Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Nana Gregg, Solution Architect and Learning and Development Manager at VFP Consulting.

Join us as we chat about the Salesforce Admin Skills Kit, why your background matters much more than you think when you’re trying to be an admin, and how the Skills Kit helps employers looking to hire admins, too.

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

Nana’s EASY Methodology

You might recognize Nana from her stint as an admin keynote speaker at Dreamforce ‘18. “What I said to Parker is that it’s actually easy to be an Awesome Admin,” she says, but that’s an acronym for her EASY Methodology:

  • E: Embrace change. Everything changes in tech every single day, and you need to embrace that and go with it.
  • A: Always be learning. There are three new releases a year, not to mention what’s happening in your business and org.
  • S: Show and tell. As Nana says, “When you build it, they will come.” Show what you’re working on and tell them about it!
  • Y: You got this, and if you need help, you have the power of the community behind you.

Your background is just as valuable as your tech skills

With the recent launch of the Admins Skills Kit, we wanted to talk to Nana about how that squares with her EASY Methodology. It’s a recipe for success for admins and also a guide to help employers figure out what to look for when they’re hiring.

As an accidental Aamin, Nana can relate to just how many skills you need to bring to your job that aren’t necessarily technology-facing. No matter your background, there are skills you’ve picked up along your journey that can help you to succeed as an Admin and now you can name them and market them. She sees how things like learner’s mindset, change management, and project management fits into the framework she laid out at Dreamforce four years ago.

Why the Skills Kit matters to employers

As someone who now is in the position to hire admins, Nana also appreciates how helpful the Admin Skills Kit is as a framework for people making that job posting. When you’re sitting on the other side of it, you might see “Salesforce” and throw in every developer buzz word you can think of hoping you’re saying the right thing, or you might see “Administrator” and go with that.

The Skills Kit not only lists out everything that goes into being an admin and doing it well, it also gives concrete examples to let both Admins and employers know exactly what they’re looking for. And if you need help, each skill also has resources to help you “Always be learning.”

Be sure to listen to the full episode for all the great insights, including why S should maybe stand for “Showcase your skills”, and how the community helped Nana rebuild after a tornado hit her house.

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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 be an awesome admin. I’m your host today, Gillian Bruce, and I am here to talk to you about a really amazing tool and resource that we put out a little while ago. But it’s not just me who’s going to talk about it. We’re going to be talking about the Admin Skills Kit today, but we’re going to be talking about it with Nana Gregg, who is an incredible MVP. She’s a leader in the Salesforce Community, she’s a solution architect. She has been part of the Legends of Low Code right now on Salesforce+. She has an amazing EASY framework that she’s been talking about for quite a long time to help everyone kind of get a grasp on what it takes to be a great Salesforce professional, and talking about how that is complimented by the Salesforce Admin Skills Kit. So without further ado, let’s get Nana on the podcast. Nana, welcome to the podcast.

Nana Gregg: Thanks Gillian. It’s been so long.

Gillian Bruce: It’s been so long. It’s so fabulous to connect with you and hear your voice. How are things going? What are you up to these days?

Nana Gregg: Things are good. You know, still making my way around the Salesforce community, working for a consulting partner at the moment and learning new things every day. Love it.

Gillian Bruce: You sure are. And in fact, the reason I wanted to pull you on the podcast, Nana, was for many reasons, just because I love talking to you and connecting with you. But you shared a little something on social within the community that perked my interest and it was your EASY methodology, so can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Nana Gregg: Yeah, absolutely. So a few years ago I actually got called in to be on the stage, the Admin Keynote Stage at Dreamforce and talk a little bit about my journey. One of the questions Parker asked me during that keynote is what advice I would have to all the other admins out there, how to become an awesome admin? And what I said to Parker was that it’s actually easy to be an awesome admin. That’s how I like to remember it. The E stands for embrace change, because the system, the technology business, everything changes every single day, right? You know, we are not stagnant, we are constantly moving, even the earth is moving and you’ve got to just embrace that change and go with it. You have to roll with it and use it to move you forward.

The A in EASY stands for always be learning. Again, because everything’s ever changing, you always are going to be learning something new. There’s three new releases a year. There’s so many new things that are happening in your business and around you and there’s always something new and fun to learn; one of the reasons I love this space. S is show and tell. So when you build it, they will come. So show what you’re working on, tell people what you’re working on. Whether it is your colleagues, your executive team, whether it’s people in the community on LinkedIn, show them what you’re doing, celebrate those things. And then Y is to know that you got this and you have the power of the community behind your back to lift you up, to help point you in the direction when you don’t know, when you don’t think you got this. That is probably the biggest thing about this Salesforce space is that community. So being an awesome admin can be easy if you follow those quick and easy tips.

Gillian Bruce: Well, so that’s amazing and super easy to remember. I love it. All those points are really, really amazing, but one of the reasons I wanted to pull you on to talk about that was because we just released a little something called the Salesforce Admin Skills Kit. So I’d love to hear about how you rationalize your amazing EASY methodology with some of the things in the Salesforce Admin Skills Kit, which as we launched it just at TrailblazerDX a little while ago is 14 core skills that help you be a successful Salesforce admin, and that’s everything from like problem solving to communication, to business analysis. Can you talk to us a little bit about kind of what some of the feedback that maybe you have based on seeing that and how you kind of may incorporate it or see it working with your EASY methodology?

Nana Gregg: Yeah, absolutely. When you launched the Skills Kit, I was so excited. So it’s this recipe, right? It’s a recipe for success for admins, it’s also a recipe for employers to know what to look for. Sometimes they don’t know what to look for in a Salesforce Admin, and those job descriptions are just completely off the mark. So this really gives, I think, blueprint is the other word, blueprint or recipe. They’re really amazing. You know, I’ve been in the Salesforce space… I was an Accidental Admin back in 2007, a little while ago and a lot of these items on the Skills Kit are really items that I didn’t realize I brought with me. Some of them I learned as I went, but some of them I brought with me just from other things that weren’t technology facing.

So one of the things that I think is really cool about the Skills Kit is it helps people realize that even if you don’t come from a technical space, even if you’re new to it, there are things that you’ve done in your previous roles that fulfill these skills and you can take these and then market them, right? And use those things to also enhance your skills as an awesome admin. So some of the things, I mean, you know, learner’s mindset, that’s always be learning, right? Embracing change, you got change management and product management, they’re all in there. And what it does is it puts what we kind of thought and knew the role of an awesome admin is, but it puts it on paper. A lot of times people see Salesforce Administrator and they don’t really know what that means. They think executive administrator or they just don’t know how to articulate it and this really gives us words to use when we talk about what an awesome admin is.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, thank you. I’m really happy to hear that, because that was the intention of when we created this. We spent basically the last year and a half researching, doing surveys, doing focus groups and talking to people like yourself and people in the community actually doing the admin work, people who are hiring admins and trying to get that data of like what are these skills? What do they look like when you talk about them in the Salesforce space? I mean, your comment about the job descriptions, let me tell you, that was one of the biggest impetuses for doing this was that we got all this feedback saying, “Hey, these job descriptions don’t match what employers actually needed.” I’m sure you’ve encountered this and seen this in the space, tell me a little bit more about that.

Nana Gregg: Yeah, absolutely. Not only just looking for a job, but also when we’ve hired admins, I don’t always know what to put on a job description and don’t know what to tell my recruiting office, the HR department. HR thinks tech, technology, so they’re throwing a lot of the developer type buzzwords in, or they see administrator and they go the completely other direction and they just don’t know. And so this gives us a framework. It gives us a framework for, okay, what are the exact skills? Then I love that when you click on one of the cards on the website, it comes up and it gives you like concrete examples, which are amazing. Not only examples for the job seeker, but the employer, but also then you got resources. You got resources so you can click in and say, “You know what? I don’t really have this one yet. How do I get this?” And you can click into some resources and start learning about that particular area so that you can boost your skills, which again, always be learning. So it always comes back to that.

Gillian Bruce: Back to the EASY. Back to the EASY.

Nana Gregg: Back to the EASY, for sure. In fact, one of the things that I would probably say now as I’m thinking about my EASY acronym: embracing change, always be learning, show and tell, and you got this. I almost think that S could be changed to showcase your skills, right? Because that’s really the easy way to be an awesome admin is you’re going to showcase those skills and you’re going to involve yourself with the community, you’re going to embrace change and you’re going to always be learning

Gillian Bruce: Well, and the showcasing your skills is actually really important for existing admins as they try to grow their career within their current space, within their current role, right? Because I think we’re really good at understanding how to represent the technology we do, but not necessarily the beyond the technology, right? So yes, I can demonstrate that I have this skill of product management using this language on my performance review.

Nana Gregg: Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing. And that’s a really great sweet spot. Oftentimes, as Salesforce administrators, we are under the hood a little bit, we’re not always out in front. People don’t always see the work that we do, so it’s up to us to make sure that we’re showcasing all the cool things we’re doing and unfortunately, your executive teams, your management, they don’t always understand the technical things. You can’t always, “I built these flows and we looped through a bunch of, you know?” They just don’t always understand that and so putting it into some of these business terms, that is easy for everyone to understand, you can really quickly get the point across about all of the things you’ve been doing across your company.

Gillian Bruce: Well, like to your point, right? Okay, so I build all these flows, but why is that important? Right? Why does my stakeholder care about this? Oh, because I streamlined this many hours of work for this department by implementing that one flow, right? That’s an immediate like, “Oh, I’m a manager. I understand that that actually means something that’s like a deliverable that I can see a difference on my team’s performance.”

Nana Gregg: Absolutely. I think it helps you flip the script on those… and think about the things you’re building and the things you’re doing in a little different way. What is that benefit to the company? Right? It’s not just that I’m building a flow, that I’m streamlining something, right? I’m also… We’ve now got better data quality, because now I’ve built some tools in place to manage the data, to streamline what my users are giving me from a data perspective. Guess what? Better data quality means better data analytics, more information for the executives at their fingertips. Right? And then at the end of the day, the executives are happy, what about user management and the design mindset? When we think about that design, it doesn’t matter what kind of system that you administer or that you build if people aren’t going to use it. You’re not going to have good data, you’re not going to have analytics, the executive teams are going to be angry, so working with the users and understanding what they need and getting it into the system so that they’ll actually use it, man, that affects all of these things-

Gillian Bruce: That’s the admin [inaudible].

Nana Gregg: … and it gives us language to talk about it.

Gillian Bruce: Right, and I think that’s one of the things that I’m… I’m really happy to hear that you think that way, because I always like to talk about, “Oh, it’s like the admin magic, you know?” You’re at the intersection of the business and the technology but all that sounds great, but what does it look like in your resume? What does it look like in that job description? What does it look like in that performance review? And I think hopefully this, like you said, is this language to really kind of put some context behind it.
Now, something you said earlier, Nana, that I wanted to pick up on was you realized that you kind of had a lot of these skills that you could transfer from non-Salesforce into Salesforce world and I think that’s something really, really important is the idea of transferable skills. The hope is that with delineating these 14 skills that aren’t necessarily tied to exclusively to Salesforce, that people can see a little bit of maybe what they already have to help them make that bridge if they’re looking to make that career change. Can you talk a little bit about maybe one or two of these that pop out to you as skills you had from a previous industry, previous career that like you’ve said, “Oh yeah, no, that immediately helps me in Salesforce”?

Nana Gregg: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a couple that definitely just jump right up for me. Data analysis and data management, if you’ve ever worked in Excel and done Excel spreadsheets for your company; managed it, pulled the data together, did pivot tables or VLOOKUP, guess what? Salesforce is going to be your best friend when you realize what you can do, not only with Salesforce reporting, but with Tableau Analytics. You know, there’s so much you can transfer there. I mean, you can write formula fields that have VLOOKUP in them. Come on, I heart VLOOKUP. The other would be… You know, back in the day, I actually worked in a factory and I learned some Kaizen techniques, which was process improvement, business process improvement and we were working in different areas of the factory to help streamline the processes so that people didn’t have to walk as far to get the things that they needed so that things were available just in time. Right?

And you don’t think of that in terms of technology, but then when I came to the Salesforce world and became an administrator, guess what? I immediately started approaching processes the same way, business processes. I’m like, “Wait a minute, where do you get that information? What’s your input? What’s your output? Where do you give it?” Right? So let’s talk about that, let’s talk about the things you do in between there and make sure that we’re giving you a great user experience. Sometimes you just don’t think that those are like super transferable. I worked in a factory, that has nothing to do with Salesforce Administration, but it was an immediate skill that I started using as a Salesforce administrator. So you can kind of just maybe jot down some of the things, some of the pivotal processes and things you did or do in your current role and realize what are the bolts and nuts around those, in these skills that will transfer to a technology solution.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. Basically taking the physical idea of making it a factory more efficient and putting it within the context of what’s on your screen, right?

Nana Gregg: Right. Exactly, you know? And that can any industry, right? I mean, if you can take that from a factory or for working in an office and working in Excel, you know? Maybe if it’s even managing appointments for a doctor’s office, and you want to make the experience really good, not only for the person coming in, but you also want to make it good for the nurses and the doctors and all of those things. Those are great skills. You’re thinking through process automation, project management, change management, communication, all of those things go into those kinds of processes. So it doesn’t really matter what industry you come from, it’s taking those skills and realizing that those skills can be used just in a different context.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I think that’s super important because I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who are saying, “Oh, I want to start doing Salesforce but I feel like I’m sting from like ground zero.” And I’m like, “No, you are not.” Yes, the technology you may not know it, but look, we have all of these resources to help you learn in technology. All of that experience you have from other industry, those other jobs, do not throw those away, in fact, use those, tap into those. Let’s blow them up, let’s hone them, let’s talk about how they can really like help you and propel you in ways that you had no idea in terms of helping you be a better admin.

Nana Gregg: That’s really the sweet spot. I mean, like you said, there are so many resources for the technology. You could take a Trailhead Trail, there’s the help documentation. There’s all of our user groups, all of those things, but business experience, just experience in general, right? You’re going to bring that experience to the table and you’re going to draw from that experience. Those are skills. Those are skills that you learned. No matter what you were doing, you’re learning those skills and this Skills Lit actually just gives us words to use and helps us kind of reframe those skills so that we can then take that and put it on a resume, or put it on a performance review and have the people that we’re going to send that to really understand that in terms of the technology.

Gillian Bruce: You said it perfectly. Thank you, Nana. So one more part of your easy I wanted to talk to you about is that last one, the Y, that you got this. Because I feel like of all of the ones in your EASY framework, that is not only my favorite, but I think it is probably one of the most important, because I think everyone struggles with it, no matter what job you do, Salesforce or not Salesforce, is that you got this. Can you talk to us a little bit more about kind of why you put that on there and maybe some things you say to people to help them understand that you’ve got this?

Nana Gregg: Yeah. Yeah. It’s my favorite as well. It’s something that I went through an experience years ago when I was a part of the Salesforce Community. I actually had a tornado hit my house while we were in it. And it was right after I became a Salesforce MVP and was really involved in the Salesforce Community and was amazed to turn around and realize that all of these people that I knew all over the world, that I only knew through the computer, maybe through user groups, through technology, reached out to see what they could do to help me. They were just there. You know, people I didn’t even know were sending me cards and saying, “What can I do to help?”

One of my friends that worked at Salesforce actually sent me a little flag and the flag said, “You got this.” It was a few weeks after the tornado, and there were some other things going on, and I looked at that and I swear I sobbed for a couple of hours. Because the feeling of knowing that you’ve got these people that they just believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself and they’re willing to just put themselves out there and help you, right? And we see that every day in the community. We see it on Twitter, on LinkedIn and the Trailblazer Community user groups, at conferences. You know, it doesn’t matter, you ask a question and there’s somebody that says, “Hey, I’ve done that before. I’ve seen that before. I’ve got an idea for you. Oh, I’m going to connect you with this person or that person, or you should go to this.” And knowing that that is available and there for you to me is amazing.

It’s something I drill into my kids now and I’m constantly… Like when one of them gets down on themselves, I’m like, “Hey, remember you don’t always have to internalize and feel that you got this, but you need to remember that there are other people that think you got this, even when you don’t, even when you don’t. And it’s okay to reach out to them, they’re there for you. They’ve been through and they’re willing to help and to support you.” So it’s one of the things that I always try to help people remember that you don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to have all the answers, because guess what? There are other people who you can draw from, and we are better when we lift each other up, right? When we help each other, when we reach out a hand, when we tell people, “Hey, you got this. I got this and guess what? Together, we got this.”

Gillian Bruce: I love that. It’s so true. I very much remember that story Nana and being like, “Oh my goodness, I have no idea how to help, but this is huge.” I also remember very immediately, you being overwhelmed by the amount of support that you got from the community. This story still gives me the chills because it is such a visible representation of what it is like to be a part of the Salesforce Community and a powerful one. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for being you. And I love that now you’re amplifying that message, not only just within the Salesforce Community, but yeah, it’s a great lesson for parents to teach kids too. I love that.

Nana Gregg: Yep. Yeah. My daughter-

Gillian Bruce: Take that one.

Nana Gregg: … I sent her off to college and when she turned 18, we actually both went and got tattoos in our arm and it says, “You got this.” And so she’s across the country at college and every now and then she’ll call me and she’ll be down about something and all I have to do is I’ll just send her a little text and I’ll be like, “Look down at your arm. Look down at your arm, what does it say? It says you got this. Believe in yourself.” And yeah, we can absolutely use that in every area of life, but it’s great to remember we often have imposter syndrome. We’re not really sure if we’re where we’re supposed to be, we’re not really sure if that job is the right job for us, you know? Use the community, use the people around you, they’re there to help you to lift you up to point you in the right directions and just know that… Believe in yourself because you got people that believe in you.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. I love that. You got this. Well, I think that’s a brilliant note to end this wonderful chat. Like I could just chat with you forever and we’ll have you back-

Nana Gregg: Same.

Gillian Bruce: … I’m sure. But thank you so much for sharing your EASY framework on the pod and I will definitely be sure to link out the listeners so they can see how you’ve delineated it out in writing and all of that. Yeah, thank you so much for everything, Nana, and any last parting word or words of wisdom that you’d love to share with the community?

Nana Gregg: I think we’ll just encapsulate the EASY again now that we’ve made a little tweak and a little change to it. So EASY: embrace change, always to be learning, showcase your skills and you got this.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. With that, Nana, thank you so much.

Nana Gregg: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks for Nana for spending the time with me on the podcast today. Always great to catch up with her. Such great words of wisdom and advice for everyone, no matter where you’re at in your Salesforce career. Her EASY framework, man, it’s easy, it’s great. And if you want to learn more about her EASY framework, I will put a link in the show notes so that you can read a blog post about it all. Also, I’ll put a link to our amazing Admin Skills Kit, that’s at admin.salesforce.com/skillskit. And always if you want to learn more about how you can be an awesome admin, you can check out all of our great resources at admin.salesforce.com, blogs, videos, podcasts, all of the things.

Also, if you want to take a moment and leave us a quick review, we read all of our reviews on if you’re in the Apple Podcast or otherwise we want to know what you think about the podcast. You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no “i”. You can find our guest today, Nana Gregg. She is @nanahg3 on Twitter. You can find myself @GillianKBruce. My co-host Mike Gerholdt is @MikeGerholdt. With that, everyone, have an amazing rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.

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