David’s note: Clay, you’ve worked so hard and proven to the world that certifications are the BEST way to quickly increase your salary! Thank you for teaching the world this formula and inspiring others to take charge of their careers!
It all started back in 2013, when I got a job at a solar company, working with their inside sales team as a business analyst. They used Salesforce to manage their potential customers and so forth, and though I had only briefly used Salesforce at another job before then, it was the first opportunity I had to really get acquainted with it. Over the next year and a half, my life had progressed through some major milestones; I got married, my wife and I bought a house, and we were now just a few months away from expecting our first baby, and then one day my boss invited me into his office to give me the news. Since our company had been merged into another (bigger company) some months earlier, my position was being dissolved and I was losing my job. I was devastated. How was I going to provide for my new family and afford to keep the house we had just bought?
Based on what I had learned about Salesforce during my time there, and what I had discovered about the job and career opportunities within the ecosystem after having been canned, I decided to make a decisive career move and become a Salesforce admin. I started looking for jobs in my market and spent some time going through Trailhead and following along with the exercises in my Developer Edition org.
I came across a Salesforce admin job at a local (much smaller) solar company, which also happened to be based pretty close to where I lived – it seemed to be the perfect fit for me. It was close enough that I decided I would just stop by and introduce myself in person, rather than simply applying online like most people would, hoping that would increase my chances of getting an interview. I found the office (it was a bit hidden), but there wasn’t anyone available at the time to speak to me, so I left my contact info and hoped to hear back from them. The hiring manager let me know later that day that they had just recently filled the position, but that they would keep me in mind in case any other opportunities came up. I was bummed to say the least.
A few months later, and still only semi-employed (I was working side jobs but my income was less than stable), I received a call from the hiring manager at the local solar company and they had a position they wanted to talk to me about. I agreed to meet, and was then offered a position as a junior Salesforce admin! I was so excited I could barely contain myself. Over the next few months, I did the best work I could and learned as much as possible about the platform, and then this company did the same thing to our senior admin that was done to me earlier that year – they laid him off, and gave me the reigns.
I was the sole Salesforce admin/ developer for the company for the next year and a half, and during that time gained invaluable experience. During that time, I also achieved my first two Salesforce certifications, Admin and App Builder, and eventually got to thinking I might be a bit underpaid for all of the growth I had achieved. By this time, I had also set my sights further on the Salesforce horizon, thinking I might like to learn the development (coding) side of the platform, and maybe even go on to someday become an architect!
I began to dip my toes in the job market and see what was available, and to my pleasant surprise, found that Salesforce professionals were indeed in high demand and my knowledge/ skills/ experience were worth a lot more than what I was being paid. After going through several interviews with a handful of recruiters, I was faced with not one but two job offers! Both were offering at least 50% more than I was currently making, which was obviously amazing, and actually one was about $5,000 more than the other, yet it was still a tough decision to choose which offer I should accept. The higher offer was with a large enterprise with multiple orgs, which would have been a great opportunity to expand my capabilities as an admin, but I felt like I might have a harder time progressing much beyond the role of admin with them. The other offer was with a local Salesforce consulting Partner, and while the pay was slightly less, I felt that the experience I could gain as a consultant would accelerate my growth and open more doors in the long run. I ended up opting to go with the latter.
It was with this partner that my path became clear. I came to really enjoy the aspects of discovering our clients’ needs and designing solutions. It was there that I set my goal of achieving the top of the Salesforce pyramid, the title of Certified Technical Architect. It would be a long journey, to be sure, but it would be a great journey and worth all the effort. However, you don’t just climb a mountain or run a marathon without some training first. I continued to utilize Trailhead and soon became a Ranger, and then cemented my foundation with a few more certs: Advanced Admin, Service Cloud Consultant, Sales Cloud Consultant, and Community Cloud Consultant. I also made use of the excellent Apex Academy on Pluralsight (by none other than David Liu!), and earned my Platform Developer 1 certification as well!
By about this time, I had been contacted by a job recruiter with another offer that I couldn’t refuse. It was with another Salesforce consulting Partner, the raise was as big as the last raise I got (putting my salary at about double what it was a year prior, and triple what it was back in 2013!), and the benefits were to die for; I’d be working remotely from home, my health insurance for my entire family would be fully paid for, plus 401k match, paid vacation and paternity leave, you name it. It’s just about everything I would want in a job, and the people have been great. Since joining this partner, I’ve also gone on to earn the Sharing and Visibility Designer, and Data Architecture and Management Designer, making me a Salesforce Certified Application Architect, and from there, Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer, Identity and Access Management Designer, and Integrations Designer, finally making me a Salesforce Certified System Architect!
I know I still have a ways to go in terms of knowledge, certifications, and experience before I’m ready to tackle the prestigious Certified Technical Architect, but I can’t express how grateful I am to God, and to all of the people who have helped me come this far along my journey. The Salesforce platform is a great ecosystem to build a career on and has been an amazing blessing to my family and my life. Thanks David for sharing your story of progress and being an inspiration to me and many others.
Inspired by this story?
Read more success stories from other SFDC99 students!
Want to tell the world your story too?
Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and your story could be heard around the world!
How many times in your life do you get to go to a Salesforce conference in Australia?!
Is Down Under Dreaming – Brisbane the conference that’ll spark something big in your life?!
I always say, go to every single Salesforce event, because you never know when you might have that chance encounter that changes everything for you. I hope this is the one!
And with many heroes of the Salesforce world attending such as Chris Duarte, VP of Trailhead, Susannah Kate of #LadiesBeArchitects, and Steven Herod, one of my personal IDOLS…
Down Under Dreaming is shaping up to be something special. I got a good feeling about this one!
And if nothing else, at least stop by to say HI and grab a free t-shirt from me!
I’ve been lucky to learn (through experience) that getting involved in the Salesforce community is the key to an extraordinary career. There are very few superstars outside of the community.
But most people will never learn this. They’ll never really go out of their way to really get involved. They’ll never learn what a multiplier the community can be for them.
It’s very sad in some ways – many people’s careers will never reach the heights they’re capable of.
What am I saying? I believe you’ll have significantly more long term success if you spend 10 extra hours in the community, versus 10 extra hours at work.
Topics covered in the session include:
We talk about many personal stories in the session, including some I’ve never talked about before.
I hope you enjoy it, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
P.S. Special thanks to the Official Trailblazer Summit organizers for inviting us to speak on this topic!
Finally after all these years I get to share with you all my wisdom on how to make a successful blog!
Did you know? When I started this blog in 2013…
Even though I had so many career and personality flaws (I still do), more than anything, I wanted to make a difference in the community. And somehow, SFDC99 endured and changed my life.
…And if I can do it, so can you!!
Watch my full presentation to hear all my stories and learn my tips on how you can build a bigger and better blog than mine. I hope blogging can change your life like it has for mine!
Special thanks to the Official Trailblazer Summit organizers for inviting me to speak on this topic!
I am very pleased to say that you can watch the ENTIRE Apex Academy for FREE this weekend!
Register for the free weekend and access all of this for FREE!!
DON’T FORGET TO REGISTER TO GET ACCESS!!
(No credit card required!)
Speaking of free stuff, I believe it’s time for another free t-shirt giveaway… stay tuned!
This podcast is totally for you. Yes you!
No one ever thinks about their brand. But everyone has one – especially on the job.
How you market yourself – your brand – is something I seldom talk about but it’s one of the few things I know pretty well. It’s a skill that can make you absolutely dominate in your career.
That’s why I’m so happy that the Salesforce Way Podcast wanted to interview me just to talk about branding. Check it out to learn how you can multiply your success by building up your brand.
Intro to David and SFDC99
01:20 – About Me
02:31 – Why did you start SFDC99?
03:20 – What are the most popular pages on SFDC99?
04:32 – Why do you not like your two most popular pages?
05:52 – Looking back at SFDC99’s success
06:07 – What is David Liu’s brand?
07:24 – What do you NOT like about some blogs?
07:55 – Are certifications being abused in the industry?
09:54 – What is the Apex Academy?
11:38 – Apex Academy scholarships
12:10 – How long does it take to make an Apex Academy course?
Why your brand is so important
13:00 – What is the importance of personal branding?
15:51 – A real life story about the power of branding
17:10 – What’s more important: your brand, or your code?
18:29 – Here’s what people think of you David
20:41 – Plateauing as a developer
How to build a personal brand
22:12 – How do you build your personal brand?
24:42 – Why your brand must be in a niche
26:47 – When can you expand your brand niche?
27:33 – What is the niche of the Salesforce Way podcast?
29:20 – What channels should you use to create your brand? (blogging, social media, etc)
30:48 – Why blogging is the best way to create a brand
31:55 – Why blogging is a horrible way to teach
32:22 – Why do you spend so much time making free content?
36:20 – Is it harder to write code or to build a brand?
How your brand impacts your career
37:45 – How your brand can get you a job
39:05 – How I personally interview candidates when they have a blog
39:55 – How SFDC99 changed my career
41:01 – What’s the return on investment of giving back to the Salesforce community?
I hope this talk opens your eyes on the importance of branding!
David’s note: Jeanette, you are someone who doesn’t let their background define their future. You have broken past so many barriers and you are trailblazing the path for other women to do so as well! Respect!
I don’t have a college degree. I never really knew what I wanted to do, and didn’t want rack up a ton of debt just to be able to say I had a degree. So I’ve been working full time since I graduated high school.
I started at my previous company 15 years ago working in customer service, which was an entry level position. Over the years, I worked my way through different positions before finally moving into a Business Analyst role in IT. I’d always liked my jobs, but looking back, I was never truly passionate about them.
Then my company decided to implement Salesforce. Everything changed. I was one of a few people on the initial team that was formed to start the implementation and as I started to learn about what Salesforce was and what it could do, I became voracious about learning more and more.
I got my Administrator certification in 2016 and then attended Destination Success in 2017 where I earned 5 more certifications during the week. Despite that, or maybe because of that (I attended your breakout session there), I still wanted to learn more.
I decided I wanted to learn how to code. Having no real technical background, and certainly no coding or software development background, the idea terrified me. After hearing your story at Destination Success and reading some articles on your website, I knew I had to try. It was just a matter of how to get started. I was fortunate that at that time, I was working with an amazing consultant (Zayne Turner, who is now Principal Architect Evangelist at Salesforce) who told me about the RAD Women Coding School and encouraged me to look into the program.
So in the Fall of 2017, I applied to be in the next cohort of RAD Women and was lucky enough to get in! Between that program and your website, I finally felt like I could start to understand code and maybe even write some of my own. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use many of my newfound skills in my current role and found it hard to continue growing and going down the career path I wanted.
Last Summer I ended up leaving that company after more than 14 years and took a position where I felt like I could spread my wings a little more, continue learning, and get to apply my new knowledge in my daily role. Leaving a company I had been with for that long was difficult to do (it’s the comfort factor), but seeing and hearing other people’s stories and advice about maximizing your potential and knowing your worth I knew it was the right thing to do.
Since leaving I have taken part in the pilot for RAD Women Part II, and am very proud to say that I achieved my Platform Developer 1 certification! I’m now 11x certified, have my Application Architect certification, and am now moving up the System Architect side of the pyramid.
If you were to tell “high school graduate me” that I would achieve the career success that I have today, especially without a college degree, I don’t think she would have believed you. I’m thrilled to say that I get to live the reality of that success every day, and I hope others reading this will be inspired to blaze their own career trail as well!
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!
It was a great honor giving Salesforce career advice to the hardworking people of Oakland!
We talked about all sorts of things such as:
Watch the recording here – it starts at the 12 minute mark!
(The sound quality improves over time – I promise the content is worth it!)
You can also view the full slide deck here.
Special thanks to the Oakland Salesforce Saturday organizers for inviting me and hosting!
Preface: this post is part of The Definitive Salesforce Careers Guide series.
Sometimes people ask me to be their mentor, and honestly, it’s a great honor.
But I always say no. I’m a father of two kids – who has time for that?!
Until I realized… I’m unofficially mentoring a lot of people and I just didn’t know it!
It’s true. I’ve been tricked. And honestly, I really enjoy mentoring these folks. And in this day and age, with the whole internet thing and all, getting a complete stranger online to mentor you is all the rage.
Anyway, here’s my guide on getting anyone to be your mentor. I’ve learned from the best:
1. Don’t explicitly ask someone to be your mentor
You gotta be more subtle than that. From the mentor’s perspective, an official mentor position can be so scary. Are you suddenly accountable for career decisions? What if my mentee is nutty?!
Your chances of getting someone to be your mentor will triple if you never actually ask them to do it.
2. Never underestimate the power of flattery
Flattery is a powerful weapon, and no one is immune to it. Go ahead and lather on the praise – tell your potential mentor how impressed you are with their career achievements. Let them know that they’re your hero and you want to be just like them one day.
When you start feeling like you’re overdoing it, throw in one more compliment and call it a day.
3. Make a down payment
You must invest in this relationship if you expect someone to invest in you back. Realistically, you have nothing to give but your time and attention. But that is enough to make a mentor happy.
Your down payment is your story. Introduce yourself and let them know who you are and why you want to succeed. You must demonstrate a purpose, otherwise you’re just another helpless soul.
Don’t ask for anything in your first message. That’s not how down payments work. Just invest.
Hi Angela, My name is David and <insert flattery>. <Insert your story> <Insert your purpose> Just wanted to let you know I want to be just like you one day. Sincerely, David
4. Pay your mortgage each month
Your monthly mortgages are your regular updates to your mentor. A simple email that does nothing other than says how your life has been going is gold.
Again this is an investment. You get your return later. The more you invest, the larger your returns.Hi Angela, Just a quick update on my career. Recently I've been part of a <insert scenario>. I remembered a blog post you once wrote and <insert flattery>. Hope you've been doing well! Sincerely, David
5. Withdraw, but sparingly
It’s time. You’ve invested so much into this relationship and it’s time to finally ask for advice.
By now, your mentor is fully invested in your story and they don’t even know it. You’ve asked for nothing from them, and they have no reason to believe you’re just a stranger looking for shortcuts.
It’s a good time to ask a very specific career question. Generic questions get generic useless answers.Hi Angela, I hope you don't mind if I ask you for some advice. I have two job offers and I don't know which is best for me. <Insert specifics of offer #1> <Insert specifics of offer #2> I hope you can find a moment to help, <insert flattery>! Sincerely, David
At this point no human being with even a sliver of a soul can deny helping you.
Congratulations, you’ve found yourself a new mentor =)
DavidJuly 27, 2019
If you live near Oakland California, I hope to see you at Salesforce Saturday next week!
I am very honored to be invited to speak to my local community! This event is extra special for me because I grew up in the Bay Area and my wife was actually raised in Oakland =)
One of the craziest things I’ll ever talk about, is while Salesforce developers already make ~$150,000 on average in the US, in Oakland, they can make $300,000 or more! This is gonna be fun.
- Register here
- Saturday, August 3, 2019, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT (add to calendar)
- 555 City Center – The Port Workspaces, 5th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607
Salesforce Career Path Strategies
Which Salesforce career path is right for you? In this session, we evaluate the pros and cons of the core Salesforce career paths: admin, developer, and architect. Every aspect is examined including pay, short and long term job prospects, end games, and more. Then, we’ll give you the best resources for starting down your chosen path!
Hope to see you there!!
P.S. Very sorry about the scheduling mishap last round, totally my fault!!!Theme: Simple Style by Fimply