It’s the time of year where I pause and reflect on the last 12 months, thinking about what was special to me, what I am proud of and what are my hopes for next year.
It has been a year of high expectations and unexpected challenges, both in my career and personal life. It is also I year that I officially became a Trailblazer. What follows are the most important Salesforce highlights of the year to me.
Co-organising London’s Calling Community Conference
Being an organiser for London’s Calling was an early highlight of the year.
London’s Calling was the first community organised Salesforce event in Europe. An unproven event, that I co-organised with Francis, Jodi and Simon. I actually got involved only by chance, being in the right place at the right time with a great bunch of people at Dreamforce.
I headed up sponsorship and I have to say that I found this quite daunting. I tried to hide just how much, although I am not sure how convincing I was.
The challenge? How to raise a significant amount of money to enable an unproven event in a central London Venue! In the early conversation with potential sponsors I was asked questions like ’And this is a real thing, it’s not just a group of people in someone’s back garden?’ Luckily we had early support from companies like Mavens, Steelbrick and the other companies involved in Project Unite who were already actively involved in the Community.
I managed the Sponsorship process before the event, from lead qualification, closure, merchandise design & approval, to invoice chasing :s. Also supporting the Expos was my main role on the day.
By the end I had earned the nickname ‘The Slayer’, which made it’s way onto my event name badge. There were a couple of occasions that required firmness in order to be fair to all. I used to avoid those situations at all costs but when I starting worked for myself I learnt this was always a bad option.
In short I loved this amazing experience! What made it great was all the collaboration between the organisers, we discussed and understood every decision made. This gave me the opportunity to work with people outside my organisation that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
If you have the chance to get involved in a community event and lend a hand then I wholeheartedly encourage you to.
It is rare to find so many Salesforce experts and influencers in such an intimate space, you can easily make a lot of connections. With over 100 speaker submissions the quality of this years talks is even higher.
We sold out in 2016, which was awesome. Make sure you don’t miss out this year, book your ticket now — 10th Feb 2017.
Salesforce London World Tour — May
This was my first time speaking at World Tour and I was both excited and apprehensive. My topic of choice was how to setup WAVE dashboards so that users can take action without leaving the page, Insight to Action. At the time this was a relatively new capability in Salesforce, but I was still surprised that such a huge crowd that gathered to see my talk.
It’s fair to say that my preparation did not go as planned as I needed an emergency surgical procedure approximately a month before the event.
Even though the surgery was significant, in my usual stubborn style I was determined that I would still be able to give the talk. After all, these opportunities don’t come up everyday. I also needed a target, something that I could work towards during my recovery.
Having an aggressive target and meeting it was one of my proudest moments last year. Being ready to physically and mentally be able to deliver this talk at the biggest UK Salesforce event was exhilarating.
As with all things this would not have been possible without support. I had tee’d Scott Gassmann up to deliver the talk if I really couldn’t make it. In the end I only did so because my Mum was able to come with me as I couldn’t travel alone. It was wonderful to have her in the audience, and her seeing me in a setting that without her would never have happened. It was worth all the effort but I did have to sleep for the next two days to recover.
If you thought about public speaking before but never taken the plunge, make 2017 the year to do it. If it scares you or even petrifies you then you should know that the exhilaration and sense of pride you get from achieving something you thought was impossible is truly amazing, trust me, I know.
In 2016, Keir and Jodi ran a great community lead speaking course, culminating in the attendees presenting at the next Salesforce meetup. The course is very practical and everyone in the group enjoys the experience and boost of confidence, taking comfort in the fact that everyone has the same hangups and concerns. I highly recommend this.
Women in Tech Panel — May
In May I attended a great panel session on the theme of “diversity and inclusion”. I know the User Group leaders open their arms to everyone that is interested in these topics, regardless of gender, colour, creed, size or shape.
This was still while I was in recovery. To have an event that I could go to, on a topic that interests me and be amongst friends gave me a sense of normality and made me feel less isolated during that time. This is why I love the Salesforce community.
Enjoyably Adam Seligman was also able to join the panel. He talked about some of the inspiring women on his team, it was great to see that he is such an ally. It helped emphasise that getting more women into technology is not just a ‘women problem’, it is one of many strategies we need to use to address the tech skills gap.
Visit the Women in Tech London User Group on the Salesforce Success Community to find out more and engage in the conversation.
Surf Force — August
Surf Force is an event like no other. It’s the brainchild of Shaun Holmes who has enjoyed the benefits for Surfing his whole life. Shaun also has a infectious energy and a great desire to help other people, if you get the chance ask him about giving has shoes away as a child.
The main premise of the event was that all new skills seem daunting when you don’t know how to start or don’t have support. This premise applies as much to surfing as it does to using, working with or in Technology. So by taking a lesson together, with the right support, you can achieve things that you never thought possible.
I think there were a number of people that thought he was a bit crazy when he first started talking about Surf Force. After all this is an event where people get in wetsuits and hit the open water, then talk about Salesforce. I have to say I was a little skeptical when I first heard about it.
I acted as an organiser mentor for this event. Shaun checked in with me every few days while I was recovering. He allowed me to help in a way that I could, sharing experience and advice, without any pressure. Thanks Shaun.
What was reaffirmed for me in this experience is that enthusiasm and authenticity can achieve things that most people don’t think are possible.
If you have a great idea, find some like minded people and take the plunge. Surround yourself with great people, challenge common perceptions and allow your passions to show through.
If this inspires you, then register your interest for Surf Force 2017
Dreamforce — October
2015 was my first time attending and speaking at Dreamforce. I was immediately bitten by the bug. On returning home I promised myself that I would go and speak every year I could.
This year I went bigger. I submitted a number of talks many that would be a real stretch, including a couple to the developer track. I achieve more when I have an aggressive deadline. However, this doesn’t always make it the most enjoyable experience and it can feed my imposter syndrome. I seem to be addicted to jumping in with both feet.
Two of my talks were accepted, one of which was for the developer theatre — whoop, whoop. Both of these were new and therefore unwritten talks. As you can imagine there was both excitement and that “Arrrrhhhh, what you have you done” fear. I tried to downplay that fear on the outside but the inner dialogue was on loop.
Looking back, this was an intense time but there were some great people who helped me through it. My developer talk would not have been possible if it was not from Keir Bowden, Paul Battison and John Stevenson, thank you for your patience. Also Amanda Beard-Neilson for sharing her take on being a Trusted Advisor.
At Dreamforce 2015 my focus was on attending sessions. The greatest value in 2016 was being able to meet and deepen connections with people that I otherwise only engage with online. I caught up with Australian colleagues and my Salesforce superheroes, mainly over food #winning. I even had a coffee with Eliot Harper who I know through his dedicated answering of Marketing Cloud questions on Stack Exchange. It reminded me that the world is becoming a smaller place.
The many personal connections I made were really the unanticipated joy of Dreamforce. I will approach every event now making time to pursue and enjoy these connections, rather than following a strict schedule. The community is what is unique about Salesforce, making it such a vibrant and productive ecosystem to work in.
French Touch Dreaming — November
This was the first community event in France, hosted in Paris by a team that was inspired by London’s Calling organisers #pride.
As the event was in English, it was open to a broad audience. I knew many people that travelled from the UK to support the event and some traveled from as far afield as Uruguay.
I not only got the pleasure of delivering my WAVE talk to a different audience but I also had the honour of being on the Women in Tech panel.
The event ran smoothly on the day and was very well attended, Jean-Michel Mougeolle and all the members of the organising time should be very proud of what they achieved.
For this event I had a pleasant change of pace, as I was not running around like a crazy person. I got to attend sessions, meet & share ideas with some of the European User Group Leaders which was a pleasure. I find that all these activities renew my passion for what I spend my days doing. I think it’s important to enjoy what you do.
2016 has been an incredibly busy and intense year for me, but after 2 weeks off I am revived and ready to start anew. It’s a good job to as the next London’s Calling is just around the corner and I will be speaking at the 1st London Admin User Group of 2017.
Happy 2017 everyone!