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.


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


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.


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.

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!


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.


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).