What Are You Thankful For?

GivingTuesday is coming up soon. And regardless of whether there’s any official activity in your community, you can still give of your time, talents or dollars, to those less fortunate. Dig deep. Think about what you have, and how you got to where you are today. I’m sure you’ll discover an organization whose mission is to support a cause that’s important to you.

For me, that’s Project Night Night. 15 years ago I began a journey through the darkest part of my life. My family and I struggled financially – we kept the power on in our home and kept food on the table, but we couldn’t always pay the mortgage or many of the other obligations we had. Somehow, we survived and even managed to keep our home. But for much of that time, I felt like we could have been just days or minutes away from homelessness.

What turned things around for us, was me stumbling into a job that became my entry point into the Salesforce ecosystem. It was really pure luck, and being at the right place and time. And from one person seeing something inside me, and giving me a chance at a new start to my career. (Thanks Pauline!) Shortly after that I was introduced to the Salesforce Community, and that’s when my career really started to blossom. Within a year, I started a local Salesforce Community group, and a year later I launched the very first Midwest Dreamin’, a Salesforce Community-led Conference. In 2012, I hosted the first Newbie “Reunion” Breakfast at Dreamforce – the event that became known as “The Bacon Breakfast.” Then, in 2013, I was named a Salesforce MVP for the first time, and it was at the 2013 Salesforce MVP Summit when I first met Project Night Night.

As soon as I discovered Project Night Night’s mission, it touched me deep in my heart, because I realized that the children they help, could have been my children – we were that close to homelessness. Project Night Night’s mission is to provide free Night Night Packages to homeless children from birth to pre-teen who need our childhood essentials to have a concrete and predictable source of security and increased exposure to high-quality literacy materials during this time of upheaval. Each Night Night Package contains a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag. Put simply, the Night Night Packages provided by Project Night Night may be the only thing a child in homelessness had that they can truly call their own. It helps provide a sense of security, no matter where the child lays their head down every night.

They can’t fulfill their mission alone…won’t you please help me support the children of homelessness by supporting Project Night Night, by making a donation today?

3 Things You Might Not Know about Declarative Webhooks

The Growing Salesforce Ecosystem

Of the 76,000+ Salesforce certified professionals, Administrators are growing at a rapid pace: 37% a year! For reference, that’s the 4th highest occupation rate growth in the United States. The fourth highest! At the same time, Salesforce implementations requiring at least one integration with an external application are on the rise.  Oftentimes these integrations require custom code just to send data out of Salesforce.  So why are there so few tools in the Salesforce AppExchange, solving for this frequent business issue, that are built specifically for Admins? That’s exactly the question the team behind Declarative Webhooks asked. And furthermore, why spend thousands of dollars on custom development or learning a new off-platform app when you could implement a 100% native, fully declarative, but extremely robust tool that any Admin can use?  

A Brief History of Omnivo Digital

After 6 years of running Omnivo Digital, a Certified Salesforce Partner, and a combined 30+ years experience with the platform, Adam Zuckerman, Jason Sun, and Lucian Ciobanu recognized multiple opportunities in the marketplace. The first one they wanted to tackle? Integrations.  After having implemented custom integrations for hundreds of Salesforce projects and having to write custom APEX code to support many, including relatively simple integrations, they thought, “Why do Admins have to search for external solutions or hire developers to resort to custom code when they want to connect Salesforce to third party apps?”,  “Why is there an Outbound Message feature in Salesforce that only supports SOAP and not REST, the more popular framework for integrations and exchanging data these days?”, and finally “Why are we having to write custom code for so many of our integrations?”

So, they took their extensive experience with Salesforce development and cross-platform integration and developed Declarative Webhooks to solve this problem.  

Here are 3 things you might not know about Declarative Webhooks. 

  • It has a fully declarative interface. True to its name, the Declarative Webhooks tool is one that any Admin can use to build integrations between Salesforce and external systems. The point-and-click experience is key to accessibility, low cost, and time-to-implement, all the things we value in the growing Salesforce ecosystem.
  • You can build JSON from parent-child relationships and apply filters using SOQL. Declarative Webhooks enables Admins to easily create Callout Templates and data structures using an intuitive JSON Builder. Admins can apply filters with an easy-to-use interface or with custom SOQL, if desired.  They can also map data from both related parent objects and child related lists (with filters on child records too!) in the JSON data structure. Additionally, users can use a response builder to trigger multiple response actions. Did I mention you can integrate with platforms no matter what kind of authorization  method their API requires?
  • You can implement a callout in a button, flow, process builder, or scheduled batch. No matter what requirements your business or users have, Declarative Webhooks can flex to meet them. Whether you want to automatically trigger a webhook with a flow or process builder, run them on a schedule, or give your users a button to make the callout themselves, the choice is at your fingertips. 

The Hook about Declarative Webhooks

So next time you have a use case where you need to integrate your Salesforce with an external application, before hitting the custom development panic button, give Declarative Webhooks a try!  With the free tier, you can create a callout template and up to 100 callouts per month to take the tool for a test drive. 

3 Things You May Not Know About Mulesoft Composer

Mulesoft Composer became generally available for Salesforce customers in mid-March, in the middle of the pandemic. And even with the lack of normalcy in the world, it didn’t go unnoticed. 

“The idea behind MuleSoft Composer is to give business teams a simple way to leverage data any way necessary to create new digital services.”

Data Integration Solutions News

A Brief History

Mulesoft was founded in 2006, as MuleSource. In 2009 the name was changed to Mulesoft. Over the next several years the company became a leader in the application integration space, with continuous  growth and innovation, and was acquired by Salesforce in 2018. Mulesoft Composer became generally available in March, 2021. 

Here’s 3 things you might not know about Mulesoft Composer. 

  1. Mulesoft Composer is code-free, point & click 

Mulesoft Composer is helping to grow citizen developers with its code-free, point & click environment that previews connections as you build them. Wow – a preview of the connections as you build them. That certainly solves the problem that end users don’t always know what data they want to integrate until they see it, and since it’s also point & click, those citizen developers (end users) don’t have to wait for IT teams to build those integrations either! 

Mulesoft Composer screen shot
  1. Business Technologists are power users

According to a Gartner report, the number of business technologists will exceed the number of IT professionals by a factor of 4 within the next 2 years. Mulesoft Composer was built specifically with the line-of-business (LOB) end user, the power user, the Business Technologist, in mind. This empowers end users to help IT teams better scale the organization as it grows.

  1. Speeds Integrations & boost collaboration with pre-built Connectors

WIth many pre-built connectors, it is fast and easy to connect data from applications like NetSuite, Workday, Slack, Google Sheets, Tableau CRM, and Salesforce. And since Mulesoft Composer is built on the Anypoint Platform, it shares the same enterprise-grade runtime, security, governance & scalability capabilities, which helps to boost collaboration between lines of business (LOB) and IT.

Mulesoft Composer Use Cases

So…what are you waiting for? Just think of all the amazing things your business could be doing thanks to Mulesoft Composer. Want to learn more about the amazing capabilities of Mulesoft Composer, check out these product spotlights, then contact Salesforce to get started. 

5 Things You Might Not Know About SharinPix

Now I know what you’re thinking…photos in my CRM? That’s crazy talk. First off, why would I need photos in CRM? And second, won’t that eat up all my storage space?

Yeah, I thought both those things at first too. Then I discovered SharinPix. 

SharinPix not only makes it easy to bring the power of images to Salesforce, you can do it without writing a line of code, offering it to your customers, field service workers, agents, marketing team, community or any other Salesforce user.

Here’s five things you might not know about SharinPix.

  • Vision: Let’s start by examining the vision of SharinPix. According to their website, their vision is to empower users with advanced image management features, leverage the capabilities of Salesforce with integrated image usage, and automate business processes that start with image content. Breaking that down some, since the popularization of the smartphone, people have been taking pictures every day for a wide variety of reasons, including: to share on social media with family and friends, to prove or explain something or to save time on note-taking.
Young people watching a live streaming. Social media concept.
  • Unlimited Storage: SharinPix doesn’t store your photos in your Salesforce instance. Rather they are stored securely via their Album Component in a way that doesn’t count against your Salesforce limitations. This method enables SharinPix to offer all its customers unlimited storage, so you can use all the images you need to, whenever you need them. And you can do this regardless of how you use Salesforce: Classic, Lightning or Mobile.
  • Many Use Cases: SharinPix helps with retail execution. Imagine you’re a beverage supplier with hundreds of reps working sales routes in the field, and the corporate office requires these reps to submit photos of stock and special displays at every store they service and every competitor they encounter. WIth SharinPix, your field sales reps simply take photos that showcase their displays and highlight what competitors are doing. SharinPix handles the rest. Using Einstein Object Detection, the retail display images are automatically analyzed to extract the insights you need, stored in a custom object in Salesforce. Managers get near real time access to the work the reps are doing, and the reps don’t have to spend their evenings renaming and uploading files. SharinPix helps with field service, marketing, image design & validation for franchises and much more. 
  • Not Just an Image App: Since SharinPix comes in many forms, including Lightning Components, Visualforce pages and even HTML5 components, you can drag and drop SharinPix onto any Salesforce record page and start using it immediately, whether at your desk or on the go. And SharinPix can be even part of your branded experience for your community users. But wait, there’s more! Need to update a field in Salesforce when an image gets added or updated? You can do that with workflows!
  • Pricing and Plans for Everyone: No matter what your SharinPix usage is, there’s a plan for you. The Basic Plan includes unlimited storage, the desktop experience and basic image format. The Premium Plan also includes the Mobile Online Experience, which is required for the Salesforce Mobile App. The Premium Plan also includes Extended Image Format, Annotation, Tag & Search, Images as Salesforce Fields and Records & more. The Enterprise Plan also includes the Mobile Offline Experience, smart components with image features for smart implementation, Smart Document Scanning, Smart PDF Generation, Smart Google Maps with Checkpoints and Annotations, Smart PDF to Salesforce fields and more!

You can learn more and start a free 14 day trial on the Salesforce AppExchange.

5 Things You May Not Know About Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews

For sales teams, success depends on the pipeline and winning deals.  But managing the sales pipeline today is full of frustrations.  Poor visibility, bad data, and insufficient reporting mean that pipeline reviews are inefficient at best, and more typically frustrating and unsatisfying experiences for everyone.  Basic questions like “What has changed?” or “What deals are going to close?” are left incomplete or unanswered.

Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews, a native app in Salesforce, is game changing for pipeline reviews. It gives sales reps, managers and executives quick access to powerful views in order to inspect and manage the pipeline they own or oversee. They can stop the guesswork, stop the spreadsheets and custom reporting, stop the endless clicking, and focus on winning.

Here are 5 things you may not know about Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews:

1. Immediately know what has changed

The first question in most Pipeline Review meetings is “What’s Changed?” , which is surprisingly hard for most teams to answer!  The Pipeline Flow view in Akoonu is built to clearly answer this question.  It is the perfect starting point for any sales manager or executive to dig into the pipeline.
In this view, the deal changes are analyzed for a specific time.  For example, it will summarize how the Current Quarter’s deals have changed in the last 7 days.   The results are presented in two easy to digest ways: 1) a flow chart depicts new deals, wins, losses, pushes, pulls and value changes, and 2) a waterfall chart clearly illustrates how these changes impacted the overall pipeline number.

2. “Cross Object” Filters and Groupings 

Sales Ops could spend all of their time creating custom reports, but never fully satisfy the needs of how sales management would like to view their pipeline.  Things change, different people want to look at things in different ways.  Two powerful capabilities in Akoonu allow users to focus on exactly what opportunities they want to review, eliminating the endless streams of custom reporting requests.

First, users can add any number of filters to their views.  They can select a part of their team hierarchy, and can include filters on any opportunity field, any field from related objects (like the Account or Owner), and even any Product field. For advanced users, Custom Logic can be applied to craft the perfect view.

Second, users can choose how to group and summarize deals in the List View.  Again, users have the choice of grouping on any Opportunity field, any field on related objects, or any Product fields.  Sub-totals summarize the pipeline value for each group, and users can use “nested groupings” and layer subtotals to an unlimited depth.

3. Support your Sales Process with embedded components and configurable Actions

One of the primary objectives of pipeline review meetings is to evaluate the status of each opportunity, guide and coach reps to the next appropriate action, and enforce compliance of the company’s sales process.  

Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews can be customized to deeply support any sales process, be it a variation of industry standards like BANT or MEDDIC, or something completely homegrown.  This is enabled through the use of embedded UI components.  Organizations can create new Lightning Components, or use existing ones, directly in the Akoonu user interface creating a seamless, guided experience for sales reps and managers.  

Additionally, user Actions can be created to trigger Lightning Flows, Lightning Components, record edits, and more to put the reps’ key activities directly in the app.

4.  Guided Setup and Configuration App

Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews is highly configurable, and comes with a fully featured setup and configuration app for system administrators.  Every setting and option are available in this UI with contextual help content, eliminating the confusion and errors of directly editing configuration metadata.

Starting with a “Click to Configure” launching point, organizations can be fully configured in no time.  

5.  Data Security:  Data never leaves the Salesforce Platform

Most tools that provide sophisticated analysis of Salesforce data work “off platform”, exporting or syncing data to outside systems and applications to do complex analysis.  Not Akoonu.  Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews works in Salesforce, in real-time, with algorithms specifically built to perform and scale within the limitations and restrictions of being native in the Salesforce platform.  

Customer data stays locked down, in-place, within Salesforce’s secure Cloud, and Akoonu users don’t experience any of the data-syncing headaches and Info Sec concerns typical when connecting to outside applications.

Want to see Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews in action?  Both a Test Drive and a 30 day trial are available from the Salesforce AppExchange listing.

It’s All About Perspective

I’ve always thought that I was the kind of person who could empathize with those in different situations and from different backgrounds the me. I was raised in an upper middle class, predominantly white neighborhood, by 2 parents with 1 sibling. I had a nice childhood.

I never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from. I never had to worry about being too cold or too hot. My family could afford everything we needed, and much of what we wanted.

Growing up, my friends and classmates, as well as most of the population surrounding me, all looked like me. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started to experience the true diversity of the human race.

There were so many different colors of people, in both the literal sense and the figurative sense. I saw their struggles for attention. I saw their struggles to stay fed and warm. I saw their struggles to move around freely in a society that seemed to not care about almost anyone who’s upbringing and background was different.

In my eyes, we were all human. We all deserved our space on earth, and we all deserved the opportunity for a healthy and happy life – based on how ever we defined that for ourselves.

Once in college, I quickly made friends who didn’t look like me. Building relationships just came easy for me.

After graduating, I entered the world of the working people – I had good jobs at good companies. I had friends, food on the table whenever I wanted it, and a roof over my head. I could come and go as I pleased, without any real challenges.

Life was good.

Last weekend, I had an accident. It was caused by my own carelessness, I was trying to do something on my own that I really should have had help with. But I just wanted it done, so I set out to do it on my own.

I was making progress towards my goal, moving about the room, from ladder to ladder. And then, bam! I missed a rung on the ladder and went crashing to the floor about 4 feet below where my feet once were planted.

My hip struck the floor first, and within a nano second, I broke the rest of my fall with my arm.

Things hurt.

I laid there on the floor of our new shed for a minute or two, covered by the batt of insulation that came down on top of me.

I stood up. I walked around the room a bit. Nothing really hurt too bad, so I grabbed the insulation and the heavy duty stapler again and started to climb the ladder. As I lifted the insulation over my head, I discovered more pain. I could no longer do what I wanted to do. It hurt too much.

And yet, I chose not to seek medical attention because I figured if something was broken, it would hurt a lot worse than it was.

Over the next 4 days, the visible signs of the injuries grew. The bruising got larger, and more ugly by the hour. The pain in my hip was tolerable, but the pain in my shoulder was past the point where I could stand it without medication. Sleeping comfortably didn’t exist anymore. It became difficult to lift a glass of water or hold a fork full of food in my right hand. (It has always been a little difficult to do that in my left hand, as my right hand is the dominant one.)

I quickly began to realize just how difficult life must be for those with visible or invisible physical challenges.

I called my primary care provider who sent me to get X-rays done of my hip and shoulder. The X-rays showed a severe bruising of my hip and an avulsion fracture of the greater tuberosity in my shoulder. Huh? What? So that means the part of my shoulder where the tendons connect my rotator cuff to my shoulder muscles was fractured. Cracked.

See that gap inside the red circle? Yeah – that’s not supposed to be there. Of course for a fractured shoulder the treatment is to immobilize it. So now I have to wear a sling and an abductor pillow for at least 21 days to help restrict the movement of my shoulder, in hopes it will heal on its own. And if it doesn’t, surgery is likely in my future.

Doesn’t that look comfortable? And did I mention the Orthopedic doctor said I should wear it 24/7 except when I’m taking a shower?

I’m normally a stomach sleeper, with my right arm folded and up underneath my head. There’s no way I would be able to sleep like that with this sling on. Needless to say, I haven’t been sleeping as good or as much as I normally do due to the discomfort, no, due to the pain and agony in both my shoulder and my hip.

Enough about me and my injury. None of that is really the point of this post.

What I quickly discovered was that many of the things I needed to do on a daily basis were much more difficult than then were just a few days earlier. As I mentioned earlier, what were once simple tasks – changing clothes, using the rest room, eating, getting in and out of a vehicle – were no longer simple.

I had to have help fastening my pants because I couldn’t button them or close the zipper with just my left hand. Eating a meal took much longer than before, and if the food needed cut into bites & that couldn’t be done with just a fork, yep, I needed help with that too.

I discovered quickly that I had taken for granted the fact that I could so these simple things…and now I couldn’t, without help or without significant pain and moving the shoulder that was supposed to stay immobilized.

I know plenty of people who have different levels of physical abilities. Some who have been forced to deal with that their entire life, and others that began more recently as a result of an accident or illness. And now I was along the population of those differently abled.

I now have a new appreciation for being able to take care of myself. And I have a new appreciation for those who struggle with disabilities, whether visible or invisible, every single moment of their lives.

I’ve gained a new level of empathy and respect after walking a mile in the shoes of the differently abled.

I’m grateful that it was only a fractured shoulder, because if I had broken my hip, my road to recover would most certainly be a much longer and more difficult one.

You never know what curves life will throw your way, so make sure you are always grateful for what you have. And please treat those who are different than you, with respect, dignity and empathy.

A Job Search, Decision-Making Guide: Checking Off All The Boxes

job search

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Salesforce Admin, Architect, Developer, or End User. I’m sure there have been times in your life and career where you created a list for some reason. A shopping list; a to-do list; a list of step-by-step instructions; or even a pros vs. cons list. Lists help us keep organized. Lists help us teach others. Lists help us to not forget something. And lists even help us make life-altering decisions like how to evaluate the results of a job search.

A Job Search – Now I Have Your Attention!

Yes, that’s right. You guessed it. I’ve searched for a new job and am making a job change. For those of you who are really observant, you may have noticed some subtle changes to my social profiles over the past few weeks. I’m moving the bulk of my work energies away from ITequality, the fantastically diverse Registered Salesforce Consulting partner that I’ve called home for the past 10 months. It’s been a fun ride there, and I’ve accomplished what I set out to do there – primarily kicking off marketing efforts and helping set the organization up for growth and more success. And me moving on also gives the company the opportunity to help bring more new talent into the ecosystem.

C’mon Eric, Tell Us Where You Are Going!

Not so fast! First let me explain the job search process I went through. I bet some of you are thinking, “Please don’t talk about that, everyone knows how to go to Indeed.com and search for Salesforce Administrator, or whatever job title you are looking for.” And while that’s one way to search for a job, it’s not the one I used.

And now some of you are probably thinking, “so you went to Salesforce.com/careers, or direct to any number of company websites.” Once again, that is one job search tactic, and once again, it’s not the one I used.

Quit Teasing Us! Tell Us Where You Are Going!

Patience, my friends! I’m not done explaining exactly how I searched for my next role. Many of you probably know me as the “Kevin Bacon of the Salesforce Ecosystem”. Or perhaps you know me as the Founder of Midwest Dreamin’, a Salesforce Community-led Conference started in 2011 to bring people together to network and learn Salesforce. Or maybe you have seen me present at any number of events (Community-led conferences, Community Group meetings, Dreamforce, etc.) where my catch phrase has always been “For me, the greatest strength of the Salesforce ecosystem is it’s people, and the connections that are shared.”

That’s where I started my search – with my connections.

A Select Few – The Targeted Email Campaign

I started my job search by doing what some might call a rather unconventional approach. I thought about the hundreds of companies & thousands of people I know. I chose a very select few, those I felt that I trusted and know extremely well. I sent them a very simple email:

Hello <person name>, I don’t know if <company name> has any open roles that match what I’m looking for. I didn’t even check your website before sending this message. I simply wanted you to know I’m on the market for a new role, and wondered if we should have a conversation.

Surprising Results

The preliminary results of that campaign were very surprising. Most people not only read my email, but they responded. And they overwhelmingly responded with “Let’s talk.”

Over the next two weeks I had many wonderful conversations – I suppose I could have called them job interviews, especially since two of those conversations resulted in job offers. But because of the relationship I already had with the organizations and their people, these events felt more like casual conversations than stressful job interviews.

Was it a random thing, or was it destiny?

Then on a Friday afternoon, about a week into this job search process, I received a seemingly random LinkedIn message from the former Sr. Vice President of a company I had spent nearly 4 years at, working with this SVP for the first two of those years.

That message was very succinct: Hi Eric! I’m working at <Company “X”> now. We are expanding the marketing team as we scale up for growth. I’m wondering if you know of anyone with your stature in the Salesforce ecosystem who might be interested in a role very similar to the one you had when you were first hired at <former employer name>? Hope you and your family are well. Signed <Company “X” CMO>

My response to that was simple: Your timing is impeccable, as I’m looking for a new role. Let’s talk on Monday.

Did that just give it away?

Those of you who know me well, or those with a curious mind and the ability to do some searching have probably figured out part of the mystery. It shouldn’t take much sleuthing to figure out where I was hired close to 5 years ago. And with just a little more digging, you might even be able to figure out who the mystery person is that hired me back then (and did it again just a couple weeks ago.)

After a few conversations with this company’s team, I had a third offer sitting on the table – and had a monumental, life-changing decision to make.

We make tough choices all the time…

Life is full of tough choices – that’s something my Dad used to tell me a lot when I was growing up. And that was usually followed by, “Sometimes you just have to do things, whether you want to or not, because it’s your job.” Back then, he was referring to taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, cleaning my room, etc. All the typical things parents fuss at teenagers about.

As I got older and became a parent myself, I realized that my Dad was really teaching me how to make an important decision. And that’s exactly where I sat now – on the precipice of having to make a very important decision. So how do I do that? With a check list complete with boxes to put the “x” in. You do remember that the title of this blog said something about checking off all the boxes, right?

What’s in the box(es)?

Here’s where things get personal – your boxes may vary, because what’s important to me, may not be important to you. (And remember, just like most things in life, things change all the time. So what was important to you 5 years ago, may or may not be as important today.)

Show us your boxes already!

Ok, OK! Here’s my box(es)!

Ok, ok! Here’s my boxes – and I attempted to put them in priority order.

  1. What’s the company’s mission and is it something I would stand up for?
  2. Does the company value diversity, not only in it’s leadership team, but throughout everything they do? (Bonus points for having someone in a role with “Diversity” as part of their title, and even more bonus points for having ERGs [Employee Resource Groups] dedicated to diverse groups of people.)
  3. Who is on the team I would be a part of, do our personalities line up well, and who is my direct-line manager & what’s their management style?
  4. What’s my specific role within the organization, and how much authority will I have to do what I feel is right (without having to jump through a lot of hoops or approval chains first?) In other words – if I have an idea for something I think will work, can I simply make it happen, knowing that regardless of the outcome, my management team will be there for me?
  5. What if I want to learn new things, or attend conferences, once they start up as in-person events again? Will the company support those initiatives with either financial or time-off measures?
  6. Health Insurance & Benefits – I’ve got a family, and good medical/dental/vision coverage (that’s affordable) is important to me – as is NOT having to change providers because we like where we get our care from today.
  7. Compensation – what’s the salary? You know, the cash-in-my-pocket on pay day. And even beyond that, what about longer-term security for me and my family? Is there a 401(k), and how generous is the company match, if one exists?

Finally the announcement you’ve all be waiting for!

In the final analysis, I sent an email to the company whose offer I was turning down that said this:

Let me tell you that this has been by far, one of the most gut wrenching decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. Possibly only second to having to make the call to cancel Midwest Dreamin’ for 2020.

The conclusion I’ve come to, is that the other offer checks off all the boxes with a slightly heavier check mark than <Company “Y”>. So I am accepting the other offer.

And as you probably would have guessed, for me – it’s not all about the money either. As I discussed in our last call, there were a ton of factors weighing in on this choice, but please know, in the over-all analysis, there were no red-flags, not negatives about <Company “Y”>.

I really appreciate the time and effort you all put forth into this process. I think I’ve learned a few things from this too, and one of those is that, I really don’t like having to make a decision when it feels like I’m choosing between two friends.

I do hope you find someone to fill the role who will take <Company “Y”> to the next level…and you can bet I’ll be sharing the job posting out in my networks to see if anyone I know has an interest.

And the Winner is…<Company “X”>

Maria Pergolino! Uh, I mean ActiveCampaign! (Well, ok, it’s both, really.) Maria took a chance on me and hired me into the Marketing team as Advocacy Manager at Apttus in January, 2016. And now, whether it was a truly random chain of events, or a very calculated progression of her thoughts, Maria has hired me once again into a Marketing team that she is leading. This time into the role of Product Marketing Manager at ActiveCampaign. And I couldn’t be more excited to be going back home to work with Maria.

5 Things you may not know about FormAssembly

Form Builder

FormAssembly is an all-in-one web form builder and data collection platform.

With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop form builder, FormAssembly makes it simpler than ever to build sophisticated online forms. Users can change the layout and design of their forms to match their company’s unique branding for a seamless user experience, tailoring their forms to their specific use case and audience.

FormAssembly users can build an unlimited number of forms and collect an unlimited number of responses, which can all be found conveniently within the user’s FormAssembly account.

FormAssembly’s robust Salesforce integration helps Salesforce users get more out of their data.

With FormAssembly’s Salesforce connector, you can use form submissions to seamlessly set up records in Salesforce. FormAssembly can be used to create or update standard and custom objects, as shown below. This helps users avoid duplicate data. 

form builder

You can also prefill forms with data from Salesforce to streamline the data collection process for your customers. This robust integration helps Salesforce users eliminate tedious manual data entry and therefore save time, money, and resources. Visit FormAssembly on the Salesforce AppExchange to learn more.

FormAssembly also connects with other systems and tools, such as PayPal, Stripe, Mailchimp, and many others.

FormAssembly is suitable for endless use cases in all industries and departments, with helpful templates to help you get started.

Thousands of organizations in all industries trust FormAssembly for simple, secure data collection. FormAssembly’s versatile platform is used by large enterprises and small to mid-sized businesses alike, including financial services companies, healthcare organizations, higher education institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more. Because the platform is so customizable, it can be used in multiple departments of the same company, with endless use case potential.
FormAssembly’s recently updated Template Library makes it easy to start building sophisticated web forms, with customizable, ready-made templates for everything from secure payment forms to medical history forms. You may start FormAssembly for one specific use case, then find other use case ideas while looking through the Template Library. Below, you’ll see an example of a HIPAA medical form template:

form builder

FormAssembly prioritizes data privacy and security and is compliant with many data privacy regulations.

FormAssembly’s mission is to help its customers become better stewards of the data entrusted to them. With this mission in mind, FormAssembly offers encryption at rest and compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and PCI DSS Level 1 on all plans. FormAssembly’s Compliance Cloud plan is also compliant with HIPAA and GLBA, making it the ideal data collection platform for handling sensitive healthcare or financial information.

FormAssembly has a world-class Customer Success team.

When you read FormAssembly’s reviews on the Salesforce AppExchange, you’ll notice many mentions of their reliable Customer Success team. All customers receive unlimited world-class support, and Compliance Cloud customers receive priority support with 1-hour response times guaranteed 24/7 Monday through Friday.

FormAssembly offers Implementation Services for organizations that need extra support with customization and getting started. Packages include onboarding assistance, group training, and other options to help customers get the absolute most out of FormAssembly. FormAssembly also has extensive support documentation and helpful resources readily available for customers. 
Want to experience FormAssembly’s powerful, Salesforce-connected data collection platform for yourself? Sign up for a personalized demo or start a 14-day free trial today, no credit card required.

Does Your Data Tell Stories?

I’m going to show my age here…remember the joke:

Question: What time does your watch say? Answer: It doesn’t say anything, I have to read it.

It’s like that with data too:

Question: What stories do your data tell? Answer: They don’t tell anything, I have to analyze and interpret the data to figure that out.

I’ve spent a large portion of my career digging into data, analyzing it, searching for patterns, outliers and exceptions. Why? To help the organizations I was working for to better understand what was driving their business forward, what was holding it back, where they were spending too much money, where they were making a lot of money, and even why their competition gained market share while they lost it.

It took hours and hours to plow through all the data available for analysis in order to be able to answer questions like “Why is printer ink sales down in Modesto?” or “Why do we sell more Adidas than Nike in Chicago?” Even much more complex questions like “How many seats do we need to fill on a Boeing 757 flight from Chicago to San Francisco to break even, and at what average price per seat?” can be answered with the right data. At one of my prior roles, I spent nearly 3 weeks of every month simply prepping the data from the previous month so that I could answer questions like those just mentioned. And then, during that 4th week of each month, I spent my time defending my findings and data analysis to management as I presented the facts about the business that went against their gut feelings.

Of course all this happened early in my career, long before I was a Salesforce user.

When I first started using Salesforce, I built reports and dashboards to see how many times customers called in with certain types of issues relating to their software. I was able to determine how often specific customers called in for support and what they needed help with. That still took time, but it was quicker than my pre-Salesforce days, and often still required some additional analysis and word-smithing before sharing with management.

So that’s better, but still rather time-consuming.

Enter Lexio, from Narrative Science.

Lexio automates analysis and gives you the story hidden in your Salesforce data in plain English, in real-time, and in a way that helps you understand and act on it.

Now that’s your data telling you something!

Narrative Science calls that Data Storytelling. Sounds simple enough, right? Ok, you try to explain just exactly what Data Storytelling is…go!

Listen to what the people who work at Narrative Science have to say in this video.

Want to learn more? Visit with Narrative Science at Dreamforce.

The 2019 Dreamforce Survival Kit

Dreamforce. The name says it all – Dream!

Thousands upon thousands of people dream about attending each year, and once they finally get a taste of the annual Salesforce event, they feel this inexplicable force drawing them back year after year. 2019 will be my ninth year attending Dreamforce and my 7th year as a speaker. If I have my way, I will be returning to Dreamforce every year, year after year, just like the Monarch Butterfly’s annual return to Mexico, Florida and southern California, except that I fly on American Airlines and use BART, Lyft or Uber as my chosen modes of transportation.

Here are my top survival tips for first-time Dreamforce attendees:

Shoes – Wear comfortable shoes – You will walk more than you think. WAY more than you think. Many of the sessions are held in Moscone Center, which is actually three different buildings each with multiple floors of convention space. There are also sessions scattered about the city in various other locations – a movie theater and many hotels – some of them a good 15 minute walk from Moscone. If you are not used to walking a lot, get on a treadmill or get outside and start walking now! You might even want to bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes…just be sure they are not brand new. Breaking in new shoes at Dreamforce is a recipe for sore and tired feet!

Laptop – Leave the laptop at home – If you must bring it to San Francisco, leave it secured in the safe at your hotel room. You will quickly find that it becomes very heavy to carry around with you all day, even if it’s one of the ultralight laptops. Opt for a tablet if you have one or your smartphone if you are comfortable taking notes on a small device. Some people I know go totally old school and take notes in a notebook at Dreamforce! If you must bring your laptop, opt for a backpack or messenger-style bag that can cross your body, not just hang off one shoulder. You don’t want to end the week with a definitive lean to one side. (Please note – I do NOT always practice what I preach…and I usually pay the price for that.)

Clothing – Wear comfortable clothing – Be sure to dress in layers or bring a light jacket. San Francisco has beautiful weather nearly all year. It never really gets terribly hot or very cold, but with the proximity to the ocean, the chances for a breeze are pretty good, and once the sun goes down, the air could get a little chilly. It may be a little cooler than last year, since Dreamforce is in mid-November. AccuWeather currently shows Dreamforce week as having highs in the low 60s and lows in the upper 40s. That’s what I call camping weather, and its my favorite time of the year. (Hmm…that fits in nicely with Trailhead!)

Water – Don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated – Don’t get so busy with the event that you forget to eat. And by all means, keep drinking water too. (But please do so using a refillable water bottle to keep all the plastic out of the landfills and oceans!) Eating and drinking water is the best way to keep up your energy. Now I know what you’re thinking…if I drink a lot, I’ll need to use the bathroom a lot. That’s true. That’s also part of human nature. There’s time between sessions to find a bathroom, although the lines may be longer between sessions, so if you have a time-slot where you are not in a session, make a pit stop, even if you don’t feel the urge. I bet your body will thank you for it anyway. In past years, Dreamforce has created gender neutral bathrooms on the 2nd level of Moscone West – near room 2004; as well as in the Hilton Union Square and the Marriott Marquis.

Network –  a.k.a., talk to people – Don’t be scared. Talk to everyone you can. Talk to the person on your right when waiting in line to go into a session. Talk to the person sitting to your left once you get inside a session. When you take a break to eat lunch (included in your conference registration) be brave and sit near people you don’t know…and start a conversation! (Just don’t get so busy you forget about food and water! Remember the previous tip you just read?) With all the walking and mental exercise you’ll be getting during Dreamforce, you’ll need all the nourishment you can find! Back to talking to people – just do it. (Disclaimer – I know Nike uses this expression as part of their brand – I hope they don’t get too mad at me for using the sentence. At least I gave them credit for it!) People always say that outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. It’s the same for Dreamforce. If you are an introvert, make it a goal to meet one new person per day. That’s not too daunting, right? You never know who you might meet. Out of the 33,000 + people at my first Dreamforce in 2011, I managed to sit down for lunch at a table with one of my brother-in-law’s co-workers. And no, I did not know that before I sat at that table! (Cue the Walt Disney music: It’s a small world after all!) If you are shy, take the high-tech approach to networking. Bring a surge strip with you and hang out at a charging station between sessions – one surge strip could mean five instant connections.

After Hours – Dreamforce at Night – Be prepared for some long days. This isn’t just an 8am to 5pm conference. Sure that’s when most of the keynotes and breakout sessions occur, but there are also many opportunities for networking before and after those hours thanks to many partners sponsoring parties. Your one stop shop for all the parties at Dreamforce this year is The Ultimate Dreamforce Parties List from Salesforce Ben! And don’t forget about the Trailblazer Community, with its many Dreamforce related groups like “New to Dreamforce” and “Dreamforce Newbie Reunion Breakfast” (Shameless plug number 1: That’s a group that I am organize, and it’s purpose is to help Dreamforce first-timers make a connection or two, while helping to raise money for Project Night Night. Want to attend the breakfast on Tuesday, November 19th from 6:30am to 8:30am? Register here.) One more point about “after-hours”, and this one’s pretty important: don’t overdo it on the alcohol! You will need to be well rested for the next day’s activities at Dreamforce, and while alcohol may help you fall asleep, too much of it can make waking up in the morning more of a challenge. (Some people call me a “one-hit wonder”…one adult beverage, and then I’m onto water the rest of the night.)

Training – If you can, take advantage of the pre-conference training and certification opportunities, Dreamforce is the perfect opportunity for that too, and at a discounted price too! Once you get your certification, be sure to tweet it out with #ThisOneIsForYouTamiEsling, use the same hashtag in the Trailblazer Community and on Facebook too! Doing so will make your celebration of certification a tribute to the late Tami Esling, a Salesforce MVP who passed away on March 5th, 2016. Tami made it her mission to help people get certified, so help keep her memory alive!

Go Global – Dreamforce doesn’t just happen in San Francisco. Dreamforce happens all over the globe! Attend a Salesforce World Tour or Trailhead Live event in your area. Look here for an event near you. Join a Community group in your area and attend the meetings regularly. Look for awesome regional, Community led Salesforce events, and attend those too! The Trailblazer Community is an awesome way to expand your knowledge and increase not only your network of people, but also the resources you can count on to help you solve problems.

All Year Long – Dreamforce isn’t just a week during the year. Thanks to the Trailblazer Community it’s a perpetual event. Get active on the Community and share your struggles and your successes. Get connected with the people you will meet BEFORE you get to Dreamforce and make friends that last a lifetime!

So why do so many people attend Dreamforce year after year? In a word, because it is AWESOME!

Want to meet up with me at Dreamforce? Tweet me!