Trailhead Live == Awesome Sauce

For the past few weeks there has been a push amongst the various user groups to participate in the #SummerOfTrailhead. Yesterday the Wisconsin User group got their chance to particpate and I have to say, it was truly awesome (or is that #clawesome cc:@TheChrisDuarte?).

As you hopefully know by now, Trailhead is a free, fun, & easy way to learn the Salesforce platform. By working your way through various exercises that are grouped by different modules, you earn points and badges for your accomplishments. The gamification makes it fun, but to be honest, I’d be using it even if badges, points, and bragging rights weren’t involved at all because it is that effective when learning the platform.

Often times when learning something new you are left to your own devices: a book, a webpage, a how-to, etc. The problem with this approach is that you are still left to your own devices when trying to understand and apply those concepts. Trailhead is interactive; upon completing an exercise Trailhead will connect to your developer org and check your work. You get instant feedback on whether or not you are grasping the concepts rather than left to wander in the woods alone.

The Summer of Trailhead event upped the level of interactivity by gathering users, developers, and admins together in one place to work on things in an open setting. I had the privilege of being a helper at this event along with Jennifer Bennett (my dev twin, sister from another mister, etc), and fellow Salesforce MVPs Andy Ognenoff & Brian Kwong. We strolled amongst the attendees and offered help and assistance with getting started with Trailhead as well as help with understanding of various module content.

Add to that the users themselves reaching out to their neighbor and asking/answering questions and it only improved the overall experience. It was reminiscent of my high school Pre-Calculus class, lemme ‘splain: I was never any good at math, B student at best most times when it came to “the maths.” Somehow though, I found myself in a Pre-Calculus class — by choice…my parents’ choice (something about prepping for college I suppose). Anyway, our teacher seemed to understand that working in groups, we’d be more productive. Each day after the content was delivered and homework assigned, we’d gather in groups and start working on the exercises — and I’ll be damned if I didn’t finish that year with a 99% in that class.

Trailhead is very similar, particularly the “live” event due to its interactivity. I believe the official event is now over but I did hear a couple of our local Girly Geeks saying they should get together in a small group and do some of the modules together. So I’m putting the challenge out there. Find your dev/admin/user buddy(ies) and arrange a trailhead afternoon. Get together, find a module you all would like to work on (they could be different modules) and start learning. You don’t need an official event, just do it. You’ll thank yourself.


Is It Dreamforce Yet

For many of us, our year seems to be measured by the number of days in-between Dreamforce conferences. We wait with anticipation for the release of the band name for the gala, the keynote speakers, the agenda builder, and everything else that comes with Dreamforce. For me, I enjoy all of that just as much as the next person, but Dreamforce — while exhausting — provides me with some relief, a reset button if you will.

With that in mind, I give you my latest creation “Is It Dreamforce Yet”:

‘Nuff said…


My Top 5 Reasons for Attending Dreamforce

Dreamforce is right around the corner. Many people are probably still begging their boss to go, or perhaps still trying to decide whether or not they should attend. We all attend for different reasons I am sure, but I’m also sure that many of us attend for the same reasons as well. If you are on the fence, maybe my list will help convince you that you need to do this, for your career, for your company, but mostly…for yourself.

  1. It’s like hitting a reset button on your year. Many of us measure a year by the number of days until the next Dreamforce. The reason for this is while it’s work-related — its a break from your daily grind, from your mountain of emails, voicemails, etc. While most of us still check & answer the emails while out of the office there’s a good chance you can shirk at least some of your responsibilities while away. We all need that reset button and there’s plenty of non-work type events while there from any number of happy hours and parties to the Gala night (featuring the Foo Fighters this year!) So you’ve worked pretty hard all “year” and you could likely use a reset.
  2. Content, Content, Content. There are numerous sessions chocked full of information for you to absorb and take back with you. If you are a developer, there are numerous sessions on tools of the trade, testing techniques, how to use new features, and a developer zone dedicated to what we do as well as some fun things the we generally like to do, like play with robots, and virtual reality, etc. If you’re an admin there are tons and tons of sessions from brushing up on your formulas, to cracking open an IDE and learning to code. For the second year in a row, there will be an Admin Zone, so you’ll want to check that out and hangout with your favorite #AdminHeroes. If you’re simply a user of the system, or perhaps a “shot caller” there are plenty of tracks on how to best leverage the platform, and learn from the experiences of other companies and how they have used the platform to their advantage and increased user adoption, etc. Basically, no matter what your level of involvement is with Salesforce, you will find something useful to take back with you.
  3. Hands On Training. I’ve been to quite a number tech conferences since I’ve been in the industry. If your like me, these other conferences usually leave you wanting more, but more never comes. The learning stops when the Powerpoint is closed. At Dreamforce we have HOTS (Hands On Training Sessions). This is chance to take the platform for a spin. You actually get to sit down and learn a new feature, or how to do a particular task on the platform. This year I’d expect to see numerous sessions on Lightning Components and Lightning App Builder. These things are so new that just going to a session to hear someone talk about it is not enough. Getting to sit down and actually sling some code with an instructor led course and plenty of assistants there to help is just what you need to grasp some of these new concepts. For me, there’s no better way to learn than by doing.
  4. MVPs galore. The Salesforce community is its own world with its own “rock stars” — I know many of them and am convinced that they are the best at what they do. Many of them volunteer some of their Dreamforce time to staff the Admin and Developer zones. This year some are even hosting training sessions. They are very approachable so who better to learn from than someone so knowledgable and ready & willing to help. Who better to ask a complicated formula question than Steve Mo? With all of this knowledge so close at hand, its a great time to seek assistance with that “one problem” that’s been eating at you.
  5. The Community. I’ve talked about this before, and here it is again. It’s clearly a re-occurring theme with me. The community is just so unlike any other tech community I’ve experienced. If you are a reader of my blog, then you’ve heard this time and time again. So rather than drone on about it, go read/re-read this. That should sum it up for you again.
  6. I hope that if you were one of those folks sitting on the fence, that this helped you decide that this is something you need to do. You owe it to your career and yourself to get refreshed, learn new things, get assistance with outstanding issues you may have, to meet new people and make new friends — and while you are at it — have a little fun.


My DF15 Top Ten People To Meet

…also known as “The I am completely ill-prepared for this week’s post and need to write something” edition.

Everybody does it. As we get closer to Dreamforce people start dropping their “to do” lists, and “things you should check out while at Dreamforce” lists, etc. Among these lists one can normally find someones list of people that they’d like to meet at Dreamforce and if possible, nab a selfie.

Some of these aren’t at all likely to happen, but I’m putting them down here so the universe knows (not in any order…well maybe the first three):

  1. Marc Benioff (and his Benioffs Shoes) — who doesn’t right? I mean, let’s don’t get stupid. Of course he’s on the list!
  2. Parker Harris — now I actually met and chatted with him a bit at the MVP Summit in May, but I missed the selfie opportunity. I don’t want to miss that again.
  3. Shawna Wolverton — I don’t know how I missed her at the summit, but I did…I can’t do that again.
  4. Nana Gregg — I missed meeting her last year at Dreamforce, but have been following her on twitter ever since. Besides we need “Custom Junction” music to hash out ;)
  5. Jenny Bamber — I helped her with some formulas. Been following her blog posts as well. It won’t be long and I think she’ll wind up an MVP and then be too busy so gotta do it now.
  6. Francis Pindar — Somehow miss him at the Summit as well. Jeeeeeeez what was I doing there anyway?!? Plus his twitter handle is “radnip” that’s gotta count for something.
  7. Jeff Douglas — Mr. Lightning himself. No brainer, gotta find him.
  8. Greg Wester — If he’s gonna be there, that’d be awesome. I love his tweets…and if he’s not gonna be there…why the hell not??
  9. Abhi Tripathi — One of the first “random strangers” to reach out to me when I was named MVP. Been wanting to meet up with him ever since
  10. Any one of my twitter followers, readers, listeners, & supporters, etc. So looking forward to making new connections beyond the digital realm!
  11. So there you have it. I plan to meet many more but these are just off the top of my head. It’s also an exercise for me to reach out to people which is something I’m not very good at, but getting better.

    So, if you’re not too shy like I am was…lets chat! Who is on your list?