11+ Salesforce Influencers: Up, Close & Personal

Dreamforce 2017, Salesforce, Salesforce Training
Salesforce Influencers: Up, Close & Personal

Do you want to dig into the minds of some amazing Salesforce influencers and get inspired by their brilliant ideas?

Well, I am glad you said YES!

And NO, I am not talking about meeting them in person at Dreamforce or at any of the upcoming Salesforce events. (Which you definitely could and should!)

I am talking about how you can sit back, relax with a cup of joe and read some of the interesting conversations I had with the best of the Salesforce Community.

To be honest, pulling this together was a bit tricky. (And tedious, phew!)

Especially since I didn’t want this article to be yet another “Top Salesforce Influencers” article.

Instead, I wanted all those “Top Salesforce Influencers” to say something that really mattered to them. So, I went around to each of them and asked them a completely personalized question.

Believe me, it was quite intriguing!

Okay! Without further ado, let’s get on with it.

Salesforce Influencers: Up, Close & Personal

If I were to give a proper introduction to all the Salesforce Influencers featured in the article, with all of their merits, then that would make it helluva long. So I’ve trimmed some bits of it, to make it more engaging.

Also, I recommend you to check out every single one of the Salesforce Influencers.

(Click on the links below to go directly to the Salesforce Influencer)

Eric Dreshfield | Mike Gerholdt | Daniel Peter | Ben McCarthy | Fabrice Cathala | Michael Farrington | Amy Oplinger | Oliver Hansen | Jitendra Zaa | Brent Downey | Keir Bowden

Note: This is the first version of this article which will include 25+ Salesforce Influencers. I will be releasing more over the next few months.

Click here to subscribe to our Salesforce special and stay tuned to this article.


Salesforce Influencers - Eric DreshfieldEric Dreshfield from Apttus

Eric Dreshfield is the Advocacy Manager at Apttus and he has been active on Salesforce since 2009. He has been named as a Salesforce MVP every year since 2013, making him a 5-time MVP and has spoken at various Dreamforces. He’s also the founder of the Southern Indiana User Group and the Midwest Dreamin’ conference.

Here’s what I asked:

You evangelize, advocate and advise everything Salesforce. And you successfully founded the Southern Indiana User Group and the Midwest Dreamin’ conference. What is the story behind ideating, founding and leading your group & the conference successfully for all these years?

Here’s what Eric has to say:

To be perfectly honest, both the Southern Indiana user group and Midwest Dreamin’ came into existence initially for what I like to call purely selfish reasons. Prior to starting the user group in mid-2010, I spent 1 to 2 days a month, for about 7 months, on the road traveling to & from user group meetings around the Midwest, simply to get my fix of networking and learning about Salesforce from others. I got tired of all the driving and asked someone at Salesforce what it takes to start a user group. Their response: “You just did…by volunteering to lead a group, you just started a group.”

The idea for Midwest Dreamin’ was born in late 2010. I was unable to attend Dreamforce in 2010 – the first Dreamforce I could have attended since starting on Salesforce. I had this crazy idea that I wanted to bring Dreamforce to me, and Midwest Dreamin’ was born. I planned the event, polled user group leaders, and their membership to see if they would attend such an event. I found a venue that was willing to work with me on a deposit, while I secured sponsors. Much to my great pleasure, 100 people showed up in Louisville, KY in May 2010, for a full day of Salesforce goodness.

Since the beginning of both the user group and Midwest Dreamin’ both have grown in size as the population of Salesforce customers grew. And now there are Community-led events in several cities in the U.S., and even in the U.K., South America, Spain, France and Australia. Wow. #ProudGrandParentMoment


Salesforce Influencers - Mike GerholdtMike Gerholdt from Salesforce Admins

Mike Gerholdt, famous for his initiative the Button Click Admin, is the Director, Admin Evangelism and the host of the Salesforce Admins Podcast. Mike is a Certified Admin, Adv. Admin, Developer, and Sales Cloud Consultant. Mike speaks regularly to standing room only crowds about Admin best practices.

Here’s what I asked:

If you were given the power to make anything happen throughout the entirety of Dreamforce, what would that be?

Here’s what Mike has to say:

The best part is that we give everyone the power to make anything happen at Dreamforce. Whether it be learning about new technology, earning a Trailhead badge, or connecting with members of our Salesforce ohana. That means everyone has the power to make their experience great.


Salesforce Influencers - Mike Gerholdt

Daniel Peter from MacGyver Force

Daniel Peter is a Salesforce MVP, organizer and leaders of the Bay Area Salesforce Developer Group, and a Lead Applications Engineer at Kenandy. He is also 22x Salesforce Certified and is one of the most popular Tweeps of Salesforce.

Here’s what I asked:

As the Bay Area Developer Group Leader and one of the most popular Salesforce Influencer, what advice do you have to give to all those awesome admin/developers who look up to you?

Here’s what Daniel has to say:

First off, I am honored to be looked up to by anyone. I have looked up to many people over my lifetime, and it is an interesting mind shift to think that others may be doing the same with me. If someone is looking to me for inspiration or guidance, I am fortunate for the opportunity to be able to give back to a world that has given so much to me.

I have several pieces of advice to give folks:

First, don’t believe that you can’t do something because of some made up limit. Most limits aren’t real, which is easy to prove when you break through them. For example, you may think you can’t be a good coder. But with hard work, you will become an amazing coder. Or you may think getting 200 or 300 trailhead badges is impossible, but if you dedicate a couple of hours a day to it before you know it a few months have passed and you are there.

Second, if you want to work hard to accomplish ambitious things you have to learn how to make the work enjoyable. Most of this is just in how you think about it. Always remember why you are doing what you are doing. Let’s say you are building something that is removing many hours of tedious, wasted work from the lives of others, replacing it with a button click and a smile. Once you find the best way to understand the meaning of what you are doing, try to enjoy the process of doing it. This may include things like proper tools, music, breaks, interactions with others. Treat it more like a marathon than a sprint.

Third, take risks. This could be anything from trying a new technology, to asking someone to give you an opportunity, to taking a leap of faith and starting your own company. With risk comes reward. With status quo comes mediocrity. Some risks won’t work out the way you hoped, but many will. And the ones that don’t work out are amazing learning opportunities. Fortune favors the bold.

Fourth, don’t expect overnight success. This almost never happens. Even the biggest success stories you can think of were likely years or decades in the making once you look into them. Be patient, don’t get frustrated. There will be setbacks, but as long as you keep moving forward you will exceed your own expectations in the long run. Bill Gates phrases this, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”


Salesforce Influencers - Ben McCarthyBen McCarthy from SalesforceBen

Ben McCarthy is the MD of EMPAUA and the founder of Salesforceben.com, which is one of the most popular blogs for Admins to learn about all things Salesforce.

Here’s what I asked:

Your blog Salesforceben.com is one of the most popular Salesforce blogs there is. What is your advice for all the individuals, hoping to create a Salesforce blog like yours?

Here’s what Ben has to say:

My advice is simple, just start and keep going! If you’re involved in the Salesforce community there is a pretty big chance that the knowledge in your head is going to be very useful to thousands of other people out there, no matter your experience level. Before SalesforceBen.com I didn’t enjoy writing and had never built a website or a blog, but with the tools available it’s never been easier.

Spread the word. Share the advice from the Salesforce Influencers with your friends and colleagues.


Salesforce Influencers - Fabrice Cathala

Fabrice Cathala from SaaS Components

Fabrice Cathala is a Salesforce MVP, Salesforce Tech Lead at Appirio. Fabrice is also the co-founder of the London Salesforce User Group and co-organiser of the Thames Valley Salesforce Developer Group. He holds 9 certifications and is also a blogger and speaker.

Here’s what I asked:

You were one of the star speakers of India Dreamin17. What experience do you hold close to your heart while speaking in such Salesforce events across the globe?

Here’s what Fab has to say:

Public speaking is about sharing your passion with people. Before the event, you’re focused on preparation. During the event, you’re focused on delivery.

When done, the stress is over and you can enjoy yourself. What I particularly like is taking the opportunity to meet in real life other Salesforce people I know from social media.

Salesforce Influencers - India Dreamin 17

My latest event was India Dreamin 17 and it hasn’t disappointed in terms of networking. I met so many people I regularly talk with on Twitter or Facebook, it was incredible! We’ve had the best welcome ever and I know that I’ll always remember all these great moments! I left India with lots of colorful memories in my mind, and the promise to come back to visit the country.


Salesforce Influencers - Michael FarringtonMichael Farrington from MichaelForce

Michael Farrington is Sr. Salesforce Architect at Domo and a member of the Salesforce MVP Hall of Fame. Some know him for his helpful and/or hilarious blog posts and videos. Others know him for his popular AppExchange apps including Field Trip and Draggin Role. 1% of all AppExchange installs are apps Michael personally designed and developed. At Dreamforce you can count on his annual Cigar Shindig to be the best party of the year.

Here’s what I asked:

You have one of the most fun personality in the entire Salesforce Ohana. Also, with an experience of 10+ years in Dreamforces’ (attending, speaking, connecting, having fun, etc) you are definitely one of the best people who can answer this question.

What would you have done if you were given the power to make anything happen throughout the entirety of Dreamforce?

Here’s what Micheal has to say:

I’m going to take the selfish option and say that I wish I had the power to rearrange the agenda (keynotes and all) to my own liking… there is just way too much fun stuff going on all at once it is impossible to get to everything.  Also, more coffee and water balloons.


Salesforce Influencers - Amy Oplinger

Amy Oplinger from Salesforce SaaS

Amy Oplinger is a freelance consultant and Salesforce MVP, with 4 certifications. Amy leads both the  Cleveland Salesforce Women In Tech User Group , and Cleveland Non Profit User Group, and is extremely active in the Salesforce community as a whole. She is a proud member of the #GifSquad and loves public speaking, and has done so at Midwest Dreamin, Southeast Dreamin, India Dreamin and Dreamforce.

Here’s what I asked:

You have spoken at various Salesforce events, like Southeast Dreamin, Midwest Dreamin, and quite recently, India Dreamin. And now you are all geared up for speaking at Dreamforce 2017. What/Who do you think played the key role in getting you a spot at Dreamforce 2017?

Here’s what Amy has to say:

I believe that the Salesforce Ohana is responsible for my speaking at Dreamforce 2017! My talk isn’t technical, or even platform related. I am speaking about Imposter Syndrome, a talk I have given as several Dreamin conferences and User Groups. It’s something I struggle with and decided to take a chance and open up to my peers. The topic really resonated with the community, based on the positive feedback I have received over the last two years. I am so honored and proud that I will have the opportunity to speak to the Dreamforce audience about Imposter Syndrome this year, and look forward to furthering the conversation!


Salesforce Influencers - Oliver Hansen

Oliver Hansen from Salesforce Blogs

Oliver Hansen is a Salesforce Admin and a ‎Digital Marketing Specialist at Datacolor, who has created a virtual one-stop shop bringing together many blogs from across the Salesforce community. His site, Salesforce Blogs helps you navigate through topics, jobs roles, and geographical locations to help you tap into the knowledge you need.

Here’s what I asked:

Salesforce is all about giving back. And you already have a brilliant initiative to give back to the community through Global Salesforce Blogs! What is your drive behind creating this brilliant website?

Here’s what Oliver has to say:

The best way to learn is to teach.

The Salesforce platform offers a high level of flexibility, combined with a beautiful design. Millions of people therefore actually love working with a 360° business software, many build their career around it, and go beyond their daily responsibilities to help others learn Salesforce as well. You can obtain fresh Salesforce insights and discover original solutions daily because Success Community members share them through blogs.

There are many great learning resources out there and I especially find blogs most helpful as community members share their knowledge written in their own words. Explaining a topic in a new way may help someone else learn something they didn’t previously understand. At the same time, helps the writer to verify their topic insights as well.

To encourage writing blog posts and giving more visibility and recognition to bloggers, I started SalesforceBlogs.com. Throughout different categories listed, hundreds of Salesforce authors and articles help people to discover Salesforce in new ways!


Salesforce Influencers - Jitendra ZaaJitendra Zaa from Jitendra Zaa Blog

Jitendra Zaa is a Salesforce MVP and a Principal Consultant at Cognizant. He is a regular speaker at Salesforce events such as Dreamforce, Salesforce world tours, and other developer group meets. He holds 19x Salesforce certifications and is one of the top developers in the community.

Here’s what I asked:

You have 19x Salesforce certifications, which is simply amazing. What is your advice to all the aspiring individuals who are actively pursuing Salesforce certifications?

Here’s what Jitendra has to say:

Getting certified is one way for me to get hands-on a particular area of Salesforce. It gives me push to learn something new which I may not have learned in any of previous Project. While going through study guide I find so many gems, functionalities about Salesforce which I have never heard. Getting certification helps me to UP my game for future projects. In order to prepare any certification, my only advice is to jump into the water and get hands-on experience. Trailhead is a great resource, they provide many Heroku apps for integration-related exercise and some cool utility apps. To become a certification Rockstar, all you have to do is plan properly, go through youtube videos, do hands-on, go trailhead and get certification!!!


Salesforce Influencers - Brent Downey

Brent Downey from Admin Hero

Brent Downey is is a Salesforce MVP, Certified Administrator, Advanced Administrator, Developer, and Sales Cloud Consultant. His passion for Salesforce reflects in his blog Admin Hero where he helps Salesforce Admins with exceptional content.

Here’s what I asked:

What is the story behind creating your blog that takes SFDC Community from Zero to an Admin Hero? 

Here’s what Brent has to say:

Admin Hero is all about sharing my personal findings, and things that I think will help others excel in their careers. There are benefit and value in helping others by documenting my missteps and learning best practices. Admin Hero started with a few blog posts on topics I wasn’t finding information on in the community. Through trial and error, I was able to solve a problem using the little bit of documentation I could find. Once I found a solution that worked for me, I decided to share it so that others could accomplish the task at hand much faster.

Over the course of the years, Admin Hero has grown into a resource for those looking to get into the Salesforce ecosystem, and the content focuses on creating Admin Heroes by not just focusing on the how-to, but also the soft skills needed to be a successful professional (again, based on my own experiences). People must like it because it’s one of the top Salesforce blogs in the world!


Salesforce Influencers - Keir Bowden

Keir Bowden from Bob Buzzard Blog

Keir Bowden is the CTO at BrightGen, a Salesforce ISV and Consulting Partner in the UK. He is one of the most prolific contributors to the Force.com Discussion Boards under the screen name “Bob Buzzard” and a frequent blogger on Apex and Visualforce solutions. He is the author of the Visualforce Development Cookbook and 5x Salesforce Developer MVP and fanboy.

Here’s what I asked:

You are one of the popular CTA’s of the Salesforce Community. What advice would you give to all the aspiring developers of the community aiming to be the next Bob Buzzard?

Here’s what Keir has to say:

  • Quality, not quantity. You’ll establish a much better reputation by answering a few questions really well than by answering every question that gets posted poorly.
  • Consistency is king. Get into the habit of posting meaningful content on a regular basis, rather than popping up every few months with a flurry of posts and then disappearing.
  • Be original. Rather than copy/pasting the Salesforce docs or just retweeting everyone else’s thoughts, provide your own insights based on your unique experience.
  • Above all, focus on helping people, not the scores/points/badges/awards. If you do a good job with the former, the latter recognition will come.

Wait for A Sec, I Read 11+ Salesforce Influencers!

Firstly, if you’ve come here after reading through what each of the Salesforce influencers has to say, then Kudos!

Secondly, this is just the first version of the article! We’ll be featuring a lot more Salesforce Influencers in the coming days and yes this article is going to bloat up!

Know someone who must be featured here? Let me know in the comments or tweet out to me.

Oh and don’t miss out any of the updates. Click below to subscribe to the article and I’ll personally inform you as I add new Salesforce Influencers!

Gokul Suresh

Gokul Suresh

Gokul leads the Inbound, Content and Social Media efforts at Whatfix.

A techie, a marketer and a UX enthusiast, he lovesthinking up creative ideas and experimenting with new tools. He's an expert in inbound marketing and eats CRMs for breakfast, ITSMs for lunch and leftovers from Product Hunt for dinner!

Have anything to say to him? Tweet out to him. He enjoys constructive criticism.
Gokul Suresh

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