Thu, 11 March 2021
For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by LeeAnne Rimel, Architect Admin Relations, fellow Evangelist, and host of the Youtube video series “Did You Know” and “Expert Corner” to share some tips for how to learn in a virtual world.
Join us as we talk about distributed work, how to address concerns with working from home, and how to get a better work-life balance.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LeeAnne Rimel.
Join us in the Expert Corner.
March is Admin Integration Month, and it also marks the launch of Expert Corner, a new video series that gives our community the chance to meet the product managers that build the tools our admins are using. “One of the things that came up as I was thinking about how we bring technical content and technical conversations to admins was those conversations that we often witness or have with product managers when we’re at in-person events,” LeeAnne says.
The video series is a way of bringing that experience to everyone. In short, Expert Corner is a front-row seat to a Dreamforce session for anyone with an internet connection.
Tips for working from home
Working from home for seven years, LeeAnne has developed some habits to help her keep focused. Her first tip is that if you’re in a meeting, always imagine you’re right there in the conference room. Close any extra tabs, turn off notifications, and do everything you’d do if you were in a conference room with your boss’s boss’s boss. The same goes for taking time for yourself: “treat yourself and your own time and mental bandwidth with the same respect you would for your colleagues,” LeeAnne says.
If you’re having trouble getting your manager onboard with a remote working situation, one thing that LeeAnne’s found is helpful is to get specific about their concerns. You can then address those concerns with specific solutions, and sometimes it’s about thinking creatively. Maybe you can address their concern that they won’t know the status of your work with a quick 5-minute status update at the beginning of the day, for example.
Admins lead the way
“Having an entire workforce change the way they’re working with technology—for any reason—presents an opportunity for admins to be leaders on how their company is using technology,” LeeAnne says, “when there is change, often there is a need and a thirst for some direction and some leadership and some pathfinding.” That can be setting the tone for communicating project statuses, or just how things are communicated within your organization.
One thing LeeAnne does to be on top of the ball is consume information from a lot of sources and synthesize it quickly. She takes a lot of notes but aims to cut down 90% of it and find the important takeaways. Finally, LeeAnne recommends taking the time to figure out how to communicate that information in a way that your users will consume it.
LeeAnne has tons of great tips for working from home and work-life balance, so make sure you listen to the full episode.
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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 architect admin relations, fellow evangelist, host of many YouTube video series like Did You Know and Expert Corner. I think there's probably five other things I should say about LeeAnne, but LeeAnne Rimel is on the podcast to share with us her expertise in learning in a virtual world, and Gillian, this is just such a fun discussion.
Gillian Bruce: Anytime we get to chat with LeeAnne it's super fun.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So if you ever want to know what our team meetings are like, this podcast is pretty much it. So with that, let's get LeeAnne on the podcast. So LeeAnne, welcome to the podcast.
LeeAnne Rimel: Thank you so much for having me. I'm glad to be back.
Mike Gerholdt: You have a lot going on.
LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, it's been a busy month. It's been a busy few weeks around here. Got some really exciting stuff coming for our admin audience that's been rolled out during March because it's admin integration month. So having a really good time at putting together and collaborating on a lot of content to help our admins be awesome integrators.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, you're not just integrating admins?
LeeAnne Rimel: All of our awesome admins are also awesome integrators.
Gillian Bruce: I love it. Well, LeeAnne. So in addition to integration, which we have a few amazing episodes in the month of March focused on integration, talking to some great people in the Salesforce ecosystem about that, there's also a new video series that you launched that I'd love to dig into a little bit and it's called Expert Corner. So can you talk to us a little bit more about what that is and what it's about?
LeeAnne Rimel: Absolutely. So video is a really important medium for us and it's a medium that I really enjoy working with. I've worked with video for a number of years now. I love that as a communication medium when we're talking to our community. So I love exploring different ways to use video, and one of the things that actually came up as I was preparing and thinking about how we bring technical content to admins and technical conversations to admins was those conversations that we often witness or have with product managers when we're at in-person events.
Mike Gerholdt: I feel like it's a front row seat at a Dreamforce session.
LeeAnne Rimel: I love it. That's a much faster way. I should just describe it that way. That's a much faster way.
Gillian Bruce: And what's great about it is that it's not a Dreamforce session, because only so many people can come to a Dreamforce or come to a World Tour. And what this does is it enables anyone who has an internet connection to get that experience, which I think is pretty awesome.
LeeAnne Rimel: And that's really the goal. We appreciate and love our admin community globally, so I think even if we were having in-person events like this week, I think we would still be doing this type of series because I think that this gives our global audience a chance to feel really connected to the product management life cycle because that so deeply impacts all of our implementations that we're working on, the decisions that we're making as admins. So like Mike said, front row seat. I want all of our admins globally to have a front row seat to get to know their product managers, get to know the products that they're building.
Mike Gerholdt: One thing I like about it is in addition to just having that front row seat, it's very consumable. And I know one thing that you focus on and really help the whole team do is understand how we're learning in a virtual world, because when we're at Dreamforce, you can sit there and not necessarily turn your phone off, but leave it in your bag or your pocket and not get pinged with email or Slack notifications. But now that we're all sitting at home trying to figure that out, working and our email is always on, video is always on, I'd love to know your thoughts on how you balance your calendar and demands so that admins can find time to watch videos like what you're producing.
LeeAnne Rimel: And I think that's a really important conversation that a lot of us are facing right now. And I think even before we were all, or many of us were working from home, I think there was a lot of conversations around being inundated with incoming messages and the attention span that... Shortening our attention span, because we'd always get pings. I have a few things that I do that I actually started doing when I began working from home seven years ago, that really helped me focus on and what I was doing at the moment. One of those is even if you're home and you've got three monitors, if you're on a meeting, imagine as if you were in a conference room for that meeting. I try to close all of my other windows I might have open, I turn off notifications on my phone and on my computer, I try to really do the things... Imagine if you were going to be in a conference room with your boss's boss's boss, and you don't want all your stuff pinging, you wouldn't be answering chats at the end of the table, most likely.
Gillian Bruce: LeeAnne, I'm just going to add to that. One thing I always find myself doing, or at least I definitely did during this first part of my working from home very regularly experienced was I would have a video or something playing constantly, because I'm like, "Oh, I can just absorb this while I'm doing this." It was too much. It was like answering the Slack. I was answering this email. I was trying to pay attention to the video, and I wasn't doing anything very well. Nobody wants a multipurpose printer because it... Yes, it can scan, it can fax, it can print, but does it do any of those very well? Usually not.
LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, give yourself the space... I mean, I wish I could just absorb by osmosis and just... I wish I could just play technical videos while I was sleeping and I would just wake up knowing new programming languages, but that's not how it works. You have to be really focused. And I think to me that's a huge thing. And I think the more that you can put that on your calendar, it works... I'm a huge fan of turning off notifications whenever you can and just communicate about that. I know I communicate to my team back in the day of building demos and stuff. I'd say, "Hey, I'm going to be heads down building a demo for the next 90 minutes. I'll be back." And I think everyone has different work cultures and work team set ups and all of that, but as much as you can set that time aside because 30 minutes well-spent is so much more impactful than 120 minutes of half way reading a Trailhead module or a blog. Like you said, Gillian, we're not multi-purpose printers. Which is not a sentence I thought I would say.
Mike Gerholdt: Gillian, by the way, I have a multi-purpose printer. I thought what you were going to say is, "But does it do all three at the same time? No."
Gillian Bruce: I mean, they have gotten better in the last few years, but in general they're not super efficient at any one of those things. They're trying to do at all.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep. LeeAnne, as I was listening to talk about all of that stuff, one of the things that I think I've had conversations on Twitter about, and I also feel you're really good at managing up and helping other admins talk to their managers or their stakeholders, what happens if you're in an environment where your boss says, "I need to see you online," or, "I need to see this," or, "I need you to be available." How do you have those conversations or what would your advice be?
LeeAnne Rimel: I think a lot of times when people in our professional or personal lives are asking us for something, I think it can behoove us as individuals to spend some time thinking about what is really the ask behind the ask. And sometimes you can just actually come out and ask them what it is. So for example, if I had a manager who really wanted to see me online, and actually I did have that at one point. In my career, when I was starting to work from home sometimes as a sales engineer, there was some trepidation about like, "Well, we need to be able to see you." And I was like, "I really want to be able to work from home one day a week. How can I work together with this manager to mitigate what their fear is here?"
Gillian Bruce: That could be really tough because a lot of it is ingrained culture for some organizations, you know? I think even at Salesforce, as in the last year, I mean our whole workforce has pretty much been remote. I know that there's even specific groups that have struggled more with it than others just because there's some... There's a vibe that comes with specific types of organizations. And I know your idea of what is the real fear of not having a butt in seat methodology.
LeeAnne Rimel: What are they worried about?
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I've seen several conversations where you get in that discussion and all of a sudden it's like, "Oh, well, I worry about knowing where something's at." And like you said, "Oh, we can actually resolve that by giving updates at this time every day or whatever." It's interesting, because it's... I mean, I'm not going to say that some of it is maybe generational, but there is an evolution of work that is happening right now that I think is really fascinating, and a lot of these digital tools enable us to do that in new ways and help transform and evolve the culture there. One question I think would be interesting to work on is specific to admins. I know there are many admins who've already been able to rock their role not being physically in the office. What are some things maybe in the last year or so that you've seen with Salesforce specifically, or that you've seen evolve or surface in the Salesforce community that enable admins to even take this to a further level and continue to actually be a driver of digital transformation at their organizations?
LeeAnne Rimel: I think that's a great question because I think having an entire workforce or a large bulk of your workforce change the way they're working with technology, for really any reason, presents, I think, an opportunity for admins to be leaders on how their company is using technology. I think that admins are good at change management and we're good at training and we're going to communication. And I think that when there is change, often there is really a need and a thirst for some direction and some leadership and some pathfinding like with product pathfinding and tools and creating what are those processes that help us be successful now. So I think that admins can be very well positioned to really help their companies be really successful during this transition.
Mike Gerholdt: Gillian, I love that term, rock their role. I see a hashtag coming on, and I am going to turn that into another question because I feel, LeeAnne, one of the things that evangelists do and you've helped teach the team to do is really consume a lot of information from many different sources and synthesize it and also make it very relatable. So taking information from videos, or like you said, your chats with PMs and documentation, and then making it very relevant for our admin audience, which coincidentally, I think admins do as well. They take information from us, from your videos, from release notes and synthesize that for their organizations. If you had... And we did a podcast earlier this year with Lizz Hellinga on three things admin should pay attention to. I'd love to know three tips on how admins can help synthesize that information like you do.
LeeAnne Rimel: I take a lot of notes. I know that's probably a very boring tip, but I constantly take notes. Like Gillian and Mike know, I've got endless quips of just notes from calls, notes from presentation. I take a ton of notes and my notes are... So that's my tip one, just really documenting and taking as many notes as I can. Everything that stuck out to me. And then I try to get rid of 90% of the notes. So I really try to trim down. I'll take tons and tons of notes and then I read through my notes again and I think about what is really the important takeaways here. If I'm trying to, like you said, synthesize a large piece of information. And I think centering not yourself is really important in this exercise, really trying to center and think about and have an empathy mindset and think about placing yourself in someone else's position. Who's rocking their role, as Gillian said, and think about, "Okay, if I was managing a complex implementation right now and I had meetings on my calendar for six months planning, what is information that I might need to know?"
Gillian Bruce: I think that's a really good point. I mean, everyone's got different learning styles anyway. I mean, we have people like myself who need to learn by actually going through it and doing it. There's other people who consume much better by hearing something like a podcast. Shout out to you people. And then there's people who love to consume videos or read about it. And I think that's a very, very good point of trying to meet people where they're at, and as admins and especially with these digital tools, we have the ability to do that, which is pretty awesome. I will continue the rock their role. It's making me think of sushi too, for some reason.
LeeAnne Rimel: Okay, now I want sushi too. I feel like there's restaurants that had like a rock and roll...
Gillian Bruce: Exactly. Yeah, the rock and roll is a good go-to.
Mike Gerholdt: I'm just excited that Gillian was first one to bring up food and not me this time right now.
LeeAnne Rimel: Now I'm hungry. Thank you, Gillian.
Gillian Bruce: Sorry.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I want sushis too. Specifically California rolls.
Gillian Bruce: Oh yeah, totally. Totally. All right, I know what I'm ordering tonight. So one of the other things, LeeAnne, I think that's really important and we touched on it a little bit earlier, but maybe you do have three screens and you have the ability to do all of the things all the time and you don't have maybe a barrier of hopping on the train to get to work or hopping in the car. How do you set boundaries and trying to make sure that you're not like burnt out all the time, because I know that's something that I have struggled with on and off in the last year of, "Well, I can just pop open the laptop and do this now, or I'm just at home so I can pop upstairs, have a meal and come right back downstairs and get back in it." As someone who has worked remotely for a very long time, what are some strategies you have around not putting yourself constantly into overdrive or overwhelm?
LeeAnne Rimel: That's a really good question, I think, and this is very much a know thyself thing too, because it's a little bit different for everybody. But I think that the step one I think is to... And I would challenge everyone who's listening to this, sit down, write this out, what are the things that help you decompress or help you forget about work? So for me, that's walking my dog and cooking. Those are two things that I can't be on my phone during. I'm out in the world walking my dog or my hands are dirty because I'm cooking. So those are two things that I get pretty focused on what I'm doing in the moment and I can't work. I physically cannot be working while I'm doing it. So when you identify what are some things that maybe help you get in a flow state that's not a work flow state, and how can you schedule those in your day?
Mike Gerholdt: I was just going to say, I hear your bookend calling.
LeeAnne Rimel: She knows I'm talking about her, but I think that also giving yourself grace where you can. I think a lot of us really want, like I said, the 80% rule. Do the best that you can, but also give yourself grace. If you have the ability to, and you have to ask for an extension on a project or something, think about when are those times that it is okay and that I can try to load balance a little bit. Sometimes I have to do that. I say, "I committed to these five things and I have to drop one of them. I'm going to talk to my manager and see which of those I can de-prioritize for another month just to try to stay at a steady pace," because I can guarantee also, your manager doesn't want you to burn out either. Everyone who's listening here, no one wants to burn their employees out or they shouldn't want to burn their employees out. So I think whenever possible, communicating about it and asking for guidance on prioritizing and stuff too is helpful.
Mike Gerholdt: Well I think that is a fantastic way to bookend the podcast.
LeeAnne Rimel: I see what you did there.
Mike Gerholdt: Every now and then. No, this was really good. LeeAnne, I'm super excited for these Expert Corner videos selfishly. I think they can be bigger than this podcast. So I hope everybody that listens watches it and shares them a few hundred times to everybody that they know.
LeeAnne Rimel: That's a pretty lofty goal, but I'm pretty excited about it. I've been at Salesforce for almost 12 years and I still super nerd out every time I get to talk to our product teams. I love working with our product teams and hearing about roadmap and stuff. So I'm really excited for our admins to get to participate in these Expert Corners and hear from our awesome product experts.
Gillian Bruce: You're going to create a whole slew of... What is it, the Shannon Hale society. They're going to have followers for all of the PMs now.
LeeAnne Rimel: I know. I don't know if the newer PMs really realize what they're getting into. I'm like, "Hey, this is the most awesome community ever, but also you got to get on Twitter. You're about to get a lot of tweets."
Mike Gerholdt: I'm sure there's an app to immediately spin up fan clubs. If not, somebody needs to build that.
LeeAnne Rimel: Perfect. I feel like it's called the Salesforce community, or Salesforce Trailblazer community is our awesome PM fan clubs that we see.
Gillian Bruce: 100%. LeeAnne, thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the pod today and share your wisdom and expertise with us. Very much appreciated.
LeeAnne Rimel: Thank you so much for having me. It's been a joy. I love getting to show up and chat with you all on the pod.
Gillian Bruce: So huge thanks to LeeAnne for taking the time to chat with us. It's just so fun to get the three of us on the line together. Some major takeaways from our chat today. Number one, check out the brand new Expert Corner that has now launched on the admin YouTube channel. It's awesome. These are amazing opportunities to get direct access to our product managers who are building the features that you are using every single day. And if you're missing that Q&A interaction, casual chat that you might get at an event in the before times, this is the chance to get that connection now, and they're awesome, so make sure you check those out.
Direct download: How_to_Learn_in_a_Virtual_World_with_LeeAnne_Rimel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT