Dreamforce WIT Diversity Scholarship

If you are part of the Salesforce Ohana, you are already aware that Dreamforce is the place to be each year. It is where we learn about new features and functionality coming to the platform, where we share best practices and how-to’s and hugs. Where we celebrate the successes of others in the Ohana-sphere.

This year, to one lucky start-up, Dreamforce can be a pivotal experience thanks to the WIT Diversity Scholarship sponsored by my friends at Spekit.

If you have or know of a start-up in the Salesforce space that is minority owned and ready for market this scholarship could be the step you need to get off the ground.

Share with those around you and encourage them to apply – submissions are due Monday, September 23rd! I can’t wait to hear who gets selected and hear about what awesome things they are bringing to the table!


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Instructions? Who knew?

My kids (especially the youngest) like to holler, “MOooooOOOMMMMM!” from downstairs and the other side of the house when they need help with something.

Sometimes it is a genuine need. Other times they are simply being lazy, but usually it’s because they are doing something they haven’t done before and don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s heating something up for lunch or getting started on a project or craft.

I typically respond with my favorite quote from Alice in Wonderland:

Read the directions and directly you’ll be directed in the right direction!

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Insert groans. I mean, really? Who wants to take the time to read the directions?

If you are like me, you have a lot of Salesforce Users (who you love almost as much as your children) who also have issues reading the directions.

But, let’s be honest, writing directions is hard. Keeping the directions up to date as your business changes and your system changes is even harder. So if your users say things like ‘What directions?’ or ‘Those screen shots are really old, is this the latest version?’, don’t feel bad. It’s a common struggle for even the savviest of Salesforce Admins!

And while I can’t help you train your children to read the directions, I can tell you about an app we found that can help you get your users the information they need about fields, objects, and business processes right at their fingertips while they are in the system.

And better yet – the ease of adding/editing/managing this information is second to none! If you haven’t heard of it yet, prepare to have your mind blown!

Introducing Spekit!

Spekit is a super fabulous female-owned and operated company formed because the two co-founders felt the same frustrations with documentation and decided to do something about it!

Spurred by low adoption of our new technologies (Salesforce), constantly outdated documentation, slow ramp-up time of new hires and lots of frustration we asked ourselves:

What if we could automatically track process changes in our applications in a centralized location and push training to our users, when and where they needed it?

Melanie Fellay, Co-Founder and CEO
Zari Zahra, Co-Founder and CPO

Spekit brings the documentation directly where your users need it while also making the documentation process itself SO FREAKING EASY!

Like, literally. I’m not kidding. You can be working in Salesforce and one of your users asks you what they should put in a certain field. With Spekit, and your two pointer fingers, you can hover over the Spek icon on your screen, click the edit button and pound out the information like a pigeon getting her dinner on!

Or even better, you can assign an Expert and let someone else (maybe the process owner) be responsible for the information presented to the user!

I could add lots of screenshots and stuff, but can go even one better on you – you can try it out for FREE! Yep – you read that right. Check it out and see what you think!

Now if we can just figure out how to apply this to our home and kids and we’d all be golden!

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Be The Salesforce Admin You Were Meant To Be!

So I’ve been a Salesforce Admin for a while, I’ve worked with other admins (salesforce and other system admins), interacted with admins in the Trailblazer community, FinancialForce community and local community groups.

There are so many awesome admins out there with some fabulous skill sets! I learn something through every single interaction.

One of the things that I think I excel at, is looking at the system and the processes as an extension of the business (and how we do business) as opposed to just being a tool that I administer.

A Salesforce Admin has all the skills to create new fields and objects, setup flows and process builders and sharing rules. They have all the skills to create reports and dashboards and add picklist values and more.

If you can do all those things, you can most certainly do the job of a Salesforce Admin.

But if you want to take your career to the next level. If you want to become integral to your business and really be an Innovator, you’ve got to do more than that.

You’ve got to understand the business itself. How your company does business, how they sell, how they engage with customers, how they do the things they need the system for. WHY they do the things they need the system for.

This way, as you are administering the system, you can ask the important questions – things like:

  • Why do you need this new field?
  • Who is going to fill out the field?
  • Where are they going to get the information to fill out this field?
  • Who is going to report on the data in this field?
  • How will the data in this field be evaluated?
  • When will they fill out this information?

It is easy to add a field. But asking these questions can help clear up/define a business process, guide business leaders about how their use of the system can either drive results or create unclear requirements and provide valuable input into data quality and data usage to enable an ultimately better use of the system as a whole.

When a user asks you what they need to put in Field XYZ, how do you answer? Do you give them the available values and send them on their way? Or do you explain the use of the field, describe the values that are available and provide guidance as to the importance (down the line) of what they put there?

To me, the answer to the above really shows the difference between an Admin and an Innovative Admin. An Innovative Admin has such a deep connection with the system and the business processes that the system supports that she feels it is her duty to explain (sometimes over-explain) the importance of the data to the processes.

I’ve worked with SysAdmins of other systems as we are integrating data and nothing irks me more than being told I need to send over a field value of ‘XYZ’ but they aren’t able to tell me what the field value does or represents. ‘I don’t know, it’s just required’ is the WORST possible answer.

Do. Not. Be. That. Admin.

By working to understand your business as a whole, the business processes and how the system is used to support that you become that magic combination of Admin, Analyst, Architect. You begin to see across the matrix so that when someone asks for something your mind can immediately see and trace the lines to the records and departments and processes that it touches. You can help to ensure that people aren’t working in a bubble, that people understand the inputs and outputs of the things they are working on and the effects of those, and ultimately become someone who is integral to your entire group!

And that’s when the fun begins!

And that is when a job turns into a career!

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Summer Begins. I’m Exhausted Already.

6:30am – eyes open, look at clock. Why am I awake this freaking early when I don’t have to wake up any kids or get anyone to school or practice this early? Pulls blanket over head and attempts to sleep some more.

7:15am – hears a door slam, feet patter down the stairs as the 11 year old makes his appearance. Try to sleep through the cacophony of sounds downstairs. He lets the dogs outside, roots through the pantry, pours cereal, laughs uproariously at a YouTube Video, let’s the dogs in, slams freezer door while getting out the pizza rolls, microwaves pizza rolls (slamming the microwave door), lets the dogs back inside, rinse, lather, repeat.

7:45am – finally give up trying to sleep, head downstairs for coffee, dole out morning medicine, nag 11 year old to clean up the unholy mess he’s got on the kitchen table.

8am – wake up 14 year old who has gymnastics practice in an hour. Make him sit up to take his meds and threaten him not to go back to sleep. Hold firm on the ‘No’ as he begs to be taken to Chick-Fil-A for breakfast on the way to gymnastics. Point out appropriate workout attire and the importance of deodorant as I continue the countdown of when we need to leave the house.

Open up laptop, check email, respond to critical emails, sign in to Salesforce, check Support Cases and triage as necessary. Review Chatter feed to see what users are up to. Yell upstairs to remind 14 year old to be ready in 15 minutes and that he needs to eat and put on deodorant (this cannot be repeated enough) before we go!

8:35am – head to the car to take son to summer gymnastics practice. He has to go back into the house twice for things he forgot before we even pull away.

This 20 minutes of driving in the morning with just he and I in the car is actually one of my favorite times. He’s relatively talkative and we will have some great conversations. Sometimes we listen to morning news podcasts and talk about events and politics. If you can find a time with your teenage son like this (even if you have to trap him in a car with you) do it!

9:20am – back at the house and sitting down at the laptop. 11 year old has promised he’ll work on cleaning up his room as he watched YouTube videos (yeah, right) so he is upstairs. 18 year old won’t be heard from or seen for several more hours!

Ok, sitting down at the desk to get some work done. Check email, reply as needed, triage Support tickets again, check the support Slack channels. Remember that I needed to pay a bill, log on to get that taken care of, check personal email and Salesforce Community email. Log into Trailblazer Community to answer message from a user asking about a Webinar I did, scan community groups and answer a few questions. Reply to a personal email. Open up Jama to see what is on the priorities list. We are testing an upgrade of several apps in our sandbox and I need to work through this – we are a few releases behind and trying to get caught up which means going through several sets of release notes to identify what is new and what I need to do to implement all the new features.

10am – Distracted by the loud cackling coming from upstairs. 11 year old is obviously working hard on his room. (ha ha) Get up to let the dogs out, gaze upon the filthy swimming pool and sigh. Was relying on someone to get this taken care of, but am tired of waiting on them. Head back to my computer to google pool services and put in a request. Get a call within about 5 minutes so spend the next 10 describing the pool, the services I need and talking about price. Finally get service scheduled and feel some relief – while it will ultimately cost me some dough, I’ve taken the reigns and know it will be in swim-shape for me and the kids soon.

Back to the computer. After going through the usual email/cases/slack routine, get to work on documenting the steps I need to take to implement a particular new feature in the sandbox. Will have to replicate it when we upgrade production so want to be sure I have everything down correctly. Work heads down until my alarm goes off. Gymnast has to be picked up at noon.

11:15am – head upstairs to remind 11 year old he is supposed to be cleaning, tell him I can actually see his brains leaking out of his ear from those YouTube videos. Yes, I know what you are thinking…you are thinking, how long has this kid been watching this morning? Yep – you can look back at the timeline. He has been watching entirely too long. But it is the second day of the first week of summer. And his constant laughter and giggles are really enjoyable to hear across the house. So yes, I feel slightly guilty letting him binge. But he’s a kid and it’s summer and I’ve got work to do. So judge me for that. I’m cool with it.

Head out to pick up the gymnast. Put on a podcast to listen to on the way. Sometimes this is relaxing, sometimes it is infuriating – depends on whether it is a political podcast or not. Lol. Park at the school and see a slack message from my boss. Spend the next 15 minutes on the phone with him to help him triage a few cases he’s not sure how to handle. Boy comes out, begs for fast food (I stay strong – we have food at home, we aren’t made of money, yada yada). Head back home.

12:30pm – Back at the house. Remember to add tortillas, hamburger buns and double A batteries to the grocery list. Tell the kids to feed themselves and rattle off from memory all of the available food in the house they are capable of making including instructions (where needed) and locations of the items. Reach into the gross water to drain the sink where dishes have been ‘soaking’ for way too long. Vow to get in there later to scrub everything.

Back to the computer. Email/cases/slack routine again, responding and triage-ing as necessary. Trying to pick up from where I left off. Brain is mush. Hungry. Bombarded by sounds of YouTube, Minecraft, Music, food packages, microwave and dogs playing. Remember I need to add the summer gymnastics practices to the family calendar, and pop a check in the mail to the lawn guys.

Today reminds me of this Comic about the Mental Load on women. It’s real y’all.

We are two days into summer.

I am halfway through the second day.

Need more coffee.

Also need a meditation room.

And maybe a margarita.

I’m exhausted already!

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Trailblazer Day – Celebrating A Commitment To Skilling Up

Many of you have followed along this week as some of us attended the first ever Trailblazer Day. It was a true honor to be invited to attend and I wanted to take a moment and share my thoughts and takeaways.

Trailblazer Day

First off – this was an event to celebrate Salesforce signing a pledge to help skill up 1 Million people for the job market. Technology is a booming industry and Trailhead provides free training for people who are interested in gaining skills in this market. But it’s not limited to technology – there are interviewing skills, managerial skills, and a whole range of trainings that even those not in technology can take advantage of!

And I am proud to have been there to see this pledge signed and a commitment made by such an impactful company.

The event highlighted several of our community’s Trailblazers – people who have carved a way for themselves and are carving ways for others to succeed. People who I am incredibly proud to say are part of my Ohana. And THAT was certainly something to be proud of.

There was a lot of talk about why such a progressive, liberal company would stand side by side with someone from this administration to sign this pledge and I’ll be the first to say I was a bit taken aback, but it wasn’t about the person or the administration. It was about the pledge. Keep that in mind.
As I watched it all unfold, I came away with a few takeaways:

  • Our Salesforce and Trailblazer Community are like no other. Anyone would benefit from being a part of it.
  • While the ‘Leaders’ (both of the company and the administration) are the ones who get the press and make the papers, it is the boots on the ground that make shit happen.

I admit to being blinded sometimes by what the people in positions of power do, say and the effect they have on me, but I walked away this week with the realization that WE are the ones who can make a change. We can celebrate Trailblazer Day and this Pledge and these awesome Trailblazers and we can push for more.

We can push for more job creation and call for an end to the ban on transgender people in the military. We can push for equal wages regardless of gender or orientation or skin color for equal work. We can push for equality in ALL areas of American life. We can push for an end to how people are treated based on the amount of melanin in their skin. We can push for healthcare for all – and especially mental health care. We can push for every woman to make their own choices for their bodies and futures.

We can speak up and advocate and make a mighty noise with our boots on the ground.

There are a lot of us. If we all stomp our feet, the people in power who get the press and make the papers will be forced to listen.

So here’s to 1 Million people trained on Trailhead. And here’s to millions more raising their voices so we can all be heard. Will you raise yours with me?

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