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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we take the show on the road, live from TrailblazerDX.

Join us as we talk about how we put on events like these, what it’s like to go to a live event for the first time, and tips from a Salesforce expert about why networking is so important.

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

The person behind the Trailblazer magic

First, we caught up with Kavindra Patel, VP, Trailblazer Events & Digital Experiences at Salesforce. In short, he runs the show, putting together TrailblazerDX as well as Trailblazer events at Dreamforce and all the World Tours. If you spot someone at an event sporting a cool ranger hat, come say hi to KP.

An admin’s first time at TDX

Next, Mike bumped into Grace Villier, an admin and sales and marketing specialist at her very first TrailblazerDX. One takeaway she had from the event is to make sure to block out time each week to re-up on her knowledge and keep up with all the content coming out on Trailhead. While she looked at the TDX schedule ahead of time, Grace learned you’ll want to focus in on what will maximize value because these events are always shorter than you think they are going into them.

Tips from a Salesforce expert

The great thing about a live event like TrailblazerDX is that you have a chance to talk to folks with a wide range of experience and backgrounds. I went from talking to a first-time attendee to a seasoned expert when I met up with Lauren Dunne Bolopue, Lead Salesforce Evangelist at DocuSign. She’s super psyched for the upcoming Slack integrations and how that will transform the way we work. She also emphasized just how important the networking you do at events is, and how the people you meet can help you grow and get through roadblocks you might run into along the way.

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Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast. And we are live, here today, at TrailblazerDX. So, I’m going to walk around the event and get some audio snippets, in case the audio’s a little bit different. But I want to kick off our TrailblazerDX special episode with Kavindra Patel or KP, as I know. Kavindra is, kind of, my go-to person for the events. KP, what do you do at Salesforce?

Kavindra Patel: Well, I run Trailblazer events for Salesforce. We do TrailblazerDX. Trailblazer is a Dream Force, as well as, Trailblazers, and all the world tours.

Mike Gerholdt: So, trailblazers are your thing.

Kavindra Patel: They are my thing, and I love trailblazers.

Mike Gerholdt: So, let’s talk about TrailblazerDX. What is an exciting thing that you brought this week, or that you got to plan, or be a part of?

Kavindra Patel: So, the exciting part is bringing the Slack, Tableau, Mulesoft, as well as all the Salesforce developers, Admins and architects, all together under one umbrella. So, they can learn from each other, connect with each other, and take themselves to another level.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. If somebody were to see you at an event, you’re kind of hard to miss. Where did the hat come from?

Kavindra Patel: Yeah, I try to hide myself, but it doesn’t work really. I’ve got my signature hat from the old days of Trailhead, when we really brought Trailhead experience, which is the vibe we have, the fun outdoor vibe, and bringing that into events. And at that time, I bought myself an amazing hat, and you will see me on Twitter all the time, with my hat on. And so, that’s where it came from. And it has a ranger, a pin, because I am a ranger.

Mike Gerholdt: Because you’re a ranger.

Kavindra Patel: Because I earned it. And so, that’s where it comes from. And people find me, and I love talking to the Trailblazers, and just seeing how I can help them.

Mike Gerholdt: So Kavindra, you’re on Twitter, people can see your picture. What’s your Twitter handle?

Kavindra Patel: My Twitter handle is @kavindrapatel.

Mike Gerholdt: Perfect. I’ll put a link in the show notes. So, we’re going to walk the floor and see who else I can run into. Kavindra, thank you for being our first guest.

Kavindra Patel: You’re welcome. Have a nice day, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: All right. So, we just finished up our interview with Kavindra. We found out cool things that are happening at the event, but I am standing here with Grace, who’s a first-time attendee. Grace, can you introduce yourself?

Grace Villier: Yes, my name’s Grace Villier. I work for a Construction Aggregate company, and I am our Sales and Marketing Specialist.

Mike Gerholdt: And Grace, I think this is your first TrailblazerDX.

Grace Villier: It is, yes.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, so tell me what you’re taking notes on, because you’ve been in a ton of sessions.

Grace Villier: So I, like you said, I’ve been in quite a few sessions. I’ve been trying to go to as many Admin sessions that I can go to, as well. Because that is my focus, at my job, is being the best Admin I can be for our users, but I’ve also gone to a couple sessions on the developer side. So, learning more about Apex, just because, as an Admin, we are involved with Flows, and automation. So, I thought the apex could be helpful too. So, trying to get in as many different areas, and sessions, that I can learn about, throughout these couple of days.

Mike Gerholdt: So, you’re on your second day, how many notes pages have you filled?

Grace Villier: I actually counted, and it is up to about eight now.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow, eight.

Grace Villier: They’re all the sessions.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s a lot. That’s a lot. What session stood out to you, as like, “Wow. I had no idea I was going to learn that.”

Grace Villier: I think the Admin Best Practices, because one of the things I learned about, was this podcast. Because I didn’t realize that it had existed before.

Mike Gerholdt: And now you’re on it.

Grace Villier: Exactly. So, I think, little things like that, and learning about best practices, and what you can do on a routine basis, as far as getting feedback from your users. What’s working, what’s not, because I do ride-along’s with our users, every so often. So, just to reinforce that… And it was talked about, coffee hours. So, I think, kind of, combining those because when I do my ride-alongs, it’s a whole day, which is awesome. But also combining that with coffee sessions, and just reaching out to people on a more regular basis, I think could be good too.

Mike Gerholdt: So, how long have you been in Admin?

Grace Villier: So, I started my Salesforce journey, let’s see, January 2020. So, about-

Mike Gerholdt: That whole time period is a little fuzzy for all of us.

Grace Villier: Yes, or excuse me, 21. About a year and a half ago.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, good.

Grace Villier: Excuse me. Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: In the pandemic.

Grace Villier: ’21, yes. Yes, so, and I went through a training program in sales, and then the opportunity, got to be our Project Lead for implementing Salesforce in December 2020, and then actually started with that in January 2021. So, hadn’t seen Salesforce before. And I actually got my Admin certification last October. So I’ve learned a lot, in that period of time.

Mike Gerholdt: Congrats. Congrats.

Grace Villier: Thank you.

Mike Gerholdt: What is one thing you’re going to do different, when you get back to your desk?

Grace Villier: I think getting back to my desk, specifically, I think adding blocks to my calendar, and because I think it’s always important to keep learning. And as I was studying for my Admin certification, I was so focused on Trailhead, and doing modules, and realizing that those modules, more and more come out, and they’re updated. For example, with Flows, that’s the way things are going now with automation. So, just to continue those modules, I think we’ll be good in blocking out an hour or two each week, just to stay up-to-date on things throughout Trailhead.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, one of the cool things is, since yesterday, when I saw you in a session, you’ve also built your entourage, which I think is very cool. So, you’ve also networked with other people at this event. What was the common factor, for you finding someone else to hang out with at TrailblazerDX?

Grace Villier: So, we’re actually in the same general area of the country. Within the Southeast, which was cool. And-

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, you’re not from England. I thought I heard an accent there. I was going to say Wales, maybe.

Grace Villier: I know, I sound very, very British, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. New Zealand maybe, right?

Grace Villier: Yes. Yes. So, that was a common factor. And just, having been fairly new to Salesforce, within the past year and a half, it was good to meet somebody new. Like you said, make those connections.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. So, what is one thing, as we kind of wrap up, what is one thing you’ll do different the next time you go to a Salesforce event?

Grace Villier: That’s a good question. Because I did look through all the sessions before, and kind of, factored in what will bring the most value. And I think, honing in more on that, just because it is only a two day conference. Really looking into what sessions are going to bring the most value. What can I learn the most from? So like I said, I try to combine some of the Admin sessions, and developer sessions, to learn more about that, too. So, I think, just continuing to do that. And then also, networking more, just because there are so many people here. Working on networking, even more next time, to grow my Salesforce community, people that I know.

Mike Gerholdt: Your eco-system, yeah. Well, you have one now, you have two more with us. Thank you, Grace, for being on the podcast.

Grace Villier: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Mike Gerholdt: Best of luck. I’m sure we’ll connect, maybe at Dreamforce.

Grace Villier: Yes. Thank you very much.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. So, we just came off that fun interview with Grace, who is a first time event TDX. And I happened to run into… You walk around TDX, and you run into friends and family you know. So, I found a veteran, we’ll say veteran.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Oh, I like that term better.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, veteran, TDX attendee Lauren, can you introduce yourself?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I’m Lauren Dunvalvue. I’m lead Salesforce Evangelist at DocuSign. And this is my second TDX, but my eighth Salesforce big conference.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. You keep track of the big conference. Okay.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I do, like my life depends on it.

Mike Gerholdt: But first back, it feels like we’re starting all over again.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Yeah, I’ve missed people. I’m a people person. And just being able to see people that I see, on a tiny little screen, every week, or every month, at Meetups, and stuff like that, it’s just, I’m like, “Oh my God, you’re tall.” Like people I’ve met for the first time in the lockdown. And now they’re… I’m meeting them in person. I’m like, “I didn’t think you were not tall. Okay, I feel really short now.” It’s just nice to be able to have that, in-person connection. That is something I have definitely missed, definitely missed.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So, now that we’re back in person, what was something that surprised you at TDX this year?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I am loving the Slack API Integration thing. My ears, straight away went off, as soon as it was announced in the keynote. And I was like, “I need to know more.” So, as soon as I was able to get to the Slack area, I was like talking to people. I was like, “Tell me more, how do I get involved? How do I get information?” And I was like a little too excited, I think I scared them just a little. But I was like, “I have these people now, in front of me, that can’t run away or you know, mute me.” I’m like, “I get to talk to people and tell me all this stuff.” So, that’s something I’m definitely excited to play with, is that API connection. Because Slack is… We all live and work on Slack, like there’s the Ohana Slack, just-

Mike Gerholdt: Or we will.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Well, yeah, true.

Mike Gerholdt: If you’re not already.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Well, if you’re not already, there’s Ohana Slack, there’s the Ohana Coffee Slack, there obviously Work Slack. There’s so many different Slack channels now, for the community. And it’s just, I’m looking at it in terms of being able to implement it into work, and how I can boost more productivity. And even for the DocuSign side of things, being able to have that product evolve. Because we have an integration, but I’m like, as soon as I saw it, I was like messaging. I was Slack messaging, believe or not, our Product Manager. And I was like, “We need to get on this. We need to do this. Here’s our information we need.” He is like, “Okay, you need to calm down.” I’m just so super excited about it.

Mike Gerholdt: So, it’s interesting you bring up connections. It seems to be a theme. Kind of, this podcast, because we just talked with Grace, who made a connection with somebody that was attending first time solo, just like her solo. She was solo, person she met was solo. And we were just talking, before I pressed record, about how you were taking pictures of people’s badges, and connecting with somebody. Can you go more into that?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Sure, there’s so many people that are like, “I’m new to the ecosystem, or I don’t know where to start.” Or, “I’ve been here, I started Salesforce a couple years ago and I just… What should I do? Should I take my certification exam? Where should I go?” And on a personal level, people brought me into the Ohana and nurtured me, and grew me, and helped me. And I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to connect with you on LinkedIn. I’m going to follow you on Twitter.” I’m like, “I want to help you. If I can’t help you, I know people who can.” And that’s the whole point of the community, is helping people grow, and I’ve missed it. I’ve done it throughout the lockdown, but having this, like seeing people and go, “Oh my God, thank you so much.” And it’s, I just… I can’t explain it. Having the in-person has really meant so much more than being on a screen.

Mike Gerholdt: So, I’ll ask the question I think everybody’s thinking about. I didn’t make it to TrailblazerDX. Besides the in-person, and oh, by the way, your feet hurting.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Oh yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Your feet.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I forgot.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s a new thing. I haven’t stood for more than, a little bit of time. I walk my dog, I do stuff, but standing on hard concrete floors. What is something you’re surprised that you didn’t realize you were missing, by showing up?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Well, I’m going to do you one better, actually wearing jeans.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, yeah.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I lived in pajama pants for two years.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I did those athletic, slicky things.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: No, the jeans, I’m like, “I might need jeans.”

Mike Gerholdt: I need jeans. Yeah. We all had to buy different sizes, by the way.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Yeah, same here.

Mike Gerholdt: None of the jeans fit.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Yeah. And like, I haven’t walked around, the last two days. I think my jeans might be a little loose now, I’m hoping.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Good. Good.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: But one thing about… It’s the Trail. Just seeing the excitement of people, and the learning, and you forget, because when you’re doing the online stuff, you’re not seeing all different areas. I saw the Flow Matics thing and I was like, “That looks really interesting.” Whereas if I saw it on an agenda, I would’ve have been like, “Oh.” Whereas I go over, and I’m learning more about that. I’m like, “That’s cool.” I’ve never touched Flow. My role, I don’t get to play very much with Salesforce. But you know, I’m like, “Okay, I need to learn Flow. This is something I have to…” I’m feeling really encouraged, and inspired, to learn more. And I’m super excited to watch back stuff on Salesforce Plus, as well. Because, obviously, I can’t clone myself. I haven’t been to everything.

Mike Gerholdt: It could be everywhere.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I wish I could, but I couldn’t. But being able to watch stuff back, that’s what I’m excited for, to go back and learn even more.

Mike Gerholdt: So, as a veteran, long-time attendee of TDX.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: That’s me, yes.

Mike Gerholdt: As somebody looking ahead at future events, we’ve got some World Tours coming up, we have a Dreamforce coming up. What would you advise people to, kind of… How should they approach some of these online events, attending. I just talked to my boss. What should I set? Why should I go?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: One thing is, I always tell people, Salesforce is constantly evolving, and you’ll never know everything. And that’s why having a network is so important. So, going to these events and I’m not a part of specialist, I’m now getting into the marketing cloud side of things, and I don’t know where to start. So, I’ve actually put it out on Twitter and I bumped it to a few people and I’m like, “Where do I start?” And being able to have that person go, “Oh yeah, I was in the same boat. Here’s what you need to know.”
So if I was to say to my boss, or anyone else trying to say, “Hey, I need to go to an event.” It’s the connection. So, networking is super, super, important in this environment, especially because we’re such a big community. But also, the learning. Roadmaps are talked about in these events, and they’re not published anywhere. And it’s so important to know where Salesforce is going, in your learning, in the career, what interests you. And I said, “I’m going to go back to it, the Slack API. Learning all these new tools and being, like, “I was in to True to the Core. True to The Core, oh my God.

Mike Gerholdt: Tell me about it.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: If you have, that’s the only session. If I couldn’t do any others, I was so glad I did True to the Core.

Mike Gerholdt: Why? If I’m new to the platform, why, what is True to the Core?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I don’t want to say it, but it’s all the Product Manager’s and Parker Harris, are held hostage. They can’t squirm out of, “Oh, I’ll get back to you on that.” They’re sitting on a platform, and it’s not rehearsed. It’s random people coming up from the audience, and asking them pointed questions. And it’s like, they’re in the hot seat. And, there’s nothing terrible. It’s like, “Hey, we need accountability for this, and we need this.” And it’s nice to have that access to Product Managers, to executives, to people who work in Salesforce. That’s another selling point for going to these events is having someone… Being able to walk up to someone in the Trailblazer Certification Program and go, “Here’s where I’m at, where should I go? Should I go down the developer route? Should I go down the consultant route? I don’t know where I want to…”
And having that conversation of, “Well, what you want to be when you grow up?” You can have those kind of conversations, but having a real in-depth, I have no idea what I want to do. Here’s what interests me? What would you advise? Having that connection, more than just an email, or a tweet, or a back-and-forth online. So, that’s another thing I’d encourage anyone, if you do get to go, the Salesforce events, the Dreaming events, World Tours, I’m excited for World Tours. Just being able to have the access to Salesforce employees is huge.

Mike Gerholdt: So, maybe you’ve already answered it, but I’ve been to all this stuff. I can just watch it on Salesforce Plus.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: No, it’s a different experience.

Mike Gerholdt: You’ve been to a bunch of these events. Why do you still keep coming?

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: People. The learning, as I said, it’s constantly evolving. You don’t know what you don’t know, until you walk around. And you’re like, “Oh, that looks kind of cool.” Or, “Oh, I know nothing about this subject, so I’m going to sit there and listen.” And having developers who are giving presentations, like in the Parker Harris keynote, there was Stephan Garcia-Chandler. He was demoing his stuff. And then I got to sit at one of his talks and I’m like, “This is a guy who is demoing at a Salesforce keynote. Teaching me his stuff, his knowledge.” And I’m like, “This is amazing.” Being able to see the experts, and learn from the experts. So, that’s what keeps me coming back, is seeing the people, learning from the people, and the excitement, you recharge your batteries when you’re talking to the people. Sorry. I’m all about the people. I love people.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s good. It’s good.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: I miss the people, the last couple years.

Mike Gerholdt: Speaking of people, if people want to follow you on the Twitters.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Yup. On the Twitter verse, I’m @laurendon__c. Yeah. You get it.

Mike Gerholdt: Double underscore.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Double underscore. Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Because you’re a custom object, gotcha.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Oh, I’m very custom. I’m unique.

Mike Gerholdt: I like that. Thank you Lauren, for being on the podcast.

Lauren Dunne Bolopue: Thanks you very much. Very, very, very welcome. Thank you for including me.

Mike Gerholdt: So, we just heard from Lauren on, what it’s like to be at TrailblazerDX, as an expert, or a long-time attendee. To wrap up our podcast, I got Gillian, the co-host, back, because she had so many hosting duties at TrailblazerDX. Gillian, why don’t you, kind of, put a bow on this episode, in the event for us?

Gillian Bruce: Sure. So, this was really special. This is our seventh ever TDX. And it’s amazing that the first one was back in 2016, both our product and our community have exponentially grown and changed in so many ways. It’s been amazing to reconnect in-person for the first time, and meet so many new people. I would say almost everyone that I met at this event was a brand new Salesforce person. Has first event, first time exposed to Salesforce, or very earlier in their Admin career. So all of you who are listening, who are wondering, ‘Hey, what should I do to amplify my career, grow your career?” Connect with your local community group, go to a local Dream In event, try and come to Dreamforce, if you can.
There is no replacement for being in an in-person event and meeting Trailblazers, face-to-face. That’s the magic of our community, and advents. It’s the reason the awesome Admin community is so special. It’s the reason that so many Admins are successful, by giving back, connecting with each other, trying to enable and mentor others. If you’ve got something to help somebody else with, I’m full. All the Trail Hard is real, right now.

Mike Gerholdt: No, it’s good. Because when we talked with KP, the goal of this was to make people connect, get people back together. We talked with Grace and she had tons of notes, tons of notes, eight pages. And found a new friend, and Lauren said the same thing, too. And we saw this when we did a ton of sessions too, it’s cool to just present, and see people get excited for something.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, my gosh.

Mike Gerholdt: And clap.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And to get the actual instantaneous feedback of, “That was useful, or, ‘I’ve used that,” or, “Hey, I can see how that could be used.” Or “Hey, have you thought about this?” I mean, it’s so invaluable.

Mike Gerholdt: And I love the… So, one thing Lauren said, was just the unintentionality. Just walking around, seeing vendor booths, running into people, and being like, “Oh, I never would’ve stopped here if it was on my schedule, but I’m here now. And maybe I can explore this.” So, another reason to come back.

Gillian Bruce: Learning about a new product, a new cloud. Maybe you’re like, “Oh, you’ll stop Composer. There’s somebody right here I could talk to about that. That’s great.”

Mike Gerholdt: I have a question.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, what is this? And how can I use it?

Mike Gerholdt: Exactly. Well, this was a fun TrailblazerDX. We tried to do some kind of different episodes. So, we won’t do this all the time, but hopefully we caught some of the energy, and some of the reason, for coming to an event like this. Of course, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to to find more resources, including any of the links that I mentioned. I don’t think I mentioned any links.

Gillian Bruce: I think is a link.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I’ll mention that link. How’s that? We’ll also have a full transcript there, too. Of course, you can say up-to-date with us on social. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the picks from TrailblazerDX. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. Gillian is @gilliankbruce. And of course, I am @MikeGerholdt on Twitter. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.


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