Build Your Brag Book with LeeAnne Rimel

By

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we bring on LeeAnne Rimel, Senior Director of Admin Evangelism at Salesforce, to share how you can build a “brag book” to capture your wins and successes.

Join us as we talk about why it’s so important to put all your successes in one place, how to get started, and how to feel comfortable talking about your accomplishments.

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

What is a brag book?

“Imagine you’re getting ready for your end-of-year or end-of-quarter review with your boss,” LeeAnne says. It can be hard to remember what you were doing last month, let alone the last six months or last year.

“That’s where the brag book comes in,” LeeAnne says, “it’s a place to collect your wins, your accomplishments, your project completions, your accolades, or awards, or feedback, throughout the year.” By putting everything together as it happens to you, you’ll be ready whenever you need to talk about your career. “It’s one of those chances to do future you a favor.”

Building your bragging muscle

You need to get in the habit of saving positive feedback whenever you come across it, like building a muscle. When LeeAnne first started her brag book, she used a private slide deck with a slide for each project. Then she could simply drop in whatever she came across that was worth keeping, whether qualitative (like an appreciative YouTube comment) or quantitative (like attendance or adoption numbers).

These days, LeeAnne uses a private Slack channel with herself, with threads to organize everything into individual projects. “It doesn’t really matter where your bucket is,” she says, “pick your place, make it easy to get to, and then practice building it into your muscle memory.”

Shine a light on your collaborators

It can be hard to get into the mindset of bragging about your accomplishments. If you’re used to working behind the scenes, it might feel weird to step into the spotlight. “It’s really not about you, it’s about the work and the impact that it’s having,” LeeAnne says, “and it’s helpful for the people around you to know if that work is impactful or not, if that’s something they might be able to learn from for their own work, and if that information might influence decisions that are coming up for them.”

Nobody works in a silo. Even if you’re a solo admin, you have partners who help you succeed. Capturing the story of a successful project gives you a chance to not only talk about your work but also to shine a light on other people who deserve credit. Getting the opportunity to give those well-deserved kudos can make anyone feel like bragging.

Podcast swag

Learn more

Social

 

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 joined by the wonderful LeeAnne Rimel. Hi LeeAnne.

LeeAnne Rimel: Hi Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you for joining me. We are going to be talking about something that you posted on Twitter not too long ago as a thread and just took off and got a bunch of attention. And we’re going to talk about this idea of creating a personal brag book. But before we get into all that, I want to set the context for our listeners. So admins, you’re listening to this, it’s getting towards the end of the year. You did a lot of great things this year, whether it was for your organization or for your personal career, and it’s a really good time to think about all those contributions you made, all the work you did. And I know it’s really hard sometimes to capture that work and then share that. It’s one of the reasons we built the Salesforce admin skills kit to help try and give you some language around that. But I really wanted to get LeeAnne on the podcast today to talk really about how you can build this idea of a brag book to help you capture what you’re doing, capture your wins and successes. So LeeAnne, can you give us an overview of what a brag book is?

LeeAnne Rimel: I sure can. So imagine you are getting ready for your end of year or end of quarter review with your boss or with your manager, or you are wrapping up a project, maybe a three month or six month project, and you’re getting ready for your postmortem report to your team or your leadership. Or imagine your thinking about leveling up your career, whether that’s applying for a job internally at your company, looking for jobs elsewhere, looking to go into that next role. Sometimes it can be really hard to sit there and say, “Okay, what did I do the last 12 months? What are all the things I did in the last three months?” A lot of us, especially Salesforce admins, are often moving really fast. We move really quickly through project, through work. People are working a lot.

A lot of people have very busy personal lives. There’s a lot on our plates. And I don’t know about you, but I definitely have sat down and drawn a blank and I’m like, “Okay, what’s my year review look like? I knew I did a lot this year, I was really busy this year. What did I do?” And so that’s where the brag book comes in. It is a place, a way to collect your wins, your accomplishments, your project completions, your accolades or awards or feedback throughout the year or throughout the project or throughout the quarter so that when those times come where you have the opportunity to amplify your work, you’re 90% of the way there.

You’ve got your brag book ready to go, and you can take the pieces out of that that are relevant for the thing that you’re preparing. So if you’re preparing for a quarterly review or something like a job review or something like that, you can go through and take the pieces out of your brag book that I always joke, Gillian knows this. I’ll be like, “Oh, 2022 LeeAnne is doing 2023 LeeAnne a favor. And it’s one of those chances that you can do future you a favor and be like, “Oh man, I’m so glad that 2021 LeeAnne documented all of these things so it was easier for me to collect them now.”

Gillian Bruce: So one of the things that I think you hit on is that you’re doing this throughout the year because like you said, I do the same thing. I’m like, “Cool, so what did I just spend the last nine months working on? I don’t know, I think I did that.” But your concept is capturing that in the moment. And so how do you capture it? What are you saving? Where does it live? Talk to me a little bit about how you approach that.

LeeAnne Rimel: So it’s definitely a muscle that you build. It’s this muscle that you build of constantly being aware of inputs in your environment, whether that’s a feedback note, whether that’s a great survey result, whether that’s user adoption training that you had really high participation on, and all of your sales leaders were so happy about it because everyone used Salesforce after. So whatever it is, creating that muscle of, okay, I’m going to collect this somewhere. So, where you collect it is totally up to. So when Gillian and I both started doing this many years ago because our team leader Mike Gerholdt said, “You guys need to create brag books.” And so we created brag books, and at the time we started them in, I think Google Slides, and this was not a beautiful automated solution. This was a place to put things.

So I would have a running slide deck called my brag book that was just private to me and it was just the place that I dropped items. So for example, I’d create a slide if I worked on a project like keynote or if I worked on a project like a webinar or whatever it was, I would create a slide for that. And then I would drop things into that slide as they came up. So if someone left a comment on YouTube that it was really meaningful to them, I would put in both qualitative and quantitative pieces. So if someone left a comment, that piece of content was really meaningful to them, or if we had someone from one of our internal partners or a leadership team member give a lot of positive feedback about something, I would literally do a snag it. I’d take a picture of that, drop it into the slide or that series of slides.

But I also would use it as a place to store quantitative feedback as well. So if there was survey results, if there was any sort of numbers like attendance, everyone tracks different, if there’s adoption numbers, whatever those numbers and metrics were that were related to this, I’d put the link to the Salesforce dashboard in there that I was using to track that project, whatever it was. And so truly for many years it was a Google Slide deck. Now I use a private Slack channel. So I have a private channel just with myself and I organize things with threads. So if I’ll have my overall Dreamforce thread and I’ll paste things into that thread, or I’ll have different threads for different projects that I’ve worked on and I use that to organize. But it doesn’t really matter where your bucket is it, I would say it probably should be digital because I’m a big fan of pen and paper journaling. However, I would recommend making it a digital one because likely there will be some copy and pasting, some links, some screenshots an pictures. I’m a big advocate of always collecting photos when possible.

If you do a lunch and learn. Like if you’re an admin, you roll out something, you’re doing some sort of virtual webinar, a lunch and learn, a user adoption training, some user testing with your super users, do a quick picture of that, capture a picture because that really does tell a thousand words to you and it’ll help you revisit that moment when you’re trying to amplify that work later on. So pick your place. Again, it doesn’t matter what it is, Evernote, your Mac notes like OneNote, it doesn’t matter. Just pick a place. Pick a place you’re going to document things. Make it easy to get to, bookmark it, add an extension whatever tool you’re using and then practice building that into your muscle memory. So when you see a note, like a great feedback note, when you see a survey result that you’re proud of, when you see an adoption training result you’re proud of, when you see some numbers about an automation you built, practice putting that muscle in of this is awesome. I’m going to log this.

Gillian Bruce: I think the idea of putting it somewhere that’s really easy because I think for me, especially when we use the Google Slides, I’ve always felt this pressure to make it look pretty when I put it in, but the idea now… The private Slack channel’s brilliant. I think now I need to start doing that because I literally just have a Quip doc where I just paste stuff and paste feedback, which has worked fine, but the Slack thing I think makes it even more accessible and easy. I love that. So that’s a great tip and I think everybody uses Slack so it’s super easy.

LeeAnne Rimel: I love private Slack channels. I also have a private Slack channel just for call notes, which I highly recommend as well. But yeah, private Slack channels are great, especially if you get comfortable with Slack Search and how to use Slack Search quickly because then you’ll surface stuff just really fast when you’re looking for things if you are trying to create a specific preso on here’s what we learned with this project or this presentation.

Gillian Bruce: And one thing that I also want to address is some people might feel weird about the idea of bragging, right? Because it’s not comfortable sometimes to talk about how great you are and all the great things that you do. But here’s the thing, if you don’t do it, no one is going to do it for you. And I know it might be uncomfortable, I think for some of us, myself included, this is not hard. This is a natural muscle that I have had since I was, I don’t even know, able to walk and talk. But often when I talk about this or just in general sharing your accomplishments, I usually get people being like, “I don’t know, that feels uncomfortable and weird,” but you got to do it. And it’s not all about you, you, you, how great you are. I think the biggest thing is focusing on the impact.

So when you’re gathering that feedback, like for example, if I have somebody who comes up to me at an event is like, “Gillian , I listened to that one podcast, it motivated me to do X, Y, and Z, and now it’s enabled me to do this.” That’s to me, the stuff that I like to capture, because it shows the work you’re doing is actually making a difference. And so if you’re an admin, it’s like, oh, will this flow that I implemented, this person just told me it saves six hours of their monthly reporting or whatever. That’s the stuff that you want to include because then when you share it or when you have a reason to share, it’s clear why you’re sharing it. You’re not just like, “Look at me, I’m so great.” It’s like, look at the impact that my work has had on the people that I’m working with or the customers that I serve.

I think that’s a really important distinction, because LeeAnne, I think working with you for what, eight years now? Almost nine years. I’ve actually seen you go through this shift too where it’s like, no, it’s not just about talking about how great you are, which I have no problem doing, but it was not necessarily in your wheelhouse and naturally something that you did.

LeeAnne Rimel: I was really uncomfortable with it. I was super uncomfortable. I was like, “No, I do my work.” My background is I’ve always had pretty technical roles and the mindset I had was very much, I do my work, I did my project, the work speaks for itself. And that’s that. It was a mindset shift for me to think about… It’s almost remove yourself from the equation like you’re saying. Because I was like, “Oh, it feels weird to just sit and talk about a project I worked on, and the information’s available. People could have watched the webinar if they were interested. So why do I need to talk about why it was great?” And I suffered from being just incredibly illogical. And there’s a few things that helped me overcome that hurdle.

One, it’s really not about you, it isn’t. It’s about the work and like you’re saying, it’s about the work and the impact the work is having. And so it’s helpful for people around you to know if that work is impactful or not, if that’s something that they might be able to learn from for their own work, if that information might influence decisions that are coming up for those people. Also, it’s a little bit of an act of empathy for your management team because if you think about how difficult it can be for you to sit down and think about every one of your accomplishments or the projects you’ve finished and the successes you’ve had over the last 12 months, imagine your people manager who might be managing four to 12 people on average. And so do you think that they just know off the top of their head the nuances of every single project? And even really great managers, they might not know those details, they’re not on the receiving end of those feedback notes, or maybe they’re not drilling into those results in the same level of detail.

So also you’re making it easier for people in decision making positions in your group to understand here’s why this was valuable and here’s some of the buttons that this pushed. Like if we’re looking at user adoption or we’re looking at automation, whatever those goals are, it’s really very helpful to have that information supplied to you in a tangible way. And so it’s not about you, it’s nice to your management, they’ll be happy for it usually to have this summarized, and then it can help your peers. So I think that was a big thing. That was a mindset shift for me as well where I was like, “Oh, if we learned lessons along the way on this project and then we made these decisions to handle a project a certain way and it turned out well, we got positive feedback from it, I want to share that with my peers because they might be facing similar challenges or similar decisions and maybe that will help them determine what path to take and maybe I can save them a little bit of time or they can make more informed decisions.

For example, if you’re on a team with multiple admins and you’re getting all this really positive feedback and positive results from automating a particular part of your business or your business process, that’s really important to share because there might be other groups, like you might have peer groups that are doing their work prioritization and they might say, “Oh, well we’re getting so much positive feedback from automating stage five of this business process, maybe we should automate stage two as well because we see that there’s a lot of momentum here.” So I think there’s a lot of reasons, but I think if you’re sharing things in a way that are useful and genuine, I don’t think people will look at you as, oh, you’re bragging too much.

We call it a brag book a little bit jokingly. I think that that’s really the tone of most workplaces now is you have to amplify your accomplishments. I think particularly if it’s uncomfortable to do so, because probably if it’s uncomfortable, it means you really need to do it. Because it probably means you don’t naturally organically do it in the course of your work as much as maybe someone who is really, really comfortable amplifying themselves. And so if I could draw a little chart for you, there’s probably an inverse relationship there of the more uncomfortable you are with it, means probably the more pressing this is for your career growth.

Gillian Bruce: 100%. And one thing that you said about helping, getting the feedback and sharing it with your peer groups to help them work better, it’s also a way to shine light on others too, right? Because it’s empathetic for your manager, it helps them understand all the great work you’re doing, the impact you’re having, but it’s also a way to propel the work that other people you’re working with are doing. Nobody works in a silo, so even if you’re the only admin in your organization, you guarantee have partners. Maybe you got a super user who’s just fantastic at helping you QA stuff. Maybe you’ve got an IT partner who is just always helping you figure out new ways to take advantage of different technologies or whatever. I mean, you’ve got partners that you work with, and so when you capture the story of a success, clearly it’s work you did, but it’s work that you did as a team.

And so it shines light on other people that maybe aren’t used to capturing their work in that way either or aren’t used to getting that light. So it’s a really important thing to do. And I think, God, even as we’re talking about this, I’m like, “Shoot, there are four things that I have not put in my own bag that are really important stories that I need to share,” because to me it’s always been about the impact. That’s the biggest value that I’ve always had no matter what job I’ve done. Thankfully, my role here at Salesforce, I’ve been able to really feel like I am making an impact.

But when I tell the stories of the work that we’ve been doing and stuff that we’ve done together, LeeAnne, or the stuff that we’ve done as a broader team, focusing on the impact is really important, and that shining the light on others. And I think especially in a role as an admin, you have to demonstrate your impact. That is how you’re going to get more resources, that’s how you’re going to get more support. That’s how you’re going to get more people bought into the solution that you’re selling, because I guess you’re selling it, right? You’re selling it internally, but it’s a really important thing to do. And I want people to share little pieces of their brag books. I want little tweets to-

LeeAnne Rimel: I want everyone to brag online about what they’re doing. No, I think that’s such an important part is it’s not just about you and it’s about amplifying others too. I’ll say as someone who wasn’t initially comfortable and had to learn to do this, definitely one of the on ramps. And one of, to this day, my very favorite Slack posts are the ones where I get to go through and itemize all the great contributions that happened on a project and all of the people who were involved with it and what their contributions were. And so I think definitely building that bragging habit, it’s not just about you, it’s also being able to, like you said, shine a light on others and also be good to work with. I think there’s a piece too. A lot of people aren’t amplified enough at work and maybe don’t get as much visibility for projects that they’re working on.

I recently had a really wonderful opportunity to work with a team in the process of building the admin keynote that isn’t normally involved with events and isn’t normally involved with some of these projects that are on the event keynote visibility space where there is a lot of sharing and talking about those projects. And they really stepped up and they were just integral partners for a key component of that keynote. And they turned something around in a really amazing way in three days or something bananas. And it really warmed my heart to be able to do a special call out and special amplification of that team and the work that they had done when we were doing our wrap up thank yous and talking about the work different teams had contributed to Dreamforce. And I think that that’s so important, and it’s honestly the best part of working with peer groups, with internal partners.

It’s, I think, one of my favorite parts is when you get to work with people on something that’s maybe a new collaboration or a new project and really thank them for their work. When I was an admin, one of the things I would do is host a lot of lunch and learns and user adoption. I was trying to get everybody to use Salesforce, and so I was like, “Okay, we got to use Salesforce,” This is 14 years ago. I’m like, “How can I get you to use Salesforce?” And we would do these lunch and learns and I started doing special little awards for the people who asked the most questions or would show how they were using it and just participate a lot. And I think I had a lunch gift card, my budget was $30. I had no budget for anything, but I would give them a little lunch thing, they’d win a lunch.

And I don’t think they really cared about winning the lunch, it was the amplification of the project or the amplification of their participation. And it made other people want to participate. And I would highlight people when I would talk to our senior leadership and share with them the status of our Salesforce adoption programming that we had been working on. And it also made it better to work with us. It made more people want to participate in that. And I think you can’t overstate how much recognition can do to help just build a positive workplace environment and make people want to participate with your projects.

Gillian Bruce: 100%, that’s the other piece of this, is what are the results of building the brag book and sharing it is that people are going to want to work with you. People are going to trust you, people are going to want to be associated with stuff that you’re working on because you are projecting that you are successful and that you are collaborative. And I think that’s a really, really important element as well. So all in all, create a brag book.

LeeAnne Rimel: And I know we’re coming off on time, but I want to share one last piece because you mentioned something really important about that confidence and that mindset. And I think it’s about how building a brag book and building this habit and this muscle of how do I amplify my work and how do I document and then amplify my work? is so important for our career growth. It’s important for how our peers work with us and view us and view working with us, but it’s also really important for how we view ourselves. So I’m a big proponent, I very much believe in some of these science based tools for how you can influence your mindset. And one of the ways positive thinking truly does make a difference, I think it does impact how you show up every day. And there’s many, many blogs and many, many podcasts and books on this topic.

But one of the areas that I think a brag book factors into it is really focusing on positive things like focusing on wins and areas that you’ve been successful, focusing on things that you feel like you did well. And I think building that muscle of not only logging them, like putting them into your slack channel, putting them into your document, but also having that to revisit. So I think if you are in a space where you have been creating this muscle of, okay, I’m going to track my wins, my accomplishments for myself, you don’t have to keep it closed until it’s time to do a performance review or project review. You can open that. Maybe you’re looking down the runway at a project that’s a little intimidating, or maybe you’re going to try something that’s really brand new to you. Maybe you’re going to try a new project or start a new job or start taking on more responsibility, there is actual science that supports that if you sit down and you take time to reflect on those wins and on those times where you were in maybe a difficult project, a new project, a thing that was scary or new different, and you had these positive outcomes from it.

And there’s always going to be things, there’s always going to be lessons we learn. Of course, nothing is 100% perfect. We all should walk away from every project with our accomplishments and also the things that we learned for next time. But if you can take that time to sit and really focus on and reflect on those wins, those accomplishments, it really does help you build that positive mindset, which is very, very powerful. So, that positive self-talk, which many people, there’s always that struggle between negative self-talk and positive self talk, so it’s looking at, here’s tangible evidence that I’m good at what I do. I did this thing that was scary and new and I did a good job and it impacted people positively and look at all this evidence.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you got to be your own hype person sometimes, right? It’s a good natural way to get that little boost of confidence and that yes, you can do this, you can do this. And I know we have talked on the podcast and in the admin community for many years about the idea of imposter syndrome and really owning your skills and your abilities and going for things that you typically wouldn’t. Building a brag book, to your point, LeeAnne is a great way, it’s an asset in that it helps you overcome some of that and deal with those feelings a little bit better.

LeeAnne Rimel: It is evidence that you’re good at your job. It is documentation and evidence and quantitative and qualitative real feedback that you did a thing that was… Many of us are often doing new things at work. So maybe it was a new thing, maybe it was a thing you’ve been working on for a while. You did a thing and there was positive outcomes from it and you did a good job.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I love that. Well, I’m sure we could actually probably keep talking about this for hours, I think we have actually talked about this for hours in the past, you and I LeeAnne, but I think we shared some really good stuff today. The idea’s a brag book and then what were your three elements that help you overcome, get used to building the brag book muscle? It was what? Pop quiz, end of the podcast.

LeeAnne Rimel: I came up with it in the moment. I think one is, it’s not about you. So de-center yourself from thinking about what it means to document accomplishments of the work you’ve been doing, which sounds weird, but it works.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Focus on the impact.

LeeAnne Rimel: Focus on the impact, yeah. And then the second is it’s very helpful to your leadership team. It’s something that your leadership probably needs you to do and wants you to do, whether or not they know to have asked you. Oh, and if there’s any people leaders listening, tell your people to make a brag book. And then three is it’s a chance to help your peers, your colleagues, because you’re sharing things that worked and you’re sharing maybe things that you all figured out on a project or things that had a significant positive impact. So it can maybe help people that you work without if they’re trying to make a decision.

Gillian Bruce: And then people are going to want to play with you. They’re going to want to work on stuff with you, so it’s all good. Awesome. Well, leeAnne, thank you so much for joining us today on the podcast. I really appreciate you sharing, you bragging about your brag book skills.

LeeAnne Rimel: [inaudible].

Gillian Bruce: Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

LeeAnne Rimel: Thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce: All thanks as always to LeeAnne for joining us on the podcast. I could talk to her forever. In fact, I do on a daily basis, if you couldn’t tell. Really great discussion about how to create your own brag book. Hopefully you heard some things that help inspire you to capture your successes and the impact that you’re having in the work that you do. And if you need any help with that, feel free to reach out to myself or LeeAnne, we will gladly help coach you on how to do that better. But I wanted to take a moment and make a shout out. Thank you to Mark Jones on Twitter who actually commented on LeeAnne’s original thread about this saying, “Hey, this sounds like it’d make a good podcast. What do you think?” Well, thank you, Mark. We just made a podcast. I hope you like it.

As always, if you want to learn anything else about being an awesome admin, you can visit my favorite website, admin.salesforce.com, where you can find blogs, you can find product pages, you can find more videos, and of course, other podcasts. You can join the fun on Twitter using #awesomeadmin and follow us @SalesforceAdmns. You can find LeeAnne on Twitter @leeanndroid. You can find myself @gilliankbruce, and you can find my co-host, Mike Gerholdt @MikeGerholdt. Hope you have a fantastic rest of your day, rest of your evening, rest of your morning, whenever you’re listening to this, and I will catch you next time in the Cloud.

Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play, Sound Cloud and Spotify!

Growing Your Admin Role with Stuart Mills

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Stuart Mills, VP Trailhead EMEA and Ecosystems at Salesforce. Join us as we talk about why admins are so important, future roles and career paths, as well as the best way to keep learning. You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few […]

READ MORE
Lissa Smith Podcast badge

Hiring an Admin with Lissa Smith

On today’s Salesforce Admins Podcast episode, we talk with Lissa Smith, Senior Manager of Business Architecture at Salesforce. We learn about how she hired a team of Salesforce Admins, what she looks for in the interview process, and important advice for anyone hiring a Salesforce Administrator. Join us to learn about how to stand out […]

READ MORE

Translating Your Admin Skills with Ashley Sisti

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down with Ashley Sisti, Sr. Manager of Business Strategy and Operations at Salesforce. Join us as we talk about translating your admin skills, career progression, and having honest conversations with your manager about your skillset. You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few […]

READ MORE

Have an Idea for a Story?

We are all about the community and sharing ideas.
Do you have an interesting idea or useful tip that you want to share?

SHARE YOUR IDEA