2016- Not bad!

It’s time for that end of the year thing, where we all review the previous months and take inventory. Writing this post has really been helpful for me to sort out things I didn’t understand at the time they happened, and reminded me of all the fun and blessings that occurred for me this year. A lot can happen in a year, and this one was jam packed both professionally and personally. Overall, to quote Larry David, 2016 was pretty, pretty good!

Certifications

In January, after a previous failure, I earned my ADM-201 Certification and could officially add Certified Salesforce Administrator to my title! I remember the flood of emotion that day, as I cried tears of joy in my car after the test! With much encouragement and support from my #SalesforceOhana, I ended the year earning the Sales Cloud Consultant certification. I can now proudly say I am a 2X certified Salesforce professional and that means everything to me. If you are thinking about getting certified, I encourage you to make this a goal for 2017 and do everything you can to work towards it! Reach out to your very supportive Salesforce family for help and guidance!

Publicity

2016 was an interesting year for me because I was featured in a few blogs, websites and even a podcast. This was surreal to me, as I’m just really shocked anyone is interested in my story, let alone give me space on their site! I was first contacted by Annie Shek Mason, and featured on her Career Success Stories. I was then honored to be named a Girly Geek of the Week on Lauren Jordan’s blog. In my post, I mentioned that I consider Salesforce a lifestyle. It was then and there Lauren coined the hashtag “#SaaL .” We used that hashtag to sell T-shirt’s in a fundraiser benefitting Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code, raising almost $500!

In the fall, I was asked to be a guest on the TwoWit Podcast, hosted by Kristi Guzman and Melinda Smith. We talked about #SaaL and Imposter Syndrome. I love these two and their podcast is hilarious! Add this podcast to your playlist!

I was a more than a little star-struck by these features, as I deeply admire and respect these women and their contributions to our community. Annie, Lauren, Kristi and Melinda are strong representatives of not only the Salesforce community, but of Women in Tech, who lead by example of building other women up. I am grateful to know them! I was honored to be featured in posts by Pritam, Nitin and Amit this year as well, as well as send video messages to various UG in India. If you don’t already, please be sure to follow these SF stars on the success community and Twitter.

Finally, in November, my #AwesomeAdmin Story was published on the Salesforce Admins website. I am so honored and still in awe to have my story captured and featured along with all my Salesforce idols. So many great community members featured. Please take a moment to listen to their stories and connect!

Conferences

I attended not one, but TWO regional Salesforce User Group conferences this year. In March, I attended Southeast Dreamin, held in Atlanta and organized by my Salesforce idol and friend, Kristi Guzman. I met so many fantastic people and learned so much at the awesome sessions. I liked the less frantic pace of this conference, as I could sit down and speak to people without being rushed. I felt as though my Twitterverse came to life there, and I was happy to meet and spend time with Paula, Jessika, and so many more! It was also the first time I heard Apex & the Limits! Hanging out and making bonds meant the world to me. It’s coming up again in March 2017, and I highly recommend you attend AND submit to speak. I want to learn from you. I hope to see you there!

In July, not only did I attend, but I was honored to speak at Midwest Dreamin in Chicago. My topic was Imposter Syndrome. (You know, that feeling you get when you think you aren’t qualified to be doing what you are, and everyone else knows more that you?) Of course, I was nervous, but my #SalesforceOhana again came to my rescue! My session really turned into a sort of “Admin Therapy,” as Jennifer Davis put it. (Ms. Original Admin herself, or “OG” as I like to call her!) The people in the session shared their stories and it was beautiful. The show-stopper for me though, and I think everyone in the room really, was the story shared by my dear friend, Stuart Edeal. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room after he shared. To me, that moment of sharing, caring and support really symbolizes everything I love about this community. Dates were just announced for Midwest Dreamin! I encourage you to not only plan on attending, but submit to speak. You have knowledge to share and your community needs you!

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know about the #GifSquad. Well, it was at Midwest Dreamin where we all finally met in person for the first time. It wasn’t awkward or anything. It was as though we had all known each other for years, enhanced by finally being in the same place at the same time! These people are my friends, my family, my Ohana.

One member of the squad introduced herself to me in a very unique way. This girl:

Upon seeing me for the first time, she didn’t introduce herself. She didn’t say hi. She simply proceeded to scream and climb on me like a spider monkey! And this was how Melinda Smith and I met in person for the first time. It was the absolute best way she could have introduced herself. She and I are like two peas in a pod, and she coined the term #SaaLMate for us. (I think we need a t-shirt of this, Melinda.)

Of course, October was the big show: Dreamforce. This was my second time, and boy, did it ever exceed my expectations! I got to room with my #SaaLMate, Melinda, and she really made my DF experience fantastic and one I will never forget! I also got to meet and hang out with some awesome community members from overseas, including Lauren, Tom, Vinay and Atul. The Salesforce love is GLOBAL! In addition to attending sessions, I was fortunate enough to be involved at Dreamforce this year, co-hosting the Admin Lip Sync Battle with Mary Scotton and Shonnah Hughes. This was such a blast, and I look forward to next year!

The #GifSquad not only expanded at Dreamforce, we came back inspired! Wanting to give back to the community, the #GifSquadForGood I.Am.Angel Foundation t-shirt fundraiser was created. Everyone pitched in their t-shirt ideas, focusing on things that would be relevant to our Salesforce community. Proud to say that this fundraiser raised over $400! We look forward to continuing our fundraising efforts, and thank everyone in the community who have supported it! If you feel passionate about STEM, I encourage you to make a direct donation or support our fundraiser and get a neat t-shirt.

Well, that was pretty fun. I know right now everyone is complaining about how horrible 2016 has been, but to be honest, except for a few minor bumps, mine has been pretty damn good! Looking back over my year through the eyes of this post one thing is evident- this Salesforce community is everything! I am so grateful for not only the opportunities, but for the deep friendships and support all because I fell in love with the Salesforce platform. I encourage anyone reading this post to get involved in this passionate community in some way. Your point of view is valued. You have found your career passion, now connect with your tribe!

I will leave you with this and wish you a very happy 2017!

#GifSquad Members - Monica Sandberg, Sam Safin, Melinda Smith, Stacey Cogswell, Stuart Edeal, Bill Powell, Pat Solum, Justice Sikakane, Tom Blamire, Ben Bolopue