How Target Missed the Mark on Black Friday

This year wasn’t going to be about shopping and crazy lines for me and my family.  We spent our week preparing for family gatherings and getting the supplies ready to do a large smoked turkey to bring to my mother-in-laws.  It was full of laughter and celebrations.

However on Friday, we needed to get some supplies and we ventured out for both groceries and some last-minute birthday gifts at our local Target store.  It was busy in the store, but to be honest, most of the chaos was from the Target employees themselves, moving carts around, checking supplies, having chats on walkie-talkies between the front room and back room, and what seems like a lot of “standing around”

There are two things on my families gift list that is in the electronics section, so I went to looking for it.  Low and behold, it was more difficult to find them in this remodel.  Maybe that makes me look at more stuff?  or just get more irritated by the shopping process?

When I finally did find the item (a new camera), we realized we would need to find someone at Target who can help us get the camera behind a locked case.  Ok, I thought, there are lots of employees standing around, so I went to speak with one.   He said “No, I cannot help you, I don’t work in that department”  (but… you are standing right here??)   I went to speak with a person behind the electronics counter and there are already some folks in line.  Someone asks me if I need help and I say I would like to buy a certain camera.  He dispatches another person who walks with me back to the camera isle.

Here is where Target missed the mark on Black Friday.  (several years ago, Best Buy did the exact same thing to me, and I have no stepped foot in a Best Buy store since.)  at this moment is where a good brand loses a customer for life.  Target take note. Best Buy take note.   FYI, this is several hundreds of dollars I am about to spend in your store for a nice camera.  ok, here goes:

The employee begins to rattle off every piece of information he knows about this camera without first asking me a question.  He goes on and on and on, holding the camera and touching each button and telling each feature and why to buy it.  (Is he trying to impress me with his knowledge?)

Finally he is done talking and asks “what do you wanna know about this camera?”  My response is clear: “Do you have it in stock?” and “What can you get me to go with it?”

He stares at me for a second, as if not understanding the question.   My wife leans over to me because she has a mobile phone and has already figured out that they have none in stock but a couple other stores in town do.

The employee looks in the glass case and says “Nope, we don’t have any…. and I am sure it would come with a charger.”   then he said the one thing that will ensure I don’t purchase electronics ever from Target ever again.  “You could order it online and have it shipped to your home!”

BINGO!   YOU JUST WON THE EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH CLUB!!!
You and that guy who told me the exact same thing at Best Buy 8 years ago!

Guess what – telling me I can go online to buy this camera will ENSURE that I will find a better price, a better deal, and a better package than what you can offer me.  You just took $800 out of your employers till and sent it to some other company out of town.

What I expect from Retailers like Target and Best Buy

In order to compete with Amazon, New Egg, B&H, and other online retailers, you need to step up your game.  Sorry that it comes to this, but if your employees are being trained to tell customers to shop online to find your products, that is a very risky thing to tell customers and you better be ready to lose that game, UNLESS:

  • Match online prices for your products.  As soon as you tell me i can go online to order, I am going to search for the best price, its just what I am programmed to do.  If you match that price, I will stick with you.
  • Have inventory on-hand.  Whats better than walking out of the store with the cool thing you have been wanting to buy for your wife for many months at the price you wanted to pay.  When you say “It is across town at another store”, how does that help me, your customer?  Why can’t you say “I see it is at another store.  Let me dispatch that for you and it will be sent directly to your home.  You will have it by the end of the day! ”  (Your competition is doing that – with Prime Now.)
  • Offer packages.  If I buy that camera at my local boutique camera store or even on Amazon, they will offer me sweet deals on kits that go with it (nice case, memory cards, tripod, extra charger, etc).  So when I say “What can I get with this?” some stores have said, “You are spending $800 today, we will throw in this nice camera kit that you will enjoy using.”   It gives me the customer a little feeling of love.
  • Make your store easy to shop at.   Your recent remodel made the aisles tighter, so now two people cannot move a cart through at one time, and finding products is a maze.  Whereas, finding a product on Amazon is getting easier and easier.  Amazon is becoming the hottest search engine where people go to find out information about things to buy.  Which brings me to my final point.
  • We are an educated consumer society.  I have so many places to find information about products:  my friends, coworkers, family, people I meet who use products, Amazon reviews, google searches, YouTube videos, company FAQ sheets, etc.  By the time I walk into Target to look at the product hands-on, I have already done a ton of shopping on this product.  I don’t need your employee telling me a bunch of facts about it.  What I do need is him or her asking “How can I help you with this today?”, then doing everything they can to make a sale happen.

Honestly, stores, I want to shop local and I do shop local when I am able.   But if you don’t have the products, don’t have the service, and cannot offer to me the way to get the product, I am not sure how you are competing for me?

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I’ve Been Published!

Just a note to say that my most recent blog post actually is at another site!  I was asked by my good friends at dazeworks if I would write some Salesforcey things with them and they accepted my first submission!

I wrote about my most recent work with Salesforce at my day job, and how we have been working hard to migrate our set of users to the Lightning Interface (LEX).  Today was a milestone, as I have 80% of my users in Lightning, and am working on the final 2 groups of users to be migrated before end of July!

Read more about my post here a the dazeworks site:  http://dazeworks.com/guest-blog/lightning-migration/

 

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!

Dreamforce 16

  • 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

My Dreamforce 16 Review: Twitter, Tornadoes and Ohana

It’s been almost 2 months since Dreamforce 16 took place, and I have not yet written a blog post about my experience there.

  • I spoke in an awesome panel of Business Analysts
  • I attended some great presentations and Keynote Sessions
  • I learned about Einstein
  • I spoke with many vendors and got some ideas for new uses of Salesforce.
  • I took a bunch of pictures.

 

However, It didn’t hit me until yesterday about the power of my DF16 experience.  It was a random Twitter Poll that was shared with me asking “Have you ever met a twitter friend in person?”

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This question sparked in my brain a torrent of thoughts and memories.  You see for me, my Dreamforce 16 experience started months before October 2016 and was heavily influenced by Twitter and those people I have connected with.

You might say my DF16 journey started in July 17 2015, with a change in my career.  I knew I wanted to continue my work in Salesforce (SFDC user/admin since 2009).   On this date, I began studying for my Admin Certifications and dove into Trailhead in a serious, habitual way.  That was a big day.

You might say that my path to Dreamforce started on November 13th, 2015 when I volunteered at my local Salesforce User Group and I got to meet @TheChrisDuarte who was so supportive of me as a person and my journey.

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However I know today that my the REAL start to my Dreamforce 16 journey began on 12/26/15.  That was the day that an F4 tornado hit Rowlett, Texas.   Before that date I knew about the Salesforce Community, where Salesforce Admins and Developers would gather together to discuss issues and help resolve problems, but I didn’t really understand the POWER of the community until I received this message in Twitter, from my Salesforce mentor, Leyna:

 

Leyna spread the news about the tornado that hit Nana Gregg’s home and asked the community to reach out to help with financial and emotional support.

That was the day that my understanding of #Ohana began.  I saw the outpouring of support from Admins and Developers.  Nerds, Geeks, Technologists, Marketers, and even Salespeople reaching out to offer Nana support, prayers, time and love.  It was heartwarming to me.

 

 

So that day I followed Nana on twitter.  I found her wordpress blog called Nana’s Musings, and I also found that she has a delightful podcast that she does with John Graf, called NerdForce! (love that name)

 

Through Nana, I found other connections to the Salesforce Community.   What I have learned through these connections is that the Community is more than just a group of people who want to learn about Salesforce, and more than just about solving issues and offering advice for formula fields and validation rules.

The Salesforce Community also cares about YOUR well being, they want you to succeed not only with the technology but with your life.   Because of people like Nana Gregg, I signed up for Midwest Dreamin, where I got to MEET these HEROES in person.  I had been following people like Nana from afar, through the Salesforce Community and through social media.   I had been awestruck by their knowledge about Salesforce, ability to offer answers to tough questions, and ability to guide other admins and developers around the world.

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Nana Gregg with Apex and the Limits (Ryan as the Lion) at Midwest Dreamin 16

I was pinching myself at Midwest Dreamin because here were people I had been admiring and following who treated me as if we had known each other for years.  The quality of the people in this community is amazing.  It is the #Ohana.

I went into my Dreamforce 16 experience knowing that it would be different than previous years.   My schedule wasn’t about “Which HOTs am I attending?” or “Which vendor/client meetings do I need to schedule?”   This year’s DF schedule was all about “Who in the Salesforce Community do I need to connect with?”

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The first person I saw at Dreamforce, in the Hilton lobby on my way to the registration desk, was none other than Nana Gregg.  I was so delighted because for me – that meant that DF16 had started.  I got to say hello to one of my favorite people in the community, and I knew that meant that I would be seeing more of my #Ohana!

At Dreamforce I got to participate in the NerdforceCon, an event put on by Salesforce Community members to raise money for kids in need.   It fit right in with the #Ohana of this community giving back to others.

My Dreamforce 16 experience ended at the Marc Benioff Q&A, (where I had “that amazing experience” which I may write about later).   I was seated (randomly?) in the front row right across from the Salesforce VIPs (Executive Level folks).    So, who sat by me at the session?  None other than Nana Gregg!    At the event, I was looking around at the MVPs, User Group Leaders, Salesforce Employees, and other Gurus and started to have #ImposterSyndrome.  “Why am I here?”, “Am I supposed to be here?”  I was getting somewhat concerned that I was not meant to be.

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Nana calmly and gently said to me – “Stu, you are the right person in the right place at the right time”

That is so Nana – and so #Ohana.   (I am grateful that she did this, because awesomeness ensued at this event.)

Thank you Nana.  (and Happy Birthday)

 

Admin to Analyst: Who makes a good Salesforce BA?

This is the 6th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Would you be a great Salesforce BA?

For those of you who are reading this that are currently a Salesforce Admin (#AwesomeAdmin), well, first of all thanks for reading!  If you have reading this far, you may be wondering if you should be a Salesforce Business Analyst.

I am here to break the news to you that you might already be headed down the Salesforce BA road, as the activity of “Business Analysis” goes beyond the role or title.

In my own background, I have been in the technology field for most of my life, and have held the following Roles:

  • Pre-Sales Engineer, where I was responsible for providing technical support to Sales staff during a sales process, performing product demonstrations, understanding customer needs, responding to RFPs and RFIs, work with both sales and marketing colleagues to transition prospects and leads into customers.
  • Help Desk Customer Support, where my role was to ensure that end users can accomplish their tasks in our hardware and software. This including triage, prioritizing, documenting, and actively resolving help requests.  Problem resolution involved the use of tracking tools.  I learned how to ask good questions and listen to the answers. I learned how to explain complex technical issues to customers and train both internal and external users on difficult functional processes.
  • QA Manager, where I was responsible for overall test planning.  At a small software company, I built test environments and scripts.  I gained analytical and problem-solving skills to help understand the software goals, document the metrics to meet those goals, and validate the processes through testing.   Over time, I also built strong bonds with internal developers, architects and management.
  • Technical Writer, where I authored, organized, and managed information in support of business units across the enterprise. (Information includes written documentation, visual models, and digital media.)  This included accumulating, understanding, and leveraging industry-specific knowledge for the benefit of the organization, its clients, its employees, and its business partners.  I was responsible for generating original content and knowledge assets.  Critical analysis and customer service skills were essential for this role.
  • CRM Product Manager, where my role is to supervise and maintain the installation, configuration, and support of the organization’s CRM software through best practices.  I analyze and resolve program issues and hold responsibility for monitoring data quality.  I also use communication & problem-solving skills to guide and assist end users on issues related to the design, development, and deployment of CRM software critical to business operations.

While these roles haven’t been titled as “Business Analyst”, they still require an understanding of the organization’s needs intimately and have the skills to communicate those needs in a way that all stakeholders can understand.  Other skills these roles share:

  • Ability to quickly get up-to-speed on an issue and understand how that issue affects the enterprise 
  • Establish trust and credibility with your stakeholders
  • Tailor communications to different audiences
  • Problem solving
  • Strong analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Intimate knowledge of users, and their business processes
  • Documentation skills

Why should I be a BA?

Laura Brandenburg, (CBAP certified leader) wrote 42 Reasons To Start a Business Analyst Career, but my best reason for pursuing the BA career track is that the role of a Business Analyst is both interesting & challenging due to the variety of industries & business problem challenges that it covers.  Some professionals are always searching for their “next big thing” and Business Analysis offers a very unique role that allows people be as challenged as they dare to be.

Also, there are compensation reasons someone may want to be a BA.  The Salesforce Career page refers to average salary, however the 2017 Robert Half salary study shows a CRM Business Analyst as having a 3.9% increase in salary from last year

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Technology Salaries in the United States, 2016, 2017 with the % Change

One additional side-note about that salary study:  They asked CIO’s “In which one of the following areas would you say tech professionals could use improvement?” They saw gaps in the soft skills that would be part of regular Business Analysis core competencies:

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Who would make a great Salesforce BA?

Just for fun, I decided to come up with my list of fun people who would make great Salesforce BAs.  (click the links in the lists below for videos!)
Who would you add to this list?

Marge Gunderson (Fargo)

In the movie Fargo, Marge Gunderson is the chief of police in Brainerd, Minnesota.

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Why she would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Columbo

Columbo is a talkative homicide detective who is first seen as absentminded, however is intelligent and solves all of his mysteries, usually to his ability ton observe mistakes or flaws in the killer’s actions & motives. 

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Why he would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Captain Kirk

James Tiberius Kirk (fictional character) is the captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek shows and movies.

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Why he would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Trailhead4All Students

Trailhead4All is a challenge within the Salesforce community to host at least one Trailhead event at a nonprofit, school, or any community gathering and spread the Salesforce knowledge before Dreamforce 2016.   Read more about the challenge at the annieforce blog

I had the honor of helping the Twin-Cities Tralhead4All event and it was a blast.  I would love to do this again.

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Why they are great Salesforce BAs:

  • Listening
  • Solutions Knowledge
  • Adaptability
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Tools and Technology

 

I hope to see you all at Dreamforce!  Have ideas or questions for further deep-dives in the life of a Salesforce Business Analysis?  Let me know!

Stuart

 

My TahoeDreamin’ 2016 Recap

I attended TahoeDreamin 2016  and had a delightful time.   Here is my recap, so I don’t forget.

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How did I get there?

Let me give a little background here – Why am I going to Lake Tahoe for a Salesforce Regional conference when I live and work in St Paul, Minnesota?   It sort of was by accident.   I saw a re-tweet from a fellow Salesforce Admin from the Tahoe Dreamin’ account, and knew that my wife’s Aunt and Uncle sometimes would vacation from San Francisco to Tahoe.  I thought “wouldn’t it be neat to meet them there and my family could have fun while I go to the Salesforce meetings.”

I have attended 2 Dreamforces and nothing beats Dreamforce for a software conference.  There is something in every direction.  That is wonderful and I am excited to go back, however this smaller event seemed like a place to really meet some advanced admins and get some knowledge I wouldn’t have the chance to get in other ways.

So I posted on twitter that I was interested in going.  It was pretty random that  replied to me that I had WON a free ticket to TahoeDreamin’.   That message came on the same week that I passed my Salesforce Sales Cloud Certification.

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After some back and forth, it seems that my wife’s family would not be able to go to Tahoe, and the options for my family to travel with me would be limited.   The free attendance the conference was a tiny amount compared to the flight and hotel, however it was decided (after many discussions with my family) that I can go to TahoeDreamin as a reward for passing my Salesforce Service Cloud Certification.

(Later I found out that  also rewarded himself by buying himself special things after passing SFDC Certifications.  I like that idea!)

Another pre-conference note:  TahoeDreamin leadership sent out an email request asking for volunteers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.   Since my flight was to land earlier on Thursday, I volunteered to help put attendee bags together and help other things as well.  I thought this would help keep me engaged and further my networking at the event.  (It did!)   I would highly recommend that if you get the chance to volunteer, it is a great way to meet people and make some really good connections.

 

Thursday

My flight into Reno landed around noon, and I found the South Tahoe Airporter shuttle from Reno to Tahoe.  I bought a ticket and was told that the bus was leaving immediately.  I grabbed my bag, boarded the bus and was delighted that I got to sit next to !   Michelle is not only involved in TahoeDreamin, but the Salesforce Admin at PBS and a nonprofit technology advocate.   With my current project at TPT (Twin Cities PBS station), I feel like I am so lucky to have met Michelle and that she talked to me about her upcoming projects as well.

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We found our way to Harvey’s in Tahoe and got my bags unpacked and headed to Harrah’s to help volunteer.   There I met , , ,  and others.  Bill took us on a tour of the conference center and all of the space we get to use on Friday.  I was so impressed with all the work that had gone on behind the scenes to make this event happen.

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That night, the #WIT (Women In Tech) group hosted a Happy Hour for early attendees.   It was great – I got a chance to meet ,  and , all whom I have been following online and felt a real “celebrity” goosebumps travel up my arms.   I also got to sit down with  and discuss more about our personal journeys and recent job transitions.  (I am grateful – Thanks Eric)

 

Friday

Friday was the learning day of TahoeDreamin.   I will just make a bulleted list of the things I did that day – sorry to my future self, if I have forgotten something.

Overall, I went to some awesome discussions and demonstrations.  Here is a listing of the awesomeness I witnessed.

7:30am – 8:45am: Breakfast snacks (the lemony danish was awesome….)
8am-8:40am: Early Bird Session – Successful Salesforce for Nonprofits with  and
9:00am – 10:15am: Keynote with Adam Seligman and Shawna Wolverton
10:45am – 11:35am: Wave Analytics Cloud presentation with
11:45pm – 1pm: Lunch
1:20pm – 2:10pm: Salesforce Shield, Encryption and Security with
2:25pm – 3:15pm: How to Reduce Custom Development with
3:15pm – 4pm: Happy 10th Birthday AppExchange!
4:10pm – 5pm: Inspiring Admins to Code with ,  and
5:10pm – 6pm: Highly effective tips for Salesforce Admins with
6pm – 7pm:  Happy Hour sponsored by the AppExchange
8pm – 9:30pm: Dinner in the Clouds

What I appreciated about these sessions was that the “Q&A” was real Q&A with real-life scenarios.  This was something that you don’t always get at Dreamforce, because it is so fast-paced.   I was able to ask specific questions about a product or business process directly with the expert and afterwards people came up to me and started talking to me about the question.   Other admins, consultants, software vendors, and MVPs were accessible for lively discussion over a topic that has been been a personal challenge.  This was a great time for inspiration and ideas.

Some of the other great discussions I had were in the hallways outside the sessions, including individual talks with , Carolyn Reuman with @cloud4good, and  who is personally inspiring me to learn how to code.  (Next Trailhead trails = Developer Beginner and Advanced )

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Saturday

Saturday was billed as “Fun in Tahoe Day”.  I must say that going into this, I was pretty worried.   I don’t ski, don’t snowboard, and wasn’t really ready to do snowmobiling, etc.

I did research the Gondola at Heavenly and it sounded like fun.  Luckily there were other TahoeDreamin attendees who were interested in going.

back up a little bit – first things first.

  • I woke up at 6am and noticed a tweet from  asking if anyone was up for breakfast.  We decided to explore South Tahoe for some food and landed at for a Denver Omelette.  Daniel is a Salesforce MVP and we chatted about Change Management and Change Control, among other things.  This was an awesome opportunity for me to have a 1-on-1 conversation about our lives and goals for 2016.  Daniel has an awesome look on life which I respect.
  • We walked over to a grocery store for energy bars to use later that day then headed back to the hotel.

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  • by 9am, we were back at Harrahs, where I talked with Bill Greenhaw and met up with , , and  who were all gearing up to go on a walk around town.  I tagged along, and we ended up walking in a big loop and ended up at for Steak and Eggs (yup, right back to the same breakfast joint as earlier.)
  • We caught up with some of the WIT group.  These ladies seem to always have fun wherever they go.  We couldn’t help but notice the smiles and laughter coming from their table.

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  • 9am: Heavenly tweeted “It’s blowing pretty hard up here today, and lifts are being impacted. The Gondola, Tamarack, Sky and North Bowl lifts are on wind hold.”, however about noon they removed the hold on the Gondola. 
  • A little after noon, I met up with , , and  and we all went up the Gondola together.   It was an amazing blast.   We got to stop 1/2 way up on the lookout to take pictures.   It was windy and cold, but we braved through all the way to the top of the mountain to watch skiers and snowboarders having fun.   

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  • After some time, the DJ in the lodge started announcing that they were going to close the lodge due to weather.  It wasn’t working, because the music was still thumping as he was pleading to the visitors “Please leave now! Really, you must go!”   It was hilarious in a life-threatning sort of way (if that makes any sense).
  • On the way back down, we were able to dream up some new interesting AppExchange ideas.   more information “Coming soon”……  📈🐒
  • That night, a group of us gathered for dinner at McP’s Bar in Tahoe for food, drinks reflection and discussions of the future.

 

Sunday

The next morning, bags are packed and waiting for the shuttle back to the Reno airport, I am staring at this sign that directs me where to go next.  I am excited for the next events (for me, they are likely Midwest Dreamin and Dreamforce 2016) and what I need to do to prepare.    This “Basecamp” sign reminded me to set some Trailhead Goals and that I shall go for it with “bear-like” tenacity.

Takeaways

  1. Consider attending a regional event.   If you think you would like to go but have trouble affording the attendee ticket, let the leaders know.  There may be sponsors who could support you.
  2. Volunteer!  One of the best ways to meet people is to volunteer your time during the event.  Help put together attendee bags, help direct people or offer assistance during the conference.  You will be glad you did.
  3. Share your professional challenges and success. See if others have had similar difficulties.   Have a salesforce challenge that has been bugging you?  Ask if others have as well.   Need advice on a great App to use or a good partner?  People are happy to give referrals if they have a favorite.
  4. Say yes if someone wants to go for a walk, go for coffee, have lunch, try something new.   Listen to their story, and ask questions.  (Here is a good one for free:  “So what did you find fascinating during the sessions today?”  I love that one.)
  5. Ask!  I wanted to go up the mountain and asked if others were going and would let me join them.   It was a thrill!
  6. Enjoy yourself.  Wow that was fun and amazing and it is nice to just be in the moment and appreciate it.   The relationships you can find at events like this are powerful, so enjoy them.
  7. Set Goals.  Learn about new ways to use Salesforce and set a goal to try them on your own after the dust has settled from the event.

 

Pictures

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Thanks and Enjoy!

Stuart Edeal