This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ll hear from Hayley Tuller, a Project Manager at Arkus and a part of our Salesforce Military community. We learn how she’s applied the lessons she learned from twenty years in the Navy to her career in Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about how to eat the elephant one bite at the time, how Hayley approaches radical ownership, and the idea of upward leadership.

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

Starting with a service mindset.

“I think I did have a bit more unorthodox background than most folks do, although I think the Salesforce community is one of those places where everybody comes from a surprising place,” Hayley says. Her story begins when she enlisted in the Navy, where she spent twenty years in service as an Arabic linguist and a cryptographer and ended up deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other places.

In 2012, Hayley took advantage of the GI Bill to get into nonprofit work. “It felt like a natural transition for me—I had a service mindset and I felt like I had a lot to offer in terms of data analysis and operational management,” she says, “from that I got into databases and nonprofits and it was probably a very short road from there before the Salesforce community found me, and here I am today.”

How to manage lots of priorities.

“The military taught me a lot about how to make decisions for priorities and manage lots of taskers,” Hayley says, “but I think one of the biggest things I got out of it is that a lot of it is your mindset.” The first rung on the ladder can feel like the longest reach, but getting there can make everything after it look a lot better. “We used to joke, when I was on deployment, that the only way to eat an elephant was one bite at a time,” she says.

One major skill Hayley learned in the Navy that has been helpful in her professional life is risk assessment. “It’s really just a way of looking at the tasks that are in front of you and assessing the likelihood of a problem and the impact of that problem, and using those two factors decide what you need to pay attention the most,” she says, “and when you apply that to everything you do you get a lot of clarity really quickly.” One of the biggest tips Hayley has is to get everything in one place so you can see it and make decisions accordingly.

Radical ownership.

“Probably the biggest thing I took away from my Navy career is this sense of what a lot of people call radical ownership,” Hayley says, “when I was in the service we just called it accountability.” It’s this idea that the buck stops with you—if you’re responsible for something it’s not OK to throw your hands up in the air and quit. You can ask for help, but you’ve got to work through any difficulties you encounter along the way, and you just might surprise yourself with what you’re able to accomplish along the way.

The idea of upward leadership.

“Leadership is not something that we just do in a downward focus—we don’t just lead down—you have to lead up as well,” Hayley says, “upward leadership is about being there to support your supervisors, actively asking those questions, stepping forward when you see things that can be solved, and helping them be equipped to make the best decisions that they can possibly make.” That comes down to trust, loyalty, and the ability to be assertive and say what needs to be said if there’s a problem.

At the same time, when it comes to leading people under you, Hayley says “the biggest gift you can give to the folks that you work with and who work for you is belief in themselves.” One of the hardest things you have to do is step back and let a subordinate do something and trust that they’ll succeed, but it’s so rewarding to see them succeed.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce:
Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I’m Gillian Bruce and today we have a really powerful episode for you. We have Hayley Tuller joining us. She’s a project manager at Arkus based out of Jacksonville, Florida. She is part of our Salesforce military community. She has an incredible story to share with us. She also has some really powerful messages that can help all of us, whether we are thinking about our careers or the project at hand or just life in general, that will really help us understand how to better handle challenges and change, and I just can’t wait to get her on the podcast. So without further ado, please welcome Hayley to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce:
Hayley, welcome to the podcast.

Hayley Tuller:
Hi Gillian. Thank you so much for having me. It’s really a pleasure.

Gillian Bruce:
Oh, well I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us and share a little bit of your Salesforce magic with our awesome admin community. Now, you have had quite an amazing journey to Salesforce, and before we start talking about some of the things that you have to share with the community to help inspire and empower them, I think it helps to give them a little background about who you are and how you came to Salesforce. So can you give me kind of a brief overview of your life before Salesforce and then how you kind of came into the Salesforce ecosystem?

Hayley Tuller:
Sure. Yeah, I’d be happy to. So yeah, I probably did have a bit more unorthodox background than most folks do, although I think the Salesforce community is one of those places where everybody comes from a surprising place. Salesforce is actually my second career. I enlisted in the Navy back in 1991, right when I graduated from high school, and I spent 20 years in the service. I was an Arabic linguist and a cryptographer.

Hayley Tuller:
The second half of my career I spent deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and a number of other different places. I retired at the very end of 2012. I took my GI bill and I went back to school and got my degree and then I got into nonprofit work. It just felt like a real natural transition for me. I had kind of a service mindset and I felt like I had a lot to offer in terms of data analysis and operational management. And so I got into that work, and from that I got into databases and nonprofits and then it was probably a very, very short road from there before the Salesforce community found me, and here I am today.

Gillian Bruce:
All right. So that is an incredible pairing of two very, very different careers. I think, in at least my mind, and I think a lot of us don’t directly associate doing incredible service to your country abroad and in a very incredibly powerful and important position, now to working in Salesforce and working with databases. Let’s talk a little bit about how you’ve transferred some of those skills and some of the things that you had from your Navy career, that have helped you be a truly awesome admin and kind of be successful in the Salesforce ecosystem. I imagine that one of the things that has really helped you is kind of, you’ve got tons of pressure, you’ve got a lot of things coming at you. Can you share with us a little bit about a lesson that maybe you have or some skills that you have around managing a ton of priorities?

Hayley Tuller:
Sure, yeah. You’re right. That’s a challenge for a lot of us in Salesforce, but it most definitely was when I was in the service and especially true, I think when you’re talking about combat operations, which was really the better part of the second half of my career. And honestly really I didn’t have those skills when I first joined the military. The military taught me a lot about how to make decisions for priorities and manage lots of tasks. But I think one of the biggest things that I got out of it is that a lot of it is your mindset. So when you’re looking at a huge problem or a big mess that you have to clean up or a particular deployment that feels kind of endless, any project that feels overwhelming like that, that first step is always the hardest part. And getting on the other side of it is usually… That first rung on the ladder, is usually the longest reach. But if you can just make it to that first step, that everything after that starts to look a lot better. We used to joke when I was on deployment that the only way to eat an elephant was one bite at a time.

Gillian Bruce:
I love that because yeah, it’s super overwhelming. No matter what… Like your big project is ahead of you, which I’m sure what you’re dealing with in the Navy and when you’re talking about combat operations, that is a whole nother level of, Holy moly, this is a big deal. But sometimes you just look at your garage and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is such a mess. I don’t even know where to start. I need to clean this up.” So how do you kind of get into that mindset about being able to just take that first step, take that, reach for that farthest rung of the ladder?

Hayley Tuller:
I’m a big fan of really a mindset that we talk about in the service as risk assessment, which sounds incredibly dry. But it’s really just a way of looking at the tasks that are in front of you and assessing the likelihood of a problem and the impact of that problem and using those two factors to decide, well, this is the thing I need to pay attention to the most. And it really is just a scheme of that, when you apply that to everything that you do, you get a lot of clarity really quick.

Hayley Tuller:
I’m lucky to work for a firm that is really focused on productivity and we get equipped with a lot of different ways of analyzing the work that we do and how we approach it. And risk assessment for me has always paired great with all of those things, it’s just a wonderful way to bring clarity. We used to call it the alligator closest to the boat because it can both bite you and it’s awfully close to the boat.

Gillian Bruce:
I love these animal analogies, these are great. Eating elephants, alligators. This is good.

Hayley Tuller:
Nothing like a mnemonic device to assist in memorization.

Gillian Bruce:
Oh, completely. Absolutely. I am the worst about memorizing anything and especially if you put an animal to it, I’m not going to forget it. So that’s great.

Gillian Bruce:
So, okay, so managing a lot of priorities. You drew some parallels there, right? Whether it’s a huge deployment or a major operation that you’re leading or you’re a part of. As a Salesforce admin, I think especially probably now, probably seeing an increased number of requests from users given kind of that most people are working remotely right now. And I think that’s true. Even if you have an organization that’s starting to ramp up, hire a bunch of new people or put some other departments on the platform, what are some ways that you tactically would start kind of eating the elephant one bite at a time for a big nasty Salesforce project or forum? A high influx, all of a sudden of a demand of what you need to do for your users or for your company?

Hayley Tuller:
Well, I think a critical piece when you talk about a very immediate, very tactical, very pragmatic skills, their first step is capturing all of those things, getting all of those requirements in one place and being able to look at everything that’s in front of you. The brain is not really good for holding ideas, it’s great for having ideas. So a lot of that first step is let’s capture the mess, let’s see all of the requirements, let’s get everything in one place. And at that point you can start to make decisions much more readily. These are the things that have the most risk associated, so I’m going to focus on those and then I’m going to work with my team to delegate where appropriate and postpone other things where appropriate. It can give you that sense of having your arms around the problem, that’s the mental push that gets you moving in the right direction.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah. I love what you said that the brain is not great for holding information. I completely agree with that. There’s things I forget all the time and I always say, unless it’s in the calendar, it doesn’t exist because if you tell me and I don’t capture it, it doesn’t happen. So that’s great.

Hayley Tuller:
That’s why I feel that if it’s not in Salesforce, it’s not real.

Gillian Bruce:
Completely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay, so we talked about managing priorities, which is obviously a huge part of your experience and how you’ve translated that into the Salesforce world and how admins can really think about managing all those priorities coming in. What is another big lesson or a skill that you have from your military experience that has translated really powerfully into your Salesforce life?

Hayley Tuller:
I would have to say that probably the biggest thing that I took away from my Navy career is this sense of what I think a lot of people call radical ownership, is a very common way of referring it today. When I was in the service, we just called it accountability and it was a real basic mindset and it’s something that really you’re inculcated into this way of thinking from the very beginning when you enter bootcamp, a lot of bootcamp about teaching what we would call accountability, and it’s really this idea of the buck stops with me, that if I’m charged with something, I’m responsible for something, that it’s not okay to just throw your hands up in the air and quit, essentially. You can put a hand up and say, I need some help. You can communicate when you work with people. But this willingness to say that I’ve been handed this problem and so I’m responsible for it, I take total ownership of that and I’m going to put my head down and power through whatever difficulties or roadblocks that have in front of me, that’s probably the biggest thing that I got from the Navy. I didn’t come into the Navy like that, that was really something that I was taught.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah. And I think one of the things you said is it’s okay to raise your hand and say, “Hey, I need some help. “But you can’t just raise your hands and be like, “I can’t do it.” So what are some of the ways… I think we’ve all been there, whether it’s a work project or a personal problem where you really feel like, I have no idea what to do here. I don’t know what to do with this. I can’t make it happen. How do you kind of deal with that? How do you kind of claim ownership back and really kind of put your mind around, “Nope, I’m going to get this done. This is my job.”

Hayley Tuller:
Well, I think the beginning of it is believing that you can. The first mental block you have to get over is when you’re handed something that you feel like, I can’t do this right. This is too hard for me. The first step is to say like, “You know what, that’s not a productive line of thinking to go down. I can do this.” If there’s something else I learned from the service, it’s that I was capable of things and I never would have conceived before I tried them, that I was capable of doing them. And to be honest, if somebody sat me down when I enlisted back in 1991 and first talked to my recruiter and said, “Here’s the list of crazy stuff that you’re going to do in the next 20 years,” I would have gotten up and walked out, I’m sure. But if you begin with a mindset of, I can do this, even if I need to get help or even if I need to elevate the issue, but the point is, is it’s on me to ensure that it gets done.

Hayley Tuller:
I think the beginning is separating those two things. Accountability means I’m going to make sure this gets done and it gets done correctly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to do it all by myself, but then it’s my responsibility to be sure that it gets done.

Gillian Bruce:
I think that’s really important. I think the idea that accountability, like you said, it’s not just about making sure that you get it done and you do it by yourself. It’s okay to get help. And I think when we talk about, especially the Salesforce ecosystem, helping each other is a huge part of that. And I’ve heard from every single person that I’ve talked to, that a huge part or being successful as a Salesforce admin is knowing where and how to ask for help. So I think that that’s a really great lesson and a really great way to transfer over and it’s helped where it’s not just like, “Hey, my boss handed me this problem, somebody telling me how to fix it.” It’s like, “Oh, all right, I need to figure out how to build this report and this is the piece that’s missing and I need some help troubleshooting it.” And then Steve Mo will hop on the answers community and give you like two tips that solves all your problems.

Hayley Tuller:
Steve Mo is going to solve all of those problems for everyone.

Gillian Bruce:
But I think a big part of that is being resourceful, knowing where to look, knowing what Trailhead content to look up, knowing who are leaders in the community that have done similar things that you can kind of emulate or learn from. And I think that-

Hayley Tuller:
That’s that tools in the toolkit perspective, right? So we often talked about the importance of, there’s that adage of the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle. The importance of knowing your tools, knowing your resources, knowing who are the people you can go to to get help and have used all of those systems and know how to use them before you’re at a point where you have to rely on them. So that I think is a huge piece of definitely the military and combat readiness mindset that I think translates great to being an admin. Know now, start collecting those resources. Where do you get help? Who do you go to? And where do you go for the right solution to the right problem?

Gillian Bruce:
Absolutely. And so another thing I think that’s interesting though is like how do you know when to ask for help? You talked earlier about when you feel overwhelmed kind of doing that risk assessment and at what point… Obviously you need to learn how to recognize when to ask for help. So how do you think about that? How do you have a strategy around that?

Hayley Tuller:
Sure. Well, that goes back to risk assessment again too is that a situation with high risk, in other words is the likelihood I’m going to screw this up very high, and is the thing that I screw up very serious? So I’m hovering over a mass delete function in my ETL tool and I’m not really sure that I’m doing this correctly, that’s definitely a high risk situation. Probably want to ask for some help if you’re not really sure you know what you’re doing. Is it a low risk situation? Are the stakes very low? I’m in the sandbox and I’m just trying something. Maybe it’s time to charge forward. And I also think unless it’s time sensitive, have you tried to solve the problem yourself? Have you gone to the documentation? Have you tried to apply what you do know, read through the material and give it a shot? I think that’s critical because all of those failed attempts at something teach us so much more than just one person telling us how to do it.

Gillian Bruce:
100% I think that little line of advice there was so, so valuable. I love these analogies. I absolutely love the parallels between your military experience and how you translate that into being successful at Salesforce. I think as I’m talking to you and hearing you speak, I’m realizing there’s way more layers to this than I had previously thought, so thank you for sharing all of these with us.

Hayley Tuller:
You’re welcome. Most people are surprised to find out how many parallels there are.

Gillian Bruce:
Absolutely. And so one of the other things, Hayley, I think that obviously you’ve done a lot is a lot of leadership, because, gosh, you talk about being in combat operations, that probably demands a level of leadership that I will never understand. But leadership through change is something that we talk about as admins a lot. We’re in charge of transforming our businesses, the way they do their work, the way our users do their day to day jobs. What kind of lessons have you learned from the military in a leadership role that kind of would help admins manage those transformations and help manage that change?

Hayley Tuller:
That’s a really great question. I think one of the biggest things is to understand that leadership is not something that we just do in a downward focus. We don’t just lead down, you have to lead up as well. Upward leadership is half of the piece and it’s about being there to support your supervisors, actively asking those questions, stepping forward when you see things that can be solved and helping them be equipped to make the best decisions that they can possibly make. That’s a critical piece of change management and leading organizations through change.

Hayley Tuller:
And then of course there’s the downward and the peer level piece too. If I feel like the biggest thing that has empowered me is not telling myself I’m not capable of doing that thing, then the biggest gift you can give to the folks that you work with and who work for you is that same belief in themselves. And a lot of that is just about finding those great teaching opportunities that you’ve applied your risk assessment matrix to and they’re low risk, give it to those folks and let them run with it. The more experiences like that they have, the more they’ll grow and become more confident in themselves and get that same sense of like, I don’t know what I can’t do until I try.

Gillian Bruce:
And what a way to empower people, right?

Hayley Tuller:
Yeah. It’s scary as a leader, I’m not going to lie. One of the most challenging things you ever have to do is step back and let a subordinate do something with a method, a technique, approach that is not the one you would have picked and had trust that person to see it through and get the benefit they got from having total ownership of that.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah. I struggle with that. I have never actually been in a legit manager role, but as a new parent, I see these things coming my way and even with my partner, it’s like, “Oh, I need you to do this thing. Oh, they’re not going to do it my way. Oh, is that the right way?” I don’t know, okay, you got to let go, got to let go. That’s hard. I think a lot of us struggle with that because a lot of us I think are control freaks, whether we admit it or not.

Hayley Tuller:
Right, yeah. I like to think control freak is just another way to say good at your job.

Gillian Bruce:
I like that spin, Hayley, thank you.

Hayley Tuller:
You’re welcome.

Gillian Bruce:
I will take that and own that. So I think another thing you said earlier that I would love to go touch back on is this idea of upward leadership, because I think especially in a Salesforce admin role, you are at the heart of the business in terms of you’re managing that intersection of technology and business operations, but you have stakeholders that are above you that are critically important to not just success of your salesperson [inaudible 00:18:54] but success of your job. And I would love to hear from you some more tips about how you do that upper leadership? How would you work with an executive in a way that really kind of empowers not only yourself to be great at your job, but helps empower your team, helps the business run smoother? I’m sure you’ve got tons of experience and lessons there to share.

Hayley Tuller:
Yeah, certainly. We used to joke towards the end of my career when I was senior enlisted, a big part of our job was growing and developing our junior officers as much as it was our junior troops. And so this was kind of feeding of young officers as they learn to be leaders was a huge portion of our job. And I really think it comes down to really a couple of things, and I would sum it up really in like maybe just three basic concepts. And the first really is trust, and there has got to be a trust relationship between you and those people, and it is as much on you to foster that relationship as it is on them. And I can just tell you from having been on the leadership side of the piece is it’s tough and it’s scary and it’s hard and whether they show it or not, it’s tough, they’re probably stressed.

Hayley Tuller:
But you have got to be able to find ways every day to communicate to that person through your words and through your actions, they can trust you. You are there to help them be successful, help the organization be successful and that you’re going to do the right thing whether they’re watching you or not because they need to be able to believe that about yourself.

Hayley Tuller:
And then I think a big piece of that is loyalty. Those two are closely related, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Loyalty is that sense of I’m going to make the call and I’m going to carry myself in a manner that is going to be productive and beneficial to both of us and you can be confident that I’m going to do it in any context, even if it can potentially be a little tough and challenging. I certainly had young officers I worked for that I could have easily not been as supportive as I probably should have been, is maybe a politic way to say it. But I’ve found those opportunities to be loyal and to back them up, whether I thought it would get back to them or not because everyone else needs to see that that’s the person you are, that you do those things and you hold yourself that way because that’s what you’re about.

Hayley Tuller:
And then lastly, I think the other piece really is about being able to be assertive. It means that sometimes, especially if the trust and the loyalty are in place, that you can go to that person and shut the door and say, “I think we have a problem.” And hey, that problem might be, here are some things that we need to talk about. But being able to have the courage to say what needs to be said is a huge piece of upward leadership.

Gillian Bruce:
Those were incredible tips. And I think that all three of those pieces, the trust, loyalty and assertiveness are things that admins can absolutely take on and help them do that upwards leadership because that is a piece that is so critical, and I think especially given some of the things that are happening in the world right now and honestly ever, it’s very important to be able to do that with the people who you are working with that are above your or have kind of a bigger stake in the company or the process that you’re working on. And I think those tips are absolute gold, so thank you for sharing those with us.

Hayley Tuller:
You’re welcome.

Gillian Bruce:
Well Hayley, I know we are kind of running out of time here. I’m sure we could talk forever. I want my weekly dose of Hayley of like, okay, great. These are great tips. It’s going to help me kind of go into the world and take charge. But I wanted to thank you so much for giving us your time and sharing your expertise and also congratulate you on an incredible transformation of your own career.

Hayley Tuller:
Thank you.

Gillian Bruce:
And I wanted to give you the opportunity to kind of give one last tip or a word of inspiration for maybe admins out there who are experiencing some challenges either with their organizations or careers at this moment.

Hayley Tuller:
I would just say that nothing lasts forever. We used to joke that there’s nothing permanent but death. Whatever you’re going through at the moment… Who was the famous foster that was asked for, what is the one that statement that is always applicable? It’s this too shall pass. And I think just having confidence in the cycle of change and that that circle’s always going to bring you back to someplace that you want to be, and being able to have the fortitude to ride that out, is going to stand you in good stead.

Gillian Bruce:
With that, Hayley, I want to again say thank you so much and we look forward to seeing what other amazing things you’re going to be doing in the community and in Salesforce and I’m sure you will get a lot more people pinging you for words of advice and wisdom.

Hayley Tuller:
Well, thank you for having me. It’s really a pleasure.

Gillian Bruce:
Oh, absolutely. Anytime.

Gillian Bruce:
Huge thanks to Hayley for taking the time to join us on the podcast. I had such an inspiring chat with her. I feel ramped up and ready to go for the rest of the day. Here are my three top takeaways from my chat with Hayley. Number one, managing lots of priorities is challenging no matter what you’re doing, but in order to kind of start tackling all those priorities, like she said, eat the elephant one bite at a time.

Gillian Bruce:
Use risk assessment to help you prioritize and figure out what things to start tackling and what things to ask for help on. That also leads into the second thing I learned is this idea of radical ownerships, that the buck stops with me attitude is something that Hayley learned very strongly in her military career and it translates really well into being a Salesforce admin because when you’re thinking about radical ownership, the idea is that it’s not necessarily your responsibility to do it all by yourself, but you have to get it done.

Gillian Bruce:
And so how do you get it done? Well, you need to understand when to ask for help, not only when to ask for help, but where to look for help. Is it people? Is it resources? And so your job is to know how to leverage all those resources in your tool belt and know how to communicate about it.

Gillian Bruce:
Finally, my favorite point is her tips about leading through change. Now, as a Salesforce admin, one of your big jobs is often to help your organization transform with technology, transform with business processes, and that involves a lot of leadership. Not only leadership among your peers and among maybe those that you manage and your users, but also upwards leadership. And I think one of the biggest things I got from my chat with Hayley is upper leadership is all about trust, how you communicate with your boards and actions, loyalty, how you act in a way that benefits both parties and being assertive, having honest communication. Those three values will build incredible rapport with your leadership and help you be more effective at your job and help leadership trust you and empower you to do what you need to do.

Gillian Bruce:
So I think these were some incredible words of wisdom from a very experienced and very thoughtful person in our Salesforce community. If you want to follow Hayley on Twitter, I highly recommend you do, she’s @HayleyTuller. If you want more information on how you can become a more awesome admin, you can find blogs, webinars, all kinds of great content on admin.salesforce.com. You can follow us @Salesforceadmns no I on Twitter, and you can find myself @GillianKBruce.

Gillian Bruce:
Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.

 

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