January Monthly Retro with J. and Ella

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This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, it’s time for a monthly retro with myself and Ella Marks from the Admin Relations team. In this episode, we’ll cover all the great Salesforce product, community, and career content from January, and find out why it’s Ella’s favorite month.

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

Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins, now on Trailhead

New on Trailhead: Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins. That’s right, the webinar/Trailhead Live/presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. Head on over and become one of the first admins to get the new Essential Habits Trailhead Badge!

Podcast highlights from January

The podcast that stood out this month to Ella was my episode with Stephan Chandler-Garcia on working with developers and the power of being brave enough to say “I don’t know.” For me, Mike’s episode with Lissa Smith about what folks are looking for when they’re hiring a new admin was particularly helpful.

Blog highlights from January

Ella wanted to highlight Mike’s post about our new Trailhead Badge: Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins. This post has the whole story of what’s new and why we’re so excited about it. The Admin Evangelist team put a lot of work into this content and we don’t want you to miss out! Ella also brought up Claudia Robinson’s roundup of low-code tools that can help you this year. And of course, Jennifer Lee’s release notes are always a highlight for the community, especially now that she’s on the team.

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Full show transcript

J.: 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 Ella about where we are in the multiverse, seeing the new year with fresh eyes, and our favorite January content. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news. Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the Essential Habits for Admin Success. That’s right, the webinar slash Trailhead live slash presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes, so after this episode, head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new essential habits Trailhead badge. Now let’s get Ella on the pod.

J.: Hello awesome admins across the entire multiverse. I am talking to you here from the Berenstain Bears timeline. And I am joined by Ella for our January retrospective on the content that we have produced for you. We’re really excited to talk about some of the things that we think were particularly beneficial, or useful, or exciting. Ella, could you please introduce yourself to our wonderful listeners?

Ella Marks: I would love to. Hi everyone. I’m Ella Marks. I am a marketing manager on the Admin Relations team. You may have heard me on this podcast before or seen me on Release Readiness Live, or as a co-presenter with J. on our New Essential Habits Trailhead badge. So super happy to be here and chat a little bit about January, which is my favorite month of the year.

J.: Oh, goodness. So this is interesting, first, hi, I’m J.. If you don’t know me already, now you do know me, and we can … Well, I guess my title is Lead Admin Evangelist. I am on a team with Ella, and we are here to talk about great content. But I want to go back to this idea of a favorite month. I don’t know if I … Favorite month. Why is January your favorite month?

Ella Marks: I really like the wintertime. I don’t know, this could be an unpopular opinion. But I really like winter, I love snow, I love skiing, I love being outside in the winter, so that contributes. But I like what January stands for, like new beginnings, new year, the start of something new. I didn’t always feel that way, but I think recently I have just kind of come around to this idea of feeling a lot of joy about new opportunities, and that’s kind of what January represents to me. New year’s resolutions aren’t something that I really relate to, but the idea of being open to new things and new experiences in a new year is something that I get really excited about, and I’ve been thinking a lot about, especially this month.

J.: I am super glad that I asked that question because the answer, I thought you were going to be like, “I like snow.” But your answer was so robust, and I think valuable, good that we got that answer. On that note of trying new things and being open to new opportunities or new information as it may arise, and kind of looking at the world maybe with a fresher set of eyes, or our learner’s mindset, as we talk a lot in the admin community as one of our really important skills, I think it’s a great time for us to look at some of this content that we’ve got and kind of share with our community why we have highlighted it. So Ella, I’m going to put you on the spot. I think we each have two or three pieces of content that we think were particularly compelling. Why don’t you start us off and talk about the first piece of content that you really enjoyed over the month of January?

Ella Marks: Yeah. I’d love to. I think the first piece of content that I really enjoyed from this past month, just going on the learner’s mindset track, was the podcast that you did with Stefan, who’s a developer evangelist. And you really had this conversation about being a developer and how you can navigate that world where a lot of different roles really overlap. And what I really enjoyed about this podcast was there’s a section when you’re talking about the importance of learning, and also the importance of saying, “I don’t know,” and how powerful that question can be. I think it’s something that I try to be … I try to say those words as much as I can, but I think it’s so powerful to really have that desire to learn and extend your knowledge, but also be willing to say, “I don’t know,” when you don’t know something because it’s so valuable to, I don’t know, have that self-awareness and maintain trust with the people that you’re speaking to.

Ella Marks: And you all really go into that in this, and that was one of the moments that really, really stuck out to me. And even in all of our podcasts on our website, you can take a look at the transcript. And it’s something that I’ve kept going back to over the past couple of days, just to kind of remind myself the importance of saying, “I don’t know. Let me go find someone to talk to, find someone to ask,” and use that as an opportunity to learn and pick up new things, or new skills even.

J.: Well, I am super appreciative that was something that you enjoyed. My conversation with Stefan was really awesome. I think for those of you that are listening, it’s important to know that the way that I kind of approach the conversations with guests on the podcast, there is a general … There’s a little bit of preparation in terms of a broad topic that we may want to cover, but I really try and stay away from preparing a guest with any kind of questions or particular, specific bullet points that we want to discuss, especially because I think that the nuggets that Ella has just talked about, they start to arise the less that I plan things. Sometimes I can over plan, just like I asked you what your favorite month was, Ella, and you were like, “January, and by the way, here’s this wisdom.” I find that many people have that kind of same approach if you put a microphone in front of them and you ask them a question about something they care about.

J.: So I’m very happy that worked for you, and hopefully it’ll work for some of our other listeners out there as well. I want to piggyback on the idea of a good pod to listen to. On January 6th, we had a really great pod come out about hiring an admin with Lissa Smith. Mike was the host on that pod. And I think it is really important to take a look at how admins are hired, what hiring managers are looking for, or how they identify talent, what they really care about, what they think is less important, and having a frank conversation with a person who’s hired a team of Salesforce admins in the past, and how she handled the interview process, I think that’s particularly relevant.

J.: And I feel as though in the 10 years that I’ve been on the Salesforce platform doing work, I feel like that’s always been true. It’s always really relevant to hear how people are being hired, what is valuable for them. And that’s because we’re always evolving. We’re always changing. We have this platform that keeps getting larger. There are always new features being added to it. There are more and more folks that are getting jobs, and so keeping our fingers on the pulse of who’s being hired. Why are they being hired? And what are hiring managers looking for? I think that conversation remains really relevant to admins, whether they’re just entering the space or if they’ve been in the space like I have, for a decade. So do check that out, you can find that on the website. We’ll also put a link with the blog post that goes along with the pod. But again, that’s hiring an admin with Lissa Smith. So we’ve each got one item that we have contributed here. Ella, what is item number two?

Ella Marks: Okay, item number two, and this is a tough one because there’s been so much great content in January. But the second thing I’d probably highlight from this past month is a pretty recent one, so January 19th, we published, or Mike I should say, published a blog, Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins, is now a Trailhead badge. And that is a blog, an announcement, a video, a module, a trail mix, there is a lot going on here. And I picked this one because if you dive into this post, you’ll read about how Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins is something that has been around in the Salesforce community for 11 years. It’s a middle schooler. And just this year, we have refreshed that content and it now lives on Trailhead, which is something that we are so, so excited about.

Ella Marks: And it’s not just a module. We have a whole trail mix of items that you can complete, including resources to really learn more about the habits that you can use to grow your admin career, and really understand how to structure your week best for your role as an awesome admin. So there’s a really great video too, that Mike recorded all about the personal success habits. So personal success is really the foundation for a lot of the things that you’re going to do in your role as an admin. And I love that we are able to include that angle. And I think it’s a great read for a blog post, and definitely would encourage folks to get out there and complete that badge, complete that trail mix, watch the video. And there’s even a fun quest component if you complete the trail mix, so definitely encourage everyone to go check that out.

J.: I have to confess that this is also my second pick for the month. And it may be because you and I worked a whole heck of a lot together on this. Mike worked a whole heck of a lot together with us on this. And of course, a huge group of people on the Trailhead team as well, making the transition from kind of that Trailhead live format into our Trailhead format. It was a big change, and we really did try and go from the ground up and look at the content and see where it was relevant, where maybe it was a little bit less relevant. And I think there were two things particularly that I enjoy about this current iteration of Essential Habits as it exists on Trailhead now. I think first, we’ve taken a slightly different approach to the resources that are listed on each of the modules, which I really enjoy.

J.: So normally when I go to Trailhead, I’ll see a list of resources at the end of the module that I’m completing or the badge that I’m completing. I’ll start to click into it. And I’ll kind of repeat that process as I’m trying to explore and understand more. But in these modules, we’ve actually called out specifically what you would expect to get out of each resource. Right? So here’s a resource, and click this resource if you are interested in learning more about a particular product, for example, or a particular feature. I think that context really provides a lot of value for admins who are trying to determine whether or not it’s worth it to go into a resource. And I’m a big fan of only using the resources that you need. Right?

J.: When I pick up a book, I very rarely need to read the entire book. I need to pick up the pieces of the book that are relevant to me, and I like having the option to pick and to choose. I think the second piece of the Essential Habits as it exists on Trailhead now that I was really fond of, and am really fond of, is how we focus on structuring time. We talk tons here in the evangelism team about how you can use products, how you can come up with solutions. But we don’t often talk about: How do you run that in your life? And it can be particularly overwhelming for admins who are either just entering the space, or are overwhelmed with the number of requests that they get from the business.

J.: So taking some time to kind of focus on how we calendar, and how we structure a week, and how there’s a flow to a week, I think is really powerful and can unlock a lot of productivity. Even if folks are adapting it and modifying it to their own end, I think looking at an example of how a week can be structured as an admin can provide a lot of value to kind of enhance your productivity and decrease the amount of churn or wheels spinning that can often happen when we’re trying to manage many request, we have many other duties that we have to deal with. So Ella and I obviously have a reason for enjoying that piece of content.

Ella Marks: We’re not biased at all.

J.: We are definitely biased, but I think it’s great for new admins to better understand how the habits work. And I think it’s great for long time admins to just revisit it and see if there’s any value in how a week is structured. And frankly, I think that it’s valuable for developers as well, to kind of take a look at how admins may structure a week, and how they can better interact with their admin counterparts. So great, we have tied on our second piece of content, the new Essential Habits Trailhead badge. What is your third piece of content, if you have a third, Ella?

Ella Marks: The third piece of content that stood out for me from this past month was the blog post from January 3rd, Nine Low Code Tools to Help You Grow in 2022. And that was written by one of our amazing product marketing managers on the automation and low code team. And she really covers some of the top highlights that we’ve seen with these low code automation tools in the last year. And what I love about this is there are so many things in every Salesforce release. We know that there’s the release notes. We have our Learn More campaign, where with highlight some of those highlights from each release. But I loved seeing kind of a summary on this particular topic of what’s new from this year, kind of a little bit of a refresh, and then getting excited for some of the new things that we’ll be seeing in the next year.

Ella Marks: And she gave some examples around Salesforce apps and workflows in Slack, automation, artificial intelligence, app development. And I think it’s really exciting to see those sneak peeks. And I love kind of refreshing and setting the context of what happened last year, to see where that innovation takes us through this next year.

J.: I love that. I think I have kind of a synergistic, to use a banned word from the ’80s in business, I think I have a synergistic choice for my number three. So everyone in the community is probably familiar with Jenwlee’s wonderful release notes highlights. They’ve been a staple in the community for a long time. And as you know, Jen has joined our team. She’s my fabulous teammate, and I really love her Top Spring ’22 Release Features. It’s great that we’ve been able to kind of continue that conversation that she’s been having with the community on our official channels. So if you’re looking for one of the best sources to see what you should be excited about in spring ’22, do check out Jen’s Top Spring ’22 Release Features.

J.: I don’t want to go into any of the details there. She does a great job of outlining what you should be paying attention to and why, so do check that blog post out. It dropped on January 18th, and I think you’ll find that there’s a whole lot to be excited about. So that concludes six pieces of content that all of you can hop out and start to read, watch, listen to, whatever you prefer based on the media type you’re consuming. But I wanted to ask one question, Ella, particularly as you saw Essential Habits drop, and I know that you’re really dialed into the reaction from the community. Is there anything that you’re seeing on social that is top of mind for admins, or that you’re particularly compelled by in seeing admins say or do? Social is obviously our primary way of interacting with folks in the community right now in lieu of in person or physical events. But I was just curious if you saw any ideas, or questions that were trending in January that you thought were interesting or compelling.

Ella Marks: Yeah. That’s a great question. I’ll have to think if there are any specific posts that come to mind. But as far as a topic that I feel like I’ve been seeing in the last month or so, I think that importance of learning, we’ve talked about learning a lot in this 15, 20 minute podcast episode, but I think part of the reason for that is we know how important it is. I think I’ve seen a bunch of folks either sharing new resources, whether it’s a badge, a blog post, something that’s exciting or interesting to them, and really creating that space for others to learn as well, so kind of continuing.

Ella Marks: And this is something our community has done for such a long time, but just I love going on social or in the trailblazer community and seeing folks really share their knowledge with others and create spaces for conversations where there’s a lot of learning. And so that’s probably the thing that I’ve been the most dialed into. As someone who’s constantly trying to improve my Salesforce skills, my marketing skills, those conversations about learning really stand out to me.

J.: It does really seem like there are a large number of folks who take the first couple of weeks of January to sit down and say to themselves, “What does this year look like for me as a technology professional and as a Salesforce admin? And what are the things that I want to focus on to continue to enhance those skills, and to continue to develop relationships in the community?” I’m seeing a lot of those same conversations that you’re calling out, Ella. I’m seeing people decide whether or not they’re comfortable going to in person experiences, and maybe talking about booking their travel, and kind of highlighting sessions that they’re particularly excited about. And I’m also seeing people kind of publicly making the statement that they will get certification X, or they want to get number of badges Y, and it’s really exciting to see those kind of public conversations.

J.: I know for myself, when I publicly claim a goal, I find myself in a place where I tend to … I don’t want to disappoint the people that I’ve announced it to, so I hold myself a little bit more accountable than I might otherwise. That may or may not be the truth for you, dear listener. But check out social and look at how other people are trying to kind of structure their year and what they’re trying to bring into their lives in a positive way. And where you can, uplift and support, smash that like button, retweet those things that look so cool. Yeah, I think that probably is a good retro of January. Do you feel good about where we’re sitting here, Ella?

Ella Marks: I feel great. We retro’d the heck out of that retro.

J.: Yeah. The only thing that we’re missing is some classic rock or an Atari video game.

Ella Marks: Ooh, I like that.

J.: That would be very retro.

Ella Marks: Could be new enhancement for the next year.

J.: Well, thank you very much, Ella, for joining us. And hey, admins, get cracking on those resources. We’ll see you soon. Thank you so much for joining us. If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this episode, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are at @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. J. is at @J__mdt. And Ella is at @Marks_Ella. Stay safe. Stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

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