Thu, 21 April 2022
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Karmel James, Senior Associate at Dupont Circle Solutions.
Join us as we talk about how to ask good questions and why failure is a Record Type of Success.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Karmel James.
The Life of a Salesforce Consultant
Karmel is a Salesforce consultant: “My day is filled with asking questions and wondering what my clients are going to want today and then going through and figuring out how we’re going to deliver that to them.” Along the way, she has conversations about business processes and automation to help her get clarity on how to execute on those big ideas.
Along the way, Karmel has picked up on some best practices for solving problems quickly and efficiently. She really relies on her sandboxes to keep everything organized, and recommends you do the same.
Find the right tool for the job
“Being willing to learn and ask questions is one of the first key skills that I would say that everyone needs,” Karmel said, “but you need to be able to evaluate.” You’ve got so many tools available to you, from Process Builder to Flow and Triggers, so choosing the right thing for the right job is crucial. “What makes an Awesome Admin awesome is knowing how and when to use each,” she says.
When comes to figuring out what the right questions to ask are, Karmel recommends leaning on those high school journalism skills and asking the five Ws and an H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. You need to clearly hear what the problem is so you can engineer a solution, whatever that may be. And while there are a lot of ways to solve something in Salesforce, if you don’t understand the problem you haven’t got a chance to make an impact.
Failure is just a Record Type of Success
“Sometimes things fail, but failure is just a Record Type of success,” Karmel says, “you can’t succeed if you don't know how to fail.” And when you need help, come to a live event and ask questions because everyone there wants to help you succeed.
There are so many people working to build the community and make people feel at home, so if you’re new then look for places where you can learn more and get in touch with people who want to help. Start with your Community Groups first and go from there, and remember that everyone is there to learn no matter what your level of experience.
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Full show transcript
Mike: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product community and career. We're live this week, Gillian, at the Salesforce World Tour, DC.
Gillian: Yeah, do y'all hear that? You hear that noise in the background?
Mike: It's people.
Gillian: People in-person. Ah, that's so exciting. So exciting.
Mike: It was fun. So Gillian, you've done a couple presentations in the theater.
Gillian: And so have you.
Mike: I did. We just came off it. It was great. I presented to people and got facial feedback.
Gillian: Yeah, that isn't just on a screen. You actually could see body language.
Mike: Right, and the excitement when you say their names.
Gillian: You could ask people to raise their hands and you could actually see some hands on the air.
Mike: And then they raise their hands. Yeah, they don't just say they did in chat. I raised my hand. We're not sitting here alone. We're sitting with some shininess.
Gillian: Oh, we got some trailblazer royalty here with us today.
Mike: Please introduce our trailblazer royalty, Gillian.
Gillian: All right, listeners. I have a very special treat for you. We have the most recent golden hoodie winner. Karmel James, joining us. Karmel, welcome to the podcast.
Karmel James: Thank you, Gillian and Mike, this is amazing. While this is very shiny and very nice, I'm just in awe that I'm sitting here with you. I mean, this is just a dream come true.
Gillian: Aw, well that's sweat.
Mike: That's very nice. I'd like to think people are like, "Hmm, Golden Hoodie podcast. I don't know."
Karmel James: It's hard. I feel like they're somewhat equal some days. And then you're just like, you know what? Everything about Salesforce is great. So I'm just going to take what I can get. And this is awesome.
Mike: I hear that Lego movie song in my head. Everything's awesome.
Gillian: Everything is awesome.
Gillian: Yeah, well that was our theme song many, many moons ago for a long time now. We should bring it back.
Mike: It's never gotten out of my head. It's stuck now.
Gillian: Karmel, let's talk a little bit about who you are and what you do, and then we'll talk about Golden Hoodie and all the things. So what do you do in Salesforce World, and how long have you been doing it? Tell us a little bit about your story.
Karmel James: Yes, all the stories. I am currently a Salesforce consultant at a boutique company here in the Arlington area. And my day is just filled with asking questions and wondering what my clients are going to want today. And then going through and figuring out how are we going to deliver that to them, and having some really great conversations about business process, automation. All of the things that awesome admins are always wanting to do, that is my job 24/7.
Mike: Wow, I like that. It sounds cool.
Gillian: I think it also sounds like she has a lot of good wisdom to share.
Mike: Have a feeling.
Gillian: It could be [crosstalk] to the community.
Karmel James: All of the wisdom, all of the things. One, Sandboxes, yes. Hands down, every time.
Mike: You should have one?
Karmel James: You should have one. You should live by it. You should want three of them at all points in time. You got to test in multiple. Yeah, it's a whole deal.
Mike: Just to be clear, we're three minutes into the pod and she's already dropping wisdom on you.
Gillian: See, and this is why we have-
Mike: There's no breaks.
Gillian: Yeah, no.
Mike: It's coming at you like a wonder wall.
Gillian: That's what happens when you get everybody together in person, everyone gets excited.
Mike: I know, we have to talk, do things.
Karmel James: I thought that was the point of the community, to share knowledge.
Mike: Well, let's talk about the community. So I think what you described in your intro as like, "Oh, I did this and then I listen to the customers." Yeah, people do that in a lot of jobs. What's different about being in the Salesforce ecosystem for you?
Karmel James: Oh, that is a hard question to answer.
Mike: We're brutal on the podcast.
Karmel James: You are. I think what's different for me is, you can hear a lot of people say, do X, do Y, right? It's all there, but it's about finding what's right for you. So you take all of this information, you hear people say, "I think you should try this." And then at least in my experience, I've always said, yes to trying something once, right? I can't know if I'm going to hate it unless I try it first. And then after you try it, evaluate. Does that make sense for you? Is it still right for you? And I think that even with how you show up in the community, even how you do your job, whatever it is in the Salesforce ecosystem, it's not just about, I know this and this is great and I want to use it. It's an also questioning and saying, but is it right for me? And should I continue to do it? Do I still get that value from it?
Gillian: Okay, so that is definitely Golden Hoodie worthy wisdom there. And I think one of the things that is interesting is one of the reasons we were working with you on some of our presentations we shared today is, you really embody a lot of those admin core skills that we're talking about. We talked about, we've got the skills kits that we're about to launch, and you really embody a lot of that. And the reason we talk about the skills kit is because a lot of people can learn how to do Salesforce. A lot of people can learn how to customize a field, how to build an app. And that's great and it's important that you know that, but that admin magic is when you combine those business skills and those skills that you are hinting at. So can you talk to us a little bit, especially about in your role as a consultant, tell us a little bit how you envision that combo and how that has worked for you and how that helps create the magic that you've been able to propel your career with.
Karmel James: Yeah, no, I think being willing to learn and ask questions is one of the first key skills that I would say that everyone needs, but to your point, yes, you need to be able to evaluate. So when you're coming together and you're thinking, "Okay, I have this solution," you've got all these different tools in front of you, right? If we're thinking about process automation, you've got workflow rules, you've got process builders, you've got Flows, you've got Triggers, you've got external systems connected with an API and it can send things. You've got everything in a toolbox.
Mike: Okay, so to go a little bit further, because I want to get some of that Karmel goodness out. I hear that a lot, oh, you got to ask questions. You got to ask a lot of questions. And then I listen to a podcast like this and I'm like, "What are the questions? What should I be asking?" As you've evolved in your career, you've gotten better at asking questions. What are questions you ask now that help you clarify one tool versus the other or one process versus the other? Or do I build an object versus the other? What's that next level down answer that an admin needs to like, "I listen to Karmel. I'm going to go in tomorrow and I'm going to ask this type of question rather than just a question and then try and figure out Flow builder."
Karmel James: I would say it's about going back to the basics. So I remember in elementary school you learned about the five Ws. Who, what, when, where, why, and then an H, how. Those are all the questions that I need. I always think about, "How can I phrase this in an open ended question, just so that I can hear what the problem is." I'm not really worried about a solution because I know that there's a solution out there, but what I really need to know is, what is going on in the business? Why is the business doing it this way? What happens if you don't get it? What's the result of that? And really trying to understand the entire picture, right? It's about, if you're thinking about a painting, you want to know what you're painting first, some artists don't and that's totally okay.
Gillian: So it's funny. I actually saw you do the little bits in action just 10 minutes ago after the presentation, because of course you got swarmed after the presentation with everyone wanting to ask you questions.
Mike: I mean, it happens with the goal.
Gillian: And the Golden Hoodie, it's like saying-
Mike: It's so subtle.
Gillian: It's blindingly amazing. And so someone came up and asked you and said, "Hey, I'm trying to solve this situation. I have this form that I need people to fill out and then I got to capture it." And my first thought was like, "Oh, so maybe, probably sounds like a screen flow. I don't know." And you were like, "Hold on, let me ask you some questions. What type of form is this? What type of data is it gathering?" And it was like, we just saw you just immediately spring into action. And so that's that thinking in practice? I loved seeing that.
Karmel James: Oh yeah, no, absolutely. And it's something that I use as a consultant every day. I'm very happy to build any solution that my client wants, but I also am a consultant. I'm not going to be using the solution every single day. I'm not going to know when it goes wrong. I'm not going to understand that. And so in order to make sure that I'm building the best thing, I like to try and figure out what are the questions to get me the information to put myself in somebody else's shoes. I need to picture this as if I am the user. I need to picture this as if I am the admin who's going to receive this.
Mike: So I've worked with consultants as an admin, and we can get into that as a whole other... That could be a whole podcast.
Karmel James: That's a whole podcast.
Mike: But I think one thing that you probably run into that admins, I'm going to say, don't run into, when a consultant comes in. I think the company culture, the mindset has gone to, we are ready for change, because Salesforce is a change product, right?
Karmel James: Yeah.
Mike: You don't just get at net zero cloud and then not recycle paper, right? For example, or not install solar panels. You have to commit to the change. As you would advise for admins, what is a thing that they can do? What are questions they can ask that would help bring about that culture, that process change in addition to the technology change?
Karmel James: Ooh, change management, Mike. You are diving in deep.
Mike: I'm both feet. We're back live in person's hard question time.
Karmel James: It is. Well, considering the fact that before I was a consultant, I was an accidental admin. I was working by myself at a small nonprofit, not understanding. What I would say is that what I've learned from starting out seven years ago in that position of I've got this system, of course I want my users to use it. I know about all of these cool features. Now as a consultant where my job is to come in and help other people understand that value, I think it's also positioning and understanding who is your audience. So yes, if a company buys Salesforce, of course, you're like, well obviously you should use Salesforce. Of course, you bought it, you want to use it. But it's about understanding what is the value of the executive director using it? What value to the manager who is using it? What is the value to your customer who's going to be interfacing with whatever site you put up, especially if you're using experience cloud?
Gillian: So yeah, actually one of the things that popped up for me, you're saying it's very hard. What happens when you have a situation where someone's either not giving you the info or you're having combative, "Hey, why is it this site?" "Well, it just is." What happens when you hit those walls? Because I can imagine when you're digging deep and asking all the questions, so you might encounter somebody who's defensive or who doesn't think you need to know, or how do you deal with something like that?
Karmel James: Well, I would stop and assess my situation of, what is the environment that I'm in. Am I in front of a lot of people or is this one-on-one? Because I think that's definitely going to change how you approach that person. But let's just go ahead and say it's one-on-one, right? I personally like to reset. If I met with a little resistance, I like to reset as why we're here today. Right? And remind them that my job is to help you. I'm not here to just come in and make change just to make change. If this is a process that you want to keep, that's totally fine. I have ideas on how I can make it easier, but it's not my job to just make things easier to make them easier. My job is make sure that if it's going to be easier for you, it's actually going to add value.
Mike: Wow. I've met with that a few times. So you mentioned we're at an event. Let's talk about that. Finish this phrase for me, as a new Salesforce admin, I should go to a World Tour event because...
Karmel James: Because you don't know what you don't know. That is something that someone told me a very long time ago, that I don't know, know what I don't know. And so you should come here to meet with other people and say just that. I came here and I have no idea what this is about. And let someone else tell you about it. Let someone else show you the value, because everyone who is here at World Tour or at any Salesforce community event, we're all there to just drop knowledge. We want everyone to be successful in Salesforce. And yeah, sometimes things fail. But failure's just a record type of success. So keep showing up, and-
Mike: Oh, man, quote of the pod right there.
Gillian: Quote of all.
Mike: I want that on a shirt.
Karmel James: Right? It's good. But come to these events so that we can hear what you've been working on, especially those failures. Because you can't succeed if you don't know how to fail, right? And just being able to talk with other people and ask them questions. Questions, again, asking, it's my whole theme of everything. But this is really truly a place where you know people are going to be talking about Salesforce. They are bought into Salesforce. Salesforce is the only thing that they really are doing here and wanting to talk about. So this is the place to just hear what we're talking about, see what the Koolaid is, see if you want to try it. And if you do say, "Hey, I don't know what this is. Can you explain it to me?" And I swear, you'll get 10 people flock to you instantly. "I can show you this. I can show you this. Have you tried this? Did you look up this help.salesforce.com article? You haven't? You need to read this. Take a minute, process, then come back to me."
Gillian: I think that's really important because a lot of, I would say 90% of the people that I saw in our sessions today, when I asked you, I would say, "Hey, is this your first sales source event?" All the hands went up. And I think that's one of the really special things about these World Tours is that, A, it's free. We want everyone to come, but it's the perfect opportunity if it's your first exposure to Salesforce or you're about to... I talked to someone today who's like, "My organization is getting ready to implement Salesforce. So they sent me here so that I can start getting my mind all around it." And I was like, "That is awesome. This is perfect.
Karmel James: We have so many user groups, we've got the admin group. We have the women in a tech group. There's a developer group. There's a nonprofit user group. We have all of the community events. And yes, in the D.C. Area, we are all about community. And if I'm thinking about my own journey in Salesforce, World Tour is one of the first events that I went to when I was an accidental admin where I was like, "I don't know what this means. I don't know Salesforce. I am a chemist. You want me to do what? What is this thing? I don't know, sales. I got nothing." And when I was starting out, I did, I looked for places where I could just go and learn more about this thing called Salesforce, and World Tour was one of them.
Gillian: Well, I'm going to say I enjoyed watching you on stage today. So full circle.
Karmel James: It's so nice. It's like a dream come true.
Gillian: That's awesome.
Mike: So as we wrap up things, we talked about World Tour. You dropped a whole lot of knowledge, and I swear I'm going to buy a shirt.
Gillian: Yeah, I think we should make them for Trailblazer DX or Dreamforce, at least.
Mike: That's what I was thinking.
Karmel James: Yes, failure is just a record type of success.
Mike: Isn't that cool. It fits right. It'll fit. It'll look cool. Admins that are listening to this. We have Trailblazer DX coming up, or yes, I think it came up.
Gillian: April 27th to 28th.
Mike: Right. We'll have Dreamforce. We have other World Tours. We also have community groups. What is a new admin, somebody that's listening to this podcast, what would you tell them to do?
Karmel James: I would say, start with your community groups first, get your feet wet. Right? You just have to show up. You can sit, you don't have to talk to anybody.
Mike: But I mean, it could be two hours.
Karmel James: No.
Mike: Maybe I'm not all into that.
Karmel James: Oh, well that's fair.
Mike: Because that's what people tell me. Right?
Karmel James: Yeah.
Mike: Like I don't...
Karmel James: I know.
Mike: This is a whole lot of...
Karmel James: It's a lot of talking. It's a big investment.
Mike: Do I have to do all of the-
Karmel James: Yes.
Karmel James: Yes, you have to. You have to do all the things.
Mike: Because that's what they're saying.
Karmel James: And that's fine, but they're going to miss out on the power of Salesforce.
Mike: I mean, if you live in the Midwest, there's usually some sort of meatloaf or a hot dish at user group.
Karmel James: Yeah, I mean at D.C.-
Mike: I don't know what you do our east.
Karmel James: We always had food at the end of ours. Yeah, absolutely.
Mike: Out west they'd usually do drinks.
Gillian: I feel like every time I've joined a D.C. user group, there's been bourbon involved in some capacity.
Karmel James: Yeah, usually at the end.
Gillian: Yeah, that's usually Toya's fault.
Mike: But so I guess what I'm getting at, you can kind of be your own little introvert self.
Karmel James: Yes, absolutely.
Mike: And hang out.
Karmel James: Yeah.
Mike: And you don't have to be a rock star up on stage.
Karmel James: Nope, you can just sit and listen.
Mike: And you cannot know stuff, right?
Karmel James: Oh my God, please not know stuff. Let us teach you.
Mike: Please not know stuff.
Karmel James: Yeah, no, we are more than happy, right? And just sitting and watching gives you this space to have ideas, right? There's there is no expect you have to talk to us, right? In the keynote, I said, if you were to look in the dictionary and see the word extrovert, my face is next to it. I am 100% that person where you were like, "Who is she and why?" That's too much energy. I can't be around it. But you don't have to be that way, right? You can just show up and we want to see you anyway. Even if you're just sitting there and you're just listening. That is it. That is all you have to do. That is step one to being in the community, is just showing up. Then step two comes with time and feeling comfortable.
Mike: Nobody wants to take food home.
Karmel James: No, never.
Mike: Not a hot dish.
Gillian: Unless you've got one of those-
Karmel James: I mean, unless it's Mac and cheese.
Mike: I did, so favorite. Okay, fun time. Favorite user group food. I'll go first. I one time to a Twin City's user group. And it was middle of winter, December when it's negative a gabillion below. Everything's froze. And it was over the lunch hour. They did the intro, and they're like, "In the back's lasagna, meatloaf and mashed potatoes."
Karmel James: That sounds like-
Mike: "And then after that, we're going to do break out birds of the feather." I love the Twin City user group. It was everything and a bag. Gallons of Mountain Dew got me home that afternoon because I finished eating and all I wanted to do was just snooze. Can we all just have nap time?
Karmel James: Yes, I would love to bring siestas to the Salesforce.
Mike: So Mac and cheese would be your preferred-
Karmel James: Yes.
Mike: That's what?
Karmel James: Well, I had Mac and cheese yesterday, so that's why it's on my mind.
Mike: You, can have Mac and cheese today too, by the way.
Karmel James: There was Mac and cheese?
Mike: Mac and cheese can be an everyday kind of food.
Karmel James: It should be an everyday type of food.
Gillian: [crosstalk] is the official food of the Salesforce Admin podcast because I do it.
Mike: I don't know. We should have a poll.
Karmel James: Is it going to have bacon in it? Can we add bacon?
Mike: Oh, it's got to have bacon.
Karmel James: Got have it.
Gillian: See? This is where I have a problem.
Mike: Gillian doesn't like bacon, she's weird.
Karmel James: That's totally fine. We still love you anyway.
Mike: I mean, it's okay but it's weird.
Gillian: Can you keep it on the little crumbles on the side.
Karmel James: Yes.
Mike: You can put it on. It's like a Mac and cheese bar.
Karmel James: It's a toping, yes.
Mike: Have you seen that? I saw a thing on Food Network. They have a Mac and cheese bar.
Karmel James: Well, see, this is why I like noodles and company, because I can go and I can get all the Mac and cheese that I possibly want.
Mike: There you go. With bacon crumbles.
Karmel James: With nothing else. Yeah, bacon crumbles, that is my entree. Mac and cheese. But no, I would say the women in tech group here in D.C., we do lots of sandwiches. And so these san-
Mike: Finger sandwiches look little?
Karmel James: Yeah, no, they're really good meaty sandwiches.
Mike: Will gel.
Karmel James: You're going to get a meal out of this. And we usually always have leftovers. And so, I either would pick them up and would take them home. And in some cases I could eat all of them, which was great, or I would actually give them away to people. And so, they're just like in... I know that this theme for this World Tour is gratitude. And so, I always go into all of these user groups thinking, "I'm very lucky to be here. This is very exciting." And a lot of it is per chance, right? And so, if we have the opportunity to have leftover food, I personally like walking the streets of D.C. Being like, "Hey, we can't take all this home. There's no way." And sandwiches make it really easy for someone else to be like, "Yes, I actually, I will take a sandwich."
Mike: Yep. We did that at my first Trailhead, it's now called Trailblazer DX. We had leftover food in the employee lounge and we all took a plate, and then the first person that we ran into on the street.
Karmel James: Yeah.
Mike: Yeah, I get a soft spot if they have a dog.
Karmel James: Yeah.
Gillian: Karmel, thank you so much for joining us.
Mike: Yeah, this was fun.
Gillian: You've done an amazing job today in all of the things that we've asked you to do for Salesforce.
Gillian: You did an incredible job during the keynote and you well earned Golden Hoodie, and thank you for joining us on the podcast today, and dropping those wisdom bombs on us. And I can't wait to see your Salesforce nomad life come to life over the next few months because I know that you're just hopping between Salesforce events all over the world, which is very exciting.
Mike: Should go to more Salesforce events and we will.
Gillian: She will.
Karmel James: Yeah. Oh yes, we got Southeast Dreamin. We have Dreaming in Color, Midwest Dreamin'/Witness Success. We have all of them.
Mike: Yeah, we'll be at Midwest Dreamin'.
Karmel James: Ooh, okay. Well then I will see you there.
Mike: I might know the keynoter.
Karmel James: Oh right, yeah, that's happening.
Mike: I won't. I won't make you eat a hot dish, not in summer. Not in Minneapolis.
Karmel James: No, not in July.
Mike: Shandy, yeah.
Karmel James: We're not doing that in July, no. But Florida Dreamin', it's First [Landia] right? In Portland? First Landia?
Gillian: First Landia.
Karmel James: I've been told about that so I've got to consider.
Mike: Have you thought about making a tour shirt? I could see that. That would be, see Karmel James, and then the dates on the back.
Karmel James: Right? That'd be pretty cool.
Mike: That'd be boss.
Karmel James: With my travel, what's really nice is I kind of don't plan it so far in advance where I know where I'm going. But for conferences, I absolutely know when I'm going to those. Okay, I got to go make a shirt now.
Mike: I'd do a tour shirt, that'd be cool.
Gillian: That would be very awesome.
Mike: See me at the following event.
Karmel James: Yes.
Gillian: Well, thank you so much for joining us and we cannot wait to see what's next for you. And yeah, keep letting us ask you to do things.
Karmel James: Excellent. Well, thank you, Gillian and Mike, this has been so amazing. I am just overly happy that I get to share, who, what, when, where, why? Oh, don't forget how.
Mike: And how.
Karmel James: Yeah, don't forget how.
Mike: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links if we mentioned any in today's episode, as well as the full transcript.
Gillian: That's going to be a good one to read.
Mike: I know, I can't wait. They usually-
Gillian: Have fun with that, transcribing.
Mike: I will. Yep, here we go. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are at Salesforce admins, no I on Twitter. Gillian of course is on Twitter @Gillian K Bruce. Our guest today, Karmel.
Gillian: She might as well be a host.
Mike: I know, a guest host. Coming soon to a podcast new year.
Karmel James: Thank you.
Gillian: Yeah, right?
Mike: Karmel James is on Twitter at...
Karmel James: A-R-M-E-J-A-M, 44.
Mike: Or armejam as I almost introduced her. I, of course, am on Twitter @Mike Holt. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.
Direct download: Live_from_Salesforce_Tour_DC_with_Karmel_James.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT