Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear Salesforce Product Management...Thanks For The Wings!

Dear Salesforce Product Management,

Before you start reading, I want to let you know that this isn’t another post telling you all of the ideas you need to implement yesterday, this is a post to say thank you.  I sit here writing this post just after playing with Lightning Process Builder and re-building a fairly complex process we currently have in code.  I was able to re-build 90% of this process that updates cases and inserts new records when certain things happen on a case.  If I could reach out and hug you through my MacBook I would. 

After sitting here trying out my new process in a developer org I started to think, really started to think why I love Salesforce the company and the platform so much.  It’s because of tools like this.  It is because people like me, who have zero coding experience can easily build out a huge complex process in less than an hour.  I re-built most of this in 43 minutes.  Yes, I timed myself, because I was curious. 

This brought me back to why I first fell in love with the Salesforce platform and why I think the company has been so successful.  It is because Salesforce has made its platform configurable to a businessperson.  Someone who really understands his or her business can set the platform up pretty quickly and easily to meet business needs. 

My thoughts naturally turned to my own career path wondering what my career would have been like if Lightning Process Builder had come about seven or eight years ago.  Then, I started to think about the people I met at Dreamforce this past October who are just starting out their Salesforce Admin careers.  Some aren’t full time Salesforce Administrators; actually most of people I met after my sessions or in the Admin Zone were their company’s Salesforce Administrator plus something else (secretary, operations analyst, office manager, etc.).  I realized that this isn’t just a tool to help automate business process; this is a tool for career path.  I guarantee you there is someone sitting at their job right now, who isn’t happy, who catches on, gets certified and gets a better job; a higher paying job; a job that they love where people treat them with respect because they are the subject matter expert for a tool that that their company relies on to do business.

Each time you build something like this for Administrators and Developers to use, you aren’t just making the platform better, faster and easier to configure.  You are giving someone his or her wings.  Wings to a career path, wings to fly out of a job they maybe stuck in because they need to pay bills, take care of their families. 

I’ve had my wings for just over ten years now and my career is soaring at over thirty thousand feet.  If it weren’t for the Salesforce platform I may still be answering someone else’s phone.

If anyone in product management reads this, please take a moment to go into the community today and see what you have built, what you have really built.  Look at all of the ideas posted, the conversations happening in the various groups, and the people helping each other on Answers.  We exist because of you. 

Thank you,

Cheryl Feldman
Owner of Awesome Admin Wings

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Sessions at Dreamforce

I am so excited for Dreamforce 2014!  This is the first year I'm presenting and I'm presenting five times!  Here is the list of sessions where I'm presenting. 

Admins and Business Analysts: Agents of Change
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Moscone Center West, Admin Theater Zone 

10:15 AM - 10:35 AM
Moscone Center West, Admin Theater Zone 

11:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Moscone Center West, Community Lounge 

11:00 AM - 11:40 AM
Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Plaza A 

8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Moscone Center West, 2020

These are sessions that I will be attending and you should too!

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Golden Gate A,B 

I'll be in the Admin Zone at Mascone West for most of the day, so come by and say hello, especially since it will be my Birthday :)

1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Moscone Center South, Main Keynote Room 

6:30 PM - 10:00 PM
Civic Center, Civic Center Plaza 

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Grand Ballroom B
5:00 PM - 5:40 PM
San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Yerba Buena - Salons 10, 11, 12 

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Moscone Center West, Product Keynote Room

See you in less than a week!!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We Are Admins…Hear Us Roar

Dreamforce 2014 is going to be epic and not just because Bruno Mars is performing.  It’s going to be epic because history is going to be made right in front of our eyes.  For the first time ever, Admins are going to have a place to call our own; a place where you can grow as an admin, get your questions answered, get help on that formula field or validation rule, or think about what’s next in your career path; a place where Admins are appreciated and recognized for your achievements on the Salesforce platform, where you will realize that you aren't just a Salesforce Admin, but an Awesome Admin.

The place I’m referring to above is the Admin Zone.  If you are a Salesforce Admin, want to be a Salesforce Admin, or a Developer that is looking to do more with clicks you need to be in the Admin Zone as much as possible.  There are so many great sessions and things to take away from the Admin Zone that you will be able to learn everything from creating basic apps to being a MacGyver Admin.  

In addition to this history-making Admin Zone, we are going to have a Keynote!  Our very own Admin Keynote on Wednesday, October 15th at 9 AM, this is when the real history will be made.  This is where all of us Admins will Roar together with one loud voice.

It doesn’t just stop there, the Admin Keynote will have surprise Guest Speakers, Salesforce swag, Awesome Admins that you know and love from the Salesforce Community.  I am telling you, as an Admin, this Keynote is not to be missed.  If you’re an Admin, this is where you need to be to show the world how awesome it is to be a Salesforce Admins and that we are the heartbeat of our Salesforce implementations. 

If all of that wasn’t awesome enough, what if I told you that you could be in the front row of the Admin Keynote?!  Be up close and personal with some of your favorite admins, including Mr. Button Click Admin himself, Mike Gerholdt!  I have the honor of giving away two front-row seats to the Admin Keynote! 

To enter the contest to win one of two front row seats you will need to do ALL of the following:
  1. Make sure you’re registered for the Admin Keynote here
  2. Comment on this blog post telling me you want to be in the front row of the Admin Keynote
  3. Share this blog post on twitter or the community with the hashtag #AwesomeAdmin letting everyone know that you want to be in the front row of the Admin Keynote.

Winners will be selected at random on October 10th, 2014.

Looking forward to seeing all of you at the Admin Keynote!  

As always, thank you for reading!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Packing for Dreamforce

Recently, I watched the Road to Dreamforce webcast on Admin Success and boy was it amazing.  They talked about everything from top five sessions for admins, the new admin zone and packing for Dreamforce.   If you haven’t checked this series out, you can watch all of the episodes here.  A new episode airs live every Tuesday at 11 AM PST.  While you are watching the episodes live you can tweet with the hash tag #RoadToDF14 and they will answer some questions live!  These live episodes have been so much fun, I really try to block out my calendar so I can watch them live, but if you can’t, they are recorded and available usually within a few hours of airing.

One of the exciting items announced during this episode is that they are having a “Pack your Bags” contest where you can win a Premium Dreamforce Pass!   Per the Dreamforce website a Premium Pass is “The Dreamforce Premium Pass is an upgraded pass available to any full conference Dreamforce registrant looking for exclusive VIP perks.”  All you have you to do is tweet your packing list or a picture of your bag you are packing for Dreamforce with the hashtag #DF14COS.  In case you’re curious, COS stands for Circle of Success, you can read more about Circle of Success here (see #3).

Dreamforce 2014 will be my sixth Dreamforce, and even though I’ve been before, I always struggle with what to pack.  I am definitely one of those people that if I could, I would pack my entire bedroom and bring it with me, but since I’m only allowing myself one checked bag this will not be possible.  I know, I know, first world problems!  What to pack had already been on my mind even before this Road to Dreamforce episode.  I was already tweeting asking people what types of shoes they were bringing and it if it was too early to shop for Dreamforce.  I guess I’m not alone in my thoughts, because others tweeted back that they were also already shopping and preparing.

In response to a few of my tweets, I had some people asking me some specific questions on what I was going to pack, as well as I had people tweeting me after this episode asking me what I was going to pack.  I figured I would use this contest as an opportunity to help some other people who haven’t been to Dreamforce before or those who are just struggling with what to pack.   

I am dividing this up into a few separate posts so you can get to different topics easily.

As always, thank you for reading and I hope you find all of the related posts helpful!


Packing for Dreamforce - Clothes & Outfit Ideas

Before I get into what I’m packing clothes-wise and some outfit ideas I figured I would tell you about my style. I would describe my style as classic with some trendy mixed in. In addition to my style, I should probably tell you that I am plus sized, not that someone who isn’t won’t find this useful, but I thought I would put it out there.

When you are going through your closet to pack for Dreamforce, keep a few things in mind:

  • Dress nice, but comfort is going to be key
  • It’s San Francisco in October
  • You will be walking a lot
  • Temperature varies in session rooms/outside

The Staples

When I start to pack, I pull out what I call my staple pieces where I will build an outfit or outfits around. I like to have a few pieces that can mix or match with other things that can be re-used on different days so I don’t have to pack as much. Without further adieu, here are my staples:

A Blazer – last year I brought a standard black blazer

as well as a teal blazer. A blazer can be matched with a nice pair of black pants to create a more formal look or paired with jeans to dress up a more casual outfit. The other advantage of a blazer is it can also act as a jacket if it gets a little chilly walking between locations for sessions. It can also be taken off if it’s particularly warm in one of the sessions. Most importantly, blazers look good on pretty much everyone. You can see a picture to the right of an outfit idea showing my teal blazer, the same one I wore last year, with some dark jeans and a white top.  

Sweater Dress – Oh how I love thee oh comfortable

sweater dress. If this makes it into your bag, I would recommend bringing one that is short sleeved. Lesson learned last year, I brought two with me: the one pictured below, and a long sleeved one. I overheated in the long sleeved version. The sweater dress I’m showing I actually purchased just before Dreamforce ’12 and it’s seen much love since then and will be making its third appearance at a Dreamforce. I pair this with black leggings, a belt and black boots. You can also dress this up with a chunky necklace or a scarf, which is what I have done in the picture below. This is such a comfortable but cute outfit. I wore it all day at Dreamforce ‘12 and ’13 and even went straight to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert with no issues.

A suit – I’m presenting this year, and I know for
some of the presentations I will want to wear a suit, others I may wear a blazer and nice pants. The suit pictured is from Lane Bryant (from last Fall), it’s a mix of brown and tan and I have paired it with a cranberry colored dress top that can be worn on its own should I want to take the blazer off. The suit I wore last year to an event was a charcoal, which I paired with a purple top underneath. I may bring both this year since I’m presenting a few times. Once I have my schedule ironed out I will know more.

Black pants – Black pants, they go with pretty much everything and you probably already have a favorite pair. I wore my black pants on two different days last year. I wore them the first time for the Girly Geeks event on Sunday and a second time on the last day of Dreamforce. I wore different tops with the pants, so it was like a whole new outfit, but I only had to bring an extra top.

Dark washed jeans – I have a pair of dark washed, extremely comfortable but nice jeans that I like to pair with blazers. Because the jeans are a dark wash you can get away with wearing them in a business casual setting. I actually wear these to work all the time with a blazer or a nice top.

A cardigan – As I mentioned above the temperatures can vary in session rooms. In the same day last year, I was in one session where it felt like it was 80 degrees and in another where I was freezing. It’s always good to have a sweater that you can easily fold up and put in your purse when you don’t need it, but also have it handy in case you are cold. Cardigans work perfectly for this scenario. I will be bringing a black cardigan with me since it will pretty much match everything.

After I have my staples picked out, I pick out other pieces such as tops and shoes that can coordinate with them. If you’re interested in seeing more details on some other pieces I will be bringing let me know, and I will write a follow up post.

I hope this post helps some of you and gives you some ideas on which items from your closet will make it into your Dreamforce bag. I would love to see what you are bringing, so write a post, take a picture or make a list and tweet it out with the hashtag #DF14COS so you can enter the contest too!

Looking forward to seeing you in October and as always, thank you for reading.


Packing For Dreamforce - Shoes

Let me start this post by telling all of you my nickname, Cheryl Shoes. My friends made this name up for me when I was 19, and it kind of stuck. If you can’t already tell by that nickname, I love shoes! Shoes are like art to me. It’s the way someone can express himself or herself through footwear. I have lots of different kinds of shoes, but as far as Dreamforce goes, I pack shoes with the two C’s in mind…comfortable and cute.

I give a lot of credit to women who can rock heels at Dreamforce; I am unfortunately, not one of those women. I tried wearing heels at my first Dreamforce. The space wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, and my feet were killing me after the first day. After the first day of sessions, I bought a pair of black flats. I knew after that experience that for any future Dreamforce, it would be flats only.

So, for Dreamforce ’14 what will I be bringing? Below is a picture of some of my flats that may make it into my bag. I will have to finalize my outfits first before I make the final shoe decision, but I do know of a few pairs that will definitely make it into my bag. 

Black Boots – I am so glad I had these with me last year since it rained a lot. The black boots shown below I purchased just before Dreamforce last year, and they held up really well. Mine are from Torrid, which in case you are not familiar is a plus size clothing store, but they also carry shoes. If you struggle with wide calves, I recommend checking this store out even if you are not plus sized - their boots have a wider calf than other brands. I will pair these boots with my sweater dress and they can be paired with jeans or other pants if it gets rainy, so my feet don’t get wet.

Black dressy flats – I have a few pairs of black flats, patent leather, black leather and suede. Last year I brought just my black leather flats with me. I’m thinking that I may bring my black patent leather flats with me. They look really cute with black pants or jeans and they are really comfy.

Coach Sneakers – I bought my first pair of coach sneakers just before Dreamforce ’12. I was looking for a pair of sneakers that were dressy, but still gave the comfort of sneakers. These were perfect. Two years and miles of pavement later, they are shot. I just purchased a new pair, which you can see in the back right of the below picture. They definitely fit the two C’s, cute and comfortable! I will probably wear them to travel, as well as anytime during Dreamforce where my feet need some extra support. If you’re looking for a pair of these or any other dressy sneakers check out DSW, that’s where I got mine, and they were about $30 less than what Coach has them for on their website.

Flip flops – I recommend bringing a pair of these to walk around your hotel in. Sometimes putting on your socks and shoes can be a hassle if you just want to run out to the ice machine or even just to walk around your room. I personally don’t like the idea of walking barefoot in a hotel, but that’s just my quirk - I do not judge others who do it.

This list may change based on what I end up packing. I can certainly update you on what shoes are in my bag as I’m packing for Dreamforce if you’re interested. I hope this post helps some of you. If you love shoes too, definitely share what shoes you are packing for Dreamforce. I’m always looking for ideas and shoe-inspiration. Don’t forget to tag what you share with the hashtag #DF14COS so you can be entered into the contest!

Can anyone else believe Dreamforce is less than two months away?! I’m getting excited! As always, thank you for reading.


Packing for Dreamforce - Makeup & Hair Goodies

If you haven’t read my blog before, let me start by telling you that I am a makeup artist on the side. I used to do hair and makeup full time prior to my career as a Salesforce Admin and Business Analyst. If you’re curious as to how I got here, you can ready my story here. With that being said, I love makeup; I might love makeup more than I love shoes. If were given a choice as to which I loved more, I couldn’t choose! It would be like picking a favorite child. As I mentioned on my previous post about shoes, shoes are a way of expression to me, for me makeup is the same. With all of that being said, as far as Dreamforce goes, I don’t go too crazy. It is technically work, although for me, it’s my favorite time of year. I love it more than Hanukah, Christmas and my Birthday combined!

Before I get into this, I want to post a disclaimer; I would never ever tell anyone they have to or should wear makeup. As I mentioned above, I have loved makeup for as long as I can remember and it is always a key component of packing for me. 

When choosing products to bring with me on any sort of trip, I think about a few things:
  • What type of event is it
  • What types of looks will I be doing
  • Will I be doing anyone else’s makeup
For Dreamforce I stick to full coverage looks, similar to what I would wear to work, but something that I know will stay all day, won’t move and will photograph nicely. If you didn’t hear on the Road to Dreamforce episode on admin success at Dreamforce, there is going to be a photographer available to take headshots in the Admin Zone!

I posted a picture below of the products I will most likely bring with me. I’m not going to go into detail on each item, but for each category of makeup I will go into the type of makeup I chose and why.

Skincare – When travelling, I typically only bring a few skincare items with me that are easy to use, effective and travel friendly.

Makeup Remover Wipes – my favorite brand is Neutrogena, these take off a good amount of makeup and never irritate my eyes. These are also great for touch ups. This is also more sanitary to use on others when doing makeup on other people, so you’re not potentially spreading bacteria in a bottle of eye makeup remover.

Daily Facial Cleansing Cloths – Oil of Olay makes these, but to be honest, I always get the Wal-Mart brand (they work the same). These are dry cloths that you can wet and have cleanser on them. They take off everything including waterproof mascara.

Moisturizer – I usually just put some of my moisturizer into a little travel bottle and throw it in my carry on. The one I’m currently using is by Garnier. If you have dry skin check this line out, works just as well as some of the high-end brands.

Face Makeup

Primers – The key to getting your foundation to stay all day is a good primer or primers for different purposes. Think about painting a wall, you prime the wall before you apply the paint so the paint applies evenly, same goes for foundation. I’m loving the Hourglass primer, which I apply all over, especially in my dry areas. A lot of us struggle with large pores. There is nothing you can do to make your pores go away or to change their shape, but you can minimize their appearance. I really like the pore minimizing primer by NYX for this. If you like Porefessional by Benefit, it’s almost an exact dupe for about 1/3 of the price. I just apply this where I have large pores (on my cheeks and forehead).

Foundation – I’m going to bring my Bare Minerals makeup with me. I love this foundation. You can build it up to a very full coverage or use it lightly for minimal coverage. What I love most about this is when you do make it full coverage it does last a long time. If you’re speaking and going to be under hot lights, Bare Minerals in most cases doesn’t break down where other foundations might. If you’re looking for a good drug store foundation, check out Revlon Color Stay. This has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. It can feel a bit heavy on the skin, so if you’re not used to wearing foundation you may not like it, and it isn’t as travel friendly as Bare Minerals.

Concealer – I use Maybelline Fit Me concealer, it’s creamy and really brightens your under eyes. It’s an almost exact dupe for NARS Radiant Creamy concealer for about 1/5 of the price.

Setting Powder – This is something I definitely wanted to touch on. If you know you’re going to be photographed, stay away from the white setting powders (like Makeup Forever HD), these can cause flashback. They are great for film, bad for photography. When I say flashback I mean your face appearing 3 shades lighter than the rest of your body. If you are looking for a good setting powder to set concealer or foundation with, get one that has some color in it. I recommend Ben Nye Banana Powder for setting concealer. I use the Bare Minerals mineral foundation to set the liquid version of their foundation.

Blush/Bronzer/Highlighter – I typically like to bring one palette that I can use with various colors. The one you see in the picture is by Tarte.  This palette was limited edition, so I won't be able to link to it.  I will probably bring this or something like it with a highlighter and deeper bronzer for contouring.

Eye Makeup

Eye Primer – similar to what I mentioned above about face primer, the same goes with eyes. If you don’t use primer, eye shadow can tend to crease and by the end of the day it may look like you never even had shadow on. My holy grail eye primer is Primer Potion by Urban Decay. I have tried so many other brands and this is the best one I’ve ever used.

Eye Shadow – the palette I show here is the Full Exposure Palette by Smashbox. I will probably bring this or a palette like it so I have different colors to choose from, but are all in the somewhat neutral color family. If you’re looking for a drug store alternative to this, check out the new Nudes Palette by Maybelline.

Eye Liner – This is probably the toughest product to get to stay all day. Even if a product claims to be “bullet proof” our eyes tear throughout the day, we sometimes rub them, and when we do that, off comes our eyeliner. I find that after applying a liner if you set it with some shadow of the same color it will last much longer. I tend use a gel liner on my top lash line and a pencil liner in my water line.

Mascara – You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get long, full lashes. My favorite mascara is by a brand called Essence. It’s in a pink tube in the picture below. Its less than $5 at Ulta and performs similar to They’re Real by Benefit or DiorShow by Dior. I can make my lashes look like falsies with 2-3 coats of this mascara.

False lashes – For a very dramatic look I will wear false lashes. I will probably do this for the concert. My favorite lashes are the ones in the picture. I got them at IMATS earlier this year (makeup artist trade show) and they don’t have a brand on them, sorry. But if you are looking for false lashes I recommend the Demi Wispies by Ardell. You can find them in most drug stores.


I don’t plan on doing any crazy lip looks, so I will probably bring 1-2 neutral colored lipsticks and the same for lip-glosses. I featured a few in the picture below. The only other necessity for me is some sort of lip balm. When I talk a lot my lips get very dry. My favorite at the moment is by EOS. You can get them at any drug store.

All about hair

As far as hair goes, I’m doing something different this year. I’m not going to bring much hair product with me, maybe a dry shampoo, some hairspray and a few hair ties. I’ve decided I’m going to treat myself to the DryBar on Sunday the 12th. Even though I can give myself a killer blow out, in order for me to do this I need to schlep my dryer, my brushes, and product, which adds a lot of weight to my bags. For $40, I can get my hair blown out. If you haven’t been to the DryBar you should check them out. They have two locations in San Francisco. I’ll be going to the one in Union Square and already have my appointment booked. Typically I can get my blow out to last 3-4 days with dry shampoo. If you don’t know, I have very thick, coarse, dry, curly hair, so I don’t really have a problem with oily hair. If anyone wants to go with me, let me know and I’ll tell you my appointment time and you can book yours at the same time. It’s a lot of fun.

I hope this post was helpful to some of you. If you have any specific makeup questions, please leave a comment below and I can answer. If you’re looking to have your makeup done by me, leave a comment below as well. There is no fee if you let me take before and after pictures that I can use for my portfolio. We will just need to plan ahead to make sure our schedules match up.

If you love makeup like me, and are making your list of makeup essentials for Dreamforce share it with the hashtag of #DF14COS so you can be entered into the contest, too!

As always, thank you for reading. See you soon!!! Dreamforce is almost here!!!


Packing For Dreamforce - My Suitcase and Other Accessories

Since the idea of this contest was to show your bag(s) that you are bringing to Dreamforce, you can see mine below. I always get compliments on my suitcase when I travel, so I thought I would share some details about it and tell you where you can get one too.

I purchased the suitcase you see in the picture below for Dreamforce last year. I don’t travel that much anymore, so I had a crappy suitcase that was basically falling apart. I decided to treat myself to a new suitcase. I got this one from Kohls, the brand is American Tourister, and it came in a set of three. There was the largest one, which you see in the picture, a medium size suitcase and a small travel tote. The whole set was on sale for $99 and it’s held up really well. I’ve taken 4 trips with it and no issues so far. I have also seen this brand at Wal-Mart and Target, so definitely check these stores for luggage sets if you need one. Another great place to find deals on expensive luggage brands is T.J. Maxx or Nordstrom Rack, you can find nice pieces there that are heavily discounted.

The black Tory Burch bag you see across the suitcase is my favorite cross body bag. This was my splurge earlier this year at a Tory Burch outlet center in upstate NY. I recommend bringing a cross body bag that you can use at night or when walking around. This way it keeps your hands/arms free for other things while still being able to keep your bag close to you. This particular bag has a long cross body strap that can be removed as well as a shorter gold plated strap that can be used to carry this as more of an evening bag. This strap can be removed as well. If you are looking for a bag like this and looking for a more affordable option check out Target. They have a great bag selection. I have a few nice bags from Target that can pass as a designer bag. I have a bag that looks similar to this, but in a different color that was less than $30 at Target.

The last bag you see in this picture is my Dreamforce backpack from last year. I love this backpack so much. I carry my laptop and other office essentials back and forth between my physical office and home office all the time. It’s my favorite Dreamforce bag…ever. I will be using this bag to carry pretty much the same things I normally carry in it: my electronics and my notebooks, plus any items I want to carry on board with me. I tend to bring as much of my makeup on board with me as possible since some of it is breakable, and don’t want to risk it getting smashed in my bag.

There are some other things that I wanted to mention that I feel are necessities for me, so here is my list:

Umbrella – just in case it rains again, they did give out free ones, but it was nice to have my own with me.
Extra Ziplock bags – I always carry a few extra just in case
Sunglasses – I always wear my sunglasses when walking in the city during the day and it will be no different for me in San Francisco, it keeps wind and sun out of your eyes. If you are looking for cute and affordable sunglasses check out Forever 21, they have most sunglasses for less than $10.
Hand Sanitizer – I keep this handy in my bag so if I am around a lot of people or touching something like a public stairwell I can get rid of any germs on my hands if I can’t get to a sink.
Hand Moisturizer – Since the above can dry your hands out, I always keep this handy in my bag.
Tissues – Those little purse packs can come in really handy when you’re traveling.

I hope you found this helpful. Don’t forget to share your bag or what you are packing for Dreamforce with the hashtag #DF14COS so you can be entered in the contest, too!

As always, thank you for reading.


Packing for Dreamforce - Electronics

Before each Dreamforce I go through the debate of, “Should I bring my laptop or should I leave it at home?” Last year, I decided to leave my laptop home and only travel with my iPhone and iPad. I will be honest, I did miss my laptop last year. I have never really brought my laptop to sessions, but where it does come in useful is if I have to respond to an email and it’s going to be a lengthy response, it’s much easier to type on my laptop. The other reason I missed my laptop was after some sessions I wanted to try out a feature that I just learned about, and I couldn’t really do that without a laptop. That’s when I missed my laptop the most.

So, this year I’ve decided to bring the following electronics with me:

  • iPhone – this is my personal phone
  • Samsung S4 – this is my work phone
  • iPad – more for reading on the plane
  • Laptop
  • Extra battery power for smartphones – I have one by Anker you can see in the picture below. It works really well and it’s pink!
  • Headphones – mine are by Bose and I love them.
  • Charging cords
  • Extra lenses for iPhone – I recently ordered these from Amazon, they are supposed to make some really cool effects for pictures taken with your camera.
  • Apps – my necessary apps on my iPhone are – Dreamforce App, Salesforce1, SalesforceA, Google maps, Uber, United Airlines (airline I’m taking). 

I hope you find this helpful. What electronics are you bringing with you to Dreamforce? Is there something missing on my list that you’re going to bring? Tweet your list of what you’re bringing with the hashtag of #DF14COS so you can be entered in the contest, too.

As always, thanks for reading.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The best vacation day...ever.

Yesterday, July 23rd, was the sixth day of my vacation, and so far one of my favorite days.  No, I didn’t go to the beach or anything like that.  I attended the NYC User Group and helped facilitate User Group Therapy sessions. You may be reading this and looking at the title again, saying to yourself, “Didn’t she just say vacation day?”  Yes, you read correctly. 

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Kendra Webb-Scott, the NYC User Group Leader, stating that she was going to be trying something new at the NYC User Group called User Group Therapy.  The description of this read, “You asked, and we listened! Our focus for the next meeting is all about YOU! One of the biggest benefits of the User Group community is getting tips and best practices from your peers to make the most out of your CRM. That's why we're introducing User Group Therapy - an open forum session to allow all attendees to ask questions, seek advice, share experiences and generally help each other out.”  When I read this, I immediately knew I wanted to attend this and offer up to help out.  I can’t think of a better way to give back to the community that has helped me so much than to facilitate a session like this.

Kendra had this broken out into three different 45-minute sessions, which were held downstairs from the main area where the partners were presenting.  There really weren’t specific topics, but each session had different facilitators.  The session I was facilitating with Jean Winget was first at 9 AM.  That first session had around eight attendees.  After brief introductions, we jumped right in and the questions and comments just started flowing naturally.  The questions included making sure the right people were informed about Opportunities, building mobile apps, data integrity, tools for data cleansing, and some general adoption questions.  My co-facilitator, Jean, is a database/data expert and offered up some great advice on what to do if you have dirty data coming in from an integration, and who you may want to reach out to at your company to help you fix it.  We ended the session by talking about some great administrator tools that come out-of-the-box, such as workflow, validation rules, visual workflow (flow), and of course, my favorite, publisher actions!

After the first User Group Therapy session ended, it seemed that word spread like wildfire about what was going on downstairs.  As I was gathering my things to head back upstairs, I realized how big the group had gotten in the room; it more than doubled in size for the next two facilitators, Ohad Idan and Carlos Frias.  I decided to stay because I thought there might be even more interesting discussion, because Ohad and Carlos both act as both admins and developers at their respective companies.  I have always enjoyed hearing their perspective on things, so I knew this was going to be a great session. 

The second session started similarly with brief introductions, then everyone just jumped right into it.  The first question was around Documents vs. Content.  Various people in the room, including myself, were able to answer questions on Libraries, some best practices on Libraries and some benefits of Content.  Then, someone in the room made a comment about the session in general, “I can’t say the word workflow at my company, because I’m the only one who understands what that word means.  I love that I can come here and talk to others who know what that means and can talk about challenges, ask questions, and see what others are doing.”  This started to lead the discussion around the path of community, not just community, but The Salesforce community and how great it is.  Carlos pulled up the New York User Group page on the Success Community and showed everyone how to access it.   People in the room started to share their stories of how much the community has helped them over the years.  Carlos and Ohad started to go through the different tabs on the community.  When they got to the Ideas tab, more discussion started to happen on why you should vote on ideas.  Ohad pointed out that they now put in the release notes all of the ideas that were delivered in that release.  I talked about how one of my ideas was delivered in this release, and how many Ideas points Salesforce Product Managers released this past release.  I also talked about the power of the community, and how if outside of these meetings if anyone needs advice just post on the New York User Group Page.  Once they got to the Answers tab, some of the attendees started to recount Steve Mo answering their question.  There was a lot of community love in the room. 

One of the other major topics discussed was Chatter, on successful rollout and adoptions. There was one name that must have come up about five times during this discussion, and that name is Becky Webster.  There were several of us talking about some of her great blog posts as well as her Dreamforce presentations from last year. We plan to post them on the New York User Group page so everyone can watch because they are so helpful. 

After the community discussion, the second session wrapped up with questions around communication and training to users and some best practices.  There were so many great suggestions in the room for the newbie admin.  In my opinion, this is why these sessions were so successful. You had people from all types of companies, in various roles, helping each other be successful. 

Allister McKenzie and Vikram Kamra, who both have a wealth of Salesforce knowledge and experience, facilitated the third session.  It was actually Vikram’s first user group in NYC, but even though he didn’t know anyone, he was completely willing to help as many people as possible and share more than a decade worth of Salesforce knowledge.  I figured I had stayed for the first two sessions, why not stay for all three? I’m so glad I did.  The third session went through even more detail on Chatter, including some of the benefits and how to convince your manager to let you roll it out.  There were so many great suggestions around this.  We also talked about the different types of Sandboxes, what a Sandbox is, and how you should use it.  I talked about how our developers use the different types of sandboxes for our development process.  I also encouraged everyone in the room, after they make sure they are on the success community, to go to and sign up for a developer org. It’s free and you can play with all sorts of stuff. 

In the morning, I had set a goal for myself that I wanted to try and help five admins at the user group.  Together, we helped around 40 admins of all levels.  We received extremely positive feedback about these sessions, and Kendra has now made this a staple for the NYC User Group!  I am so happy to have been a part of this.

I will never forget when I first attended the NYC User Group and how happy I was to get help with my formulas.  If it weren’t for those people, I may not have the career I have today.  I’m hoping that at least one person has the same feeling and maybe at the next meeting they will help facilitate a session and pay it forward.  After reading this, I’m hoping now you will see why this was my favorite day of my vacation so far.  To me, this isn’t work, this is fun. 

As always, thank you for reading.


P.S. – if you haven’t attended your local user group, definitely do so, you can see a list of all user groups here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Do Experienced Admins Need A Certification?

Making the decision to get certified

As some of you know I have been a Salesforce Admin/BA for nearly 10 years, but I was never certified. It's not that I didn’t want to, it's just that I never made time for it. A few community friends of mine, as well as post from Button Click Admin, convinced me I should do it for a whole myriad of reasons. I started on this venture because I honestly got sick of people saying, “You’re so good I can’t believe you’re not certified, just do it you’ll pass.“

When I made my decision that I was going to get certified, I set a goal to be certified by July 31, 2014. I highly recommend putting a goal with an actual date around it otherwise you'll never take the plunge. You'll just keep saying next month or next year, which is basically what I did. I honestly made the decision because I was sick of people nagging me.

Studying and Practicing for the Certification

Once my mind was made up that I was going to do this, the first thing I did was google “Salesforce Practice Certification Test.” Oh boy where do I start?  There is some bad information out there. I remember taking one practice test and the first question on the test was clearly wrong. It only got worse as the test went on.

Here is an example of that:

I gave up on finding a good practice site and joined the “NYC Cert Club” which was members of the NYC User Group working together to get certified. Unfortunately my work schedule sometimes got so crazy I wasn’t able to make these sessions. Even though the sessions were recorded it wasn’t the same and I enjoyed the discussion and interaction I had with others. It's a great tool if you can make time for it, unfortunately I ended up having a mandatory meeting at the same time as this each week so it didn’t work out for me. I do highly encourage those who can carve out the time during their day to attend these. There are also certification groups on the community you can join here (please keep in mind you will need to meet their qualifications mentioned on their page).

I started to take a different strategy. I signed up for a new developer org solely for the purpose of practicing for the admin exam. When I first started on this venture, I was using a configuration only sandbox tied to my org.  Shortly after starting to study some out of the box features, I realized this was not the best approach since my org is so highly customized. Once I setup a free developer org, I found that it was even more beneficial for me, because I was able to see what Salesforce comes with out of the box.

I wasn't prepared for what was going to happen next...

An interesting thing started to happen that I was completely unprepared for. It was an unexpected surprise. I was learning not only for the certification, but for the benefit of my company and well, my career. After I spent about 4 hours on a Sunday afternoon reading the help section and playing around in my developer org, I sent an email to my team highlighting some best practices and even about some features we could be using. I started to see the benefit of the certification right away. It wasn’t that I just needed this cool little icon on my Twitter picture, it's that I was learning about features that I wouldn’t normally look at. Features I didn’t necessarily have requirements for, but I started to figure out ways our business users could use them. 

As I mentioned above when I first started this venture it was more about getting people off my back about getting certified rather than all of the benefit that could possibly come with getting certified. I think this was because I never really saw what the big deal was about being certified. My studying became more about how I could help better our implementation rather than a status thing or proving my knowledge to someone, which is what I prefer anyway and part of what drove me to keep doing this every Sunday. I was building my own knowledge as well as building our backlog.

Finally a Great practice resource

It was about a month ago when I came across a site called Certified on Demand. I was blown away. They offer free content as well as paid content. They have their site broken out into sections of the test. I decided to pay for a membership of $40.00. The first thing I did after paying for a membership is start taking the quizzes for each section without reading through the sections to see how well I did and what I needed to work on. Turns out on most of the quizzes I was scoring 90-100%. There were a few in areas where I hadn’t used or studied yet that I needed to work on. 

When I was taking the quizzes and I got something wrong I would write down the topic(s) on a piece of paper near my desk and keep a running list. Every Sunday, I would dedicate at least one hour to knocking a few of these items off of my list. What I would do is open up my dev org, and the help, section and learn about the topic/feature and start to play with it in my dev org. I personally find that I learn better by actually setting up a feature rather than just reading or memorizing something from the help section.

Jumping in with both feet

I looked at my calendar and June was halfway over. I decided to register for my exam, I figured if I had an exact date then I would push myself harder to spend more time studying. After I knocked all of my topics of my list and went through each one in my dev org it was the weekend before my certification. I decided to take the full practice test on Certified on Demand. You know what, all of the hard work paid off, first time around I got all but two correct! I looked at the two questions I got wrong and studied up and took it again Monday evening and got all but one correct. I started to google for more practice tests to cram the night before. I found some answers to practice questions on Shell Black’s website and got all of the questions correct! I finally felt ready. I was going to do this. I was going to pass my certification with flying colors on my first try.

Answering the original question

I am happy to say that as of July 1, 2014 I’m officially a certified admin. I don’t know if it makes me any better at my job, but I definitely learned a lot through this experience. So, do experienced or veteran admins need a certification? Absolutely. You may know everything about your org/implementation but there maybe features that you haven't touched that could be helpful to your organization. It's not just about your org it's about the platform as a whole. When you become certified you become more than just an expert at your company, but an expert on the overall platform. I used to never see the big deal, now I do. I know there are probably about a dozen people reading this rolling their eyes, yelling, "We told you so!" So to those dozen people, thank you for nagging me.

I would like to end this post by encouraging all “veteran admins” who haven’t been certified yet to do so. I guarantee that you will increase your knowledge about Salesforce beyond your org. Go for it. I did and don’t regret it one single bit.

As always, thanks for reading.

PS - If you think Salesforce should come out with a good practice test with questions and answers vote for my idea here.