Georgia on my mind

I grew up in the peach state, various towns and cities at different times, only vaguely aware that people lived in other states. It’s weird how that happens. When you define a place as Home, it feels strange sometimes to think that there are billions of people out there who not only don’t live near you, but have most likely never even heard of your town.

When I was very little, I affected a thick Southern drawl, drew out my syllables as folk do in Georgia. But over time that dwindled, even living in the state. People who meet me now will not often guess that I spent the better part of my pre-adult years (and even early adult) in the foothills of Appalachia.

Fun fact: Georgia is the largest state East of the Mississippi. Yes, it’s true. Yes, even when you take the Upper Peninsula into consideration for Michigan.

I mention that because when I tell people I grew up in Georgia, they almost always know someone in Augusta or Savannah. I lived about 6 hours from them, in that case. I most likely don’t know them.

I’m headed that way on Saturday, the hubby and I hopping in a rental car to make the drive down. We’ll spend some time with my family at the homestead in the hills, and then I’m dragging him along with me to Southeast Dreamin’.

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In addition to being excited about being in the place I learned how to walk and speak and be an adult*, I’m really excited about this stuff:

  1. Charlie Isaacs‘s keynote. He’s one of my favorite people in the community, so I’m very happy to see him speak.
  2. Rebe de la Paz is going to talk about educating end users – a topic near and dear to my heart.
  3. For my NPO friends, you can check out Adam Kramer‘s session on Optimizing NPSP as an Admin.
  4. My friend and fellow #GifSquad member, Amy Oplinger, is reprising her fantastic session on Imposter Syndrome.
  5. Phillip Southern is going to share how they created the open-source Trailhead leaderboard.
  6. Doug Ayers is sharing his presentation on using Process Builder to create a Chatter Bot.
  7. THE Jen Lee of Automation Hour fame is sharing a session on Flow.
  8. Chris Duarte‘s closing keynote! It’s like a delicious Salesforce sandwich, people.

Did I mention the Hackathon on Thursday (this will be my first!)?

Did I mention the SaaSie Tech Social?

Did I mention time with the community, seeing the #Ohana?

To be honest, Georgia hasn’t been home in almost 10 years, but having so many great things to look forward to, I know it’ll feel a lot more like it next week.

See you there?

*I am legally an adult. Whether or not I’m an “Adult” is up for debate.

 

Ohana

Wow.

I got home a little after midnight, throat sore and super stuffy, but none of that mattered because *DREAMFORCE*.

As some of you know, things have been a struggle lately. And travel plans had me in San Fran for a limited amount of time. But that time was SO WELL SPENT.

My first Dreamforce was in 2014, and I had been using Salesforce for about 3 months. It was overwhelming. It was lonely. I was a solo admin, and I’m not always good at talking to strangers, so I didn’t put myself out there that year.

But I went to a ton of sessions, took so many notes, and I went back to my job inspired to be a leader in my company. I refreshed our org, found super users, focused on problem solving…I started on the path to getting certified.

Having stumbled onto Salesforce, in the way so many of us do, that was the perfect way for me to start. It got me excited for the platform and the potential.

Skip ahead to #DF16.

Things change, and they change fast. In 2 years, I got certified, got involved, and started meeting people in the community. I became more comfortable going up to people at Salesforce functions and introducing myself. I became more comfortable sharing knowledge and resources with people. I still struggle with asking for help, but I’m getting there.

This year was inspiring in a different way, but once again, in exactly the way that I needed it to be. I’m just going to say it: Dreamforce is the Room of Freakin’ Requirement.

It searches my heart every year, and it pumps out what it needs, and I come back with ideas and excitement and something new.

This year it was community. Ohana.

Working from home can feel isolating, even when the majority of the community activity happens online. But it’s one of those things – feel isolated, pull away, feel more isolated, pull away more, and on and on. And as an introvert – someone who recharges by seeking solitude, I feel like a cell phone. I become reliant on the charger (my house) to the point that time off of it, I’m less likely to hold onto my charge. 5 minutes in, and I’m looking for an exit. I don’t like that.

I had it in my head that, despite the friendships I have made in the community, I would continue to feel isolated at Dreamforce.

Newsflash: I was so wrong.

I have made friends, of course, but more importantly, I’ve built a family in the community. I have, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “visitors, well-wishers, and distant relations.” Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Maybe it was because I didn’t have the whole week this year, I spent the majority of my time in community-based activities: User Group State of the Union, Awesome People Party, volunteering in the Admin Meadow (my personal favorite! Please, please, please let me do that again!!), DnDF16, celebrating LOVE…basically surrounding myself with my family.

It reminded me what is important. I came back with a list of priorities and goals, and I know that I have a whole community of people that will keep me honest and focused on those goals, that will remind me to focus when needed.

So thank you, Ohana.

This post brought to you by (in alphabetical order, to help me): Adam, Amber, Amy (x2!), Annie, Ashima, Ben, Beth, Bill, Brian, Chris, Dale, Denise, Doug, Erica, Gillian, Jen, Jennifer, Justice, Juliette, Kris, Kristi, Nana, Mark, Melinda, Misty, Ross, Sarah, Scott, Shonnah, Stacey, Steve, Stuart, Vinay…and pretty much everyone else!

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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.

 

 

Midwest Dreamin’ 2016

This was my second time attending this community event. What a week.

Thursday

I am the person who arrives too early. I just do. It’s bad. I was at Navy Pier by 09:30. I got some work done, drank some coffee, and then joined the Women in Tech Diversity group for lunch (thanks to SaaSy Sistah for arranging!).

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After lunch, it was off to register and start my first round of volunteering. I met so many people. So. Many. People.

The weird thing is that I was meeting pretty much all of these people for the first time in person, but it felt so much like seeing old friends for the first time in years – not at all like meeting brand new people.

Volunteering was fun; it was time to chat with people and also help a great event be successful. Wandering around was fun. The Expo Hall was fun. All around fun. Apex & the Limits was SUUUUUUPER fun.

There was a great tribute to the wonderful Tami Esling, who touched so many lives in the community.

And I capped off the evening at dinner with part of the Michigan Nonprofit User Group.

When I got back to my room, I remembered I have a job and had to get to it for a bit, but it didn’t feel so much like work after such an inspiring day.

Friday

Friday was down to business. The opening keynote by Vala Afshar was fantastic – so many gems, but perhaps my favorite was “company culture is what your employees do when the manager leaves the room.”

More volunteering. I missed some of the sessions I wanted to see, but I’ve made special arrangements.

#awesomeadmin trivia, anyone? Team SAAS took home the gold, and we didn’t have to swim in bacteria-infested waters to do it, which I view as a plus.

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My own session went well, although I definitely know to choose a less broad topic next time. Who knew that all of the things that one needs to know about Marketing Automation took up so much space?? Want to see the list? You can go here (requires Salesforce Community login).

I had to miss Peter Coffee’s keynote in order to make the trek to Union Station. It was stupid hot out.

But overall…

It had that sense of community that Dreamforce lacks. Yes, Dreamforce is an amazing shindig and well worth a visit. But these regional gatherings are safer spaces, where people new to the platform, new to the community, can go and learn and feel welcome.

That was what I experienced last year, and through putting some time in, something I hope I was able to offer to those visiting this year.

This wasn’t a long post, not very detailed, but there are other reviews out there, run-downs, and snippets, and this time…selfishly, I wanted to keep some of it to myself.

Regardless, I hope to see many of you there in 2017.

 

Leaving Chicago, and I’m Thinking…

mdwdWe are officially less than a month away from Midwest Dreamin’. Less than a month. You should be excited. If you are in the Midwest. Even if you are not in the Midwest, actually.

Let me explain you a thing.

*a few minutes of laughing at own joke and Googling “let me explain you a thing” memes*

The Salesforce community created this event, and others like it. Midwest Dreamin’ isn’t about selling Salesforce. We’ve already been sold. This is about all of the admins and developers and adminevelopers and devadmins and any other combination of those things wanting to come together and share their knowledge on a grand scale.

It’s a celebration of more than a CRM; this is legitimately a community. It’s a movement. It’s a time to come together, learn, and excitedly talk about things like Objects, Processes, and Debugging. It’s a time to be part of a community that is supportive and welcoming.

If you are a Salesforce user, admin, or developer, you need to be involved with your local user group. If you don’t have one yet, you need to start one. Not for you, although I promise you will get so much out of it. But for the person just starting out, taking those first tentative steps onto the trail and feeling overwhelmed.

Take that, amplify it, and you get Midwest Dreamin’.

I know this because I went to Midwest Dreamin’ last year when I was starting to feel, I don’t know, a little bit lonely. I was a solo admin, and I felt like I was fighting every battle uphill. I felt like I was constantly battling, in general, and that is a terrible way to feel. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to Dreamforce, so I thought, I’ll give this a try.

I’m a shy person. It’s really easy for me to be outgoing online, but get me in a room full of people, even ones that I have a lot in common with and admire, and I bottle up. I stood awkwardly at a table, wandered around, sent a bunch of excited texts to my husband about walking right past Peter Coffee. I didn’t quite come out of my shell, but that was where I decided to start a WIT chapter. That was where I realized that the giddiness I felt about Salesforce was not only ok but shared with so many others.

So now that you understand why this is more than just a conference, I need to talk about how excited I am about all the conference-y things.

Have you seen the list of sessions?!

(@SalesforceAmy, I need a gif for this, please)

Erica Kuhl (@ericakuhl) is speaking about Digital and Human Harmony, and if anyone can speak to that, it’s Salesforce’s VP of the Success Community; you know, the one who spearheaded the User Group program.

Speaking of Amy Oplinger, she’ll be presenting on Imposter Syndrome and kicking it to the curb. And for the record, if she suffers from it, I already feel better about my own struggles because seriously…seriously.

How about “Tips and Tricks to Unbreak Process Builder”? Honestly, presenters Zayne Turner (@zaynelt) and Bonny Hinners had me at “If ‘FlowApplication’ is a name in your address book…” *Salesforce humor* What a great topic, though, truly.

And, this is awkward, but I might have to skip my own session, so I can go watch Wizardcast Live. Or Jennifer Wobser (@crmsalesgem) talk about Salesforce1. Or Andrea Holmes (@TheAndreaHolmes) give advice on being a change agent.

Phillip Southern (@phil7s) is providing an introduction to the Developer Console. Want to learn how to debug? Thinking about doing the whole developer thing? This sounds like a winner.

Did you know there’s a Salesforce Agile Accelerator App?! I sure didn’t. But you can bet a whole lot of money that I’m going to go learn more about it at Timothy Kiekow’s session on it.

And that’s to say nothing of the Demo Jam, Admin Trivia, Expo Hall, and APEX AND THE LIMITS.

I feel out of breath right now, even though I didn’t say all of that out loud. At least I don’t think I did. That would be kind of awkward but not entirely surprising.

This year is going to be fantastic for Midwest Dreamin’, and I am just so excited to be a part of it again. So get excited, register, and join us all in Chicago, July 21-22.

More info here.

Follow Midwest Dreamin’ on Twitter @MidWest_Dreamin.

 

 

 

Around the World

Maybe the coolest thing for me, living in West Michigan, is knowing that Anthony Keidis grew up in Grand Rapids, at least for a while.

What is also cool about living here is that we are actually closer to Chicago than we are to Detroit (at least in Holland). That means that it takes a whopping 2 hours to get from here to things like C2E2 or the Salesforce World Tour!

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As my company is considering new service-side CRM solutions, I thought it would be prudent for those in the decision-making seats to attend World Tour. I mean, I obviously was going to go anyway, but my constant yammering about how awesome Salesforce is holds not a candle to actually being part of something like World Tour. So I dragged two folks along with me.

Once there, I may have kind of ditched them. NOT PURPOSEFULLY! I sat in on some breakout sessions with them, took them to the keynote, and gave them some pointers on navigating the event, but I had some goals myself.

(Quick note about the keynote – so inspiring. They always are, but it was really great to see Mary Tagler recognized as an #AwesomeAdmin.)

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Happy trails to you!

First of all, I needed to earn an Astro. I’ve seen them on Twitter, and not having one in my life was pretty awful. So I spent some time with Trailhead, learned about Heroku, and stood in line to get my new friend…and the Lightning Component Developer Guide.

I attended a Circle on change management. It was a little sad to see a 90 minute session compressed into 30 minutes, and I don’t know if folks got everything out of it they could have. But I did see a friendly face from Destination Success there!

I also managed to track down SaaSy and grab a photo (of course).

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All of that was fantastic.

But the best part was talking to my compatriots on the way home.

They were blown away. They didn’t understand what I was always going on about. They didn’t know how delicious the Salesforce kool-aid is.

But they do now.

I feel like Harry Potter, gathering my forces for good to prepare to fight against bad data and archaic practices. It is so exciting.

So I’m hoping in coming months, I’ll be able to talk about implementing Service Cloud. #Implement ALLthethings!

 

West Michigan Women in Tech

February 25th marked the inaugural West Michigan Women in Tech User Group meeting.

The first meeting for the West Michigan WIT User Group was snowed out – fitting for where we live. And befitting West Michigan ladies, we just rescheduled. *Snow happens* amirite?

Accordingly March 22nd marked the inaugural West Michigan WIT User Group meeting.

We were not snowed or rained or anything out, which was already an improvement. Due to the reschedule, we did have some people de-register. It’s cool; it happens.

I spent the week before the meeting both excited and almost dreading it. As I mentioned at the meeting, I’ve never been a group leader type. I led some things in college, usually because I was handed the thing and said “here. Do something with it.”

I guess in a way this group is the same. I wasn’t happy with how the existing area user group was functioning, and feeling no other recourse, I just thought to start a Women in Tech group. It has been a rocky road.

I don’t like to sugar coat things, even though I’m consistently neck-deep in Salesforce kool-aid. User Groups are popping up everywhere, which is great, but when I initially signed the papers, there were only two people responsible for supporting them, and for the first few months after submitting myself to lead a group, I didn’t feel supported at all.

It is difficult to learn what is expected of you or how you can be set up for success, doing some of the cool things that other groups are doing. It is very much sink or swim. At least it was for me.

Until I got a mentor anyway (Sarah Deutsch, rock star, I’m looking in your direction).

I’ve said it before, and I will say it over and over until I am blue in the face – this community is where it’s at. Once I got signed up with a mentor, things started to move. I met other people who had done this; not to get too metaphysical here, but it was as if once the universe knew what I needed, I developed a Salesforce-mentor-related gravitational pull.

But back to the point. I don’t know what I’m doing, but after last night, I feel like it’s ok.

We had 5 people super cool women attend our inaugural meeting, graciously hosted by Ashima. We decorated wine glasses, so we can drink (whatever we want!) from them at subsequent meetings. We discussed what we want this group to be. We vented. It was positive. I was inspired and reinvigorated.

But this post is supposed to be for those of you A) looking for some support in West Michigan and B) thinking about starting a user group.

If you are looking for support nearby, please join us! We are on the community; we are on LinkedIn. We tweet #WestMichiganWIT. We want to hear from you and talk Salesforce with you!

If you are thinking about starting a user group, get a mentor. They have fought the battles that you will have to fight, felt the disappointment and feelings of inadequacy, and they can give you some really solid tips. They can be a cheerleader or a firm hand. I also encourage you to be patient; I originally signed up for this gig in October of last year. It takes a while to get things moving, and it is slow to start. Still worth it!

It’s probably too early for me to writing all of this. I have a cat who doesn’t understand REM cycles. But at least I can say it’s authentic. And so was our meeting.

Next one will be in April. And from there, who knows?