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

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!

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Elna Miller

This is the eighteenth 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 force behind the Salesforce Goodie List, Elna Miller.
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What’s your job title? Customer Success Strategy Senior Manager, Salesforce.

What does that mean you do? I help produce and run a global, interactive, community-integrated webinar extravaganza. I also like to hang out in the Success Community where I serve as a moderator for several groups and share my pet project, the Goodie List. (EFD – I love the Goodie List.  It’s always full of great things! And the Webinar series is loaded with awesomeness too. **Links to the webinar series and a few other “Goodies” are at the bottom of this post. )

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? Since 2009. I started as customer, as an admin/BA for a new implementation, then took a break to move cross country and have a set of twin girls before starting at Salesforce a little over four and a half  years ago. (EFD – Hmm, you took a break to move and have twins, and then you go back to work. I suppose now you work to get a break from the twins??)

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

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know?  What you know prepares you to impress who you know. (EFD – I knew the who and the what were connected, but I never thought about it that way before.)

How did our relationship start, and when? I believe we met at the first MVP Summit in 2014 and then we were lucky enough to recruit you as a guest host on one of our Premier Adoption webinars. Examples you contributed remain in the webinar presentation to this day! (EFD – I think we met virtually before the MVP Summit in 2014, but it was great to meet you in person at the Summit, and a total blast to help out with the webinar!)

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 not allowed to give blood here in the US because I lived in the UK for more than 6 months during the “mad cow” era. (EFD – Uh…Moo?)

Here’s the scoop on the webinar series and some of Elna’s favorite groups on the Success Community:

New to Salesforce:
Intermediate/Advanced:
*exclusively for Premier customers
Community Groups and Hot Spots:

You can find Elna on Twitter.

I always give my featured community members a chance to review and comment on the blog post before I publish it (Yeah, I’m nice like that!) and in response to my “Twins” comment, here’s what Elna shared, and I can personally relate to that, living in a house with three teen-aged girls! (No offense to women intended at all…and if you are offended, I’m sorry. I’m expressing my opinion, and you are welcome to share yours!)

kids no-kids

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Claudio Castro

This is the seventeenth 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 newest addition to the Salesforce Success Community Team, Claudio Castro.

CMC Headshot - Edited copy

 

What’s your job title? Community Manager – Success Community, Salesforce.

What does that mean you do? I’m the go-to person for all things Success Community internally and externally (in the Community)! I handle the day-to-day shtuff (admin tasks, campaigns, questions, spam, awareness) as well as long-term projects. (EFD – Ok…two things:  1 – I like how you talk “shtuff”…that’s a combination of “Shhh” and “stuff”, which means you get things done quitely. 2 – Uh, EXCUSE ME!  Handling spam is not “day-to-day”…ok, so it may be a daily occurrence, but keeping the community free of it is certainly a BIG deal! So on behalf of the entire Community….Thank you!)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I’ve been with Salesforce an AMAZING three months now. (EFD – Whoa….that long already?  That must mean your orientation was being thrown headfirst into Dreamforce week. Ouch!)

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

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know?  It’s definitely both! Who you know will get you in the door and the what you know will get you past the door. There have definitely been instances where I’ve experienced or seen both. When it comes to the “what you know” aspect of it though, you’ve got to know your stuff. It’s like Shark Tank. Cool, you’ve got something to present to some amazing entrepreneurs, but if your product is crap, they won’t invest. (EFD – Ahhh…another Shark Tank fan….and a great analogy.)

How did our relationship start, and when? A couple weeks into my role, I don’t remember exactly when, but you (and the other members of the Community) welcomed me with open arms by engaging with me on the Success Community!! (EFD – I’ve got an idea…how about you make a trip to Chicago and see the Community in action first hand at Midwest Dreamin’ 2016?)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? I LOVE music. I can’t live without it. I listen to anything that sounds good to my ears regardless of genre, although my favorites are R&B and Rap. (Yes, some Country included.) DVSN, Ryan Hemsworth, and Ty Dolla $ign are some artists I’ve been listening to lately. If you want a new recommendation or need some music for a certain mood, holla at me on Twitter! (EFD – There’s some really great musicians in the Success Community like Ryan Headley, to name just one.)

You can find Claudio on Twitter.

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing THE Chris Duarte

This is the thirteenth 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 one and only, Chris Duarte.

Chris_small

What’s your job title? Managing Editor of Trailhead, Salesforce.

What does that mean you do? I make sure the content on Trailhead is rad! (EFD – For those who don’t know what Trailhead is, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE PAST YEAR?  Oh, sorry.  I got carried away.  Check out Trailhead here.)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? Five years. (EFD – Five years?  Ha,ha!  I’ve got you beat!   What?  It’s not a competition?  Oh, so sorry.)

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

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know?  So here’s the deal. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, and I think every day presents a chance to learn something new. Just this morning (EFD November 11th, the date Chris gave me these details) I was in a meeting with Todd Enders, and I was about to launch into this deck I created. He stopped me and asked a few questions, which got the room talking and got us off on the right note. The meeting had a great outcome, by the way, and now I’ve learned a new way to communicate with impact (thanks, Todd!).

This is the thing I love about learning! One minute you’re doing things the same old way you’ve always done them, and the next you’ve completely changed your mind about something you were so sure about before. You learn, and then you transform. It’s rad when it happens! Ultimately, that’s the reason I work on Trailhead. Because I believe where we can go and who we can become is limitless, and Trailhead is an amazing way to help us get there.

How did our relationship start, and when? I think we met on Twitter in 2014. Our relationship solidified when you agreed to present in our success theater at Dreamforce 2014. Then I returned the favor by presenting at Midwest Dreamin’ 2015. Thanks again for having me! (EFD – I’ve got an idea…how about a Trailhead “thing” at Midwest Dreamin’ 2016?)

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 related to Abraham Lincoln. (EFD – Wow, really?  I wish I would have know that, and you, back in early 1865 so I could have asked you to get me his autograph.  Oh wait….nevermind.)

You can find Chris on Twitter.

Are you looking for some Salesforce.com training?

As the leader of a Salesforce.com User Group since 2010, my biggest challenge has been finding content that provides relevant and helpful information to the members of the group. Our last meeting we had presentations by two business analytics partners of Salesforce.com. The group told me they wanted more analytics, so I began searching. That’s when I discovered Stony Point.

I recently coordinated and participated in Stony Point’s Introduction to Salesforce Analytics – Reports, Dashboards & Snapshots (SPRD-101A) course, along with several coworkers and many other members of the Southern Indiana Salesforce.com User Group. The entire experience, from the first interaction via email to the culmination and completion of the training session was outstanding. Stony Point provided great customer service, responding very quickly to my many inquiries about course cost, detailed curriculum, and scheduling the on-site training to our convenience.

I was equally impressed with the facilitator they provided us with. Beth Ann began the class by introducing herself, giving us a brief history of her qualifications and then asked the participants to do the same. She then dove right into the course. She did a great job making it very interactive, calling each student by name as they had questions, or when she was asking for real-life use case examples. She kept everyone engaged in the training session by injecting humor and some of her personal experiences.

The audience she was teaching at this session ranged from the true novice, who had never logged into Salesforce.com before to full blown certified Administrators and Developers. Nearly everyone indicated to me after the class that they gained knowledge of things they felt they could take back to their organizations and implement. It was a great success, and worth every penny.

I highly recommend Stony Point for your Salesforce.com training needs.

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About Stony Point: Stony Point is a leading provider of Salesforce training for end users, administrators, developers and consultants. Stony Point develops and delivers training classes throughout the world for customers of all sizes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. All classes are conducted by a live instructor, offered publicly and privately and students may attend either virtually or in-person. Please visit StonyPoint for complete details on what they offer.