Dreamforce Madness 2018

It’s been so bloody long since I blogged, my refresh token had expired for WordPress. Oh God, maybe I’ve really learnt something this past year!

Today I want to share the impact that Ladies Be Architects has had on my trip to Dreamforce. I’ve been to Dreamforce only once in the ten years I’ve had a Salesforce career. It was in 2016 and it was completely self-funded; I took a week’s vacation, paid for an early bird ticket, booked my flight and hotel in the January before DF16. I’m still paying it all off now.

This year, not only am I working at Dreamforce, but I’m working there in two capacities. One as a loving Bluewolf employee; I’m doing speed mentoring and I’ve had the honour of being asked to join some pretty senior people from Bluewolf, IBM and Salesforce for a breakout session about solving the workforce gap and why tech needs the humanities (see Eric’s TED talk below). This is incredible for a mere minion who just joined Bluewolf a year ago and I feel very proud that they even know my name, let alone want me to share my thoughts in an auditorium.

 

My “Other” Job

So the other half of Dreamforce is the community stuff I do. The Salesforce community isn’t like anything I’ve seen before, but then I’ve only ever worked in Salesforce jobs, so don’t take my word for it. It’s more than a network; it’s something fulfilling for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m off sick, or not chargeable, or feeling a bit isolated working from home at times – I still have plenty of people I can talk to and plenty of other things to do. Yeah, it takes up a lot of my spare time, but it makes me happy enough that I don’t actually care about that. I don’t notice it.

Ladies Be Architects has had an awesome first year and got off to a flying start. After a few months of talks at user groups and community events (thanks Charly and Susannah!!!), we have three sessions and a party at Dreamforce and I can’t wait to see how it goes. Neither can I wait to meet my two newest friends across the pond, Charly and Susannah. That day in November last year, when I’d done about 3 or 4 designer exams and decided that I didn’t want to do it all on my own, I created a group on the Success community. I never thought it would go as mad as it did – it’s incredible and definitely something I feel very proud to be a part of.

Especially now everyone wants a piece of Ladies Be Architects. More and more women are getting involved and seem to have an interest in becoming technical leaders. In this crazy year, I’ve received a golden disco hoodie, had various crazy perks and a bunch of gifts posted to my home by well-wishers I’ve never met when I was ill over the summer. It’s more than I ever thought could be possible and I’ve been so touched by it. People want to meet us, spend time understanding more about what we do and I WANT to spend my time enabling more people to become CTAs, or get through a few specialist exams they might otherwise not have done. The fact that we’re seen as somewhere to go for support makes me happy. It gives me something else to value in my life. It has brought me friendships that I will treasure forever. It also gives me a lot more to stress about before we even get out to San Francisco.

Getting Ready

So how have I coped these last few weeks? Ask my husband, Chris, and he’ll give you a very diplomatic answer. I discovered that ordering swag is a nightmare when you’re up against the clock and have zero PhotoShop skills. I re-learnt the necessity for practice if you’re doing a session. But also for setting expectations and saying no once in a while. It’s never a nice feeling when it’s Friday, after school; you’re at your local community centre as your child watches a movie with all her friends, the other parents are there, watching too and you’re the one ducking out to do a 45 minute call, having done nothing to rehearse your segment. Couple that with anxiety and suddenly, in your head, everyone’s judging you for being the working mum in “Bad Moms” who is portrayed as if she doesn’t give a shit about her kids. Of course, you do. It’s just a really special event for Mummy and she might not get to do it again.

How to Cope

The truth is, this is all normal stuff. Those of us who are working parents judge ourselves for this stuff all the time. Dreamforce just happens to be a really big conference that, for me, until this year, was something other people worried about. Now that Ladies Be Architects has become bigger than just me, Dreamforce has too. I absolutely love the momentum we have – it’s so exciting. There’s just a lot to do and I always set myself rather high standards, beating myself up when I don’t meet them.

Last night, I re-discovered the effect of mindfulness as a coping mechanism for when things just mount up. I managed to get 11 hours of sleep and I only remembered one single dream; it was blissful. Tomorrow, my husband is writing me a to-do list for the week, which will enable me to work through things in a more organised way and still manage to be someone’s mother. We fly out on Saturday 22nd and I can’t wait to see what this Dreamforce brings us. Moreover, I cannot WAIT to meet all of you. We’ve got this.

Gem xxx

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