5 October 2018 - Two weeks in San Francisco

I have spent the past 2 weeks in San Francisco. I’m ready to go home now. In fact, I write this while waiting for my flight home. I topped and tailed my Dreamforce adventure with a trip to the company office, to check in with colleagues and get some work done.

So Dreamforce, how was it - you ask? Well, I’ll tell you all about it in the next blog. I want to use this one to talk about the stuff that happened around the sides. You see, its also important. It’s the stuff that most people don’t acknowledge about a ‘conference trip’ of this kind. This is all about Ohana. Sit down, get comfy, let me begin.

When you are part of the Trailblazer Community then your network naturally grows. You meet all kinds of wonderful people. They become your friends so it’s a pleasure spend time with them.  We welcome new people to the group which only makes it stronger. The UK&I crew have a WhatsApp group for Dreamforce and we add new members upon request. It’s a great way to communicate all the different events that are happening over the week. It means that you don’t have to be alone, you can easily hook up with others to share the experience.

And we did just that. Using WhatsApp a few of us already in town, decided to get together on the Saturday to walk around the city. 30K steps later and we’d seen some sights.

On the Sunday we escaped the city for a day of wine tasting. Its funny what ideas get conceived over a few drinks during London World Tour week. I have to thank Kevin Steele of Green Couch Consulting and friends for organising the whole day; a VIP coach, so much food and drink and great company for the trip. We visited 2 beautiful wineries in the Napa Valley. I was glad not to be driving so I could fully ‘sample’ the vintages. I think this could be something we’d like to repeat next year so if you’re in town early for Dreamforce and want to play then get in touch.

Both Saturday and Sunday evenings are when more of the UK&I crew arrive into San Francisco ready for Dreamforce. Its good to get in a little earlier so you have a chance to battle with jetlag. I’ve discovered Melatonin this year and found it really effective. Pop to our local US chemist (Wallgreens) and pick up some tablets and let the magic work.

It was lovely for a gang to gather on Saturday evening for dinner. A mix of customers, consultants and Salesforce staff all eating together, excited for Dreamforce.

And then Dreamforce began and the conference (feels a bit cheap to call it that – its so much more) activities took over. On the Friday it all finished and while we were exhausted we didn’t want the party to end. We’d had way too much enjoyment learning, networking and having fun together. I love the way the DJ’s crank up the music in Moscone West while delegates, Salesforce staff and helpers dance. Its time to let off steam, celebrate a great event and say goodbye.

The Friday night is an opportunity to have dinner once again with those still staying, the Dreamforce survivors dinner. Others also chose to attend a ball game.

One of my favourite things is to gather everyone on the Saturday morning for breakfast at Mel’s Diner, just up the road from Moscone. It’s a final chance for people to sit and chat, talk over their Dreamforce adventures and eat good old American food, before we start peeling off and heading home. Those with later flights take part in some more power tourism. This time we wandered through China Town and hit Fisherman’s Wharf, via a stop in a rather lovely bar. Power tourism can be hard work, you know.

It was strange this year to wave everyone off and for me to be staying another 4 nights. On Sunday I hired a car and hit the road. Do you know the way to San Jose? Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do. Well, I do and drove down to it. I visited the office locations of Facebook, Google and Apple. The Apple Park visitor centre is quite amazing. While you can’t get near to the main buildings Apple provides an AR experience to see what the site looks like. Fascinating and a clever way of using AR tech. I then headed down to Santa Cruz to see the coast before some aspirational driving back to the city to return the car on time. Made it – just in time.

My last highlight of the trip was on Monday and this really is thanks to the Trailblazer Community. With special thanks to Michaela Grill who works for Salesforce my Funding Circle team and I were able to visit the 61st floor of the Salesforce Tower. This space was only officially opened to staff the previous Friday so we were one of the first customers onto the floor. Its a beautiful space both inside and out. It has 360 views of the city. You can look all around, down to the ground, out into the distance and also up! There are a couple of spots where there are light wells. Look up and you see the top of the building and into the sky. If you ever get the opportunity to visit then grab it.

Dreamforce isn’t just about the 3.5 days of official conference time. If you come for just that time then you just won’t fully understand the experience that is Salesforce and what they are aiming to achieve as an ecosystem. Its so much more. Its Ohana.


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