I spent the last 2 days at Salesforce Tower participating in the FIRST EVER Trailblazer Summit. The event was billed as “an exclusive gathering of our emerging leaders for two days of networking and valuable insights. ” I’m always a little weary of free events, and especially the first of something because you aren’t sure if there will be value or not. But this is Salesforce and so when I got the invitation to join I replied almost immediately, even before I asked my boss if I could go, and I felt really special that I was being invited to something for emerging leaders in the ecosystem. I didn’t want to miss out, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint! We attended some truly great sessions and I can honestly say that I left with so many takeaways that I can start using right away.
I Learned Things.
The summit kicked off with Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet leading a panel on Business as a Platform Change with special guests Adam Geneave, Chief Customer Happiness Officer for AirAsia, and Tracy Eiler, Chief Marketing Officer for InsideView. We did a session with Rob Baedeker, CEO of Stand & Deliver, on having leadership presence and delivering better presentations. We learned how to host an awesome workshop, tips for blogging and having a presence on social media, and how to be more involved in the Trailblazer Community. Here are just a few of the nuggets I’m walking away with:
“The journey is just as important as the destination. “Adam Geneave, Chief Customer Happiness Officer for AirAsia
Adam was talking about travel and airlines and customer service when he said this, but it really hit home for me. I know that I am sometimes rushing for the finish line… get that certification, earn that badge, get invited to this or that because I know where I can be at the end. Slowing down and taking a breath to enjoy what I’m doing right now is a really essential part of my journey. Earning badges is actually really fun. Sharing my learning with others is really fun. When I take a minute to slow down and help someone out, I’m not only helping them on their journey, but I’m enhancing my own journey too.
Network across the org. Get to know people before you run into a problem. Don’t let your first conversation with someone be the conversation you have to have with them because they did something wrong.Tracy Elier, Chief Marketing Officer for InsideView
Network, network, network. With everyone. You’ve got to build relationships with people; find out what they’re trying to do; put the effort and time into building good old fashioned relationships.
“Your breath carries your voice, and your voice carries your ideas.”Stand & Deliver
I’ve got to give a huge shout out to this team. This presentation was AWESOME. Amazing even! They walked us through how to prepare our state of mind, which influences our delivery, which influences our content. We practiced the art of storytelling in small groups, using the tools they were giving us and then providing feedback to one another. When we left this session, I was so pumped up. One of my favorite things was the concept of the I/You ratio. Naturally, when we start telling a story, its all about I. I did this and I’m going to tell you this and I I I I I. Its hard for your audience to engage when they aren’t invested. But if you flip that to YOU, then its about them. Some example prompts they suggested:
- You may be facing the challenge of…
- You may want some clarity around…
- You may be feeling…
- You probably want…
- You might be facing the challenge of…
- Ultimately, what you probably want is…
- Which is why I want to talk to you today about…
I Was Inspired.
Let’s be honest, this whole summit was pretty inspiring, but on top of everything, I had the honor and privilege of being invited to a special press conference, where I got to meet Marc Benioff and see Salesforce’s 1-1-1 model in action. I, and about 20 other Trailblazers, loaded a bus bound for Presidio Middle School. When we arrived, there was a huge party going on! The school had just completed a new playground, funded by Salesforce grants. There were kids everywhere doing awesome activities all led by Salesforce volunteers. There was bubble science, a VR experience, giant Jenga, a dance party, a photo booth, and honestly I don’t even know what else because I didn’t have time to go to each thing. Oh! There were Legos. I remember the Legos. It was so fun to interact with the kids and the Salesforce volunteers and really see how this company is transforming communities first hand. After a while, there was a press conference where Marc Benioff pledged $17 million dollars to the San Francisco and Oakland School Districts, part of a $100 million promise from Salesforce to help fund education. I also learned that Salesforce has actually adopted 100 schools all over the world. How cool is that? Each executive at Salesforce has to adopt a school – that is so neat. And a great example of putting your money where your mouth is. At the end of the event, Marc actually took the time to come shake all of our hands and took a picture with us – definitely a highlight of the trip! This experience alone was worth the trek to San Francisco. I had the honor to sit just a few feet away while Marc Benioff, the mayors of San Francisco and Oakland, and the San Francisco and Oakland School Superintendents talked about the importance of education and giving back to our communities. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel so blessed to have been there.
And boy did I ever. I met so many amazing men and women at this event, all blazing trails in their own ways, wanting to make the world a better place. I was so lucky to have sat down for breakfast on Thursday morning in front of Aimee Hickman. We talked all morning and then were basically joined at the hip for the rest of the summit. Aimee is in the process of transitioning from a career in higher education to a position in the Salesforce ecosystem. She’s a graduate of the new Trailblazer Mentorship program, just got her admin certification, and has reach Ranger status on Trailhead. Not bad for starting just over a year ago! Aimee is looking for the perfect Salesforce opportunity… so if you’re hiring, hire her! I also met Stephanie Smith, a #VetForce graduate, cyclist, and consultant. Stephanie is also a Ranger and looking for that next great opportunity. And then there was Collin Zimmerman, who I spent basically 3 hours in a photobooth with… Chris Emmett who traveled to the event all the way from London, and SO MANY MORE Trailblazers. The summit was small enough that we truly got the opportunity for networking and bonding.
I Gave Back.
The volunteer opportunity was packing backpacks for The Family House, which serves as a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by providing physical comfort and emotional support, free from financial concerns. I’m not actually sure how many backpacks we packed, but we did it REALLY fast! It felt good to give back, and it was a nice break from learning.
I’m Ready To Do It All Again.
There is a ton I’m forgetting to mention here – like awesome talks from Brett Taylor and Parker Harris, and product road mapping with GM’s and Product Managers… but you can actually watch the full event here because it was live-streamed! Just know that it was an inspiring and impactful two days and I can’t wait for you all to join us for the next one. See you at Dreamforce!