10 Life Lessons from Salesforce’s Woman of the Month

By Sarah Boutin

Apr 30, 2015 · 5 min read

This month, we’re turning the spotlight on a unique and fearless leader whose belief that extraordinary initiative, people skills, and exemplary results helped drive her beyond a life paved with hardships, challenges, and obstacles in order to achieve incredible success…and whose future ambition has her eyes set on an executive seat at the table.

Meet Ayori Selassie, Senior Solution Engineer & Platform Specialist for Commercial Business at Salesforce. A member of the Salesforce family for over seven years, Selassie leverages over sixteen years of IT and consulting experience to serve as a trusted adviser for our customers. After finding success in Product Management, delivering solutions for Employee Success including the #dreamjob application portal powered by JobScience’s AppExchange product, she made a daring career shift to join the Sales team, where she has since become a top revenue contributor for her region. She has also played a key role delivering Service Cloud’s Entitlement Management & SLA Milestones for Service & Support, plus much more.

As inspiring as Selassie is today, even more disarming is the story of where she first started. Selassie grew up in an underprivileged community in Oakland, raised by her single mother and home-schooled alongside seven brothers and sisters. She is a true self-made woman who conquered an uphill battle to become an up-and-coming leader. Selassie uses her background to inspire others by being one of the company’s top volunteers, advising startups in the Salesforce ecosystem, and delivering top initiatives for diversity and inclusion such as being founder and President of Boldforce, an employee resource group dedicated to fostering a culture of diversity.

“My story is one that connects to the hearts of humanity. It opens the eyes of others for new visions, and therefore opens doors for others who are passionate about delivering phenomenal results,” says Selassie. “I am proud to share my invaluable lived experiences with my colleagues and customers, so that we may together achieve greater things for all people through technology.”

Here, Selassie shares ten life lessons that have helped guide her along the way:

1. Believe you can be wildly successful beyond the limits of your imagination, and find mentors and champions who will help you succeed. You’ll begin to recognize opportunities everywhere and have confidence that you can rise to the occasion.

2. Embrace change. Be fearless of change. Dig into it, discover the challenges and opportunities, and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses…you may just find your next great partnership or opportunity to be innovative and lead.

3. Lead passion projects that fall outside of your assigned job description. For me that includes delivering results of diversity to our Developer Zone at Dreamforce and advising on inclusion initiatives for the White House’s United States Digital Service to aid our nation toward achieving greater diversity of thought. Doing work you believe in will shape who you are as a leader and as a professional.

4. Track and measure your success. Put your big wins and honed skills into data form, and let that data empower you to better yourself and others.

5. Connect with others on a personal level and be an advocate for their success. This builds trusted partnerships and business loyalty, and will help you discover more about your customer needs so you are better equipped to provide innovative solutions.

6. Be mindful of your emotions. Always check the facts and logic, and don’t let your emotions rule you.

7. Find a framework that can help you stay focused on your values along your career journey. For me it’s reading the Bible, for others it’s making lists or doing yoga. Figure out what works for you.

8. Make time to recharge. I love quiet activities like meditation, reading, writing, and art which help me unwind, think outside of the box and get back to business in full force!

9. Remember your roots and set an example by giving back in special ways. I grew up in an at-risk community, but my mother prioritized education, stressed the importance of hard work, and taught us to hold our heads high, and show initiative. Your past experiences shape who you are today, and give you an opportunity to reach back to inspire others tomorrow.

10. Dream big and execute! Growing up, my siblings and I would share our limitless dreams about the future. As an adult I’ve had a real impact by mentoring Emerging Leaders in the Middle East and Africa for the US Department of State TechWomen program, serving on the Communities Board for the Anita Borg Institute, sponsoring inclusive hackathons with YesWeCode, and most importantly buying a home so my family can achieve the American Dream.

Many told me I would never see the success I see now, but I committed to living the lifestyle of an agile leader, failing fast and learning from my mistakes even faster while bringing the utmost professionalism. The key to success is in always learning to deliver more value. Believe in an incredible future and vision…it will be far greater than you can imagine right now if you put in the time, focus and faith!

The Salesforce Woman of the Month campaign turns the spotlight on the amazing women who help make Salesforce the World’s Most Innovative Company (according to Forbes) and one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For. Honorees are nominated by fellow employees and selected by a dedicated committee that works to ensure a variety of roles and regions are honored.

To hear more from Ayori Selassie, make sure to connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn. And stay tuned for more career tips and tools for success from our next Salesforce Woman of the Month, coming your way in May.

Ready to find your #dreamjob at Salesforce? Visit salesforce.com/careers or click the button below.

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