Ready Admin One

Or what video games have taught me as a Salesforce admin (and consultant).

I realize that this will come as a shock to almost 0% of my audience, but I like to play video games. Mostly long (100 hour plus) RPGs with rich stories, well-developed characters, or at least enough of one to mask the lack of the other.

Growing up I didn’t have a game console. It wasn’t until I was an adult, free to make my own choices and eschew responsibilities as I saw fit, that I really started getting into them. As an avid reader and someone who revels in the feeling of accomplishing a task, they’re kind of perfect. There’s a story, and there are clear steps and tasks presented that have clear success or fail requirements. You know…not at all like real life.

All the same, I’ve been able to apply a lot of things from my hobby to my job. If you’re a fellow gamer, you might recognize some these things, too.

Leveling up can be a grind

I am a trophy hunter. If there is an achievement to be unlocked in a game, I’ll probably go after it. Enter: Skyrim.

One of the last trophies I earned before getting platinum was the silver Master trophy, for reaching Level 50. I had completed the main game with two different characters. I had finished all of the side faction storylines, but I still wasn’t quite there. So I did what any other Skyrim fan has done – I started grinding through low-level abilities to get that sweet XP. I made so many daggers; I cleared so many dungeons. It was boring.

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But I got the trophy. And I got the platinum.

Twice. (Thank you, Bethesda, for re-releasing it on the PS4.)

If you think that only applies to games, you’ve obviously never gone after multiple Salesforce certifications. Reading and re-reading release notes, help articles, the study guide, blog posts, Trailhead, etc. It takes some serious heads-down time to study for some of the certifications out there, and yeah, it can be really boring. But at then end, you have a brand new certification.

Side quests

It’s Monday morning for the solo admin, and they have their week planned out. Got some Trailhead badges to earn, a new dashboard to build, and a meeting with the steering committee. They have one goal this week: deploy a new custom object and flow, to support a functional group that is adopting Salesforce.

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Except….

A user needs a password reset.

Another user deleted a record but they can’t remember which one, and they need it back.

An executive needs a report of all sales in 2012, for some reason they have deemed unimportant to share.

And on and on and on. Each random task may only take a handful of minutes, but those minutes start to add up, and soon your inbox is full of minor requests that may have a time limit attached to them. At least all experience is good experience, right?

It’s good to recruit companions

dangerousEven non-gamers know this one.

It’s not impossible to finish quests and storylines alone, of course. But misery and joy and struggle…pretty much everything loves company. So why wouldn’t you recruit companions? Especially if they can fill in gaps in your abilities or knowledge.

Most of us already know the importance of the community, so I can pretty much just…leave this here, right? Ohana, my peeps.

Once a completionist…

This is actually a thing (read about the Zeigarnik Effect here). Once a gamer (or an admin) starts on a quest, we have to finish it. Luckily many of these tasks have definitive end-games.

Slay the dragon.

Deploy the change set.

Find the pan.

Build the report.

We obsess over the things we haven’t completed. How many of us have gone to sleep, thinking about data schema, only to wake up with the answer and excitedly go about building what we imagined?

How many of us have to get all the Trailhead badges? (BTW, if you think Trailhead hasn’t taken into account some of what I’m writing about here, you aren’t paying attention.)

And it’s not just video games

Ultimately it comes down to liking the feeling of solving a puzzle. Admins are problem-solvers. We are people that like to get our hands dirty, play with something, and make it work. For me it’s like video games. For some people it’s like puzzles or building things.

We are the people who stay up into the wee hours, searching the community, building and rebuilding our flows, until it is done.

And bonus! Now I can check this particular task off my list.

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I did a thing: Becoming a Salesforce Admin Story

This is kind of awkward for me, which is weird because I’ve acted and spoken publicly, and I don’t get really bad stage fright. This feels different, though.

I did an #AwesomeAdmin video. I was truly honored/humbled to be asked in the first place because, seriously, what do I have to tell people that better smarter other folks in the community can’t say better? But then if I can help someone find their way to a great career or something, then I should do it. (Right, Spiderman?!)

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One of the questions they asked me was how I became a Salesforce Admin…and why. I gave an answer that was suitable for a short video. There’s more to it, though, and since I’m way better at writing than speaking out loud, I figured I’d take this opportunity to share that story.

Skipping ahead a bit because I’m not about to sit here and write out all of the random things I’ve done to make money before. So many things. None of them illegal, just to be clear.

I first got a job at Lean in 2013. It was a big deal. I had been working at Geek Squad, which meant some weekends and nights and a bit of a drive. Lean was Monday to Friday, 9-5, and 3 miles down the road.

I started as a Logistics Coordinator, managing inbound freight for one of our clients. It was good work, sometimes stressful (Snowmageddon, I’m looking at you). But as might be evident, I was also doing other stuff in the company because I can’t keep well enough alone. More specifically, I was working with the HR team on an Emergency Response Plan because I had experience with that sort of thing (see unlisted list of jobs I’ve done).

In that work, I was told that there was a data analyst spot opening in Marketing – was it something I’d be interested in? Uh, well, yeah.

I applied when the job opened, interviewed, and I got the job. Hooray!

“You’ll also be the administrator for Salesforce and Marketo.”

“Sounds great!” What is Salesforce? What is Marketo? Cue frantic Google searches, video watching, and standard Hollywood meet-cute.

And thus, I became the admin for my little org. There was an agreement that if I could get certified in one of those systems within a year, I’d be compensated for it. Cool! (Spoiler alert: I got certified in both! Go big or go home!)

Enter Salesforce Community, stage right.

I went to Dreamforce that same year. It was a little overwhelming, really. I had been using/administering Salesforce for less than 6 months when I went. But it drove me to the online community. The online community drove me to learn more about regional things – user groups, and even better, regional events like Midwest Dreamin’.

I’ve talked about Midwest Dreamin’ before. Like…a lot. But it’s because it’s important to me. So, so important.

I took the job offered because it sounded interesting. I took it because there would be fewer late nights trying to find trucks to cover loads. I took it because I really liked the manager.

I stuck with it because of the potential, the community, the people.

I am so proud to be an #AwesomeAdmin. I am so happy to know the people in this community. They always surprise me. There’s always someone else I have to meet that is going to be delightful in a completely unexpected way. Or someone I know but learn eventually that we have even more in common. Or a group of people that are playing D&D for a good cause, and I get to play D&D related to my job. WHERE ELSE DOES THAT HAPPEN IN LIFE?

All of this just to say thank you.

Thank you to the community. All of you out there doing what you do. You’re all inspiring.

Thank you to the Awesome Admin team. How amazing is it that we have an entire team at Salesforce devoted to promoting what we do?!

Thank you to Salesforce in general. So much promise and opportunity for people because of the culture that Salesforce promotes.

Thank you to Marc Benioff, obviously, for getting the whole show started.