Adam was a Salesforce user, then worked on Salesforce projects internally in his company and even worked for Salesforce itself. He quit Salesforce to fix motorcycles (which he loved) because he just couldn't stand the pressure.
Coming back to Salesforce after a few years, in a different environment - as a consultant outside of organizations, doing contract work and shifting gradually to the more advanced Developer side, he found a better, more sustainable work-life balance with Salesforce.
I was a Salesforce user at a company which I was with going back about 10 years and I was a Salesforce user for a few years. I did a number of integrations with Salesforce and in the product offerings that we had. Then I left that company and went to work as an Enterprise Sales Engineer/Solution Engineer at Salesforce. I was there for a couple of years and decided to move on to something completely different and that was a motorcycle business I had for a number of years.
Interestingly I had a customer of mine who had come in for some motorcycle goodies and he was wearing a shirt with a logo on it. I asked him what the logo was and he told me what it was. He said it was this thing called Salesforce and I was like, “I know a little about Salesforce.” So I started doing some work for them and that was about 3 years ago so that’s what I have been back to the whole time.
What were your goals when starting and how did you keep motivated?
So when I first started in Salesforce they had a couple of mandatory requirements. So you had to have an Admin, Advanced Admin and at that time it was Developer 401 which is no longer around. So you had to get those to be an SE at Salesforce, that was a requirement and I didn’t have any choice. When I got back into Salesforce I quickly did my App Builder because my Developer Certification was going to go away and I only wanted to take a 20 question test so I did that pretty quick. And now to be honest with you, I’m not really sure what my goals are. I do work for some other consulting companies, one as an employee and another as a contractor. I’ve had several of my colleagues talk about going and doing something on their own. So I really wanted to get the Consultant Certifications, Sales and Service and just the other day I started on DEV-401 and the reason that I am sort of going in that direction at least for the time being is because I think there’s a lot more opportunity on the Developer side than there is on the Consultant side.
"I think there’s a lot more opportunity on the Developer side than there is on the Consultant side."
What was the most challenging part of learning Salesforce?
It was six and a half years ago when I was working with Salesforce which is 10 years by now. What was the most difficult thing? When I was in Salesforce, it really wasn’t much of the Salesforce product side there for me. It was quite difficult to learn and wrap my head around the corporate stuff, the latest thing that we were going to be selling, the latest mission statement and all that sort of corporate "cholesterol". I’ve been doing technical sales/pre-sales technical support for a long long time so the Salesforce stuff came pretty easy for me.
I think the biggest challenge that I have is that Salesforce is so big that there are things in Salesforce I might not touch for quite some time. So I might have a new project and I sort of have to completely refresh myself in some areas because there are some things that I haven’t really worked with or had my hands on for quite some time and it’s hard for me to remember everything.
Do you currently have a certification? Which one was the most difficult to obtain?
I have Admin, Advanced Admin, App Builder, Sales Cloud and Service Cloud Certifications.
The Admin exam absolutely, was tough. I didn’t pass it the first time and I think it took some months until I went back and did it again. So that was tough. The questions, the scenario questions, they can be really tricky and you absolutely have to be able to get the key points out of those scenario questions.
The thing is that 6 or 7 years ago, the training material that was available then as compared to what’s available now, there wasn’t much. There was no Trailhead, there was no Focus on Force there was none of that. So really what you had was a developer org, you had Salesforce help and training articles.
"The questions, the scenario questions, they can be really tricky and you absolutely have to be able to get the key points out of those scenario questions. "
What is your advice regarding certification and how to study for the exams?
So what works for me is, I go through all the provided content in order typically. Things I’m really comfortable with, I may gloss over that stuff and I really try to focus on the things that I am not strong on. And then I’ll take the mock exams and for me the mock exams are really good. I’ll run through the entire exam, whatever it is, whether it’s 60 questions or the 20 questions, I’ll run through the entire exam and then I will review the things that I don’t know or that I am not comfortable with. Sometimes there’s something I thought I knew well and the answer would be incorrect, I’d be surprised and go back and read the question again and I’ll think I knew that but I didn’t read that question just right.
To be able to review what’s there on FocusonForce what I really like is that you can not just know the questions that I answered incorrectly but there’s also an explanation. And then what I’ll do is I’ll go out and hit some of the links that go to Salesforce and I’ll read through, you know there’s a lot of minutia in there that no one’s going to need to remember in real life but there’s one sentence in the knowledge article and you can get tripped up on - something you can never remember but you need it to pass the exam so you know having that material readily available where you don’t have to go and waste a lot of time searching for it, it’s a huge benefit.
There are other online training material I have gone through in Udemy, a lot of them get very high praises but frankly I think some of it’s just not that great. I have a real appreciation for Focus on Force because I was approached maybe not many years ago to help out with creating some of the content, so I thought “Yeah, no big deal, I’ll have time to do it” and what I didn’t realize is the level of effort required to put the stuff together and as I started to get into it, I thought, there’s just no way I’ll ever have time to do this and I was just embarrassed actually because I thought I could do this so it’s a lot of work actually. I don’t think people who read, they don’t realize how much effort it takes to put this stuff together and so anyway, I bailed out.
"Sometimes there’s something I thought I knew well and the answer would be incorrect, I’d be surprised and go back and read the question again and I’ll think I knew that but I didn’t read that question just right."
What advice would you have for people wanting to start with Salesforce?
The thing about this Salesforce environment is that there’s a lot of pieces that are related to Salesforce, so it’s not like when you are working with Salesforce, you sort of have this tunnel vision and you are only working with Salesforce, you really get to work with many aspects of a business, that could be Sales or Marketing or Support. You work with typically many other applications that plug into Salesforce, so you basically get the sort of broad range of knowledge where you know if I was working on one specific product, with Salesforce you are not really pitch-and-hold onto one thing, you get to work with a lot of different things, different people, different organizations.
Working inside in an organization as a Salesforce Admin or Developer, there can be a lot of challenges there and I think that can be depending on the organization, if it's is a high growth environment, that can be a really high pressure position to be in. So I think being on the outside of an organization working as a consultant, I get a broad perspective of my clients’ business and their environment and I can relate things I have done for other clients in completely different types of businesses so it allows me to learn and apply things from many different clients. I typically don’t have the pressure or the deadlines unless there’s like a hard cutover date, so I typically don’t have the pressure that I did working inside an organization where people are just throwing things at me all the time.
For me, this environment is certainly more relaxing and I am able to work sort of at my own pace and on my own time and my commute is like 15 seconds. I can also have a life here, to which I think is really important where working in some environments, your entire life is dedicated to work and I’ve been there for a lot of years -- and it’s not great. So with the freedom, flexibility, the ability to do things that I like - I really like working on Salesforce projects now. When I was at Salesforce, it wasn’t the right fit for me. If I had a different position there, then it might have been different but I really like what I’m doing. If you would ask me 5 or 6 years ago about Salesforce, I would hit the erase button and yeah, never think about it again, I’m gonna go and fix motorcycles. But what I can tell you is that I really like the work now and everyday it surprises me and I learn new things every day, there’s no way to know it all.
"So I think being on the outside of an organization working as a consultant...I typically don’t have the pressure or the deadlines unless there’s like a hard cutover date, so I typically don’t have the pressure that I did working inside an organization where people are just throwing things at me all the time."
What Certification are you studying for now?
Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for sixteen certifications