Episode 74: Developers & Admins with Mike Gerholdt & Gillian Bruce

 

 

Mike Gerholdt is the Senior Director of Admin Evangelism here at Salesforce. His voice may sound very familiar to you. Mike is one of the longest-running podcasters in the Salesforce community and currently hosts the Salesforce Admin Podcast. Aside from Mike, I will also be joined by Gillian Bruce, a Principal Admin Evangelist at Salesforce, and another host of the Salesforce Admin Podcast.

Though we usually hear from developers, today we’re bringing in the admins. The roles of developer and admin may be different, but there are a few places where they overlap. That is what we are talking about in this episode. Mike, Gillian, and I are discussing our shared experiences and perspectives.

 

Show Highlights:

  • How both Mike and Gillian got exposed to Salesforce.
  • Why neither of them has dived into learning code.
  • How the modern version of Flow helped Gillian figure it out.
  • How developers can get better about their blind spots.
  • The benefits of taking on aspects of and understanding the admin mindset.
  • How to analyze your available tools based on their pros and cons.
  • What admins have domain over that developers don’t.
  • Why we need both skills and mentors to become better at our jobs. 

 

Links:

  1. Mike on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeGerholdt
  2. Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikegerholdt/
  3. Gillian on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gilliankbruce
  4. Gillian on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gilliankbruce/
  5. Salesforce Admins: http://admin.salesforce.com
  6. Salesforce Admin Podcast: https://admin.salesforce.com/salesforce-admin-podcast

 

Episode Transcript

 

Mike Gerholdt:
And we got a question from a community member that was, “I’m learning admin skills and what do I need to learn to be a developer?” And what’s interesting is, I got a Slack ping from our producer that was, “Hey, we got that same question, the developer really spreading this as well.”

Josh Birk:
That is Mike Gerholdt, Senior Director of Admin Evangelism here at Salesforce and probably a voice very familiar to a lot of you, as he’s been one of the longest-running podcasters in the Salesforce community and can currently be found on the Salesforce Admin podcast. I am Josh Birk, host of the Salesforce Developer podcast and here on the podcast you would normally hear stories and insights from developers, but today we’re bringing in the admins.

Josh Birk:
I will also be joined by the wonderful Gillian Bruce, principal admin evangelist here at Salesforce, also one of the hosts of the Salesforce Admin podcast. Today we’re going to sit back and talk about that clip that you just heard, and how developer roles and admin roles are distinct, but how they can also overlap and how we have shared experiences and perspectives, but as usual, we will begin with how they got into Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce:
Well, my story is actually, I came to Salesforce as a company before I even knew what Salesforce was, so I never considered myself a tech person at all. In fact, I was a huge biology nerd and policy nerd, and that’s what I was doing in Washington, DC before I came back home to San Francisco. And a friend was like, “Gillian, you need a real job,” because I really wasn’t doing anything at that point, and was like, “Hey, you should come interview at my company. They’re hiring.”

Gillian Bruce:
I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want to work for the Man.” So I went through the interview process and I actually ended up getting a role as an administrative assistant for the VP of Program Management at the time here at Salesforce. This was almost 11 years ago at this point.

Josh Birk:
Wow!

Gillian Bruce:
I know, I feel ancient. But I got hired at this company and I was like, “Okay, great, cool,” learning about tech-ish, but the first exposure I had to tech using Salesforce was using Chatter, and Chatter was a pretty new thing at Salesforce at that time. I think they had just released it at Dreamforce prior to me getting hired the following May, because I remember we all had those chatty wind-up teeth on our desks.

Josh Birk:
I still have those.

Mike Gerholdt:
Nice! Oh, my gosh! I had forgotten. I had shut it out of my brain. I remember those now, yes.

Josh Birk:
I can see mine from here.

Gillian Bruce:
Well, as a dentist’s daughter, I had grown up with those anyway, so I thought that was pretty funny. So I started using Chatter but the use case was unique because as administrative assistant, here I was trying to coordinate. I think she had 10 different direct reports and a huge organization and my role was trying to schedule Sprint reviews and schedule lunches to bring on site, and organize calendars and schedule meetings and I started using Chatter as a way to create a group for a group, and so do communications that way instead of a billion emails.

Gillian Bruce:
And I remember the IT manager at the time, who was in that organization, came up to me and she was like, “That’s a great idea! You’re using Chatter.” I’m like, “Well, yeah. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to use. You all complain about email. Here you go.” And so that was kind of my first real using of Salesforce. I still had no idea what it actually did beyond that, but I started really as a Chatter user to help organize my organization and then kind of clearly grew from there. But yeah, that was my first exposure.

Josh Birk:
Got you. Hey, Mike?

Mike Gerholdt:
I was so, so a propos. I was hired as an inside sales manager because the company I had just left was this little publishing company. They’d been bought out and they didn’t want to duplicate sales teams. Sales teams are always the first to go, and so I moved to another company, a non-profit, and I was their inside sales manager, which basically meant I kind of did what Gillian just talked about, except for sales people out on the road.

Mike Gerholdt:
And they astutely said, “Because your title has sales in it, and we just bought Salesforce licenses, you’re also in charge of Salesforce.” And I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe I should go home and re-evaluate my choices.” So it was interesting because I was like, “Okay, well how hard can this be?” And then they go, “Well, it’s our CRM.”

Mike Gerholdt:
And at the previous company I’d been at, we had a CRM. It was a web-based CRM. It was called absoluteBUSY. It was based in, I think, Sweden, and we’d bought a license for it but IT owned it, and that was my first exposure to CRM was, “We have a thing.” We also used to, and maybe some of your listeners know this, we also had Panorama at my previous company, which is a Mac-based, CRM-ish, except nobody could use it except one sales guy, and so we basically always went to his desk and be like, “Can you pull up this Panorama view of these customers for us?”

Mike Gerholdt:
It was insanely hard. You basically had to write code to get anything out of it, but that was my exposure and I was like, “Now I’m in charge of a CRM, but I don’t know how to code.” And so I was like, “Yeah, well, I guess I can do this.” I felt like He-Man the first day I built a dependent picklist, because I did it and I didn’t have to ask IT. That’s the long and short of it.

Josh Birk:
Nice, so a couple things on that. One is that, as I’m hearing what both of you are saying… Well, first of all, Mike, I got to just pull out a bit of trivia. I think you were one of the rarest people I’ve talked to who’ve got into the Salesforce ecosystem knowing what CRM stood for. Virtually nobody seems to get that acronym until it’s thrown at them through the Salesforce world.

Mike Gerholdt:
Well, I was in sales, that’s why.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. Yeah, and then on the second is like what you’re both saying is also very similar to what I hear from developer origin stories, in the sense that it’s like they get kind of pulled into Salesforce because it’s that slippery slope of making something easier. But let me pitch something quickly to both of you. Have you ever considered the dark side? Have you ever thought, “I should pick up some coding. Being able to build an Apex figure would really be helpful here.”

Gillian Bruce:
I mean, I’ve been code curious, but I’ve never actually taken the step to develop that curiosity at all. I have so many amazing conversations with especially the RAD Women and I’m like, “Oh, that sounds so awesome. I should do that,” and then my ability to follow through has not quite been there on that. It’s also really interesting because I’ve been very inspired by so many people, especially in the admin community, who have indulged in their code curiosity and have gotten huge rewards from that, and so I’m not ruling it out. Someday, maybe, but been a little busy. Prioritization is a problem for me.

Mike Gerholdt:
Man, Gillian is on point with these hashtag terms, code curious. She just came out with another one on the Admin Podcast. I’ll tell you this. I remember the moment. It was in 2011 and it was when I was getting my then developer certification, which I think is called @Builder now, and I was concerned because at that time, Salesforce as a whole was releasing a lot of new functionality on the platform that required code, and so we were transitioning away from S-Controls and going to Apex and triggers.

Mike Gerholdt:
And I will tell you this. I, like Gillian, am code curious, but because I was with a company that did educational testing and learning, I took time to sit with one of our IO psychologists, which is very smart people, and learned that I’m a visual learner and that mathematics, which was never strong for me in school and is really strong for code, just doesn’t make sense, right? It just bounces off my head.

Mike Gerholdt:
And so UI and what Salesforce calls declarative interface stuff, drag and drop, at the time WordPress was coming out, makes sense to me. I can put blocks together but I can’t do the math of putting the blocks together, and I think that for me, I will tell you this, I had a moment where I was very scared that my career was over because I wasn’t going to know how to code.

Josh Birk:
Really? Because at that point the world’s sort of centering around Apex and anonymous Apex and controllers and triggers?

Mike Gerholdt:
No, I think it was the world was still looking at computers as “A computer is to computer programs and apps as having to require code in order to build something,” as opposed to, I think the next generation, which is where Salesforce was a visionary in saying, “What if we build the tools and let the customer configure the app to their liking?”

Josh Birk:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), and you’re talking about a world where Process Builder and Flow are completely non-existent. They’re not even on the radar at this point.

Mike Gerholdt:
We had Workflow builder. We had Workflow builder [crosstalk 00:09:58]

Josh Birk:
Right, right, which builder is probably almost a strong term, I feel like for the state that it was in at that time.

Mike Gerholdt:
We had a series of picklists that would automate things on record instantiation.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Okay, so let’s bring it back to the modern age a little bit because, well, let me just ask both of you. What is your relationship with Flow like?

Gillian Bruce:
Well, I remember the first time looking at a Flow and I remember actually Mary Scott encouraging me. “Gillian, you should go play with Flow. You should learn this. You’ve got your admin [inaudible 00:10:32]. You can do this.” I was like, “Oh, okay,” and this is a while ago, so this is pre-modern version of Flow.

Josh Birk:
This is not the human-friendly version of Flow that we know and love today.

Gillian Bruce:
No, no, and I think this was in the context of building one of the first Trailhead modules on Flow and whether she was asking me to help test it or I don’t know. I was involved in some aspect of doing it. I don’t know, my memory isn’t… It’s been a while. So I remember going in and then following the steps, and I’m doing this and it’s so wonky looking and I’m like, “I don’t know what this means. What’s a loop? Blah, blah, blah,” but I was really trying it and I could not, for the life of me, get it to work.

Josh Birk:
Really?

Gillian Bruce:
I was like, “What? Come on!” So I got frustrated, asked Mary for help, eventually figured it out, and then I felt really accomplished that I figured it out. And then I was like, “Cool, so I’m not doing that again.” And then, fast forward the clock a couple years later, we have the whole Flow team investing hugely in updating it and making it more user-friendly. And I remember the first time I saw the new UI and I was like, “Oh, I can do Flow now. This is so exciting,” like “My brain understands this now.”

Gillian Bruce:
So that’s kind of been my journey and, I mean, to be honest, I have never used it to do anything super complex. I’ve used it to build some simple demos here and there, but now my brain gets it with the newer version that’s now been out, probably what? Three years or so, but for me that’s what helped click, was this kind of modern version of it and conceptualizing, “Oh, now I understand what a loop is. Now I get how these things fit together,” but it took a while for me, for sure.

Mike Gerholdt:
Flow made me question reality, so here’s how I can think of it. I have a friend that does woodworking, and he’s amazing at it, and he can understand things conceptually in 3D that I cannot. But you can go to the store, the hobby stores, and you can buy pre-cut wood kits and put a bird thing together. Flow to me was kind of like the pre-cut wood kit, except I sort of didn’t understand how it went together, but if I fiddled with it enough and put enough glue on it, I could make it into something.

Mike Gerholdt:
But for the woodworker, it was like, “Yeah, but these joints aren’t right and you can cut this and make it more sturdier this way.” And I felt like it was like it was just out of reach for what I would call the hobbyist or somebody trying to do something, but it was too cumbersome to use for a developer at the time.

Josh Birk:
Got you, so that was my initial experience, Gillian. My first response to Flow was almost exactly what you had, and like you, I was doing it in the first iteration version, which the UI just hurt my brain and I was constantly like, “I could get this done in 30 minutes if you would just let me write an Apex trigger” and the stuff that we were trying to get people to stop doing in the long run.

Josh Birk:
What’s come up with a lot of my guests is this concept. They push back on Flow being either low-code or no-code, because there’s a functional similarity between Flow and functional programming, in the sense that you’re putting in variables, you’re putting in loops, you’re doing the same things that Apex are doing, just in a very visual kind of way. So do you feel like it’s visual coding to you? And Mike, do you think that’s kind of why maybe you’re still not friendly with Flow? I’m kind of trying to prove a theory here. Is it a Venn diagram, or admin skills and developer skills really do kind of overlap?

Gillian Bruce:
I mean, I’ll just make a comment that I still don’t fully understand what a variable is and I kind of have a loose understanding of some of the words. And I think that, Josh, you’re on to something, because there is a developer mindset thinking that’s like that baseline understanding of how systems work and how you can program things that Flow allows a non-code-first person to do, but you still have to understand those concepts and those terms because for me that, I mean, aside from the very not-ideal, former UI, those concepts are still things that I need to tell somebody.

Gillian Bruce:
I need someone to tell me exactly how to do the thing, and then I can emulate it, but if you asked me to write something from scratch, I would be like, “Uh, I have no clue.” So I think it echoes that line of a lot of amazing, super awesome admins in our community understand enough code to be dangerous, but they’re not… I hear from them. They can read it, but they’re not going to go build it.

Gillian Bruce:
And I feel for me, I’m in that place with Flow of, I can get what is going on, but I’m not going to be able to come up with a new thing from scratch or new complex thing from scratch, right, unless I’ve already kind of done that before. Because of that basis, the methodology is. I mean, you’re writing code but you’re doing it in a visual way, from my perspective.

Josh Birk:
Right, right, and yeah, I guess it’s interesting because it’s like you’re building a mental map of how that structure and operation works, but if you’re not coming from an Apex world or a Flow world, then you still have to reconstruct that mental map in some way. The challenge is still there.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah. It’s like I’m not going to be able to write a book in Spanish, but I can respond to a very lightweight conversation at a bar, especially after a couple of Margaritas, right? That’s kind of how I put it together.

Josh Birk:
It is a scientific fact that Margaritas improve linguistic skills. Everybody knows that. That’s just fact.

Mike Gerholdt:
I would add, Josh, I read about this week, it’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect and I feel like Flow gives me the Dunning-Kruger effect, so the second that I start to build something very simple and can execute on, I’m like, “Oh yeah, I got this,” and then I go to the community or I watch the Flow PM demo of very complex Flow, and I’m like, “Oh, I have no idea what’s going on.” I’m lost, I could never build something like this from scratch, and I think the thing that’s important for me is the scalability of Flow.

Mike Gerholdt:
When you’re building something, you can build it and you can test it and it’s very easy to tweak, but sometimes you need to build things in code, and sometimes you need to build things in Flow, right? And I think, to me code feels, A, because I can’t code, so it feels more permanent as opposed to building something that could have a lot of variables and tweaking and changes, right?

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Mike Gerholdt:
I guess I’ve gone through, when I was an admin, how many different sales processes, and if I had to code the process for all of those, that would be a lot because inevitably, after two or three weeks, they want to change something.

Josh Birk:
Got you, got you. Well, let’s talk a little bit about that programming and admin skills kind of working together, and Mike, I know there’s a story that you want to get on the record and I’ll set this up-

Mike Gerholdt:
No! I don’t want to tell it.

Josh Birk:
You sure?

Gillian Bruce:
Oh, this will be good.

Mike Gerholdt:
No, I do, actually, but-

Josh Birk:
Okay, so let me set the stage. It’s Dreamforce. Coincidentally, I think it’s the Dreamforce we announced Trailhead. I think that’s when we first started talking about Trailhead, so it was already kind of a weird one for me because I’m just running around, asking everybody if they saw the Trailhead slides and what do they think about it, and we got roped into doing consults with customers at Dreamforce, as we often do, and scene, so tell me the story.

Mike Gerholdt:
This is pre-Lightning, so 2014 I think, and you’re in the developer zone helping somebody out, build an app in what we now call Classic, and tail end. I can tell you guys are real close to the finish line and there’s just a couple of nuance things left to finish. The developer zone and admin zone, this is when we were right next to each other, which we still were, but Gillian, we had that superhero banner pendulum thing.

Gillian Bruce:
That was my favorite year.

Mike Gerholdt:
I know, I’d love to know where that went. But all of a sudden I pop up and Josh is like, “Hey, you got a minute? Can you help me with something?”

Mike Gerholdt:
“Sure.” I have no idea what I can help you with except maybe where the bathrooms are or how to get in the employee break room, but whatever. By the way, the person that built Trailhead is asking me for help, so fine.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah, it’s a little intimidating.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah, no, “I totally can help you with something.” And we’re sitting down, he walks me through this app and I was like, “Wow! That’s a really cool app.” And there’s stuff going on these pages, I have no idea. It’s 3rd dimension, you’re transporting into Star Trek stuff and I was like, “Okay, so what can I help you with?”

Mike Gerholdt:
“Well, see how it still has the Salesforce summer logo in the corner? We want it to have the company logo.” And I was like, “Where’s the camera, because this is on Candid Camera, right?” No, it was just a couple easy clicks and I showed you that and you’re like, “Okay, cool, awesome.” And I was walking away and I was like, “Just showed Josh Birk something. Going to go have a Margarita and speak Spanish now.”

Josh Birk:
And speak Spanish now! So Gillian, I think you put it really well yesterday when we were interviewing, that as a developer, my biggest problems when I’m training to interact in situations like what Mike’s just describing, there’s simply blind spots, right? If my world is triggers, my world is Apex, I don’t think of Flows. I don’t think of where do I go to update the logo kind of thing.

Josh Birk:
I just don’t walk there unless it’s something that runs right alongside development like custom metadata. Now, you almost need to know that in order to properly architect an application. Perm sets, you kind of need to know that kind of thing. So let me pitch it to, I guess kind of you Gillian, but maybe both of you, is there a way that me, as a developer, what should I know/look at in order to be better about those blind spots?

Gillian Bruce:
So, I think you framing a blind spot is interesting. I would almost think of it more as… It’s like the other piece to the puzzle, right? So you’ve got kind of the end-up, complex problem-solving, especially about specific things like down, right? I think the admin mindset is a little different in a couple ways, right? So number one, you really think about kind of that end user experience from all aspects, right, like “What do they see when they log in? How are they using it every day? Do they want to look at it? Does it actually make their life easier?”

Gillian Bruce:
And so in thinking in that context, every day admins are trying to figure out how to maximize that experience. Now, whether that means making it look prettier or maybe it’s making it available on mobile or whatever that thing is, those are all kind of admin, I would say skill sets, that you have to bring in, but it comes down to really that end user-centric mindset where, I wouldn’t say developers don’t have that, but that probably isn’t the first thing you think about.

Gillian Bruce:
You think about how to solve the problem, right? And I think that’s where developers can maybe benefit from putting their admin hat on so to speak, right? “Okay, let’s think of this holistic experience, and let’s think of the longevity of it. Let’s think of where it sits in the organization, where it sits in the business. What does it look like two years from now? Who’s going to own this?”

Gillian Bruce:
A lot of those kinds of bigger questions, I think, are very central to kind of how admins figure out their strategy here today. And I think that is behind why these declarative first futures, because they’re easier to transfer over to another team or to manage in the future. You don’t have to figure out who wrote this code and why it looks like this. Documentation, thinking about enablement, usability. All of those things kind of fall into the admin mindset and the admin strategy that I think would really help enhance a developer skill set as well.

Mike Gerholdt:
Gillian, you nailed it.

Gillian Bruce:
Yes!

Mike Gerholdt:
And Josh, I can expand on that. I’m thinking of this exactly what Gillian said, but from the story that I told, which I do enjoy telling, so thank you.

Gillian Bruce:
So good, Mike. You got to tell that more often.

Mike Gerholdt:
I don’t know. It doesn’t get much better. The way I look at it is the tools you have available and what you’re trying to accomplish and so… because I want to sneak in a car analogy. I want to sneak in a car analogy.

Gillian Bruce:
Do it! Vroom vroom!

Mike Gerholdt:
In the car world there’s an older mindset, I will say, of people that used to be a mechanic because you could work on a car when you popped the hood. Now you pop open a laptop, and it’s the evolution of cars, right? Cars have gone from mechanical timing and mechanical devices that you use a screwdriver or a ratchet for, to a laptop, to a CPU that actually manages timing and everything.

Mike Gerholdt:
But the person that works on the car is still a mechanic. It’s just they use a different tool. When I went over to help you, as a mechanic I was just using a different tool, and the stuff you can do on a laptop when you plug a car in is amazing, and there are people that it’s just a different skill set. But I think what I hear from you is, “What is the first inclination of tool that you go for?” And I think people should pause for a second and think of, “What are the tools I have available and what are the pros and cons of that,” right?

Mike Gerholdt:
Because the pros of using a platform-based tool like Flow means that any time something gets upgraded, Flow is there and it’s upgraded, whereas code may need to be rewritten because you’re on a different release and there might be different functionality for just different things that you can use to make the code simpler, right? I mean, you always look back at code you wrote a year ago and be like, “That was horrible.”

Josh Birk:
Yeah, and when we first started talking about, I think it was actually Process Builder, not Flow. I think it was when we were at developer relations kind of trying to go out and do road shows about, but effectively the same messaging. There were kind of people like, “You’re going to go in front of developers and tell them to stop coding. Do you have any concerns about that?” And I was like, “No, because if you look at the stuff we’re trying to replace with Process Builder and now with Flow and with headless Flows, it’s the really boring code that developers don’t want to deal with.”

Josh Birk:
It’s the stuff that’s only going to take an afternoon, another day to test, and then you’re just waiting for it to break. And then you have to go back and maintain it kind of thing, whereas if we can just get it into the hands of admins, then it’s your tool set at that point, like you’re saying, and we can go fix the weirder, harder stuff that still only Apex can really kind of handle.

Josh Birk:
And Gillian, I want to go back to where you were starting with the user focus, because one of my questions was going to be, “What are some of the things that admins kind of have domain over that developers don’t?” And I think you kind of hit the nail on the head because I think the answer to the certain extent is the users, and not just the who the users are, what their profiles are, what the make-up is, which I feel like also kind of puts admins into the role of the gatekeepers of security to a certain extent. Does that ring true to you?

Gillian Bruce:
Absolutely. I mean, when we think of the role of the Salesforce admin, I mean, let’s bucket it out to just put the tech aside for a second. They really sit at the intersection between the technology and the business, right? They’re often the ones that are translating what the business needs into the technology that will make that easier or solve their problem, so their job is to understand, what are their users trying to do? What does the business need to see? Okay, how do I make that happen at Salesforce?

Gillian Bruce:
And when you’re in that role, you have to think not only about the visual user experience, you have to think about accessibility, so security’s huge, right, because we have to figure out, “Who’s going to see what? Where is it going to live? How often are people going to be accessing it, or from where are they going to be accessing it?” And then also, what is the end result here? What are the key things we’re looking to get out of putting this into a system? These reports, dashboards, who’s going to get them? What frequency are people checking them? What are people going to see when they pull up a Salesforce app on their phone? What is going to make it easy for them to do their job?”

Gillian Bruce:
It’s that translation piece, I think, and that’s where oftentimes we see admins working very well with developers because they’ll say, “Hey! I need to solve for this specific thing that fits into this broader story,” right? “So I need help with customizing this specific Lightning component, because I need it to do X, Y and Z for this subset of users.”

Gillian Bruce:
And that’s one of the things I think is so awesome about those amazing admin and dev partnerships, but also that’s when, if you’re a developer working with admins who are making requests of you, understanding where that admin is coming from and kind of maybe getting more context and prioritization to those acts and understanding about “Why do they want me to build this thing?” I mean, maybe you don’t wonder, “I wonder about that as a developer.” I don’t know, maybe that’s me. I’m ingrained in the admin mindset. I always want to know why.

Josh Birk:
Yeah, yeah. No, and I’ll confess that some of this has occurred to me, in part because when I’m working at a developer addition all by myself, and I’m the sys admin and I have control over everything and access to every single record, I had a moment in my career as a Salesforce developer realizing I have to get out of that mindset because your users are far more diverse than that, and start thinking about things like what happens when that person doesn’t have access to that field on that UI that you’re now putting together kind of thing.

Josh Birk:
And a developer edition unfortunately, going back to the blind spot, makes it really easy to have those kind of blind spots unless you really put on a little bit of, at least, an admin hat and have a picture of how that’s broken down within the org itself.

Gillian Bruce:
100%, yeah. Yeah, there’s a lot going on in kind of that admin approach that is way beyond just thinking of the tech, right?

Josh Birk:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so to kind of pull this a little bit full circle, yesterday when we were talking about admins learning the developer skills and the developer role, one of the things I brought up was that it comes up repeatedly when I hear people who have gone down that journey, that it’s so much easier if they have a friend, if they have a mentor, if they have a group like RAD Women, and it’s easier to have that kind of trusted advisor. Do you two feel that’s similar?

Josh Birk:
If I wanted, for instance, to come and maybe be a slightly better admin, is a person a really valuable resource or is Trailhead going to be my path to success, or is it kind of both things?

Mike Gerholdt:
You ask good questions.

Josh Birk:
I try.

Mike Gerholdt:
So I would say this. I think first, just so I’m on the record saying it, the identity that you choose to associate with doesn’t change, so doesn’t change based on the task that you do, so I could do a lot of developer-ish things, like I could write a line of code. It doesn’t make me a developer. Much in the same way, Josh, I could show you how to change the themes and branding in Salesforce and the task of doing that doesn’t make you an admin. And I bring that up because I feel like that’s the fastest path to imposter syndrome, right?

Mike Gerholdt:
Walking into me doing a few Trailhead modules and being like, “Phh! I can write code,” going to a developer conference as a developer. But I don’t want to disenfranchise anybody from thinking. That’s also the way that you become a developer. You become a developer when you learn how to think like a developer, and when you learn the mindset and identify with kind of the methodology of problem-solving, I would say, much in the same way of admin, right, which is why I feel like often business analysts and individuals that are looking to move within an organization become admins because they often so identify with the end user aspect of it.

Mike Gerholdt:
And I’ll be honest with you, just looking at the way that code and websites and stuff work now, we almost rely on the fact that the developer made this front end easy to use, that all of the back end testing and loading will just happen, and I don’t need to think about it, right? And so that frees me up to really focus on the process and the business of it, but I guess to your question, it’s bull, right, because one part is the skill and the knowing how to do it, right, to the mechanic aspect.

Mike Gerholdt:
I know a lot of mechanics that can plug a car in and can diagnose a 2000 or newer car and really struggle at figuring out a carbureted ’60s hemi-engine. I also know quite a few people who the reverse is true. Just off the sound of the car, they can tell you if the motor’s running rich and what screw to turn on the carburetor. You put them in front of a laptop and they probably couldn’t even open up a PDF, and neither makes them disenfranchised to each other, but it takes the skill and the person to kind of help them shepherd into a different identity and a different career path, I would say.

Josh Birk:
Got you.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah, and Josh, to your point about having a buddy, I think in the admin and Adminland… Oh, that happy place! I mean, of course it’s always great to have a buddy, no matter what, but I think especially if you’re talking about beefing up your admin skills, one of the best ways… I mean, there is such a thriving admin community. I mean, I know there’s an amazing developer community as well, but the admin community is very vocal, very willing to help each other.

Gillian Bruce:
And one of the best things that I have recommended over the years, because that’s how I have learned a lot, is literally by hovering and seeing what people are asking in either the Trailblazer Community or on Twitter, #askforce. Literally just by watching the cute questions and answers, you will absorb so much and it kind of gives you that feeling of being on the job kind of so to speak.

Gillian Bruce:
So if you’re admin curious developers, I would definitely just pop open a browser and leave it open for a couple of hours, and just kind of see what’s going on and see what kind of questions people are asking and what the answers are, because that will help you kind of get that thinking, that mindset of thinking the admin way. That’s one of the easiest kind of first steps I would recommend.

Josh Birk:
And that’s our show. Well, I still got you. I want to go ahead and thank Mike and Gillian for the great conversation information but I want to call out especially a thank-you to them for this podcast, because it was conversations with Mike over the years about doing a podcast based on his experiences with ButtonClick and then later the Salesforce Admin podcast, and I shadowed Gillian as her role of the host on the Salesforce Admin podcast to figure out the ins and outs of how to do this job. So huge shout out and thank-you to them for helping me get this out the door. Now, before we go, I did ask after their favorite non-technical hobby.

Gillian Bruce:
Mike, you have to go first.

Mike Gerholdt:
Why me?

Gillian Bruce:
Because I can answer for you. Want me to do that?

Josh Birk:
I kind of feel like maybe we’ve heard of the answer through the recording.

Mike Gerholdt:
You probably have.

Josh Birk:
But I’ll let you speak, sir.

Gillian Bruce:
Vroom vroom!

Josh Birk:
I’ll let you speak.

Mike Gerholdt:
Well, I will answer, so this is on Twitter. I’m a car guy. I like going to car shows, I like going to car auctions, I like driving my car, stuff like that. Here’s the answer people didn’t expect. I am starting to become a lawn nerd, on YouTube, watching how you cut grass and humic acid and learning about biochar farming and using biochar.

Josh Birk:
Oh, my gosh!

Mike Gerholdt:
So Google all of that if you want to go down this really fun rabbit hole about how Amazon people made the dirt so super rich in nutrient in the Amazon Rainforest using biochar, and so that there. You didn’t know that. I am full on.

Josh Birk:
You home-owner, you.

Mike Gerholdt:
Full on. I got the fertilizers, I got the electric lawn mowers, I got probably 22 bags of biochar and HumiChar in my garage right now. Bet you didn’t think that was the answer.

Josh Birk:
I did not. That was a surprise.

Gillian Bruce:
I mean, also a fun fact, Mike has taught me a lot more about lawn care over the last year because we’ve both been growing our lawns, so my lawn is maybe a 10th of the size of his because a San Francisco-size lawn, but I am very proud of my lawn.

Josh Birk:
Now you have finite control over it.

Gillian Bruce:
I do.

Josh Birk:
So the renter in me is very jealous right now.

Mike Gerholdt:
Right, yeah. Well, you don’t have to deal with it. I mean, to the point that I’m excited that I’m getting a new riding lawn mower and what’s funny is, I called the dealership and they’re like, “Yes, I found the last one in stock,” and I was like, “Ooh hoo!”

Gillian Bruce:
And see, now you can combine your two passions into one. It’s perfect.

Josh Birk:
Yeah, vroom vroom.

Mike Gerholdt:
I can putz around in my yard, my lawn mower.

Gillian Bruce:
It’s going to be the loudest, most powerful lawn mower in the neighborhood.

Mike Gerholdt:
Seriously, it’ll have flames. It’ll have flames.

Gillian Bruce:
Oh, man. Well, I mean, in the before times, my favorite hobby was going to very warm, tropical places and diving in the water and looking at all the cool squishy things underneath the waves.

Mike Gerholdt:
Oh, yes. Yes.

Gillian Bruce:
But in modern times I’m a little more limited in my travel ability so I’ve actually been a shocker, really nerding out on podcasts lately because I can listen to them as I’m doing the billion chores that are around the house because I have a little human running around, so I have been going down the rabbit hole for podcasts that I never, ever would have discovered before and it’s so fun and I feel extra nerdy and it’s great. Yeah, so if anyone’s ever looking for really weird podcast recommendations, I am more than happy to share.

Josh Birk:
I hope you enjoyed this special episode of the Developer podcast where I got to sit down and talk with two of my favorite admins. Now, if you want to learn more about their work, their blog, their podcast, head on over to admin.salesforce.com, but if you want to learn more about this show, head over to developer.salesforce.com/podcast, where you can hear old episodes, see the show notes and links to your favorite podcast service. Thanks again everybody for listening and I’ll talk to you next week.