Joy Shutters-Helbing talking about process efficiency

Unlocking Salesforce Efficiency with Joy Shutters-Helbing

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Joy Shutters-Helbing, Salesforce MVP, Chicago Admin Co-Leader, and Golden Hoodie recipient. Join us as we chat about why frontline experience is so important to your Salesforce career and the importance of networking.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Joy Shutters-Helbing.

Getting experience as a Salesforce user

I recently ran into Joy at World Tour Chicago, where I was shocked to discover that we’ve never had her on the pod. One of the most common questions I get asked is how to get started in a Salesforce career, and I think she has some great advice on the subject.

Joy and I both got involved with Salesforce as users, first, before transitioning into an admin career. That meant we already understood how business processes were supposed to work and how Salesforce could help. And that’s what can be the missing step for someone armed with Salesforce credentials but not a lot of real-world experience.

Get frontline experience while you learn Salesforce

Joy’s biggest piece of advice for someone looking to get started in Salesforce is to get experience in an industry you’re passionate about. “Go and answer those phones as a call center rep,” she says, “be that first line of employees that are working with customers that are going to be using Salesforce with a high frequency.”

In the meantime, you should be working through Trailhead and enhancing your skills on the platform. In short, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of business processes while you’re building up your Salesforce knowledge. And be on the lookout for opportunities to make suggestions and get involved in how the platform is used in your organization.

Why networking is misunderstood

Joy also has a great perspective on networking and how it’s misunderstood. When she’s looking for a new role, she updates her resume and makes cold applications like everyone else. But she also isn’t afraid to let people know that she’s looking, which creates an invitation for people to send things her way.

The difference here is between asking someone for a favor and allowing them to help you. And people will want to help you if you’re active in the community and have helped them in the past. It’s all about looking for ways to get involved in your local user group and pay it forward.

Be sure to listen to the full episode for more insights from Joy, and more about what it’s like to don the coveted Golden Hoodie.

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Full show transcript

Mike:
This week on the Salesforce Admin Podcast, we are talking to Joy Shutters-Helbing, who is the co-leader of the Chicago Admin User Group, a Salesforce MVP. And you may have seen her walking around at a few events in a Golden Hoodie. She has a lot to share about careers and her experience in the ecosystem and also things that she’s looking to accomplish in 2024. And I really think this is a fabulous way for us to kick off the new year. Now, before we get into this episode, I want you to be sure you’re following the Salesforce Admin’s Podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. And the reason I’m telling you that is, well, then that way, every new episode that comes out on Thursday will be right on your phone right away. So with that, let’s get to our conversation with Joy. So Joy, welcome to the podcast.

Joy:
Hi, Mike. Thanks.

Mike:
I’ve known you for a long time and I couldn’t believe you hadn’t been on the podcast when I ran into you at Chicago World Tour.

Joy:
It has been a long time, and yeah, I was really glad to see you at the World Tour, for sure.

Mike:
I mean, you’ve been in the ecosystem since you were like 12. I’ve been in the ecosystem since I was 13. That makes us 25, right? Do the math.

Joy:
If we were 12 and 13 when we entered the ecosystem, that would make me 32 because-

Mike:
Oh, come on, don’t say that.

Joy:
And that’s not right.

Mike:
You got to have anniversaries of birthdays. It’s the first anniversary of my 22nd birthday.

Joy:
We can do anniversaries of birthdays. We can do that, we can do that.

Mike:
Well, let’s start off, just talk about, I mean, a lot of people have heard how I got started in the ecosystem, and that was back in the ’06s. I think you might’ve even started before me, but how did you get started in Salesforce and working with the product?

Joy:
Sure. So way back, way back in, gosh, what was it? 2003, my company decided they needed a system or a tool to help keep track of all of their sales folks interactions. And they had gone through a number of different assessments, and eventually, they had settled on Salesforce. This was a very exciting thing. At the time, I was a sales coordinator, and so I was keeping track of all the things that the salespeople were doing once they signed the contracts. So I was like, great, we have a tool, yay. But we didn’t have a tool. We had a project on our hands to eventually have a tool. So in 2003, I spent some time with the team to work on the implementation. I went away and had maternity leave and had a baby, and I came back and I got my first username in 2004.
So that was a lot of fun. We kept improving what we were doing in Salesforce as we were learning what the tool could do. And as I continued to do my job and move the processes forward, I was like, “Hey, I need another field,” “Hey, can we do this? Is there any way we can maybe rearrange this so it makes more sense?” And eventually, the folks in charge said, “Joy, we don’t have time to do this. We have a job to do. Here’s the keys, you do it.” And that was my first entry into Salesforce setup, my first taste of Salesforce admin. And because I knew the business backwards and forwards, and I knew the process like the back of my hand, it was very easy for me to say, “We’re just going to do this.” In 2004, 2005, all of the best practices that Salesforce admins have today were still being figured out.
I didn’t have a sandbox at the time, or if I did, I didn’t know about it. So we were just making changes in production. It was terrible and terrifying looking back on it, but we moved forward with it. And eventually, I was a successful user and I was an okay admin part-time-ish, like when I had extra time, and I succeeded with the user stuff and they sent me to President’s Club because I sold the most stuff, because I figured out how to use Salesforce to my advantage. Let’s go to Puerto Rico. It was a lot of fun.

Mike:
Wee.

Joy:
Yeah, right. And-

Mike:
That was also an era where every company had a President’s Club?

Joy:
Yes, yes, it was. And now it’s so ridiculous because… Well, anyway. I-

Mike:
It just sounds so weird now.

Joy:
Yeah, it is, it is. So after that, I kept asking, I was like, “So can I do this? Can I just do the Salesforce admin stuff? Can I just work through our business processes and improve them and do the things?” They’re like, “Oh, Joy, we still need you to do this, and this and this.” And I was like, “Okay, great.” I have another baby. I come back from maternity leave and now all of a sudden they’re like, “You know what, Joy? We’d like you to do this full time.” And I was like, “Yes, absolutely. Let’s do this full time.” So my kids have balanced out how my career has worked along with Salesforce, and the parallels are disarming at times.

Mike:
I mean, I feel like what’s interesting when I talk with other people that are MVPs or Golden Hoodie recipients from, I would say, pre 2010, that businesses matured as the product matured. And it was a very different landscape because we had… You talk sales, I remember talking sales processes and we would have to go to sales process training. It was the Miller Heiman process. Do you remember that? But there’s all these different ways of selling. And I felt like in that era, when we got started, businesses had sales process down. They just didn’t have the technology to support it because we were really awkwardly transitioning from Rolodex to spreadsheets and realizing spreadsheets weren’t it for everything.
And so because you mentioned something that’s near and dear to me, is I was also at a company where I knew the process of how we sold stuff inside and out, upside and down, left and right. The problem was it wasn’t anywhere, or is in people. And that’s almost that era. And I bring that up because it’s so vastly different than, fast-forward from what you mentioned, 2003, go ahead 20 years now, now you have people, admins or people that want to become admins. I’m sure you’ve talked with them, that are like, “Hey, we got this but we don’t know why.”

Joy:
Right, right. We’ve got folks that have never sold anything in their lives. We’ve got folks that have never taken a customer service call trying to understand how to insert these companies’ complex processes into a tool that they might not have experienced as an actual user.

Mike:
So if you were starting today, where would you start?

Joy:
If I was starting today, maybe-

Mike:
Maybe not today, today, but within this realm of this-

Joy:
Within this realm, if I was to begin, if I was to give advice to someone who was looking to jump into a tech career in the Salesforce ecosystem, I would say, start learning on Trailhead, and then find a company where you are passionate about the business or the industry and find an adjacent job. So go and answer those phones as a call center rep. Go and make those calls as a business development rep, be that first line of employees that are working with customers that are going to be using Salesforce at a high frequency. This does a number of things for you. It helps you understand the business processes that the company is currently using. And what you learn in parallel with Salesforce as you go is you can talk to the folks and the management or the decision makers, say, hey, I think Salesforce can do something that could help improve our process and move forward with that.
And as you identify those wins and you go forward and you’re collecting a paycheck because you’re doing work and you’re also learning Trailhead alongside your new job here and you’re bringing value to the managers and the process, you start building credibility and you start understanding the things that are going on with real experience. So now you’re not a no experienced Salesforce knowledgeable person. You have someone with, say, a year of experience as customer service person, and you have Salesforce knowledge and you’ve helped improve processes. And you just keep working at that sort of a junction to build your credibility within your company, within your team.
And then when you bring those suggestions up, they’re like, oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, this person knows what they’re talking about, because not all companies have a team that is Salesforce fluent that is building for them. They might have a consultancy that’s built for them and then stepped away. And so they’re able to ask for improvements as things come up or as initiatives are brought up. And as you show yourself as someone who knows what’s going on in the Salesforce space and you start to understand your business processes of the company that you’re at, your voice will be heard more. That’s how I would approach this if I were to be starting fresh.

Mike:
I mean, I think quite different than how I feel some people approach it. I’m just going to jump in head first and learn enough about the product, but I couldn’t agree more that understanding how the business operates is so fundamentally sound, even more so than understanding the technology because that’s when you can look for process gaps. As you were working through your career and being an admin, I know you’re a consultant now, what were some of the challenges you had in explaining your value or the work that you are doing to your organization?

Joy:
Sure. So one of the hardest things for me to learn was to turn my approach around. At my first company, where I had worked there, and then I learned Salesforce along the way, I knew the process in and out, and then I learned Salesforce and applied Salesforce to the business. At my next job, I knew Salesforce really well. I was certified admin, and I knew things. And I walked in and I was like, wow, there’s a lot going on here. And I kept finding myself going back to this phrase, which, in retrospect, I hate hearing it, and I hated saying it, at my last company, we did it this way. And anyone who’s had a new person come in who has any tenure, they’re like, well, yeah, well, we don’t do it this way. We’re different. We do business differently. So I had to remove that phrase from my vernacular entirely, and I had to approach learning the business instead of learning the technology the same way.
So I had to learn the business and then how I could apply Salesforce to it and all the processes. So I had to flip the whole learning process that I had been relying on upside down. And that’s something that stuck with me as I’ve changed jobs since that second job, where I’ve come in and I’m like, okay, what can I learn about this company, their processes? Where are the stakeholders? Where are the decision makers? Where are the people that are driving the way we do things so that we can apply what I know and what I continue to learn about Salesforce to this and how can we close those gaps in the process and make things swift and efficient?

Mike:
That makes sense. One thing I realized I’ve never asked anybody, and I feel like you have this answer. Well, you have your answer. No, it’s a good question. But back when you were in sales in the President’s Club, why did you pursue a role in technology or becoming the Salesforce admin?

Joy:
Why? Wow. I’ve always really enjoyed solving problems. Maybe you know people who enjoy puzzles or who’d done it or brain-teasers and that sort of thing. This is my space. This is what I love to do. I love an escape room. I mean, this is the sort of thing I love to do. I’m at a point with my mom where she doesn’t buy me these puzzles anymore because she says, you finish-

Mike:
Oh, come on, Mom.

Joy:
I finish them too quickly. She’s like, “You can go to the store with me and do it at the store, and I don’t have to buy it.” But she doesn’t buy me puzzles anymore. But I was the eight-year-old kid who took a door knob apart because it wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. And so being able to do this, take the process apart and put it back together so it works better, so the door opens and closes better, so the latches latch and the door swings the way it’s supposed to, to help the folks that are using the tool succeed was really fulfilling for me. So showing a salesperson, “Hey, you’re selling all of this great, can I help you be more efficient? Can I help you sell more? Can I help you better, faster, stronger?” And the elation and the relief and the light up of a face that I would get when I would explain these things was really what drove me to want to bring that into my career. And when I realized that I could do this with Salesforce, I was sold. I was all in.

Mike:
So do you feel that, that problem-solving or that doorknob taking apart… I love that.

Joy:
Oh, it was great.

Mike:
Do you feel that’s a key attribute to being not just a successful admin or developer or architect, but just having a successful career in tech?

Joy:
I think having the curiosity to solve problems is very important, and the desire to continue learning, the curiosity and really being able to identify those hiccups. Some folks, they just start stepping higher over an obstacle on the floor instead of fixing the obstacle on the floor. And awareness is the first thing, why am I aware of this thing? Why is this in the way? Why is it still not fixed? How can I fix it? What do I need to learn to fix it? Can I fix it by myself? Do I need help? All those things I think can help a person succeed in a tech career.

Mike:
Right. No, I agree. One thing you shared before we started was your career path, you don’t recall really any one of your jobs being a cold call interview, which maybe is a Midwestern thing, I don’t know. But I think it speaks to the level of networking. What do you think that was the key to that? I think it’s easy to just tell people in network, but clearly, there’s networking and then there’s the ability to go because I’m the same way, I can go back a decade and a half or two decades before even having to type up a resume because I had people that would refer me. What do you think is the key now to… because there’s jobs out there, I’m sure there’s people cold calling for jobs as well, but also, the most rewarding jobs I’ve had were the ones where I didn’t cold call.

Joy:
So that was an interesting reflection before we started talking. The company that I started using Salesforce with, it was a large company, and I spent 15 years there. There’s a lot of turnover with a large company. And there were folks that I saw and I met for two, three years, some five years, some seven years. But I was at that company for 15 years. So there were a lot of folks that I got to know and talk to, and it was a wide range of folks. That network helped me get the next job. After that, it was all folks in the Salesforce ecosystem who I had met through our local Chicago Admin Community Group and beyond. I guess when I was consulting independently, only one of those jobs was a non-Salesforce ecosystem connection. That one job was a preschool mom from my son’s tiny days, but every other one was someone that I had met at a community group meeting. All of them, all of them. I’m not going to name-drop but there’s some people that are in there that are-

Mike:
But I can totally name-drop.

Joy:
I am not going to though. I don’t want to do that because they don’t need people saying, “Hey, can you get me a job too? I heard you got Joy a job,” because that’s not really how it went. Whenever I was looking for a job, I was applying to jobs and folks that were close to me knew I was applying for jobs and they were like, “Hey, have you considered applying at this space?” Or, “Hey, I heard about a lead here.” And while I was still applying cold, cold applications, I also applied to these connected opportunities. Every job I’ve had since I’ve met Salesforce has been because of a networking connection.

Mike:
I’m reminded, and I tried to google it really quick while you were answering but it didn’t work really well. So there’s an author out there, Dorian Clark, and they wrote a fascinating book, but I saw them speak at South by Southwest, and they said something to the effect of, “When you meet somebody, come with an offer of help as opposed to an offer to take.” And I think that’s always the thing that really struck me, is, exactly to your point, I don’t want to name-drop because I don’t want people to come up to these people and say, will you help Joy? Will you help me? Will you help me? Will you help me? Because that is almost to me the opposite of how networking should work and how working with others at a user group can be. It can be ostentatious to walk up to a user group leader, and you immediately want to ask them something.
But have you ever just asked them, is there something that I can help you with? Because that’s how you make relationships. If somebody came up to me and didn’t offer, what can you do for me? Well, there’s a lot I can do, but that takes marbles out of my bucket as well. And I always like that quote, if you come with an offer to help, because I feel like it’s so counterintuitive. 9 times out of 10, you always walk up to people, and like, what can I get from them as opposed to, what can I give them, which is so refreshing.

Joy:
And all I can think of is running into you in San Francisco at Moscone, and you just had this… looked at me and I must have been completely frazzled, you was like, “Joy, is there anything I can do for you?” And I was like, “Oh my gosh, yes, please. I need some food.” And you got me a hamburger and it was the best.

Mike:
Oh.

Joy:
We went back into the employee backdoor kitchen and you went… and you took me, and you were like, “Joy, let’s get you some food. Here’s a hamburger, here’s an apple, here’s something to drink.” And you sat me down, you were like, “Take a breath. You’re okay.” I’ll never forget it, I’ll never forget it.

Mike:
Wow, wow. I’m glad I could do that.

Joy:
Well.

Mike:
There’s a lot of things to pay attention to. I feel like when people are looking at their careers, they’re looking at technology, there’s a lot of change in technology, what aren’t people paying attention to that you feel they should be paying attention to?

Joy:
I think one of the things that folks need to pay closer attention to that they maybe are not is, just because you are allowed to say things doesn’t mean folks won’t remember it. And I think it’s really important that when you have comments on social media or when you maybe aren’t kind about feedback, that people will remember how you made them feel, whether it was good or bad. And it can leave an impression that you may or may not be aware of. And I think it’s really important that when you’re participating in this social media experiment, that you are living your life on a billboard. You are living your life in a way that folks are going to have an impression that precedes you. They may not have met you but they have seen how you treat people, how you behave, how you understand yourself. And that can work for and against you.

Mike:
I think you’re 100% correct. And in fact, I had to pull up a quote just because that’s what I do during these podcasts, but Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Joy:
Absolutely. And it is one of my favorite quotes, but I think currently, I think people forget that, that can go in a number of different directions. It’s not always this warm uplifting feeling, because that’s what I always have in my head when I hear that quote. People are going to remember the way I made them feel, and I always hope it’s that golden, sunny, warm, helpful feeling, but it can also be the opposite.

Mike:
Absolutely. I put that interestingly enough at the end of a presentation I gave at the Chicago user group, where you asked me a question, “Well, this is good and all, Mike, but you have access to really nice slides and some of us don’t.” And I said, “You’re right, joy.” But let remind you, how did you feel during this presentation, to that touche? So in the intro, I said, Golden Hoodie recipient, and I think people, if they’ve been to even a World Tour, even in Chicago, I saw Golden Hoodie recipients walking around. This is a fun, little bit light. It’s been a while. We’ve been talking a lot of stuff. What is one question you get asked the most as a Golden Hoodie recipient? Can I get that?

Joy:
The one question I don’t get asked is, can I touch the fabric?

Mike:
Oh, good.

Joy:
I would really like people to ask before they go to touch me.

Mike:
Seriously. That’s just common sense.

Joy:
You would think so. But the one thing I get asked is, oh, how do I get one? Or, I really like your hoodie. And the gut check response is like, it’s a major award. And we laugh about that quite a bit.

Mike:
Sure.

Joy:
And I say, “Thank you. It’s a real honor for me to have this.” And it was a way for Salesforce to highlight something that had been going on with me at the time that Salesforce was really excited about, and Salesforce wanted to share that. And one of the things that was highlighted at the time was that I wasn’t going to just one community group. I wasn’t just going to the Chicago Admin Community Group meetings. I was going to the suburban community group meeting. I was going to the developer community group meeting. I was going to every group I could get my hands on, because that was before times.
That was before virtual meetings were happening. And there was one day in particular that I was actually at two meetings in one day at opposite ends of the train line, at opposite ends of my workday. So I started my meeting beyond my house at the outside of the train line in the morning with breakfast. I took the train into the city and then did my workday, and then I went to the user group meeting in the afternoon to wrap up my day. And it was such a big uplifting day. And it was almost unheard of because at the time, folks were members of one community group. They were not members of multiple community groups. And it was an exciting thing for me, and I was a developer group because I was working, quote-unquote, as a “developer” at my company.
They didn’t know what to do with me because there were a bunch of tech folks that didn’t know Salesforce at the time, but they were… All of a sudden, they’ve got Joy, who’s being called a developer. They’re like, “She’s what? What?” But we made sense of that, when I took one of their projects from two weeks to an hour while they had lunch. They wanted a Salesforce dashboard.

Mike:
How dare you do something that fast?

Joy:
They were very excited. I got some street cred that day and they were like, “Oh, this is why she’s here because she knows how Salesforce works.” Instead of coding a dashboard, I was like, “No, it’s just reports and a graphical record here. Here, go have lunch and here, have it when you come back.”

Mike:
Go have a hamburger and some apples.

Joy:
Yeah, go have a snack. When you come back, I’ll tell you that it’s not going to take you two weeks to do this, that it’s done. But I couldn’t explain it quick enough. I was like, what is happening? Are you talking about coding in a tired dashboard? What? No, you’re not going to do that. But anyway, I digress. So developer user group, admin user group, suburban Chicago community group at the time, and it was really great. I don’t have my career without Salesforce but I don’t have my network without the Salesforce community.

Mike:
Yeah, I mean, that’s very strong testament. As you look into 2024, what is something that you’re going to work on or be committed to?

Joy:
Wow, 2024. All those New year’s happy feelings and exciting things about what we’re going to do. I feel like we need confetti. I hope to be present at more local community events. I hope to attend more virtual events. I’m pretty present in our local space but I want to branch out a little bit more when the local events are doing virtual meetings so that I can talk to some more folks. I already talked to a lot of folks with MVP Office Hours, and with the Chicago Admin Group, and with the Chicago WIT Group. But I really, really, really want to try to connect with some more people.

Mike:
That’s a very good goal, very solid goal.

Joy:
Yeah.

Mike:
I think you can make it happen. Joy, thanks for coming on the podcast. This was a great discussion, long overdue. And I didn’t even know I saved your life with a hamburger.

Joy:
You saved my life a number of times, and clicking buttons was one of them.

Mike:
Most important was the hamburger.

Joy:
The hamburger was another one.

Mike:
I mean, you always reflect back on the priority. Every list is a priority.

Joy:
When you miss lunch at a Moscone event.

Mike:
Oh, I’m not denying that, that was probably-

Joy:
The best hamburger I have ever had.

Mike:
… really in any event. It’s, here is the driest piece of bread with the driest sliced Turkey or ham on the planet at this moment. I think that’s the goal of catering companies, how do we make things the driest possible?

Joy:
I really appreciated this, Mike. Really appreciated this.

Mike:
This was fun. Thanks for coming on. So it was a great discussion with Joy. I can’t believe I haven’t had her on the podcast. Her and I have exchanged many stories at a lot of events through the years as a fellow Midwestern. Now, if you enjoyed this episode, I need you to do me a favor, and it’s 2024, let’s share it with one new person. So if you’re listening on iTunes, I just need you to tap the dots and choose ,Share Episode. Then you can post it to social or you can text it to a friend. And of course, if you’re looking for more great resources, your one stop for Everything Admin is admin.salesforce.com, including a transcript of the show. And of course, be sure to jump over and join the conversation, the Admin Trailblazer Group, that is in the Trailblazer Community. Don’t worry, the link to everything is in the show notes. So until next week, we’ll see you in the cloud.

 

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