Wed, 28 August 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Skye Evans, Cloud Consultant at Cloud for Good and a member of our amazing Vetforce community. She’s here to share with us what it’s like to work on a remote team, and some tips and best practices to get started.
Join us as we talk about how to create a cohesive atmosphere for your whole team, what you can do to try on remote work for size, and why boundaries are extra important in a distributed environment.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Skye Evans.
Solving Salesforce problems for good.
“I make good things happen for nonprofits on Salesforce, that’s what I do every day,” Skye says. As a Cloud Consultant at Cloud for Good, she’s a mix of a project manager, Salesforce admin, troubleshooter, and magician. It’s all about working with clients to discover their pain points and then developing the best and most elegant way to solve those problems on Salesforce. After that, it’s about training clients to get the most out of their implementation to make sure that new efficiencies translate into their workflow.
Why remote work requires more intentionality.
Skye’s not just on the podcast for her amazing job, however. She’s also an experienced remote worker. One of the first things to understand is the difference between a remote team and a virtual company. Remote teams are often groups of individuals who work together with other people in a central office. In a virtual company, however, everyone’s distributed so there isn’t that difference between the people who see each other every day and the people who work from home.
“As a company, being really thoughtful about how to make sure people who aren’t physically located in the office are being included and you have a really robust communications plan is important,” Skye says. “One of the best ways to do that is to have regular, standing, short meetings,” she adds, because you’re able to plan changes around them and make sure that everyone's on the same page.
The difficult part is that being in an office comes with a lot of visual cues that are helpful when you’re trying to get someone’s attention for a quick thing without totally distracting them. For a remote team, that means having a conversation about not only what are the best ways to reach out, but also how to keep calendars to help everyone not step on each other’s toes.
Setting the right boundaries.
One of the biggest keys to working from home is being diligent about maintaining a separation between when you’re working and when you’re not working. Even if you spend most of your time right now in an office, you’ve probably given in to the temptation to pull out your phone and respond to a few emails when there’s nothing on TV. Having a place where you specifically go to get work done can help you establish those boundaries. “I think a lot of folks who work remotely almost feel the need to prove themselves more,” Skye says, “so there’s a tendency to overcompensate for it.” Instead, you need to find ways to draw that line and stop working when it’s time to take a break.
In a more fully remote environment, it can be hard to establish the same kind of vibe that collocated teams create. One thing that’s helped Skye is to schedule social virtual meetings. “We refer to them as ‘virtual coffees,’” she says, “think about the kind of interactions you would have an office if you’re standing at the coffee pot making a cup of coffee and another employee comes over.” Skye will often schedule these kinds of meetings across teams to give people who don’t normally work together a chance to get to know each other, and she’ll even do them with clients, too. For Skye, it’s about building that foundation of trust that helps them have confidence in her to follow her advice.
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk product, community and careers to help you become an awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt, and today we have Skye Evans on the podcast. Skye's a member of our amazing Vetforce community and is here to talk to us about what it's like to work on a remote or virtual team. Maybe you're deciding if you have a remote role that is right for you, Skye has some answers to help you get started. So let's waste no more time and let's get Skye on the podcast. Hi, Skye. Welcome to the podcast.
Skye Evans: Thanks for having me.
Mike Gerholdt: Let's get started. For those of you that don't know, because Skye, you have a really cool Twitter handle, S-K-Y-E_force, Skye_force. It's where all the clouds live. Let take a second and just introduce yourself, what do you do and how'd you get into the Salesforce ecosystem?
Skye Evans: Yeah. So I make good things happen for nonprofits on Salesforce. That's what I do every day. My title is Cloud Consultant at Cloud for Good. And a consultant role is a great mix of project manager, and admin, and troubleshooter, and magician, so really working with the clients, helping them figure out their pain points, designing the best or most elegant way to solve for that on Salesforce, and then also training them to be successful users going forward.
Mike Gerholdt: Magician not wizard or miracle worker.
Skye Evans: Correct.
Mike Gerholdt: Those are all equal titles, I think. So one thing I wanted to dive into and change up the format a little bit of the podcast is really talk to you about your expertise and what you do because I feel there's the topic that I want to talk on today is really diving into being a remote employee or working on a remote team.
Mike Gerholdt: And I think in our pre-call we already had some ideas about that, but understanding what happens if you're an admin or a consultant and you don't drive into home office or the office every single day, and what your work life looks like, and how you get things done. Because selfishly, I'm going on, let's see, six years now of being a remote employee, and by that I mean not having to go to an office to get work done, and it was a bit of a switch. I would say that most all of my friends have made that transition, either some before me or some during that six years, and it's becoming more and more common, at least for some of us who live in the fly over states, to not have to drive somewhere for work. And I've also seen it in the trailblazer community. A lot of new people to our community are coming in saying, "Hey, I want to be an admin" or they're looking to hire and "I want to be a remote admin." So Skye, you're going to be our expert today and we're going to chat through that concept, but let's get started.
Mike Gerholdt: You brought up the topic right away of remote teams versus virtual companies, so I'm going to use that as our foundation for starting the conversation today. Can you tell me the difference between a remote team and a virtual company?
Skye Evans: Yeah, I think this is a point that gets overlooked often in the conversation about working not in an office location. Remote teams are often individuals or groups of individuals who work outside of an office environment and then there is a counterpart or additional people who do work in an office. And where this is different from a virtual company is a virtual company does not have that centralized office location, so everybody in a virtual company works remotely as opposed to there being some in the office and some out of the office.
Skye Evans: I think this is a really important distinction to make because the cultures can be very, very different. And when you're talking about a remote working culture, when you have that segment of people who do still work in an office, they are centrally located, they see each other at the water cooler, they sit down together for lunch, they get to share their birthday cake on the monthly birthday celebration, there can be a gap or a divide even with all of the best of intentions being put in place to create a cohesive culture for the folks who are not in the office. So a virtual company is often just by default of the fact that there is no office, that gap isn't there. Everyone is remote, everyone is a virtual member of the team and there's not that, "Well, gee, I'm sitting here and everybody's in the office eating cake and I'm just having my crackers."
Mike Gerholdt: Right. I've definitely been a part of that. I immediately thought of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine eats J. Peterman's 70-year-old wedding cake because she has to have her 4:00 PM sugar fix.
Mike Gerholdt: I think that's an interesting point, so have you been a part of a team where there was office cohorts and you were the person that was remote and felt like you were missing out on that comradery, I'll call it?
Skye Evans: Absolutely. My first Salesforce position was with a company based out of New York city, and the team I was on was about 60 to 70% remote and the rest of the staff worked out of the central New York office. So part of it, there's the social piece that you miss out on, but there's also just the hallway conversations or the across the desk or over the cubicle conversations that are work-based that you miss. And so as a company being really thoughtful about how to make sure people who aren't physically located in the office are still being included in those kinds of conversations or that you have a really robust communication plan to make sure that if something's changing, if something's getting rolled out or rolled back or updated, that everybody knows about it. You're not just standing there in the office and shouting out, "Hey y'all, we're using this folder now instead of that folder there." It has to be much more intentional.
Mike Gerholdt: So give me an example of that, how do you help with your coworkers or in that situation be more inclusive of others that aren't exactly in the office at that time?
Skye Evans: Yeah. One of the best ways to do that is to have regular standing short meetings. And so if you know every Wednesday from 11 to 11:15 we're just going to have a quick team update and we're going to talk about anything that's changed, anything that is changing or coming up, and having that be the avenue of communication and it's established. And if somebody tries to share something in the office on a Thursday, you say, "Great, but let's hold off rolling it out or launching that until we have the call on Wednesday." And just having to be very intentional and sticking to that is, I think, probably one of the hardest parts because you tend to think like, "Oh yeah, let's move on it," right? Everything happens at the speed of light. But being able to have those set scheduled times or communication channels, so whether you're using Slack, or Zoom, or Gchat, or whatever, making sure that the path of that communication is clearly understood by virtual remote and or in-the-office staff members.
Mike Gerholdt: I like that, rules of the road. Things we take for granted, being in the office, you can just walk by and say stuff or pop into somebody's desk. So I'd be curious to know how you adjusted to people not coming by your desk or you not being able to just get up and pop over to a coworker. Because, selfishly for me, eight years I worked in an office before I started working from home and I would all the time pop in and just go over to somebody's desk and say something quick. And I find now working from home like, "Oh, I don't know, the little green button in chat isn't lit, so are they not at their desk." Should I say hi or are they on a call?" These are the things that go through my head. I'd be curious, what do you do to either get around that or just make it happen so that it is a little bit more of a collaborative environment.
Skye Evans: Yeah, that's a great question. And that was something I did actually really struggle with when I started working remotely, I didn't want to feel like I was bothering someone. And when you're in the office you can kind of look and be like, "Oh, are they on the phone or are they on a webinar? Are they heads-down building something and I shouldn't interrupt them?" But I do think that even in the office, those visual signals can get lost on some people, so I had to learn to get over that fear or that hesitation. But also as a team, we had some conversations about what are the best ways to reach out. And so some of the teams that I've worked on, some remote teams, we do start off sort of looking, like you said, is the little green icon next to their user lit up to show that they're active and they're available or is it red or are they marked as do not disturb? But also something as simple as checking someone's calendar before reaching out, whether it's a phone call or a chat.
Skye Evans: And so as a team we had to get really diligent about maintaining our calendars and being able to block time. And if something has the client's name in the appointment time, don't interrupt that because that's a client phone call. But if it's just a block of time for build or for sprint or whatever, knowing that those were sort of acceptable times where you could reach out. But also just getting over the, it's not about me. "If I send Jason a message in chat and he doesn't respond back in 30 seconds, he's not mad at me, he's not upset. Maybe he is grabbing a cup of coffee." There has to be a little bit of the most generous possible assumption, "Why are they not responding to me? Well, let me give them a generous assumption that they are busy or they have stepped away or maybe they're actively involved in another chat with someone else and aren't able to switch back and forth."
Mike Gerholdt: As somebody who is looking to get into, maybe transition to remote work, what would be some advice about the space or some things that you've adjusted or changed about your home environment that's made it more conducive to work?
Skye Evans: I think the first thing, if someone's looking at moving into a remote or a virtual company, I would say if there's any way possible for you to test it out first, so whether this means in your current position just asking to work from home one or two days a week or, "Oh my kid's going to be out of summer school but not starting regular school, can I work from home this whole week?" Try it out. Because I've talked to a lot of folks who thought, "Oh my gosh, it would be perfect. I would be so happy if I had a remote job and I didn't have to drive 40 minutes each way into the office," whatever. And then they get in there and they just really struggle. And it can be for a lot of different reasons, but changing jobs itself is hard. And then to have gone through all that change, only to find out it's not working for you can be really disheartening. So if there's any way to test it out, dip your toe in the water before you dive in, I think that that's a good first step.
Skye Evans: But as far as setting up the home office, I've seen as many different configurations as there are people working from home. I have some coworkers who they're perfectly happy to be sitting on the couch working on the tiny little laptop screen, using the little feel pad on the laptop, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, I could never do that." I've got my two monitors, my ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic mouse, I've got a treadmill desk because I like to stand up and move throughout the day. So really just being thoughtful what works well for you and what you need to be productive.
Skye Evans: And I would say, really try to have your own space. Working from the kitchen table is okay if you're doing it one day here or there, but when you need to really be able to block out distractions and focus on what you're doing, having a dedicated space can make it much easier for you to focus.
Skye Evans: And then on the flip side of that, having your work stuff makes it so much easier to walk away at the end of the day. And I think this is something that I've seen it in a few blog posts where remote workers tend to actually work longer hours because works right there so you're like, "Oh okay, well I'm going to have dinner with the family and then when I put the kids to bed I'm just going to log on for just a few more minutes." Now granted with even people who work based in an office, if they bring their laptop home or the persistent phone and checking your email on the phone, but being able to close the door, or pull the curtain or whatever it is that you do, and shut it down at the end of the day because there is such a tendency to just be like, "Oh well I can just keep working because I don't have to worry about traffic on the way home or trying to find parking spots." It's very tempting to just keep working and so being able to, whatever trigger it is for you, if it's an alarm that goes off and says, okay, it's time to quit and shut it down, having that as a separate space makes it that much easier to do.
Mike Gerholdt: I was literally just going to ask you about boundaries, and I'm so glad you touched on that because I do feel there are times, and I'm guilty of it, "Oh there's nothing on TV," the irony is there's 500 channels, but there's nothing on TV and you just grab the work phone and, "I'll just answer some emails."
Skye Evans: Yeah, and it's even more tempting when you're like, "Oh, I don't even have to do it on this tiny little screen. I can just log in real quick and build that report or send that email." But with that temptation, it really is a boundaries issue, having to be able to say, okay, I'm done. And I think a lot of folks who work remotely almost feel the need to prove themselves more because people in the office, "Oh, well, maybe they think I'm not working if I don't answer every call as soon as it comes in or respond to every chat. They're going to think I'm just binge watching the latest show." And so there is that tendency to overcompensate for it. And being able to just draw that line and say "No, if quitting time in the office is five o'clock then at five o'clock I'm shutting it down and walking away."
Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yup. And I've actually had managers at other companies talk to me about, some of the salespeople who are remote or whatever, well they probably only work half days, and I feel there's probably a group of people that if they can't see their employees, they just assume that they're not working. If they're off in an office and even to some degree, if their chat light isn't green, "Oh, then they must not be working." No, they could just be going to the bathroom. The one time you check chat, they could be just going in the bathroom. No different than if you walk past their desk and saw the screensaver was on, they didn't leave for the day.
Skye Evans: I think those managers have that issue, whether you're remote or not. It becomes more of an issue when you're not in the office. Those are the kinds of folks that would tend towards micro-managing, even if you're in a location based position. But that matter of trust is really important, and so talking about boundaries, setting expectations, what is the level of work that I'm expected to put out so that I'm not unintentionally under working, but I'm also not killing myself trying to prove that I'm a valid member of the team just because I don't sit next to everybody else?
Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yeah, completely agree. And I think what you're touching on is another topic I wanted to bring up, but is really about culture, how remote organizations or virtual companies build culture between employees that don't get to see each other or physically interact with each other every single day. So I'd love to know anything that you do to help build the culture of collaboration or whatever, between you and other employees, or things that companies you've worked for that I think are really setting that example of how to build culture with a remote or virtual team.
Skye Evans: Yeah. I think again, being really intentional is key. So when I was managing a mostly remote team, I received some great feedback from my supervisor that, "You can't tell your team members to quit at quitting time" and then you still beyond two hours later. Because even though I'm saying, "No, no, no guys, you go ahead, shut it down and go home. Family time is family time," but if I'm then sort of sneaking back into the office and doing more work, it's an unspoken expectation that they should be doing the same thing or this is what it takes to get ahead in the company. So being able to recognize when your leadership behavior has a negative or an unintended consequence is very important.
Skye Evans: And then also just being really proactive about communication. So on both of the remote teams that I've had the pleasure of working on, being sure to have both regularly scheduled team meetings where people can get together and ask for help, offer help, answer questions, share best practices in a team setting. But then also in one-on-one settings. So having maybe regular weekly or every other week meetings with your direct supervisor just to have that face time, say what's coming up that I need to know about, what problems are you having? What barriers can I remove for you? How can I help you?
Skye Evans: But then also, and this is probably one of the hardest ones, and I even still struggle with this over four years into remote work, but having social virtual meetings.
Mike Gerholdt: Tell me more.
Skye Evans: Yeah. So we refer to them now as virtual coffees. And if you think about the kinds of interactions that you would have in an office, if you're standing at the coffee pot, making your cup of coffee and a coworker comes over, that's when you're usually talking about "What'd you do this weekend? Hey, how's the family doing? Is the kid feeling better? Oh I went to this great show, let me tell you all about it." Those sort of casual, non-work related interactions are really important for building teams and for feeling connected to other people. And so we regularly schedule virtual coffees, both within our teams, the people we work with regularly, but also across teams. So if you don't happen to work very often with your operations team, schedule in a virtual coffee where it's not you asking a question about the insurance policies, it's you saying, "Hey, how did your art show go last weekend? Tell me more about that." And making that time out of your day and making it okay to actually block that on your calendar and say, "You know what, I need some time to connect with people."
Skye Evans: And I've found it's very hard because you do, especially when you do what you love, you want to do it all the time, you want to be building, you want to be in there and solutioning or designing, and it can get very easy to just get wrapped up in that. But if you don't take the time to have those interpersonal connections, then you're not building sort of the well of goodwill across the team that you can then rely on when things go sideways, whether it's work things or personal things.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I also find failure to do that means your communication with your coworkers feels like a one note situation, like you never really get to know your coworkers enough to just chat. With every meeting and interaction, it's very business-related, and so then the five or 10 minutes that somebody's late to a meeting like, "Hey. Hi, well just going to sit here and type because I haven't taken the time to know you personally."
Skye Evans: Yeah. And I do this even with my clients. So working remotely and virtually the past four plus years, I have only been onsite with clients a handful of times. All of the other-
Mike Gerholdt: Wow.
Skye Evans: Yeah. And which is great because I don't have to take time away from the family and things like that. But it's also been a matter of being really intentional about building that relationship with my clients. Even though it's not ongoing over the years like it is with coworkers, it's still really important for building that foundation of trust. So my clients aren't going to trust that the thing I'm recommending or suggesting really is the best thing for them if they don't feel like they know me and they can trust me. And so at the beginning of each of our calls, and we do almost all of ours virtual with webinars, and so we're able to see each other's faces and being able to just take the first couple minutes of a meeting just like you would in person when people are just coming into the room or putting their notebooks down, figuring out which seat they're going to sit in and you're chatting, how was your weekend?
Skye Evans: And one of the great things with being remote is that you can always talk about the weather, so you can say, "Hey, how's the weather on this other part of the country where I've never been this time of year?" And it's a really great icebreaker to sort of have folks from entirely different regions be able to compare and say, "Well, it's pretty hot down here in Texas," and my coworker up in Vermont is like, "Yeah, it's hot here too. It's 65 degrees." And so it's a really great opportunity to build that trust and that foundation with your clients, as well as your coworkers.
Mike Gerholdt: So one thing you touched on, and I'll bring it up briefly, is balance of time, and looking at your profile you have one, two, three, four, five certifications if I'm counting correctly?
Skye Evans: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: A lot. How do you manage ... Because I know I talk to a lot of admins who are, "I've got all this work I have to do and I have to learn all this stuff in the spare time too," what's your approach to managing feeding your inner knowledge with also getting the work done?
Skye Evans: That's one of the ones where like, "Oh, if I could have five extra hours every week that would be great," and actually this is something I struggle with regularly and I get feedback from friends and family who are like, "Hey, really, you're going to another Salesforce event on a Saturday? Can we do something together instead?"
Mike Gerholdt: "Yeah, you can come to the Salesforce event with me."
Skye Evans: Right! For some reason, my spouse does not buy that. So yeah, there is definitely finding that balance. And one of the things that I've found in my roles is because I get to solve a bunch of really interesting issues for my clients, I rely on that as a lot of my opportunity for growth. So making sure that I talked to my director whenever projects are getting assigned and let them know what I want to learn about. So in my previous position, we didn't do a whole lot of upgrades for the nonprofit success pack, most of the clients that we had, we were getting them up and running and implementing them on Salesforce for the first time. And I said, "I'd really love to learn more about what it takes to upgrade a client who's on an older version of the nonprofit success pack." And so in being proactive and reaching out and telling her this is something I'm interested in, I was able to be assigned to several projects where that was one of the core deliverables. And so I sort of was able to get two birds with one stone and say, "Okay, I want to learn all of these pieces and components of an upgrade and I'm going to do it during work hours."
Skye Evans: Now, that's not always possible. But I think from an admin perspective there are always going to be opportunities to optimize your Salesforce account and being able to leverage that as a learning opportunity. So whether it's looking at release notes and seeing what great new features are coming down the pike and say, "Hey, I really need to brush up my skills on this piece of the platform because I think it would really help us to do this thing in our organization," and then it's not a matter of taking time away from work to learn something or taking time away from your personal life to learn something. You're sort of tag teaming it.
Mike Gerholdt: Nice. I like that. Why don't we end on your piece of advice for Salesforce admins who are looking to work, promote, or be part of a virtual team?
Skye Evans: Definitely, find another outlet for interpersonal connection.
Mike Gerholdt: Such as?
Skye Evans: This is something I hadn't expected. I'm a very outgoing, extroverted person, my family says I've never met a stranger, and I'm also a military spouse, which is what prompted me to get into the remote work because moving every three to four years and starting a career over was just not going to cut it. And so I had gone from working entirely in location-based positions to just bam, cutoff. All of a sudden it's just me and my office with my two dogs. And the first couple of weeks wasn't too bad, and then I started getting cabin fever a little bit and realized that, "Gee, I have gone four days without actually leaving the house except for maybe take my dogs for a walk." So when you're fully remote or working with a virtual company, finding other types of outlets. And this could be something as simple as working from a coffee shop for an afternoon or two out of the week or even finding a remote coworking space. Also, very handy to have a coworking space in your back pocket in case your internet goes down at home-
Mike Gerholdt: Smart.
Skye Evans: Yeah, because working on the cloud when there's no internet is no bueno. But being able to have some kind of outlet. So for some of my coworkers, this has been a fitness group, whether it's a running club or CrossFit or something like that, or craft groups, going out to social events with people, whatever it is, whatever is your thing, the thing that you like to do that fuels and energizes you. Make sure that you have that in place because otherwise your family is going to come home from school or from their location-based job and you're going to be bouncing off the walls because you haven't looked at another human for eight hours.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, that's true. That or the first person you run into on the dog walk, you talk their ear off.
Skye Evans: Exactly. Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Not to say I've done that. Not to say I've done that at all. Skye, this is great. I'm so glad we had this chance to sit down, hang out. I, of course had to make sure, but like every topic we cover on the Salesforce Admins podcast, there's a great Trailhead module called Virtual Collaboration. So we'll link to that in the show notes and then that way everybody can go through. And I think it ties in really closely to a lot of the things that we talked about today. So I do want to give a shout out to Katherine Clark of Vetforce who suggested us. And you did mention you were a former military ... I don't think you're ever really former. Once you're in and a part of that elite group that everybody looks up to, I think you're always a part of it. And on behalf of all of the Salesforce Admins, I want to thank you for your service. And a quick shout out that your Twitter handle is @Skye_force, Skye_force. We'll link that in the show notes too, which is really cool.
Mike Gerholdt: Skye, do you have any Salesforce events you're planning to go to in the month of September, October?
Skye Evans: Oh goodness. I mean we've got Salesforce Saturday and Trailhead Tuesdays that I try to make it to every chance I get, but nothing on the big scale. Just looking forward to hopefully being at Dreamforce in November.
Mike Gerholdt: Great. Well, I hope to see you there. Thanks for being on the podcast, Skye.
Skye Evans: Thank you. Have a wonderful day.
Mike Gerholdt: So a huge thanks to Skye for being with us today. We can't wait to see you at Dreamforce. And as someone who lives the remote lifestyle, there were some really great things that Skye pointed out like how important it is to create a cohesive atmosphere for the whole team. Every decision being made throughout the team needs to be intentional, so one of the best practices to achieve that is by having regular short standing meetings for team updates, established weekly, so that everyone is on the same page at the same time. And of course, that meeting will be the source of truth for everything. Another thing that we talked about was maybe you think you want to be on a remote team, however, it's hard for you to know if that lifestyle will work for you if you've never done it. So it never hurts, if you can work from home, maybe start with a couple of days at a time. Find a group, an office that you can set up inside your house that works for you. But of course, what's important is to be thoughtful about what you need to do to be productive, so having a dedicated space and also knowing when to walk away. Very important. And maintaining that work life balance is crucial to both your mental health and the relationship with your team and your family.
Mike Gerholdt: Now, no matter what role you're in or what level you're at, you should always be striving to keep learning. And if you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, make sure you go to admin.salesforce.com. There are blogs, webinars, events, podcasts like this one you can find there. Make sure you subscribe and share this podcast with all of your friends. And of course, I'd highly encourage you to follow us on social. We are @salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. And you can find myself @mikegerholdt on Twitter as well. Skye Evans is on Twitter, yay. She can be found @Skye_force. Awesome. All right, I think we have everything paid off. It was really great to have Skye on the podcast, and I will see you in the cloud.
Wed, 21 August 2019
Today we are getting taken over by a special admin-focused episode of The Trailblazer’s Guide to Careers with Trailhead’s very own Dana Hall, Senior Manager of Trailhead Marketing at Salesforce, and Scott Luikart, Salesforce MVP and Senior Salesforce Admin at Whole Foods Market.
Join us as we talk about all the opportunities out there for admins and what you can do to get yourself ready.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Dana Hall.
What you need to know about Salesforce admins.
Admins are knowledgeable business leaders that use what they know about the operations of their company to solve problems that come up in day-to-day situations. That can be anything from “why isn’t this one thing working” to automating an entire business process. At the end of the day, the goal is to make things easier for Salesforce users across your business, improve workflows, and enable the kind of data analysis you need to make key decisions.
Training and education on the platform is also a big part of the job. Users need to know what tools they have available to them to help do their jobs more efficiently, so adoption and work processes are a major concern for the job. You have to combine the soft skills of working with people and understanding their needs with the technical know-how to find the right answer to their problems.
A job in global high demand.
Salesforce Admins are in high demand around the globe. In the US, admins make an average of $95,000 a year, with thousands of new job postings going up yearly. In this episode, Dana talks to Scott Luikart, then the Salesforce admin for Concierge Auctions and now Senior Salesforce Admin at Whole Foods Markets. “How I first started learning about Salesforce was as a call center rep for Apple to log into and out of our shifts,” he says.
Later, volunteering at an LGBTQA health organization in Philadelphia, Scott connected with a friend who got him a job that would change his entire career trajectory. “After a few months, they asked me to start rolling out Salesforce to the service organization,” he says. “Magically, that day I got my Salesforce admin credentials having never had them before and I started working the system. I made a lot of mistakes, I broke a few things, I epically failed, and then I gracefully recovered.” With the help of his Success Manager at the time (Salesforce Admins Podcast regular and Head of Trailhead Content Chris Duarte), he was able to learn the best practices he needed in order to succeed.
How the community can help you succeed.
When Scott saw an inefficiency with the way packages were being mailed at his company, he realized there was an opportunity to improve things. He built an integrated solution that took care of a lot of the process automatically, saving everyone time and making things easier. “I didn’t do anything revolutionary—that tool was already there. But by building it in a way that was meaningful to our users they now can sit at their desk, click five or six buttons, mail a package to a person, and then go back to doing what they love,” Scott says.
“The top three skills that I think a Salesforce admin should have,” Scott says, “is a tenacity to learn, the empathy for understanding, and the ability to speak fluently with different users in the organization.” If you think this sounds like the right role for you, it’s important to get involved in the Trailhead and Trailblazer community. Online you can pick up the skills you need, and meeting people at live events can help you apply that knowledge, and maybe even find a new job opportunity.
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast. I'm your host, Mike Gerholdt, and joining me today, the host of the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers podcast, Dana Hall. Dana, how you doing?
Dana Hall: I'm doing well. Thank you for having me.
Mike Gerholdt: If no one has listened to the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers podcast, tell me what are they missing out on?
Dana Hall: Well, they're missing out on some pretty great stories. It's a a podcast that is nine episodes. It's a series and we talk to different trailblazers and different roles in the Salesforce ecosystem. So each episode is between 15 and 20 minutes and it's with someone who has a particular role in the ecosystem such as Salesforce Admin, which is the one we're going to be listening to today.
Mike Gerholdt: Cool. I like that. Well, let's get right to that episode.
Dana Hall: Psst. You're listening to the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers on Trailblazer Radio. This is a Salesforce Admin episode. Right now, you might not even know what an admin is, but soon you will and you'll want to learn more, which you can easily do with the twice weekly Salesforce Admins podcast. Subscribe now on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play. Now here's our show.
Dana Hall: This is Dana Hall and you're listening to the Trailblazer brought to you by Salesforce Trailhead, the fun way to learn. Available free at trailhead.salesforce.Com. So if you're looking to start your career or make a mid career change into a growing industry, then you're in the right place. What is a trailblazer? We think a trailblazer is an innovator, a lifelong learner, a leader who blazes a trail and leaves a path for others to follow.
Dana Hall: In this series, the Trailblazer's Guide to Careers, we explore the different career paths in the Salesforce ecosystem of customers and partners. In each episode, you'll learn about what it's like to work in a particular role, what skills and qualities will make you successful, and what you can do to get started down that career path. In this episode, we're getting an introduction to the role of Salesforce Administrator.
Scott Luikart: I think the thing that I would say is so far the Admin is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. I've increased my career over the last six years more than I had in any previous job that I could possibly do at the time, and so it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Also, it's the most exciting thing that I get to do every day because every day is different. Some days we'll be talking about things that are a couple of years away and we have to figure out how to get to them, or I might just be talking about why somebody's phone isn't working. And it changes every day, which is super fun.
Mike Gerholdt: That's got Scott Luikart. At the time of this interview, Scott was the Salesforce administrator for Concierge Auctions in Austin, Texas. A Salesforce admin is a business leader, deeply knowledgeable about how their company operates, intertwined in making all departments successful through process automation. A Salesforce administrator keeps Salesforce users trained and educated, solves complicated business problems, and keeps projects moving forward. A Salesforce admin delivers creative solutions making Salesforce users happier and the business smarter. Salesforce admins are in high demand around the globe. In the US, admins make an average of $95,000 a year and there are thousands of job postings going up yearly.
Scott Luikart: So how I first started learning about Salesforce was I took a job with Apple as the call center rep working for Kelly Connect. And in that role, they were using Salesforce to log in and log out of your shift, which was really a weird application of the system. And so I was an end user first of the system, and I didn't really understand what it all could do because we weren't using it to its fullest capacity at the time.
Dana Hall: Well, Scott had been introduced to Salesforce at his job as a call center rep, it wasn't until he started volunteering at a local nonprofit that he really got exposure to all that Salesforce can do.
Scott Luikart: I was volunteering at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, which is an LGBT health organization and helping get people tested for HIV and STIs. I met another volunteer there and he asked me to apply for a job at his company and they were using Salesforce, so I did. And after a few months, they asked me to start rolling out Salesforce to the service organizations. So at that time we bought Service Cloud Communities, Knowledge, Wise Agent, a few of the different products that Salesforce offers.
Scott Luikart: And my VP was like, "Hey, now you have to implement them in the next six months." So magically that day I got my Salesforce admin credentials having never had them before and I started working in the admin in the system. I made a lot of mistakes, I broke a few things, I epically failed, and then I gracefully recovered. And so fell in love with it. Got to meet Chris Duarte. She was my success manager at the time and she really helped me learn those better practices that maybe I wasn't doing. And now have just been in love since, and been at four different companies since then.
Dana Hall: Fun fact, the Chris Duarte he mentioned is now the head of all the awesome learning content on Trailhead. Small world. So Scott clearly loves being an admin, but what is a Salesforce admin really?
Scott Luikart: I think a Salesforce admin is someone who really has a passion and an ability to learn. We all have access to reading the help documentation. We all have access to reading the like ... and participating in Trailhead. We all have access to these really amazing tools that are there in front of us, but you really have to want to solve challenges and you have to want to make somebody else's day better by doing X thing that you're going to build in a system. You just made it so that people don't have to click 20 time because they hate clicking 20 times to do this one function. You might've just saved them time, you might have reduced time on task, you might have changed the way in which they do something so they're not continually frustrated. I think I show hospitality to people through technology because I'm able to get to know what they care about and help fix those things that are problems for them.
Dana Hall: Salesforce admins work alongside management, streamlining processes, and keeping the bottom line moving forward. One small but important example of how a Salesforce admin can help streamline business processes is when Scott saw an inefficiency with the way routine packages were being mailed at his company.
Scott Luikart: A thing that we do at my company is we mail people packages. And people get off the phone, and they put this package together and they put all the items in the package, go to the FedEx machine, print the label, and then take it to the front desk and leave it on the front desk and have FedEx come in and pick it up twice a day. And that takes time and it's kind of annoying and cumbersome, so we integrated a mailing system to Salesforce that actually puts these packages together for us and mails them out the door.
Scott Luikart: I didn't do anything revolutionary like that tool is already there, but by building it and putting it together in a way that was meaningful to our users. They now can sit at their desk, and click five or six buttons and send a package to a person; and they get to go back to doing what they love, which is calling customers or potential customers to sell their products rather than putting a package together.
Dana Hall: Being able to jump in and simplify a business process like the over 50 packages that his colleagues were mailing daily, not only makes you the office hero, it improves business by saving time and money, which the leadership will love. Besides the ability to spot inefficiency, Scott also believes it's important to be an investigator and ask questions.
Dana Hall: As a Salesforce admin, you're going to get a lot of requests. And it's always a good idea to dig in a bit and make sure you understand what the person is asking for and why they're asking for it. That way you can decide what the best solution is.
Scott Luikart: So really being able to push past, do this thing and ask, but what is it that we're trying to achieve? Why is it we're trying to achieve that and how are we going to achieve it? Who are we going to work with? And once you know, basically those four questions, you can start looking at what tools are being offered to you, right? But you get to make that decision when you know the what, the who, the why and the how of the thing that's actually being asked. Because people want to make it easier on you as an admin, so they just tell you the thing that they need. But you could find a better option, potentially, because you're the person that's trained and trusted to know the system by asking some basic questions and really then going back to your desk and testing it out.
Dana Hall: While being a Salesforce admin is definitely a technical role, Scott believes that some communication skills may be the most important for this role. Scott believes it's important to be a patient listener and a clear communicator. So many people at your work will be using Salesforce in their day-to-day and they're going to be looking towards you to help them do their jobs better. These people may not actually know all that is possible with Salesforce, so you have to be patient, listen to what they're requesting and make sure they're aware of what is possible and recommended.
Scott Luikart: Because if I start talking about Email-to-Case, people stop listening because they don't even know what I'm talking about. But if I can tell them, "Hey, every time an email is sent we can route it to Salesforce. It can create a case and then I can alert somebody that there's a case waiting for them." And then I have buy-in. But if I say, "Yeah, we'll just turn on Email-to-Case then like it'll work." That's a much different story and people aren't like sign me up for that thing because they don't know what it's going to do.
Dana Hall: Being a patient and empathetic listener and communicator will also be helpful for when your end users might be struggling to figure out a solution to their problems.
Scott Luikart: People will frequently have a lot of passion when they tell you about those problem that they're facing because it's probably annoyed them for six months and you're just now finding out about it or it's just now becoming so burdensome that they can't continue during on job. It's typically like you're lifting some weight off their shoulders and helping make their experience better, but also helping tell them that it's going to be okay because you have this really great solution and coming in and providing that.
Dana Hall: As a Salesforce administrator, your job is to keep your company's instance of Salesforce running smoothly and effectively so your colleagues and end users can get their work done. Besides mastering the technology of Salesforce, you're going to need to brush up on the soft skills Scott just reviewed.
Scott Luikart: All right. The top three skills that I think a Salesforce admin should have is a tenacity to learn, the empathy for understanding, and the ability to speak fluently with different users in the organization.
Dana Hall: So now you know some of the skills necessary to succeed in the role of a Salesforce admin. If you're hearing what Scott is talking about and thinking this role might be a good fit for you, you'll want to check out Trailhead, Salesforce's free online learning platform, and the Trailblazer Community, which is our community of Salesforce users who meet in person at local events and online at trailblazer.salesforce.com.
Scott Luikart: What can people do if they want to find out it's being a Salesforce admin is right for them? The thing I think that is the most powerful is getting involved in the Community and trying things on Trailhead. In person, we have these really awesome user groups where you can go in and have in-person sessions and learn about different products, learn about different ways to roll things out. I think the Community is the best way to stay involved. It is only by being a part of the Community, in my opinion, that I get to learn about what other people are doing as often.
Scott Luikart: Every month or every couple of weeks, I can go to a local event and talk with somebody doing some really awesome stuff that I never would've thought of and I get to hear the full story behind it. I really love getting to talk to somebody about the reasons why they did something and asking follow-up questions and learning, "Oh, okay, well, you did that. Maybe I can change it for my use case and do this thing that I've been wanting to achieve for the last six years, but just couldn't think of a solution. And you just did it, and now I can help borrow what you did and make it our own for my company."
Dana Hall: One of the great parts about working with Salesforce is the community of individuals from all around the world who get together in person and online to learn and help each other build awesome things with Salesforce, and you can get started learning on your own at your own pace and for free on trailhead.com.
Scott Luikart: Trailhead has taught me so much more than I ever thought was possible with the platform. Trailhead is a free platform for anybody to start learning. Trailhead comes with a free playground, as we like to call it. And that playground is actually an account. It gives you the full platforms that I have as an actual company that's using Salesforce. So I can set up Email-to-case, I can set up leads, I can convert leads and see what that looks like in the system.
Scott Luikart: And then the coolest thing about Trailhead is that not only are you learning about the platform, right, you're reading and then you're doing some stuff inside the system; but, when you want to complete the challenge that they've presented you with like in leads and opportunities for Lightning Experience, you have to convert a lead. Well, in a normal learning system, you just say you did it, but Trailhead actually check to make sure that you did it correctly and gives you feedback along the way to make sure that what you did is the right thing, and that feedback is so cool.
Dana Hall: And as we start to wrap up this episode, Scott has a few more pointers for you.
Scott Luikart: Yeah. The things that I think people should do at the end of listening to this podcast is go sign up for the Trailhead account. It is your playground, it is your learning platform where you get to complete modules, earn badges, increase your rank up to Ranger. And then after you have that login, go to trailblazer.salesforce.com and register for the Community and see what we're talking about, the questions we ask, and get connected with your local user group. There's hundreds of user groups all around the world. So if you want to learn about B2B marketing and some marketing platforms that support the B2B market or the B2C market or nonprofit, we have all of these different content areas where you can become engaged with other like-minded individuals, who you can meet in person close to you or even a virtually.
Dana Hall: Salesforce admins are in demand. Scott has been able to take his skills and move all around the United States knowing he would always find a role as a Salesforce admin. In fact, after recording this episode, Scott accepted a job working as a Salesforce admin for Whole Foods in Austin.
Scott Luikart: I have not been unemployed since I started in the Salesforce ecosystem, and that I'm very grateful for. And so I have the ability to, one, move to some really cool places like Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, Texas. But also if I want to stay in Austin, I've now worked at three different companies in the same town doing Salesforce, and so there is a lot of possibilities. There is a lot of growth and you just have to find what works for you.
Scott Luikart: A thing that I think everybody should know is, I believe that you interview for the boss. I don't think you interviewed for the job. You can do Salesforce anywhere. You want to make sure that you find a boss that loves and supports your career as much as you do, and that they keep it pretty real with you and help move you along as much as you're willing to do for the company.
Dana Hall: This is Dana Hall. And now that you've heard what it's like to be a Salesforce admin, let's talk about some smart next steps on this career path. First things first, head to the Trailblazers podcast page trailhead.com/trailpod. That's T-R-A-I-L-P-O-D. There, you'll find resources paired with every episode, including a curated learning path to build your admin career on Salesforce for free with the Trailhead. You'll also find information on the credentials you can earn to stand out from the pack and attract the eyes of hiring managers and recruiters. And don't worry, we have classes and workshops to prepare you for these credentials. And when you're ready to register for one of them, don't forget to use the discount code Trailpod for 10% off.
Dana Hall: And remember, learning is always more fun with friends. Check out trailblazer.salesforce.com to meet millions of Trailblazers from across the globe or right in your backyard. So make sure to say hi to us on Twitter at Trailhead with the #trailpod and on Facebook at Salesforce Trailhead. Now's your chance to get started on your next adventure. See you soon at Trailhead.com/trailpod. See you on the trail.
Speaker 4: Brought to you by Salesforce Studios.
Speaker 4: This has been a Trailblazer Radio Production.
Wed, 14 August 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we bring you the return of the original ButtonClick Admin, Mike Gerholdt, Senior Director of Admin Evangelism at Salesforce. Gillian has just given birth to a happy, healthy baby boy (!!!). While she’s on hiatus, she’s handing to mic to Mike. In this episode
Join us as we talk about the work Mike does with the community, trends in podcasting, and what’s coming next for his stint as host of the pod.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Mike Gerholdt.
Why Mike stays up at night worrying about the milk.
It’s been about a year and a half since Mike handed over the reins of the podcast to Gillian, and now that he’s coming back to fill in for Gillian, we wanted to check in and see what he’s been up to. “If anybody’s attended Dreamforce, you’ve probably seen me on the keynote stage,” Mike says, “but I’ve also been improving processes that you didn’t see explicitly. How the carton of milk gets to the grocery store is probably not what keeps you up at night, but there’s someone whose job it is to make the carton of milk get to the grocery store faster and colder than it is right now.” At Salesforce, that means finding new ways to help the amazing members of the admin community find their way onto the stage and into the spotlight.
For Gillian, Mike’s work has completely transformed the content at admin events all over the world. “A lot of the events you go to bring in very polished speakers that have given keynote presentations and have really high production costs,” Mike says, “but for a lot of speakers in the admin theaters and at Dreamforce, this is their first time presenting.” It takes a lot to deliver a really polished presentation and getting first-time speakers there is a big part of Mike’s job.
The podcasts we love and what we’ve learned.
The truth is that as podcasters ourselves, we’re major nerds when it comes to what we listen to. One thing that Mike has been focused on is trends in the podcasting world. Between up-to-the-minute shows like Serial and Pod Save America, and slower-burn shows with high production values like 99 Percent Invisible, Radiolab, and Reply All, there are many different models out there that are successful.
Another major change is the recent introduction of seasons to podcasting. This lets you deliver content under the same model as Netflix or Hulu, giving listeners the option to binge through a season and stay with it. There has been such an explosion in podcasting since the ButtonClick Admin podcast launched in 2013, both in Salesforce-specific shows and simply to get nerdy about any topic you can possibly imagine. For Mike, the thing that separates a one-off from something that sticks around is whether or not they make it past the tenth episode. Putting out new content week to week helps people get invested in your show, and it’s also how you get better: “If you have five hundred at-bats, you’re probably better than your first one by your five hundredth,” Mike says.
New mini-series coming soon.
We’ll be doing a few mini-series to change up the format of the podcast. The first one will be Lightning Champions with Kelly Walker. “The amount of the things that you can just do in Lightning and put no second guess into it is amazing,” Mike says, “but you only have that perspective if you were, back in the day, trying to edit the home page and realized you couldn’t.”
We’re also doing a mini-series with Marc Baizman focused on nonprofits. “This series is going to cover a lot of different aspects of working the nonprofit Salesforce space,” Gillian says, “and especially hearing about some specific product and features that are relevant to the nonprofit space.” We’ve seen some specific questions come up about nonprofit implementation versus for-profit, so we’re looking to address those issues while hearing from new and exciting guests in that space. Stay tuned!
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Full Show Transcript
Wed, 7 August 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re bringing you our third and final developer story. We hear all the time from admins thinking about going into the developer career path, or even just adding developer tools to your kit. This week, we’ve got Jessica Murphy, VP of Nonprofit Consulting at ITequality, to share her career journey and perspective on learning to code. This is another interview WITness Success 2018, and since then the Women Who Dev User Group is now called WIT Developers, and the 100 Days of Code event became 100 Days of Trailhead.
Join us as we talk about Jessica’s journey from sign language interpreter to Salesforce developer, how meeting her first female developer inspired to make a career in tech, and her mentality in learning how to code.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jessica Murphy.
From sign language interpreter to Salesforce developer.
Jessica Murphy is a former sign language interpreter and teacher who came to tech about three and a half years ago from when we recorded this interview. During her learning journey, she became a Trailhead Ranger and a Salesforce MVP. While she ran a small consultancy when we caught up with her, she’s just as passionate about the community: WIT Developers, Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, Sassy Tech Social, “I call them extra-curricular activities but it’s because I love the community so much.”
Jessica helped bring Salesforce Saturday to Phoenix. “I was so new to Salesforce, and I really wanted that dedicated time to learn and spend time with others and ask people questions,” she says. When we talked to her, they were doing a internal challenge called Summer of Trailhead 2018, which assigned points for badges, certifications, super badges, and giving food to their local shelter. As Gillian notes, “It’s like Trailhead of Trailhead.”
How Jessica gamifies learning.
Jessica also runs Sassy Tech Socials. The game started as a way to connect people she knew in order to share skills. Attendees get bingo cards that list skills they need help with, so they can just go up to other guests and say, “What can you help me with on this card?”
Finally, there’s the Women Who Dev User Group—now called WIT Developers. They get together at events like TraiheaDX and organizations group activities like 100 Days of Code, which is now 100 Days of Trailhead. Behind all of this is a constant search to look for ways that the community can support each other and push each other to learn more. “During 100 Days of Code, I saw some amazing things. I saw women go from having developer titles to architect titles,” Jessica says, “what I wanted to do was make it so that winning could be easy.”
Why learning to code is about your mentality.
In 2014, Jessica graduated with a Masters degree in Education. “I thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life working in an office of disability services, but that’s not what the universe had for me,” she says. She ended up at a startup event where she met someone from Women Who Code. “I don’t know why it resonated with me, maybe it was because she was a woman, maybe it was because she was the first woman developer I met, but I was just so fascinated by what she said,” Jessica says.
As far as tips for learning to code go, Jessica preaches patience. “If you’re a person who naturally understands things easy, code is not that,” she says, “it is absolutely doing it again and again until you get it right.” Many women struggle with perfectionism, and you need to not run away and convince yourself that you’re not good at something just because you don’t understand it initially. “The truth is that you are smarter than you can ever imagine,” Jessica says, “and it’s a matter of doing it over and over until something clicks.”
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.
Gillian Bruce: Today, listeners, we are wrapping up our brief three-part series on learning about becoming a Salesforce developer.
Gillian Bruce: Now, as admins, I've had a lot of admin inquiries about thinking about maybe in the developer career path or adding developer skills to your tool belt, which are all great ideas. I wanted to share these three interviews that I recorded a while ago with all of you to help share and inspire you, maybe hear something that helps you think differently or be encouraged to maybe learn something new.
Gillian Bruce: Today, we are featuring an interview with Jessica Murphy, who is now VP of nonprofit consulting at ITequality, an incredible organization. Jessica has a very unique path to Salesforce. You can hear the spark in her voice as she talks about how the platform has really opened up doors for her, changed her life, and she's got some really great insights to share in terms of how to learn about code, how to think about code, and some of the cool things that she's been doing.
Gillian Bruce: She's also been incredibly active in the community. And just to update from this interview that was recorded almost a year ago, she's been incredibly active in a community group that you'll hear her refer to as Women Who Dev User Group, which is now called WIT Devs, Women In Tech Developers. I'll put a link to them in the show notes so you can find them.
Gillian Bruce: She also talks about Rachel a few times in this interview. That is in reference to Rachel Watson, who's another amazing member of the Salesforce community. Jessica talks about A Hundred Days of Code, which actually became A Hundred Days of Trailhead. And this was an amazing, organic, community-driven campaign that saw people doing something in Trailhead, or with code, for a hundred days every single day, and there were amazing results. You'll hear Jessica talk about a few of them. Pretty incredible.
Gillian Bruce: She's also been very active with helping lead Salesforce Saturday in Phoenix, and creating project teams, connecting those who want to learn about Salesforce with Salesforce experts, connecting those folks with local nonprofits to help the nonprofit, and also help those who are wanting to learn more about Salesforce, those skills. It's a good combination. She's had a lot of really great experience kind of combining those two efforts.
Gillian Bruce: Make sure you connect with her social so that you can see and ask her more questions about what she's doing there. It's very exciting.
Gillian Bruce: Overall, Jessica just has an amazing passion for the platform. Without further ado, I'd love to please welcome Jessica to the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Jessica, welcome to the podcast.
Jessica Murphy: Thank you for having me. So excited.
Gillian Bruce: Well, thank you for taking the time out of this incredible event. We're at Witness Success here in Denver. Gosh, there's so much great content all day long for the last day and a half. I appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy day to spend some time with me to talk to me a little bit more about your story.
Gillian Bruce: Tell me a little bit about who you are, what you do. What are you doing right now in the ecosystem?
Jessica Murphy: Okay, so a little bit about me. I am a former sign language interpreter and sign language teacher. I came to tech about three-and-a-half years ago. In the process learned about Salesforce and was like, "Ooh, this is awesome."
Jessica Murphy: Three years ago, went into Salesforce, and a lot has happened then. I became a Trailhead ranger, and, let's see, I became a Salesforce MVP. I've got five certifications, all the things.
Jessica Murphy: Now, I own a small consultancy called Geekbella Consultancy, and it's been a lot of fun. In addition, of course, my ... I call them extracurricular activities, but it's because I love the community so much, Women Who Dev user group, Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, Sassy Tech Social. Those are things that are so close to my heart and those are like my babies in addition to my company.
Gillian Bruce: You just mentioned a whole bunch of other programs that you're involved in. You just dropped a lot of names out there. Can you give us a little bit more background on some of those?
Jessica Murphy: Okay, great.
Jessica Murphy: Let's start with Phoenix Salesforce Saturday. Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, we are the second Salesforce Saturday after Austin. There were three of us who started it. It was me, Paula Nelson, and Rachel. Paula Nelson actually approached Stephanie and said, "I would like to start a Salesforce Saturday that's not an Austin. I want to start one in Phoenix." After she talked to Stephanie and Stephanie gave her blessing, she came to me and Rachel and said, "I want to do this thing. Will you guys do it with me?" We said, "Yes, we're doing it. Let's do it." Because I was so new to Salesforce and I really, really wanted that dedicated time to learn and spend time with others and ask people questions.
Jessica Murphy: We started every Saturday. We've been doing it now, let's see, I think for two years maybe? Maybe more. It's been wonderful. I've absolutely loved it. I've loved the people. It grows. It gets smaller, but they're my heart. Right now we're doing this little internal challenge called Summer of Trailhead 2018 where everybody ... you got so many points for a badge, so many points for certification, so many points for a super badge, and so many points for actually giving food to the local shelter. We were able to give over 130 pounds worth of food to the local shelter when they said that they've run out of food in July. We're really excited. We figure out who won this next week and I'm really excited about that.
Gillian Bruce: That is so cool.
Jessica Murphy: I know.
Gillian Bruce: You're like Trailhead of Trailhead. It's beyond Trailhead of Trailhead style. That's awesome.
Jessica Murphy: Let's see, the next group is Sassy Tech Socials. Sassy Tech Socials came out of this situation where I had a friend who said, "I want to meet this recruiter, but I'm afraid." I was afraid too, but I said, "Let's do it." We went over and met the recruiter.
Jessica Murphy: It also came out of Mary Scotton also because she talked about the power od one-to-one connection. I thought it important that my friends met my friends. I would hear people say, "Well, I need someone who knows UX." Or I would say, "I need somebody who knows this." And I was like, "I know somebody like that." Eventually it became this thing where we meet about twice a year in Phoenix, but then also in other places sometimes. It's just women in tech. Across all of tech.
Gillian Bruce: This is like the Bingo cards.
Jessica Murphy: Yeah. I did one of these at one of your events. Gosh, I think that was Southeast Dreaming last year or something like that, right? Actually, I brought the Bingo game to WWDUG because I thought it important to be able to do that. Also, Salesforce themselves have used it for the Equality Event before TrailheaDX. I'm pretty excited that this thing is kind of having a life of its own.
Jessica Murphy: Then the third thing is... so that's Sassy. Sassy is all women across all of tech. Then last is Women Who Dev User Group. I'm a co-leader of a Salesforce User Group, and I just loved them so much. They are all these women who are developers across the Salesforce ecosystem. We just get together, and every month we have something related to code.
Jessica Murphy: Then also, we had these amazing get togethers. We have these get togethers at like TrailheaDx and Dreamforce, and even this year at Connections. We get together and we meet each other and we just have fun and we learn together. That's the most beautiful part. They are an amazing group who are doing amazing things.
Jessica Murphy: We did a hundred days of code earlier this year, and I have some other things in mind. We're not going to spill the beans, but I have some other fun things in mind that I'm going to implement for the group. I'm pretty excited.
Gillian Bruce: Gosh, I mean, I'm sensing a theme of constant kind of finding fun ways to involve people using ideas, gamification. Gaming the whole thing to incentivize people to do things and that a hundred days of code.
Gillian Bruce: I remember seeing your posts. That was an incredible effort. Can you tell me a little bit more about that hundred days? What did that do for you? What did you learn? What have you seen in the community with the a hundred days of code? I mean, I just remember seeing the post and being blown away.
Jessica Murphy: Okay. Let me go back to why I originally did it. I knew that the 100 days of code existed outside of the Salesforce ecosystem, right, because I'm a member of Girl Develop It and women who code and all these others... I knew it existed already, but for some reason, it was right before Christmas. I got that flu that everybody got at Christmas and I was so sick. I was so sick I had a fever and I popped up and I said to Rachel, "We're doing a hundred days of code." She went, "Go to bed."
Gillian Bruce: That's the fever talking.
Jessica Murphy: I was so excited by this idea because I had just stopped long enough to have an idea outside of how I normally think. I was so excited by this. I started writing down all these resources that people didn't know how to code, and I started writing all these things down. Before Rachel could say no, I just went ahead and announced it.
Gillian Bruce: When you name it, it makes it real, right?
Jessica Murphy: Right. Exactly. Basically, what happened is that we started on January one and it started with something as simple as a tweet saying, "I'm doing a hundred days of code with WWDUG." Everyone was invited. It wasn't just women who [inaudible 00:09:41] group, it was also all of WIT. It was everyone in the ecosystem if they were learning to code.
Jessica Murphy: Basically, over the a hundred days, I saw some amazing things. I saw women go from having developer titles to having architect titles. I saw people getting certified left and right. It was just amazing. People whose skills improved, people who had been in Rad Women Code, who were able to continue what they were learning in Rad Women Code and just work out through that hundred days.
Jessica Murphy: It was a wonderful learning experience for us all. Basically, what I wanted to do was I wanted to make it so that winning could be easy. I made it so that if you tweeted everyday you could possibly win.
Gillian Bruce: I love it.
Jessica Murphy: This year I'm going to have to make a little this next year I'm going to have to make it a little bit harder. I think I want everybody to do a project, and I would like for it to be a hundred days of code and a hundred days of Trailhead so that both of those things... so everybody feels a little bit more like it's something that they can identify with. The tweets were amazing. What people were doing, it was amazing.
Gillian Bruce: That's so awesome. I mean, congratulations and thank you for doing that because I saw some of the Twitter storm as a result and it was phenomenal. Phenomenal.
Gillian Bruce: Let's back up a little bit, and let's talk about how you actually started to learn Salesforce. You say you've only been in the Salesforce ecosystem for what, three and a half years? Something like that? Tell me about your journey to Salesforce.
Jessica Murphy: Okay. This actually starts in 2014 interestingly. In 2014, I graduated with a master's degree in education. I thought that I was going to be working in an office of disability services for the rest of my life. That's not what the universe had for me. I couldn't find a job. The one interview that I had, they wanted to offer me, I think it was $35,000 a year.
Jessica Murphy: It really wasn't much for...
Gillian Bruce: After a master's degree.
Jessica Murphy: After a master's degree. I was kind in the state of what do I do now? I was at a startup event. This woman said, "I'm from Women Who Code, and I love teaching women to code." I don't know why it resonated with me, maybe it was because she was a woman. Maybe it was because she was the first woman developer I'd ever met. I was just so fascinated about what she said. I thought, "Okay. I need to meet her and I need to talk to her." Her name was Sheena, and she is an amazing human being. She pointed me in the right direction.
Gillian Bruce: Oh my gosh.
Jessica Murphy: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That's amazing.
Jessica Murphy: Yeah. Then I joined Girl Develop It. Girl Develop It is this amazing non-profit organization, and their entire focus is teaching women code or teaching them [tech 00:12:26] so that they can get where they're going. I mean, all of my initial classes about tech were in Girl Develop It. Because of Girl Develop It, and because the member of Girl Develop It was actually the leader of Women In Tech, her name was Paula Nelson, because she was at one of the meetings, she was like, "Hey, you two." She was talking to me and my friend Rachel, and she said, "Hey, do you want to come to the Salesforce thing?" Okay, so this was my thought, right?
Jessica Murphy: My thought, "Salesforce? What's this Salesforce thing? I'm not doing sales. I'm not a salesperson. Are you kidding?" Rachel's ears perked up because she was in sales at the time. I went thinking that I was actually supporting her.
Jessica Murphy: The first thing was a dining demo, and that was interesting enough, right? The next day was so cool, because the next day I met Chris Duarte.
Gillian Bruce: Oh boy, that's a familiar name on a podcast. Chris Duarte, editor-in-chief of Trailhead. Amazing community leader.
Jessica Murphy: Chris was so compelling that I closed my laptop and knew that day, that was it. Regardless, I was going to finish my boot camp, and I did. I knew Salesforce was the way. That was what I was going to do. I knew that that was it, and fell in love that day. The next day I got on Trailhead, and I've been doing Salesforce ever since.
Jessica Murphy: I didn't like the way I said that, ever since. Southern accent.
Gillian Bruce: It's good. We like, we like accents on the podcast. It's all good. It's all good. All right, so Girl Develop It., It was your first exposure and you are still involved with Girl Develop It, correct? Tell me a little bit about what you're doing with Girl Develop It now.
Jessica Murphy: Okay, so Girl Develop It we have... as you know, Girl Develop It does have a national office, but they have different, smaller...
Gillian Bruce: Like chapters.
Jessica Murphy: Chapters. Exactly. Chapters around the country. I'm a member of the Phoenix chapter, and we have a lot of things that we still do. We do a lot of code and coffees where we kind of sit around and we talk to each other and we talk about code and we drink coffee.
Jessica Murphy: Another cool thing that we do is the Salesforce class is. We have another one coming up in August and we are really excited. Usually, for the Salesforce class, we do the Battlestation. I think it's going to be fun because it gives all of these people this new exposure to Salesforce and they get to see all the things that you could do so fast, right? Yeah, I'm still involved. I went from actually being a student to now I'm actually a GDI instructor.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. That's fantastic. I remember Mary Scotton, referring back to Mary, she actually pushed me, I think this was two years ago, to teach my first ever course at GDI and teaching the Battlestation project. It was a huge challenge for me because I had never taught in that kind of environment. I never taught something really technical like that. Obviously, sent me off to the races to do all kinds of other things. Yeah, GDI is an incredible... it's an incredible platform just in of itself and the way that it's structured and what it does for the community. I mean, thank you for... I mean your, your journey from student to instructor, that is really fantastic. You should feel really proud.
Gillian Bruce: There you go, and here you are. I did want to dig into your developer specific story a little bit. Tell me, what was one of? The hardest things about learning how to code? You obviously didn't come from a computer science background, right? So tell me about what were some of the things that were really hard for you to understand in the beginning?
Jessica Murphy: In the beginning, some of it was terminology. In the beginning, it was this understanding that you keep on having to work at it. If you're a person who naturally understands things easily, code is not that, right? It is absolutely doing it again, again, and again until you get it right.
Jessica Murphy: That was a bit of a struggle for me. I think more so than any of those things, it was this idea of perfectionism. A lot of women are perfectionists, right? They feel that I don't understand this and since I don't understand this, I'm going to run, right? Not running and not self-sabotaging.
Gillian Bruce: That's why a lot of girls stop learning about math, right?
Jessica Murphy: Right.
Gillian Bruce: I mean, I was one of them. Took me forever to get through calculus, and I just convinced myself I wasn't good at math.
Jessica Murphy: Right. There's nothing that's farther from the truth. The truth is that you are smarter than you could ever imagine. It's a matter of doing it over and over until something clicks. Then also, it's the self doubt. I think that specifically for women, that's the number one thing that I see that allows them to talk themselves out of either becoming a developer, or continuing to become a developer. Me included, because I initially did try to talk myself out of it. There's also a part of me that's pretty persistent, and I kept on coming back even though some days I felt that I failed horribly. I kept on coming back until it was something.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Well, thank you for being brave and continuing to do that because you can show all the rest of us that hey, this is possible. That's awesome. That's awesome. What's next for you? What's your next thing that you're working on that you're excited about?
Jessica Murphy: All right, so Phoenix Salesforce Saturday, I love taking that group and making it into something that it would not normally be. Like I was talking about, doing this gamifying of even them getting batches.
Jessica Murphy: What we are thinking about doing is creating... Okay, so we have people at different levels in Phoenix Salesforce Saturday. Some of them are like, "I want to apply all of this stuff I'm learning to something." What we're thinking about doing is creating an app for a school store. It was also because we have several parents in our Salesforce Saturday. I had one in particular that was like, "I really want to teach Salesforce to my child."
Jessica Murphy: After he's finished with a few Trailhead modules could we create something? And I was like, "We certainly can." We got to thinking mowing lawns, does anybody even do that anymore? Any of those types of things. Then we thought about selling candy at school. Well, the thing about that is that most school officials don't exactly approve of that, but there is the school store where kids can get candy from the school itself.
Jessica Murphy: Connect all of these things in Salesforce. Since we have people at different levels, we will have everybody working on a different part of it, and those of us who know how to code, we'll connect things using code, or do whatever using code. We haven't exactly figured out exactly how this is going to work.
Jessica Murphy: We will do that. If all goes well, then maybe it's something that we could teach to a local elementary school for Trailhead for all. What my desire is, is for it to be something that we can do at the elementary school level so they understand. Then if we teach high school students where they can build it out even further and make it more complex because they understand technology a little bit better than the little ones.
Jessica Murphy: I'm pretty excited about that. I actually hope that we're able to make that happen. We are currently talking with Salesforce Saturday about making that happen.
Gillian Bruce: That is awesome. I love how that [inaudible 00:21:01] creating your own project team essentially of a Salesforce Saturday folks, and acting as your own development team and figuring out where people fit in and learning about the process overall. Then letting kids then take part of that and use that as a learning tool.
Jessica Murphy: Well, there's this interesting thing. Most of us in our Salesforce Saturday are entrepreneurs and we're usually by ourselves. I know that when you work on a team, you can sometimes acquire skills from other people that you don't have. That's our way of coming together, making a project that could really, really be amazing in the real world, and also being able to glean information from other people who might know something different than what I know.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. That's great. I love that. All right, so what's one piece of advice you have for someone who is a little nervous, a little intimidated about maybe learning how to become a developer?
Jessica Murphy: Okay, so one, you don't need to be from a development background. I think that that was one of the biggest lessons I had to learn personally. I consider myself more an artist, and I was still able to do it. I think also, I would say, if you're going to learn code, learn it from reputable sites. There are plenty of sites with old information.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. Great pieces of advice. Thank you. Well, before I let you go, Jessica, you've shared so many amazing things, so many cool things that you've worked on and are working on. I have to ask you a lightning round question.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. So since we're doing a little bit more of a developer theme, I'm going to ask you to developer theme lightning round question. What is one of the weirdest developer terms you have heard? You don't know? There's so many weird... maybe when you first started, what was one of the terms you were like, "what is that?"
Gillian Bruce: Do you any idea what that stands for?
Jessica Murphy: Google.
Gillian Bruce: It doesn't even tell you what it is.
Jessica Murphy: No it doesn't. It's like [crosstalk 00:23:57] Wikipedia. They have all these words, but they don't say what ECMA actually means. Let me see.
Gillian Bruce: That's pretty funny.
Jessica Murphy: It is pretty funny. Nobody really actually knows what it means.
Gillian Bruce: Well, then there you go. We all just learned something together on the podcast. Thank you. Look at you educating people through the podcast. That's great. That's good. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. You've got so many amazing things you're doing and I really appreciate it and I appreciate all you're doing for the community.
Jessica Murphy: Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Jessica for taking the time to chat with us at witness success a while ago and share her wisdom. Now, Jessica is incredibly passionate and it was great to hear about her journey from being a sign language instructor into Salesforce, about getting so inspired by meeting her first female developer, realizing this was something she could do, googling all the things, getting plugged into Girl Develop It, and then getting so inspired by our very own Chris Duarte, who's our editor-in-chief at Salesforce of Trailhead.
Gillian Bruce: Immediately from then Jessica said, "You know what, Salesforce is what I want to do, so I'm going to do it." Some of the things I thought were really important that she shared was that if you're somebody who learns naturally and kind of gets things pretty quickly, be prepared because learning how to code is not that way. Be patient with yourself. You cannot be a perfectionist as you learn how to code. You can't self sabotage, don't run away. It's the kind of thing you need to really practice and do over and over again to truly get, and just know you're smarter than you think you are. So trust yourself, just give yourself time to get it. It really does take repetition.
Gillian Bruce: Also, I love how Jessica points out is you don't have to be quote unquote "a developer" to be able to develop and code. You can still be Salesforce admining, so be an artist. You could still be a marketing manager. Whatever you identify yourself as, these are just skills that you can add to your tool belt no matter what your role is.
Gillian Bruce: She also says that the best way to learn is with Trailhead. We've got lots of great resources for you to do that. I put some in the show notes. One is a link to that Build a Battlestation app, which is what Jessica used in the Girl Develop It course. It's a great way to get a quick overview of what Salesforce can do and build a quick app start to finish.
Gillian Bruce: There's also the Developer Beginner Trail. If you're really thinking about pursuing this, definitely take a peek at that trail and start doing some modules. You never know what might click.
Gillian Bruce: Also, connect with your local Salesforce Saturday or local developer user group or local community group. There's so many ways that you can get dialed into the Salesforce ecosystem and start learning.
Gillian Bruce: Now, before I get to the standard closing, I have a special announcement for all of you listeners. As some of you may know, I have been cooking a little baby Bruce inside my belly for the last few months, and I am about to go on maternity leave to welcome my first kid into the world. I'm very excited about that. I'm excited for the adventure that that holds, but that also means I'm going to be taking a little break from the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Never fear. The podcast will still be delivered every single Thursday with a familiar voice. If you have listened to the podcast prior to 2018 you will recognize the dulcet tones of Mike Gerholdt who will be returning as your host while I am on maternity leave. He's got an amazing lineup of guests coming your way from product experts, admins, and community leaders to help you be a more awesome admin. He actually started this podcast back in 2013 as the Button Click Admin Podcasts. You are in fabulous hands.
Gillian Bruce: He's also going to be assisted by our amazing producer, Celia Belarde, who joined us about six months ago as a Europe intern. Has taken the reigns on all the production in terms of planning and executing and publishing. She's been an incredible help. Between Mike and Celia, you are in very good hands and keep the feedback coming. The more you provide feedback and ideas for the podcast, the better it gets.
Gillian Bruce: As you may have seen, you can nominate a guest's idea for the podcast. You can see on my Twitter profile also on the Salesforce Admins Twitter profile, there's a link to fill out a form.
Gillian Bruce: Don't fear. I will be back. It's going to be on the other side of this adventure, but for the next few months you are going to be enjoying the dulcet tones of Mike Gerholdt as your host.
Gillian Bruce: Now, if you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, make sure you go to admin.salesforce.com. Our blogs, webinars, events, podcasts you can find there. Make sure you subscribe and share the podcast with all your friends. Like I said, every Thursday you're still going to get a brand new episode.
Gillian Bruce: If you want to follow us on social, I highly encourage you to do so. We are at Salesforce Admins, no I, on Twitter. Our guest today, Jessica Murphy, is also on Twitter at Jessica R. Murphy, and you can find myself at Jillian K. Bruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.