Get Salesforce Practice by Tracking Your Habits

Want more practice learning Salesforce? Don’t have experience beyond Trailhead? Build an app to help you track good or bad habits. This is a win-win-win: hone your app builder skills, improve your habits, and you’ll have a cool app to show off in job interviews.

Salesforce Skills Used

  • Create a custom object and fields
  • Create reports
  • Create dashboard components
  • Make it mobile friendly
  • Problem solving: how to turn real life issues into measurable data
  • Send email every 3 days with stats
  • Bonus: Screen flow for easy tracking

My version: Migraine Tracking App

Forget record-triggered flows or apex triggers. The real demons are migraine triggers. I want to build an app to track when I have one of my trigger foods and when I have symptoms.

I have a threshold for tolerance of delicious triggers. I can eat some chocolate, dairy or red wine without reaching the threshold and getting sick, but I don’t know what the threshold is. Can building my own tracking app help?

Continue reading Get Salesforce Practice by Tracking Your Habits

So you still want to Salesforce volunteer at a nonprofit?

Here’s what you need to know. 

Photo by Basil Samuel Lade on Unsplash

By Gordon Lee

Before the proverbial ink dried on the first article on why you shouldn’t Salesforce volunteer at a nonprofit, I could already sense the exceptions the community would raise that I didn’t have the time to address. The Salesforce Trailblazer Community, after all, is made up of passionate tech nerds who have a keen eye in finding exceptions to things. It’s in our nature since we have to sniff out those nuances to be great at what we do. 

Folks sent in anecdotes, counter-points, and personal stories about how their experiences were mutually beneficial and what I put out there was a disservice to the nonprofit world. My opinion is that those experiences are the exception, and don’t reflect the greater trend of nonprofits that are harmed when a volunteer is only using them to get experience. 

Nevertheless, there is merit in the exceptions raised. So, this follow-up aims to address those exceptions, and clarify when it is a good idea to Salesforce volunteer at a nonprofit. 

First, go through this checklist before you ever touch a nonprofit’s Salesforce instance: 

Don’t be a pro bono villain. Do No Harm!

Make sure the volunteer has completed the nonprofit trails on how to volunteer in the best way possible!

Megan Himan, BrightStep

You Should Salesforce Volunteer If…

1. You have an experienced mentor willing to help and/or they have a Salesforce admin on staff. 

This is the best case scenario that covers two pain points that many in the community have echoed. 

  1. Having someone senior by your side to sanity check your strategy, thoughts and deliverables ensures that what you build is actually useful and will be used by the org. This mentor should be someone in the NPSP community. 
  2. Having someone on staff not only signals the nonprofit’s investment in the project, but also serves as your single point of contact so that you’re not spinning your wheels chasing down answers when you could be building an amazing solution instead. 

The bottom line is that expectations are key. If people don’t have a skill in something, they shouldn’t use nonprofit resources to attain that skill, but if they do it carefully with help from those who know what they are doing (hub, or a mentor), it can be helpful.

Joni Bryan, Amplify

I actually feel that volunteering your time towards a non profit is a great way to learn Salesforce. With that said, I absolutely DON’T think that a new person should be doing an implementation especially without direct guidance. If someone is new to Salesforce and are volunteering their time to a non profit the non profit should either have a dedicated Salesforce admin on staff that the volunteer reports to, or the volunteer should be matched with an experienced mentor at a consulting firm who can dedicate the time to ensuring they are successful.

Daisy Sayre Garcia, ImagineCRM

Tip: Make sure all changes are documented and accessible, because they will have follow-up questions. That leads me to my next point.

2. You’re available to unpretzel your mistakes. 

If you’re in it for the long haul with this nonprofit, then you’ll be around to help troubleshoot, train, and make sure the users are set up for success. Eventually, they’ll find mistakes, want more functionality, and have general questions. If you’re not around indefinitely to help, make your time commitment clear from the beginning and ensure all parties agree to this before starting any work. 

Set a deadline for reviewing if it’s working and evaluate its success (ie. in 3 months we will sit down and review progress). Open-ended is usually a recipe for problems. The volunteer should make a 6-month commitment for a specified number of hours each week/month. If they can’t make that commitment for that length of time, then they shouldn’t do it.

Tim Lockie, NowITMatters

Tip: Keep the project very simple — define the engagement as setting up NPSP to track fundraising. Or setting up volunteer management. Nothing fancy.

3. They approach you and are explicitly and specifically asking for help. 

You still need to tread lightly here. In my experience, most users aren’t aware of what they’re asking for, let alone nonprofits who are diving into the world of Salesforce NPSP for the first time. The worst case scenario here is the blind leading the blind with the best of intentions. 

The nonprofit needs help but doesn’t have clear requirements or a strategy, and the volunteer is willing to help but is inexperienced. That is a big hot mess waiting to happen. 

I generally tell people that want to go this route to pick a nonprofit that has existing infrastructure and can support an intern or a volunteer, then ask politely.

Otherwise, I tell people to start with the PTA in their local public school. It is an easy nonprofit that a lot of people have access to — particularly people with children. Approach the school’s PTA board, ask them how they track fundraising, see what they say, and if they say Excel or something like it, suggest that maybe you can help with this thing called Salesforce that is free for up to 10 users for them. The PTA is always my go to for this type of self-serving learning on the job because odds are the PTA will take all the help they can get, they won’t move to anything permanent as the stakeholders are continuously changing on PTAs, and hopefully whatever comes of it is helpful.

Justin Edelstein, Arkus

Don’t forget your own mental health when jumping to help a nonprofit. You can’t pour water from an empty glass, and overcommitting even with the best of intentions can ultimately be tough on everyone. If you find yourself desperate for work experience, try to find your own center before reaching out. People can generally sense your emotional state and being frantic can put off other people.

(Ashley Allen, ITEquality)

Tip: Spend 90% of your volunteer time having conversations with the team, and 10% on building the solution. Dig into what business pain they’re trying to solve, and what success looks like for them. Be diligent to help paint a picture of how you can help transform the way they work. 

Other options to gain experience

  • Go through a volunteer platform where the nonprofit knows what they’re getting themselves into. Here, they have a deeper sense of what they need and are specifically making a call out to the community for help. Go help!
  • Do freelance jobs on platforms like UpWork.
    • Bonus: You get paid while gaining experience. Just be very clear about your experience level and adjust your rate accordingly. 
  • Make. Your. Own.
    • It’s fun, it’s free, and you’ll learn much faster with a personal project. 

Final thoughts: 

  • Mentoring bonus: The mentor should also agree to the commitment for the agreed time period. The mentor can grow their own experience by mentoring. Something in it for everyone!
  • Have a healthy consultant mindset — If they were paying you, what extra effort would you put in to make sure they hire you again? 
  • Be realistic about your time commitment. 
  • Have an exit plan that hands over what you built to someone at the org. You don’t want the nonprofit to fail as soon as you’re gone.
  • Leave a place better than when you found it.

Sunshine Stories: Lashonna McBride is paying it forward

Lashonna is a Technical Analyst for the run:CRM team at Slalom. In her role, she assists with various areas of Salesforce customization and maintenance, including composing user stories, testing, and building out enhancements for existing orgs. Lashonna was recently appointed as a board member for the non-profit organization, Amplify, which helps to empower underrepresented voices in tech, and provide resources to those who may not otherwise have access.

Company: Slalom
Title: Technical Analyst
Years of Experience with Salesforce: 1-2

LinkedIn Profile

Twitter @LashonnaMcbride

Continue reading Sunshine Stories: Lashonna McBride is paying it forward

Maya is GeekWire’s Geek of the Week

Maya Peterson lounging during a hike in Washington’s North Cascades National Park at Hidden Lake.
Maya Peterson lounging during a hike in Washington’s North Cascades National Park at Hidden Lake. (Photo courtesy of Maya Peterson, via GeekWire)

Hurray! Our own blogger Maya Peterson is featured in this week’s GeekWire as Geek of the Week, whichprofiles the characters of Pacific Northwest tech, science, games, innovation, and more.”

Read her GeekWire profile here. 

BAM! We did it!

On Tuesday, May 21st we celebrated the completion of our pilot Salesforce training program in partnership with Dress for Success Seattle. Dress for Success Seattle seeks to offer long-lasting solutions that enable women to break the cycle of poverty and become more financially independent.

Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management tool, but it’s really so much more than that. Salesforce enables businesses to streamline their processes and customer engagement. Salesforce touches many aspects of a business from Marketing to field service, e-commerce, and the nonprofit sector, it generates many new jobs each year. Salesforce encourages those already familiar with the system to spread their knowledge with an initiative called #BAM – Be a Multiplier.

Continue reading BAM! We did it!

A Glorious NPSP Day Seattle

“Next step in our : The meta-peeps create some organized chaos: What’s unknown in @SalesforceOrg‘s NPSP, at .” Photo &Tweet from @BRCTweets (Barbara Christensen)

Both years I’ve attended NPSP we’ve had incredible weather so the idea of a unhandled sunshine error is not applicable to this magical day.

MOOD of the room: Excited, happy, energized, grateful to be part of this amazing supportive community.

KUDOS: Ryan Ozimek and Katie Fadden are delightful facilitators! Megan and everyone at 501 Commons pulled this off flawlessly the day after Give Big! Congrats to Crystal on the birth of her new baby girl! So much !!!

STRAIGHT TALK: In this segment of the programming, we brought the elephant to the center of the room and talked about the .org acquisition. As a .org employee, I just want to make it clear that the opinions below are those of other folks who attended, some of which I might share, but they by no means reflect any official stance of Salesforce:

  • We want .org or .com to say “IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY. YOU DON’T NEED TO WORRY.”

Continue reading A Glorious NPSP Day Seattle

Building My Dev Cred

…And building a trigger that creates a new task when an email was sent! 

In 2018, I’m focusing on building my “dev cred,” as Leah McGowen-Hare put it at Forcelandia a few years ago.

Next week is the final week of my RAD Women coding course and I am thrilled with how far I have come.

I am also building more connections in the Salesforce digital communities of Trailblazer, Power of Us Hub and Twitter.

So I was checking out the unanswered questions on the Trailblazer Community to see if I could help out and I ran into this one:

Is it possible to use Process Builder or Workflow in auto creating a task after an email is sent related to a record? The email (with a specific Subject filter) will be sent from (A) within Salesforce or (B) Gmail/Outlook but will be recorded in the Activity History. I tried to create a WR but it didn’t run after I sent an email.

The answer to that is ‘No.’ The end. Continue reading Building My Dev Cred

A Salesforce Love Story

[ Zach and I are honored to be on’s blog today!]


On our Trailblazer Voices blog series, we’re sharing stories of real people facing real challenges, and finding innovative ways to succeed. These stories are as diverse as our world, ranging from one Trailblazer’s career transition to an ongoing mission to tackle the tech gender gap.

Yet across these stories one common theme stands out: community, or as we like to call it “Ohana.” It’s the family-feel of the Trailblazer Community that many Trailblazers cite as the biggest game-changer in their journey. And in no story is that more obvious than the story of Jessie Rymph and Zach Nostdal, two Salesforce Admins who chose to put a ring on it center stage at Dreamforce last November.

It’s not every day that we’re asked to help pull off unforgettable marriage proposals, so with Valentine’s Day around the corner, it seemed like the right time to check in with these lovebirds and ask them to share their story. Continue reading A Salesforce Love Story

Salesforce Admin: The Leanest Job Ever

You’ve probably heard of “lean management” or “lean manufacturing.” It feels like “lean” is ubiquitous in many industries, but I haven’t encountered the buzz word up here in the cloud. We have a self-improvement book club at my employer, Optimum Energy, and last week we discussed 2 Second Lean by Paul Akers.

“Lean” is the involvement of the entire company in continuous small improvements to remove waste and improve efficiency, as practiced by fanatic Paul Akers.

71cpzizlgfl.jpgGood Salesforce administration is one of the most “lean” things you could do for your company.

Every day each of Paul Akers’ employees comes up with one process improvement that cuts out two seconds. 2 Second Lean claims you can revolutionize your company in these tiny increments. And I believe it, because that’s exactly what I do all day in SFDC.

At Optimum Energy, for every energy optimization project, a series of emails used to go back and forth between members of three teams until pricing was agreed upon. Now a user clicks a button, launching a flow which asks them a series of questions and starts an approval process. No information is misplaced in an email folder. All the right people are looped in. That’s efficiency!
Continue reading Salesforce Admin: The Leanest Job Ever

How Flow Saved My Job

Flow took me from a “hmm…let me Google that” Salesforce admin to a confident “no record is too far out of reach” admin-eloper (admin/developer). Leadership changed at my company and I had to quickly differentiate myself from my new boss, a Salesforce administrator with way more experience than me. In our initial conversations, he made it clear he would prefer to have a developer working for him. Okay…. one developer, coming up!

i can be a developer Continue reading How Flow Saved My Job