of getting information. And we just had to rely on weekly spreadsheets. So I obviously wanted to make sure I could go study, go hang out with my friends and I had to really prioritize the time that I could get to making sure I got all my work done. It really didn't help me to get that on a weekly basis.

Kyle Husni: So I got pretty curious and started figuring out, could we go and invest in something? Could I maybe help my managers find a better way to do this? And I stumbled upon Salesforce. I obviously realized that to convince a billion dollar company, "We should go by Salesforce," might be a little bit outside of my efforts. So I started to get a little bit more intrigued of could I go find an opportunity, an internship for my junior year of college where I could actually start to use Salesforce myself and get a little bit more interest.

Kyle Husni: So I was lucky enough, I found an internship my junior year and kind of took it more as a sales operations role, really starting to get into more of the analytics side. And luckily enough they started to ask me to build reports, build dashboards, and slowly became a Salesforce administrator for a small inside sales team. And lucky enough from there I just kept growing responsibilities, taking on a global sales team, adding in a service team, doing a service cloud cut-over, a lot of different fun stuff that I was able to grow on that side.

Kyle Husni: And then I think my role started to change a little bit more as I got more experienced and started to look, I think more at the business value of where Salesforce could really help a business grow and mature and add new capabilities. I had joined another financial service company in Baltimore, T. Rowe Price, and took a little bit more of a business analyst and a product owner role to really help them implement financial service cloud and Lightning. Really, really exciting stuff. And I think that grew my love not only for Salesforce but I think the Agile process, seeing how that could help relate an enterprise level scale, knowing that I had done this at such small scale, but then I got to just really take that at just kind of the next level.

Kyle Husni: So now I'm taking some of those experiences that I had before and now working with W.L. Gore, really trying to ramp up our Salesforce maturity and really thinking about how we use Salesforce in a different way. So definitely something I'm really excited about. I've been here about a year now and we're in the middle of kind of revamping our entire Sales Cloud instance while also having e-commerce projects with CloudCraze and some other pieces of Service Cloud also taking off as well.

Kyle Husni: So a lot of fun Salesforce stuff going on around here these days.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. I would say, I mean we could do, look, I'd love to do a whole other podcast on just the luck of, getting in and having a company that's really driven to kind of grow their instance because I feel like that's super accelerator for an admin. And you're very fortunate, right?

Kyle Husni: Oh absolutely.

Mike Gerholdt: That you've been with companies. So when we started talking, I think one of the topics that came up in our discussion was around Agile. And I will profess this and get it out of the way. For a while when I was a Salesforce administrator back in '06, I would just make a change in production. And I realize the error of my ways now. But, listening to you and listening to the amount of complexity that you're working in, and I don't think it's necessarily dependent on complexity, but understanding change management for an admin, I think Agile is really key. And I know we've done previous episodes on Agile, so I'd love to kind of have our discussion begin there with, from an Agile perspective, if you hop in an elevator and somebody's like, "Hey, I heard the word Agile," how would you explain that?

Kyle Husni: That's a wonderful question. So I think if I look at Agile, as a whole really, I think you'll hear some people say, "Oh, you develop an Agile." And I kind of stop people there and go, "No, it's really a framework and a mentality," right? It's the idea that we're not going to spend months and months trying to get detailed requirements, but that we're going to be proactive and reactive at the same time of trying to understand how do we bring someone along for a journey?

Kyle Husni: I think if anyone hasn't had the chance to read the Agile manifesto and understand on that side, it really lays out that it is a philosophy of constant collaboration. Being able to respond to that kind of change and really making sure that folks can get hands on with the work that they're actually interacting with. To me, the collaboration piece I think is the biggest difference in Agile than any traditional waterfall type project I've been in. Everything is constantly moving. Folks are constantly involved. There's never that, "Hey what's going on?" Kind of mentality.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. So thinking through because learning a methodology and a delivery mechanism can sound intimidating I guess. What was your approach?

Kyle Husni: So for me, it was I think a pretty typical for I think a solo admin. I really remember when I started. But I'll say as gathering requirements, I had an Evernote notebook that I think was famously joked as the Bible of Salesforce. Because that's where all of my ideas were. All of our kind of mockups ended up staying at, I would just kind of scratch things up there.

Kyle Husni: So I was already doing Agile, to a perspective there. But I think I had to start to understand to some degree like what were the little things that could make my life easier. I knew where my biggest struggle was, was I didn't really have a consistent way of going through and making sure I understand what our user requirements were, having them formatted in a way that if someone, my boss, one of our other developers that would come in every once in a while could help us out, I didn't have a really consistent way of going about that.

Kyle Husni: So starting off with user stories for me was a really good way to just, as I looked at all the things that Agile had in scope, that made it really easy for me to go, "Here's the problem I have and here's how I can go to solve it." There's so much, I think content wise was kind of where Agile covers. It can be really, really difficult I think to try and grab everything.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kyle Husni: So for me it was, just writing up kind of a retrospective of here's what I'm having trouble with, can I go take this methodology that everyone's telling me works so great and I've learned a little bit about. Can I go find somebody that's going to help me out with that problem and use that and kind of start there.

Mike Gerholdt: So you mentioned gathering requirements. And I think everybody does it a little differently. I'm always afraid of what I... I love the term of order-taker admin, right? Somebody comes in and says, "Well we need this box on our account or we need this on an opportunity." What's your approach to gathering requirements? Right? I want to start there, because that's the phase we're in.

Kyle Husni: Yeah. So if I look at that, and it's funny you call it the order-taker. I mean I kind of had this term of a, I had a really wonderful sales manager, I think one of the sharpest guys I've ever worked with.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Kyle Husni: And he was famous for coming over and banging on our desk going, "I need this today. It's the most critical thing in the world." And it was like, "Drop everything you're doing and go do this for me right now."

Mike Gerholdt: Sure.

Kyle Husni: And the first few times I'd do it, because I was like, super important manager.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kyle Husni: I got to make sure I get this done, I got to be on his good side. And then it would come back that it was only just he had a bad Tuesday morning about a sales call and he thought he needed this.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kyle Husni: So I think the big thing for me is always kind of asking the, "Hey, so what's the end goal with this? What are we trying to actually achieve?" Because usually if it's just, "Hey, I just want to put a flag on there so I can check that," then that's, I kind of have to dig a little bit further, but if I can kind of pull that out of someone and going, "Hey, well I need a better way to get this kind of insight. Or we need to enable this process that allows me to get a better retrospective and kind of work backwards to say, okay, great. Now who's going to be involved in this process?" And I don't tell them that I'm going through that kind of requirements gathering, but I'm in essence trying to help them develop what this looks like in their head.

Kyle Husni: And usually for me, I think I've gotten lucky enough that as admins you start to get more experienced and you'll start to hear things that go, boom, I know the solution. Boom, I know the solution. But we know there's so many kinds of got yous [inaudible 00:09:57] that lay in there.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Kyle Husni: That I do want the user to feel like they're kind of giving me that feedback, that they're kind of crafting the plan in their head. And typically I will even start like even just pulling up a Salesforce org and just go, "Okay, great well it's not there yet today. But explain to me how this would kind of work for you." Right? Because it's so hard sometimes. I think if we were to put our requirements head on and tell them, "Don't look at the solution, don't look at the solution." It's very hard, especially if someone's a visual thinker, they need to kind of express themselves and getting on a screen going, if I want to click a button over here, I would need it to do something like that.

Kyle Husni: And in my head that's where I can start thinking through, "Hey, what kind of sharing requirements do we have?" I kind of have that all stored in my back pocket. But I want them to really think about the experience they're going to have for the users. We all know as admins, there's going to be the little things we have to go back and kind of track on, but if I can get them to tell me really what they're going for from a business objective outcome and kind of what that looks and feels like for a user perspective, we're going to be able to craft that story right away. Those are my two big focuses that I try and drive on.

Mike Gerholdt: You mentioned you took notes in Evernote. What would be some tips for an admin on taking notes around requirements or kind of managing all of their intake?

Kyle Husni: Yeah. So I think the big thing for me is I try to always... Now what I do a little bit, is I try not to write my falsely [inaudible 00:11:22] requirements. I try not to go as my typical user story format right away. So people will see, and I kind of joke that I think in basically as a, so that, kind of mentality around how we write requirements. But I do like a little bit of just kind of shifting a couple of different pieces.

Kyle Husni: So I will call out like UX. If there's a really big UX component to this that, hey, there's got to be a report to this and the report has to look like that, I want to make sure I know that that's a critical success factor. The other big thing I try and do as well as with every user story, we always say we have to have acceptance criteria. That's a big measure for us in terms of just, "Can I make sure that I deliver the business exactly what they're asking for?" But I think the even bigger thing that I try and do is say, "Hey, what's going to make us successful? Or how are we going to measure that this is successful?"

Kyle Husni: Because if we can't do that, it's going to be really hard for me at the end of my year when we have those conversations around did I contribute to the business? What kind of value are we providing as a Salesforce platform back to the organization? It gets really hard to just tell everyone, "Okay, that's great. We developed a lot of user stories. I gave you a ton of new features and functionality," but great examples of, "Hey, if we're able to produce a document or an easy way to say, look, we cut down your time that you don't have to put together this manual report now." I can go back to all the user stories I delivered and just start to take those notes of like, look, this is something that's going to save us on cost.

Kyle Husni: And I try and have that in my mind. So I know that as I'm going to push this to my development team or as I was developing this myself, that I kind of kept that in mind, of, look guys, if we can't do this or we can't do that, it's going to have us lose a bit of that success factor. Or maybe if we do have to go out and put something in different kind of a sequenced way, right? We might not be able to deliver everything in one big shot, we at least have an idea of how to control that message of saying, look, it's going to be manual right now, but here's our product roadmap. We know we're going to get you that feature in three months. So we're not far away from it, but hey, right now we're not there.

Kyle Husni: And I think that's a really important thing as well as I look through those requirements. If I know there's stuff like we had a great conversation when we had our Lightning rollout, we knew we couldn't do 10 column related lists, but we knew that that was coming at some point.

Kyle Husni: So we kept that item in our backlog because I think the transparency that came up as we were taking notes going, look, we got to let people know that they feel comfortable. It's OK to tell people that something's not generally available. It's not out of the box. I think there's always this fear of, well even if we don't tell them, they won't notice that it's not there. I think that level of transparency, I try and always let people know upfront of, hey, it's not there yet, but that doesn't mean there's not an AppExchange that can do it. Not a custom component we can't go use, there's always a way, right? It's jokingly, Salesforce basically has that [inaudible 00:14:07] solution almost.

Kyle Husni: So we try and get that up front visibility. But yeah, I think making sure you focus on those big areas of kind of the UX. If there's reporting things that need to be out there, any kind of critical success factor, but really making sure that you have a way to measure that success I think is always key. I joked a little bit with my girlfriend one day about that, that... She even jokes, she's like, "So how are you measuring all that cool stuff you're pulling out there?" She's like, "You're building a lot. But like how does everyone know that you're going to be successful?" I'm like, "You're right." That's a good way to think about that. We'd have to go back and make sure we can find that really well.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. This a point that, I mean again, multiple topics we could do a whole episode on proving your value too for Salesforce. And we got started into that talking about requirements, you mentioned AppExchange, you mentioned, hey, we know this, we don't know this. I think sometimes you forget the benefit of what you do know and don't know as possible solutions. I would love to know, kind of moving through the phases of working a project or working, getting requirements, next phases, building or researching a solution. I'm going to guess, right? I'd love to know what your approach is to that, right? How do you know if there's an AppExchange app to it or if you got to build something. Or what your approach to kind of taking this ideal vision that they have and turning it into functionality.

Kyle Husni: Right. So I've been very fortunate, I think in my career, as I started with a solo admin, not really knowing how to do Apex, but I think I've found all the limits of Process Builder Flow and everything that's out there. But even now as I work through this, as more of a product owner and in my role, I've got some wonderful solution architects, but they're nice enough I'll say. And I think, trust me enough that I'm a big rapid prototyping fan. I think everywhere I've gone, I've been like, can I please have a dev sandbox? And I promise I won't promote anything into our actual environments. But I've always been a big fan of working with my team or taking on the effort myself with like, hey guys, I'm going to go scratch something up really quick and let me get a quick prototype out there and let's see how that works, right?

Kyle Husni: And there could be something as simple as we create a new object. I throw some process builders together and workflow rules with the validations that they like. And just get them the example. And that's where I think as I start to kind of show that, it's a lot easier for folks, I think in our business to get that kind of comprehension. We can have some really quick conversations. I think internally between our solution architecture, our business analysts, and I think we start to get a good gut feel of, "Hey, we know we need a custom object here. We know we're going to have to write some Apex." Yeah, we used to write this as a hard-coded thing, but "Hey, solution architect, I don't like hard coding stuff. Can you go look at this new custom metadata and see what we can do with that setting to alleviate that. For the demo purpose, I'm going to hard code it just so people can get an idea of does that functionally work for everyone?

Kyle Husni: And I think we've seen a lot of success for that, right? Because I know for my development team, if I have to go send them off to go write Apex and go make new... I think an example is Apex managed sharing rules to go out and do something like that, it's going to require a lot of ask for them to even take the time to go figure out how we want to get those requirements. But I think improving our relationship with the business and having them get upfront feedback on some of that solutioning. I mean, we've done prototypes in, I'll say like 15 minutes. I'm a big fan of even just jumping onto a Dev Org while I'm kind of grabbing requirements to a degree of they're far enough along. And just saying, "Look, let me show you kind of behind the scenes a little bit. And I can maybe build some just really quick."

Kyle Husni: I think personally that's where Lightning has helped me a ton. It's just being able to jump in on some of the Lightning record pages and do a lot more enhanced customization on the front end side that we couldn't really do before with Classic. And I think people having that look and feel and being able to see their instance changing before their eyes, that's been a huge value effort. That, I'll even say I can't tell people how many times I ask for something.

Kyle Husni: And it could be a very simple report. And being able to show them just something so quickly, it's easier than Excel or it looks just like an Excel workbook for them as they're trying to move out of that, I can start to give them that comfort of, look, if you are using this object and creating it in Salesforce, your report that used to take you four hours to run macros on, now it's just click run, but you do have to put the data in the system and here's how we're going to do that. I can really bring them along for the full ride.

Kyle Husni: And then luckily enough after I do that part, then we get to have some conversations internally with our BAs and our SAs to say, look, here's kind of the mockup we found, now you guys need to go scale this. But for them they're not as much trying to always having to figure out the how or the why or trying to get a lot of feedback from the business at that point. We've got that kind of directional, yes, now their focus is really on how do we make it scale.

Kyle Husni: And usually they're in these conversations, I'm not flying solo. But they've seen enough and heard enough that their challenge now is what's the best way to do this, not the what are we going to do, at that point.

Mike Gerholdt: And what, I mean a lot of Agile is, and you mentioned it, rapid prototyping. At what point are you rolling out features, functionality, kind of turning back and giving the business the solution for some of the requirements that they give you and what advice do you have for admins doing that?

Kyle Husni: So I think the biggest thing for me, I'll probably hit the second part first Mike. The biggest thing for me is probably the less is more type mentality. And I think it gets so hard. And I give an example of, you look at this really big piece of work and sometimes I do it too. I'll go and do a meeting and I'll listen to some of my business partners talking and my eyes light up. I'll see this massive scope of work that they're giving me. I see eight months of projects, I see all this cool stuff that we're talking about. But inside of that, there's this one little thing that they actually need.

Kyle Husni: I'll use the example of you need to get from point A to point B. I could absolutely give you a Ferrari today to do that and you get there super quick, but it's going to cost you $3 million. Or I could give you a bike and yeah, I mean you might get a little bit sweaty, but you're going to get to that point just the same way, maybe not as fast, but you can still accomplish the goal. To me, it's always trying to get our user story, trying to get our features. Trying to make sure they're as small as possible. And I can get them the value that they want as quickly as possible is big, right?

Kyle Husni: So the rapid prototyping is great because I think they get that idea of, "Hey, I can see it. Hey, I can touch it. Hey, I know it's going on." But if we can't get our users to use it in a live environment or they can't feel that value right away, it's a real struggle for me. So that's I think where me as a product owner, my preference is, how do I start to get that workout as quickly as possible?

Kyle Husni: And that I think is a real test of having conversations with, for myself, my business analyst, my tactical team, or when I was on a solo admin perspective, trying to be really thoughtful around what's the least I can get them out and it can be valuable to them? You'll hear the term a ton of what's our MVP? It's a really hard concept, right? I think that's where the prototyping for folks, maybe it's getting out a custom object with some really simple automation or it's just no automation. It's a manual process, but you've never had data that's reported that way before. That's typically where I'll kind of start on that perspective, but I think when we look at a maturity level of what kind of features are we rolling out, I try not to over bake things.

Kyle Husni: It can be so hard not to do it, but I think typically for me is when I get a good enough sense from our solution architect of how quickly can we get something out there and how big it really is, it's really going to dictate. But it also comes down to priority. But I know we touched on a little bit that drop everything development. That's where we have to really be critical of, our team's time is extremely valuable. And to deliver the business the right things that we need, it does take a level of kind of a gut check to say how big is the priority of this and how much is it going to move?

Kyle Husni: I was lucky enough that as I've had these conversations over and over again, you do learn a little bit and we can always tell when someone just, I think wants something. But I think now that we've put in a few places before, is where I put in those metrics to say, hey, how many people is this going to impact? And what kind of time are we going to save because of that? Can we have some kind of measurable outcome that allows us to understand that and okay, now that we look through some of our features, where maybe in our backlog refinement we can have the conversation of if I give you one and two and three, is that going to move the needle for you guys? We think so. Let's get agreement for that.

Kyle Husni: I think the biggest thing in terms of the, when we roll it out, technically, I think the tactical part is actually the easiest part sometimes. But having a good feeling of our change management, our training teams, our business. Making sure that they feel like when we give them that functionality one, they're ready for it. But I'll say two, that they're going to be able to feel the value by the what we give them. MVP is just such a hard term because I think so many folks want it to be the entire experience, but my focus is always just how can I rapidly create value for the business and really let them learn.

Kyle Husni: I mean we get no better feedback than when something goes into production. I will say that is unfortunately and fortunately our best way to see how things go.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Now, I guess touching on that, a lot of what we've discussed is really you taking the input, gathering the requirements, figuring out the solution. I am going to throw in the other component which is, Salesforce is three releases a year. Sometimes we're throwing solutions at you or new features and functionality. From your standpoint, how do you manage that? How do you, when some of the releases come out, there's things that are already on, right? Like the next day or the next Monday that a user comes in, there could be new functionality there because it's part of the release. What is your strategy for handling that?

Kyle Husni: So really, where I've seen this be successful is I think trying to be aware, that's the biggest thing for me. So I think every time I get a complaint or... I'll say a complaint, a suggested feedback of where Salesforce could be better, I think I try and take it on myself to go, okay, where can I go look in that? And thankfully Salesforce does a great job with the idea. With the community and throwing ideas out there that usually I can either find that, A a bunch of other people aren't happy with it too or B, that hey, we all noted that and guess what, we're going to fix it.

Kyle Husni: So I'm a big fan of just making sure one, if there's that noted area, I try and make sure that that's still inside of our backlog. And we usually do a pretty good tab of when release notes come out. We try and do a quick peel of our backlog and say hey, any new features coming out in this release that we know are going to address any of those. That for us kind of makes sure that as we're solutioning anything that's in progress or something that we're waiting for, that we don't miss, right? Because I think the worst thing in the world is you go out and build something and it's kind of the same with the AppExchange apps. I'm always kind of just looking through to say, is there anything new out there? Is there anyone developing a new component, a new way of doing this? So that we can kind of get that measured up.

Kyle Husni: That's kind of my first level. I think the other thing too, is as much as we can, trying to break up release notes. I am fortunate enough I think, in the last two companies I've been with, we have a pretty big team, so it's easy enough for us to divvy up release notes and say, guys, someone's got to go neck deep and make sure they get every part of one to two and I'll get three to four and you get five to six. Taking the time I think to put kind of a team effort. And then we've actually started doing release recaps internally. That way, I think all of our team members from the testing team, the business analysts, our application support, our training team, everyone kind of has that same language around what's coming out round the release.

Kyle Husni: That's something that again, like there's almost no reason to a degree of, we see that as a priority because it could solve one of those problems for us and we know that the problems are always going to keep coming up and the new user stories are going to keep coming. So being as educated as possible, I think on our end around that side, was really, really key.

Kyle Husni: And I think again, using every avenue that you can. And I think that's been the biggest thing, whether it's the Admin podcast. I've been a big fan of Salesforce. Ben has been someone I've followed on for a little bit. There's tons of people out there that are publishing information on Twitter over and over and over. I'm a big fan of the crowdsourcing is, there's a degree of that of where I kind of say is we want to put the time into, invest as a team and myself. That's how I did it as a solo admin. I knew I couldn't read all the thousands of pages, that's why I trusted the Salesforce community to help me out a little bit and tell us where to look to a degree, of what was exciting. But yeah, just constantly measuring. And again, the backlog I think was the big thing.

Kyle Husni: As long as we had those items in there, no matter which way I looked, I knew that I could understand those needs. But even if we saw something that was brand new, I forget, we put the Lightning on iPad beta. It is in our backlog right now, of something that we're still looking at in our own backlog to say, is it working? Is it not working? Where are we seeing it work well, where are we not seeing it work well? So we kind of have that critical success measure for ourselves, of something that we're still monitoring. I mean again, still I think something that as we learn and we get more enhanced with betas and try to get our hands on to be more early adopters and I think get ahead of some of those changes. We're working right now through the Lightning on mobile pilot as well.

Kyle Husni: So I mean both things that we've gotten our backlog that we're monitoring pretty heavily and trying to make sure that we have a good feel for.

Mike Gerholdt: As we kind of wrap up, just sitting back digesting everything you said. I'm really glad we had the chance to sit, talk. Again, three or four spin off series could come from this. I'm thinking, I always like to go back to the first question, the first answer and I'm really... We covered a lot. I'd love to know from you, kind of at what point, because you were very fortunate when you got started, I felt, to go through different jobs and have different experiences and companies push you for functionality and that forcing you to kind of grow.

Mike Gerholdt: I'd love to know, kind of looking back, which sounds like we're not going to look back very far, because your sophomore year in college, I might have some shoes that are older than that. But I'd love to know kind of what's one memorable moment that you feel was kind of your turning point so far, in your Salesforce career?

Kyle Husni: Oh wow, that's tough. It hasn't been that long. Admittedly, it's been, what? I'm trying to think now a little bit. I just graduated college officially four years ago, so not that long. But if I look back at it, I mean there's so many that I could pick from. But I think as I look at the... Probably the most transformational one for me was, I started a new job a year ago here too. And I left a company that I had only been at for about a year and had been driving back and forth between Delaware and Baltimore, Maryland, which if folks don't know that's about two hours in one direction. So it was about four hours of driving each day. But I came back after we rolled out Financial Service Cloud out to a brand new first time Salesforce implementation for that side of their business.

Kyle Husni: And I was lucky enough to go down to Tampa, Florida, but I was also lucky enough to be the one that found the critical defect, the honor go light day. So it was a really interesting night of, I think kind of a culmination of the years of experience that I had gained and just from working so hard and being up I think until like one o'clock the one night trying to figure out if we had everything in line to get this thing fixed out the next day.

Kyle Husni: And I think for me that was kind of that moment that I'll say like very humbling one to be. Thankful to be up that late and I think feel like I was in control. And I think that's really an interesting feeling. I think as admins you have those moments where you know that you did something right. And you know that you are able to contribute and go into work the next day and having people telling me, "Hey, great job. Thank you so much for staying up." And I had only been at that company I think for five months at that point.

Kyle Husni: But I think, to a degree, I could already hear people talking about, "Hey, now that this works," I'd never been able to see this and I'd never been able to do that. I will say I'm a lifelong lover of Salesforce, from my career start. Enough to paint my shoes for Dreamforce. But when I did that, when I kind of heard that comment for the first time, it was definitely really empowering. I think there's, I've always kind of made it my lifelong mission of, can I get people out of the office a little bit sooner? Can I get them to go spend time with their family, making their lives better, investing in themselves, not because we don't like working, but because there's always a need for that balance.

Kyle Husni: And I think when I fell in love with Salesforce is that I realized, yeah, I can take you two hours away from a spreadsheet and give you that in 10 minutes. That's time that you can be more efficient getting your work done, so you don't have to stay here to yourself in the o'clock at night. And starting to see people and feel like I was actually getting ready to enroll that enterprise wide, really large company. That was such a cool feeling. And just knowing Mike, kind of like you said, there were so many people that were important to get me to that point and that helped me push and that I had to push for more opportunities and they openly gave them to me. It was kind of that aha moment of I'm in the right place at the right time and I'm excited enough now that I'm still getting to do it.

Kyle Husni: Fortunately enough, if it wasn't for one Google search back in my sophomore year of college, I don't know if I'd be here. So it's definitely, it was a very humbling experience to sit there with a bunch of delicious sushi and realize that hey, maybe I did make a good choice a couple of years ago.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that's very cool. Kyle thanks for coming by, being on the podcast. If people want to follow you on Twitter, what's your Twitter handle?

Kyle Husni: It is salesforcekyle. I kept it simple.

Mike Gerholdt: Huh? Smart. That's great. We'll add a link to that in the show notes-

Kyle Husni: I had to ahead of the game.

Mike Gerholdt: Of course. Well, let's either... I feel like all of the Twitter handles are either that or SFDC something.

Kyle Husni: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: All right. Well, Kyle, thanks so much for being on the podcast.

Kyle Husni: Awesome. Appreciate the time Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: (Music). The Agile method is always a hot topic. And I appreciate Kyle for showing us a different perspective on this episode. An important thing to remember is Agile is a framework and a specific mindset.

Mike Gerholdt: So in order to carry out a project successfully, you and your team need to be proactive. You need to know how to react fast, recover faster, always collaborate and be as transparent as possible. Transparency is a huge thing with me. I love it. Eliminating waste is a huge part of the Agile method. So when it comes to gathering requirements, try starting backwards. Your first leading question should be identifying what their desired end goal is. And then from there you can start getting feedback early and often allowing the user to feel and hear that you are creating their plan and that vision together.

Mike Gerholdt: Of course the last step is figuring out what is the critical success factor of this project, and then how to measure the success you've created for this business.

Mike Gerholdt: Rapid prototyping is an amazing idea for admins to do while you are gathering requirements. Spinning up at Developer Org start sketching out the ideas and solutions you're coming up with and live in the moment. The value of that instant gratification is huge. And maybe you get to the point of trying to find a solution that has not been created yet. Kyle and other admins or developers know that Salesforce always has a way and different ways of doing things, but don't be afraid to tell your users that just because it's not here yet, it doesn't mean it won't be there.

Mike Gerholdt: Use your resources wisely and of course never give up. Make your vision a reality. We have some great resources in the show notes for you this week, like the transform your business with mobile trail on Trailhead, which talks about how the Agile method can help you deliver and improve your building strategies. I would also go to admin.salesforce.com to check out our Lightning on mobile content, starting with the set up Lightning experience on mobile by our own principal admin Evangelist, LeeAnne Rimel. Of course, you can always follow along with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter. And you can find me on Twitter as well, I am @MikeGerholdt. And with that, have an amazing day and I'll see you next time in the Cloud.

Direct download: Agile_In_Action_with_Kyle_Husni.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm PST

Salesforce For Good: Billy Daly

 

The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. We’re peaking into another corner of the nonprofit world talking to Billy Daly, Director of Data, Technology, and Evaluation at Baltimore Corps. We discuss their unique implementation of Salesforce and how thinking creatively about their processes has helped them use the platform more effectively.

 

Join us as we talk about how to look differently at your own process to get the most out of Salesforce and the steps you can take to implement effective process discovery.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Billy Daly.

 

The three components of Billy’s work with Baltimore Corps.

 

Billy’s the Director of Data, Technology, and Evaluation at Baltimore Corps. “What we do is focus on building capacity in the social impact sector in Baltimore,” he says, “what that looks like, functionally, is helping place really talented individuals in nonprofit governing agencies and social enterprises in Baltimore city in roles where they have the most leverage to actually do and affect change.” So it’s about finding good people, finding the right jobs for them, and then developing their career to put them in a position to make a difference.

 

With such a long title, we asked Billy to break down what he does in a little more detail. As he explained, there are three core pillars to what he and his department do. Data, as in what information they need to do their work more effectively. Technology, which they may need to develop in order to capture that information. And finally, information, which is how they analyze the data they capture to assess and evaluate the impact they’ve had.

 

It all started with a spreadsheet . . .

 

As to how Billy got onto the Salesforce platform in the first place, “I was brought into this by a spreadsheet,” he says. Coming out of college, he had a real passion for data, but he didn’t know how to exactly apply it. “Most of the markets and the systems that we deal with have some sort of a digital component, so how do we actually understand the role that technology plays in creating those inequalities that we see in the world?” That lead him to Baltimore Corps, where he was tasked with working with a huge spreadsheet to track all their applicants. He started looking for a better way to track their work, and the rest was history.

 

“Not unlike a lot of nonprofits, we use Salesforce—and specifically the Nonprofit Success Pack—to do a lot of donation tracking,” Billy says, “but that wasn’t actually the real reason we were drawn to it initially.” Because they place so many people in so many different roles, they not only need a way to keep track of where they ended up but also where they’ve applied and what happened next. It ends up looking a lot like an Opportunities model.

 

They also use Salesforce Communities as a way of engaging candidates and their hiring managers in the last stage of the process. They’re doing simultaneous recruitment of both the candidates and the employers and trying to pair them, so it’s a useful way to allow those two pools to communicate allowing Baltimore Corps to get out of the way. “At that point, it wasn’t B2B or B2C, it was almost like C2C,” Billy says. They ended up presenting this use case at Dreamforce, where they were really able to connect with the broader nonprofit community and share knowledge.

 

How to avoid painting yourself into a corner in your Salesforce instance.

 

As far as advice for other admins, Billy recommends you start with the sandbox. “It’s easy enough when there aren’t a ton of people looking at your instance and you don’t have a ton of records, but very quickly you can develop bad habits,” he says. You want to understand and outline what you’re trying to do before you make changes. “It’s very easy to be reactive,” he says, “but you can wind up painting yourself into a corner within your Salesforce instance.” You start with a simple picklist, but then ten requests later it’s 24 options long and it quickly becomes unmanageable. “Don’t just solve the immediate challenge,” Billy says, “think about how this immediate challenge that we’re solving likely to evolve so that way it becomes a more generalized problem and you can create a more generalized solution to that problem.”

 

Another big thing for Billy is working on really trying to understand when it’s necessary to create something custom to solve your problem. “When do you adapt the tool to fit your process versus when do you adapt the process to fit your tool,” Billy says. Salesforce naturally invites you to adapt the tool to fit your need, but sometimes you need to think more creatively about your process, like how Baltimore Corps uses a sales process to manage its applications.

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Full Show Transcript

Marc Baizman: Welcome to the Salesforce for Good miniseries on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Marc Baizman and I'm a Senior Admin Evangelist here at Salesforce. Before I was an Evangelist, I worked at salesforce.org and in the non-profit world and I made many incredible connections with people doing amazing things with Salesforce technology and non-profits. And I really want to share some of them with you. In this podcast mini series, we'll be talking to a variety of folks in the Salesforce nonprofit ecosystem including admins, architects, consultants, and salesforce.org employees. By the end of the series, you'll learn what makes the nonprofit sector special, how Salesforce Technology supports the mission of some amazing organizations that are making a huge impact, and you'll learn about the fantastic community of people that are making it happen. Get ready to get super nerdy and technical as we talk to Billy Daly, Director of Data, Technology, and Evaluation for Baltimore Corps. Let's welcome Billy to the podcast.Thanks so much for joining us today on the podcast, Billy.

Billy Daly: Thanks Marc. I really appreciate being on here.

Marc Baizman: Yeah, you bet. So glad to have you. So Billy, tell me a little bit about what you do and what Baltimore Corps' mission is?

Billy Daly: Sure. My name's Billy, obviously. My official title is the Director of Data, Technology, and Evaluation for Baltimore Corps, and Baltimore Corps is an organization. What we do is we focus on building capacity in the social impact sector in Baltimore. What that looks like functionally, is helping place really talented individuals in non-profit, government agencies, and social enterprises in Baltimore City. In roles where they have the most leverage to actually do and effect change in those organizations in the sector in Baltimore. That's really the focus of kind of what we do is help connect these individuals who are looking to actually have an impact in the sector with jobs where they can affect meaningful change and actually grow them into those roles. This way they're doing what they can to the best of their abilities.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. And your title was really long, could you expand on that a little bit?

Billy Daly: Yeah, sure.

Marc Baizman: Tell me about what does your day to day look like? Are we-

Billy Daly: I know, right? Most of the time I shorten it to DTE, but the reason for it is because there is three core pillars to what I do and what my department does. Those pillars are data, meaning what we work with the team on is figuring out what information do we need to actually do our role, do our work, and everything that we do at the organization more effectively? What technology do we need to develop in order to capture that information? And then ultimately, how do we use that information and the technology that we've built to capture it to actually assess and evaluate the impact that we've had as an organization and as a sector?

Marc Baizman: That sounds amazing. So, can you give me a little bit of background on what brought you into the non-profit world?

Billy Daly: Sure, yeah. The one thing I often say when I kind of talk about how I found Baltimore Corps and my work with Salesforce and data technology in general is that I was brought into this by a spreadsheet.

Marc Baizman: Like so many of us, right? Start with a spreadsheet.

Billy Daly: Exactly, right? Yeah, it's always a spreadsheet that draws you in. But essentially I was really, really lucky to be connected to this amazing individual named Lucas who had gone to the same college as someone I knew at my college, that was an admissions counselor. And she's like, "Hey you're really interested in data. You're interested in using data and technology for good, I think you would really get along with this person."
And so, she kind of made a connection and we grabbed coffee. I learned a little bit more about what it actually looked like to work in the data technology sector. He was a software developer and I was kind of interested in that. I was also interested in database administration, all that kind of stuff. But I didn't really know what it included. I was like, "Okay I know algorithms are a thing. I know databases and SQLs are a thing but what are they really?"

Marc Baizman: What's your background? Did you have a background in technology and this stuff? Give me a little more color on that.

Billy Daly: Yeah, absolutely. No, no, sorry, I should've lead with that. So, my background is primarily in environmental studies and econ, that was kind of what I studied and what I was really interested in.

Marc Baizman: Perfect.

Billy Daly: But particularly what I was interested in in relation to those things, is sort of how do in particular markets and people's interaction with markets wind up yielding either inequal outcomes, right? Some people are participating in these job markets and obviously there's widespread discrimination both intentional and unintentional as a result of bias. And the same is true for the housing market, for all these different markets that kind of make up society. What I was really interested in understanding is how is it that sort of people who are on hold trying to do good in the world, how does that actually wind up yielding outcomes that are disparately effecting certain individuals from different identities, backgrounds, races, classes, etc? And the reason I was interested in data technology is thinking that most of the markets and the systems that we deal with have some sort of a digital component to them. And so, how do we actually understand the role the technology plays in resulting in those inequalities that we see in the world?

Marc Baizman: Super, super fascinating. And certainly-

Billy Daly: Yeah.

Marc Baizman: As artificial intelligence and facial recognition become more and more popular, we're seeing institutions that are using these things in the same way, in biased ways and feeding, giving-

Billy Daly: Totally.

Marc Baizman: ... biased datasets and so on. So, anyway that's a different podcast, but [crosstalk 00:05:40]-

Billy Daly: I know, right? That's a [crosstalk 00:05:41] long hour.

Marc Baizman: Yeah, for sure. And it's a great, great topic. So, you had this kind of background in looking at markets and inequalities and that lead you into data and living with data, so that-

Billy Daly: Totally, yeah.

Marc Baizman: And you met with Lucas and had a coffee and you're like, "Hey I should do some database type things." So, take us from there.

Billy Daly: Totally, yeah, and so what he was sort of saying is like, "Hey it sounds like you got this amazing interest and it really lines with the work that my roommate does." And his roommate was, lo and behold, the CEO of Baltimore Corps. I did not know that at the time but I was just like, "Okay, cool. Sounds great. How can I help? I'd love to build my skills around some of this stuff." And he's like, "Okay, well, the main thing that we really need you to work on, that Baltimore Corps needs you to work on, is basically help them clean up a spreadsheet that they're using to actually use information about candidates to make better recommendations around who should get placed where." Right? So that was sort of my exposure to Baltimore Corps. It was this big, massive spreadsheet that had the output of all of our applications and it was from there that I was really was introduced to Salesforce. And at the time, I'd never heard of the word Salesforce before-

Marc Baizman: Sure.

Billy Daly: I was like, "Okay, here's this cool thing." I know that it spits out into a spreadsheet but it was kind of from the spreadsheet and the task that was, "How do you actually help this organization make better recommendations?" that I was then introduced to all these adjacent possible options and things to actually explore in terms of how to use information better. To do the work of the organization better and also to sort of improve hiring decisions that are made by all of the organizations then that are in our sector.

Marc Baizman: Outstanding. So, Salesforce existed at Baltimore Corps prior to your kind of working with it, is that right?

Billy Daly: Yes, very, very briefly. And as I'm sure you probably know well, Marc, but I think we only had it for about six months. But a lot can happen in that six months-

Marc Baizman: Yes, indeed.

Billy Daly: Of onboarding. And so, what I walked into when I was sort of getting onboard to this project was a ton of custom objects that through the course of sort of onboarding the system, a lot of the folks who were on our team who didn't quite have as much of a technical background... Not that I was coming with much more expertise or experience. They had sort of gone the route of, as I'm sure many people have which is like, "Oh you know what, we need this thing and I don't see something that is named exactly this in Salesforce-"

Marc Baizman: Right.

Billy Daly: "Let's create it." Right?

Marc Baizman: Yup.

Billy Daly: Which is awesome. I think it was great, the enthusiasm with which they approached the project but obviously there was, as we all know well, Salesforce, can be so flexible that it can almost come back to bite us at the end of the day. [crosstalk 00:08:18].

Marc Baizman: Right. Right. It's sort of a classic new admin thing to do, right?

Billy Daly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc Baizman: Which is like, "Oh, I can build a thing to do that? Great I'm going to do that."

Billy Daly: Yes. And like-

Marc Baizman: We were so busy building it, we didn't think if we should.

Billy Daly: Totally, yes, and also the idea of sandbox, was like, "What? There's a thing that you can do before you push stuff into production?" No, why do that? [crosstalk 00:08:37].

Marc Baizman: "That's a waste of time." [crosstalk 00:08:38].

Billy Daly: Exactly. But yeah, so totally. That was the context in which I joined the team and was first exposed to Salesforce.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. Can you give us a time frame of when this was year wise approximately?

Billy Daly: Yeah. I joined the team in fall of 2015, I want to say? Which was about, like I said, probably six months after Baltimore Corps had adopted and kind of implemented Salesforce. And so, in that time it's been amazing to sort of see both like, how much I've learned about Salesforce and the amazing community that's there and just how much Salesforce itself has changed, which is really cool. Things that we wanted to do that weren't possible in 2015 are now out of the box and standard, which is really, really cool.

Marc Baizman: Very cool. So, can you give us a little bit more info about what Baltimore Corps is actually doing with Salesforce? So, go ahead and get technical. The nerds out there are going to love it.

Billy Daly: All right, definitely. So I'd say probably not unlike a lot of non-profits, we use Salesforce and specifically NPSP to do a lot of donation attracting-

Marc Baizman: And NPSP is the Non-Profit Success Pack for-

Billy Daly: Yes, thank you for [crosstalk 00:09:51]-

Marc Baizman: [crosstalk 00:09:51] Our avid listeners.

Billy Daly: For translating that for me.

Marc Baizman: That's okay.

Billy Daly: Yeah, so we use a Nonprofit Success Pack for a lot of donation tracking but that wasn't actually the real reason we were drawn to Salesforce initially. What we were initially drawn to it for was almost as an application tracking system in ATS. Because the main thing as I mentioned that we do, is we place people into roles across the nonprofit sector and government agencies. And so, our main program, especially at the time that allowed us to do that, was our fellowship program. What we were presented with at the time was, prior to bringing on Salesforce, we were mainly just using Google Forms and trying to manage all the applications that were coming in through Google Forms. Which was okay our first year because I think at the time Baltimore Corps had 20 to 30 applications, maybe. But then as soon as we hit over 100, it became very clear that it was unmanageable in a Google Spreadsheet, right?
And so, that was when we started to see the value of having people actually have contact records and being able to sort of create something like an application, right? And track it through its stage. What was cool was that the traditional sales pipeline of Salesforce, at least as a mental model, fits that notion of moving application through a pipeline really well as well.

Marc Baizman: To lead [crosstalk 00:11:08] to contacts kind of thing?

Billy Daly: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Totally, yeah. Right? So, your lead generation is the start. That's basically just us going out to recruitment fairs and saying, "Hey would you be interested in applying?" Lead conversion is then when we actually get someone to sign up and start an application. And then, really their application isn't converted as a... So, we don't quite use these objects because we decided we wanted to keep them for donations. But it's very similar, and as a mental model or in theory to opportunities. Because someone's application is an opportunity that you're sort of moving along this pipeline. And at a certain point, that opportunity's either won or canceled or whatever, right? And that's whether someone's submitted the application or is placed, stuff like that. So, we're kind of trying to kind of lean as we were building out the system. We were trying to lean on those existing models and frameworks as much as possible. Just because they've been tried and true and tested really well which is great. So, we wanted to make sure to use all the things that have been proven really well in normal Salesforce but then adapt it to our specific needs.

Marc Baizman: Got it. When in doubt go with standard objects rather than build your own custom stuff, right?

Billy Daly: Definitely.

Marc Baizman: Yup.

Billy Daly: Yeah, you really want to be intentional about when you create each one because like we were saying before, just because something doesn't have the name that you want it to say exactly doesn't mean that it doesn't do 100% of what you need it to do.

Marc Baizman: Right. So, correct me if I'm wrong here, so two kind of major functions is the fundraising aspect using the NPSP and your applicant tracking system using sounds like a bunch of custom objects?

Billy Daly: Yeah. Yeah. And the other thing that we did, this was a little bit of a later edition but it has been super helpful is using Salesforce communities as a way of engaging candidates and their hiring managers in that last stages of the process. Because basically at that point, that's when we sort of have screened all the applicants and they've sort of gone through the process. And we've have said, "Hey you all are finalists, we'd be happy with anyone who got placed into a role to actually join our fellowship program." And then we do the same sort of thing for employers. We do a bunch of recruitment for them, try to get opportunities like placement opportunities, jobs, internships, stuff like that. And then sort of do a similar screening which is like, is this role a good fit for the people that we have in the finalist pool, is it also something that would be aligned with our values as an organization?
And then really that's where we want to step out of the equation as much as possible other than providing some guidance and some recommendations. But really allow at that point, employers and candidates to actually express interest in one another. So candidates can say, "Hey, I'm interested in applying for this job specifically in the fellowship" and then we'll go through and make some recommendations and say, "These applicants are actually a really good fit for the role." And then hiring manages can then look at applicants. And so, what we decided to do for that because it was such a... At that point it wasn't B to C or B to B, it was almost like C to C, right?

Marc Baizman: Right.

Billy Daly: We were trying to connect hiring mangers who are clients to potential fellows who are clients. We decided, hey a really great way to do this is to leverage communities because it sort of provides that natural space where individuals can interact with each other on a platform that is built on Salesforce, which is great.

Marc Baizman: That's fantastic. That's awesome. A great community [inaudible 00:14:18] case. So, you mentioned the community a little bit earlier. I'd love to hear maybe a little bit more about the community and how that's played into your Salesforce journey?

Billy Daly: Yeah. So I would say honestly, the tool is phenomenal. Salesforce is an amazing tool. But the thing that by and far has made it hold the place in our organization that it holds is because of all the amazing people that are around it. And so I would say my first exposure to that community was probably through Dreamforce. We were really, really lucky, myself and my supervisor at the time Liz Gomez, we were lucky enough to be able to go to Dreamforce and actually present on our used case of Salesforce and specifically Salesforce communities. And through that experience, I was able to see, wow, we're not the only nonprofit using Salesforce and more importantly we're not the only nonprofit using Salesforce in this kind of unique way, right. During the presentation, a bunch of people came up to us and they were like, "Hey we're also running a fellowship program through Salesforce. We haven't really thought about using communities or we really like how you're using [inaudible 00:15:22] to do this." You know, blah blah blah. All these different tools. So sometimes the connection was on a tool specific level.
Other times, it was, "Hey we're using a totally different stack of technology here. In terms of which Salesforce apps and extensions were using. But we have a super similar use case, can there be any kind of knowledge exchange that happens there?" But the few people that really stand out and actually one of them wound up becoming a good friend of mine and a partner that we work with, that we've worked with on a regular basis is Katie [Mcfadden 00:15:51].

Marc Baizman: Spoiler alert, we will be talking with her later in the pod.

Billy Daly: Oh, nice. That's awesome. Yes, Katie is the best. But really what's great about Katie, is that she's also such a good connection to all the other amazing people that are doing great work in the community. But Katie in particular really helped us think through our data model. So kind of going back a little bit, like I mentioned when I first inherited Salesforce, there were just so many custom objects there and I think I was still learning the way that Baltimore Corp functioned a little bit. What our business model was.
And we were also still grappling with sort of the technical debt of our implementation or translation of that business model into our data architecture. And so, getting a chance to sit down with her and really work through, what is it that we're trying to represent in our data schema and how do we do that in a way that leverages as many, as you were saying Marc, as many standard objects as possible but also doesn't force those standard objects into things that they're not designed to do, right? And so, really bouncing those two things together. She was instrumental in helping us think through that stuff. And what was great, it wasn't just about her knowledge, it was also if she ever reached, if we were ever stumbling onto something and she's like, "You know, I don't know if I've seen this use case before." She could go and tap this amazing network of other nonprofit users in other organizations she worked with.
So, she was sort of also the door into which I met a lot of the other amazing people like you actually, Marc, who are doing great work both on the Salesforce side and on the client, customer, user side as well as the partner side. Sort of this great three pronged tool of amazing partner network, people who know how to use Salesforce really well and can help you implement it. Salesforce itself, which is like how do we actually build technology that makes a partner community and a customer community excited to use these tools, and then also the customer community which is hey, we know these tools are designed this way and we know our partners are helping us implement them this way but here's how we're actually putting the technology that we've built and adapted into use in real life instances like on the ground doing the work.

Marc Baizman: Sounds like the community has really been integral to your journey and to your growth. I'm curious, what was the hardest part of your path here? So you kind of came in, you had an org that was super built out. Maybe just some thoughts on what was challenging for you over the process of working with Baltimore Corp? It could be anything, could be humans. Could be tech, some mixture of both.

Billy Daly: Yeah, I think the mixture of both is always probably the answer there, right? I think for me, one of the hardest parts was there were kind of three core challenges. So one was even just conceptually wrapping your head around it. I think the one thing that I often, since I've gotten a little more familiar with Salesforce, I've gotten a chance to talk to a lot of organizations that are considering adopting it or they're in the early stages of implementing it. And I think there's sort of this, there's often this assumption that I think is really important to dispel and a lot of the best partners and the folks at Salesforce that I've talked to are really good and quick to dispel this myth. Which is that, because you have a tool that's so flexible, the thought is, oh now that I have this tool it'll just do everything for me. But in reality, most of the hard work that happens in terms of building out an instance is actually the work that happens internally which is it forces you to interrogate what business practices are actually core to our mission versus what things are just a result of ad hoc practices that we built up over time. It forces you to clarify what is the actual process and journey that someone who that we're working with that actually travels, when they interact with our organization.
And it also sort of forces you to sort of answer if we have to codify some business practices, which of those are the most important and where do we sort of allow for there to be flexibility but have flexibility in process rather than in the structure of the technology. So I think, that's sort of the first challenge. Figuring out internally what is the most important to replicate in our system. The second then is really more like you were saying around the technology which is once you've codified and outlined what that process looks like, then the challenge is like how do I actually implement it? And that's really more of a, sometimes can be a limitation around knowledge which is if you don't really know the difference between a Master Detail relationship and a Lookup relationship and what the implications of each of those things are, it can be really difficult to pick the right... And not necessarily in each instance is there a right or a wrong answer.

Marc Baizman: True.

Billy Daly: But it's hard to know the consequences-

Marc Baizman: Right.

Billy Daly: ...of the decision that you're making. And that's really where-

Marc Baizman: Maybe a report that you might be able to generate or won't be able to generate because of an architectural choice that you make early on.

Billy Daly: Totally. The big one is also always security access, right?

Marc Baizman: Of course.

Billy Daly: If you choose to meet, use a Master Detail relationship, you then lose the ability to specify security or visibility access on those two objects separately.

Marc Baizman: Right. Only the Master object, not the Detail, right?

Billy Daly: Yeah, exactly. And what's great about that is that if you understand those rules well enough, you can actually leverage the Master Detail relationship to your advantage but if not, they can actually become these huge constraints upon your data models and your governance strategy and stuff like that. And this is really where I think having, either talking to people who have already done it before is really helpful or talking to a partner is really helpful because the thing that Katie and I would always talk about is when you're first getting started you can probably figure out a lot of this stuff yourself. Because Salesforce has amazing documentation but the challenge is the roadblock that it might take me a week or two weeks to get and the dead end that I'll eventually hit if I make this architectural decision because I don't know and I've never done it before. She could see as soon as we get to the fork in the road.
And so she could say, "Hey if you go down this path you're going to hit this dead end." And not be able to make the decision for me but at least tell me, this is what's down the road and then based on that information, you can make the choice of which one is actually better. But yeah, that was sort of the second challenge and I think the third challenge which is probably the one that people feel most acutely is even if you have all the other variables fixed. You've got the process outlined in a way that everyone is happy with, you have the knowledge and you know okay, this is the design, here's the architects were going to use, here's the governance strategy. Here are the security settings that we're going to use.

Marc Baizman: Right.

Billy Daly: Then the question is, how do you do that while also flying the plane? And it's super, super hard because I can't tell you how many of the major migrations we've done have been happening at like 10:00 at night on winter break.

Marc Baizman: Right.

Billy Daly: Because it's like, okay, what is the time that we can do this and have minimal potential overflow of effects on the people who are actually using this on a day to day basis? And that's always the hardest part and I think that's really where it just comes... It's a matter of communicating with your team and saying, "Look", managing expectations. "There's going to be some bugs as we're switching things over. We're going to do it in pieces. We can't do it all at once." But it's those three things get together and I think that's why the community is so beneficial because they can help. Most of the time you can find someone in the community who has a similar business case. So, you can leverage their models that they put together and adapt them to fit your needs.
You can find people who have the expertise to help you correct or fix that delta between what you know now and what you need to know to implement this stuff. And then ultimately the community I think is most useful in terms of helping you figure out how do you actually roll this out in a real life project setting? Because that's the hard part is once you have everything figured out, how do you do it in a way that meets timelines and deadlines, doesn't cause a disruption but also gets you what you need in terms of the system that at the end of the day you really want to use?

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. All right. So tell us about some of the cool things that you've built, some of the problems that you've had to solve for. So, you've overcome these challenges obviously. Baltimore Corp is kind of using Salesforce wall to wall. Tell us about some of the cool things that you're really proud of. I know we've heard about the community. But are there any particularly thorny challenges that you're psyched that you got through?

Billy Daly: Yeah, that's a good question. I think the one other tool, a lot of times I think about this in terms of tools because that's obviously the power of Salesforce is there's this great amazing platform and then you can stack so many other things on top of it. And I think the biggest one that comes to mind initially is how we approach doing reviews within the context of our Salesforce instance. So just a little bit of background for this, when I first came on as I mentioned, that was right when we had shifted to using Salesforce to run our application process. And so, what we had done is basically shifted from a Google form to instead using FormAssembly as a way of intaking applications. FormAssembly is basically a really, really awesome form building tool. There's so many other great ones out there too but I've gotten the chance to know the FormAssembly community really well and that's the tool that we really love. But basically it just allows you to create a process where you can basically build something like a Google form, intake information, and then have that information get pushed to Salesforce and then you can also pull stuff out of Salesforce too which is critical to sort of the solution we had to this problem.
But the challenge that we were facing was once we got this information into Salesforce, we needed some way for staff at the time at least to be able to look through and actually review peoples' applications and then make recommendations. This way someone could then go back through and say, "Okay these five people said they wanted to move this person on." I should say, these two people said they wanted to move this person on and this one person said they didn't and then be able to actually make that decision around whether or not someone gets moved to the next stage of the problem, I'm sorry, the process. The problem with that though was as I mentioned, one of the things we're really committed to as an organization is effectiveness of an organization and also reducing the role of bias and discrimination in a process.

Marc Baizman: I bet applicant tracking is ripe for things like bias and discrimination.

Billy Daly: Oh yes, exactly. Totally, right? It's the perfect storm because what you have to do, is you have a lot of information. Some of it is really relevant to the decisions that you're making which is just when you're thinking about review, the decision is you move this person on or do you not. And some of it is totally extraneous like name, not really relevant to whether or not someone moves on. But also that can be really difficult to hide as only a step in the process, right? If we need someone internal to the organization to see the names sometimes, but we don't want them to see the name at this particular step of the process, that was really hard because you can't really use permission sets or security settings to conditionally hide or reveal. At least not at the time. I know there's been some cool things with the [inaudible 00:26:29] and stuff like that to work around some of the challenges in that sense but basically the problem was, we just had people who had to make these decisions, doing it for a lot of applicants at a time and had to literally just go into Salesforce, read through a record, and then basically go and create a new record that had their decision around whether this person should move on or shouldn't move on, etc.
So it became a lot of just hunting through Salesforce to find this information and having to sort of forcefully block out information that shouldn't be relevant. So, what we try to do instead was, okay well, how do we actually just extract the information that's needed and how do we make it so that way people don't have to think about... We want to take as much as the thought process into creating records out of the process, so this way they can just focus on the content and the decision around whether or not this person was a good fit for the fellowship or for the next stage of the process. So what we wound up doing was leveraging FormAssembly's prefill connector, which I was mentioning which is not only can you send information to Salesforce, you can actually also pull it back out which is really great. And that allowed us to basically accept information in one format, whatever the most natural way for people to input the information was, store in Salesforce in a totally different way. A way that allowed us to report on it most easily and then pull it back out and reformulate it in a way that made most sense for review.
So, obviously during the application process we need to know peoples; names. That's important to know in Salesforce as well, but we don't want the names to be visible when people are doing reviews. So, we could collect that information, store it in Salesforce but then filter it out when we were pulling it back into the report. And then we were also able to use Salesforce report self to actually generate a personalized cue for everyone of the reviews they had to do so this way they weren't going and trying to find each individual application and then going over the [inaudible 00:28:11] list and trying to find the create new review record, etc. We could just have a single report where people could have a hyperlink to a FormAssembly form. Fill that out, and then that would automatically do a lot of the record creation and updating peoples' statuses. And so, obviously that kind of described at a very high level but one of the cool things was, for me it felt like one of the best projects and challenges where we really got the chance to look at every single piece of Salesforce. Like there was security, access questions, there was using another form builder in connection questions. There was questions around data architecture, how does it make sense to translate the information that's put into this form into a way that stores the records most efficiently?
And so, it was kind of a cool culmination of all those different individual slices of knowledge that you learn through things like the Trailheads and stuff like that but applied in a really concrete way, solving an actual business challenge. So I don't know if I did a good job of articulating that.

Marc Baizman: Yeah, I think you did a great job. And if you'll allow me, it seems like it goes back to your original kind of background where you're trying to look at these systems and look at these markets if you will to reduce bias. You're actually applying a technology solution to try to do exactly that. Perhaps that's why it jumps out at you. There's the [crosstalk 00:29:32] piece but there's also the kind of mission piece too.

Billy Daly: Absolutely. Yeah. It definitely was one of the things that I was most interested in at that early stage. Because like you said, it's really sort of the... You can talk about reducing bias at a very theoretical level but on a day to day basis, how do you actually make someones job easier but also make it easier to do good as well which I think is really core.

Marc Baizman: Awesome. All right, well, we have only a couple more questions here. I'd love it if you could give some advice for other admins. Maybe advice to yourself way back in 2015 when you're walking into an org that has a million custom objects and you don't know where to start. But yeah, just any advice you might have for other admins.

Billy Daly: I definitely wish I could go back and give myself some advice. So there are also three things I think that pop out to me when I think about advice to share. So, the first one, maybe the first two... Well, the first one is really concrete. The first one is used sandboxes because I definitely... Even after I joined the team, I did not use sandboxes and I was like, "What's the point of a sandbox?" And I think it's easy enough when there aren't a ton of people looking at your instance and you don't have a ton of records but very quickly you can develop really bad habits. And let's say you implement something and you want to change it, it's much harder to go enroll back than if you just did it in an isolated environment. And it just introduces a much better work flow when you do something and test it out in a safe container and then you can selectively choose which of those changes you want to migrate over for production.

Marc Baizman: Sandboxes and change sets.

Billy Daly: Yes. Sandboxes and change sets, super, super helpful. And then sort of in part and parcel with that, so that's like the technological, that's a technology that allows for a certain type of work flow in terms of making changes to the work that you're doing. I think that sort of the process around that or the theory around that that is also really important that I would have loved to share with myself is, the importance of really... I think it goes a little bit both ways but the importance of understanding and outlining things before you make changes is so helpful because a lot of times it's really easy to be very reactive. Someone's like, "Oh, I don't see this... We need this field or this additional piece of information stored on this record." And the knee jerk reaction might be, great, we can go and create a field for that or we can add this option to a picklist. And the challenge is especially with the picklist one, I think this is a really good example, a very concrete example of this broader principle, is that when you are only responding to immediate needs or challenges reactively, you can wind up almost painting yourself in a corner metaphorically within your Salesforce instance.
Where at the end, with each request that comes in, it might just be a simple addition of an item to a picklist but then 10 requests later, you might have a picklist that's 24 options long and then on top of that you might need to store additional information so you might have picklist one and then picklist two. So one concrete example of this, maybe not with picklist but with this idea is when we were first translating our application into Salesforce and moving the process from Google Forms to FormAssembly and Salesforce, well, one of the things we were doing was we had people describe their past work experience. And it started off as just like, "Okay, tell us about an experience that was most relevant to the work that you want to do in the fellowship." And that was great because we could have just an open text box field. But then people were like, "Well, actually we'd really like to pull out" their title and the organization.
So we're like, great we can just add a title, a field, and we can add an organization field. So then what you have is like three new fields on the application object and that's fine. But then someone's like, 'What if we allowed them to do five experiences" and then what you start to do is, you're like, "Okay, then we'll have organization one, title one, and description one." And then organization two, title two, description two. And then what happens is-

Marc Baizman: I'm having flashbacks to some previous Salesforce orgs.

Billy Daly: Yeah.

Marc Baizman: I may have been an admin [inaudible 00:33:43]. Go on. Sorry.

Billy Daly: It is such a common thing though, right? And I remember actually the person I mentioned earlier Lucas, who kind of introduced me to Baltimore Corp. What was great was he was not coming from a Salesforce background but obviously database administration, whether you're talking about a CRM like Salesforce or a more robust MySQL database, is all really similar. And he was saying, a good design pattern... He called it like shallow and deep data, right? Or like a shallow way of storing that information is just continuously adding rows or fields to a particular record. But then the problem is as soon as you want to capture that same thing multiple times, you're going to start having... You start to lose sense of, okay well which of these records... I'm sorry, which of these fields corresponds to which other fields. You're almost entering this sort of metadata about these three records... I'm sorry, these three fields are actually almost a pseudo record together, right? So at that point, that was when he was like, "You actually want to start thinking about creating a new object where you can have multiple instances of that object that are then related to that parent application."
And so, obviously that's a super specific example of it but I think the broader trend or theory behind that is that you shouldn't just solve the immediate challenge, you should think about how is this immediate challenge that we're solving likely to evolve so that way it becomes a more generalized problem and what's a more generalized solution so that we can create to that problem. And a similar sort of one to that was like, at the time when I joined the team we only had one program. So we just had one object that was like, this is our application. But then as soon as we added a second program, we were like okay, well, which application is this actually in reference to? Because if you have an application for one program and an application for another program and you only have one application object, it becomes really difficult.
So there's couple different ways of solving that, you could have again like a picklist that has all the different programs listed under that picklist. But if there's other data about that program that you want to store, like the start and end date, like when does the application open and when does it close, then you can easily wind up painting yourself into the corner again and having the picklist that is the program and then the picklist that is the date field. Sorry, program start date, program end date. And you wind up going down the same path. So, I think that's at the broader trend. And I wish I could simplify it to a single thing but really thinking about how do you not solve the immediate need but come up with a solution that maybe solves the immediate need but also solves the more generalized case of that need I think is super, super important.
And then I think the last one is really just about really trying to understand when is the tool that you're building, or when is it necessary to create something that is custom or different from what exists already? Basically when do you adapt the tool to fit your process versus when do you adopt the process to fit the tool, right?
And I think that's a super difficult thing to figure out and there's not a right or wrong answer or a single rule that you can always use. But I think also with Salesforce, it sort of invites that kind of adaptation of the tool to fit the need. When in reality sometimes we were kind of talking about a little while ago, if you just rethink and think more creatively about your process and say, hey this is actually a sales process. Even though we don't call it that because we're a nonprofit and we don't sell to people. What we do is we form relationships, we navigate people through challenges. It's a journey, not a sales pipeline, right? But at the end of the day from a process and a system standpoint, they are really similar. Kind of leaning into that creativity a little bit more and saying, rather than trying to do it to adjust the tool to fit every single need, how do we actually use process to actually adapt what we're doing to fit the tool that we have available to us?

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. Wow. Well, three very concrete take aways there. Thanks, Billy. So my last question for you is what do you do when you are not at Baltimore Corp? What kind of fun stuff do you get up to in your regular life?

Billy Daly: Good question. I consider Salesforce and the work I do really fun.

Marc Baizman: Of course.

Billy Daly: But that is not the point of the question. I do a lot of biking and I do a lot of climbing, like rock climbing. And so that's really fun. I live in Baltimore City, so there's always a lot of really cool things to do in the area and there's a really, really strong biking community there. And probably my favorite thing to do in Baltimore is this thing called Bike Party. And it's the last Friday of every month and basically it's people from all walks of life in Baltimore City, from people who are really hardcore biking around in fixed gear bikes, like bike messengers, that kind of thing all the way down to people who may have just rented a bike for this one night, come together and it's like five to 800 people bike throughout the city and then end at like a brewery or like a parking lot that has a bunch of food trucks. And it's really just a really fun time where you see the whole vibrancy and diversity of the city in this one place and everyone is kind of doing their own thing but all have this shared goal which is to have fun and to bike and explore the city which is really cool.
So, that to me, biking is something I do both to get around the city, just commute. But it's also become a really big part of my identity and the community I'm a part of in Baltimore.

Marc Baizman: That's fantastic. Before we wrap up would you just give us a little bit of Baltimore slang?

Billy Daly: Oh man. Sort of the classically known one is hun. It is something that you refer to people as. You'll probably also notice and I might be called out by true Baltimore natives for adopting this but when you say Baltimore, if you're here long enough, you kind of start to drop the T a little bit. It becomes the D and then sometimes even just disappears all together. But I don't know if I'm quite an authority to speak on all of the Baltimore slang but yeah, those are the different ones. And the other thing too is you'll often hear if you ask someone where are you from in Baltimore, they won't tell you. They won't just name the city, they'll really name the neighborhood that they're from or that they live in because Baltimore is definitely a city of neighborhoods. So every single corner of the city has its own really rich vibe and history and it's one of the things I love most about the city because you can go a couple of blocks and be in what feels like a totally different place.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. Cool. And which neighborhood are you from?

Billy Daly: So I specifically live in Abell, which is a super, super small neighborhood but it's kind of part of a larger neighborhood called Charles Village.

Marc Baizman: Awesome. Well Billy, thank you so much for joining me today on Salesforce Admins podcast. I think there's just so many great nuggets of advice that you gave. So, just really appreciate your time today and for all the listeners out there, hope they got some great stuff from you. So thanks again, Billy.

Billy Daly: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was great talking and I'm really excited to hear some of the other people who are coming onto the show.

Marc Baizman: You bet, thanks. I love being able to geek out with Billy and there were a couple of highlights I wanted to pick out from our conversation. I loved how Billy brought up the assumption that since Salesforce has provided such a flexible tool, some people think it can just do everything. But actually most of the hard work is done looking at your own process. To start implementing, there are questions that need to be answered that you won't find by yourself, like what is the journey of the user's business process? Then to go on and apply the proper technology and knowledge, that's the perfect moment to connect with the community to see who's done similar projects and guide you to make the right decisions. We talked about a bunch of different process discovery steps and how to connect with your stakeholders, partners, and community to maintain a healthy implementation of the platform. I hope Billy was able to spark some ideas and drive some motivation to get out there, keep learning, and growing your career. Thanks again, Billy, and stay tuned for the next episode of the Salesforce for Good miniseries on the Salesforce Admins Podcast.

 

Direct download: Salesforce_For_Good__Billy_Daly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have Zarina Varley Scott, Lightning Champion and Technology and Project Manager at Imperial Capital. This episode is part of a six-part series, the Lightning Champions Spotlight, hosted by Kelley Walker, Senior Adoption Consultant at Salesforce. We’ll talk to some amazing guests to find out about their career journey, how it lead them to the Lightning Experience, advice on handling change management, and why Lightning Experience is so awesome.

Next Monday is International Podcast Day, and to celebrate we’ve put together a playlist of the most helpful tips and tricks we’ve heard from our awesome admin guests over the past year. To join in the celebration, follow us on Twitter, @salesforceadmns, and let us know which episodes have been your favorite.

Join us as we talk about how Zarina found her way to Lightning, the solutions she builds for her users, and how you can still contribute a lot to the Salesforce community even if you don’t have a tech background.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Zarina Varley Scott.

 An extended vacation that became a career.

Zarina studied public relations and music business at school in Australia and decided to move to Canada for an adventure. “Spoiler alert,” she says, “I’m going to be celebrating the eight-year anniversary of my one-year voyage in a few months.” She got what was supposed to be a temporary job with a private equity firm, Imperial Capital, where she remains to this day. She eventually landed as administrator of her company’s previous CRM system, so when they made the transition to Salesforce she found herself in charge of the platform.

At Trailhead DX 2018, she went to admin boot camp, met tons of amazing people, and got her admin certification. She also got inspired to relaunch the Toronto Women in Tech group, which really took off and led to her getting involved in True North Dreamin. For all of her work with the community, she was awarded a Golden Hoodie at Toronto World Tour this year.

How to find your place and use your strengths. 

“I joined the Lightning Champions because, for one, I love Lightning, but also it’s a great opportunity to learn,” Zarina says. While she’s not the most technical user, her experiences being active in the community and learning for herself has helped her connect with others over the possibilities of what Lightning can do for their orgs. We all have our own strengths, so focusing on how to give back in ways that you feel best able to contribute makes our community better.

Zarina became passionate for Lightning because her company was a relatively new Salesforce customer, so they implemented on Lightning off the bat. “I’d definitely recommend any new customers implement on Lightning,” she says, “if you’re going to be going through change anyway you may as well save yourself having a separate battle.”

Tips for being a solo admin.

As a solo admin, Zarina has some unique challenges that Lightning really helps her deal with. “I actually use cases to manage my own requests,” she says, “so now when I meet with the managing partners I can run my report and show them what I’ve been working on.” She uses a variety of stages, from “wishlist” to “in queue” to “closed” to help her keep track of her own work. This can also be helpful as you’re going through your own Lightning transition.

“We have different core areas of our business,” Zarina says, “we have fundraising and then we have our deal team, and I’ve built out some great Lightning apps to cater to those two groups and keep things a little bit more separated.” That gives a cleaner experience for her users, and also allows for fewer opportunities for them to get into something they shouldn’t be messing with.

The Lightning Experience is coming, are you ready?

Salesforce is turning on Lightning Experience on a rolling basis in Winter ‘20, and while you’ll still have access to Salesforce Classic, Lightning Experience is the future when it comes to driving business growth and improved productivity. To get ready, verify your org’s existing features and customizations in the new interface and prepare your users with change management best practices. To help you out, we’ve put together a short video, Understand How the Lightning Experience Critical Update Affects My Users.

If you want to catch Zarina in person, make sure to stop by True North Dreamin 2020 in Vancouver, April 23rd and 24th, hosted by the Vancouver User Group. 

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Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt and if you are listening to this the day it comes out Thursday, September 26th 2019, then you're in for a treat because next Monday is International Podcast Day. That's right. It's a day where we can celebrate the craft of producing podcasts and be there with you, our listeners who have been with us for maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe a year, maybe four or five years. To celebrate this day, we put together an awesome playlist of all of the tips and tricks we have heard from our #awesomeadmin guests over the last year. You can follow us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no "I", to celebrate with us and we would love to hear which episodes have been your favorite and the most helpful for you. Now, on this week's very special Lightning Champion Spotlight mini series, it is hosted by Kelly Walker.

Kelly Walker: Welcome to the Salesforce Lightning Champion Spotlight on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Kelly Walker and I am a Senior Adoption Consultant here at Salesforce. I also have the amazing opportunity of working closely with the awesome trailblazers who are passionate about Lightning and have become Lightning champions to evangelize the power of Lightning. In this mini series, we will be talking to six awesome Lightning champions to talk about their career journey, how it led them to the Lightning experience, advice on handling change management, and to focus on their stories of why Lightning Experience is so awesome.

Kelly Walker: Now, Salesforce is turning on Lightning Experience on a rolling basis in winter '20. Users still have access to Salesforce classic after Lightning Experience is turned on, but Lightning Experience is where you want to be for driving business growth and improved productivity. To get ready, verify your orgs existing features and customizations in the new interface and prepare your users with change management best practices. This update applies to users who have the Lightning Experience user permission, including all users with standard profiles and users with custom profiles or permission sets that have the Lightning Experience user permission enabled. For more information, check out the critical update and watch the short video titled, "Understand how the Lightning Experience critical update affects my users," both of which are linked in the show notes.

Kelly Walker: All right, welcome to this Lightning Champion highlight. I have an amazing Lightning Champion who always is full of energy and life and excitement. I am so excited to talk to you today, Zarina, and have everyone in the community get to know you a little bit better as I feel I have over the last year. So Zarina, welcome.

Zarina: Thank you so much for having me. I'm a long time listener, first time caller.

Kelly Walker: Well, we're excited to highlight you and talk about your journey to Salesforce and really the amazing things that you're doing on Lightning, but also within your community to bring just Salesforce and the power of it to your community members. let's start there and just tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your journey to Salesforce like?

Zarina: Sure. Well, it's kind of similar to other people's stories, but kind of not in a lot of respects. I studied way back when, public relations and music business, back in Australia. I decided I wanted to move to Canada for a year for an adventure. Spoiler alert, I'm going to be celebrating the eight year anniversary of my one year voyage in a few months. I came over on a working holiday visa, obviously thinking I'd be here for a year and got a job at a private equity firm as an admin assistant. I'm still at the same company. Over the years, I kind of worked my way up through the ranks. I was Executive Assistant, I was IT Coordinator.

Zarina: I consider myself a kind of accidental admin, but not in the same respect. What I mean by that is I was the assistant administrator for our former CRM system. Then we decided, "Okay, it's time to move to Salesforce." I wasn't really involved in the process of choosing Salesforce as our CRM. It was kind of being like, "Cool, we're going to be using Salesforce and I guess that means you're going to be the system admin." I was like, "Cool, that sounds great", fully not understanding at all what that meant, being exposed to the wonderful world of being a Salesforce admin. I really kind of fell in love with the whole thing, started doing Trailhead badges and playing around in my sandbox. Then I was lucky enough to attend TraildheaDX 2018, so last year. That was where I went to admin bootcamp and met so many wonderful, amazing people. A few weeks later, I got my admin certification and it all snowballed from there.

Zarina: I met wonderful people and then I was inspired by a great session I saw on women in tech community groups to I guess to start up the Toronto Women in Tech group, which is kind of been, I don't want to say it's... No, what's the right word? It's not archived. It had just been kind of on hold. So I became the leader of that group and then everything kept growing and growing. Then, True North Dreamin kind of happened. I got involved with that. Then yeah, because of all my community involvement, I was awarded the Golden Hoodie at Toronto World tour this year, which was totally, totally a surprise, but it's crazy to think that from really only just over a year of being involved that that kind of honor was bestowed on me. Yeah, it's been a wild ride in a really short period of time.

Kelly Walker: Well, that's amazing. I saw you received the Golden Hoodie and I was so excited for you because you are doing so much to give back. You mentioned True North Dreamin, and I know that was the first time this event has been run in Canada. Do you want to talk a little bit about the success of the event, as well as the amazing learning opportunity that came with it?

Zarina: Yeah, absolutely. True North Dreamin is the first Salesforce community conference up here in Canada. Obviously, they are now all over the world, but we didn't have one for some reason. Myself and some like minded folks got connected and started planning. It was in Ottawa, which is our nation's capital. It's like any typical Dreamin event, but I guess it definitely had a distinctly Canadian vibe. There are, as you've mentioned, tons of great learning opportunities. There are myself and a couple of other fellow Lightning Champions were there and were running workshops, and some of them were selected to present as well, which was great, and of course, there were other Lightning Champions running the Lightning Champion's booth, talked to people about Lightning and the benefits of it and about the program and stuff like that as well. There was tons of great ways to learn about the program and Lightening in general, and for us to all do what we do as Lightning Champions and spread the good word about Lightning.

Kelly Walker: Zarina, you have been a Lightning Champion for a little over a year now, I believe. You joined, really, when we weren't out in the community talking to a lot of customers. We were kind of in the infant stages of the Lightning Champions program, but you are so passionate about what Salesforce can do and what Lightning can do for users. I'd love to understand really what drew you to this program.

Zarina: Yeah, well, I'm the first to tell you that I'm definitely not the most technical person in the world. I've come leaps and bounds from where I ever thought I would be as someone studying music, business and public relations, but I joined the Lightning Champions because for one, I love Lightning, but also it's a great opportunity to learn. There's obviously so many opportunities that were given, special opportunities I should say, but I feel as though while I might not be the most technical person and I might not be able to use all of the wonderful features that Lightning has to offer, I feel like my strength in other ways. To become a Lightning Champion is my way of being able to evangelize the product that I love using so much, but it's also a way that I can give back.

Zarina: There were so many wonderful people in our community that are really great at answering questions in the answers community and have technical blogs on the best new features of new releases and that's not really something that I can do. Maybe one day, who knows? But for now, being a Lightning Champion and being, I don't want to say a beginner user, that's the wrong sentiment, being a Lightning Champion where I'm not the most technical advanced user in the world has still given me really great benefits and I feel like my strengths lie in being active in the community and writing about my own experiences in my own blog, and being a user group leader. I can help people understand Lightning and really help their businesses grow by nurturing them rather than by giving them the technical answers.

Kelly Walker: I think that's a great point too, because we all have our own strengths in this community, right? you don't have to have the top blog or you don't have to have your own podcast, whatever it may be. If you just give back in the ways that you feel strong or the ways that you feel passionate, you can really make a major impact. I think that's very evident in the impact that you're making in your Canadian community and how you're a Golden Hoodie recipient and all those fun things that come along with it, but you really are using your strengths to make your community better.

Zarina: Well, thanks for that. I appreciate it.

Kelly Walker: You are one of our first or within the first group of Lightning Champions that we had. You and, as you mentioned, so many of your fellow community members have done so much to give back to Lightning. There must be a reason why you're excited about evangelizing the power of the Lightning platform and all that comes with it. I'd love to understand a little bit more about how you taught yourself about what lightening was, but then how you really helped your fellow community members, as well as just the users within your org embraced, the new features, the new functionality, all that comes with Lightning.

Zarina: Yeah. My story is slightly different from others because we are only relatively new customers of Salesforce, we actually implemented on Lightning, which I definitely strongly would recommend any new customers do. It'll be much better for you in the long run if you're going to be going through change anyway, may as well save yourself having a separate battle. What I find funny for myself is I loved [inaudible 00:12:45] and I think, around 150 badges, and the ones that I really struggle with are the ones where it's like, "Oh, this one's going to be in classics" So you have to go back and I'm like, "Oh, dear. What's this? Where's this? I don't know where anything is now." Which I find kind of funny, but my users, I feel like for us, so I work for a private equity firm, which is financial services. They're pretty tech savvy and classic would have been a really hard sell for them.

Zarina: I feel like that was actually part of the decision. The timing for us was kind of perfect. They love all of like the sleek look of it and the features. It's just a much cleaner version of Salesforce. It's way more user friendly really, which is what it comes down to. My users are very tech savvy and always trying to stay ahead of the game. For us, it's always best to have like the newest and best version of anything if we're trying to get them to you use it.

Kelly Walker: Now, you're one of the fortunate few who just started out in Lightning, but you've really been able to do some amazing work within the platform itself. What have you been able to accomplish and really deliver to your users that make them more productive, more efficient, really take them beyond where they've been in other systems and where do you see yourself going maybe with the awesome new features that are coming out for Lightning?

Zarina: Yeah. I'd say probably one of the biggest things that has been really helpful is the Lightning report builder. It's a much more user friendly interface and it's allowing some of my users to maybe... It's been more inviting, so they are willing to kind of give it a go versus before it's very much like a, "Oh. That looks a bit scary. I don't want to give that a try. You're the system admin, you should just do it." It's a bit more inviting in that regard. We have different areas, like core areas of our business. We have fundraising one side of it and we have our deal team, which are the main two areas. I built out some great Lightning apps to cater to those two separate groups to keep things a little bit more separated because our deal team, a lot of the time it's not really relevant to see the fundraising related stuff, and vice versa.

Zarina: I've really broken it down between the different groups and made that a more cleaner experience for the users because that's one thing I know that they don't like to see is stuff that's not relevant to them. I also don't want them poking around in stuff that's not relevant to them as well. I'm having separated apps this way really helps with that.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. I'd love to know what your favorite feature is.

Zarina: I got to say, I really love the Path feature. It's such a great visual way to see at a glance, but it's also good for... It makes you feel good about yourself to know that you're moving along, that it's pushing you to... Well, pushing my users to close those deals and to get those investors signed up and stuff like that. I've been thinking about putting in the confetti for closed deals. Maybe not all the time, but every now and then. Yeah, I really do love the Path feature. I know that sounds basic, but for my users, that's definitely one of the most applicable things.

Kelly Walker: Have you taken it a step further and built it out with guidance and key fields, so that they're really drawn to maybe those actions that need to take place before they move along the path. What have you done to really help guide your users?

Zarina: Those are definitely on my list of stuff that I want to implement. I'm sure everyone understands how it is to have a list of things, this long of things that they're trying to implement, and especially as a solo administrative, that can be hard. I definitely have them on my list, but unfortunately, haven't really had the time to be able to implement them yet. So it's on my wishlist for sure.\.

Kelly Walker: Let's dive into the solo admin life a little bit because so many admins that listen to this podcast feel like they're doing it alone, at least within there org, but they're not alone because of the community. I would love to hear some of your best practices or advice that you may have as you tackle your own wish list. How do you prioritize and how do you manage numerous users when you're kind of doing it alone?

Zarina: Sure. Well, one thing that I do is I actually use cases to manage my own request, which I've heard of other people doing this, but for me, we don't actually use cases because that's not relevant for what we're doing in our business, but I saw thought, "Okay, well I feel like I need something to track what I'm building for org and the maintenance I'm doing." I thought about creating something, but then I was like, "Well, I already have this in built." So if you already have it, you may as well make use of it. What is really good about that is that, now when I meet with the managing partners, I can run my report and be like, "Yeah, so this is what I've been working on."

Zarina: I can show the various stages and my notes along the way and the various statuses and when it was closed and all of that stuff. It's a really great way I think, for not just a solo administrative, but admins in general to keep track of what they're working on. I've extended it to cover the other areas of the business that I'm involved in because there is a life outside Salesforce. I still do various other IT related tasks and I manage those in there too, now as well. I think it's a good way to be able to show metrics around what you're doing and if the need would be as a use case for justifying if you need more help or you need more time to be focusing on stuff.

Zarina: I track stuff that I have as a wishlist, as well as stuff that I'm actually working on. I have various stages from my case, which the first one being, wishlist and then there is in queue. So it's like something that I'm going to have to do relatively soon, and in progress. If I have to put something on hold and then if I need to escalate it for whatever reasons, for support or something like that, and then if it's closed. I think just keeping track of all of the things that are in your wishlist is important because if you always just put it to the back of your mind, you're probably never going to get to it, but this way I know when I'm looking in my open cases list view, I can see the stuff that I have that I really want to be able to get to that might not be able to right now. It's just a good way to be able to keep track of all of that and to be able to run metrics on and do reporting on it.

Kelly Walker: Yeah. I've definitely talked to other customers who have used cases as they're going through a Lightning transition or just some place where they need to make note of all of the asks that are coming in. Then I love how you brought it back to having those conversations with management. It's not necessarily what have you been doing, but you can really see in a report or a dashboard. All the hard work that you're putting into makes the org what your users want it to be. Then your users see based on when they put their request in or what other priorities you have, maybe where they're ask lies. I just love that idea and I think it's a great way for admins, especially if they don't have a team around them, to work through those requests.

Kelly Walker: Now, with regards to maybe those admins that are just getting started or admins that are looking to take their career to the next level, I know that you've done a lot of that within a short period of time, but what advice would you have to offer to someone maybe looking at what their next step would be?

Zarina: I know this is a pretty common answer, but 100% Trailhead. I can't stress that enough. I hear from lots of other people that have been in the community for a while and they talk about life before Trailhead. I just honestly, can't even imagine it... I'm obviously very lucky that I have that resource, but I feel like others... It sounds like the obvious answer, but it really is true. I find if there's something that new that I'm trying to figure out or I get stuck, I always check to see if there's a Trailhead badge first, if I can learn that way before I try something in my org or before I create a question in the answers community or even have to open a ticket with support. That's always my first port of call.

Zarina: I would also say, join your local admin community group. I'm very fortunate to have a number of great groups here in Toronto. Our admin group is actually the biggest one in Canada, which is kind of cool. If you can't find one in your area, there's no reason why you can't maybe look at starting a group. I know it's not for everyone, but it is a really great resource and quite often, people bring their questions, their troubleshooting questions and depending on what the topic is, if there's time, someone will ask a question and then everyone in the room will help try and troubleshoot it with them, which is one of the really great things I love about this community. The list is very, very long, but that in particular, I've seen something like having 50 or 60 people in a room trying to help you solve your question.

Kelly Walker: Well, that is awesome advice and I would definitely second that. I would not be where I am today without the community that gathered around me as I started this journey pre Trailhead if you can believe it. All right, Zarina. It's been amazing having you on the podcast. I want to thank you so much for joining. I know that you have exciting news about True North Dreamin 2020. If you want to share that, we'd love to jot it down in our calendars.

Zarina: Yeah, thanks Kelly. After the success of True North Dreamin 2019, we are going to be going to, what I'm told, is referred to as the left coast. I don't know if that's just a Canadian thing or not, but we are, yes, we're heading west to the left coast to Vancouver for April 23rd and 24th. We have, actually, the leaders of the Vancouver admin group, Alex and Zoe, they're very passionate members of the community and their group is pretty great. The content they put out is pretty amazing. They're going to be leading the charge next year in Vancouver. We have a lot of people already very excited about it. Obviously, I'm hoping Lightning Champions will be there at full force. Yeah, we're just really excited to move forward for the next event. It's a labor of love. It really is and so happy to be able to bring this type of event to the Canadian community.

Kelly Walker: Awesome. Well, you are doing amazing things in your community and for those customers who are just starting to get their feet wet in Lightning. I want to thank you so much for being an amazing Lightning Champion and of course, for taking the time to join us on the pod here and share your words of wisdom. It's been amazing talking to you and I thank you again for joining.

Zarina: Thanks again so much for having me.

Kelly Walker: Wow. Zarina has had such an amazing journey through Salesforce in a short amount of time. She's been a Lightning Champion for over a year already and has been a part of the awesome planning committee for True North Dreamin, the first Dreamin event in Canada. Unlike most admins, Zarina joined a tech savvy company that loved the sleek in dynamic feel of the Lightning experience and she immediately saw the great benefits of Lightning and what it could provide for her company. So she jumped right into building custom experiences for her users. From not having a tech background, Zarina still found her place in this enormous community. I hope that anyone listening gets to meet her at some point. She'll be at Dreamforce this year and in 2020, she will be a part of True North Dreamin this year hosted in Vancouver. The links for that information will be down in the show notes. I want to end by highlighting how true it is that we all have our own strengths and specialties. By giving back in the ways that you are comfortable and passionate about, helps bring us together so we can all learn and succeed.

Direct download: Lightning_Champions_Spotlight__Zarina_Varley_Scott.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:32pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to the man behind the Ultimate Guide to Report Types and the Ultimate Guide to Report Types Part 2—Evan Ponter, CRM Product Manager at Hostelling International USA. We go over

Join us as we talk about all the ins and outs of reports, how to avoid constantly remaking reports, and when you might want to get into more complicated solutions.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Evan Ponter.

Why you need to understand the question behind the requirements.

Evan got his start on the platform working for a nonprofit, but it wasn’t until he switched to a for-profit company that was working at scale that he really came to understands the ins and outs of Salesforce. “I was one of the main resources at that company their reporting, so I was getting pummeled with requests,” Evan says. When he moved back to the nonprofit world, he was able to bring this knowledge with him and eventually create the Ultimate Guide to Report Types.

“People want any kind of information they can get their hands on,” Evan says, “and since people are putting it all into Salesforce, it becomes even more important to figure out how to get that data back out in a way that’s intelligible and actionable to start to use to make decisions.” That means it’s not just about understanding literally what report someone is requesting, it’s thinking a little deeper to try to understand what question they’re trying to answer. “You can go down that rabbit hole and try to start building that report for them,” Evan says, “but if you don’t know what question you’re trying to answer you’re sort of chasing everything.”

How to simplify reporting in your org.

If you have an understanding of how your report is going to be used, you can also build it with a mind towards the future, so if they need to answer the same question next year you already have a way to do that. If you’re having trouble getting your report requester to explain what question they’re trying to answer, Evan recommends framing it this way: “We’re going to have tabular data in these report results, what does each row represent?” Basically, you’re trying to get them to think about what they actually want to see. Sometimes even just asking them to draw an example on a napkin or Post-It note can provide a lot of clarification because it makes it concrete.

One major thing Evan recommends is setting up a single custom report type for every object you use in your organization without enforcing any object relationships in them. “The trick is, once you set up those report types you can edit the custom report type layout and bring in the field from any parent, grandparent, or great grandparent object,” Evan says. You can pull in data from up to sixty related objects, which means you can reference values from almost anywhere else in your org and get those complex data joins you need.

Choosing the right tool for the job.

While Evan primarily supports building out from custom report types to get what you need, there are some other tools that you can break out in specific situations. Bucketing can also be useful, depending on what you’re trying to do: an annual report where you’re trying to group people together but you know that the grouping might change, for example. You might use a joined report if you want to hide to the details of each report and just see a summary, like an opportunity scorecard or some sort of members joining versus members leaving overview.

“Matrix reports make a lot of sense when you want to group by two different fields but you don’t want to see the same categories repeated in the inner group,” Evan says. That helps you clean up details and just focus on the aggregate values you’re hoping to see without anything distracting from it.

“What I think a lot of organizations suffer from is creating a one-off report and saving it as the ‘2016 Donors,’ and they use it for maybe a month and then it just sits there for the next ten years,” Evan says, “and every year they’re recreating the same report and updating for the current year.” There are many ways to make it dynamic, so build that and show them how to toggle it themselves to look at whatever timeframe they want. Evan has a lot of really great, specific tips to get a handle on your reports so be sure to listen to the full episode.

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Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by J Steadman, Senior Solution Engineer at Salesforce, to talk through flows, processes, and the easiest way to move things from workflows to Process Builder.

Join us as we talk about the tools in your toolbox and how to view them as different things for different jobs, getting technical about workflows, Process Builder, Flows, and more.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with J Steadman.

J’s winding path to becoming a Solution Engineer.

J is a Solution Engineer at Salesforce, but what exactly does that mean? “I help people who are not yet Salesforce customers become Salesforce customers by building out demos of our technology to their specific requirements,” J says. The way he got to where he is now is one of those classic accidental admin stories we hear so many times on the pod. He didn’t get his first sit-down office job until he was thirty, working the front desk for an organization that happened to use Salesforce. He soon found himself as an admin, and that lead to a career as a Salesforce consultant.

The next stop for J in his career path was as a product manager for an enterprise customer with about 2,000 licenses in a big, shared, multi-tennant org with thirteen business units. From there it was a matter of time until he came over to Salesforce, first as a Success Specialist and now in his current role as a Solution Engineer. “It’s really fun in that for our strategic retail accounts, we’ve got a longer deal cycle so it’s not turn and burn,” J says, “so I get to spend time with these customers, learn their use cases, and actually present them functional technology before they even implement anything.”

Why you need to transition from workflows to Process Builder.

Right now, J is focused on how to transition workflow rules to Process Builder. “We had somewhere around 80 workflow rules that were all active on the opportunity object,” he says, “and I was tasked with not only taking those and migrating them over to Process Builder but also to add a bunch of new logic and functionality.” The fact is that in today’s Salesforce environment, workflows are limited—it can’t do everything that Process Builder can do. For admins looking for fast and efficient automation, Process Builder is the answer, but that can put legacy admins in a difficult spot where they’re split between the new solution and their old automations in workflows.

The biggest challenge that J has identified is order of execution. If you have a dozen workflow rules all firing on the same criteria on an object, you aren’t able to control the order in which those rules fire. Between Process Builder and Flow, that order can become very important as we build new solutions because legacy workflow processes can start to get in the way. While you can do all kinds of things to make things work, “when I look at the kinds of orgs I work in and the kinds of orgs I want to work in, I prefer to minimize hacking where possible, especially if hacking is causing me to create any number of false fields at the database layer,” J says.

Why J’s first step is Google.

J is a thirteen-times certified Salesforce professional—he’s an Application Architect and a Systems Architect, “but even with that degree of knowledge of the platform, my very first step for every single project is Google,” he says. He wants to look at everything from Trailhead documentation to conversations on the Salesforce Community and Stack Overflow to see if there are answers out there, or other problems people are running into. That lets him go back to his boss and his team to point out any obvious gotchas that might force them to course-correct before they get in the weeds.

The next phase is actually planning—reviewing the requirements. “I call this ‘having the hood up,’” J says, “while you have the hood up you have the opportunity to make changes not only to the thing you’re immediately working on but to the stuff that’s near and dear around it as well.” This is where you can start to see if the process actually makes sense. That gives you an opportunity to see how to adjust things to fit in with Process Builder, or if there are redundant workflow rules in place that are just slowing things down. One thing that can help is rigorous naming conventions and documentation, which J breaks down.

Finding the right tool for the job.

A common situation that comes up is when you build a new shiny process and then suddenly another team swoops in with new requirements. Do you add to the process you’ve built to make it bigger, or do you try to run with two separate, overlapping processes? “For me, the answer is pretty straightforward: I run with one process,” J says. “For the majority of our customers, pretty much everyone can be well-covered by a single process.” For more complicated orgs there may need to be two processes, but one of them should be a sub-process called by your master process. This idea that you build something once and reuse it everywhere used to be only available to developers, so it’s been a huge gamechanger to have it available for declarative development.

We have so many different tools in our toolboxes, “the trick is knowing what’s a hammer and what’s a screwdriver and what’s pliers. If we look at everything in the toolbox and we see it as the same, that’s where the confusion comes in,” J says. “But if we start to understand what these things are intended to do, specifically, then it’s much easier to know what to grab and when to grab it.” J gets into the specific differences between workflow rules, Process Builder, approval processes, and Flow to explain which tool you reach for when.

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:27pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re hosted by special guest, Marc Baizman. Before becoming a Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce, Marc worked at Salesforce.org and in the nonprofit world. In our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, we’ll explore all the different ways Salesforce is used in the nonprofit world, and meet the folks who are making that happen. This week, we have Zachery Tapp, who at the time of this interview was Senior Director of Technology and Business Intelligence at Cradles to Crayons.

Join us as we talk about just how complex nonprofits can get with their business processes, how Cradles to Crayons receives, tracks, and sorts their donations, and the growth that Zachery has seen in the nonprofit Salesforce community.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Zachery Tapp.

The complex business operations of Cradles to Crayons.

Cradles to Crayons provides essentials for kids from birth to age twelve for low-income and homeless families. “We have a mantra at Cradles that quality equals dignity, so we never want to give away anything that we wouldn’t be comfortable giving to our own kids,” Zachery says. That means that everything in their warehouses in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and New York needs to be inspected by an army of volunteers. It also means some heavy logistical work allocating those items to kids and families that need them and getting them to a place where they can pick them up.

Marc has actually volunteered as one of the people who sort through items. “The level of quality is higher than I was even expecting as a volunteer,” Marc says. Getting all of this to happen involves a huge amount of logistics. “We leverage a customer community that really connects our programs portion to our inventory data,” he says, all of which lives in Salesforce. Their implementation handles everything from vetting to assigning work to volunteers to evaluating donations and generating documents.

“We take donations of every essential, so figuring out not only how we account for that stuff once it comes in the warehouse but how do we ensure that the person who cleans their closet out and drops it off at our warehouse gets properly thanked and acknowledged for their efforts,” Zachery says. They leverage Campaigns to help, which also enables them to do more complicated things like help someone organize a neighborhood drive.

How Zachery got involved in tech.

“I was a sociology major,” Zachery says, “when I graduated I thought for a while that I wanted to get into community organizing, and then I realized pretty quickly that I was too much of an introvert.” He ended up doing AmeriCorps for two years which landed him firmly in nonprofits working in information systems. He started out working with someone with a computer science and engineering background but had to step in and finish the implementation with Google as his guide, eventually becoming the Salesforce admin.

Zachery split his time with another organization in the same building, and both companies were using the Nonprofit Success Pack (at the time the Nonprofit Starter Pack). “A lot of my time there was spent bringing their Development module online,” he says. They were working on moving a homebrew solution to the cloud, and that meant a lot of learning to make that happen.

Why being a solo admin doesn’t mean going it alone.

As an accidental admin, “the term ‘solo admin’ was very real in that you felt like you were on a bit of an island unless you had established contacts,” Zachery says. As the platform has progressed, he’s really taken notice of the strength of the community through the Power of Us Hub. “Salesforce has done a really great job of lifting up individuals,” he says, lifting up the people who are really great resources for the rest of the community.

Zachery also got a lot of help along the way through the great consultants he’s worked with who have opened their networks up to him (Marc included). “The Salesforce community always has an open-door policy,” he says, “very rarely if ever have I gotten an ‘Oh, I don’t have time for that.’”

As far as advice he has for other admins in a similar spot, Zachery has a few things to say. “I feel like I initially learned a lot by just googling every single problem that I came across,” he says, “but learning the parts of the platform that you don’t use every day is huge.” Finding the time to work with every part of the platform makes you a much more well-rounded admin, and you never know when it may serve you in the future.

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Full Show Transcript

Direct download: Salesforce_for_Good__Zachery_Tapp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Skye Evans, Cloud Consultant at Cloud for Good and a member of our amazing Vetforce community. She’s here to share with us what it’s like to work on a remote team, and some tips and best practices to get started.

Join us as we talk about how to create a cohesive atmosphere for your whole team, what you can do to try on remote work for size, and why boundaries are extra important in a distributed environment.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Skye Evans.

 Solving Salesforce problems for good.

“I make good things happen for nonprofits on Salesforce, that’s what I do every day,” Skye says. As a Cloud Consultant at Cloud for Good, she’s a mix of a project manager, Salesforce admin, troubleshooter, and magician. It’s all about working with clients to discover their pain points and then developing the best and most elegant way to solve those problems on Salesforce. After that, it’s about training clients to get the most out of their implementation to make sure that new efficiencies translate into their workflow.

Why remote work requires more intentionality.

Skye’s not just on the podcast for her amazing job, however. She’s also an experienced remote worker. One of the first things to understand is the difference between a remote team and a virtual company. Remote teams are often groups of individuals who work together with other people in a central office. In a virtual company, however, everyone’s distributed so there isn’t that difference between the people who see each other every day and the people who work from home.

“As a company, being really thoughtful about how to make sure people who aren’t physically located in the office are being included and you have a really robust communications plan is important,” Skye says. “One of the best ways to do that is to have regular, standing, short meetings,” she adds, because you’re able to plan changes around them and make sure that everyone's on the same page.

The difficult part is that being in an office comes with a lot of visual cues that are helpful when you’re trying to get someone’s attention for a quick thing without totally distracting them. For a remote team, that means having a conversation about not only what are the best ways to reach out, but also how to keep calendars to help everyone not step on each other’s toes.

Setting the right boundaries.

One of the biggest keys to working from home is being diligent about maintaining a separation between when you’re working and when you’re not working. Even if you spend most of your time right now in an office, you’ve probably given in to the temptation to pull out your phone and respond to a few emails when there’s nothing on TV. Having a place where you specifically go to get work done can help you establish those boundaries. “I think a lot of folks who work remotely almost feel the need to prove themselves more,” Skye says, “so there’s a tendency to overcompensate for it.” Instead, you need to find ways to draw that line and stop working when it’s time to take a break.

In a more fully remote environment, it can be hard to establish the same kind of vibe that collocated teams create. One thing that’s helped Skye is to schedule social virtual meetings. “We refer to them as ‘virtual coffees,’” she says, “think about the kind of interactions you would have an office if you’re standing at the coffee pot making a cup of coffee and another employee comes over.” Skye will often schedule these kinds of meetings across teams to give people who don’t normally work together a chance to get to know each other, and she’ll even do them with clients, too. For Skye, it’s about building that foundation of trust that helps them have confidence in her to follow her advice.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk product, community and careers to help you become an awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt, and today we have Skye Evans on the podcast. Skye's a member of our amazing Vetforce community and is here to talk to us about what it's like to work on a remote or virtual team. Maybe you're deciding if you have a remote role that is right for you, Skye has some answers to help you get started. So let's waste no more time and let's get Skye on the podcast. Hi, Skye. Welcome to the podcast.

Skye Evans: Thanks for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: Let's get started. For those of you that don't know, because Skye, you have a really cool Twitter handle, S-K-Y-E_force, Skye_force. It's where all the clouds live. Let take a second and just introduce yourself, what do you do and how'd you get into the Salesforce ecosystem?

Skye Evans: Yeah. So I make good things happen for nonprofits on Salesforce. That's what I do every day. My title is Cloud Consultant at Cloud for Good. And a consultant role is a great mix of project manager, and admin, and troubleshooter, and magician, so really working with the clients, helping them figure out their pain points, designing the best or most elegant way to solve for that on Salesforce, and then also training them to be successful users going forward.

Mike Gerholdt: Magician not wizard or miracle worker.

Skye Evans: Correct.

Mike Gerholdt: Those are all equal titles, I think. So one thing I wanted to dive into and change up the format a little bit of the podcast is really talk to you about your expertise and what you do because I feel there's the topic that I want to talk on today is really diving into being a remote employee or working on a remote team.

Mike Gerholdt: And I think in our pre-call we already had some ideas about that, but understanding what happens if you're an admin or a consultant and you don't drive into home office or the office every single day, and what your work life looks like, and how you get things done. Because selfishly, I'm going on, let's see, six years now of being a remote employee, and by that I mean not having to go to an office to get work done, and it was a bit of a switch. I would say that most all of my friends have made that transition, either some before me or some during that six years, and it's becoming more and more common, at least for some of us who live in the fly over states, to not have to drive somewhere for work. And I've also seen it in the trailblazer community. A lot of new people to our community are coming in saying, "Hey, I want to be an admin" or they're looking to hire and "I want to be a remote admin." So Skye, you're going to be our expert today and we're going to chat through that concept, but let's get started.

Mike Gerholdt: You brought up the topic right away of remote teams versus virtual companies, so I'm going to use that as our foundation for starting the conversation today. Can you tell me the difference between a remote team and a virtual company?

Skye Evans: Yeah, I think this is a point that gets overlooked often in the conversation about working not in an office location. Remote teams are often individuals or groups of individuals who work outside of an office environment and then there is a counterpart or additional people who do work in an office. And where this is different from a virtual company is a virtual company does not have that centralized office location, so everybody in a virtual company works remotely as opposed to there being some in the office and some out of the office.

Skye Evans: I think this is a really important distinction to make because the cultures can be very, very different. And when you're talking about a remote working culture, when you have that segment of people who do still work in an office, they are centrally located, they see each other at the water cooler, they sit down together for lunch, they get to share their birthday cake on the monthly birthday celebration, there can be a gap or a divide even with all of the best of intentions being put in place to create a cohesive culture for the folks who are not in the office. So a virtual company is often just by default of the fact that there is no office, that gap isn't there. Everyone is remote, everyone is a virtual member of the team and there's not that, "Well, gee, I'm sitting here and everybody's in the office eating cake and I'm just having my crackers."

Mike Gerholdt: Right. I've definitely been a part of that. I immediately thought of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine eats J. Peterman's 70-year-old wedding cake because she has to have her 4:00 PM sugar fix.

Mike Gerholdt: I think that's an interesting point, so have you been a part of a team where there was office cohorts and you were the person that was remote and felt like you were missing out on that comradery, I'll call it?

Skye Evans: Absolutely. My first Salesforce position was with a company based out of New York city, and the team I was on was about 60 to 70% remote and the rest of the staff worked out of the central New York office. So part of it, there's the social piece that you miss out on, but there's also just the hallway conversations or the across the desk or over the cubicle conversations that are work-based that you miss. And so as a company being really thoughtful about how to make sure people who aren't physically located in the office are still being included in those kinds of conversations or that you have a really robust communication plan to make sure that if something's changing, if something's getting rolled out or rolled back or updated, that everybody knows about it. You're not just standing there in the office and shouting out, "Hey y'all, we're using this folder now instead of that folder there." It has to be much more intentional.

Mike Gerholdt: So give me an example of that, how do you help with your coworkers or in that situation be more inclusive of others that aren't exactly in the office at that time?

Skye Evans: Yeah. One of the best ways to do that is to have regular standing short meetings. And so if you know every Wednesday from 11 to 11:15 we're just going to have a quick team update and we're going to talk about anything that's changed, anything that is changing or coming up, and having that be the avenue of communication and it's established. And if somebody tries to share something in the office on a Thursday, you say, "Great, but let's hold off rolling it out or launching that until we have the call on Wednesday." And just having to be very intentional and sticking to that is, I think, probably one of the hardest parts because you tend to think like, "Oh yeah, let's move on it," right? Everything happens at the speed of light. But being able to have those set scheduled times or communication channels, so whether you're using Slack, or Zoom, or Gchat, or whatever, making sure that the path of that communication is clearly understood by virtual remote and or in-the-office staff members.

Mike Gerholdt: I like that, rules of the road. Things we take for granted, being in the office, you can just walk by and say stuff or pop into somebody's desk. So I'd be curious to know how you adjusted to people not coming by your desk or you not being able to just get up and pop over to a coworker. Because, selfishly for me, eight years I worked in an office before I started working from home and I would all the time pop in and just go over to somebody's desk and say something quick. And I find now working from home like, "Oh, I don't know, the little green button in chat isn't lit, so are they not at their desk." Should I say hi or are they on a call?" These are the things that go through my head. I'd be curious, what do you do to either get around that or just make it happen so that it is a little bit more of a collaborative environment.

Skye Evans: Yeah, that's a great question. And that was something I did actually really struggle with when I started working remotely, I didn't want to feel like I was bothering someone. And when you're in the office you can kind of look and be like, "Oh, are they on the phone or are they on a webinar? Are they heads-down building something and I shouldn't interrupt them?" But I do think that even in the office, those visual signals can get lost on some people, so I had to learn to get over that fear or that hesitation. But also as a team, we had some conversations about what are the best ways to reach out. And so some of the teams that I've worked on, some remote teams, we do start off sort of looking, like you said, is the little green icon next to their user lit up to show that they're active and they're available or is it red or are they marked as do not disturb? But also something as simple as checking someone's calendar before reaching out, whether it's a phone call or a chat.

Skye Evans: And so as a team we had to get really diligent about maintaining our calendars and being able to block time. And if something has the client's name in the appointment time, don't interrupt that because that's a client phone call. But if it's just a block of time for build or for sprint or whatever, knowing that those were sort of acceptable times where you could reach out. But also just getting over the, it's not about me. "If I send Jason a message in chat and he doesn't respond back in 30 seconds, he's not mad at me, he's not upset. Maybe he is grabbing a cup of coffee." There has to be a little bit of the most generous possible assumption, "Why are they not responding to me? Well, let me give them a generous assumption that they are busy or they have stepped away or maybe they're actively involved in another chat with someone else and aren't able to switch back and forth."

Mike Gerholdt: As somebody who is looking to get into, maybe transition to remote work, what would be some advice about the space or some things that you've adjusted or changed about your home environment that's made it more conducive to work?

Skye Evans: I think the first thing, if someone's looking at moving into a remote or a virtual company, I would say if there's any way possible for you to test it out first, so whether this means in your current position just asking to work from home one or two days a week or, "Oh my kid's going to be out of summer school but not starting regular school, can I work from home this whole week?" Try it out. Because I've talked to a lot of folks who thought, "Oh my gosh, it would be perfect. I would be so happy if I had a remote job and I didn't have to drive 40 minutes each way into the office," whatever. And then they get in there and they just really struggle. And it can be for a lot of different reasons, but changing jobs itself is hard. And then to have gone through all that change, only to find out it's not working for you can be really disheartening. So if there's any way to test it out, dip your toe in the water before you dive in, I think that that's a good first step.

Skye Evans: But as far as setting up the home office, I've seen as many different configurations as there are people working from home. I have some coworkers who they're perfectly happy to be sitting on the couch working on the tiny little laptop screen, using the little feel pad on the laptop, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, I could never do that." I've got my two monitors, my ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic mouse, I've got a treadmill desk because I like to stand up and move throughout the day. So really just being thoughtful what works well for you and what you need to be productive.

Skye Evans: And I would say, really try to have your own space. Working from the kitchen table is okay if you're doing it one day here or there, but when you need to really be able to block out distractions and focus on what you're doing, having a dedicated space can make it much easier for you to focus.

Skye Evans: And then on the flip side of that, having your work stuff makes it so much easier to walk away at the end of the day. And I think this is something that I've seen it in a few blog posts where remote workers tend to actually work longer hours because works right there so you're like, "Oh okay, well I'm going to have dinner with the family and then when I put the kids to bed I'm just going to log on for just a few more minutes." Now granted with even people who work based in an office, if they bring their laptop home or the persistent phone and checking your email on the phone, but being able to close the door, or pull the curtain or whatever it is that you do, and shut it down at the end of the day because there is such a tendency to just be like, "Oh well I can just keep working because I don't have to worry about traffic on the way home or trying to find parking spots." It's very tempting to just keep working and so being able to, whatever trigger it is for you, if it's an alarm that goes off and says, okay, it's time to quit and shut it down, having that as a separate space makes it that much easier to do.

Mike Gerholdt: I was literally just going to ask you about boundaries, and I'm so glad you touched on that because I do feel there are times, and I'm guilty of it, "Oh there's nothing on TV," the irony is there's 500 channels, but there's nothing on TV and you just grab the work phone and, "I'll just answer some emails."

Skye Evans: Yeah, and it's even more tempting when you're like, "Oh, I don't even have to do it on this tiny little screen. I can just log in real quick and build that report or send that email." But with that temptation, it really is a boundaries issue, having to be able to say, okay, I'm done. And I think a lot of folks who work remotely almost feel the need to prove themselves more because people in the office, "Oh, well, maybe they think I'm not working if I don't answer every call as soon as it comes in or respond to every chat. They're going to think I'm just binge watching the latest show." And so there is that tendency to overcompensate for it. And being able to just draw that line and say "No, if quitting time in the office is five o'clock then at five o'clock I'm shutting it down and walking away."

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yup. And I've actually had managers at other companies talk to me about, some of the salespeople who are remote or whatever, well they probably only work half days, and I feel there's probably a group of people that if they can't see their employees, they just assume that they're not working. If they're off in an office and even to some degree, if their chat light isn't green, "Oh, then they must not be working." No, they could just be going to the bathroom. The one time you check chat, they could be just going in the bathroom. No different than if you walk past their desk and saw the screensaver was on, they didn't leave for the day.

Skye Evans: I think those managers have that issue, whether you're remote or not. It becomes more of an issue when you're not in the office. Those are the kinds of folks that would tend towards micro-managing, even if you're in a location based position. But that matter of trust is really important, and so talking about boundaries, setting expectations, what is the level of work that I'm expected to put out so that I'm not unintentionally under working, but I'm also not killing myself trying to prove that I'm a valid member of the team just because I don't sit next to everybody else?

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yeah, completely agree. And I think what you're touching on is another topic I wanted to bring up, but is really about culture, how remote organizations or virtual companies build culture between employees that don't get to see each other or physically interact with each other every single day. So I'd love to know anything that you do to help build the culture of collaboration or whatever, between you and other employees, or things that companies you've worked for that I think are really setting that example of how to build culture with a remote or virtual team.

Skye Evans: Yeah. I think again, being really intentional is key. So when I was managing a mostly remote team, I received some great feedback from my supervisor that, "You can't tell your team members to quit at quitting time" and then you still beyond two hours later. Because even though I'm saying, "No, no, no guys, you go ahead, shut it down and go home. Family time is family time," but if I'm then sort of sneaking back into the office and doing more work, it's an unspoken expectation that they should be doing the same thing or this is what it takes to get ahead in the company. So being able to recognize when your leadership behavior has a negative or an unintended consequence is very important.

Skye Evans: And then also just being really proactive about communication. So on both of the remote teams that I've had the pleasure of working on, being sure to have both regularly scheduled team meetings where people can get together and ask for help, offer help, answer questions, share best practices in a team setting. But then also in one-on-one settings. So having maybe regular weekly or every other week meetings with your direct supervisor just to have that face time, say what's coming up that I need to know about, what problems are you having? What barriers can I remove for you? How can I help you?

Skye Evans: But then also, and this is probably one of the hardest ones, and I even still struggle with this over four years into remote work, but having social virtual meetings.

Mike Gerholdt: Tell me more.

Skye Evans: Yeah. So we refer to them now as virtual coffees. And if you think about the kinds of interactions that you would have in an office, if you're standing at the coffee pot, making your cup of coffee and a coworker comes over, that's when you're usually talking about "What'd you do this weekend? Hey, how's the family doing? Is the kid feeling better? Oh I went to this great show, let me tell you all about it." Those sort of casual, non-work related interactions are really important for building teams and for feeling connected to other people. And so we regularly schedule virtual coffees, both within our teams, the people we work with regularly, but also across teams. So if you don't happen to work very often with your operations team, schedule in a virtual coffee where it's not you asking a question about the insurance policies, it's you saying, "Hey, how did your art show go last weekend? Tell me more about that." And making that time out of your day and making it okay to actually block that on your calendar and say, "You know what, I need some time to connect with people."

Skye Evans: And I've found it's very hard because you do, especially when you do what you love, you want to do it all the time, you want to be building, you want to be in there and solutioning or designing, and it can get very easy to just get wrapped up in that. But if you don't take the time to have those interpersonal connections, then you're not building sort of the well of goodwill across the team that you can then rely on when things go sideways, whether it's work things or personal things.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I also find failure to do that means your communication with your coworkers feels like a one note situation, like you never really get to know your coworkers enough to just chat. With every meeting and interaction, it's very business-related, and so then the five or 10 minutes that somebody's late to a meeting like, "Hey. Hi, well just going to sit here and type because I haven't taken the time to know you personally."

Skye Evans: Yeah. And I do this even with my clients. So working remotely and virtually the past four plus years, I have only been onsite with clients a handful of times. All of the other-

Mike Gerholdt: Wow.

Skye Evans: Yeah. And which is great because I don't have to take time away from the family and things like that. But it's also been a matter of being really intentional about building that relationship with my clients. Even though it's not ongoing over the years like it is with coworkers, it's still really important for building that foundation of trust. So my clients aren't going to trust that the thing I'm recommending or suggesting really is the best thing for them if they don't feel like they know me and they can trust me. And so at the beginning of each of our calls, and we do almost all of ours virtual with webinars, and so we're able to see each other's faces and being able to just take the first couple minutes of a meeting just like you would in person when people are just coming into the room or putting their notebooks down, figuring out which seat they're going to sit in and you're chatting, how was your weekend?

Skye Evans: And one of the great things with being remote is that you can always talk about the weather, so you can say, "Hey, how's the weather on this other part of the country where I've never been this time of year?" And it's a really great icebreaker to sort of have folks from entirely different regions be able to compare and say, "Well, it's pretty hot down here in Texas," and my coworker up in Vermont is like, "Yeah, it's hot here too. It's 65 degrees." And so it's a really great opportunity to build that trust and that foundation with your clients, as well as your coworkers.

Mike Gerholdt: So one thing you touched on, and I'll bring it up briefly, is balance of time, and looking at your profile you have one, two, three, four, five certifications if I'm counting correctly?

Skye Evans: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: A lot. How do you manage ... Because I know I talk to a lot of admins who are, "I've got all this work I have to do and I have to learn all this stuff in the spare time too," what's your approach to managing feeding your inner knowledge with also getting the work done?

Skye Evans: That's one of the ones where like, "Oh, if I could have five extra hours every week that would be great," and actually this is something I struggle with regularly and I get feedback from friends and family who are like, "Hey, really, you're going to another Salesforce event on a Saturday? Can we do something together instead?"

Mike Gerholdt: "Yeah, you can come to the Salesforce event with me."

Skye Evans: Right! For some reason, my spouse does not buy that. So yeah, there is definitely finding that balance. And one of the things that I've found in my roles is because I get to solve a bunch of really interesting issues for my clients, I rely on that as a lot of my opportunity for growth. So making sure that I talked to my director whenever projects are getting assigned and let them know what I want to learn about. So in my previous position, we didn't do a whole lot of upgrades for the nonprofit success pack, most of the clients that we had, we were getting them up and running and implementing them on Salesforce for the first time. And I said, "I'd really love to learn more about what it takes to upgrade a client who's on an older version of the nonprofit success pack." And so in being proactive and reaching out and telling her this is something I'm interested in, I was able to be assigned to several projects where that was one of the core deliverables. And so I sort of was able to get two birds with one stone and say, "Okay, I want to learn all of these pieces and components of an upgrade and I'm going to do it during work hours."

Skye Evans: Now, that's not always possible. But I think from an admin perspective there are always going to be opportunities to optimize your Salesforce account and being able to leverage that as a learning opportunity. So whether it's looking at release notes and seeing what great new features are coming down the pike and say, "Hey, I really need to brush up my skills on this piece of the platform because I think it would really help us to do this thing in our organization," and then it's not a matter of taking time away from work to learn something or taking time away from your personal life to learn something. You're sort of tag teaming it.

Mike Gerholdt: Nice. I like that. Why don't we end on your piece of advice for Salesforce admins who are looking to work, promote, or be part of a virtual team?

Skye Evans: Definitely, find another outlet for interpersonal connection.

Mike Gerholdt: Such as?

Skye Evans: This is something I hadn't expected. I'm a very outgoing, extroverted person, my family says I've never met a stranger, and I'm also a military spouse, which is what prompted me to get into the remote work because moving every three to four years and starting a career over was just not going to cut it. And so I had gone from working entirely in location-based positions to just bam, cutoff. All of a sudden it's just me and my office with my two dogs. And the first couple of weeks wasn't too bad, and then I started getting cabin fever a little bit and realized that, "Gee, I have gone four days without actually leaving the house except for maybe take my dogs for a walk." So when you're fully remote or working with a virtual company, finding other types of outlets. And this could be something as simple as working from a coffee shop for an afternoon or two out of the week or even finding a remote coworking space. Also, very handy to have a coworking space in your back pocket in case your internet goes down at home-

Mike Gerholdt: Smart.

Skye Evans: Yeah, because working on the cloud when there's no internet is no bueno. But being able to have some kind of outlet. So for some of my coworkers, this has been a fitness group, whether it's a running club or CrossFit or something like that, or craft groups, going out to social events with people, whatever it is, whatever is your thing, the thing that you like to do that fuels and energizes you. Make sure that you have that in place because otherwise your family is going to come home from school or from their location-based job and you're going to be bouncing off the walls because you haven't looked at another human for eight hours.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, that's true. That or the first person you run into on the dog walk, you talk their ear off.

Skye Evans: Exactly. Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Not to say I've done that. Not to say I've done that at all. Skye, this is great. I'm so glad we had this chance to sit down, hang out. I, of course had to make sure, but like every topic we cover on the Salesforce Admins podcast, there's a great Trailhead module called Virtual Collaboration. So we'll link to that in the show notes and then that way everybody can go through. And I think it ties in really closely to a lot of the things that we talked about today. So I do want to give a shout out to Katherine Clark of Vetforce who suggested us. And you did mention you were a former military ... I don't think you're ever really former. Once you're in and a part of that elite group that everybody looks up to, I think you're always a part of it. And on behalf of all of the Salesforce Admins, I want to thank you for your service. And a quick shout out that your Twitter handle is @Skye_force, Skye_force. We'll link that in the show notes too, which is really cool.

Mike Gerholdt: Skye, do you have any Salesforce events you're planning to go to in the month of September, October?

Skye Evans: Oh goodness. I mean we've got Salesforce Saturday and Trailhead Tuesdays that I try to make it to every chance I get, but nothing on the big scale. Just looking forward to hopefully being at Dreamforce in November.

Mike Gerholdt: Great. Well, I hope to see you there. Thanks for being on the podcast, Skye.

Skye Evans: Thank you. Have a wonderful day.

Mike Gerholdt: So a huge thanks to Skye for being with us today. We can't wait to see you at Dreamforce. And as someone who lives the remote lifestyle, there were some really great things that Skye pointed out like how important it is to create a cohesive atmosphere for the whole team. Every decision being made throughout the team needs to be intentional, so one of the best practices to achieve that is by having regular short standing meetings for team updates, established weekly, so that everyone is on the same page at the same time. And of course, that meeting will be the source of truth for everything. Another thing that we talked about was maybe you think you want to be on a remote team, however, it's hard for you to know if that lifestyle will work for you if you've never done it. So it never hurts, if you can work from home, maybe start with a couple of days at a time. Find a group, an office that you can set up inside your house that works for you. But of course, what's important is to be thoughtful about what you need to do to be productive, so having a dedicated space and also knowing when to walk away. Very important. And maintaining that work life balance is crucial to both your mental health and the relationship with your team and your family.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, no matter what role you're in or what level you're at, you should always be striving to keep learning. And if you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, make sure you go to admin.salesforce.com. There are blogs, webinars, events, podcasts like this one you can find there. Make sure you subscribe and share this podcast with all of your friends. And of course, I'd highly encourage you to follow us on social. We are @salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. And you can find myself @mikegerholdt on Twitter as well. Skye Evans is on Twitter, yay. She can be found @Skye_force. Awesome. All right, I think we have everything paid off. It was really great to have Skye on the podcast, and I will see you in the cloud.

 

Direct download: Rules_of_the_Remote_Life_With_Skye_Evans.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am PST

Today we are getting taken over by a special admin-focused episode of The Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers with Trailhead’s very own Dana Hall, Senior Manager of Trailhead Marketing at Salesforce, and Scott Luikart, Salesforce MVP and Senior Salesforce Admin at Whole Foods Market.

Join us as we talk about all the opportunities out there for admins and what you can do to get yourself ready.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Dana Hall.

 What you need to know about Salesforce admins.

Admins are knowledgeable business leaders that use what they know about the operations of their company to solve problems that come up in day-to-day situations. That can be anything from “why isn’t this one thing working” to automating an entire business process. At the end of the day, the goal is to make things easier for Salesforce users across your business, improve workflows, and enable the kind of data analysis you need to make key decisions.

Training and education on the platform is also a big part of the job. Users need to know what tools they have available to them to help do their jobs more efficiently, so adoption and work processes are a major concern for the job. You have to combine the soft skills of working with people and understanding their needs with the technical know-how to find the right answer to their problems.

A job in global high demand.

Salesforce Admins are in high demand around the globe. In the US, admins make an average of $95,000 a year, with thousands of new job postings going up yearly. In this episode, Dana talks to Scott Luikart, then the Salesforce admin for Concierge Auctions and now Senior Salesforce Admin at Whole Foods Markets. “How I first started learning about Salesforce was as a call center rep for Apple to log into and out of our shifts,” he says.

Later, volunteering at an LGBTQA health organization in Philadelphia, Scott connected with a friend who got him a job that would change his entire career trajectory. “After a few months, they asked me to start rolling out Salesforce to the service organization,” he says. “Magically, that day I got my Salesforce admin credentials having never had them before and I started working the system. I made a lot of mistakes, I broke a few things, I epically failed, and then I gracefully recovered.” With the help of his Success Manager at the time (Salesforce Admins Podcast regular and Head of Trailhead Content Chris Duarte), he was able to learn the best practices he needed in order to succeed.

How the community can help you succeed.

When Scott saw an inefficiency with the way packages were being mailed at his company, he realized there was an opportunity to improve things. He built an integrated solution that took care of a lot of the process automatically, saving everyone time and making things easier. “I didn’t do anything revolutionary—that tool was already there. But by building it in a way that was meaningful to our users they now can sit at their desk, click five or six buttons, mail a package to a person, and then go back to doing what they love,” Scott says.

“The top three skills that I think a Salesforce admin should have,” Scott says, “is a tenacity to learn, the empathy for understanding, and the ability to speak fluently with different users in the organization.” If you think this sounds like the right role for you, it’s important to get involved in the Trailhead and Trailblazer community. Online you can pick up the skills you need, and meeting people at live events can help you apply that knowledge, and maybe even find a new job opportunity.

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 Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast. I'm your host, Mike Gerholdt, and joining me today, the host of the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers podcast, Dana Hall. Dana, how you doing?

Dana Hall: I'm doing well. Thank you for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: If no one has listened to the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers podcast, tell me what are they missing out on?

Dana Hall: Well, they're missing out on some pretty great stories. It's a a podcast that is nine episodes. It's a series and we talk to different trailblazers and different roles in the Salesforce ecosystem. So each episode is between 15 and 20 minutes and it's with someone who has a particular role in the ecosystem such as Salesforce Admin, which is the one we're going to be listening to today.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. I like that. Well, let's get right to that episode.

Dana Hall: Psst. You're listening to the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers on Trailblazer Radio. This is a Salesforce Admin episode. Right now, you might not even know what an admin is, but soon you will and you'll want to learn more, which you can easily do with the twice weekly Salesforce Admins podcast. Subscribe now on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play. Now here's our show.

Dana Hall: This is Dana Hall and you're listening to the Trailblazer brought to you by Salesforce Trailhead, the fun way to learn. Available free at trailhead.salesforce.Com. So if you're looking to start your career or make a mid career change into a growing industry, then you're in the right place. What is a trailblazer? We think a trailblazer is an innovator, a lifelong learner, a leader who blazes a trail and leaves a path for others to follow.

Dana Hall: In this series, the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers, we explore the different career paths in the Salesforce ecosystem of customers and partners. In each episode, you'll learn about what it's like to work in a particular role, what skills and qualities will make you successful, and what you can do to get started down that career path. In this episode, we're getting an introduction to the role of Salesforce Administrator.

Scott Luikart: I think the thing that I would say is so far the Admin is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. I've increased my career over the last six years more than I had in any previous job that I could possibly do at the time, and so it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Also, it's the most exciting thing that I get to do every day because every day is different. Some days we'll be talking about things that are a couple of years away and we have to figure out how to get to them, or I might just be talking about why somebody's phone isn't working. And it changes every day, which is super fun.

Mike Gerholdt: That's got Scott Luikart. At the time of this interview, Scott was the Salesforce administrator for Concierge Auctions in Austin, Texas. A Salesforce admin is a business leader, deeply knowledgeable about how their company operates, intertwined in making all departments successful through process automation. A Salesforce administrator keeps Salesforce users trained and educated, solves complicated business problems, and keeps projects moving forward. A Salesforce admin delivers creative solutions making Salesforce users happier and the business smarter. Salesforce admins are in high demand around the globe. In the US, admins make an average of $95,000 a year and there are thousands of job postings going up yearly.

Scott Luikart: So how I first started learning about Salesforce was I took a job with Apple as the call center rep working for Kelly Connect. And in that role, they were using Salesforce to log in and log out of your shift, which was really a weird application of the system. And so I was an end user first of the system, and I didn't really understand what it all could do because we weren't using it to its fullest capacity at the time.

Dana Hall: Well, Scott had been introduced to Salesforce at his job as a call center rep, it wasn't until he started volunteering at a local nonprofit that he really got exposure to all that Salesforce can do.

Scott Luikart: I was volunteering at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, which is an LGBT health organization and helping get people tested for HIV and STIs. I met another volunteer there and he asked me to apply for a job at his company and they were using Salesforce, so I did. And after a few months, they asked me to start rolling out Salesforce to the service organizations. So at that time we bought Service Cloud Communities, Knowledge, Wise Agent, a few of the different products that Salesforce offers.

Scott Luikart: And my VP was like, "Hey, now you have to implement them in the next six months." So magically that day I got my Salesforce admin credentials having never had them before and I started working in the admin in the system. I made a lot of mistakes, I broke a few things, I epically failed, and then I gracefully recovered. And so fell in love with it. Got to meet Chris Duarte. She was my success manager at the time and she really helped me learn those better practices that maybe I wasn't doing. And now have just been in love since, and been at four different companies since then.

Dana Hall: Fun fact, the Chris Duarte he mentioned is now the head of all the awesome learning content on Trailhead. Small world. So Scott clearly loves being an admin, but what is a Salesforce admin really?

Scott Luikart: I think a Salesforce admin is someone who really has a passion and an ability to learn. We all have access to reading the help documentation. We all have access to reading the like ... and participating in Trailhead. We all have access to these really amazing tools that are there in front of us, but you really have to want to solve challenges and you have to want to make somebody else's day better by doing X thing that you're going to build in a system. You just made it so that people don't have to click 20 time because they hate clicking 20 times to do this one function. You might've just saved them time, you might have reduced time on task, you might have changed the way in which they do something so they're not continually frustrated. I think I show hospitality to people through technology because I'm able to get to know what they care about and help fix those things that are problems for them.

Dana Hall: Salesforce admins work alongside management, streamlining processes, and keeping the bottom line moving forward. One small but important example of how a Salesforce admin can help streamline business processes is when Scott saw an inefficiency with the way routine packages were being mailed at his company.

Scott Luikart: A thing that we do at my company is we mail people packages. And people get off the phone, and they put this package together and they put all the items in the package, go to the FedEx machine, print the label, and then take it to the front desk and leave it on the front desk and have FedEx come in and pick it up twice a day. And that takes time and it's kind of annoying and cumbersome, so we integrated a mailing system to Salesforce that actually puts these packages together for us and mails them out the door.

Scott Luikart: I didn't do anything revolutionary like that tool is already there, but by building it and putting it together in a way that was meaningful to our users. They now can sit at their desk, and click five or six buttons and send a package to a person; and they get to go back to doing what they love, which is calling customers or potential customers to sell their products rather than putting a package together.

Dana Hall: Being able to jump in and simplify a business process like the over 50 packages that his colleagues were mailing daily, not only makes you the office hero, it improves business by saving time and money, which the leadership will love. Besides the ability to spot inefficiency, Scott also believes it's important to be an investigator and ask questions.

Dana Hall: As a Salesforce admin, you're going to get a lot of requests. And it's always a good idea to dig in a bit and make sure you understand what the person is asking for and why they're asking for it. That way you can decide what the best solution is.

Scott Luikart: So really being able to push past, do this thing and ask, but what is it that we're trying to achieve? Why is it we're trying to achieve that and how are we going to achieve it? Who are we going to work with? And once you know, basically those four questions, you can start looking at what tools are being offered to you, right? But you get to make that decision when you know the what, the who, the why and the how of the thing that's actually being asked. Because people want to make it easier on you as an admin, so they just tell you the thing that they need. But you could find a better option, potentially, because you're the person that's trained and trusted to know the system by asking some basic questions and really then going back to your desk and testing it out.

Dana Hall: While being a Salesforce admin is definitely a technical role, Scott believes that some communication skills may be the most important for this role. Scott believes it's important to be a patient listener and a clear communicator. So many people at your work will be using Salesforce in their day-to-day and they're going to be looking towards you to help them do their jobs better. These people may not actually know all that is possible with Salesforce, so you have to be patient, listen to what they're requesting and make sure they're aware of what is possible and recommended.

Scott Luikart: Because if I start talking about Email-to-Case, people stop listening because they don't even know what I'm talking about. But if I can tell them, "Hey, every time an email is sent we can route it to Salesforce. It can create a case and then I can alert somebody that there's a case waiting for them." And then I have buy-in. But if I say, "Yeah, we'll just turn on Email-to-Case then like it'll work." That's a much different story and people aren't like sign me up for that thing because they don't know what it's going to do.

Dana Hall: Being a patient and empathetic listener and communicator will also be helpful for when your end users might be struggling to figure out a solution to their problems.

Scott Luikart: People will frequently have a lot of passion when they tell you about those problem that they're facing because it's probably annoyed them for six months and you're just now finding out about it or it's just now becoming so burdensome that they can't continue during on job. It's typically like you're lifting some weight off their shoulders and helping make their experience better, but also helping tell them that it's going to be okay because you have this really great solution and coming in and providing that.

Dana Hall: As a Salesforce administrator, your job is to keep your company's instance of Salesforce running smoothly and effectively so your colleagues and end users can get their work done. Besides mastering the technology of Salesforce, you're going to need to brush up on the soft skills Scott just reviewed.

Scott Luikart: All right. The top three skills that I think a Salesforce admin should have is a tenacity to learn, the empathy for understanding, and the ability to speak fluently with different users in the organization.

Dana Hall: So now you know some of the skills necessary to succeed in the role of a Salesforce admin. If you're hearing what Scott is talking about and thinking this role might be a good fit for you, you'll want to check out Trailhead, Salesforce's free online learning platform, and the Trailblazer Community, which is our community of Salesforce users who meet in person at local events and online at trailblazer.salesforce.com.

Scott Luikart: What can people do if they want to find out it's being a Salesforce admin is right for them? The thing I think that is the most powerful is getting involved in the Community and trying things on Trailhead. In person, we have these really awesome user groups where you can go in and have in-person sessions and learn about different products, learn about different ways to roll things out. I think the Community is the best way to stay involved. It is only by being a part of the Community, in my opinion, that I get to learn about what other people are doing as often.

Scott Luikart: Every month or every couple of weeks, I can go to a local event and talk with somebody doing some really awesome stuff that I never would've thought of and I get to hear the full story behind it. I really love getting to talk to somebody about the reasons why they did something and asking follow-up questions and learning, "Oh, okay, well, you did that. Maybe I can change it for my use case and do this thing that I've been wanting to achieve for the last six years, but just couldn't think of a solution. And you just did it, and now I can help borrow what you did and make it our own for my company."

Dana Hall: One of the great parts about working with Salesforce is the community of individuals from all around the world who get together in person and online to learn and help each other build awesome things with Salesforce, and you can get started learning on your own at your own pace and for free on trailhead.com.

Scott Luikart: Trailhead has taught me so much more than I ever thought was possible with the platform. Trailhead is a free platform for anybody to start learning. Trailhead comes with a free playground, as we like to call it. And that playground is actually an account. It gives you the full platforms that I have as an actual company that's using Salesforce. So I can set up Email-to-case, I can set up leads, I can convert leads and see what that looks like in the system.

Scott Luikart: And then the coolest thing about Trailhead is that not only are you learning about the platform, right, you're reading and then you're doing some stuff inside the system; but, when you want to complete the challenge that they've presented you with like in leads and opportunities for Lightning Experience, you have to convert a lead. Well, in a normal learning system, you just say you did it, but Trailhead actually check to make sure that you did it correctly and gives you feedback along the way to make sure that what you did is the right thing, and that feedback is so cool.

Dana Hall: And as we start to wrap up this episode, Scott has a few more pointers for you.

Scott Luikart: Yeah. The things that I think people should do at the end of listening to this podcast is go sign up for the Trailhead account. It is your playground, it is your learning platform where you get to complete modules, earn badges, increase your rank up to Ranger. And then after you have that login, go to trailblazer.salesforce.com and register for the Community and see what we're talking about, the questions we ask, and get connected with your local user group. There's hundreds of user groups all around the world. So if you want to learn about B2B marketing and some marketing platforms that support the B2B market or the B2C market or nonprofit, we have all of these different content areas where you can become engaged with other like-minded individuals, who you can meet in person close to you or even a virtually.

Dana Hall: Salesforce admins are in demand. Scott has been able to take his skills and move all around the United States knowing he would always find a role as a Salesforce admin. In fact, after recording this episode, Scott accepted a job working as a Salesforce admin for Whole Foods in Austin.

Scott Luikart: I have not been unemployed since I started in the Salesforce ecosystem, and that I'm very grateful for. And so I have the ability to, one, move to some really cool places like Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, Texas. But also if I want to stay in Austin, I've now worked at three different companies in the same town doing Salesforce, and so there is a lot of possibilities. There is a lot of growth and you just have to find what works for you.

Scott Luikart: A thing that I think everybody should know is, I believe that you interview for the boss. I don't think you interviewed for the job. You can do Salesforce anywhere. You want to make sure that you find a boss that loves and supports your career as much as you do, and that they keep it pretty real with you and help move you along as much as you're willing to do for the company.

Dana Hall: This is Dana Hall. And now that you've heard what it's like to be a Salesforce admin, let's talk about some smart next steps on this career path. First things first, head to the Trailblazers podcast page trailhead.com/trailpod. That's T-R-A-I-L-P-O-D. There, you'll find resources paired with every episode, including a curated learning path to build your admin career on Salesforce for free with the Trailhead. You'll also find information on the credentials you can earn to stand out from the pack and attract the eyes of hiring managers and recruiters. And don't worry, we have classes and workshops to prepare you for these credentials. And when you're ready to register for one of them, don't forget to use the discount code Trailpod for 10% off.

Dana Hall: And remember, learning is always more fun with friends. Check out trailblazer.salesforce.com to meet millions of Trailblazers from across the globe or right in your backyard. So make sure to say hi to us on Twitter at Trailhead with the #trailpod and on Facebook at Salesforce Trailhead. Now's your chance to get started on your next adventure. See you soon at Trailhead.com/trailpod. See you on the trail.

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Speaker 4: This has been a Trailblazer Radio Production.

Direct download: TAKEOVER__The_Trailblazers_Guide_to_Careers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:52pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we bring you the return of the original ButtonClick Admin, Mike Gerholdt, Senior Director of Admin Evangelism at Salesforce. Gillian has just given birth to a happy, healthy baby boy (!!!). While she’s on hiatus, she’s handing to mic to Mike. In this episode

Join us as we talk about the work Mike does with the community, trends in podcasting, and what’s coming next for his stint as host of the pod.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Mike Gerholdt.

 Why Mike stays up at night worrying about the milk.

It’s been about a year and a half since Mike handed over the reins of the podcast to Gillian, and now that he’s coming back to fill in for Gillian, we wanted to check in and see what he’s been up to. “If anybody’s attended Dreamforce, you’ve probably seen me on the keynote stage,” Mike says, “but I’ve also been improving processes that you didn’t see explicitly. How the carton of milk gets to the grocery store is probably not what keeps you up at night, but there’s someone whose job it is to make the carton of milk get to the grocery store faster and colder than it is right now.” At Salesforce, that means finding new ways to help the amazing members of the admin community find their way onto the stage and into the spotlight.

For Gillian, Mike’s work has completely transformed the content at admin events all over the world. “A lot of the events you go to bring in very polished speakers that have given keynote presentations and have really high production costs,” Mike says, “but for a lot of speakers in the admin theaters and at Dreamforce, this is their first time presenting.” It takes a lot to deliver a really polished presentation and getting first-time speakers there is a big part of Mike’s job.

The podcasts we love and what we’ve learned.

The truth is that as podcasters ourselves, we’re major nerds when it comes to what we listen to. One thing that Mike has been focused on is trends in the podcasting world. Between up-to-the-minute shows like Serial and Pod Save America, and slower-burn shows with high production values like 99 Percent Invisible, Radiolab, and Reply All, there are many different models out there that are successful.

Another major change is the recent introduction of seasons to podcasting. This lets you deliver content under the same model as Netflix or Hulu, giving listeners the option to binge through a season and stay with it. There has been such an explosion in podcasting since the ButtonClick Admin podcast launched in 2013, both in Salesforce-specific shows and simply to get nerdy about any topic you can possibly imagine. For Mike, the thing that separates a one-off from something that sticks around is whether or not they make it past the tenth episode. Putting out new content week to week helps people get invested in your show, and it’s also how you get better: “If you have five hundred at-bats, you’re probably better than your first one by your five hundredth,” Mike says.

New mini-series coming soon.

We’ll be doing a few mini-series to change up the format of the podcast. The first one will be Lightning Champions with Kelly Walker. “The amount of the things that you can just do in Lightning and put no second guess into it is amazing,” Mike says, “but you only have that perspective if you were, back in the day, trying to edit the home page and realized you couldn’t.”

We’re also doing a mini-series with Marc Baizman focused on nonprofits. “This series is going to cover a lot of different aspects of working the nonprofit Salesforce space,” Gillian says, “and especially hearing about some specific product and features that are relevant to the nonprofit space.” We’ve seen some specific questions come up about nonprofit implementation versus for-profit, so we’re looking to address those issues while hearing from new and exciting guests in that space. Stay tuned!

 

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Direct download: Mike_Is_Back.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re bringing you our third and final developer story. We hear all the time from admins thinking about going into the developer career path, or even just adding developer tools to your kit. This week, we’ve got Jessica Murphy, VP of Nonprofit Consulting at ITequality, to share her career journey and perspective on learning to code. This is another interview WITness Success 2018, and since then the Women Who Dev User Group is now called WIT Developers, and the 100 Days of Code event became 100 Days of Trailhead.

Join us as we talk about Jessica’s journey from sign language interpreter to Salesforce developer, how meeting her first female developer inspired to make a career in tech, and her mentality in learning how to code.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jessica Murphy.

 From sign language interpreter to Salesforce developer.

Jessica Murphy is a former sign language interpreter and teacher who came to tech about three and a half years ago from when we recorded this interview. During her learning journey, she became a Trailhead Ranger and a Salesforce MVP. While she ran a small consultancy when we caught up with her, she’s just as passionate about the community: WIT Developers, Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, Sassy Tech Social, “I call them extra-curricular activities but it’s because I love the community so much.”

Jessica helped bring Salesforce Saturday to Phoenix. “I was so new to Salesforce, and I really wanted that dedicated time to learn and spend time with others and ask people questions,” she says. When we talked to her, they were doing a internal challenge called Summer of Trailhead 2018, which assigned points for badges, certifications, super badges, and giving food to their local shelter. As Gillian notes, “It’s like Trailhead of Trailhead.”

How Jessica gamifies learning.

Jessica also runs Sassy Tech Socials. The game started as a way to connect people she knew in order to share skills. Attendees get bingo cards that list skills they need help with, so they can just go up to other guests and say, “What can you help me with on this card?”

Finally, there’s the Women Who Dev User Group—now called WIT Developers. They get together at events like TraiheaDX and organizations group activities like 100 Days of Code, which is now 100 Days of Trailhead. Behind all of this is a constant search to look for ways that the community can support each other and push each other to learn more. “During 100 Days of Code, I saw some amazing things. I saw women go from having developer titles to architect titles,” Jessica says, “what I wanted to do was make it so that winning could be easy.”

Why learning to code is about your mentality.

In 2014, Jessica graduated with a Masters degree in Education. “I thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life working in an office of disability services, but that’s not what the universe had for me,” she says. She ended up at a startup event where she met someone from Women Who Code. “I don’t know why it resonated with me, maybe it was because she was a woman, maybe it was because she was the first woman developer I met, but I was just so fascinated by what she said,” Jessica says.

When she went home, Jessica started googling all of the things. She taught herself HTML, CSS, and a little bit of JavaScript off the bat. Then she joined Girl Develop It, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching women code so they can get where they need to go. At a meeting one day, someone invited her to a Salesforce event where she met Chris Duarte, Editor in Chief of Trailhead. “Chris was so compelling that I closed my laptop and knew, that day, that Salesforce was the way,” Jessica says. The next day she got on Trailhead and, eventually, she ended up teaching for Girl Develop It.

As far as tips for learning to code go, Jessica preaches patience. “If you’re a person who naturally understands things easy, code is not that,” she says, “it is absolutely doing it again and again until you get it right.” Many women struggle with perfectionism, and you need to not run away and convince yourself that you’re not good at something just because you don’t understand it initially. “The truth is that you are smarter than you can ever imagine,” Jessica says, “and it’s a matter of doing it over and over until something clicks.” 

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce.

Gillian Bruce: Today, listeners, we are wrapping up our brief three-part series on learning about becoming a Salesforce developer.

Gillian Bruce: Now, as admins, I've had a lot of admin inquiries about thinking about maybe in the developer career path or adding developer skills to your tool belt, which are all great ideas. I wanted to share these three interviews that I recorded a while ago with all of you to help share and inspire you, maybe hear something that helps you think differently or be encouraged to maybe learn something new.

Gillian Bruce: Today, we are featuring an interview with Jessica Murphy, who is now VP of nonprofit consulting at ITequality, an incredible organization. Jessica has a very unique path to Salesforce. You can hear the spark in her voice as she talks about how the platform has really opened up doors for her, changed her life, and she's got some really great insights to share in terms of how to learn about code, how to think about code, and some of the cool things that she's been doing.

Gillian Bruce: She's also been incredibly active in the community. And just to update from this interview that was recorded almost a year ago, she's been incredibly active in a community group that you'll hear her refer to as Women Who Dev User Group, which is now called WIT Devs, Women In Tech Developers. I'll put a link to them in the show notes so you can find them.

Gillian Bruce: She also talks about Rachel a few times in this interview. That is in reference to Rachel Watson, who's another amazing member of the Salesforce community. Jessica talks about A Hundred Days of Code, which actually became A Hundred Days of Trailhead. And this was an amazing, organic, community-driven campaign that saw people doing something in Trailhead, or with code, for a hundred days every single day, and there were amazing results. You'll hear Jessica talk about a few of them. Pretty incredible.

Gillian Bruce: She's also been very active with helping lead Salesforce Saturday in Phoenix, and creating project teams, connecting those who want to learn about Salesforce with Salesforce experts, connecting those folks with local nonprofits to help the nonprofit, and also help those who are wanting to learn more about Salesforce, those skills. It's a good combination. She's had a lot of really great experience kind of combining those two efforts.

Gillian Bruce: Make sure you connect with her social so that you can see and ask her more questions about what she's doing there. It's very exciting.

Gillian Bruce: Overall, Jessica just has an amazing passion for the platform. Without further ado, I'd love to please welcome Jessica to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Jessica, welcome to the podcast.

Jessica Murphy: Thank you for having me. So excited.

Gillian Bruce: Well, thank you for taking the time out of this incredible event. We're at Witness Success here in Denver. Gosh, there's so much great content all day long for the last day and a half. I appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy day to spend some time with me to talk to me a little bit more about your story.

Gillian Bruce: Tell me a little bit about who you are, what you do. What are you doing right now in the ecosystem?

Jessica Murphy: Okay, so a little bit about me. I am a former sign language interpreter and sign language teacher. I came to tech about three-and-a-half years ago. In the process learned about Salesforce and was like, "Ooh, this is awesome."

Jessica Murphy: Three years ago, went into Salesforce, and a lot has happened then. I became a Trailhead ranger, and, let's see, I became a Salesforce MVP. I've got five certifications, all the things.

Jessica Murphy: Now, I own a small consultancy called Geekbella Consultancy, and it's been a lot of fun. In addition, of course, my ... I call them extracurricular activities, but it's because I love the community so much, Women Who Dev user group, Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, Sassy Tech Social. Those are things that are so close to my heart and those are like my babies in addition to my company.

Gillian Bruce: You just mentioned a whole bunch of other programs that you're involved in. You just dropped a lot of names out there. Can you give us a little bit more background on some of those?

Jessica Murphy: Okay, great.

Jessica Murphy: Let's start with Phoenix Salesforce Saturday. Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, we are the second Salesforce Saturday after Austin. There were three of us who started it. It was me, Paula Nelson, and Rachel. Paula Nelson actually approached Stephanie and said, "I would like to start a Salesforce Saturday that's not an Austin. I want to start one in Phoenix." After she talked to Stephanie and Stephanie gave her blessing, she came to me and Rachel and said, "I want to do this thing. Will you guys do it with me?" We said, "Yes, we're doing it. Let's do it." Because I was so new to Salesforce and I really, really wanted that dedicated time to learn and spend time with others and ask people questions.

Jessica Murphy: We started every Saturday. We've been doing it now, let's see, I think for two years maybe? Maybe more. It's been wonderful. I've absolutely loved it. I've loved the people. It grows. It gets smaller, but they're my heart. Right now we're doing this little internal challenge called Summer of Trailhead 2018 where everybody ... you got so many points for a badge, so many points for certification, so many points for a super badge, and so many points for actually giving food to the local shelter. We were able to give over 130 pounds worth of food to the local shelter when they said that they've run out of food in July. We're really excited. We figure out who won this next week and I'm really excited about that.

Gillian Bruce: That is so cool.

Jessica Murphy: I know.

Gillian Bruce: You're like Trailhead of Trailhead. It's beyond Trailhead of Trailhead style. That's awesome.

Jessica Murphy: Let's see, the next group is Sassy Tech Socials. Sassy Tech Socials came out of this situation where I had a friend who said, "I want to meet this recruiter, but I'm afraid." I was afraid too, but I said, "Let's do it." We went over and met the recruiter.

Jessica Murphy: It also came out of Mary Scotton also because she talked about the power od one-to-one connection. I thought it important that my friends met my friends. I would hear people say, "Well, I need someone who knows UX." Or I would say, "I need somebody who knows this." And I was like, "I know somebody like that." Eventually it became this thing where we meet about twice a year in Phoenix, but then also in other places sometimes. It's just women in tech. Across all of tech.

Jessica Murphy: Through that, I started a networking game. The networking game is basically come up to someone and say, "Hey, what can you help me with on this card?" The card is like, "Do you know JavaScript, or do you know this? Or do you know that?"

Gillian Bruce: This is like the Bingo cards.

Jessica Murphy: Yeah. I did one of these at one of your events. Gosh, I think that was Southeast Dreaming last year or something like that, right? Actually, I brought the Bingo game to WWDUG because I thought it important to be able to do that. Also, Salesforce themselves have used it for the Equality Event before TrailheaDX. I'm pretty excited that this thing is kind of having a life of its own.

Jessica Murphy: Then the third thing is... so that's Sassy. Sassy is all women across all of tech. Then last is Women Who Dev User Group. I'm a co-leader of a Salesforce User Group, and I just loved them so much. They are all these women who are developers across the Salesforce ecosystem. We just get together, and every month we have something related to code.

Jessica Murphy: Then also, we had these amazing get togethers. We have these get togethers at like TrailheaDx and Dreamforce, and even this year at Connections. We get together and we meet each other and we just have fun and we learn together. That's the most beautiful part. They are an amazing group who are doing amazing things.

Jessica Murphy: We did a hundred days of code earlier this year, and I have some other things in mind. We're not going to spill the beans, but I have some other fun things in mind that I'm going to implement for the group. I'm pretty excited.

Gillian Bruce: Gosh, I mean, I'm sensing a theme of constant kind of finding fun ways to involve people using ideas, gamification. Gaming the whole thing to incentivize people to do things and that a hundred days of code.

Gillian Bruce: I remember seeing your posts. That was an incredible effort. Can you tell me a little bit more about that hundred days? What did that do for you? What did you learn? What have you seen in the community with the a hundred days of code? I mean, I just remember seeing the post and being blown away.

Jessica Murphy: Okay. Let me go back to why I originally did it. I knew that the 100 days of code existed outside of the Salesforce ecosystem, right, because I'm a member of Girl Develop It and women who code and all these others... I knew it existed already, but for some reason, it was right before Christmas. I got that flu that everybody got at Christmas and I was so sick. I was so sick I had a fever and I popped up and I said to Rachel, "We're doing a hundred days of code." She went, "Go to bed."

Gillian Bruce: That's the fever talking.

Jessica Murphy: I was so excited by this idea because I had just stopped long enough to have an idea outside of how I normally think. I was so excited by this. I started writing down all these resources that people didn't know how to code, and I started writing all these things down. Before Rachel could say no, I just went ahead and announced it.

Gillian Bruce: When you name it, it makes it real, right?

Jessica Murphy: Right. Exactly. Basically, what happened is that we started on January one and it started with something as simple as a tweet saying, "I'm doing a hundred days of code with WWDUG." Everyone was invited. It wasn't just women who [inaudible 00:09:41] group, it was also all of WIT. It was everyone in the ecosystem if they were learning to code.

Jessica Murphy: Basically, over the a hundred days, I saw some amazing things. I saw women go from having developer titles to having architect titles. I saw people getting certified left and right. It was just amazing. People whose skills improved, people who had been in Rad Women Code, who were able to continue what they were learning in Rad Women Code and just work out through that hundred days.

Jessica Murphy: It was a wonderful learning experience for us all. Basically, what I wanted to do was I wanted to make it so that winning could be easy. I made it so that if you tweeted everyday you could possibly win.

Gillian Bruce: I love it.

Jessica Murphy: This year I'm going to have to make a little this next year I'm going to have to make it a little bit harder. I think I want everybody to do a project, and I would like for it to be a hundred days of code and a hundred days of Trailhead so that both of those things... so everybody feels a little bit more like it's something that they can identify with. The tweets were amazing. What people were doing, it was amazing.

Gillian Bruce: That's so awesome. I mean, congratulations and thank you for doing that because I saw some of the Twitter storm as a result and it was phenomenal. Phenomenal.

Gillian Bruce: Let's back up a little bit, and let's talk about how you actually started to learn Salesforce. You say you've only been in the Salesforce ecosystem for what, three and a half years? Something like that? Tell me about your journey to Salesforce.

Jessica Murphy: Okay. This actually starts in 2014 interestingly. In 2014, I graduated with a master's degree in education. I thought that I was going to be working in an office of disability services for the rest of my life. That's not what the universe had for me. I couldn't find a job. The one interview that I had, they wanted to offer me, I think it was $35,000 a year.

Jessica Murphy: It really wasn't much for...

Gillian Bruce: After a master's degree.

Jessica Murphy: After a master's degree. I was kind in the state of what do I do now? I was at a startup event. This woman said, "I'm from Women Who Code, and I love teaching women to code." I don't know why it resonated with me, maybe it was because she was a woman. Maybe it was because she was the first woman developer I'd ever met. I was just so fascinated about what she said. I thought, "Okay. I need to meet her and I need to talk to her." Her name was Sheena, and she is an amazing human being. She pointed me in the right direction.

Jessica Murphy: I went home and I was so excited that I actually googled everything. I googled code. I taught myself HTML, CSS, and a little bit of JavaScript.

Gillian Bruce: Oh my gosh.

Jessica Murphy: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: That's amazing.

Jessica Murphy: Yeah. Then I joined Girl Develop It. Girl Develop It is this amazing non-profit organization, and their entire focus is teaching women code or teaching them [tech 00:12:26] so that they can get where they're going. I mean, all of my initial classes about tech were in Girl Develop It. Because of Girl Develop It, and because the member of Girl Develop It was actually the leader of Women In Tech, her name was Paula Nelson, because she was at one of the meetings, she was like, "Hey, you two." She was talking to me and my friend Rachel, and she said, "Hey, do you want to come to the Salesforce thing?" Okay, so this was my thought, right?

Jessica Murphy: My thought, "Salesforce? What's this Salesforce thing? I'm not doing sales. I'm not a salesperson. Are you kidding?" Rachel's ears perked up because she was in sales at the time. I went thinking that I was actually supporting her.

Jessica Murphy: The first thing was a dining demo, and that was interesting enough, right? The next day was so cool, because the next day I met Chris Duarte.

Gillian Bruce: Oh boy, that's a familiar name on a podcast. Chris Duarte, editor-in-chief of Trailhead. Amazing community leader.

Jessica Murphy: Yes. Okay. She starts talking about her career. She starts talking about how she's done it. She starts talking about the platform itself. This is really the truth because I was like, "I'm in a boot camp." I was trying to JavaScript project, and Chris was talking and I'm looking up at what she's talking about the platform, and I thought, "How much code did that take? Wait, you could do all the stuff and you don't have to start from the beginning?"

Jessica Murphy: Chris was so compelling that I closed my laptop and knew that day, that was it. Regardless, I was going to finish my boot camp, and I did. I knew Salesforce was the way. That was what I was going to do. I knew that that was it, and fell in love that day. The next day I got on Trailhead, and I've been doing Salesforce ever since.

Jessica Murphy: I didn't like the way I said that, ever since. Southern accent.

Gillian Bruce: It's good. We like, we like accents on the podcast. It's all good. It's all good. All right, so Girl Develop It., It was your first exposure and you are still involved with Girl Develop It, correct? Tell me a little bit about what you're doing with Girl Develop It now.

Jessica Murphy: Okay, so Girl Develop It we have... as you know, Girl Develop It does have a national office, but they have different, smaller...

Gillian Bruce: Like chapters.

Jessica Murphy: Chapters. Exactly. Chapters around the country. I'm a member of the Phoenix chapter, and we have a lot of things that we still do. We do a lot of code and coffees where we kind of sit around and we talk to each other and we talk about code and we drink coffee.

Jessica Murphy: Another cool thing that we do is the Salesforce class is. We have another one coming up in August and we are really excited. Usually, for the Salesforce class, we do the Battlestation. I think it's going to be fun because it gives all of these people this new exposure to Salesforce and they get to see all the things that you could do so fast, right? Yeah, I'm still involved. I went from actually being a student to now I'm actually a GDI instructor.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. That's fantastic. I remember Mary Scotton, referring back to Mary, she actually pushed me, I think this was two years ago, to teach my first ever course at GDI and teaching the Battlestation project. It was a huge challenge for me because I had never taught in that kind of environment. I never taught something really technical like that. Obviously, sent me off to the races to do all kinds of other things. Yeah, GDI is an incredible... it's an incredible platform just in of itself and the way that it's structured and what it does for the community. I mean, thank you for... I mean your, your journey from student to instructor, that is really fantastic. You should feel really proud.

Jessica Murphy: I am. I'm very proud. I love the fact that I'm able to give back in this way because this was my beginning. If I can give back and if I can encourage someone else to learn Salesforce or to be a part of the ecosystem, I'm not gonna lie, I'm Salesforce biased. There's so many things that you could do at GDI. You can learn JavaScript, you can learn Java, you can learn... those were my first touches. JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, all these things. All of us was through GDI, the one that clicked was Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: There you go, and here you are. I did want to dig into your developer specific story a little bit. Tell me, what was one of? The hardest things about learning how to code? You obviously didn't come from a computer science background, right? So tell me about what were some of the things that were really hard for you to understand in the beginning?

Jessica Murphy: In the beginning, some of it was terminology. In the beginning, it was this understanding that you keep on having to work at it. If you're a person who naturally understands things easily, code is not that, right? It is absolutely doing it again, again, and again until you get it right.

Jessica Murphy: That was a bit of a struggle for me. I think more so than any of those things, it was this idea of perfectionism. A lot of women are perfectionists, right? They feel that I don't understand this and since I don't understand this, I'm going to run, right? Not running and not self-sabotaging.

Gillian Bruce: That's why a lot of girls stop learning about math, right?

Jessica Murphy: Right.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, I was one of them. Took me forever to get through calculus, and I just convinced myself I wasn't good at math.

Jessica Murphy: Right. There's nothing that's farther from the truth. The truth is that you are smarter than you could ever imagine. It's a matter of doing it over and over until something clicks. Then also, it's the self doubt. I think that specifically for women, that's the number one thing that I see that allows them to talk themselves out of either becoming a developer, or continuing to become a developer. Me included, because I initially did try to talk myself out of it. There's also a part of me that's pretty persistent, and I kept on coming back even though some days I felt that I failed horribly. I kept on coming back until it was something.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Well, thank you for being brave and continuing to do that because you can show all the rest of us that hey, this is possible. That's awesome. That's awesome. What's next for you? What's your next thing that you're working on that you're excited about?

Jessica Murphy: All right, so Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, I love taking that group and making it into something that it would not normally be. Like I was talking about, doing this gamifying of even them getting batches.

Jessica Murphy: What we are thinking about doing is creating... Okay, so we have people at different levels in Phoenix Salesforce Saturday. Some of them are like, "I want to apply all of this stuff I'm learning to something." What we're thinking about doing is creating an app for a school store. It was also because we have several parents in our Salesforce Saturday. I had one in particular that was like, "I really want to teach Salesforce to my child."

Jessica Murphy: After he's finished with a few Trailhead modules could we create something? And I was like, "We certainly can." We got to thinking mowing lawns, does anybody even do that anymore? Any of those types of things. Then we thought about selling candy at school. Well, the thing about that is that most school officials don't exactly approve of that, but there is the school store where kids can get candy from the school itself.

Jessica Murphy: Connect all of these things in Salesforce. Since we have people at different levels, we will have everybody working on a different part of it, and those of us who know how to code, we'll connect things using code, or do whatever using code. We haven't exactly figured out exactly how this is going to work.

Jessica Murphy: We will do that. If all goes well, then maybe it's something that we could teach to a local elementary school for Trailhead for all. What my desire is, is for it to be something that we can do at the elementary school level so they understand. Then if we teach high school students where they can build it out even further and make it more complex because they understand technology a little bit better than the little ones.

Jessica Murphy: I'm pretty excited about that. I actually hope that we're able to make that happen. We are currently talking with Salesforce Saturday about making that happen.

Gillian Bruce: That is awesome. I love how that [inaudible 00:21:01] creating your own project team essentially of a Salesforce Saturday folks, and acting as your own development team and figuring out where people fit in and learning about the process overall. Then letting kids then take part of that and use that as a learning tool.

Jessica Murphy: Well, there's this interesting thing. Most of us in our Salesforce Saturday are entrepreneurs and we're usually by ourselves. I know that when you work on a team, you can sometimes acquire skills from other people that you don't have. That's our way of coming together, making a project that could really, really be amazing in the real world, and also being able to glean information from other people who might know something different than what I know.

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. That's great. I love that. All right, so what's one piece of advice you have for someone who is a little nervous, a little intimidated about maybe learning how to become a developer?

Jessica Murphy: Okay, so one, you don't need to be from a development background. I think that that was one of the biggest lessons I had to learn personally. I consider myself more an artist, and I was still able to do it. I think also, I would say, if you're going to learn code, learn it from reputable sites. There are plenty of sites with old information.

Jessica Murphy: For example, JavaScript is now ECMA six and I personally learned ECMA6, and I personally learned ECMA5. If someone went to an ECMA5 site, they will learn the basics of JavaScript, but it wouldn't be actually what they need to actually learn JavaScript. To me, one of the very, very best places to learn and start really learning these things is Trailhead. Trailhead has it all. It does.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Great pieces of advice. Thank you. Well, before I let you go, Jessica, you've shared so many amazing things, so many cool things that you've worked on and are working on. I have to ask you a lightning round question.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So since we're doing a little bit more of a developer theme, I'm going to ask you to developer theme lightning round question. What is one of the weirdest developer terms you have heard? You don't know? There's so many weird... maybe when you first started, what was one of the terms you were like, "what is that?"

Jessica Murphy: ECMA. Okay, so everybody thinks that JavaScript is actually JavaScript, and they did try to use JavaScript to kind of sound like Java, but the real name of Java script is ECMA.

Gillian Bruce: Do you any idea what that stands for?

Jessica Murphy: Google.

Gillian Bruce: Google. See, this is why I ask because I don't know any of these things. Google is JavaScript. Got It.

Jessica Murphy: ECMA is actually JavaScript. That was one of the things I found very, very strange when I started out. Of course, I'm Googling, right? By the way, if you are a developer, this is your best friend. That is Stack Exchange. Let me see, [inaudible 00:23:50] ES6, ECMA script, which is actually JavaScript.

Gillian Bruce: It doesn't even tell you what it is.

Jessica Murphy: No it doesn't. It's like [crosstalk 00:23:57] Wikipedia. They have all these words, but they don't say what ECMA actually means. Let me see.

Gillian Bruce: That's pretty funny.

Jessica Murphy: It is pretty funny. Nobody really actually knows what it means.

Gillian Bruce: Well, then there you go. We all just learned something together on the podcast. Thank you. Look at you educating people through the podcast. That's great. That's good. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. You've got so many amazing things you're doing and I really appreciate it and I appreciate all you're doing for the community.

Jessica Murphy: Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Jessica for taking the time to chat with us at witness success a while ago and share her wisdom. Now, Jessica is incredibly passionate and it was great to hear about her journey from being a sign language instructor into Salesforce, about getting so inspired by meeting her first female developer, realizing this was something she could do, googling all the things, getting plugged into Girl Develop It, and then getting so inspired by our very own Chris Duarte, who's our editor-in-chief at Salesforce of Trailhead.

Gillian Bruce: Immediately from then Jessica said, "You know what, Salesforce is what I want to do, so I'm going to do it." Some of the things I thought were really important that she shared was that if you're somebody who learns naturally and kind of gets things pretty quickly, be prepared because learning how to code is not that way. Be patient with yourself. You cannot be a perfectionist as you learn how to code. You can't self sabotage, don't run away. It's the kind of thing you need to really practice and do over and over again to truly get, and just know you're smarter than you think you are. So trust yourself, just give yourself time to get it. It really does take repetition.

Gillian Bruce: Also, I love how Jessica points out is you don't have to be quote unquote "a developer" to be able to develop and code. You can still be Salesforce admining, so be an artist. You could still be a marketing manager. Whatever you identify yourself as, these are just skills that you can add to your tool belt no matter what your role is.

Gillian Bruce: She also says that the best way to learn is with Trailhead. We've got lots of great resources for you to do that. I put some in the show notes. One is a link to that Build a Battlestation app, which is what Jessica used in the Girl Develop It course. It's a great way to get a quick overview of what Salesforce can do and build a quick app start to finish.

Gillian Bruce: There's also the Developer Beginner Trail. If you're really thinking about pursuing this, definitely take a peek at that trail and start doing some modules. You never know what might click.

Gillian Bruce: Also, connect with your local Salesforce Saturday or local developer user group or local community group. There's so many ways that you can get dialed into the Salesforce ecosystem and start learning.

Gillian Bruce: Now, before I get to the standard closing, I have a special announcement for all of you listeners. As some of you may know, I have been cooking a little baby Bruce inside my belly for the last few months, and I am about to go on maternity leave to welcome my first kid into the world. I'm very excited about that. I'm excited for the adventure that that holds, but that also means I'm going to be taking a little break from the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Never fear. The podcast will still be delivered every single Thursday with a familiar voice. If you have listened to the podcast prior to 2018 you will recognize the dulcet tones of Mike Gerholdt who will be returning as your host while I am on maternity leave. He's got an amazing lineup of guests coming your way from product experts, admins, and community leaders to help you be a more awesome admin. He actually started this podcast back in 2013 as the Button Click Admin Podcasts. You are in fabulous hands.

Gillian Bruce: He's also going to be assisted by our amazing producer, Celia Belarde, who joined us about six months ago as a Europe intern. Has taken the reigns on all the production in terms of planning and executing and publishing. She's been an incredible help. Between Mike and Celia, you are in very good hands and keep the feedback coming. The more you provide feedback and ideas for the podcast, the better it gets.

Gillian Bruce: As you may have seen, you can nominate a guest's idea for the podcast. You can see on my Twitter profile also on the Salesforce Admins Twitter profile, there's a link to fill out a form.

Gillian Bruce: Don't fear. I will be back. It's going to be on the other side of this adventure, but for the next few months you are going to be enjoying the dulcet tones of Mike Gerholdt as your host.

Gillian Bruce: Now, if you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, make sure you go to admin.salesforce.com. Our blogs, webinars, events, podcasts you can find there. Make sure you subscribe and share the podcast with all your friends. Like I said, every Thursday you're still going to get a brand new episode.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to follow us on social, I highly encourage you to do so. We are at Salesforce Admins, no I, on Twitter. Our guest today, Jessica Murphy, is also on Twitter at Jessica R. Murphy, and you can find myself at Jillian K. Bruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Develop_Better_Together_With_Jessica_Murphy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:21pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got another developer story for those of you thinking about careers and what to do next. This episode, we’re talking with Miranda Ragland, founder and CEO of M7 Unlimited. We caught up with her at WITness Success 2018 to talk about how she became a Salesforce developer and the work she does to help enable others to become proficient on the platform.

Join us as we talk about how Miranda built her career in programming and how trying to automate her timesheets eventually lead her to a career as a Salesforce developer.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Miranda Ragland.

Coding from the age of seven.

Miranda’s been a Salesforce developer since 2006. “I really really love taking advantage of the platform to make it easier for end-users to get their work done,” she says, “I tend to focus more on admins and consultants because I love building tools for their and it’s a fantastic platform to build on.”

“I’ve always been a curious person by nature,” Miranda says, “and I was really lucky to have access to computers when I was really young—early 80s. And just by being curious by nature I wanted to know how they worked, so I took apart our family computer.” She started coded when she was seven years old, creating a game in BASIC and even debugging it. “There’s this feeling of accomplishment when you figure out what’s going wrong,” she says, “when you have that aha moment and it works it’s an amazing adrenaline rush.”

How getting rid of extra clicks lead to a career.

As Miranda picked up more programming languages, she was constantly on the search for what would come next. As an early internet user (like 1991 early), she was curious about how things worked at a lower level, so she taught herself C and Visual Basic, and then moved on to assembly, C++, C#, and Enterprise Java. “I had to log into Salesforce log my time slips, and it wasn’t a particularly well-automated system back then in 2006,” she says, “so I decided I wanted to learn how to make this more efficient because I was tired of all the clicks so I learned how to write an S control.”

At this point, Miranda was working with a consulting company that just so happened to have a client that needed help with a Salesforce integration, which at the time meant using Java to push data into the platform. Just as she was getting to know and love Salesforce, Apex came out. “I absolutely fell in love, and I haven’t looked back,” she says.

Why you already have what you need to learn to code.

When we caught up with Miranda at WITness Success 2018, she was working with registered consulting partner ITequality, which she co-founded. “One of our goals is to change the face of consulting,” she says, “and bring awareness to mental health and LGBTQ issues.” Their first client was looking for a developer to update a Visualforce page with some static text in it. Instead, Miranda was able to show them how to make that content live in Salesforce in a way that they could update it themselves.

If you’re thinking about jumping into coding, Miranda wants you to know that you already have everything you need to succeed. “It’s just structured problem solving,” she says, “people look at code and they get intimidated by it, but really coding boils down to breaking things into smaller, more digestible chunks and then you tackle those smaller problems.” The more comfortable you get with the concepts, the easier it’ll be to pick up new languages.

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Direct download: Born_to_Develop_with_Miranda_Ragland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got a special interview from WITness Success 2018. We have Susannah St-Germain, Technical Architect at Boston Scientific, to talk about how she made her career in a more technical area of the Salesforce ecosystem.  

Join us as we talk about how to tap into your passion to make a career, what helped her get the training she needed coming from a non-technical background, and the shift in mindset you need to make for coding.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Susannah St-Germain.

 From pro musician to Salesforce pro.

Today, Susannah is a Salesforce Developer and Technical Architect at Boston Scientific, but her path to getting there is unconventional, to say the least. She originally went to school for music, going for her masters in viola performance. “At some point, I think I realized that maybe I don’t necessarily see myself playing in an orchestra forever,” Susannah says, “so I decided to drop out of grad school.”

Susannah came out to Breckenridge, Colorado, to intern in the development department of an orchestra. “Little did I know at that time that that was going to be the first step on this path to where I am today,” she says. She started doing more work on the backend of nonprofits, and really enjoyed the work she did with databases to track fundraising.

“The data department would provide their frontline fundraisers with a big report that they called ‘The Beast,’” Susannah says, but she kept on obsessing over how it could be improved. “I realized I was much more interested in fixing this problem than going out and doing my fundraising work,” she says. She ended up as Director of Strategy and Operations at Citizen Schools, a nonprofit based in Boston, where they used Salesforce to track fundraising and volunteers. She got hooked on the platform and her next job was as a solo Admin and Developer.

Filling in a technical background.

As Susannah was diving into the developer side of Salesforce, she heard about a program called Rad Women Code. It’s a community-lead 10-week course for folks who are interested in learning more about coding in Salesforce. This was a gamechanger for Susannah to give her the bed of knowledge she was missing not coming from a computer science background. “It gave me the confidence and building blocks in order to better utilize tools like Trailhead and the Developer Forums,” Susannah says, letting her push her knowledge even further.

“I never would have imagined this six years before, but I ended up applying for a role in the tech department at a for-profit company,” Susannah says. “I reached out to the person on Success Community, and they immediately asked for my resume and brought me in to interview and the rest is history.”

The change in mindset you need to be a developer.

For Susannah, the biggest part of learning code and the other skills you need to be a developer comes down to mindset. “For me the hardest part, coming from being an admin,” she says, “is with coding you’re never going to do it once and have it work perfectly and not see any errors.” You need to embrace being happy when you get an error because it means you’re closer to figuring out how to get it working. “Embracing that mentality was probably the biggest shift for me,” she says, “just because I code something and it doesn’t work the first time doesn’t mean that I’m a failure, it means that I’m one step closer.”

Today at Boston Scientific, Susannah worked with their Latin American business to create a tool that allows them to route pricing approval through a special process that is different for each person. “One of my colleagues told me it used to take two weeks,” she says, “now it takes them a day.” On the other hand, there are some admin tools that Susannah is grateful to have under her belt.

“If you’re very comfortable with code and you’ve never been an admin, it’s easy to say, ‘We can do that with code, we can do anything with code,’” Susannah says, “but knowing when to use a declarative feature versus programmatic is such an important skill for developers to have. And sometimes, for admins, you can do something declaratively but you have to twist yourself in a pretzel to do it, but it takes three lines of code.”

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Direct download: Discover_Your_Inner_Developer_with_Susannah_St-Germain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the final live episode from the DC World Tour. We’re joined by Meghan McCoy, Senior Associate in CRM Applications at the Pew Charitable Trust. We’ll hear how she’s building innovative solutions for her nonprofit in Salesforce, and talk about the human side of technology.

Join us as we talk about how she approaches technology from the human side of things with her experience in anthropology, how she uses Agile practices to help get things done at a large organization, and how she’s customizing her org to better serve her constituents.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Meghan McCoy.

 Meghan’s unique perspective on technology.

Growing up, Meghan studied modern creative dance from the age of five to fourteen. She performed at festivals and worked in a special system called global somatics, which focuses on highlighting the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Her creative background led her to Howard University in DC, trying to figure out what to study. She ended up focusing on anthropology. “It’s really human-facing and it’s something that can be applied to various industries,” Meghan says.

The late 90s and early 2000s were an interesting time to be a college because of the explosion of technology: from Friendster to Black Planet to AOL Instant Messenger, college students were beginning to use the internet to connect in new ways. “There was a Computer and Sociology class,” Meghan says, “and once I took that I knew I was very interested in where humanity was headed, and so I took my anthropological skills and applied it to the IT realm. As soon as I graduated I started to work in the network equipment industry as an account rep.”

Using Agile with Salesforce.

Today, Meghan is happily employed as a Salesforce Administrator for the Pew Charitable Trust. “What I’m able to do in this role is operationalize a lot of customer delivery we’re providing as a Salesforce team,” she says, “I’m managing the day-to-day user permissions, onboardings, offboardings at an organization of about a thousand employees, which includes about seven hundred Salesforce-licensed users.” She doesn’t have to solo admin, and can instead focus on the relationship between her users and team members to make everyone’s job easier.

They use Agile methodologies as a team to get everything done. They get requests through ServiceNow, then pipe them into Jira to organize and assign the work and sort it into two-week sprints. There are specialized team members for grants, Marketing Cloud, and general requests come to Meghan.

The magic of the Salesforce community.

Coming from the network equipment industry to Salesforce, Meghan was looking for a different environment. “I wanted something a lot more diverse, a lot more inclusive in terms of a professional network to participate in,” she says. She started looking into the platform through a mentor and began attending World Tours where she connected with folks (including Marc Baizman) who kept saying, “you belong, even though you might not yet know the platform we know that because you keep showing up we’ve got something you can contribute to.”

With her team today, Meghan is working on a lot of innovations. “I call our instance a constituent management database,” she says, “and one of favorite projects right now is looking at how to connect activities to multiple objects within our instance.” They’re developing a tool on the platform so their users have a better way of tracking the lifecycle of an activity across the organization. Working with their Salesforce Success Reps, they’re trying to create some kind of identifier to keep the multiple records connected—almost an internal Salesforce record ID. It helps them keep track of when multiple users meet with the same constituent, and any other conversations that have happened between that person and the organization.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Jillian Bruce. Today, listeners, we are wrapping up our series that we recorded while we were in Washington DC for the world tour, not too long ago. Today we are talking to Meghan McCoy who is a senior associate CRM applications at the Pew Charitable Trusts. She is amazing. She's so fun to talk to you. She's incredibly smart, incredibly passionate about what she does. And I wanted to get her on the podcast to share a little bit about some of the cool things that she's doing with Salesforce, how she's building some of these solutions and talk about more of this human side of technology. She actually studied anthropology and has found a lot of really great parallels between that and what she does in the IT sector and with Salesforce. So without further ado, please welcome Meghan to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Megan, welcome to the podcast.

Meghan McCoy: Thank you. Thank you, Gillian. Thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Well, thank you for having me because we're actually in your hometown of DC. We're out here for the world tour and I am very happy that I get the chance to sit down and chat with you in person.

Meghan McCoy: Thank you. I hope you got a chance to walk around. Our city is absolutely beautiful. One of a kind.

Gillian Bruce: I am a huge fan of DC, and the community here and the town, it's really, it's really fun.

Meghan McCoy: It's an interesting juxtaposition between various city lifes throughout the US, it's kind of an amalgamation of what we have to offer in this country.

Gillian Bruce: That's very great ... That's a fantastic summary of DC, yeah. Well, we got some good spring weather now, so it's nice.

Meghan McCoy: Yeah. Next time you got to make it for the cherry blossoms.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, yes. I did get to live in DC for a couple years. I got to be here for that and it is mind-blowingly beautiful.

Meghan McCoy: It is.

Gillian Bruce: Like cloud land.

Meghan McCoy: It is. It is like pink clouds.

Gillian Bruce: Wow.

Meghan McCoy: They're real, I thought those only existed in the Ohana Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: Right.

Meghan McCoy: Salesforce tours.

Gillian Bruce: Ohana lands. Yeah. Well, Megan, I wanted to get you on the podcast to talk about a whole bunch of things, but to introduce you a little bit to our listeners. I love to start off with a question. Megan, what did you want to do ... What did you want to be when you grew up?

Meghan McCoy: So, growing up, I actually studied modern creative dance from like the age of five until I was about 14, I wanted to be a modern creative dancer.

Gillian Bruce: That is so cool. So did you do dance most of your life growing up or?

Meghan McCoy: Yeah, I performed at various festivals. We had an instructor who really focused on what's called Global Somatics. So it was a form of movement that focuses on your body systems, whether it's your bones or your fluid systems. So I learned a lot about anatomy, and then how to kind of move my body to sounds that reminded us of kind of those anatomical natural movements.

Gillian Bruce: That is fascinating. That's so great. Okay, so then how do you go from dance and all of this amazing kind of very expressive creative land to now working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell me a little bit about that career journey.

Meghan McCoy: So when it was time for me to pick university, I was fortunate to have a really good mentor at the school I was attending in high school. I attended Scattergood friends school, Quaker boarding school in Iowa. And my mentor there, she kind of suggested based on what I was looking for, that I apply to a plethora of universities and Howard was what I landed on, which brought me to Washington in '98 and I've stayed since. And really, there, I was undecided, I was a bit nervous. I wanted to study dance, wasn't sure if maybe I'd switch from liberal arts to the fine arts program. And I ended up landing on anthropology really because I got in a debate with some students and they totally smoked me in the conversation. And I just said, "These guys are just so smart." They were from Philly and I asked my girlfriends, what are these guys studying? And they said anthropology. And I said, "Okay, this is for me because it's really human facing. It really is something that can be applied to various industries."

Meghan McCoy: And then, while I was at Howard, it was early 2000s, and really that's when IT was starting to really kick off where we were on AOL, we were on Black Planet, we were using, whether it was Friendster-

Gillian Bruce: I remember Friendster.

Meghan McCoy: And downloading music and chat rooms. So at that time studying anthropology and sociology, there was a computer in sociology class. And once I took that, I knew kind of, I was very interested in where humanity was headed. And so, I kind of took my anthropological skills and applied it to the IT realm as soon as I graduated, where I started to work in the network equipment industry as an IT professional, like an account rep.

Gillian Bruce: That is really fascinating because I love ... Clearly you are fascinated by kind of like the human experience, right? From doing the expressive kind of dance, creative dance. And then, I love how you say, you got smoked in that conversation.

Meghan McCoy: Oh yeah, toasted.

Gillian Bruce: You were like, I want to do that. And then, kind of delving into this human side of what is going on with kind of humanity at large and then finding that intersection of technology and all these digital transformations that are happening in the ... I remember Napster and Friendster and like all of that in college.

Meghan McCoy: Limewire.

Gillian Bruce: Oh my gosh, totally, totally. Oh all the hours spent downloading things.

Meghan McCoy: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: And so then, that kind of took you in this IT route. So I think that's really fascinating because so many people who are ... find themselves in Salesforce admin role, come from a very non-traditional tech background. But you came from the humanities side intending to go into IT in a little bit. Right?

Meghan McCoy: Right. So it really turned, once I took that computer and sociology class to where I started to understand technology was going to be kind of the future of human progression in the workforce. So when I thought about how do I want to apply my degree, I was sure I didn't want to go and become a professor and get a master's in anthropology, which kind of put me at risk for freaking out, which I did because I said, "Oh gosh, I got this BA and I don't know how to exactly transition it." But I just kept promoting the fact that I had great writing skills and I got picked up by an IT company to write the copyright for their website and customer facing interfaces.

Meghan McCoy: And as a result, not only did I excel in that role, but I was brought in as a manager then, to hire and train the workforce. As a result to kind of found my niche was operations. So I developed a lot of our quality control process and logistics around the work we were doing, which was primarily routing Cisco network systems around the world, whether it was to our federal customers or US-based customers and making sure we paired them and partnered their needs with the right technology.

Gillian Bruce: So I'm hearing so many things and your description of what you just said, it's you were able to be a translator between the technology and the people, which is a very valued skill because there are so many layers of jargon and understandings of systems that don't necessarily inherently make sense to a lot of people. And then the fact that you were brought into a management role because you understood kind of these relationships and how people related to the technology and the systems are related to each other. So this kind of training in anthropology really prepared you in a very significant way. Probably more so than a traditional IT training background to be ... to grow your career and be where you're at.

Meghan McCoy: Yeah, I recommend highly, as much as people have an opportunity to, to at least take one cultural anthropology class in your lifetimes. I really wish it was a prerequisite for business majors, because I really think it does help us navigate in those environments that are cultural at our institutions where we contribute as employees.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's fantastic. I agree with you. Could not agree with you more. It's like along the same lines, I always tell everyone, everyone should have a service related job at some point.

Meghan McCoy: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: To appreciate those who serve you at a restaurant or sell you the hat at the store or whatever. But-

Meghan McCoy: Exactly. We're constantly navigating social spheres, whatever they may be, whether it's we participate in hobbies, extracurriculars, our church communities, our neighborhoods, our workplace, parental groups, et cetera.

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely.

Meghan McCoy: It's very important.

Gillian Bruce: So let's talk a little bit about what you're doing now. So you kind of went the IT route. You were implementing systems for all kinds of different organizations, government, private. What do you do now? Tell me a little bit about your role.

Meghan McCoy: Yeah, so now I am very happily employed as a Salesforce administrator for a local nonprofit in the DC area. And I'm really proud of this transformation that I went through to get here because what I'm able to do in this role is essentially operationalize a lot of the customer delivery we're providing as the Salesforce team.

Meghan McCoy: As an administrator, I'm managing the day-to-day user permissions, onboardings, offboardings at an organization of about a thousand employees, which includes about 700 Salesforce licensed users. I'm also looking at our systems and meeting with the customer and the business to see where do they want to take the platform next, gathering those requirements and translating them into applicable technical solutions within the platform. And I get to work on a team of about six other administrators. So I don't have to play that really, really challenging role of a solo admin. Instead, I have kind of a more complex relationship to navigate with the users and then the various team members who each handle the different part of our Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So I love how you kind of described that you're part of a team because there are ... We have many solo admins in the world, but we also have many admins who are part of a team. And you know, maybe you could tell us a little bit about how you work as a team to kind of divide up and like, you know, does everyone do all the things? Like how do you divide and conquer? I mean, 700 users is a lot.

Meghan McCoy: So essentially we're using Agile methodologies, scrum practices here at our organization, which I find very, very supportive and helpful to setting a cadence within the workflow of anything related to IT especially, but specifically Salesforce here for me. And in that regard, we really receive the business requests through a system that we're using here at our organization called ServiceNow, once those come in, we'll pipe the request into JIRA system and platform, where we can then assign the tickets out and assign the work, schedule the work. We'll put it into various two week sprints so that the work can be completed within two week periods.

Meghan McCoy: And sometimes the work being projectized, sometimes there's project related work, it's a bit larger, so that'll take a few sprints, but we're able to break it up into separate chunks, and so chunk the work. When the work comes in, we've got people who work specifically on our grants workflows. We have people who work specifically with our marketing cloud workflow, and we're able to assign the tickets to those specialized team members. General requests for uploads, et cetera, generally come to me, where I'm looking at things like de-duping, using demand tools as well as people import to make sure that we're matching the data to preexisting data or identifying data that's related, before we complete our upload to prevent duplication.

Gillian Bruce: So I'm hearing a lot of kind of data modeling, data management-

Meghan McCoy: Data governance, data quality.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, very important.

Meghan McCoy: Exactly.

Gillian Bruce: Very important.

Meghan McCoy: Very important. The key.

Gillian Bruce: Right. So, one more thing that I would love to know. So you know, you mentioned you were working on Cisco systems kind of prior to this role. How did you find Salesforce? Because now you are in deep in Salesforce, you know Salesforce Admin, you have whole team. What, tell me a little bit about that first encounter you had with Salesforce and how that came into your life.

Meghan McCoy: So I was transitioning out of my career in Cisco. I really missed the opportunity in my career to really connect with other professionals. Being that I'm a woman, I'm also a woman of color. The environment that Cisco's ecosystem provided was really a lot of former IBMers, a bit good old boys. It was pretty vanilla, is the saying I think that's frequently used. And so, I wanted something a lot more diverse, a lot more inclusive in terms of a work professional network to participate in.

Meghan McCoy: So Salesforce got introduced to me by a mentor of mine, who kind of suggested I take a look at the platform. And when I went to my first nonprofit, I was the director of IT there and I thought, hey guys, we should definitely get a CRM in place because we were managing multiple spreadsheets and old databases. At the time though, they weren't quite ready as an organization. And as a result, I just continued my journey. I went to many of the world tours. I attended the NPSP day sprints where I was brought in by the likes of Judy Shalom and Mark Baizman and other fantastic participants like John Barsi, who's now in documentation at Salesforce. And they just said, you know you belong even though you might not yet know the platform, we know that because you keep showing up, we've got something you can contribute to.

Meghan McCoy: And they would position me for success in those environments where I was in say networking or contributing on documentation process for a new trail head or talking about addressing and the challenges there. So really, the community, my mentor is what kind of brought me into the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: That's so cool. I love that that community was kind of your way in or exposure, forced exposure to Salesforce, because a lot of times people, you know, Oh hey, our organization bought Salesforce, congratulations, you get to implement it, or you get to be the admin and they're like, wait, I had never really heard of this before. So to get introduced via the community is actually a really special way to do that. And I think that's really awesome. And the people you mentioned are incredibly, incredibly great at that. In fact, Mark Baseman is now on our team as an admin evangelist.

Meghan McCoy: He's brilliant. One of my favorite Hi Mark.

Gillian Bruce: Me too. Hi Mark. So all right, so now you've got kind of into the community. You have got this really great role that you're working on a team and doing some really significant things. What are some things that you're building or working on that excite you?

Meghan McCoy: So right now we're ... I call our instance like a constituent management database because really we're managing the relationships either with donors or state and local governments. We're managing it with congressional members, we're managing our relationships with other constituents who may be donors or larger participants in the work that we do as an organization. And one of my favorite projects right now is this project where we are looking at how to connect activities to multiple objects within our instance. What we're kind of terming as interactions or activity links, how can we develop a tool within the platform, based off the standard functionality in support of the standard functionality of activities, whereby our users can link those singular activities to multiple objects, so that they have a better way of tracking the life cycle of an activity across the organization.

Meghan McCoy: It's fascinating. It's fun. It's challenging. We've met with our success reps at Salesforce who say, wow, okay this is a doozer we recommend you don't create a new object.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Meghan McCoy: That was great to hear. And instead we are really thinking about some kind of unique identifier that we can use when an activity's created to keep the multiple records that are created linked together, using one unique string of numbers, for each activity instance, across all of those records. So kind of creating our own internal Salesforce record ID.

Gillian Bruce: That's fascinating, yeah because I mean it's not quite like a campaign. Yeah, it kind of is a new way to think about how to connect all those data points together.

Meghan McCoy: And we have many various project teams ongoing at our organization. We call them programs. And those programs often are interacting with the same group of constituents or related constituents and it's hard for those groups in their own workflows to understand who else is relating within the organization to their group of constituents. And it's really important that we are able to bubble that information up to them.

Meghan McCoy: We've had it before the case where a program user will go out and meet with say a congressional member and they'll see another person from our organization walking out the door, and they'll realize that somebody else from our org just had a conversation with that constituent. They don't know what that conversation was based on and the constituent's kind of saying, hey, how do you guys come from the same organization and don't realize you were both meeting with me today? Even if it's on different subjects because they're usually from different programmatic areas of our org. Having a way for users to proactively understand the relationships happening on behalf of the organization instantaneously within their Salesforce instance, will increase user adoption here at our organization and provide them a tool that helps them be prepared to build successful relationships out in the rest of the world with our constituency. With a greater awareness of kind of our engagement with that constituent at any given time.

Gillian Bruce: That is awesome. I mean, that's a fantastic use case, because yeah, you want to look like you know what's going on. It's very similar to this idea behind customer 360 that-

Meghan McCoy: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Where it's kind of new at Salesforce, we've been talking about it.

Meghan McCoy: I can't wait for that.

Gillian Bruce: I bet. A lot of people can't. I also am quite excited to see how it's all going to work together, but yeah, it's a really cool, awesome use case. That's fantastic.

Gillian Bruce: Well, Megan, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today.

Meghan McCoy: You're welcome.

Gillian Bruce: But I'm not going to let you go without a little lightning round fun.

Meghan McCoy: Bring it on.

Gillian Bruce: I think that's the new, the new music for the intro to the lightning round. That was fantastic. All right, so three questions. First thing that come to mind. No right or wrong answer.

Meghan McCoy: Cool.

Gillian Bruce: First question is a this or that question, dine-in or delivery?

Meghan McCoy: Dine-in.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Meghan McCoy: I like that experience.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I like it. I don't blame you. Go sit down, a nice relaxing kind of thing.

Meghan McCoy: Atmosphere, get you out of your zone.

Gillian Bruce: All right. Next question is would you rather. All right, would you rather take an exciting European sightseeing vacation or relaxing Caribbean vacation?

Meghan McCoy: Relaxing Caribbean every time. I love the ocean. I love the vibes and I favorite genre of music. I'm genre agnostic is reggae, so Caribbean-

Gillian Bruce: Love it.

Meghan McCoy: Definitely.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. I'm on the same page. I want to go relax with the cocktail on the beach in the water.

Meghan McCoy: Don't get me wrong. I've been in Dublin dancing the reggae before, but in the Caribbean they really know how to put it on.

Gillian Bruce: Totally agree. That's great. Okay. Your final question. What is the best present you've ever received?

Meghan McCoy: Really in a way my parenthood, it is a true gift, and I know it can sound a little cliche but it never stops giving. It's every day. And although it's the most expensive and burdensome gift at times, it is one that I will never ever want to transform or change from what it is.

Gillian Bruce: That's so beautiful.

Meghan McCoy: Yeah, parenthood, absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you for sharing that. That just gave me all the more fuzzies. So Megan, thank you so much for sharing with us today. I'm so ... I really appreciate your career journey and it was so fun to talk about kind of how anthropology set you up really well to be super successful in your role as a technologist and I really appreciate what you shared and hopefully it inspires a whole bunch of other admins.

Meghan McCoy: Thanks. I would just like to say one word to all these admins out here. You all just stay the course, make sure you build those relationships. We're here, I'm here in the community and you know, we just love engaging anyone who's interested, I can relate to when it begins. So begin your journey as you're ready and we are all here to welcome you to the community.

Gillian Bruce: On that note, thank you so much.

Meghan McCoy: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: I had an absolutely delightful time getting to know Megan while I was in DC and getting to hear more about her story and really got her passion for what she does and how she does it.

Gillian Bruce: Some of the highlights from our conversation, I loved how she approached and talked about technology from the human side of things. You know, as someone who studied anthropology, bringing in that human facing side of why we use technology. It's really important to think about because all of us as admins, that's really what it's all about, right? We are all dealing with humans, who are trying to work and accomplish specific goals and how do we help them do that? Well, we implement technologies, specifically Salesforce to help them do that. So it was really great to talk to her more about that, kind of get more of that perspective. It was also really cool to hear how she uses Agile and scrum practices at her various roles to really kind of get things done.

Gillian Bruce: A lot of us maybe work on teams and are trying to kind of implement change and work across different teams on different projects. Agile is a great way to think about approaching that. We've heard from a couple of amazing admins on this podcast, who have raved about Agile and how it has helped them. So if you are kind of struggling or maybe figuring out better ways to work with your team, definitely check out some Agile methodologies.

Gillian Bruce: She's building some really cool things to help solve some complex problems. Specifically tracking relationships. I mean we do call Salesforce's CRM, a customer relationship database, but it's not just limited to your customers, right? So your customers can be constituents, which is the way that Megan talks about it. Tracking really all the interactions between all the relationships across various groups and projects. Really important because you want to have this unified front of, we know everything that's going on as an organization about how we're interacting with you, congressperson or donor or volunteer. It's very important to have that perspective. So it's very cool to hear that she's using Salesforce in that way. If your organization is facing some similar challenges, might want to reach out to Megan and see how she's solving this problem at her organization.

Gillian Bruce: I also thought it was really cool that she was introduced to Salesforce via the community. You know, before actually being a Salesforce admin, she was welcomed into the Salesforce space because she was seeking something a little bit more diverse, more inclusive, more of a community feel, instead of being isolated in this kind of Enterprise IT space. So she was welcomed into kind of the Salesforce nonprofit space, thanks to some amazing community members, started attending events. And then, next thing you know, here she is being a rock star in the Salesforce ecosystem. So you can come into Salesforce a variety of ways you never can predict. I bet if you ask someone else who's working with you on Salesforce about how they found Salesforce, you'll find a very interesting story as well.

Gillian Bruce: So huge thanks again for Megan for sharing with us and taking the time to sit down with me when I was in DC. If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things we've talked about on the podcast, we've got some great content for you. We have trailhead content on both Agile and on nonprofits, so make sure you check out the links in the show notes. Trailhead is a great way, not only to learn more about these specific topics, but also to prepare you for your certification exam. So I hope that if you have no certifications or 20 certifications, you have getting another Salesforce cert on your list to complete this year. It's so important. It's a great way to prove to potential employers or current employers your skills and really kind of amp up your career opportunities. So make sure you put getting a certification on your list of things to accomplish this year.

Gillian Bruce: You can also find more about being an awesome admin admin.salesforce.com, where you can find blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts like this, to help you in your journey to truly become an awesome admin. Also, please make sure you subscribe to the podcast to make sure you get it directly delivered to your platform or device of choice the moment of its release. And share it with your buddies, share it with your friends. Maybe people who are thinking about a career change. This is a great podcast to expose them to this amazing world of Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no "I." And our guest today, Megan McCoy is all over the Trailblazer community where you can find her and you can find her on LinkedIn as well. You can find myself on Twitter @GillianKBruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Staying_the_Course_with_Meghan_McCoy_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have another episode from the DC World Tour with LeAndria Streeter, Salesforce Consultant at Slalom, to learn about the work she does in the community and how you can apply change management principles to your own life.

Join us as we talk about how she got confidence from the amazing DC community, how she made the transition into her first admin job, and LeAndria’s tips for overcoming imposter syndrome.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LeAndria Streeter.

 LeAndria’s accidental admin story.

“When I was growing up I wanted to work in tech and be an engineer, but I also wanted to be a hairstylist,” LeAndria says, “I’m obsessed with all things beauty and health-related and so I was going to find a way to do both.” When she was starting out her career, she worked as a conference coordinator and meeting planner for a nonprofit. “As everyone who works at a nonprofit knows, you kind of wear a few hats,” she says, “so in addition to planning events, I also managed all of the platforms from event management to their database.” When LeAndria was put in charge of their Salesforce implementation, she fell in love and never looked back.

“When we were looking for a solution to replace our dying database, I was tasked with doing the research,” LeAndria says, “and very quickly, all of my research pointed to Salesforce.” Working with a consultancy, she made sure to ask them to teach her how to admin as they deployed the implementation. That set her on the path towards becoming a fulltime admin.

How the community can support you.

LeAndria was still at her old nonprofit, filling the role of three people and doing all of the things, but she wanted to focus on Salesforce. To find her first fulltime admin position, she used Power of Us Hub, which is basically the Trailblazer Community for the nonprofit sector. That put her in touch with the local DC Community Group where she could level up her skills, get her certification, and land that first job.

Imposter syndrome affects everyone, especially when they change careers. “Growing up in the South as a young black girl, you’re not really encouraged to listen to your heart and pursue your goals,” LeAndria says, “it wasn’t until I got here to DC and started working in this very ambitious work environment that we have that I started to become a person who really believed in myself and my career aspirations.” Connecting with community members helped her gain the confidence she needed to know that she could be a fulltime Salesforce admin and make the transition.

Change management for your own life.

When it comes to actually making that change in your life, LeAndria says the first thing you need to do is truly believe that a career in tech is possible for you. “You don’t just wake up one day and believe that you can do anything,” she says, “it’s a process and it’s intentional.” At WITness Success 2018, LeAndria gave a talk deconstructing that process of changing her beliefs.

One of the first steps LeAndria advises is to take the time to visualize your success: doing the work you want to do, taking the vacations you want to take, living the life you want to live. “Take stock of how you feel when you’re in that state. What does that person look like? What expression do they have on their face?” Once you’ve identified those feelings, LeAndria says you need to realize that you are that person.

It’s not instantaneous, but you need to work at truly embodying those beliefs. Take time to unplug and sit with your feelings, which could be anything from meditating to journaling. As admins, we’re in the business of adoption and change management, but sometimes you need to apply that process to yourself.

Giving back through WIT.

Today, through a connection she made at the 2016 World Tour, LeAndria is a Salesforce Consultant, bringing it back around full circle. “My entree into the Salesforce world was through the help of a consulting firm, and now I’m in the position to be there for others in the same way,” she says. She also gives back through her work with the Women in Tech community and the WITness Success Conference. It lets her put on her old event planner hat again and help people change their lives, one belief at a time.

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 Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce and today, we have another episode that I was able to record while I was at the D.C. World Tour not too long ago. Today, we're talking to LeAndria Streeter. LeAndria is an amazing community member, especially in the local D.C. community. She's currently a Salesforce consultant at Slalom where she helps enable others to be awesome admins at different companies.

Gillian Bruce: She is incredibly passionate about the community. She is doing big things both in the women in technology community and the D.C. community, and I wanted to get her on the podcast to share a little bit about her journey and to help inspire you with some of her thinking about change management for your personal life. So without further ado, please welcome LeAndria to the podcast. LeAndria, welcome to the podcast.

LeAndria S.: Thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Well look, again, a long overdue podcast guest. I think it was ... Was it two, three years ago that I first met you in D.C.?

LeAndria S.: Yeah, I think it was 2017.

Gillian Bruce: 2017? Yeah, I think that was ... Because we were giving you the Awesome Admin Award, which has then evolved into the Golden Hoodie. Right?

LeAndria S.: Yes. It has evolved.

Gillian Bruce: You are based here in the D.C. and we're here in D.C. for the D.C. World Tour this year. I always love coming back to D.C. It's one of my favorite communities to visit. I would love to introduce you a little bit to our listeners for those who don't know you.

LeAndria S.: Awesome.

Gillian Bruce: My first question I'd like to ask to get into that is, LeAndria, what did you want to be when you grow up?

LeAndria S.: Oh, what did I want to be growing up? When I was young, no lie, I wanted to work in tech. I wanted to be an engineer, but I also wanted to be a hairstylist. Yeah. I'm obsessed with all things beauty and health related. Yeah. I was going find a way to do both.

Gillian Bruce: Well, in some ways, you could engineer hairstyles, right?

LeAndria S.: Maybe. Yeah. True.

Gillian Bruce: Because there's some structure and planning things to happen. Right?

LeAndria S.: Yes. Right.

Gillian Bruce: Maybe?

LeAndria S.: Yeah. Maybe.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Just stretching that a little bit maybe, but ...

LeAndria S.: There's some math and chemistry there, right?

Gillian Bruce: Totally. Especially when you're thinking about hair dye and all kinds of stuff. Okay. All right.

LeAndria S.: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Perms. I had a perm when I was a kid, did not look very good.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. That was a little before my time, but that's okay.

Gillian Bruce: That's okay. You just [inaudible 00:02:54].

LeAndria S.: It's all good.

Gillian Bruce: All right. How do you go from knowing actually at an early age that you were interested in technology, that you've been wanting to be an engineer and a hairstylist to now working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell me a little bit about your career trajectory.

LeAndria S.: Sure. I've always enjoyed social events and actually my first career was as a conference coordinator and meeting planner for a nonprofit organization. As everyone who works at nonprofits know, you wear a few hats. In addition to planning events, I also managed all of the platforms from event management to their database. Of course, like at most organizations, the need arises for a new CRM solution. I was tasked with managing the Salesforce implementation project and fell in love and never looked back.

Gillian Bruce: Wow. I love hearing these stories because people find Salesforce in very interesting ways. That is one of the more interesting ways, I think in being a more of the social events side. Then, "Oh, by the way, you're also in charge of keeping track of all these things in the system and, oh by the way, now you need to figure out a new solution," and here you are discovering Salesforce.

LeAndria S.: Well, it was a small organization and I was the young person on staff so naturally, I was ... Of course, I know what I'm doing when it comes to tech. Right?

Gillian Bruce: Anything with the computer, clearly you know what you're doing.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. Clearly I know, and I happen to know.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. You had this passion for technology that from a young age, you knew that you were interested, so that's great. Tell me about how you discovered Salesforce and what that was like and why you went with Salesforce as the system that you were going to use?

LeAndria S.: Sure. When we were looking for a solution to replace our dying database, we were ... Well, I was tasked with doing the research and very quickly, all of my research pointed me to Salesforce and we made a connection with salesforce.org, and they paired us with an amazing consulting company. Shout out to Bigger Boat Consulting. They were the consulting firm that we hired to help with our implementation and because I quickly was so narrowed by this amazing tool and wanting to really understand the backend of it, what I asked the consultants to do is teach me how to configure the backend, and teach me how to set up the pages and basically recreate our former database in this newer platform and through learning how to become an admin by being coached by this amazing consulting team, quickly the light switch went off and was like, "Yeah. I want to do this forever and ever." I pretty quickly realized that I wanted to become a full-time admin.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I love that you were like, "Hey, don't just be the consultant that comes in and builds the thing and leaves us. I want to know how you're building it and I want to learn how to do it myself."

LeAndria S.: 100%, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: That is really cool and it's great that you had a partner that was into that and was willing to teach you and show you the ropes. That must've been a really cool experience and like you said, the light went on.

LeAndria S.: Very cool. Yeah. Very quickly. Very quickly right away, I was like, "I want to learn how to do what you're doing." Not only was it great for me personally in learning how to become an admin. I was able to save up my company a ton of money by doing it myself.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I'm sure they loved that.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. They did love it.

Gillian Bruce: All right. Now, do you then get that title of being an official Salesforce admin or are you still also doing all of the other things that you were doing?

LeAndria S.: I'm still doing all the things. Yeah. I was definitely at a point doing the work of two to three staff members and working very long hours and not really seeing much of an adjustment in pay. I sought out full-time Salesforce admin roles by leveraging the Power of Us Hub, making connections in the community and very quickly, I was able to find my first full-time Salesforce admin role.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. The power of the community and this is something that comes up a lot in connecting with community and having that as a way to find your next opportunity. I mean, that's huge. That really demonstrates what is possible. The Power of Us Hub, can you tell us a little bit more about that? Because we haven't talked about it a ton on the podcast.

LeAndria S.: Sure. The Power of Us Hub is essentially the Trailblazer Community for the nonprofit's sector. Again, at that time, working in a nonprofit, that was the community that I first got to know and connect with and first connected with groups in the Power of Us Hub online. I connected with a fantastic admin study group in that community and then eventually connected with the nonprofit community group here in Washington D.C. and very quickly, those resources helped me up level my skills, helped me earn my admin certification and helped me land my first job.

Gillian Bruce: That is so awesome. Okay. Now, you're stoked. You've landed your first job which is amazing because even to take that initiative and realize, "Hey, I am doing the work of two or three people. I'm not getting compensated appropriately." To take the initiative to recognize that and do something about it is actually a big deal and that's hard for folks.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. It's difficult.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Before we actually get into the next, what are some of the things that helped you get over that hump? Because I think a lot of us especially women struggle with the confidence and kind of imposter syndrome and all that. What are some things that helped you get over that hump and be like, "I'm going to do something about this."?

LeAndria S.: Sure. To your point about having imposter syndrome and just having all the fear and not feeling sure about yourself, I was the poster child for that persona. Growing up in the South as a young black girl, you're not really encouraged to listen to your heart and pursue your goals and to pursue things that are really hard. It wasn't until I got here to D.C., and started working in this very ambitious work environment that we have here that I started to become a person who really believed in myself and my career aspirations. This was the first time that I pursued something completely foreign to me, something that I found ambitious and I was really, really afraid. I definitely was very insecure in my ability to pull this off. Again, it was the community members who I connected with who helped me gain that confidence and knowing that I was able to do the job of Salesforce admin full-time, and so it's the people in our community that helped me get over the hump and conquer those fears.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Another thing that I know that you've presented on in the past is this idea of changing your beliefs to enable you to do bigger, better, different things. Tell me a little bit more about that because I think this will be a good segue, right? You've learned a lot of lessons especially in that moment. Tell me a little bit more about some of the things that you've learned and maybe what some other people might be able to glean from your experience?

LeAndria S.: Sure. While I was in this process of changing careers and in facing my fears and just doing what felt really courageous, risky things. Definitely, throughout this process confronted with those old belief systems that were instilled throughout life leading up to that point and having to confront those things is really hard, and so through having these experiences in the community, connecting with people in tech who believed in me and helped me believe in myself and lots of therapy and coaching.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, we got to get help and you can't do it alone.

LeAndria S.: You can't do it alone. Yeah. Through those experiences, I just realized that that process of being intentional about adopting the beliefs that you need to have about yourself and about the world is critical and it's a requirement if you are going to pursue goals that seem big and scary to you. You have to believe that they are possible and that you don't just wake up one day and believe that you can do anything. It's a process and it's intentional. I wanted to present my thoughts and my experience to the community. At WITness Success 2018, I prepared a talk where I deconstructed that process that I went through of changing my beliefs and presented that and it was received really well.

Gillian Bruce: Well, again, another scary thing to do, right?

LeAndria S.: Oh, so scary.

Gillian Bruce: We talk about being vulnerable, right?

LeAndria S.: Yeah. 100%.

Gillian Bruce: That's a very personal story to share, and you are all out there and so being able to do that.

LeAndria S.: Oh, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: I'm sure you will be doing this presentation again by the way. I have a feeling.

LeAndria S.: I'm sure.

Gillian Bruce: What are some top takeaways from putting together that presentation about changing your beliefs to do big things that you might want to share with some folks that might find themselves in a similar spot?

LeAndria S.: Sure. The first thing I encourage everyone to do is visualize yourself in the place that you want to be in. Visualize yourself in that future job that you are pursuing or on that amazing vacation that you want to take and just take stock of how you feel when you're in that state. What does that person look like? What kind of expression do they have on their face? What kind of coffee are you having at work? What does the mug look like? Just take stock of how you feel in that state and then just work on believing that, like believing that you are relaxed, believing that you're confident in your skillset, believing that you can pass the admin exam. Whatever it is that you're feeling or whatever you've needed to accomplish to get to your destination, identify those feelings and then over time, just work on actually believing those thoughts and those feelings and making them a part of your life.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. It's very clear. I love the idea of it does, it takes time. You got to work at it.

LeAndria S.: You got to work at it.

Gillian Bruce: You got to keep thinking about it. You got to keep pushing it because it's not just an instantaneous thing.

LeAndria S.: Exactly. Yeah. In terms of it not being instantaneous and actually the process of embodying those feelings and those beliefs, I know we're a technology company but my next tip would be to unplug a little bit and just sit with yourself and just whether your processes to journal or meditate, you have to unplug and just sit with your feelings and just slowly work through that process of adopting new beliefs. It's not always easy, but it's very doable. I'm definitely a testament to that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you absolutely are. One of the things that just struck me as you're talking about this is as admins, one of the things that we're charged with a lot is adoption, user adoption, change management. Right?

LeAndria S.: I love change management.

Gillian Bruce: Right. You're an expert at it because what you're talking about is change management for yourself and what you believe, and getting yourself to adopt these new ideas about what's possible and being in that space and visualizing. It's very similar to, "Hey, users. Look at the way your job could be. You see that visualization. Now, let's get you there."

LeAndria S.: Yes. It's possible.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That's really great. Okay. I want to get back into your career story a little bit.

LeAndria S.: Sure.

Gillian Bruce: Because you have transitioned into getting your full-time admin role, which is very exciting, but that's not where it stops.

LeAndria S.: Oh, no.

Gillian Bruce: You are now in a much different place now. Tell me a little bit more about that next step. You're now in a full-time admin role. You're like, "Yes, I did this thing. I took a risk." What then happens for you?

LeAndria S.: Sure. In that admin role while I was very happy to finally be working as a full-time Salesforce professional, I wanted to achieve more. Again, just having that belief that it's possible in the back of my mind, I actually attended World Tour back in, I think that was 2016, and connected with a major Salesforce partner. Without really intentionally doing so, ended up landing a consulting role there. It was definitely very special full circle moment for me because my entree into the Salesforce world was through the help of a consulting firm and now I was in the position to be there for others in the same way.

Gillian Bruce: I love that full circle story.

LeAndria S.: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Now, you get to be the enabler that got you in the first instance.

LeAndria S.: Exactly.

Gillian Bruce: Wow. One thing that caught my ear a little bit was that you say, "Unintentionally, I got this consulting role." Were you poached?

LeAndria S.: I was not poached.

Gillian Bruce: Were people like, "Hey, I know who you are. You're so great. Please join us."?

LeAndria S.: No. I was such a nobody.

Gillian Bruce: Please. Please.

LeAndria S.: No. I was just walking the expo hall and I saw a booth and just struck up a conversation with this person. I didn't even know he was a recruiter and one thing led to another and the conversation just led to him asking me for my resume.

Gillian Bruce: That's a good recruiter.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. By the time we had their followup conversations and my brain caught up to what was happening, I was like, "Whoa." I have this amazing opportunity in front of me and so I leapt at it once again pursuing scary things. I had never before been through that long, arduous five-step interview process with a major consulting firm. Once again, I was faced with that process of doing scary things and just believing that I could do it and I landed that role.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. That's awesome. Yeah. You talk about that visualization, right? It's like, "Well, here you are with something you didn't even visualize but you visualized probably what you wanted to feel in your career."

LeAndria S.: Right. I visualized what I wanted to feel which is being in a position to help others be amazing admins.

Gillian Bruce: There you go, and then it happened. It manifested. That's amazing.

LeAndria S.: Right. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: One of the things we touched on a little bit in our chat is the power of the community. I know the D.C. community is phenomenal, super well-connected, really amazing vibrant activity. It's one of the reasons I love coming to D.C. every year, and especially the women in technology community is very strong. You are involved locally with the D.C. women in technology groups, but also you're pretty involved with the women in technology annual conference that's put on WITness Success.

LeAndria S.: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Can you talk to us a little bit about how you got involved in the WIT community, the Women In Technology community and then what's it like taking on a leadership position? Tell us a little bit about WITness Success.

LeAndria S.: Sure. Long story. I'll try to make it short. I connected with Toya Gatewood, infamous Salesforce MVP, shout out to Toya, in the online Trailblazer Community and she reached out when she was about to move to D.C. Fast forward over time, I connect with her at a Salesforce World Tour. Are we noticing a theme here? Salesforce World Tours are just amazing. We connected in person at a Salesforce World Tour where she introduced me to Rakia Finley who founded the Washington D.C. Women in Tech group. A few years after that, Toya asked if I was interested in helping revive the Women in Tech group because they hadn't had any events in a while and because I was a career event planner prior to my ...

Gillian Bruce: Committee asked. Good job, Toya.

LeAndria S.: Prior to my Salesforce consulting career, I said, "Sure," because again, I love a good party.

Gillian Bruce: This is why we get along.

LeAndria S.: Exactly. Exactly. One thing led to another. I agreed to co-lead the group and I host my first meeting, but I forget to send out invitations so there was just the three of us at the first meeting.

Gillian Bruce: You wanted a planning meeting.

LeAndria S.: Exactly. We needed a planning meeting. That was in the Spring. By the Summer, we had meeting with attendees upwards in their 40s and 50s and today, we have over 400 members and the local Women In Tech community and the D.C. Ohana community in general is just booming. It's amazing what has happened in just a few short years. Having said all that, of course through all of these connections that I'm making, I learned about WITness Success and just attended the first one as an attendee and again, wanted to contribute and lend my skillset as a meeting and conference organizer, and so ended up joining that team and have been helping out with their conference for the past two years.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well, I bet when the WITness Success organizers heard about your background and that you were interested, they must have been very excited.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. That was an easy sell, not as I had to do as much convincing as I had to in former job interviews.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I love how you talked about the growth of the D.C. community and the D.C. Ohana because I think the first time I came to a D.C. World Tour was probably three, four years ago. We struggled finding admins to talk to and now, like you said, it's booming. It's amazing to see how connected everyone is. You had a big part in that, so thank you for helping revive some of that and inject that life and find a way to connect folks that were here.

LeAndria S.: It's truly been one of the top joys of my life.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, that's so awesome. That's so great. We'll definitely put links to both the WIT community here in D.C. and the WITness Success Ohana in the show notes, so people can learn more.

LeAndria S.: Awesome. Yes. Check us out.

Gillian Bruce: Because I love the WITness Success event too, and it's a very, very special experience.

LeAndria S.: It's kind of amazing.

Gillian Bruce: It's different and it's one of those events that you come out of and you're like, "Wow. That really had an effect on me. It was pretty powerful."

LeAndria S.: Yeah. As an attendee, I was very inspired to meet other women like me or not like me, just from all walks of life who were ... We have this professional passion in common, but just to hear so many different stories was so inspirational to me and I just knew I wanted to get involved. I definitely encourage everyone to make plans to attend WITness Success because it's definitely one of the most amazing experiences I've had and I know it's changed the lives of others as well.

Gillian Bruce: It's for women and men, correct?

LeAndria S.: Yes. It's for everyone.

Gillian Bruce: Everyone's welcome. All right. Well, as we start to wrap up the podcast, I am going to ask you some lightning round questions.

LeAndria S.: Oh, fun.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Everyone listening, you should have seen the not fun look on her face when I said that.

LeAndria S.: Yes. I like planning and organization, so [crosstalk 00:24:52].

Gillian Bruce: This should be pretty easy.

LeAndria S.: All right.

Gillian Bruce: They're pretty fun. They're pretty silly.

LeAndria S.: I believe you.

Gillian Bruce: The first question is a this or that question.

LeAndria S.: Okay.

Gillian Bruce: Okay? Dine-in or delivery?

LeAndria S.: Dine-in.

Gillian Bruce: Dine-in. Okay. I like it. All right. Next question is a would you rather.

LeAndria S.: Okay.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Would you rather have a rewind button in your life or have a pause button in your life?

LeAndria S.: It depends on the day.

Gillian Bruce: That's fair.

LeAndria S.: I'm going to say a pause button. That's what I need most of these days.

Gillian Bruce: I like it. Again, I'm going to date myself and you're going to be like, "I have no idea what you're talking about." But there was a sitcom in the late '80s, early '90s, I think it was ... Was it Clarissa Explains It All where she could like [inaudible 00:25:37]?

LeAndria S.: Oh, yeah. I loved that show.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. All right. Yeah. You understand.

LeAndria S.: I understand completely.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Okay. Final question.

LeAndria S.: Okay.

Gillian Bruce: What would your perfect Saturday be like?

LeAndria S.: My perfect Saturday, it includes great food, friends in a D.C. rooftop. There's just nothing like it.

Gillian Bruce: That sounds fine. Let's go do that.

LeAndria S.: Yeah. Let's go do that now.

Gillian Bruce: Sounds awesome. Well, LeAndria, thank you so much for sharing with us. I am so appreciative of everything you've done for the community and also congratulations on building an incredible career trajectory and like you said, believing in yourself and then sharing that with others to help them get over the hump as well. That is really powerful and I so appreciate you.

LeAndria S.: Can I say thank you, Gillian, because you're one of the first Salesforce employees that I connected with and meeting you a few years back and winning the Awesome Admin Award was definitely a huge career highlight and definitely was very helpful to my career. Thank you so much for that amazing experience that I'll never forget and now, thank you for having me on the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, my pleasure. We're just recognizing you for the work that you're doing.

LeAndria S.: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: You were the one that make all this possible. But thank you, that's very sweet.

LeAndria S.: Awesome.

Gillian Bruce: All right. Well, we'll talk to you again soon.

LeAndria S.: Sounds good.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to LeAndria for taking the time out of her busy day at the D.C. World Tour to sit down and chat with me. As you could hear, the world tour has been a very important event for LeAndria and her career in terms of connecting with others in the community and even connecting with new job opportunities. First thing is make sure you go to a world tour if you've got one in your nearby community.

Gillian Bruce: As Salesforce, we hit a lot of really big cities throughout the year so make sure you check our Salesforce events page to see if there's one coming to an area near you, but for some of the other highlights from my conversation with LeAndria who I love sitting down and having the chance to connect with, she's one of the first members of the D.C. community I connected with a few years ago. The first thing I wanted to highlight is the idea of getting confidence from the community.

Gillian Bruce: LeAndria talks about how she got her confidence from community members and getting support and getting her ready to get her first real admin job. That was a huge part of that. Then, that carried over into now what she's doing as a consultant. That confidence carried her into that conversation with the recruiter from a partner at the world tour, then that led her to where she is today. Don't underestimate what you have at the tip of your fingertips when you dial into the Salesforce community, whether it's virtually or in person.

Gillian Bruce: Also, this idea of change management for yourself. We talk about change management a lot for your organization, but think about those principles and applying them to yourself. One of the things that LeAndria really likes to talk about is seeing it, believing it, visualizing it, understanding that it's possible. Once you put a visualization behind it, it really does a huge thing to make that visualization seem possible in your life and that will help you get through some scary things like job interviews or maybe being in situations that you don't feel qualified for.

Gillian Bruce: Tapping into that vision and then tapping into the confidence, and the community that you have will get you some big places. Also, when it comes to mentorship and coaching, be very intentional about how you pursue that because there's again, a lot of resources available to you, but being intentional in trying to get to that vision that you have will really help you stay focused. One of the things that I loved hearing from LeAndria was that her visualization was helping others be amazing admins, which she didn't realize she was going to be able to realize that the visualization in this role, that she now has as a consultant, but she is and that's so cool because she wanted to help others be better at their jobs.

Gillian Bruce: Now, she has found herself in this role where she's able to do so. Again, the power of believing it, visualizing it and making it happen. Now that she's a Salesforce enabler for others, that has carried her into some other opportunities as well. What was really fun is hearing her story about how she was approached to co-lead the Women In Technology community group in D.C., and how she realized that was a great way for her to flex those party planning skills that she really loves, event planning skills.

Gillian Bruce: I know they've been put to good use. That has also carried her into being able to be a part, and an organizer for a larger event called WITness Success, which is a great community event. Again, you never know where these opportunities are going to come from, but connecting with your community is going to open up a lot of doors. If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things we talked about in today's podcast with LeAndria, I highly recommend you start with Trailhead. We talked a lot about her career trajectory from discovering Salesforce as a user to becoming a Salesforce admin, and then now a Salesforce consultant.

Gillian Bruce: There's a trail on Trailhead that is fantastic for covering how to build your career in the Salesforce ecosystem, so make sure you check that out. Links are in the show notes. If you're interested in the community event that LeAndria is a co-organizer for, WITness Success is an amazing community event. It happens every Summer. I believe this year, it's in Nashville and I think it's happening very soon. If you want to go this year, get on it, but it's a great way to connect with other women in technology, people in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: It's not just for women so men, you're welcome as well. If you're in the D.C. community, I highly recommend that you dial into the Women In Technology D.C. community group. I put the link to their group on the Trailblazer community in the show notes as well. If you're in the nonprofit space, LeAndria talked a little bit about the Power Of Us Hub. I put a link to that as well in the show notes. That's a place where you can get connected with nonprofit resources for admins working in the nonprofit space.

Gillian Bruce: There are some unique things that nonprofit admins need, and you can find that there as well as connect to others who work with Salesforce in the nonprofit industry. As always, you can find more great content including blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts on admin.salesforce.com. We talked about Trailhead a little bit. I think Trailhead is one of the best ways to prepare for your next Salesforce certification. I hope that if you have no certifications or 20 certifications, you have getting a certification on your list to get done this year.

Gillian Bruce: It's one of the best ways to prove your skills as a Salesforce administrator and beyond. Use Trailhead as a way to prepare for that and go get that certification. Please also remember to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. The more listeners we get, the better content we get, the better ideas we get. Please make sure you subscribe, encourage all of your Salesforce friends to subscribe, that way you'll get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released.

Gillian Bruce: As always, you can find us on Twitter, @SalesforceAdmns, no I. Our guest today was LeAndria Streeter. You can find her on Twitter, @lstreeter and myself, @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.


Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Aran Rhee, Design Architect at Salesforce, to learn more about design thinking, especially as it relates to user experience and how you can design Salesforce to help your users get their jobs done more efficiently.

Join us as we talk about Salesforce’s 4 design principles and how you can apply them as an admin to your own org.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Aran Rhee.

 How to grow up to be an inventor.

Growing up, Aran wanted to be an inventor. “I was one of those kids that would take things apart: TV sets, radios, toys, whatever it is I would take things apart,” he says. At school, he ended up studying computer science and eventually found his way through graphic design and into industrial design (“which I guess is the proper professional name for an inventor,” he says). That lead him back into tech, where he spent time at startups, advertising agencies, systems architecture, and then finally as a UX designer.

“It’s all solving problems for humans at the end of the day, just in a different format,” Aran says. At Salesforce, he’s the Design Architect for the mobile team but he also spent time with the platform team, including working on global design, Customize My Nav, and more for Lightning. He’s currently working to bring that level of customization to mobile.

Salesforce’s 4 Design Principles.

“As designers here, we try to have four guiding principles,” Aran says, “clarity, efficiency, consistency, and beauty.” They’re in order for a specific reason because it allows them to run through some basic questions about the utility of their design. Can the user understand what they’ve designed? Are they able to complete their task as quickly as possible? Does it look the same as things that users have seen before (like moving from Sales Cloud to Service Cloud)? And finally, does it look good?

To help the over 200 designers working at Salesforce make that happen, they use the SLDS (Salesforce Lightning Design System). “It’s really a collection of patterns and building blocks that we can reuse across the board. They’ve been researched and understood with users that they’re solving a particular problem in a consistent way,” Aran says. That includes everything from coloring and sizing buttons so you understand the difference between a primary and a secondary action to standardizing fonts and colors across the platform. 

Where to start with design thinking for your own org.

“If you’re an admin and you’re deploying functionality to your users,” Aran says, “you are a designer whether you know it or not, and your choices are having an effect on your users.” Lightning App Builder is the major place where you make design decisions for your org, but pretty much any decisions you make about page layouts, what you put “above the fold,” and what you hide behind a tab can have a big impact on your users’ workflows. You really need to think through what job you’re designing for and then customize to make that easier.

“Don’t make assumptions that whatever works for you is going to work for your users,” Aran says. Instead, you need to take a User Centered Design (UCD) approach, and those letters, UCD, can serve as a handy mnemonic for how to think through the design choices that you’re making. Understand what the users’ needs, goals, and problems are. Create possible solutions for that, and then Deliver it to those users so you can actually test it out and iterate. That involves a lot of SABWA (Salesforce Administration By Walking Around), observing users to see where their pain points are and what their workflow is like.

“For most folks in Salesforce, they’re either reading or writing data,” Aran says, “they’re trying to look at something to gain enough understanding to make a decision or they’re trying to update something so someone else can either make a decision or do some further action.” So if you want to start your design overhaul today, forms are a really good place to start, especially if you have an older org that’s been around for a while. Talk to humans and see what’s working, and don’t be scared to try out something new to see if you can’t make things better for your users.

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Direct download: Guiding_Principles_of_Design_with_Aran_Rhee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we're back with more of our live episode from TrailheaDX. The conversation gets deeper with LaRon Butler, Technical Account Manager at Litify, and Kelley Babbs, Technology Director at Blue Star Families, as we talk about getting hired as an admin and what traits organizations are looking for.

Join us as we talk about the ins and outs of interviewing and hiring, how to cultivate confidence, and transferring your skills from a military background to get hired in tech.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LaRon Butler and Kelley Babbs.

Eight long months of interviews.

We wanted to take this opportunity to talk about getting hired and marketing yourself as an Awesome Admin because LaRon and Kelley both have unique perspectives. LaRon is early in her journey, while Kelley started as an admin but has transitioned into leading a team that includes them. “It feels great until you don’t get the job or you find out you don’t have enough experience to get the job,” LaRon says, “I thought I was going to save the world when I got my certification and it was going to start tomorrow.”

Instead, it took LaRon more like eight months to find a position that worked for her. She had worked in IT for the Army and the government, “I just assumed that my experience and my transferable skills were more than enough,” she says. “Eight months is entirely too long for someone like me who has a technology background to land my first job,” she says, “and if it wasn’t for this community I would have given up.”

LaRon kept making it to the later rounds of interviews only to not get hired. Eventually, she realized that she needed to ask for help from her peers and mentors. Military folks need to translate their skills a little differently to really make it clear just how much they’re responsible for. She also realized she needed to level up her skills beyond the Admin Certification, so she went back to VetForce for help. She’s now builder certified and community cloud consultant certified and has set her sights on customer success next, and those skills helped her land her new position.

Looking for that Awesome Admin.

For Kelley as a Director of Technology, we wanted to hear what she looks for on the other side of the table when she’s trying to hire that Awesome Admin. “First and foremost, I look for someone who’s excited,” she says, “if you’re not excited about the tools we use then you can’t get our users and our volunteers excited.” As we talked about last week, it’s not necessarily important that a new hire knows anything and everything, but they do need to know how to learn more.

Kelley is also big on personality: “Be a fun human because we have to work together all the time.” That comes down to confidence and being able to make a strong connection in the interview process. Finally, she pays special attention to the VetForce community because for Blue Star giving back is central to their values. “The person who has ten Salesforce certs always looks at you, they’re always willing to share how they got there and what they know,” she says.

For LaRon, she’s changed her attitude coming into interviews. “Initially, I didn’t want to brag or be overconfident,” she says, “now I take control over the conversation a little bit more, I ask them engaging questions, I showcase my personality, I let them know that I’m excited about what they do and that their work is important.” Focusing on the conversation helped her get out of the mentality of “being a dictionary” and worrying about having all the answers instead of building a relationship.

Learning to translate your skills as a veteran.

"I forget all the time that no one speaks the same language as me,” Kelley says, “so I can’t say, ‘My husband’s going TDY and then he’s going to PCS.’” One of the ways that she helped herself when she was starting out was by making a Salesforce glossary. “As far as translating skills, veterans and military spouses are kind of really dope people. We’re adaptable, we’re agile, we’re committed, we’re not afraid of new situations—that’s a big one—change is constant for us.”

“We pretty much are project managers,” LaRon adds, “from the private to the senior officer we’re managing projects that are given to us at the last minute.” You’re often in a situation where you can’t go home until you get the job done, and veterans learn these skills from a young age. “When you develop as an adult at seventeen, eighteen, or twenty-one and those are the skills you’re using each and every day you have no choice but to be super awesome.”

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Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce admins podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce and today folks, we are listening to the second part of the live recording we did at TrailheaDx just a few weeks ago, featuring LaRon Butler and Kelly Babbs, both part of the Vetforce community but both with very different perspectives and experience in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: Last week we heard a little bit about their stories, about how they found their way into Salesforce and what they do now. This week we're going to focus on the second part of the conversation, which was a lot around how do you make yourself a more attractive, awesome admin to get hired, how you look for traits as a hiring manager in admins, because Kelly actually manages a team at Blue Star Families and LaRon was really deep in her search to find that amazing, awesome admin job, which she has since found since this recording. But we had a really great conversation about how to market yourself, market your skills, transfer skills to the Salesforce community from other industries. So without further ado, let's get right into that conversation and please welcome back. LaRon Butler and Kelly Babbs to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, so let's get back to it. All right, so for this part, for this podcast, I'd really like to talk about, you know, the ecosystem for the Salesforce admin career. We have LaRon and Kelly, you're both in very different spots in your career, but you are very familiar with building your career in the ecosystem. LaRon, you're very early in your journey in establishing yourself as an awesome admin. And Kelly, you started as an admin and now you're actually leading a team that includes admins. So LaRon, I'd love to know from you, what is the experience like? You know, you get your certification, you feel like you're ready to go, you got a bunch of Trailhead badges. How does that feel?

LaRon: It was great until you don't get the job or you find out you don't have enough experience to get the job. So I thought I was going to save the world when I got my certification and it was going to start tomorrow. I have this job fair tomorrow and I'm going to walk away, you know, with a job, you know, and that was eight long months ago.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Okay. So tell me a little bit about what's going on in those eight months.

LaRon: Well, so let's just back it up just a little bit. So one, I was a cable dog in the army, so I ran cable, right?

Gillian Bruce: Oh my gosh, I think this is the first time we've ever had the cable and stuff like cables.

LaRon: So I was a cable dog, that was my career. If you're army where I was in Lima signal, all that morphed into IT. And I even, my last role was in the government as IT director as a GS 12 and I walked away from that career and I decided to go take, you know, take a risk. And I did that. And when I realized I need to take a step back, I'm okay with that. I'm okay with doing the hard work. And I just assumed that my experience and my transferable skills were more than enough. And there's this disconnect that I experienced and I'm here to rally for and be an advocate for everyone.

LaRon: That's going through this because eight months is entirely too long for someone like me, who has a technology background to land my first job. And if it wasn't for this awesome community, I may have given up on almost three, at least three different occasions. The interview process was four and five interviews at a time. And sometimes there's so much work that goes with it. You don't have the opportunity to juggle two and three companies at a time. And so there's the HR screens and the tech reviews and the peer reviews and the manager reviews and the VP's. And I made it to the fifth rounds and I'm like, okay, I've got a job but I'm one of three, you know, or two. And my experience just wasn't enough. And I was getting called from top companies, things like that. So my resume was getting me there.

LaRon: So going forward I knew, I came to my peers and my mentors and said, "what am I doing wrong?" There were several things as military folks, we have to translate our skills a little bit differently. But in addition to that, just the matter of saying one word differently and confidence, right? I didn't have the confidence and I'm here, I just want to ask, you know, the community, there's architects, solution architects here, you know, all these senior roles. If we have you to support us, why can't you take a risk on a junior admin or someone new into the ecosystem with proven skills, project management skills, scrum master skills, all of these things? And so five interviews, one company, the first time I was devastated. I was like, "oh no," you know, and I put my big girl panties on and I went and I did it again, and again, and again.

LaRon: And then, you know, there were times I wanted to give up and I realized admin is just not enough. Okay. Maybe for some it is, but it wasn't working for me. So I went to level up and skill up and I came back to Vetforce.

LaRon: They just opened up additional programs, but if they hadn't, I probably would have went through all of them because that was how committed I was. And in the last 90 days I've gotten two additional certifications.

Gillian Bruce: Congratulations.

LaRon: I'm now at builder certified. Thank you. And community cloud consultant certified. One thing that I like, me personally, is I love people, I love the people and I really wanted to take on a role that would have me in the community engaging with people, being around people, showcasing and helping other people as well. So, and someone pointed out to me like, LaRon, you may do really well in customer success.

LaRon: It's a bridge between technology and people and communities and things like that. So that's where I'm headed now. Marketing, I have some background there. I'm headed into the marketing space, but I knew I needed to get the foundational level covered and I needed to grow my implementation skills so that that's something no one can ever take from me. And I just had to kick in the doors and I wasn't taking no for an answer.

LaRon: And I didn't care if it took five interviews or fifty. However it is, I tell people it's hard... It's not hard, but it can be difficult. Or maybe I'm saying that backwards, but the work, the work can be done and now there is, there's levels to the journey, right? There's the work, there's the entry to the door, getting the admin and then there's also, the communication skills, the networking and the community. And why I've drank the Koolaid is because of these, you all the awesome people in this room. The people that encourage me, the people who are by my side and encouraging me every step of the way and they won't allow me to give up.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. Yeah, that's, yeah. It's okay. You can clap. Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Well we're going to continue on your story just for a second.

LaRon: Okay, okay.

Gillian Bruce: But Kelly, I wanted to talk to you a little bit because you are in a role where you're actually hiring Salesforce admins and you're a director of technology. Talk to me a little bit about what you look for and what you kind of observe in terms of looking for that awesome admin and what kinds of things do you look for, what is that process like?

Kelly: So first and foremost, I look for someone who's excited. If you're not excited about the tools we use, than you can't get our users and our volunteers excited, right? So I looked for somebody who's excited and resourceful. Again, back to that you don't know have to know everything, but tell me how you're going to find it. Right? I look for people who are problem solvers first and foremost, and also people who are ... just the attitude, right?

Kelly: Like be a fun human, like these people work together all the time, a lot, like, for of our waking hours. So a good fit is also really important. And that's to your point LaRon, when the confidence comes through in the ability to make that connection, So that we can kind of see. And then I do look to our Vetforce community of course, because it's also our job to give back just the same.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So a couple of things I'd love to touch on from what both of you said. So confidence is a big thing, right? And I think a lot of people battle the imposter syndrome, no matter what role you're in, regardless if it's Salesforce or not, or Salesforce admin or management. How do you kind of battle that? What helps you? I've heard you, LaRon, talk about the community a little bit, but you know, you want to feel like you own this and that's going to give you a leg up.

Gillian Bruce: Right? So Kelly, what helped you with that?

Kelly: I feel like a broken record. My community, like it's looking to the left and the right and the person who's got 10 Salesforce certs never looks like this at you. Right? They never looked down. It's always at you. They're always willing to share how they got there, what they know.

Kelly: And it's not different than anything else. When you know you're supported you then you know you can't fail. Right. So it's, the impostor syndrome is real.

Gillian Bruce: Oh totally

Kelly: Right? Of course that's a thing. But no, I look to my peers, my friends, I mean they're kind of my family now.

LaRon: Absolutely.

Kelly: They'll always pick you up and be like, "girl, you got this. Go do it."

Gillian Bruce: So I call them the Ohana. Right?

Kelly: Literally, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: So LaRon, you're kind of, you're just breaking through that a little bit. So aside, is there anything in addition to the community that's helped you?

LaRon: Well, definitely self-confidence. Initially I didn't want to be brag. I didn't want to be overly confident. I didn't engage in conversation as well. I, if they asked a question, I answered it. If there was a gap, I let them fill in the gap. Now I take control over that conversation just a little bit more. I asked them engaging questions. I showcase my personality. I let them know that I'm excited about what they do and that their work is important, that I've done my research on their website.

LaRon: And one, one interview I went on, we happened to go to the same college and we spent, it was the tech interview and we spent our time laughing and joking pretty much most of the interview and I got pushed forward to the next round. And I don't think he asked me one technical question, because of the engagement. And because I asked a few questions initially, he knew that I knew what I was talking about and that I was confident in the space and he didn't ask me what's a record type, you know, and what is an object, you know, and what are the three, you know, it didn't go there, but initially those were kind of questions I was getting.

LaRon: So I was more like, trying to be a dictionary. Like, this means this and this means that, and now it's more conversational. And I had to dig deep and see what I could do differently. And once I examined what I could do differently and I elevated that, the engagement got easier and the interview process also became easier.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. That's great tips. Yeah, I mean sometimes it's about those relationships. Sometimes it's always about the relationships, right? Yeah.

LaRon: Yeah, absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. That's great. So another thing that I wanted to touch on based on kind of what both of you had just talked about. I mean the Vetforce is an incredibly rich community of very talented individuals. But both of you had to transfer your skills from that very specific industry, into a totally other industry. New language, different jargon, different skills, I mean, putting together a resume and having an interview, that's not something you have to do in the military very often, right? So tell me a little bit about, kind of what you've learned in transferring those skills and kind of how to communicate, because that is for any, career changer, I feel like there's something they can learn from that. Kelly, do you want to start with this one?

Kelly: Sure. So it's a lot, I guess it's recognizing ... I forget all the time that no one speaks the same language as me. So I can't say like, "my husband's going TDY and then he's going to PCS" and everybody kind of looks to me like, "what are you talking about?" So there was kind of already like a natural ability to translate.

Kelly: I actually, and I don't know if I'm answering your question right, but I actually made a Salesforce glossary and that's kind of what I lived by at first. So anytime I didn't know a word, I mean I guess you could Google it, but I just had it right there and I had broken it down into like my terms, what I understood.

Kelly: And then as far as transferring skills, I mean veterans and the military spouses are kind of really dope people. So like we have really good skills that transfer. Like we're adaptable or agile-

LaRon: Committed.

Kelly: -we're committed, we're not afraid of new situations. That's a big one. Change is a constant for us.

LaRon: Absolutely.

Kelly: So I think it wasn't necessarily transferring those skills, but recognizing that those were positive attributes. Not a barrier. Absolutely. Yeah. On anything.

LaRon: I mean we pretty much are project managers. Like now that the world is all, [inaudible 00:14:04] project management focus, that's all we do. From a private to the senior officer, we're managing projects that are given to us at the last minute. "Do this today. I need it done by five. If you don't have it done by five, you don't go home."

Kelly: And then we execute it perfectly.

LaRon: Guess what? We execute, we figure it out, we mastermind it, we find the resources and we get it done. So we have this can do spirit and no one is going to take that from you, right? You don't really have the option. And when you, I started in the military at 17, when you develop as an adult at 17 and 18 and 21 and those are the skills that you're using each and every day, you have no choice but to be super awesome. Right? And so that's really it, right? And for each and every one of us. Some are more outspoken than others, but the basics of how we all operate in our can do spirit, we all have it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, absolutely. I mean that it comes across. Yes. It comes across form every Vetforce member I meet. And I think for any career changer, understanding that what you have done in your previous career or careers is absolutely valuable to bringing to the Salesforce ecosystem. You know, just cause you're switching lanes a little bit does not mean that all of that doesn't, is not relevant. It's very, very valuable and it will really actually help you get a leg up in terms of building that career in the Salesforce ecosystem. All right, so amazing. Thank you both for sharing what that, as we come to the last few minutes of our session here, I think you both know what time is, what time is it? Lighting round time. Okay, so we have some special lightning round questions today for the live podcast, which is pretty fun. All right, we're gonna start with you LaRon. All right. What would be the title of your autobiography?

LaRon: The Journey is Real.

Gillian Bruce: I like it. I like it. It's pretty good. Okay. Kelly, I'm going to switch it up on you, were going to do a this or that for you. Are you a movie at home person or movie in a theater person?

Kelly: Movie at home. I'm not paying to fall asleep.

Gillian Bruce: I agree with you. You can pause and take bathroom breaks. It's great. Right? Yeah. Well. I also, at this point, I would love to open up, we have some amazing audience members here with us in this session. If anyone has a, maybe, we have time for maybe one question, so it better be really good.

Gillian Bruce: So if you have a question, come on up. We've got a microphone right here. Who's, who's a brave soul. Oh, we got silence. Okay, well I can just ask more lightning round questions. It can be a lightning round question too, by the way.

Gillian Bruce: All right, so another good lightning round question. I was, if you were at the keynote yesterday, we were all about getting ready to rock TDX. All right, Kelly, I want to know who's your favorite rock band?

Kelly: My favorite rock band?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Kelly: Favorite of all time. Nirvana.

Gillian Bruce: Yes.

Kelly: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: A little Nevermind.

Kelly: Maybe a little Aerosmith too.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, okay!

Kelly: That's so hard. Yeah, Nirvana, final answer.

Gillian Bruce: Pretty good. Smells Like Teen Spirit?

Kelly: Absolutely. Yeah. Oh yeah.

LaRon: [inaudible 00:17:19]

Gillian Bruce: You have to say that you're like legally obligated.

Kelly: But I genuinely like them.

Gillian Bruce: That's good. LaRon, how about you? Do you have a favorite metal band or a rock band? No?

LaRon: No mam.

Gillian Bruce: A favorite band?

LaRon: Rock may have been just a little before my time.

Gillian Bruce: Rock is eternal.

LaRon: No. There was a favorite song, I had that I grew up really loving and I don't know if it's by a rock band, but it's called More Than Words.

Kelly: Oh yeah that's the Everly Brothers.

LaRon: So that was a song, it's not a rock-

Gillian Bruce: Good thing Kelly's here.

Speaker 5: -but I absolutely love that song. And if you played it today, I would sing even with a hoarse voice right now.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. Okay, well maybe we'll have to make that happen in the hallway. Anyway, thank you so much ladies for joining us on the podcast. It's been a pleasure to have you. Thank you for joining us in person.

LaRon: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: And we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Gillian Bruce: So huge thanks again to both LaRon and Kelly for braving the stage with me at TrailheadDx for this live recording. It was really great to have them in person and to have all the listeners there in person If you were able to make it, thank you for joining us and if you tuned into the live stream, thank you for joining us that way as well.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to view this amazing podcast that we did in person and you can find it on our Facebook live channel. So you can kind of get a piece of the fun that way. But to recap some of the amazing conversation that we had in the second part of our live taping, it was a lot about interviewing and hiring.

Gillian Bruce: So first of all, I loved, you know, kind of what both LaRon and Kelly said about confidence. It's very hard to go in, especially if this is your first interview with a, for an admin job to have confidence. But in order to gain that, doing some research, understanding what the company is about, especially looking at company values, are those values that match your own?

Gillian Bruce: What are their goals? Going in with that information is really going to help you with your confidence. Even if you feel like, "I don't know all of the things on the platform," which is okay. We talked about that a little bit in the last podcast was, it's okay not to know everything, as long as you know how to get to the answers. Being resourceful. The next thing that we focused on was really talking about transferring your skills. Both LaRon and Kelly came from military backgrounds doing very kind of, different work and they were able to figure out how to transfer and frame those skills to well position them in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: So some of the things that they were able to really kind of focus on was the adaptability, the agility, the commitment, the fearlessness. Those are really strong attributes that made them successful in the military careers,, that have transferred really well into becoming a Salesforce admin and now a technology director in Kelly's case.

Gillian Bruce: So think about the things that you're doing in your current career, if you're looking to switch or things that you've done with previous jobs, that really are attributes that will apply really well to this Salesforce ecosystem, you'll be very surprised. I get a lot of questions, folks who are changing careers, you know, after 20 years in one industry, "hey, how do I get into the Salesforce ecosystem?" Well, don't discount what you've done. You've got an incredibly valuable set of skills and experience from your existing career. So don't hesitate to bring those on over and talk. Think about how you can frame those in a way that's really going to help position you as someone who knows a lot and can add a lot of value to the Salesforce ecosystem. Also, one of the biggest messages from both Kelly and LaRon was don't give up.

Gillian Bruce: This idea of being committed to really yourself, being committed to finding that next job, making that switch. If things were easy, they really wouldn't be worth it. So use the resources that the Salesforce community has given you. Don't be afraid to ask questions and keep asking. Passing the Admin cert can be tough. Many people do not pass on their first time. LaRon talks about that, about how she didn't pass her first time, but she went back immediately to take it again. So don't get discouraged. You know, trying once, try again. You're going to get there. As long as you put the work in and the dedication, you are going to make this work. So don't get discouraged. Rely on your community groups and your contacts within both your personal life and professional life to help support you and push you along.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things we chatted about today on the podcast, we've got some great resources for you. First of all, you can check out Vetforce, which is an amazing program to help military community members get exposed to Salesforce, get trained up on the Salesforce platform, and then get connected with jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: Even if you're not a military community member, this is a great resource for employers, as you can see, hear, rather, military veterans and their spouses and military community have a lot of amazing skills to offer as a Salesforce admin or a Salesforce developer. Any role that you have at your company, there's a lot of great skills that a vet can bring into your company to really help add value.

Gillian Bruce: We also talked about Blue Star Families, which is the organization that Kelly Babbs works for, so you can check them out. We've got the link in the show notes.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn more about maybe preparing for your admin certifications, great news. We've got a trail for that, so you can actually go on Trailhead and there's an entire trail called Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credentials. So that'll help take you along the path and help you learn all the things to prepare for that certification. Certification is an amazing way to prove to employers that you know what you know, make you attractive, kind of get those Linkedin job offers coming through. It's also a really great way to verify and get your confidence up yourself, right? Verify that you know what you know and getting that first certification is the biggest step, because then there's so many more you can get, but getting that first one were really sets in an amazing direction and opened up some doors.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, make sure you go to admin.Salesforce.com where you can check out more blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts. Also, please make sure you subscribe to the podcast, so you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice so you don't miss a single episode. I actually have a huge call out. If you've got a podcast listening platform that you cannot find us on, I would love for you to let us know. We have made a very concerted effort to make sure that we get this podcast on all the platforms to enable all of you to access it easily and share it easily. So if there's a podcast platform that you're not finding our podcast on, please let us know.

Gillian Bruce: You can find us on Twitter @Salesforceadmns, no I. Our guests today, were LaRon Butler. You can find her on Twitter @Laronmarkets__c, fun Salesforce Twitter handle there. And Kelley Babbs, she's @kBabbs77. That's K, B A, B B s 77 and you can find myself at @GillianKBruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Marketing_Your_Skills_with_LaRon_Butler__Kelly_Babbs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re coming with the first of a special two-part episode, live from TrailheaDX. We sit down with LaRon Butler, Technical Account Manager at Litify, and Kelley Babbs, Technology Director at Blue Star Families, to talk about entering the Salesforce ecosystem, how to capitalize on the skills you already have, and changing careers.

Join us as we talk about the power of community supporting each other, how VetForce helped them build a career in Salesforce, and the challenges they faced along the way.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LaRon Butler and Kelley Babbs.

Wish fulfillment through Salesforce.

Growing up, LaRon dreamed of becoming a radio broadcaster, and we’re happy to give her a little wish fulfillment by bringing her on the pod. In the meantime, LaRon joined the Army in 1998, “and I pretty much spent most of my adult life working and serving in the military in one capacity or the other,” she says. “More recently, I decided it was time for a career change.” She got back from Korea in 2016 and tried to get into sales. She had a background in IT as a system admin and, because she spent a few years in real estate, she realized she needed to update her skills, and all of her research pointed towards Salesforce.

“I kept calling Salesforce over and over until someone returned my call,” LaRon says, “I kept seeing courses online and all I wanted to know was if I could use my GI Bill to take the classes.” When she heard back the rep told her about a free program called VetForce. “Once I got certified in October, 2018, I went to my first job fair the next day,” she says, and also ended up connecting with the Merivis Foundation, which has supported her through forty-plus interviews (!).

Building a career that can move with you.

Kelley, on the other hand, always wanted to be the first female president. She also spent time serving in the Army, both directly and as a military spouse, which meant a lot of moving. “I kept trying to reinvent myself every time we moved somewhere,” she says, doing everything from teaching to being a cable installer. She had a teaching gig lined up in Massachusetts when they got orders to relocate to Texas, which meant she needed all sorts of additional training to be able to teach again. “I felt defeated,” she says, “I was like, ‘when am I going to have a career?’”

Kelley reached out to someone she knew at Blue Star Families to see if they had any volunteer opportunities. Instead, she was encouraged to apply for a role where she could spend a year learning Salesforce part-time from home. She started out working with a Certified Admin, but when they moved to a different role the job fell to her—another accidental admin. She needed help, and that’s when she came across VetForce. She passed her certification in 2016 and her role just kept growing with the organization.

Learning Salesforce step-by-step.

One of the first things LaRon built was an app to help her with her real estate transactions. “I got the idea from some people who kept saying, ‘Build something that means something to you,’” she says. For Kelley, she needed to tweak an object in Blue Star’s org that didn’t use contact data correctly. She was able to make a small tweak that eliminated tons of manual labor, which so clearly demonstrated just how powerful Salesforce could be.

For LaRon, the main challenge with learning the platform was taking use cases and putting them into practice. “That’s why it was important for me to get to work,” she says, “not only to pay the bills but to really showcase my talent and my mind.” For Kelley, it was validation rules. “But also, just knowing that I didn’t have to know everything,” she says, “you just have to know where to find it, you don’t necessarily have to know the answer.” You can always reach out to the community for help, whether it’s VetForce, the Success Community, or just your friends, “and that makes you feel comfortable enough to not feel like you have to know it all.”

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce, and today, listeners, we have a very special episode coming in for you. This is a live episode that we recorded at TrailheaDX just a few weeks ago. It's the first of two episodes that we are splitting this live session into, because we had so much great content, so much great conversation.

Gillian Bruce: I wanted to focus the first part of this series on talking about some special stories of entering the Salesforce ecosystem, realizing how to capitalize on skills that you already have, and changing careers basically midpoint later on. After you've already had one career, how do you create another? And in order to talk about these amazing topics, I had the incredible LaRon Butler and Kelley Babbs join me. They are both members of the Vetforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: LaRon Butler is actually newly a Technical Account Manager at Litify. She just started that position not long after this interview, in this interview she had not yet secured a role. So you're going to hear her at an exciting time in her life. And we had Kelley Babbs, who's the Technology Director at Blue Star Families, which is an amazing organization that helps serve the military community.

Gillian Bruce: Definitely enjoy listening to these interviews, we had a lot of fun talking with the both of them on stage at TrailheaDX, and I hope that you can listen to some really great tips and some really great insights about switching your career.

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about products, community, and careers to help you be a more Awesome Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. Today we are live from TrailheaDX 19 here in Moscone Center in San Francisco. Everybody excited to be here?

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. We're joined by some amazing listeners who are here in the room, we're going to have some fun today. We have some amazing guests to bring up to share their stories and talk about being an Awesome Admin. They happen to be two amazing Vetforce stories as well, so shoutout to Vetforce, all the Vetforce people.

Gillian Bruce: So my first guest that I want to introduce is LaRon Butler. LaRon, come on up.

Gillian Bruce: Lauren is an amazing Awesome Admin. She is early in her admin career, and we're going to hear a lot more about your story in just a minute. Welcome to the podcast.

LaRon Butler: Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, talk into the mic. We've got two mics going on, it's a complicated process. As long as this one records, we're good.

LaRon Butler: Okay. Can you hear me?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, speak up a little. We also have some water down here. Our next guest we're going to introduce is Director of Technology at the Blue Star Families, and she also started her career as an Awesome Admin. Please welcome Kelley Babbs. Kelley, welcome to the podcast.

Kelley Babbs: Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: So glad to have you here. Ladies, thank you so much for joining me in this live session, I know this is a little different than just doing a normal podcast recording, in private, safe space. You're still in a very safe space, with lots of friends ... friends, supporters, listeners of the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: So, having the both of you up here, I want to share a little bit about your stories. LaRon, I'd love to start a little bit with you. You guys know the first question, right? What did you want to be when you grew up, LaRon?

LaRon Butler: So, for all my New Yorkers out there, and for everyone who watches daytime TV, Wendy Williams was the best radio host in the New York City area, and I used to want to be a radio broadcaster.

Gillian Bruce: Well, here you are, you're radio broadcast broadcaster now. Congratulations.

LaRon Butler: Thank you. I finally get to do it, I finally get to do it.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome, that's awesome. Well Kelley, I am going to ask you the same question.

Kelley Babbs: I wanted to be the first female president.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, it's not too late. We need them.

Kelley Babbs: And Judge Wapner. Either one, I would've been happy with either one. Still working on both.

Gillian Bruce: I love it, you never give up, that's great. All right, so LaRon, let's talk a little bit about your journey. How did you go from wanting to be a radio broadcaster, which your dream has come true, to working in the Salesforce ecosystem? Tell me a little bit about that path.

LaRon Butler: It started way back in 1998 when I decided to join the army. I did a few years in the army, I pretty much spent most of my adult life working and serving in the military in one capacity or the other. I've been a soldier, I've been a military spouse, I've been a contractor, I've been a DOD civilian. And more recently I decided that it was time for a career change, I came back from Korea in 2016 and I decided to get into sales. As a single parent, I realized that not having a stable income was probably not the best thing to do.

LaRon Butler: My background was IT. Previously we worked on legacy systems, so Microsoft, things like that, I was the system admin then. And I needed to update my skills. So I started looking around the Internet, and I kept coming across Salesforce. And just to share, I pretty much kept calling Salesforce over and over until somebody returned my call.

Gillian Bruce: The 1-800 Salesforce Number?

LaRon Butler: Yes, leaving messages. I kept seeing courses online, and all I wanted to know was if I could use my GI bill to take the classes. So someone finally called me back, and they were like, "You're a veteran, right?" I'm like, "Yes, I want to use my GI bill." And they're like, "Well, we have a program called Vetforce, and it's free."

Gillian Bruce: Done.

LaRon Butler: Done. So I was like, "Okay." So that was really how I got connected with Vetforce. And the journey through Vetforce has been amazing, the training that's been offered to me and my counterparts. I can go on forever, so-

Gillian Bruce: I'll ask you some follow-up questions, so this is how you found Salesforce, was through Vetforce.

LaRon Butler: Through Vetforce. And I needed to update my skills because when I looked online everything said cloud computing, so I had to update the skills to come back. I had been out for two years doing real estate, and so pretty much ... I started probably almost two years ago, and it was one of those things, I didn't drink the Kool-Aid at that time, I just signed up. That's what I like to refer to it as-

Gillian Bruce: It takes a while.

LaRon Butler: So I pretty much started a few trails here and there, tinkered around, put it on pause until things got serious for me. Deals fall apart, they take forever, and financially I was in hardship. That hardship, I pretty much have been living out of my retirement for the last two years, year and a half or so. And more recently, once I got certified in October 2018 I went to my first job fair the next day. It was a military job fair held in Atlanta, and I worked the room, and I was just like, "I have to do this."

LaRon Butler: So, for all the people who may have been certified and failed, I too failed the first time. Three days later I went back and I did it again, and I was grateful that Vetforce supported me in that journey. Also, going forward one more step, I kept hearing about Merivis, this group, a lot of veterans are involved, and I was like, "How can I level up, what can I do?"

LaRon Butler: I had to borrow to get to Texas, but I got there, and I made the most of it, I met some amazing people and I see these people around the community. But just to shine light on these people in the front row, they've really made an impact. And I'm going to mention David Nava, he's been my inspiration.

Gillian Bruce: That's a familiar name to the podcast.

LaRon Butler: Absolutely, he's been my inspiration. He's hardworking, and as I interviewed - and I've done probably 40+ interviewers-

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, we're going to talk about that in a little bit, I definitely want to get that experience captured. So you got certified, you didn't pass your first time, you tried again. Congratulations, by the way, because that can be very discouraging, but you did it, and you really kind of made this a priority and are going after it.

LaRon Butler: Absolutely, there was no turning back. I was committed, I was all in.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, so we're going to pause there because I want to kind of interject in here, Kelley, some of your story as well. So how did you go ... Well actually you still want to be female president, and I fully support you. Kelley Babbs 2020, here we go.

Kelley Babbs: Awesome.

Gillian Bruce: But how did you go from wanting to do that as a child to now here you are, still wanting to do that, but working in the Salesforce ecosystem in a big way?

Kelley Babbs: So I was in the army as well, got out a long time ago. I was still a military spouse though, so still serving alongside my soldier. And we move a lot, I think a lot of people have heard that at this point. And I kept having to reinvent myself every time we moved somewhere. So I've been a correctional officer, I've been a mail clerk, I've been a teacher, I've been a teacher's assistant, I've been a cable installer, not fun.

Gillian Bruce: Nobody likes the cable installer.

Kelley Babbs: No, it's gross, there's spiders, and ... it's bad. So we moved from Massachusetts, where I had a teaching position lined up and I was so excited. We got orders, "Surprise, you're not teaching in Mass." We went to Texas and nothing transferred. I was facing taking more classes even, because I don't know Texas state history, so you can't just go take a test.

Kelley Babbs: And I was kind of exhausted, right? I felt defeated, I was like, "When am I going to have a career?" I sent a colleague at Blue Star Families an email - well, not colleague, an associate - and I said, "Hey, I'm in Texas now, if you have any volunteer opportunities, I'm not doing anything."

Kelley Babbs: And she replied back really fast, which was exciting, and she was like, "We're actually hiring for this role. It's called the Technology Fellow, and we're going to teach you this thing called Salesforce for one year." And it was part time from home, so I was like, "Okay." I was Googling Salesforce, I was like, "What is this, what's a CRM?"

Gillian Bruce: I'm still trying to figure it out myself, so ...

Kelley Babbs: Yeah, so I was like, "You know what? I like tech, okay." So I started at Blue Star Families, and it was under a training program with a certified admin. At some point they moved on to a different role, so then I kind of became an accidental admin and I was like, "Oh gosh, this is fun." So I started researching, and that's when I found Trailhead Vetforce. And I was like, "Look at this community so ready to support this random little person in Texas who's panicking right now."

Kelley Babbs: So then eventually we hired another admin, and that person really became a mentor for me, military spouse as well. She was like, "Are you in Vetforce yet?" And I'm like, "I am." So the path just kind of went from there, and I took my certification in 2016, passed, and probably I felt more accomplished with that than with college.

Gillian Bruce: That's fine, we'll take that on the podcast, absolutely.

Kelley Babbs: And then my role just kept growing from there. As the organization grew, using Salesforce kind of prepped us to scale, and we'll get into that later. But yeah, so my role's just grown, and I'm now the Technology Director of Blue Star Families, but we are heavily in the Salesforce ecosystem, so Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Social Studio all day.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So, for listeners who may not know what Blue Star Families is, can you tell us a little bit about that organization?

Kelley Babbs: Yeah, absolutely. We're a chapter-based nonprofit that serves military families all over the country. Our goal is to connect military families with the civilians and the rest of their community to reduce that sense of isolation that we can feel moving all the time. We do that through a variety of resources, events, and then a lot of work in the military spouse career space because ...

Gillian Bruce: Because there's a lot of work to do, yes. That's awesome. And I know Blue Star Families has been not a stranger to the podcast. We've had Katherine Clark, who came from Blue Star Families, on the podcast twice now, once at Blue Star Families, and now in her position at Salesforce with Vetforce. So let's talk a little bit about that first Salesforce experience. LaRon, what's one of the first things that you did in Salesforce, or built in Salesforce?

LaRon Butler: It's still a work in progress. I'm trying to build a real estate ... To track all of my transactions and deals, it was like that. I still find old data that still needs to be inputted in, but that's what I try to work on.

Gillian Bruce: So you're building an app, essentially, for the business that you have experience in and have worked in. That's great. What are some of the things that you've put in the app?

LaRon Butler: I actually got the idea later on from some people, they kept saying build something that means something to, build something that's important. So how long had it been, when I first got a new client, when they were referred to me versus when we actually signed a contract, or how long the deals took? Just trying to get better at reports and things like that, and understand. It's not a large amount of data that goes in it, so that's why I say it's a work in progress.

Gillian Bruce: But that's great, it's a great way to get experience using the app, building something for what you know and capturing that instead of having it be in your head, or in an email, or, God forbid, spreadsheets, and putting that into an app. That's a great way to kind of learn and establish that knowledge.

LaRon Butler: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: Kelley, what's one of the first things you did in Salesforce?

Kelley Babbs: It was so basic, but I was so excited about it. We had an object that was intended to hold people interested in a certain program, but there was no lookup to the contact, so it was just contact data being rewritten. So, figuring out that what it needed was a lookup to the contact, and then building that, and then transforming all that data so that it was actually an object with a lookup to the contact, was exciting. Because prior to that we were manually putting 250 people in a campaign, and I was like, "There has to be a better way to do this."

Gillian Bruce: And that's great that that's one of the first things that you did in Salesforce, understanding, "Oh hey, we have this thing, we can make this a lot easier." That's really awesome.

Kelley Babbs: That's kind of why I drank the Kool-Aid.

Gillian Bruce: We joke about the Kool-Aid, but it's real, when you get hooked, you're hooked, right? When you see, "Oh, I can do all these things," the light goes off, the blue light maybe, I don't know.

Gillian Bruce: So LaRon, let's talk a little bit about maybe some of the hard things about learning Salesforce. You've been doing this for a couple years, trying to kind of get established, you took the Cert exam, you passed, congratulations. What were some of the hardest things about learning Salesforce as an admin?

LaRon Butler: The learning part was pretty easy. However, I wanted to use it in practical use cases, and not do the step by step, you know? So just looking for the job experience to really putting into practice what I know, and showcasing that on the next level.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I know for me I still have a problem sometimes with formulas because my brain doesn't work that way. I think I've retaken that Trailhead module I don't even know how many times, almost as many times as I retook Calculus in college. Anyway. But yeah, having that mind shift to understand how this works can be kind of a challenge sometimes.

LaRon Butler: Absolutely, absolutely, which is why it was important for me to get to work, not only to pay the bills, but to really showcase my talent. In my mind it's easy, I know there is some complicated work out there to be done, and I just needed the opportunity to showcase the talent and to improve my implementation skills. Sorry guys, my voice is really-

Gillian Bruce: You're doing great. A whole day of Salesforce event will do that to you. Especially if you went to Macklemore last night.

LaRon Butler: I was in the front row, I wanted to win the dance contest, so I was like screaming so he could notice me.

Gillian Bruce: Good, I'm glad that you represented well, that's what you should be doing. Some of us can't do that right now, so I'm really glad somebody did.

LaRon Butler: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: So Kelley, how about you? When you are learning to become an admin, it kind of fell into your plate. What were some of the challenges that you found along your journey?

Kelley Babbs: Validation rules. I still don't love them. My brain doesn't work in the opposite, so remembering to flip them ... I don't know, I still don't love them. But validation rules were pretty tricky for me, and also just knowing that I didn't have to know everything, accepting that, being okay with the idea that you just have to know where to find it, you don't necessarily have to know the answer. And I felt like I always had to know the answer. So overcoming that feeling of having to know it all.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, so tell me a little bit actually about that, how did you overcome that? Because I think everyone feels that because there's so much in the platform, right?

Kelley Babbs: I'm still kind of working on that. Again, the community, right? Salesforce itself has this amazing community, and then within that we have Vetforce, which is ... amazing-er, can I say that? An amazing-er community?

Gillian Bruce: I am totally a fan of making up great words like that, yes.

Kelley Babbs: So realizing that it's not ... A lot of businesses have a very "dog eat dog" kind of mentality, and it never feels that way. I can always ask a question, I can always reach out to the success community, my Vetforce community, my friends, I can text them and be like, "Hey, how would you do this?" And that makes you feel comfortable enough to not feel like you have to know at all.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. LaRon, anything to add to that?

LaRon Butler: That's what I'm experiencing right now. The interview process was challenging, and I thought I had to know everything, there was so much pre-studying that went along with the interview and all of that. And I'm realizing now that it's just knowing the basics, knowing where to find it, knowing how to research and get the material. And also accessing this great community of top talent that we have access to is amazing. Each and every one of these people will drop anything to help me and everyone else, it's amazing.

Gillian Bruce: That's the power of the Salesforce community, and it's especially strong within the Vetforce community, is what I've found as well.

Gillian Bruce: All right, so let's talk a little bit about being an Awesome Admin. We talk a lot about how being an Awesome Admin is an amazing career. They're my favorite people, so there's that, but let's talk about some qualities that you think help people become an Awesome Admin. What are your favorite parts of being an admin? LaRon?

LaRon Butler: The commitment to getting it done. Just knowing that you don't know, but it still has to get done, and being resourceful. Pretty much.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you get to solve problems, right?

LaRon Butler: Absolutely. And knowing, when your customer's happy, that you got it done for them. I look at other examples in my community, we have admin Ella [inaudible 00:21:00] in our community, and I know that she's the go-to for her people, and just the satisfaction ... I haven't had the opportunity just yet to be that for my team members, but I will be very soon.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. And Kelley, how about you? Because you started your career as an admin. What's one of your favorite parts of being in that role?

Kelley Babbs: It's when you either identify a need or someone brings a need to you, and the thinking through it, the problem solving. I love all those parts and those are all super duper important. But then when you give it to them, and that look on their face when they're like, "You're the Wizard of Oz. "And I'm like, "Yeah, I am."

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you can brag about that. What's the word again?

Kelley Babbs: Wizard of Oz.

Gillian Bruce: Wizard of Oz, yes. Love it.

Kelley Babbs: But just the satisfaction and the joy, it's actual joy when you make someone's work life a little easier. And I love to do that, I still love to do that today. Catherine and I used to work together and I would steal things from her, I'd be like, "I know you're the Admin, but I want to build, give me something to build." So yeah, it's making people happy.

Gillian Bruce: That's great, that's a good motivation to be an admin. And I think the feeling that you're helping people do their job better, or make their lives easier, is really core to what I've heard in every Awesome Admin, right? I mean, you're making people happy, who doesn't like to do that?

LaRon Butler: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, if you don't like to do that ... I'm sure there's a few, you don't want to know those people.

Kelley Babbs: They're not Awesome Admins.

Gillian Bruce: So we're going to take a quick little one-minute break because, as you all know, we don't like doing super long episodes on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, do we? So we're going to take a quick break and we're going to shift gears into talking a little bit more about career, what it takes to be an Awesome Admin, getting hired, and interviewing, and all that good stuff.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to both LaRon and Kelley for being brave and hopping on the stage at TrailheaDX with me to do a live recording in front of a live audience for this podcast. We are going to continue the discussion next week when we talk a little bit more about what it's like to actually get that job as an Awesome Admin, both from a Hiring Manager perspective, from Kelley's point of view, and from LaRon's point of view who is currently in the process, talking about really what makes an Awesome Admin and how you can attain that role.

Gillian Bruce: For some of the highlights from the panel that you just listened to, I wanted to focus on the power of the community. Both LaRon and Kelley absolutely used the power of the Salesforce community by learning about Vetforce, getting involved, and really taking charge of the trajectory of their career, seeing the opportunity that Vetforce helped them get exposed to Salesforce, get those skills connecting with other people in the Vetforce community.

Gillian Bruce: Both of them made it very, very clear that the 'ohana, the other people they've met, were the ones that kept pushing them and inspiring them to pursue their career and to take those big leaps. Transitioning from a military career to a technology career can be very intimidating. A lot of the things like, "Hey, I've never had to interview, I've never had to put together a resume, but I've got all these great project management skills and things that I've learned being in the military. How do I translate that? How do I transfer that?" And both LaRon and Kelley really used the power of the Vetforce community to help them through that.

Gillian Bruce: There were also some challenges that they found in learning how to become a Salesforce admin, and a lot of that was fear of just not knowing the right thing, not knowing the answer. And they, again, overcame that with the power of the community and the relationships that they made in the Vetforce community.

Gillian Bruce: Understanding how you can go find the answer if you don't know the answer on the top of your head is very important. Definitely make sure that you think about shifting your mindset from having to know all the answers to being able to leverage that amazing community that you build in the process of learning Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: And some final tips about being an Awesome Admin. Being resourceful is so key to your success, both LaRon and Kelley made that very clear. Being able to solve problems of your customer and make them happy. Whether your customer is your end user, your executive, or an actual customer buying something from your company, your whole job is an Awesome Admin is to make them happy.

Gillian Bruce: And so being committed to getting that done is very important, I think that's one of the huge traits that you find in a lot of the Vetforce community members: being committed, not giving up, being tenacious. That's definitely a huge value that will serve you well in Salesforce ecosystem as well.

Gillian Bruce: So if you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things we chatted about in this discussion, make sure you check out Vetforce. It is a great resource for military and their spouses to learn about Salesforce, to understand about the Salesforce ecosystem, how to get jobs and training. Even if you're not in the military or a military spouse, this is a great place for you to learn more about the program, how you can help out, how you can get involved.

Gillian Bruce: Maybe even hire a Vetforce member, they are very skilled and very awesome hires. As you can see, LaRon, she got hired between the time we recorded this at TrailheaDX and its going live today. You can definitely understand that these are highly in demand, skilled, very talented workers, so make sure you look at the Vetforce community if you're trying to build out your Salesforce team.

Gillian Bruce: I also put the link to Blue Star Families in the show notes, so if you are interested in learning more about that incredible organization that helps out the military community, you can check that out. That's where Kelley is the Technology Director. And if you want to learn a little bit more about specifically strengthening and diversifying your workforce with military veterans, we have a trail for that.

Gillian Bruce: So go onto Trailhead, I've put the link in the show notes for that trail. It teaches you all kinds of things about the special skills that the military can bring to your organization, about how to reach out to that community, and about hiring maybe military spouses. Especially in the Salesforce community, working remote is a huge possibility because all you've got to do is really have a computer to do most of the work, and have an Internet connection.

Gillian Bruce: And for a lot of these military families, they have to bounce around a lot, and like in both Kelley's story and LaRon's story, being able to be mobile is one of the greatest things that they realized, the flexibility they could have with the Salesforce ecosystem. So definitely check out those resources.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn more about becoming an Awesome Admin, make sure you go to admin.salesforce.com where you can find blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts like this one. And in fact, if you like this podcast, I highly encourage you to subscribe, to share it with your friends. We are on all the platforms, you name a platform, we are on it. iTunes or Apple Podcasts, Google Play, SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Spotify, radio.com. You name it, we're on it. If you have a platform we're not on, let us know. But make sure you subscribe so you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released.

Gillian Bruce: Also a reminder, one thing that both Kelley and LaRon talked about was getting certified. It is a great goal for you to have. So not only can you use Trailhead to learn about very specific skills, but it's also a great way to prepare for your certification. If you've got no certifications or you've got 20 certifications, I still encourage you to make it a goal to get certified before the end of the year. It is a great way to show off your skills, to learn more in the process as you study. Getting Salesforce certified opens many, many doors for you in your career.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to find us on Twitter, we are on there @salesforceadmns, No I. Our guests today where LaRon, she is @LaRonMarkets__c, and you can find our other guest, Kelley, @kbabbs, that's K-B-A-B-B-S, 77. Both those links are in the show notes, and as always you can find myself @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Vetforce_Bravery_with_LaRon_Butler__Kelley_Babbs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:43pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have the first of several live interviews Gillian recorded at the Salesforce World Tour in Washington DC. In this episode, we talk to Toya Tate, Salesforce Consultant at Slalom Consulting, Salesforce MVP, and leader in the DC Women in Technology User Group. We talk through her amazing career journey and how the community was there for her every step of the way.

Join us as we talk about how Toya got into the Salesforce, the amazing role the community played in her career path, and how she made the jump to become a Salesforce consultant.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Toya Tate.

Getting hooked on Salesforce.

At college, Toya majored in mechanical engineering, “but when I got to my Junior year I realized I didn’t really like engineering like I thought I did.” She ended up working for a venture capital firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they were using a platform to keep track of their investments, applicants who were looking for funding, and more. “One day, my boss came in and told me, ‘Hey, we’re going to use Salesforce for this process now.’‘OK,’ I said, ‘Sure. That’s great. I don’t know why you’re telling me but great.’ He said, ‘I’m telling you because you’re going to run it.’”

As soon as her boss walked away, Toya started frantically googling because she had never heard of Salesforce before. They worked with an implementation partner to get started and she quickly fell in love with the platform. She was able to go to New York for a week for more training, and the rest is history. Going to Salesforce from their previous tracking system was night and day. “Tracking was coming from six million different sources before,” Toya says, “once everything got in Salesforce I could just run a report and everything was right there, I didn’t have to spend hours compiling reports every week.”

How Toya discovered the power of the Trailblazer Community.

“One day I had a question and my powers of Google failed me,” Toya says. She stumbled across the Success Community (now the Trailblazer Community), “and I found the answer to my question but I also found that there was a Cincinnati User Group and they had a meeting coming up.” The person who answered her question was actually at the meeting. “From then on,” she was, “I was fully one hundred percent committed.”

Toya spent most of her free time diving into the platform and learning more. One day, she was browsing the community and realized she could answer some of the questions people had. “People don’t believe me but I am an introvert,” she says, “so it was much easier for me to interact online where I could determine how I wanted to interact and how much.” She moved from only answering the questions she was absolutely certain she knew well to learning more about new areas as she helped people.

As Toya got more and more knowledge, she wanted to focus on Salesforce full-time and not worry about any other responsibilities—she was still doing other parts of her old job in addition to managing their org. She got certified and started looking for her next move. She saw a posting for a job in DC on the community. “I just took a leap and sent the person who posted it a note,” she says, and they responded back within the day and said that they had seen her active in the community and were really interested in talking to her.

If you’re an admin, you’re already a consultant.

When Toya got to DC, she connected with Rebeca Lammers, who she had previously known through the community. Rebecca kept trying to recruit her for a new role, and eventually, Toya said, “I’m really not looking but I will meet with the recruiter just so you can stop harassing me.” She took the meeting and, long story short made the switch from an admin to a consultant. “I realized I really was looking for a challenge after eight years as an admin,” she says, “so throw some stuff at me that I’m not familiar with so I can keep growing.”

When Toya was interviewing for the job she had one major concern, which was that she’d never been a consultant before. “The person who was interviewing me said, ‘Yeah, actually, you have,’” Toya says, “‘an admin is an internal consultant. You gather requirements, you iterate in your sandbox, you test it, and you release to production and you do it all over again. That’s the Agile process; you’re a consultant you just didn’t know the terminology but that’s what you’ve been doing for the past eight years.’” As soon as she realized that, she knew she could do the job.

“It’s a mindset shift,” Toya says, “instead of thinking of yourself as ‘just’ an admin, there’s no such thing. You’re a lot of different things: you’re a business analyst, you’re kind of a quasi-developer, you do change management, you do all the things that consultancies do.” Toya’s not introverted on the community, so feel free to reach out to her to learn more.

Getting involved in Women in Tech.

One other major thing that Toya works on is the DC Women in Tech community. “I can’t tell you how many people have come to the meetings and come away feeling empowered,” she says. When it comes to balancing the community with her career, Toya views it as a part of her job: “These Women in Tech meetings are a couple of hours a month, I can make that commitment to my career and I think most other people can for the return that you get.” If you’re in the DC area, be sure to reach out!

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. And today, listeners, we have the first of several interviews that I was able to record while I was at the Salesforce World Tour in Washington, DC. Not too long ago, I got the chance to sit down with one of my favorite people in the Salesforce community, Toya Tate. Toya is an incredible human being. She's got an amazing Salesforce story.

Gillian Bruce: She is currently a Salesforce consultant at Slalom. She's an MVP. She's a leader for the Women In Technology group in Washington, DC. And she has completely transformed her career thanks to the power of using the Salesforce Trailblazer community. So, I will let her tell her story. So, without further ado, please welcome Toya to the podcast. Toya, welcome to the podcast.

Toya Tate: Thanks for having me, Gillian. I'm really excited to be here.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, well, it's been long overdue. So, I'm glad to finally get you on.

Toya Tate: Yes, I'm super excited. Let's do it.

Gillian Bruce: Let's do it. All right. Well, we are here in DC, at the DC World Tour, one of my favorite World Tour stops, because I love the DC community. It's the people like you I get to see in person. But I wanted to introduce you a little bit to the audience who may not know you. So, Toya, tell us, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Toya Tate: When I was growing up I wanted to be an anesthesiologist, believe it or not.

Gillian Bruce: Making people feel real good.

Toya Tate: Well, mostly because they wouldn't talk. So, it was perfect for me.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I love that. Okay. All right. So, wanting to be an anesthesiologist to, now, working in the Salesforce ecosystem, connect the dots for me a little bit. Tell me about your career trajectory.

Toya Tate: So, there is no connection of the dots. It was all completely random. So, I wanted to be anesthesiologist, but I majored in mechanical engineering. Don't even ask me. So, got to my junior year and realized that I didn't really like engineering like I thought I did. So, I was aimless for a while and just kicked around and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. And I ended up working for a venture capital firm in Cincinnati, Ohio where we were using a different system to manage our investments and our applicants that were coming in looking for funding. One day, my boss came in to me and said, "Hey, we're going to use Salesforce for this process now." I said, "Okay. Sure. That's great. I don't know why you're telling me but great." He said, "Well, I'm telling you because you're the one that's going to run it." I was like, "Oh, that's awesome." So when he walked away, I started Googling, because I had no idea what Salesforce was. I had never even heard of it before.

Toya Tate: So, we worked with an implementation partner to get our org set up. And once I got in there and started playing around, I realized I really liked it. So, I told my boss, "I really like this. You need to send me to training, because I don't know what I'm doing." And he did. He sent me to training in New York for a week. And that kicked off the entire love affair. So, that's how I got started in Salesforce almost, oh, God, 10 years ago now.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, my goodness.

Toya Tate: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Wow. All right. So, the platform was a little different 10 years ago.

Toya Tate: Yeah. Slightly.

Gillian Bruce: Slightly different. But that's really cool how you were exposed to it, totally unintentionally.

Toya Tate: Completely by accident.

Gillian Bruce: And then you're like, "Hey, I kind of like this. I can see how cool this is." What were some of the things that struck you about when you first got into Salesforce and start playing around on the platform?

Toya Tate: So, what I really loved was, I was the one that was in charge of all of those tracking things before, and it was coming from six million different sources. I can sort of be sure that this looks right based on what I knew. And once everything got in Salesforce, I could run a report. And all the stuff was right there, and I didn't have to spend hours compiling reports every week or every month or on the fly based on what somebody needed to run to a meeting. So, I was in love. I'm like, it saved me time and aggravation. I'm onboard. Sign me up. So, that was what I loved about it initially.

Gillian Bruce: So, you didn't have to be a human report. You could actually use the technology for that.

Toya Tate: Imagine that. And it freed me up to actually do other things. But then I realized I didn't want to do those other things. I just wanted to do Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Okay. So, you did the training, you are all in on Salesforce. Now, you're a Salesforce admin, right?

Toya Tate: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: So, then what happens next for you?

Toya Tate: I discovered the community. So, I had a question. I can't remember what the question was, but my powers of Google failed me. And I stumbled across what was then the success community, what's now the Trailblazer community. I was like, "Oh. This is great." And I found the answer to my question, but I also found that there was a Cincinnati, what was then, user group. And they had a meeting coming up. So, I moseyed on in there. I sat in the front, because I always sit in the front, even though I was [crosstalk 00:05:15] like, "I don't know anything. But I'm just going to sit here and see." And the person who answered my question in the community was there at that meeting.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome.

Toya Tate: I was like, "How often do you guys have this? There's no membership fee. I could just show up?" They were like, "Yeah." From then on, I was fully, 100% committed at that point. So, I was going in the user group meetings and figuring out what I wanted to find out more about, stuff that I wasn't even using in Salesforce but I knew was there. So, I was spending a ton of spare time where I wasn't working just finding out more about Salesforce, just because I was interested in it.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So, you have this curiosity about the system and trying to learn more. This is a theme I hear from a lot of awesome admins.

Toya Tate: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: So, you are learning more about the platform, maybe beyond your current job scope and what you were charged with.

Toya Tate: Right.

Gillian Bruce: The community made it real for you. You actually met the person who answered your question, which must've been surreal. I have a couple of stories that I've heard of people who are like, "Yeah. So, Nick helped me, went into my first question, and I met in person at Dreamforce and it was like, I didn't think it was real and it came together."

Toya Tate: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: It's a powerful story.

Toya Tate: It is. And then I realized that from perusing the community, I can answer some of these questions. So, that's how I really got my feet wet, because people don't believe me, but I am an introvert. It was much easier for me to interact online where I could determine how I wanted to interact and how much and who I wanted to interact with. And I could be okay. I definitely know the answer to that question. I can answer that and not feel like, well, I don't know, not really sure Let me try to put this out there. At first, I stuck to the stuff that I definitely knew. And then I was like, "Oh. I really love this. This is cool." So, that was just my whole awakening to the community.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. It's a whole different way to learn, right?

Toya Tate: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Because you get to build your confidence by answering the questions you know. But [inaudible 00:07:13] you said that's were you started ...

Toya Tate: Right.

Gillian Bruce: ... and then, maybe, you start dabbling into questions you're not sure you know?

Toya Tate: I'm like, "Well, I don't know this area, so let me go over here and see what they're talking about." And then I realize that, maybe, I knew a little bit more than I thought I did. And then it just snowballed from there.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome.

Toya Tate: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So, now you have this momentum going. You're learning a ton. You're feeling more confident on the platform. I mean, how long were a Salesforce admin for?

Toya Tate: Oh, God. I was a Salesforce admin for eight years.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. All within the same company or ...

Toya Tate: No. So, that first venture capital firm, I spent 10 years there. But we only started doing Salesforce, probably, my last five or six. So, about halfway through my tenure there. But the more I learned about Salesforce, the more I realized this other stuff, anybody can do that. It's boring and I don't want to do that. I want to do the Salesforce piece. And talked to my boss about it several times. He's like, "Well, we're a small organization, and everybody's got to wear a lot of hats." I'm like, "I don't like those hats. I want to wear this one hat. So, work with me." So, it became more and more of my job, but it wasn't my title. It wasn't what I wanted to do. So I'm like, "Well, it's time for me to figure out where I can go where I can just do Salesforce all the time." So, that's what I did.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So, tell me about that leap. Because, I think, a lot of admins I talk to get Salesforce thrown on their lap, or they discover it or they inherit it. But, like you said, it's not their job title, right? They're not officially the Salesforce admin even though they have that on top of the other five hats that they were.

Toya Tate: Right.

Gillian Bruce: So, how did you prioritize saying, "Hey, this is what I want to be, a full-time Salesforce admin." And then how did you make that happen for yourself?

Toya Tate: So, what I did was, in my spare time at work or, even at home or on weekends, I would start studying, because I knew I wanted to be certified. So, I got my certification, I think a year after I took the class. Not recommended. [crosstalk 00:09:19]

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, it's a lot of lag time there. You get rusty.

Toya Tate: I had to learn three new releases. I'm like, okay, I won't make that mistake again. So, I'll tell all of y'all out there don't do that. It's a bad move.

Gillian Bruce: Take your cert as soon as you can.

Toya Tate: As soon as you finish the class, take the cert. So, I got certified and I started looking for jobs that were just Salesforce. And, on the community, I saw a listing for a job in DC. I'm like, "I can do that job." And I'd been wanting to relocate to DC for years. So, I just took a leap. I sent the person who posted it a note in the community. It said, "I don't know if you'd consider somebody from outside of the area, but this is my background. This is what I'd like to do. I'd love to talk to you about the position more." And they responded back within the day and said, "We've seen you really active on the community. We'd love to talk to you." And they flew me out, and within a month, I'd had, I don't know, a couple of phone and Skype interviews and an in-person interview. And I had a new job within a month. [crosstalk 00:10:19] And I was able to relocate.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So, you totally were just able to relocate, because you saw an opportunity on the community. And because of what you had done on the community, you already had a shoo-in, essentially. They knew who you were because they saw what you were doing, which is really awesome.

Toya Tate: Yeah. Exactly.

Gillian Bruce: It's great to hear that. We talk about that a lot like, "Go, establish yourself on the Trailblazer community or in Twitter, because people are going to Google you. And that's what you want people to see." But they already knew you before you even said anything.

Toya Tate: Yeah. It is a true thing. People think that we say because that's just like a marketing thing. No, it is actually true. I couldn't tell you how many people I know that have found jobs through the community. And even now, people or even me, don't have to look for jobs. Your reputation precedes you, and people come to you. And who wouldn't want that? Where you can just pick and choose your opportunities.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That's awesome to have complete control and power there, right?

Toya Tate: Exactly. I love it.

Gillian Bruce: So, let's talk a little bit more about that. So, you relocated to DC. You now are a full-time Salesforce admin, but you are no longer in that role.

Toya Tate: I am not.

Gillian Bruce: Tell me about that next step.

Toya Tate: So, my next step. I relocated here about six months ahead of someone that you probably know, Rebecca Lammers.

Gillian Bruce: I have heard her name before. I believe she's been on the podcast too.

Toya Tate: Maybe you're familiar with her. And Rebecca relocated here as well to work for a consultancy. And soon after she started, she came to me said, "Hey, we're both here now." We'd known each other through the community, I think, by then for three or four years. She's like, "This place is really great. I think you'd be a great fit." I'm like, "Nay, get out of here. I'm not looking for a new job. I'm really happy with where I am." She's like, "Okay. That's fine. You can say no." And then three months later, she asked me again. She's like, "Well, you can keep saying no, and I will just keep asking you until you say yes." Fine Rebecca. So, I'm like, "I'm really not looking though, but I will meet with the recruiter just so you can stop harassing me." She's like, "Sure. Meet with them. No problem."

Toya Tate: And then once I met with them and realized that, I really am kind of looking for a challenge after eight years as an admin, always in Sales Cloud, know Sales Cloud in and out. I want some new challenges. Throw some stuff at me that I'm not familiar with so I can keep growing. About a year and a half ago, I made the switch from an admin to a consultant.

Gillian Bruce: Well, congratulations.

Toya Tate: Thank you very much.

Gillian Bruce: So, it sounds like you got poached a little.

Toya Tate: I did. I got poached. I did.

Gillian Bruce: As you said would happen, because your reputation starts preceding you.

Toya Tate: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: So, tell about that transition because I think a lot of admins may be thinking about a similar move or maybe haven't even thought about it as a possible career possibility. But you said something that struck me, is that after eight years of being in Sales Cloud and knowing Sales Cloud in and out but not being able to really use the other parts of the platform, that curiosity was getting to you. You wanted to test and learn more. So, how is it different from being a full-time Salesforce admin to now being a consultant and working on a bunch of different projects?

Toya Tate: So, that's a really great question. When I was interviewing to be a consultant, that was what they were asking. "Well, you have any apprehensions?" I'm like, "Yeah. I've never been a consultant before." And the person that was interviewing me said, "Actually you have. An admin is an internal consultant. You gather requirements. You iterate in your sandbox. You test it, and you release it to production. And then you do it all over again. That's a agile process. You're a consultant. You just didn't know the terminology. But that's what you've been doing from the past eight years." I'm like, "Oh, you're right. I am." Oh, yeah. Okay. I can do this job. It's just a mindset of how you're thinking about it. And it is definitely challenging, because you're going into new environments. So, you have to learn business processes. You have to learn personalities. You have to juggle that and be ready to be client-facing and always be on, which anybody can manage that. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. You say you're an introvert. I don't know if I believe it. But you cover it up really well if you are.

Toya Tate: I just think its a mindset shift. Instead of thinking of yourself as just an admin, there's no such thing. If you're running a Salesforce admin, you're a lot of different things. You're a business analyst. You're quasi developer. You do change management. You do all the things that consultancies do. But you're all wrapped up in one package. So, why not just put yourself out there and see what happens? You'd be surprised.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. I think that's great advice. And I think it's a really interested idea because if you're an embedded admin, so to speak, right, you are. You are performing all those functions. You are an in-house consultant [crosstalk 00:15:09] essentially, right?

Toya Tate: Exactly. I was a solo admin in the instances that I worked in. So, if you can be a solo admin, you can definitely be a consultant.

Gillian Bruce: I love that.

Toya Tate: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Well, it's a great career trajectory to think about. We have not talked about it on the podcast very much.

Toya Tate: Oh. Excellent.

Gillian Bruce: I know there's a few people who made the jump, so I really appreciate you sharing with us.

Toya Tate: I am always happy to talk about that leap. Other people can do it. If I can do it, trust me, anybody can do it. I'm happy to talk about it anytime [crosstalk 00:15:40] especially with you.

Gillian Bruce: Well, hey, and now people will find you on the community too. [crosstalk 00:15:44] So, there you go.

Toya Tate: Yes, find me on the community, on Twitter. You can find me anywhere.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. You're not introverted on the community.[inaudible 00:15:50]

Toya Tate: No, I'm not. Just in real life.

Gillian Bruce: So, Toya, one other thing that I know is really important to ... speaking of community. There is a very strong Women In Technology community here in the DC area. And it's one of the reasons that I love coming to the DC World Tour. It's because that group is full of absolutely incredible men and women really giving back in big ways and very connected. And there's just a really strong vibe there.

Toya Tate: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: Can you talk to me a little bit about your involvement in the Women In Technology community here in DC area? And then overall, how that fits into your career and how you make that all work together.

Toya Tate: Absolutely. Happy to do it. So, here in DC, the Women In Tech community group is run by two phenomenal, amazing women that I'm lucky enough to call friends, LeAndria Streeter and Rakia Finley, who come up with amazing content and programming every month that we all benefit from. Can't tell you how many people have come in the meetings and come away with feeling empowered and gotten help with issues. They put together groups to help nonprofits for free to give people volunteer experience. I just can't talk enough about the Women In Tech community specifically. So, if you're in DC and you're not part of this community, you definitely need to find on the Trailblazer community group site. Definitely come ... It's nothing but an enriching experience.

Gillian Bruce: And it's not just for women, right? Men are welcome as well?

Toya Tate: Oh, yeah. You guys can come to. Yes. Most definitely because we can't just talk into an echo chamber, right? We got to have some people in the room to represent us and what's important to us when they're in spaces where we're not. So, we happily welcome men. We have men at every meeting.

Gillian Bruce: I know. But I love it.

Toya Tate: We have a great time.

Gillian Bruce: It is a great time. I love going to your meetings when I'm in town. But let's talk a little bit about how you balance that. So, I know a lot of people look at the community and may be like, "Oh, this is so awesome, but there is a lot of stuff. I also have my job, and I also need to keep trainings." So, how do you incorporate your involvement in the community with your career and make it all work together?

Toya Tate: So, to me, I think it's all part of the same puzzle. I don't really separate my work in the community from my job. I think it's part of my job. So, these Women In Tech meetings, they're a couple hours a month. I can make that commitment to career. I think most other people can for the return that you get. And the involvement in the community. I have evenings, I have weekends. I can hop on Twitter real quick and look at the [inaudible 00:18:29] hashtag or go into the trailblazer community and check in on groups that I'm in, answer questions, either technical questions or about the community. It doesn't take that long, especially since I just consider it part of what I do. So, I don't think it's really that much to balance.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. I love how you consider it part of your job, because I also consider it part of my job but it is. Like you said, you get a lot out of it. You learn a lot. You make the connections. I mean, who knows, next job opportunity is probably in that meeting [crosstalk 00:19:02] right?

Toya Tate: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: [inaudible 00:19:03] as Ms. Consultant, right?

Toya Tate: Your next whatever could be right at your next community group meeting. [crosstalk 00:19:10] I'm just saying.

Gillian Bruce: So, one other thing that I wanted to get from you, especially with all the experience that you had, is some tips and advice for admins who, maybe, have been an admin for a couple years and are thinking about, what else can I do? What's next? What are some tips and advice you have for those folks?

Toya Tate: So, definitely join the community. You will find people who have been where you are or who are where you are right now that you can bounce ideas off of. It's a way to stretch yourself. One of the things that I did was I joined the Rad Women group. We're learning about Apex and development. I'm not a developer, but it's still something that added to my skill set to round me out, so I could talk to developers and we could talk the same language. So even if you don't think you want to do something, just jump into the community and just expand your world view. It will definitely help you. So, that's first. Get involved with the community. Reach out to people who are really visible. If you want to have questions, or you just want to sit down with coffee. Everybody that I found is really helpful, willing to give their time. So, definitely get involved with the community, and that'll open up the door to so many other things.

Gillian Bruce: Great advice. The community unlocks all of the things.

Toya Tate: All the doors. Trust me.

Gillian Bruce: All right, Toya. Well, before I let you go, I have to do a lightening round.

Toya Tate: Lightening round.

Gillian Bruce: So, three questions, no right or wrong answers. First things that come to mind.

Toya Tate: Okay. No pressure.

Gillian Bruce: No pressure. So, the first question is a this or that question.

Toya Tate: Okay.

Gillian Bruce: So, the question is, toilet paper, over or under?

Toya Tate: Over.

Gillian Bruce: Over. I agree with you. I don't know the weird people that do under.

Toya Tate: Savages.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Your next question is a would you rather question. Would you rather be able to see 10 minutes into your own future or 10 minutes into the future of anyone but yourself?

Toya Tate: Anyone but myself. I'm predictable, so I don't need to know.

Gillian Bruce: Love it. Okay. Your final one. Well, first, I should probably ask this. Do you have a pet?

Toya Tate: No. I have a pet by proxy.

Gillian Bruce: A pet by proxy.

Toya Tate: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Well, let's try this one and see if it works. If you could ask your pet by proxy three questions, what would they be?

Toya Tate: Do you like living with your owners? What do you do all day? And are you mad that can't get table food?

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome.

Toya Tate: It seems random, but she always looks pissed that she can't eat what I'm eating, and I just want to know why. You've got plenty of food, leave mine alone.

Gillian Bruce: Clearly, whatever you're eating looks better.

Toya Tate: Obviously. It's like a baby.

Gillian Bruce: I guess I will find out about that soon.

Toya Tate: Yes, you will.

Gillian Bruce: Well, Toya, thank you so much. Thank you so much for the contributions you've made to the community and are continue making and thanks for sharing with us the podcasts today.

Toya Tate: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. We'll talk to you again soon.

Toya Tate: I'll be ready.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Toya for taking the time out the busy day during the Salesforce World Tour in DC to chat with me. I wanted to pull out some of my favorite parts of our conversation to highlight for you listeners. First, Toya learned about Salesforce from a manager. She had no prior knowledge of the platforms. But when her manager introduced it to her, she started playing around with the tools, went to a training in New York, and boom. "The love affair had begun," she says. Secondly, the power of the community. So, the community played such a critical role in Toya's career path. Not only was she able to find her local user group, which then helped her gain the confidence and help her discover her commitment to Salesforce. But she also really used the Trailblazer community to establish herself by engaging in questions and conversations in the community, trying to share knowledge that she already had but also digging into topics that she wasn't so confident in and trying to answer those questions to gain knowledge, to gain experience, to really help her grow skills in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: She realized that she knew a lot more than she thought she did. And what's amazing about that is because she had established herself so well on the Trailblazer community, it actually enabled her to take a job and relocate from Ohio all the way to DC. That's where she wanted to go. She didn't really know that she was going to be able to do that, but, hey, she had established herself in the Trailblazer community enough so that when that job opportunity popped up, the employer looked at what she done in the community, and boom. She had the opportunity to really transform her career and make the jump and make the move. Now, Toya also knew that she was ready for a challenge but wasn't quite sure what that looked like. And she actually got poached. So, Toya was actually introduced to a consultant firm. She had no intentions on applying for a new position, but a recruiter quickly realized that Toya had all of the great qualities that would make her a good consultant.

Gillian Bruce: So being an amazing and awesome Salesforce admin, those skills that you have can really apply to being a consultant and taking your skills to other companies and helping other organizations implement Salesforce. So, seeing that as a great opportunity, Toya, then, switched her mindset and went for the challenge. And that's why she's now [inaudible 00:24:49] She's been a consultant for a little over a year now.

Gillian Bruce: So, if you are an admin and thinking about what your next career move might be, maybe being a consultant might be something that you hadn't thought about before. Take a look into it. It really worked for Toya. It was several others that it has worked for as well. Again, it's not for everybody but, hey, it's a great way to, maybe, transform your career and grow it should you choose to do that. If you want to learn more about some of the great things that Toya and I talked about on the podcast today, good news, as we've content on Trailhead for that. We have a whole slew of content about helping you grow your career. I put the link to that in the show notes. And as always, you can find more about being an awesome admin at admin.salesforce.com. You can find blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts on that amazing website. And the best thing about Trailhead, not only can you learn more about how to grow your career and learn Salesforce skills, but it's also a great way for you to prepare to take your next certification exam. So, whether you have zero certifications or 15, there's still another certification for you to get.

Gillian Bruce: And Trailhead has all the great content to help you prepare for that. You can even find courses. If you want to register for an actual in-person course, you can do that trailhead.com as well So, make getting another certification this year a priority. It really helps open doors for you professionally. And it helps you prove your skills, beyond the Trail Head badges that you earn.I'd also like to remind you to please subscribe to the podcast and share it with your friends, so that you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment it is released so you don't miss a single episode. We've got lots of good stuff coming your way. You can find us on Twitter at Salesforce Admns. Our guest today was Toya Tate. You can find her on Twitter at Toya_L_Tate. And you can find myself at Gillian K Bruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Taking_the_Community_by_Storm_with_Toya_Tate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43pm PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re talking with Peter Boyle, Partner Relationship Manager at Quicken Loans. We’ll learn how he manages twenty-two Salesforce instances for everything from Rocket Mortage to football helmet-maker Xenith.

Join us as we talk about how Peter transitioned careers with the help of great corporate culture, how his advocacy for Salesforce in the Rock Family of Companies paid off, and how you can get involved.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Peter Doyle.

How great company culture helped Peter find Salesforce.

Growing up, Peter wanted to be a firefighter and actually ended up doing that for about five years before getting into the Salesforce ecosystem. “There’s a lot of passion in that career field and in helping people,” he says, “but as I was approaching 30, it became time to be reflective about where my career was going longterm.” He reached out to a friend and was able to get started at Quicken Loans on the Business Development team managing leads and auditing loans. “I think it was not something I was very good at,” he says, “but I did fall in love with the company and the company culture.”

“If you’re a good culture fit and you want to be here and have enthusiasm and passion for driving the business and doing what we’re doing here, we will work to find you a place,” Peter says. So even though the job wasn’t necessarily a good match for his skills, Peter’s manager helped land him in a different department as a Business Analyst in the IT Group. There, as luck would have it, he was paired with a Salesforce Engineer who needed some help. “He was an MVP-type guy and had been in Salesforce for the better part of a decade, so I was really just able to learn by osmosis with him, with a little bit of Trailhead mixed in,” Peter says. When he moved on, Peter found himself in a Salesforce Admin role.

Making an impact as a beginner admin.

Coming into Quicken Loans’ oldest Salesforce instance, Peter needed to take stock of what was going on. It had only ever been worked on by one person, “so there was a lot of legacy code and things that had been done over the years that maybe weren’t done correctly or we could have done better.”

Working with business leadership, they found some really easy wins that would make things much more efficient for the sales team. For example, their reps were manually changing the status of the opportunity—Peter was able to use Process Builder to automatically do that if other fields were true. It not only made things easier for the sales team, it also changed their reporting because they could immediately see the status of everything. “It was a small, quick thing that I did,” he says, “but it showed me the impact you can make on this platform even as a beginner or a junior-type admin.”

Salesforce advocacy on a larger scale.

Quicken Loans is a part of the Rock Family of Companies, all based in downtown Detroit and straddling a dizzying array of verticals. In addition to Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage, there’s StockX, “the stock market of things,” and Xenith, which creates football equipment. When Peter got started, he was just focused on his one instance, but as he developed his skills he got in touch with the part-time admins and pseudo-admins managing other instances in the Rock Family. They basically created their own user group to support each other.

“It became clear that, more and more, the use of Salesforce was growing up and becoming more mature and more people were adding on within the family,” Peter says. He started to evangelize on the platform: “I thought that it could be a gamechanger if we all bought in on the platform, and so I started driving those conversations.” They started adding more and more instances, and with the support of a VP, they were able to get the CEO and CIO out to San Francisco to understand everything Salesforce could do for them. “Eventually, if you really believe in something, there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving it.”

How Peter manages twenty-two Salesforce instances.

Today, Peter’s role is to lead an internal consulting group for Salesforce for the entire Rock Family of Companies. That means managing twenty-two instances for all sorts of different business verticals with more on the way. They’re beginning a large implementation with several thousand licenses for the core Quicken Loans group, which includes some exciting things like Einstein, Financial Services Cloud, and more. They’re also in an ongoing process of migrating older instances to Lightning.

“Truly, as a family, we’re very interconnected, so if we’re all on the platform the sky is truly the limit with what we could be doing in terms of connectivity between the instances,” Peter says. “Shameless plug: we’re looking for admins and developers to help us,” he adds, “I would argue it’s probably one of the more interesting and exciting places to be if you’re somebody that wants to do revolutionary things on the platform.”

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce and today listeners, we have a guest from a company that most of you are probably very familiar with. It's a household name. We're going to be talking with Peter Boyle who is at Quicken Loans. He is a partner relationship manager who is actually building out quite a system to manage over 22 instances of Salesforce because Quicken Loans is a member of a group of companies that spans everything from Rocket Mortgage to Xenith, which makes football helmets. Anyway, you'll hear Peter talk much more about this. He has a great story and I'm very excited to share it with you on the podcast, so without further ado, please welcome Peter to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Peter, welcome to the podcast.

Peter Boyle: Hey, happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I am very happy that you're taking the time to chat with us and excited to welcome a new voice to the podcast. To welcome a new voice to the podcast, I like to start off with a question that I think is a fun way to get to know somebody. Peter, what did you want to be when you grow up?

Peter Boyle: I think like any young boy, I want to be a Salesforce Administrator at America's largest mortgage company.

Gillian Bruce: Obviously, there you go.

Peter Boyle: Obviously, like everyone. Now, I wanted to play professional baseball until I realized that wasn't possible when everybody else kept growing and I didn't and then I wanted to be a firefighter and work in emergency medical services and I ended up doing that.

Gillian Bruce: All right. So you had that fire... I think being a firefighter is something that a lot of kids identify with too, is the young anyone to do something fun and helps to help people. Then you actually ended up making a career for yourself in that, and so how did you go from working in emergency services to now working in the Salesforce ecosystem? Tell me a little bit about that journey.

Peter Boyle: So I worked in a suburb of Detroit called Pontiac, Michigan as a firefighter and emergency medical technician for about five years, most of my late 20s. I enjoyed the job, certainly an adrenaline filled job, which I liked, was a lot of passion in that career field in helping people and like you talked about earlier is something I was wanted to do. So it was a job I really enjoyed. But towards, I would say the fourth or the fifth year as I was approaching 30, I just became time to be reflective about where my career was going long term. Unfortunately, the downside to that type of job is the hours are terrible.

Peter Boyle: You end up working, I think I worked every Thanksgiving and Christmas and new years for the better part of five or six years and I'm working overnight and the pay is unfortunately not very, very good. So it was just time. I looked at my friends who had more corporate jobs and more normal jobs and they seem to just be enjoying life a bit more. So I was hesitant about it, but it was something I wanted to do, and so through a family friend I was able to get a job here at Quicken Loans.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. I personally been in a similar role where I was working in the bar and restaurant industry for a while. The money was good, but like you said, you never get your nights and weekends off and its good money, but it's not great money. So you hit this wall. So you had a friend get you a temp job at Quicken Loans, how did you feel about that? Were you like, "Oh, here we go." Or like, "this isn't really what I want to do" but hey, it's a way to get a better paycheck. Tell me about that feeling and that transition for you.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, so I think at the beginning I was begrudgingly there. I knew what it was the right move but it takes adjustment. Like to your earlier point, working in bars, restaurants, working EMS, these high paced jobs they're fun, they're interesting environments and something's always different. So it's hard not to miss that, but when you look at things objectively, it was time. So the first job was in what's called our business development team, allocating leads into a system that was not Salesforce at the time and auditing loans and I think it was not something that was very good at but I did fall in love with the company and the company culture.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well, so I think that's a really important point. So it wasn't so much about the work you were doing, but you discovered this company, this group of people in this culture that pulled you in a little bit. What were some of the things that struck you and got you more invested in maybe this path?

Peter Boyle: Yeah. So, we'll talk a little bit more about it later, but one of the great things about Quicken Loans and Family of Companies is the opportunity provided here. So if you're a good culture fit and you want to be here and have enthusiasm and passion for driving the business and doing what we're doing here, then we will work to find a place. When it became evident that that lead allocation and loan auditing job really wasn't for me, my team leader at the time helped me find a job as a business analyst in our IT group and just by pure chance or maybe serendipity if you will, I got placed with a Salesforce engineer who badly needed a BA to help. I was thrown into the fire and luckily enough, he's MVP type guy and he's been in Salesforce for better part of a decade. So I was able to really just learn by osmosis from him mixed in with a little bit of trailhead over a period of six or seven months.

Gillian Bruce: I love how you said you were thrown the fire. It's similar to your previous job, right?

Peter Boyle: Yeah, maybe there's some connectivity there.

Gillian Bruce: Well, cause this was all new to you. Even this role of being in business analysis was a new thing. So you're learning that in new and you're being exposed to this new system, Salesforce, was probably a lot to take in at the same time, right?

Peter Boyle: Yes, completely new. A few years ago, as much as really three or four years ago, I would have no idea what Salesforce was or even what anything with it was. I'm not from a technology background clearly. I alluded to before, I think this place is a good place to work because even if you're 75% ready for the job that you're in, they'll allow you the time to close at 25% gap and the time with this engineer was that time for me and so I ended up learning Salesforce and picking up things from him and tinkering on my own in a sandbox and then he moved on and I ended up in a Salesforce Administrator role.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, so here you are now as a Salesforce Administrator, still pretty new to the platform, new to the technology as a whole, tell me about some of the first things that you built in Salesforce that made things quick for you or that you're like, "Hey look, I did this thing."

Peter Boyle: So going with the theme of being of thrown into the fire right or are asked to step up, when he left at the time, and we'll talk more with this later, I was only working on one Salesforce instance of the many that we have, and that instance had been around for a long time and he had been the sole person to work on it. So it was on me to pick up a slack in not a greenfield space where there was a lot of legacy code and things that had been done over the years or they weren't done correctly or if that we could have done better. The first thing was really evaluating where we were at and out of that, working with the business leadership, we figured out that there were some very easy things that could be great efficiency games for the sales team that we just hadn't thought of or didn't take the time to do.

Peter Boyle: So an example of that and they set it up be the first thing that I had success with was our sales reps were manually changing the status of the opportunity. So they would switch it from pursuing to closed or whatever it might be. So using Process Builder, we just simply build a process that said, where I'd rather I should say I that just said that if you know x amount of fields equal true, then change the steps you know the sales status and it was such an easy thing to do that I think it even surprised me, it probably only took me a couple of days and then to work it up, through the sandboxes and into production and it was like this smash hit to the sales team.

Peter Boyle: It was like something totally different that they had never done before that they now didn't need to worry about. It also changed our reporting. So now we were able to just automatically see where all of our statuses were rather than going to a business rep and saying, how is this still in pursuing? And then being like, "Oh no, I just forgot the social status." So it was a small, quick thing that I did. It was the first thing I did, but it I think showed me the impact you can make on this platform even as a beginner or a junior type Admin.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, absolutely. I love that Process Builder as your first example because I feel like Process Builder is the number one most awesome admin tools that we have. Because as you said, if you can click around and understand what you're trying to automate, you can pretty much build really great things pretty quickly using Process Builder. Then I love how you described the impact that it had. People loved it because it eliminated a lot of that. Even just that one manual task of having to update the status, you point out, "Oh, now we can run reports." Do I have to chase down people to say, hey, why is this still in this old status?

Peter Boyle: Yeah, that's exactly right. That's the power of the platform, is that you can do those types of things and you can do them much quicker, and deliver much more value than in some other systems. Such systems that require a lot more code and I think that's probably what a lot of admins really enjoy about the job and it's once the business to see the value in the platform.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well, what a way to get your feet wet and stand up on your first awesome accomplishment using Process Builder, but that was a while ago. Tell me a little bit more about what you're doing now with Salesforce at Quicken Loans.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, so it's been quite a journey here. When I started as a Salesforce Admin back then, I think we had about... so Quicken Loans is part of the rock family of companies. So we actually have a bunch of different companies that we are truly one big family rock. We're all connected all on the same network. We're all right here in downtown Detroit, and we're all completely varying verticals of business. So we have everything from Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage, as you may know and all the way to things like StockX, which is this new ideas where the fastest growing startups that we have, it's really the stock market of things to bedrock, which is our real estate arm to Xenith, which sells football helmets and everything in between. So we are truly a varying family group businesses.

Peter Boyle: I give that context because at the time that I was working as an administrator, I was just really focused on one instance out of the 13 or 14 that we had back then, but through the community that is the Salesforce ecosystem, I began to get in touch with some of the other folks who were parttime admins or pseudo admins for some of these other instances within our family and we started to build our own internal community, and the time, I wasn't part of the Detroit area user group, so we just created our own family of companies user group, started having meetings and they're starting to be this connectivity and something, we'd like to say around here is you like to tie threads, find those things that we could do together.

Peter Boyle: It became clear that more and more the use of Salesforce was growing up, becoming more mature and more people were adding on within the family and so I started to evangelize on the platform and speak up and see the vision that I thought we could do a lot more with it. I thought that it could be a game changer if we all bought in on the platform. I started driving those conversations, and slowly but surely over the last, let's say, year and a half or two, we started adding more instances and more instances and it built to a fever pitch where everybody was using Salesforce except for at really Quicken Loans proper.

Peter Boyle: I had a VP at the time who has been at the company for a long time, I'm very well connected and I think he believed in me and my vision and he was able to take that to our CEO and our CIO and convince them to take a trip out to San Francisco, maybe about a year and a half ago now, so a few of us went out there, myself included and went to what used to be called the executive briefing center and that started down a path of where we're going now and where we are today.

Gillian Bruce: That's amazing. I love how you took it upon yourself to discover your other Salesforce people within this large group of companies that I had no idea that you're making football helmets was also the spectrum of the different industries that group of companies is then it's incredible. God, who can forget those rocket commercials? I see them all the time.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, that's right.

Gillian Bruce: It's fun to see that they're all connected, but you took it upon yourself to discover your Salesforce people within that group of companies and bring them together which is so core to the idea of what it is to be part of the Salesforce ecosystem with Salesforce Ohana. Then right as you said here, you are now taking the lead and really you got executive buy in, you had a vision that you were able to really describe and share in a way that got your senior leadership of this whole group of companies to get excited. So, that's really impressive. Congratulations, cause that's a big accomplishment.

Peter Boyle: Well, I appreciate that. It wasn't always an easy journey. I think it's important to be honest about it cause you can make it seem like all you have to do is just evangelize and now here we are, but we're really I was told no a lot of times and not for out of malice or any bad reasons, people just didn't quite see the vision the way I did but we as a company of [inaudible 00:14:12] we operate off of these guiding principles that we call our ISMS and one of those ISMS is you'll see it when you believe it. So even though I was being told no, and a couple of the other folks that I share the vision with actually ended up leaving the company because they didn't think it was ever going to work out, I have to really ask myself like, do I really see this? Like, do I really believe it? And if I do believe it, then it'll come true.

Peter Boyle: Another one of the things, one of our reasons it's to do the right thing, so I just think to myself, am I wrong or am I just early and I determined that I was just early and at the right thing to do is to stand by the vision and keep going through and eventually, with some allies and some friends who bought on from some of these other family of companies and some, some senior leaders like I mentioned earlier, we got to a point where we got buy in from the CEO and now we've made a large investment in the platform and we're looking at switching over a good amount of Quicken Loans folks too from their legacy system that was in house to Salesforce and now we're even looking at it as across the entirety of the family and that's my role now is to lead and build up a center of excellence team that truly is like an internal consulting group for the entirety of the family when it comes to the Salesforce platform.

Gillian Bruce: That is awesome. I'm also really impressed that you did as somebody who... typically I feel like someone who is taking this kind of leadership role and pushing this vision tends to be like a CTO or a senior level architect or something and here you are self taught in the platform for the most part came into it, fall in love with it and really developed your own vision, was able to sell it, and pitch it over a period of time, clearly in staying true to that, but being able to establish yourself as that visionary and as that leader without necessarily already having that authority or in that role is really amazing. I think it shows what's possible as being somebody who learned Salesforce who becomes a Salesforce Admin. People can do this.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, they really can and it helps if you have a company culture like ours, but I think you can adapt it to anywhere if you really believe in the platform and what you can do and it does take... it's hard sometimes to get to executive level folks and you're right, I think you do need like CTO or CIO, CEO buy in, especially if you're going to really make waves, but you can get to there and you build your allies along the way, they can help you get there. I think eventually if you really believe in something for the most part, there's nothing that can stop you from achieving it.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. That's an amazing quote. I'm probably going to pull that out and put that all over the place. I think that's great. Well, so I would like to dig in a little bit more Peter and talk about some of the specific things you've done since your first process builder day to talk about some of the things that you're doing with Salesforce, with your role and at your family of companies in general. I know you mentioned a little bit about a letting migration getting more Quicken Loans folks onto Salesforce, but can you give me a little bit more detail about some of the specific things that you're working on right now?

Peter Boyle: Yeah, so there's two parallel paths. We are currently in the process of beginning and implementation, a very large implementation, several thousand licenses for the core Quicken Loans Group. So that is really is own project within itself and there's some exciting things happening. There are some use of Einstein, some use the financial services Cloud, which is relatively new and so that's this big interesting project that's taking a lot of manpower and a lot of time. Then at the same time there are a lot of both instances that have been around for while and need help in migrating to lightening and need help in refreshing the way they use the platform.

Peter Boyle: Then there are new instances that are coming online. So we're up to 22 instances that are active today. We have I think three or four more that have put their hand up three or four different teams or businesses and so we want to come online. While the larger IT team is working on building out the financial services cloud implementation, myself and eventually my team when I'm able to bring to people on, we'll work on helping all the rest of the instances that maybe can't afford a full time admin.

Gillian Bruce: That's a lot of instances of Salesforce.

Peter Boyle: It's a lot. So you can see it though how the vision can be grand because I truly as a family, we're very interconnected. For all on the platform I think the sky is truly the limit. Its use the cliche of what we could all be doing as far as connectivity between the instances.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's awesome and you mentioned Einstein. You've got a lot of really fun exciting stuff going on so.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: It'll be fun to talk to you a year from now and see what else you've got going on.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, there's a ton of stuff in our work. We need a lot of people to do it. A shameless plug which are certainly looking for people to do it, to help us admins or developers and I would argue it's probably one of the more interesting or exciting places to be if you're somebody who wants to do revolutionary things on the platform.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you can hear it in your voice and clearly by what you've been able to contribute towards for this transformation that this whole group of companies is going through your Family of Companies. For people who are passionate about the platform and being able to try new things and do really impactful work, it sounds like a great place to be. I'm not going to lie.

Peter Boyle: Yeah. It should come check it out sometime. It's pretty awesome. There's also like I mentioned before, I think some of these companies within themselves nevermind being on Salesforce are just really interesting and exciting. I mentioned StockX earlier, but if you go to checkout stockx.com or if you go and check out another podcast that our chairman does, Dan Gilbert called Speed Of The Game, you get that like on iTunes or anywhere latest episode, he interviews the CEO of StockX, Josh Luber and the things they're doing as a company are unbelievable, but then also like for our audience, your audience here they are also beginning and implementation of Salesforce and driving that tremendous growth of their business by using Salesforce. There's a lot of stuff happening.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well, we'll definitely make sure to put those resources in the show notes so people can absolutely find all the cool things that you're mentioning putting there in that he podcasts and that specific episode and whatnot.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, thank you.

Gillian Bruce: So I'll make sure that they get all that in there. Before we head towards the latter end of this, I feel like we could talk forever. I have to ask you, Peter some lightning round question.

Peter Boyle: All right, let's do it.

Gillian Bruce: All right, so nothing to do with Salesforce. We have three different questions. The first question is a this or that question. Movies at home or movies at the theater?

Peter Boyle: Movies at home, for sure. Although, with these theaters are doing lately with these huge lazy boy style seats I don't they got that going on in San Francisco, but that's the trend here at Detroit. It's a lot better, but I'm going to go with home.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and then the new ones too sometimes they have ones where they'll bring you food and drink to your seat thing and place them.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, I know. It's wow. I'm still going home though.

Gillian Bruce: It's almost like being at home, you just have to pay for it.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, it's like $25 too, but anyway.

Gillian Bruce: It's a little more expensive in San Francisco, but yeah

Peter Boyle: Oh, I bet.

Gillian Bruce: So the next question is that, would you rather have a rewind button in your life or a pause button in your life?

Peter Boyle: Oh, that's tough. I would say a rewind. I'm going to say, although there's not anything specific that I can think of that I'd want to go back and do, I do sometimes think wouldn't it be cool to have all the knowledge that you have today and be able to go back and be 21 again and keep it.

Gillian Bruce: Oh my gosh, totally feel you. That would be amazing.

Peter Boyle: I know. So they would be, yeah. So I'm going to go rewind.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, I like it. Is your last question, what is something on your bucket list?

Peter Boyle: That's tough. I would say going to every major league baseball stadium, so I'm a huge baseball fan. If I travel for work, I try as hard as I can to make it to a game in whatever city I'm in. So I think that's something that I would like to do, but it's also something I would like to do with my dad. That's where I got my baseball fandom from and I think it'd be a real cool thing for us to do together.

Gillian Bruce: That would be awesome. I agree with you. That's always been something I want to do. I've been able to visit a fair number of the older stadiums, but I have not made it to all of them. I'm spoiled with 18 or I guess now Oracle, excuse me, Park here in our backyard where the Giants play but, that's okay.

Peter Boyle: Yeah, I was just there for the first time last year at Dreamforce. It's a very, very, cool part.

Gillian Bruce: It is.

Peter Boyle: Let me know when you want to come check out Comerica. We'll make sure we hook you up with some tickets.

Gillian Bruce: It's on my list. Like I said, I want to get to Detroit. I've never been, so I'll let you know.

Peter Boyle: It's worth it. Trust me.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well, Peter, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast, and I am so thankful for you sharing your story about what you've been able to do with Salesforce and your career and the exciting things that you're doing at Quicken Loans. It's pretty awesome to hear, so congratulations and thank you for joining us.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Peter for joining us on the pod this week. Some of the things I wanted to highlight from our conversation which I thoroughly enjoyed was first that it was so clear that Peter has a passion for helping people, even has an adrenaline from it, and after five years of really honing that in emergency medical services, helping people in really big ways, he realized he was ready for a change and then through some personal connections, he was able to get a job at Quicken Loans, and his first role was allocating leads and auditing loans. Now, great way to get your foot in the door. He quickly learned that maybe that wasn't exactly what he wanted to do, but because of the great company culture, he was able to pivot into another role where yes, he's still helping people. So one of the most important things that Peter learned quickly at Quicken Loans was that he totally loved the company, he loved the company culture.

Gillian Bruce: Now that's something really important, especially when you're looking to make a switch. What are you going to be working with both people-wise and company-wise? He loves the culture at Quicken Loans. It really encouraged him to try new things. He actually got a really great supporting and strong relationship with his manager who helped open the door for Salesforce for Peter and when Peter was asked to step up on one of the instances of Quicken Loans, automating some basic processes with Process Builder, it created a huge impact in the reporting process, and he could see the impact it had on his salespeople and that just shows how he ceased an opportunity to drive internal conversations about the growth of Salesforce. He has taken this to the whole family of companies becoming a Salesforce Evangelist across this huge group of companies that does very lots of different industries, lots of different functions.

Gillian Bruce: Now, Peter had a vision, and I think this is very important to [inaudible 00:25:42]. You can all be visionaries. He had this vision, he took it full force, took them some time, he had to kind of be a broken record and continue to sell this vision, pitch it. But over time, he did get some executive support, got support from C level to really use Salesforce across over 22 instances. Now, Peter is taken on the role of bringing those 22 instances and then some together in a center of excellence. So he's really taken on that role as an internal consulting group for the entire Family of Companies that includes Quicken Loans, and it's really exciting to see what he's done. He's got a great vision. So Admins remember that if you love the platform are finding new ways to use it, you can be a visionary for your company just like Peter has been able to do.

Gillian Bruce: Now if you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things we talked about with Peter, we've got some great resources for you. So first go to Trailhead. There are a couple of great trails that highlight some of the topics we covered. There is a cultivated quality at Work Trail which is a great way to look at how you can help build company culture, understand company culture. There's also a Trail about learning to work in the financial services Cloud which is something that Peter is working on which is exciting. We haven't talked much about that on podcast. I encourage you to go check out this Trail. There's also another Trail called Get Smart with Salesforce Einstein, so he talked about how he is implementing financial services in an Einstein with some new use cases at Quicken Loans and and The Whole Family of Companies.

Gillian Bruce: So you want to learn a little bit more about that, go check that out on Trailhead. If you are actually interested in learning more about joining Peter's team, he is hiring, so I put the link to Quicken Loans job opportunities in the show notes. He's building a team. It sounds like a pretty cool place to be, so if you're growing your career, maybe looking for a switch, check it out. We also mentioned a company called StockX, which is in the family of companies that Peter is working with. Put the link in the show notes there. It's pretty cool. If you're a sneaker geek, check it out. You probably already know about it, and the podcasts that Peter mentioned, The Speed Of The Game, it's got some great content, some really interesting interviews, so I put that link in the show notes as well.

Gillian Bruce: As always, you can find more about being an awesome admin online@admindotsalesforce.com we have blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts. Also remember Trailhead is a great way to prepare for your certification, so I hope everyone listening to this podcast has the goal of getting another certification this year. It's a great way, not only to prove your mastery of skills beyond Trailhead, but also really help you get more job opportunities or get that raise or get that promotion. So make sure you make getting a certification, one of your priorities this year and Trailhead is a great way to prepare you to do that.

Gillian Bruce: Also, please remember to subscribe to the podcast and share it with your friends. If you subscribe, that means that you are going to get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns. Our guests today was Peter Boyle. You can find him on Twitter @Boyle176 and myself @GillianKBruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode everyone, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Calling_All_Revolutionaries_with_Peter_Doyle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have another live interview from the Sydney World Tour, this time with New Zealander Anna Loughnan, Customer Success Manager at Todd Digital.

Join us as we talk about the importance of female role models, how she found herself in tech, and how she came back and got into Salesforce after twelve years raising her family to be a 4x Ranger.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Anna Loughnan.

Girls can do anything, but what should I do?

We’re proud to have Anna as our first Kiwi on the podcast. Growing up in New Zealand, there were posters everywhere offering encouragement that “girls can do anything.” The problem was that Anna didn’t exactly what she wanted to do. “Although we had this being drummed into us there was no actual followup,” she says, “there weren’t role models back in the day, so it was just what you were supposed to believe but there was no proof of it.”

All Anna knew was that she didn’t want to do something that was a traditionally female profession. She spent five years overseas working all sorts of jobs, from working at a McDonald’s to being a bartender. She found herself in Ireland and signed up for a postgrad course in computer science, “purely as an excuse to stay away from New Zealand for another year.” As soon as she sat down in class it was obvious: “the veil had lifted and that was my home, basically. It was frustrating because I had grown up with the message that ‘girls can do anything’ but it was my brother who had been bought a computer,” she says, “this was my first exposure to computers and I just had such an aptitude for it.”

How mentors helped Anna discover the Salesforce ecosystem.

When Anna came back to New Zealand in her late twenties, she worked for a while but also was focused on making a family. For twelve years, she worked a little but was mainly raising her three children. When an old school friend was working on a digital transformation project and needed an analyst, Anna got the call. “I found out later that she had to do a lot of hard talking and convincing for them to be comfortable taking someone on who had been out of the workforce for so long, but she had my back,” she says. “That’s what it takes sometimes is somebody else to believe in you.”

Salesforce was a big part of the digital transformation project, so that’s where Anna first encountered the platform. Nowadays, Anna was brought on to work on a startup with an old friend from that first job. “I knew he was an amazing person—he was such an advocate for Salesforce back in the day and he had seen the potential of the platform,” she says, “so I knew anything that involved him would certainly be worthwhile.” As the Customer Success Manager, Anna has to work across the entire platform and know all the things. “I try and know as much as I can about as many as possible, but it’s also good to know how you can find out about all the things if you don’t know yourself.”

The secrets of a four-star ranger.

In addition to being the first Kiwi (Kieran Jameson doesn’t count since she’s on the Trailhead editorial team… but we’ve put a link to her episode below), Anna is the first ever quadruple-star Ranger we’ve had on the pod. That means she has over four hundred badges. How does she find the time to do everything? “What really helps sometimes is making a public declaration,” she says, on Twitter or another community where you can get support. She also signed up with the 100 Days of Trailhead program through Ladies Be Architects. “Until I signed up for that I hadn’t done any super badges,” she says, “it empowered me because just working at Trailhead was an achievement, not necessarily getting a badge every time you sat down to do something.”

As far as advice Anna has for what makes a great admin, “I like being able to relate to people and talk in non-technical terms,” she says, “there’s nothing worse than a highly technical expert you can’t speak in plain English because that really scares people off.” When she talks to people, she’s always thinking about how to make their job easier, which means plenty of automations. Finally, it’s really important to be able to push back and be confident. “You’re such a key part of the business, you’re that face between the business and the technical,” she says, “often the business wants to do something because they’ve always done it that way, but you know there’s a better way. So you have to be confident in your ability to push back sometimes with what you’re being asked to do.”

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Direct download: From_Programmer_to_Mom_to_Admin_with_Anna_Loughnan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Eric Schubert, CRM Administrator at First American Title, who is on his way towards becoming an architect. We talk about how he realized that he already had a lot of the skills he needed, and how he’s approaching learning everything else.

Join us as we talk about his journey towards becoming a Certified Technical Architect as an admin.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Eric Schubert.

Learning by doing it yourself.

Eric is a Salesforce Platform Administrator, supporting around four hundred users on the platform on both Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. “Before I got into the Salesforce world, I was at an organization that did not want to get a CRM product off the shelf,” he says, “they were building a poor man’s CRM.” Eric’s job was to be the intermediary between the business and the developers, figuring what the business requirements were and then relaying that to the team. He was also the go-to person for training.

While it was certainly educational, it was hard to do the DIY thing and also deliver actually impactful business innovations, so when Eric was offered a job as a Salesforce admin he jumped at the opportunity. He went to a Salesforce.com training class, this was in the days before Trailhead. “This is how training went: you leave the class, you think you know everything,” but really, “you were kind of thrown into the fire.”

How Eric was able to see himself as a CTA.

Right now, Eric is pursuing becoming a Technical Architect. “When I first got involved with Salesforce, they didn’t even have certification exams,” he says. However, at one organization he worked for “there were folks onboard there who, in title, had ‘Architect’ in their title but I felt like the things they were doing like data modeling or solutioning were things I’d been doing for just as long or longer.” That made him take a closer look at the Architect exams, and so far he’s passed eleven certifications.

It’s a major realization that more admins need to hear. You’re already probably doing things on the platform that overlap with what an architect does, and even more importantly, you’re probably thinking like an architect. When you’re solving a business need for your organization, “you have to think about using all the advantages Salesforce gives you out of the box,” Eric says, “or think about if you want to use a bunch of custom objects.” The approach of an architect is just about scaling up that thinking to a broader perspective.

Climbing the certification pyramid.

As far as how Eric is approaching climbing the CTA pyramid, there’s definitely some things on the development side that are a challenge. “I can look at code and get a general gist of what’s going on and what’s happening, but I’m certainly not a developer per-se,” he says about prepping for the Platform Developer I exam. “But being able to pass that exam gave me a little more confidence that I can be able to pass the Systems Architect side of the pyramid with a little more time and study.”

“It’s definitely not easy and I definitely worked hard at it,” Eric says, “but even if you’re not necessarily a developer, there are tons of resources out there right now and practice exams that are available to help.”

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Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. Today on the podcast, we're going to talk about something pretty exciting admins, we're going to talk about your possible path becoming an architect. A certified technical architect is a very highly coveted spot in the Salesforce ecosystem. And admins, you'll be surprised. In fact you'll find that there's a lot of things that you're already doing as an admin that make it very easy to transfer into that architect skill set. We're going to have a guest on today, Eric Schubert, who is on his way to being an architect. He's currently an admin, and he saw so things that made him really think about pursuing this path to CTA. So I wanted to get him on the podcast to help inspire you and maybe have you think a little bit differently about your career path. Without further ado, let's please welcome Eric to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Eric, welcome to the podcast.

Eric Schubert: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I'm very happy to have you on the podcast, and excited to talk to you a little bit. And I wanted to start to introduce you to our guest with the same question I ask all of the new guests on the pod. Eric, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Eric Schubert: That's a loaded question there. So, what did I want to be when I grew up? Definitely not a Salesforce administrator. That was not really around when I graduated college but wanted to be ... My degree was in Information Systems and Marketing, and I saw myself as probably swimming in the analyst area, being able to help in marketing, to identify trends and being able to help them, you know sell products better, quicker, faster.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. So I imagine there's two year old Eric saying that he wants to work in marketing analytics realm. Is that how that worked?

Eric Schubert: That sounds about right.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well I love that you had a clear vision so early on. That's fantastic.

Eric Schubert: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: So tell me a little bit about what you do now.

Eric Schubert: As of today, doing Salesforce.com administration. I support approximately 400 users on the platform. We're using Sales Cloud as well as Service Cloud. Anything that kind of comes up whether it's automation reports, dashboards. Anything to help the business out. They can come to me and we get it filled out for them on the platform.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. So tell me a little bit about how you got to where you're at. So, you obviously have some great Salesforce skills and you got the Salesforce Admin role which is awesome. How did you first encounter Salesforce? Tell me a little bit about how you kind of grew this career.

Eric Schubert: So, before I got into the Salesforce world. I was at an organization that did not want to get a CRM product kind of the shelf. The were kind of building like a poor man's CRM. So I was in my role as business analyst. My job was to work with the business, figure out what the requirements were, and work with the development team to build out this application and then roll it out. Train the end users how to use the application. And as, you know new teams would have come up, make changes to that application. We had an application for creating new accounts, an application for requesting quotes from customers, things like that and nothing, but nothing off the shelf.

Eric Schubert: An opportunity came to me and they said, hey well we see that you've worked with end user, you've worked with the business, with development, we'll give you a CRM off the shelf at Salesforce and you'll learn it and you'll be the administrator for it. You'll help us build all that functionality. So I said, great, let's go ahead and give it a shot. So my first day at that particular organization was in New York, doing Salesforce.com 201 Training. Make my way around the room, so I'd know who you are, where you're from, and like hey Eric Schubert, and this is my first day on the job and that's how my first week went which was learning all about Salesforce. You leave the class, you think you know everything and then you come back to work on week two, and you still obviously don't have all the skills that you need but ... and at the time, there was no Salesforce community. You didn't have Trailhead, you didn't have all the resources that you had available to you at the time. So you were kind of thrown into the fire and with time and you kind of picked it up and was able to to run with.

Gillian Bruce: I know one of the things that you are pursuing or kind of on the journey to right now is becoming a certified technical architect. So talk to me a little bit about how did you learn about what an architect is and how did that strike your interest?

Eric Schubert: So, when I first got involved with Salesforce, they didn't even have like certification exams. It wasn't even out there and available. So first three or four years, wasn't even out there. And then when I started looking for another job at the time, they were like, hey people are looking out there and they're mentioning, they do you have a certification or administrator certification, deliberate certification and I'm like, well I probably could do those. I never really tried. I mean, I've been using the platform for three, four, five year, I hope I can pass an administrator exam. So I said, hey, let me go ahead and take some of these exams and pass them and put that on a resume. So I'm look for an opportunity. I have those certifications.

Eric Schubert: And then where I was in my previous position, there were folks on board there who, in title, had architect in their title but I'm like, I feel like those same types of things they're doing, whether it data modeling, solutioning for a new product test that we're looking to roll out, I felt like I have been on the application for as long as that particular person or longer than that particular person and I feel like I could do that just as well as that particular could as well.

Eric Schubert: So, as those exams came out, I said, you know, I know security, i always love the challenges when someone says, hey, I can't find ... I'm trying to win over a particular account and I get into position privileges or try to edit the record and I get an error. Being able to troubleshoot those and figure out why they can't do this or can't do that, and I said, hey I think I can pass these exams. So, I started going through some architect exams and was successful in passing them.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So I love how you said that, you know, hey looking at some of the things that these architects, who had the title, looking at some of things that they were doing, you as an admin and working with the platform for a while were like hey, I can do that too. I do that. So I think that's a really great realization and one of the things I'd live to get admins thinking about, a little bit more, is that hey as an admin, you actually think a lot like an architect a lot of the time. So, can you tell me a little bit more perhaps about some of those skills and some of those things that you believe have admins already thinking like an architect? You mentioned security. What are some other elements that you think are really similar from the admin mindset to an architect mindset.

Eric Schubert: Well I think when you're presented with a new request from the business about hey, we want to be able to do this or run a particular new business on Salesforce so it's thinking in your mind, okay, well we're already have all the out of the box on the account, object, contact, opportunity case. So do I want to ... does it make sense to use the existing structure? You have to think about all the advantages that Salesforce gives you right out of the box using those standard objects or do I want to go ahead and use the custom object model and if I use the custom objects might have to reinvent the wheel and do a whole bunch of things that I can kind of already get using the standard object model that's out there. Then again, you also want to again like you said talk to security and am I better off taking one approach versus the other approach. Those are things you want to think about when you're looking at the roles and the functionality in building a new application for your organization.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and so those are things that admins, especially a truly awesome admin is already thinking about as they build out Salesforce right? So, kind of taking that a very bigger level is the approach of an architect and so I really love that you saw that as a parallel and are now pursuing that as a career path because I think it's really important to think hey, I've got these skills and you know maybe not coming in as a developer but coming in as an admin and saying hey, I can do this. This is something that I can attain, I think is really great. So congratulations on that and I'm excited that so far, you've been able to pass ... how many exams have you passed? Let's just highlight that for a second.

Eric Schubert: Right now, I'm currently 11 times certified. I've just recently back in the end of November, I was fortunate enough to pass the platform developer one which gave me the application architect certification. Again, which was definitely out of my comfort zone because I'm not, you know, I can look at code and get a general gist of what's going on and what's happening but I'm certainly not a developer per se but being able to pass that exam gave me a little bit more confidence that I was able to pass the application architect side that with time and continuous study I might be able to go ahead and now pass the system architect side of the pyramid.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Well congratulations. I have full confidence in you.

Eric Schubert: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: I think like you said, not having to know the details of every part of the code has you know, but be able to kind of look at it and understand that gist of it enabled you to pass platform dev one which is awesome because I think a lot admins look at something like the platform developer one exam and are a little intimidated but here you are living proof that hey, you can do it.

Eric Schubert: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: It's pretty great.

Eric Schubert: It's definitely not easy and I definitely worked hard at it but that's ... as you can see from the pyramid, it's an important exam, you really kind of need that exam in order to pass either side of the pyramid for either architect side. So, even if you're not a necessarily a developer per se, there's a ton of resources out there now and practice exams that are available that should enable to ... allow you to pass that examination.

Gillian Bruce: That's great, and the pyramid you're referring to are the journey to CTA pyramid, which we will absolutely share in the show notes so folks will be able to look that up and hopefully get some inspiration about what they might be able to do and stretch a little bit. So, Eric, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today and I'm super excited about your journey to becoming a CTA and congratulations on already getting through a huge chunk of the program and getting that first architect title.

Eric Schubert: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: But I have to ask you some lightning round questions before I let you go on the podcast.

Eric Schubert: All right. Let's do it.

Gillian Bruce: All right. So we got three questions. The first lightning round question is a this or that question. So, this question is: french fries or salad?

Eric Schubert: Definitely french fries guy. Salad is ... if the wife forces me to do it then I'll take salad but definitely french fries.

Gillian Bruce: What do you put on your french fries? Do you have a particular condiment that is your go to?

Eric Schubert: Ketchup. For sure, ketchup.

Gillian Bruce: You're a ketchup guy.

Eric Schubert: Oh yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Got it. Next question is a would you rather question.

Eric Schubert: All right.

Gillian Bruce: So, would you rather take a European sightseeing vacation or a relaxing Caribbean vacation?

Eric Schubert: I would say the Caribbean one sounds a little more enticing right now. Just the idea of sit back and take a couple days off, relax, enjoy the sun, the sand. That's sounds very appealing.

Gillian Bruce: You're speaking my language Eric, I like it. All right. Your last question is what is something on your bucket list?

Eric Schubert: One thing on my bucket list? I would say to go to a continent that I have not been to before. So, Australia would be kind of cool. Africa, even Antarctica, those are some pretty cool places that you can get out to and see parts of the world that you never really get exposed to being here in the United States. That'd be pretty cool.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. I love it. Well thank you so much Eric again for your time and I am sure that your story has helped inspire at least a few admins to check out the certified technical architect program and think a little bit more about how they might be able to stretch their own careers.

Eric Schubert: Great, I hope they do.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well thanks so much Eric.

Eric Schubert: All right. Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Eric for taking the time to chat with us today and help inspire us all to think about this path to becoming a certified technical architect. Now, admins, we have very important jobs and I really love what Eric talked about when he said, hey I saw what these people, what these titles of architect were doing and they were doing a lot of the same things I was doing as an admin. You know, talking about data modeling, process automation, security models. These are all things that he had done every day in his life as an admin, as most of us do, and said, hey I could do that too. So, Eric, took it upon himself to look at what it would take to become a CTA and he said, hey, you know what, I'm going to take some of these certifications because these are the requirements to get there, and he started passing them. So, really exciting, he got 11 times certified. He is actually now an application architect, which is one of the pieces you need in order to become an overall CTA, and this is really important I think for all of us to think about because he really pointed out, we think like architects. When you're deciding whether to use standard objects or custom objects, avoiding reinventing the wheel, that is the same mindset that you need in order to become an architect.

Gillian Bruce: So, if that's something that inspires you, intrigues you, definitely make sure that you check it out. Good news is we're got lots of resources to help you do that. We have an entire page on our Trailhead website dedicated to how you can become a certified technical architect. I put the program link in the show notes. There's also a path to CTA talking about the career opportunities and what it takes to get there. It is a lofty goal but hey, you're already an admin, you'd be surprised how much of the work you've already done.

Gillian Bruce: The other thing that we've got that's on Trailhead is yep, we got a Trailmix for you. So, definitely a good way to get a handle on preparing for that journey, understanding what it takes. So check all that out. Resources and links are in the show notes so that you can find out more about what we talk about today. Now, if you want to find out more about becoming an awesome admin as we all always want to be more awesome, you can go to admin.salesforce.com where you can find blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcast. Now, the best thing about Trailhead, as I mentioned, is it definitely helps you prepare to become to a certified technical architect, but it prepares you to become certified no matter what your certification goal is, and especially if you haven't taken any certification yet, do it. Make it a goal this year to get certified for the first time. There's a lot of great resources on Trailhead to help you get there. Make sure you check it out.

Gillian Bruce: One more thing I'm going to ask you to do before you leave is subscribe to the podcast and share it with your friends. That way you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. You can find us on Twitter at Salesforce admins no I. Our guest today was Eric Schubert, and he is on Twitter at Schubert Eric. Link is in the show notes. And as always you can find myself at Gillian K Bruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we'll catch you next in the cloud.

Direct download: Admin_to_Architect_with_Eric_Schubert.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have another live interview from the Sidney World Tour, this time with Lorna O’Callaghan, Salesforce Lead at Suncorp Group. She shares how her experience as a Medieval history masters student has translated into a career in tech.

Join us as we talk about the keys to leading a mixed team, how Trailhead has helped her broadened her horizons, and why her team is so focused on community engagement.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Lorna O’Callaghan.

How a Medieval History degree helps in tech.

Growing up, Lorna wanted to be a teacher, which is actually pretty common among people in the Salesforce ecosystem and especially among admins. These days, she’s just started a new role as a leader of a team of developers, admins, and business analysts, “which I’m really excited and terrified about in equal measure,” she says.

Lorna originally got her masters in Medieval History before she got involved in tech. “I thought it was an unusual career shift, but the more I talk to other Salesforce admins the more I realize there’s a lot of variety out there,” she says. So how did she wind up in Salesforce? Well, it’s kind of a funny story. “I got a call one day from a guy in Dublin who had seen my details in their Salesforce database,” Lorna says, “and as an exercise to prove to the business that the database worked he called me, interviewed me, and I took the job.”

Believe it or not, Lorna’s degree has been super useful in her work as a Salesforce admin and beyond. ”Being taught to come at things from a different angle and having to explain to people what on earth you do in a language that they’re going to understand,” she says, “it has one hundred percent stood to me.”

Prepping for a leadership role.

Today, Lorna is facing down leading a mixed team and is prepping for the challenges that may come up. Trailhead has been incredibly helpful, and she’s already finished all of the manager modules. She’s also been looking at the development framework material to get familiar with it. “It’s definitely a challenge, it’s a little bit outside the comfort zone,” she says, “I’ve managed project teams before but when you’re directly responsible for a group of people it changes things a little bit. I’m very much looking to where I need to upskill myself to be across all of the areas that they are across because it’s vast.”

“But equally,” Lorna says, “I’m really really happy that the team that I have come into are also into the community and really active in the community.” That means that she doesn’t have to go it alone—the team is actively working to organize monthly sharing sessions to help each other with what they’ve been learning outside of work on Trailhead and beyond.

That feeling when your team checks Salesforce before their email.

Before Lorna moved into leadership, she was an admin. So, what makes a good admin, in her eyes? “You’ve got to be a bit inquisitive, you’ve got to have patience and a bit of perseverance to find what you need,” she says, “and not be afraid to make those mistakes.” Things are a bit easier these days with Trailhead, but experimentation is still key if you want to keep adding new skills.

Lorna was really focused on user adoption in her admins days. “We managed to actually get to a point where we had the CEO ringing people up saying, ‘Oh, I just say something in this report or this dashboard,’ and you had people coming in, first thing in the morning, looking at list views for what had come into the system overnight before going into their email.”

The community is the key.

“Salesforce moves really fast. Every release—to be honest, even in between that—there’s so much new stuff that’s coming up that if we, as a team, want to be innovative and want to keep on top of everything then we have to be involved in the community on a regular basis to keep up to date,” Lorna says.

Trailhead is really helpful not just because of the great modules you can do, but because of the amazing community resources available to help guide your way. “Almost every day, somebody is posting, asking the question, ‘Where can I go to find out about something new?’ It just reminds that somebody is new to this every day, and when you see the patience that other community users have in answering those questions there’s a genuine want to help and to impart what they know. Even if you’re on the periphery of it, you can feel part of something bigger than yourself and you can be as involved or not involved as you want to be but the support is there.”

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce:               Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. Today, we have got a special episode for you, coming from Sydney Australia.

Gillian Bruce:               So when I was fortunate enough to go to the Sydney World Tour earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with some local Sydney area Salesforce admins, and one of the admins I got to talk to was Lorna O'Callaghan who actually just started a new job right before we got the opportunity to chat. So it'd be fun to check in on her and see how it's going. But I wanted to get Lorna on the podcast to share a little bit about her career trajectory and how she is approaching now leading a team of developers and admins, and some things that she's really learned along the way to help her be successful.

Gillian Bruce:               So, without further ado, please welcome Lorna to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce:               Lorna, welcome to the podcast.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Thank you, great to be here.

Gillian Bruce:               Well thank you for coming to the office today, because we are here in the Sydney office, because we're here for the Sydney World Tour. So it's fun to be in another Salesforce office on the other side of the world. And I wanted to take the opportunity to get some amazing Aussie voices on the pod. And so, Lorna, to introduce you to our listeners, I'd love to ask you the question I ask all of our guests when they first come on the podcast. What did you want to be when you grow up?

Lorna O'Callagh:            I think I wanted to be a few things, but probably the one that lasted was a teacher, so yeah. My dad wasn't a teacher but all his brothers are, so there are a lot of teachers in my family and that was something that appealed to me. But, then when I went to university, I did a stint as a substitute teacher for a while, and had some nice classes, but had an awful class, where they threw things at me, and that was the end of the dream.

Gillian Bruce:               Okay, well that makes sense. You don't want to ever be standing in front of a bunch of kids throwing things at you.

Lorna O'Callagh:            No.

Gillian Bruce:               But it's funny that you say teacher. There's a lot of people that I ask that question, and that's one of the common answers I get for people who are in the Salesforce ecosystem, especially Salesforce admins. There's a lot of elements of being a teacher that transfer over into being an admin. So tell us a little bit about what you do now.

Lorna O'Callagh:            So I've just started a new role in the last couple of weeks.

Gillian Bruce:               Congratulations.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Thank you. And it's my first role in a leadership capacity, so I've just taken on a Salesforce team of developers and admins, and business analysts, which I'm really excited and terrified about in equal measure.

Gillian Bruce:               That's good. That means you're set up for success, you're going to be great.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, yeah, I hope so.

Gillian Bruce:               So you got this brand new role, this brand new team. Tell me a little bit about how you got here. How did you first encounter Salesforce?

Lorna O'Callagh:            After I graduated, I got a job as an IT trainer in my university. I thought I was going to go into academia and then IT was the stronger draw. My background is actually, my master's is Medieval History so this is a pretty ... I thought it was an unusual career shift, but actually the more I talk to other Salesforce admins, the more I realize there's a lot of variety out there.

Lorna O'Callagh:            But yeah, I got a call one day from just a guy in Dublin who had seen, he had actually seen my details in their Salesforce database. And he was recruiting for his team, and as an exercise to prove to the business, that the database worked, he called me, interviewed me, and I took the job. I never heard of Salesforce before. I was using Microsoft Access at the time as my database. So yeah, I made the move and that was in 2012.

Gillian Bruce:               Wow, I love it. So Salesforce helped you get that job.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yes, it did.

Gillian Bruce:               In a very different way than we're used to hearing.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, very much so, but yeah.

Gillian Bruce:               And it's funny that you say that you did medieval studies, as your official program of study at university, because one of the things that I think I hear a lot in terms of being an admin or working in the Salesforce ecosystem is your job is to actually translate a lot of technical jargon into human speak. And I would imagine there's some parallels to studying medieval studies because you're telling all these very different languages and meetings and things-

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, 100%. I think that's probably, actually the training for that has stood to me, a lot I guess just being quite methodical or being taught to come at things from a different angle. And having to explain to people what on earth you do, in something that they're going to understand. So yeah, it has 100% stood to me. So when people say, oh yeah, history, very unusual background to have working in IT, when I explain some of the modules that I would have done just on investigations, then it makes a little bit more sense.

Gillian Bruce:               Totally, that's great. I love that. Okay, so you are now, have this new role, you're managing a team of developers and admins, which is amazing. Tell me about how you're going to attack this, because this is a big step. I know a lot of admins, this is maybe they're also looking to get this role where they're starting to lead a team. Tell me about how you're approaching this?

Lorna O'Callagh:            Good question. Trailhead, honestly has been really helpful. I've done all of the manager modules and delved a little bit into a lot of the framework stuff, development framework just to prep myself for it. I mean, it's definitely, it's a challenge. It's a little bit outside the comfort zone. I've managed project teams before, but when you're directly responsible for a group of people, it changes things a little bit. So I think I'm very much looking to where I need to up-skill myself, to be across all of the areas that they are across, because it's faster.

Lorna O'Callagh:            But equally, I'm really, really happy that the team that I have into, are also really into the community, and really active in the community. So it's that shared desire, I guess, to actually share what we know with each other, and build a team that is very much invested in things like yeah, Trailhead actually. We were only talking the other day about making sure that we have monthly sharing sessions where we can talk about the things that we've recently worked on outside of work. So yeah, I'm pretty stoked, but I think looking at the community is going to help me quite a lot.

Gillian Bruce:               That's great. That's great. Well very exciting. Before you were in this leadership role, you did more the admin side of work, right? So, can you tell me a little bit about some things that you think helped you be a good admin that maybe you see as a trait across other admins?

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah. I mean, when I started there was no Trailhead. And I think a lot of people say this, but it was a lot of Google. And it was a lot of bumping into people who had heard of Salesforce, who can point you in the direction of something useful. And then when Trailhead came along, that was a total game-changer. And again, in Ireland, there weren't really any user groups. There wasn't really a huge community, but then I guess there is that Salesforce quite strong presence in Dublin. So it started becoming more well known. The Success Community really was a big part in learning. But I think you've got to be a bit inquisitive.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Like you've got to have patience as well, and a little bit of perseverance to go and find what you need. And I think that you will find it online, or you can get yourself a sandbox and try something out. I think it's probably not being afraid to make those mistakes as well. And that's not something that I was comfortable with early on. But now, as I, I guess a few years into being in the Salesforce ecosystem, I'm a bit more comfortable with making mistakes because you do learn something from it.

Gillian Bruce:               Yeah, so I love that. I hear perseverance of course. And being resourceful. [crosstalk 00:08:56] And then willing to make mistakes and take those risks.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, definitely.

Gillian Bruce:               That's awesome. So tell me about, you've been doing Salesforce for a while, tell me about a cool thing or a feature that you've used or built something really fun with.

Lorna O'Callagh:            So maybe not the coolest or nerdiest thing, but in the company that I started working in, the first time with Salesforce, I'm actually still really proud of what we did with the analytics. Probably my favorite umbrella category is user adoption and user experience. That's where I think I'm probably most passionate. So in that role, I think we nailed it. We managed to actually get to a point where you had the CEO ringing people up saying, "Oh, I just saw something in this report or this dashboard." And you had people coming in first thing in the morning, looking at list views for what had come into the system overnight, before going into their email.

Lorna O'Callagh:            And it took a while to get there, but then we had all the different layers for them themselves, for their managers, for the directors, right the way up. And it was kudos for the team, because it showed us that they were genuinely bought into what we were doing, and into the system. So I think that is, I mean, hopefully I'll top it at some stage, but that's to date, that's probably the thing that stands to me most is we really got that right.

Gillian Bruce:               Well yeah, I mean when you've got executives really using those amazing reports that you built them. And like you said, users going to their list views before their email, I mean, that's huge.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, it was a massive shift. And yeah, we did celebrate. They didn't quite get why we were so excited, but yeah, it was a big win.

Gillian Bruce:               That's awesome. Well congratulations.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Thanks.

Gillian Bruce:               Now you've just got to up the ante with your next thing, right?

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, exactly. No pressure.

Gillian Bruce:               So you mentioned a little bit about the importance of the, used to be Success Community, now labeled the Trailblazer Community, kind of the online presence. Tell me a little bit more about the importance of the community, and especially your ability to grow your Salesforce skills.

Lorna O'Callagh:            I was only talking to my team the other day about how Salesforce moves really fast. Every release, to be honest, even in-between that, there's so much new stuff that's coming up, that if we ourselves, and as a team want to be innovative, and want to keep on top of everything, then we have to be involved in the community on a regular basis to keep up to date.

Lorna O'Callagh:            You know, I recommend Trailhead to so many people, even just recently I was talking to a few ex-colleagues who have gone through redundancy and their implementation consultants for other software, they're end users of Salesforce. But showing them Trailhead, as something they could look into for job seeking, and it's just, it runs the gambit. One of the things I love about it, and it's almost every day, somebody is posting, asking the question, "Where can I go to find out about something new?" And it just reminds me that somebody is new to this every day, and when you see the patience that other community users have in answering those questions, there's a genuine want to help, and to impart what they know. And even if you're on the periphery of it, you can feel a part of something bigger than yourself, and you can be as involved or not involved as you want to be, but the support is there.

Lorna O'Callagh:            It's really important for me I think. A lot of people talk about the imposter syndrome, and I think the community massively helps to combat that.

Gillian Bruce:               Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you said it so beautifully. You captured so many of those elements of the generosity of the community, the passion for people to help each other. And then always thinking about, there's every day there's somebody new whose where you were at some point. And so thinking about that always kind of remembering hey, there's new people trying this out, so even if you feel like you've got nothing to share, you absolutely do. And then like you said, help out that imposter syndrome.

Lorna O'Callagh:            Yeah, for sure.

Gillian Bruce:               That's great. So you've got this new role, which is a huge challenge I bet. What's next for you in your personal growth, with Salesforce?

Lorna O'Callagh:            Very scarily, I'm putting it out there, probably looking a bit more into the development side of things. I think it's something that's been on the to-do list for a really long time. And now is the time to start looking at that. So yeah, I'm pretty scared, but also pretty excited to see what else I can start to learn.

Gillian Bruce:               Well, you've got developers on your team now. I'm sure they'd be happy to help you. And I know there's plenty of programs out there.

Lorna O'Callagh:            And user groups as well, so that's next I think.

Gillian Bruce:               Don't be scared. It's going to be okay. Well that's really exciting. Well Lorna, before I let you go, I'm going to ask you a lightning round question. Don't worry, I hope it's not that scary. We're doing a special down-under version of the lightning round.

Gillian Bruce:               All right, so you live in Sydney now, what is one thing you recommend someone to do in Sydney, visiting for the first time?

Lorna O'Callagh:            That is a really tough question. I am drawing a blank.

Gillian Bruce:               There's a lot to do, I know.

Lorna O'Callagh:            There is an awful lot to do. Definitely going to have to pause.

Gillian Bruce:               That's okay, that's okay. I gave you a vague one, and you're probably like, there's a thousand things.

Lorna O'Callagh:            I don't even remember [inaudible 00:15:00] right now, that's incredible.

Lorna O'Callagh:            I probably would say to do the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk. That's something I've done twice now. I mean, do the city. Do the Opera House, do all around Martin Place, beautiful, beautiful architecture. But, yeah, do that coastal walk. A lot of people do, I think it's advertised as Bondi to Coogee, but do it in reverse, because there's less people going that direction. It's beautiful.

Gillian Bruce:               Excellent. All right, I'm adding it to my list, doing personal research with my lightning round question, so I appreciate that. Lorna, thank you so much for everything that you're doing in the community, and I'm so excited for what you got on your plate now with this new role, and your growth. And congratulations. Thank you very much.

Lorna O'Callagh:            It was really nice to be here, thank you.

Gillian Bruce:               Huge thanks to Lorna for taking the time to chat with me when I was in Sydney a few months ago.

Gillian Bruce:               One of the things that I think is really interesting that keeps popping up in these interviews is so many people that I talk to, wanted to be a teacher, when they grow up. And when they were a child, this idea of wanting to help teach and enable others, this is a theme I'm seeing across so many people in the Salesforce ecosystem and the community. And I think that's really reflective of this desire to always keep learning, to always give back, help each other, this generosity. One of the hallmarks and it's like secret sauces that we have in the Salesforce community. So I really treasure that, and I thought that was really fun that Lorna also wanted to be a teacher when she grew up.

Gillian Bruce:               Now Salesforce has done a lot of Lorna. It's enabled her to make the move from Dublin to Sydney, which is quite a big difference. And her training in actually studying medieval history, has helped her be the translator between technology and business, understanding different methodologies in ways to approach things. You know, it's surprising when you think these nontechnical degrees and these nontechnical studies and programs that you might do in school, can really relate and help you be even better, a Salesforce admin, Salesforce developer. Those are skills that really help you because you are in the middle. You're translating the business need into the technology solution, and then helping people understand that.

Gillian Bruce:               The community was also very important to Lorna's trajectory and her career. And one of the things that she's bringing into her current team that she is now leading, which is very exciting, is building the community as a core part of that. You know, as she says, there's constant innovations happening in the Salesforce ecosystem, whether it's on the platform, or with different companies. The only way to really stay on top of that is to be involved in the community, and leverage all the great skillsets and ideas that come from the community all over the world.

Gillian Bruce:               Now, user adoption experience is very important to Lorna. And some of the things that she found that really helped with that, are dashboards. You know, she described how she got a CEO excited about talking about a dashboard, which is a really great sign that you have successfully implemented Salesforce. And that users were actually going to their list views before going to their emails in the morning, to get an idea of what's going on. Now, that is an incredibly great sign that you are doing something right as a Salesforce admin. If people really are going to Salesforce as a single source of truth to start their day.

Gillian Bruce:               Also, a reminder that you know, she says everybody starts as a newbie. So, understanding and having patience for any questions, having that desire to help each other is really an important aspect of being a truly awesome admin. You know, you are part of something bigger than yourself when you get involved in the community, and you can see that. And the community will give you the support you need to overcome any imposter syndrome that you have going on.

Gillian Bruce:               So those are just some of my highlights from our chat with Lorna. Again, it was really great to connect with her while I was in Sydney. If you ever make it to Sydney, I highly recommend looking her up.

Gillian Bruce:               If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things that we talked about on the podcast today, we've got lots of great content for you. So you can always go to admin.Salesforce.com for blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts. If you want to learn more about some of the specific things we talked about today, have some great Trailhead content for you. So, Lorna mentioned how she's been preparing for this management, this leadership role using Trailhead. And we talk about how Trailhead has technical skills, technical content on there.

Gillian Bruce:               But Trailhead also has a lot of great other skills that you can learn on there, such as Manage the Salesforce Way, which is a whole trail on how you can build up your management skillset, especially if you're new to management, or you're new to management within the Salesforce ecosystem, definitely make sure you check out that trail.

Gillian Bruce:               There's also the Create Report and Dashboards for Sales and Marketing Managers module. Again, a great way to help you drive adoption at your company, if you can build dashboards that your leadership really uses as their single source of truth. They're looking them up on their phone, they're interacting, they're showing each other. That is a fantastic tool to make sure that you're implementation of Salesforce is successful.

Gillian Bruce:               And, we talked about list views. I think list views are amazing. I mean, that split list view that you can use in console, holy moly, it is a huge productivity tool, and a way to drive efficiency. You can learn more about how you can leverage list views from Kanban, Calendar, all these things in the lightning experience customization module.

Gillian Bruce:               I put the link to all three of those pieces of content in Trailhead, in the show notes. So you can go directly there. Now, the best thing about Trailhead, not only can you learn about these skills, but you can also prepare for your certification. So I hope all of you listening have it on your goal this year to at least get one more certification. Maybe it's your first, maybe it's your 17th, either way, getting certified is a great way to show potential employers, your current employer, that you have a mastery and that you're learning constantly on the Salesforce platform. So use Trailhead as a great study guide and a tool to prepare you to get your certifications.

Gillian Bruce:               Please remember to subscribe to the podcast, so you can get it delivered directly to your platform, or device choice, the moment the episode is released. Now, we are on all the platforms. We are on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, you name it, we're on there. If there's a platform we're not on, please let me know, and we will definitely make sure the podcast gets on there.

Gillian Bruce:               As always, you can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no I. Our guest today, Lorna O'Callaghan is @LornaOCall, that's L-O-R-N-A-O-C-A-L-L. Link is in the show notes. And myself, @gilliankbruce.

Gillian Bruce:               Thank you so much for listening to this episode. And we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: From_Medieval_History_to_Salesforce_with_Lorna_OCallaghan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:28am PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Kel Wetherbee, Director of myTrailhead Marketing at Salesforce, to share all the details of what myTrailhead means for admins.

Join us as we talk about everything this amazing tool can do to create customized training for everyone at your organization within the context of their regular workflow.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kel Wetherbee.

Sharing the superhero cape.

When she was growing up, Kel wanted to be an art teacher. “I spent so much of my time drawing and I went to art classes and I absolutely loved it,” she says, “and though I never turned that dream into a reality, I did get into the learning space.” As you might be able to tell from the smooth segue, her focus today is on marketing for myTrailhead.

“I love problem-solving, but I also love teaching people how to problem solve and sharing the knowledge I have with a broader audience so they can wear the superhero cape and not just me,” Kel says. That means helping people learn to use tools like automation, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Quip, and more, to bring scalability to what they’re doing. “There’s so much power in our platform, and I wanted a way to evangelize that,” she says, and what’s so great about her current role is that “I get to evangelize my favorite products in helping people rethink how they can transform their business.”

What is myTrailhead?

So we know Trailhead, but what is myTrailhead? Essentially, it lets you create your own instance of the platform and publish your own custom branded content. “Imagine you want to teach your employees at scale how to use your highly customized Salesforce environment,” Kel says, “you have a way of doing that but it doesn’t stop there.”

myTrailhead lets you create content to teach your team anything they need to know throughout their journey at your company. You can pull in existing Trailhead content or make your own. As Kel says, “you want to empower your employees on how to use tools, but what if you could take it a step further and ensure they’re learning in the flow of work?” You can create an onboarding journey that automatically recommends new content based on what they’ve already learned, or even what they’re doing in their org.

“Imagine a new sales rep is starting and they’ve never created an opportunity,” Kel says, “the moment they create that opportunity, right on the record, they see a widget that shows a recommended badge all about opportunity management.” You can do that right now for free, but imagine if you could also recommend custom content related to the ins and outs of your company you’ve created in myTrailhead. You don’t need to sequester everyone to a conference room to do training—instead, it’s seamlessly integrated into their normal workflow.

The key to great custom Trailhead content.

The best part about myTrailhead is that, as an admin, “you already have the requisite skills to do these amazing things,” Kel says. We already build processes and automations within our system to create business solutions, so it’s easy to shift those skills towards getting the most out of myTrailhead. Process Builder and Lightning Web Components can help, but Kel’s team has also seen people use Salesforce Surveys to get feedback on the content they’ve published the moment someone has completed a badge.

“One thing we firmly believe on the myTrailhead team is it’s not just about having great technology, it’s about having great content,” Kel says. If you’re looking to hone your creative writing skills, there’s a brand new Trailhead module called, “Writing for myTrailhead,” where you learn from the experts at Salesforce who create Trailhead content. If you want to take it a step further, Kel’s team has services that can help.

If you’re looking to get started with amping up learning at your business, start by downloading Trail Tracker. This free tool will help you figure out what your team’s been up to on Trailhead, which can help you plan your own content. myTrailhead is a paid product available for any user that has an existing Salesforce license, so get in touch with Kel’s team to figure out how you can take advantage of everything this powerful tool has to offer.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. And today, we've got a topic that I know is hot on everyone's minds. It was officially launched just a few months ago. We are going to be talking about myTrailhead. In order to get the details on myTrailhead, we have in-house expert Kel Wetherbee, who is the Director of myTrailhead marketing, joining us to tell us the details of what myTrailhead means for admins. And I'm going to give you a sneak peek, there is a lot of cool stuff that we can do as admins with myTrailhead. It's going to be a really powerful tool for us to use. Anyway, without further ado, please welcome Kel to the podcast. Kel, welcome to the podcast.

Kel Wetherbee: Thanks for having me. I'm super excited.

Gillian Bruce: Well, it so great to have you on the podcast. You are a first-time guest on the podcast. So I wanted to introduce you a little bit to our audience. And the question I love to use to do that is to ask you, Kel, what did you want to be when you grew up.

Kel Wetherbee: Well, back when I was five, I really wanted to be an art teacher. I spent so much of my time drawing, and I went to art classes, and I absolutely loved it. And though I never turned that dream into a reality, I did get into the learning space.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Okay, so going from wanting to be an art teacher, and now you hinted that you are in the learning space, what do you do now?

Kel Wetherbee: That was just a segue for me to tell you. So, a lot of my career I've dabbled in both IT and some admin work to sales enablement and also sales. When I first joined Salesforce four years ago, I ran a super tiny and scrappy sales enablement team. And my role at the time was to skill up our 9000 sales people. Now we've grown a ton since then, and I was looking for a way to scale, and that's how I kind of got into what I'm doing now, which is marketing for myTrailhead.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Okay. So teaching 9000 people sales enablement, I mean that's kind of a huge task. So, what are some things that... you wanted to be the teacher when you were young. You followed kind of... you did IT, some admins stuff, now you're in the sales enablement space. Tell me about some of the elements of that, that kind of drew you to that. What's your passion that kept you in this space, and has led you down this path?

Kel Wetherbee: Absolutely. So, I love fixing things, I love getting my hands dirty, rolling up my sleeves, and I love problem solving. But I also love teaching people how to problem solve, and sharing the knowledge that I have with the broader audience, so they can wear the superhero cape and not just me. And that's been one thing that's really important to me. And I love figuring out a way to automate my job away, and taking things that are seemingly complex and long, and really simplifying that. So, I've been able to really hone in on all on those passions when I started my journey at Salesforce, by starting with sales enablement.

Kel Wetherbee: And I loved our tools and learning about all of the platforms. Not just myTrailhead, but I really honed in on a lot of our technologies. Marketing Cloud, and Service Cloud, myTrailhead, Quip, I used all of those technologies and brought them all to life, and integrated a lot of them to scale what our tiny team was doing. And there's so much power in our platform. And I really wanted to way to evangelize a lot of that. And what I love about my current role, I really do have the dream job.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome.

Kel Wetherbee: I get to evangelize my favorite products, and helping people kind of rethink how they can transform their business, and really learning meaningful, and valuable, and make sure that you're getting a return out of all of this time and energy that you're putting into these products.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. I mean, that's so well put. And that does clearly mean you're in the right spot. Because you can really hear the passion in that. So tell me a little bit more about this myTrailhead thing. You've mentioned it a couple times. We haven't really talked about it on the podcast before. So we know about Trailhead, the fun way to learn Salesforce. What is myTrailhead?

Kel Wetherbee: The easiest way to think about myTrailhead is, you take that same magic of Trailhead that you've all experienced, and if you haven't experienced make sure you visit trailhead.com. But it takes that same magic of Trailhead and allows you-all to create your own private instance of Trailhead, and you can publish your own custom branded content. So imagine, you want to teach your employees at scale, how to use your highly customized Salesforce environment. You have a way of doing that. But it doesn't stop there. You can really skill them up on anything that they need to know to thrive in their career at your company, throughout their entire journey from start and then continual learning ongoing, so you can grow and retain that talent.

Kel Wetherbee: Anything from skills on how do you Salesforce? Enable them to know how to pull their own reports on Dashboard, let's face it, I know you-all are struggling with that. Tap into, pull in any of the content from Trailhead today for free, but also publish your own content. And that's what's key.

Gillian Bruce: This sounds incredibly exciting. Especially for admins who, a big part of their job is onboarding users and training users, right? And like you said, run their own dashboards and reports, what a concept. So I haven't spent a lot of time figuring out how to roll out changes or just implement Salesforce and get users onboarded. This sounds like myTrailhead is the perfect tool to help them do that. Is that kind of one of the biggest use cases you see for why people are interested in using myTrailhead?

Kel Wetherbee: Yeah. It's one of many use cases. It is a top one, and the reason it's a top one is, imagine this. You want to empower your employees on how to use tools. But what if you could even take it a step further and ensure they're learning in the flow of work, right? And it doesn't just have to be on Salesforce, but learning Salesforce is very powerful for the audience that's listening in today. So imagine if you create a new user in Salesforce, and you can have a process kicked off where the learner immediately gets recommended new content via an email or a Chatter. Or you can create an onboarding journey, where once they complete certain learning, they're recommended new things.

Kel Wetherbee: And it doesn't have to be limited to notifications. What if you could put that learning right in the flow of work. Imagine, maybe a new sales rep is starting, and they've never created an opportunity. The moment they create that opportunity right on the record, they see a widget that shows a recommended badge all about opportunity management. Now you can do that today, today, right now for free, by recommending Trailhead free content. But imagine if you could recommend content that you've customized and published on myTrailhead. This is an incredible tool for you-all to scale enablement at the right time, for the right people, with the right profile. So salespeople see certain things where your service reps will see something different in different places.

Gillian Bruce: That is awesome. So, it's really kind of bringing that training experience into the context of their job and what they're doing, without having to go take two days and sit in a conference room, or all of the normal training things that our admins put together for users, that users may or not be excited about. But if they're, like you said, about to log their first opportunity, and they get prompted in the app to, hey, learn more about this, learn about the customized version of that for their org, I mean, that's awesome. It's really cool.

Kel Wetherbee: It's so powerful. It really takes away the communication management and change management. Let's face it, that takes up a lot of our time. And it doesn't have to just be on Salesforce. I know a lot of the folks that are running their Salesforce environments, that's kind of key. But you can take it a step further. And if you happen to manage other systems, you can contextually show recommended learning on other topics like how to use other systems. So it's not just limited to Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: So, let's talk a little bit more about that actually. So, other systems, we know Trailhead is the fun way to learn Salesforce. We have a lot of great content on there. But how do you put learning about other systems within myTrailhead? Tell me a little bit more about how that works.

Kel Wetherbee: Absolutely. So, the good news is, you don't have to start from scratch, because you-all might be already familiar with all of the awesome content that already exists on Trailhead today. You've got over 500 badges, you've got things on all sorts of different technologies, the hottest technologies of today, Google, and Amazon, and Get, and I could go on and on. But what if you have other systems that you want to skill people up on? You can publish content on really any topic. So whether you deploy a custom app that is Salesforce, that's awesome. You can skill people up on how to use it, and have rich text and videos.

Kel Wetherbee: Or if you wanted to publish content on another system, maybe it's a process that you've built, a request from, or process that you want people to follow. You can publish that content directly on myTrailhead. And then make sure that you can spread the word on it in an automated fashion by using ProcessBuilder and Lightning Web Components to get the word out to the right people at the right time.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So I'm hearing a couple things. So the first thing that I'm hearing is, as an admin, we are already familiar with building these processes and building these automations within our system to streamline existing business processes. All of that knowledge that we have to do that can apply to deploying myTrailhead as well.

Kel Wetherbee: That's the wonderful thing. You already have a lot of the requisite skills to do these amazing things. Some of the top things we've seen admins use to automate learning are going to be... I've mentioned two of them, ProcessBuilder and Lightning Web Components. But also Salesforce Surveys has been a new tool in the admins tool belt, where you can also get feedback on the content that you've published. So the moment that a learner completes a badge, you can kick off a process where a survey is sent out to the learner asking them for feedback. So you can figure out whether or not that content is actually meaningful to the learner and make it even better.

Gillian Bruce: That is so cool. So, another thing that kind of struck me is the ability to create and publish your own content. How does that work. Because, as an admin I'm used to creating, training with Trailhead to get my users up to speed. Now I can leverage the stuff that's in Trailhead. But I may not feel that I know how to write a Trailhead module. So, how does that publishing process work?

Kel Wetherbee: Well, I would say first, I feel everybody's pain. Writing is a challenging skill. Creative writing can be tough. And one thing that we firmly believe on the myTrailhead team, is, it's not just about having great content, I'm sorry... and it's not just about having great technology, it's about having great content, and also great change management. Well, you-all can solve the change management through the automation, and we can provide you the great technology. So what do you do with this content? Well, you've got a couple of options. We have got self-service options for those of you that are adventurous and really want to hone in on creative writing and creating content that's meaningful, it's fun, it's bite-sized and conversational.

Kel Wetherbee: And you can do that by taking a brand new module that was launched recently on Trailhead.com, and it's, Writing for myTrailhead. And so you can go ahead and earn yourselves a badge and learn all about it, and learn from the experts on Team Trailhead that actually write this content. And if that's not enough, and you want to step up your game, and maybe you need a little bit of hand holding or help, we've got some amazing partners that can help. Or, even in-house, here on the Trailhead Team, we have content services. Our User Adoption Services Team can either help with advisory services, or if you want to just have us write your first module from start to finish, we can do that too.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Because I know one of the things that people love about Trailhead, is the fun vibe that it has, how the content is engaging. Like you said, it's not just about the technology, but having great quality content. And I think for me, especially, it keeps me engaged, right? It's like, "Oh, well that's a silly answer." But I'm like totally excited that I saw that and it makes me giggle, and it makes we want to continue learning and continue on that next step in this module, which is really fun. So it's great to know that there's resources out there to help people tap into that, or maybe get learn up on how to do that.

Gillian Bruce: I think that module that you mentioned is great, regardless of who you are in any role. Because there's just amazing tips and tools in there on how to beef up your writing style, just in general. I love that module. We'll put the link to that in the show notes for sure. So let's say I'm an admin, I'm super excited about all of these things that myTrailhead can offer. I am like, "When can I get it? How do I get it? I want it now. How do I sell it to my stakeholders? What's next?" Kel, where do I go, what do I do?

Kel Wetherbee: Well, there's good news. It is available today for all of you. I do recommend if you're looking to just get started and kind of try it on for size, you can do that for free today using Trailhead, and download Trail Tracker today. Just visit the AppExchange, search for Trail Tracker, install it into your org, and start playing around with tracking who at your organization has already been earning them badges. And play around with some of the automation. If you want to take it a step further, and you realize, "I'm ready to start publishing my own custom branded content," this is where myTrailhead comes in. And, it is a paid product, and it's available for any user that has an existing standard Salesforce license.

Kel Wetherbee: And the easiest way to find out more, or to speak with somebody about it, is just visit trailhead.com/mytrailhead, or just visit Trailhead and then go to Four Companies in the dropdown, and then click on myTrailhead. And then you'll find the myTrailhead page with more information. There's a quick demo video, and there's also a form where, if you fill it out, someone from our team will reach back out to you.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Well, that's great. We'll make sure to definitely put those links in the show notes so people can access them. I appreciate you coming on and sharing about myTrailhead. I think it's really exciting. Especially from an admin perspective, it's going to be a really great tool to help with user adoption especially. And so, taking a lot of the annoying parts of change management out of what an admin has to do now that myTrailhead can do that. Now they can focus on-

Kel Wetherbee: Set it and forget it.

Gillian Bruce: Set it and forget it. And then focus on the bigger picture stuff, right? The vision and the direction instead of the little details, which is really awesome.

Kel Wetherbee: That my favorite part. Because when I ran sales enablement, one thing I was looking to do is get out of repetition, and get out of manual tasks, and avoid doing repetitive training over and over again. It wasn't helping me in my career. So once myTrailhead came along, it really helped shift me into kind of this thought leader across the organization. And it helped me gain a lot of trust from our sales leaders and our sponsors on the possibilities. And it helped me home in on, "Okay, now I've got these amazing metrics and I can see how this learning is impacting the business, so I can make better business decisions on what learning comes next." And I never had that type of information. So this will really open up a whole new world for all of you.

Gillian Bruce: That's incredibly well said. And I could not have put it any better. So I think that was awesome, thank you. Well, before I let you go, I am going to ask you some lightning round questions.

Kel Wetherbee: Do it.

Gillian Bruce: All right. Nothing to do with Salesforce. First thing that comes to mind. The first question is a this or that question. Dine in or delivery?

Kel Wetherbee: I would say delivery. I'm not a very good cook. I'm really good at cleaning though.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that's excellent. That's to bring to the table, that's great. All right, the next question is a would you rather. Would you rather take a European sight seeing vacation or a relaxing Caribbean vacation?

Kel Wetherbee: Definitely European. I definitely love adventurous stuff and driving around. My favorite thing to do is get in the car and have no destination in mind. So, I'll go with the first.

Gillian Bruce: I love that, that's great. Okay. And last one is, what is one of your go-to snacks these days?

Kel Wetherbee: Hm. I hate to admit it, but it is organic Dorito, the cheddar ones.

Gillian Bruce: They make organic ones?

Kel Wetherbee: Yeah, I didn't believe-

Gillian Bruce: I didn't even know this.

Kel Wetherbee: ... they have them here in this office, they do. It's a great snack.

Gillian Bruce: Oh. So it makes you feel better about eating Doritos?

Kel Wetherbee: Kind of. Because the word organic is in front of it, so I feel like maybe it's a little bit better.

Gillian Bruce: How do they make it so orange if it's so organic.

Kel Wetherbee: Actually, these ones are like a light yellow.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, okay.

Kel Wetherbee: They're pretty tasty. They're even better with guac.

Gillian Bruce: All right. Now it's added to my list. Thank you. Kel, thank you so much for joining us, I so appreciate your time. And thanks for all the amazing work you do for myTrailhead, and to enable learners everywhere.

Kel Wetherbee: Thanks everyone for tuning in, really appreciate it. And thanks so much Gillian for inviting me.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Kel for taking the time out of her busy myTrailhead life to join us and talk to us about all the goodness that myTrailhead can offer us as admins. So, some highlights from our conversation. I was very excited, because I think that myTrailhead is an amazing tool that every admin should think about using. If nothing else, we should all be downloading Trail Tracker and using Trailhead as a way to onboard and train our users ongoing. But, myTrailhead is a great way, especially if you've got a very customized version of Salesforce, an app that you've built out for your business, myTrailhead is an amazing way to continue that learning for all of your users.

Gillian Bruce: No matter where they are in the organization, no matter what their job, you can provide training within the context of their flow of work, which is really cool. Because I love the use case that Kel described about, you're logging your first opportunity. And within the app, as you're creating that opportunity, you can have training, customized training pop up right there to help coach you along in the process. How great is that, right? Because we set up trainings all the time for our users, that they may or may not be into, or be distracted all day, checking their phones, and trying to squeeze meetings in. And they're like, "Oh, I have to be in this training." MyTrailhead enables a whole new way of thinking about training, and how to deliver that to your users when they need it, and so it can be really valuable.

Gillian Bruce: So that alone is a great reason to learn about how you can maybe use myTrailhead at your organization, talk to your stakeholders about it. It is an ongoing way that users cannot just learn about Salesforce, but other systems. So if you've got other systems that you're using to help people do their jobs, you can also use myTrailhead to help them learn about that. It's not just about Salesforce. And just general career growth. I mean, we already know that on Trailhead there's all this content about how to grow your career, develop skills outside of tech, and you can access all of that within myTrailhead as well.

Gillian Bruce: So, you get to use the existing Trailhead learning, you get to customize and build your own on top of that, and you can customize how you deliver that to each person in the organization, depending on what their job is. Which is really cool. So, kind of endless possibilities here. I am super excited to kind of see use cases develop and see how admins all over the world are using myTrailhead. The good news is, that if you know how to use things like ProcessBuilder, and Salesforce Surveys, you can absolutely use myTrailhead. Salesforce Surveys works really well with myTrailhead as Kel described to you. So I thought that was a cool use case to point out. And if you're worried about creating content, don't worry.

Gillian Bruce: We've got a lot of resources to help you create awesome Trailhead level content. We all love the witty fun keeping Trailhead weird vibe that is on the content already on Trailhead. We have resources on Trailhead to help you learn how to write that way, if you're creating your own content. Also have a whole team here at Salesforce that's dedicated to user adoption. So, you can actually engage with them, they can help coach you, maybe even write your first module if you really need some help there. And that's a really great way to start learning how to create your own custom myTrailhead content. Overall, myTrailhead is great, because it allows you to set it and forget it, and focus on that big vision, instead of those manual tasks, that repetitive training that you might have to do for all your users.

Gillian Bruce: So it enables you as an admin, to kind of grow into more of a leadership role, and think more big picture about where the system is going, and what you're doing with it, and how your users are interacting. So, give myTrailhead a gander if you will. You can definitely check it out at myTrailhead on the Salesforce website. I've put the link in the show notes. You can also learn more about writing the myTrailhead way. So there's a module on Trailhead that I've put the link to in the show notes called, Writing for myTrailhead. And if you haven't already, I really encourage you all to download Trial Tracker from the AppExchange.

Gillian Bruce: Kel mentioned this, this is a great way to see what your users are doing in Trailhead. You can assign maybe modules or trails, and you can track their progress, you can create reward systems, more incentives, in addition to what they already get on Trailhead with badges and points. So, make sure you check those resources out. As always, if you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, go to admin.salesforce.com for blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts. The best thing, you know, we talked a lot about Trailhead. But the best thing about Trailhead is, it really does prepare you to get those certifications.

Gillian Bruce: So whether you have yet to get your first admin certification, or you are on your 10th or your 20th, getting certified is an amazing way to prove your skillset, and really open up doors for you in the career world. So, make sure that you keep certifications in mind as you're working your way through Trailhead, because it really is a great way that you can further amplify and propel your career. Please also remember to subscribe to the podcast, so you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment it is released, so you don't miss a single episode. You can find us on Twitter at salesforceadmns, no I. Our guest today, Kel Wetherbee is @kelwetherbee, keeps it simple, love it. And you can find myself @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the Cloud.

Direct download: myTrailhead_for_Admins_with_Kel_Wetherbee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:29pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have Greg Grothaus, father of former guest Jesse Grothaus and retired police officer, who discovered Salesforce through his son’s amazing story and uses the platform as a way to keep his brain engaged.

Join us as we talk about how his curiosity has opened doors for him, what being a good police officer has to do with being a good admin, and how he’s been able to make incredible progress by taking it bit by bit.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Greg Grothaus.

How a conversation turned into a career.

We’re making history on the Salesforce Admins Podcast this week—this is the first time we’ve interviewed the father of a former guest. If you haven’t listened to Jesse Grothaus’ amazing story, take a listen because it’s one of the best episodes we’ve done. After Jesse suffered severe brain damage in a car accident, he needed to learn new skills to help with his recovery. He used Salesforce and Trailhead to help with that, and now is the founder and CEO of Cloud Pathfinder Consulting.

Greg is a retired police officer. “A lot of things in my life don’t happen because I plan them out, they are things that I stumble into,” he says, “and one day I met a man that was visiting at a church I was attending and I love to meet people and find out their story.” He was a police officer, and as they kept talking Greg eventually asked if he could ride along with him to find out what his job was like. “I got hooked,” he says, “it was a chance to get out and talk to people—which I love doing–and before you know it I was enrolled in a reserve academy and became a reserve police officer.” That transitioned into a fulltime role that eventually became a career spanning over two decades.

“I’m a very nosy person, and I’m very outgoing and outspoken, so you put those things together and that’s a successful cop,” Greg says, “to be able to walk up to anybody that you would encounter anywhere and establish a relationship with them.” It turns out that those skills also translate to what a Salesforce admin needs to be successful.

How Greg discovered Salesforce.

“Late in 2017, I started noticing that my son Jesse was literally obsessed with learning something called Salesforce,” Greg says, “I had never seen him dive into something so deeply and it caught my curiousity.” Over the course of several months, he started asking Jesse to show him a few things and realized he could create a simple app to help him organize his consulting work. “It was a little intimidating at first because it’s so huge, and I really had to take on the attitude of every night I ask myself, ‘Do I know a just a little bit more about Salesforce than I did the day before?’”

In September 2018, Greg passed his admin certification. He had to take the test three times before he was able to pass it, but, he says, “as long as you see that score coming up each time you can say you’re headed in the right direction.” He’s now set his sights on the Platform App Builder next, and although he hasn’t passed it yet he was only two questions away in his last attempt.

Getting into the Flow.

When Greg came across Flows in the 2019 release notes, he got inspired to try them out. “They kept saying this is making flow building easy, this is flows for the common man, and I read that and thought I could do it,” he says. Four weeks ago he didn’t even know what a flow was, but the night before our interview he deployed one into a production environment for a client that gives sales reps an interactive screen when they’re closing out opportunities. “The whole user interface of the new flow building tool is so visually inviting,” he says, “you can have that up on your screen in a Starbucks and someone can walk by and be impressed even if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I’m 59 years old and I’m learning it and doing, which means everybody else can,” Greg says, “I’m not special, I’m no smarter than anybody else, I’m learning this stuff, so if anybody is out there listening and wondering if they could do it, the answer is yes. All you have to do to start is get into Trailhead, make a user ID, and dig in and it’s free so why would you not try?”

Work with nonprofits to sharpen your skills.

To put his Salesforce skills into action, Greg works with two nonprofits. The first is the Starfish Organization, which grants scholarships to students in Quito, Ecuador. They were working on an older instance of Salesforce, and he’s just been able to migrate them to Lightning. “They were very very afraid of going to Lightning, and I didn’t tell them that I was too,” he says, “I don’t know if they know that that was my first time doing a Lightning conversion but it worked out fine.”

Greg also works with the Humankind Alliance in San Rafael, California. They work to improve trust between members of the community and law enforcement. “What I find interesting and fun and exciting working with a nonprofit in a very small environment like that is you can make things happen very quickly,” he says.

“I tell my wife, ‘this is my version of Sudoku,’” Greg says, and he finds it so rewarding to sit down and talk with someone about what makes it hard for them to do their job and then come back later with a fix.

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Direct download: Salesforce_is_my_Sudoku_with_Greg_Grothaus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm PST

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re excited to welcome back Vladimir Gerasimov, Director Product Management at Salesforce, to learn what his team has been working on, particularly a feature he’s recently delivered that has been highly sought after on the IdeaExchange: Where is this field used.

Join us as we talk about this amazing new beta feature and everything it can do to help you do your job even better, and what’s coming down the pipeline from the product team.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Vladimir Gerasimov.

New goodies from Vlad, 10 years in the making.

“Every time I come here I bring something new,” Vlad says, “in Winter we just released a new Where is this field used? functionality and in Spring it went to beta, which means that you don’t need to bother your account executives, you can go to your sandbox and try it today.” This feature allows you to see where a particular custom field is used straight from the setup page.

As admins we use a lot of custom fields, so being able to see where something is used all in one place is so powerful as we’re changing the way our org is configured or doing general auditing. “Salesforce grew a lot as a company, but our customers grew even bigger,” Vlad says, “now you might have an organization that’s been around for fifteen—maybe almost nineteen years on Salesforce, with a lot of admins coming and going, making changes but not necessarily documenting them properly.”

“Some of the tools we’ve seen partners developing are pretty amazing,” Vlad says, “but there are some downsides.” First of all, you need to successfully download and install the packages in your org. What’s more, they’re not always free to use, “so building things like that into the platform really really saves a lot of time for admins.” This particular idea for Where is this field used? has around 36,000 points on IdeaExchange, so it was a major win to finally deliver it.

The many uses of Where is this field used?

How would you use Where is this field used? “The very broad use case would be, ‘I’m about to change something about this field,’ let’s say it used to be a text field and I want to convert it to a number. I want to understand what parts of the customizations that I made would be impacted,” Vlad says. And that might be something in Apex or Visualforce, not just something an admin usually does. What’s going to happen when you change something here?

A more narrow use case might be that your users are complaining that they don’t see a particular field, but your org uses 20 or 30 layouts. How can you tell what layout is actually missing that field? With Where is this used?, you can work backward to get a list of every layout that incorporates that object, which also shows you where it’s missing.

Another use case occurs when you’re trying to clean up your org. “Unfortunately, Salesforce has limits, you cannot create an unlimited amount of custom fields,” Vlad says, so Where is this used? allows you to do a thorough analysis of each custom field and move any functionality you need before you do your pruning. “Before we introduced this button, a lot of people would click on the delete button to see where a field is referenced,” he says, but this is a way to maybe live a little less on the edge.

The future is bright.

As far as what’s coming down the pipe for Vlad and his team, they’re currently working on adding reports to the functionality for Where is this field used? before it goes into the general release. Beyond that, they’re spending a lot of energy on Dependency API. “It’s a new tool in API entity that would allow you to ask the same question, ‘where is this component used?’, not just in custom fields but for anything else, like what’s the dependency between Apex and Visualforce?”

They’ve also set their sights on addressing some of those limitations in Salesforce that we were talking about. They’re trying to increase the total amount of custom objects you can have in your org, for example, and they’re working over the next year to revisit other things like that as well. Other changes are coming for custom metadata types. By Summer 19, they’re hoping to get custom metadata supported in Process Builder. “My team doesn’t know all of the limits,” Vlad says, “be we do know some of the ones that people really don’t like.”

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Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce admins podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Jillian Bruce. And today listeners we've got a return guest joining us, Vladimir Gerasimov. Vlad is an amazing product manager here at Salesforce. In fact, he's a Director of Product Management. He's been on the pod plenty of times because his team build some really cool stuff for admins. And I wanted to get him on the pod today to talk about a feature that has been in such high demand on it idea exchange.

Gillian Bruce: I think 36,000 points are retired with this idea that he's delivered. He and his team and I wanted to get him on to talk a little bit more about that. And just in general catch up on some of the other cool things that are coming very soon to help all of us manage our sales force or better. So, without further ado, let's get Vlad on the podcast. Vlad Welcome to the podcast.

Vlad Gerasimov: Well, thank you. It's great to be back again. Yeah, thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely, love having you back on pod. You've always got so many amazing, great features that admins love to learn more about. Your team is always doing amazing things. What have you and your team been up to lately?

Vlad Gerasimov: Sure. Yeah. As you mentioned, like we've been doing quite a lot of good features recently. And every time I come here, I bring something new. For those of you who might not have noticed yet, in the winter, we just released a new where's field used functionality, and it went first and pilot and in spring, actually, it went to Beta, which means that you don't need to bother your account executives to file a final pilot nomination and wait and wait and wait. You can go to your sandbox and try it today. And so what does that feature is all about is, it allows you to see, whereas a particular custom field is used.

Vlad Gerasimov: Every time you create a custom field, and they put it on the layout, or let's say you put it in the formula field, or maybe you use it in your Apex code, you'll be able to go and simply from a setup page, you'll be able to see all of those reference in one place. So pretty, pretty neat.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. This is a huge productivity tool for admins, clearly, right? I mean, we have so many custom fields that we build, and we really need to understand where they are, especially as we're maybe changing the way that we have our org configured or just kind of doing general auditing. This is a new functionality native, I'm kind of in Salesforce and setup, but there's some other things that have existed out in a community for a while that are similar. Can you talk to us a little bit about some of the, maybe some of the differences and why this, why your team really developed this inside of Salesforce?

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, absolutely. Just back to your original point about having this functionality every time we wanna make changes, and I think it's very good point, because Salesforce grew a lot as a company, but our customers grew even bigger. And now like you might have an organization that been around for 15, maybe almost 19 years on Salesforce was a lot of admins coming and going, making changes not necessarily documented them properly.

Gillian Bruce: What, people don't document their changes. That's crazy talk.

Vlad Gerasimov: Totally, yeah. And tools like that, that becoming really, really important. Because we wanna our customers to continue being able to scale with us right? Some of the tools we've seen partners developing that it's pretty amazing that was a community we have, with our partners we have, how they always trying to fill the gaps that we might have in our platform. And they're amazing ... There are some amazing packages out there that give you like a full inside of what's going on with the org.

Vlad Gerasimov: But there are a few downsides as always, right? It's a package that you need to install. Sometimes you have to pay for them, of course, some free tools, and it's not necessarily always available at a click of a button. Building things like that into the platform really, really saves a lot of time for admins. And we've been hearing a lot of requests for that if, actually, if you go back to idea exchange, you will see the idea that is around 36,000 points. As all the ideas that I deliver, I've been around for 10 years, and I'm not gonna take blame for keeping it that long because I've been at Salesforce only for five.

Gillian Bruce: There you go. You can only claim half of those points/

Vlad Gerasimov: Pretty much.

Gillian Bruce: But I mean this, but this is also I mean, this is something that your team is got, you got a trend of delivering very hotly requested in demand tools to help manage your org better and really kind of understand what's going on and how things are being used. I mean, your team work on custom metadata, a global pick lists, I mean, you've got some pretty amazing things that you've helped develop for admins, which are game changers. Thank you on behalf of the admin community.

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah I know. And as I mentioned, this is a really, really important to give the right tools in the right hands, because we want our customers to succeed. And without those tools, it will not be will not be possible to grow, right? We don't wanna see that. We wanna see people grow and we wanna see people succeed in expanding their businesses as expand their missions. And sometimes it's all it takes is just a small button, right?

Gillian Bruce: Just a small button ...

Vlad Gerasimov: Small button that takes 10 years to deliver.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, it's a good button. We like the button. Let's talk a little bit about some cool use cases for something like this. So, you know, I'm an urban, I've got maybe, maybe I've inherited an org. And I have a custom field. And I wanna know, where is this use? Why are people using it? Tell me exactly kind of how, you know what point when I look at this, how is this really useful, the information it's given me what do I do with it?

Vlad Gerasimov: There are definitely a lot of use cases like there were abroad one would be. Well, I'm about to change something about this field, let's say, used to be a text field, and I'm going to convert it into a number. I wanna understand what parts of customization that I'm able to be impacted? And it not necessarily the customization that admins do it. Sometimes it may be some epics and visual force pages and stuff like that. But that's a very broad case, right? Just that, what's gonna happen when I change something here. There's more and more narrow use cases. For instance, let's say some of your users may complaints, they don't see that field.

Vlad Gerasimov: And you might have an organization with 20 or 30 layouts. And sometimes it's really hard to understand what layout is actually missing that field. You can kind of reverse it. You can go to the page, see what the layout that field this on and figure out what layouts its fields not on and go on fix it later.

Gillian Bruce: That's really cool, that's a great use case. Because Yeah, as you said, you can have multiple layouts for different profiles or even permission sets. And so being able to look at it kind of just at the field basis would be very easy.

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, exactly. Some other examples will be you know, unfortunately, Salesforce has limits. You cannot create an unlimited amount of custom fields. And sometimes you wanna do some cleanups, and you wanna dilute that field, but before you do it, you wanna make sure that all the functionalities move to somewhere else. You can do that preliminary analysis before deleting the field.

Gillian Bruce: That's Yeah, 'cause anytime we talk about deleting a field it makes me nervous. My like in our admin like alarm clock, 'cause yes, we wanna get rid of unwanted stuff, but oh no, what am I gonna break? What is it? Where is it being used in some process or something that I forgot about?

Vlad Gerasimov: And it's actually interesting that you brought it up, because before we introduce the button, a lot of people would go and click on delete button to see whereas the field is referenced. And it's ...

Gillian Bruce: It is a method.

Vlad Gerasimov: It is a method, yeah. Unfortunately, does not cover everything. And I know you're gonna ask me about the feedback that we received. One was the biggest feedback that we, feedback and future request received this to support reports. Currently, you all know that if you try to delete a field that is referenced in report, you'll be able to do so. Because, while there's no restrictions, you'll break your report, you might be missing some data from your report and might become non functional enough to fix it. But it is possible. Currently, and I know like a lot of you might be thinking about using this button to see what reports is reference.

Vlad Gerasimov: We do not support reports at this moment. But this is like our next item before the goal GA, hopefully at Dreamforce will be able to show you all the reports where you will referenced this particular custom field for looking statement applies, of course.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, right for looking statement for tall the things. But that's exciting. So yeah, I mean, that's a good point that Yeah, okay. It's not yet on reports. But it's coming, which is great. And I mean, starting to set this basic level to understand where it's being referenced, just aside from reports, it's a great, great start. I mean, will it show, will also tell me like this is being used in a process builder, or a flow?

Vlad Gerasimov: It does some of those areas like a pretty much what you can think of, if one you delete your custom field, you will see that component, component reference and as blog from intuition. You will see it in the report. And underneath that it builds some freaky margin, same logic as our delete logic. If you reference in somewhere which would prevent you from deleting that field, you will be able to see it on the report.

Gillian Bruce: Awesome. That's really great. Okay, so you mentioned feedback, talked about the desire for people to have this in reports, whether they're kind of feedback have you seen so far from the pilot in the beta?

Vlad Gerasimov: It is been extremely, it been very, extremely positive feedback. I'm actually ... My team was hesitating a little bit, pushing it into beta. We got some, of course, we got some pilot feedback, but we're mostly focusing on performance of this feature. We've got, we fixed that and we were really kind of hesitating about opening the gate and letting everyone to us in sandboxes. But since it's been out in the mid January, I think when release we were kind of like a week or two after the release.

Vlad Gerasimov: We haven't actually heard any complains. A few things people brought up reports. Pretty much everyone brought up reports, there a few other components that are currently not covered that been like relatively low amount of requests, but everyone, my favorite quote was that this is a this tool is a godsend. And that just like, I'm copying those screenshots and like saving them for later to just show ...

Gillian Bruce: Making the posters put them on your wall.

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And numbers speak for itself. Like we're tracking how many times people actually click the button and so far up to date, we got quarter million clicks just within a few months.

Gillian Bruce: That's amazing.

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, it's like literally two ... Yeah, it's two months. Two months ago, we release it. On average people use it five, 7000 times a day.

Gillian Bruce: Wow, that's amazing.

Vlad Gerasimov: And that feature is not GA.

Gillian Bruce: I'm gonna say that's just some data.

Vlad Gerasimov: I'm just waiting for this podcast to be released and see how many more will get-

Gillian Bruce: Will double it?

Vlad Gerasimov: Hopefully.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Okay. You said, you can access it in your sandbox, is that the vision for the future, or will this also be in production at some point?

Vlad Gerasimov: Is gonna be in production. Since it's featured in beta, we're kind of trying to be extra cautious about things that are not generally available, just to make sure that we maintain our commitment to our service. That's why it's currently in pilot. But again, it does not require any special actions, you can go to any custom field, click on it, click on that button and see it. And if you watch, I should say, if you will listen, my previous podcast where I talk about customer at data types, and how you can reference them in multiple things.

Vlad Gerasimov: Now you can actually see where the fields of custom metadata types that's are reference. This is not only for custom or standard objects, it's for any custom field. Custom metadata types, custom object, custom settings, standard objects. Any entity where you can define custom field, you'll be able to see that button on that custom field.

Gillian Bruce: That is awesome, that's really cool. I'm envisioning some very cool like demos and stories to come out, come dream for us first time to show really the power.

Vlad Gerasimov: I would love to see some people showcasing how they were able to, like save a lot of money by reducing the amount of time they spend investigating what changes needs to be done, and how those changes would affect their orgs?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I mean, this completely changes that element of the trial process where you're trying to figure out what, what happened, where is this going? That's great. Well, thank you for all of your innovation and the hard work that your team has done to make this happen. Because I know this is clearly a hugely popular item that's now part of Salesforce one piece of functionality.

Gillian Bruce: Let's talk a little bit more about maybe some other stuff that you guys are working on. You said you're gonna include reports as part of this. What else is your team working on? Because you always, you guys have the cool stuff?

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, for sure. I have a few teams that's why I always, I'm never short of cool features that we're delivering. If one of the team hasn't delivered something yet, another one delivered already. As I mentioned, we really pushing to move this functionality into GA, and by Dreamforce. But some of the people who might not be in this, their admins, they know that we're also working on what we call dependency API. Dependency API, it said, it's what that button is built on pretty much. It is a new tool to an entity, to an API entity that would allow you to and ask the same question where this component is used, not just only for custom field, but for anything else. Like, what's the difference between epics and visual force? Those kind of things,

Vlad Gerasimov: We're working hard on them. There's still a lot of challenges with performance and stuff, but hopefully, we'll be able to move this functionality maybe into beta and by Dreamforce, again, another Forward looking statement.

Gillian Bruce: Forward looking statement all the things. Yes.

Vlad Gerasimov: We also found some time to address some of the limits that we have on Salesforce. So again, forward-looking statement, spring 19, we're gonna see an increase in total amount of custom objects you can have in New York. It's a small bump right now from 2000 to 2500. But we have quite a few customers, very big customers who really eager to get that increase and will continue working on addressing some of other limits. This is at least on my commitment for next year, to revisit a lot of things that we've been saying, as the limits.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, 'cause I mean, some of those limits have been in place for, Gosh, 5,10 plus years, right? And now the platform has grown and what our customers are doing is totally changed and grow as you mentioned, so that's great.

Vlad Gerasimov: Exactly. We need to go back and look into those and I know Salesforce been talking about limits quite a lot. Hopefully my truck of deliveries would allow me to change that and actually invest some of them. And in custom metadata type world, we've got some exciting stuff as well. With spring and summer 19, we expecting to get customer metadata type supported and process builder.

Gillian Bruce: Whoa, that'll be really cool.

Vlad Gerasimov: That's been with the whole journey of Admin Tools for custom metadata types. This one was the biggest and most requested one. Also, it was the hardest to implement. That's why I would save it for the latest. But it's progressing nicely and with some confidence and on the forward-looking statement again, I can say we're gonna deliver that button in summer.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome Vlad, so many cool things that you guys got going on. That's amazing. Get ready 'cause people now are gonna be super excited both, especially about the limits. Are you kidding? I mean, I hear people complain about that all the time.

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, well ... My team does know all the limits, but we own some of them that people really don't like. Let's put it that way.

Gillian Bruce: Working on it. I love it. Okay, well thank you again for all the amazing work that your team is doing and for sharing with us on the pod. We have a new and improved lightning round, Since you've been on the podcast a few times, we figured we could test out the new lightning round. We have an awesome new producer who's helping me on the podcast Cece Belarde, She's joining us from the Year Up program and she has helped us reimagine with the lightning round looks like.

Gillian Bruce: We have now three questions that are part of the lightning round. Are you ready?

Vlad Gerasimov: I am.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. First question is or this or that? It's either one thing or the other.

Vlad Gerasimov: Okay.

Gillian Bruce: Movies at home or movies in the theater?

Vlad Gerasimov: At home.

Gillian Bruce: At home, I like it.

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, I don't think, I think I haven't been to a movie theater at least for six months.

Gillian Bruce: Wow. Even for like the big like kind of fan crazy Sci-Fi?

Vlad Gerasimov: I don't like those. That's might be a problem like, I'm really enjoy like new movies like, most of my time is like TV series, like Netflix ,Hulu , and like between Netflix Hulu and Amazon Prime. There's never a shortage of something you can watch.

Gillian Bruce: True. Something [inaudible 00:18:20].

Vlad Gerasimov: A person like you, you've gone there you buy popcorn and soda and stuff, it's not good for you.

Gillian Bruce: You can't pause it? Yeah, extra ...

Vlad Gerasimov: You can pause it and then someone is like, eating loudly behind you.

Gillian Bruce: That's true. Okay. Next lightning round question is. Would you rather ... Would you rather be able to talk with all animals or be able to speak all foreign languages?

Vlad Gerasimov: All foreign languages.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, 'cause you can already speak what? Two languages, three?

Vlad Gerasimov: Two and half I would say.

Gillian Bruce: Two and half?

Vlad Gerasimov: Yeah, I mean, I'm bilingual. I was born in Russia, so speak Russian. Hopefully that still my Russian is still good. I speak some English as you can tell and ...

Gillian Bruce: You gotta good mastery in English.

Vlad Gerasimov: And my Spanish is enough to survive at the bar.

Gillian Bruce: There you go. You know tequila and Margarita, right?

Vlad Gerasimov: Yes "Dos cervezas"!

Gillian Bruce: Perfect.

Vlad Gerasimov: Por Favor!

Gillian Bruce: Perfecto. All right now your last lightning round question. What is a phrase or word that you overuse?

Vlad Gerasimov: What is the phrase, and a word that I overused? I think it should be like someone should tell me that because you know, if I knew that I overuse something that wouldn't, I wouldn't use it anymore. Probably "Forward looking Statement."

Gillian Bruce: No, there you go. That's a perfect, I love it. Do you use it in your personal life too? 'Cause I know sometimes ...

Vlad Gerasimov: Sometimes, Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Likely I wanna do that "Forward looking statement". I mean, you don't know what that means.

Vlad Gerasimov: "Forward looking statement", I might cook a dinner tonight. Right?

Gillian Bruce: There you go. I love it. Well, I thank you so much for joining us again and thanks for all the great innovations your team is building and we look forward to seeing what's coming around Dreamforce for it's time to.

Vlad Gerasimov: Well, it would be exciting, I can wear my Salesforce that's again and see all you guys a Dreamforce.

Gillian Bruce: Yes, for the pants. We love it.

Vlad Gerasimov: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Vlad for taking the time to chat with us and take time away from all of the amazing things that he is delivering his truckload of deliveries, if you will, with all of his teams working very hard to make it easier for us as admins to do our job. I had a couple of fun takeaways from my conversation with Vlad as always, good to talk to him forever. But the first thing you wanna talk about is this amazing new feature that he and his team have rolled out. That is now beta was spring 19, called Where Is This Field Used.

Gillian Bruce: This is a feature that you can all access in your sandbox that allows you to see where a custom field is used. Whether it's in a layout, a formula field, or even an apex code, and you can access all of that just from the setup menu in your sandbox. Now, this is a beta feature. And I think the goal is for summer to make it a GA feature. Everyone will be able to use it, not just in sandbox, but for the moment, it isn't sandbox, again, forward looking statement. But this is a really great tool because it's a way to see that impact that we might have when we change something, change a field, maybe change your field type, or remove or delete a field.

Gillian Bruce: It's gonna allow us to kind of reverse engineer maybe if we're trying to figure out why certain user isn't seeing a field, we can actually use this to see what layouts, what page layouts this field is used on? It's a really incredible tool. Now there are some tools out there on the app exchange that are similar. But what's cool about this is its native on the platform, you don't have to install package. It is there, and it's actually built on a tool that Vlad team is working on called the dependency API.

Gillian Bruce: This dependency API is something that his team's been working on for a while. It's a big project. And that is what allows this button to work. It allows you to ask where a component is being used at any point in your Salesforce instance. Now, but that is still working progress. But the first iteration of that is this, where's this field to us button, so make sure you check it out. It's really awesome. We've had some great feedback from the community. Vlad's favorite quote that he heard so far as is, “This tool was a God send” Definitely make sure that you check it out. It's a great thing for us to use as admins.

Gillian Bruce: Now, he and his team on his truck of deliveries have a bunch more things coming down the pipeline, again, forward-looking statement, because this is all future looking, features and functionality. But including that, a dependency API we talked about. Now, this is gonna be a tool that especially is useful for developers as well. You'll be able to see where components is used in the dependencies across your Salesforce instance.

Gillian Bruce: He's also looking at trying to expand the limits of total custom objects, array. Now that's something that hopefully we'll have some more news about just in a little bit here as the summer release comes up. And with a summer release, we are going to get customer metadata types in process builder. This was one of the top most requested features. After his team released custom metadata types. It's also one of the hardest features that he and his team has worked to implement. Hopefully we'll see that very soon in summer 19. Stay tuned. We'll have lots more information about the summer release coming very, very soon.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you so much for joining us for today's episode. If you wanna learn a little bit more about some of the things we chatted about, definitely check out the release notes. I put a link to where's this field used in the release notes that you can go learn some more details about it there. Also, be sure to stay up to date as we get ready for the summer 19 release which is just around the corner. We'll have lots more information coming your way on admin. Salesforce.com. In the form of webinars including release readiness live, events, blogs and yes even more podcasts.

Gillian Bruce: Make sure that you check out admin.salesforce.com. If you wanna hear past episodes Vlad has been a guest, I highly encourage you to I put the links in the show notes he's been on before to talk to us about custom metadata types, time fields and global pick lists. some really great innovations that if you're not using them, what are you doing? Go get on your Salesforce instance and start checking these out especially in your sandbox. They're fantastic tools for all of us to use. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast and make sure you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released.

Gillian Bruce: You can find us on Twitter at Salesforce admins know I. Our guest today Vladimir Gerasimov, is on Twitter at VladIMGE. This link is in the show notes and you can find myself at Gillian K. Bruce. One quick note before I let you go today, I wanna remind you all that you should definitely take part in an exciting campaign we have happening right now called, be an innovator with the Flow Builder. Flow is something we heard on last week's episode when we talked to Teresa about the amazing solution she helped us build for the awesome admin superpower finder quiz that we used a dream force.

Gillian Bruce: Flow is an amazing tool. We've had Shannon Hale on the podcast. She's a product manager for that team. It is a really great declarative way that we can all automate business processes. With a little more complexity than what we can do with process builder. So right now we're in the middle of a 10 day campaign where each day you've got a new video, a new post to take you through a specific part of how to build a flow. If you take part and complete the trail mix and join us on this. You get a special community badge and we actually give a donation to an amazing nonprofit.

Gillian Bruce: It's really fun. There's an amazing series of videos from fellow Salesforce evangelist, Marc Baizman, LeeAnne Rimel, it's really, really fun. I highly encourage you to join. Definitely make sure you join us. You can find it on Twitter at hashtag be an innovator. Or you can go to admin.Salesforce.com to learn more. Common be an innovator with us with flow, it's a really, really fun challenge. And I totally encourage you to do so. Thanks again so much for listening to today's episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Where_Is_This_Field_Used_with_Vladimir_Gerasimov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:07pm PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by OG guest Teresa Garcia-Bovenmyer, now a Manager of Trailhead Marketing Infrastructure at Salesforce, to talk about everything Flow. We’re kicking off a 10-day campaign to get in the Flow, supported by a series of posts and videos on admin.salesforce.com to help you quickly learn how to innovate and build really awesome solutions with Flow.

Join us as we talk about how she replaced a third-party with a Flow in Salesforce, how she manages her distributed team, and what learning Flows can do for you as an admin.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Teresa Garcia-Bovenmyer.

A dream come true.

“Right out of college the economy wasn’t great, and a lot of the job offers I’d had were doing support,” Teresa says. “In 2012 I got a call to work for Cognizant doing support for Salesforce, and I jumped at it because I was already interested in the technology,” she says. She immediately fell in love with the platform: “I could see so many possibilities for how to get things to work. If you can dream it you can build it.” She eventually transitioned to admin and development work, which brought her to team Trailhead.

“It really is a dream come true, I wanted to work for Team Trailhead and people like Gillian and Mike,” Teresa says. In her role, she works with a great team of developers to make everything happen for the whole team, including our projects on the Admin Evangelist team.

Moving into a role where she’s in charge of multiple developers was definitely intimidating at first, but “I have a wonderful manager who saw that I could do more than what I was doing at the time and he pushed me to do more.” Since she’s done work as both an admin and a developer, she can guide her team to build solutions that are not just viable but are able to leverage the new technology coming out on the platform all the time.

The Flow behind the #AwesomeAdmin Super Quiz.

Teresa has specific experience with Flow trying to solve a problem that came up building something for Dreamforce. They first tried a third-party solution, but eventually realized they had all the tools they needed right there. Quizz is an internal custom object they’ve built to, well, run quizzes, using Flow to take the user through a bunch of questions and give them a result. For Dreamforce, they made the #AwesomeAdmin Super Quiz in the Admin Meadow.

One of the coolest things about using Flows on this component is that they could see the answers people were giving in real time, and simultaneously automate emails to them using Marketing Cloud. Because the tool doesn’t require coding, it was easy to build something quickly from the objects they made and adjust it on the fly. Even as the results were coming in they were able to go in while it was running and make some quick fixes, straight from the Admin Meadow.

How Teresa works with a distributed team.

Teresa’s team is actually distributed, with several members based in Uruguay. They all speak Spanish as their first language, Teresa included. They have a basic Scrum daily call to check in. “I’m in the middle between the development team and the stakeholders, trying to make sure that we have the proper structure in place to facilitate the deliverables for a project,” she says.

“We work a lot of hours trying to make sure that our structure is correct,” Teresa says, which means spending time with stakeholders so that she’s able to translate their needs into functional requirements for her team. The important thing is keeping the ability to have frequent, honest conversations with the team in order to stay on track. “Having developers who have varied development skills,” she says, “really helps us find the happy medium when we come to the table.”

Go with the Flow.

“Flow is incredibly versatile,” Teresa, “because it doesn’t require development.” You can bridge the gap between admin work and coding work to take things to the next level. As far as how to learn Flows, Teresa recommends thinking about it like a ladder. The first step is using Workflows and understanding how they function. From there, you want to move on to Process Builder, “because you can immediately make it work just from the knowledge from Workflows.”

Flows take all of it further with its versatility, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. “As an admin, we always have to push ourselves to learn more about the platform that we work on but the more we know the easier building Flows is because you already have the basic understanding of how that data model works within the platform,” she says, “it’s just a matter of imaging what you want to happen and working within that Flow process to make it happen.”

Understanding Flows also helps you better understand how coding and development works if you ever want to make the jump. Even if you don’t, it helps you collaborate with your team better and build better solutions.

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Direct download: Get_in_the_Flow_with_Teresa_Garcia-Bovenmyer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32pm PST

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the first of a series of podcasts from Down Under, featuring folks Gillian met at the Salesforce World Tour in Sydney, Australia. This week, we’re talking to Vickie Jeffery, Business Technology Manager at Ausure Insurance Brokers, to hear about her career journey, how she’s grown into a strategic leadership role, and how Salesforce fits into that.

Join us as we talk about how learning programming at a young age gave Vickie the foundation to build a technical career, how she had to learn Salesforce on the job, and how she forged a path to leadership by being clear about what she wanted.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Vickie Jeffery.

Why inheriting Salesforce helped Vickie transform her company.

“I actually wanted to be an architect. I loved drawing plans of houses and all that kind of thing until my dad bought a computer when I was about ten, and then things changed,” Vickie says. He taught her how to write programs in BASIC and she just couldn’t stop making things. When she got into the professional reward about twenty-four years ago, she started as a network admin and eventually moved into IT management. That took her from New Zealand to Australia.

“We had an acquisition in about 2011, and that company was using Salesforce. So since then, it’s been a part of my life and my work,” Vickie says. Since she inherited it, she needed to review the implementation and find ways to put it to work for her organization. “I knew that it was a CRM and what we should be doing, but when I reviewed it all they had really done was put some contact information in it, which I thought was quite an expensive contact card,” she says. As she kept working with the platform, she found ways that Salesforce could actually help the merger and, ultimately, help them manage the information they deal with as an insurance broker.

Moving into strategy.

Nowadays, Vickie is the Business Technology Manager. She’s in charge of an IT team and is also involved in strategy, systems processes, and more. “I like to have an overall big picture of the company,” she says, “it’s really about getting down and understanding what everyone does and trying to streamline it and automate it and help people with their everyday jobs.” It’s a lot of what we talk about when we talk about “admin magic”, accurately understanding business problems, finding the technology that can help, and then teaching people how they can best put it to use. Vickie has people on her team who help her with that so she can use her architect brain to look at the big picture.

So what makes the admins who work on Vickie’s team stand out? It’s a combination of good communication skills and good analytical skills. “Being able to listen as well as talk,” she says, combined with an ability to look at requirements and translate that into what’s possible in a system.

How do you step into a leadership role?

If you’re looking to grow your career and step into a leadership role, one of the biggest pieces of advice that Vickie has is to start speaking up. “I made it quite clear that I was really interested in strategy and wanted to be involved, and so I kept on asking,” she says. She would just keep mentioning it and coming up with ideas for what could work better at her organization, so when there were opportunities she was top of mind.

The other important thing for trying to step into leadership is to be continually learning. “Along with all of the Salesforce learning, I’ve been continually learning about people management and business processes and everything that I can,” Vickie says. Not surprising for someone who learned BASIC when they were ten.

Vickie is the co-leader of the Brisbane User Group and a big advocate of connecting with everyone in the ecosystem to keep learning and growing. They run an event in Brisbane, where she lives, called Down Under Dreaming. “Bringing all of that together into one day for our people in Brisbane who may not be able to get to World Tour or Dreamforce is really important to us,” she says.

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Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admin's Podcast where we talk about products, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin.

Gillian Bruce: I'm Gillian Bruce. Today we've got the first of a short series of podcasts I was able to record while I was down under in Sydney, Australia for the Salesforce World Tour which happened just a little while ago. I got the opportunity to sit down with a few local Salesforce community members in the Sydney area to chat about their stories, about what it means to be an awesome admin, and just to learn a little bit more about what they do and how they do it.

Gillian Bruce: The first story we're going to share with you today is that of Vickie Jeffery. She is a business technology manager at Assure Insurance Brokers and she is actually from Brisbane, Australia, so not from Sydney, but that's not too far away, just a short flight. I wanted to get her on the podcast to share a little bit about her career journey, how she's grown into a strategic leadership role, and her journey with Salesforce. Without further adieu, let's welcome Vickie to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Vickie, welcome to the podcast.

Vickie Jeffery: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: So happy that you are taking the time to join us. We are here in Sydney, but you had to travel down to Sydney, right?

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah, I did, from Brisbane.

Gillian Bruce: Brisbane, okay not far.

Vickie Jeffery: Not far.

Gillian Bruce: Well I'm really happy to have you on the podcast because I want to dig a little bit into your story so we can share with our listeners. But before we do that I would love to know what did you want to be when you grew up?

Vickie Jeffery: I actually wanted to be an architect.

Gillian Bruce: An architect.

Vickie Jeffery: I loved drawing plans of houses and all that kind of thing, until my dad bought a computer when I was about 10 and then things changed.

Gillian Bruce: What was it about the computer that captured your interest?

Vickie Jeffery: He taught me how to write in basic.

Gillian Bruce: Wow, go dad.

Vickie Jeffery: I wrote this little basic program. I don't remember everything but I did but yeah it was a lot of fun from then.

Gillian Bruce: That's so cool. Here you are 10 years old writing basic-

Vickie Jeffery: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: ... on the computer, that's pretty awesome. Tell me about how you went from doing that to now working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Give me a little bit of your career journey.

Vickie Jeffery: I started as a network admin way back about 24 years ago and moved up into IT management through that role, so I was there for 11 years. Then I moved to Australia from New Zealand. I started in another systems admin role and we had an acquisition in about 2011, and that company was using Salesforce. Since then, Salesforce has been my life and part of my work.

Gillian Bruce: So it's just a little time working at Salesforce.

Vickie Jeffery: Yep.

Gillian Bruce: Tell me a little bit about your first encountering of Salesforce, like when did you first see it, what was that like, what were you doing with it, what did you think?

Vickie Jeffery: I inherited it, so the other company had put it in and I found this thing, I was like okay, what I do with this. I knew that it was a CRM and what we should be doing, but we reviewed it, all they'd really done is put some contact information in it, which I thought was quite an expensive contact card.

Gillian Bruce: That's a good analysis.

Vickie Jeffery: We spent quite a bit of time looking at what we should be doing with it and used it in the acquisition to merger to companies as well.

Gillian Bruce: Very awesome. You immediately saw the value of what this platform could do, that it was more than just during contacts-

Vickie Jeffery: Yep.

Gillian Bruce: ... and then you proceeded to use it to help merge the company?

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah, we did the merge ... anything we found about our company outside of Salesforce, we put inside Salesforce. We handle about 120 companies around Australia, we're an insurance broker. Everything about those companies we would put inside Salesforce, so every spreadsheet we found, every bit of information sitting on someone's desk somewhere all went into Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: So if it wasn't in Salesforce it didn't exist?

Vickie Jeffery: That's the one, yes.

Gillian Bruce: You have encountered Salesforce, you are now really harnessing the technology to really bring the whole business on it, tell me about how you grew your skillset. How did you start to learn Salesforce and what was that like?

Vickie Jeffery: Just by using it. There was no Trailhead then, so we did have premier support I think. There was a bunch of training on there, so we went through a lot of that. Then it was finding places to go to look to other people, so a lot of hands on stuff, so a little bit different to today. Then I found the community a couple of years later and learned a whole lot since then.

Gillian Bruce: I bet. I always like to say that it's like BCAD, it's like pre-Trailhead, post-Trailhead in Salesforce years.

Vickie Jeffery: It was trial and error, it was all let's just give this a go.

Gillian Bruce: Googling and troubleshooting, yeah.

Vickie Jeffery: Yep, yep.

Gillian Bruce: Tell me a little bit more about what you do now.

Vickie Jeffery: Now my role is Business Technology Manager. I manage an IT team as well as involved in strategy and systems processes, and the like. I love strategy, so I'm really happy to be involved in that in the company. I like to have an overall big picture of the company, so it's really about getting down and understand what everyone does and trying to streamline it, and automate, and help people with their every day jobs.

Gillian Bruce: It's very similar to a lot of the things that we hear just even new admins are charged with doing a lot of that.

Vickie Jeffery: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: What are some things and traits maybe that have helped you get that skillset and be good at that because that business analysis piece is kind of a tough nut for crack for some folks.

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah, it is. I don't know because I've always done it for so many years now that-

Gillian Bruce: You've always been thinking this way.

Vickie Jeffery: I think at my first job it was a lot around business analysis as well because I used to write out scope for databases there, so I think that might have been where it came from is just really sitting down and listening, and understanding what people are wanting and being able to translate that into a system that they could use.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's kind of what we call the admin magic.

Vickie Jeffery: That's the one, yes.

Gillian Bruce: It's taking those business problems, finding the technology, and then translating those technical solutions to help those business people to understand.

Vickie Jeffery: Nowadays it's more around architecting, so I do have staff that I'm lucky enough to work development in Edmond and I spend a lot of time in strategy and working through what we should and shouldn't be doing, and architecting our two orgs in the community, so architecting all that.

Gillian Bruce: Tell me about how you grew your career to this more of a leadership style role because a lot of admins I'm sure hear things that are very similar to the things that they do and maybe you're like, hey, here I am, I'm admining in org and I do some of the things that Vickie just talked about. How do I up level my career to be in a more leadership role?

Vickie Jeffery: I think it's speaking up, so speaking up at your company. I made it quite clear that I was really interested in strategy and wanted to be involved, and I kept on asking, "Can I be involved? Can I be involved," giving them ideas on what I was thinking and what could be good for the company and just continually doing that. Then I was able to attend strategy meetings as well.

Gillian Bruce: I love that, voicing up and being clear about you want. If you tell people that's what you want to do, inevitably you're going to find somebody that gives you an opportunity.

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah, that's right.

Vickie Jeffery: And continually learning, along with all the Salesforce learning I've continually learned about people management and business processes, and everything that I can.

Gillian Bruce: That's great, that curious mindset, always learning.

Vickie Jeffery: Yes, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: I guess that's what happens when you start learning how to write basic when you're 10 years old.

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah, yes.

Gillian Bruce: It sets you up on this trajectory.

Vickie Jeffery: Yep, yep.

Gillian Bruce: Tell me about some of the qualities that you think really make an awesome admin. It's one of those things that's so core to us, this idea of an awesome admin. A lot of the things that you talk about that you do are things that I think about in that category, so what are some qualities that you truly think help someone be an awesome admin?

Vickie Jeffery: Good communication skills is definitely one and good analytical skills, so being able to listen as well as talk, those are good ones. The ability to look at the requirements and transfer to that into what's possible in a system, so that's an easy, and just continually learning, that's really important. I read the 500 page release notes every time they come out and-

Gillian Bruce: Wow, good for you.

Vickie Jeffery: Well not fully, but mostly.

Gillian Bruce: You at least skim them, right?

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah. Just making sure that you're aware of what the product can do and can't do, and keep on going out and talking to other people.

Gillian Bruce: You talked about talking to other people, the Salesforce community is probably a bit part of that.

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: You talked about how you discovered the online community early on, tell me about the in-person community. How are you involved in that, how as that helped you in your career?

Vickie Jeffery: I started going to that probably around 2014. About a year leader I became co-leader of the Brisbane User Group which is not the Brisbane Edmond Group. Since then, it's really just been meeting all sorts of people along that way. We've got about five groups in Brisbane and we all work together, Women in Tech, non-for-profit, marketing, et cetera, developer. Also, we now run a Down Under dreaming event in Brisbane.

Gillian Bruce: I've heard of this.

Vickie Jeffery: Bringing all of that together into one day for our people in Brisbane who may not be able to get to World Tour or Dreamforce, that's really important to us.

Gillian Bruce: What do you do for someone who's brand new, their first ever user group meeting, they walk in and they're kind of like, "I don't know if I belong here. What do I do now?" As a leader, what sort of things that you [crosstalk 00:10:18].

Vickie Jeffery: You often don't know that because Australians are not particularly out there.

Gillian Bruce: I've noticed this, I've noticed this.

Vickie Jeffery: We just talk to people, so you recognize the people that come all the time and the ones that you don't we'll just go up and talk to them and make them feel comfortable, talk to them about what they're doing and how they're doing it, and what we can help them with.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well thank you for being a great leader in the community.

Vickie Jeffery: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: It's very important. It's kind of the secret sauce of being in Salesforce ecosystem is that community element.

Vickie Jeffery: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Let's circle back a little bit, you said architecting is something that you're focusing on now a lot.

Vickie Jeffery: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: What are some things, I think there's a lot of things in terms of being an architect that thinking like an architect can help an admin in terms of what they're doing with their implementation. Tell me about some of the things that you think can help an admin think more like an architect, so to speak.

Vickie Jeffery: I think it's thinking big picture and having a real understanding of the core functionality of the product. When you're looking for solutions, talking to as many people as you can about what their after, the people that are involved, or using it, or going to be getting information out of the end, and be creative. There's so many different ways you can do things in Salesforce that it gives you the ability to just put some creativity into it, and again, continually learn. Always learn, even when you get to that stage.

Gillian Bruce: I like that. Those are great pieces of advice I think no matter what role you're in, but especially if you're in that Admin role and thinking about that architect piece because there's a lot of similarities there, a lot of similarities.

Vickie Jeffery: There definitely are. It's a great segue up into being admin to being an architect. I think a lot of people are going that way now, including myself.

Gillian Bruce: Well congratulations, that's great.

Vickie Jeffery: I haven't got there yet, but yes, studying for all of the architect certifications.

Gillian Bruce: There's a lot. Are you part of the Ladies of the Architect?

Vickie Jeffery: I am, yes. Yes.

Gillian Bruce: We talked to Gemma on the podcast last year when we were in London for the world tour. Gemma Emmett who was one of the co-creators of the Ladies of the Architect program. We talked about it a little bit on the podcast, but give us one or two lines about Ladies of the Architect.

Vickie Jeffery: Well I haven't been to too many of the groups because it's UK time not Australian time

Gillian Bruce: That's got to be a really hard crossover time wise, right?

Vickie Jeffery: There's one tonight which is Community Cloud which I really wanted to go to, but I think I've got to get up at two o'clock or something to do that. But at Dreamforce I went and met them all and it was just really good to be able to meet a whole bunch of different ladies, and guys were there too, to talk about the possibilities and where everyone was at, and the fear that sometimes you get about doing down that track and whether you're an imposter or not. That's great, as well as the sheer knowledge that Gemma and everyone has and she is.

Gillian Bruce: That's excellent. Well congratulations on your journey.

Vickie Jeffery: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: I know it's an awesome one. Just knowing about some of the content that you go through in that process is amazing and I'm sure that it will invariably help you as you move forward as well. It's a great crew of people. We'll definitely make sure to put a link in the show notes about Ladies of the Architects so people can check it out.

Gillian Bruce: Well I want to thank you so much for joining us Vickie, but before I let you, you're not going out of this without answering a lightening round question.

Gillian Bruce: We're doing a down under version of the lightening round question.

Vickie Jeffery: Okay.

Gillian Bruce: Since you are in Brisbane, which is a little bit outside of Sydney, up North, what is one thing that someone visiting Brisbane for the first time should do?

Vickie Jeffery: Catch the ferry. There's a free ferry that goes up and down the river and it gives you a beautiful view of the city.

Gillian Bruce: Love it. I love boat trips, so that's good. I'm adding that to my list. I'm like, "Hmm, when I go to Brisbane." That's great.

Vickie Jeffery: You could visit the Gold Coast too, but Brisbane's better.

Gillian Bruce: Is that a jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef or is that further North?

Vickie Jeffery: ... that's further north, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: See, I'm learning about Australia geography as we are on the podcast, that's great.

Gillian Bruce: Well Vickie, thank you so much for everything that you're doing and congratulations on your amazing career trajectory and growth, excited to see where it goes next.

Vickie Jeffery: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Really appreciate you taking the time to be with me and be on the podcast.

Vickie Jeffery: Thank you very much.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Vickie for taking the time to sit down and chat with me in person in Sydney, Australia, it was really fun to get to know her a little bit.

Gillian Bruce: I wanted to recap a couple of the things that I really liked learning from our conversation and the first one is, oh my goodness, her dad taught her basic at 10 years old. That's incredible and that really set her off on a journey in a career that is very technical, so very cool to get that exposure early on. Her journey from being a network admin, systems admin, and then inheriting Salesforce, having to learn it on the job, I think is a really inspiring story because I think a lot of us have fell into Salesforce in some way or another. She was immediately enthralled with the platform, said, "Hey, it can do so much more than just story context." It's a great overpriced Rolodex, so to speak. She learned about the platform herself, this is before the days of Trailhead, so it was a lot of hand's on trial and error and she actually is able to use Salesforce to merge all of the different parts of the company that she was working on when their company got acquired and she inherited Salesforce, so very great, cool, hand's on experience.

Gillian Bruce: Now she manages an IT team and she's focused really on strategy, doing a lot of architect type work and the way that she got there was really making it clear that's what she wanted to do. Now, we've talked about this in a few episodes on the podcast in the past about how you have to make what you want very clear. Make your intention very clear with your managers, with your stakeholders, with the people that you work with. Tell them what you want to do because the more that you explain that, the more that you put that out there, the higher likelihood you are going to get the opportunity to do so, which is what happened for Vickie.

Gillian Bruce: Now, one of things that I thought was really helpful that Vickie shared with us about what being an awesome admin means. First, it's good communication and analytical skills. Next, it's looking at requirements and being able to translate them back into the system. Finally, continuously learning new things. She talked about that a lot and I have heard it in many other guests in terms of what they think makes them successful, so continuously learn.

Gillian Bruce: On that note, we've got some great content on Trailhead to help you continuously learn about how you can help grow your career. Now, there's a career development planning module on Trailhead I highly recommend, it helps you map out where you want to go and think about how to get there. But there's a brand new project that I definitely want you all to check out and this is awesome. This is a project actually built by the Trailhead team just in the last few weeks, it's amazing, and it's called Build an App to Track your Trailblazer Journey. Now this is so cool because you're actually building an app step-by-step that you can use in real life to track your progress on your career journey with Salesforce or with not Salesforce, but you can put in your discoveries that you learn about different opportunities in there. You can customize it. I saw somebody on Twitter actually put some mobile notifications in there. You can do a lot with this core app that you build in the project, so definitely go check it out. It's a great tool, it's a great way to learn.

Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn more about Ladies of the Architects I got the link there in the show notes. If you want to hear a little bit more, we did have Gemma Abbott on the podcast last year to talk more about Ladies of the Architects and I put that link in the show notes as well.

Gillian Bruce: Please remember to subscribe to the podcast and make sure that you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or devices of choice the moment they are released and share with your friends. Also, give me some feedback. I love seeing feedback on Twitter. You can ping me in the Trailblazer community, any way you want to share feedback, thoughts, interesting insights that you've got, please share away. I really love seeing the impact of the podcast and learning about what you want to learn on the podcast as well.

Gillian Bruce: You can also find out more about being an awesome admin at admin.salesforce.com where you can find blogs, webinars, events and yes, even more podcasts.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you so much for listening to this episode today. You can find us on Twitter @salesforceadmns, no "I". Our guest today, Vickie is on Twitter, @VickieJeffery. That's V-I-C-K-I-E J-E-F-F-E-R-Y. You can find myself @gilliankbruce.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Think_Like_a_Strategist_with_Vickie_Jeffery.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, listen to the dulcet tones of Jared Jones, Junior Implementation Architect in the Customer Success and Growth Organization at Salesforce. He shares his amazing story and tells us how he’s transitioned his career from hospitality to his current role in implementation, as well as his passion for Service Cloud.

Join us as we talk about how curiosity led him from hotel management to Salesforce, how he transformed his team at Salesforce with Salesforce, and how he was able to put himself in front of management and get the support he needed.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jared Jones.

A rock star at heart.

Growing up (and still), Jared wanted to be a rock star, he majored in jazz and classical piano, played trombone professionally for 12 years and he still plays guitar professionally around his work schedule at Salesforce. They’ve even created a secret Salesforce society of musicians called Jamforce to get together and rock out. So how did he go from working musician to Salesforce Architect?

“My journey to Salesforce was very random and completely unplanned,” Jared says, “but as soon as I got here I immediately was like this is what I’m supposed to be doing this is awesome.” He worked in hospitality for about 8 years. The Real Estate organization at Salesforce happened to be trying to build a “hotel-esque” hospitality experience, so they were looking for people with experience to help build that. Jared ended up as a Workplace Service Coordinator, basically the front desk of the HQ offices.

That’s not necessarily a very technical role, but Jared was able to make a transition. “Most of the people on that team, to this day, don’t really know what Salesforce does and certainly don’t know the products,” he says. He had encountered a proprietary CRM in his previous work, so when he realized Salesforce was the same basic idea, he got really excited about how he could use it at the front desks at HQ. That lead him to Trailhead and the start of a new chapter.

When Salesforce needs the help of… Salesforce?

“It was kind of whirlwind,” Jared says, “there was a trail called CRM basics or essentials so I read that and it really breaks down, from the very beginning, what is a CRM, why do you need one for your business, and then what does Salesforce have to do with that and things started clicking for me.” Really, he was just looking for an excuse to learn more about the technology and apply it to his team. “Doing just a few basic trails, I learned that our team was a perfect use case for the platform,” he says.

“One of the first things I recognized was that there was too much manual doing of things that could’ve been done not manually,” Jared says. They literally used a hand clicker and a spreadsheet to track visitors, for example. Almost everything was handled with email, “I was thinking, ‘I’m pretty sure Salesforce has a solution for this, I don’t know a lot about it but I’m pretty sure we can make it happen.’” Why wasn’t Salesforce using Salesforce, he wondered.

Into the Salesforce-Verse.

Jared set about using a Trailhead playground to build custom objects to track things like deliveries. Once he had some things built, he worked with his manager to start implementing them. She connected him with the Technology Director of Real Estate, which gave him system administrator access to a full-production, 1,000 user license org that no one was using. Once he got the keys to the car, so to speak, he was able to really build things out and make a very persuasive presentation and ended up working on his project full-time.

One of the things that came up pretty quickly was the problem of scalability. “My app worked great for our offices, but if we were to roll it out globally it would break immediately,” Jared says. In learning more about the data model and solving those problems, he was able to get some certifications that caused people to take notice. “I’m like the Spider-man of Salesforce, I guess, I got bit by the Trailhead bug and now I’m trying to sling webs of Salesforce knowledge to anyone around me,” he says.

“I was having a networking chat with an executive from the Customer Success and Growth, and very suddenly he said, ‘I think you need to change up your idea of what your career path is and you should come to CSG,’” Jared says. He started as a made-up position called a Product Associate Analyst, but his passion led him to learn more and get more certifications that lead him to the Junior Architect role he’s in now.

Nerding out about Service Cloud.

As a Service Cloud nerd, Jared says that “there’s a lot of just totally simple things that change the lives of the agents using them.” One of the best things you can do is to set up the Agent Console with components like Quick Text, Macros, and Live Agent in one place. “I’m a really big fan of Live Agent and Snap-in Chat,” Jared says, which allows you to easily put chat right in your website. Knowledge is also a powerful tool, giving your customers a way to help themselves. Really, it’s about putting agents in a position to succeed and help customers more effectively.

If you have any questions for Jared, feel free to reach out on Twitter. “I would pay to talk about Salesforce, that’s how exciting I find it,” he says.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce, and today we've got an amazing guest joining us on the podcast. We are going to be joined by Jared Jones, who has an incredible story. He also has a really good voice for podcasts, which you'll realize.

Gillian Bruce: Jared works here at Salesforce. He is the junior Implementation Architect within our Customer Success and Growth organization. He's got an amazing career story about how he's completely transitioned his career from basically working in hotels and hospitality to now being an implementation architecture at Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: He also is passionate about Service Cloud, and we are in the middle of a whole bunch of great Service Cloud content coming to you at admin.salesforce.com, so make sure you go check that out, and maybe what you hear from Jared will inspire you a bit. So without further ado please welcome Jared to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Jared, welcome to the podcast.

Jared Jones: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce: We are so happy to have you here. Here we are at HQ in San Francisco, so it's always nice to do these in person. I wanted to introduce you a little bit to our audience by asking you the question I ask most of our guests, and that is, Jared, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Jared Jones: What I wanted to be was a rock star. I'm pretty it was a rock star. It still is a rock star, actually. So I'm still aspiring to be a rock star when I actually grow up.

Gillian Bruce: Well, you know, we're all working on that, right? Eventually we'll grow up, but rock star, I love it. So are you a musician? Are you-

Jared Jones: I am.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Jared Jones: I've been a professional musician for most of my life. Majored in music in college, jazz and classical piano, in college, and played trombone professionally for 12 years. Play guitar professionally now, and that's still a huge part of my life. I teach kids when I can on weekends, and I'm still trying to make something come of music alongside in Salesforce and seeing if I can bring those two things together, those two worlds.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. That's great, musicians in Salesforce. There's actually quite a few people that I've talked to that have music backgrounds or are musicians in addition to being in the Salesforce ecosystem, so I feel like there's some kind of a secret Salesforce musician's society somewhere.

Jared Jones: There is. We created Jamforce last year for that very thing, so-

Gillian Bruce: There you go. See, my suspicions were correct.

Jared Jones: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: So Jared, tell me a little bit about how you going from wanting to be ... continuing to wanting to be a rock star and being an [inaudible 00:02:56] musician to being a part of the Salesforce Ohana and the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell me a little bit about your journey to Salesforce.

Jared Jones: My journey to Salesforce was very random and completely unplanned. I kind of fell into it on accident, and as soon as I got here I immediately was like, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. This is awesome.

Jared Jones: I was working in hotel management for eight years, Hilton, Marriott, and the real estate organization here was actually trying to build like a "hotelesque" hospitality experience. So they were hiring people to build that and create that foundation here. So I ended up actually working as a Workplace Service Coordinator, which is like the front desk basically of all of the HQ offices. So the reception team, and the badge security, and a lot of administrative stuff. So it just came about randomly like that.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So you go from basically kind of the hospitality industry to learning about and encountering Salesforce. I mean tell me a little bit about that transition. You said came in kind of in this workplace services role. It's not necessarily a technical role right off the bat, but now you are doing a more technical job. So tell me a little bit about making that transition from hospitality to tech.

Jared Jones: Yeah. Even in the real estate organization there was no tech. Most of the people on that team to this day don't even really know what Salesforce does, certainly don't know the products.

Jared Jones: So I naturally had kind of an interest in it, because while working in hospitality Hilton had their own proprietary CRM. I don't know how much I can say about that, and I didn't know that that wasn't specifically Hilton's thing. I didn't know that CRM was a type of technology.

Jared Jones: So as I got here and I was like, oh, CRM is a thing that you use, it's not just Hilton's proprietary thing ... So I got very interested in how we could try to use some of that at the desks at the HQ offices in San Francisco. I wanted to learn more about the product, so I just looked into Trailhead, by the recommendation of a friend, and looked into Trailhead and see what the product lineup is and see how all the technology works.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So you're basically in the real estate part of Salesforce, and you have been led to Trailhead. So you start using Trailhead to learn a little bit more about the platform, which you had kind of a familiarity with what a CRM is, but in a different context.

Jared Jones: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: So tell me about that learning experience from shifting worlds a little bit, getting exposure to CRM, but then learning more about the Salesforce platform via Trailhead. Tell me what that was like for you.

Jared Jones: It was kind of a whirlwind. It was very confusing in the begging, because I was like, wait, the clouds and the CRM and then platform, and what is all this terminology mean? So I was able to look through ... there's a trail that's like CRM basis or essentials, and I was like, oh, I need that.

Jared Jones: So I read that, and it really breaks down from the very beginning what is a CRM, why do you need one for your business, and then what does Salesforce have to do with that? And I was like, oh. Things started clicking for me, and I was really trying to look at ways that I could use it on my team. I was just really looking for an excuse to learn more about the technology and apply it to our team, and doing just a few basic trails learned that our team was like a perfect use case for the platform.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. So let's talk a little bit about that. So you're seeing an immediate use case for the technology you're learning at Salesforce. What were some of the problems that you saw with ... some of the challenges that you saw in your existing team that you thought Salesforce might be able to help with?

Jared Jones: One of the first things that I recognized was that there was way too much manual doing of things that could have been done not manually. We rent out badges for the employees and for visitors, and every time we would give one out we had a little hand clicking device that we would click every time we rented out a badge. We would record those numbers at the end of the day in a spreadsheet, and then the next morning we would also record the numbers from that morning in case things moved around in another spreadsheet.

Jared Jones: There was a lot of that kind of working. A lot of things were done via email, and by a lot of things I mean literally everything. If people had requests of any kind for registration things, it was all done via email, and I was thinking, I'm pretty sure Salesforce has a solution for this. I don't know a lot about it, but I'm pretty sure we can make that happen. So I just started digging around.

Gillian Bruce: Why isn't Salesforce using Salesforce, right?

Jared Jones: That's a huge issue, yeah, for me. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean you talk about spreadsheets and emailing spreadsheets around. We always say a spreadsheet is an app asking to be made.

Jared Jones: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Right?

Jared Jones: That's great. I haven't heard that one. That's great. I love that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So LeeAnne Rimmel, who is one of our fellow admin evangelists, she always says a spreadsheet is just a app asking to be created.

Jared Jones: That is amazing. I'm going to write that down.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. She's totally happy sharing that with everybody.

Jared Jones: That's great.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So you see some of these use cases, and then were you just building this on your own to test and see how you could customize the platform to solve these use cases?

Jared Jones: Yeah. I was kind of doing it one by one. So as I saw a need I was like, okay, so we need to figure out how to log when a delivery comes in. So I need to make a custom object for deliveries. I really didn't know what I was doing. It was literally learning on the fly as I went in a Trailhead playground. I was using a Trailhead playground to build these experimental custom objects, and that's kind of just how that started.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Okay. So you're kind of building this app for you're team to use.

Jared Jones: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Then how did you share that? Did you start just kind of talking about it with your management or your fellow peers? How did you start sharing what you were building and what you were learning?

Jared Jones: Yeah, I actually had a really supportive manager for this, fortunately, at the time. She's since left Salesforce, but I was able to talk to her, and she said this is great. We need a way to streamline everything that we do. If you want to continue building this, you should probably talk to the technology director of real estate.

Jared Jones: I ended up getting system administrator access to a full production 1000 user license org from his team that no one was using. I said, "Can I build in this?" And they said, "Yes." So I spun up a sandbox, and I was able to demonstrate with a presentation and say, hey, this is the actual business value just like the trails on business value presentation say. This is the business value again. This is the ROI if this actually costs any money, the time that you're saving is equatable to this amount of dollars, et cetera. And they loved it, and they said, "Okay. Just continue working on this." So I did.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I mean, talk about just putting Trailhead to work for you.

Jared Jones: Literally, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Those things that you're learning in the different modules, not just the technical stuff, in terms of how to position it to stakeholders and demonstrate that ROI, put together a presentation, and share what you're building, and the why you should do this and invest in this. I mean, that's huge. We talk about tech skills that you can learn on Trailhead all the time, but we don't always talk about the soft skills that are also on there, which are really important.

Gillian Bruce: Actually, I don't even like the term soft skills, because it's a weird term. But it's the non-technical skills. The people skills and the business skills.

Jared Jones: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Alright. You basically sought this opportunity out and just started building a thing, because you're interested in learning. What happened next for you? You're getting full license to build out this environment. You are now an admin for an org. What happened next? What was the next step in your journey?

Jared Jones: I started realizing some of the errors of my ways in how I was going about things, and I needed to get a more complete understanding of the platform in order to be effective. Because it turned out, the first time that I built the app it worked great for these offices, but if they to roll this out globally it would break immediately.

Jared Jones: So I had to rebuild it for scale, and I learned a lot about the data model that way. I was able to go and get some certifications, because of what I had been learning about the data model and the platform and how everything works together. And once I started doing that people started taking notice, and they also noticed that I was really enthusiastic about our products, and wanting to share that with other people, and get other people trained up on Trailhead, and started evangelizing Trailhead, started evangelizing Salesforce, and it just started taking off.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So here you are, natural evangelist. You got bit by the Salesforce bug, and-

Jared Jones: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: ... here you are.

Jared Jones: I'm the Spiderman of Salesforce, I guess.

Gillian Bruce: Totally!

Jared Jones: Got bit by the Salesforce bug, and now I'm trying to sling webs of Salesforce knowledge to everyone around me.

Gillian Bruce: So appropriate. I love this analogy. I'm totally envisioning Spiderman Jared going through and-

Jared Jones: In the blue suit.

Gillian Bruce: ... webbing different clouds and pulling it together. Yes. Exactly. This is great. I hope somebody creates a great visual about this. It'd be fabulous.

Jared Jones: Somebody should make a comic, I think. That would work.

Gillian Bruce: It'd be awesome. Alright. So you are evangelizing Salesforce. You have built this thing. Your team is excited. It's helping streamline processes. And you're still in the real estate group at this point. What happened to help you transition into, now, your role as an Implementation Architect?

Jared Jones: I was moved very suddenly. I was having a networking chat with a lot of different people, and ended up chatting with an executive from the customer success group, Success Cloud. He very suddenly said, "I think you need to change up your idea of what your career path is, and I think you should just come to [CSG 00:12:46]." And I said, "Okay. Why do you think that?" And then he said, "You like customers, you like building, you're really excited about the product. You should be able to support people. And so today you are now in CSG." There was no conversation about would you like to be? There was nothing. It was just, you are now in CSG.

Jared Jones: And that was probably the major turning point for me in terms of the momentum that I was going to build from then on out. I started off as a made up position called a Product Associate Analyst in CSG, and I was helping develop, accelerate, our library content on Service Cloud, which is my favorite product, which is how I ended up on that team. And from there I just learned, and trained, and earned a bunch of certifications while in that position. Really increased my product knowledge and how to talk to customers. Just recently, there was a reorganization of our department, and I landed in a role that they thought I would fit way better in based on the things that I had done. And I couldn't be more excited when they said you're going to moving over to the implementation architect team. I said, "That is amazing. It's exactly what I wanted to do." I love working with customers, I love the software, I love the technology, I love our culture of innovation and customer success.

Jared Jones: Again, it just kind of happened very suddenly, but I feel like it's a perfect fit.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So for folks who may not know what CSG stands for at Salesforce it's Customer Success and Growth. Correct?

Jared Jones: Exactly, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: It's the organization that basically supports all of our customers in trying to accomplish their goals and customize Salesforce to better serve their businesses.

Jared Jones: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm not in CSG.

Jared Jones: No, that's exactly right. Yeah. Being in CSG we always use acronyms for everything. So, yeah, it's Customer Success-

Gillian Bruce: Yep. That's why I like to explain them on the podcast.

Jared Jones: Yeah. Success Cloud is how we explain our role. Success Cloud is a product. You can buy Success Specialists. You can buy Implementation Architects to help you succeed. We will work with you, alongside you, however you prefer. Or if you want to do it yourself we'll talk to you about how to do that. We're here for success of the customer, and it's really exciting to be a part of that.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. You mentioned Service Cloud as one of your favorite suite of our products.

Jared Jones: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: We are actually focusing a little bit on Service Cloud-

Jared Jones: Awesome!

Gillian Bruce: ... right now, and I'd love to kind of talk to you a little about some of your favorite Service Cloud features that you find are really helpful from an admin perspective.

Jared Jones: That's a great question.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. We don't talk about Service Cloud a lot. We talk a lot about Sales Cloud, occasionally some Marketing Cloud, occasionally some Community Cloud. But I'd love to kind of pick your brain a little bit as a Service Cloud nerd to talk to us a little bit about some features that maybe admins should think about using that they don't normally think about.

Jared Jones: Sure, sure. There's a lot of really simple, just easy, things that totally change lives of an agent. I like to distinguish between Sales Cloud and Service Cloud in this way. Sales Cloud is a lot more about reporting and operational excellence and efficiency. Service Cloud really is about enabling your agents.

Jared Jones: One of my favorite things is just really setting up the agent Console, maximizing, getting the most use out of that. I think most organizations have it, and maybe it's even turned on, but they haven't used all of the components that they could use. You can use Quick Text and Macros. You can have Live Agent. You can all of that in one place. I'm a particularly big fan of Live Agent and Snap-ins Chat. It allows you to put a little Snap-in code, snip it into your website, and you can embed a chat service right there. That's a great way to open up channels that are not expensive to reach customers the way the want to be reached.

Jared Jones: Digital engagement is a huge part of service, and so tools like Live Agent and like Omnichannel for routing your cases the most efficient way possible, and even using Knowledge. Knowledge is a great, great way to reach customers and give them some self-service options. So just kind of a combination of those features. You can go really far and get really technical and in-depth with those, but I think just having those available in your Console, having them accessible from your Console is a really easy and simple way to give your agents the tools they need all in one place.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. This idea of Console, for me, I only started using and checking out Console when Console came to the Lightning platform. In classic, if you were using Sales Cloud Console was not a thing. It originated from the Service Cloud, and now I cannot a use case for building a Lightning app that is not a Console app. It is so much more efficient, because you get all of your Salesforce tab on one page instead having to open up multiple browser tabs, and just kind of work all in there.

Gillian Bruce: I think another fun thing that's come from cases in Service Cloud is that split list view.

Jared Jones: Oh, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: It's one of my favorite things.

Jared Jones: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Because it's so cool to be able to have the all records listed on the left, and be able to click on them, and on the right it appears and you still can see ...

Jared Jones: You can still see the list.

Gillian Bruce: ... the list of records.

Jared Jones: Yep.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Jared Jones: Yeah. The efficiency of the Console is so incredible. And you don't have to leave a screen to see other things. And then there's the tabs and the sub-tabs. That's relatively new. That just makes navigating from case to case so much easier.

Gillian Bruce: And you mentioned some things about Live Chat and Omnichannel. These are things that are so useful, I think, for admins to think about, especially if they work in a service-based organization or helping their agents be more efficient.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I'm sure people are ... on Twitter our listeners are going to be like, hey, Jared, so tell me how you did X, Y, and Z? I want to know.

Jared Jones: Hey, yeah, absolutely. I'm always happy to talk to people about that. I would pay to talk about Salesforce. That's how exciting I find it.

Gillian Bruce: Don't tell anybody that.

Jared Jones: Oh, I mean ... yeah. It's true. I think ... I enjoy it. No problem. If anybody has questions or want to reach out I'm around.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well, I so appreciate you sharing your story. You've done an incredible thing with your career in terms of completely transitioning it, and now ... I hear the passion. I see the passion that you have for helping other people learn Salesforce, and helping improve the way that their business runs. So I am so excited for you and your role now.

Jared Jones: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: It's going to be really fun to see what you do next. I mean, even just the app that you built to help badge check in and out be more efficient is awesome. I hear so much of that self-initiative and that motivation and that drive from you that I think a lot of our admins have. So I am inspired by your story, and I really appreciate you sharing it with us.

Jared Jones: Awesome. I'm glad I can inspire someone and I hope that admins listening to this take a cue and get on Trailhead and empower your knowledge and your career. Take it forward.

Gillian Bruce: Well, on that note, before I let you go, I'm going to ask you a lightning round question.

Jared Jones: A lightning question. Alright.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, so, it's the first thing that come to mind, no right or wrong answer.

Jared Jones: This could get interesting.

Gillian Bruce: Alright. Especially in your previous role, you had a lot of exposure, probably, to our ridiculous stickers and mascots that we have.

Jared Jones: Oh, yeah.

Gillian Bruce: What is your favorite Salesforce mascot?

Jared Jones: Oh, easy. Blaze.

Gillian Bruce: Blaze. Tell me more about Blaze.

Jared Jones: Blaze is the icon of customer success and innovation at Salesforce. So he is the representation of CSG, where we empower and inspire our customers, and everyone, to blaze a trail. That's why her name is Blaze. To always be pushing the edge of what you think is possible, and go to the next level. That's what Blaze represents.

Gillian Bruce: Well, and she's a wolf, which-

Jared Jones: Yeah, which is awesome.

Gillian Bruce: For-

Jared Jones: I could have mentioned that.

Gillian Bruce: It's a podcast. We don't have a visual.

Jared Jones: I keep forgetting that people don't know who Blaze is.

Gillian Bruce: For us dog lovers, I'm a huge fan of Blaze. So, yes.

Jared Jones: Awesome. Yeah, that's another great reason.

Gillian Bruce: Well, Jared, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. And I am so inspired by your journey. I'm excited to see what's next. And watch out, because now you're going to have a whole bunch of new admin fans on Twitter and the Trailblazer community.

Jared Jones: Awesome. Well, thanks very much. It's been a pleasure talking with you, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Jared for taking the time to chat with us and share about his story. And oh my gosh! Can you hear the passion in his voice? It was palpable. So I hope that some of that passion that Jared has for evangelizing what Salesforce can do as a tool and for your career reached the air waves and crept into your brain.

Gillian Bruce: Some of the things I really wanted to highlight from our conversation was how Jared really went from hotel management to Salesforce simply by being curious. He discovered he had a natural interest in CRM systems, because he was interested in how information was getting organized and things were getting automated and connected. And he put the pieces together when he was in that workplace services role here at Salesforce. Seeing opportunities to take manual processes that his existing team is doing using spreadsheets, and bringing them into Salesforce and really using Salesforce as a tool to help that team run smoother.

Gillian Bruce: And as he was doing that, he was learning with Trailhead, wanting to put those skills to the test, and he was very vocal about what he was doing, and the business value, and the return on investment. And by stressing that and really putting himself in front of management explaining why this mattered, he got support and got go ahead and got buy in to implement solutions to get access to a production org, and actually build out some custom objects and some apps that helped his original team work better, and better serve the company. And guess what? As he did that people started to recognize his abilities, and that's how he opened doors, and that's now he has transitioned into his role with Customer Success and Growth.

 

Direct download: Jared_Jones_Your_Friendly_Neighborhood_Salesforce_Spider-Man.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Saray Rosales, Associate Consultant at Now It Matters, with another great PepUp Tech alumni story. We learn how she first met Salesforce as an end user and now is building her career in the platform.

Join us as we talk about how she got started with PepUp Tech, and what she’s learned as a new Salesforce admin to help herself and help herself and help others.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Saray Rosales.

Driven to help other people.

When she was growing up, Saray really just wanted to help other people: “I wanted to impact people and do something big for others.” In her new role at Now It Matters, she gets to do just that. “Every day is a new day, something challenging and something new and I love it.”

Saray didn’t necessarily know off the bat that Salesforce would be the way to do what she dreamed of, but the company she was working for happened to use the platform, so she encountered it as an end user. “I wanted to learn more about Salesforce, so I went to the World Tour where I met Selena Suarez, the founder of PepUp Tech,” she says. She did the boot camp program and it changed everything: “I fell in love with Salesforce. I fell in love with the company, the inclusion that it represents, and I really look forward to learning more about it.”

How Saray relies on her community.

So how did Saray end up going to World Tour when she was really just an end user at that point? “We didn’t have an admin at the company back then, so I was feeling like we didn’t know what to do with this amazing tool that we had,” she says. She took the boot camp to learn more about the backend in order to do more with the platform.

“The boot camp was amazing,” Saray says, “I got to meet amazing people that I’m still friends with and very close with. I tell them that they are my Ohana, my family here, my support system, they opened so many doors for me. They actually changed my life for the better.”

As studied more, Saray quickly saw why the admin role was so important to the platform. “I’m learning how you can make things better for your users. How can you make everything more efficient for them and easier for them?” she says. “You see the backend of things, and you analyze all the processes and figure out a way to make things better.” In other words, you help other people do their jobs better.

Proving herself in a new role.

At Now It Matters, Saray is learning something new every day. “My coworkers are amazing, they’re very patient with me, and they take the time to teach me things because there’s always something you can learn and do better,” she says.

When she started out she was on a two-week trial which was understandably a little nerve-wracking, so she reached out to the PepUp Tech community to ask for advice. “They said, ‘Just take a step back and look at the big picture of things, don’t get overwhelmed,’” she says, “‘look at the small pieces and put it all together.’”

From the start, Saray faced some tough challenges. She needed to solve a problem related to finance, but she had no idea what to do because it wasn’t in her background. However, she realized that she could use it as an opportunity to prove that she can learn quickly and take on new problems, so she took a deep breath and dove in. “I read a lot and reached out to people that I know who could help me,” she says, and it ended up being a big win for her. “There are so many things that you don’t know as a new admin,” she says, “and that’s why you’ve got to take a step back and relax.”

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce.

Gillian Bruce: Today, listeners, we have another great PepUp Tech alumni story for you. We are talking to Saray Rosales, who is an Associate Consultant at Now IT Matters. I got the opportunity to meet with Saray and chat with her when I was in New York for the World Tour back in December, and she's got a great story about how she first met Salesforce as an end user, and has now created her whole career around Salesforce. So, without further ado, please welcome Saray to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Saray, welcome to the podcast.

Saray Rosales: Oh wow, thank you, so happy to be here.

Gillian Bruce: I am so happy to be here, we are in New York City getting read for the New York World Tour, which is just around the corner for us. And this is your home base, New York, so thank you for having me in your city, this is cool. I wanted to get you on the podcast because you've got a really great story I wanted to share with our listeners.

Gillian Bruce: But before we get into that, I would love to ask you a question. Saray, what did you wanna be when you grew up?

Saray Rosales: Oh, that's a funny question. I always dreamt to help people, to impact people, to do something big for others and help others.

Gillian Bruce: That's a pretty big goal as a kid, to wanna do that, that's great. So now you are working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell us about what you're doing.

Saray Rosales: Right now I'm working for Now IT Matters as an Associate Consultant. So I'm pretty happy in my new role, I've been with them one and a half months already, and I love it so far. I love the company culture, I love that I'm learning something new every day, it's a new day, something challenging, something new. I love it.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. So you're doing consulting, you're in the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell me about how you first found Salesforce. Did you know that you wanted to do Salesforce when you were in school? Tell me a little bit more about your journey.

Saray Rosales: Okay, so I used to work for a company, and then they had Salesforce, so I wanted to learn more about Salesforce. And I came actually to the World Tour two years ago, and I met Selina Suarez, the founder of PepUp Tech. Since then, I took the boot camp in PepUp Tech, and then I fell in love with Salesforce. I fell in love with the company, the inclusion that the company represents. I'm really looking forward to keep learning more about it.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. So were you an end user of Salesforce at that previous company?

Saray Rosales: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: And how was your experience using Salesforce as an end user? What did you think about it, how did you use it?

Saray Rosales: That's why I came to the World Tour, because I wanted to learn more. We didn't have an admin at the company back then, so I was feeling that we didn't know what to do with this amazing tool that we had. So I came to the World Tour, and I got the opportunity to take the boot camp because I wanted to learn more about the backend, the admin side of Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: So you were immediately curious about seeing what else you could do with the technology, and you found the PepUp Tech boot camp. So tell me a little bit about that experience, how was the boot camp experience for you?

Saray Rosales: Oh my god, the boot camp experience was amazing. I got to meet amazing people that I am still friends with and very close with. I tell them that they are my 'ohana, my family here, my support system. They opened so many doors for me, they actually changed my life for the better.

Gillian Bruce: That's amazing. So you've got this great cohort of people that you've been working with, that are kind of like your Salesforce 'ohana, right, your first Salesforce 'ohana. But you're learning Salesforce and the technology and how to do the admin piece of it, what were some of the things about learning how to be a Salesforce admin that were either surprising, or you found challenging? Tell me about that experience.

Saray Rosales: The surprising part, I think that is learning how you can make things better for your users. How can you make everything more efficient for them and easier for them? That's the best part that I'm finding about the Salesforce admin role, that you see the back end of things and you analyze all the processes and figure out the way to make things better.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and like you said, you've always been motivated by trying to make an impact for people and make their lives better. So here you go, you've found a way to customize their experience and help them do their jobs better, so it makes sense that that excited you. That's great.

Gillian Bruce: So now you're at Now IT Matters. How did you transition from your role as an end user to now at this consultancy?

Saray Rosales: That's a very interesting question. It's challenging, because I'm learning something new. But that's the exciting part. Every day I'm learning something new, I am reading a lot, using Trailhead a lot. And my coworkers are amazing, they're very patient with me, and they take the time to teach me things because there's always something that you can learn to do better, right?

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. And you've said this a few times, the idea of the Salesforce 'ohana, the Salesforce community, that spirit of everyone trying to help each other.

Saray Rosales: That's right.

Gillian Bruce: So for me that's one of the things that I think makes me feel so special to be a part of this culture, this ecosystem. It's this crazy world where everyone wants to help each other and lift each other up.

Saray Rosales: Very supportive.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So tell me, that impact for you, you're new in this role, tell me about what it's like for you to ask questions or lean on your PepUp Tech crew for help or support.

Saray Rosales: I actually had a two-week trial, and I didn't know what to do during this two-week period, so I reached out to all my mentors at PepUp Tech and asked them, “What can I do, how can I do this, I am feeling overwhelmed, I don't know where to start.” They all calmed me down and they said, “Just take a step back and look at the big picture of things. Don't get overwhelmed for everything.” So that's basically what I did at the beginning.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, chunk it down, right? Don't try and boil the ocean.

Saray Rosales: Don't look at everything, just take a step back and look at small pieces, and then put it all together.

Gillian Bruce: So I'm trying to think, what were some of the things that in that two-week trial, you're like, “Oh, I've gotta prove myself, this is a big challenge.” What were some of the quick wins or things that you were able to do to demonstrate, “Hey, I belong here, this is my job.”

Saray Rosales: I remember that I had one assignment that was very challenging, it was something related to finance. I had no idea about finance because it's not my background, right? So I was like, “Oh, I gotta prove that I can do challenging stuff, and I can learn something new and I can take it to the next step.” So I remember I was going away, and during that time I was like, “I gotta get this done before I go away.”

Saray Rosales: So I read a lot, I reached out to people that I know might help me to know more information about it, and I finished the task before I left. And I think that got me to demonstrate that I really belong here, I can prove myself, I can do things here.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and I like how you say you didn't already know about this kinda finance question, maybe not something that you already knew, but you were able to lean on your network and do your own research, and figure it out. I think a lot of people, especially new in an admin role, kinda feel this, “Oh my gosh, I don't know everything, I have to know everything, maybe I'm not qualified.” And so the fact that you immediately knew, “I may not know the answer, but I know how to go find it.”

Saray Rosales: That's right, and that's the thing that gets you overwhelmed at the beginning. Because you feel like you gotta know things, and there are so many things that you don't know as a new admin. That's how I felt at the beginning, but that's why you gotta take a step back and then realize that every day you gotta learn something new. And then you will get to the point that you will know a lot, but still you have more things to learn.

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. So another thing that I've heard, especially from other PepUp Tech alumni, is the idea that you're still learning, but you also like to share what you've learned, and that's helped them get more experience and feel more confident in what they know. How are you plugging back into ... Are you giving back in that way too? “Oh, I learned this thing, let me share it with you.” So tell me a little bit about that, are there specific instances that you've helped somebody else?

Saray Rosales: I remember that I volunteered for the boot camps, Saturday boot camps, and my first day that I volunteered for I got so excited that I can actually teach other people what I know. I remember I volunteered with Sasha, one of my PepUp Tech friends, and we were so excited and so eager to teach other people. And I have a few friends that took the boot camp, and I set up meetings during the week with them, so I can go over and I can explain things to them that they don't know.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome.

Saray Rosales: It feels nice to give back.

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely, and like you said, it helps build your confidence a little bit. “Oh, I do have something I can teach, I have knowledge that other people get something from.”

Saray Rosales: “Oh, I remember how to do this.”

Gillian Bruce: So Saray, since you're kind of new in your career and you're in this, you're building, what are some pieces of advice you might have for people who are also new in their Salesforce career that have helped you build what you've got?

Saray Rosales: I will say be humble, and ask questions. Be willing to learn from other people, and be willing to ask them for feedback, how are you doing, how can you be better. And show people that you are willing to ... You maybe don't know right now the answer, but you're willing to work and you're willing to learn it.

Gillian Bruce: That's a great piece of advice. And you just told us how that's worked really well for you so far, so that's great. So what's next for you? You're at Now IT Matters, you've really taken on this Salesforce career path, what's next for you?

Saray Rosales: I wanna become a consultant, right now I have the position as an Associate Consultant, but I wanna become a consultant. I wanna get certified as my admin certification first, and then I wanna get some marketing certification, maybe marketing cloud. That's what I wanna do for next year.

Gillian Bruce: That's excellent, I'm looking forward to hearing back from you and seeing you brag about your awesome certifications.

Saray Rosales: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. Well, before I totally let you go, I do wanna ask you a lightning round question, by popular demand, I get in trouble on the podcast if I don't ask a lightning round question. So it's the first thing to come to mind, there's no right or wrong answer.

Gillian Bruce: Since we're in New York City, I've been asking New York themed lightning round questions. Saray, your question is what is one thing you recommend someone to do when they visit New York City?

Saray Rosales: Oh, go to Times Square.

Gillian Bruce: Times Square, there we go.

Saray Rosales: Go to Times Square.

Gillian Bruce: All the huge billboards and the screens and everything.

Saray Rosales: And take the subway at least one time.

Gillian Bruce: Great tip, I love the subway, it makes San Francisco subways look so sad. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us, I so look forward to hearing back from you when you've got your next steps going. And I'm excited for what's in front of you career-wise.

Saray Rosales: Thank you so much for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Saray for taking the time to chat with me in New York. If you couldn't tell, there's a little bit of background noise, we were actually huddled in a lobby of a hotel by some conference rooms, because I just wanted to capture her story so badly that I wanted to take whatever time I could to do that.

Gillian Bruce: I absolutely loved her passion and her energy that came across. She really has always wanted to find a way to help others, ever since she was a young person growing up. And now she's found a way to do that with Salesforce. Meeting Salesforce as an end user and then figuring out that it was a tool that she could use to help people and make their lives easier, finding PepUp Tech as a way to enable her to learn how to do that, and now as a consultant at Now IT Matters, being on that path to really help lots and lots of people be empowered and improve how they do their jobs and what they do with the power of a platform.

Gillian Bruce: I also really liked how she mentioned that her 'ohana is key to helping her learn and get going. She only had a two-week trial in her role at Now IT Matters as an Associate Consultant, and she was not afraid to ask for help, to lean on her community of PepUp Tech alumni and the Salesforce community to help her figure out any questions that she couldn't answer.

Gillian Bruce: One of my favorite things that she said is, “Every day you're gonna learn something new, and someday you'll know a lot. But you have to go through the process of learning something every single day to get there.”

Gillian Bruce: So, definitely remember her advice of be humble and ask questions, be willing to learn and ask for feedback. Showing people that you're willing to learn and you're willing to work to learn is really key for you being successful and for you growing into your career in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Gillian Bruce: So great words of wisdom and great inspiration from Saray, I so appreciate her taking the time to chat with us. If you wanna learn a little bit more about some of the things we chatted about, I have some resources for you.

Gillian Bruce: First of all, you can always go check out the amazing program of PepUp Tech, I have the link in the show notes. They have amazing boot camps and other ways that you can also volunteer and give back. Just like Saray mentioned, she loves the ability to volunteer and teach others, it helps her build confidence in her skills. Great opportunity for all of you listening to the podcast to help out in some way.

Gillian Bruce: There's also some good resources on Trailhead. If you are early in your Salesforce career, there is a great trail mix called Build Your Admin Career on Salesforce. It is an amazing collection of skills that you need, both technical and non-technical, to help you build your admin career.

Gillian Bruce: There's also a resource on Trailhead new in the last few months, we've been able to combine a lot of great resources on trailhead.com, and there's a whole webpage about discovering Salesforce career paths. So if you are interested in maybe taking on a consulting role, like Saray has taken, you can learn more about what that career path looks like right there on that page. Again, those links are in the show notes.

Gillian Bruce: As always, remember to please share this podcast with your friends, your family, your coworkers, your colleagues, your neighbors, anybody you think might find some value in discovering the Salesforce ecosystem or building up their awesome admin skills. By subscribing to the podcast, it makes sure you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released every Thursday.

Gillian Bruce: And if you want more great content on how to be an awesome admin, check out admin.salesforce.com where you'll find blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts. You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no “i”. Our guest today, Saray, is also on Twitter, she is @SarayKRosales. And you can find myself @gilliankbruce.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.

Direct download: Driven_to_Help_People_with_Saray_Rosales.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we get to sit down with Brian Millham, President of Global Customer Success and the thirteenth employee ever at Salesforce, to hear some tips on dealing with senior executives and the importance of admins.

Join us as we talk about why tough feedback is key to your career path, why admins are key to Salesforce success, and how to communicate with executive leadership.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Brian Millham.

The early days of Salesforce.

Brian joined Salesforce in 1999 as the thirteenth Salesforce employee. “Back in those days, we talked a lot about on-demand software or software as a service, the ‘cloud’ term didn’t even exist back then,” Brian says. Throughout his time with the company, he’s worked primarily in sales, with some experiences in alliances and business development as well. “The early days of Salesforce were not as glamorous as they are today, for sure,” Brian says, “but it was a fun time.”

“For me it’s been an exciting evolution,” Brian says, “I was very lucky to be able to learn iteratively through the years.” From Sales Cloud and Service Cloud to MuleSoft, Salesforce has evolved through the years and Brian has been along for the ride. Now on the Customer Success team, he gets to see how the scope of the platform is changing companies every day.

The tough feedback that makes a great manager.

Many Salesforce admins find themselves in management positions, and Brian has some great advice. For one thing, looking for incremental gains through smart hires is vital if you want to keep growing and work efficiently at scale. “Don’t rely on the past to get you into the future,” Brian says, “bring in new people with new perspectives.”

For another thing, you need to not be afraid to have honest conversations. That goes both ways. You need to be willing to give tough feedback at times when someone can hear it, but you also need to be able to make changes to your own leadership style and listen closely when someone is being honest with you. “Some of the best learnings you have are not from your successes but from the challenges instead,” Brian says. Ask for the hard feedback you need to hear, and don’t be afraid to be honest with your team.

Admin magic.

“We live in a world where we get to place the customer at the center of everything that we’re doing,” Brian says, “and we have the ability to go help companies accelerate one of their priorities.” As companies start to think differently about customer engagement and touchpoints, the platform also opens up opportunities for new people to work with new tools to do amazing things with those insights.

“I was just with a customer last week who was telling me a story about an admin that built an application that sat adjacent to the product that we’d sold them. No technical skills when they joined the company, but they were able to come in, understand the business requirements of the users, and then built this application that is the most used application in the entire suite of products,” Brian says.

How to talk to executive leadership from someone who does it all the time.

Many solo or part-time admins are out there trying to figure out how to get support from leadership to add people to their team. The bottom line is that someone in your organization has made the decision to invest in Salesforce. They want it to succeed, so the key is figuring out who that is and helping them understand why they need someone who owns adoption, customizations, and fundamentally understands the technology.

When Brian talks to executives, he really stresses the importance of making sure that you’re setting yourself up to get value from your investment by making the right personnel decisions. “The number one hire you must have after you buy Salesforce is a rockstar admin,” he says.

In his current role, Brian has a lot of experience talking to executives and leadership. “You need to make sure that there’s clear understanding around the business value you’re getting from Salesforce,” he says. “Make sure you’re tying value to your   because executives really want to know what the payback is in any of the work that’s being done out there.”

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Direct download: Why_Admins_Matter_with_Brian_Millham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am PST

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Taisha Inesti, Business Manager at AHRC New York City and PepUp Tech alum. We come to you live from a bar in the NYC Finacial District to talk about her journey into the Salesforce ecosystem who is just getting started.

Join us as we talk about how she became a liaison between the tech and people parts of her organization, her experience in PepUp Tech, and how she’s approaching breaking into a Salesforce career.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Taisha Inesti.

Working to make a difference.

Taisha, who goes by Tai, originally wanted to be a lawyer. However, like most of our guests on the pod, life happened and she ended up on a different road that led her to tech. For Tai, it was becoming a single mother at nineteen. She needed to get to work to support her family, so she started at a nonprofit that provides behavioral health services to patients with disabilities. First, she provided direct care, eventually moving into admin and eventually became the Systems Manager. “That’s when my love for systems and technology came into play,” she says.

At her agency, Tai is trying to overhaul the systems that are being used, but it’s tough to get momentum, especially when critical day-to-day operations depend upon them. “They’re not using enterprise systems, they’re not even electronic medical records,” she says, “we’re recording on the backend to basically make a bill.” Tai is in charge of making sure they have clean data to make sure everything’s running smoothly, and that they can satisfy their reporting requirements.

Translating from IT gruff talk to human.

As Tai got more involved in the data side of her nonprofit, she started working with the IT department, which at first fulfilled the stereotype of being a bit rough around the edges. She was a fast study and wasn’t afraid to speak up when trainings had the wrong tone. People took notice, and so she was able to pick up some coding. Eventually, they had a special position created specifically for her to help IT with training.

“A lot of people, when they’re learning, they’re learning without understanding why things happen the way they happen,” Tai says, “but when you understand the way something works it’s a lot easier for you to be able to help another person understand that too.” She had a talent for understanding the Why behind a thing, and communicating that clearly to the actual people who needed to execute that task.

When Salesforce entered the picture (Selina Suarez strikes again).

During this time, Tai also went back and finished her degree in Public Affairs and Legal Studies. She got to design her own major, so she focused on IT, and project management, supplementing that with Khan Academy courses in Java and more to feed her curiosity. “I just wanted to keep learning, and I wish I had heard about Salesforce back then because I would have been a Trailhead master,” she says.

So how did Tai get to Salesforce? A childhood friend of 25 years who happens to be Selina Suarez. As Selina was learning Salesforce and getting more involved, she kept telling Tai to come along for the ride. When Selina started PepUp Tech, naturally, Tai got involved. She went to her first Dreamforce this year, and the experience was amazing. “I cried so many times, I was overwhelmed by the love and community that exists within the Salesforce ecosystem,” she says.

Tai was particularly moved by Marc Benioff’s discussion of “inclusive capitalism,” the idea that business can help make social change real and achievable. “I think that Salesforce is breaking generational curses, that it’s making the world a better place,” she says. “People who would have been overlooked—they’re in the ecosystem and they’re building and they’re thriving,” she says.

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Gillian Bruce:               Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce and today listeners, we have another very special PepUp Tech story to share with you. This story is from Taisha Inesti or Tai as she goes by. Tai is an aspiring Salesforce admin. She has discovered Salesforce through PepUp Tech and has felt incredibly excited about the opportunity of really working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Her current company does not use Salesforce, but she is so ready to make that transition.

Gillian Bruce:               I wanted to get her story on the podcast to share with you because she's got some really amazing stories to share about how she realized she had a knack for technological, her nontraditional route to technology, and how she realized that she's got all these amazing skillsets and is perfectly poised to truly become an awesome admin. Oh yeah. If you're an employer looking to hire an awesome admin, check Tai out. She's got an amazing skillset to offer the right opportunity. I will apologize in advance. You'll hear a little bit of background noise. I interviewed Tai while I was in New York City for the world tour back in December, and the only semi quiet spot we could find happen to be in a bar just next door to where she works.

Gillian Bruce:               It's not too loud, but you will hear a little bit of background noise, but it's a really great interview and I hope you enjoy it. Without further ado, please welcome Tai to the podcast. Tai, welcome to the podcast.

Tai Inesti:                     Hi, Gillian. Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce:               Actually you're having me. I came and met you down by your work. You're in New York City.

Tai Inesti:                     This is true.

Gillian Bruce:               What area of town are we in?

Tai Inesti:                     We're in the financial district, so that's like Wall Street area.

Gillian Bruce:               Right. Another area of New York that I've never been to before, so thank you for broadening my horizons.

Tai Inesti:                     You're welcome.

Gillian Bruce:               We've been talking a little bit about your story and some of the incredible things you've done. I wanted to get you on the podcast to talk a little bit more about that to help kind of inspire some other folks who may have some similarities that they realize to where you're at and what you're doing. One of the questions I like to ask to kind of kick off the podcast and help introduce the guest is ask you, Tai, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Tai Inesti:                     I wanted to be a lawyer.

Gillian Bruce:               A lawyer? Why a lawyer?

Tai Inesti:                     I do. I used to watch these court TV shows. I was like five, six year old watching these court TV shows and my grandmother used to laugh at me. Call me this little old lady. I just was fascinated by the courtroom and the law. I've always got it. I don't know. I used to be very ... What they would say is I would argue you down if I had a point and I wanted to make it, you were going to know about it. I thought that that would be a great profession for me.

Gillian Bruce:               Nice. Nice. You're a fan of arguing people down. I thought that's good. It's a good life skill to have, not to be afraid to have a viewpoint and go for it and prove. You have siblings? Did you get to do that a lot with them?

Tai Inesti:                     I do. I'm the eldest and I have two younger brothers. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gillian Bruce:               You had to hold your own. That's good.

Tai Inesti:                     Yeah.

Gillian Bruce:               Okay. You wanted to be a lawyer.

Tai Inesti:                     Yeah.

Gillian Bruce:               But now you are a business manager. Is that correct?

Tai Inesti:                     Yes. Yes.

Gillian Bruce:               Okay. Tell me a little bit about that path. How did you go from wanting to be a lawyer to kind of where you are now? You've done a lot in your life. Give us the little overview.

Tai Inesti:                     Well, it was life and the children, you know? I got scared when I had my son. I had my son at 17. My son, by the way, is a sergeant in the U.S. Marines and he is overseas right now in West Africa.

Gillian Bruce:               Thank you to your son for his service.

Tai Inesti:                     Thank you. It was him really. I thought that a firm was going to drive me out and chew me ... Spit me up and chew me out. I didn't have that type of support as a single mother and a teen mother. I knew that that was like probably not the best option for me. I just started working direct care and then I went from direct care into admin and then I started doing what they call a systems manager. That's when my love for systems and basically technology came into play.

Gillian Bruce:               You said direct care. Talk to me a little bit about what that is. What industry is it that you're in?

Tai Inesti:                     I'm right now in a nonprofit sector. We provide behavioral health services to people with developmental disabilities of all spectrums. My department is the adult day services department. I am responsible for that type of population. Direct care means directly working with them, teaching them hand on hand any life skills and budgeting. All types of things that we were doing with them, but it was basically hand to hand direct contact with them. That's why they call it direct care.

Gillian Bruce:               I mean you must have felt like you were definitely like helping people and making a big impact.

Tai Inesti:                     Oh, yes. I fell in love with the agency and its mission. I was actually in school for paralegal services. I did try to pursue somewhat in the law realm, but I fell in love with the agency's mission because it was a beautiful place to work for. Helping people is what I'm passionate about.

Gillian Bruce:               I love that. Okay. Well, this is good. This is one of those qualities I think that makes an amazing Salesforce admin. Put that in the file cabinet right there. You're managing systems. You talk about how you fell in love with systems. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Tai Inesti:                     The systems that they're using at this agency, they are not even enterprise systems. They're not even electronical medical records. Basically what we're doing is we're coding on the backend for a lot of things to make basically what derives a bill. We have service access stations and then we have an attendance factor. That's basically one of the systems that we're doing. Of course, we need clean data to run it and make sure everything is good for our reporting and so on and so forth. That's kind of what we're using.

Gillian Bruce:               What kind of has sparked your interest when you talk about systems and data? I mean I see you light up a little bit when you talked about cleaning data. Talk to me a little bit more about that because again like you kind of ... I mean you started doing the direct care and then you got involved in kind of the more systems end of things. Tell me a little bit about what drove that interest for you.

Tai Inesti:                     Well, I work with what people think as traditional IT people and that would be like an old mean white guy who does not want to talk to you at all and has zero patience. I worked with a bunch of them. What happened was when they were ... They were responsible for training at the time and they were so mean to everybody and they were just ... I got it. I got the things that they were saying pretty quickly. They actually listened to me. They weren't so mean to me. I kind of had tough skin so I could kind of deal with it when they were.

Gillian Bruce:               Again, the arguing down ability, right?

Tai Inesti:                     Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. When they were like snappy or being just not so patient and nice, I will kind of speak up and then they wanted to work with just me. What happened is I kind of became like an IT liaison. I got them to show me little things here and there, little coding, little stuff on Java. I just understood them. I understood their language and I was able to help my other admins. That's how that started and then they created a whole position for me behind that. I was responsible for training them and also making the training manuals because IT just didn't want to be bothered. They just want to be working in the backend, not talking to people, looking at the screen, making things work.

Gillian Bruce:               Right. Right. You say you got it pretty quickly. What was it? Did it just make sense to you like the idea of technology, managing different processes? How were you able to get these concepts pretty quickly?

Tai Inesti:                     It was basic. For me, they would show us, of course, and I would ask questions. I was like why and why does it ... If we're clicking here, what would make this go there? What happened was I was putting ... I was basically establishing processes that I didn't know yet. It kind of was just easier for me to grasp when I understood why something did what it did. A lot of people when they're learning, what happens is they're just learning it without understanding why things happen the way they happen. If you learn that way, yeah, you can do a mundane ... You can just program yourself to do a task, right? It becomes like you know how you can brush your teeth with your eyes closed.

Tai Inesti:                     That's how you would ... If you're not understanding the way something works. When you understand the way something works, it's just a lot easier for you to be able to help another person understand how it works.

Gillian Bruce:               Well, yeah, and then you've got to explain it to the other person, so it even derives further understanding for you.

Tai Inesti:                     Right. Right. Right. Right.

Gillian Bruce:               It's always better to know the why behind the thing.

Tai Inesti:                     Yes. Yes.

Gillian Bruce:               I have to do the thing. Okay.

Tai Inesti:                     Right. Some people are programmed like that. They do learn that way and it's just mundane to them and they'll keep on doing it. For me, that didn't work. Especially I didn't want to get yelled at. You know?

Gillian Bruce:               That's a good motivation.

Tai Inesti:                     Right.

Gillian Bruce:               That's a good motivation. Okay. You kind of understood this concept. You became the liaison between basically the tech side, IT side and the actual people who are doing the work. You were already kind of like this analyst role and a better enablement with the training to creating all the training documentation.

Tai Inesti:                     Yes.

Gillian Bruce:               Did you start dabbling further into learning more technology? What then happened for you?

Tai Inesti:                     First off, I decided to go back to school and pursue my degree. I actually did get it. I did my best to design some public affairs and legal studies to kind of keep that law thing there.

Gillian Bruce:               It's still there.

Tai Inesti:                     It's still there. What happened was doing that, I actually was able to design my degree. I did a lot of IT courses and project management courses that kind of helped me to ... On a higher learning, it kind of helped me to understand hey, these things are pretty amazing. Let me just keep looking into them. I would go on Khan Academy, take little free courses there. Learn the basic coding of Java. Not because I had to, because I just wanted to. I wanted the knowledge. I just wanted to keep learning. I wish I knew about Salesforce back then because I would have been a Trailhead master, you know? Khan Academy helped me out a lot.

Gillian Bruce:               That's great. I love this curiosity that you had. You just wanted to learn. You wanted to tinker. You wanted to try stuff. I think it's an amazing quality. Again, this is another one of those like core things of what makes an awesome admin, right? I'm loving this because everything that you'd exposed to me I'm like, "Oh, that's another quality." You've got the curiosity. You like to help people. You like being the in between between the technology and the business. I mean this is like the perfect admin resume you got.

Tai Inesti:                     Gillian's eyes just light up when she talks about these things. She's just like a little angel. I swear. I have to tell you. Her enthusiasm just seeps everywhere.

Gillian Bruce:               Hey, I feed off of you. This is where it happens. I'm just reflecting it back onto you. All right. Tell me about maybe where you're at now. You've tinkered a little bit. You've been the liaison between IT and the business. You are now in a business role, business management role, but you've also now been exposed to the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell me about how you first learned about Salesforce.

Tai Inesti:                     Selina Suarez is one of my childhood best friends. We have remained friends for over 25 years. What happened was Selina started getting heavily into the tech business. She started going to these Women in Tech groups that she would take me to. She had just built her first a