Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Force of a Dream at Dreamforce

Culture / Technology

“If tackling critical common problems seems a fool’s errand, it’s only because we’re looking at life through too narrow a lens.”

                                     -Paul Rogat Loeb, The Impossible Will Take A Little While, 2004


Seeds of the Possible

I am a Salesforce Solutionist for businesses at Rightpoint. A large portion of what drives my solutions is curiosity about the various angles and points of view that happen within the inner workings of businesses I encounter. If I were a sales manager, how would I see this issue? If I were a customer support representative, what would I experience? If I were the CEO, what would I be told? Where are the seeds of the possible hiding and waiting to sprout into branches of success? My unique insight then provides my clients with creative visions of strategy they had not considered before. When I attended Dreamforce in 2016, a thought was planted in my own mind: What would happen if I pointed my business solution skills toward also solving issues in the community? Little did I know what this seed of thought would sprout in the coming years.


The Future is Now

Take a look at the picture below and think about what you see:

Let me share my dynamic composition with you. What you see are future CEOs, CTOs, tech evangelists, developers, admins, tech industry disruptors and most importantly – my students. They are all a part of PepUp Tech, or a movement of People Empowering People Up Through Technology, which was created by myself and others in the Salesforce community, based on that thought I had about solving issues in the community back at Dreamforce a few years ago. Let me share more of how this picture came to be and why it matters today.

According to a McKinsey & Company report titled Diversity Matters:

“In the United States, there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.”

This issue is one that I saw myself and others could impact as solutionists. The truth is most companies in the United States just aren’t prepared to meet the demands required to increase the diversity of their incoming and existing workforce pipeline. Too many variables inhibit their formula for change, such as unconscious and conscious bias of hiring managers, lack of awareness or fear of change. Taking my solutionist nature, I set out to provide a pipeline for the increasing diversity demand.


A Force to Be Reckoned

This pipeline has since come to reality in the form of PepUp Tech. This year at Dreamforce, I not only attended as a Rightpoint Salesforce Solutionist, but also as a co-founder of PepUp Tech. Our PepUp Tech movement originated within the core of the Salesforce ecosystem: the community. Each of us founders are Salesforce community members who share similar values and commitments. PepUp Tech itself provides access, skills and confidence to begin careers in technology, particularly through the Salesforce community and training.

We have inspired a little over 200 students in our adult program with over 140 new students who just started our 10-week intensive virtual class this month focused on Salesforce training. We also started a K-12 curriculum to provide access to technology to those students in areas where schools do not offer access to technology beyond taking an exam on a computer.

Our students are excited, motivated, energized and bursting with a zeal for opportunities often remarked upon when people meet our students at events. I have witnessed the tenor and vibe of a room shift positively when our students enter an event en masse based upon the number of smiles I see on people’s faces.

That zeal for opportunities is recognized by Salesforce partners and customers in search of prospective employees. We have placed 50 students in jobs, with so many more interviewing for the next step in this industry we call technology, holding onto an optimism filled with uncertainty.

We are all volunteers and we source all of our support from the local and national Salesforce communities who supported us from the very beginning. Whether it’s guest speaking, instructing a class, helping us build an integration or form, moderating a chat in a class, small grassroots donations for cool swag we get donated to us and many of the same scenarios you see people in this country volunteering for when it comes to a political campaign, we are a grassroots organization built upon hard work and a commitment to help others.


Dreamforce 2018

Our movement, our students and our work, was highlighted in the main Dreamforce 2018 keynote. It was an amazing honor to receive and we are so grateful to all of our Ohana who supported us to this point and beyond. But this Dreamforce experience during the keynote was just a portion of what I experienced for the week.

Our organization brought close to 90 people to Dreamforce, 75 of which were students. Our itinerary for the week included: a day spent at Facebook HQ, a soldout Karaoke fundraiser with 300+ attendees, a main keynote guest speaker feature and seating, post-keynote executive green room networking, networking events and our special invite-only Make Change event sponsored by Salesforce with industry leads, guests and our students.

It was an amazing week. The results from the force of many dreams forged into one. One sprout in a bed of many seeds that were planted and continue to be planted towards a brighter future. The future is now, and we are using the Salesforce platform for change. Each of our students represents a seed of the possible waiting for someone to nurture them into a sprout that blossom into flowers of hope. It is a direct result of the little ray of light that I like to believe sits within each of us when it comes to the future of technology.

Feel free to watch our video highlight below: