This week at #TrailblazerDay, I somehow found myself sitting for a couple hours with Marc Benioff, Ivanka Trump, and Trailblazers Aaron McGriff & Justice P. Sikakane at the fanciest dinner I ever had.
To say it was surreal would be the understatement of my life!
We were chosen to sit alongside these giants to share our stories of how Salesforce has changed our lives, and how the Salesforce model could be scaled to inspire and educate American workers.
– Aaron McGriff shared his story about how he went from unemployed to a Golden Hoodie winner.
– Justice P. Sikakane told his story about how he became a game changing accidental admin.
– And I shared my story about how Marc Benioff changed my life with a single email.
I’ve always dreamed of sharing my story with Marc. To do it here alongside Ivanka was special.
Ivanka was especially curious about how the average American person could find success like we and many others in this industry have. We told her the key was combining the community with technology. Inspirational stories, strangers helping strangers, and a learning platform like Trailhead.
I told Ivanka that I believed it was the American way for people to help each other, and if given the opportunity through technology like Salesforce’s, they would.
The next day (yes Ivanka spent TWO days with us!) was a special celebration where Marc signed a pledge to train 1 million workers. In true Benioff fashion, he delighted us all by doubling his initial promise of 500k workers. Steph Herrera, Zac Otero, and Shonnah Hughes shared their stories and signed the pledge as well. More than a few people, including me, teared up during the ceremony.
My biggest takeaway was how special the Salesforce community is and how lucky we are to be a part of it. The fact that a high profile person like Ivanka Trump (and her secret service!) spent two days with us showed me that this community is the real deal. Add the fact that she needs us to help her scale it out to the average American person – incredible! We really have a responsibility to give back and inspire the next generation of Salesforce talent.
If you’re curious about Ivanka – she was an absolute class act. She was polite, soft spoken, curious, listening, and not condescending in the slightest. She was extremely generous with her time and took selfies with everyone who asked. Politics were never part of any conversation – we were focused on the community.
Marc was Marc. This guy is larger than life.
What’s your secret to working hard and being productive?
I know what I need to do but I’m struggling to find the motivation to actually do it.
I don’t know how you manage to do it with Google, kids, and SFDC99. Please help.
Thank you for asking this – I believe it’s among the most important questions of our generation!
I don’t consider myself ultra-productive, but I have learned a few tricks from people who are:
Focus on a purpose
A purpose is a deeply rooted need in your heart. It’s different than a goal, but works alongside it by providing meaning to your goals.
Instead, you should focus on your purpose, or your reason for having the goal. Maybe your purpose for learning to code is so you can provide for your kids and pay for their college tuition. Or to give your family a better life than you had growing up. Maybe it’s just to pass the death bed test. The key is to focus on something with greater meaning than just yourself!
Remove distractions – no multitasking
There are so many distractions in today’s world.
News, social media, email, after hours messages from your day job, etc, are all good things, but horrible for productivity. The further you can distance yourself from these things while working, the more effective you’ll be.
Sit in a dedicated working area. Leave your phone outside the room. Close all browser tabs unrelated to work. Set a structured time frame for later in the day when you can check them, and stick with it.
And if you’re really addicted to social media, for example, delete it (even temporarily)!
Build good habits
Productivity is a muscle that needs to be trained.
As with exercise, it’s better to do a small workout everyday than to do one long workout each week. Force yourself to work towards your goals each day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Weekends too!
Reward yourself for small milestones too
If you only reward yourself for the big milestones, it’s easy to lose your motivation.
Simple things, like going out for ice cream after writing a trigger, can be so satisfying. And when you reach your big milestones, like passing a certification, you absolutely should also have a BIG reward.
Hope these tips help you in your journey!
Join the discussion in the comments section below! Got a question? Send it to the mailbag: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amsterdam, here we gooooooooo!
I’ll see you in 57 days in Amsterdam for YeurDreamin’, the very first Dreamin’ event in Benelux!
This is going to be an extra special event for me – why? Well, it’s my first time doing any talk in Europe and I would love to get a feel for the community there! Are things different?!
ALSO – I will be going all out and doing THREE talks!
Session: Lessons From a Failed Certified Technical Architect
Session: Admins – You Can Code Too!
Session: Leveraging your Network for Career Development within the Salesforce Ecosystem
(co-presented with the great Steph Herrera!)
You bet I’ll be giving out free t-shirts too! More information on how to snag one soon!
For now, register for YeurDreamin’ and stay tuned for updates!
Special thanks to Kevin Jackson, Jan Vandevelde, and the entire YeurDreamin’ team for organizing this event, giving back to the community, and inviting me! Also, a sentimental thank you to Steph Herrera!, who is one of the most persistent people I’ve ever met.
SEE YOU IN AMSTERDAM!
Preface: this post is part of The Definitive Salesforce Careers Guide series.
You can make your resume twice as effective without changing a single word in it!
Fact: Most hiring managers will read less than 10% of your resume.
People skim – it’s human nature. There is nothing you and I can do about that… except…
People skim text in predictable ways. Observe yourself the next time you read a news article that may or may not be worth your time. You’ll probably only read a portion of the first paragraph, the first sentence of each of the next few paragraphs, and, anything in bold.
The more you like, the more you’ll read. The less you like, the more you’ll skim or quit altogether.
Thus, the key to maximizing your resume is this:
Place your best attributes in the areas that hiring managers will read while skimming:
Have you won any important awards? Put that section at the top where people can see it. Did you do something at a job that had extraordinary impact? Make sure that’s the job’s first bullet point.
Here’s a real resume (with personal info changed) with its most important areas highlighted:
Did this candidate maximize his resume by putting his best attributes in the highlighted areas?
Judge for yourself because I didn’t read the rest of it!
Do you see yourself coding up until retirement?
For many of us, coding is the endgame. You’ll certainly make plenty of money and live a comfortable life doing so. Nothing wrong with that.
But for some of us, coding is merely a stepping stone. A stepping stone into the prime phases of our career where it’s difficult to imagine spending 40 hours a week behind a computer.
And that feeling is understandable. Think about the most influential people at your companies. They probably spend very little of their time coding, if any. Don’t get me wrong, they could have spent a majority of their lives coding, but in the current peak of their careers, they’re likely not coding at all.
So what’s next after development? I see four common paths.
This is the most counter-intuitive path to me. I went into coding to work less with people, but as a manager, you primarily work with people. That said, this is the realistic path for most. Every company needs managers, and, you can officially take yourself out of the rat race of keeping up with technology hard skills. For many, our backgrounds and growing maturity will naturally lead us here.
This is the pinnacle of the individual contributor ladder. It’s the path I hear most up-and-coming developers refer to as their endgame. Make no mistake, it’s the most challenging technical path and it requires you to be world class in a broad range of technical skills. On top of this, you will need to have the soft skills to influence teams without having a formal team of your own to supervise.
Start Your Own Company
Here, you do exactly what you want and forget about what anyone else might say. This is the only position where no one still tells you what to do. It’s perhaps the most fulfilling path of them all, but it’s also the riskiest by far. Few of us have what it takes to be successful here, but the ones who are will probably be the envy of us all.
I hate to say but this is probably the path of least resistance. Forgo much of your experience, value, and earning potential, then find the next best thing to learn and master. This is not the ideal path to be on, but it’s the path many of us will be forced onto if we do not plan carefully. There’s nothing wrong choosing this path, it’s just a tough pill to swallow hitting the reset button on your career.
This decision is a difficult and courageous one to make at any phase of your career.
I often wonder for myself what I’ll be doing down the line, and, I often catch myself running away from the question entirely.
One thing I do know – NOT planning my career is the riskiest path of them all.
What’s the magic number of Salesforce certifications needed to impress that special someone?
I remember when three certifications was impressive. That was in 2012.
I remember when five certifications was impressive. That was in 2017.
I believe the magic number of certifications needed to impress in 2019 is… SEVEN!
Yeah, yeah, I know. Seven certifications sounds ridiculous. It’s a big mountain to climb.
…but everyone else is doing it.
It’s no longer rare for me to open up a resume and see five certifications. I almost expect it. In fact, if you have less than five certs, I wonder why you haven’t invested more time into earning more. And if you have zero certs, you might as well draw a big red flag on your resume.
It’s true that certifications aren’t a perfect measure of skill, knowledge, or experience. But just like academic grades, it’s the best objective measure we have. If two people have the exact same resume but one has seven more certs than the other, people will naturally go with Ms. Certified every time.
I don’t care who you are or what your background is: you can earn seven certifications in the next six months if you put your mind to it.
David’s note: Doubling your salary in only one year and getting six certifications including Platform Developer I?! That’s not a bet I’d normally take but I’ll put my chips on you anytime =) Great job Nick and thank you for inspiring others by sharing your story!
Two years ago I tried to play poker full time and things went a little off the rails for me. I ended up almost completely broke and back at a 9 to 5 job. I felt totally defeated and really down in the dumps. At first, all I could think about was the fastest way to get myself back to playing poker full time. I knew I HAD to escape calling (sometimes angry) people on the phone all day to collect overdue bills.
My law firm uses Salesforce as their CRM solution and lucky for me they had a few one-off problems that needed to be solved. After writing some simple workflow rules for them in my spare time I found out 1) how much value Salesforce skills provide 2) how much fun working on Salesforce was compared to calling people and 3) (after stumbling on to your blog) how much Salesforce skills pay!!
I talked to management and found out that, if I got good enough, they’d be willing to let me work on Salesforce full time! That was just the motivation I needed. I started studying everything I could get my hands on, even working nights and weekends to be ready (anything to escape the phones).
I even was featured in your Mail Bag after asking for series #4 of the Apex Academy. I was so excited to interact with the King of Salesforce that day. It didn’t come close though (so sorry) to how excited I was, after studying for months, to achieve my first Admin certification by using your study tips, because that was exactly what got me promoted to full-time Salesforce work and a 50% raise!!
Now I knew I wanted be all-in. I barely even thought about poker anymore, and promised myself to get to the first major milestone in your certification guide of the five core certifications. I failed my first try at my next test, but refocused intently on “study for understanding, not memorization” and went on the pass all the rest of my certifications on my first shot. A few months later (with more studying) I even got certified as a developer!
I had never written code before the Apex Academy, so to do so much in a year was amazing for me. With so many certifications I got another job offer for 33% more than I was then making. I was able to use that for ANOTHER RAISE at my current company, which brought me up to DOUBLE my starting salary from only 1 year before! Your blog and Salesforce changed my life so incredibly fast and I could not be more grateful :)
By then, I had completed so many fun and valuable projects that my company flew me out to Dreamforce – where I was lucky enough to meet you in person before the Developer Keynote.
You were so gracious despite (I’m guessing) warming up to share your story with everyone, and then you won the Golden Hoodie! It was awesome to be there for that. Congratulations, it is most definitely well-deserved.
I feel like I’m only just getting started on my Salesforce journey but I can honestly say I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am without you and your blog. After reliving this story by typing it out in an email, its way less about that Golden T-shirt and way more about saying THANK YOU!! and telling others that ANYTHING is possible in the Salesforce world.
I appreciate all your hard work and consider myself proof you fulfilled the promise to Mr. Benioff of giving back :)
Hopefully I’ll see you again at Dreamforce!
Inspired by this story?
Read more success stories from other SFDC99 students!
Want to tell the world your story too?
Email it to email@example.com and your story could be heard around the world!
Both have struck fear into my heart – in the restroom and in my code!
Is there anyone around Seattle who wants to learn to code?!
…or does anyone just want to go snowboarding at Stevens Pass?
If so, hope to see you in person at this user group meeting!
This session’s topic will be: Admins – You Can Code Too!
Everyone can benefit from knowing a little code! Join us as David Liu, Technical Architect at Google, teaches us why it’s more important than ever to know how to code in the “Lightning” era, how to write your first Apex trigger, and your specific steps to continue learning Apex to grow your career.
… Are you looking for practice completing a real-world Salesforce project?
… Do you wonder if you’re ready to apply for Salesforce developer jobs?
… Are you close to completing the 15 Week Salesforce Development curriculum?!
Well, this coding challenge is for you: FINAL PROJECT – Salesforce Development Curriculum!
I developed this coding project so you can see what a Salesforce development project in the real world is like. I’ve actually had to code similar projects multiple times in my career!
I like this project because:
I had so much fun coming up with it that I coded it myself right after – it’s tough!
More info here: FINAL PROJECT – Salesforce Development Curriculum
Good luck everyone!