Thu, 15 July 2021
This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re talking to J Steadman, Lead Admin Evangelist on the Admin Relations team at Salesforce. J is just getting started as an evangelist, and we wanted you to get a chance to meet them, understand their perspective, and connect with them. As evangelists, we work to inspire admins in our community and it's important to know we get our inspiration from you.
Join us as we talk about J’s incredible journey to Salesforce and why they’re so driven to save everyone time.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with J Steadman.
A long and winding road to becoming an admin
“I’m a product of the community,” J says, “and so I think it’s really important that we all know each other—specifically because those of us that sit in the Evangelist role, our job is really to advocate on behalf of the admins to Salesforce and to make sure we’re properly communicating stuff from Salesforce back to all of our admins.”
While they’ve been at Salesforce for the past three years, J got their start in the community and actually has an MFA in acting and performed for a long time as a bass guitarist. “It got to a point where that fell apart,” J says, “so I put myself on the job hunt and submitted over 430 job applications.” Everything changed, however, when they got hired as a receptionist at a company that just happened to use Salesforce. Yes, J is another accidental admin and, as J says, “suddenly I just took off with the technology.”
From there, J spent some time consulting which was a real boot camp for understanding all the different types of orgs and implementations that are out there. Ultimately, they transitioned to a position at an enterprise-level customer with thousands of licenses and a very complex org. That work saw them doing stints as a product manager and later a release manager but most importantly, it led to a position at Salesforce in Customer Success.
Saving time one process at a time
“Everyone in the world is a talented and good person that can use their talents for something worthwhile,” J says, “but in most businesses, many of us spend our time doing stuff that does not warrant our attention. These manual and horribly repetitive tasks literally eat the most important resource in our lives: time.”
For J, it means so much to help someone help someone get more time back in their day by automating a business process or making a screen appear in the right place. “If we as the Admin Community are able to give anyone that important time,” J says, “that’s incredibly meaningful.”
Be sure to listen to the episode for more about J’s story, and don’t miss the Lightning Round!
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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. This week, we are talking with J. Steadman, lead admin evangelist on the admin relations team. Now, I wanted to take this moment to have this podcast early in J.'s admin evangelist career, so that you've a chance to meet them, understand their perspective, and connect with them. As evangelists, we work to inspire admins in our community, and I also feel it's important to me that we get our inspiration from you. So, let's get J. on the podcast. So, J., welcome to the podcast.
J. Steadman: Thank you.
Mike Gerholdt: Concise. That's what I like. It's great. I, as I alluded to in the intro, find it very important that everybody on our admin relations team be able to understand and know our community, and that our community kind of knows us really well. So, I wanted to get you on the pod early on in your admin evangelist career. And you've been on the pod before in your previous role at Salesforce.
J. Steadman: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: So, let's just rewind the clock and kind of reset everything. And tell us a little bit about J. before you joined Salesforce.
J. Steadman: Yeah. So, first, Mike, thanks tons for having me here. And I really agree with you about this idea of us knowing the community and the community knowing us. I'm a bit of a product of the community. And so, I think it's really important that we all know each other, specifically because those of us that sit in the EV role or the evangelist role, our job is really to advocate on behalf of or evangelize on behalf of the admins to Salesforce and to make sure that we're properly communicating stuff from Salesforce back to all of our admins. Right? So, that is my purpose. I think sharing my story can be helpful. So, I've been at Salesforce for the past three years, but prior to that, I wasn't in Salesforce at all. At one point, I think that's true for all of us. Most of us.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.
J. Steadman: Most of us started not at Salesforce and then eventually made our way into the technology, save for, I don't know, everyone.
Mike Gerholdt: You could be born into Salesforce somehow. I don't know.
J. Steadman: That might be true for my kid and for like-
Mike Gerholdt: Sure.
J. Steadman: Yeah, sure, a lot of our kids, but our generation and before. Anyway. So, I actually originally went to school for acting. I did that twice. I got my undergrad at Western Michigan University, and I went and got a degree in acting at UCLA for grad school. And the writer strike happened which really impacted the industry in a big way. And so, I was like, "Well, if I can't find entry-level acting gigs, I'll be a musician." So, I'd played music forever. I was a bassist, and I started playing as a back-lining musician. So, bands would hire me to go and play their local gigs or to go on tour, and I played bass guitar for them. And then I started doing my own band on top of that and working side gigs to scrap together cash and make sure that I could keep pursuing my dream, and it got to a point where that just fell apart. As an artist, I didn't have a ton of money to fall back on. And I came from a pretty scrappy upbringing. And so, I put myself out on the job hunt and I submitted like 430-some job applications.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow.
J. Steadman: And I still have the spreadsheet in my Google Drive. And this was over the course of like six weeks. I was looking at anything really, from being someone's personal assistant to working as a receptionist, to working in a warehouse, to working in a kitchen, to being delivery driver. And this was in 2012. So, the kind of Uber, Lyft, and gig economy stuff hadn't quite exploded yet. It was actually late 2011. And after 435 job apps, the little bit of cushion that I had actually ran out. A friend of mine who was actually a successful attorney and a good friend of mine, he actually floated me a little bit of cash so that I could survive for a month. And I was really confronted with the idea of homelessness. I didn't really have anywhere to go.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow. I think of the Steve Jobs quote of you can't connect the dots looking forward, but you can always connect the dots looking back. 2021, if you could talk to your 2012 or 2011 self before you were living in a car and say, "Hey, by the way, you're going to have this great job in technology." The dots that you would connect to get there, just, yeah, I don't know that you could put those together.
J. Steadman: You know, I think what about this idea of current J., past J., and future J. a lot. This might be a thing that... I don't know. Is that the thing you do, Mike? Do you think about that?
Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah. All the time.
J. Steadman: Yeah. Okay. So, me too.
Mike Gerholdt: All the time, all the time.
J. Steadman: Me too. Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: If today Mike could talk to 20... I think back to different years in my life that were... If I had gone left instead of right.
J. Steadman: Right. Yep.
Mike Gerholdt: 2003, I'll say, December 31st, 2003, I quit retail forever.
J. Steadman: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: I had no job. My prospect was I'm going to go back to college and I quit, locked the gate on the retail store, and threw the keys inside.
J. Steadman: Wow.
Mike Gerholdt: That was it. I was done, done with retail. I was done because I was afraid that making 30 grand a year was the best it gets, and I knew it could be better.
J. Steadman: You know, I find that fascinating. So, I actually had to have this real reckoning with myself because I had become really resigned to this idea that... We talk a lot about imposter syndrome in and around the admin role and sometimes in technology and how we all feel that and I think that's true. But for the longest time, my goal was making 50 grand a year. If I could make 50 grand a year, it's like, "I have arrived."
Mike Gerholdt: Oh, you're making bank.
J. Steadman: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Huge.
J. Steadman: That would be incredible, wildest dreams. I have subsequently, I keep track of my total income over time, just to remind myself of where I've come from and where I'm going. No numbers included here, but I started at a certain amount and I'm at a certain amount. I think it's like 512% from where I started to where I ended in that regard. Right? And I bring that up because if we wrap that back into this idea of talking to past J. and I think that this might resonate with some folks out there that are just getting started in the ecosystem, or maybe they haven't even really started yet with their first role, I think it's really important to remember that this is a real thing and it's a real path to stability. It's a real path to wealth for your family. It's a real path to starting to create generational wealth.
Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I ironically do similar. I look back and I'm always constantly thinking, "Yeah, that's funny. That's how much I used to make in a month."
J. Steadman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mike Gerholdt: And not to be numbers-wise because I want people to think... I also want to put in perspective. It's not all about the money.
J. Steadman: Not at all. Nope.
Mike Gerholdt: I also think back to... Wow, I remember what it used to be like to come home from that job versus coming home from this job. And by coming home, I mean feeling like you were supported at the organization, that you have coworkers that you feel comfortable talking to and it just... There's been jobs that I'm like, "Wow, I'm surprised I made it through that."
J. Steadman: Yeah. I think what you're touching on and I think it's really important that you brought it up because it can be easy to just kind of highlight the fact that earning potential is fantastic.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
J. Steadman: I'm very mission-driven. I'm very kindness-driven. I'm not a perfect person in my own use of kindness, and I constantly look for ways that I can improve, but where I'm at impacts me a lot. And it's important to me that I'm at a place that cares about me and that I care about the people that I'm working with. Right? You know that. We've had conversations around that in our whole team. And virtually every Salesforce job that I've had has been wrapped in that idea of feeling okay when you back home. That's one of the reasons that I love our community so much is people... I'll log on to Twitter. I don't do much social, but I'm on Twitter and it's entirely because the Twitter that I'm on isn't the crazy chaos Twitter. Right? It's a bunch of people that are just being kind to each other, and looking out for each other, and checking in on each other. Like, the other day I posted that I hurt my shoulder and I had two people reach out to me, three people reach out to me, and A, they were like, "Are you okay?" And then B, they were like, "Here are some ways that you can fix your shoulder." I did it and now my shoulder's better. And that's crazy.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. A hundred percent. I also had to look up because when you talked about being a writer, this is way back early in your story. Everything that I know about writers and people hustling for jobs, I know through the show Barry With Bill Hader. I don't know if you've seen it.
J. Steadman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, the assassin show, right? Assassin turned improv?
Mike Gerholdt: Well, so now you give it away.
J. Steadman: Oh, okay. Sorry. I didn't know that was a spoiler. I've never seen it, but that was just my understanding of the show.
Mike Gerholdt: It is astronomically hilarious.
J. Steadman: Gotcha.
Mike Gerholdt: It is... Anyway. So, as you were describing that, I was just envisioning you as Bill Hader taking acting classes and trying to make it as a writer, and it fits. It fits. Anyway. So, you're new on the team and I wanted to find out... One thing that we definitely look for is passion. And I would say that across the organization of Salesforce, regardless of what you're doing, passion for the admin role because there's a lot of admins that listen to this and think, "So, what's what's J.'s north star?"
J. Steadman: Mm. Well, so for me, I am driven by curiosity and I am driven by trying to remove roadblocks from the folks around me. So, if the world is a bunch of puzzles, Salesforce is a fantastic tool that you can use to solve those puzzles and to help people out. I swear this is not a joke. In interviews, I have gone on a bit of a... Tirade is the wrong word. Tangent might be better suited to it. I have had these conversations about how I feel like everyone in the world is a talented and good person that can use their talents for something that is worthwhile. But in most businesses, many of us spend our time doing stuff that does not warrant our attention. These manual and horribly repetitive tasks literally eat the most important resource in our lives. Time. Right? We only have so much time on the planet earth, no matter what you do, you don't get more.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.
J. Steadman: That would be fantastic.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, and time is something that I think of it, it's fleeting. Right? Whatever you did now, you don't get back now.
J. Steadman: Yep. Yep. So, I'm somewhat recently a father. My kid is 17 months old, yeah, 16 months.
Mike Gerholdt: You're still in months, even after 12.
J. Steadman: Yeah. So, apparently, you just-
Mike Gerholdt: It doesn't make sense to me, by the way.
J. Steadman: I'm not sure that it makes sense to me. Since I'm a dad, I just follow, I follow the guidelines.
Mike Gerholdt: You just roll with what other people do.
J. Steadman: Yeah, yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay.
J. Steadman: Yep. So, Ruby is almost 17 months old. Everyday from 5:00 to 7:00 is time that I spent with Ruby. Right? She comes home from Montessori and the two of us do what we do. We have a dinner. We play, and then I'll put her down for bed. That's my time. That's my time with my kid, and obviously my wife as well. Right? I didn't have that when I was growing up. My dad was a chef. Right? He didn't have the luxury of not being there for dinner service. You can't not be there for dinner service. That's when dinner happens. Right? And this is true for many jobs out there in the world.
Mike Gerholdt: I don't think you can ever directly pay it back. You pay it back in different ways. If you think of missing dinner with your father and prioritizing that time with Ruby, that'll pay dividends for Ruby's children because she will instill, "Well, this is important to me because this is what my dad made important." Or this is what I missed as a kid. Right?
J. Steadman: Yeah. Yeah. To be perfectly fair to my dad's experience too, again, not everyone has the luxury to be home at dinner time. Right?
Mike Gerholdt: No.
J. Steadman: I tell you this. We did have food on the table.
Mike Gerholdt: Sure, sure. He's a chef.
J. Steadman: Yeah, he's a chef so we had food to eat. And we were put in a position where, again, there's this phrase, you stand on the shoulders of giants. The work that my mom and dad did at least put me in a position so that maybe it wasn't a ton, but they put me in the position where I was able to be the first person to go to college. Right? Again, it was my own dime, but I was at a place to get into college, which is pretty cool.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I always, listening to that, think back to one of the times that I rolled a feature out to a user, and this was early on, and she had been at the company for 20 some years. I'm of a certain age where my parents, you went to work at a company. You went to work at IBM, or I live in the Midwest, you go to a John Deere or a Manna or Whirlpool, Maytag. And that's where you were. You're from a company man as they say.
J. Steadman: Yeah, get that pension.
Mike Gerholdt: They took care of you and you retired and you got your house and kids. And so, I was helping this user out because they'd been there 27 years in contracts and definitely had bounced within the organization, not somebody you're going to fire, but somebody has a hard time finding a spot to land, based on their skillset. And I remember showing them how to do something in Salesforce and it making their job exponentially easier. Right? And just the joy that they had because you speak of time. I also think of the joy because to them, that was the only job that they knew.
J. Steadman: Yep.
Mike Gerholdt: And in some respects, it was kind of like breaking rocks all day. I made all the rocks just crumble like dust, and suddenly, it's like, "Oh, this job maybe isn't so bad." I don't know if that was... As you were telling that story, that moment in my head came to mind.
J. Steadman: Yeah, I think that's dead-on. One of my very favorite things to do when I'm admitting an org is if I can have an opportunity to ride along with an end-user, especially at an out of office end-user, and spend a day with them, seeing the job that they do and how they do that job and seeing every step through the process. Wow. It's fantastic because then I can go back into the system, I can configure an experience that eliminates a lot of the roadblocks or at least streamlines them and then get that feedback. Right? And I've had that same experience. And while it might not break your back like cracking rocks, manual, repetitive tasks aren't fun for anyone anywhere. It's a big pain.
Mike Gerholdt: No. J., I put together some lightning-round questions because I knew we'd have a fun conversation, but taking some cues from some other interviews and episodes I watched, I thought these would be some kind of neat episodes. So, I won't ask these in super speedy order.
J. Steadman: Okay.
Mike Gerholdt: They're also kind of meant to be fun, a little lighthearted, a little... I don't know. First thing that comes to mind to some degree, but okay. We'll get started. So, first question, the best compliment you have ever received.
J. Steadman: I think it was my wife telling me that she thinks that I am an awesome father.
Mike Gerholdt: Hm. That's great. So, I try to make these fun and back and forth. If you could have only one meal the rest of your life, what would it be?
J. Steadman: My mother's chicken Parmesan.
Mike Gerholdt: Ooh. Now, everybody wants chicken Parmesan.
J. Steadman: Yeah. My mother's chicken Parmesan and you could have it for dinner, but you could also have it for lunch the next day on bread. Have a chicken Parmesan sandwich. Yep, my mom's chicken Parmesan.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay. Who is your hero?
J. Steadman: I'm really bad with this. I am not really a hero person.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay.
J. Steadman: I'm not really a hero person. Typically, if I have an icon in my head for that's what to pursue, it tends to be a fictional character.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay. So, then maybe this one will fit or not, but if you could meet one person that inspires you dead or alive, who would they be?
J. Steadman: I would love for another couple of hours with my grandmother Steadman.
Mike Gerholdt: Hmm. I'm asking this one because I know you, but let's pretend you're stranded on a deserted island. What album did you bring?
J. Steadman: Oh, okay. So, I would probably bring American Football's first LP because that record has been with me for decades and it never gets old. Second to that would be probably Jimmy Eat World's Clarity.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Okay. So, those are two I'm going to have to look for because I am not familiar with them, but that's okay.
J. Steadman: Yeah, that's a win.
Mike Gerholdt: Last one. Five words that describe you.
J. Steadman: I am really, really loud.
Mike Gerholdt: I am really, really loud. Okay, that's five.
J. Steadman: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: So, really, really is a couple of words to describe you.
J. Steadman: Yeah. Yeah. So, I did this on something else. Someone was like, "Name your superpower." And I think you're supposed to name like a favorite, real superpower. But I was like, "My actual superpower in life is I'm very passionate." And people are like, "Oh, well..." Sometimes I think people ask me questions and I don't understand what the question is.
Mike Gerholdt: Well, this one was not that, not that, but I mean any five words. I feel a lot of it is to get that perspective on how somebody thinks and where they're at, you know?
J. Steadman: Yeah. If I were to use five separate words that are all traits I'm curious, passionate, stubborn, creative, and joyful, or goofy. Let's go goofy instead of joyful.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Goofy, it opens the field up.
J. Steadman: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay. Well, J., this was fun, not that I knew it wouldn't be, but I hope our community got a blast out of it. You have content that will be coming out on the admin site. I anticipate hearing more from you on the podcast. I know you're also working on some Trailhead live stuff. So, more fun to come.
J. Steadman: Yeah, if I could just say one last thing to the listeners out there in the community. Yo, I'm here to hear what you have to say and to be an advocate for you. So, if you ever want to reach out, feel free. My DMs are open. Happy to grab a coffee, chat. I want to know who you are, what you're doing, what's working, what isn't. That's what we're here for.
Mike Gerholdt: Your DMs on Twitter?
J. Steadman: My DMs on Twitter.
Mike Gerholdt: What's your Twitter?
J. Steadman: That's J__mdt for I am a custom metadata type.
Mike Gerholdt: Ah-hah. All right. Good. That's what I was hoping I would get an explanation for.
J. Steadman: Yeah. There you go.
Mike Gerholdt: Sweet. All right. Well, J., thanks so much for being on the pod.
J. Steadman: Yeah. Happy to be here.
Mike Gerholdt: It was great to have J. on the podcast. I envision them coming back for quite a few episodes. Now, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. Of course, there's new podcast swag in the Trailhead store so be sure to pick up some of those cool T-shirts. I have mine on right now. There's a link in the show notes. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter. You can follow J. They are on Twitter, @J__mdt. And you got to... You know what the MDT stands for. You listened to the episode. Gillian is on Twitter. She is @gilliankbruce. And of course, you can give me a follow. I am @MikeGerholdt. So, with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.
Direct download: Get_to_Know_Our_Newest_Admin_Evangelist_J_Steadman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT