How to Creatively Learn Salesforce


It’s easy to get caught up in all of the business process and problems you are trying to address at your company, and when you add learning a new platform on top of that- well, it can be overwhelming.

This year Salesforce launched Trailhead, a fun and creative way to learn the platform. I highly encourage every Admin to got through the first two trails – Getting Started with the Platform, and Intro to Visual App Development. Now that you have a Developer Account, I want to you to keep learning! This should be fun! Let’s take a look at how we can creatively learn Salesforce.

How Top Gear taught me Salesforce

Top Gear SchemaIt was during the week of Christmas a few years ago and of course it was snowing in Iowa, so I was catching up on my episodes of Top Gear when it dawned on me- I should track which episodes I’ve watched.  So I opened excel, created a worksheet for every season, columns to capture the information about guests, cars, and episode summaries. And began to enter every episode on a row. At this point in my career I was still new to Salesforce and excel was easy and safe. But as I watched the episodes I wondered if I couldn’t make an app in Salesforce to replicate that spreadsheet?

At that moment the fire was lit! I know it’s not a big app, but firing up my Dev org and trying to figure out how this app should work was exciting. It wasn’t sitting in a meeting room listening to users complain about duplicate contacts. This was Top Gear and I was trying to make an app to track the shows I watched. This was fun!

I learned about relationships

Creating this app taught me a lot about relationships- Master- Detail, Look up, one to many, and many-to-many. Understanding how records needed to “connect” helped me visualize problems in my every day job. In my app Seasons rule, Episodes, cars, and guests are all connected in some way.

I learned about formulas

Stars FormulaSo I thought it was pretty cool if I could have stars on the episodes in the same way that Amazon had stars on products. After some Googling and help from the community I found out you can do that with a formula field. So I created a custom field called “Rating” because the formula needed to reference a number and used the formula to show stars on the record. I know this seems a bit elementary, but the sense of accomplishment was huge!

I learned (a lot) about reports

After the app was built I tried to run reports and realized that some of my architecture wasn’t right for the reports I wanted. So I rebuilt it. And to be honest, I’ll probably rebuild it again because now we have Visual Workflows and Publisher actions I can take advantage of, but wow, did trying to run reports open my eyes about relational data and what I could and could not report on.

Your challenge… creatively learn Salesforce

I want you to sign up for a Dev org, complete the first two trails in Trailhead, and then pick something fun to track! Now use your Developer edition to build an app to track it. Maybe it’s your local sports league- track the players and games; or as Brian Kwong did- an app to track diaper changes. Maybe build an app to track the books you read this year, just pick something. I promise if you are just starting to learn Salesforce this will smooth out the learning curve. But you have to challenge yourself- make complex workflows or a validation rule.

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