More than a “people person”

Erica Kuhl
Mar 5 · 4 min read

I spoke at an event this week about the journey of the Salesforce Community from inception to ultimately becoming a strategic differentiator for the company. As I was building the presentation it took me down memory lane and it also had me reflecting on what led me to loving Community in the first place. Community is still relatively new as an actual field so it draws people with a wide variety of backgrounds and personalities. The reasons people are passionate about this field go way deeper than “I’ve always been a people person”. Here’s why I was drawn to this field and have felt so at home ever since.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. I’ve also always been the one with the level personality, never really moody or erratic. Because of that I think I drew in people that were the exact opposite. I played a very specific role in many of my friendships, that of peace keeper, mediator, shoulder to cry on, and advice giver. My biggest fear was someone not liking me or my friends not liking each other. I also found a way to be friends with nearly everyone. This goes as far back as elementary school.

There was a girl in my 3rd grade class that was definitely considered an outcast. I was about the only one that was nice to her. Well, I wasn’t nice per se, but I wasn’t mean either like most others. She endured a fair amount of bullying and one time while walking in the hallway I saw her by the bathroom in tears. If I’m being honest, I wanted to not see it and walk by but I couldn’t. I went up to her and asked if she was ok clearly knowing she wasn’t, but remember I was only 9! She said kids were being so mean to her and that I was her best and only friend. It made me deeply saddened that the only person who was not mean to her was who she considered her best friend.

This continues into Middle School when I was in 7th grade and joined a club called Peer Counselors. It was a group of students who were paired up 1:1 with a kids that were struggling socially so they could have a trusted ear to open up to. As a Peer Counselor we listened, shared stories, and gave ideas to help get through tough times. It all came very naturally to me and made me feel alive inside. I was not a great academic student, but this is where I thrived. In High School I was the one often found smack dab in the middle of a feud between two friends. I would talk to one friend who was red faced with anger over some silly situation only then to go talk to the other friend who felt the same way. I offered them a different way to think about the situation and before you know it, they were besties again.

The problem with all this was that I often found myself being the unhappy one. I didn’t figure this out until way later that I was sacrificing my happiness for the happiness of others. I needed to find a balance in life and don’t we all!? But I digress…that’s for another future blog post.

Fast forward to how I got started in community and how this relates to my background. I started at Salesforce as a technical instructor teaching System Administrators how to setup and configure the system. I spent 5 long days with the students sharing all my energy and Salesforce knowledge with them. I also watched them build relationships with each other that went far beyond Salesforce. I loved the teaching part of my job but what really got me fired up was watching the light bulbs go off when a fellow student shared a helpful tip or related to a tough situation that another student faced at their company. A student would share something with me and I remembered another student having a similar situation and would connect them together. Watching them troubleshoot brought me so much joy. This was the idea for the inception of the Trailblazer Community as it exists today. This is how I took the skillset I’d be honing since elementary school and found a way to make it my career.

If you’re in the Community field, I bet you can reflect back like this and determine exactly what drove you to this unique line of work. It may be similar and it may be drastically different. Either way I would love to hear your stories so please comment and share how Community came to be in your life.