This was my 10th Dreamforce (9th in person since last year was fully virtual). It’s taken me a week to process my in-person experience this year.
While it was so very different from ‘normal’ Dreamforce, there were some fundamental things that were the same. This post is a play by play of my time at DF21 – where on the Trail was Nana Gregg?
When I accepted the invitation I had to upload my vaccination card to the Salesforce Health Cloud site designed for us. Super easy and it was quickly followed by a webinar where we could get more info about the health and safety protocols that would be followed this year. The Thursday before I had to Activate a Covid test online, swab myself and drop the vial off at FedEx to be overnighted to SF for evaluation. Friday morning I had to go through the same routine. I was also sent 2 more tests to pack and bring with me for Monday and Tuesday.
I flew in on Sunday and was pleased to see that in SF, restaurants and bars were requiring a vaccination card and masks were the norm. (Definitely different than in Texas.) I visited my favorite spot out on Ft. Mason, Greens restaurant, along with The Interval bar and FLAX Art, a cool Art Supply store I love to visit. San Francisco is my favorite city so I try to get a little extra time each time I visit.
Monday morning I woke up, wrote a short parody song about the Day before Dreamforce, activated my onsite Covid test, swabbed the nose, packed it up and dropped it in the easy drop-off bin at the hotel and headed over to pick up my badge.
Normally, during registration and badge pickup there is a line out the door. Everyone is excited and coordinating schedules and developing a plan of attack for the week. This year, I walked over the day before for registration and was literally the only person in line. So I guess technically I wasn’t in line. I WAS the line. Surreal.
From there I went over to treat myself with a DryBar blowout (if you haven’t tried it once you totally should!) then met up with my friend and fellow MVP Ashima for lunch and some quality catch-up time. The friendships I’ve been privileged to foster from this community are like no other.
The Trailhead Community Team always hold a great meet & greet event for Salesforce MVPs and this year was no exception. Missed all those who were not able to attend but really enjoyed the dedicated time to catch up, hug, bump elbows or just wave hello. Always grateful for the hard work of the community team to put together events for us. Then a few of us headed over to the only partner event I was invited to this year – GetFeedback Karaoke at Pandora! Shonnah and her team always put together an amazing event and this year was no exception. So much fun seeing people get up and sing and dance and just enjoy being together. Got back to the hotel and an email saying the Covid test I took this morning passed (yay) and got my QR code so I could attend the conference on Tuesday! Great way to end the day.
Dreamforce Day 1
Woke up so incredibly excited! Hard choices to make between cute shoes and comfy shoes (comfy shoes won out), put on my ‘Parker is My Homeboy’ t-shirt from a Dreamforce past, activated my last Covid test, swabbed the nose, grabbed my badge and bag, dropped the test in the bin at the hotel and headed to Howard Street! It was Go-time!
Best feeling ever to go through security where they were quick and efficient and head into the DF campus and hear the amazing tunes of LT Smooth getting everyone warmed up for the Keynote. People start pouring into the meadow and it is just a great big family reunion. Get some great seats for the Keynote and settle in for one of my favorite parts of every Dreamforce start – when Danny & Anna Akaka to lead the traditional Hawaiian blessing for the event. It always brings a tear to my eye.
The Keynote this year was a good one – lots of Trailblazer love, Slack talk, leading off with a look at how the world has changed and we need to roll with it and meet each other where we are now. Working from homes, not offices and collaborating/doing business in new ways.I loved the line ‘We need a new Vision, not a new Version.’ We got a (pre-recorded) song from Metallica and Lionel Richie came out to close the show.
From there many of us try to crowd up and speak to some of the execs. I got to hug and get a picture with Sarah Franklin and Parker Harris. And the grab a boxed vegan lunch (they had amazing options this year) and sit down to catch up with so many people. People I’ve known for years. People who I’ve only ever met online. People who I am meeting for the first time. All amazing. All as fired up as me. All of us filled with so much joy for this event.
The rest of the afternoon is filled with sessions to learn about new announcements, new features, and celebrate trailblazers along the way. (Can’t forget about the Salesforce Ranch.) I kept looking around thinking how cool this was. We were all able to get together, safely. Finally. After so long. And the small size meant the level of access to the speakers and teams was unprecedented. Community Campfire sessions were popular and went a long way to help make the event feel more than just corporate marketing.
Day 1 closed out with a bit of a happy hour with beverages and finger foods and a crazy concert by the Foo Fighters where he challenged the Mascots to a headbanging dance off!! Special thanks to my new DF Concert buddy Chris McDonald who helped my short self find a spot to see the stage and who has been doing some amazing Salesforce stuff for his company! Riding a wave from the amazing day, many of us hit the rooftop bar at the Marriott Marquis to continue conversations and build deeper connections. Nothing beats this time together.
Got my email saying the Covid test I took this morning passed (yay) and got my QR code so I could attend the second day of the conference! Phew – those tests were a little nerve-wracking!
Dreamforce Day 2
No covid tests to take this morning so only have to agonize between comfy sneakers and cool Doc Martens. Opted for the Docs today – smaller Dreamforce means less walking. Easier on these old feet! Wanted to get to campus early today and managed to get front row seats for Soledad O’Brien’s conversation with Parker Harris. I’ve loved Soledad for years and have always felt that Parker is the heart of Salesforce. Such a good session, loved hearing stories from Parker I haven’t heard. And I must admit to being the one who yelled out about the costumes. (Sorry (not sorry) Parker!)
For me, the best part of the event was the Executive ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions arranged in the Community Campfire areas. Brett, Parker, Sarah, Srini, & David all came over and made themselves fully available for questions and challenges and fun. The openness of the executive team, the willingness for them to make themselves available and listen and say ‘email me and I’ll find out for you is unparalleled. And Bret I’m all in for the new Salesforce Campground Confessions series for Salesforce+! For this girl who never finished college, who became an accidental admin, who is goofy and uncool and middle-aged and loves working on the platform and geeking out about flows to get to come to an event like this and be heard – really listened to. It just feels surreal. Am amazed and grateful to be a part of this.
As always, Dreamforce wraps up with some inspirational sessions and we end the day with more pictures, hugs, fist bumps and promises to do this again very soon! Back in 2012 at my first Dreamforce, a co-worker took me to House of Nanking – the most amazing restaurant in the universe. It’s been a must-visit every year so a fellow MVP from Dallas and amazing Golden Hoodie winner and I went there and stuffed ourselves. When you visit, just tell the chef your preferences, you don’t even need the menu – they will bring you food. And it’s amazing. They are a San Francisco landmark. And if you need a buddy to go with at the next Dreamforce I’m your gal!
A Time To Say Goodbye. Until We Meet Again.
Too quickly it was time to head home. SFO airport has changed so much since I was there last. Always sad to leave, but with my bucket overflowing. Have missed this face to face interaction with all of you. Have missed dancing to LT Smooth in person. Have missed tearing up when Danny & Anna present the blessing. Have missed my peeps. Will miss the new peeps I met. Let’s do this again real soon!
Not enough ways to say thank you to those at Salesforce who made this happen. From the coordination to the testing to the event itself. Thank you from the bottom and top of my heart (and all the space inside as well). It’s swollen with love and gratitude for this community.