I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Matt Nesci

It’s been a month since my last post, and to my loyal readers, please accept my apology for the delay, but it seemed fitting to me, to take a little time off to remember and reflect on a life taken from us too soon. Tami Esling, you will long remain in the hearts of this community.

This is the twenty-eighth 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 5 time Salesforce Certified, Salesforce MVP, Matt Nesci.

Matt Nesci

What’s your job title? Client Success Manager, Basati LLC (EFD – Basati has some pretty cool core values: Basati is built on trust, customer care and enduring relationships. We employ honesty and objectivity, and work with an intellectual mindset to create in-depth analytical and problem-solving techniques. As a consultant, we exist to create value, and as such our work is driven by our consideration and respect for our clients, colleagues and partners.)

What does that mean you do? I work remote so every day I am on the phone with my clients most of the day. When I am not on the phone, I am usually in the set up menu moving clients projects forward,working on documenting requirements to send to our development team, spending time in the community, and researching new Salesforce functionality. (EFD – I’m a remote employee too. It’s pretty cool how many companies in the Salesforce ecosystem have workers spread out all over the globe!)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I’ve been in the Salesforce since 2009. (EFD – And just for the record, Matt has been a Salesforce MVP since Summer, 2015.)

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, because the power of the community is always stronger then one person’s knowledge. (EFD – YES!!! He totally gets it! If you, the reader, takes only one thing away from this post, let it be a compete and total understanding of that statement: “The power of the community is always stronger than one person’s knowledge.”)

How did our relationship start, and when? I think we got our start about a year ago in a Twitter conversation about your wife’s cookies. (EFD – I can’t argue that one. Honestly, I don’t recall when or how our relationship started, but I know for a fact that I’ve had plenty of Twitter conversations about my wife’s cookies. Check those out here, and please give her a like!)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I have two fun facts at different ends of the spectrum. 1. I won a trip to the “Wardrobe Malfunction” Superbowl. 2. I was robbed at gun point and shot two times (about 20 Years ago.) (EFD – 1. You won a trip to the Super Bowl? Cool…did you actually go? 2. Ouch! I’m glad you survived that ordeal. )

You can find Matt on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Taylor Grimes

This is the tenth 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 Taylor Grimes.

image

What’s your job title? Salesforce Consultant, Cheshire Impact

What does that mean you do?  I help clients engineer the lead to revenue lifecycle through Salesforce architecture and Marketing Automation enablement.  I help with marketing and sales processes during Salesforce implementations, managed services and custom projects tackling unique pain points. (EFD – I have some unique pain points, but that might just be from being old!)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? Five years. (EFD – So in ‘Salesforce years’ you are a relative rookie, but have seen some incredible improvements!)

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, every leg up I’ve gotten throughout my career in Salesforce is because someone smarter than me took the time to explain an answer which then became knowledge I helped share too. It’s a grassroots community empowering everyone who has a desire to learn 🙂 (EFD – Ahhh…the community in action. That’s awesome!)

How did our relationship start, and when? I started following you when I read your blog on becoming an MVP.  (EFD – so that would have been in April, 2013. I found out that I became an MVP the day after my birthday. What a present, huh? Oh…and in case anyone missed that blog, here it is!

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I went to a college prep boarding school for athletes in Faribault, MN right outside the Twin Cities.  Shattuck St. Mary’s focused on building a competitive environment for nurturing student athletes.  Alumnus include the great Marlon Brando, Sydney Crosby from the Penguins, Johnny Toews of the Blackhawks, Derek Stephan of the NY Rangers, or the countless AMAZING women on Team USA and many more. (If the Shattuck St. Mary’s google alerts find this article, my apologies for those left out who are worthy of a shout out 😉 ).  I used to think the highlight of my life would be saying I went to high school with the best of the best as I humbly cheer on my friends while they made it to Olympic levels, until I found my Salesforce network.  Now I’m a part of a group so powerful and exciting that I don’t have to just look back fondly at my time in high school, I’m excited for my future and what I can do for Women in Technology paving my own trail.  It may not be as glorious as a Gold Medal or Stanley Cup, but for me the growth in my career with Salesforce is more than I could have ever hoped for as a girl from Nebraska with a dream to find my calling. (EFD – There are some people who will be more impressed at what this girl from Nebraska has done, compared to winning an Olympic Gold Medal or the Stanley Cup….I’m one of those people.)

You can find Taylor on Twitter.

Speed Dating, a play in eleven acts

Act 1 – The User Group Leader monologue As the leader of a Salesforce User Group sometimes I find it a little challenging to find content that group members want to see and hear. Sure, every time there’s a new release, we can talk about that, and once in a while a member does or discovers something really cool that they are willing to share, but what do you do with the other meetings, where the members of your group give you very little input on what they need or want to learn about? You’ve got to make the meetings worth the members time and efforts to attend, and content is king!  It drives attendance at the meetings. (Legal Disclaimer – the attached YouTube clips contain explicit language, as they are from movies with rating of PG13 – Hitch and R – The 40 Year Old Virgin)

Act 2 – Setting the stage Speed Dating, according to Oxford Dictionaries – speed dating (noun): an organized social activity in which people seeking romantic relationships have a series of short conversations with potential partners in order to determine whether there is mutual interest. Now I know what you are thinking, speed dating, yeah, right.  Like that ever works. You are probably even remembering the speed dating scene from Hitch, or the Date-a-palooza scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin, where, in both cases, things just didn’t end well.  For the purpose of this blog, I would suggest a slight modification to the definition as follows:  speed dating (noun): an organized professional activity in which users of Salesforce.com seeking knowledge about available apps have a series of short presentations by AppExchange partners interested in sharing best practices and value propositions in the hopes of forming a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Yes, that’s what the last meeting of the Southern Indiana Salesforce User Group was…a speed dating event.

Act 3 – Global Tech & Resources – RPaaS – Recruting Platform Charlie Havens, Vice President of Client Services with Global Tech & Resources says that both employers and applicants think a lot of time and energy is wasted in the typical hiring process. How many of us have sat down to be interviewed and were greeted by someone stating that they are here to interview you, and then they ask what position you have applied for? Charlie thinks that hiring systems should help you hire the right person, not just track applicants, and that is precisely the reason GTR’s RPaaS was created. RPaaS treats the hiring process just like a sales process with distinct stages the opportunity, excuse me, applicant goes through, from sourcing and qualifying to interviewing and on-boarding. Check out RPaas on the AppExchange and make sure you are hiring the right person for the right job at the right time.

Act 4 – Kona DataSearch – KonaSearch – Advanced Search for Salesforce Dave Hall, CEO and co-founder of KonaSearch says that Kona DataSearch allows you to search like nothing else! Search inside and outside of Salesforce.com, with the complete solution. Kona DataSearch is scale-able, integrated, secure and advanced, and Kona DataSearch does fuzzy and full-text searches on active and archived records. It can even search multi-value picklists! Check out Kona DataSearch on the AppExchange and filter your search from 300,000 records down to one without even touching the search box!

Act 5 – Data Cleansing Solutions – CRMfusion – DemandTools, PeopleImport and DupeBlocker Brent McCormick, Sales Manager for CRMfusion likened data flowing into a Salesforce Org to the water system in nature, where rain drops are individual records, rivers and streams are data imports of many records at a time Like water in an eco-system, data in a CRM must be cleaned and maintained to provide your Salesforce users with clean, accurate, and reliable data. CRMfusion offers DemandTools to clean and maintain existing Salesforce data (de-duplication; data standardization and normalization; importing/exporting etc.) and DupeBlocker and PeopleImport to help identify and prevent duplicate records from entering Salesforce. Check out CRMfusion on the AppExchange to clean and protect your data.

Act 6 – Content Management – SpringCM – Manage It, Content and Contract Management John Garvin, Account Executive for SpringCM said that work gets done around documents, and you need to be able to access documents, like contracts, anywhere, on any device. That’s what SpringCM’s Manage It™ for Contracts enables your team to do. Using Manage It™ for Contracts, you can build agreements quickly with pre-approved templates and data pulled right from Salesforce. Check out SpringCM on the AppExchange to streamline your contract process.

Act 7 – Data Backup – Spanning Cloud Apps – Spanning Backup for Salesforce  Chris Pinkston, Sales Representative for Spanning Cloud Apps, says that data backup is not glamorous, but it is necessary. With Spanning Backup for Salesforce, not only can you originate your backup from in Salesforce, but you also get in app, ,on page restore capabilities. Spanning Backup for Salesforce doesn’t just backup your object data either, it backs up everything including chatter and attached files as well as your metadata. Check out Spanning Backup for Salesforce on the AppExchange, and protect your data with automated backups.

Act 8 – Enterprise Resource Planning – FinancialForce – ERP, Financial Management, CPQ, PSA and HCM Sally Sullivan, Account Executive for FinancialForce tells us that walls create problems. Those walls come from disparate systems, and the problems caused impact technology, visibility of data, time & cost of operations, and more importantly customer relationships. FinancialForce has developed an ERP system that is native to the Salesforce1 platform so not only is it mobile, but it also breaks down the walls and solved problems. It’s modular approach allows customers to pick and choose the apps they need to customize a solution. Check out all the FinancialForce apps on the AppExchange, and get your ERP up to Customer Speed.

Act 9 – Project Management – Bracket Labs – TaskRay Eric Wu, CO-Founder of Bracket Labs says that TaskRay takes project management and makes it as easy as sticky notes on a virtual white board. You can drag and drop tasks to a prioritized state, and reassign a task simply by dragging the Chatter Face to the task. Yes, that means TaskRay has Chatter Integration! TaskRay is also 100% native to the Salesforce platform meaning that it’s incredibly easy to integrate project management with your existing Salesforce data and the app is infinitely customizable using standard Salesforce admin techniques. Check out TaskRay on the AppExchange, and take the work, out of teamwork!

Act 10 – Excel for Salesforce – Apttus – X-Author for Excel Jules Ehrlich, Vice President and General Manager for Advanced Solutions at Apttus says that X-Author for Excel transforms Excel from a stand-alone productivity tool into a real-time user interface for Salesforce. You keep the familiar Excel look and feel but you work in Salesforce. You can update opportunities, create quotes, and assign territories. Anything you can do in Salesfore, you can now do in Excel with X-Author for Excel. You can even use unlimited related or unrelated, standard and custom objects to create, retreive, update, delete or upset data across an infinite number of Excel worksheets. Check out X-Author for Excel on the AppExchange, so you can work in Excel, and be in Salesforce.

Act 11 – The Closing Act The Salesforce AppExchange is a great place to go shopping. If you have a need to accomplish a task, collaborate with people, exchange data with other systems, prevent duplicates, safely back up your data, or create reports and dashboards that will wow management and foster adoption, it is definitely time to go shopping! Most, if not all creators of apps will let you try it before you buy it with a free trial period of at least 14 days.There are apps for nearly every industry. There are apps that are designed for Salesforce1 mobile users. There are apps that are even totally free to use, even after your trial period ends! I challenge you to go visit the AppExchange and NOT come away with at least one app to try on for size!

The Making of Dreamforce

The Making of Dreamforce

I had the pleasure of chatting with both Marissa Kraines and Catherine Simmons about a month ago, and by chatting, I mean talking in a real, live telephone conversation and with both of them at the same time!  I was curious what it really took to make Dreamforce the awesome event that it is, and they were more than willing to share with me.

Let’s start with a brief introduction of the two “special guests” on this post:

Catherine Simmons

catherine_simmons

https://twitter.com/fabmissc

She started working for salesforce.com in 2008 in the London office, moved to San Francisco and the Dreamforce team in 2010. This year will be her seventh Dreamforce, and her fifth as part of the team putting the event together.  Catherine is the Senior Director of Strategic Events, is focused on Dreamforce all the time, and along with a huge team, responsible for the execution and strategy for the event.

Marissa Kraines 

marissa_Kraines

https://twitter.com/MarissaLK85

Marissa has been with salesforce.com just a little over a year, and she is the Senior Manager of Social and Content Marketing.  Prior to joining salesforce.com she was an MBA student at the University of Texas (Austin) and had an internship in product marketing with the Service Cloud.

We all know Dreamforce is a massive event, taking up a lot of resources in San Francisco. I was curious to know when planning starts for each year and what all is involved in the process. Catherine and Marissa both indicated that planning for Dreamforce is an ongoing process that overlaps year after year.  There’s not really a “start” date for any given year’s event. I asked the obvious question: Are there plans to move the event from San Francisco? The good news is that salesforce.com is very committed to San Francisco, and I’m told that Moscone is booked for the event all the way out to beyond 2020!

With Catherine being 100% Dreamforce, 100% of the time, I wondered how many other people are responsible for the event. Catherine’s response to that really didn’t surprise me. She said, “Dreamforce touches everyone at salesforce.com, and it’s non-negotiable.”  Those people whose job it is to produce the event – marketing, operations, etc. numbers around 20 with another 20 or so full-time contract employees, and infrastructure people including people from the George P. Johnson agency takes the total into the hundreds.  “And by the way, the George P. Johnson agency is also a salesforce.com customer”, says Simmons.

So my next logical question was how many people actually “work” the event, from registration and check-in, to helping people find their way, to those people on the street corners waving the clipboards that read “Dreamforce Questions?”   Catherine tells me that those people are all subcontracted out by George P. Johnson and number in the hundreds.

I was curious how Keynote Speakers and musical guests are decided upon.  Those decisions are made based on who will be inspiring to the audience and who can tell a great, relevant story. Of course, sometimes it also depends on who can be available at the right time. Elizabeth Pinkham, Senior Vice President for Strategic Events, and Lynn Vojvodich, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and their teams are ultimately drive those decisions.

My final question to Marissa and Catherine:   Are there any “unsung heroes” who should be acknowledged for their contributions and efforts towards the making of Dreamforce?  Once again, the answer I received did not surprise me one bit.  “The entire team deserves the credit! We are like a family, to drink wine with at the end of the day, to give high fives to, etc., and that extends to the George P. Johnson agency too.”

So…there you have it. That’s how Dreamforce is made.

I still think it’s a lot of Hollywood magic, combined with smoke and mirrors!

Moving forward

A few thoughts occurred to me while flying from Chicago to Philadelphia recently.

Some organizations (and size doesn’t matter here) do a great job with customer service but meeting their customers where they are and communicating with customers in the manner I which the customer chooses. A few examples of such organizations include: Habitat for Humanity; Enterasys Networks; American Airlines; KLove Radio, Starbucks, and Salesforce.com.

Of particular interest from that list, at least to me, is Salesforce.com and Enterasys Networks. Why, you might ask? Because both those organizations focus more on B2B interactions, where the final customer may not even realize that Salesforce.com or Enterasys is involved at all. They both provide a backbone for their customers, who I turn rely on the stability of that backbone (or platform, if you will,) to in turn, provide excellent service to their customers.

So why the focus on customer service? Because in some form or another, we all provide customer service. At my job, I am in a role where I support Sales Representatives and Management, but that doesn’t mean what I do on a daily basis has no impact on my company’s customers. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Without the work I do, our Sales Reps might not make the best decisions on how to conduct their business, which in turn affects how our company’s customers view our products. Without customers, wait, make that without satisfied customers, the company can not thrive and grow. I worked in the corporate accounting office for a major shoe retailer for a few years, and we had a saying, “If you did not sell a pair of shoes today, what did you do to help someone who did?”

That sums it up very nicely. Everyone in an organization, no matter what their role, does something that helps shape the final consumers view of the company and the products or services the company sells.

I think it was Sam Walton who once said, “There are two rules in business: Rule #1 – The customer is always right; and Rule #2 – When the customer happens to be wrong, see rule #1.”

We all know that in a perfect world, that works, and we also all know that our world is far from perfect. However, if we all strive for excellence and have as our goal to exceed our customers expectations, we will all be much better off.

Remember, everyone has a little awesome inside, you just need to let it show!

Thank you, part two…and a preview of things to come!

You know that song “Hook” by Blues Traveler?

“It doesn’t matter what I say
So long as I sing with inflection”

Hook by Blues Traveler

I’m not so sure I agree with that statement. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Blues Traveler, and I do hope they make an appearance at Dreamforce 2013, but, in my opinion, most times it really IS what you say, and not how you say it.

In my last post, I thanked colleagues, friends, coworkers and others in the Salesforce community who have inspired and influenced me. In this post, I extend those thanks out to the ecosystem and feel the need to express gratitude to partners who have helped me on this journey over the past 4 years from rookie Salesforce.com business analyst to Salesforce.com MVP.

Forest Yule from Silverpop, thank you for having faith in me and my crazy ‘Midwest Dreamin’ idea for a regional user group event. I appreciate all the support you have given me, and continue to provide to all the Salesforce user groups.

Darren Cunningham from Informatica, Al West from Apttus, Mary Beth Kush from Acumen Solutions, Andy Thoe from Bluewolf – thanks go out to all of you for your support of the user group community.

Cast Iron, DocuSign, NextGen Consulting and JAUST Consulting Partners – Thank you all for your support to the user community as well.

Without all of you, Midwest Dreamin would have remained an idea in my head.

A lot has changed since May, 2011, and I wish I could have made Midwest Dreamin an annual event since then…but there’s always tomorrow – so…be watching, be on the lookout, there very well could be a Midwest Dreamin 2014.