Dreamforce 2015 Recap

Those white clouds looked so sad and plain!

Those white clouds looked so sad and plain!

I’m writing this on a plane heading to the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and it seemed a fitting time to recap some of the amazing experiences I had at this year’s Dreamforce (#DF15).

It’s been a while since my last post, and I have to say that I’ve been in a bit of Dreamforce withdrawal for the past month and a bit. That and catching up with the work that actually pays the bills (love ya ETR!).

Each Dreamforce is a little different for me. I’m in a different place with what I want and need from it, and it never ceases to deliver whatever that is.

Catching up with my DF14 "This is our year to CODE!" buddy Rebecca Aponte

Catching up with my DF14 “This is our year to CODE!” buddy Rebecca Aponte

My first Dreamforce, in 2012, was about learning what the heck this Salesforce “thing” was (career changing crazy big year for me).

My second DF in 2013 was about how to use it better (thank you Hands-On Training (HOT) sessions from Salesforce University!) and bring those lessons back to my agency to spread the learning.

DF14 was all about jump-starting my year to code, stepping out of my IT Manager/solo admin shell and actually connecting with the community.

What a year it’s been! From a solo Salesforce Admin who had barely logged in to the Success Communities and didn’t even know about the Power of Us Hub, to becoming a Hub Hero, Salesforce MVP and presenting five sessions at DF15! How did that happen?

I can barely believe it. This year has been truly magical, and I don’t see why it should stop now! Right?!

For me, DF15 was all about encouraging admins to learn to code and building stronger connections with all 150K of you out there!

I thought about this when I was on a panel a few month’s back with Alicia Schmidt and Phoebe Venkat at the San Francisco based OCTribe meetup for online community managers. The panel was discussing the various Salesforce communities (Power Of Us Hub vs Success Communities) and the different ways they organize themselves. The thing that I find really quite mind blowing about it isn’t just how big it is … but how they can be so large, and yet feel so intimate and connected.

The Admin Zone was off-the-hook this year!

The Admin Zone was off-the-hook this year!

I liken it to the love I feel for my adopted home of San Francisco.

It’s a big city, but there are neighborhoods where you can meet people and forge real connections. You get to know your neighbors and they help you out.

That’s how I feel about our Salesforce community (shout out to my twitter peeps!). We can ask for the virtual cup of sugar and have dozens of hands raised to help. What’s not to love about that!

Thank you so much for being there.

I know … I’m making some of you uncomfortable and perhaps you are turning pink and shuffling your feet, so I’ll move on to my DF15 highlights.

1. Meeting my RAD Women Tribe

Three of the fearless RAD Women Leaders: Ashima Saigal, Angela Mahoney, Kieren Jameson

Three of the RAD Women Leaders: Ashima Saigal, Angela Mahoney, Kieren Jameson

As you may know, five truly amazing women got together earlier this year and formed a group to help experienced women Admins learn to code in Force.com. We called it Radical Apex Developing (RAD) Women because for us women learning to code is a radical concept.

Plus we could make coffee mugs that said “I am RAD!” which makes me smile every time I take a sip.

We didn’t do this work alone; we had nine wonderful advisory group members who I am lucky now to call friends, and six amazing coaches who inspire me every day.

If you want to meet cool people, then start or join a group. I tell ya, there is nothing like it.

We also had 22 truly radical women who joined our pilot program where we experimented with a different way to teach coding:

  • Small remote groups with several coaches per group.
  • Weekly meetings with work before and after
  • Blazing a trail through the beginning programmatic modules in Trailhead.

Nine glorious weeks, focusing on learning how to read, understand, and tweak apex and SOQL. Of the 22 who started we had 20 who completed. Such a proud moment that was. We learned a lot and by all accounts it was a great experience and a success.

Loved having so many RAD women in the same place.

Loved having so many RAD women in the same place.

Now the hard work of revising the program based on all the feedback. We want this to be the best experience possible with the highest positive outcomes. We will be running the group again starting again in mid-January 2016, so if you’re interested in being one of our coaches, please send me a message.

The more coaches we have the more women we can reach. We are especially wanting to hear from women of color, LGBTQI and other underrepresented folks who code…diversity of all kinds is a core value.

RAD Women Love Trailhead!

RAD Women Love Trailhead!

But back to Dreamforce. The day before it officially started, we had an intimate gathering of RAD Women in my small San Francisco apartment. And it rained for the first time in months, which while a minor miracle for our garden, made it cozy for the 28 women who could attend.

I loved it!

Seeing everyone meet for the first time. Hearing them finish conversations they had started online.  Hearing where they were going with their coding and what they were planning next. Being able to thank so many of the women who helped us get this going.

Truly this was a joy and I treasure the memories. Thank you to every single one of you whether you were there in body or in spirit. You really are RAD!

2. Salesforce Women in Tech/Girly Geeks Panel

Some of the First Girly Geeks of the Week, and their Girly Geek Fans

Some of the first Girly Geeks of the Week, and their Girly Geek fans/leaders

That night, the newly renamed Salesforce Women in Tech (formally Girly Geeks) held an amazing panel and networking event. Some of my favorite WIT and our supportive male allys were there (both on stage and off) sharing stories, lessons learned, and words of encouragement.

There is at least one blog post in me about this event, but to me, a defining moment was listening to Leah McGowen-Hare challenging the packed Hilton Conference room to never letting anyone hide your light. “Let it Shine! Let it Shine! Let it Shine!”

Not only is Leah one of my personal Women Code Heroes and a RAD Advisor, but even more than that, she is a wonderful, approachable and real person. And she gives great advice!

Let’s all let our light’s shine!

3. Meeting people who I only theoretically knew existed

The Amazing Salesforce MVPeeps at the Benioff UCSF Children's Hospital

The Amazing Salesforce MVPeeps at the Benioff UCSF Children’s Hospital

My theme for DF15 was meeting people who I had taken on faith that they existed.

There were so many people that I had “met” on twitter and the various salesforce community groups that I finally got to see in real life. It was just like meeting old friends … because … well they really feel that way.

I had more than one moment where I met someone and thought … wow you’re really a lot taller/shorter than I thought you’d be (Lauren Jordan I’m talking about you!). I guess you can get a lot of personality into 140 characters but sometimes you still require in-person time to fully understand a person.

Dreamboat Party: The five new Salesforce Force.com MVPs

The five new Salesforce Force.com MVPs

I also had the rare opportunity to meet my new MVPeeps (well … new to me). Now that is a group of amazingly smart and amazingly welcoming people! I guess that could go without saying, because … well we all got there because we like to help people.

Walking into the MVP party on the Dreamboat was pretty surreal.  Having four big guys come up to you and say, “There you are! We have been looking all over for you! Let’s get a photo!”  These were my fellow new Force.com MVPs. I have to say that is not what my life was like growing up. It takes some getting used to. Plus it was my first time on a cruise ship, and grrl is there a good view from up there! I felt like a coding queen!

And all the other folks who came up to me after a session or in the hallways to introduce themselves.

Wow, thank you for being brave and doing that! We are just people who are passionate about what we do, and I loved meeting you. Please keep in touch … I mean it! Let me know what I can do to help your journeys within the land-o-code.

5. Presenting at Dreamforce

I was told I was a little nuts for doing five sessions at Dreamforce. Turns out that’s true, but I knew that going in (that I was a little nuts). Also turns out when you do that many (and by no means did I come close to breaking any records here), that there isn’t much time left for other things.

But again, this DF was more about spreading the coding love and connecting with people, so I was in my element!

Workflow Rule Formulas as a Gateway to Coding

Dreamforce Presentation: Melissa Van Dyke and my Battle of the Bands Presentation - Clicks vs Code

Melissa Van Dyke and my Battle of the Bands Presentation – Clicks vs Code

One of the peeps that I was super excited me meet for the first time was the amazing Melissa Van Dyke. I’d heard Melissa on a Button Click Admin podcast interview, and immediately knew I needed to collaborate with her on something.

We cooked up a crazy scheme for a presentation to show use cases for clicks vs code (including when they work well together), all based around a battle-of-the-bands theme.

No joke that was one of the most fun things I have done. Melissa is not only super smart and the Queen-o-Business-Process, but she is just as fun as she sounds. Don’t take my word for it … check out the recording of our “Rock’n” session. (You see what I did there?)

The Force.com Coding Tour: Decoding Coding for Admins

Dreamforce Presentation: Anglea Mahoney and I take a tour of Force.com for Awesome Admins.

Anglea Mahoney and I take a tour of Force.com for Awesome Admins.

I absolutely loved working with my good friend and co-RAD founder Angela Mahoney on our Force.com Coding Tour (Decoding Coding for Admins).

Angela, Melissa and I are like three peas in a pod. We can’t just present information, but need to wrap it in a story.

So this session’s story was about Tessa Tourista and her hubby Tony, our wonderfully tacky tourists, and how they can help us to understand the seven building blocks of force.com programming (classes, objects, variables, methods, SOQL, DML and triggers).

Go big or go home I say!

I’ll have a blog post in my future around this, but for now, check out the session recording in all its glory (and no I pretty much took off the hat right away).

From Awesome Admin to Champion Coder Panel

One of my true DF15 gifts was moderating this panel of four ridiculously cool admins who now code.

I organized this panel because I wanted to hear stories from people who, like me, came to coding from non-traditional routes.

Salesforce provides a unique opportunity to those of us who didn’t start out with a Computer Science degree. Learn more about why I think this is true on a guest blog post I authored for Apttus X-Author.

Whether you code or not, as a Salesforce Admin you are in the right place!

Dreamforce Panel: From Awesome Admin to Champion Coder: Nana Gregg, Jennifer Bennett, Kieren Jameson, Kristine Hankins, Samantha Powell

From Awesome Admin to Champion Coder: Nana Gregg, Jennifer Bennett, Kieren Jameson, Kristine Hankins, Samantha Powell

This panel introduced four developers who all started out as admins, and are at all different stages of their developer path. A massive “hey-eh!” to panelists Nana Gregg, Jenny Bennett, Kristine Hankins, and Samantha Powell. I am blessed to have met you all and look forward to additional engaging conversations.

I also loved that more than half of the questions for the panel came from the Salesforce community members. We covered topics ranging from:

  • Why would you want to learn to code
  • How to get started coding as an admin
  • How to overcome barriers (like developer documentation and impostor syndrome)
  • How to find a mentor or other support in the community
  • How to support your coding success
  • And other great advice and information (coding is hard work and nothing ever works the first time you try it…who knew!)

Again, I will expand on this in a separate post … there were some real gems. In the meantime, check out the session recording for one of the panels (these admins who code were so awesome we had a second command performance!).

6. And the Rest…

This is just a sampler of my top five DF15 experiences and themes. There were a ton more that I’m sure I’ll be thinking and talking about till next Dreamforce! But lucky for you, I’m not going to make you sit through the entire 10,000 slideshow of “My time at Dreamforce.” (Can I get I get an “Amen!” for that!)

Back to the “Real World”

Angela Mahoney and I will be presenting the next Dreamforce Keynote (oh...wait...you need us to leave the stage now?)

Angela Mahoney and I will be presenting the next DF Keynote (oh…wait…you need us to leave the stage now?)

Then there was the come down … that terrible crash of real life that happens when everyone leaves San Francisco and we all try to re-enter the “real world.”

Half of us get ill and the other half (like me) don’t quite know what to do with themselves. Life doesn’t seem so bright and I miss all 150K of you!

Only 347 days till next Dreamforce!

But after a suitable period of reflection I can honestly say that Dreamforce continues to be a catalyst for change in my life.

Last year it was moving into the land-o-code, starting RAD Women and WomenCodeHeroes.com, which brings me such joy to write, and connecting with all you peeps.

And this year … who knows what will happen!  Thank goodness for long plan rides that give me the opportunity to reflect.

More will be revealed. Thanks for coming along with me for the ride!

Oh and look forward to the next more technical post, which will be a deep dive into the Developer Console!  Oooohhh I can’t wait!