Salesforce Admins Podcast

It’s the last Thursday of April, and you know what that means. This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, Mike and Gillian are back for another installment of our monthly overview of Salesforce content: the We Still Don’t Know What to Call This Episode. Really, though, we need some help coming up with a name, so please reach out on Twitter and help us brainstorm.

Join us as we talk about all the great Salesforce content from this month, as well as Mike’s breakdown of the ins and outs of casseroles.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation between Mike and Gillian.

Reports and Dashboards

“Here’s the thing about reports and dashboards for admins,” Gillian says, “it’s one of the coolest things you can show leadership.” So many conversations we have with admins include some version of how they struggled to get executive buy-in until they showed them a sexy dashboard that responded in real-time.

3 Is the Magic Number

For the Schoolhouse Rock fans out there, “3 Is a Magic Number,” and this month we too were obsessed with the number 3. From Marc’s great blog post, “3 Questions Admins Can Ask to Optimize Salesforce,” to our episode with Hayley Tuller, a former Navy combat pilot who became a Salesforce admin, we had tons of content in April that just happened to come in threes.

Building Cool Things Fast

A lot of unexpected things have happened over the past few months, and Salesforce admins have been there to build things quickly and help their organizations respond. We have some amazing stories of people who have made a difference, and the lessons they learned along the way.

Trailhead Live

As we’re looking for new ways to connect with each other without being able to walk around the office, Trailhead Live has been a great tool to come together and learn. Gillian did two Trailhead Live sessions this month, one focused on Chatter and another AMA (Ask Me Anything) that brought together product experts to answer your burning questions. We’re going to another AMA next month, so come check it out.

The Wayback Machine

We also take a moment to check in on what we were up to two years ago. This month in 2018, we talked to an Australian powerlifter who earned a golden hoodie, Zayne Turner was ahead of the curve with “SalesforceDX for Admins,” and we launched our “Be a Builder” series to help admins build apps quickly.

Other Content from April


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Direct download: We_Still_Dont_Know_What_to_Call_This_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:10pm PDT

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Jeff Berger, Salesforce Admin at Academy Bank and co-leader of the Kansas City Salesforce User Group. We learn how he built a Salesforce app in just five hours.

Join us as we talk about how he works to create transparency between his customers and his organization, how he got executive buy-in so quickly, and the importance of communication.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jeff Berger.

Building an application in 5 hours.

So without burying the lede, we felt like we needed to bring Jeff on the podcast after he built an app from start to finish in five hours. “Like many banks over the past couple of weeks, we were scrambling to get something done for the Paycheck Protections Programs that was part of the CARES Act,” Jeff says, which meant he got a call from his boss asking for help on reporting. He needed to turn that process into a new app as quickly as possible to help them figure out how to allocate their resources in an all-hands-on-deck situation.

“The number one thing you can do, when you’re demoing a new process, is don’t focus so much on the process,” Jeff says, “an executive wants to see the output, they want to see the data right away.” Seeing a live readout of the information they cared about the most really sold the value of the app to the stakeholders involved. “Amazing things happen when you have executive buy-in,” he says, and with the support of leadership and the organizational focus that comes with it, he was able to turn the app around incredibly quickly.

A big need for Jeff’s organization was a way for the tellers who speak to customers every day to be able to tell what the status of someone’s application is. The initial ask was for Jeff to periodically publish a spreadsheet on a web portal for people to check, “but I like to replace spreadsheets with Salesforce,” Jeff says. He figured he could create a list view in Salesforce, drop that onto a community page, and share it publicly with the guest user functionality to give people up-to-to-the-minute information about their application.

The power of communication.

“If I have a favorite Salesforce features, it’s reports and dashboards,” Jeff says, “the value in Salesforce is the ability to immediately, as soon as you stand up a new object, start reporting on it.” Getting everyone trained on an app in such a short amount of time wouldn’t be possible without Chatter. Jeff could respond immediately to any tech support needs right on the platform.

“There’s no secret sauce,” Jeff says, “when I get questions in Salesforce, only 25-30% are Salesforce technical questions, the rest of them are really business process questions.” Jeff also emphasized the importance of getting on the same page with other departments about how things work and what the message is. Staying aligned and communicating was critical to turning around an app so quickly. Be sure to listen to the full episode for more, as there are tons of great tips about rapid development and deployment.


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Direct download: From_Idea_to_App_in_5_Hours_with_Jeff_Berger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

3 Tips to Help Admins Build and Deploy Apps Fast with Justin Kuryliw


We have a special bonus episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast for you today, where we talk to Justin Kuryliw, the project manager for the Salesforce Crisis Response App. We learn about the process behind building and deploying this app so fast.


Join us as we talk about the importance of recruiting a team and delegating to them, why they spent two days planning out of the week they had to build, and why teams need to overcommunicate.


You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Justin Kuryliw.


Building a product quickly with early feedback.


In his day-to-day life, Justin is a Solution Engineer at Salesforce. “Normally, what I do is focus on helping Salesforce customers architect solutions,” he says, “but the project that we started is a crisis response app to help Salesforce customers with COVID-19 in helping to track employee and location impact.” This app, which you can download on the AppExchange, allows companies to keep track of whether or not their team members need to self-quarantine, or even just mark themselves as safe.


COVID-19 has drastically changed things quite quickly, so time was of the essence. They started with a paragraph description of what they thought the app should do, while at the same time having conversations with customers who might have a need to find out if they were on the right track. They refined these ideas into potential features based on feedback, which allowed them get buy-in in further conversations and recruit more members for the team.


“The best feedback we got was when we actually showed the app to people and gave them a chance to react,” Justin says, but they could only start doing that by building an MVP. They put it in front of people who never used Salesforce—their dads—which let them see where they could add in-app help features to make it easier to use.


Recruit a team early, delegate, and communicate.


As the team added more members, Justin needed to focus on coordinating his team while still keeping things fast and nimble. He recruited people and transformed the features from his description into products, making each team member a product owner so they could divide and conquer. They coordinated via a working document to make sure they always knew who owned what, as well as what roadblocks they were encountering in their work. This document guided their daily standups and kept them on track through their two-week development cycle.


Justin was building this app with a four-member team, and they all were still doing their day jobs, so communication was key to being able to work quickly. “Two weeks is not a lot of time when you consider that that was design, that was building, that was testing, and that was deployment,” he says, “so really we only had four or five days to actually build the app.” 


The importance of planning.


“When you have four different people building the application, consistency starts to become very challenging,” Justin says, “so every other day we’d demo what was new and what was built for each other.” In the first two or three days of work, they published design principles to align the team: have little to no impact on production objects, make it user friendly, and use less code. Using Lightning Flows, Lightning Pages, and other declarative tools helped them accomplish that vision and deliver an app with only four Lightning components and a relatively small amount of Apex coding.


They spent two days of their week of building just on planning. “We got a lot of value out of making sure that we all agreed on the data model, we all agreed on what was in scope and out of scope,” Justin says, “so when we finally put hands to keyboard nobody had any questions about what needed to be built.” 



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Full Show Transcript

Direct download: 3_Tips_to_Help_Admins_Build_and_Deploy_Apps_Fast_with_Justin_Kuryliw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Ciara Skiles, a Senior Consultant and Business Analyst at Cirrius Solutions Inc. We learn how her experience in retail translated into a career in Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about how a career in retail taught her to break down barriers and communicate successfully, why it’s so important to be genuinely interested in the person and the result, and how your community and friends can support you in your career.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Ciara Skiles.

Jumping from retail to a career in Salesforce.

Just like Mike, Ciara has a background in retail. “When I was in college I did what most college students do, I worked a typical retail job,” she says, and since she had already been promoted into a supervisory role she decided to give it a go after graduation. That lead to a ten-year career specializing in workforce management and operations. “I was a go-to resource in my community to help struggling stores,” Ciara says.

In 2012 Ciara met her husband, an active duty service member in the Navy, which lead to a lot of moving around. They’ve lived in Charleston, SC, Newport, RI, Jacksonville, FL, as well as time abroad in Spain and Japan. In Japan, she attended a Hiring Our Heroes event where she heard about the Salesforce Military program. She quickly got her certifications and took a job as a Senior Consultant and Business Analyst at Cirrius Solutions Inc where she’s been working since late October.

The skills Ciara learned that translate across careers.

“When I found out about Salesforce Military, I was almost turned off by it,” Ciara says, “but when I did more research I found out that Trailhead is actually geared towards people who don’t necessarily have a tech background.” It also turns out that retail is a great training ground that translates into any number of careers. From managing personalities including training people who are working their first job to retirees with advanced degrees who are just trying to get out of the house a couple of days a week, Ciara’s seen it all.

“One commonality that I saw across the board is that you really need to figure out how to break down barriers and build trust quickly,” Ciara says, “and I think the key to success for me was that I always went into it with a genuine interest in the person and their end result.” That involves talking to a lot of customers and figuring out how to get them what they really want. “When you’re dealing with stakeholders who may have a broken process who come to you for help, a lot times they feel really insecure and unsure of how to proceed which puts them totally off-kilter,” she says, “I always try to very clearly communicate that I’m on your side, that I’m here to make your job easier, that your success is my passion.”

The amazing community that supported Ciara’s journey.

Thinking outside of the box is a big part of Ciara’s toolkit. “I’ve always been a natural problem solver, so if I see a friction point I want to do what I can to alleviate it,” she says, “which is what I think made me a really successful retail manager.” It’s the same with consulting—identify the big pain points and solve those first, then clean up the small issues later. There’s no template, however, so you need to coordinate with different departments to make sure everything is in alignment.

Through her entire Salesforce journey, Ciara has been able to rely on the support of a strong community of military spouses. “If you have a problem that you need to fix, call a group of military spouses,” she says, “give them twenty minutes and you will have five viable solutions with plans and Powerpoints and spreadsheets and all of the tools and resources you would ever need to make it happen.” Those skills translate directly into a career in Salesforce, and Ciara is proof that you don’t need a tech degree to make it happen. As she says, “my other life experience has been what has made me so successful in my current role.”



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This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ll hear from Hayley Tuller, a Project Manager at Arkus and a part of our Salesforce Military community. We learn how she’s applied the lessons she learned from twenty years in the Navy to her career in Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about how to eat the elephant one bite at the time, how Hayley approaches radical ownership, and the idea of upward leadership.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Hayley Tuller.

Starting with a service mindset.

“I think I did have a bit more unorthodox background than most folks do, although I think the Salesforce community is one of those places where everybody comes from a surprising place,” Hayley says. Her story begins when she enlisted in the Navy, where she spent twenty years in service as an Arabic linguist and a cryptographer and ended up deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other places.

In 2012, Hayley took advantage of the GI Bill to get into nonprofit work. “It felt like a natural transition for me—I had a service mindset and I felt like I had a lot to offer in terms of data analysis and operational management,” she says, “from that I got into databases and nonprofits and it was probably a very short road from there before the Salesforce community found me, and here I am today.”

How to manage lots of priorities.

“The military taught me a lot about how to make decisions for priorities and manage lots of taskers,” Hayley says, “but I think one of the biggest things I got out of it is that a lot of it is your mindset.” The first rung on the ladder can feel like the longest reach, but getting there can make everything after it look a lot better. “We used to joke, when I was on deployment, that the only way to eat an elephant was one bite at a time,” she says.

One major skill Hayley learned in the Navy that has been helpful in her professional life is risk assessment. “It’s really just a way of looking at the tasks that are in front of you and assessing the likelihood of a problem and the impact of that problem, and using those two factors decide what you need to pay attention the most,” she says, “and when you apply that to everything you do you get a lot of clarity really quickly.” One of the biggest tips Hayley has is to get everything in one place so you can see it and make decisions accordingly.

Radical ownership.

“Probably the biggest thing I took away from my Navy career is this sense of what a lot of people call radical ownership,” Hayley says, “when I was in the service we just called it accountability.” It’s this idea that the buck stops with you—if you’re responsible for something it’s not OK to throw your hands up in the air and quit. You can ask for help, but you’ve got to work through any difficulties you encounter along the way, and you just might surprise yourself with what you’re able to accomplish along the way.

The idea of upward leadership.

“Leadership is not something that we just do in a downward focus—we don’t just lead down—you have to lead up as well,” Hayley says, “upward leadership is about being there to support your supervisors, actively asking those questions, stepping forward when you see things that can be solved, and helping them be equipped to make the best decisions that they can possibly make.” That comes down to trust, loyalty, and the ability to be assertive and say what needs to be said if there’s a problem.

At the same time, when it comes to leading people under you, Hayley says “the biggest gift you can give to the folks that you work with and who work for you is belief in themselves.” One of the hardest things you have to do is step back and let a subordinate do something and trust that they’ll succeed, but it’s so rewarding to see them succeed.



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We’re back with another episode of the Salesforce for Good mini-series on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. These special episodes are hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. He talks to Judi Sohn, Director of Customer Centric Engineering at, to learn how she organizes around the nonprofit Salesforce community.

Join us as we talk about how Judi’s nonprofit work brought her to Salesforce, and the work she’s done to create a framework for the community to contribute to the platform.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Judi Sohn.

How Judi first got involved in nonprofits.

“Customer centric engineering sits in the technology and product part of,” Judi says, “we are the connection point between other teams and product development.” What that means is that whenever there’s a customer impactful issue like a bug, her team investigates and then puts a team on it.

Jodi has a deep background in nonprofit work, starting in 1998 when her father was diagnosed with cancer. “He and I grew up in technology together,” she says, and naturally they found a listserv to connect with others dealing with colorectal cancer in their lives. He ended up cofounding the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, and because Jodi had all of his passwords she was able to log in and volunteer her graphic design skills to help them with their first website and logo.

On the frontiers of community building.

For the next two years, Jodi ended up working closely with the CCA to help them get off the ground, and in the process picked up a lot of first-hand knowledge about starting a nonprofit. She got to put those skills into practice pretty quickly, setting off on a new adventure to help found Fight Colorectal Cancer, an organization devoted to research and advocacy. She was also blogging about early remote work technology since both organizations she had been a part of were distributed, which was how she heard about Salesforce.

As Fight Colorectal Cancer continued to grow, Judi needed a cloud-based database platform to support her distributed team. She tried a number of options that were all ultimately frustrating, “I wanted to change it and adapt it to my organization,” she says, “it just didn’t have the flexibility and didn’t feel like I could grow into it.” In the search process, however, she saw that Salesforce was offering free licenses to nonprofits. She signed up and started working with a consultant to learn about the platform, blogging about her journey as she went.

“I didn’t know at the time, but I was one of the very few customers making this work and talking about it publicly,” Judi says, and the blog got her in touch with a lot of partners and early adopters also working in Salesforce. She got involved in the conversation around building a bona fide nonprofit app. That landed Judi on the Dreamforce stage in 2008, and she’s been to every one since.

How Judi ended up at the Salesforce Foundation.

Judi continued working in the nonprofit Salesforce community while still running Fight Colorectal Cancer, but as she got more involved she realized just how much of an impact she could have helping others be successful on the platform. She made the decision to start working as a Salesforce Partner to consult with more nonprofits, right around the same time the Power of Us Hub got started. She dove into those conversations, learning more about the platform as she helped others.

In 2015, Judi joined the Salesforce Foundation, helping as the Nonprofit Success Pack evolved from a community-driven open source solution for small nonprofits to something that could scale for large organizations. As the NPSP changed, they wanted to find a role for the community to still innovate on the platform, which lead to the creation of Open Source Commons. While Community Sprints were already a thing, what Judi brought to the table was a format where folks with many different backgrounds and levels of experience could participate. “The community makes it so easy, it is embraced and supported and welcome and open,” she says, “and I want everyone to feel that.”



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Direct download: Salesforce_for_Good__Judi_Sohn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am PDT