What Our Class Learned From Our Speaker Diversity Program*

cover2

The dust has settled and it’s been a few weeks since the Speaker Diversity Program ended.  We’re so proud of our graduates and the talks they delivered on 25-August.  If you want to read a full run down on the event, I highly encourage you to read Keir’s blog post.  He did a great job of recapping the event. Also, not to be missed is Louise Lockie’s post on what she took away from the program.  Definitely read both of these posts if you have no idea of what I am talking about at this point.

I also wrote a post that summarized what I had learned by actually teaching the class with Keir. You can read more about that here, but this blog post is centered on what our graduates took away from the program.

So a brief overview of why we did this:

After World Tour London in May, when it was realized that it was the same people speaking at all of the events and that we needed to encourage more people in the community to get up on stage at events, the Speaker Diversity Program was born.  The mission of our program was fairly simple and straightforward:

 

This program aims to increase speaker diversity by providing a series of workshops around speaking, building presentations, interacting with an audience and preparing for an actual event through dry runs and practice sessions.

This seemed like a fairly easy task.  A hack team of community and Salesforce people came together and decided to create a schedule, content and teach these brave souls!  Keir Bowden and myself led the majority of the sessions.  We had some assistance from Kerry Townsend, Antonina Romanova and Pauline Dufour.  We’re grateful they were able to step in while Keir and I were busy eating pizza in Chicago.

After polling each of the individual students, this is the feedback they gave:

I learned how to package up a talk and create the journey. – Dave Humm

I learned to have minimal words on slides, not to talk to the slides, proper presentation techniques, ensure the audience is engaged. – Louise Lockie

I learned what not to do during a talk.  The behaviors of having a balance between too much and not enough content.  Keep contact with the audience and adjust your presentation style.  Don’t look at the screen too often as it seems like you’re reading the slides and aren’t prepared. – Antonina Romanova

I learned there different presentation styles to learn from.  Our instructors both had different styles. – Courtney Prior

I learned how to structure a presentation and slow down when I am speaking. – Tracy Keeling

It was important to face a new challenge and learn something along the way. – Rad Radkova

And lastly..

I learned nothing.  I am here to judge, not contribute. – Keir Bowden 

Although I think Keir was wrong.  He was very much there to contribute as he was the Paula Abdul to my Simon Cowell style of giving feedback.  Who knew Keir could be so positive?

All participants were also given Get Feedback links to provide additional detail around how we can make these sessions better.  We’re going to refine the program and run another 6 week session after Dreamforce.

If this sounds even remotely interesting, you’re brave enough to spend 6 weeks learning how to be a better speaker and are not adverse to homework, you can register your interest here. We’re even planning on doing something special with our graduates in the next few months.  Can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet, but you’ll have to sign up to learn more!

*Yes, I know I am using the American spelling of the word.. Deal with it.

Why Salesforce Admins & Devs are like Peanut Butter & Jelly

1474535891-peanut-butter-jelly-pink

I’ve spent the majority of my Salesforce career firmly in Admin territory.  I’ve always liked it that way, it’s a world I understand.  The ability to transform business processes and challenges into solutions coupled with reporting are some things that I enjoy.  I also like solving problems, so it works for me.  Sounds nerdy, but there you have it.

However, in 2012 my world changed a bit.  I left my job on the client side, where I had worked up to leading a Center of Excellence to dip a toe into Salesforce consulting.  It wasn’t as tough of a transition because I went from working at an insurance company straight into an insurance project. Easy Peasy.  Fast forward two years and I had left Connecticut (if you’re not from the US, it’s between Boston & NYC) was living in London and being coerced into attending my very first Dev Meetup.  That was February 2014 and I’ve never looked back.

As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking.. why would someone who said they are firmly planted in the admin territory get so much value out of a developer group?  Well, great question!  Going to a developer user group felt like I just added the other half of the puzzle pieces onto what I already knew.  Learning about the dev world was the jelly to my existing peanut butter sandwich.  (If you know me, you’ll know that I have an intense love of peanut butter, jam optional!)

What this all means is that I learned to expand my thinking and learn a myriad of new ways to solve problems.  I may not be able to write code well, but I have come away with a whole new appreciation for the technical challenges that devs face with writing code, integrations and being able to debug why something doesn’t work.  On top of this, I’ve extended out my network to meet so many more interesting people.  Those dev people are pretty brilliant, I’ve even become friends with a few!

All of this doesn’t mean that I’ve left the admin side and hung up my solution architect hat, but it does mean that I’ve learned about topics and concepts that I would never have been exposed to if I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone.  When I get a great idea, oftentimes I will grab one of my favorite devs or architects who will brainstorm with me to make my great idea, amazing.

My favorite part of being in the London Dev User Group is that it’s welcoming to all.  Yes, many times it’s a bunch of guys talking about code and dining on Domino’s and Perroni but nobody has ever made me feel like I didn’t belong for not truly being dev.  They are inclusive of everyone which one of the reasons that our Women in Tech user group partners with them often.  Thanks especially to Keir Bowden, Anup Jadhav, Richard Clark and Francis Pindar for being some of our biggest allies.  You guys helped me get this group off of the ground in the early days and we have nothing but love for the devs!  Also important to mention our rockstar support from Salesforce, couldn’t do it without all of you!  You guys make this community open, inclusive and most of all, a lot of fun.

If you, dear reader, are scared to join a dev group cause you’re an admin.. don’t be.  They’re not as scary as they look!  Join and attend a meeting as soon as possible.  If you don’t like it, you can yell at me in the comments or on twitter. 🙂