Tuesday, March 25, 2014

All it Takes is One Yes

Last Friday evening I was winding down my work week and getting ready to watch some Netflix when I heard my phone go off. I looked down and saw it was a direct twitter message from a new friend that contacted me because she read one of my blog posts. She was looking for some advice. She is currently a secretary doing both secretarial work as well as Salesforce Administration work. I really wasn't doing anything that exciting so I sent her my phone number and told her to give me a call.

A few minutes later my phone rang and I could hear the sadness and frustration in her voice. I asked her what was wrong. She started to tell me that her manager told her that her secretarial duties were more important than the work she was doing with Salesforce. They were also not going to give her a raise this year even though she took on a substantial amount of work by maintaining and configuring their Salesforce org. Her manager isn't willing to pay for training or help her get her certification. She has been going to a free certification class on her own time in the evenings through her local user group. Her dreams of attending the Midwest Dreamin' event were also crushed. Her manager gave her the famous line of “you're just a secretary.” I tried my best to provide some words of wisdom, but I knew I had to help her, I just wasn't sure how. I promised that I would get back to her if I figured out a way that I could help her.

Once I hung up with my new friend I started to think back to when I was a secretary. I remembered being a distraught twenty-four year old hiding in a stall in a ladies room crying my eyes out. I had just finished my first Salesforce project and my manager had promised if I did that successfully he would put me on track for a promotion to Salesforce Administrator. I had worked so hard on this project, sales reps as well as sales management loved it. I had over a dozen emails from various people within the sales department thanking me for their new way to track customer visits and interactions as well as all of their new dashboards.

The week after we rolled out the new functionality to Sales, my manager put a meeting on my calender to discuss my “career”. I was sure he was going to tell me that he was going to promote me or I was going to be moved into another department to focus on Salesforce Administration. Unfortunately I was completely wrong. My manager told me that I was “just a secretary” that completed one small project and that didn't warrant a promotion. He was also having trouble grasping why I even wanted to do anything other than get him coffee. He told me since he started managing me a few months prior he barely gave me any hard work like my previous manager and I should be grateful that I have an easy job.

I felt so betrayed, like my whole world was crashing down around me. All I wanted was to be a Salesforce Administrator. I held in my tears until I left his office. I made a bee line for the ladies room, locked myself in a stall and just cried. After I had no more tears to even cry, I came out of the stall, dried my eyes, washed my face and made my way back to my desk. I sent my manager an email that I wasn't feeling well and was going home.

When I arrived home, I decided to call one of my heroes from the Salesforce User Group I mentioned in my previous blog to see what they thought. I was so happy that he took my call. I explained to him everything that happened with my manager and how betrayed I felt. I will never forget what he told me. He said “Just because this jerk said you're only a secretary doesn't mean you are. In my mind if you completed that project on your own, you already are a Salesforce Administrator. You should look for a new job.” I felt so much better after speaking with him. I remember thinking that he was right, I should look for a new job.

I decided at that very moment that I was going to fully build my whole career on the Salesforce platform regardless of what anyone told me. I knew what I wanted and I was going to go after it. I won't lie, it wasn't easy. I had several “no's”, but I finally did get my one “yes”. That one “yes” changed my life. I no longer had a Secretary title. I was the company's Salesforce Administrator with business cards and everything. I am forever grateful for someone taking a chance on me.

If you're reading this and you're in a similar situation to where I was or where my new friend currently is, I'm here to tell you that I believe in you. You can do this and if you're doing things like I was doing in the Salesforce platform, you indeed are already a Salesforce Admin.  I'm going to do my best to try and help you. I want to see you get your “yes”.

I wasn't exactly sure until today how I was going to help the people reaching out to me. I decided today that I was going to share more of my story, so I can help the community understand what it was like for me as well as others in a secretarial type role that aren't being mentored or compensated for their work, knowledge or skills. I'm reaching out to the Salesforce Community with hopes of you helping me help people that have a similar story to mine. If you or your company are hiring for entry-level Salesforce Administrators please send me an email cdfeldman80@gmail.com and I'll connect you to the people that have reached out to me. Let's help these people get their “yes”.

Some people maybe reading this post wondering why I'm even trying to help these people reaching out to me.  The Salesforce Community has given me so much over the past almost 10 years that I'm just trying to "pay it forward" a little bit.  If I can give back 1/10th of what this community has given me through the years I will be a happy person.  

I would also like to be clear that in no way am I looking for any compensation, as I do have a full-time job. My compensation will be the first phone call I get from someone that I helped that is able to quit their job and live his/her dream of being a Salesforce Administrator.

As always, thank you for reading!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Salesforce Community & The Best $200 I Never Spent

I can't remember exactly how I found out about Salesforce User Groups, but I definitely remember the first one I ever attended. It was sometime in early 2005 and I was still working as a secretary as well as doing the Salesforce Administration work. I was trying to get myself promoted within my company to just do Salesforce configuration and administration. My new manager seemed open to it, but only if I could complete a project. The project was for Sales to track more information and have additional reporting and metrics.

I had been working on this project for two weeks with the hope of getting a promotion and a raise. I had about 90% of the work done but I was stuck on two formula fields. I just couldn't get them to work correctly. I had one that I couldn't save because I was getting a syntax error and another that wasn't displaying the proper result. After about two days of being completely frustrated I found myself on my way to my first User Group meeting. On my way to the meeting I stopped at an ATM and withdrew $200.00 for the purpose of potentially paying someone to help me get my formulas in working order. I wasn't sure what the going rate for a Salesforce consultant was, but I figured the $200.00 would be sufficient and an investment in my own career and future.

I wasn't sure what to expect out of the User Group as I really had never been to anything like this before. When I arrived, there were nice people to greet me and tell me where to go. I sat down and was delighted to find out there was going to be a presentation on reporting as well as a partner presentation. I was surprised how much I learned in just a few minutes of listening to someone talk about some key metrics and reports admins should create for their organizations. I couldn't believe that this whole thing was free. I felt like I hit the jackpot.

After the presentations ended they had a networking session with snacks and drinks. I approached two people that were quite active in the discussions during the presentation and introduced myself and told them of my formula woes. They walked me over to an area where we could get an internet connection and I setup my laptop. I showed them what I was trying to accomplish and my error message. Within 2 minutes they helped me save my formula formula and correct my syntax error! Hallelujah! Within another 5 minutes they walked me through how to properly use one of the formula functions to get the correct result in my formula. Hooray! I was in business and could move forward with my project!

After my formulas were saved, I pulled out my wallet and asked how much I owed them. I was secretly praying and hoping that it wasn't more than $200.00. They looked at me really funny and explained to me the purpose of the User Group. My new heroes explained that the User Groups were about helping each other and their payment was to see me grow my skill-set. I couldn't believe it I only had two more small pieces to do on the project and then I would have completed my first Salesforce project!

It would be hard for me to articulate in words how my first User Group experience made me feel. I have never forgotten that feeling, the two people that helped me or the purpose of the User Groups. If you are reading this and have never attended your local user group, I highly encourage it. The User Group program has evolved so much since I first attended in 2005. There are so many groups in various cities as well as groups specific to non-profits, developers and verticals. I promise, it will be worth your time.

For those of you wondering, I did finish my project and the Sales teams loved it. Unfortunately, my manager didn't think it was enough to warrant a promotion. I did eventually end up spending that $200. I purchased a new suit that I could use for job interviews. If you read my previous blog, then you know what happened next. Onwards and upwards as they say!

I would like to dedicate this post to those in the community leading user groups, answering questions, writing blogs, training people and helping others. I have built my career on Salesforce not only because its a great platform but because of the great community surrounding it. Thank you. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for all of you.

See you at a User Group meeting Soon :)