The Chemistry of Salesforce with Jerrel Ramos

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This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Jerrel Ramos, who is the first chemist we’ve had on the pod. We learn about how he’s building a Salesforce app to help him with his research.

Join us as we talk about the apps he’s built for work and for fun, how building an app has helped him learn about Salesforce Object Creator, and why jumping into events in the Salesforce ecosystem is so important.

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

Our first Salesforce chemist.

Jerrel is the first guest we’ve ever interviewed on the pod with a degree in chemistry. “I’m one of those few people who decided to major in an excessively difficult major,” Jerrel says, “chemistry is everything so I do get an understanding of everything from nature to technology—it’s given me a foundation for big-picture thinking.” At the same time, he’s a bit of a renaissance man, with some stage and screen acting credits on his resume as well.

So how do chemistry and acting get you into Salesforce? “My sister’s fiancé has been a Salesforce admin since 2011,” Jerrel says, “and I’d heard of it before but I didn’t know what it was.” He ended up taking a quick intro course to make a Trailhead and developer org, and started messing around with it but had problems getting further with it. However, a year later, he started freelancing and needed to track his clients and his work. “When I picked Salesforce up back again,” Jerrel says, “I realized the standard parts of this app cover the different parts of the business cycle.”

Why in-person events are so important for learning.

Recently, Jerrel has been working on creating a customized app to help him in the lab. “Anytime a sample is logged in that is requested by a client, this app will automatically create tasks, send out emails, and generate a related test object,” he says, “and essentially just automate a lot of what would happen if a lab were to receive a sample from a client.” Combining learning Salesforce with a practical use case has really accelerated Jerrel’s growth on the platform, “I haven’t missed a question about standard and custom objects in my practice tests recently because of this app,” he says.

For Jerrel, part of learning the platform has been getting out there and going to his first user group event. He recently went to Sacramento Salesforce Saturday. “I was thinking, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t go until I have my certification and then I can be part of the gang,’” he says, “but I went anyway and automatically it felt like I was already part of the family.” Getting to connect with other folks working on the platform in-person has been a big help in taking his Salesforce skills to the next level.

The Virtual Ocean podcast.

If his job as a chemist, his passion for acting, and his newfound love of Salesforce wasn’t enough, Jerrel has also somehow found the time to host a podcast, the Virtual Ocean, about the music genre Vaporwave. It started with a song created by slowing down a Diana Ross single, and grew into a bigger movement from there. “Artistically, it draws a lot of inspiration from video games, electronics, and 80s music,” Jerrel says, “it takes the bright optimism of the 80s era and flips on its head.”

“What this music is is a statement on where society is in the 2010s,” Jerrel says, “what happened to that optimistic future that people in the 80s and 90s wanted?” In the podcast, he breaks down all the subgenres that have emerged in the Vaporwave movement, so take a listen because there’s a lot to get into.

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Full Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I’m Mike Gerholdt and joining me today, wow, is Jerrel Ramos. He is JerrelRamos on Twitter. Don’t worry else, I’ll put a link in the show notes and we’re going to talk about how he is a Chemist with a full on Chemistry degree who is transforming into and learning about becoming a Salesforce admin. This is such a super fun conversation and I’m just going to put a little teaser out there, stay to the very end because I promise you we talk about something we have never talked about on this podcast. So with that, let’s get Jerrel on the podcast. So, Jerrel, welcome to the podcast.

Jerrel Ramos: Hello, how’s it going?

Mike Gerholdt: Great. I want to start off by thanking Greg for introducing us via Twitter and I want to dive into a little bit of your history because you have a degree in Chemistry, which puts you at the top of the people we’ve never interviewed list.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah. I’m one of those few people who decided to major in an excessively difficult major that I probably had no business majoring in. And yet here I am.

Mike Gerholdt: I love Chemistry. I love what it can do. I could never do the math. So, tell me what attracted you to Chemistry?

Jerrel Ramos: It’s a funny story, because I came into college as an undergrad in 2013, which was recently, 2013. I came in as a Bio Science undergrad at Davis. And when I was there, I was a premed student, like a lot of other incoming freshmen, I was a premed student. And so, what happened was I was taking a calculus class that was tailored for Bio Science majors. And my first midterm I get back, I got a C minus on that exam and I was like, “Nope, I’m not doing this class anymore.” And so I looked at different majors to switch into during my first quarter already. And then I saw Chemistry and I saw it and I was like, “Oh, I don’t have to take this difficult Math course so I can just take the easier Math course and go through with this major.”

Jerrel Ramos: And I told my parents. My dad was a little iffy about it, but he trusted me, which was a mistake, I think, in retrospect. So, I switched to Chemistry and I just never really switched off of it. I completed the coursework all the way through. Yeah. And that’s how it became. And I guess some of the coursework along the way was actually pretty fun. So, that kept me going. But it was just the result of, I’d say, being compelled to switch directions and I ended up switching in that direction and yeah, things just fell into place after that really.

Mike Gerholdt: Fascinating. I’ve always loved Chemistry and admired it for how people can understand substances at certain levels. And it seems to always creep into things that I watch on television or online.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah, it’s everywhere. I mean, when I’m at home and I look at the cleaning products under my sink, I can think of ways to combine some stuff to make things happen or when it comes to cleaning certain things and understanding detergents or it just … Chemistry is everything. So I do get a sense of understanding of pretty much anything from nature to technology. So, I guess in a way it’s given me a pretty good foundation for big picture thinking, because that’s how I like to view things as very big picture. So it is pretty suitable that I became an expert in that field, I guess.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. So you’re setting me up with these segues, but you also, on your Twitter profile, have stage and screen actor. Have I seen you in anything good? Are you going to be in something? You can tell us, we only have a couple of people that listen.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah, I’m in an upcoming Marvel movie, you know? no-

Mike Gerholdt: Terminator Five, Terminator Five, right?

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah. I did a bit of theater on the side when I was in college and that’s how I got into acting really. And I’m actually in a production of Sweeney Todd right now here in Sacramento. I think, by the time this episode comes out, it’ll have wrapped. But regardless, stage and screen acting has always sort of been my passion. I’ve always been a performer. I was in band in high school and I’ve always been a musician. And in college I took up acting and I realized that a lot of the skills that come from being a performer transfer over, or sorry, being a musician transfer over where my body is now the instrument instead of my snare drum or anything like that.

Jerrel Ramos: And when I switched over to acting, I think that unlocked a lot of, I guess it’s weird to say, but when I’m doing a project or when I’m creatively engaged, things fall into place more in my life around it. For example, this show I’m doing right now, I haven’t actually done theater in a few years, because I’ve just been working. But because I’ve been doing this, my energy has been a lot more, a lot less crazy. I’ve been more calm about things and I’m able to … the things fall into place more, I guess, I can focus better. And it’s just crazy that since I’ve started acting again, I’ve been meeting a lot of great people here in the Salesforce ecosystem. I’ve been getting through a lot of these Trailhead modules. I’m having a lot of fun with Salesforce and I’m getting more productive at work. So things just line up a lot more when I have this passion that I’m doing, I guess, on the side.

Mike Gerholdt: It’s like you host a podcast, you set me up too well. So, for everybody that’s still listening this far in, what is a Chemist, a stage and screen actor doing with Salesforce? I would love to know how that gets into your field of vision.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah. So I was introduced to Salesforce in 2017 when I was just messing around with learning coding. And what happened was my sister’s fiance has been a Salesforce Admin I think since 2011 and he’s now a Developer. And I’ve heard of it before, but I didn’t know what it was, which is most people and our relationship to Salesforce, they know what that tower is, they don’t know what Salesforce is. And so, what happened was, I took a quick course that showed you how to use the platform, showed you how to make a Trailhead and a Developer Org and whatnot. This was back in 2017.

Jerrel Ramos: And when I was messing around with it, I didn’t really understand most of the apps, most of what was going on, I could barely grasp objects and fields. I didn’t really understand it, you have the whole spreadsheet analogy and I just couldn’t stick. And I put it down after that, after a few months. And so, what happened in the past year is that in 2018 and 2019 I took on some freelance copywriting for some manufacturing companies. And when I was doing that, when I was freelancing, I realized that there’s a whole process you have to follow to get clients, which is finding leads, right? Meeting them where they’re at, and then having to set up business with these leads, trying to close with them. And then obviously doing the service for them and all that, the whole business cycle.

Jerrel Ramos: And I realized what happened was, when it was 2017 and I was messing around with the platform, I didn’t really understand just business in general. I was working as a manufacturer at a bio company. And so, I didn’t really understand how business worked, but when I picked it back up again a few months ago, during downtime at my current job as a Chemist, I was looking at the apps and I was like, “Oh, this is a full … the standard parts of this app cover the business cycle, which is sales, marketing and service.” And that made a lot more sense to me after that experience as a freelancer. And since then, I’ve been able to grasp a lot more of the more obscure parts. Well, not obscure parts, but the more customizable parts, I mean. That’s what really solidified how much fun I was having with it.

Jerrel Ramos: And the whole idea of implementing an organization for a company or a nonprofit or anything like that, that is very much in the realm of the way I like to think, which is big picture. I like to think of how everything fits into one big machine. I work as a technician right now, but I’d say that I’m not the best at being detail-oriented with very specific things. I like the big picture implementation of things. So, learning it has been fun because there’s such a big breadth of functions to learn about it and to implement.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, imagine a Salesforce Chemist that loves to understand essentially the ingredients that go into anything, right? It all plays into the same thing that attracted you to Chemistry. I love the big picture. I love the outcome and I also love to understand the ingredients that work through each part of the platform. Now, I think you also talked about you’re working on or your ID rating on an app.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah, I’ve been messing around with the customized app that involves a laboratory, specifically a cannabis testing laboratory, because I think a lot of the future of cannabis testing will be more oriented towards a sort of genetic sequencing and patenting certain strains for certain businesses. It’s not quite there yet, because it’s just still in its infancy. But I can see that happening, especially with where testing is going and the trend of testing. So what I’ve been doing lately, just making a really basic laboratory testing app, where anytime a sample is logged in that is requested by a client, this app will automatically create tasks, automatically create, send out emails, automatically generate a related test object, which is the detail, which is a child object of the sample object. And essentially just automate a lot of what would happen if a lab were to just receive a sample from a client.

Jerrel Ramos: And I’m still working at the of the test object itself, but the sample object is sort of where the beginning point of everything is. I put a path on it that shows you what phase of the testing is in and there are different record types for the different sort of tests. And automating, generating these record types for these tests based on a picklist on the sample objects. So it’s just a lot of implementing. Lately it’s been a lot of object and custom object ideas just being messed around with really.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. But you can do it from the perspective of your Chemistry background. I look back to the episodes that were released in February where we talked with Nick about building a drag car and an app around that.

Jerrel Ramos: Another great episode.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. It’s when you have that passion, you have that background in that particular hobby or in yours, your particular profession, you bring so much more insight into the app than somebody trying to explain it to a developer. In my opinion, I think for you, the app learning is just accelerated, right? I need to be able to track this. How do I do this? And LeeAnne, who’s on my team, brings it up a lot. It forces you to tinker, right?

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah. Yeah. And I realized that because when I first encountered the platform back in 2017, it was through the lens of, “Hey, do you want your admin certification? Here’s what you need to know. Here’s a list of certain concepts you got to understand.” And it’s just list, list, list and I feel like I’ve learned … I haven’t missed a question about standard and custom objects in all my practice tests recently because of this app and it’s because of the amount of custom ability that’s allowed there for you to make something out of it. And it’s just fun. I’ve always been a hands-on learner and the hands-on portion of this is, it does not disappoint. It’s fun to just look around and see what’s under the box.

Mike Gerholdt: So, I’d love to know, as somebody just getting started learning, it sounds like your first goal is certification, which is fantastic. I’d love to know what’s puzzled you the most?

Jerrel Ramos: I would say the most puzzling parts are the things that are already included with the platform. And what I mean by that is I’m trying to understand the Sales app and there’s a lot of things about it that I still don’t understand. And it’s probably because I don’t come from a sales background and I never have come from a sales background. And yet because the legacy of Salesforce is so ingrained in CRM, these features are really important to understand and know. And for me, having to grasp those takes a bit more effort. I’m trying to understand forecasts and territories and things that are very of the mind of a sales rep. Those are more of the most challenging parts to me because I never really had experience on that front. So, I’d say that is probably the harder part, so things that are more about the legacy of Salesforce that have been around for a long time, that are very stable to it. Those are what I’m working on polishing right now, because those are definitely my weak points.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Don’t worry, everybody’s got them. I mean, there was definitely parts of the platform that I just was never exposed to from a business perspective. So, you have to learn the business process and then you have to go back to the app and like, “Okay, now I have to learn what this app can do too.” So I feel like that’s always an area of here be dragons for anybody.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah. I realized like, because I’ve been taking Mike Wheeler’s courses and he has this, at the beginning of his course, there’s a … he goes over how there are so many things about the platform and he opens all the tabs in the setup section to show you how long the list gets for everything. And he explains and you look people really, people have whole careers about this. Like they spend their whole life trying to figure this thing out and that that is always sort of encouraged me and it’s … I like having, I like that’ll always being something new to learn. So yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: I know, I think via Greg, you’ve been to a Salesforce user group or user group event. I would love to hear your perspective. What advice would you give somebody going to an event and what, from a fresh Chemist, what are the ingredients that we should change for events to help bring in new people that are excited for the platform?

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah, I went to Sacramento Salesforce Saturday, I believe is what they call it. Or Salesforce Sacramento Saturday. Whichever one.

Mike Gerholdt: All the S’s.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah, exactly. My experience with that was pretty fun. I’ve been to, I’d say, a few meetups when it comes to things I’m not expert at in my life. And I think when I went into that, I expected, well, it could go either way. It could be really weird because I’m on a working admin. I don’t … I’m such a beginner that maybe it’s too early to even come out here. I was thinking like maybe I should just not even go until I have my certification and then I can be part of the gang, I guess, you know? But I went anyway and automatically it felt like I was already part of the family I’d say. I think I had everyone introducing themselves. The energy was really high. Everyone was really encouraging. You have people who have been in the ecosystem five plus years and they were striking up conversation with me and the two other newbies, Kendall and Nicole. They were just chatting it up with us, helping us out, breaking down what we should be doing, resources we should be looking at as we get ready.

Jerrel Ramos: And we were just bombarded with useful information. I didn’t expect to leave that meeting with so much information that was valuable. And the past few months, just studying on my own. That was something I craved. First, I craved some sort of guidance, like where do I go? I’m not part of the ecosystem. I’m a Scientist and I’m learning this thing and I really, really want to get into it. What do I do? I’m not an accidental admin. And it’s hard to find that advice just online. Because, things move really fast in the business world. You don’t know what’s going on until you talk to someone in the present.

Jerrel Ramos: And so, that meeting provided that for me but it also provided a sense of, well, this culture is pretty awesome. This culture is something that is encouraging and I could see it brings the best out of people from what I’ve seen, it makes sure that you put your best foot forward in a way that’s not inauthentic and in a way that’s more in line with what you believe and just building each other up. It was a very positive environment for sure. Advice to people who are coming, I don’t know. I think that my advice would be to just come and have your own experience with it, because for me it was a really positive one. For Kendall and Nicole, it seemed like a really positive one. So I don’t see why not. Just show up.

Mike Gerholdt: I love that. And I think, I don’t know if your Salesforce Saturday was at a coffee shop, but personally I love that they’re sometimes at coffee shops. So, you can sit down.

Mike Gerholdt: Drink some coffee. Okay, great. See, perfect.

Jerrel Ramos: Oh yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: I think Salesforce aside, we started off the podcast in a nontraditional fashion. I’d love to wrap it up. You’re the host of a podcast called The Virtual Ocean, which I’ve checked out. I will link in the show notes, because to have a fellow podcaster on is always great. But it’s about a music genre called Vaporwave.

Jerrel Ramos: Yes, it is.

Mike Gerholdt: So please, please introduce me to what that is.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah, so Vaporwave is a music genre that emerged on the internet in the early 2010s. And what this music started as was a … it was a slowing down of a Diana Ross song. And when they slowed it down, it became like its own kind of song. And then what they did was they would take a bunch of other ’80s tracks and they would slow it down and make it into an album. And then the album would be all in Japanese, I guess to avoid copyright. And it was like an artistic statement at the time. It was an artistic statement on piracy, on global art. And what happened from that album? That album is called … I think … it’s called Floral Shoppe. If you want to check, that’s probably the first album if you want to get into Vaporwave, you should check it out. It’s called Floral Shoppe by Macintosh 420.

Jerrel Ramos: And from that album, basically, a whole subgenre on the internet just boomed into existence. And what this genre sort of became, well, first of all it went under the radar because it was just all on the internet. There was no real physical location for this music genre. And it’s one of the few music genres that is just solely on the internet and artistically it draws a lot of inspiration from video games and electronics and in particular ’80s music. A lot of music from the ’80s and ’90s, sometimes ’70s. Essentially just from the past where it takes the bright optimism of the ’80s era and it flips it on its head and it does that by taking music from Diana Ross and making it really slow or adding a lot of reverb to old songs from the ’90s and shopping it up. So it sounds like a broken record.

Jerrel Ramos: And what this music is, is sort of a statement on where a society is in the 2010s, where what happens to that optimistic future that the people of the ’80s and ’90s wanted, is this the world that we’re living in that they wanted? If it isn’t, the sounds and the music of this genre come off as the ghosts of the future that we never had. And the genre itself has so many subgenres too, which I break down in the podcast. It is a very vast genre. But the through line is that concept of here is a … if art reflects the culture and society at the time, Vaporwave reflected a lot of the strange lack of direction the 2010s had.

Jerrel Ramos: And because we just finished that decade, it’s hard to retroactively look back and really see what was going on. But that music genre, if you look at it from its time from 2012 to 2019, it was telling you the whole time where we were at. It was telling you what anxieties people were having. And it does it in a way that’s so sonically fun and so sonically diverse. And you said you were born in the ’80s, grew up in the ’80s, when you recognize some of these songs and some of the sounds from that time, it does make you think a lot about what happened and it makes you wonder how nostalgia itself is this fleeting thing and how it can be so manipulated I guess. Yeah. And that’s my podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, no it’s literally, I looked at it and I listened to an episode and I was like, “This is so fascinating.”

Jerrel Ramos: Yes, it is.

Mike Gerholdt: Because I love, in school, besides communications, I would also study film, right, as to like how film, and the timing of film and you look back into certain eras of film, how it reflected what the fears and society was feeling inside. So, I just love learning about different types of music as well.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah. Shout out to the Parasite for winning that Oscar. I mean that movie was amazing. I had a really good time with that one. That one really reflected the anxieties of the global world I think.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Jerrel Ramos: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, Jerrel, this was a phenomenal conversation. I can’t wait to have it, in a year or so from now, to see where you’re at, how many certifications you’ve got. Because I feel like having a degree in Chemistry, the certifications, you should be able to really knock down and where your platform knowledge has gone from then.

Jerrel Ramos: Oh, man, the expectations are being put on me now.

Mike Gerholdt: No, It’s all good. It’s good. But yeah. So, I will go ahead and link to your podcast in the show notes and your Twitter and I look forward to seeing your journey and have by follow you online. So thanks for being on the podcast.

Jerrel Ramos: Thank you so much. This was really fun. And yeah, I can’t wait to talk to you in a year from now. Appreciate it, so much.

Mike Gerholdt: So, I want to give a shout out to Greg for introducing me to Jerrel on Twitter and for everybody in the Sacramento community who was very warm and welcoming to Jerrel at a Salesforce Saturday. And I hope everybody can follow him on Twitter and see what, how his journey to being a Salesforce Admin progresses. Three things that I learned from our discussion today. One, the things that make you successful at your current job will also make you successful in your next job. And that came about hearing Jerrel talk about how he was always interested in Chemistry at the big picture, but understanding the ingredients and thinking about what goes into something. That works for him in chemistry and it translates beautifully over into Salesforce, thinking big picture, what are we trying to do with this app? What are we trying to do with our Salesforce implementation?

Mike Gerholdt: Then, understanding the ingredients, the app is one part of it. People, adoption, all the way down to, he talked about record types. I just think it really translates over. The second thing is be curious and not frustrated. So as you listen through to the episode, everything I kept hearing was, “I was curious about this and I was curious about that.” But I never heard that he got frustrated. And I think that’s probably a sentiment to a learning style, right? Be curious and know you’re going to hit roadblocks. There’s parts of the platform he was curious to learn, but he doesn’t fully understand. I didn’t get a sense of frustration from him. I got a sense of this is the next thing I’m going to tackle and I’m curious about it.

Mike Gerholdt: And then the third thing, go to an in-person event. So Jerrel’s first event was a Sacramento Salesforce Saturday. And the one part I think that stood out in his answer to me was the opportunity to be exposed to the culture. I think our Salesforce community has such a unique and inclusive culture. And going to that Salesforce Saturday for Jerrel really made it more than just an app. It was a place where he could go experience the culture, learn with other people and feel welcomed. So I highly, highly recommend going to an event.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, be sure to go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And we even list our events that we’re going to be at on there. And of course, there’s a friendly reminder. If you love what you hear, be sure to pop over to iTunes and give us a review. I promise you, I read them all. And you can stay up to date with us social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, No I, on Twitter. And you can find me, I am @MikeGerholdt. So with that, stay tuned for our next episode and we’ll see you in the cloud.

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