It’s Still the Community

As I sit here and enter my lengthy expense report, (and pray to the corporate gods that it all gets approved), my mind begins to reflect on this past week. For those of you that may have been under a rock, Dreamforce 2017 was held just last week in San Francisco.

Dreamforce, for me, has somewhat of an interesting history. Every year has been a slightly different experience. Starting from my first “deer-in-the-headlights” experience in 2013, to opening the Admin Keynote with “Apex & the Limits” just last week.

Dreamforce is an overwhelming experience. Normally huge product announcements and marketing hype rule the day, and whilst this year wasn’t that much different, I felt that it was a step back from all of that. Marc‘s keynote did not go over, and while there were some “skit-like” demos in the presentation, I didn’t feel it was too over the top. Yea the marketing was there, but for me, I didn’t feel it “in my face” like I have in the past. This allowed me to just ponder the platform and the ecosystem more calmly, and I really liked it.

I tried to have this be the Dreamforce “for me” where I didn’t say yes to everything like I did last year. Somehow, it managed to be probably my busiest one yet. While I attended mostly keynotes, I was networking, running around from place to place and really soaking it all in. I truly enjoyed this experience 100%.

However, I think know what did it for me once again, was the interaction with the community. On Sunday night I attended the WIT Event. I hadn’t eaten anything substantial all day since 4am CST that morning and didn’t get a chance to eat until 9PM PST and on the inside I was really cranky, but it wasn’t a matter of just a few minutes at the event when I ran into Peter Coffee who stopped what he was doing and shook my hand. The voice of Salesforce took a brief second from the numerous selfies to reach out to me. That’s all the interaction I was able to get with him this year, but it made me remember that there are people in this company like Peter, that take the time to know their customers. I’m not 100% sure he knows my name, but he recognized me, and knows what I do and there’s something really special about that.

Shortly thereafter whilst trying to find my Wisconsin WIT crew, I met newly minted MVP Corey Snow and fellow member of the Salesforce Ohana Slack group. It was a privilege to meet him and nab a quick selfie and I could feel the community interaction lifting my spirits. (I’m a very dependent person I’m finding out…but I digress). After finding my table and collapsing in my chair the event began. That’s also when my phone started to buzz (I was paying attention I promise and the women on the panel were so good!). Glancing at my phone another member of my #ohana, albeit virtually to this point, began sending me messages via Twitter. She had spotted me in the crowd and wanted to be sure we meet up before we all went our separate ways for the night. Having never seen her in person, and only knowing her from her Twitter picture, I began to glance around to see if we could make eye contact for a quick wave of acknowledgement. Embarrassingly, I made eye contact with someone entirely different that looked similar enough (from a distance and in the dark through my exhausted eyes). We shared a nod and a smile and during the first break, this person made their way over to me. However, it was not the person who had been messaging me (Lauren Touyet) but someone whose name escapes me (I’m so, so, so sorry but I am horrible with names). This person asked me if I was the guy that “wrote all those songs”. She was referring to the “Stop Doing Sh*t in Production” tune that I wrote a few years back. I said that was indeed me, and we shared my second selfie of Dreamforce. (If you’re out there anywhere, please tweet it, etc — I’d like a copy). I’d met someone completely new to me and someone that I’d recognize if I see them again (just remind me of your name). The community was welcoming me back to Dreamforce once again and I was beginning to settle into my home away from home. I did finally get to meet Lauren in person after the event but we didn’t get to chat much as I believe people were tired and looking forward to resting up before the opening of the conference.

Monday led me to an encounter that proves that this community cares about each other. I won’t go into details, but I like to believe I’m a service oriented person and being able to provide someone with the help they needed on more than one occasion that night warmed my heart. The #ohana spirit, whilst seems over the top to some, is something that I’ve truly taken to heart. (So much so that there may be a tattoo in the works — but someone dropped the ball there…long story…and once again I digress — oh look a squirrel!).

My week continued in this manner as I met more and more of the folks in the community that I really only know from our online interactions. Hugs were everywhere, smiles, and some tears, but the overwhelming feeling of finding my place in this world (I know for some of you that’s over the top and weird…but its my happy place) is what makes me long to come back year after year after year.

While I may stay out late while at Dreamforce its not to “party” — sure I enjoy the classic adult beverage but I’m not one who enjoys stumbling home. I’m 43 years old, I can’t survive such things. I stay out late at night to spend as much time as possible with these amazing members of the community. From karaoke night with PepUpTech, to a brief conversation with Parker Harris at the Admin Keynote (merely to thank him for having us open the thing), to a quiet-ish dinner with SteveMo on my last night in town, I try to maximize my time with these folks. I’ve always been told to surround yourself with good people. I spent my entire week around good people like my friends in Apex & the Limits (I can’t believe the experiences we’ve had on this crazy ride together), Trina, Bill, Adam, Jen, Kelly, Meighan, Steve — the list just goes on forever and I couldn’t possibly name them all.

Dreamforce 17 may have been a different experience for me, but one thing has remained constant throughout: The community is the heart and soul of Dreamforce, and of the ecosystem (as far as I’m concerned). For me, its the community, and always will be. Hope to see you all (and more of you) next year!