Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Trailblazers Karmel James, Senior Associate at Dupont Circle Solutions, and Andrew Russo, Salesforce Architect at BACA Systems. Join us as we chat about their experiences appearing on “How I Solved It” for Salesforce+.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Karmel James and Andrew Russo.

“How I Solved It” on Salesforce+

We’ve taken some greatest hits from the “How I Solved It” series on Youtube, hosted by Jennifer Lee, and spruced it up for Salesforce+. We have five episodes featuring real Salesforce admins explaining how they solved some big business problems in innovative ways. Be sure to tune in on Salesforce+ and don’t miss out.

Andrew Russo’s super app

We’ve already had Andrew on the pod, and his story was so cool that we thought it would be worth devoting a “How I Solved It” episode to highlight how his user management super app works. Users can create a case, make a user story to request new features, and communicate with the admin team, all in Salesforce.

Even cooler, at the end of the whole process, Andrew can track how much time his team has spent on a case versus how much time the solution they developed has saved the business. All of this is laid out in a way that you can learn from to implement in your org, and there’s a blog post to help document what’s covered. “Now with How I Solved It,” Andrew says, “each one of the episodes has been actual stuff that you can go implement to bring and deliver value to your company.”

How Karmel James automated a marketing problem

“As a marketing champion, I really wanted to showcase the fact that marketers also have issues in Salesforce,” Karmel says. Her solution shows how you can use Salesforce to automate what happens around someone unsubscribing from a mailing list. You want to know what they’re unsubscribing from, maybe make sure that information gets to someone else on their team, and you may even want to set up a call with the customer to make sure there’s still follow through.

In order to go about solving this problem, Karmel uses Flow, cases, task records, and Groups to send out notifications, showing how these Salesforce tools can combine like Voltron. Karmel and company have been having a blast hosting watch parties for each new episode—keep an eye out on social for a link to the final episode’s watch party. 

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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 we are going to talk about one of the most fun projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on this year. The How I Solved It series that we just premiered on Salesforce+ a few weeks ago. Now, I hope that a lot of you are already familiar with How I Solved It. It’s an amazing YouTube series that Jennifer Lee has been hosting on YouTube for the last almost year of real-life admins showing how they solve problems in Salesforce. Showing you their demos, diving into the org and what we did is we kind of spruced it up a bit, shined it up and created five episodes specifically for Salesforce+. Which is our streaming service at Salesforce, and created a mini-series basically of the How I Solved It specifically for Salesforce+ and featuring some incredible trailblazers and we solve all kinds of different problems. We also focus on skills from the Salesforce Admins Skills Kit.

So I wanted to get a couple of the guests that we featured in those episodes to talk a little bit more about what they did in the episode. What it was like to be part of that experience and then kind of what next? If you haven’t watched any of those episodes, I want you to pause this podcast right now. I want you to go to Salesforce+, and I want you to click on How I Solved It series and you will see the amazing Andrew Russo, Karmel James, Tony Nguyen, Madeleine Coutanceau and Sarah Pilzer solving real-life business problems and showing you how they did it using Salesforce. So without further ado let’s welcome our first guest onto the podcast Andrew Russo. Andrew, welcome back to the podcast.

Andrew Russo: Thanks for having me back.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I had you back because we’re going to talk about something pretty fun that you and I got to work on together and that is How I Solved It on Salesforce+. Andrew, talk to me a little bit about what we did in your episode.

Andrew Russo: Yeah. So in my episode, actually we did it based on what we have in our production environment for the company I work for and we’re able to track the time spent on cases. So we actually are able to have the users submit cases through a flow for their internal request. Whether it’s adding a field, help with a report, anything like that they can submit it through a case. We get the case, we’re able to work on it. When they want a new feature like a field getting added, we’re able to send an email or a message right back on the case to them and they can actually then go fill out and create a user story right inside of Salesforce. It gives them the training of, hey what a user story is and all of that kind of stuff right in Salesforce so they don’t have to actually leave where they’re working. Then once they’re able to do that, we can actually go and track the process of the actual case.

So we can track the time it spends in each status, we know exactly where every request is and we can go back and understand why we made decisions we did in the future. So it’s really all around how to manage user requests and user management of Salesforce itself.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. Well, yeah clearly I liked it because I was like, “Hey, let’s feature it in How I Solved It.” So let’s talk a little bit, get a little kind of behind the scenes info here to our listeners. Andrew, what was it like being part of filming How I solved It for Salesforce+?

Andrew Russo: Honestly, it was kind of a crazy thing. So it was like, “Hey, can you do it?” And I was like, “Yeah. Why not? Let’s do it it sounds fun.” But overall, it really wasn’t a crazy ask do because it’s not like I made up some giant process to just go do and I spent hours building it. I took it from production environment, packaged it, put it into a demo org and then I just had to create some test data. Because I can’t show our company’s data obviously to the world, so put some test data in and that was it. So from the standpoint of building out it really wasn’t bad, it’s not like it was some crazy made up scenario. The flows were straight out of our production environment and honestly it was a lot of fun to get to share it, and there was a lot of people. I kept seeing the same question come up of, “How do we manage user stuff? Do we use an email?”

And I was like, “Wait for it. There’s going to be something coming out in a couple months. You’re going to see some awesome stuff, it’s going to be great.” And I shared it back to the people and they’re like, “That’s exactly what we wanted.” So they ended up going and building it in their org.

Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome. Well, see I love that. See, that’s the thing about How I Solved It Andrew, right? Is we’re taking actual things that you and other people have done and then sharing that with everyone to help everybody else figure out, “Hey, maybe there’s something in there that I can replicate or I can use or an idea I can apply.” So, that’s awesome. Now, I know you say it wasn’t that bad but I know we asked a lot of you in terms of filming and the process and all that. Were there any moments that surprised you during that whole process?

Andrew Russo: Yeah. Originally it was like, “Okay, well there’ll be people filming and stuff.” And I was like, “Okay, this’ll be…” And then when they show up at your door at work, and people are all… I just booked a conference room and I was like, “Okay, we’re going to film this. It’ll be easy.” They show up with multiple carts rolling in with camera equipment, lighting stuff and it’s like, “Okay, this is not just someone brings a better camera than a webcam and shows up.” It was production quality filming of it which was kind of cool but also not what I exactly expected with it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. We had a whole film crew coming in and film you, so that was good. I remember also there were some really funny moments while we were filming that didn’t make it into the episode, but I think we’re going to have a blooper reel coming out at some point. Do you remember what I’m talking about?

Andrew Russo: Yeah. For a second I’m like what is she talking… And then yeah, we had window washers, we had the pest control people show up behind us in the window. I don’t know if stuff like that happened with anyone else when they were filming this stuff. But it was just one after the next thing that happened in the background, it was just like, “Don’t look at it. Just keep looking at the camera.”

Gillian Bruce: This is what happens when you film something live, you just never know what’s going to be happening around you. I also remember that you had a little fun with the spinny chair.

Andrew Russo: Oh, we love spinny chairs.

Gillian Bruce: Yes. When we’re filming things we like you not to spin around in a chair. So anyone who’s about to film something don’t sit in a spinny chair because you’re going to want to spin.

Andrew Russo: Yeah. But then at the end the spinny chair made it back for the promo stuff. We brought the spinny chair back.

Gillian Bruce: It’s good for gifts. Yeah.

Andrew Russo: Having a chair that you can’t move in, they’re very important I’ve learned.

Gillian Bruce: Good for gifts. So Andrew, I also wanted to talk to you because this is a series that we launched a few weeks ago. With this week, we actually had Tony’s episode go live and we’ve got one more episode coming next week. But I would love for you to talk to me a little bit about these amazing watch parties. So your episode was first, talk to me about how you all decided to put together a watch party for the premiere.

Andrew Russo: So to be completely honest I wasn’t planning on watching mine, I was actually just not going to watch it. Multiple people said like, okay we need to watch part of your stuff up to the day before on the Tuesday. It was like, okay well you need to watch it and I was adamantly not going to watch mine. Because I was like no, and then on Wednesday morning Tony was like, “You need a watch party.” So I was like, you know what? Okay we’re doing it. So I think this started at 8:00 AM where we’re doing a watch party and then from that point to when it went live I think we did the watch party at 3:00 PM in the afternoon. We ended up somehow 30 people I think showed up for the first one, which was kind of crazy to get 30 people in a matter of four hours signed up and going to show up to the watch party.

So we just kind of ran with it and then it was just crazy. Honestly, it was a bunch of fun though watching it and seeing what was there and I’m actually planning on going back to re-watch mine. Because I started to realize I didn’t notice… I’ve noticed in everyone else’s there’s all the cool sound effects stuff. I didn’t even notice that in mine when I was watching it, but I’m thinking that they were probably there unless mine was [inaudible]. So I got to go back and watch it to look for all the small details that I wasn’t paying attention to.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, it’s a lot to take in seeing yourself on the screen and then also, oh right there’s all these other things. So yes, you should totally rewatch it. Well, that’s awesome. I mean, Andrew seriously thank you for being a part of How I Solved It. Now, if you were to explain How I Solved It to somebody who hasn’t seen it yet what would you say?

Andrew Russo: It’s like the first technical show. So if you go on Salesforce+ there’s a lot of kind storytelling, people’s pass up. What there isn’t right now before this going back two months ago, it wasn’t technical stuff. Stuff that you could watch and then go do in your org, bring back value to your company, it wasn’t there before. But now with How I Solved It, each one of the episodes we’ve seen so far including Tony’s this week has been actual stuff that you can go implement and bring value and deliver value to the company which is kind of amazing. So it’s really the start I think of something and I’m hopeful that there’s going to be more How I Solved It on Salesforce+ in the future to really bring that hands on. Okay, I can watch it. Okay, there’s a blog that’s also there showing kind of still image of hey here’s what was in there and you can go build it out and then be creative with it. Because with flows and everything, pretty much all of them have had flows other than Tony’s. But a lot of them have flows and you can customize it to fit what you need, you don’t have to take exactly what you see. So it’s kind of a really cool thing to be able to show the world that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, well that’s great. Thank you, I love that glowing endorsement for How I Solved It. We’ll definitely be doing more and also as a reminder for everyone listening, How I Solved It exists on YouTube already. Jen Lee is doing an amazing job hosting How I Solved It for almost the past year and so this really was an adaptation of that for Salesforce+. So check there’s lots more How I Solved It, but yes we’re going to be working on getting more kind of technical how to great content on Salesforce+ soon. So thanks again Andrew so much for participating and for being an awesome first guest on the Salesforce+ version of How I Solved It and hey we got one more watch party to go. Right?

Andrew Russo: We’ve got one more to go and then we’ve got Dreamforce in… I think what is it? Less than 40 days.

Gillian Bruce: It’s 30 something days. Yeah.

Andrew Russo: I’m excited.

Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome.

Andrew Russo: It’s going to be a crazy next month.

Gillian Bruce: It’s Dreamforce season is what they say, right? It’s Salesforce all the things right now.

Andrew Russo: Salesforce as a lifestyle.

Gillian Bruce: There you go. S-A-A-L.

Karmel James: Capital S, capital L, lowercase As, SaaL.

Gillian Bruce: Well with that, Andrew thank you so much. All right. Well, you just heard from Andrew Russo who is one of the amazing trailblazers we featured in the How I Solved It series, where he showed his amazing user management solution. Definitely check it out. But we’ve got another trailblazer who was featured in one of the episodes Karmel James, who is going to join us and talk a little bit more about her specific solution she shared and her experience being part of How I Solved It. So without further ado welcome Karmel back to the podcast. Karmel, welcome back to the podcast.

Karmel James: Thank you, Gillian. I’m so happy to be here for my now second time.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, when we find good amazing guests we like to have them back and Karmel, can you tell us a little bit about your episode and what you showed? What problem did you solve?

Karmel James: Yeah. Well of course Gillian, I solved a data management problem. So as a marketing champion I really wanted to showcase the fact that marketers also have issues in Salesforce and say, what happens when someone unsubscribes to a newsletter? I think it’s really critical that if you’re going to have a Salesforce org that tracks that. You want to know if someone’s unsubscribing from something really key that you actually would like them to get that information and be subscribed and know what’s happening in your org. So we talked about what happens after someone decides to unsubscribe and then go through a whole process where someone else on another team gets that notification. They get to have a call with that customer and then they get to resolve that case because of it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean it was a whole combination of different features that you kind of used to solve that. Can you just give us a highlight of some of the things you used?

Karmel James: Yes. Well, I started with flow because flow is the biggest thing. It’s the new transition and if you haven’t started thinking about it you should absolutely do that. By all means, go watch some of the Automate This episodes and obviously How I Solved It episodes. We’re always talking about flow I think. But I used flow, I used cases to track information, I used task records and I even used groups to send notifications to.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. Yeah, it was a really fun demo. A really great problem that you solved and thank you for being a part of it. Now, Karmel this was the first time you’ve really done a big video thing with us at Salesforce. Let’s pull back the curtain a little bit, give some people some backstage insider intel. What was it like to film this project with me?

Karmel James: Well, it started out as a shock when I learned that I was going to have to let a camera crew into my life and for those who don’t know I’m currently on a nomadic adventure right now. So I don’t have a home and at the time I couldn’t go to my office, it was going to be too noisy. So I actually had to find and rent an office to allow a camera crew to record this. So it was pretty cool because you’re like, okay this is cool, you’re like it’s just maybe a camera and then you watch them bring in all of these boxes and they set up a light and then there’s a teleprompter and you’re like, “No we’re really doing this. Okay, cool. Yeah, no, I can hear you guys. You can hear me. This is awesome. Here’s the mic. Yeah, no, we’re good. Okay.” So as much as I’d like to say it had action and camera, the whole, it was just truly amazing. There’s nothing like it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, you kind of feel like you’re on TV really, right? It’s like a whole nother level. It’s a little different than just looking into the webcam.

Karmel James: Yes, it is a full TV production.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So aside from seeing many, many, many boxes come into this amazing office that you rented. Any part of the process in putting together the content or anything that kind of surprised you?

Karmel James: No. It really felt like I was just being an admin and just having to showcase one of the solutions that I built, right? Getting a dev org to go ahead and build something out, that’s what I do every single day. So it was super easy to say let me build out this flow, let me test it and if you go back and watch my episode my flow says version nine because that’s true. I had to go through multiple versions of testing and making sure that what I was about to show on camera actually worked. So it was super easy to just dive in and be like, cool here you go. Here’s my flow. Here are the records that get created. Here’s the automation that’s going to fire the chatter notification that’s going to come up. It was every day. The only difference was there’s a teleprompter in front of me.

Gillian Bruce: Right. Because we had to fit everything into 10 minutes, so we had to keep it concise and that’s great. I mean, Karmel this is exactly why we had you, we had Andrew, we had Tony, we had Madeline and we have Sarah coming next week. Sneak peek to listeners. Because these are problems that you are already solving, you weren’t making this up specifically for something we had specifically asked you to do. So I think that’s really great and I really appreciate you sharing your expertise with our audience. One other thing I wanted to talk about Karmel and that’s pretty fun. So we have one more episode coming out, as I said sneak peek Sarah Pilzer is going to be featured in next week’s episode. It’s the last of five that we’re featuring on Salesforce+. Our team discovered at Salesforce that you all, the amazing guests who were featured in these episodes were hosting watch parties for the premiere of your new episodes. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Karmel James: Yes. So those watch parties were the culmination of a really great meeting at one of the dreaming events. It’s just Tony and Andrew and I, and we’re having a great time Midwest dreaming and we’re just talking about how we’re all really excited for these episodes to come out, right? We’re jazzed because none of us have seen anything that we’ve done. All we have is our own individual experiences in front of the camera. So Andrew’s like, “Oh my gosh, should we do a watch party?” And we’re like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” So we just were like we can get the community involved in this. We can absolutely just live stream it for ourselves and all watch it together and oh my gosh, having all of these people show up to watch your episode with you is a little scary. Because you’re like, “Oh my God that’s where I fumbled. Oh man, I had to do that four times. If I have to repeat that’s How I Solved It. Oh my God, I’m so afraid. Please don’t make me watch this in front of people.”

Gillian Bruce: But you all did it to yourself.

Karmel James: We did, we absolutely did and now we get Tony’s watch party and Sarah’s watch party it’s just rolling. So it’s just the best time, I don’t even know what to say other than we’re just having fun with it.

Gillian Bruce: Well, what’s so great is I’ve been able to jump in on the watch parties and just seeing how many people from all different parts of the community have been a part of that. So, I mean the watch party that we did for your episode was last week. There was a woman who jumped on who’s like, “Oh, I’m really brand new to the Salesforce ecosystem and this video just totally made sense to me. I don’t know the technology, I don’t know the terms. But to see a real problem getting solved by someone who is realistic to me and I can relate to and then seeing the payoff and really walking through the process in a fun way that’s easy to consume.” So that made me feel really good. Because I mean, this is the work that you all have done so we’re just highlighting it. So yeah, it’s great. So everyone listening if you want to join in on the last watch party, which will be for Sarah Pilzer’s episode coming up on Wednesday.

Check the show notes for deets, because I will definitely put some info there and also follow all of our amazing guests on Twitter because that’s where you’re going to see everything.

Karmel James: Oh yes. Tony right now is telling me I can’t believe that that’s the picture that you used and I’m like but it’s a beautiful picture of you. Yes, we are going to embarrass you as we embarrassed all of ourselves. We did this to ourselves like you said. But I will say those watch parties are absolutely incredible to see the entire community come together and have that exact reaction of I didn’t know that this was possible. Can I come ask you questions? Do you mind if I do that? And I can say for myself and probably for Andrew too we absolutely do not mind if you come ask us questions. That’s why we agreed to be part of this. We are more than happy to help other people in the community, especially if you’re struggling with flow. If you’re struggling to understand a Salesforce concept, we want you to feel supported and we want you to know that there are other people out there who have these same struggles, who know what you’re going through and we are live people. It’s not just a thread on the trailblazer community, we are here. We are real. We are the Steve Mo’s of the world.

Gillian Bruce: Steve Mo will be so happy that he’s been honored in this podcast.

Karmel James: I hope so. Because he has the biggest thread of all of us in the community of just answering every single question.

Gillian Bruce: Well #belikestevemo right?

Karmel James: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Anyway, Karmel seriously thank you so much. You were fabulous in your episode and I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and expertise. Once we did this with you, I know that you also were just part of Automate This, which is another amazing series that Jen Lee does on YouTube. So I’ll put a link in the show notes so people can check out that episode as well and looking forward to all the other great content that you’re going to continue to generate. So thank you.

Karmel James: Oh, thank you Gillian. This has been the most amazing thing and I’m just so honored to be part of the process and I look forward to seeing who the next trailblazer is on more episodes later.

Gillian Bruce: I love it calling out for more trailblazers. All right, thank you so much Karmel.

Karmel James: Thanks Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you to both Andrew and Karmel and all of our guests that we featured on How I Solved It, not just for the Salesforce+ series. But for the YouTube series as well and huge shout out to Jen Lee who is the host of our YouTube version. She also hosts Automate This, which is another amazing actual live YouTube session where you see how admins are solving real problems. If you haven’t watched this series, seriously go to Salesforce+ check out How I Solved It. I want to know what you think as you heard from Andrew and Karmel. If you’ve got questions and you want to ask more about what they showed please reach out to them. They’re super easy to access and I guarantee that our other guests would also be more than happy to answer questions that you have about anything you saw in their episodes. So check out the show notes I’ve got links for everything in there and if you want to join the watch party for the final episode of this five part series that we’re airing on Salesforce+ stay tuned to @salesforceadmns on Twitter.

That’s where we will reshare the watch parties that the community is organizing all on their own and you can join in and be a part of the fun. This is I guess a series finale for Salesforce+, but don’t worry we’re already working on more. So if you want to learn more again about anything you heard about today or about anything that helps you be a more awesome Salesforce admin go to admin.salesforce.com, my favorite website. You can find blogs, you can find videos, you can find product information and if you’re getting ready for a little thing called Dreamforce there’s going to be some information on there too. So thank you so much for joining us today, if you want to find my co-host Mike Holt, you can find him at Mike Holt. If you want to find any of my guests today, Karmel James is @Armejam44 on Twitter and if you want to find Andrew Russo, he is @_andrewrusso. Again, all the links are in the show notes, really appreciate you joining us today.

Check out How I Solved It and if you’ve got an interesting problem that you’ve solved with Salesforce let me know. You can find me @gilliankbruce on Twitter. With that I hope you have an amazing day and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.

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