Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How I Got My Yes and Fulfilled My Dream of Becoming a Salesforce Administrator!

Since I posted my blog post last month on “All it takes is one yes”, the most common question I’ve gotten is how I went about getting my yes and how I was able to really make the jump from secretary to full-time Salesforce Administrator.  In honor of Administrative Professionals Day I thought today would be a great day to share this story.

When I had made the decision that I was ready to move-on from my company the first thing I did was get a resume ready.  I spent most of a weekend working on it.  I spent a Saturday afternoon in the Library reading books on Resume and Cover Letter writing.  I took out two books from the library that I thought would be useful guides for me.  I spent about 2-3 hours writing up my Resume and Cover Letter.  Once I had these written up I posted them on Monster and Careerbuilder.  I was sure I had a good resume and cover letter and that someone would contact me.  About two weeks had gone by and no real bites.  I had also applied to a few jobs on both sites with very little to no response back.  It was very frustrating.

I decided to reach out to a few friends from the NYC Salesforce User Group and send them my resume to see what they thought.  One of my friends got back to me and told me that I wasn’t highlighting my Salesforce Experience enough.  The way my resume was set up was that I had an objective then talked about my work experience under each job I had.  Listed in two bullet points under my secretarial role that I was doing Salesforce Administration and explaining what I had done.  

My friend sent me a copy of his resume and the first thing I noticed at the top was under the objective there was a skills section listing out in three columns his experience.  Each column was for a different overall skill set and then listing out the specifics.  Underneath that there was a list of different project accomplishments relating to both Salesforce and a few other systems he had worked on.  Then underneath that was his overall job experience where he listed his title, company worked for and duration of the position.  All of the meat and potatoes was as at the top of the resume.  I really liked this format and I knew this format could call out my specific Salesforce skill sets without hiding them underneath a secretary title.  I spent another weekend updating my resume to look like my friend’s resume.  It was definitely time well spent.  

That weekend I updated my resume on both monster and careerbuilder and applied to some open positions.  My friend’s suggestions worked!  That week I heard back from two of the companies I applied with and got a few calls from recruiters about open positions.  I had two interviews setup!  Hooray!

I would love to tell you that one of those two interviews lead to a job, but they didn’t.  I completely bombed my first interview.  I was no nervous.  The person interviewing me was asking me extremely technical questions that I didn’t even understand.  When I didn’t understand what he was talking about I would like down and say “no I don’t know how to do that, or no I’ve never seen that or dealt with that.”  The person interviewing me told me to get a few more years of experience under my belt and then reach out to him.  I felt like a complete failure.  I started to second-guess myself and wonder if I was ready to move into a full-time Salesforce Admin role.  I decided that I would go for the next interview a few days later and see how that went.

The second company I interviewed with went a lot better.  The role was for a salesforce administrator but instead of reporting into technology the role was reporting into sales operations.  I understood all of the questions being asked and was able to respond to all of them.  The person interviewing me told me that she really liked me and was going to set up a second interview for me with her boss and two of her colleagues.   The second interview I had went great as well.  I was able to answer questions and even call on my own Salesforce experience when they were talking about some of the challenges they were having.  After following up a few times after my interviews the hiring manager told me they put the position on hold.  She did tell me that if they hadn’t put the position on hold that I would have been their first choice.  That made me feel really good and helped me to keep going.

I went through another round of applying for jobs on every job site I could possibly find.  I also started applying for all Salesforce Admin jobs.  Even if they said they wanted five years of experience I applied anyway.  I decided it was better to get my resume out there even if I didn’t fit their qualifications exactly.  That was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I got more interviews this way.  Let’s face it, in 2005, Salesforce had only been around for six years so not many people had five years of Salesforce experience.  

It was coming towards the end of the Summer and I was still interviewing and applying for jobs.  I had interviewed with about 8 different companies and no offer yet.  I learned something new during each interview, something that would make me better for my next.  I learned how to answer questions better so I became more confident.  I learned that it was ok to say “no I haven’t dealt with that situation exactly, but I know I can learn.”  I was searching one evening on Monster when I saw a job for a Field Operations Manager/Salesforce Administrator for a start-up company in the NYC suburbs.  They were looking for someone with 1-2 years of work experience and 1-2 years of Salesforce experience.  I applied for the job.

A few days after I applied for the position at the start-up I got a call from their operations manager. He wanted to bring me in the following week for an interview.  That weekend, I was at a family barbeque telling my family of my upcoming interview and my Mom told me she had a really good feeling about this one.  I did too.  A friend of the family gave me some advice, she told me to walk in there like I owned the place, like the job was already mine.  I decided to do just that.  I was going to be confident, poised and knowledgeable on this interview.  I decided that I was going to ask them what their biggest Salesforce challenge was and see if I could solve it for them.  

During the interview I was able to answer all of their questions and at the conclusion of the interview the operations manager asked me if I had any questions.  I decided to go for it.  I asked “What’s your biggest challenge with Salesforce?”  

He looked at me and I think was a bit taken back by my question.  He turned the computer screen around on his desk and showed me the Administrator profile.  They had 50 users and 28 were administrators because they couldn’t figure out why when they moved a user into a service role and profile they could no longer see accounts owned by sales managers.  He then showed me his dashboard which had all of these error messages on it where reports weren’t rendering.  He also told me that because there were so many system admins that they had duplicate fields, duplicate (similar) picklist values and a big giant mess.  Essentially they had Salesforce for just over a year but the person who started the project of implementing it had moved on before they could finish so they had a lot of stuff that wasn’t working, people had too much access and they weren’t really sure what it could do.  

I spoke to him briefly about his first issue with visibility, I explained org wide defaults for objects, sharing, roles and profiles.  He seemed to get it.  Unfortunately he had another meeting but he told me he did want to continue the conversation and bring me in for a second interview with his boss, the COO and a few others the following week.

Instead of sending a generic thank you for interviewing me email, I decided to send a plan over on how he could fix his Salesforce org and some things he could do right away to move people out of the admin role and eliminate so much risk.  I also offered to take a day off from my current job and work with them so they could “try me out.”

The next day the Operations Manager called me.  He couldn’t believe that I sent him everything I sent him in just a few hours after our meeting.  He took me up on bringing me in the following week.  I took a personal day from my current secretarial job and arrived at what I knew would be my next employer ready to get started on fixing their Salesforce org.

I spent a good part of the morning fixing their role hierarchy, creating sharing rules and moving users out of the administrator profile.  By noon I had moved over 20 people out of the Administrator profile and you know what they didn’t even notice because they were able to see the correct Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities.   After lunch I spent the remainder of the day fixing reports and dashboards so they would run correctly.  I also added some more charts to the dashboard for some key metrics I thought they’d want to see.  I also made a list of duplicate fields and ran reports on usage and sent them to the Operations Manager so he could let me know which fields could be merged.  I also told him about the data loader and that once he made that decision that I could easily load the data on the back-end to the surviving field so no data would be lost on purging fields.

At the end of the day the Operations Manager called me into his office.  In his office was the COO and the CFO of the company.  He was showing them everything I did in one day.  They couldn’t believe it.  The COO was so happy that her dashboards were running.  The CFO was so happy that she could see all of the correct opportunities and didn’t have to be in an admin profile anymore.  We spent the next 15 minutes going through my plan of how we could clean up the duplicate fields and picklist values.  At the end of the conversation the Operations Manager got up and picked up a piece of paper off of his printer and handed it to me.  It was an offer letter!  The CFO went back to her office and came back with a check.  Not only were they offering me a job, they were going to pay me for the day.  I of course signed the offer letter right then and there.  

Sometimes all it takes is a little thinking outside the box to get your Yes.  If you’re reading this blog and still waiting for your Yes.  I’m here to tell you that I believe in you.  I know you can do it.  

I was so excited when I started this job.  On my first day, they gave me business cards!  I don’t know why that was so special to me, but it was.  It was like you know you’ve made it when...you have your own business card.  My first few months were spent re-implementing their org and fixing their issues.  After that was complete I worked on some cool projects regarding routing and invoicing.  You can see more about that on Button Click Admin!  

As always thanks for reading and Happy Administrative Professionals Day!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

And Then My Worlds Collided…The Beautyforce Concept

For as long as I’ve been doing Salesforce Administration work I've always tried to figure out how can I make my two favorite things, Salesforce and Makeup work together. I was never sure what that meant, but I always thought it would be cool if I could introduce my makeup friends to Salesforce somehow and my Salesforce friends to the world of makeup.  I had pretty much resolved myself to the fact that my worlds would always have to remain separate and I would never find a way to incorporate makeup into Salesforce or Salesforce into makeup.

It was sometime in late January when my team and I started really looking at Salesforce1 and how our company could use it and what we would have to do to get our company and our org ready to use it.  We don’t have chatter on and I wanted to play with some things with publisher actions to see how things would work conceptually so I opened up a new developer edition org and started to build out a custom object and create some publisher actions.  I wanted to create something cool to test out the power of publisher actions and the power of Salesforce1.  At first I was starting to re-build my own org more declaratively but that would be so time consuming and challenging I wanted to start with something a bit simpler.  Maybe something that didn't have to do with my day job. I started to think of ideas that had to do with the Financial Services Industry but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go that route.  I happened to be working from home and decided to take a break from ‘Salesforcing’ and go back to organizing my lip products by color and type.

As I was sitting on my bedroom floor sorting my lipsticks, lip glosses, lip pencils, lip primers and lip balms I was also entering information about these products into a google doc so I know what I have as far as product, what I thought of it and which skin tones/lip type it works best on.  It was so time consuming to do this.  I remember thinking “I wish they had an app for this”.  And BAM it hit me like a pile of bricks.  I could create something in Salesforce1 to track this information.  And there it was.  My longtime dream of combining Salesforce and Makeup was sitting right there in front of me and I didn’t even realize it.  I decided right then and there sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by hundreds of lip products that I was going to try and build this app.  I wanted it to be more than just a place to track makeup products.  I had a flurry of ideas running through my head of how Salesforce1 could work for makeup artists, hair stylists, colorists, beauty bloggers/vloggers, salon owners and your average makeup/beauty consumer. 

I wanted to run my idea by a few people so I reached out to a few friends in the beauty/makeup community that I know and asked if they wanted to grab cocktails over the weekend to talk about an idea I had.  I had cocktails with three of my friends; a makeup artist, a salon owner and a beauty blogger.  I told them of my idea and I explained Salesforce1 to them and showed them potentially how it could work.  All three of them thought it would be an incredible idea especially my friend who does blogging.  She tracks everything in notes on her iPhone and it’s not very organized or user friendly. 

My friend who owned the Salon thought it could be awesome for different reasons.  Right now he has to have these large areas in his salon taken up with computers for scheduling and for looking up color cards and client history and they take up so much space.  His dream is remove the whole front desk and the ‘colorist console’ and replace it all with iPads/iPhones.  He asked me if I thought the app could do that.  My brain really started to wrap itself around this idea and I told him that I thought it could or at least I hope it will be able to!

My friend who is a makeup artist; we both are obsessed with Uber.  We take it all the time especially after a late night in the city and we always say why isn’t everything as simple as Uber.  Why can’t I push a button on my phone and everything be there in front of me less than 10 minutes?  We’ve spoken about this idea before the idea of having an app where someone is sitting at their desk at work and they decide they need their makeup or hair done.  They can open an app request a type of beauty service at a specified location and then someone picks up their request and does their hair, makeup or whatever service they requesting. 

My friend, the salon owner turned to me and asked “So what are you going to call this thing?”  That was a good question, I originally thought of makeupforce, but this was so much more than that.  It involves the whole beauty world.  A light bulb went off in my head.  I turned to my friends and said “Beautyforce”. 

I left my friends that night feeling more energized than ever about this idea.  The next day I jotted down everything I wanted in this app.  The list was huge; two full pages back and front in a notebook.  I then decided this needed to be broken up into separate sub-apps that fulfill a different use case, but all centered around the same thing, beauty/makeup products and services.

Unfortunately for the past month or so I have been working 60 hour weeks at my day job, plus the Financial Services User Group, plus my blog, plus mentoring so sadly this app got put on the back-burner.

I resurrected it last week and started building it again and have a shell of what it would look like from the first “sub-app” which would be the one potentially used by both the beauty blogger/vlogger and regular consumer. 

There is a lot of work still yet to be done on this app and a lot of it will need development to accomplish the overall vision I have.  I just don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish this on my own.  For those of you who have helped me on the community so far you know that I’ve been working on this from the hours of 11 PM – 1 AM a few days per week as that is really the only free time I have.  If anyone would like to help me out with this let me know.  I’m completely open to partnering with someone from the community on this and sharing the overall vision of each app. 

Here are a few screen shots:

Anyway, I would love to know what all of you think of the overall idea and if anyone has built anything like this on Salesforce1. 

As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

Thank you,


Friday, April 4, 2014

My Dream at Dreamforce & How the Salesforce Community helped Make it a Reality

If you've read my blog about how I built my career on Salesforce then you already know that I’ve worked in the financial services industry for more than half of my Salesforce.com Admin/BA career.  Prior to this I spent time with a B2C startup and a large Healthcare company.   What this means is that approximately 85% of my career has been spent in a Highly Regulated Industry.

One of the Dreamforce ’13 highlights for me was the Financial Services Industry Day.  I found the sessions really useful, informative and geared towards people like me.  I remember thinking after each session “Yes, I go through that”, “Yes, I’ve dealt with that”, or “Yes these people understand me and don’t think I’m insane. Hooray!”

After the day ended there were two people that I sat next to for most of the day through various sessions and we decided to grab something to eat.  The nature of our conversation naturally turned to our Salesforce orgs.  We all had similar roles within our companies, however we were all in completely different Financial Services sub-sectors.  We had so many common challenges within our implementations or even with compliance or regulatory.  After I left my two new friends during the walk back to my hotel I smiled to myself and thought “I wish I could talk to people like this all the time.  I wish I could meet up with people from my industry a few times a year and talk shop.  These are my people, they get me.”

As I was riding in the elevator up to my hotel a light went on in my head.  There should be a Financial Services Industry User Group.  Then I started to wonder if I could start something like that?  Would Salesforce be supportive?  How would I do that?  Would anyone be interested in this?

The following day I was speaking with Roger Mitchell from Silverline about my idea for a Financial Services User Group to see what he thought.  He was the first person I really vocalized this to so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  He was extremely supportive and even offered to help me if I decided to move forward on this idea.

About two weeks after Dreamforce I was still thinking about the idea of a Financial Services User Group and was wondering how Salesforce would feel about this type of group.  I was attending a regular MVP Office Hours session in December when Josh and Jarrod mentioned if we ever had any MVP questions we could always tweet them.  Later that day I took advantage of their offer and asked them if there were any MVPs in the Financial Services Industry.  In a few short hours they had connected me with Denise Carbone who leads the Chicago User Group and Geraldine Gray whom I already knew from the Girly Geeks events at Dreamforce.

Within a few days I had conversations with both Denise and Geraldine about my idea for Financial Services Salesforce User Group.  They were both extremely supportive of the idea were willing to give me tips and general advice.  Denise offered to connect me with Matt Brown at Salesforce about my idea.  I had a very successful conversation with Matt a few days later! He thought it was a great idea and that there would be a lot of interest.  All I had to do was let him know I was ready to move forward and he would get me setup.

After hanging up with Matt, I typed a quick email to Roger asking him if he had time to talk later this week about the Financial Services User Group and that I was ready to move forward.  Roger got right back to me and told me to set something up and include one of his colleagues, Maggie Rupel.  We had a 20 minute conversation that went better than I could have ever imagined.  Not only were they willing to help promote an event, but Silverline was willing to sponsor and host the event.  I will never be able to communicate in words how much this meant to me.  My little Financial Services Salesforce loving heart swelled with joy after this phone call.    

After my call with Roger and Maggie, I reached back out to Matt and had him get me setup.
On my way down to the Saleforce1Tour in January I was making a list of all of the things I was going to have to do by February 27th to get this User Group rolling.  The list was mighty, long and overwhelming.

While chatting with a few people at the User Group booth I ran into Adam Ady, whom I knew from the Developer User Group in NYC.  He mentioned to me he recently transitioned to a new role within Financial Services and he was thinking of trying to get a bunch of other Financial Services Salesforce people together to talk.  I told him that “great minds must think alike” and that I needed some help.  I asked if he would be my co-leader and he said “Yes!”  We started to tell more people after the event about our newly formed User Group.  There wasn't a single person we told that wasn't supportive or willing to help in some way.

Shortly after the Salesforce1 tour ended I remember thinking Erica and Matt aren't joking when they talk about Salesforce having the best Community in the world.  In just a few days I had so many people willing to help me and guide me.  There were other User Group leaders offering their tips and suggestions, there were people sharing the link to the registration on their twitter or community pages.

We had our first meeting as planned on February 27th and it was a huge success.  A bigger success than I could have ever imagined when I was talking to Roger at Dreamforce.  For the first time ever people in the Financial Services Salesforce world were sharing their ideas, experiences and challenges with Salesforce.  And you know what, we were right.  We all do have the same challenges and we are going to solve them together and be successful together.  

Our Financial Services Salesforce User Group Community page now has over 400 members and we’re gearing up for our second in person meeting in early May as well as our first virtual meeting.  

Thank you to everyone who helped along the way.  We couldn't have done it without you.  This community really is like a second family. 

Thanks as always for reading and sharing,