I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Nana Gregg

This is the thirty-fifth post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the Salesforce Certified Administrator and Certified Force.com Developer, one half of the Nerdforce Podcast, and one of the “Limits” of Apex and the Limits, Salesforce MVP Nana Gregg.

nana

What’s your job title? Senior Salesforce Administrator, BRG – now part of JLL (EFD – BRG – now part of JLL. Why do I feel like singing “With a moo moo here, and a moo moo there, here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo…E I E I O!)

What does that mean you do? A little bit of this, a little bit of that! Seriously though, Our company runs the entire business (from lead to project to finance) on the platform. We have just over 500 users, with 5 companies in our org which means 5 currencies and 5 sets of corporate ‘books’. I never was a Finance gal, but had to get up to speed quickly. It’s impossible to implement an accounting solution without that knowledge. We have a lot of custom objects built to eliminate manual (excel) processes and I *try* to do most everything declaratively! Reporting, formula fields and building custom objects are my FAVE! I have another Admin on my team and my boss has started Trailhead so he can lend a hand as well! It’s definitely a team effort. (EFD – I love how you are sharing the Trailhead love!)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I started as a Salesforce Admin in 2004 – I must have been about 12 at the time!  (EFD – That sounds about right!  I bet singing in the band helps keep you young.)

Bacon or sausage? It’s Bacon or Nothing!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? Ooh this is a good one. I really think it is a combination of the two. I would not be where I am today without the support of my family and the Salesforce Community. What do I know? I know I need to go ask one of my Community buddies if I can’t solve a problem!  See? They go hand in hand! (EFD – Groovy! I say it in every blog post I write for this series, and I’ll repeat it once again: For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared. And I will admit that they really do go hand in hand, and regardless of where you start, one leads to the other!)

How did our relationship start, and when? I saw your posts in the community and on twitter, and at Dreamforce 14, I signed up for the Meet the MVPs event in the Admin Zone. I remember standing there like a pre-teen fangirl SO incredibly excited to meet all of these people who had helped guide me! I didn’t get a selfie with you then, but am hoping for one this year! (EFD – I’m blushing now. This is the first time anyone said they were “fangirling” to meet me. Or did I misunderstand, and that was for MVPs in general? Selfie with Nana – hasn’t that happened already?  If not…lets DO IT at #DF16!)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? Hmm, surprise yall? A few years ago I won a Genuine 14 karat Gold plated Plastic Ship on a Stick during a Cruise for my karaoke rendition of Baby Got Back! (EFD – Hey!  Maybe you should start a band! Oh, wait….)

You can find Nana on Twitter and be sure to follow Apex and the Limits too!

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Selina Suarez

This is the thirty-fourth post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the Co-Leader of the New York City Women in Tech Group , Selina Suarez.

selinasuarez

 

What’s your job title? Director, Educational Product Development, INVISR (EFD – In case you don’t know – INVISR is a “new type of consulting partner, focused on innovation and customer success. INVISR uses cutting-edge development techniques and brings a fresh perspective into transforming your business. Our collective experience in cloud consulting led to the creation of new wave solutions across verticals such as Financial Services, Consumer Packaged Goods, Healthcare and more.” And yes, I stole that wording right from their website, hence the quotation marks!)

What does that mean you do? I build applications for schools and NPOs whose focus is to promote educational access an eliminate the Achievement Gap!! (EFD – Love it…eliminate the Achievement Gap! Awesome!!)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I’ve been on the platform for almost 6 years now. (EFD – In Salesforce time that equates to about 20 releases.)

Bacon or sausage? It’s bacon, or nothing!

What’s more important: Growing up I didn’t know anyone at all who could help me to progress my career- so for me it was “What I know”. I used what I knew to meet and connect with people who would eventually become my “who you know”. These connections were pivotal to my growth and progression in life. Without the one the other did not exist. (EFD – I think one word can describe what you just said: Synergy)

How did our relationship start, and when? It started when I was looking for fresh insight into the new DF15 Admin Zone for a presentation I was about to give when I discovered your blog (EFD – Oooh…I like that answer. I hope my blog provided you with the insight you were looking for!)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I am the eldest of 12 children (same mom!!!) and the very first in my family to graduate college and go on to earn an MBA. I taught myself Salesforce over 6 months- and embarked upon a mission to support organizations to help support more people like myself on the path to educational attainment and hopefully a career in tech! I built my first app on the platform in 2010 and it is being used by 30+ organizations to date! (EFD – Wow, that’s impressive! Yes, eleven siblings…that’s impressive, but even more so is your education, your drive to succeed, and how you are using your skills to help others make real changes in their lives!  Way to go!!)

You can find Selina on Twitter.

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Huong Tran

This is the thirty-third post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce a newcomer to the Salesforce Platform and Community, Founder & CEO of Magpie Travel, Huong Tran.

Huong_Tran

 

What’s your job title? Founder & CEO, Magpie Travel (EFDMagpie Travel…if you haven’t heard about them you NEED to! It’s a site designed to facilitate room and cost sharing for the solo female traveler, but there more than that specifically for Dreamforce, read on!)

What does that mean you do? I’m working on a new product called Perch Travel, a sharing platform to connect conference attendees so they can save 50% of accommodation costs by sharing a hotel room, while at the same time meeting new and interesting people. We’re currently running a Dreamforce ’16 promotion where we giveaway a free hotel stay in SF for registered attendees. (EFD – Whoa, wait. What? room sharing and 50% savings at Dreamforce, and a chance to win a free hotel stay?  DO TELL!! More on this later in the post.)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I have just recently been introduced to the Salesforce ecosystem. I’ve spoken to about 20 people (Salesforce customers, partners, MVPs, Dreamforce past and future attendees, etc) and have gotten a very warm welcome from everyone.  It’s an amazing and supportive community!  (EFD – Amazing and supportive community…Yes. Yes it is!)

Bacon or sausage? Can’t I have both? Don’t make me decide!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? Who you know first, and then what you know second.  I came to the US about 8 years ago from Vietnam with virtually no US connections at the time. Eight years have passed and I’ve now become an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. This could not have been done without the supportive network I’ve built over the years. Since I’ve been so blessed, I want to pay it forward to others and Perch Travel lets me do that by helping others expand their networks. (EFD – You’ve really come a long way in eight years. Congratulations to you, and how exciting to see Perch Travel start to take off!)

How did our relationship start, and when? Eric and I got introduced by our three mutual connections. It goes without saying that his name came up a lot when I spoke to the folks in the Salesforce community. He’s famous! (EFD – Oh stop it! I’m just a guy from a little town in Southern Indiana, who seems to have a thing with bacon and knows a lot of people, or people that know people. I’m thrilled to meet you, and look forward to our first in- person soon.)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I grew up in Vietnam when it was an embargoed country and the first foreigner I saw was in my teenage years.  That experience drove my curiosity to explore the world and eventually led me to become the first Vietnamese student attending Stanford business school since the war ended in 1975. (EFD – Go big or go home…isn’t that what people say? You went big…VERY BIG!)

You can find Huong on Twitter as @huongtdt and @perchtravel. Be sure to also check out Perch Travel’s Dreamforce contest!

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Vinay Chaturvedi

This is the thirty-second post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the four-time Salesforce Certified, Leader of the Noida, India, User Group, Vinay Chaturvedi.

 

Vinay

What’s your job title? Salesforce Consultant/Developer, Fujitsu (EFD – Fujitsu is a huge multi-national corporation, with many divisions, some old, some rather new.)

What does that mean you do? I am involved in understanding requirements to implementation, configuration and customization, and overall trying to make my clients happy. Apart from my office work, I am quite involved with the Salesforce Community. I lead Salesforce User Group in Noida (India) and have been doing for for about a year. We recently did our 5th event and have 230+ community members with 70 (on an average) attendance. I am a big fan of answers community, and I so appreciate everything I have learned from the community that I have been inspired to contribute over 4000 answers so far. I hope I get to 10,000 answers by next year . I also write blogs at vinaychaturvedi.com. With the help of Patrick Solum and Eric Dreshfield, I was able to set up a monthly User Group Leaders Office Hours Call for APAC Region. (EFD – You are really doing a great thing by facilitating the User Group Leaders Office Hours for APAC. I’m thrilled to have helped you get that started.)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I started working on the platform in 2011 while I was in college. I was not studying an I.T. discipline, so I found it quite challenging. Salesforce converted me to working in the technology field. (EFD – You’ve been on the platform for 5 years and haven’t been to Dreamforce…that’s just not right!)

Bacon or sausage? Eww. A pork product? No thank you!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? I think both of them are important! If I know people, I can connect with them, help them and get help from them. I believe networking is very useful and powerful, not only for the business but for your personal stuff as well. I have learned a lot of things from the people around me who have always motivated, guided,and appreciated me. Of course I try to stay updated and knowledgeable enough to help others. If you are not you need to learn and then help.This is what I learned from Salesforce Community, so what you know is also important. (EFD – Ever since our first interaction, it seemed like there was something about you that made me think you would really do great things.)

How did our relationship start, and when?  The very first time we communicated was when I started a Noida User group, back in July 2015.You offered me to help anytime. I asked your help for user group template which you provided me within a day. And since then you have been an awesome Mentor! You are awesome, I am a great Fan of yours, and I hope we can meet in person one day soon. (EFD – Stop talking about me…this post is supposed to be introducing you to the Community. They already know me!)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I am an electrical engineer by degree but from day 1 of my first job after college I was working as a Salesforce Professional. I even don’t remember a single transformer diagram and even unless people ask me about them, and sometimes I even forget that I hold a degree as an Electrical Engineer!  (EFD – My knowledge about Electrical Engineering could fit into the dot of this letter i.)

You can find Vinay on Twitter.

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Misty Jones

This is the thirty-first post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the Salesforce Certified Administrator and Advanced Administrator, and Leader of the Flyin’ Solo group on the Success Community, Misty Jones.

MistyRaeJones

What’s your job title? Senior Salesforce Administrator, Mutual of Omaha Bank (EFD – Mutual of Omaha has a bank? I thought they just produced awesome wildlife shows in the 1960’s through 1980’s. What was the host’s name again? Marlin Perkins, yeah that’s it!)

What does that mean you do? I’m an accidental techie. I plan events, automate stuff, train others, manipulate spreadsheets, enter securities trades, supply chocolate, and also administer Salesforce (EFD – Whoa, wait. What? You execute securities trades? Is that anything like this: https://youtu.be/obAoPP1bdIM ?)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I’ve been a Salesforce customer since April 2011.  (EFD – Almost long enough to be able to say “I remember the good old days when Dreamforce was small.)

Bacon or sausage? Can’t I have both? Don’t make me decide!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? Who you know. Success isn’t just a matter of hard work, experience, and talent. It also depends on your relationships. Jobs often come from knowing people. The best learning comes through interaction. I also believe a strong social network (likely) displays your people skills. Take the Success Community for example…people are helping each other find their dream job, helping each other with formulas and validation rules, expanding their social networks. I’ve solved many issues by first using who I know and those people teaching me things to add to my ‘what I know. (EFD – Amen, Sister!  I say it in every blog post I write for this series, and I’ll repeat it once again: For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.)

How did our relationship start, and when? We “met” in the Success Community and followed each other on Twitter. We promote each other’s events/groups. Finally bonded in person over plates of bacon during the 2013 Newbie Breakfast Reunion. (EFD – I’m thinking that it was the Flyin’ Solo Group on the Success Community where our relationship got started…thanks to a former co-worker of mine named Gabriel Matthews for leading that group, and you taking it over when Gabe left the Salesforce ecosystem.)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? My latest workouts are considered aerial fitness. (EFD – Um…what? I asked Misty to send a few pictures that might help explain that. so…enjoy!)

You can find Misty on Twitter.

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Denise Carbone

This is the twenty-ninth post in my blog series in which I will feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the Salesforce Certified Administrator, Co-Leader of the Chicago User Group and Co-Chair of Midwest Dreamin’, Salesforce MVP, Denise Carbone.

denise carbone

What’s your job title? Director of Client Engagements, RelationEdge (EFD – In case you don’t know – RelationEdge is a Salesforce Silver Consulting Partner that helps companies implement Salesforce. We focus first on the business processes you are trying to enhance and the results you are looking to achieve, and yes, I stole that wording right from their website!)

What does that mean you do? I help clients be successful and understand the possibilities of the platform. I primarily work with reboots and those just getting started in their implementation of Salesforce. In a nutshell, I am a Salesforce Consultant, and am happy to be here. (EFD – Rookies and Reboots….hmmm.  Sounds like a great title for either a blog series or a Dreamforce session!)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I’ve been on the platform for 12+ years. I started in March of 2004 as a Customer. I’ve been a customer up until this past August (2015) when I joined RelationEdge here in Chicago. (EFD – And just for the record, Denise hosted the first user group meeting I ever attended, in Chicago back in late 2009.)

Bacon or sausage? Eww…a pork product? No thank you!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? It’s a combination for me, I definitely do not know it all and never pretend that I do. I would be happy to talk all day about the things I do know well, and am always seeking opportunities to learn more. I love our community and have made lifelong friendships, and I feel comfortable enough to reach out when needed to my friends to ask questions or bounce ideas off them. Also, I love the User Group Community! (EFD – Ok, Denise…we get the point that you love the community. I agree!  And I say it in every blog post I write for this series, and I’ll repeat it once again: For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.)

How did our relationship start, and when? We met at a Salesforce City Tour event in Chicago when it was held at the Westin, I believe it was 2008 or 2009. We (Chicago User Group) were hosting a User Group Meeting the morning of the event. (EFD – Yeah, I kind of did a spoiler on that one a couple questions back…but it was a great day for me, and was thrilled to meet you and your user group then. You all made me feel like part of the family from the moment I walked into the meeting.)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? Not sure I have anything that I would surprise you with since I think we talk several times a week to plan Midwest Dreamin’!! Hmmm, how about the fact that I’d be a vegetarian IF I didn’t like chicken so much! (EFD – Yes, I suppose that does surprise me a little. For the record, my wife refers to you as my “Salesforce Wife”, and I think you’ve even told me that your husband, who IS in the Salesforce ecosystem, refers to me as your “Salesforce Husband”…and yes, our respective spouses have met each other, and they are perfectly fine with the relationship we share!)

You can find Denise on Twitter personally and Chicago User Grouply (Yes, I know that “grouply” isn’t a word!

A Community Mourns, A Community Remembers – A Tribute to Tami Esling

When I think back to the day I first met Tami, I recall immediately feeling like I had know her all my life. Her amazing smile was contagious and anyone who was in conversation with her quickly found themselves smiling as well. Tami and I met at the MVP Summit in 2015, shortly after she was named a Salesforce MVP. It was a great pleasure to meet her in person, and after having so many online interactions with her, I felt like I already knew her well.

Professionally, Tami worked for SaaS Consulting Group with a focus on directing clients and colleagues towards Salesforce education and training to help them get the most out of their Salesforce implementation. She was a firm believer that with the proper education and training that anyone could accomplish big things. Unlike some, she also practiced what she preached. Tami held five Salesforce Certifications.

Tami certs

Tami was a giver too. She was the “mother hen” for all things Salesforce in Austin, TX. She led the Austin Salesforce User group. She was an active member in the Austin Women in Tech group, and a passionate champion of Salesforce Saturday. Anytime there was anything Salesforce going on in Austin, you could find Tami there. She volunteered her time to help others in the Salesforce Community get better educated, and hopefully well prepared so that they could successfully become a Salesforce Certified individual too. I decided to make the commitment of 15 weeks and join the online Certification Study Group that Tami was leading in late 2014. It was through the interactions in the group where I really got to see Tami shine. She skillfully facilitated the online study group, week after week, drawing out the best of everyone involved through thoughtful insights above and beyond the assigned homework. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t the “let it ride, let everyone through” kind of person. She was tough on the people who were not prepared each week, and called them out the next week, to make sure they were doing the homework and sticking to the commitments they made when signing up for the study group.  I should know, I was probably one of her “bad” students. I had a hard time keeping up with the homework, and missed a class or two, and paid the ultimate price for that, in that I was unsuccessful when I attempted the Certified Administrator exam. Notice I did not say that I failed, because I firmly believe that Wayne Gretzky explained that best.

gretzky

In December or 2015, I featured Tami in my “I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community” blog series. It was great fun working with Tami to recall all our interactions together, and to learn more about her background, how she got started in the Salesforce Ecosystem, etc. I asked the standard questions, including “What’s more important: Who you know, or What you know?” I will never forget Tami’s reply. She said: ‘If you’re on the Salesforce Community, then you probably “know” Eric Dreshfield. That is how it all began.’ That was the first time I truly felt speechless!

There was one other question from that blog post where Tami’s response was quite surprising to me. When I asked “What’s one fact about you that few people know, that would surprise me?” To that question Tami replied, ” I have skydived and plan to take another jump in 2016.” Wow! I sure was surprised by that answer.

Tami events

As we all struggle to find a way to deal with the hole left in our hearts, and in the community due to Tami’s untimely passing, I think it’s only fitting to share some words that her friends in the Success Community stated upon hearing the sad news.

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Thank you for everything, Tami. You are truly an inspiration to many and your spirit will remain alive in the Success Community as long as one person whose life you touched is there.

Tami Esling. Wife. Mother. Mentor. Coach. Friend.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to American Heart Association  This form asks you to complete a memorial card, please choose mail card and send to: Walter Esling, 14833 Irondale Dr., Austin, TX 78717

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Andy Boettcher

This is the twenty-fifth post in my blog series in which I will feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.)  Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce Certified Salesforce Administrator and Force.com Developer, Salesforce MVP, and co-leader of the Minnesota Developer Group, Andy Boettcher.

image

What’s your job title? Chief Architect, Demand Chain Systems (EFD – Back when I was going to college, Architects designed buildings. Now I think it’s safe to say Architects build designs…for systems.)

What does that mean you do? My role as Chief Architect at Demand Chain Systems is a wide one – I end up working with prospects in a pre-sales solutioning capacity, with our clients in ideation/solutioning discussions, mentoring my team, and helping guide the company to the latest technologies and approaches. (EFD – Uh…is ideation a real word? It sounds like your job is to really help a lot of people figure out how to get things done.)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I’ve been on the platform for about 7 years, 5 years with Demand Chain Systems. (EFD – 7 years…that’s almost half of the entire Salesforce has existed. I bet you’ve seen a lot of growth and changes.)

Bacon or sausage?  It’s bacon, or nothing!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know?  It’s all about who you know and what they know. One person cannot know everything. (EFD – YES!!! One more for the “Who” side! )

How did our relationship start, and when? The MVP program brought us together back in 2013. (EFD – Ah yes…we both became MVPs in 2013. Seems like we may have had a user group leader connection somewhere in there too.)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I’m a certified BBQ judge. (EFD – Well, that’s interesting. I really enjoy eating BBQ. Just ask Dale Ziegler, Mark Ross, Jarrod Kingston & Jennifer Wobser. #BBQForce.)

You can find Andy on Twitter, and be sure to check out his blog too!

Tahoe Dreamin’ – From Lake Michigan to Lake Tahoe

I planned my trip to Tahoe Dreamin’ about a month before the event. I was looking forward to seeing how the Western US took my Midwest Dreamin’ concept from the big city of Chicago to the ski slopes and mountains of South Lake Tahoe. Just a few short weeks later, I had accepted my new role as Advocacy Manager for Apttus, which suddenly meant most of my Tahoe Dreamin’ experience would come from interactions with people who visited the Apttus booth in the expo.

From my own, somewhat selfish point of view, I was not looking forward to that because I thought it meant I would not have time to spend with all my friends from the Salesforce community. For once in my life I was absolutely thrilled to be wrong. In reality, it meant that I got to spend time with NEW friends during the event, then new & established friends after-hours.

The Salesforce community is what makes events like Tahoe Dreamin so amazing. This event was not organized by Salesforce, rather it was organized and run by a small group of Salesforce community members, a small but highly motivated and passionate group of Salesforce customers and partners led by Bill Greenhaw, a Salesforce MVP and Leader of the Sacramento User Group.

Because of my new role, I did not have the opportunity to see the keynote, given by Shawna Wolverton, Vice President of Product Management, Platform at Salesforce, and Adam Seligman, Senior Vice President, Developer Relations, Salesforce, because our booth was busy, which is most certainly a good thing! From what others told me it was a great session with some flair that many of us would normally associate with the one and only, Parker Harris, a.k.a. Lightning Man. The keynote had Shawna and Adam wearing some awesome snowsuits!

Adam and Shawna Snowsuits

One that the next day Samantha Ready wore on the slopes!

Samantha Snowsuit

But fun in the snow isn’t what Tahoe Dreamin’ was really all about.

You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out. You do the hokie poike and you turn yourself around, that’s what it all about! 

What Tahoe Dreamin’ was really all about was the Salesforce Community, making connections and sharing knowledge.

Liz Gladstone put it this way: “Tahoe Dreamin’ provided the inspiration and community that Dreamforce does but in a setting intimate enough to talk with every single person.”

Shonnah Hughes had this to say: “Take Aways: Volunteer if you can, Speak up, get to know someone you don’t already know, Go to the after the event parties or gather your own group to party, ask questions, take lots of pictures and have the mind set that you are there to learn and have fun!”

Cynthia Saalfeld said this: ” I loved it!  I liked how well distributed the sessions were, not too short and not too long with a good break time in between sessions giving you time to visit the vendors and partners.   Moreover, talking to the speakers was possible and much more intimate than Dreamforce.”

Stuart Edeal (who came to Tahoe all the way from Minnesota!) wrote his own blog post about Tahoe Dreamin’.  He summarized the event this way: Attend regional events, and volunteer if you can. Share your challenges & successes. Accept invites for lunch, coffee, walks, etc. Ask questions, set goals, and enjoy yourself!

A few other comments I heard were: “Great venue”; “Fabulous food”; “Well organized”; “A little smoky at times, but it was in a Casino, with awesome scenery!”; “Bill Greenhaw and his team did a fantastic job pulling the event together”

I guess it’s safe to say I feel a little bit like a proud grandfather, having just watched a grandchild succeed gracefully in his first piano recital. Great job, Team Tahoe Dreamin’! I hope this becomes an annual event!

Jedi Job Change

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

I had what I thought at the time was the greatest job in the world. The work was interesting and challenging, and I was learning something new every day. Then one day I had a meeting with my manager and the president of the company. We talked about the $110 million dollar federal loan program I was managing, and how soon we should be ready to submit paperwork for our first reimbursement. We talked about the processes we built to insure that all of our I’s were dotted and our T’s crossed.  Then the president of the company asked one question that neither my manager nor I had even thought about. (I wish I could recall the question, but I’ve slept some since then, but not much, as you’ll see if you keep reading.) Suddenly all my efforts to be ready to make that big submission by “x” date, went out the window. Suddenly it seemed like I was expected to battle a huge wildfire in 70 MPH winds with only a pint of water and extinguish the flames in 30 seconds! (Ok…to be honest, I was given a deadline of 3 weeks, with what seemed like an insurmountable amount of work to do.)  I simply responded in conversation that what was expected was a pretty tall order, and I wasn’t sure there was enough time to get it all done.

The Beginning of the End (or is it…)

The president of the company then asked me “Eric, how much sleep do you get every night?” I responded with “about 6 hours, why?”  He quickly replied with, “Good!  That means you have 18 hours a day where you can be working to solve this problem and meet my deadline.”   WHAAAT did he just say??  (Look out; it gets a little ugly next. I was a lot younger and a lot less diplomatic than I am now.)  I looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, you don’t pay me enough to work those kinds of hours, and I have a family that I enjoy spending time with. You have unrealistic expectations and there is NO WAY I can get all that done and meet your deadline.”  Yep, you read that right, I just bad-mouthed the company, how much (or how little) they were paying me, and not only insulted the president of the company but also and his relationship with his family….ALL IN ONE BREATH! (For future reference, I would advise against such a thing.)

That Very Next Day…

After I had my “little” altercation with the company president, I got called into my manager’s office and was told I had 6 weeks left at the company and that the next Monday I would start training my replacement. Well now, that’s a pretty clear example of cause and effect. Ouch…Ok, I’ve got six weeks to find a job. I can do that!

And Then Reality Sets In

The job market in Southern Indiana in late 2005 turned out to be lousy. I did manage to get one interview during those 6 weeks. I also managed to get zero offers. My wife was a stay-at-home mom back then, and we also had her aging and ailing parents living with us, so until I lost my job, I was the income source for the entire family. Sure, my wife’s parents were receiving Social Security, but they were lucky to be able to make it through the month with enough cash to buy their food and all the medications they needed to survive another day.

Not UNemployed but way UNDERemployed

The next two and a half years were very difficult for me and my family. Employment in my chosen profession was difficult to find in my home town, and when I did find it, the jobs were temporary at best. So I did what any good husband and father would do, work multiple part time jobs in order to be able to pay the bills and keep food on the table. There were days that, between all the jobs I was working, and travel time, I would only get four hours to be home with my family, and most times, we were all sleeping then.

Enter the Salesforce Ecosystem…almost

Back then, I did a lot of job searching by looking at the Sunday newspaper classified section. I remember seeing and as for a company hiring technical support agents, computer and customer service skills required. I applied online and a few weeks later, late on Sunday afternoon, I got a call from a recruiter asking me to take an online test & if I could be at the company’s office at 7am the next day for an interview. She also wondered if I could start right after the interview, assuming they liked me. “Sure”, I said. I can do that…it would mean rearranging my schedule with a couple part time jobs, but for regular hours at decent pay, I was willing to take that chance, even though they said it was an 8-week, short-term assignment.

I passed their test with flying colors, for the job, and after 3 days of training, was live, on the phones and providing world class support to that company’s clients. The 8 weeks came and went. I began to wonder how much longer they would need me. The call volume on the particular product I was supporting was never that heavy, so the trained me on how to support several other products. I came right out and asked, “Should I be looking for another job soon?” “Don’t worry about that,” I was told. “We will give you a few weeks’ notice if we need to cut you,” my manager said.

The Longest 8 Weeks Ever…

Eight months later, the company’s HR department called and said they had a direct hire role in the contact center available, and wondered if I was interested. Well sure!  Why wouldn’t I want to work only 1 job with good money, normal hours and benefits? Sign me up!!

Wait, you mean I have to interview for the job I’m already doing?

Yes… I had to formally apply and go through interviews. Meh…no big deal. The one thing being “under employed” taught me was interview skills. I got plenty of interviews, but few good offers and on roles I didn’t really want. My first interview for the role (remember, this is for the role I am already working, it would just be a status change and more money) was with the VP of Enterprise Business Solutions. She was in charge of the contact center, and a whole lot more, and she was at HQ in San Diego, so it would be a telephone interview. The call went something like this…

I have just one question to ask you…

Why are we wasting both our time having you on the phones talking to our customers, when your skills could be put to a much better use elsewhere in the company?

My (almost) smart-ass answer…

Because that’s the only job you have open. I know, I just looked at your website.

So…maybe I STILL do not know when to shut up…

“Yes, I know, but I’m working on approval for a new role that would be perfect for you…a Business Analyst role. You can help us roll out Salesforce.com to the contact center,” was the reply I just heard. Then the VP told me to tell HR I did not want to be flipped over to a direct hire. Whoa…back that bus up. You want me to turn down a sure thing for a role you hope to get approved?  That kind of makes me feel like Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) in the movie “Speed” ->  https://youtu.be/l7jRaGBtVww

Fortunately, I took a chance, and shot the hostage. Not literally, I did NOT shoot anyone! More accurately, they took a chance on me. I told the VP in the interview I had never heard of Salesforce.com, and she still said, “So…do you want the job?” I gladly accepted her generous offer. I also listened to her when she said, “Find a user group and get connected so you can start learning.”

She created a monster!

My first user group meeting was in Chicago, and it was the same day as the Chicago stop of the Salesforce World Tour, or whatever they called it back in 2010. That one event was like knocking over the first domino in a long string of dominos.  After that, I spent 1 to 2 days a month going back and forth to user group meetings all around the Midwest. After a few months of that, I decided that I couldn’t be the only Salesforce user in Southern Indiana so I decided to start a local user group. My first meeting had 6 people at it, but it’s not the size that counts. It’s the interactions and creative, crowd-sourced problem solving that matters!

Fast forward a few months …

Early summer, 2010, and it’s getting closer to Dreamforce. “Can I go?” I asked my manager. “I’m sorry…the budget is shot. We can’t send you this year.”  Most people would simply accept that and say “There’s always next year.” Not me. I thought to myself, “If I can’t go to Dreamforce, I’m going to bring a little bit of Dreamforce to me.” And the idea for Midwest Dreamin’ was born. Apttus was one of the companies who became a sponsor of that inaugural Midwest Dreamin’. Al West, now Senior Vice President, Global Sales at Apttus, was my first connection.  That very first Midwest Dreamin’ took place in May, 2011, and the Galt House Hotel played host to about 100 Salesforce enthusiasts. In 2014, when the second Midwest Dreamin’ took place, it was at Chicago’s Navy Pier with 500 people, which grew to almost 800 in 2015.

Suddenly a Salesforce MVP

I remember it well; it was April 10, 2013. The day I was first awarded the title of Salesforce MVP. I’m not really sure what I did to deserve that award. I’m not big on the Answers board like Steve Molis is. In fact, I’ve asked way more questions than I’ve answered.  I’m not a super technical, awesome developer like David Liu is. I’m more a clicks kind of guy, not code.  I’m not the consummate Admin like Leyna Hoffer. I’ve had admin rights in orgs, but I’ve always been more the analyst.  I’m just a regular guy who seems to have a knack for connecting people together. I was only leading what I liked to say was the smallest Salesforce user group in the world, the Southern Indiana Salesforce User Group, but I also proudly said I likely had the highest percentage of attendees to registrations, averaging about 85% of registrations actually attending, and there was that little thing called Midwest Dreamin’. Yes, being named an MVP was a total surprise, and actually more of a surprise than most people know.  I didn’t access my personal email from work back then, and I had mobile data shut off on my cell phone when the announcement came out so I missed it.  I discovered I had been awarded the title of MVP when I connected my cell phone to a Wi-Fi source at lunch and it started pinging like crazy.  I missed a bunch of emails and tweets from current MVPs all congratulating me. For what I thought…then I checked my email and discovered the official “You’re an MVP” email.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…What’s it like being an MVP?

I get asked that a lot…and it’s not really an easy question to answer, at least for me it’s not.  I could simply say it’s awesome and leave it at that, but those of you who know me, would never let it end there. So, I’ll describe it like this – there’s a lot of pressure on the MVPs, however, I would say that 90% of it is self-inflicted. Sure, there are certain things MVPs get early access to, or have knowledge of prior to the rest of the Salesforce Community that we are bound by a non-disclosure agreement to keep confidential, and there are plenty of opportunities for MVPs to provide feedback directly to Salesforce Execs, but I think the inherent pressure comes from not feeling like we deserve the honor bestowed upon us. I don’t think any of the MVPs were doing what they did simply for the purpose of becoming an MVP. I really think the MVPs are just a little more passionate and a little more vocal than your average community member, and they feel driven to a sense of accomplishment from knowing they helped someone solve a problem. So i think, to some degree, when MVP status is awarded to you, it’s like the clock starts ticking.  You know, that 15 minutes of fame clock…everyone wants their moment in the sun. Everyone dreams of being rich and famous. I don’t think there’s been a scientific study done that would prove being a Salesforce MVP will make you rich (in the traditional monetary sense) but I know most of us MVPs feel richly blessed to have made friends from all over the world through the Salesforce Community.  And then, thanks to events like Dreamforce, we get to meet some of those people in person and that is yet another blessing. Of course, with anything good, there’s typically a dark side too.  When I first became an MVP, a few of the more seasoned MVPs told me to expect LinkedIn to blow up with offers to connect from recruiters, and that the number of followers I have on Twitter would likely grow exponentially.  They were right. It seems everyone wanted a piece of me. Within 3 months of first being named an MVP, the number of followers I had on twitter doubled, and there STILL isn’t a week that goes by  without me receiving at least one or two emails or LinkedIn messages asking if I was interested in working for some company, or working through a recruiter that now I don’t recall the name of, or what the companies do, where they are…or if they are even in the Salesforce ecosystem! Obviously, they made a huge impression on me. (And that, my friends is  sarcasm. One more thing I’m kind of famous for.)

Aside from the things I touched on earlier, like early access to knowledge, easy access to Execs (and product managers), MVPs enjoy some other perks. We do have reserved seating at the major Keynotes at Dreamforce, we also get preferred seating at World Tour Events, but those are only perks if you can attend those events, and if you choose to sit with the other MVPs.  Personally, I’d give up the good seats in a heartbeat if I was in the middle of a conversation with a seasoned community member, or a even a first time Dreamforce attendee who wanted to see the keynote, but didn’t want to be lost in the crowd without a familiar face to share it with. (That’s not just me blowing smoke either…I’ve done both of those. Just ask Kristin Puttika about the Dreamforce 2014 keynote.)  I say this every week in my “Bacon” blog series“For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared” because I firmly believe that WHO you know is (slightly) more important than WHAT you know, because who you know can get you access to information you need. Because who you know can get you connect you to others you NEED to know.  Because who you know can lead to GREAT things!

Flashback to Dreamforce 2014…

A week or so before Dreamforce 2014, the Salesforce MVPs got an invite to a half-day training & demo with Apttus that was occurring on the Friday morning just after Dreamforce. I thought about it for all of 10 seconds, clicked the link to attend, and then sent an email to a couple of friends that I would need to change our plans from a morning walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, to an afternoon walk.

Dreamforce 2014

I’ll spare you all the details about the entire week, since probably everyone reading the post would have been to Dreamforce at least once and simply leave this Twitter conversation here:

Tweet XAuthor

And with that one defining moment, my desire to be associated with Apttus was born.

Why I chose to work at Apttus?

cookies

You mean you don’t get it already? Apttus is all over the CPQ and CLM space…world-class, industry leading solutions for Configure, Price, Quote as well as Contract Lifecycle Management but Apttus also has a hidden gem, a secret weapon, if you will, in the battle against poor Salesforce adoption.

Enter X-Author for Excel

X-Author for Excel is a game-changer.  It levels the playing field and makes the point of entry to get data into Salesforce as simple as the Excel spreadsheet your sales team is already using. So what’s the big deal?  Everyone knows you can import data from Excel into Salesforce. Here’s the secret sauce:  with X-Author for Excel, you do NOT import data. X-Author exists as a ribbon inside Microsoft Office applications that brings all your Salesforce controls and inherent security to your Excel spreadsheets. Using X-Author, you simply define fields in Excel that you want to map directly back to fields and objects in Salesforce. Every time a change is made in Excel that change is immediately reflected back in Salesforce. EVERY change, EVERY time. And guess what?  You can use X-Author with any, yes, any, object in Salesforce, including related AND unrelated, standard AND custom objects!  Can you just imagine the power you can put into your users hands?  I said users, not sales teams. That’s because anyone can use X-Author for Excel. Your sales teams, your marketing personnel, even your Salesforce admins will see the power and convenience that X-Author brings. And what’s even better, is that X-Author is a managed package, which means that the custom objects, tabs and apps within X-Author do NOT count against your Salesforce limits.

For more details about X-Author, check out the listing on the AppExchange and visit x-author.com.