Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we have Greg Grothaus, father of former guest Jesse Grothaus and retired police officer, who discovered Salesforce through his son’s amazing story and uses the platform as a way to keep his brain engaged.

Join us as we talk about how his curiosity has opened doors for him, what being a good police officer has to do with being a good admin, and how he’s been able to make incredible progress by taking it bit by bit.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Greg Grothaus.

How a conversation turned into a career.

We’re making history on the Salesforce Admins Podcast this week—this is the first time we’ve interviewed the father of a former guest. If you haven’t listened to Jesse Grothaus’ amazing story, take a listen because it’s one of the best episodes we’ve done. After Jesse suffered severe brain damage in a car accident, he needed to learn new skills to help with his recovery. He used Salesforce and Trailhead to help with that, and now is the founder and CEO of Cloud Pathfinder Consulting.

Greg is a retired police officer. “A lot of things in my life don’t happen because I plan them out, they are things that I stumble into,” he says, “and one day I met a man that was visiting at a church I was attending and I love to meet people and find out their story.” He was a police officer, and as they kept talking Greg eventually asked if he could ride along with him to find out what his job was like. “I got hooked,” he says, “it was a chance to get out and talk to people—which I love doing–and before you know it I was enrolled in a reserve academy and became a reserve police officer.” That transitioned into a fulltime role that eventually became a career spanning over two decades.

“I’m a very nosy person, and I’m very outgoing and outspoken, so you put those things together and that’s a successful cop,” Greg says, “to be able to walk up to anybody that you would encounter anywhere and establish a relationship with them.” It turns out that those skills also translate to what a Salesforce admin needs to be successful.

How Greg discovered Salesforce.

“Late in 2017, I started noticing that my son Jesse was literally obsessed with learning something called Salesforce,” Greg says, “I had never seen him dive into something so deeply and it caught my curiousity.” Over the course of several months, he started asking Jesse to show him a few things and realized he could create a simple app to help him organize his consulting work. “It was a little intimidating at first because it’s so huge, and I really had to take on the attitude of every night I ask myself, ‘Do I know a just a little bit more about Salesforce than I did the day before?’”

In September 2018, Greg passed his admin certification. He had to take the test three times before he was able to pass it, but, he says, “as long as you see that score coming up each time you can say you’re headed in the right direction.” He’s now set his sights on the Platform App Builder next, and although he hasn’t passed it yet he was only two questions away in his last attempt.

Getting into the Flow.

When Greg came across Flows in the 2019 release notes, he got inspired to try them out. “They kept saying this is making flow building easy, this is flows for the common man, and I read that and thought I could do it,” he says. Four weeks ago he didn’t even know what a flow was, but the night before our interview he deployed one into a production environment for a client that gives sales reps an interactive screen when they’re closing out opportunities. “The whole user interface of the new flow building tool is so visually inviting,” he says, “you can have that up on your screen in a Starbucks and someone can walk by and be impressed even if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I’m 59 years old and I’m learning it and doing, which means everybody else can,” Greg says, “I’m not special, I’m no smarter than anybody else, I’m learning this stuff, so if anybody is out there listening and wondering if they could do it, the answer is yes. All you have to do to start is get into Trailhead, make a user ID, and dig in and it’s free so why would you not try?”

Work with nonprofits to sharpen your skills.

To put his Salesforce skills into action, Greg works with two nonprofits. The first is the Starfish Organization, which grants scholarships to students in Quito, Ecuador. They were working on an older instance of Salesforce, and he’s just been able to migrate them to Lightning. “They were very very afraid of going to Lightning, and I didn’t tell them that I was too,” he says, “I don’t know if they know that that was my first time doing a Lightning conversion but it worked out fine.”

Greg also works with the Humankind Alliance in San Rafael, California. They work to improve trust between members of the community and law enforcement. “What I find interesting and fun and exciting working with a nonprofit in a very small environment like that is you can make things happen very quickly,” he says.

“I tell my wife, ‘this is my version of Sudoku,’” Greg says, and he finds it so rewarding to sit down and talk with someone about what makes it hard for them to do their job and then come back later with a fix.

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