Wed, 30 January 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re welcoming back podcast favorite Zayne Turner, Lead Developer Evangelist at Salesforce. We chat Lightning Web Components, a new technology that helps reconfigure how we build Lightning components.
Join us as we talk about what Lightning Web Components means for our implementations and applications.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Zayne Turner.
How Lightning Web Components changes the game.
Lightning Web Components is a new way of building components that lets you apply the experience you already have in other web development technology outside of the Salesforce ecosystem. “Under the hood, some of the standard components you see in the top of the explorer and app builder have maybe been Lightning components for a while now and we didn’t know it,” Zayne says, and the beauty of this technology is that you don’t have to. As Gillian says, you can make a components turducken and it’ll just work and be delicious.
“When we introduced Aura, the web was different,” Zayne says, “there weren’t as many things that the browser knew how to do out of the box so we had to build a lot of it for you.” That meant that it needed to be built custom, which made it confusing for developers because they needed to learn different ways of doing the same thing. It also made things slower. Now that the web is smarter, we can leverage widespread technology to make things easier.
What does Lightning Web Components mean for admins?
For admins, there are a few things that you need to think about with the release of Lightning Web Components. “If you’re wondering what’s going to change when I open up App Builder,” Zayne says, “you shouldn’t have to change anything.” The bigger change is that you help your developers make a better choice, especially with performance or adding new talent with other web development experience.
We can help developers be more efficient by bringing our Admin Magic to the table. If we really understand the business processes at play in a particular situation, we can show them how a particular component fits into the broader landscape. That means a more efficient team that gets more done.
Get your hands dirty.
If you’re looking for how to get your hands dirty and understand what the Lightning Web Components app opens up, you can start with the Recipes sample app. “It shows you how to solve a lot of common problems in 30 lines of code or less,” Zayne says, whether or not you’re a developer. You have so many different ways of doing what you want to do, and it’s valuable to understand what those options are even if it’s not in your normal toolbox.
Coming up, there are the Global Developer Week meetings in February where people can get together to talk about what’s new and where there are challenges. At the end of May, of course, there’s TrailheaDX. Check out your local community group for more information, and there are always great resources available online (and in our show notes).
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce and today we're welcoming back one of our favorites to the podcast, Zayne Turner Lead Developer Evangelist here at Salesforce. Zayne has been doing a lot of work on Lightning Web Components. Lightning Web Components is an exciting new technology that we launched not too long ago to help reconfigure how we build Lightning components. Now most of this has been focused on the developer audience because it is talking about coding and the frameworks and web frameworks. There are some really cool things about Lightning Web Components that we should think about as admins. Some opportunities for us to help guide new developers in the Salesforce space, help us rethink some of the pieces of our Salesforce implementation and application.
Gillian Bruce: I wanted to get Zayne on the podcast to explain a little bit more about what Lightning Web Components means for us as admins. So whiteout further ado, welcome Zayne to the podcast. Zayne welcome to the podcast.
Zayne Turner: Gillian, thank you for having me again. This is fantastic to be back.
Gillian Bruce: We love having you on the podcast. It's been too long.
Zayne Turner: It has been too long.
Gillian Bruce: I feel like it's been a year ish maybe.
Zayne Turner: Already?
Gillian Bruce: Almost, yeah.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: It's been a while. Well I wanna get you in the pod because there's this new technology that we put out there that's a big deal and it's focused on the dev audience but there's definitely some admin implications. I wanted to get you on the podcast since you are an expert in Lightning Web Components to talk to us a little bit about what that is, what it means, all of the things. Why don't we start with what Lightning Web Components?
Zayne Turner: Lightning Web Components is a new way of writing components, I know, go with me here.
Gillian Bruce: Okay.
Zayne Turner: It's a new way of building interactive user experiences in Lightning. It's a new way that developers now can choose to build their components. It's all still Lightning components which gets a little confusing but, it's essentially we're giving developers two choices. You can build in what we're now calling Aura which is what we maybe are more used to by now. The original Lightning component model was Aura. Now we have this new one called Lightning Web Components that is probably easier for people who have experience in other kind of web development technology. It's going to look more like things you're going to see outside of the Salesforce world and so we're giving developers these two new ways of building things that then you can use in Lightning experience.
Gillian Bruce: When we talk about components we say ... use the word component for a few things.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: In Salesforce world right? So when I'm an admin and I think of a Lightning component, I'm thinking of when I open App Builder, I see this list on the left that are standard Lightning components, maybe some custom ones that either my developers built and then ones that I've gotten from the App Exchange.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That's what I think of as a component. Those components are built using the technologies that you just talked about correct?
Zayne Turner: Exactly. And under the hood some of those standard components you see in the top of the explorer in app builder have maybe been Lightning Web Components for a while now and we didn't know it. That's the beauty of this technology, is that we don't have to know it. It could be either or. They can go on to Lightning pages, they can talk to each other. You can put one of this new kind of component inside another component and it should just work.
Gillian Bruce: Cool. So we can a component turducken and we wouldn't even know.
Zayne Turner: Exactly and you don't even need to know. It's just delicious.
Gillian Bruce: I never actually had a turducken, it actually sounds kind of gross. I just like the excuse to use turducken on the podcast.
Zayne Turner: Yeah, when you can, go for it.
Gillian Bruce: Okay, let's talk a little bit about why we do this at Salesforce because we had ... people were already building Lightning components, and they worked.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Why did we change this?
Zayne Turner: We changed if for a couple reasons. One is when we introduced Aura, the web was different. There weren't as many things that the browser knew how to do out of the box so, we had to build a lot of it for you. Which was great because then we could have all these new experiences in Lightning. That's the reason we started then this big migration of let's go to Lightning, it's better on Lightning, you can do cool stuff. We had to build a lot of custom and then that meant that the way that Salesforce answered a question then maybe a framework like React answered if a different way. It meant for developers it was often confusing, you had to learn all these special unique ways of doing essentially the same thing and it also made it really slow sometimes. The performance of those components that have to do all this special stuff, isn't really fast.
Zayne Turner: The Lightning Web Components model is taking advantage of the fact that now the web itself is smarter. The browsers know how to do more things, we don't need to build that our own special way at Salesforce. We can just leverage this widespread technology and do what it is that we know how to do getting metadata there. Having it be really secure. Just focus on those things and then let the user experience parts be as good as the latest web technologies are today.
Gillian Bruce: That's cool. We can lean on the industry as a whole and then focus on specializing the unique Salesforce pieces of it instead of worrying about all of the stuff underneath it.
Zayne Turner: Exactly. I think it's exciting for anyone building on the platform however you're choosing to build. Whether you're choosing to build in code or you're someone who's doing the customizations another way, the exciting thing about this shift in how we're building is that we're actually helping shift the way that browsers are working, the way the web technologies are going. Salesforce is now at the table saying this is what we're learning, this is the direction we'd like things to go in and we're helping to shape that conversation. So hopefully we're not sitting here in five years saying, yeah, and we didn't know how to do anything than and ... this is a longterm investment we're making and also being a part of the standards that everyone is adapting.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome, that makes sense. So, it's this evolution of the industry as a whole and then we here now a core piece of that which is great.
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Cool.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Let's talk a little bit about what the specifically means for Admin. It sounds like from a developer point of view you're changing the way that you're building these components, these custom components. From an Admin point of view, you aren't necessarily building the components but you're using them in your app. What are some differences that Admins may be going through or maybe need to start thinking about now that Lightning Web Components is the new way of Lightning components?
Zayne Turner: Yeah, I think of a couple things. First is if you're wondering what's going to change when I say open up App Builder and want something to be there I wanna be able to customize it and have control over it and the ways that we've become used to. The first thing is you shouldn't have to change anything. You shouldn't have to change your expectation that is still absolutely possible no matter whether it's Aura or Lightning Web Components. You should be able to have those customizable web components at your fingertips. I think the bigger change is going to come in the opportunity you have to then help your developers make a better choice. If you've noticed components that maybe you've built for your org that are really slow, now is the time to start saying maybe we could start migrating pieces of this to this new framework.
Zayne Turner: If it's a new developer whose maybe come in because now they're better at web developments, and your company has said great, now why don't you try this thing that we've been told that means you should be good at it but, they don't understand Salesforce, so it's going to be even more essential that the people who understand your business and Salesforce then help those developers build it the right way. Make the right decisions about this is how we enforce our business logic, this is how we want it to work, your place at the table is even more central I think.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and think that's a really excellent point. The idea, what we have, what I like to call the Admin Magic is that you know the business, you know the business processes, you have this overall picture of how Salesforce is implemented at your company and now when you're out seeing a developer to build a component or build a specific piece of Salesforce knowing that this framework has changed will help you guide them in the Salesforce land.
Zayne Turner: Exactly and helping them understand how this piece, this component that they're building fits into the big landscape that you really understand and that you know. You don't need to write that in code because we've already taken care of it with this process or these validation rules, really helping everyone be more efficient.
Gillian Bruce: Another thing I think that's interesting is as I've been learning more about this Lightning Web Components, what it does to open up some opportunities maybe for folks who ... Salesforce is the last piece now that developers have to learn. If they already know Java and some of the other languages, they don't have to get as nitty gritty in order to build a Lightning Web Components from my understanding.
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Into Salesforce. That Salesforce piece is just a layer now. In some ways it opens up the opportunity for developers who have not ... have looked at Salesforce and think that's too much. Now maybe they ... might be easier for them to enter the ecosystem and become a builder that way.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: In which case us admins, we really have to guide them right?
Zayne Turner: Yeah, being that sherpa of I know this, let me help you understand the pieces of the technology that you don't yet know. Exactly, that conversation is going to become even more important. I think it's interesting also people who maybe don't identify as developers but are I know how to do some HTML or I know how to do these things, I think they're also going to suddenly discover I understand a lot more about these web components because they're built on really familiar things. It really isn't that strange when you start to look at them. Which, I think makes it a whole new world of who's going to building these things. It's really exciting.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, one of the things I thought was really cool, we had a Lightning Web Components launch event not too long ago.
Zayne Turner: Yes we did.
Gillian Bruce: And you were a huge part of that.
Zayne Turner: I think you were as well, right?
Gillian Bruce: Well I got to do the fun pre-show part, you actually got to talk about the technology. One of the things that I thought was interesting as someone who is not a developer by any means, I see a code, and I'm like huh? I could really follow along the demos that you and [Christoff 00:10:51] other amazing [crosstalk 00:10:51] evangelists presented because it was more about the idea of here is thing that can do a thing and it doesn't matter ... I think there was one specific part of it where it was like here is a tag and it means the same thing for Salesforce or the general web community.
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: You can Google it and it's going to be the right thing.
Zayne Turner: Yes, exactly. That's part of that building on standards. When I started learning, so our team of course was getting hands-on with this before we could talk about it publicly because we wanted to be able to talk about it publicly and make sense.
Gillian Bruce: You had to learn about it before you could tell everybody else about it.
Zayne Turner: Right. And we were talking a lot internally about modern web development, modern web standards and I really didn't ... it didn't mean a lot to me. I was like these are just words you keep saying. What does that mean? It's those kinds of things that then really made the light bulb go off for me. I was like oh, yeah, I can Google for my answer and find it anywhere or what I build, where I write my code and the way that I structure the markup of the button goes here and the input field goes here, that looks exactly the same then when I open it up in the browser. The fact that we're getting this should be more standard, more smooth, that's really where it matters.
Gillian Bruce: I know language is a loaded term when we talk in the dev space but, common terms, common ways to do things.
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Which is ... yeah. Opening it up for more people to understand.
Zayne Turner: Yeah, exactly and to be effective and to be needed and useful. Which, I think is the magic that we all appreciate.
Gillian Bruce: Totally. We use technology to make our lives easier right? Isn't that why we do this?
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: I mean no, maybe, I use it ...
Zayne Turner: No, that's why I use it.
Gillian Bruce: You mentioned from an Admin prospective, you really shouldn't notice any changes when it goes from a traditional Lightning component to a Lightning Web Component, can you talk to us a little bit about what that means for some components you might have on the app exchange because there is a huge number of components that people have installed that do exist on the app exchange which is really cool because you can plug and play, you don't have to create things from scratch.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: What about those components? Are they shifting? What's the plan for that?
Zayne Turner: Yeah and it's the same story there. The partners that are building on the app exchange have the same flexibility of they may have published it in one form but, under the hood, they can go ahead and start migrating the pieces of their app that makes sense to the new model maybe for performance reasons or maybe functional reason but, again, you shouldn't have to know that difference. We've made it so that Aura and the new web components can play together just specifically so that we don't interrupt what people have already built.
Gillian Bruce: That's really cool. It should be a pretty seamless experience from that perspective.
Zayne Turner: I mean as seamless as giant change can be but, yes. As much as possible, it shouldn't be the oh, you spent a lot of time getting good at building this one way, now you throw it all away and start over. That's not the message which I think to me is exciting.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's really cool. Let's talk a little bit about maybe some of the cool things that Lightning Web Components opens up. I know we have this incredible sample app gallery that you and your team have built, that's a great way to get hands-on with some of this technology that pushes and shows all the different things you can do. What are some cool specific examples of stuff you can do now with Lightning Web Components that maybe you couldn't do so easily before?
Zayne Turner: I think that's a really great question that I am trying to pick out just one. The recipe sample app which is really the brainchild of Christoff is amazing because as he phrases it, it shows you how to solve a lot of common problems in 30 lines of code or less. It's really approachable even if you're not a developer, you just wanna go see how these things work, what they look like. Recipes is a great place to start. There are some recipes that show the fact that with web components now, you have so many different ways of doing what you wanna do and one of the most exciting things that they built in is the fact that now you can do things like import references to your schema. Your fields and your objects. If a developer has used a field in a component, and you're making a change that might break that component, you're going to be notified. You're going to see it.
Gillian Bruce: Yay.
Zayne Turner: The developer's going to see when they're trying to use a field that doesn't exist or they're referencing it wrong, they'll see it when their developing the component. You'll just catch all of these things earlier and I think the thought that the architects behind the framework put into those moments and the thought that they continue to put into how are people using the platform today and how should they use it in this new model is really exciting and it's really an excellent team that's thinking about these things.
Gillian Bruce: That's so cool. That recipes app, I love ... I encourage every Admin to at least go check that out because even if you're not going to code and that's totally okay because I'm definitely in that camp, but it does, it breaks it down, every tab is an example of different ways you can use this and literally they are recipes.
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: So you could just look at it and start to try and figure out what means what. It's a lot of ways people learn how to do visual for us. You see what other people have built and you edit little things to [crosstalk 00:16:08].
Zayne Turner: Exactly, to make it your own. Exactly and these are all just little starters, little starting points that then you can customize and use in your apps.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's so cool. I am excited about that. Let's talk a little bit about what's next. We launched this thing, it's super exciting, now it's out there in the world, we've got the sample app gallery, what are some of the things coming down the pipe that you're excited about in this space?
Zayne Turner: I'm really excited and this is where depending on when this airs ...
Gillian Bruce: [crosstalk 00:16:39] slash. Safe harbor all those things.
Zayne Turner: So we have our global developer week meetings that are happening in February which is exciting because it's a time where people can get hands-on and get together with their community and really learn about this new technology together and say I'm excited to build this thing, and see what other people are building and say I'm having trouble installing these things all together in one place. Those are going to be great and I know that several of my team and the product team are going to be all over the world helping support these events. Then of course we have a little party coming up at the end of May.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, we do, do we?
Zayne Turner: Yeah, it's a tiny one. I don't remember the name of it.
Gillian Bruce: Does it start with a T?
Zayne Turner: It does.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Zayne Turner: Trail.
Gillian Bruce: Trailhead.
Zayne Turner: Something.
Gillian Bruce: TrailheaDX? TrailheaDX.
Zayne Turner: That's right, TrailheaDX.
Gillian Bruce: Okay, it took me a while. It's been over a year right?
Zayne Turner: I know that we're probably going to have much more there but, those are the things that are on the horizon immediately.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Yeah, the global developer week events are going to be incredible. I think it's like 130 plus countries and all kinds of great stuff. If you are listening to this, which will be coming out in a time during this is all happening. Make sure that you check out your local community group and become part of that if you can.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Don't worry if your local group is not doing something or you're not near, there is plenty of resources online to get you up to speed. There's great videos.
Zayne Turner: Definitely.
Gillian Bruce: So much amazing stuff that Zayne, you and your team have put out.
Zayne Turner: Yeah, we have videos on developer.salesforce.com we have a whole channel now that's the Lightning Web Components video gallery. You can see demos, and you can see how to set up your machine even. We're going to be adding more videos all the time and then there are several different trail mixes. Hitting Trailhead and there's a ton of content already there on Lightning Web Components and more even coming soon.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Well Zayne, thank you so much or sharing your LWC expertise with us on the pod and helping us in the admin world understand what this means for us. It's very helpful.
Zayne Turner: Absolutely, anytime, I will come back.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, you know I will have you back. It will not be as long between episodes next time. Like I said, thank you again, thank you so much. Oh, before you go.
Zayne Turner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: You don't get out of this without a Lightning round question.
Zayne Turner: Oh my, okay.
Gillian Bruce: All right first thing to come to mind, no right or wrong answer.
Zayne Turner: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: All right. It's spring time in our hemisphere of the world, what is one of your favorite things you look forward to this season?
Zayne Turner: Flowers.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, flowers. Any particular kind of flower?
Zayne Turner: The colorful kind.
Gillian Bruce: That's good. We like colorful flowers too.
Zayne Turner: I mean I have lived in several different places and anytime I had to live somewhere that spring came really late, it just felt wrong. I miss things being green and things blooming so, yeah, the first there's ... a dandelion could be blooming, and I'm like yes. That's a flower.
Gillian Bruce: I love it. I remember the first time I lived outside of California, I had seasons, I remember seeing the, not dandelions, the daffodils pop up.
Zayne Turner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Through the snow in the ground when I was living in DC and I was like that is so cool. So yeah, I'm a flower child as well.
Zayne Turner: Right, flower children for the win.
Gillian Bruce: That, now Zayne thanks again so much for joining us.
Zayne Turner: Thanks Gillian I'll see you soon.
Gillian Bruce: I always love having Zayne on the podcast, it's great to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with her in person about some of these exciting new technologies coming down the pipe. I really appreciated the insight into Lightning Web Components. Now I know us as Admins this may not be something we're really thinking about as one of our top priorities but, it's really good for us to know what this means for our implementations, our applications, and I really like how Zayne pointed out some of the things that we should think about. Like guiding new developers into the Salesforce space. This new technology enables developers who haven't really worked with Salesforce before to work on the Salesforce platforms in a new way. Letting them use the knowledge they already have from their other experience to build Lightning Web Components.
Gillian Bruce: This puts us in a very important position of the Salesforce Admin to guide them on how to use the platform and how our businesses run. Really think about that as you are working with new developers and new developer teams. Also, an opportunity to rethink some of your existing Lightning components, maybe some that are taking a little longer to run than normal. Great opportunity to look at reconfiguring those a little bit to take advantage of Lightning Web Components to make those run faster. Also, thought it was really great because honestly, from an Admin perspective, when you upgrade those components or they switch from traditional Lightning components to Lightning Web Components, we really shouldn't see a huge effect with the exception of things maybe running quicker and faster.
Gillian Bruce: When for example our app exchange partners upgrade their components that we have used in our applications, we shouldn't really see a huge difference. Good news there. Not a lot of work on our part but definitely an opportunity to help guide new developers into the Salesforce space. If you wanna learn more about Lightning Web Components I highly encourage you to. We've got so many great resources. First of all you can watch the recording of the huge launch event that we did just last week. I got the link there in the show notes. We can see Sara Franklin introduce the technology and then our incredible expert Zayne Turner and Christoff [Conrads 00:22:24] demonstrate how to put this technology to use for your organization.
Gillian Bruce: There's also a great sample apps' gallery that the entire developer of Angels' team has spent a lot of time building for us to get to know this technology. Now even if you're not interested in learning how to code, which is completely okay, that's definitely the camp I'm in. It's a great way to go poke around and see what the capabilities are of some of these new technologies. Especially that recipes app, it's really cool. You can literally go in and adjust different pieces and different components on a page. It's very cool technology, I highly recommend you at least take a browse in the gallery of the sample apps. There's also great developer all week events happening all around the world so I highly encourage you to check those out. They are happening right now for the next few weeks.
Gillian Bruce: I am sure there's one nearby you so make sure you find one. It's a great way to go connect with other people in the Salesforce community. Learn more about this technology, ask questions. Get more information. I put the link in the show notes so that you can definitely find your nearest global developer week event. And of course we've got a great even coming at the end of may called Trailhead DX and we will have so much more great information there about how to build on the platform. You can sign up at the link in the show notes, you get notified when registration goes live. As always you can find the latest and greatest from the awesome Admin team on admin.salesforce.com where you can find blogs, webinars, events and yes, even more podcasts.
Gillian Bruce: You can find us on Twitter at @SalesforceAdmns (no I), our guest today was Zayne Turner and she's @zaynelt, you can find myself @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Remember to share it with your friends. Hit subscribe to make sure you get the latest and greatest delivered directly to your platform of device of choice the moment they are released. With that ladies and gentlemen, thank you listeners so much for joining us and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.
Direct download: Lightning_Web_Components_for_Admins_with_Zayne_Turner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41pm PDT
Thu, 24 January 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’ve got Marciana Davis, a Project Analyst at Yurgosky. She came to Salesforce through PepUp Tech and has done a lot of work to give back to the community and help others get into the ecosystem.
Join us as we talk about Marciana’s job breaking things as a QA analyst, how giving back can help you grow, and the key qualities of an Awesome Admin.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Marciana Davis.
How PepUp Tech got Marciana hooked on Salesforce.
Marciana started out studying development at school. When she got to Monroe College, she was still set on that path, but it didn’t quite seem right. She approached her professor and said, “Listen, I love computers but I’ve really found a niche for databases,” which led the professor to recommend an upcoming Salesforce bootcamp put on by PepUp Tech.
What attracted Marciana to databases in the first place was “the way that you can easily manipulate them to get information that you need.” As Marciana says, “I’ve been a scatterbrain since birth,” so the ability to organize and sort information in so many different ways while still working on one thing was amazing to her.
The amazing community that made Marciana feel welcome.
At the boot camp, there’s a lot of information to take in over the four days, “but as you gain more experience on the platform and go into user group meetings—that definitely solidified my career path into Salesforce,” Marciana says. When she finally got a chance to free up her calendar and go to one, the people that she met and the passion they had for the platform was life-changing.
“The meeting I went to was about inclusion,” Marciana says, “and I felt that for a long time in my past I haven’t been included as much as everyone else.” It struck a chord with her that the Salesforce Ohana makes it a priority and holds it as a core value.
Breaking things, professionally.
In Marciana’s job as a Project Analyst in the QA department at Yurgosky Consulting, “I basically break things and make sure that the engineers are fixing it.” That involves a lot of creativity, trying to do the same thing as many ways as she can think of to make sure that everything’s working. “All of this is clicking, folks, there’s no coding involved,” she says.
For Marciana, the key to being an Awesome Admin is attention to detail: “You have to make sure you know what the client wants and how they want it.” At the same time, you need to cultivate patience, “because clients tend to change their minds,” she says. Finally, being a problem solver is key because of all the troubleshooting and learning you need to do as part of the job.
How giving back can help you grow.
Looking forward, Marciana is focused on giving back to the community by volunteering for PepUp Tech. She’s worked for the virtual boot camp course and is looking to volunteer in person. “Like my mom said, you didn’t get here alone and giving back is a way of saying thank you,” she says. She’s been helping students for the past couple weeks, and when they tell her what a blessing she’s been in their lives she says, “No, you’re a blessing because you’re helping me study for the certification.”
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. This week, we've got another great pep up tech story coming for you. We're talking to Marciana Davis. She's a project analyst at Yugorski, and she also learned about Salesforce through the Pep Up Tech Program. She's since completely embraced the platform and the technology, connected with the community, and really has completely changed her career path. Not only that, but she's also giving back to the Pep Up Tech Community, helping educate others, and learning herself along the way to help others get access to this incredible ecosystem. I wanted to have Marciana on the podcast because not only is her story great, but she talks about some of the qualities that make a truly awesome admin. So without further ado, let's get Marciana on the podcast. Marciana, welcome to the podcast.
Marciana Davis: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Gillian Bruce: I'm so happy that you trekked up here to hang out with me. We are here in New York City, which is super exciting. It's cold outside.
Marciana Davis: Yes it is.
Gillian Bruce: Oh my goodness, this Winter is no joke.
Marciana Davis: No.
Gillian Bruce: We don't have this in San Francisco. Well Marciana, I wanted to get you on the podcast because I wanted to share your story a little bit with our listeners. And one of the first questions I usually ask our new guests is, tell me what did you want to be when you grew up?
Marciana Davis: I wanted to be various things. I was the girl that wanted to be a ballerina, then next week wanted to be a hairdresser, then next week wanted to be architect, next week I wanted to be something else. So, it varied over a series of time, and I had a lot of influential family members in my life.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That's a lot of different interests. I like that. I want a architect, hairdresser ballerina. That'd be a lot of work. There you go. That's great. Okay. So you had a lot of varied interests as a kid. And now you are working in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Tell me a little bit about that journey. How did you find Salesforce?
Marciana Davis: So I went to school at a previous college before I went to Monroe College. Things were getting out of hand. And I felt that, I just thought that developing wasn't into career at all.
Gillian Bruce: So you were studying development
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. So you were studying computer programming, and computer science.
Marciana Davis: Yeah. I was the geek. I was the geek of the group. And I realized that I need to make a switch in my life. So, I decided to leave the school. And I went to Monroe College. And there I learned everything about computers. So I still stayed in developing. I said, let me give this one more shot. I met my professor, Valegras, I was telling her, I was like, listen, I love computers, but I really found a niche for databases, I'm a database guru kind of girl. And she said, well, we're having this bootcamp, this Salesforce bootcamp coming up. You should definitely try. I see potential in you, and you should definitely go for it. And I said, well why not? And then after that I met Selena for the first time, and I loved it. And here I am.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Okay, so let's talk for a second. So we're talking about a Selena Suarez, right? Who is now part of salesforce.org. But she was actually on this podcast a few years ago when she was, actually, I think she had just launched an app on the App Exchange.
Marciana Davis: Oh.
Gillian Bruce: And so the rest ... So she has been an influential person and kind of pulling together a lot of ... I mean, she was one of the co-creators of Pep Up Tech.
Marciana Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Gillian Bruce: And so, Pep Up Tech ran this bootcamp that you were exposed to. But before we get into that, I want to backup. So what was it about databases that kind of captured your interest?
Marciana Davis: It was the way you can just easily manipulate it into anything, to just get what you need, information that you need and just keep going. I think it was just the fact that there was so many things I can do with it, and the fact that I've been a scatterbrain since birth. That's what I like about the Salesforce platform as well. You could do multiple things within it and still focus on a certain path.
Gillian Bruce: So database ... Yeah, I mean I think ... I didn't really understand the concept of database I think until I actually got to working at Salesforce. I was like, oh, okay, I got it. But yeah, I think your idea of being able to organize pieces of information, and sort through them and all of that. I get that. That would be a good reason to be excited about databases. So now you went to this Pep Up Tech bootcamp. Tell me about that experience.
Marciana Davis: At first ... I went to it twice. The first time around it was interesting to see how supportive the people were, how many people were involved, and they were just everyday people, but on Twitter they're superstars. So it's like, oh great, I can be famous and still go to the store without hiring anybody. That's terrific. I could take that kind of fame any day.
Gillian Bruce: The Salesforce famous, the Salesforce crew. Yes, the Ohana. The Ohana has ... We have our own kind of Twitter stars, I guess. You're right.
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Yes.
Marciana Davis: And I was like, okay, I can deal with that. Just not the whole other fame.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. So you're in this bootcamp. And tell me about learning about Salesforce, what was that like for you?
Marciana Davis: At first it was a lot of information so it was a lot to take in over four days. But as you gain more experience on the platform and actually going to user group meetings, that definitely solidified my current path into Salesforce.
Gillian Bruce: So talk to me a little bit more about that. So tell me about what ... First of all, how did you learn about user groups? And tell me about your first user group meeting.
Marciana Davis: Okay. I learned about user group meetings through the Pep Up Tech teachers. I remember Carrie talking about it. Because she's the co-leader of WIT in New York City. So she's telling me, oh, just go to a user group meeting. And then I finally got a chance to free my calendar and go. And I met Sandy and then I met Omar, and it was so great meeting all these new people and seeing the passion in them about Salesforce. So, I think that's what made it more comforting. And then I got to meet Tony Prophet. That was my first Salesforce group meeting. And I was like, oh my God, it's Tony Prophet.
Gillian Bruce: He's personally welcoming you into the Salesforce Ohana. He's good at that. So you go to this user group meeting, and you are getting welcomed with open arms. I mean, I can imagine that that would be a very encouraging moment to help you dive deeper into Salesforce. Did that help play out in terms of you learning more about the platform, and kind of sinking your teeth in a little bit?
Marciana Davis: Well, the user group meeting I went to was more about inclusion. And including LGBTQ community, including senior citizens as well as people of different shapes, sizes, colors, stuff of that nature. So, I felt that for a long time in my past, I haven't been included as much as everyone else. So, that kind of touched me when they were saying, okay, it doesn't matter. You can be who you want to be, and you could still have a place to work and having value in the area.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Ohana definitely welcomes everybody, right?
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: You belong here. You belong with us.
Marciana Davis: Yes. One of us. One of us.
Gillian Bruce: Exactly. Exactly. All right. So now you're getting connected to the community. You're learning about the platform. Tell me about some specific things that you've been learning about the platform, what are some of your favorite things that you've learned so far about Salesforce? Are there specific features, or parts of the product that you think are really great, or you're excited to learn more about?
Marciana Davis: Definitely the process builder. I think I definitely got a handle on that. Because it's very UI friendly, well, user interface friendly for those who are-
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. We like to spell out acronyms. Thank you.
Marciana Davis: No problem. Yeah, the process builder is definitely user friendly as opposed to the workflow rules. I always got those two confused.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Marciana Davis: Because I always thought that workflow was the same. It looks the same as process builder, but when I actually started working at workflow I was like, oh my goodness, these are pretty different.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well the process builder, you can really see what you're automating, right-
Marciana Davis: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Down the page. Whereas workflow sometimes you're like, all right, so it's going to go off and do a thing, and maybe come back.
Marciana Davis: Hopefully it does it right.
Gillian Bruce: Right? Yeah. But I think process builder is one of the most popular tools that has come out, especially for the admin audience, the point and click developers. It's been a huge game changer. I mean, everybody likes to automate things. Right? All right. So tell me a little about what you're doing now. So you learned about Salesforce, you kind of pivoted in your career, you learned about Salesforce. And now you have a job working on Salesforce.
Marciana Davis: Yes. I sure do.
Gillian Bruce: So tell me about that.
Marciana Davis: So I work at Ugorski Consulting right here in New York City on 34th and Madison. I am a cute project analyst in the QA department. So I basically break things and makes sure that the engineers are fixing and making our product as spiffy as possible.
Gillian Bruce: That's cool. I love that, you get to break things.
Marciana Davis: Yes. Yes. When I first heard about the position, I was like, oh, I do that for free, so why not? Why not?
Gillian Bruce: So tell me a little bit more about that. What is it? I mean, when you talk about break things, do you get the opportunity to kind of try new ways to do the same thing?
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Different ways?
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Okay.
Marciana Davis: Different ways. Sometimes I get to try and reach a certain result, a whole different process as well. Yeah, just different options, different clicks. All of this is clicking, folks. There's no coding involved.
Gillian Bruce: You're not going through lines of code and saying if you break something.
Marciana Davis: No.
Gillian Bruce: You're doing ... That's great. So tell me, can you give me an example of something that you've QA'd lately?
Marciana Davis: So I QA'd ... I'm getting ready to a QA a trigger tomorrow.
Gillian Bruce: Okay.
Marciana Davis: I think I'm going to be able to ... I think it's a page, and you can just click different buttons, and then click a button and it's supposed to display a message, but let's see. Let's see if it actually does that.
Gillian Bruce: Click all kinds of different buttons-
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: And see if you get a different result.
Marciana Davis: Exactly.
Gillian Bruce: All right. Okay. I love that. I think inside maybe most of us, maybe I'm speaking for everyone, but I feel like there's a little QA inside of everybody, right?
Marciana Davis: Yes. Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Because you want to test things out. You want to see what the limitations are. And if it doesn't work then you're like, I found it, right?
Marciana Davis: Yeah. Some of my coworkers do QA on their own as well.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That's great. So, in this role you're at a consultancy, you are doing QA, which is great. What's next for you with the Salesforce ecosystem and the platform?
Marciana Davis: What's next for me is basically I'm going to continue volunteering and working within Pep Up Tech. I started volunteering during the virtual bootcamp course in October. So I just finished that this weekend.
Gillian Bruce: Congratulations.
Marciana Davis: So next is to volunteer for the next cohort, and also start volunteering in person.
Gillian Bruce: Nice.
Marciana Davis: So kind of get out there. Still in my still my youth, my 20s, so might as well just go out there and meet new people and see what's what.
Gillian Bruce: And it's a great way to give back too.
Marciana Davis: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: And help others become part of this amazing Ohana. Right?
Marciana Davis: Like my mom said, you didn't get here alone. So give back. Well, giving back is a way of saying thank you, so I'm doing the best that I can.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. I love that. Well, and another thing we've talked about on the podcast a couple times is the idea of, when you are teaching others, you learn more yourself too.
Marciana Davis: Yes, that is true.
Gillian Bruce: That's happened for me. So I'm sure you're experiencing some of that.
Marciana Davis: Yes. Yes. I was just helping students the past couple of weeks, and they're like, oh my God, thank you. You're such a blessing. And I'm like, no, you're a blessing. Because you're helping me study for this sort of case.
Gillian Bruce: Exactly, exactly. So, I'd love to kind of get your feedback. So we talk about this idea of an awesome admin, right? And admin magic, and how amazing it admins can be. Both for your organizations and kind of just in general. What are some qualities that you think makes an awesome admin?
Marciana Davis: Attention to detail. You have to make sure you know what the client wants, how the client wants it. Another thing, patience, because clients tend to change their mind.
Gillian Bruce: What? That's weird.
Marciana Davis: Also, I would say be a problem solver. That is key. Because that's all you ever do as an admin is solve problems, and go through the process, and training and stuff like that. So, troubleshooting is definitely a major one.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Those are some good qualities. I've heard that come through a few other people. But I love, especially you, the QA person says attention to detail is the number one.
Marciana Davis: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: It makes sense. That makes sense. All right, so before I let you go, Marciana, I'm going to give you a lightening round question. All right. So there's no right or wrong answers. The first thing that comes to mind. It has nothing to do with lighting or Salesforce.
Marciana Davis: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: Are you ready?
Marciana Davis: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. What is one non touristy thing you recommend people do in New York City?
Marciana Davis: Movies at the AMC Theater.
Gillian Bruce: There we go. Is there a particular AMC Theater? Or is there only one?
Marciana Davis: I don't really know. Because I mean, I'm pretty sure there's AMC Theaters all over. If there's not, welcome to New York.
Gillian Bruce: There you go. I guess everything could be considered touristy in New York, right?
Marciana Davis: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Marciana Davis: Yeah. Because I was thinking, one of the second things that came up in my mind was going to the park, and walking through the park. But that's such a touristy thing. Because as soon as you get there, all you see is cameras flashing around.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. But if you keep walking, there's not as many. Right?
Marciana Davis: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: If you keep going.
Marciana Davis: That's true. That's true. You got to walk a bit.
Gillian Bruce: There you go. Well, awesome. Marciana, thank you so much for sharing your story on the podcast.
Marciana Davis: Oh, thank you for having me. It was a blast.
Gillian Bruce: And thank you for giving back to the community, and doing all that you do. And I'm so excited to see where what's next for you, where your career goes.
Marciana Davis: I'm excited too. That makes two of us.
Gillian Bruce: It was a pure joy having Marciana on the podcast and getting to know her and her story, and really understanding the passion she has for the platform, and for giving back, and for technology. I absolutely love that she said, hey, I'm a database guru kind of girl, and I think that's fantastic. She's got a real strong awesome techy vibe inside of her, and it's fantastic that she's been able to find Salesforce platform to help let that techy vibe fly. I really think some of the things that popped out for me in our conversation were the idea of quality assurance. That's a part of every single awesome admin, is we need to test and make sure that our product and our platform, our app, that it's working the way we want it to work. And so, if you're thinking about the elements of being an admin, or elements or even in the ecosystem, that you might be able to flex some different skills. If you enjoy breaking things and testing things, think about doing some QA work, some quality assurance work.
Gillian Bruce: It's a really kind of fun trajectory. And Marciana would be happy to talk to you more about it if you want to talk to someone in the field who's doing it. I also really liked how she talked about how she's giving back now as a Pep Up Tech volunteer. And by helping others learn, she's learning herself. And the idea that she did not get to where she's at going it alone. She had a lot of help from other people from the Pep Up Tech community, and now she has a way of giving back and contributing towards others success as well. I also really thought she pointed out some great, awesome admin qualities, like attention to detail, patience, problem solver. These are elements that describe every single awesome admin that I have met. So tap into those qualities. I'm sure you have them. And whether you are an admin focusing on quality insurance, or implementations, or adoption, or building apps declaratively, there are all elements of that that you can pull into your work. So, thanks again for listening to this episode. I've really enjoyed talking to Marciana.
Gillian Bruce: We have a few more Pep Up Tech stories coming your way, so make sure you stay tuned. As a reminder, hit that subscribe button so that you make sure you get the episodes when they are released every Thursday, delivered directly to your platform or device of choice. If you want to learn a little bit more about quality assurance, I have a fun trail mix for you on Trailhead. So, I don't know if you all are aware, but you can actually create trail mixes yourself on Trailhead and share them with the broader community. And when I was exploring some different QA resources on Trailhead, I came across an amazing trail mix created by Alex Slack, so a member of our community who has created this trail mix called BA and QA training. There's some really great content in there. And I think every admin can benefit from going through that trail. So make sure you check it out. And if you've got an idea for a trail mix, go create your own trail mix as well.
Gillian Bruce: As always, you can find more great content on how to be an awesome admin at admin.salesforce.com. Blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts. You can find us on Twitter @Salesforceadmns. Our guest today Marciana is on Twitter. @traveling_dev. I love it. Super techy even in her Twitter handle. And of course you can find myself @GillianKBruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.
Wed, 16 January 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we talk to Shakil Kamran, a consultant at Now It Matters and winner of the NYC World Tour 2018 Golden Hoodie. We’ll hear his incredible story and the work he’s done to help the next generation of tech innovators.
Join us as we talk about how coming to Dreamforce with a learning mindset helped Shakil start his career in tech, and how he’s giving back.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Shakil Kamran.
Going all in on Salesforce.
“As I was growing up I had various jobs in many different industries,” Shakil says, “but I knew that at the end of the day technology ran everything.” While he felt like he was expected to become a doctor or a lawyer, he knew that he wanted to work his way into the tech industry. Starting out, Shakil had skipped college and went straight to work. He was in retail management for three years, “but I knew it was more of a job than a career.” He decided to pick up his education where he left off, and happened to attend a boot camp during his first year at Monroe College.
The boot camp was hosted by none other than Selina Suarez, who created an organization called PepUp Tech (People Empowering People Up Through Technology). “My entire life changed after I met Selina,” Shakil says. After the four day session, he was able to transition into an internship, which took him to Dreamforce and Midwest Dreamin’.
At the time Shakil was still working his retail job, 50-60 hours a week, on top of being a full-time student, husband, and father. He would come home around 11 or 12 o’clock and hop on Trailhead to get more experience. “Before I left for Dreamforce last year, my company gave me an ultimatum,” he says, “if you leave you can’t come back.” Ultimately, he decided that he had to take a leap of faith and trust that eventually it would work out.
How Dreamforce changed everything for Shakil.
At Dreamforce, Shakil met Tim Lockie, the founder of Now It Matters. “He believed in me,” Shakil says. He told his story of what it took for him to make it to San Francisco, and Tim decided to take a chance. But that’s simplifying a lot of hard work, and a lot of uncertainty. “It hit me more when I landed: I’m in San Francisco and I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“I just basically spoke to as many people as I could,” Shakil says, and he decided to focus on learning more about Salesforce. He was at a Women in Tech event at Dreamforce when he met Tim and was able to focus on the value he brought with his background in sales and marketing. In other words, it’s not just about what you can get from the community but what you can give back as well.
The importance of giving back.
“I want to inspire the next generation of change leaders and thought leaders that are coming behind me,” Shakil says, and so he set to work creating a partnership between PepUp Tech and the City University of New York, the third-largest university system in the country. For him, it was a moral obligation.
Because a Salesforce career isn’t like a traditional one (like a doctor or a lawyer), it’s important to help folks from all backgrounds understand what’s out there. “When you’re on the other side of the door, you’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know this role even existed,’” he says, and taking that type of knowledge back to the community can change people’s lives.
“Where I come from, we were taught that nothing is free,” Shakil says, so sharing the incredible resources that are Trailhead, PepUp Tech, and the Salesforce Ohana is key to helping people see themselves in tech. “Everyone wants to see you succeed here, everyone wants to see you move up and do great things in life,” he says. “If you do have an opportunity in front of you,” he says, “just do it and figure out the rest later.”
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce, and listeners, we are kicking off an incredibly special series with this episode. We are going to hear a series of stories from people that have been a part of PepUp Tech. Now, PepUp Tech is a nonprofit that was started by some Salesforce Community rockstars not too long ago and PepUp Tech's entire mission is to give motivated, underserved students the access to skills, mentors, and confidence they need in order to begin careers in tech, to help diversify the industry.
Gillian Bruce: We all know that diversity is a problem in our technology industry overall and PepUp Tech is working very hard to change that. We are going to hear some stories from people who've been part of the PepUp Tech Program from the New York City area. While I was in New York for the world tour not too long ago, I got to sit down and get to know these incredibly inspiring people, learn more about their stories, learn more about how they were able to transition their careers, what they are doing now, what's next for them, and I really hope that you listen closely as you are listening about how you kind of take a hold of your career.
Gillian Bruce: We've had a few guests on that this has been a theme, but you're going to hear some really great take-aways about, even if you're already in your Salesforce job and you're happy where you're at, really thinking about how to take your career and promote it, take it to the next level, take that chance, take risks, and really just go for it about putting in the work, doing it, and really just not being scared to make those changes or make that transition.
Gillian Bruce: These people are incredibly inspiring. The first one we're going to hear from actually won our Golden Hoodie at the New York City World Tour in December of 2018. I talked to him right before he won this. He did not know he was getting it at the time. This is Shakil Kamran. I remember, I think I met him at Dreamforce a couple of years ago and he is now a consultant at Now It Matters. So he's implementing Salesforce for customers and learning a lot along the way. And, Gosh, his story is something else, let me tell you. So, get ready to be inspired and learn quite a bit. Without further ado, let's get Shakil on the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Shakil, welcome to the podcast.
Shakil Kamran: Wait, are you recording?
Gillian Bruce: Oh, yes, I am.
Shakil Kamran: Oh, my.
Gillian Bruce: You see this big red button here?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, I do. Okay. Hey, thank you for having me.
Gillian Bruce: Thank you for coming and joining me. We are in New York City in December and it's beautiful and cold but very festive and I appreciate you taking the time out to chat with me because it's a busy week this week.
Shakil Kamran: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: I wanted to get you on the podcast to share a little bit about your Salesforce journey and talk a little bit about what advice you might have for people who are kind of building their Salesforce careers. Before we get into all that, I would love to ask you a question to introduce you a little bit to the audience and I always am curious as well, Shakil, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Shakil Kamran: That's a great question. I actually wanted to be a basketball player, but being five or six because that doesn't go with a job, and also the stereotypical thing about being Indian, it's like, "Oh, you need to be a doctor or a lawyer," so I, wanted to eventually go down that path and that didn't work out. So, in my family I was considered a failure for awhile but, yeah, I wanted to do something in business. I knew I wanted to do something in business, but as I grew older and I adapted to many different environments, I knew technology paid up later role, a huge role in my life. I knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn't sure until now.
Gillian Bruce: All right. So I love being a basketball player. Was there a specific basketball player or team that inspired you to want to be a basketball player?
Shakil Kamran: I don't know if you're going to believe me, but Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry.
Gillian Bruce: Go Dubs!
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I love that answer.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. I've been a fan of like of course the next because like the hometown team, but Golden State Warriors especially like the last, I would say five to seven years because it's just like the excitement of being in that arena. I've never been in that arena and I've been dying to go there, but yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Well, you got to go. This is the last season that they're going to begin off or before they moved to the New Chase Center in San Francisco, which is also going to be amazing.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Yeah. But I'm always big on those things, right? I feel like the magic that happened in one area, it is not going to feel the same as going into another arena. I'm sampling like what happened with Yankee Stadium in New York, so like Yankee Stadium had an old stadium and then ever since they moved, they're like, "Okay, we're not winning any championships."
Gillian Bruce: That's the Yankees... Spoken like a true San Francisco Giants fan. All right. So you wanted to be a basketball player and then kind of getting forced into thinking about those traditional roles of doctor, lawyer, from family and then thinking about technology, so tell me a little bit more about what attracted you to technology? What made you think, "Hey, this is maybe something I need to pay attention to or I'm interested in?"
Shakil Kamran: So, I mean, as I was growing up, I had various jobs in many different industries. I've touched the finance industry and banking and retail and also electronics. I've done a bunch of things and I knew that at the end of the day, technology's around everything and you can kind of make or break industry or a career path or even a company with technology. Like if you have a very high performance level of technology, then they can take you many different places. So I knew I wanted to be involved in something of that nature, but I just didn't know which direction I should head towards within technology.
Gillian Bruce: Right. And there's a lot there, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I mean technology is anything, basically, any system that does anything. Right? So you got a lot of options.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So let's talk a little bit more about kind of where your career has gone in the last few years and what you're doing now because you are now working in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Shakil Kamran: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: What is your current role?
Shakil Kamran: I'm currently a Salesforce consultant and I worked for an organization called Now IT Matters and they're based out of Montana. I have this pretty awesome job of working from home, something that I haven't done quite often throughout my career. Yeah, I mean I'm just really excited. I started in March, so I'm really excited to see the future and what the potential possibilities are that are out there. But, yeah, I mean I'm doing a lot of things within Salesforce, doing business analysis, dealing with a lot of clients, doing the back-end work, so being a consultant, I think it's an amazing feeling because there's so many variables attached to it.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And I think oftentimes, when I hear about the role of a Salesforce consultant, it's actually very similar to just being a Salesforce admin inside of a company. Right? Because like you said, you're doing a lot of business analysis, you're doing a lot of the back-end configuration stuff, you're talking with clients, which for our Salesforce admin would be their users or stakeholders. Right? So tell me a little bit about how you got to this role.
Gillian Bruce: So you said you've been there a little under a year, so kind of how did you figure out that Salesforce was something you were interested in and how did you get this role as a consultant? Because I mean, that's not an easy task. You don't just say, "Hey, I decide to do this one day," and the next day it happens, right?
Shakil Kamran: Oh, no, absolutely not. No, definitely it was not an easy task. It all started, like I was working in retail for three years in retail management specifically. I knew that it was more of a job than a career and something that I didn't want to do for the rest of my life. So I decided to go into retail for temporarily. Then I went back to school. I skipped school for a while due to various reasons and I went to a school called Monroe College up here in the Bronx, and I was fortunate enough to attend the bootcamp. And bootcamp was hosted by a woman named Selina Suarez. She created an organization called PepUp Tech, right, people empowering people up to the technology. Basically my entire life changed after I met Selina.
Shakil Kamran: I went to a four-day bootcamp, so they were just starting out like this entire organization. They were starting to see how things work and figuring things out, and I was part of their first cohort to figure out like what they can do and how we can get under-representative people into the ecosystem. So I got a little taste of it for four days and after the four days I said, "You know what? This is something that's really interesting. I want to learn more about it."
Shakil Kamran: After that I spoke to Selina and said, "Hey, I don't know as much as I want to and is there any other way, any other platform for me to move ahead?" So I kind of bother her to get an internship. She got me an internship and a lot of things changed after that. I was invited to go to Dreamforce and Midwest Freeman. I was fortunate enough to go to these places, but the most important thing was prior to me going to these events, I was thinking a lot of time off going to these event, especially Dreamforce when it's like a week, taking off an entire week from work and my role at that time was in retail. So I worked 50, 60 hours a week and it's really difficult. Not Easy.
Shakil Kamran: So I was a full time student. I was a full time dad, full time husband and like a full time worker as well. So, all of these combined, it was really, really difficult. I remember I would come home late night like I think 11:00, 12:00 and I would do Trailhead and do Trailhead and just kind of learn about Salesforce. One hard decision I did have to make was that before I left the Dreamforce last year on 2017, my company gave me an ultimatum and said like, "Hey, if you leave you don't have any vacation time. So if you leave, you can't come back." Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That's rough.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. It wasn't an easy decision to make because I'm like, "Here I am, this unknown, like I'm going to go to San Francisco for the first time in my life. I don't know what's out there. I don't know who's out there. I don't know what I'm expected to get out of it, but I know that it's going to help me in the future." I had to take that risk and I had to take that leap of faith because I knew the reward is going to be greater no matter how I see it. And it turned out pretty well.
Gillian Bruce: But guy, that must've been terrifying, right?
Shakil Kamran: Oh, yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Here you are, first of all, I don't know when you slept because between all of those roles, between family and work and then getting on Trailhead and learning Salesforce and being a student, I mean, I don't understand how you slept, but that could be a whole another conversation.
Gillian Bruce: So when you talk about taking that risk, I mean that's huge because you were kind of forced into saying, "All right, I'm all in on this Salesforce thing. I'm going to go to San Francisco and have no idea what's gonna happen." I mean, tell me about kind of like ... I mean that must have been kind of stressful.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, absolutely it was because, I mean, at the end of the day in New York, like you have to pay bills, right, just like anywhere else in the world. And so it was very stressful because I didn't know what to expect and I took a leap of faith and I knew I had to take a risk, but just the outcome of that risk, you don't know. Right? It's the unknown and that is really, really scary.
Shakil Kamran: I mean, I prayed, I spoke to my wife and I spoke to my family. I'm like, "I don't know what I'm going to get out of this. PepUp Tech had just started up, so it's not like it was a whole lot of recognition on publicity around it and the jobs were waiting for us, it was none of that. There's a lot of hard work that I had to go on behind the scenes. Yeah, it was a very scary feeling and I made it through. I went to the Dreamforce and I met my current employer there, Tim Lockie, the founder of Now IT Matters, and he essentially believed in me.
Shakil Kamran: I told him my story, what I did and he took it as like, "Wow, that's kind of really strong for you to do that. And it takes a lot of faith and a lot of understanding for you to just leave something and not know how you're going to pay your bills and things like that." But I knew I wanted to inspire people, inspire myself, inspire others by the same story if things could turn out right. And hopefully, now I can say it did.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I was going to say, you are now in this role, you're owning it, you're rocking it. I mean, you are a proof that "Hey, you can take these risks and there are opportunities." I mean, I love the whole thing that you came to Dreamforce in this kind of spot where everything was a little unknown and you ended up meeting your future employer. I mean, that's a pretty amazing story and I think we have a lot of people who are kind of like, "Ah, I don't know. I'm not getting support from my current job to go to Dreamforce or go to these community or these Salesforce events. How do I get the most out of them?" Can you talk a little bit about how you made that connection with Tim and how that turned into a job for you?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, I mean, I knew that the odds were against me. Right? Like from the get go, getting on that plane and it hit me more when I landed. It's like, "Oh my God, I'm in San Francisco and I don't know what I'm doing here." When I went into a Moscone, I was like, "Okay, this is my playground and it's up to me what toys I want to play with," and things like that. I just basically spoke to as many people as I could. I kind of talked to them and just learn about them besides me talking about myself but learn more about Salesforce, right? The platform, the people, the community, everything that it's all about. I don't quite recall exactly where and when I met him. Oh, no, I do.
Shakil Kamran: So it's Women in Tech event in Dreamforce. I met him there and I kind of told him what I'm looking to do and like what I'm currently doing and I know I bring a lot of value to any organization. My background is in sales and marketing. So I've done that for like the past 10 years in various industries. So, I know that I can provide a lot of value in that aspect. So I was like, "I just need that chance, that one opportunity." At the same time, you want to be able to see if you can give the chance, right, for them to learn who you are and what you can really do. Especially being a minority, being a person of color, I feel like this is why PepUp Tech was born because there's not as much bandwidth as they should be for individuals like myself.
Gillian Bruce: I love that you said like it's kind of like a two way thing, right? You want to make sure that they get to know who you are, what you're about, what you can offer, but then also understand kind of what the opportunities are and kind of, I mean, like you said, the odds traditionally are kind of stacked against a lot of people. What I love especially about PepUp Tech, and there are quite a few organizations that are doing similar things, but the idea of like saying, "Hey, no, this is clearly a problem and we're doing something about it. And here we have these amazingly talented individuals from all different-
Shakil Kamran: Walks of life.
Gillian Bruce: ... business backgrounds and walks of life, but now have you Salesforce skills and want a piece of this amazing action." And I think that is just ... It gives me the chills because now you have stories like yours where you are now fully in the ecosystem. I mean you are a consultant doing implementations for other customers. Like this is huge. It's really awesome for consultants.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. And not only that, I think there's also the other side to it, right? So like once you're involved and you're in a position where you can give back, Selina, Rebe, Shonnah and Stephanie kind of set the stage for us, right, because they came back and gave back to their own communities and like to the ecosystem.
Shakil Kamran: So I feel like we have a moral obligation to do the same. I took it upon myself and said, "You know what? I want to inspire the next generation of change leaders and thought leaders that are coming behind me, and that are younger than me and all these other things." So, what I did was I created a partnership between PepUp Tech and CUNY, which is the City University of New York, and that is the third largest university system in the country.
Gillian Bruce: Wow.
Shakil Kamran: There's one in California, there's one in the State of New York as well. They're a collection of 24 colleges in New York City and they serve, I think over 250,000 students. So, what I did was I made a connection between PepUp Tech and CUNY and basically now almost all of CUNY students have access to Salesforce, Trailhead, PepUp Tech, and all these other things. And I feel like it was a moral obligation for me. I don't like to take the recognition on that, but I think it's so important to give back just like others came back and gave to us, and open a world of opportunities, right, because there's so much out there.
Shakil Kamran: You learn so much when you're in and when you're on the other side of the door, you're like, "Wow. I didn't know this role even existed." Right? "I didn't know you have this amazing job and I didn't know you could do this in Salesforce." Just having that type of knowledge if you don't have anything else and you can take it back to the community, it says a lot, right, and it can potentially change people's lives because I know it did to mine.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. That's so cool. I mean, what an amazing way to give back. I love how you say, "It's kind of my moral obligation," and it's one of those things that I think kind of takes the Salesforce Ohana, that kind of spirit of trying to help each other to a whole level, right? It's not just about those of us who are in the Ohana, it's about extending it and getting new people in and extending it to the areas where maybe if you're a student at one of those colleges you wouldn't even know what Salesforce is, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So that's really awesome. Thank you for doing that.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It's just something that I felt like it had to be done and someone always has to continue that tradition, the movement that PepUp Tech has started and the partnership that Salesforce is open to, right? Like they're open to it like, "Hey, bring on as many students as you can. Let's teach everyone Salesforce. You don't need a college degree to learn Salesforce and you can do many things using Trailhead." So, I think all those things are important, but what's even more important is for people to know about the fact that it's available. Yeah, and I feel like I want to be that person that tells people, "Hey, those things are available."
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, I think that's really, really powerful. Another thing that I heard you say was you don't even know what kind of jobs exist, right? Because this is kind of this black box of working in the cloud or working in technology and so learning about the different career paths and opportunities and be working for a consultancy like you or working at a company that you uses Salesforce for a partner or for someone who's building an app on the platform, there are so many opportunities, but yeah, I mean, you wouldn't know about it. It's not a traditional like being a doctor or a lawyer, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Gillian Bruce: I mean, does your family understand what you do?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. I mean, finally now, I told them recently, "Hey, I'm going to be featured at this conference." They're like, "Wait, what? What did you do? What did you do that was so important?" I was like, "No, I did this." They're like, "Okay." Now they're on board, now they understand what I do and like how important it is because to me it's also, the type of work that we do, we specialize in non-profits and being that PepUp Tech is a non-profit and I have a background also in non-profits, it holds a special place in my heart. And so kind of understanding it's not too many people understand how important it is to give back and how to use technology to help these organizations that are not financially as up there as other organizations.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well, that's what Benioff likes to say that the business of business is basically making the world a better place. Right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: And I think that that is so cool. That's like in the DNA from the company kind of at the get go and seeing that reflected in the community and what you're doing is really awesome.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you. Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: That makes me so proud to be part of it.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, me too. And it resonates more with me very well and I think it should resonate with a lot of people because at the end of the day, I always think about this and I'm probably going off topic. I was thinking about this as like, "What do I want my legacy to be, right, when all of this is over?" I was kind of ... I look at Shonnah, Rebe, Selina and Stephanie as my idols just in life in general because it's like, okay, when all of this is said and done, what are we going to know them for? Right? Like not senior product manager, not this, not that, but we're going to that they opened a door, a world of opportunities that our kids can know about and our kids' kids can potentially do, so stuff like that.
Shakil Kamran: I think about as I'm getting older and wiser and things like that, I think about like, "What do I want my legacy to be, right?" And if I can just help out one person and the world changes their life in any way, shape or form, I think that in itself is a legacy, at least that's the way I define it.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, and you're undoubtedly on your way to do that. I mean, you're already doing that, which is amazing.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you. Yeah, I hope so.
Gillian Bruce: Speaking of helping others since we are on the podcast, I'm sure we have some listeners that might be either new in their career or making a transition and since you, I mean you took a giant leap of faith, can you maybe share some tips or advice for folks who are kind of in that transition stage trying to figure out like, "How do I make that next step? How do I take that leap?"
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. I think not being afraid is really, really important. Right? Taking that leap of faith and taking that risk is really important. Whatever, like good risk, bad risk, it doesn't matter what it is, reaching out to members, community members, reaching out to just anyone you interact with, and I think it all boils down to networking. So, if organizations like PepUp Tech didn't exist and my other way in would be like through networking, right? I mean like, "Do you know this person? Do you know that person? Hey, can I get to speak to that person?" And I think a lot of people are afraid or don't know how to network properly, and also research, right? So like you can research and reach out to somebody and say like, "Hey, this is what I want to do."
Shakil Kamran: It's unheard of but at the same time I think it's important. And learning about like ... Thinking for example, I want to say I'm having accessibility to platforms like Trailhead but Trailhead, not everybody in the world knows about it. Right? And kind of that's the thing that I want to do is go out to the world and tell the people, "Hey, Trailhead is available, and it's free," because where I come from, we were taught, nothing is free. We were taught that like every man for himself, every person for himself.
Shakil Kamran: So, when you come into an environment like this and you see the Ohana, you see the community and you see these organizations like PepUp Tech in Europe and all these other organizations, you're like, "Wow, everything that I've learned growing up is like completely opposite," because everyone wants to see you succeed here. Everyone wants to see move up and do great things in life.
Shakil Kamran: So, yeah, I mean I would say networking is really, really important. I would say doing a lot of research, right? And I hope this reaches to the world that even though you don't have access to a lot of things like Trailhead or any of the things like that, just mostly networking would be the most important thing, and also partly, I would say taking that risk, right? Like if you do have an opportunity in front of you and you don't know how to utilize it or you don't know where to take that opportunity, just take it, right, without thinking. I think that's one of the reasons why Nike is so successful because 'Just Do It'.
Gillian Bruce: It's a really good slogan.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Right? It is like you just do it and then you figure out the rest later and nine out of 10 times hopefully things turn out well.
Gillian Bruce: Well, and oftentimes they don't turn out the way maybe you expected them to but something else opens up, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that's part of the journey, right? Like you want to ... I think to me, success is the journey and not the destination, and I hope my journey just continues to go and everyone's else's journey because once you feel like you got to a destination, you feel like, "Okay, I'm done." And I think the joy is when you're not done. When you continue to go and you follow the unknown and you don't know why you're following it because the unknown might be something greater than you ever had.
Gillian Bruce: So well said. I love it. Yeah.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: I mean, what's the use in completing the thing? There's always something else you want to continue learning and growing.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, absolutely.
Gillian Bruce: My next door neighbor at HQ is Leah McGowen-Hare and I think one of her famous lines is, "If you're not learning, you're not growing," right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, absolutely. And that is so true. Leah is definitely inspirational. Leah is an inspiration to me and many others and the community are so inspirational to me. I always say this, I don't have one mentor. I have a bunch of silent mentors that they don't know they're my mentors, but I call them like, so when people asks, "What was your mentor?" I start just like opening up Twitter, and like, "Yeah, this person, and that person, and that person," but, yeah, I think things like that is important. What Leah say is really, really important.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. You got to build your network of all kinds, right? You've got to have that collection of people you can tap for different things and look to for different things, I mean, personally and professionally. Right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, and also do the work, right? At the end of the day, I mean all of these things are great, but if you're not doing the work, if you're not taking time out of your day doing the Trailhead and just researching on everything and anything because technology is changing so quickly on a rapid pace, you want to be able to keep up. Right? So, if you are valuable in one aspect, if you're a good person who networks really well, then that's one thing. But if you have nothing to bring to the table besides that, then it's kind of unbalanced. So yeah, I think those things, putting in the work and networking goes hand in hand and eventually you'll get there and patience is important. Right?
Shakil Kamran: A lot of us, like for me, like I said, I left my job, right? My job said, "Don't come back." This was in November and January I got a call. So for two months I was like scrambling to pay rent and I didn't know how I was going to do it. A lot of my friends thought I was crazy but now I'm like, I work from home, I have this awesome job and I get to do things like this and this is so amazing because I would have never dreamed of being in a podcast or being featured at the Keynote and I didn't think that was in my destiny, but I know now that within Salesforce and just being around the committee members, anything is possible.
Gillian Bruce: And it's just the beginning, Shakil. I hate to break it to you. You're only a year into this even, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So, there's many more things I'm sure that will open up and surprise you.
Shakil Kamran: I hope so.
Gillian Bruce: I'd love to talk for a second about your learning the technical side. You said you got to spend time researching and building and learning your skills on Trailhead or whatever way you do that because when you come to the table you might be the best networker in the world, but if you don't have any skills to offer your network, then what are you doing? So in learning Salesforce, what are some of the big challenges or surprises that happened to you in terms of trying to learn how to manipulate the platform?
Shakil Kamran: I mean, the fact that you can do anything and everything using the platform is amazing. Right? And what's even more amazing is that you can customize it, right? And it's so easily accessible for you to just customize it, a bunch of clicks, clicks, not code, the whole thing about that. And that to me is phenomenal and fascinating because you can literally spin up an [inaudible 00:27:31] like two seconds. You can ... Well, I shouldn't say two seconds. Everyone's gonna hate me for it.
Gillian Bruce: It's okay. I didn't say that you did. So there's no hassle later.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Let me assured we'll cut that part out. Yeah, yeah. And then one of the greatest things to me, it's like if a CEO or executive director of an organization can easily go on their phone and pull up a dashboard or report, I think that's so amazing, right, within minutes or if you need something changed or you want to add something, I love the fact that it's so easy to do and so quick to do that there's not that many platforms that you can do that with. So, that to me is what is really admirable about Salesforce and the platform.
Gillian Bruce: Well, that's great. You spoke all and I mean, that's my language, the point and click and the customizations, reports and dashboards, I mean, like you said, what a way to get senior leadership excited when you can show them on their phone that they can see the latest sales, dashboards, and manipulate them, and share them, and all of that?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, that's why it's pretty cool. Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Well, we talked about a ton today, Shakil. I so appreciate you taking the time and wow, this has been a really fun, inspirational episode. I am so excited for everything that you're doing, both personally and professionally and then in the community, giving back. I mean, your legacy is already building.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: You are well on your way. But before I let you go in the podcast, I have to ask you the lightning round question.
Shakil Kamran: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: All right. So first thing that comes to mind. No right or wrong answer. Nothing to do with Salesforce.
Shakil Kamran: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: It's not a quiz.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: All right, so we're in New York and I've been asking some New York themes, lightening round questions. So what is the one thing you recommend someone visiting New York City to do?
Shakil Kamran: At this time of the year, go see the Rockettes.
Gillian Bruce: The Rockettes.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Some kicks, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Go see the rockets, the Christmas tree, of course. It's very cold outside, so it's not like you can get on a cruise and go around Manhattan or I mean you can do that as well but just, yeah, I mean, New York City is so amazing, right? New York City is so amazing, the Big Apple. So you can literally do anything and everything just walk out of your hotel or Airbnb and just there's always something to do, but I think the greatest things about New York is the food. So like trying out the different types of food, different ethnic foods, right, like it's so diverse in the city. So, food is number one-
Gillian Bruce: Food is number one, I like that.
Shakil Kamran: ... on the list. Yeah. So I would say that-
Gillian Bruce: Excellent.
Shakil Kamran: Try different foods.
Gillian Bruce: Cool. Well, thank you so much, Shakil, for taking the time. Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you for being an inspiration to the community and doing important work at Now IT Matters as well.
Shakil Kamran: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This means a lot.
Gillian Bruce: So, Shakil had so many amazing things to say. I can't recap our entire conversation, but I wanted to pull out a few things that I thought were really poignant. First of all, I love that he said when he came to Dreamforce, he was terrified. He knew the odds were against him, but he viewed Moscone, which is where we have Dreamforce as his playground. It was his opportunity to connect with as many people as possible and not only tell his story, but learn about the product, learn from others about their careers and what they're doing, what their companies are. He really just went for it. So I think that's really a great thing to think about maybe as you are coming to a Salesforce event or going to any kind of professional event or a way to network, really having that attitude of it's not just about sharing about you, but about learning about others.
Gillian Bruce: He also knew his value. He did not discount all of his years in sales and retail. He knew that that added quite a bit to the Salesforce skills that he had learned to offer to a potential new employer. So, do not discount that experience that you have outside of the Salesforce ecosystem. And finally, the biggest message that I got from Shakil, put in the work and network. You have to put in the work in order to learn the skills and to develop even though soft skills and then it's all about building your network, connecting with others, finding out what opportunities are available, even if you're not sure if that opportunity or that person works for a company you're interested in, you got to continue to build those connections because you never know how they're going to come out to play as you try and transition or build your career.
Gillian Bruce: So, lots of great stuff from Shakil. I so appreciate him taking the time out of his very busy week to meet with me and chat with me. I hope you all got something really exciting from our conversation. I know I definitely did. I think I could pull out a whole bunch of quotes and just slap them on as inspirational, but hopefully you enjoyed it. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast. We have new episodes every Thursday and we love to make sure that you get the latest and greatest delivered to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. It only happens if you hit the subscribe button. Also, leave us a review if you'd like. I definitely pay lots of attention to the feedback that you all leave on either iTunes or Twitter, so please send me feedback. I always love to know what you're thinking.
Gillian Bruce: As always, if you want to learn more about becoming an awesome admin, you can find blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts on admin@Salesforce.com. To learn a little bit more about building your career in the Salesforce ecosystem, well, great news, we've got Trailhead content for that, so there's an entire trail called "Build Your Career With Salesforce Skills" and that's an entire trail. Check that out. The link is in the show notes.
Gillian Bruce: Also, if you want to learn more about PepUp Tech, either as a way to maybe get someone in your network, in your community exposed and involved with Salesforce or if you're looking to hire amazing people who have got these great skills and are ready to put them to work, check out PepUp Tech. It's also opportunities to volunteer, to give back, pepuptech.org. The link is also in the show notes.
Gillian Bruce: You can find our guest today, Shakil on Twitter @ShakilKamran14. You can find myself at @gillankbruce and all the latest and greatest from the Awesome Admin team at @salesforceadmins (no I). Thanks again so much for listening to us today and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.
Wed, 9 January 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re joined by Bill Appleton, CTO at Metazoa, and one of the first people to write an app for AppExchange. We’ll find out what we can do to kick off the year with a clean org.
Join us as we talk about how to look at the complexity that’s already in your org and then do something about it, and why he’s excited about Salesforce DX.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Bill Appleton.
A love affair with coding that turned into a career.
When the first Apple Macintosh came out in 1984, “I just started grad school but I quit school, spent every penny I had to buy one, and started writing software,” Bill says. “It just really spoke to me how visual it was,” he says. In the late 90s, he started talking with a friend about API services, and the idea of a client that can use APIs from anywhere or a server that can provide them to anyone was revolutionary.
So, what’s an API? “I give you a message,” Bill says, “and you look at it, decide what to do, and give me a response. That’s really all it is, but you can build so many incredible things with that model.” Salesforce has some great APIs: metadata, data, tooling, and more, which is what brought Bill to Salesforce and lead him to write some of the first apps for the AppExchange.
Using APIs to give Salesforce superpowers.
“We asked Salesforce, ‘What do your users need that you’re not going to build?’ They said project management, and so we built DreamTeam,” Bill says. Back then there were no packages, which meant that they needed to implement it by hand which made it error prone. “I wrote this other app called Snapshot, which would compare any source and destination org and see what the differences were,” he says. Snapshot uses the metadata API to compare all of the customizations in an org over time or between org.
“One of the great things about Salesforce is the ecosystem of customers—they’re a really bright and interesting bunch,” Bill says. For API-powered apps, it’s really important to get feedback because it’s all about how it interacts with others. Luckily, Salesforce is a feedback-focused culture.
Two steps to a cleaner org.
Salesforce is amazing because of all the complex customizations and capabilities you can make for your org, “but a byproduct of that is that your org can complex,” Bill says. Bigger orgs can end up with thousands and thousands of objects and profiles. “We have a lot of tools and technologies to visualize the complexity,” he says, which helps you see how things are interrelated and what’s not being used. If you want to clean up your org, that’s step one.
Step two is to do something about it—that’s cleanup. “Remove those from profiles or deactivate them first, see if anybody complains, and then, later on, delete them and move them out of there,” Bill says. There might be some corner use case that someone’s been doing for five years that you don’t know about, which can start a conversation about how to accommodate that in a simpler way.
If you’re an admin who has inherited a big, messy org, Bill says the best thing to do is focus on change and release management. Establish a regular release cycle, take on cleanup jobs, and bring on new apps and customizations that your users need. “Work on that big, institutional machine of change and release management,” he says, “get all of those people on the same page and knowing what their job is to really make your org more effective for the company.”
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I am Gillian Bruce. And today we are going to kick off the second episode of the new year of 2019 with a theme that I guarantee you're already thinking of in your personal life. I know when it comes to the new year I like to start off on the right foot. I kind of clean out my closet, I organized things in the house, I try and make sure that I've got a good attack plan to make sure that I kick off the year in a good way. Well, we're going to bring all that attitude to you and your Salesforce org. Now as a Salesforce admin, one of our most important jobs is to keep our data clean, to keep our org functioning, very streamlined to make sure it's working really well. And in order to do that we're going to get some tips and best practices, some advice from Bill Appleton today.
Gillian Bruce: Bill is the CTO of Metazoa, which is an AppExchange partner. Bill was actually one of the first people to build an app for the AppExchange, back long ago when it was first launched. And he's been really focusing on tools that help us as admins make our lives easier. Help us keep our org clean, help us establish some change management best practices. I wanted to get him on the podcast to share a little bit about what he's learned, and to help us get some ideas about how we can really start this 2019, this new year, off on the right foot when it comes to our org. Without further ado, let's get Bill on the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Bill, welcome to the podcast.
Bill Appleton: Thank you so much. I'm glad to be here.
Gillian Bruce: Well thank you for taking the trip to come meet me at HQ here in San Francisco.
Bill Appleton: Absolutely.
Gillian Bruce: Appreciate it. You are new to the podcast, new to our listeners. And to help introduce you a little bit to the audience, I'd love to ask the question I ask everyone, Bill what did you want to be when you grow up?
Bill Appleton: Gosh, a garbage man, an astronaut, all these different things. I think when things really got started for me though was 1984 when the Apple Macintosh came out. And I was just started grad school, but I quit school and I spent every penny I had to buy one, and started writing software. And I've written a couple dozen different applications, entertainment apps, and enterprise apps over the years. But that's kind of when I really started on my journey I think.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. Okay. Early adopter of this crazy new fangled technology, I like it.
Bill Appleton: Absolutely.
Gillian Bruce: What were some of the things that kind of attracted you to say, "Oh, I want to buy the Mac, I want to get into this."
Bill Appleton: Gosh, it just really spoke to me how visual it was, and the way you could really interface with it, the user interface part of it. And it was really about in the late '90s that I was talking to a buddy of mine, and we started talking about API services. And that's ... The idea that you could build a client that could use APIs from anywhere, or build a server that supplied APIs to anyone, was just a revolutionary idea. And that really got me started, especially consuming APIs to build really rich graphical applications.
Gillian Bruce: Let's break down API a little bit. I know some of the admins ... I mean, I kind of learned about an API this last year when we were preparing for the admin keynote, and we were talking about MuleSoft. And I was like, "Okay, here we go. We're going into API land, I'm going to learn about this." Can you break down a little bit more what that means for folks who are not very familiar?
Bill Appleton: Sure. It's as if I give you a message, and you're an API and you can look at it, you can decide what to do, and you can give me a response. That's really all it is. But you can build many incredible things with that model. And as a matter of fact, Salesforce has some of the best APIs. The Metadata API, the Data API, the Tooling API. There are ... That's one of the reasons I started writing apps for Salesforce. And I started looking, I think in the, maybe 2004 at their XML-RPC API. And that's kind of how I got started. Wrote some of the first apps for the AppExchange as well.
Gillian Bruce: That's so cool. Okay. The advent of the AppExchange, you're now finding this way to kind of pursue this passion, this fun thing that you figured out. I love the way you describe APIs. I think that's very helpful. I mean, the way that I kind of learned is it's a way systems can kind of talk to each other, and essentially, right. You're one of the first pillars of the AppExchange, tell me about that. What were some of the first things that you built?
Bill Appleton: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things we ... We just asked Salesforce, "What do your users need that you're not going to build?" And they said project management. And we built DreamTeam, if you may remember, one of the first AppExchange apps. And I'll tell you a funny story, back then there were no packages. And no managed unmanaged any packages, and we had to implement DreamTeam by hand. And it was error prone. I wrote this other app called Snapshot. And what it would do would compare any source and destination org, and see what the differences were. And then it turned out Snapshot was really useful, and we put that on the AppExchange. And then later, a couple of years later, when the Metadata API came out, and you could compare not only data schema, but also all of the customizations in your org over time or between orgs, it was just super useful app for admins. And that's kind of how we got started.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I mean all of those, right? Starting with just the basic idea of project management, and then Snapshot, which is a hugely impactful way to kind of see what is going on with your organization. And then kind of keeps evolving into all of these great tools. I mean, it must have been ... Felt pretty cool to be able to have that kind of impact in kind of a new space, the Salesforce ecosystem.
Bill Appleton: Yeah. Absolutely. And the Salesforce ecosystem is just amazing. One of the best things about it is the customers. Because when you're building on demand software, you put it out there, but they give you feedback about what's good about it or bad about it. And they're kind of half the battle. And if you ... One of the great things about Salesforce is, the ecosystem of customers are a really bright, interesting bunch, and it's great for on demand.
Gillian Bruce: And they're always willing to provide feedback?
Bill Appleton: They are.
Gillian Bruce: They're not a quiet bunch.
Bill Appleton: That's correct.
Gillian Bruce: We're a very ... We're a feedback culture, both at salesperson in the community, I feel. It's great. Talk to me a little bit more. We talked about how you were just really excited about the visual platform, in terms of how you got into technology, APIs, it really kind of lit your fire a little bit. Why did you focus on Salesforce? You mentioned Salesforce has a lot of great APIs, but was that just it. What were some other reasons you decided to really explore and dig in deep with the Salesforce platform?
Bill Appleton: I think the, especially the Metadata API that Salesforce has is ... It's just an 800 pound gorilla. It's just an amazing ... And I'm still discovering new things about it all the time. But that's been a real challenge. And I recognize it had enormous power, but that we really needed a great application interface to make it more accessible and easier for people to use. And I think that's been, the last couple of years our focus.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well, and that's ... I mean, like you said, it's hugely impactful, especially a great admin tool. And let's talk a little bit more about the kind of the ideas of the Salesforce admin, and some of the tools that you've really developed has very much helped Salesforce admins do their jobs. And one of the biggest things that Salesforce admin is charged with, is the idea of maintaining the org, keeping it clean, making sure all the data, data integrity, all of those things. And a lot of the tools that you've developed has really helped in that capacity. Tell me a little bit from your perspective, what are some ways that Salesforce admins can really kind of take the lead in terms of best practices, keeping orgs clean ... I mean, there's a lot of things that you've done, a lot of tools out there, what are some first steps that admins can kind of start chunking this down and taking on this problem?
Bill Appleton: Yeah. Absolutely. One of the great measures of Salesforce's success, is that you can build extremely complex applications, and that's great. But a byproduct of that is that your org can become extremely complex. And over time it can become more complex. The bigger customers can end up with thousands and thousands of objects and profiles. And even if you only create a new object every month and a new profile every month, that's a hundred new object permissions per year. It can get really complex. And one of the things we do is we have a lot of tools and technologies to visualize the complexity. And so that you can see where things like pick lists and profiles and objects are related. And what their metadata structure is, what's related to what, and what fields aren't being used properly, what metadata objects have been disabled or hidden and are just kind of sitting there in your org. And step one I think is to see the complexity, understand the structure of your work. And then step two is to do something about it.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. When we start doing something about it, I mean, where do you look first? You may have this ... Now you understand all of these things that you've got in your org, you've inherited this maybe, where do you begin? You probably have a long list of stuff that you need to clean up.
Bill Appleton: Yeah, absolutely. And I think clean up should be one of the priorities in the change and release management process. It should be kind of a regular goal to look at the complexity in your org, and see what things can be simplified or removed, and then maybe remove those from profiles or deactivate them first, see if anybody complains, and then later on delete them, and move them out. I think that those are really the ... The two main steps for an admin is to visualize and understand where the complexity is. And then step two is to clean it up and move it out.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And I mean I love how you say deactivate it and see who complains. Because sometimes you never know. There's some corner use case that someone's been doing for the last five years, and you may accidentally touch something.
Bill Appleton: That's right.
Gillian Bruce: And in that case, I mean that's kind of that opportunity, right, for the admin to then say, "All right, why are we using this? Where does this fit in the process? How can we kind of overhaul this?" What are some other kinds of best practices ... I mean, you can mention at a high level, right, kind of visualize what's there, and then take some action. Let's dig in a little bit deeper. What are some best practices about ... You've just inherited an org, now you've kind of identified, you've seen some opportunities here. I mean, you've seen a lot of different complexities and use cases. Let's help some of these admins out.
Bill Appleton: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a great use case you've given, where you've inherited an org, and who knows what's in there. Another thing we see is people who are trying to either split orgs or merge orgs, that's another really tough one. And the other thing is just an org that's being rebooted. Sometimes you are new admin, you come in, and you've got to make changes and take it in the new direction. I think all of those things really benefit from being able to kind of take snapshot pictures of the org, and look at all the customizations that have been there over time. Kind of do use counts of different things, and say you're looking at a custom field. You might want to know, is that field ... Are the values in it very distinct or are they very uniform? Are most of the values empty or the default value? That's the type of information you can use to start to determine what are the important parts of the org and what are the other parts that maybe have been abandoned or neglected?
Gillian Bruce: Okay. I think that's a great example, right, looking at that custom field and seeing ... I mean I love how you mentioned what are the defaults? What are the ... How is this being used? That's a really great way to start. I think one of the things is it can be very overwhelming, right, for an admin who's inheriting this big mess of an org. And if they're kind of in this by themselves, what are ... Do you have a little bit of advice or encouragement for them?
Bill Appleton: Sure. Well, hopefully they're not in it by themselves. Because they've got all of the users who have needs, they've got developers who are probably building things for that org, and hopefully, if it's a really big company, hopefully they've got some other admins on their team, or other people that can help them. And that's where really the change and release management comes in. And it's more than just the machinery of it, it's also the institution of it, and all the people involved, and establishing a regular release cycle. Are you going to align with Salesforce's release cycle or do it more often? Are you going to take on some clean up jobs as well as pushing forward new applications and new things that the users need? I think a regular cadence of a release cycle. And really working on that big institutional machine of change and release management, and getting all of those people on the same page, and knowing what their job is to really make your org more effective for the company.
Gillian Bruce: Well, yeah, I think that really touches on the idea that the admin is so much more than just doing stuff in Salesforce, right? Because to institute a released change management best system, I mean that is a lot of communication within the org, and all the different stakeholders, getting people signed on and aligned and all of that. That's ... There's a whole kind of that other layer of being an admin, right?
Bill Appleton: Yeah, absolutely. And actually when you say that, that's one of the reasons that I've been really excited about Salesforce DX. Because there's great tools for developers to do scratch orgs, and source-driven development, and push and pull source, and that is really great. But there's also some great tools in there for admins. And DevHubs are an amazing new technology where you can ... Essentially, you turn on a DevHub in your production org and have your own private AppExchange. And you can put all of your packages up there, and install them anywhere you want. That's amazing for admins. And the other thing is, unlocked packages are a way to massively reduce complexity in your org.
Bill Appleton: By organizing all of your projects and your applications into unlocked packages. It really kind of reduces that vast sea of unpackaged metadata, and organizes it all. And really it's an exciting time at Salesforce. Because we've got admins on the one the hand, and developers on the other hand, they are becoming more important as the tools and technologies make Salesforce a bigger development platform. And really I spend a lot of my time thinking about how can these two groups work together to build great applications and deploy them safely in a production org. And I think it's ... We're kind of in an interesting transition here, but Salesforce DX is a big part of it.
Gillian Bruce: I think that's fantastic that you brought that up. Because we've talked about Salesforce DX a little bit on the podcast. And I think most admins think of ... Salesforce DX is a developer tool. "I don't need to pay attention to that, I don't understand it, it's in developer land." But the way that you just spoke about it and you positioned it, I hadn't even realized that those are great ways admins can interact with DX. That's great. The idea of having a little private AppExchange within your instance is amazing. And the idea of being able to kind of group your metadata together. I mean those are two very ... I understand that and I have ... I mean, I've seen DX, but I haven't actually used it. For me that makes sense. And I think that's a really great opportunity for admins to think about how to use these.
Bill Appleton: I totally agree and it ... And if you think about your developers working on source-driven projects on their desktop that they can push into packages and test out in scratch orgs. And then these packages become something that you could install and sandboxes for user acceptance testing or installing production for final deployment, and it really changes the paradigm. Because now you've got source-driven development, you've got code merge and repositories, and all of these traditional tools that developers are used to using. And you've got a really nice kind of pipeline to move those now into the metadata realm, and start to combine that information into the actual Salesforce org. I think it points a way for developers and admins to work together. And they need a common currency to be able to talk to each other.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. I mean, I think ... We talk about admins and developers working together all the time, and it's really nice that we have a great tool now to really help facilitate that and kind of a new way. I mean to have ... Be able to ... Developers use tools that they're comfortable with, that then work in adminland. I think that's a very great example of how this partnership can really help create amazing apps. That's great. Any last little bits of advice as we kind of kick off the new year for admins. Maybe someone who's new to any of these concepts, about how they keep their org clean, how they manage inheriting a huge org. We had some really good in depth discussion, but any last little tidbits for folks?
Bill Appleton: I just would say focus on the release cycle on a regular cadence release cycle. Know when Salesforce is increasing the version of the sandbox and then the production org. And maybe align with that or maybe your more frequent than that. And just work on the big machine that does the release on a regular basis.
Gillian Bruce: I like that kind of institute a system, make that happen. All right, Bill, before I let you go, I am going to ask you a lightning round question.
Bill Appleton: I'm ready.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. First thing that comes to mind, no right or wrong answer. Your lightning round question is, what is one of your most memorable Dreamforces?
Bill Appleton: The first one.
Gillian Bruce: The first one, which was what?
Bill Appleton: It was at the Fairmont and there were a cocktail party with three tables for the vendors, and each one had a placard on it, and it was funny because it was nice, but it was nothing compared to Dreamforce now. It wouldn't have qualified as a lobby for Dreamforce now. But you could tell there were great people there, and there was a great energy in the air, and you could tell something good was going to happen.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Three cocktail tables. I can't even imagine. That wouldn't even cut it like a party for my individual group anymore.
Bill Appleton: No.
Gillian Bruce: That's amazing. Well, Bill, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I so appreciate the great work that you've done for the Salesforce ecosystem over many years. And I look forward to seeing what's next as well.
Bill Appleton: Thank you so much Gillian.
Gillian Bruce: Huge things to Bill for taking the time to chat with me and make the trip up to HQ to talk about how to keep it clean, how to keep our orgs clean. Now, he had a lot of really great things that he's learned over the years in terms of building tools that help us manage our data, our metadata. And some of the things I wanted to highlight from our conversation was, first of all, I loved the excitement that he genuinely has about the Salesforce platform because of the API. He was so genuinely interested in the ability to build apps for the Salesforce platform because there is so much opportunity, so much freedom there. And that us, as Salesforce customers and users and admins, provide feedback so willingly and so quickly. Keep up the good work. If you are someone who is in a similar role.
Gillian Bruce: Again, we hear this over and over, it's happened to the amazing Salesforce community. A lot of great resources there. Some of the things that bill highlighted that I think are great to keep top of mind as we kick off this new year and think about ways to keep our orgs clean is, one we got to figure out the complexity that we have in our orgs. Now, there's lots of tools to help us do that. We have things that are native that come with the platform like Optimizer. There's also some great tools on the AppExchange to help us figure out what's going on in our org. How are their metadata structured, what things are being used, what things are not being used. Make sure you check some of that out. Start with the Optimizer, it's very easy to use, it's right there inside of Salesforce. And then the next step that Bill outlined is, do something about that complexity.
Gillian Bruce: Find things that are not being used. Find things that are maybe a process that has five steps that could just be two steps, and then slowly deactivate and get rid of it. You're going to inevitably find things that are corner cases that people are using, but you got to start somewhere. Make sure you're using your sandbox, and make sure you do kind of do this on an established release cycle. Bill really stressed the importance of having that change management in place. Salesforce releases three times a year, easy for you to tie your releases to that, if you need to do more frequent ones. Just to make sure you have a system in place that is reliable, that your users and your stakeholders know is coming really helps you when you're trying to roll out changes. Also, it was really fun to talk about Salesforce DX.
Gillian Bruce: We haven't chatted much about that on the podcast, because I kind of have, in my head at least, thought of it as a developer tool. But the way that Bill outlined how admins can use this tool, and really work with developers was fabulous. One of the biggest things that we have to do as admins is work with our developers. It's so important, we can use so much of their amazing skill sets to help make our work, and our orgs even better. Salesforce DX is a great opportunity to do that. He talked about the use of DevHubs, how you can turn it on, how you can have almost your own private AppExchange to install packages wherever you want within your org. This is great, especially for larger teams and bigger implementations. Also, the idea of unlocked packages, so you can really organize all of your products and apps into packages.
Gillian Bruce: Use that metadata in the way that works best for you. This is just, again, a great way to kind of combine the source-driven work that developers do with the metadata driven work that we do as admins. Checkout DX, there will be more on that coming soon, stay tuned, but definitely you make sure that you don't ignore it. It's kind of a great way to really collaborate with your developers. I really appreciate again Bill sharing his expertise, we've got a lot of great resources in the show notes if you'd like to learn some more. We have a blog that he wrote for Salesforce Ben on, '6 Essential Reports for Compliance, Governance, and Security', definitely check that out. Reports are great way to see what's going on in your org. He also has a series of white papers that he's written, and other folks at Metazoa, his company, have written all best practices for change management, org cleanup optimization, and a lot more, check out the link in the show notes. And guess what?
Gillian Bruce: We have content on Trailhead. I would definitely check out a couple modules. One is data quality, and the other one is application lifecycle and development models. Both of those are really going to help you set yourself up for success when you're talking about trying to keep your data clean, and make your org as streamlined and efficient as possible. Thank you so much for listening to us today. Always want to remind you, you can find more great content on how to be an awesome admin on admin.salesforce.com. You find blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast to make sure that you can get it delivered directly to your platform, or device of choice the moment they are released, so you don't miss a single episode. And by the way, if you are listening to the podcast, and you like what you hear, or even if you don't, I really encourage you to leave a review on iTunes.
Gillian Bruce: If that's your platform, really love to get feedback. Also give us feedback on Twitter. I totally take every single piece of feedback into account. And that's what helps me make the show tailored to what you want to know. Please, please, please provide me feedback. You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no I. Our guest today is Bill Appleton, and you can find him on Twitter @bill_appleton. And as always, you can find myself, Gillian, @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.