Thu, 26 December 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we continue our Lightning Champion Spotlight series with Benjamin Bratcher, a Salesforce Administrator at Masergy. This episode is part four of a six-part series, the Lightning Champions Spotlight, hosted by Kelly Walker, Senior Adoption Consultant at Salesforce. We talk to our amazing Lightning Champions to find out about their career journey, how it lead them to the Lightning Experience, advice on handling change management, and why Lightning Experience is so awesome.
Join us as we talk about how he communicates with his users to get support for Lightning, the keys he found to make the transition, and how he gives back to his community as a Lightning Champion.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Benjamin Bratcher.
From stage to screen.
Benjamin has a bit of an unusual background for getting into Salesforce, even for this podcast where we talk to accidental admins all the time. He actually majored in Theatre in undergrad, but after graduating he found himself working in his alma mater’s admissions office in order to support himself. “About a month after I started working there they implemented Salesforce, and I took to it really quickly. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, so it really interested me and I started to become a power user,” Benjamin says.
Eventually, Benjamin found himself promoted to a Salesforce administrator role. “At the time I had no idea that Salesforce had this huge ecosystem and was a great career opportunity,” he says, “I saw the potential and quickly jumped in.” Even with all the developments in his career, he’s still able to do some acting and fight choreography at night to get the best of both worlds. “Initially, I was worried that having a BFA in Theater would be looked down upon,” Benjamin says, “but what I’ve found is that having that experience in theater has given me a lot of skills that I’m able to use as an admin.”
Transitioning to Lightning when there’s baggage associated with it.
“When I transitioned my org to Lightning in my previous job it had already been implemented in the background,” Benjamin says, “I had been, as a business user, one of the initial test users who was asked to switch to Lightning and see what doesn’t work.” There weren’t any special customizations done for their business use cases, so it was a rather frustrating experience, and those feelings remained when Benjamin was looking really put his full energy into successfully making the switch.
“Lightning was already there but no one wanted to use it,” Benjamin says, but the director of one department, in particular, was very adamant about switching his users over to Lightning full-time. That gave him the executive support he needed to start making customizations that could have a real impact on users’ day-to-day, while also doing beta testing with a small group before doing a larger rollout.
Benjamin’s keys to adoption.
For Benjamin, adoption is all about identifying the easy wins that let you show users what Lightning is all about. One of his favorites is the Lightning App Builder. “The ability to customize the UI is just really exciting to me,” he says. Layouts are such a powerful way to make things more user-friendly and intuitive, particularly on busy pages where they need to find that one specific piece of information in order to move on with their work.
In the Lightning Champions program, Benjamin’s been able to give back to his local Dallas community. “I’ve been able to volunteer at different local events,” he says, “I got to be a helper in one of the hands-on Lightning sessions at Dallas World Tour.” He also frequently hears from the community for advice and suggestions as others make the transition to Lightning. Listen to more details about the Salesforce scavenger hunt he put together to make Salesforce training fun, and his German language skills.
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Full Show Transcript
Kelly Walker: Welcome to the Salesforce Lightning Champion Spotlight on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Kelly Walker and I am a senior adoption consultant here at Salesforce. I also have the amazing opportunity of working closely with the awesome trailblazers who are passionate about Lightning and have become Lightning champions to evangelize the power of Lightning. In this mini series, we will be talking to six awesome Lightning champions to talk about their career journey, how it led them to the Lightning experience, advice on handling change management, and to focus on their stories of why Lightning experience is so awesome.
Kelly Walker: Now, Salesforce is turning on Lightning experience on a rolling basis in Winter '20. Users still have access to Salesforce Classic after Lightning experience is turned on, but Lightning Experience is where you want to be for driving business growth and improved productivity. To get ready, verify your org's existing features and customizations in the new interface and prepare your users with change management best practices. This update applies to users who had the Lightning Experience user permission, including all users with standard profiles and users with custom profiles or permission sets that have the Lightning Experience user permission enabled. For more information, check out the critical update and watch this short video titled, Understand How The Lightning Experience Critical Update Affects My Users, both of which are linked in the show notes.
Kelly Walker: All right, well today we're talking to Benjamin Bratcher, another Lightning champion in the Dallas area. Benjamin, thank you so much for joining us.
Benjamin B.: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Kelly Walker: Well, I'm excited for everyone to learn a little bit more about you. I know your journey to Salesforce is a maybe not the norm, so let's start there and help us understand really your background and how you came to be where you are with Salesforce.
Benjamin B.: Sure, yeah, I'd love to. I guess my journey started in 2015. I had just graduated with my bachelor's degree. I got to be a BFA in theater. Once I graduated I kind of had an initial shock of not knowing what I was going to do to, you know, make money, make a living. Because as most people know, as an actor, it's hard to do that as a full-time job, unfortunately. So I applied several places. Long story short, I ended up working for my alma mater as a graduate admissions advisor. Well, about a month after I started working there, they implemented Salesforce and I took to it really quickly. I've always been an early adopter of technology, so it really interested me and I quickly became a power user, started coming up with best practices on how to use Salesforce in the enrollment department and then also started leading Salesforce training.
Benjamin B.: That eventually, after about two years, morphed into the director and VP of enrollment asking if I would want to step into an official Salesforce administrator role. At the time I had no idea that Salesforce have this huge ecosystem and was a great career opportunity. I went home that evening, researched it, was pretty blown away with what was out there, what opportunities there are within Salesforce and so that was kind of a no brainer decision for me. I already enjoyed it, I saw the potential and decided to kind of go into that space.
Benjamin B.: So then I was a solo admin for a year and a half, accidental admin, although I think I kind of transitioned into being a purposeful admin because I decided that I wanted to pursue that as my career. But the first few months were very difficult and trying to figure out what's going on, just learning the system. I had a lot of help from the consultant that worked with us and then of course Trailhead. Then once I started getting some certifications, that kind of changed and I started to become the subject matter experts. But that's how I got started on the platform. So kind of ... I think a lot of people have similar stories in terms of being accidental admins or kind of falling into it and that definitely was the case with me.
Kelly Walker: Awesome. Are you still acting?
Benjamin B.: Yes, yeah. That's always been my first passion and I love being in the theater and acting. I also actually recently just opened a show where I was the fight choreographer, which was really exciting. It was really exciting getting to work on the creative side of show again. But yes, I do continue to act in the Dallas Fort Worth area, mostly as an actor and also mostly on stage, although I have done some voiceover work and also some student films, but mostly on stage. Thankfully, in Dallas, a lot of the theaters are set up so that they allow you to rehearse and perform in the evenings or on the weekends so you can balance that pretty well with a full-time job. So that's allowed me to continue my work as an actor and then also as the Salesforce admin as well.
Kelly Walker: Would you say that there's characteristics or different lessons that you've learned that you can bring into your role as an admin that you take away from your education in the theater as well as your continued role within the theater?
Benjamin B.: Yeah, that's a great question. You know, I think that's something that I've really learned a lot over the last four years of being out of my undergrad and kind of going into more of a corporate job. You know, initially I was really worried that having a BFA in theater would be kind of looked down upon. Well, what I've found is that having that training as an actor and then also the professional experience has really given me a lot of skills that I've been able to utilize as an admin.
Benjamin B.: For example, I would say communication skills are very important in a role as a Salesforce administrator and of course as an actor, that's pretty much the number one skill that you have to have is being able to recite the lines and communicate well and connect with your other onstage, you know, among other things. So communication definitely has been a skill that's that I've been able to transfer.
Benjamin B.: Along with that, creativity, I think, is also very useful as an admin. You get to be creative in designing your Lightning app pages for example, or different processes or kind of how you want to utilize Salesforce for your user group. I've been able to draw from the creativity that I've kind of fostered throughout my work in the theater and as an actor. I would say those are probably off the top of my head, the top two skills I would say that have been transferable, but I think generally, as a side note related to that, I think it's incredible that so many people who are involved in Salesforce come from non-technical backgrounds. That has always stuck with me and I've always been impressed by what people can achieve without having gone to school studying IT or information systems. Of course if you've studied that, that's incredible and you have a lot of background to draw from, but the fact that you can make a solid career and really advance without having that background is a really encouraging for me to see and also I think speaks a lot to kind of Salesforce's community and the opportunities that the platform provides.
Kelly Walker: Yes, I cannot repeat or agree with you more on that because so many individuals who have come from such different backgrounds and have really made their home with Salesforce. So we're so glad to have you. I want to dig into that communication piece because as you know, we work together very closely in the Lightning Champions program and moving to Lightning requires a lot of communication and training and overcoming feedback or just overall concerns. I'd love to understand how you embraced the transition, how you knew it was the right time, how you worked with your users and where you are today with regards to Lightning usage.
Benjamin B.: Yeah, definitely. When I transitioned my org to Lightning, that was actually at my previous job. In that environment, like I had mentioned earlier, I kind of took over as the admin and was kind of thrust into that position. Well, the person who had been in that position before me had already activated Lightning. It was already kind of just lingering in the background and I was actually as a business user, one of the initial individuals to go be a test user. I was asked to just kind of switch to Lightning and see what didn't work and then report back, which as you can imagine, was kind of a difficult experience and very frustrating because there hadn't been any customizations done at the time to allow for Lightning to be used for our business use cases. Unfortunately, in my situation there had already been kind of that initial wave of Lightning and so there was this negative connotation associated with it. So when I came in and Lightning was already kind of there but no one really wanted to use it, I definitely had an uphill battle to climb in order to convince people that Lightning is the way to go and that the UI allows for so many different use cases and business processes that Classic kind of doesn't just natively because you aren't able to customize the UI as much declaratively.
Benjamin B.: The way I approached it actually ended up being that one of the directors of the student services department was very adamant about his users switching to Lightning full-time. I took that as kind of my executive support that I needed, which I think is incredibly important if you're making a transition, and started customizing Lightning to fit to the business processes of the student services department. That allowed me to already have a smaller user group that was my beta user group that I could kind of go to and test things out with, get feedback from pretty easily. That also made it very, very smooth or a lot smoother than if I had tried to do it for everyone all at once. Once that became successful and kind of the initial customizations had been done so that they could flawlessly go through their day to day work ... of course enhancements always are continuing ... but once that was completed, I could focus my intention more on other user groups and kind of transitioned those.
Benjamin B.: That was kind of my process. I think I have more of a unique experience. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are in a similar situation or have been, but it's, I would certainly say that it's not an ideal kind of set-up in terms of how the migration would have gone in a perfect world but I definitely tried to make the most of it and tried to capitalize on that director's interested in investment in Lightning and then kind of move forward with that.
Benjamin B.: On that note, I think one of the biggest struggles is user adoption. I had that at my last job where I implemented Lightning and at my current job as an admin, which at this position, they use Lightning almost exclusively, although they do let people go to Classic. So there are certain users who have used Classic for so long and just don't see the benefits in switching. I think even once you do migrate, if you don't deactivate the ability to switch back to Classic, you'll continue to face those obstacles and try to overcome them. So I think for that, it's continuing to advocate for it and show them different small wins that they can utilize, so different Lightning-specific features that I know that have been covered at Dreamforce in different world tours, you know, the top 10 Lightning features is always one of the topics. Those are incredibly valuable to share with your users because there's short productivity gains but in the long run that really enhances your productivity. A lot of times in my experience, sales reps don't invest the time to really study Lightning and kind of go through all the material. So if you can focus more on one-on-one training or maybe even have a platform like WalkMe or something like that, that allows you to have training live within Salesforce, I think that is really valuable to also increase user adoption.
Kelly Walker: Awesome. Speaking of user adoption and kind of find that when ... is there a feature that you would really highlight maybe as your favorite or one that is just a quick win across the board?
Benjamin B.: I would say my favorite Lightning feature would have to be the Lightning app builder, I mentioned it previously, and the reason for that is the ability to customize the UI is just really exciting to me. I love getting creative in redesigning the Lightning pages.
Benjamin B.: A few months ago, one of my bigger projects was redesigning our accounts pages, so that's both the Classic page layouts, the compact layouts, the Lightning pages, among other things. I actually came up with a really cool layout that allowed me to kind of split up the detail page — which I would assume for most organizations ends up being pretty long because you just have a lot of fields — and breaking that out into different tabs and different sections. That allowed me to have an account page layout that was just one page on a monitor so you didn't really have to scroll and you could go into different tabs to kind of find more information. That, I think, made it so much more user friendly and intuitive so I would say that's my favorite Lightning feature for sure.
Kelly Walker: Well awesome. It definitely is a killer feature and empowers admins and developers, as you mentioned, to really give that a unique page or that specialized page based on users' needs, wants, whatever it may be.
Kelly Walker: Now you've been a Lightning champion for a while and so I'd love to understand what drew you to the program and really how you're giving back to the community as it relates to Lightning experience in your Dallas area.
Benjamin B.: Yeah, great question. What drew me to it initially, I found out about the program around the time I was working on the migration to Lightning. I thought that would be a really great way to kind of give back to the community in terms of what I've learned on the job already. Then also I figured it would be a really good way to kind of network and develop professionally and make some great connections.
Benjamin B.: I've loved being a part of it because of the connections you make. There's a trailblazer group, for example, of Lightning champions. We kind of get updates every now and then from the product team in Lightning and also can kind of bounce ideas off each other or get some help. But then of course, giving back is a huge part of that. In Dallas, I've been able to volunteer at different local events. Latest for example was the Dallas world tour; I was a helper and one of the hands on lightening sessions.
Benjamin B.: Then of course more inofficially, I would say just being an advocate for Lightning, talking to people, maybe supporting them as they go through the migration. I've had several people reach out to me and just ask for advice and suggestions as they embark on that journey. So yeah, that's kind of how I've been involved. I'd really ... my plan is to start writing some more blog posts. I'm mentioning this now in the podcast to keep me honest, but I would love to write some more content on Lightning among other Salesforce-related topics.
Kelly Walker: Well, very cool. Hopefully one of your blog posts relates to the Salesforce scavenger hunt. Can you dive into that idea a little bit? I just love it and want others to know more about it.
Benjamin B.: Yeah, that's great. In my last position, being a solo admin, I had a lot of freedom on how to kind of design the training and user adoption and all of that within our company for Salesforce. What I ended up doing as kind of one of the stages was creating a Salesforce scavenger hunt. At the time, I made it fairly basic. I just used a Google form and kind of broke it down in different steps and had them either answer questions like multiple choice or free text, write in the answer, or maybe even upload a screenshot. But I would ask them to complete a certain task within Salesforce. Maybe that was creating a lead or favoriting your dashboard that you're supposed to access all the time, or updating this test record that I had created to a certain status, or ... different things like that.
Benjamin B.: That would kind of start to get them a little more familiar with the system, give them a little more ownership on how to navigate it. Of course, this comes after my training videos and then the bigger training session as well. So that way, my idea for it was at least to make it a fun activity. Have them go through, get hands on, maybe ... well, honestly kind of like Trailhead, I guess maybe I modeled it after that if I think about it, but that was kind of my idea with the Salesforce scavenger hunt. Another reason is because Trailhead is very kind of generic and people customize their orgs however they want. This was very specific to our org and the way we used it so I thought that would be a good way to familiarize themselves with our Salesforce org. So yeah, that's what that was.
Kelly Walker: I love it. Definitely bringing in that creative aspect of your background and just you as a person. Well Benjamin, it has been an absolute blast talking to you and I would love to end with some advice that you would give to those in the community. I know that you speak other languages other than English, so I would open it up for you to say something in German and then really highlight or speak to the German trailblazers that we have out there in terms of some advice that you would give.
Benjamin B.: All right, putting me on the spot, that's great. [foreign language 00:21:32] Salesforce community [foreign language 00:21:51] Lightning migration [foreign language 00:22:18] Salesforce [foreign language 00:22:26]
Kelly Walker: All right, I understood Lightning transition.
Benjamin B.: Yeah. The funny thing is since most of my Salesforce experience has been in English, the technical terms are things that I find very difficult saying in German. Yeah, I definitely used a lot of English terms in there, but hopefully I got the gist across.
Kelly Walker: Awesome. Do you mind translating that into English?
Benjamin B.: Yes. I was letting them know that, just encouraging them to continue on their Salesforce journey and in their career and empowering them to make the move to migrate to Lightning and also just letting them know that there are so many people within the Salesforce community that are willing and able to share their knowledge with them and help them as they migrate. So please reach out to individuals in the community and please write me, reach out to me if you have any questions about a Lightning migration. But yeah, just encouraging them on their move to Lightning and also in their Salesforce career in general. Yeah, I wished them good luck on their journey.
Kelly Walker: All right, well we want to wish you the best of luck on your journey. It's been a pleasure working with you through the Lightning Champions Program and I can't wait to see what amazing things you do in the upcoming years, both in your Salesforce career and on stage. So thank you again, Benjamin, and best of luck.
Benjamin B.: Thank you so very much for having me, Kelly. It was truly an honor and yeah, I appreciate it.
Kelly Walker: It was so great to be able to spotlight Benjamin on the podcast this week. I love that we can use this platform to show all the different ways our awesome admins use their creativity in Lightening to get to the best productivity and end results for their use cases.
Kelly Walker: A huge part of being an admin is having the creative skills to effectively communicate with your users and your stakeholders really how Lightning is the right decision for your org and of course then build out new and exciting things for your users, like designing new app pages with Lightning app builder, creating different processes, with process builder or flow, or even how to utilize Salesforce for your user groups.
Kelly Walker: For admins who conduct training sessions, there are plenty of opportunities to make the experience fun. Our Lightning champions are the biggest advocates for Lightning. Each and every single one of them is here to help give back to their communities so do not be afraid to reach out for help. We have shared our social handles down in the show notes, and if you're not part of the Trailblazer community yet, join. There are so many others out there ready to help you succeed.
Kelly Walker: Thank you for listening and tune in to find out who we will feature in our next Lightning Champion Spotlight.
Direct download: Lightning_Champions_Spotlight__Benjamin_Bratcher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30am PDT
Thu, 19 December 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Julie Workman, Technical Credential Developer at Salesforce, who shares the joys of building, growing, and maintaining Superbadges and the potential they have for the community.
Join us as we talk about Superbadges’ important role a credentialing tool to prove to not just future employers but yourself that you have the hands-on experience you need to succeed.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Julie Workman.
A Salesforce nerd at heart.
Everything is super on today’s podcast, and that includes Julie, literally. “As a longtime Salesforce nerd, to work on the Trailhead team is really exciting. I’m responsible for the care and feeding of Superbadges and developing new ones for the admin space,” she says.
In a story that may sound familiar if you’ve spent any time listening to the Salesforce Admin Podcast, Julie started out in Salesforce as an accidental admin. She was on the leadership team of a nonprofit serving families in a severely distressed community, and she needed to see all of their data in one place. Julie was trying to answer the question, “How can we get all of these different spreadsheets to tell us a more cohesive picture about how we’re serving our community and what our outcomes look like?” She couldn’t do that with the tools we had, and that’s when someone recommended she take a look at Salesforce.
Julie started on the platform before Trailhead, so she really appreciates how different things are now and what it does for the community. Things snowballed from that first role and eleven certifications later (plus another that’s been retired), she found herself on Team Trailhead.
Why Superbadges are an assessment tool and what that means.
“Superbadges are not a learning tool,” Julie says, “they’re for assessing.” They’re part of the Salesforce credentialing program, which means they’re on the testing side of Trailhead. This is vital because it gets to the heart of how the Trailhead team assesses and measures how good of a job they’re doing at teaching the material. In short, there’s a method to the madness.
The result of this methodology is that Superbadges are a key part of how you know you’re ready for the next step. “95% percent of the people who complete a Superbadge say they agree that that Superbadge has prepared them for a Salesforce certification credential,” Julie says, and most importantly, “99% agree that completing the Superbadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through that hands-on experience.”
Where to get started with Superbadges.
If you’re trying to figure out where to get started with Superbadges, Julie recommends starting with the Admin Super Set. “It’s a grouping of meaningful and relevant Superbadges to help you prepare you to demonstrate your hands-on ability as a Salesforce admin,” she says. If you’re relatively early in your career, you can start with the helpful prework listed under the Super Set to get what you need to take the next steps. If you’re further along, pick out the first Superbadge you want to begin with and dive into the prerequisites in order to unlock it.
“Superbadges are an aspirational goal—they’re not done in one sitting,” Julie says, “they’re really something to put on your professional and development plan, as an admin or aspiring admin, to work towards.” The difference between a Superbadge and a certification is that Superbadges are really hands-on. “They are skill-based, domain-level credentials and they’re very real world,” Julie says. Team Trailhead is constantly talking to hiring managers and the Trailblazer community to get a feel for what stands out, and the bottom line is both certifications and Superbadges are keys to growth. Both go hand in hand to help you stand out in a crowd and show that you have the wide range of skills businesses are looking for.
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt, and today we have a super podcast for you. That's right. It's all about SuperBadges and boy, I have to tell you, I learned a ton on this episode. This week we are talking with Julie Workman who is a Technical Credential Developer on Team Trailhead. She works on building, growing and maintaining SuperBadges. Julie has an awesome background and is super passionate about SuperBadges and the potential it has for our community. So let's get Julia on the podcast. Everything is super on today's podcast and help me welcome Julie to the podcast. Julie, we're going to talk about SuperBadges, but first I want to get started. What do you do at Salesforce?
Julie Workman: Hi, thanks. This is great to be here. I am a Technical Credential Developer on the Trailhead team, which is definitely best job ever, fantastic team. As a long time as a Salesforce nerd [inaudible 00:01:26] someone who's really excited about Salesforce to work on the Trailhead team is really exciting. So, that is what I do. I am responsible for the care and feeding of SuperBadges and developing new ones for the admin space.
Mike Gerholdt: I mean like you walked me right into that joke. So I have to ask, do you not care and feed them after midnight like [crosstalk 00:01:47]?
Julie Workman: Yeah, that's a really good question. Typically, unless we've got a really difficult situation though, no care and feeding after midnight.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay, good. So before you joined Salesforce, you talked about being a Salesforce nerd. What did you do before you took care of our SuperBadges?
Julie Workman: Well, I became an accidental admin in 2013, I was in leadership of a nonprofit serving families in a severely distressed community, and I needed to see all my data in one place. So I began using Salesforce so that I could see our data from multiple advocacy programs in one place. So are the kids who are in our summer camp, are their families... do their parents know about the GED program and do the teenagers know about our mobile health clinic, and how can we get all of these different spreadsheets to tell us a more cohesive picture about how we're serving our community and what our outcomes look like. And I couldn't do it with the tools I have. So someone said, "Oh, why don't you try Salesforce?" WHich made no sense to me at the time until I realized not only are we selling, in a sense where we're selling these programs, even if they're free and we're need those important metrics, but really the program impact and the outcomes were impossible to track with anything else.
Julie Workman: So it was really, really exciting. And I dove in head first and all of this was pre-trail hood. So I definitely appreciate the value Trailhead brings. And from there I just dove head first into all things Salesforce, all things Trailhead and I have really embraced the platform, the community and everything about it. So since then I have been a member of a partner, an SEI partner team as well as leading a technology team for another enterprise nonprofit. And now here we are today, 11 certifications later, 12 if you count one of the retired original developer certs, and several SuperBadges and part of the Trailhead team. Super excited to be here.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow, that's really neat. So boy, you touched on a lot and I think you should count retired certifications because I do. I had that one as well. And I had a moment in a breakout presentation at Dreamforce where I mentioned pre-trail head and the pop up box of 400 by 400 pixels. And the looks I got from audience was like, if I had that moment where I felt like I was telling people what it was like to go to school and walk uphill both ways in the snow.
Julie Workman: It's so true. It's so true. And hopefully we still have some good habits like reading all the release notes, but that was really a very different world.
Mike Gerholdt: IT was. I read release notes once on a drive to Chicago. I was not driving.
Julie Workman: I was going to say, yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: It was also in the release notes were a little shorter. So you mentioned kind of having learning moments and jumping headfirst and SuperBadges are really all about learning. So what was your big first learning moment at Salesforce?
Julie Workman: Well, before we dive in, I got to say actually SuperBadges are not, they're not learning, they're not a learning tool.
Mike Gerholdt: Well please educate me.
Julie Workman: They're assessing. So that is something we hear actually quite a bit is this idea about how we're going to use SuperBadges to learn, but actually we're using SuperBadges to assess. SuperBadges are credentials. They're part of the Salesforce credentialing program and the vast majority of Trailhead is the go to place for gamified, engaging, very fun, free, go at your own pace learning. And so we know that the majority of Trailhead then is for teaching. SuperBadges are for testing. So it's a really different concept when we switch gears from all of that rich learning content, into assessment content. And that's actually why SuperBadges are even housed in a slightly different space on Trailhead. They're under the credentialing tab. So if you are looking for SuperBadges, they live with credentials, so right next door to certifications and so that's one of the really... that is a learning moment for sure to communicate that.
Julie Workman: But the learning moment for me, when I joined the Trailhead team, it was a wonderful learning moment. I mentioned that my background was in family advocacy and actually my degrees are in psychology and applied psychology. And part of that is tests and measures and assessments and how do we assess, how do we test, how do we teach, how do we know whether learning is taking place? That's part of my background and my academic background. So when I began to understand more about how the Trailhead team and the credentialing team builds supervisors and certifications, I was absolutely blown away that we're following this really rigorous and complex credentialing methodology. And so it lends a really, really important structure to what our assessments, what our credentials are.
Julie Workman: So it's a really a very high bar that Trailhead sets, no surprise there. There is a really high bar that we're using this credentialing methodology. We're not just sitting around kind of making stuff up and writing exam questions and sketching out a SuperBadge on the back of a paper napkin. But that it's really methodological. It's really a very high bar.
Mike Gerholdt: I mean, I just assumed we were sitting around trying to write the hardest questions possible. When I first took my certification, I was like, "You're trying to write the hardest question possible." Somebody had like an Amazon gift card on their desk for this question. That was what was going through my head.
Julie Workman: I think I might've thought the same thing when I went for my first consultant certification. I think I probably had the same idea in mind. But rightly so, they're rigorous and they're challenging, but they follow a credentialing methodology. So, that's a real learning moment. Well, it's a learning moment for me that we have a job task assessment and that we have subject matter experts or [inaudible 00:08:44] engaged throughout the entire process that we're using these tools like Bloom's taxonomy and we're paying attention to what level of cognitive complexity and we have all of this structure and it's not just willy nilly. It's really really quite thoughtful.
Mike Gerholdt: It's willy nilly with some thought behind it. I love that and I love understanding that the SuperBadges are... have that credentialing mindset behind them. So I'm sitting back and I'm listening to this podcast and I'm learning a lot so far except I want to learn Salesforce and you're telling me SuperBadges are kind of that testing part. Why should I take time to do a SuperBadge then?
Julie Workman: That's a really good question because they're not easy and they're not quick to finish, they're not done, I don't think ever in one sitting. They really do take some dedication and really carving them out as a goal, just like your other professional development goals. So it's definitely something to work towards. And so the reasons, the why we can really look actually at our community and we in a sense ask our community, "Is this meaningful, are SuperBadges meaningful?" And part of the way that we do that is through a popup or a modal that you will see when you finish a SuperBadge and it says, "Tell us your thoughts." And I was really blown away and really excited to see what our community is telling us about our SuperBadges. And that is 95% of the people who complete a SuperBadge say they agree or strongly agree that that SuperBadge has prepared them for a Salesforce certification credential.
Julie Workman: And 99%, 99% agree that completing the SuperBadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through that hands on experience. So those are just really hard to argue with those numbers that these SuperBadges have meaning to our trailblazers and they're meaningful for getting ready for certifications or having them in conjunction with a certification are a great example of that is that we have the CPQ specialist, and now billing specialist and advanced billing specialist. And when you combine all of those, so the Superset, with the building super set which is new, we can talk about, but the billing Superset and the CPQ specialist, when you have those credentials combined, it's really showing that you are a Salesforce quote to cash solution specialists. Because you have that hands on expertise that you've demonstrated with the super badge set and you've got your certification through the multiple choice exam that you take in those testing conditions. So there's a pretty strong value proposition behind completing SuperBadges.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I mean you're two things. You're operating in that dentist level, like recommendation area of nine out of 10 dentists recommended, like you're at nine 9.5-9.9 if you were to nail that down. So maybe the next SuperBadges on toothpaste. 9 out of ten dentist degree, this SuperBadge that I don't know. That, and you should say CPQ Salesforce certified specialists, I don't know. You should put that into a tongue twister or make people stay at five times fast. You have two choices. Take the certification SuperBadge or say this five times fast without messing it up.
Julie Workman: You know, you've got my mind spinning, we could have [inaudible 00:12:41], you could get your enabled toothbrush and we could have this SuperBadge [crosstalk 00:12:47]-
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, talk to [inaudible 00:12:48].
Julie Workman: Yeah. I can see it.
Mike Gerholdt: I can quickly get us off topic. So, you start thinking of fun things do as SuperBadges. The first thing I'm thinking is, so if people are in Trailhead and they're doing badges and they're learning, I've now know the difference, where do I start with SuperBadges or where do I even... I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm over here brushing my teeth.
Julie Workman: Sure. So one great thing that you can do is identify your SuperBadge as your goal, and then work backwards. So if you were to go to Trailhead and look at which SuperBadge you wanted to complete, for example, I would highly recommend the admin Super set. Super sets are groupings of SuperBadges where we sort of package because there's so much continental head, we want to make sure that we have really clear paths. So the Ironman Super set is a grouping of meaningful and relevant SuperBadges to help prepare you to demonstrate your hands on ability as a Salesforce Admin. So, if you're looking at that Admin Super set, you'll see a couple really cool things about it. One is you can see that it's designated for the career of Salesforce administrator. It has helpful pre-work, which is really fantastic, if you are just starting out on your admin pass.
Julie Workman: And you aren't quite yet ready for that SuperBadge, you can start with the helpful pre-work and then beginner. And then you can also see that the Super Set is designed to be preparation for your administrator certification. So this meaningful grouping of SuperBadges with that additional context is a Super Set, which is super new. And you can dive right in. Within each of those SuperBadges, there's three in the admin Super set. You would identify which one you wanted to start with. Let's say one of my favorites security specialists. I think you're familiar with it.
Mike Gerholdt: A little bit.
Julie Workman: Dive right into that SuperBadge and you'll see that there are actually prerequisites for the supervisor itself. So before you can take the security specialist SuperBadge, you need to have completed data security, identity basics and user authentication modules. And so each SuperBadge will have modules or projects you have to complete to unlock the SuperBadge. And that's because we want it to be really meaningful for our Trailblazers who are attempting these SuperBadges. Again, they're an aspirational goal, they're not done in one setting or sitting, they're really something to put on your professional development plan as an admin or aspiring admin to work towards. And so it's a big chunk of time. It's a commitment and the credential itself is the reward, but also the recognition you receive.
Julie Workman: So we talked a little bit about the admin Super set as being a great place to start and how to start towards that SuperBadge with the helpful pre-work. But if you are coming from a user or a super user perspective, not necessarily from an admin perspective, a really great place to start for a first SuperBadge would be our brand new selling what Salesforce call specialist SuperBadge. That super badge was released just before Dreamforce and is a really great way to see what a super badge is and demonstrate your ability as a sales cloud super user.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Start with the goal in mind, I like it. And I also like that it's not a quick thing because if it was like going to the gym, we'd all go to the gym once on January 1st and be set for the rest of the year. Right?
Julie Workman: I try that.
Mike Gerholdt: I could usually make it a month. But you mentioned a good point of SuperBadges and certifications and I know my team, if you're on a hangout with me, I've got my certifications hanging behind me framed, what's the difference between a SuperBadge and a certification?
Julie Workman: The difference is that SuperBadges are really hands on. They are those skill-based domain level credentials and they're very real world. So I mentioned that I had been on a team and SEI partner team, and if you're a business analyst or you're on a consulting team, you're seeing these business scenarios and nobody's going to tell you how to solve the problem. You have a problem and you have to gather requirements, in the SuperBadges the requirements are given to you, but they're very real world. They're saying this is what the sales team needs to see, this is who should be able to see information and who shouldn't be able to see information. Our managers want to be able to receive this information at a glance. And so the requirements are provided to you in the SuperBadge scenario, but the solutions, the how to, that's the part you figure out.
Julie Workman: So that's very different from our certifications. And certifications are those testing center or online testing, multiple choice exams that are really diving into your domain knowledge as an admin or advanced admin. And so we don't see it as an either or in the marketplace where we're constantly talking to hiring managers and the Trailblazer community and asking what everybody is seeing, we're seeing two things. One is our certification growth is really on fire. It is doubling every two years, which is really astounding. But our SuperBadge growth is experiencing a 400 person grow.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow.
Julie Workman: Right? So it's not going to be an either or, it's really a both. And so if you are trying to stand out in the crowd where we've all heard those amazing metrics about the number of new Salesforce economy jobs, the number that blew me away was 4.2 million new jobs by 2025 those are net new. So how are you going to stand apart in the crowd if you have these great admin skills and there's maybe now hundreds of other trailblazers who have these wonderful skills as well, how do you stand out in the crowd? And the answer is really certifications and SuperBadges. So, together we call them credentials, they really go hand in hand to show that you have that wide range of skills.
Mike Gerholdt: I never thought of it that way and that's a great explanation. Wow. And I also... Did you call it domain level expertise for a SuperBadge?
Julie Workman: Yes, exactly.
Mike Gerholdt: That is a really great way to explain it. Right? Versus a sitting down and taking a test.
Julie Workman: Exactly, yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay. You've taught me a lot even though it was about SuperBadges. I've learned a lot on this episode. I'd love to know what are the parts of the job that you just really nerd out about?
Julie Workman: Well, I love everything about it. I work with the best teams, just really, really brilliant and dedicated team. So what I love is, I mentioned we have that credentialing methodology and so we have a blueprint or roadmap that we follow. I love seeing it come to life because it's really amazing. In the beginning of our development process we have a job task analysis and that's basically a set of requirements for what should this SuperBadge assess. And so we start out with this set of requirements and then we build backwards. We build out the scenario which is that fun story that you read that has this business requirements, and we build out the challenges. So, how are we going to check to see if the trailblazer has configured a solution that meets the requirements so to speak.
Julie Workman: So I love seeing that come to life and as we move through the project and start building out the challenges and we engage our community as testers and we really start to get that feedback. And it really is such impressive feedback when we get those. Like we were talking about the number of people who are saying this really shows that I know this domain level, I have this domain level expertise. I'm really can show that I'm a subject matter expert by completing the SuperBadge. So it's really amazing to see it come to life and actually there's a way that people can participate as subject matter experts and I can send you that link and if people are interested they can submit a quick form and potentially be a part of a future SuperBadge.
Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, absolutely. We'll include that link in the show notes. That was great. Julie, thank you so much for being on the podcast. We could sit around probably for another half hour and talk even more SuperBadge stuff because I'm glad to know that you don't feed them after midnight.
Julie Workman: We don't but they're wonderful. It's great to be a part of the Trailhead team and be a part of the SuperBadge team. One last quick note, I'll send you this one as well. We really want to cheer on our trailblazers who are completing SuperBadges, and so we have a brand new hashtag. It's SuperBadge success and I'll send that to you as well. It's #SuperBadge success and we really want to cheer you on. We want to see the people who are completing those SuperBadges and really be a part of the energy and enthusiasm that people feel when they get these goals accomplished.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I love it. Hashtag SuperBadge success. Thanks so much Julie for being on the podcast.
Julie Workman: Thank you. It was my pleasure.
Mike Gerholdt: It was super great to have Julie on the podcast. By the way, did anybody keep track of a number of times we said super? If you did, I'd like for you to tweet me that number because I'd be curious. So three things I learned from our discussion with Julie. One SuperBadges are an assessing tool. They're part of the credentialing program on Trailhead. They take dedication, but 95% of the people that take SuperBadges say it's preparing them for a credential, and an amazing 99% agree that completing the SuperBadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through the hands on. Wow, SuperBadges are a great way to get started in Trailhead and get hands on experience. If you aren't sure where to start looking at a SuperBadge requirement, and then use that as your starting point for your learning journey.
Mike Gerholdt: I like to think of it as starting with the goal in mind. And then last SuperBadges are domain based credentials with business scenarios, and you should share your SuperBadge success using the hashtag #SuperBadgeSuccess. If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter, and of course you can find me on Twitter. I am @MikeGerholdlt. And with that have a fantastic rest of your day and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.
Thu, 12 December 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re live from Dreamforce with Laura Walker, Salesforce Admin Consultant and Solution Architect. We caught up with her just as she stepped off the Salesforce Admin keynote stage.
Join us as we talk about how far Salesforce has come, how to be your own PR, and the trick to getting champions in every department you work with.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Laura Walker.
How far Salesforce has come.
At Dreamforce 2019, Laura got to hit the stage twice, to appear in a breakout session and to introduce Parker Harris. “To be next to someone who is looking at the whole foreseeable future of future and know that it’s all in his brain—it’s so exciting to be so close to the people who really make it happen,” she says.
Getting to this point wasn’t always easy, especially as an admin who started in 2006, back in the days of S-Controls. If you didn’t have to go through them when they were a thing, just know that Trailhead has taken the community leagues further than what even seemed possible at the time. “It’s transformed the way anybody can go and learn,” Laura says, “there’s now no reason not to be up to date as long as you invest in yourself and invest that time.”
A community that supports each other through thick and thin.
“I’ve had a rough year,” Laura says, “and the emotional support I’ve received from the community, not just the tech, kept me going for months.” The platform and tech might the thing that everyone has in common and brings us together, but we’re all human. You don’t have to know everything and you probably can’t know everything. In fact, Laura says, “If you meet someone who says they know everything about Salesforce, run in the opposite direction—it’s not possible.”
Nowhere is that more on display than at Dreamforce. “We’ve had some amazing people talk about how to get the best from someone,” Laura says, and that perspective on leadership has been inspiring going forward. Another important concept that Mike discussed on the Admin Keynote stage is the idea of embracing your own success and being your own PR. “If you are passionate about what you’re doing, it’s infectious,” Laura says. Identify your champions on each team, use them to test new ideas, and ultimately to get understand how game-changing your work can be.
Finding the champions you need.
Identifying your champions can be tricky, but Laura has some good advice for what you’re looking for, and the answer is a little surprising. Chat with the people having a rough time, the people who keep saying how much they hate Salesforce, or maybe who you’ve identified through data as struggling with specific tasks. Then see if you can make a change to make their life easier, and get the conversation started about how they can get more involved. Laura herself ran into two of her former bosses at Dreamforce who she struggled to convince to give up their spreadsheets—they both now work at Salesforce.
“When I got asked to be an admin, I’d worked for two years in sales,” Laura says, “I was one of those people who did OK but I didn’t exactly hit the target every month either.” When she moved over the platform, she found out about all sorts of things that could have helped her be a better salesperson. She felt she had to share them, not just with her team but with all of the sales teams.
“I tapped into people’s competitive nature and said, ‘Look, you can be so much better at your job, you can work so much smarter if I can give you five minutes training on something,’” Laura says. There are so many great insights about how you can make change at your organization and in your career, so make sure you listen to the full episode.
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast and we're here live at Dreamforce. I am with Laura Walker who's a Salesforce admin consultant, and we just got off a stage doing a breakout session. Laura also just got off the stage last night from the Salesforce admin keynote where she got to introduce Parker Harris. So Laura, let's talk about all of the things you've been doing at Dreamforce 2019 this year.
Laura Walker: Hi Mike. I have had an amazing Dreamforce, the honor of introducing Parker Harris. What a great guy he is, and to be next to someone who's looking at the whole foreseeable future of Salesforce and know that it's all in his brain. Oh, it's so exciting to be so close to the people who really make it happen. The breakout session, so honored to be able to bring a little of my experience as an admin and consultant since 2006, and an end user, and bring those experiences and a little bit of knowledge to new admins to make a difference to what they're going to do on Monday when they get back to the office.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow, so let's talk about that. So you've been a Salesforce admin before I became a Salesforce admin.
Laura Walker: Heavens.
Mike Gerholdt: Well, that's good. Let's talk about your experience leading up to this point. How has the platform, how has the community evolved as you've seen it?
Laura Walker: It's evolved beyond recognition. When I started using Salesforce, S-controls were still around.
Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, I remember those. S-controls.
Laura Walker: S-controls.
Mike Gerholdt: Never forget.
Laura Walker: The training was beautifully, wonderfully crafted presentations. Someone really put a lot of effort into those, but they were deathly boring to watch and listen to. I would always read them faster than I listened, so I would turn off the volume and just whip through and hope for the best. To migrate from that through to Trailhead, wow, whoever thought that up is not earning enough. Whatever it is, it's not enough. To really transform the way anybody can go and learn. Because the presentations, you had to be a user, you had to be part of ... and it was paid for.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: Now for Trailhead to be free and accessible, thank you for setting me such a great target to get to 400 badges.
Mike Gerholdt: Sure, absolutely.
Laura Walker: I'm proud and honored to have made it.
Mike Gerholdt: I can give you another target of 500.
Laura Walker: Yeah, I'm sure you will and I'm sure I'll get there, because there's new badges all the time for all the new features and there's now no reason not to be up to date. As long as you invest in yourself, you invest in that time, because everyone benefits. It's really easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day and and go, "No, I'm too busy."
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: Sometimes to take a breather, take a step back from the coalface and go, "What's the bigger picture?" I was given advice from a director a very long time ago and he said, "Many people look at the immediate future." He said, "But leaders take a step back and they look wider and they look longer, and they see what's coming and they see what we need to do next."
Laura Walker: As admins, we can look at the platform and we can look at the latest release and go, "Wow, that thing that people have been asking for that we said wasn't possible, it's going to be possible. Wow, how exciting it's going to be when I can tell them, that report type that we could never do cross object reporting, well, it's now possible and we can bring all that together."
Laura Walker: I've been lucky enough to have those kind of light bulb moments. As an admin, it's like, yeah, and that's how I got my Twitter handle, SFLozenge.
Mike Gerholdt: Nice.
Laura Walker: So, I was a pain solver that day.
Mike Gerholdt: A pain solver.
Laura Walker: So as a true admin at heart, I solve pain, and I can see pain sometimes before they realize that they're in a painful place. It ain't broke, don't fix it.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: I mean, yeah, but it could be better and it could be better to such a degree that there are significant savings in time, energy, effort, emotion. Then you have the community. So, I've had a rough year and the emotional support I've had from my community, not just the tech, I mean, the leader ... one of the co-founders of the London admin user group, Matt Morris, put out a tweet, said, "We're not just here for the tech, people need people."
Laura Walker: The emotional outpouring of support during a really rough time, kept me going for months. I was fortunate enough to go back to them and thank them and remind them, because they wouldn't have known what an impact they have on each other. Don't stop, do that for the next person along and then feed it forward.
Mike Gerholdt: Right. No, I think and we were talking right before I pressed record, the tech is the thing that we have in common that binds us, but we're also human and we can so relate to each other and the tech is what brought us together. So Dreamforce is a big family reunion, we often call it. For those listening, maybe they attended, maybe they didn't attend. What were some of the things you brought out of Dreamforce or some of the things that you're going to pay forward as you head into your next week and you head into the holidays, and you head into this time of things you've learned while you were here?
Laura Walker: There is so much here. There is so much. My poor feet, I don't think they'll ever forgive me. But the monastic section, everyone knows, "Oh, it's all about the tech and everything." The monastic section of learning to breathe. I advocate taking that time out, that take a step back, come and look at something with fresh eyes, and to actually concentrate on your breathing and center yourself is a great excuse if you need one, to go and take that time.
Laura Walker: Some of the leadership sessions where we've had some amazing people talk about how to look at your team and get the best from them. Then Obama to actually ... I was so honored that one of his mantras was one that I have used for years, which is if you want to be excellent, surround yourself with excellence. Bring that together and feed off each other and you don't have to know everything.
Laura Walker: But knowing where to look or who to ask was great advice I was given a long time ago by my chemistry master, a mad, mad man. But I loved him to bits and he was so empowering to a group of girls in a chemistry laboratory, and I was fortunate enough to be on the end of that. You can't know everything. If anyone runs up to you and says they know everything about Salesforce, run in the opposite direction, it's not possible.
Laura Walker: But as an admin, if we know enough about a wide range of subjects. I've been in a situation where I knew I needed a flow to fix what I needed to fix. I knew at the time they were new when I couldn't do it myself. So I reached out to the community and someone said, "Well, it's Friday morning over here in Massachusetts, I think, I'll give you a hand." He spent 45 minutes and I was in the UK and he set up my flow for the not-for-profit I was working with and we got it working. It was like, "Wow, I don't know anything else that would generate that kind of generosity." But everyone has an interest in making it happen.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, absolutely. So along the lines of making it happen, you said something in our breakout that really struck me and it was also something I talked about in our keynote, which is embracing your own success. You're your own get out there and be your own PR, right? And talk to your users and show them the stuff that you did. I mean, if I had a table in that breakout, you would have been banging that table like, "This is the thing you need to do." I mean, obviously I think that's something you've done. Is that something that you've seen in the user groups that really is the differentiator for people?
Laura Walker: Yep. If you are passionate about what you're doing, it's infectious.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep.
Laura Walker: If you are sat at someone's desk and you are watching them do something because you're absorbing and you're seeing where the pain points are in your business and they feel empowered because you're taking time out with them, and you go, "Gosh, that looks really painful. What can I do to make that different?"
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: Dreamforce has been great to let us know what's coming and how we can use those features to make a difference to someone's immediate day. Because if you can make that change, they feel empowered, because, "Hey, I said that was a problem and now it's fixed," and they share it with their team. It's really easy to identify with the teams who are going to be your champions. You can target them and create a good relationship and you go, "If I have something new, would you test it for me in a sandbox?"
Laura Walker: Which is what they did for me. That's how I began to be noticed as a person who could be a good admin, it was recognized in me from a mentor. So to be able to target those people, empower them, your passion then becomes infectious and grows throughout your community, then you gain credibility. Especially for new admins, it's hard because you think, "Oh, I don't know anything." But you can. You can make those little differences and grow and you're doing Trailhead at the same time and you're making changes.
Laura Walker: Then you talk to a manager and you go, "Look, I did this and it made this difference to you. I'd like to do this for you, because I've noticed that you do reports. What reports up do you do? How can I make that better for you? How can I make that easy? Oh, you take it out into a spreadsheet. What does that spreadsheet do for you that the system doesn't? Oh, we can do that in Lightning now." You can get them to have an amazing experience.
Laura Walker: There are two managers who now work for Salesforce in London, who I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to use the dashboard. I got them to use it and I trained them how to use it for their teams and they empowered their teams and they became high functioning teams. I bumped into them at Salesforce Tower and I go, "Hey, what are you doing here?" And they go, "We work here." It's like, "Really? Are you sure?"
Mike Gerholdt: Would you like me to show you a dashboard?
Laura Walker: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: So I love that topic and I want to dig deeper into it, because I identified champions when I was an admin. You were identified by, you said a mentor, but I think you've also identified users when you've gone to other places. I'm a new admin, I just heard Laura talk about identifying champions. What am I looking for? How do I identify one person from another? What are those things that you find in people?
Laura Walker: I think if you're chatting with someone about what they're doing in the platform and they go and you ask them, "So what's painful for you? What don't you like doing?" Or you have done a little bit of data digging and you notice that that particular person isn't good at doing that particular data, and you go and talk to them and they go, "Oh, I hate Salesforce. Oh, I hate it." And you make a change and all of a sudden they go, "Do you know what? That's made my life so much easier. I can now do this. Because I now put all my tasks into Salesforce and because you showed me how to manipulate a list view, I can now go and look at all the people who have not been contacted for three months and I've got all these leads coming to me and I'm using the data."
Laura Walker: You suddenly begin to hear that little bit of passion creeping into what they're saying. Nurture that, use that and go, "Okay, if I make a change, how interested would you be in coming on that journey with me and helping the people around you come on board? Because you know people in your team, they're not so great at doing this and I want to make it better for everybody." You will soon hear the people who are on board and who want to be part of that.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: Who knows, as your company grows and you need more in your team, they may become your colleagues in your team, and that's how you grow. I listened to someone last night who said, "As you get a promotion, it leaves a gap for someone else. Bring someone with you."
Mike Gerholdt: Yep.
Laura Walker: It's always bringing the next person on. How can we all move together, moving forward and striding ahead? That's not just making money for your company, it's making everyone's daily lives better at work. We're all at work far too long to not enjoy it.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: So put a path on a case and invoke the confetti. Although a friend of mine did put it in and her company never noticed, I really don't know how.
Mike Gerholdt: I love celebrations like that.
Laura Walker: I think it's great.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.
Laura Walker: It's such fun and you can bring fun into the office.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep.
Laura Walker: My mantra is to make someone smile every day.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep.
Laura Walker: That might be a really bad joke, that they have no option but to smile because it's so bad. But, hey, what the hell?
Mike Gerholdt: I like that. So thinking ahead, as I listened to you talk, the word passion comes up more often than not. Working through your day, are there parts of the platform that you're more passionate about?
Laura Walker: There are. I just want to touch on why I'm passionate.
Mike Gerholdt: Please do.
Laura Walker: So when I got asked to be an admin, I'd worked for two years in sales and I was one of those salespeople that did okay. I wasn't terrible, but I didn't sort of hit target every month either.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay.
Laura Walker: I moved over to the platform and I suddenly realized that there was a whole heap of stuff that, if I had known how to do this, I would have been a better salesperson. I just felt compelled to share that with my old sales team. But I had several sales teams and everyone worked in competition with one another and I had to be fair.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: But it was like, "Wow." I was able to tap into people's competitive nature as salespeople and go, "Look, you can be so much better at your job. You can work so much smarter, if I can give you five minutes tuition in something, trust me." So that passion grows from there. But my first job was, it was a service team, so my heart is in service cloud.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay.
Laura Walker: I'm in a project now where I'm bringing multiple record types together to streamline a process and make reporting easier and give exec insights that they've never had before. At the moment, the way it's set up, they're making decisions on bad data and we really have to stop doing that. So to be able to make that transformation and affect that change, it makes my day. I turn into Tigger, I just bounce my way into work.
Mike Gerholdt: I like that. It's a good visual, good visual. So let's fast forward a year from now, where do you want admins to be? Where do you want admins thinking, in terms of their career, in terms of the platform, in terms of their passion?
Laura Walker: Wow, that's a tough one. Everything is changing at such a crazy rate. I would want any admin out there to understand that we are all just normal people. We have all come on this journey, we have all started from nothing and knowing nothing and we have all moved forward in many different ways. So be a sponge, absorb knowledge from wherever it comes from, listen to everything. Forget what you don't need to know and all of a sudden you go, "Ah, someone said, but I don't know how to do that." Go on Trailhead, set your next target. If you're at no badges, set at 20. Make realistic targets and hit them. As soon as you've hit them, hit your next one.
Mike Gerholdt: Sure.
Laura Walker: People say, "Oh, go for the next promotion." Well, I worked as a Salesforce admin for four years and there was no promotion, there was nothing above me. But I was told that one day I would build a team underneath me, because the data would grow. It didn't pan out, I was made redundant and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I became a consultant with a consulting firm and I got exposure to many different verticals that, had I stayed in that one company, I never would've had exposure to.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Laura Walker: So embrace everything that happens. Sometimes things may seem catastrophic, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Just because a door shuts, doesn't mean to say another door, window, trapdoor in the floor, or hole ... Look all around, because you don't know what's going to open, where it's going to take you and what fun you're going to have along the way.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow, I can't think of a better note to end on. Laura, you're on Twitter. If people want to follow you and soak up some of your passion, what's your Twitter address?
Laura Walker: My Twitter handle is @SFLozenge, L-O-Z-E-N-G-E.
Mike Gerholdt: Perfect. Fabulous. Well, I want to thank you, and who you didn't hear from was her lovely husband who's been taking pictures with us the whole time. Silent, quiet as a mouse.
Laura Walker: That's a rarity.
Mike Gerholdt: I know. But thank you for being on the podcast, Laura. Thank you. It was a great pleasure to have you at Dreamforce.
Laura Walker: I'm deeply honored to have been part of it and thank you for organizing everything, Mike, you're an absolute star.
Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely. Thank you, Laura. Have a great time at Dreamforce.
Laura Walker: See you soon.
Mike Gerholdt: This episode was filled with so much passion and encouragement. Laura has all this positive energy just flowing through her and I'm sure you can feel that in this episode. Her passion for learning stems all the way back to the days of S-controls, long before we had this thing called Trailhead, which is amazing.
Mike Gerholdt: So a good reminder from Laura. No matter what stage of your career you're in, it's always important to take time to invest in yourself, your education, and to make it happen. Remember, I love her line about being your own PR. Embrace your own success and don't forget to bring others right along with you. I mean, a lot of it is in the work that we do, and you see that when you're talking with other people in the community, you can help them find different solutions to the problems and you can help everyone get to that "Aha" moment. That's really when the passion and excitement grows and it just spreads.
Mike Gerholdt: Now Laura's been in this community for quite some time and I highly recommend that you reach out to her, connect with her on the trailblazer community or on Twitter, where she is @SFLozenge. Don't worry, we'll put the link in the show notes. Of course, we're also on Twitter. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I. You can connect with other Salesforce admins on Twitter using the hashtag AwesomeAdmin. You can connect with me on Twitter, I'm @MikeGerholdt.
Mike Gerholdt: With that, I wanted to remind you, go to admin.salesforce.com for even more incredible resources, webinars, podcasts like the one that you heard today. It is chockfull of information to help you be an even more awesome admin. With that, I'm Mike Gerholdt, and I'll see you next time in the cloud.
Wed, 4 December 2019
The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. For this episode, we’re talking to Katie McFadden, Co-Founder of Common Voyage, to learn more about the unique ways nonprofits use Salesforce and how you can get involved.
Join us as we talk about how consultants create a vision for technology that supports an organization’s vision and then turn that vision into reality.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Katie McFadden.
The complexities of a nonprofit organization.
Katie is a Salesforce Consultant for Common Voyage, a company she co-founded that works with nonprofits to help them implement Salesforce. “It’s fun working with nonprofits,” Katie says, “I personally feel like it’s as if you’re running multiple businesses under one roof because they’re managing fundraising, they’re managing programs, maybe they have events or volunteers that they’re managing, so it’s a bit of a crazy world with lots of things to track.”
With so many different business processes happening, it can be a lot for one executive director or leadership team to both create vision and execute that vision. On top of that, there are often more resource constraints involved. As Katie says, “with nonprofits, every penny matters.”
How Katie made her first pitch.
Katie first came into contact with Salesforce as a pet project at her first job, a student exchange nonprofit. “I realized after a while that there were so many good ideas for how to run the program,” she says, “but almost all of the conversations ended in, ‘Yeah, but how are we going to do that?’” So she started researching what tools are out there to help organizations get things done, which is how she came across Salesforce. “I did a whole PowerPoint pitch to my boss—it was my first time making a pitch—and she approved it,” Katie says, “and then I started learning everything I could about Salesforce and working with some consultants to build it out.”
All of this happened in the days before Trailhead was a thing. “I like to say I put myself through Salesforce nightschool,” Katie says. “I googled everything but I had a bunch of usecases and needs at this nonprofit, so I used that as an excuse to learn all this stuff.”
The Nonprofit Success Pack.
One of the big differences between the way nonprofits use Salesforce and what you might find in most implementations is the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). “If we think of Salesforce as the platform, the fundamental tools you get to build out a system, then the Nonprofit Success Pack is a layer on top of that that already understands and knows the types of things that nonprofits need,” Katie says, “I say it wrangles the way the business world uses Salesforce to fit those needs.” That includes more detailed tracking for all the types of fundraising-specific a nonprofit uses to see, for example, who is in the same household and what their relationships are.
It’s not as simple as logging onto the AppExchange and adding the Nonprofit Success Pack to your org. There’s an application process you need to go through, but on the other end of it you can qualify for a free license.
Another crazy story from Dreamforce.
Today, Katie runs her own consultancy helping nonprofits. She got the push she needed thanks to a chance meeting at Dreamforce 2013 headed to the Green Day concert that ended in him offering to put her up in Cape Town, South Africa and learn more about consulting. In her first year, she learned a big lesson: “How do you get comfortable without knowing the answers all the time?”
These days, Katie’s a big advocate of the community as a lifeline for anyone out there who needs help. “There used to be a time when one person could know everything about Salesforce,” Katie says, “but now it’s grown to such an extent that nobody does, so we become reliant on each other to figure out what we need to know.” To give back, she helped create the NPSP Videography Community to create NPSP-specific help videos to share knowledge more effectively. Listen to the full episode to hear more about all the amazing things she’s built, her favorite Salesforce features, and more.
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Full Show Transcript
Marc Baizman: Welcome to the Salesforce For Good miniseries on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Marc Baizman and I'm a senior admin evangelist here at Salesforce. Before I was an evangelist, I worked at salesforce.org and in the nonprofit world, and I made many incredible connections with people doing amazing things with Salesforce technology and nonprofits, and I really want to share some of them with you.
Marc Baizman: In this podcast miniseries, we'll be talking to a variety of folks in the Salesforce nonprofit ecosystem, including admins, architects, consultants, and salesforce.org employees. By the end of the series, you'll learn what makes the nonprofit sector special, how Salesforce technology supports the missions of some amazing organizations that are making a huge impact, and you'll learn about the fantastic community of people that are making it happen.
Marc Baizman: This week we have the inspiring Katie McFadden here with us to talk about her journey through the Salesforce ecosystem and how she became the cofounder of Common Voyage, a Salesforce consulting firm. Let's hear from Katie now.
Marc Baizman: Hello Katie. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Katie McFadden: Thank you. Great to be here.
Marc Baizman: You betcha. So Katie McFadden, what do you do?
Katie McFadden: I'm a Salesforce consultant. I work at a company called Common Voyage that I cofounded and we work with nonprofit customers and we help them implement Salesforce.
Marc Baizman: Pretty cool. Sounds great. Tell me about working with nonprofit customers. I want to hear more.
Katie McFadden: Yeah, so it's fun working with nonprofits. I think there's a lot of misconceptions out there about how complex the lives are of a nonprofit. So sometimes people think that, "Oh, nonprofit, it must be easier or simpler than the for profit world." But nonprofit space is pretty complicated, and I personally feel like it's as if you're running multiple businesses under one roof, because they're managing fundraising, they're managing programs, maybe they have events or volunteers that they're managing. So it is a bit of a crazy world with lots of things to track.
Marc Baizman: Sounds pretty cool. Pretty crazy. So what brought you into this world of nonprofits before you started consulting?
Katie McFadden: Originally, I graduated college, I came out to San Francisco, and I found a job working at a student exchange organization, and I'd studied abroad a few times. I had one of those degrees that doesn't really shoehorn you into any particular job, so I started at this exchange organization, and yeah, it was a nonprofit. I didn't really know what that meant, or what the differences were between regular businesses and nonprofits at the time. We didn't do much fundraising, actually. This is an unusual nonprofit, and that's where I got my start, kind of intro to the nonprofit world.
Marc Baizman: Cool. And you kind of indicated that you went to college for something that was not necessarily funneling you into a job. Was this a technical degree, or do you have a technical background? Tell me a little more about it.
Katie McFadden: Sure. So I actually don't have a technical background. I studied international relations, which is politics, economics, history, and I did minor in math. So I guess that's somewhat technical, but I actually went to an engineering school which had a great computer science program. And in hindsight, I wish I had studied that, but at the time that wasn't my forte.
Marc Baizman: That's okay. You've landed in it anyway, which is great.
Katie McFadden: Absolutely. I remember when I moved to San Francisco, in fact, I didn't know the city well, and I realized very quickly that it's a tech hub. And I remember thinking to myself, "I'm never going to make it in this city because I'm so not a tech person."
Marc Baizman: So you are a cofounder of a Salesforce consulting firm, is that right?
Katie McFadden: That's correct.
Marc Baizman: Okay, great. So I'm going to go ahead and say you've made it.
Katie McFadden: Thank you.
Marc Baizman: You're doing it. You're welcome. So maybe tell me a little bit more about consulting to nonprofits and how maybe that's different. You've mentioned that nonprofits is like having multiple businesses under one roof. I'd love to hear a little bit more about what kind of work that you do and how it differs.
Katie McFadden: Sure. So the consulting work is interesting with nonprofits, because there are so many different simultaneous business units or processes happening. It's really a lot for one executive director or one leadership team, especially at a small or medium nonprofit, to be creating vision for how to execute a mission, and executing, implementing and executing that. So a lot of what we do as consultants is around that. "How do we help people envision how they can run their programs, or how they can manage their fundraising?" And then, "How do we build it out in a system so that you can execute that vision?"
Marc Baizman: And would you say that nonprofits ... I should just ask, nonprofits generally have resource constraints, right? So maybe they don't have an unlimited budget and tons of people. How does that affect the kind of work that you do?
Katie McFadden: That's a great question. Yeah. You can actually feel that on consulting calls and engagements with nonprofits. With for profits, and I have consulted for a few for profits, they dilly dally more. They'll get on a call, tell me about their kids, this and that. With nonprofits, every penny matters so much more, I would say. Or maybe budgets are smaller, so they get on a call and they're like, "Okay, let's do it." They're usually very engaged. They want to learn as much as they can to become autonomous and empowered. And so there's some effects, I think. The budget constraint is maybe tricky and not ideal, but some of the effects of that dynamic are actually great, because I think the people tend to be very engaged and appreciate what they're learning.
Marc Baizman: That's great. That's great. There's nothing better than working with clients that actually appreciate the service that you offer. Right?
Katie McFadden: Exactly.
Marc Baizman: Cool. So I want to talk to you a little more about you. How did you encounter Salesforce? It sounds like you worked at the student exchange nonprofit. When and how did Salesforce come into your life?
Katie McFadden: Yeah. So I got involved with Salesforce sort of on a pet project in my old job. So I worked at this nonprofit, it was an entry level position. I was a program manager and there was a lot of turnover, so I got to see a lot of people come and go in this role. And I realized after a while that there were so many good ideas. People would come in fresh out of college and they're like, "Hey, we could run it this way," or, "We should do this with our students, make a passport program," or all these great ideas, and almost all the conversations ended in, "Yeah, but how are we going to do that?" Right? "We have no way to track that or get that done."
Katie McFadden: And it became this very discouraging culture of, "Oh, here comes another good idea. Just hush up with your ideas, friend. We can only do so much." And that really frustrated me after I recognized the pattern, and so I started researching, "There must be tools. We're not the only people trying to do stuff, right? So what's out there that can help?" And I found Salesforce. I did a whole pitch, a PowerPoint pitch. I remember it was the first time making a pitch to my boss, and she approved it. She said, "This sounds great. I'm so happy you found it." And then I started learning everything I could about Salesforce and working with some consultants to build it out.
Marc Baizman: Oh, this is great. Can you timestamp that for us? How long ago was this?
Katie McFadden: I started at that nonprofit at 2010, and maybe about a year, in 2011 or so, is when we started the Salesforce project.
Marc Baizman: Got it. So this predates Trailhead, in fact.
Katie McFadden: Oh yes. Because everything I learned about Salesforce during my big kind of a vamp up or ramp up to learn everything, this was all just Google searching. It was the Wild West. There was no formal curated content. I just had to find forum.
Marc Baizman: Yeah, let's get into that. How did you learn about Salesforce back then, in those old days?
Katie McFadden: In those wild days. Yeah. Well, I remember my boss allowed me to learn some of this stuff, but mostly we were working with consultants, so my involvement was limited, but I wanted to so much more involved than what was formally required in this position. So I like to say I put myself through a Salesforce night school-
Marc Baizman: Great.
Katie McFadden: ... and I remember that my fingers were in pain from being on the track pad for so many hours a day. It actually kind of scared me. I thought, "My fingers shouldn't be in pain. This feels really weird."
Marc Baizman: Yeah. That's not great.
Katie McFadden: I know. So I would do my day job nine to five, and then all evening long I would just kind of voraciously eat up everything I could online about, "What's a contact? What's an account? How do you import data? How do you architect objects?" And all this stuff. So yeah, I Googled everything and I had a bunch of use cases and needs at this nonprofit, so I used that as an excuse to learn all this stuff.
Marc Baizman: That's pretty cool. So tell me about how Salesforce is different for nonprofits. That's obviously a leading question, but you can ... Maybe not necessarily the technology itself, but maybe there's an application or two that might be unique to nonprofits.
Katie McFadden: Yeah, there might be an application out there.
Marc Baizman: I've heard.
Katie McFadden: Yeah. The application for nonprofits is called The Nonprofit Success Pack. And if we think of Salesforce as the platform, so it's the fundamental, all the tools that you get to build out a system, then The Nonprofit Success Pack is a layer on top of that, that basically it already understands and knows the types of things that nonprofits need, like households, donations, the things that we all share as nonprofits. And I say it kind of wrangles the way that salesforce.com or the business world uses Salesforce to fit those needs.
Marc Baizman: Awesome. Are there any kind of key distinctions that The Nonprofit Success Pack does that maybe stands out as opposed to the way that native Salesforce operates?
Katie McFadden: Sure. So yeah, a lot of The Nonprofit Success Pack functionality is fundraising focused, so we've got contacts, accounts, and households, and then we've got grants, in kind gifts, matching gifts, all these things that nonprofits do. And then there's also marketing tools that are maybe less nonprofit specific, and there's also talk about doing some program management, so things that are less consistent from nonprofit to nonprofit aren't in the application right now, but they're trying to get in as much as possible.
Marc Baizman: Sounds great. And you mentioned households, so that's a record type on the account, object to track information about where people live, right?
Katie McFadden: Correct. Yep. So we can track people in these groupings and know these children are part of this household. We can also track relationships within households, which one's the spouse, which one's the brother, the sister, all that.
Marc Baizman: Got it. Sounds good. So we've talked a little bit about consulting to nonprofits and how it differs from maybe working with other types of customers. Can you talk a little bit more about those different functional areas? So fundraising, program management, and then the volunteer management piece. I know that salesforce.org also provides an app to help with that as well.
Katie McFadden: Right. So as part of The Nonprofit Success Pack, there's the Volunteers for Salesforce app, and that helps nonprofits manage just their fleet of volunteers, right? So you've got to have applications, you've got to have online signups, people updating the shifts that they want to be part of. So all of that is managed by this app called Volunteers for Salesforce.
Marc Baizman: And is that an app on the App Exchange if somebody just wanted to install it?
Katie McFadden: It is, yeah. And it's also part of the core Nonprofit Success Pack. So whether you're using the NPSP, I'll call it just for short, whether you're using NPSP or you want the Volunteers app separately, you can get it either way.
Marc Baizman: Great. And if folks want the NPSP, there's a whole separate installer process to get that thing, right? That's not just an App Exchange install.
Katie McFadden: Correct. Yep. There's a whole application process for nonprofits to say, "Hey, I'm a nonprofit. I'd like to get the free donated licenses," and that'll set you up with The Nonprofit Success Pack if you wish, right out of the gates.
Marc Baizman: Fantastic. That's great. I'd love to know maybe a little more about you and what role folks have played in your career growth over time. It sounds like you kind of started in this nonprofit, maybe worked for some other nonprofits, and you're now the co-owner of a consulting company. So your career has grown quite a bit. What role did folks play in that?
Katie McFadden: Sure. So I would say I would give major props to my friend Sam Foss. He played probably the most important role in my whole growth spurt here. So after I was working at the student exchange organization, just found out that I loved doing this sort of work, finding out requirements and building things in Salesforce, I had this thought of, "You know, maybe I want to be in consulting, because then I can do this all day long." And at the time I was counseling teenagers studying in the US, so I love exchange students, but they can be very difficult when they have issues.
Marc Baizman: Sure.
Katie McFadden: I didn't really want to go back to that, so I was thinking about that. And then I went to Dreamforce that year, and I was going to the Green Day concert. Every Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference has-
Marc Baizman: It's also the annual Salesforce concert, by the way.
Katie McFadden: True. Some people focus on the concert.
Marc Baizman: Yeah. Apparently there's a conference that goes on.
Katie McFadden: Apparently.
Marc Baizman: But we're there for the concert.
Katie McFadden: Exactly. So this year is Green Day. They always have big headliner bands, and I was waiting in line to take a bus to AT&T Park to see this concert, and the person behind me, there was this man behind me who just said kind of casually, "So how's your Dreamforce going?" And it turns out he's from abroad, which as someone who works in student exchange and has traveled quite a bit, was quite exciting. He's from Cape Town, South Africa, and he works at a nonprofit consulting firm in Cape Town doing exactly what I wanted to do. So we ended up chatting. We chatted a bunch that evening, because we were both going on the same concert. And after a while he said, "Well, if you ever want to come out to Cape Town and learn how to do consulting, let us know. You can come live with my family, and we'd put you up and everything." So a few months afterwards I-
Marc Baizman: That's amazing.
Katie McFadden: I know.
Marc Baizman: Let's pause for a minute. That's amazing. That's pretty cool.
Katie McFadden: I know. It was such luck that we were in the line and right next to each other, and in a conference with literally thousands and thousands, tens and thousands of people that we connected. So months later, I was ready to make the switch to consulting, and I basically called them up and I said, "Hey, does that offer still stand? Can I ask you a bit?" Got to vet this guy, make sure that he is who he says he is. But I went through that whole process and I did exactly what he proposed. I lived with this family. I'm good friends with his kids, and I went and worked at their consultancy, and it was neat because I didn't know much about consulting, but I knew a fair amount about Salesforce, and they had consultants but they didn't know much about Salesforce. So I was able to offer a lot, and they threw me straight into projects, and that's how I learned how to consult.
Marc Baizman: That's fantastic. And you did this from their offices in South Africa?
Katie McFadden: Yep. I was in Cape Town for two months, and then I worked for them remotely when I came back to the US.
Marc Baizman: Very, very cool. So what an amazing introduction, and thank you Sam, for all the you that you did to get Katie on board. And it sounds like you were also able to provide a lot of value back to them. Super cool. So what was the hardest part of that and maybe just of your journey generally?
Katie McFadden: Yeah. Let's say there were two parts in all of this that were hardest for me. One was learning about Salesforce in the Wild West days, so not so much a challenge ... Well, a different type of challenge for people now. There's almost too many resources now. Back then there weren't enough. That was tricky, to really figure out what I needed and qualify the knowledge that I was able to find and just try things out. So that was one of the challenging phases.
Katie McFadden: And then another challenging phase was my first year of consulting. So when I came back from Cape Town, I ended up working at another firm here based in the US, and the first year was tough. There's just so much nuance to consulting that's not just technical. I remember being on a call, and setting up my calls, and thinking, "What headphones do I wear?" You know, even the simplest things, they seem-
Marc Baizman: It's the perennial consulting challenge, by the way.
Katie McFadden: Absolutely. So there were just so many little things I had to figure out before I could feel comfortable. And how do you get comfortable with not knowing the answers all the time? I felt like I had to know every answer at that stage, and so there were a lot of lessons learned in that first year.
Marc Baizman: That's great. That's great. So I'd love to hear maybe, what's your kind of role in the community? And I'm using community pretty generally, because I know there are a couple of different communities that you're active in. So I'd love to maybe hear about that a little bit, too.
Katie McFadden: Sure. So I've been a big advocate and lover of the Salesforce community, because I do think it is a lifeline in this space. I remember someone told me a long time ago, they said, "You know, Katie, there used to be a time when one person could know everything about Salesforce." And that just blew my mind. How is that even possible? But back in the day it was that simple. But now it's grown to such an extent, I mean, Mark Benioff, the CEO, he doesn't know everything about Salesforce. Literally no one does. And so we've become pretty reliant on each other to figure out what we need to know, and that's what got me into the community. I just needed to ask questions and connect. And so since then I've been involved in certainly the local user group. I found them online, and made a lot of friends through that community. I've also been involved in community led open source aspects of The Nonprofit Success Pack.
Marc Baizman: Oh, say more about that. That sounds really interesting.
Katie McFadden: Yeah. So The Nonprofit Success Pack is actually an open source package or app. And that means that they're very open to receiving feedback from the community, and even contributions. And the neat thing about that is that we can get together as a community and define our needs, and actually put together, "What's most useful?" And say, "Here, this is what we want. Can you include it?" So that's something that I've been part of in terms of documentation. So a bunch of us identified, "We really need some more videos to document the different features, because it's hard to tell what things do just by reading these long knowledge articles." And so we started what's called the NPSP videography committee, and we put together a bunch of videos with Salesforce's help, salesforce.org, and now that's a thriving committee. There's a bunch of members and we go through creating videos on a quarterly basis.
Marc Baizman: That is amazing. How many videos are there?
Katie McFadden: At this point, probably 30 to 40.
Marc Baizman: Wow. That's amazing.
Katie McFadden: Yeah.
Marc Baizman: That is really, really cool.
Katie McFadden: Yeah. So that was just a blending of talents. I had some videography background and people would offer their voices for our videos, and we all came together to make that happen, and it's still going on now.
Marc Baizman: Oh. That is so cool. That that leads me to my next question, which is, what are some cool things that you built, or maybe some other cool things that you built in addition to these videos?
Katie McFadden: Sure. There's so many fun projects over the years. One thing that I love about being a nonprofit consultant is that I get to learn about all these missions, that a lot of them, I don't know anything about, and they're very diverse. So just a few that come to mind. I worked with an organic farming certification, actually still work with them, and I put together this whole online community for their farmers, their producers to log in and submit their organic farming requirements, and in the process learned how strict and rigid all the government regulations are for the organic certifications. That was exciting. Yeah, so that was a neat project. Also, the nonprofit I used to work with, we also had a community and we built some really slick kind of forms and ways for people to log in and view information about host families and students and their assignments. So that was probably still to date, even though I've been consulting for years, probably one of the most complex Salesforce instances I've ever worked on.
Marc Baizman: Is it because you built it and it's the best?
Katie McFadden: Well, we did work with consultants. I can't take all the credit.
Marc Baizman: Oh, okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. What are some of your favorite Salesforce or Nonprofit Success Pack or Volunteers for Salesforce features that you like?
Katie McFadden: Oh, there's so many. So Salesforce features, these days, I'm really getting into these front end features, the features that interface with the users. So a lot of building Salesforce is getting the foundation right and having the right records and fields and all that, but something that we often don't spend as much time on because it's not as critical, but it has such a big impact, is the user side. So making beautiful pages. We're all kind of UX designers, user experience designers now with the tools that we have from recent releases, and so I'm really having a fun time designing pages that are intuitive for users, and then also building flows, which is a Salesforce tool to build a wizard so you can walk a user through a multistep process.
Marc Baizman: That is great. We even did a whole little flow campaign, so definitely check that out. So I'd love for you to give advice to maybe other admins or even other consultants out there who don't work with nonprofits and maybe want to, and other admins. Again, could be nonprofit admins, could be for profit admins. Just any advice that you have.
Katie McFadden: Sure. Well, my overall advice to folks living and navigating the Salesforce world is to keep asking questions. In my experience, there's a lot to understand, which can feel daunting, but once you've gotten connected to the community through various channels, user groups, community sprints, we have NPSP days, or even online in the Power of Us hub or the Trailblazer community, once you really connect with other people, I think that's when your Salesforce career kind of comes alive. And so just keep figuring out what you want and asking people, and everyone will sort of usher you in the right direction. For profit folks interested in the nonprofit community, I think that it's a tricky transition, and so it's another one where I'd say ask around, collect experience, because I think some people think ... The transition's easier than they think. There's lots of opportunities for being involved in pro bono projects and having guidance from people who do know the nonprofit space and learning that way. So I always recommend that people check those opportunities out.
Marc Baizman: Got it. Maybe partner up with somebody who does have experience before jumping in.
Katie McFadden: Exactly right.
Marc Baizman: Got it. And then one final question for you, which is, what's a fun thing that you do when maybe you're not doing Salesforce consulting? Just something fun that you do on the side?
Katie McFadden: Well, timely question. I'm actually in the process of getting my scuba diving certification right now.
Marc Baizman: Wow, that's pretty cool.
Katie McFadden: It's pretty cool. So I'm the daughter of astronomers, and I figure scuba diving is the closest to being in space that I might ever get to in my lifetime. Who knows? I'm relatively young, so I shouldn't say, but breathing underwater where I can turn in 360 degrees in any direction is going to be a pretty trippy experience. And I haven't taken my first breath underwater yet. That's happening this weekend.
Marc Baizman: Oh my goodness. Well congratulations, and daughter of astronomers. I have to ask, are there any stars or galaxies or nebulae that are named after your parents, that they discovered?
Katie McFadden: That's such a good question. Yes. Both of my parents have a star named after them.
Marc Baizman: What?
Katie McFadden: It's my mom and my stepdad, and my mom actually has an asteroid named after her.
Marc Baizman: That is amazing. I guess we'll get the link to those in the show notes.
Katie McFadden: If anyone's interested, you can also Google my mom, Lucy McFadden. She's kind of a big deal.
Marc Baizman: Wow. That is really cool. How about that, Katie? I did not know that about you. That's cool. Well, I think that's about all the time we have for today, but thank you so much for joining me and enlightening all of us on the role of the Salesforce consultant, and just a delight to talk to you. Thank you.
Katie McFadden: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Marc Baizman: You bet.
Marc Baizman: I'm so glad we were able to talk with Katie today. She had a ton of great insight into the nonprofit world. Most nonprofits have complex business processes just like Katie talked about. The goal of the consultant is to help create that vision for the technology that supports the organization's mission and then help turn that vision into a reality. Of course, that takes time and a lot of learning and experience. When Katie pitched her first Salesforce solution to her boss at student exchange back in those pre-Trailhead days, Google was our main resource, along with using her own use cases and needs and getting hands on with how she learned.
Marc Baizman: And from there she really dug deeper into helping others answer that, but how do we do that? Critical question. Katie says the community is our lifeline, and she is so totally right. Gathering together and making connections in the community is, as you all know, hugely important in this ecosystem. If you're a nonprofit, then you have access to the Power of Us hub, and even if you're not a nonprofit, you can join the Nonprofits Using Salesforce Group in the Trailblazer community. As The Nonprofit Success Pack is an open source solution, it allows the community to get together, exchange ideas, and give feedback. And Katie, along with others, created some amazing videos to help people learn the NPSP, and we've shared that link below here.
Marc Baizman: Thanks so much, Katie. We can't wait to hear about all the other amazing things you'll do.