For today’s episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we caught up with Jennifer Lee, a new Admin Evangelist on the Admin Relations team at Salesforce. We wanted to give you a chance to meet her and hear about her experience. As evangelists, we work to inspire admins in our community, and it’s important to know we get our inspiration from you.

Join us as we talk about how Jennifer got started in the ecosystem, why she got hooked on Salesforce, and how important admins are in helping people get more done.

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

How Jennifer got started in Salesforce

Like many admins, Jennifer bounced around a little before getting involved in the platform. She did retail, financial services marketing, e-commerce, and project management. She was introduced to Salesforce in 2011 when her company was acquired by another business already on the platform. At the time, Jennifer was the PM, and it was clear they needed to create their own Salesforce org to smooth out the transition. The rest is history.

“Salesforce reminded me of what I was able to do back in the day when I worked on websites, being able to create content and do configuration work,” Jennifer says. When she took the Admin 201 class, she was hooked. “I didn’t want to project manage anymore — all I wanted to do was configure in Salesforce,” she says.

Jennifer ended up moving to John Hancock to help wrangle all the different Salesforce orgs they used throughout their organization. “When I first joined, it was basically the Wild Wild West,” she says, “so I spent six years there growing the team, setting standards, doing things like design reviews to make sure we were building to the best of the platform before we brought in our own custom code.”

The power of the Salesforce community

Through it all, Jennifer experienced a lot of growth getting involved with the Salesforce community. At first, she was just a consumer, learning from other people’s posts and tracking topics of interest, “but as I got more comfortable, I started answering the Chatter posts myself,” she says.

When she had to attach a Word doc to answer a particularly tough question, Jennifer realized she needed something a bit more scalable and started a blog. “I really consumed a lot of what the community shared before me,” she says, “and I wanted my blog to be a way for me to pay it forward and share my knowledge. If I ran into an issue, clearly someone else will run into the same issue so why not share that?” 

Using your Salesforce powers for truth, justice, and fewer clicks

What got Jennifer so hooked on Salesforce in the first place was how easy it made it to help others with creative problem-solving. “Users have this problem, and I’m able to use my Salesforce powers to configure something and solve for that,” she says. For Jennifer, admins are at the center of that, working directly with end-users to help them get more efficient and do more every day.

Be sure to listen to the episode for more about Jennifer’s story, and don’t miss the Lightning Round!

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Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career, to help you become an awesome admin. This week we’re talking with Jennifer Lee, Admin Evangelist on the Admin Relations team. Now I wanted to take this moment to have this podcast early on in Jennifer’s career as an evangelist, so that you get a chance to meet her, understand her perspective, and really connect with her. As evangelists, we work to inspire admins in our community and to me, it’s really important that you understand who we are and that we also get our inspiration from you. So with that, let’s get Jennifer on the podcast. So, Jennifer, welcome to the podcast.

Jennifer Lee: Hey, Mike. Thanks for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: I feel like long time guest, first time employee. I don’t know how to spin that, but you’ve been on the pod before, and I know you’ve done a lot of speaking in the community, of course, being an MVP. But for those new Salesforce Admins or new to Salesforce, that have not been introduced to you, let’s talk about a little bit about what you did before joining Salesforce.

Jennifer Lee: Sure. So, I did a couple of things before I even started Salesforce. I first started off in retail, did that for a little bit, then I moved on to financial services where I was in marketing, produced brochures for mutual funds. How dry is that, right? Then they introduced a website. So I’m like, “Ooh, cool, website.” So, I moved into e-commerce, did that for a little bit. It was pretty fun putting out my own content and playing around with features, things like that. And then, I moved into the project management role and did project management for technology projects.

And my first introduction to Salesforce was back in 2011, where we were just acquired by this other company and we were on Microsoft CRM at the time and we were moving onto Salesforce for the first time, taking our business unit and moving it into an existing org. And it really didn’t work out for our business. They didn’t really feel like they could control their destiny. So, they then had a project to basically stand up their Salesforce org. And I was a PM on that. So, never worked on Salesforce, we worked with Deloitte as our implementation partner.

And after that project was done, my group was responsible for maintaining Salesforce going forward. Salesforce reminded me a lot of what I was able to do back in the day when I worked on websites, being able to create content, do configuration work. So, I was really interested in Salesforce and I wanted to get my hands dirty. So, I took the Admin 201 class and sat side-by-side with some of the Deloitte consultants to really learn the ins and outs of Salesforce. And then, I was basically hooked and I didn’t want to project manage anymore. I was like, all I wanted to do was configure in Salesforce.

So, I talked to my manager, I’m like, “Oh, well I was responsible for these other applications,” and I was like, “Can I just focus on Salesforce?” He was like, “Well, we don’t really have a role for that here.” So, I decided after 17 years with the company to then go find something that was exclusively Salesforce administration or a consultant role. And that’s when I interviewed with John Hancock, who’s a financial services insurance firm and they were standing up a net new COE at the time, a center of excellence, that just focused on Salesforce and supporting Salesforce for all the orgs in the organization.

So, it was really exciting to be part of a new team that was built, and growing that team and being able to do things like set standards for our orgs. Because when I first joined, it was basically the Wild Wild West and people were making changes directly in prod and didn’t understand why it was a big deal to not make changes directly in prod. So, I spent six years there, growing the team, setting standards. We did things like design reviews and make sure we were building to the best of the platform, leveraging as much as the platform as possible before we brought in our own custom code.

So, as a result of wanting to learn Salesforce, I then became really involved in the community. And at first I was just a consumer, so I would be out on the Trailblazer Community, learning what I can from other people’s posts. And then, as I got more comfortable, I started answering the Chatter posts myself and I got to the point where I was trying to answer questions about automation. And there’s only so much that you can put in Chatter posts. So, I ended up writing out the solution in a Word doc, attached it, and I’m like, “This isn’t scalable because I can’t keep referring to this or attaching Word docs of my solutions.” So, that’s how my blog started, jenwlee.com, where I was like, “Okay, well I need to be able to post my solutions there and then be able to share it and reference it.”

I really consumed a lot of what the community shared before me in terms of learning from others. And I also wanted my blog to be a way for me to pay it forward and be able to share my knowledge. So, if I ran into an issue, clearly someone else will probably run into the same issue, so why not share that? Right? Why just keep that information to myself?

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Jennifer Lee: So, that’s how I’ve gotten out in the community. After my blog, being able to go out in community events, world tours, share my knowledge with presentations and things like that.

Mike Gerholdt: I had no idea you were in retail. I feel a kinship now because I was in retail and I know I’ve had a few other guests on, that were in retail. I will speak biassedly, I feel some of the best admins come from retail because I don’t know, maybe it’s the long hours of standing on our feet or the endlessly-

Jennifer Lee: Folding clothes.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Jennifer Lee: Great customer service.

Mike Gerholdt: Relentlessly folding and refolding of the same thing because somebody walks by and picks it up, you know a small ain’t going to fit you, don’t pick up the small, I just folded that.

Jennifer Lee: So, I worked in three different retail stores. Victoria’s Secret, Dockers, so I sold khakis.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh boy, there you go.

Jennifer Lee: And Nine West, so I sold shoes all day long to [crosstalk].

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, but Nine West was popular. It had its day. Of course, so did Dockers.

Jennifer Lee: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Flat fronts, pleaded crease, cuff.

Jennifer Lee: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. Well, and I think that’s also true to the … A lot of people ask, “How do I get into being a Salesforce Admin?” And some of it is one or two hops, right? Like retail to project management, to a company using Salesforce. I mean, I was retail to book sales, to education sales, to using Salesforce, to being a Salesforce Admin. You can’t connect the dots looking forward.

Jennifer Lee: Yeah. It’s not just one path.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Yeah. It’s true. I think, a certain point in your story, you mentioned, and I could hear it in your voice, the same kind of like, “I just want to do Salesforce.” Looking back at that time, what was it that got you so hooked?

Jennifer Lee: It was being able to create things and then seeing it in production and the feeling of other people using the thing that I built. I like the ability to problem solve. So, users have this problem and I’m able to use my powers in Salesforce to configure something and then solve for that. Being able to be creative and then seeing the thing that I built, being used.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I hear you. That’s exactly… The first time I remember it, way back in the day, when S-controls were a thing, having a workflow work and seeing somebody update a record in the workflow fire, or a validation rule. The simplest things you’re like, “I didn’t know I could make the internet do that. I made this whole fancy internet do a thing.” Now, you could have gone down a lot of different … There’s many different career paths in the Salesforce ecosystem. You are very passionate about admin. We saw that in your blog. We see that in what you do now at Salesforce. I think, what makes you so passionate about the Salesforce Admin role?

Jennifer Lee: I think of all the roles, that’s the role that I most identify with. Just being able to leverage the platform, working directly with the end users and thinking of ways to just make them more efficient and more productive. Yeah. That’s the part that resonates with me the most.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Yeah. So, I know this will come out in July and I’d love to know maybe insight into some of the things you’re thinking about for content. Some of the things you’re working on, some of the things you would really love people who listen to the podcast to maybe tweet you for suggestions?

Jennifer Lee: So, I’m very excited, right now I’m working on my prepping for my first Trailhead Live and that’s going to be on formulas. We’re having our session on July 21st. I’m really excited for the content to go out on that. I’ve been working hard on that piece. And we have also some Trailblazers who are also sharing their pro tips on formulas too. So, look for that. I’ll also be taking over for Marc Baizman, the “How I Solved This” series. So, look for new ideas on that piece, starting to work on my first one for that.

And in terms of blog posts, really looking forward to putting out some of the more how-tos on things, maybe more of the intermediate content, but also we’ll be looking forward to doing some type of series around automation because that’s my ultimate passion and I want to be able to continue to share that with other admins in the ecosystem.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And we saw at TrailheaDX, there’s a lot coming out around automation. So, it’s a good thing you like automation, there’s only a few things to talk about.

Jennifer Lee: Right?

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. I want to make sure, so if anybody listened to TrailheaDX or if you listened to last week’s interview with Jay, I put together some, what I’ll call lightning round questions, but I think they’re just neat questions. I’ll be honest, I Googled, “Questions to ask a celebrity.” And some of these are the questions that came up. So, this is good preparation for you, Jen. So, when you’re in a community group or if we get back to events, these might be the questions that the community asks you. You can practice answering them here-

Jennifer Lee: Okay.

Mike Gerholdt: … to a few hundred thousand people. No pressure. Anyway. All right. So, first question, what is the best compliment you have received?

Jennifer Lee: Best compliment? Wow. I love it when folks have come up to me and have told me how something that I wrote in my blog posts really helped them. And that just really warms my heart and gives me [Trail] heart.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. There you go. If you could have only one meal the rest of your life, what would it be?

Jennifer Lee: I love crab. Whether it’s Dungeness crab, blue crab, queen crab. I love all the crabs.

Mike Gerholdt: Preferably cooked, I’m assuming.

Jennifer Lee: Yes. Cooked. I like it chopped up, stir fried with garlic and ginger and bits of egg on top of it.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh my. Okay. Well, you’re in a good part of the country to get crab.

Jennifer Lee: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. Who is your hero?

Jennifer Lee: Who is my hero? Leah. Leah McGowen-Hare comes to mind immediately. She is my shero. I look up to her. She just presents with finesse and she’s able to present a topic that might not even be interesting, but she finds a way to make interesting and draws you in and you’re like, “I get that concept. I get what you’re talking about.” And that’s what ultimately I would love to be able to do as well.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. You will. My Leah McGowen story, I remember when she had to talk about blockchain-

Jennifer Lee: Yes, that.

Mike Gerholdt: … and turning a chicken into a chicken nugget and you can never go back. And I was like, “I get it now, weirdly enough. And I also want a chicken nugget.” So, if you were stranded on an island, what album would you bring along to listen to, or CD?

Jennifer Lee: I don’t know the specific album name, but I’m really into Pink. So, any of her albums.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Jennifer Lee: I feel that they’re just empowering and she’s just really bad-ass. I went to see her in concert and if you haven’t seen Pink in concert, she does all this gymnastics stuff and she’s doing flips and flying in the air, and it’s just so super cool.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Okay. Last one. Five words that describe you.

Jennifer Lee: Five words that describe me. Huh. I am passionate. Excited.

Mike Gerholdt: It can be hard to think of words.

Jennifer Lee: Yeah. I’m like speechless right now.

Mike Gerholdt: I would add, caring, because we just talked about your dog before we got on the podcast.

Jennifer Lee: Yes. And friendly. And I can’t think of another word. I’m lost for words.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s all right.

Jennifer Lee: You don’t even see me. I’m sweating bullets right now. I can’t think of the words.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s all right. Being at a loss for words is a rarity for you. Well, this is fun. I think it’s important that everybody in the community gets to meet our evangelists and hears from us and knows our perspectives and gets to understand you just even more outside of the content that you produce. Because I know to me, it’s always important if I’m watching a movie or I’m reading a book or listening to music, that I understand the artist’s perspective and what motivates them and their values. And that’s the whole reason I wanted to have this podcast. So, I’m glad to have you on.

Jennifer Lee: Oh, thanks for having me. And I can’t wait to be able to go out in the community and meet all the new admins out there. And hopefully, when we are able to get back to in-person events, being able to meet you personally.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. It’ll be fun. It’ll be fun. Well, thanks for being on the podcast, Jen.

Jennifer Lee: Thanks for having me, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, it was great having Jennifer on the podcast. It’s always fun to learn people’s back histories and it looks like she was in retail as was I, and I’m sure many of you have been in retail. Anyway, if you’d love to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including blogs, Trailhead Live, and a lot of content that Jennifer’s going to be sharing out with us. Of course, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention the new podcast swag is in the Trailhead store. So, be sure to pick up some of that.

I am wearing my Salesforce Admin Podcast t-shirt right now. I put the link in the show notes. Now, you can stay up-to-date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter. She is @jenwlee. Of course, Gillian, the co-host of the podcast is on Twitter @gilliankbruce. And if you’d like, please give me a follow, I am on Twitter @MikeGerholdt. So, with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

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