14 October 2018 - My Dreamforce Highlights

Let me tell you how my Dreamforce week went. While the official kick-off was on Tuesday there were many activities on the Monday. For me, earlier in the day, I picked up my badge and bag so I could be assimilated into the 171,000 strong throng of attendees. In the evening I was invited to the Slanted Door, one of San Francisco’s best restaurants for a Financial Services dinner with Salesforce and other of their customers. The venue gives out candy floss as the last course and naturally, it was in the shape of a cloud.

Tuesday and my day started early with the first session being the State of the Union for Trailblazer Community Leaders. It’s a chance for us to meet up, share stories and see just how big our community is growing. We now have 874 leaders worldwide, looking after 682 different groups within 59 countries. The energy from the Trailblazer Community team is infectious and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.

The rest of my Tuesday was spent session heavy, racing to the Admin Keynote where I was lucky enough to sit right at the front of the stage to watch all the action. Thanks to Christie Fidura of Salesforce for giving me the seat. The Admin keynote is the most fun of all of them and is usually one of the last scheduled in the week. This year it was the first. Everyone is given ‘clappies’ to make noise as we celebrate one special Admin who is given the Golden Hoodie in recognition of their efforts. We also learnt all the cool new features coming soon to the platform, that as Admins, we would want to take advantage of such as Einstein Voice, Lightning Flow and other enhancements to building page layouts in Lightning – now so much more efficient to do.

Post Admins Keynote I dashed to a Bluewolf – Empower Her, Speed Mentoring session where women got together to talk through questions on subject areas that can affect us in our working environment and how we can overcome them, including the perception of the carer role, the use of emotions, and how we can be heard. Some of these are still challenges for many.

Then the main Keynote, hosted by Marc Benioff, which I watched from the W Hotel, VIP by DocuSign. He talked through the main new features on the platform and interviewed special guests to promote their usage of Salesforce and how its helped transform their businesses. All inspiring stuff. But did anyone else notice that Marc was wearing a US flag pin on his lapel? Subtle political hints maybe?

Keynote done it was off to the Ladies Be Architects celebration drinks. This group only formed back last November and has had a phenomenal response by members of the community joining them. They are nearly 1000 strong already. It’s a group where they share learning on how to progress through the exams to finally achieve Certified Technical Architect status. Started by Gemma Emmett, she is on her own path to CTA and decided to share her learning tips. Gemma wanted to show that you don’t have to come from a Developer background to reach CTA, and with only 10 female CTA’s in the world, that women can also achieve this title too. Ladies Be Architects also welcomes male allies. The group is now run by 3 women, Gemma Emmett, Charly Prinsloo and Susannah Kate. What a team!

Having helped celebrate with the ladies I then attended the Salesforce UK&I Welcome Party. Each major geography will hold their own drinks for their customers and the evening always impresses!

My Wednesday schedule was a lot freer so I had time to walk around the Expo to meet up with some of my AppExchange suppliers. I was careful not to get my badge scanned by others as it will result in a deluge of interested enquires post event. (Something I’ve learnt over time).

This year I also targeted the Lodges. These are spaces away from the main Moscone buildings and usually hosted in nearby hotels. Last year I found the Sales and Service Lodge very late on and didn’t have much time in there to explore so this year I made an effort. The Lodges are generally quieter and you have an easier option to learn more about features and the booths are often manned by Product Managers. There is gamification added in too so you get to learn new stuff while picking up swag along the way. It added to my overall swag pile that I managed to acquire over the course of the week nicely.

Each year at Dreamforce there is a special feature just outside the Moscone West building where delegates can line up to spend some quality time with...puppies! The session helps to bring awareness to animals needing a loving home and last year all the pups were adopted. I heard so much about it via the Twittersphere that this year I just had to go see for myself. This little fella liked to be held while others were happy to run about the pen. I could have spent a lot of time in that space, but my agenda had other ideas.

Late afternoon I attended the Bluewolf Women Innovators Network session where we heard stories from women about their journeys to success and realising that their path’s, like our own, were very bumpy. No one has a smooth ride, ever. Fact.

Wednesday evening is Dreamfest night and this year we were treated to two very different acts, Metallica and a late surprise guest, Janet Jackson. I managed to sneak a peak at both gigs as they played simultaneously, starting with Janet and then some rock to finish. I'm really pleased I got to hear some classic 80's tunes from Janet. It reminded me of when I used to play her tape in my Sony Walkman. (Yes, I'm that old).

Thursday was my personal contribution day with 2 talks and facilitator session. My first talk was at the Community Campfire in the Trailhead Zone where I spoke about how the Trailblazer Community can Act as your Mentor. While it was a cosy session, the audience really appreciated the content which was valuable feedback. Armed with my DF18 speaker pin, this was recognition of my first ever talk at Dreamforce. Personal goal achieved.

I then dashed over to the Ladies Be Architects session where I offered to help out the team to facilitate the delegates to work through a simplified scenario that they may face if ever in front of the CTA board. With only 40 minutes, the main topic areas are broken up between teams to work through and then presented back to the group at the end. A great session and really inspiring. I want to do this at the London Admins Community Group and use the whole evening to really give it justice and the time it warrants to explore the solution and talk through the feedback. 

Then off to my next speaking appointment in the afternoon. This was an unofficial talking opportunity, given to me by Introhive, a supplier to the professional industries. The topic I chose was Managing Change without Losing Focus on Delivery. Essentially, speaking about the psychology of change to the Introhive customer base. 

Introhive also hosted a rather lovely wine tasting session at the Four Seasons Hotel which started the evening proceedings well, before moving onto the Lets Get Digital Party with 'Run' from Run DMC as the MC. I may have gone on to another club in the Castro area to see off the early morning with some shapes on the dancefloor. 

Friday, the last day of the conference and not a full one at that. I started my day with my feet in a hot tub while being interviewed - as you do. Well, by the last day, everyone has tired feet. Dana from the Trailhead team wanted to interview people for new podcast content on their Admin journey in Salesforce, with me giving experience top tips as a Manager in the industry. I was happy to oblige. I'm looking forward to hearing the results!

This was also my giving back day as I offered to volunteer for booth duty. I looked after the Community Cove, answering any questions to delegates who wanted to know more about the Salesforce Community and how they can get involved. 

With a last dash about the Trailhead zone to see last bits of features and other talks, Dreamforce finally came to a close and a nice thanksgiving speech from the Admin Evangelists for our efforts as speakers. Can't believe its over already for another year. Time for a lie down. Breathe.


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