Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we talk to Shakil Kamran, a consultant at Now It Matters and winner of the NYC World Tour 2018 Golden Hoodie. We’ll hear his incredible story and the work he’s done to help the next generation of tech innovators.
Join us as we talk about how coming to Dreamforce with a learning mindset helped Shakil start his career in tech, and how he’s giving back.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Shakil Kamran.
Going all in on Salesforce.
“As I was growing up I had various jobs in many different industries,” Shakil says, “but I knew that at the end of the day technology ran everything.” While he felt like he was expected to become a doctor or a lawyer, he knew that he wanted to work his way into the tech industry. Starting out, Shakil had skipped college and went straight to work. He was in retail management for three years, “but I knew it was more of a job than a career.” He decided to pick up his education where he left off, and happened to attend a boot camp during his first year at Monroe College.
The boot camp was hosted by none other than Selina Suarez, who created an organization called PepUp Tech (People Empowering People Up Through Technology). “My entire life changed after I met Selina,” Shakil says. After the four day session, he was able to transition into an internship, which took him to Dreamforce and Midwest Dreamin’.
At the time Shakil was still working his retail job, 50-60 hours a week, on top of being a full-time student, husband, and father. He would come home around 11 or 12 o’clock and hop on Trailhead to get more experience. “Before I left for Dreamforce last year, my company gave me an ultimatum,” he says, “if you leave you can’t come back.” Ultimately, he decided that he had to take a leap of faith and trust that eventually it would work out.
How Dreamforce changed everything for Shakil.
At Dreamforce, Shakil met Tim Lockie, the founder of Now It Matters. “He believed in me,” Shakil says. He told his story of what it took for him to make it to San Francisco, and Tim decided to take a chance. But that’s simplifying a lot of hard work, and a lot of uncertainty. “It hit me more when I landed: I’m in San Francisco and I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“I just basically spoke to as many people as I could,” Shakil says, and he decided to focus on learning more about Salesforce. He was at a Women in Tech event at Dreamforce when he met Tim and was able to focus on the value he brought with his background in sales and marketing. In other words, it’s not just about what you can get from the community but what you can give back as well.
The importance of giving back.
“I want to inspire the next generation of change leaders and thought leaders that are coming behind me,” Shakil says, and so he set to work creating a partnership between PepUp Tech and the City University of New York, the third-largest university system in the country. For him, it was a moral obligation.
Because a Salesforce career isn’t like a traditional one (like a doctor or a lawyer), it’s important to help folks from all backgrounds understand what’s out there. “When you’re on the other side of the door, you’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know this role even existed,’” he says, and taking that type of knowledge back to the community can change people’s lives.
“Where I come from, we were taught that nothing is free,” Shakil says, so sharing the incredible resources that are Trailhead, PepUp Tech, and the Salesforce Ohana is key to helping people see themselves in tech. “Everyone wants to see you succeed here, everyone wants to see you move up and do great things in life,” he says. “If you do have an opportunity in front of you,” he says, “just do it and figure out the rest later.”
- PepUp Tech: https://www.pepuptech.org/
- Trailhead: Build Your Career with Salesforce Skills Trail https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/content/learn/trails/build-your-career-with-salesforce-skills
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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 become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I’m Gillian Bruce, and listeners, we are kicking off an incredibly special series with this episode. We are going to hear a series of stories from people that have been a part of PepUp Tech. Now, PepUp Tech is a nonprofit that was started by some Salesforce Community rockstars not too long ago and PepUp Tech’s entire mission is to give motivated, underserved students the access to skills, mentors, and confidence they need in order to begin careers in tech, to help diversify the industry.
Gillian Bruce: We all know that diversity is a problem in our technology industry overall and PepUp Tech is working very hard to change that. We are going to hear some stories from people who’ve been part of the PepUp Tech Program from the New York City area. While I was in New York for the world tour not too long ago, I got to sit down and get to know these incredibly inspiring people, learn more about their stories, learn more about how they were able to transition their careers, what they are doing now, what’s next for them, and I really hope that you listen closely as you are listening about how you kind of take a hold of your career.
Gillian Bruce: We’ve had a few guests on that this has been a theme, but you’re going to hear some really great take-aways about, even if you’re already in your Salesforce job and you’re happy where you’re at, really thinking about how to take your career and promote it, take it to the next level, take that chance, take risks, and really just go for it about putting in the work, doing it, and really just not being scared to make those changes or make that transition.
Gillian Bruce: These people are incredibly inspiring. The first one we’re going to hear from actually won our Golden Hoodie at the New York City World Tour in December of 2018. I talked to him right before he won this. He did not know he was getting it at the time. This is Shakil Kamran. I remember, I think I met him at Dreamforce a couple of years ago and he is now a consultant at Now It Matters. So he’s implementing Salesforce for customers and learning a lot along the way. And, Gosh, his story is something else, let me tell you. So, get ready to be inspired and learn quite a bit. Without further ado, let’s get Shakil on the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Shakil, welcome to the podcast.
Shakil Kamran: Wait, are you recording?
Gillian Bruce: Oh, yes, I am.
Shakil Kamran: Oh, my.
Gillian Bruce: You see this big red button here?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, I do. Okay. Hey, thank you for having me.
Gillian Bruce: Thank you for coming and joining me. We are in New York City in December and it’s beautiful and cold but very festive and I appreciate you taking the time out to chat with me because it’s a busy week this week.
Shakil Kamran: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: I wanted to get you on the podcast to share a little bit about your Salesforce journey and talk a little bit about what advice you might have for people who are kind of building their Salesforce careers. Before we get into all that, I would love to ask you a question to introduce you a little bit to the audience and I always am curious as well, Shakil, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Shakil Kamran: That’s a great question. I actually wanted to be a basketball player, but being five or six because that doesn’t go with a job, and also the stereotypical thing about being Indian, it’s like, “Oh, you need to be a doctor or a lawyer,” so I, wanted to eventually go down that path and that didn’t work out. So, in my family I was considered a failure for awhile but, yeah, I wanted to do something in business. I knew I wanted to do something in business, but as I grew older and I adapted to many different environments, I knew technology paid up later role, a huge role in my life. I knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure until now.
Gillian Bruce: All right. So I love being a basketball player. Was there a specific basketball player or team that inspired you to want to be a basketball player?
Shakil Kamran: I don’t know if you’re going to believe me, but Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry.
Gillian Bruce: Go Dubs!
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I love that answer.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. I’ve been a fan of like of course the next because like the hometown team, but Golden State Warriors especially like the last, I would say five to seven years because it’s just like the excitement of being in that arena. I’ve never been in that arena and I’ve been dying to go there, but yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Well, you got to go. This is the last season that they’re going to begin off or before they moved to the New Chase Center in San Francisco, which is also going to be amazing.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Yeah. But I’m always big on those things, right? I feel like the magic that happened in one area, it is not going to feel the same as going into another arena. I’m sampling like what happened with Yankee Stadium in New York, so like Yankee Stadium had an old stadium and then ever since they moved, they’re like, “Okay, we’re not winning any championships.”
Gillian Bruce: That’s the Yankees… Spoken like a true San Francisco Giants fan. All right. So you wanted to be a basketball player and then kind of getting forced into thinking about those traditional roles of doctor, lawyer, from family and then thinking about technology, so tell me a little bit more about what attracted you to technology? What made you think, “Hey, this is maybe something I need to pay attention to or I’m interested in?”
Shakil Kamran: So, I mean, as I was growing up, I had various jobs in many different industries. I’ve touched the finance industry and banking and retail and also electronics. I’ve done a bunch of things and I knew that at the end of the day, technology’s around everything and you can kind of make or break industry or a career path or even a company with technology. Like if you have a very high performance level of technology, then they can take you many different places. So I knew I wanted to be involved in something of that nature, but I just didn’t know which direction I should head towards within technology.
Gillian Bruce: Right. And there’s a lot there, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I mean technology is anything, basically, any system that does anything. Right? So you got a lot of options.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So let’s talk a little bit more about kind of where your career has gone in the last few years and what you’re doing now because you are now working in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Shakil Kamran: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: What is your current role?
Shakil Kamran: I’m currently a Salesforce consultant and I worked for an organization called Now IT Matters and they’re based out of Montana. I have this pretty awesome job of working from home, something that I haven’t done quite often throughout my career. Yeah, I mean I’m just really excited. I started in March, so I’m really excited to see the future and what the potential possibilities are that are out there. But, yeah, I mean I’m doing a lot of things within Salesforce, doing business analysis, dealing with a lot of clients, doing the back-end work, so being a consultant, I think it’s an amazing feeling because there’s so many variables attached to it.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And I think oftentimes, when I hear about the role of a Salesforce consultant, it’s actually very similar to just being a Salesforce admin inside of a company. Right? Because like you said, you’re doing a lot of business analysis, you’re doing a lot of the back-end configuration stuff, you’re talking with clients, which for our Salesforce admin would be their users or stakeholders. Right? So tell me a little bit about how you got to this role.
Gillian Bruce: So you said you’ve been there a little under a year, so kind of how did you figure out that Salesforce was something you were interested in and how did you get this role as a consultant? Because I mean, that’s not an easy task. You don’t just say, “Hey, I decide to do this one day,” and the next day it happens, right?
Shakil Kamran: Oh, no, absolutely not. No, definitely it was not an easy task. It all started, like I was working in retail for three years in retail management specifically. I knew that it was more of a job than a career and something that I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life. So I decided to go into retail for temporarily. Then I went back to school. I skipped school for a while due to various reasons and I went to a school called Monroe College up here in the Bronx, and I was fortunate enough to attend the bootcamp. And bootcamp was hosted by a woman named Selina Suarez. She created an organization called PepUp Tech, right, people empowering people up to the technology. Basically my entire life changed after I met Selina.
Shakil Kamran: I went to a four-day bootcamp, so they were just starting out like this entire organization. They were starting to see how things work and figuring things out, and I was part of their first cohort to figure out like what they can do and how we can get under-representative people into the ecosystem. So I got a little taste of it for four days and after the four days I said, “You know what? This is something that’s really interesting. I want to learn more about it.”
Shakil Kamran: After that I spoke to Selina and said, “Hey, I don’t know as much as I want to and is there any other way, any other platform for me to move ahead?” So I kind of bother her to get an internship. She got me an internship and a lot of things changed after that. I was invited to go to Dreamforce and Midwest Freeman. I was fortunate enough to go to these places, but the most important thing was prior to me going to these events, I was thinking a lot of time off going to these event, especially Dreamforce when it’s like a week, taking off an entire week from work and my role at that time was in retail. So I worked 50, 60 hours a week and it’s really difficult. Not Easy.
Shakil Kamran: So I was a full time student. I was a full time dad, full time husband and like a full time worker as well. So, all of these combined, it was really, really difficult. I remember I would come home late night like I think 11:00, 12:00 and I would do Trailhead and do Trailhead and just kind of learn about Salesforce. One hard decision I did have to make was that before I left the Dreamforce last year on 2017, my company gave me an ultimatum and said like, “Hey, if you leave you don’t have any vacation time. So if you leave, you can’t come back.” Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That’s rough.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. It wasn’t an easy decision to make because I’m like, “Here I am, this unknown, like I’m going to go to San Francisco for the first time in my life. I don’t know what’s out there. I don’t know who’s out there. I don’t know what I’m expected to get out of it, but I know that it’s going to help me in the future.” I had to take that risk and I had to take that leap of faith because I knew the reward is going to be greater no matter how I see it. And it turned out pretty well.
Gillian Bruce: But guy, that must’ve been terrifying, right?
Shakil Kamran: Oh, yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Here you are, first of all, I don’t know when you slept because between all of those roles, between family and work and then getting on Trailhead and learning Salesforce and being a student, I mean, I don’t understand how you slept, but that could be a whole another conversation.
Gillian Bruce: So when you talk about taking that risk, I mean that’s huge because you were kind of forced into saying, “All right, I’m all in on this Salesforce thing. I’m going to go to San Francisco and have no idea what’s gonna happen.” I mean, tell me about kind of like … I mean that must have been kind of stressful.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, absolutely it was because, I mean, at the end of the day in New York, like you have to pay bills, right, just like anywhere else in the world. And so it was very stressful because I didn’t know what to expect and I took a leap of faith and I knew I had to take a risk, but just the outcome of that risk, you don’t know. Right? It’s the unknown and that is really, really scary.
Shakil Kamran: I mean, I prayed, I spoke to my wife and I spoke to my family. I’m like, “I don’t know what I’m going to get out of this. PepUp Tech had just started up, so it’s not like it was a whole lot of recognition on publicity around it and the jobs were waiting for us, it was none of that. There’s a lot of hard work that I had to go on behind the scenes. Yeah, it was a very scary feeling and I made it through. I went to the Dreamforce and I met my current employer there, Tim Lockie, the founder of Now IT Matters, and he essentially believed in me.
Shakil Kamran: I told him my story, what I did and he took it as like, “Wow, that’s kind of really strong for you to do that. And it takes a lot of faith and a lot of understanding for you to just leave something and not know how you’re going to pay your bills and things like that.” But I knew I wanted to inspire people, inspire myself, inspire others by the same story if things could turn out right. And hopefully, now I can say it did.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I was going to say, you are now in this role, you’re owning it, you’re rocking it. I mean, you are a proof that “Hey, you can take these risks and there are opportunities.” I mean, I love the whole thing that you came to Dreamforce in this kind of spot where everything was a little unknown and you ended up meeting your future employer. I mean, that’s a pretty amazing story and I think we have a lot of people who are kind of like, “Ah, I don’t know. I’m not getting support from my current job to go to Dreamforce or go to these community or these Salesforce events. How do I get the most out of them?” Can you talk a little bit about how you made that connection with Tim and how that turned into a job for you?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, I mean, I knew that the odds were against me. Right? Like from the get go, getting on that plane and it hit me more when I landed. It’s like, “Oh my God, I’m in San Francisco and I don’t know what I’m doing here.” When I went into a Moscone, I was like, “Okay, this is my playground and it’s up to me what toys I want to play with,” and things like that. I just basically spoke to as many people as I could. I kind of talked to them and just learn about them besides me talking about myself but learn more about Salesforce, right? The platform, the people, the community, everything that it’s all about. I don’t quite recall exactly where and when I met him. Oh, no, I do.
Shakil Kamran: So it’s Women in Tech event in Dreamforce. I met him there and I kind of told him what I’m looking to do and like what I’m currently doing and I know I bring a lot of value to any organization. My background is in sales and marketing. So I’ve done that for like the past 10 years in various industries. So, I know that I can provide a lot of value in that aspect. So I was like, “I just need that chance, that one opportunity.” At the same time, you want to be able to see if you can give the chance, right, for them to learn who you are and what you can really do. Especially being a minority, being a person of color, I feel like this is why PepUp Tech was born because there’s not as much bandwidth as they should be for individuals like myself.
Gillian Bruce: I love that you said like it’s kind of like a two way thing, right? You want to make sure that they get to know who you are, what you’re about, what you can offer, but then also understand kind of what the opportunities are and kind of, I mean, like you said, the odds traditionally are kind of stacked against a lot of people. What I love especially about PepUp Tech, and there are quite a few organizations that are doing similar things, but the idea of like saying, “Hey, no, this is clearly a problem and we’re doing something about it. And here we have these amazingly talented individuals from all different-
Shakil Kamran: Walks of life.
Gillian Bruce: … business backgrounds and walks of life, but now have you Salesforce skills and want a piece of this amazing action.” And I think that is just … It gives me the chills because now you have stories like yours where you are now fully in the ecosystem. I mean you are a consultant doing implementations for other customers. Like this is huge. It’s really awesome for consultants.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. And not only that, I think there’s also the other side to it, right? So like once you’re involved and you’re in a position where you can give back, Selina, Rebe, Shonnah and Stephanie kind of set the stage for us, right, because they came back and gave back to their own communities and like to the ecosystem.
Shakil Kamran: So I feel like we have a moral obligation to do the same. I took it upon myself and said, “You know what? I want to inspire the next generation of change leaders and thought leaders that are coming behind me, and that are younger than me and all these other things.” So, what I did was I created a partnership between PepUp Tech and CUNY, which is the City University of New York, and that is the third largest university system in the country.
Gillian Bruce: Wow.
Shakil Kamran: There’s one in California, there’s one in the State of New York as well. They’re a collection of 24 colleges in New York City and they serve, I think over 250,000 students. So, what I did was I made a connection between PepUp Tech and CUNY and basically now almost all of CUNY students have access to Salesforce, Trailhead, PepUp Tech, and all these other things. And I feel like it was a moral obligation for me. I don’t like to take the recognition on that, but I think it’s so important to give back just like others came back and gave to us, and open a world of opportunities, right, because there’s so much out there.
Shakil Kamran: You learn so much when you’re in and when you’re on the other side of the door, you’re like, “Wow. I didn’t know this role even existed.” Right? “I didn’t know you have this amazing job and I didn’t know you could do this in Salesforce.” Just having that type of knowledge if you don’t have anything else and you can take it back to the community, it says a lot, right, and it can potentially change people’s lives because I know it did to mine.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. That’s so cool. I mean, what an amazing way to give back. I love how you say, “It’s kind of my moral obligation,” and it’s one of those things that I think kind of takes the Salesforce Ohana, that kind of spirit of trying to help each other to a whole level, right? It’s not just about those of us who are in the Ohana, it’s about extending it and getting new people in and extending it to the areas where maybe if you’re a student at one of those colleges you wouldn’t even know what Salesforce is, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So that’s really awesome. Thank you for doing that.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It’s just something that I felt like it had to be done and someone always has to continue that tradition, the movement that PepUp Tech has started and the partnership that Salesforce is open to, right? Like they’re open to it like, “Hey, bring on as many students as you can. Let’s teach everyone Salesforce. You don’t need a college degree to learn Salesforce and you can do many things using Trailhead.” So, I think all those things are important, but what’s even more important is for people to know about the fact that it’s available. Yeah, and I feel like I want to be that person that tells people, “Hey, those things are available.”
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s really, really powerful. Another thing that I heard you say was you don’t even know what kind of jobs exist, right? Because this is kind of this black box of working in the cloud or working in technology and so learning about the different career paths and opportunities and be working for a consultancy like you or working at a company that you uses Salesforce for a partner or for someone who’s building an app on the platform, there are so many opportunities, but yeah, I mean, you wouldn’t know about it. It’s not a traditional like being a doctor or a lawyer, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Gillian Bruce: I mean, does your family understand what you do?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. I mean, finally now, I told them recently, “Hey, I’m going to be featured at this conference.” They’re like, “Wait, what? What did you do? What did you do that was so important?” I was like, “No, I did this.” They’re like, “Okay.” Now they’re on board, now they understand what I do and like how important it is because to me it’s also, the type of work that we do, we specialize in non-profits and being that PepUp Tech is a non-profit and I have a background also in non-profits, it holds a special place in my heart. And so kind of understanding it’s not too many people understand how important it is to give back and how to use technology to help these organizations that are not financially as up there as other organizations.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well, that’s what Benioff likes to say that the business of business is basically making the world a better place. Right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: And I think that that is so cool. That’s like in the DNA from the company kind of at the get go and seeing that reflected in the community and what you’re doing is really awesome.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you. Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: That makes me so proud to be part of it.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, me too. And it resonates more with me very well and I think it should resonate with a lot of people because at the end of the day, I always think about this and I’m probably going off topic. I was thinking about this as like, “What do I want my legacy to be, right, when all of this is over?” I was kind of … I look at Shonnah, Rebe, Selina and Stephanie as my idols just in life in general because it’s like, okay, when all of this is said and done, what are we going to know them for? Right? Like not senior product manager, not this, not that, but we’re going to that they opened a door, a world of opportunities that our kids can know about and our kids’ kids can potentially do, so stuff like that.
Shakil Kamran: I think about as I’m getting older and wiser and things like that, I think about like, “What do I want my legacy to be, right?” And if I can just help out one person and the world changes their life in any way, shape or form, I think that in itself is a legacy, at least that’s the way I define it.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, and you’re undoubtedly on your way to do that. I mean, you’re already doing that, which is amazing.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you. Yeah, I hope so.
Gillian Bruce: Speaking of helping others since we are on the podcast, I’m sure we have some listeners that might be either new in their career or making a transition and since you, I mean you took a giant leap of faith, can you maybe share some tips or advice for folks who are kind of in that transition stage trying to figure out like, “How do I make that next step? How do I take that leap?”
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. I think not being afraid is really, really important. Right? Taking that leap of faith and taking that risk is really important. Whatever, like good risk, bad risk, it doesn’t matter what it is, reaching out to members, community members, reaching out to just anyone you interact with, and I think it all boils down to networking. So, if organizations like PepUp Tech didn’t exist and my other way in would be like through networking, right? I mean like, “Do you know this person? Do you know that person? Hey, can I get to speak to that person?” And I think a lot of people are afraid or don’t know how to network properly, and also research, right? So like you can research and reach out to somebody and say like, “Hey, this is what I want to do.”
Shakil Kamran: It’s unheard of but at the same time I think it’s important. And learning about like … Thinking for example, I want to say I’m having accessibility to platforms like Trailhead but Trailhead, not everybody in the world knows about it. Right? And kind of that’s the thing that I want to do is go out to the world and tell the people, “Hey, Trailhead is available, and it’s free,” because where I come from, we were taught, nothing is free. We were taught that like every man for himself, every person for himself.
Shakil Kamran: So, when you come into an environment like this and you see the Ohana, you see the community and you see these organizations like PepUp Tech in Europe and all these other organizations, you’re like, “Wow, everything that I’ve learned growing up is like completely opposite,” because everyone wants to see you succeed here. Everyone wants to see move up and do great things in life.
Shakil Kamran: So, yeah, I mean I would say networking is really, really important. I would say doing a lot of research, right? And I hope this reaches to the world that even though you don’t have access to a lot of things like Trailhead or any of the things like that, just mostly networking would be the most important thing, and also partly, I would say taking that risk, right? Like if you do have an opportunity in front of you and you don’t know how to utilize it or you don’t know where to take that opportunity, just take it, right, without thinking. I think that’s one of the reasons why Nike is so successful because ‘Just Do It’.
Gillian Bruce: It’s a really good slogan.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Right? It is like you just do it and then you figure out the rest later and nine out of 10 times hopefully things turn out well.
Gillian Bruce: Well, and oftentimes they don’t turn out the way maybe you expected them to but something else opens up, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that’s part of the journey, right? Like you want to … I think to me, success is the journey and not the destination, and I hope my journey just continues to go and everyone’s else’s journey because once you feel like you got to a destination, you feel like, “Okay, I’m done.” And I think the joy is when you’re not done. When you continue to go and you follow the unknown and you don’t know why you’re following it because the unknown might be something greater than you ever had.
Gillian Bruce: So well said. I love it. Yeah.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: I mean, what’s the use in completing the thing? There’s always something else you want to continue learning and growing.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, absolutely.
Gillian Bruce: My next door neighbor at HQ is Leah McGowen-Hare and I think one of her famous lines is, “If you’re not learning, you’re not growing,” right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, absolutely. And that is so true. Leah is definitely inspirational. Leah is an inspiration to me and many others and the community are so inspirational to me. I always say this, I don’t have one mentor. I have a bunch of silent mentors that they don’t know they’re my mentors, but I call them like, so when people asks, “What was your mentor?” I start just like opening up Twitter, and like, “Yeah, this person, and that person, and that person,” but, yeah, I think things like that is important. What Leah say is really, really important.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. You got to build your network of all kinds, right? You’ve got to have that collection of people you can tap for different things and look to for different things, I mean, personally and professionally. Right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, and also do the work, right? At the end of the day, I mean all of these things are great, but if you’re not doing the work, if you’re not taking time out of your day doing the Trailhead and just researching on everything and anything because technology is changing so quickly on a rapid pace, you want to be able to keep up. Right? So, if you are valuable in one aspect, if you’re a good person who networks really well, then that’s one thing. But if you have nothing to bring to the table besides that, then it’s kind of unbalanced. So yeah, I think those things, putting in the work and networking goes hand in hand and eventually you’ll get there and patience is important. Right?
Shakil Kamran: A lot of us, like for me, like I said, I left my job, right? My job said, “Don’t come back.” This was in November and January I got a call. So for two months I was like scrambling to pay rent and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. A lot of my friends thought I was crazy but now I’m like, I work from home, I have this awesome job and I get to do things like this and this is so amazing because I would have never dreamed of being in a podcast or being featured at the Keynote and I didn’t think that was in my destiny, but I know now that within Salesforce and just being around the committee members, anything is possible.
Gillian Bruce: And it’s just the beginning, Shakil. I hate to break it to you. You’re only a year into this even, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So, there’s many more things I’m sure that will open up and surprise you.
Shakil Kamran: I hope so.
Gillian Bruce: I’d love to talk for a second about your learning the technical side. You said you got to spend time researching and building and learning your skills on Trailhead or whatever way you do that because when you come to the table you might be the best networker in the world, but if you don’t have any skills to offer your network, then what are you doing? So in learning Salesforce, what are some of the big challenges or surprises that happened to you in terms of trying to learn how to manipulate the platform?
Shakil Kamran: I mean, the fact that you can do anything and everything using the platform is amazing. Right? And what’s even more amazing is that you can customize it, right? And it’s so easily accessible for you to just customize it, a bunch of clicks, clicks, not code, the whole thing about that. And that to me is phenomenal and fascinating because you can literally spin up an [inaudible 00:27:31] like two seconds. You can … Well, I shouldn’t say two seconds. Everyone’s gonna hate me for it.
Gillian Bruce: It’s okay. I didn’t say that you did. So there’s no hassle later.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Let me assured we’ll cut that part out. Yeah, yeah. And then one of the greatest things to me, it’s like if a CEO or executive director of an organization can easily go on their phone and pull up a dashboard or report, I think that’s so amazing, right, within minutes or if you need something changed or you want to add something, I love the fact that it’s so easy to do and so quick to do that there’s not that many platforms that you can do that with. So, that to me is what is really admirable about Salesforce and the platform.
Gillian Bruce: Well, that’s great. You spoke all and I mean, that’s my language, the point and click and the customizations, reports and dashboards, I mean, like you said, what a way to get senior leadership excited when you can show them on their phone that they can see the latest sales, dashboards, and manipulate them, and share them, and all of that?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah, that’s why it’s pretty cool. Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Well, we talked about a ton today, Shakil. I so appreciate you taking the time and wow, this has been a really fun, inspirational episode. I am so excited for everything that you’re doing, both personally and professionally and then in the community, giving back. I mean, your legacy is already building.
Shakil Kamran: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: You are well on your way. But before I let you go in the podcast, I have to ask you the lightning round question.
Shakil Kamran: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: All right. So first thing that comes to mind. No right or wrong answer. Nothing to do with Salesforce.
Shakil Kamran: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: It’s not a quiz.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: All right, so we’re in New York and I’ve been asking some New York themes, lightening round questions. So what is the one thing you recommend someone visiting New York City to do?
Shakil Kamran: At this time of the year, go see the Rockettes.
Gillian Bruce: The Rockettes.
Shakil Kamran: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Some kicks, right?
Shakil Kamran: Yeah. Go see the rockets, the Christmas tree, of course. It’s very cold outside, so it’s not like you can get on a cruise and go around Manhattan or I mean you can do that as well but just, yeah, I mean, New York City is so amazing, right? New York City is so amazing, the Big Apple. So you can literally do anything and everything just walk out of your hotel or Airbnb and just there’s always something to do, but I think the greatest things about New York is the food. So like trying out the different types of food, different ethnic foods, right, like it’s so diverse in the city. So, food is number one-
Gillian Bruce: Food is number one, I like that.
Shakil Kamran: … on the list. Yeah. So I would say that-
Gillian Bruce: Excellent.
Shakil Kamran: Try different foods.
Gillian Bruce: Cool. Well, thank you so much, Shakil, for taking the time. Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you for being an inspiration to the community and doing important work at Now IT Matters as well.
Shakil Kamran: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This means a lot.
Gillian Bruce: So, Shakil had so many amazing things to say. I can’t recap our entire conversation, but I wanted to pull out a few things that I thought were really poignant. First of all, I love that he said when he came to Dreamforce, he was terrified. He knew the odds were against him, but he viewed Moscone, which is where we have Dreamforce as his playground. It was his opportunity to connect with as many people as possible and not only tell his story, but learn about the product, learn from others about their careers and what they’re doing, what their companies are. He really just went for it. So I think that’s really a great thing to think about maybe as you are coming to a Salesforce event or going to any kind of professional event or a way to network, really having that attitude of it’s not just about sharing about you, but about learning about others.
Gillian Bruce: He also knew his value. He did not discount all of his years in sales and retail. He knew that that added quite a bit to the Salesforce skills that he had learned to offer to a potential new employer. So, do not discount that experience that you have outside of the Salesforce ecosystem. And finally, the biggest message that I got from Shakil, put in the work and network. You have to put in the work in order to learn the skills and to develop even though soft skills and then it’s all about building your network, connecting with others, finding out what opportunities are available, even if you’re not sure if that opportunity or that person works for a company you’re interested in, you got to continue to build those connections because you never know how they’re going to come out to play as you try and transition or build your career.
Gillian Bruce: So, lots of great stuff from Shakil. I so appreciate him taking the time out of his very busy week to meet with me and chat with me. I hope you all got something really exciting from our conversation. I know I definitely did. I think I could pull out a whole bunch of quotes and just slap them on as inspirational, but hopefully you enjoyed it. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast. We have new episodes every Thursday and we love to make sure that you get the latest and greatest delivered to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. It only happens if you hit the subscribe button. Also, leave us a review if you’d like. I definitely pay lots of attention to the feedback that you all leave on either iTunes or Twitter, so please send me feedback. I always love to know what you’re thinking.
Gillian Bruce: As always, if you want to learn more about becoming an awesome admin, you can find blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts on admin@Salesforce.com. To learn a little bit more about building your career in the Salesforce ecosystem, well, great news, we’ve got Trailhead content for that, so there’s an entire trail called “Build Your Career With Salesforce Skills” and that’s an entire trail. Check that out. The link is in the show notes.
Gillian Bruce: Also, if you want to learn more about PepUp Tech, either as a way to maybe get someone in your network, in your community exposed and involved with Salesforce or if you’re looking to hire amazing people who have got these great skills and are ready to put them to work, check out PepUp Tech. It’s also opportunities to volunteer, to give back, pepuptech.org. The link is also in the show notes.
Gillian Bruce: You can find our guest today, Shakil on Twitter @ShakilKamran14. You can find myself at @gillankbruce and all the latest and greatest from the Awesome Admin team at @salesforceadmins (no I). Thanks again so much for listening to us today and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.