By Colbert Tew
It’s safe to say I had no idea what to expect when I got the call in May that I was invited to attend the Dreamforce conference this year. Not only would this be my first technical conference, but it would also be the first multi-day conference I’d attend in a new city. Excited, nervous and slightly intimidated, I accepted and got to planning. Little did I realize that all the research and scheduling hours in the world could not prepare me for what I was about to experience.
I knew that as a scrum master, my time at Dreamforce was likely going to differ from my developer colleagues also attending the conference, and that I would likely be hitting most of my sessions solo. In my not-so-technical role as scrum master, I work closely with both my development team and our product owner, acting as a servant-leader, facilitator, and coach.
Still new to the Salesforce world, one of my goals was to continue learning about the platform and understanding what’s to come next. With that in mind, I bookmarked sessions geared towards administrators and planned to stop by booths to watch demos of various Salesforce and third-party solutions that could potentially benefit our customers and support their mission. I also turned my focus towards sessions centered around thought leadership, innovation, equality, and user experience. Learning new ways to communicate, work differently, and motivate myself and my team also became a top priority as I looked through sessions and read up on confirmed speakers and presenters.
My weeks leading up to Dreamforce involved spending some serious quality time with new best friend, Agenda Builder, picking the brain of Salesforce guru and personal mentor Sarah Deutsch Thornton, and reading blogs about “what to expect” and “how to maximize your experience.” Feeling organized and confident, I went into the week of the conference signed up for no less than 10 sessions a day.
I learned quickly on day one that over 10 sessions a day was not only laughable, but almost physically impossible to achieve for a complete Dreamforce newbie like myself. Being able to properly read a map and navigate through massive crowds would have greatly benefited me as I sprinted across campus to make my next session beginning in six minutes. It was then and there, huffing and puffing from a muscle cramp outside of Yerba Buena, that I decided it was time to be realistic, throw my rigid schedule out the window and really allow myself to enjoy the experience that is Dreamforce.
In brief, Dreamforce was a wonderful experience for me. Every day, I attended three to four prioritized, must-see sessions. Some of the highlights from these sessions included:
- The Government Keynote which focused on ways the city of Cary, NC is using technology to improve economic growth and quality of life for citizens.
- The truly inspiring and intimate breakout session with March for Our Lives’ founding members David Hogg and Matt Dietsch.
- Finally, a packed-house session with MIL’s very own John Storey talking through techniques to adopt Salesforce DX Unlocked Packages.
Additionally, there was some well-spent time wandering through the Customer Success Expo, collecting branded swag and gathering information on potential solutions for our customers. Throughout my days, I also got to catch shorter theater sessions, receiving demos and grabbing as many Salesforce pins as possible while feeling happily overstimulated at Trailhead. Another perk was spending time getting to know some of my coworkers better as we walked to-and-from various sessions and chowed down on amazing San Francisco cuisine
While the planned sessions were remarkable, some of my favorite moments of the conference occurred during the downtime—aimlessly walking through campus amongst French monks and celebrities alike, sitting on the lawn drinking coffee next to a life-sized bear named Codey or connecting with a stranger as you wait in one of the many lines you’re bound to endure. The energy at Dreamforce is electric and I could not help but feel empowered and rejuvenated being amongst hundreds of thousands of trailblazers who are all there to learn.
Along with that electric energy, I gained valuable learning tools, a fresh perspective, and a new Ohana from my first Dreamforce. And I would not do it any differently. However, for my second, third, fourth, and so on, I will definitely wear better walking shoes.
To avoid missing out on the adventure, mark your calendar for next year’s Dreamforce, scheduled for November 19-22, 2019. Be sure to check out the Salesforce trailhead make sure you are Dreamforce Ready.
Colbert currently plays a dual role of scrum master and project manager. She earned her Scrum Master Certification last year and is actively studying to obtain her first Salesforce certification.