I get this question about once a month… now I am revealing my answer!

I get this question about once a month… now I am revealing my answer!

I get the following question about once a month – through social media, at events, or through referrals from other peers, colleagues and friends:

“My goal this year is to get Salesforce Admin Certified, but I am not sure the exact path to take.   Can you help guide me”

First, I would say – your path is going to be different than mine.  If I were to poll the recipients of the Salesforce Admin Certification, we would find that they have different paths and each one has value.  So I must say that my path won’t be your path.  That being said, there are some things that I feel would bring a solid base on your way to being certified.  Congratulations on taking the path and good luck on your journey!

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1) Hands on work

If you are currently working as a Salesforce Admin that is great and will give you experience in Salesforce. I spent over 6 months administrating a Salesforce organization before studying for my Admin Cert, and I think that was valuable time spent. If you are not currently an admin it is OK, because we have Trailhead! With Trailhead, you can sign up for a developer Salesforce Account and use this as your hands-on playground to understand more about Salesforce and how Salesforce Works. Here is a Trailmix for Admins looking to get certified:
https://trailhead.salesforce.com/users/00550000006yDdKAAU/trailmixes/build-your-admin-career-on-salesforce

2) Study Groups

Through my local Salesforce user group, I found other people in the area who wanted to get certified and we started our own study group. We met weekly for 3 months and studied together, using the materials I will list below to work together on quizzing each other on topics and Salesforce functionality.

3) Certification Site and Exam Guide

Use the exam guide found on the certification page as a study template.  Make sure you know the information listed in the categories on this guide. http://certification.salesforce.com/administrator

4) Blogs and Admin training sites

I reviewed these on the way to my certification:

5) Reach out and Connect with others

You already have done this if you reached out to me with your question, so you are already networking with others.  Keep doing that.  Meet others at local user groups, connect with other community members via Twitter or through the Trailblazer Community.  For example, there is a Certification Study Group  https://success.salesforce.com/_ui/core/chatter/groups/GroupProfilePage?g=0F9300000001pLJ but there are many other groups you can join and participate in.  Asking questions to others is a great way to start a conversation.

6) Set a Date for your Exam

I set a specific date for my Exams – try to be realistic, but set the date.  For my Admin Cert, I set a date 3 months out and then strive to hit that date.  Having the deadline put pressure on me to continue to study every day knowing that I had to be done.

Oh, and then make sure to celebrate for yourself when you are done.  It is nice to have the certification and then reward yourself on a job well done.

 

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Trailhead Live Minneapolis, 2017

Trailhead Live Minneapolis, 2017

I attended the Trailhead Live event in Minneapolis on Dec 6, 2017.

I was not able to attend Dreamforce this year and I was so excited to have Dreamforce come to me via Trailhead Live!  So glad that they did, because it was fun, full of learning and I got to meet new people who I have been fans of from far away.

Keynote

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Colin Fleming wore a wonderful Astro sweater on a cold Minnesota day!

The Keynote was hosted by Colin Fleming (Salesforce Chief Creative Officer) and featured Alex MastroEric Stahl and Kris Lande.  These fine presenters showed how TMobile, Adidas, U.S. Bank, and 21st Century Fox are using Salesforce MyEinstien, MyLightning, and MyTrailhead to take their organizations to the next level of Customer Success.

During the Keynote, my friend Kris Salava was selected with the #AwesomeAdmin Award for the work that she has been doing in the Twin Cities in training others and helping her peers to get Salesforce Certifications.   She is so deserving, and I am so very proud of her work. (Kris, Shonnah, Aly and I all studied for the Admin Certification together, so I have seen her first-hand as an awesome resource for others.)

Sessions

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Justice, Ben and I discussing Community Cloud in between their sessions

There were so many sessions for learning at Trailhead Live, and I got to see presentations from the local Trailblazers like Leyna Hoffer, James Loghry, Ben Bolopue, Justice Sikakane, Shonnah Hughes, Carlos Villalpando, and others.

I attended a session on MyEinstein by Darvish Lee Shadravan, who gave me some concrete tips on how I can test Einstien through Trailhead.

Networking

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I got to meet Kurt Smith (from Dreamforce Readiness videos!) and Kristen Pitukka

As always, Salesforce Events are a great way to network with others.  On this event, I spoke with Kurt SmithLeandro Perez and Derrick Strom from Salesforce.  I also had 4 of my own Salesforce users from TPT at this event, so we had a chance to discuss our own future with the platform, and considering how our roadmap aligns with Salesforce’s roadmap.

The WIT event afterwards was a blast as well.  The Minnesota Salesforce WIT group is always coming up with engaging, exciting, and relevant events for the community.  They deserve a round of applause for their work.

Food (Trailhead theme)

This is sort of a fun thing, but worth talking about.   The food that Salesforce served at the event was all “Trailhead” food.   For example:

  • Cranberry Salad in little mason jars
  • Baked Beans in little tin cans
  • little Trailmix bags
  • “Smores on a Stick” – which is perfect for Minnesota (home of everything on a stick)

It was just fun that they would show the Trailhead theme in all the decor, marketing and even in the food that they served.  Kudos Salesforce Events team!

What I took away

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Aly, Kris and Shonnah from the Minnesota WIT User Group

I took many things, but the three that I will be working on moving forward include:

  • Communities (Community Cloud) – my organization will be coming back to Communities to enable it in our org.
  • Lightning – my organization will be moving to Lightning UI in 2018, and I hope to make this transition a good one for our users.
  • Einstein Prediction Builder – just because it looks so cool and I think I could wow my users by putting some data scenarios through Einstein, I am going to be diving into these and other Trailhead trailmixes.

Pictures

Some of the fun pictures that I took are here on Flikr.  Enjoy:

Trailhead Live MN 2017

My WIT Diversity talk: White Male Ally

My WIT Diversity talk: White Male Ally

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On July 7, 2017 I was invited to speak to the Salesforce Women in Tech (WIT) Diversity group about my role as an Ally.  It was the first Ally talk for the WIT Diversity group and I was nervous, but inspired to do the best to explain my story and how it is relevant for the WIT Diversity group.

This post is to recap my talk and be used as a asset to support other Equality Allies.

My Youth

In 1973 I was born to a small town Nebraska farm family, and due to a miracle (ask me about my birth story if you are interested) at 3 days old was sent to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in a dire emergency and was found to be born with a Genetic Metabolic Disorder called Galactosemia.

Galactosemia is a Genetic Metabolic Disorder in which the body can not break down galactose into glucose to be used in the body.   I have 2 gene mutations in my DNA ((Q188R and 1048-del-A) that results in my body retaining excess Galactose as I cannot process it. 

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How did this affect me?  Well first off all – I cannot eat Milk or Whey (or any of the followings)  You would be surprised how many foods contain milk or whey.   I read food labels all the time to see if items have milk products or not.  Its a part of my life.

Other than not being able to enjoy Milk, Ice Cream, and other foods, there are other complications that occur with Galactosemia, including brain development issues, memory and speech issues, and cognitive skill development.  This is because if the body has an excess of galactose, it can damage the white matter around the brain.  (This all depends on when Galactosemia was detected – # of days after birth)

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So as a child with a Genetic Metabolic Disorder, who couldn’t eat “normal food”, I had some unique experiences:

  1. I  always ate last – so that the host/server can bring you your “special” non-dairy meal once all the “normal” kids have eaten.
  2. I always finished lunch/dinner last – so while the other kids are playing I am last to play.
  3. (you get the idea – last last last last last)  Being last all the time is a target for bullies, and childish names.  You are reminded daily that you are “different”.
  4. I had adults telling me what I can and cannot eat – what I can and cannot do – where I can and cannot go.

As I look back on my childhood, I can say that having Galactosemia has given me empathy for those who are different, those that have been told what to do and what not to do.  I survived, and I know that the inconveniences were all in “my best interest”.

College Years

I was also privileged to go to a good college where I was given a chance to be a Junior Counselor for incoming Freshmen.   My assigned roommate was Bryan Bass, one of only 23 black men in a college of 3,100 students.  Our dorm room became a safe hub for minorities as other students would reach out to Bryan for advice and to lend an ear to their problems.   As Bryan’s roommate and partner, I was in a position to listen and empathize with those who felt they were “different”.   I could listen and try to put myself in their situation.

My senior year of college, I traveled abroad.  I studied in 4 different overseas schools (in Egypt, India, Hong Kong and Japan) and visited 12 different countries in the entire program.  It was an amazing experience where I learned about how others live and where people come from, but I also learned many stories about how my privilege as an American has affected the lives of others around the world.

WIT at Home

One of the best things I ever did was meet and get married to my wife Diane.  She is a Woman in Tech and is a trusted adviser to me on WIT-related things.  She is involved in Resource Groups at her work and when we go out with friends, it is usually with connections on those Resource Groups.  She has a diverse group of friends and colleagues.

We have similar morals in our work and how we treat others.  (We don’t need to step on someone else to get up in the world and we don’t need to push each other down to make ourselves feel better.)   In my working world, I have tried to work at places I am aligned with.

We also are trying to show those morals to our son and hope that his experiences in this world include valuing equality, inclusiveness and respect for all people.   

My Privilege

I think people get stuck on the term “Privilege” and I understand why.  Some feel that this is a defensive term to classify people and determine the “haves” and “have-nots”.   The more I learn about privilege, I realize that it can also be seen as blessings that you have been given, based on conditions that you have very little control over.

To better understand the value of Privileges, I recommend the following resources:

  1. TEDxEMU – Justin Ford – Pedagogy of Privilege
  2. Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

The following explain the socio-economic groups that I fall into:

  • Born in the USA (Actually I am 14 generations removed from Stephen Hopkins, who was a signer of the Mayflower Compact – yes that MAYFLOWER in November 11, 1620).
  • White
  • Male
  • Married and have a child.
  • Economically Stable
  • Christian background
  • My parents are still alive and still married and are involved in their children’s/grandchildren’s lives.

These privileges matter because I am all of those things as who I am and the role that I play in the world.  It empowers me to serve others using the privilege that I have.

My Equity Role Models

One of the questions I was asked me in preparation of my Ally talk was “Who is your Equality Role Model.”  The names that popped into my head included my parents who have taught me to treat others with respect and to do the right thing.  My father still reminds me that “You know the right things to do. Do those things”

The second name that came to my mind was Mary Scotton.  I am always inspired and educated when Mary Scotton speaks about equality.   Her talk at TrailheadX 2016 included a slide of WDIMC (White Dudes in my Corner) featuring male allies to the WIT community.  I was delighted when my friend Zayne sent this picture to me.  I thought “Wow, Mary sees me as an Ally – that means something!”  WHITE MALE ALLY - STUART EDEAL (3)

You should read Mary’s blog http://www.maryscotton.com/blog/  as it has great content and her presentations can be found here: http://www.maryscotton.com/talks/

2015 – 2016

In July 2015, I met Shonnah Hughes and was introduced to the Salesforce #Ohana.  I attended the Salesforce Admin Study Group that Shonnah was leading and was welcomed to study with this group.   After the class was over, and we had all obtained our Admin Certifications – Shonnah let me know that she and Toya were starting a WIT Diversity group and was I interested in that topic.  I was very excited to hear of this and wanted to know more.  Shonnah and Toya invited me to join their group and I have been listening and learning about other’s stories.  It is marvelous!

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  • Got to meet the WIT members in person, those who I followed on the virtual WIT Diversity calls.
  • Networked with many other #Ohana allies.

At Dreamforce 2016, I was able to speak with Marc Benioff who issued me a challenge to reach out to my local schools.  I have taken this challenge on!

  • I have met the local school leaders.  (The local school I am working with is 93% minority and 94% economically disadvantage.)
  • I have been appointed to serve on the Career and Technical Education Advisory Board.
  • I have committed myself to adopt a local school program and help them with Funding, Volunteering, and Programming.
  • Expect to see more in upcoming posts on this challenge and my response as time goes on.

Advice for other White Male Allies

1. Don’t give into FEAR.

It took me some time to realize that being afraid of others is only holding me back.  (Who holds the privilege? – “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh)

2. Listen and Learn.

  • Join a Resource Group / Affinity Group at your work.

  • Say YES when asked to volunteer (Junior Achievement, Girl Develop It, Pride Parade Volunteer)
  • Attend local WIT Events that are open to Allies (ask first)
  • Go to the WIT Event the day before Dreamforce (please tell me they are doing this again!)

3. Make it personal.   

  • “Make a Friend and Be a Friend”
  • Be Brave – Find a cause that you really believe in and make it your goal to support it.

4. It’s not all about you.

  • It’s hard to fathom, but sometimes your Privilege can get in the way. (WHERE I STUMBLE)
  • It’s good to KNOCK before opening a door.  I knew Shonnah and Toya were starting the WIT Diversity, but did not assume I was invited.  I asked Shonnah first.  

Overall, My journey has only begun.  My journey will continue through networking with other colleagues, diversifying my feed on social media and news sources, deepening my relationships with others around the world and working with the students who I will be working with over the coming years….

thanks to Toya, Shonnah and Jen for asking me to speak at the WIT event, and thank you all for supporting my journey.

Stuart

Midwest Dreamin 17

Midwest Dreamin 17

I attended Midwest Dreamin 17 (MWD17) this week and it was amazing (again).   Thanks so much to the Staff and Volunteers who made this event a success.

Some of my highlights included:

  • First time I spoke at a Salesforce regional “dreamin” event.
  • First time speaking twice in one day.
  • Met some amazing community members in person for the first time. (see pictures below for some great faces)
Ohana Photo Booth - Thanks to the AppExchange
Top 3 things – what I am taking action on.
  1. I had a chance to speak with the leaders at PepUpTech and we spoke more about how we can reach high schools and help them increase their STEM education.  I received some new ideas and am continuing to work on more opportunities for students.
  2. Rebe de la Paz gave an amazing talk in her session about Training End Users.  I have so much to do and will be using her information to enhance how I interact with my users on a daily basis.  USE IT OR LOSE IT! (right, Rebe?)

  3. I was amazed at the feedback I received from the talk that Amy Oplinger and I did about Women Leadership in Technology.  We were a primer for the keynote by James Loduca later in the day where he used the same picture that we did of Marc Benioff in the Women’s March.   Also, many of the themes we spoke of were magnified in greater detail at the first ever WITSuccess Conference, which started after MWD ended.  There is more work to do here for WIT Allies, and I look forward to those conversations.

See some of my photos from MWD17 on my flickr site.

MWD17

Rejection Sucks

The Dreamforce 17 speaker sessions have been selected and those lucky speakers have been notified.   Things are in motion for an awesome event in November.

What if you submitted a session and were not selected?  On the Admin side, chances are your session was not chosen as there were over 700 Admin submissions but only 70 were chosen (that’s a 90% chance that your session was rejected).

That sucks.  I said it.   It does suck – you worked hard and had a great idea and you got a message from the Dreamforce Team stating Thank you, but your submission(s) were not accepted as part of the Admin/Dev Track

2016

I got rejected last year – big time rejection.  I submitted talks for Dreamforce 16 and they were not accepted.  I felt hurt.  It wasn’t fun.  My rejection came right before Midwest Dreamin 16 and I felt some humiliation knowing that I would be seeing my Salesforce peers knowing that they were selected but I was not.

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It really hit me while driving home from Midwest Dreamin 16 (Chicago to Minneapolis), when I listened to the Salesforce Admins podcast and I heard my friend Ben speak about his Dreamforce submission.  While listening to him speak I realized why I didn’t get selected.  He eloquently spoke about how he put together his submission and the pitch that he gave.

Just listening to him speak, I realized the time and pride he took into preparing his abstract and I had to pull over to the side of the road to wipe the tears of both joy and sorrow.  I turned my sadness into humor and created this analogy of Ben’s Dreamforce Abstract vs Mine.

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If I were on the submission selection team, I would have chosen Ben’s session over mine in a heartbeat.  Dreamforce got the best of the best in that choice.

There is an art and a science to the Dreamforce session submission.  I was able to attend Dreamforce last year and saw many of these AWESOME presentations.  I was mesmerized by the talent in the the Admin and Developer community and was proud of the selections that were chosen to present.  Kudos to the Salesforce Admin and Developer Evangelism teams!

2015

Fortunately/Unfortunately, I have experience in being Rejected.  In July 2015, I was laid off of a good full time job.  The organization I had been employed at for 5 years decided to let 20% of it’s staff go and my role was on that list.

That sucked.  It was one of the biggest Rejections I had received.  My boss told me it was also hard for him, because I was a good employee and had done great work.  This was not a performance-based decision, but based purely on financial numbers.

Not only was it confusing for me, but my team was also dismayed by the decision.  There were projects in motion that were left on the table with no one to finish them.  There were plans and dreams about innovations that were killed.  There was no closure to relationships with coworkers and associates.  Everything just ended one day.

My reaction was not of anger.  I was upset, and fearful at first, but I had some really good friends who helped me through this rejection.   First was my wife, who surrounded me with support and encouragement.  Second was my men’s group – a group of guys who I have coffee with on a weekly basis to just talk.   They asked me to close my eyes and imagine:

“Where do you see yourself in the next 3 – 6 – 9 months?”
“What do you hope to do with your life that will be better after this experience?”

The experts in loss and grieving will tell you that you should remember the following during a period of Rejection:

  1. It’s Allright to Cry – Acknowledge your feelings
  2. Don’t beat yourself up – Treat yourself with care
  3. Refuse to let Rejection define you – You are not your job – You are not your Dreamforce Submission.
  4. Learn from Rejection – How are you going to use this Rejection to be your future self? (I am reminded of the scene from Star Trek V where Kirk explains why our past makes us who we are today.)

So what was my reaction to the Rejection of being laid off from a good job?  I decided I would use this “opportunity” to ensure I would be better off from this painful experience:

  1. I committed to getting my Salesforce Admin certification
    • I attended a local Certification User Group  (where I met Shonnah, Kris, Aly Megan, and others)
    • I got my Admin Certification, and proceeded to get 4 more certs quickly thereafter.
  2. I changed my twitter handle to @SalesforceStu as a marker of my intention to get my certification and learn more about the Salesforce Platform.
  3. I connected with other Community Members – I met with and spoke to local Salesforce MVPs to learn about what they do and how they got there.
  4. I signed up for community events (Tahoe Dreamin and Midwest Dreamin) and volunteered at the local Twin Cities User Group
  5. I spent time with my family and took a road trip with my son.
  6. I worked on a “portfolio of work” that features some of my best work over the last 10 years.   That project was fun for me to do and I got kudos from recruiters and employers about how powerful this is to show off my skills.

Overall I decided not to let Rejection decide who I would be and how I would live my life.

2017

Now 2 years later, and I recently met with a former coworker.  He asked me how things were going since my layoff.  I rattled off a bunch of things that I have accomplished in the last year and indicated that I am continuing to learn and grow.

His response was of “awe” in how much I have done.  He commented that I had done something amazing with the struggle and loss that I went through.  That felt good.  It doesn’t wipe away the pain but it does justify my belief that even through Rejection, you can use the pain to make yourself even better.

Whats next?

So here is my challenge for you.   You have been Rejected.  I empathize with you and agree that it sucks.  In a while, please let me know how you will use your Rejection to make your life better.   Close your eyes and imagine:

“Where do you see yourself in the next 3 – 6 – 9 months?”
“What do you hope to do with your life that will be better after this experience?”

Next, find a community of friends who you can lean on and talk about this experience.  I count on my Salesforce #ohana community to be there when I need to air grievances, and I also get to support others who may be going through similar situations.

Want some more ideas:  Read some more from the Salesforce Developer Relations Team  (Thanks Zayne).

 

Salesforce School Adoption Challenge

Salesforce School Adoption Challenge

The following is partly taken from a letter I sent to Mr. Marc Benioff last week.  I have had some Salesforce #Ohana ask me to tell my story around Dreamforce 2016 and what has been happening with my Public School Challenge this year.  I hope to inspire others to join me as I continue to help improve the education and lives of youth in my area.  Thanks for all your support!

My name is Stuart Edeal.  I live and work in St Paul, Minnesota, and I have been working with the Salesforce platform for many years.

I attended the Dreamforce 2016 Keynote and listened to will.i.am speak about how Equality begins at school for America’s youth.  Later that week, at the Marc Benioff Q&A Session, I was able to thank Marc for his work with adopting San Francisco schools and asked how I can also help the schools in my local community.

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Marc’s answer was direct and relevant.  He asked me the name of my local school, and the name of the principal of that school.   He challenged me to meet the principal and to ask him/her about the needs of that school.

Results after Dreamforce

In October, Amy Weaver interviewed me in the Keynote at a special post-Dreamforce Salesforce Event in Minneapolis.  During this conversation, I retold the question I posed to Mr Benioff, as well as his response. Not only did that interview result in several subsequent conversations with members of the Salesforce community, but I also met many new people passionate about STEM education.

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Through local Salesforce Community Connections, I was invited to participate in Junior Achievement’s Career Day event at Humboldt High School.  Humboldt is a St. Paul Public High School, located near my home.  At this event, I met with students from grades 9–12 and spoke with them one-on-one about their career questions and concerns.  That day, I also met with Humboldt Staff and Teachers about their STEM education plans.

Humboldt High School and the Academy of IT

I met the Principal of Humboldt High School, Michael Sodomka, and discussed his vision for the school.  Humboldt High School is aggressively trying to build opportunities for the diverse mix of students:

  • The student enrollment is 1,150
  • Male/Female attendance is a 50% split
  • Total minority enrollment is at 94%
  • Economically Disadvantaged enrollment is at 93%
  • Advanced Placement participation rate is 42%

One of the opportunities that Humboldt offers is the Academy of Information Technology (AoIT).  The AoIT is a technology learning community inside of Humboldt that offers an opportunity to study technology while preparing for college and careers in the IT industry.  The AoIT was initially funded via a Youth Career Connect grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor during the Obama Administration, which will expire in the next year.

The AoIT is made up of three practices:
–  Common courses for a small group of students
–  College prep curriculum with a career focus, and
–  Partnerships with employers, communities and institutions of higher learning.

AoIT cohorts include the following:

  • 9th grade – Basics of IT & Computing
  • 10th grade – Web Design
  • 11th grade – Computer Hardware
  • 12th grade – Advanced Networking

I also got a chance to meet with the facilitators and teachers in the AoIT, and was amazed at their plans and the skills they were teaching these young students.

In March 2017, I was asked to serve on the AoIT Advisory Council, and in April I was appointed to the School District’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Board.  St. Paul Schools are working to increase the opportunities of their students in many career areas, including Technology, Robotics, Medical, Agriculture, Construction and many more areas.  One of the major focuses of the St Paul CTE is Apprenticeships.  They are equipping young students with not only the education they need to get careers but the opportunities through that they need to put that education into action.

This morning (July 27, 2017) I got to meet with Dr Joe Gothard, who is the new superintendent of the entire St Paul school district.  We spoke about community involvement in schools, and I had a chance to tell him about the work going on so far.  He was very receptive to more partnerships with the community to create opportunities for the St Paul students.

St Paul Connections

There are other opportunities for St Paul students, such as the Silicon North Stars.  The mission of Silicon North Stars is to inspire and educate young Minnesotans to become future leaders in technology.   The Silicon North Stars are preparing for a one-week tech camp held Silicon Valley. During the week, the students meet with leaders from top tech companies, startups, and venture capital funds. Past visits have included Facebook, YouTube, Google, Andreessen Horowitz, Lyft, Indiegogo, Galvanize SF, Intuit, Stanford University, Singularity University, TaskRabbit, and the Target Innovation Center.

My hope is that programs like this continue to grow – perhaps a visit to Salesforce would be a future stop for these students?

 

Needs

The biggest needs for the Humboldt and the AoIT program are around four different areas:

  • Funding for Staffing and Equipment (as the funding from the Dept. of Labor Grant ends, we will be looking for new sources of funding to continue this program)
  • Programming Opportunities (Internships, Job Shadowing, Tours, etc)
  • Mentoring and Volunteers in the classrooms
  • Collaboration with other Education Leaders across the country. (The local leaders here are eager to speak with San Francisco school leaders about the work they have already done with their Salesforce partnership.)

 

Next Steps

I am committing my time to the St Paul School district this year.  I will be serving on the Career and Technical Education board, and I will be actively volunteering in the AoIT technology classes, and helping the staff with programming and fundraising.

Thank you for your time and encouraging me to get involved with my local education system.  I have benefited greatly from this challenge, and I hope that the youth of St Paul, MN will also benefit from our partnership.

Stuart Edeal

 

Chicken Pot (chicken pot – chicken pot) Pie

Chicken Pot (chicken pot – chicken pot) Pie

There is that awkward moment at a local event when you are at a table and don’t know anyone.   Recently I was in this situation and found an empty seat next to a table of strangers and I felt awkward about “breaking the ice” but I knew that it needed to happen.

From the conversation that was going on, I could tell the people next to me were Web Developers and there was a Project manager – oh, and me, a Salesforce Analyst.

Now if this were a Salesforce conference or community event like Tahoe Dreamin or Midwest Dreamin, I would have a common topic to discuss – SALESFORCE.  However at non-Salesforce events, I feel I need to explain, evangelize and teach others about what a Salesforce or CRM Analyst is or does.   Sometimes when my explanation falls flat (like today), I usually defer to talking about the mission of the nonprofit media org I work for.

On the other side, when I try to ask the web developers what they do, I am disappointed with the answers I get.  I expect an answer about the type of projects and not the technology stack being used.   Knowing that someone focuses on the “Ruby on Python JAMP stack” doesn’t really tell me what is done or why they do what they do.

After some attempts at finding a common technology topic to discuss, I sort of gave up.   I decide to just focus on my stuff which means I escape to my iPhone.  I open my email and see an advertisement for local restaurant.  I mutter to myself “I wish I had a good idea for dinner tonight”.

That random statement sparked something.  Next thing I hear is “you too?” from Matthew, the web developer next to me.  “I didn’t set anything out to prepare for dinner either!” he exclaimed.

I asked “So what would you have set out?”, somewhat embarrassed that my thoughts turned into audible mumbles.  This verbal mistake, however, turned into a real conversation.

Turns out Matthew has a killer chicken pot pie recipe for the slow cooker.  We spent the next 30 minutes talking about food – recipes, techniques and flavors.

Not only did we share our cooking tips, but we shared our emails, so that we could send each other’s recipes.   I made a new acquaintance based on nothing more than Chicken Pot Pie.

What did I learn at this event?  I learned a lot of good stuff.
What will I remember from this event?  I will remember Matthew and our discussion.

I am reminded of the Southeast Dreamin conferences from both 2016 and 2017.  In 2016, Mary Scotton invited us to “have coffee” with people and make personal connections.   In 2017,  Chris Duarte asked us to consider our Work/Life balance so we can be a blessing to others. (See Chris’ Keynote talk here )  These talks inspire me to get into a mode of connecting with others and looking for ways to give back.

So if you find yourself wondering what you have in common with the person next to you, maybe you don’t have to try too hard.   If you are next to me, try something that most people do – which is eat food.

Interested in the Chicken Pot Pie recipe?  Let me know, cause I got a good one!

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