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.

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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

Top 10 Reasons to Attend Dreamforce 2015

Here’s my top 10 reasons why you should attend Dreamforce updated for 2015:

10: Networking…its a fabulous place to meet people who think and act like you. Don’t be scared, introduce yourself! You could very well be talking to your next coworker or manager, or even discover a solution to a challenge you have been facing! (Don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards!)

9: Exercise…with all the sessions and activities spread out over Moscone’s 3 buildings as well as a half a dozen or so hotels in the area, you might end up dropping a few pounds from all the walking you’ll do. (Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, and charge up your Fitbit!)

8: Knowledge…Keynote sessions, hands-on training sessions, breakout sessions, even pre-conference training session…who knows what all you could learn! Even without knowing who the keynote or breakout session speakers are, or who the special guests during Marc Benioff’s keynote will be, I’m 100% certain you will learn a lot! (Be sure to take notes – on paper, on your phone, or on your iPad.  Whatever your note-taking device of choice is, keep it handy! You’ll need it!)

7: Awesome…yes, be prepared to hear that word quite a lot. Many will describe the event as Awesome or Outstanding. (Guilty as charged, Your Honor.)

6: Get Social…That’s right, Dreamforce isn’t really just an 8 to 5 event. Social gatherings, dinners, parties and even concerts await the adventurous soul. After Dreamforce, be sure to hook up with your local user group, so you can keep the Dreamforce feeling all year long!  And if that’s not enough, keep an eye out on the Success Community and Twitter for amazing community-driven regional events like Midwest Dreamin’, Forcelandia, and Snowforce.

5: Charity…Don’t just take things away from Dreamforce, give things away! Give back some of your time to help out great causes. Look for the Salesforce Foundation volunteer events and GIVE! Give like there’s no tomorrow! Because if you don’t, for some people who rely on the organizations Salesforce & Dreamforce support, there may not be a tomorrow!

4: Swag…who doesn’t like a freebie?  T-shirts, portable charges, stress balls, t-shirts, pens….you name it, someone is probably giving it away, just for stopping by their booth and letting them scan your badge.  Some things are a random drawing, others, just yours for the taking.

3: Partners…be sure to carve out time to visit the Cloud Expos. Many AppExchange partners will be there to give you live demos, great reasons why you need to extend your Salesforce org outside the box, and pick up some cool swag along the way. You can also connect with Salesforce experts, interact firsthand with Salesforce products, and hear success stories shared by customers at the Salesforce Campground.

2: Rub elbows with the elite…the MVPs and User Group Leaders. Those people are almost overly passionate about the Salesforce ecosystem, but guess what? They are people too, and love helping others gain knowledge and overcome challenges!

And my number 1 reason to attend Dreamforce this year:

1: Community…What’s that? It’s the culmination of all of the other top items rolled into one neat little package. It’s that intangible benefit you get from being part of a group that is fast approaching two million strong. It’s that awesome feeling you get when racing between sessions with over 100,000 of your closest friends. It is Salesforce…it is Dreamforce. And its AWESOME!!!

You Don’t Have to be From the Midwest….

Perhaps by now you’ve heard of a little event being planned for July 9th & 10th, 2015,  at Chicago’s Navy Pier…it’s a little thing called Midwest Dreamin’ 2015. The organizers of Midwest Dreamin’  somehow managed to convince Dan Darcy to come to Chicago to open up the activities on July 10th, and Peter Coffee will be making a return trip to Midwest Dreamin’ to close the event down.

Who is Dan Darcy?

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Many of us that have attended Dreamforce over the past few years know Dan as “The Dreamforce Demo Man”, but he gave up that role about two years ago and moved into something bigger and better. Dan is now the Senior Vice President for Worldwide Product Readiness. He is responsible for working with the product organization to develop priorities, product positioning and competency strategy for the distriibution organization, customers and partners. In addition, he manages the New Product Introduction processes to ensure that product releases have an enablement plan and assets are developed for consumption by customers, partners and employees.  Dan is also still head of Customer Visions for Marc Benioff.

Who is Peter Coffee?

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Seriously? If you have to ask that question, one might wonder how long you have been a salesforce.com user, developer, administrator or fan. Just in case you did just crawl out from under a rock, or recently converted from some other CRM system, I’ll fill you in. Peter Coffee is the Vice President of Strategic Research at Salesforce.com, but to those of us in the Salesforce.com community, we think of him as so much more than that. He’s the voice of Dreamforce, the pre-Keynote entertainment, the Master of Ceremony at the worlds largest technology conference. He is the show, before the show. He sets the stage at Dreamforce and gets the crowd all pumped up to see Marc Benioff talk about all the exciting things that Salesforce.com is working on, and all the awesome good things the Salesforce Foundation is helping to accomplish thanks to the 1-1-1 model – One percent of your time, one percent of your profits and one percent of your products being donated to great causes in order to help make the world a better place for all of us. Peter currently supports Salesforce efforts in CIO and developer engagement; in regulatory and stakeholder discussions, including information security technology and practice; and in collaborations with research professionals in both the commercial and academic communities

Breakout Sessions Are the Skid Marks of Learning
I think it’s always interesting and entertaining to listen to Peter Coffee and Dan Darcy speak, but where the rubber meets the road is what really helps businesses and nonprofits alike. That’s why people attend events like Dreamforce and Midwest Dreamin’. Skid marks of learning – just what exactly is that?  These skid marks don’t get made from quick stops or from taking turns too fast. They come from the rapid acceleration of business growth, from increased innovation and new ways of taking care of customers. Midwest Dreamin’ just completed its call for speakers and has a great lineup of fantastic speakers talking on everything from “Creating Change with Salesforce Communities” to “So You’ve Inherited (or Created) a Mess…Now What?”  Check out more sessions planned for Midwest Dreamin’ 2015.

Time is Money
How valuable is your time? Consider not only your salary, but the time you spend with family and friends, the time you spend helping others through volunteering or just by being a good neighbor. Attending Midwest Dreamin’ 2015, can actually save you both time and money. Sure, there’s a hard cost to attending…travel expenses and the registration fee, but the knowledge you will gain and the value of those new ideas that will start floating around in your head will certainly exceed those hard costs and help you find more time in your day by allowing you to streamline processes.

The Proof is in the Pudding
I know what you are thinking now….how can I get in on this? What do I need to do to get a piece of this action? That’s the easiest part! Visit the Midwest Dreamin’ Register! page. Yes…it really is that simple!

What’s that? You want to help?
Are you with a partner and wanting to help get your company’s message out to the hundreds of attendees coming to Midwest Dreamin’? We’ve got plenty of sponsorship opportunities still available. For details, visit Sponsorship Options

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Dreamforce by the Numbers

First I did the Dreamforce Alphabet, and now it’s my Dreamforce by the Numbers.

One – Dreamforce is ONE awesome conference!

Two – There are way too many great breakout sessions to choose from but my top TWO, must attend sessions are: Michael Farrington’s Comedy of Clouds and Formula Tips & Tricks featuring Steve Molis. Fair warning though, be prepared for loud laughter, thunderous applause and the occasional “F-bomb”!

Three – 2014 will be year THREE for me hosting the Newbie Reunion Breakfast. Learn more about that here: http://goo.gl/5bwkBa

Four – Dreamforce covers FOUR days, and this will be year FOUR for me attending Dreamforce.

Five – Take FIVE minutes out of every hour at Dreamforce to introduce yourself to someone near you. Go on, Dreamforce attendees don’t bite, and you’ll never know who you might meet, and what you might learn if you don’t say “Hi, I’m Eric. Is this your first Dreamforce?” (Of course I would suggest you use your real name, and not mine!)

Six – Samanthia Achuff, Erica Kuhl, Matt Brown, Phoebe Venkat, Eanna Cunnane & Elna Miller are SIX key Salesforce.com people in the Success Community you should get to know.

Seven – The number of hours of sleep you should be targeting each night at Dreamforce is SEVEN. Your actual results may vary (widely) but try to be well rested each morning.

Eight – The number of meals you are likely to eat during Dreamforce. I know the math doesn’t work out…4 days, 3 meals a day should be 12, but this is Dreamforce. I’ll bet you’ll not have time between sessions for a real lunch or not wake up early enough for a real breakfast every day!

Nine – Nine Salesforce MVPs you should make a point to meet while at Dreamforce: 1. Sarah Deutsch – her story is inspiring; 2. Matt Bertuzzi – if you’re on Professional Edition, Matt’s your man with the answers; 3. Denise Carbone – she runs the Chicago User Group and has some serious skills; 4. Leyna Hoffer – one of the first 500 Certified Admins and runs the Twin Cities User Group; 5. Rhonda Ross – not only a Salesforce MVP, but also the San Diego User Group leader for both the Salesforce user group but also the Marketo user group; 6. Michael Farrington – not only is he a dual MVP (Salesforce.com and Force.com MVPs) but he also manages his girlfriends using the force.com platform and he’s ‘kind of a big deal’ at Dreamforce; 7. Tal Frankfurt – a four-time MVP and founder of Cloud For Good; 8.  Bill Greenhaw – he’s the guy responsible for there being less of people at Dreamforce – he founded the DF’14 Health and Weight Loss Challenge;   9.  Steve Molis – He IS the Answers KING.  Who here hasn’t had a question answered by Steve?  Come on, admit it, you owe Steve a beer, or two

Ten – The number of Starbucks locations within a mile radius of Moscone Center. (If you’ve ever attended Dreamforce before you’ll understand the importance of this!) Disclaimer – this was a guess…I did not make any measurements.

What’s your lucky Dreamforce number?  Tweet it using hash tag #DF14FavNumber 

History was Made

Captain’s log – August 29, 2013:

Nearly 90 of the just over 100 Salesforce and force.com MVPs gathered at the Omni San Francisco Hotel officially beginning with breakfast at 7am and ending about 10pm with a social gathering and dinner at The City Club of San Francisco.

In a word, the entire day was awesome. But awesome does not fully do justice to how the MVPs felt during the entire experience. It was a day filled with Safe Harbor statements, lively discussions and demos of things I wish I could tell you about. However, if I told you, I would have to kill you, since those memory erasing flashy things from the movie “Men in Black” have not yet been invented.

Flashy Thing

Suffice it to say, if the preview we MVPs saw becomes reality in future releases of salesforce.com it will only reaffirm your belief that Salesforce.com, its senior management, product managers, and development teams really do some great work striving to provide a world-class, full featured system.

Enjoy the new releases as they come out, and don’t forget to use discount code D13MVPREF when you register for Dreamforce.

Oh yeah…and big thanks to Charlie Isaacs for delaying a vacation by one day to enjoy dinner with a few MVPs. Huge thanks to Peter Coffee for, well, being Peter Coffee and sharing some wisdom as well as his viewpoints in a way only he can do.

SUPER HUGE thanks to Den Mom Erica Kuhl and Den Dad Matt Brown for not only all they did to make this event possible but also all the did by going above and beyond the call of duty for seeing that the first ever MVP summit made the word “awesome” seem to mean about the same thing as “OK” because to describe the Summit as merely awesome would be the greatest understatement of my life!

Bring on Dreamforce…it will be WayBeyondAwesome!

One last thing – the Safe Harbor statement applies here. Please do not base any decisions regarding use of salesforce.com on this post as it contains certain forward-looking statements. For a complete copy of the Safe Harbor statement please visit Safe Harbor