Sometimes, it’s bigger.

It’s been a month and a week since George Floyd was murdered a few miles from my house, and a month and four days since I started running operations at BLC Midway to try and help, well, with whatever I can. When I showed up in Midway that day with donations, I dropped everything when they said we need medics. I dropped everything when we needed someone to organize stuff at BLC, and when the community showed up needing food and supplies. That included work, Salesforce community efforts, self care, all of it.

I’ve been struggling a bit, for a bunch of reasons, but the primary thing I keep coming back to is the time I’ve taken this last month to let go of everything else and put my efforts where they matter. I feel guilty. At first I didn’t know where it was coming from, the guilt. I felt bad for taking the time away from work (shouts to my incredibly flexible team for covering for me). I felt bad for basically dropping #SnailMailStickerSwap. I felt bad for not participating in any Lightning Champion or Service Cloud activities. I have been feeling just crummy for NOT letting my life go back to normal.

But that’s what it’s all about.

The way societal pressure pushes us forward, to move on from things, is negatively affecting our ability to grow and change when pivotal events finally shake us enough to feel the drive. It downplays the importance of Black Lives Matter and Trans Rights when deaths are still occurring every week. And so I feel this unbidden need to get back to things, and apologize, and get back into the swing of my “normal” life. But is that what’s necessary?

At BLC Midway, in partnership with individuals all over our community and with the clergy (me! partnering with clergy!), we have been doing our best to listen to what our community needs. At first, it was shelter and safe havens for medics to help heal. Then it was food and supplies while businesses were shut down. Now it’s continued support for ongoing food shelves. Next it’s facilitating learning and growth for anyone who’s felt the fire ignite for them, personally. Then, whatever comes next. Because this is what’s necessary. Getting people to hospitals when EMS was not answering calls. Ensuring households have food and babies have diapers. Keeping laying down tracks when donors and volunteers are starting to run out of steam. This is what’s needed, so why should I feel bad about it?

I came to the realization this week that the work I’m doing at BLC Midway is simply bigger. That’s not to say that I don’t love my job, or that I’m not passionate about Salesforce. But those things will be here for me. Sometimes, the work you do with your life doesn’t need to be your actual job. Sometimes, the people you help aren’t your customers or coworkers, but your community.

That’s okay. I’ll be back, active in the Ohana, as I have the time. I’m back at work and helping to get back and organized as my team still offers me so much grace. Because sometimes that’s what needed.

Sometimes, it’s bigger.

What’s Next?

The last two weeks have been revelatory for me, but I wish they hadn’t been. I don’t mean to say I wish I hadn’t been exposed to everything that’s happened. I just wish I’d been a better listener, and kept my eyes open years ago.

I live in Minneapolis, MN, I watched the video of George Floyd’s murder the morning of May 26th, and then on May 28th, gathered some donated money from friends and some of my own to make a run for supplies. I found an address posted on Facebook. When I arrived, I found they needed people with rudimentary medical skills to help medic teams. I have rudimentary medical skills. So that night, I headed out into Midway, St. Paul protests to support and help protesters who were getting injured.

I don’t feel like I need to go into detail–BIPOC voices have been telling us for decades about what people are suffering at the hands of police. But I witnessed police inciting violence against peaceful protesters (who have every right to rage anyway), and helped the best I could. We treated folks who had been tear gassed and maced. We watched National Guard troops roll in. We got word that the building we were housed in was becoming an area zoned in on by SWAT teams. We put out the word that we needed somewhere safe to retreat to, to house supplies in, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Midway said yes.


Since that night, I’ve been the de facto organizer of a donation and distribution site that’s grown from a safe haven and supply stop for medics to a huge site processing hundreds of volunteers and thousands of dollars in donations of food, household supplies, baby supplies, and more every day. We started to build, asked for help, and help came in. We said we needed bodies, and the Midway community–the MSP community–the Midwest community showed up. We said we needed more donations, and cars never stopped rolling in at the curb.

What this has become is a large-scale community mutual aid site to support Midway and the rest of MSP in the wake of something tragic that never should have happened. In the wake of an absence of justice that should have been served immediately. In the wake of three police officers who stood by and watched their trainer and partner kill an unarmed man without uttering a word to stop him. Myself, and the others who have helped me make the BLC site happen have seen a wild, incredible showing of community support, and of people who want to help.

And yet.

I am seeing people come into our site and take it in–the hundreds of people rushing around to intake and sort and distribute donations, the long lines of community members coming to pick up supplies, the volume of products coming in–and then leaving, inspired, humbled, and satisfied.

But that’s not enough.

Please don’t get me wrong. We need everyone–every single person–to want to be a helper in the world. I do want people to get satisfaction out of helping their fellow humans, and I want people to get joy from volunteering and serving others. But this is the very, very first little step, and I also want to make sure people go home with more. When you leave BLC Midway, or any other site where you’ve volunteered or shown up, I do want you to leave with a positive feeling, and some inspiration.

And I want you to leave with a drive to do more. A feeling of fiery ambition to make bigger change.

BIPOC communities were systematically underserved back in December, before 2020 happened, due to systemic and institutional racism. BIPOC communities were underserved in March when COVID-19 hit and healthcare systems continued to fail to ensure equal access for treatment and testing and work. And BIPOC communities have been underserved every time an officer of power made the split-second decision to move forward with deadly force when it wasn’t warranted.

We have had our community show up by the THOUSANDS to help out in this reactive effort to help feed and provide mutual aid to our fellow community members. Just imagine what it would look like if every one of us were able to continue that effort into action to end systemic racism.


So what can I do?

First and foremost, if you are white or white-passing, this conversation needs to start internally. Confronting my white privilege is work I started within myself years ago, and while I think I’ve made some progress, I have a long way to go, and won’t ever be done working to make myself a better ally. Recognizing and admitting privilege has to happen first. Knowing what White Knight Syndrome is, taking a hard look at how quickly white aid drops off after major events. It’s the foundation for so much more work to come, and I promise you, it will make a difference. See learning resource links at the bottom of this post.

Second, we need to recognize a few key differences that are important. The difference between charity and mutual aid. Charity, in this context, is rooted in connotations of those “with” handing off to those “without.” It it simple, and one-directional. Mutual Aid is a system of community recognizing that helping and giving is relationship-based. It means recognizing that so, so much of what we have was built on the backs of BIPOC, and taking responsibility for caring about one another, knowing that when we work together to lift up our community, it benefits us all. And we need to know the difference between reactive short-term work and proactive long-term work to come. What we’ve done at BLC Midway so far is reactive. The community has lost access to food and transportation and supplies. We want to help fill that need. But the long-term work is to address why the need is there in the first place.

Third, every single person can benefit from listening and learning. I’ve been trying to set aside time each day to do more of that, because no matter where you’re at with your relationship to your privilege, I don’t know that we’ll ever be done learning. Take in content from BIPOC voices. Watch movies with BIPOC writers and directors. Read books (nonfiction AND fiction!) by BIPOC authors. Listen to podcasts, music, talks, events by people who don’t look like you. See the end of the post for resource links.

Finally, we all need to commit to action. Maybe you’re not ready quite yet–I won’t fault anyone for wanting to take a little bit of time to start the learning and listening process first. But don’t let yourself forget with time. Starting today, I’m committing to adding new resources to my “Allyship Resources” page dedicated to action. Dedicated to information about important pieces of legislation that will break down institutional barriers. Dedicated to petitions and events and organizations to get involved with. Dedicated to small, everyday ways you can help make change happen. If we don’t act against racism, and larger intersectional equality and equity, that means we’re silent, and bystanders. We need to actively work to make it happen.


I have seen a lot of good in the past two weeks along with the bad. And I don’t want to see the momentum stop. I am happy to help answer questions and help educate and provide resources, but I’m asking for you to help do the work with me.


Allyship Resources Page – This page will be updated with two sections: Learning and Action. It starts with more listening and learning, especially from BIPOC voices, and moves into concrete action.

Keep Donating – Below is a list of organizations that you can keep funding, set up a monthly donation to, to ensure the work doesn’t die off when media coverage does.

Thank you for being a part of this,

-Allie

Get Started with Related Records

We can all agree that Salesforce’s new(ish) Lightning Platform brings a ton of great new capability to our lives, but sometimes, it can be tough to know it all. Today, I’m focusing on one of my favorite Lightning Page tips and tricks and walking through how you can use the Related Records component to provide great value to your end users.

But Wait, What is a Lightning Page?
For any new folks, a Lightning Page is a new way to interact with your Salesforce records and apps. You can create a new page experience to display an individual record, a home page for your app, or an app page that you can host within a custom tab to display to your users. Lightning pages can contin your standard page layouts and so much more with Lightning Web Components (LWC).

So, let’s talk Related Records.

My favorite component for Lightning Pages is the Related Record component used on Lightning Record Pages. This component allows you to pull in an action you’ve created on either the record you’re viewing or any other record linked to the current one via a lookup field. And you can use these actions to either be a window to view your related record, or to highlight fields that need to be edited together for easy access!

A Case Lightning Page with Related Record components in the left sidebar.

Here’s why I love them so much:

  • For cross-team collaboration, it can help give one team access to another team’s information without needing to navigate to other records, meaning less clicks.
  • For a great customer experience, agents can have information they need at their fingertips. For example, in the above case, the service agent can see at a glance that there is an upsell opportunity on this account, and that they have a Gold level SLA, so they need a response quickly.
  • Better team metrics are right around the corner: using the Related Records component means users don’t need to spend time opening up additional records, especially when they just want to view a couple of pieces of information that are relevant to their team.

Now how do I use these components?

Let’s walk through the steps.

Step 1:

First, identify the objects that are your primary object (the object that the Lightning Page will look at) and related objects (the object that your Related Records component will look at). For each of your related objects, create a new Action.

You will want to use an Update A Record action type. I recommend using a naming convention that will be descriptive (what is it, where will it be used) and leave notes for other admins in the description field.

Step 2:

Choose your fields to include. I recommend working with your teams to ask: “When you navigate to the other record (account page, contact page, etc.), what fields are you looking for?” In my example below, I’ve chosen fields that the agent may need to use to reach this contact. In the full page photo above, you can see that I’ve chosen fields that specifically relate to a service agent’s normal actions.

Drag needed fields onto the canvas and save.

Step 3:

Next, move to your Lightning Page. I like to use the layout tempalte of “Header and Three Columns” because it allows agents to see everything they need to without clicks or scrolling. Then, add the Related Records component to your canvas from the sidebar. Here, you can see I’ve placed mine on the left sidebar of my page.

Step 4:

Finally, configure settings for your component. This includes giving the component a title, making sure you’re choosing the correct lookup field to connect to your related record, selecting the action you created, and deciding whether or not you want to allow people to create new records from this component. For example, do you want agents to create a new contact to replace the one currently linked, through this record? Up to you!

Another thing I love to do is play with component visibility. Maybe you want to make this component available specifically to profiles for service super-users. Or to account management teams whose function crosses multiple other teams. Or you can display the component based on information in your primary record itself. The formula’s the limit!


At the end, you’ll have a page where a user can view their page layout with needed record fields, but also see exactly what they need of other records to provide the best value to your customers.

Reviewing this page as a whole from our service agent perspective, we can see key case details in the highlights panel at the top, giving our agent–or anyone else working with the customer–quick facts to get up to speed. In the center, full case details let us know what’s going on with the case so the customer can trust the information we have, and thus, trust us! On the right, a few tabs with a chatter feed, related lists, and activity stream, and finally, on the left, our related records! With this single view page, agents are ready to handle customer issues quickly, efficiently, and without extranneous action.

Questions? Let me know in the comments below, or tag me @allawler!

-Allie

No Time Like the Present: Get Started with Salesforce

We’ve all seen the memes, telling us how Shakespeare in isolation wrote King Lear. Sir Isaac Newton basically crafted calculus out of thin air. How all of these giant achievements were accomplished when people isolated themselves and focused. But let’s get real. For many of us, isolating isn’t easy. It gets into your head, can hinder focus big time, and can feel like a lot of pressure to get a lot done, when getting a normal amount of work done is sometimes all you can do. So instead, I propose not setting out on some huge journey, but just taking a couple steps.

Multiple friends have come to me and, knowing my enthusiasm for Salesforce, asked for resources to get started. So here I am, giving you a list of my favorite ways to learn, connect, and jumpstart something special. One thing I love about Salesforce is that they embrace an open culture of learning for all, making knowledge accessible for everyone. So I hope you find it accessible for you, too. The Salesforce community of learning has given me so much, and it’s your turn to dip a toe in.


Local Community Events
The Salesforce community is so welcoming. And while normally these events would be in person, isolation hasn’t stopped local groups from coming together virtually. I belong to the amazing Twin Cities Admin Community Group, and I participate in my local Salesforce Saturday meetups. But no matter where you are, the odds are in your favor for a group being nearby.

Find your local Community Group here.
Find a Salesforce Saturday near you on Meetup.


Virtual Community
Especially now, virtual community is just as important as in-person events. So there are great ways to get involved online. Join the Ohana Slack Workspace to communicate, ask questions, and experience new perspectives. Join a group on the Trailblazer Success Community to join conversations about features, products, ideas, and more. And join the conversations on Twitter with hashtags like #Trailblazers and #SalesforceOhana.


Certification Resources
First things first: we love certification discounts. In 2020, Salesforce is running a series of certification prep webinars. If you attend, you’ll get $70 off of a certification exam, which can be taken and proctored online. Sign up for a webinar here. But before you can take an exam, you need to learn the material! I like some of Salesforce’s prep Trailmixes, but users have also made study guides available on Trailhead–and it’s all free. And then when you’re ready to take things to the next level, there are trainings and mock exams available on platforms for free or a low fee, like Salesforce Ben, Simplilearn, or Focus on Force.


So there you have it. Community, learning, and steps forward toward certification that you can start taking, even when you can’t step outside your front door. And, metaphorically, my door is always open. Message or tag me on Twitter, in the Slack workspace, on my Contact Page. I’m here to weather the storm with you, and encourage you to just do a little something to learn and connect each day.

-Allie

#ActLikeAnAlly: Even in Quarantine

With COVID-19 now confirmed in all 50 states, many of us are starting what looks like at least three weeks of staying as home, social-distancing, as much as possible. If we can, we’re working from home. Bars and restaurants in many states are closed or limited to takeout only. And in the wake of self-quarantine actions being taken by many across the country, we’re also seeing several groups of marginalized identity getting left behind.

There are folks with disabilities left without care as adult care centers join the waves of mass closures. Hourly or bar/restaurant workers whose stores are closing temporarily, or worse, for good, are going without pay for an anticipated three weeks at minimum. Immigrants without quarantine options are at high risk for contracting the virus, and low risk for being granted access to the country. People of Asian ethnicities are being profiled and experiencing racism, even down to students in classrooms.

If these things raise a red flag for you, you may be asking yourself: How can I participate in Allyship behaviors while I’m stuck at home? To help answer that question over the next few posts, I’ll be exploring the top three ways to #ActLikeAnAlly–even when in Quarantine.

Outside of the top three, the first of which I’ll get to in a second, the number one way to act like an Ally, especially for immunocompromised, elderly, and high risk communities is to stay at home. Stay away from others. That one thing can help prevent the spread of the virus (not to mention any other illness!) to these communities. That said, let’s move on to today’s Allyship Tip!

#1: Seek and Socialize Knowledge

Allyship is rooted in empathy and understanding between members of marginalized identity and those who hold privilege. The first step to acting like an Ally? Learning about those whose identity is different from yours–and making sure to learn from the horse’s mouth. It’s important to focus on authorship when learning about any marginalized identity. How could I tell you about the queer black experience, when I am a cis straight white woman? Intaking knowledge and media produced by those whose identity you want to learn about is critical to ensuring that your Allyship is fostering a partnership with marginalized community directly.

Additionally, if you are a person of privilege, I should note that it is our job to seek out this information, this knowledge, to kick-start our own learning. For centuries, and even now, people who hold marginalized identity need to work harder to achieve the same rewards those who are privileged get purely for existing. It is the responsibility of those with privilege to take on the burden of our own education and learning, and not put that work on others.

Finally, while we are all in our houses pointedly not socializing physically, it is great to socialize information you find, especially in our increasingly-virtual world! Tweet that article. Share that video. Start a dialogue with those around you, and around the world.

Let’s Get Started

So where can you find these resources? I’ve created a living library of places to get started, with media choices from books to blogs, and podcasts to videos. My Allyship Resources Page is a good place to start, but I also encourage you to join the conversation online with #ActLikeAnAlly on Twitter, and share any great resources you find with me on my Contact Page.


Just because our normal routines look a little differently while the world reacts to the Coronavirus doesn’t mean that we forget about or stop fighting for those who hold marginalized identity. You can still take action at home, on your own, with family, with friends, to keep acting like an Ally. Over the next weeks, I’ll explore the next two steps you can participate in to #ActLikeAnAlly–even in quarantine.

-Allie

New Year, Same Habits: 5 Tips for Consistent Learning


I typically am not a big fan of New Year’s as a holiday. I already have this annoying personal habit of getting really enthusiastic about new projects, finding a passion for them, making a plan….and then fizzling out. Look it up–my Insights Discovery results were basically 23 pages of detailed explanation on why I’m a great idea machine. And how I really need to work on followthrough. So New Year’s, with its focus on resolutions, kind of just feels like any other Tuesday to me, you know? But there is something I’ve been wanting to work on, so while I won’t call it a resolution, I’m definitely hoping it’ll stick.

I’m very passionate about learning on Trailhead. The gamification really vibes with me. I’m a true yellow/red, meaning I really thrive when I’m recognized for my accomplishments. In other words, bring on the badges. But usually, I find myself operating on Trailhead in fits and starts. I’ll just get *that* feeling, and in a couple of weeks, blow through thirty badges and a superbadge. Not a terrible thing. In my career and elsewhere in life, however, I’d like to work on my consistency. So when the 100 Days of Trailhead challenge for 2020 popped up on my feed, it was the one New Year’s thing I actually wanted to participate in.

To make this easier for myself, and for you, I’m offering up five tips to make consistent learning easy and attainable. Whether you’re already a pro, or just hoping to make it through the next 100 days, give these tips a try and tell me what you think!


Prepare for Time Pinches

I don’t know about you, but I already know that I am going to have at least one day, even in this next week, where I forget to do my hour of trailhead until, say, 10pm. Or when I have an event that night. Or when I’m traveling. Lucky for those of us with an iPhone, Trailhead Go is at the ready. To prepare ahead of time, I recommend making yourself a Trailmix of modules that are great for mobile learning. You can use mine for inspiration, or start doing these badges yourself!


Blaze Your Trails

My favorite area of Trailhead is the homepage–where they show me my in-progress Trails and Trailmixes. As a person who’s definitely a completionist in any video game (side quests ftw), I love having completed trails, and often, you might find that the last module of a trail offers some great side information you might not have thought would be useful. Using these extra badges for content will not only help round out your learning, but make it easier to say “What’s next?”


Schedule Smart

As I mentioned before, I have been a dabbler in the art of procrastination, so I can see myself easily waiting until the last minute to log into Trailhead each day, especially since, with the challenge, it’s prescribed work to do. So think ahead! During the week, know when you’re going to work on Trailhead. I plan on going into work half an hour early each day. Maybe you schedule blocks of time around lunch to learn. Or book your favorite conference room for that time. For weekends, know which modules or projects you want to complete so you can learn, but also have time for life with family and friends.


Don’t Sweat a Day

What’s the saying? Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game? Similarly, don’t let missed one day derail your Trailhead Train. The hardest part of any resolution, New Year’s or otherwise, is getting back to it if you start to slip. So if you miss a day, plan to make it up later in the week. Don’t force yourself to do double work the day immediately after, because you’ll perpetuate the negative feeling of the missed day by a forced longer day, and it’ll cause you to crash even more.


Celebrate!

I could cite some scientific sources, but trust me. If you celebrate your wins, whether it’s by tweeting out your success, joining TopTrailblazers, or just having a group chat with some Trailbuddies, your brain will associate the positivity of the celebration with the learning–meaning, you’ll want to continue learning more!


So what are you waiting for? Get blazing! You can head to 100DaysofTrailhead.com to join the challenge (I promise, you can join late and catch up!) and learn more. And feel free to subscribe to Right Up My Allie for more Salesforce, Tech, and #GiveBack content every week!

-Allie

How it Starts: Bringing Passions Together

Five years ago, I was a full-time manager in retail stores, and had no notion of doing something outside of customer service, or maybe what I’d majored in–Public Relations. And I definitely didn’t see myself anywhere near software. Computers and tech were scary, and soft skills were safe. But that changed about a year and a half ago. I transitioned from a call center service role at a SaaS company to working internally instead, focusing on projects to improve workflow and customer experience. I started learning about Salesforce. And that was me discovering my career’s passion.

In January 2019, a coworker who previously worked for All Hands and Hearts brought myself and a group of six other coworkers to Puerto Rico–my first trip there–to volunteer with AHAH, helping the community of Yabucoa recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria a year and a half prior. On that trip, I helped repair the roof of a man named Esmeraldo. On my last day, I had the opportunity to show Esmeraldo the work we’d done. I walked him around his roof, now a completely different color than when we started, and showed him the lines of fresh concrete where we’d repaired cracks. He looked at me from the top of his ladder, and asked if it would hold when it rained.

“Yes. When it rains, water won’t come inside anymore,” I told him.

The look on that homeowner’s face has stayed with me since. Esmeraldo just looked at me for a solid ten seconds, his face ranging from gratitude to suspicion to hope, and he simply replied with “Gracias. Gracias.”

The work I did changed someone’s life. The work itself wasn’t particularly difficult, and I worked with a team to make it happen. It was fun, and it changed the trajectory of someone’s life for the better. And that was me discovering my heart’s passion.


This past year has been really great. It’s been full of the fulfilling pain of growth, but that’s been worth it. I started as a specialist for a service center, and now I’m a business analyst, providing solutions for business problems across the Customer Success side of an org. I’ve come into my own as a member of the Salesforce ecosystem, speaking at events like Connections and Dreamforce, and connecting with amazing mentors, teachers, and people who have guided me along the way.

It seems weird to me, sometimes, to think that I’m so passionate about my career. I don’t work for a non-profit that drives to do good in the world. I don’t save lives. But I have a place I can use my strengths to contribute to a team, a culture, and help us do business better. And the ecosystem fits me. It encourages me to keep learning and growing. It allows me to exercise my extrovert energy at events, and keep public speaking.


So with this love I’ve gained for two things: one in the business world, and one out in the world, the past several months have felt a little bit disjointed for me. In October, I took my third trip to Puerto Rico of 2019, and when I came back, I once again had this feeling of traveling between worlds. When I’m out volunteering, I’m totally disconnected from work, and my heart is so full, helping people, participating in this environment of selflessness and love. And when I’m home, working, I’m happy, and fulfilled, but I don’t have the time to participate in the same way. So I have these two pieces that I’ve been trying to fit together.

At Trailblazer Summit ’19, I was inspired with this idea. An idea to bring together my two pieces, and hopefully, help a whole lot of people in the process.

So welcome to Right Up My Allie–a tech blog I’ve been wanting to start for awhile, kicking off with the announcement of a new project. A program to give back by bringing tech skills and education to disaster-affected communities to help improve employment rates through remote tech jobs. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s get started.

-Allie