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Angela Mahoney is the Executive Director of RAD Women. She also helped found this organization and has played a major part in its growth. Angela is currently assisting with a cool project of teaching Salesforce at a university in Mexico.

In this episode, Angela and I dive into the history behind RAD Women. She shares how it was formed and what they’re doing today. Finally, we discuss the origin of the tech conference Forcelandia.

Show Highlights:

  • More about the Salesforce project Angela’s helping out with in Mexico.
  • How she got involved with technology at Salesforce.
  • Why she wanted to get involved in the Salesforce community.
  • The origin story and mission statement of RAD Women.
  • What has contributed to RAD Women’s regional growth.
  • Why Angela wanted to create a community conference.
  • How Forcelandia is distinct from other community events.
  • What Angela does outside of RAD Women.

Links:

Episode Transcript

Angela Mahoney:
In Spanish, I actually don’t know, although when I was cleaning my room eons ago, I found a note that I had written when I was younger that my goal in life was to learn Spanish.

Josh Birk:
That is Angela Mahoney, Executive Director of RAD Women, an organization she also helped found. I’m Josh Birk your host for the Salesforce Developer podcast, and here on the podcast you’ll hear stories and insights from developers for developers. Today we sit down and talk with Angela about her long history of working with the community, how RAD women got formed, and also the kick off of the conference Forcelandia, but we were going to pick up right where we left off with her early years.

Angela Mahoney:
And then I did, but I didn’t learn it because I wanted to. I learned it because my best friend and my twin sister took the other two languages in high school. So as the procrastinator, I got Spanish but it aligned nicely with my goals. So I majored in that just because for me it was relatively easy in college so then I could take the classes I wanted to take.

Josh Birk:
Interesting. Did you see it as a potential business opportunity or was it just something that you kind of started getting pretty passionate about because to get as fluent as you are in a language takes dedication?

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah, I think it was more of a passion because literally, I was first generation college where mom said, “Go to college.” And that was it. That was pretty much our direction. So as a good girl, I said, “Okay, mom told me to go to college.” But I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with that. But since I like to talk, Spanish just seemed like a great way to talk to more people, so there you go.

Josh Birk:
That’s awesome. Tell me a little bit more about the Fulbright Scholar program.

Angela Mahoney:
So that I got after graduate school. I like to count things and I studied statistics and quantitative analysis as part of my graduate program and applied for a binational business grant that would send you to Mexico to do an internship during the day, which I did at McGraw Hill Publishing and then we took classes at night in Spanish. So I got to combine what became a passion around business processes, believe it or not, and Spanish.

Josh Birk:
And speaking of Mexico, tell me a little bit about the project that you’re currently involved in.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah. And I blame Rafael Hernandez, he’s another Salesforce MVP. It’s all on him. A couple of years ago, he was working with the university on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mérida, Mexico to teach Salesforce as a university class. And he asked if I wanted to come down and help do the grading at the end. They’re going to do presentations in English, by the way, of the work they’d done over the semester. So I’m like, “Heck yeah. Any combination to do Salesforce in Spanish, sign me up.” So I went down there with a small group and was completely blown away with what he had got the students to accomplish in that semester. It was only one of their many classes, but what they did was incredible. So he turned that into a program working with the University of the Yucatan. I think they’re in their fourth year now and they’ve expanded into other teachers and a lot of the students have gone on to get technical jobs.
So we do that twice a year. We’ll fly down and do the grading and help mentor, help teach the soft skills that Rafael wants to impart with them. The other dream that he had was to try to open this program in a university up in the highlands of Central Mexico, which is very different from what we think of as Mexico. So again, Spanish, Salesforce, I’ll do it. Little bit more remote but we got to participate in the IT week of the University of the [inaudible 00:03:31] Highlands. And that was fascinating to learn a new group of students. They’ve got challenges that it’s hard for us in the first world to understand, but their mental capacity is there and the desire’s there so I get excited. People have asked how can I become a part of it? Talk to Rafa. But there’s so much opportunity in these environments as well as in our local environments to just lend our expertise, even if it’s only for a day or two. Gosh, do it. It’s so invigorating.

Josh Birk:
Two follow-ups I have with that. One is I think in our world, in our culture, we’ve started to take the tech industry a little bit for granted. But in a lot of other countries, it is one of the easy … it doesn’t have to take a lot of money. Almost anybody can learn it and it can be a huge career possibility for people. And it’s also something that is, you can move it, you don’t have to stay where you are. That door being opened is brilliant. What’s the soft skills angle that you’re talking about? What are they trying to teach there?

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah. Oh, gosh. All the way from speaking up which I know many people, myself included, could be better at that, so just following up on things. It could be something which we consider pretty basic of setting up a LinkedIn profile when you’re talking about university students, asking questions, follow-up. Even in my hiring experience across the last 15 years, to a certain extent, technical skills are really good, but if you can’t communicate them, if you can’t speak up, if you can’t defend your ideas, your value is a little bit less because we really count on our technical partners on any part of the project to be able to say, “No, that’s not going to work, or I don’t think we can go live on that date because, or the solution is impossible, let’s see what we can think of.” If you can’t do those kinds of things, you can’t be a very good team member. And that’s not necessarily a native skill that people have.

Josh Birk:
Right. I think there’s a layer of skills I learned as a consultant and then things that I had from one of the best trainings I ever did was to being a Crisis Line volunteer back in college.

Angela Mahoney:
Oh I bet, think on your feet.

Josh Birk:
Think on your feet, active listening skills, all of these kind of things. One of those things that just sort of moves from environment to environment.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot of us learn those skills when we mess up on a project and like, “Ooh, not doing that again. How can we fix that?” Well, if there’s a way we can take those learnings and tell somebody else that they’re not [inaudible 00:05:59] project, great, that’s fantastic.

Josh Birk:
Exactly. Let me round on another thing I think you touched on earlier. Do you have advice for parents when it comes to learning technical skills with their kids?

Angela Mahoney:
Cut yourself some slack first. I think our environment is so rife with, “Yes, I work all day and then I go home and I work on code all night and then I go back and do it again at work.” And that’s great when you’re single and 25, 28. But when you have kids, you just don’t have that time. And I think we still have that mentality of, “I’m never going to get ahead if I can’t devote four or five hours a night and then a day on the weekends.” You’re going to progress at a different skill set. You have other things going on and that’s actually okay.
I think I learned more of my management skills from wrangling toddlers than any other thing. At work, throw it at me because I just dealt with who’s going to put away the cereal? So your problems aren’t not quite as severe. You’re learning stuff as a parent as well and there’s that elusive balance word that I don’t think exists, but it’s just kind of what phase are you in and you can do it all but just not right now. To parents, you’re rocking it. You’re doing a great job. If your kids love you, awesome. Then learn the tech around it. You’ll get there. You’ll get there. You just have to be a little bit more patient.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Love it.

Angela Mahoney:
Because this can be a demanding work world.

Josh Birk:
So then speaking of technology, when did you start getting involved in technology with Salesforce?

Angela Mahoney:
Not by choice. My first venture is aside for my beloved speak and spell as a child which really dates me and makes me sound pretty darn old, my mom for my graduation present from high school, my twin sister and I each got a computer, which a sad trombone if that had existed back then, I’m like, “Really? A computer, mom?” All my lucky friends maybe got a used car and we got a green screen computer with dot matrix printers. So I learned how back then to write little loops to study my German. I just took German in college and my cousin who is and still is very savvy on the IT side, taught me how to write small programs so that I could input my vocabulary and test myself. So that was my first foray.
But that was more fun of a mode to study a foreign language, not an actual … I got to stay out of the computer lab and write my papers in my room, which for an introvert, pretty awesome. But I never really did anything with computers because that was for other people. That was for my cousin or the smart people. So I put it on the shelf and came back to it by accident I guess, an accidental admin before it was a thing in 2006, 2007, 2008. I don’t remember. My boss when I was giving him the news in his company of I was one of their sales analysts, I was saying, “I set up some pretty sweet Excel sheets with macros to do sales tracking.” But the company was growing so quickly, my workbooks were not sustainable. So I was a good consultant. I was kind of getting myself out of a job by saying, “You need a database person. That’s my recommendation for you.”
And I had not known at the time, they’d been bought by a company that was using Salesforce. So he had a way of leaning back and saying, “Interesting. And said, “Well, we’re going to start using Salesforce.” Which I’d heard of, I’d been an end user before a few years earlier. Yes, I’d heard of it. He goes, “We want to train you because you know our process is, it was a bilingual environment, we’ll keep you. We’ll train on Salesforce and you can implement it for us.”

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Angela Mahoney:
And so there you go. And I’m like, “Ooh, this is kind of cool.” I’d never seen anything where you can just go into the back end, create the field, boom, it’s on the screen. So I was impressed. At that point, I was commuting from Oregon to Puerto Rico and I was pregnant with my second child, so that was becoming quickly unsustainable. So it was something that I could take back home with me, work remotely way back in the day. And when I chose to leave that company, I’m like, “Do I stay with healthcare or do I go with Salesforce?” And I chose Salesforce.

Josh Birk:
Interesting. Commuting from-

Angela Mahoney:
It’s been a good ride.

Josh Birk:
… Oregon to Puerto Rico.

Angela Mahoney:
Yes.

Josh Birk:
Wow. Weekly?

Angela Mahoney:
Week on, week off generally.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. Plus one for remote working. Also, I just love the fact that you tried to get yourself out of a job and you ended up with a job anymore.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah, right. It worked out well. I didn’t really want to leave the company, but I’m like, “You guys need something different. You need something better than what I can provide.”

Josh Birk:
Yeah. At this time, did you think while Salesforce is going to be something that’s a central part of my life or I’m not going to decades, 20 years or so, right? I know you know. I’m dating both of us, let’s just say that.

Angela Mahoney:
Well, edit that one out, right?

Josh Birk:
Right.

Angela Mahoney:
No, not at all. It was a tool. Yeah, that’s about it. And I thought it was kind of cool, but I never envisioned it growing to where it is and providing the opportunities to me personally like it has. It has been a very nice surprise.

Josh Birk:
And what about it? So remote work, how did it become more of a passion for you? What was it when you first started thinking things like, “I need to get involved in the community for this.”

Angela Mahoney:
So I’ll answer. That’s a two part question it feels like. Part of it is I chose the passion out of it. It’s like, “Oh my gosh.” Because I like to count things that makes the data. Josh, oh, I can count things so much better. Check out this report because I was pretty sophisticated back in the day to be able to run something real time like that, validate how your data goes in. So that I thought was pretty darn sexy. So the job that I took back in Portland, I was hired as the admin to become the manager. They already had a developer who became my developer mentor.
So they did things a little differently and I would send him and my growing team to the admin meetings that were happening in Portland. And he was like, “No, I don’t want to go. There’s nothing for me there.” So I’m like, “Oh all right, well why don’t we start a demo group meeting?” And that’s kind of how it started of basically to make my developer happy so that he wouldn’t quit, which nobody wants their devs to quit because there’s still aren’t enough, 15 years later.

Josh Birk:
Yep.

Angela Mahoney:
Make them happy.

Josh Birk:
This is a true thing.

Angela Mahoney:
Yes.

Josh Birk:
And so was that also your stepping stone into getting more into the developer and architect and the technical role?

Angela Mahoney:
Totally. Well, definitely from a how do you help other people do it and then I learned … I did have a professional goal a long time ago to … my boss said, “You need to learn the programming side mostly to understand what our solutions were going to look like.” Because I was working in a very coded environment. They coded first. It was a unique … well, everybody says their environment’s unique, right? That was heavily coded. So to be able to understand what was going on, learn it. And it was a very painful process to do that. This is wage pre-Trailhead. I had one dev mentor and he knows this, so I’m not throwing him under the bus. Teaching at that point was not his strong skill.

Josh Birk:
Gotcha, gotcha.

Angela Mahoney:
It is now. He’s grown. But back then I’m like, “Wow. I hate I this. I can’t understand this. This is awful.”

Josh Birk:
What was the tool of choice at that time? Was this back when it was almost all these … I remember Reid Carlberg telling me, “The first thing you have to do is watch these 10, five to 15 minute long videos.” And I was like, “This is the worst way for me to learn anything.” Give me code and let me break it. And put it back together again. Was that back in the old days with the workbooks and all of that stuff?

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah. Oh, definitely. I still have a few those kicking around just for me to make me feel dinosaur. But yeah, it was like that. I called the over the shoulder method of like, “Hey, come check this out. Look at this.”

Josh Birk:
Right. Yeah. So now I feel like we’re transitioning into my next question which is what’s the origin story of RAD Women?

Angela Mahoney:
Pain. I think it’s pain because the women that … there were four of us that started. Kieren and I are still with it. I have to think how did we meet up? Because she had started writing her blog. We’ve all had different journeys to learn development. Mine was long and hard. I think hers was to a certain extent as well. And she’s like, “I’m going to buckle down and figure this out.” And she wrote her blog Women Code Heroes. Concurrently and unbeknownst to me, we had co-founded the Portland Developer Group, Larry and I, who’s my DEV mentor, and we decided as part of one of our offerings, let’s take an Apex in 10 minutes a day workbook that Salesforce put out back in the day. Something like that. Let’s create a course around it and walk people in Portland that are interested in learning Apex, let’s walk him through it.
And as part of my developer journey, I’ll stay one step ahead and learn it. So I’ll learn it and then he’ll be my backup and we’ll teach this. And we did a successful first try at it and said, “This is awesome. We got a lot of interest. So as DEV group leaders, we’ll do it again.” Somehow I had met up with Kieren maybe at Dreamforce and she’s like, “I hear you’re doing this, can I join?” And I’m like, “Yeah, no, I don’t think it’s really going to work remotely.” Because she was in San Francisco and she’s like, “Well, can I give it a try? Can we check this out? Because I really want to learn.” So we set it up so she could do it. And that’s kind of the founding. I’ve met her and she’s like, “I’m thinking about this concept of doing it.” And I wasn’t necessarily on board because I was so, “No, you can’t do it remotely. You’ve got to be on site.” She disagreed and she was correct.

Josh Birk:
She has a tendency to do that.

Angela Mahoney:
She was right.

Josh Birk:
To be fair. To be fair.

Angela Mahoney:
Yes. So yeah, she’s like, “Well I know somebody else. We worked on the curriculum and I knew the people.” So I was on the coach side and we piloted it and it worked.

Josh Birk:
Well, first of all, let’s level set even though we’ve talked about RAD Women a lot on the show, so I’ll be surprised [inaudible 00:15:27] it doesn’t really know that as one of my favorite things. But give me the elevator pitch. What’s the mission statement for RAD Women?

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah. Our mission statement is to change the gender diversity balance in the Salesforce technical world. One line of code at a time is how we do it. So we just want to see more … we want to be able to have the opportunity to walk into a technical session and not be one of the very few women there. It can be very daunting.

Josh Birk:
I’ve heard this before and also I think it was [inaudible 00:15:53] who was like, “Somebody had a slide that was only 10% of technical architects are women. And they were like, no, this will not [inaudible 00:16:02].

Angela Mahoney:
I’d be like, “That high, huh?”

Josh Birk:
Right. Exactly. Walk me through the structure of RAD Women. How do you find the coaches and what’s the curriculum like?

Angela Mahoney:
We find the coaches either by begging or, “Hey, are you interested?” And also some will hear about us on your podcast, thank you very much, or Dreamforce or different events and submit through our website to say, “I’m interested in being a RAD coach.” Our coaches are a variety of levels. You don’t have to be a super high level developer because fundamentally, what we teach is very introductory. It’s kind of like, you’re an admin, you have got admin experience on the platform, you want to become a developer or work on the development side. How do you make that leap? Because it’s not necessarily easy. There’s a vocabulary shift. You are learning same platform you think you know what, but it’s a different approach. So we provide that foundational knowledge through our part one and part two and hopefully soon part three. Forward looking statement to provide our learners with the opportunity to get that basic fundamental knowledge.
We have two coaches in each session of up to 10 learners … no, more than 10. And the reason we do that is we might have a junior learner that still remembers the pain of what is a trigger. I can’t fully understand what a class is, initially. So the junior learner might be able to break it down more easily because he or she may have allies, remembers it more of what it was like. And then the senior level developer will have more experience with actual coding and can provide examples. So I love those coach combos of junior developers and senior developers to teach our learners in our 10-week segments.

Josh Birk:
How did you define the 10 learners and two coaches? Was that trial and error? What led you to those numbers?

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah, a little trial and error. From the learner side, I actually don’t remember. That would be a Kieren question maybe. We wanted to keep it small because you can get lost in a larger group, and we really, really wanted our learners to have that opportunity of just a smaller, trusted environment. That’s very important to us that you can ask those questions in your class. We record the classes, but we don’t share them outside of that because if you have to ask the same question seven or eight or 29 times, like may I have had to, we don’t want anybody to feel judged by that. So we want to provide that trusted environment from a coach standpoint, kind of two reasons. I had taught an admin, a community led admin, to a one cert class that, oh my gosh, that was maybe back in 2014 or 15.
I was the only instructor for 15 weeks. So I distinctly remember teaching it from the balcony of our vacation place with my family. Like, “Everybody quiet. Mom’s got to teach.” It’s a lot of pressure. So part of it, I didn’t want coaches to have that pressure if it’s all on you. And then the second part is, I don’t know if this has happened to you, but somebody can give me an explanation like yeah, I totally don’t get it. But if somebody changes a word or a different inflection makes perfect sense. So that’s kind of just a way of covering our learner’s ability to understand things. You might not get it from Josh, but maybe Bob now will explain it, change a word and it clicks and that’s where [inaudible 00:19:14].

Josh Birk:
Exactly. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about how it’s grown. You started in Portland. You started bringing people to Kieren. How did the regional growth happen?

Angela Mahoney:
The regional growth, so we didn’t start in Portland. I happened to be there and Melissa Hansen was one of our founding coaches. She’s a founding coach because I’m like, “Hey Melissa, I have an idea. We’re working on something.” Which is how a lot of things started. Like, “Yeah, let’s give it a shot and find out what happens.” So we piloted it with, I believe we had four sessions, eight coaches, probably 36 learners, to get feedback and see if it would actually work and take that feedback and reassess our curriculum. And then I think word just started getting out. It’s always been word of mouth. We don’t necessarily advertise, if you will, although we want to reach as many learners and coaches as possible, but we started on Excel sheets back in the day and we’re in a Salesforce Org now, thank God. It just kind of took off. And I liken it to being a garage band that hit main stage. We’re not necessarily ready for that internally, but yet here we are.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Does it cost?

Angela Mahoney:
No. No, we are still 100% volunteer-led. Coaches are volunteers. We are volunteers. Insanely committed to helping other people have awesome experiences on their developer journeys.

Josh Birk:
I know this is a somewhat terrible question and I’ve been accused of asking people their favorite-

Angela Mahoney:
Oh, I’m sitting down.

Josh Birk:
… favorite of all their children. But do you have any favorite success stories?

Angela Mahoney:
Oh, well I think actually the latest one. I’ve got several success stories, but what I’m particularly proud about is in our current cohort, 25% of our coaches are RAD grads. So they’ve gone through the program and they’ve progressed enough in their journeys to come back and coach. Might be a junior level coach which is a okay, but 25% I think is a pretty good number.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that speaks to the potential sustainability for it. If you have that cycle moving forward, then finding new coaches slowly becomes easier and easier.

Angela Mahoney:
Yes. And we have coaches that cycle on and off. Everybody has … it might be their kid’s soccer in the fall, so they participate in the spring as we add part two that cannibalized our part one coaches. So we’re always looking for coaches. So I love this because we always have wait lists.

Josh Birk:
Got it. And I think you mentioned earlier, but if somebody is interested in being coached, they can go to radwomen.org. Is that the right one?

Angela Mahoney:
Yes. radwomen.org and there’s a link that’s be involved or something like that. And then I will get your name.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Okay. I want to flip over to one of my other favorite topics. When did you think to yourself, “Boy, I’d really like to start a community conference of that.”

Angela Mahoney:
Well, there was beer involved. Let’s be clear on that.

Josh Birk:
Shocked. Shocked, I said.

Angela Mahoney:
Yes. We sprung off of Snowforce. I guess that would’ve been 2014 or 15. That was the first event … I’d spoken at Dreamforce before in my old company. We had prevented a, way back in the day, very novel solution, mobile solution and presented on that. So I was familiar with the idea of presenting and sharing. And I don’t remember how we found out about Snowforce. Probably the ski element because we used to ski. My team at work would ski and as the manager, I’d be like, “Well as long as we call it mobile development practice and extreme environments and talk work on the way up, we can leave work early.” So the combination of Salesforce and skiing was pretty magical for us Portland people. So I co-presented with my mentor on how to speak Developeris, how do you speak between non-technical and technical people and it was pretty awesome.
And then as one does at these events, you’re generally going to end up in a social environment with liquid enhancements. I’m like, “Well, why don’t we do one of these for developers because we already did the developer group?” And we put that together from I think that was in March. And our first event with a hundred people was in July because we didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know that couldn’t do it. So we did it and it worked out. I think a lot of the stories started like, “Well, why don’t we try this?” And that works.

Josh Birk:
I’ve been working with events for, again, a few decades now. How did you start to learn? How did you figure out that you were actually going to be able to make this work? I guess it’s [inaudible 00:23:25] question.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah, I guess after it happened, then we figured it out. It’s the best way to say it. We didn’t know what we were doing. So somebody in our community, the community has been an integral part of anything I’ve done. Hadn’t in for a place of like, well this place will host it. They can hold up to a hundred people. There are two rooms. Well, great so we have two tracks. I think we probably copied a lot from Snowforce, but when I say a lot, that was literally the only event we’d gone to. So we’re like, “Okay, so we have to figure out food, figure out a price.”
Larry’s my co-founder with Forcelandia. We each determined how much personally we were able to lose money wise because we didn’t know if it was going to work. But we’re like, “Okay, so this is how much I’m willing to pony up for it to make it happen.” And then that’s where you hit your network of, “Hey, we’re trying out this thing.” Midwest was out there, other conferences existed so the concept wasn’t super new. And then hit up people local or that could fly in on a relatively short flight and just kind of winged it.

Josh Birk:
Wow. When was the first one? I want to say, is it 2018 or is it earlier than that?

Angela Mahoney:
No, it was 2015, 2014. I don’t remember. I could find out.

Josh Birk:
It was before the pandemic.

Angela Mahoney:
It was before the pandemic, for sure.

Josh Birk:
It’s all the same year at this point. It was just that those years that happened before we all stuck inside.

Angela Mahoney:
Nobody wore a mask. Let’s just make-

Josh Birk:
Nobody wore a mask. Right, exactly. Yeah. Well and so let’s ask that question. What was your reaction to the pandemic when it came to Forcelandia?

Angela Mahoney:
We canceled right away because we really believe in the power of being together to spark those little conversations. So we did not even consider doing 2020 remotely. We just really wanted people to be together.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah.

Josh Birk:
What was it like getting everybody back?

Angela Mahoney:
Awesome. It was pretty awesome. A little bit of trepidation of course, because you kind of don’t know from one day to the next what’s going to happen. And ours was late enough in the year in 2020 that we could cancel and not feel bad about it. This last year was the first year back. We made it smaller because our environment, while completely cool at the Kennedy School, if you’ve been there, anybody that’s been there knows that the hallways are small. It’s a funky, awesome environment. But if anybody’s nervous about being too close to people, it is not the place to go. So we kept the numbers a little lower to make our attendees and our speakers more comfortable.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Angela Mahoney:
It was great.

Josh Birk:
I have to say for anybody who has not visited the Kennedy School, it was very, very cool. I had no idea going there that it’s got, is it three bars or four-

Angela Mahoney:
Oh, probably four. There are several.

Josh Birk:
Basement? Two on the top and the main, yeah, four I think.

Angela Mahoney:
There’s a tension room … yeah.

Josh Birk:
How would you describe Forcelandia as distinct from other community events?

Angela Mahoney:
I think two things that stand out is we are developer-focused. So my standard spiel is if it’s around Drip campaigns, for example, you won’t find it there because there are other events where you can do that. We wanted to create a place where people that were developer or developer adjacent could go and find their people. Since PuntaDreamin, that happened a few times and Cactusforce also is starting to do that, but we wanted to keep it definitely developer-related. And then our goal is just to have a cool vibe and really focus on awesome content of course. But the ability to meet up with other developers and have those conversations like pop into the bar that’s down the hall or in the basement of the school and meet the people that you want to meet or that can help you with your career, and that’s why we stay at the environment. We’ll never go, at least while I’m leading it to the Hyatt for example, because we want to make sure we provide those opportunities to have small hallway conversations and this place lends itself nicely to that.

Josh Birk:
Gotcha. So the plan is to stay at the Kennedy School and keep the capacity about the same?

Angela Mahoney:
Yes. It would be hard to grow … I mean, definitely downfall, I don’t want to use the word authenticity, but authenticity of the conversations that you have.

Josh Birk:
So the size and the feel of it, and I think you’ve said it a couple times, it’s like there’s unique character I want to say? And the Kennedy School lends to that as well.

Angela Mahoney:
It’s a big part of it and it’s close to the airport, which let’s face it, that’s a really nice thing for our guests that fly in.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. So when we were talking previously, you said that if we could get this out around holidays, that you wanted to do something on the show holiday specific. I think this is going to come out a little before Thanksgiving.

Angela Mahoney:
Okay. Well, it was more like New Year’s resolutions or things. But I also was realizing national computer or Computer Science Education Week is the first weekend in December. I’m all about mentoring. In addition to working in the Salesforce community, I have two daughters. So I’ve been active in their schools since they were little tykes. They’re high schoolers now. But I would do hour of code back then. I was known as the code lady when I would walk through the halls of their elementary school because we’d do hour of code every December. And I was generally the only technical person in our group of volunteers because a lot of parents think like, “Oh, I don’t know this. I can’t do this.” But you just have to be able to corral young people, which is not my strength. Clearly, it’s not my passion. But opening up those doors to do that and say like, “Yeah, everybody knows what a fireman is or a fire woman.” There’s a better way to say that. I should choose a better example. Police personnel.

Josh Birk:
Oh, like a kid wrangler?

Angela Mahoney:
When I think of young kids, the standard professions are easy to put into books. Software design or programming is not. For the longest time people would say, “What does your mom do?” “Well, she types.” And that’s true. It’s accurate. I type, but I type with purpose to do that. So my goal, especially with my daughters who most likely will not become software designers, but it’s because they know what it is and they’re choosing something else. It’s not because they don’t know what it is and are choosing something else. And that choice is important to me. So it became important to me when they were younger and still is to show, “Kids, here’s an opportunity that you might not see. Your parents might not be working in this, but that’s still something that you can pursue.” I love the opportunity to go in, work with schools or different populations that are younger, college students. I was just in Mexico last week working with university, just opening doors and letting people know that you’ve got options out there. It’s pretty cool.

Josh Birk:
Rolling back a little bit, how would you describe your current position?

Angela Mahoney:
My current position outside of RAD?

Josh Birk:
Yeah.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah. Right now, I gave myself a self-imposed sabbatical when I resigned from a job. So I went back to the solution piece. I’m working on a contract basis because it’s the puzzle solving. Why do you stay with Salesforce? You get to solve puzzles and work with cool people.

Josh Birk:
Right. Do you have a favorite project?

Angela Mahoney:
Well, my favorite, favorite … ooh, it’s a tough question. I’ve been volunteering with an org. That’s probably my favorite because they’re so awesome. They’re such nice people. Our skill set makes it easy for us to go in and take away pain from people which is pretty cool. So I’ve been volunteering with an organization that helps our nation’s senior vets from Marines, Air Force, whatever, they give them dream flights for free. I’ve been working on their database to make it easier for them to deliver their programs. I love that kind of stuff. Anywhere you can go in and help somebody do their job easier, sign me up.

Josh Birk:
I have said many times back when I was a consultant that my favorite clients were always the smallest ones because they were so appreciative of anything you could do to make their jobs easier and make them more efficient and all of those stuff. Compare that to the Fortune 500 companies, which half the time weren’t even sure they wanted me in their room, much less give me a pat on the back if we did a job well done. So yeah, I hear you because it’s just like, you get that, “Oh my God.”

Angela Mahoney:
Yes.

Josh Birk:
It’s like you just fixed this thing and you’re like, “Yeah, that’s what we do.”

Angela Mahoney:
That’s what we do. And I think in our go, go, go world, time is money. Everything has to be billable. We forget the impact of a simple thank you. A heartfelt thank you goes so far.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. And I also learned, I think from my grandmother, one of my consulting tips, it’s like smile at people, be nice. You’d be surprised just how a little politeness and kindness goes a long day during a business world.

Angela Mahoney:
Yeah. It’s the little things that make it big. It makes it joyful to go to work when you work in groups like that. Even if it’s not going well, if a project can really be going south and sometimes projects do that, I think we all know that. You do your best to turn it around, but it’s the camaraderie that you have of like, “We can do this. We can figure this out. This is a bad week, but next week’s going to be better.”

Josh Birk:
Nice. So let’s go back to the holiday theme. I’m going to start real quick and I’m going to tell you what I’m thankful for and then I’m going to ask yours. So I’m giving you a little time to process but I’m going to say that I’m coming up on a year for what I realized I having a nervous breakdown and I’m thankful for all of the support that I’ve gotten over the last 12 months. And I want to say Angela, I’m personally thankful for you for inviting me to Forcelandia and allowing me to do a closing keynote on this. That support, it really meant a lot to me and it’s helped me realize that it’s good messaging to get out there, so.

Angela Mahoney:
I’m so glad that you took me up. Well, one that you pitched it and then when I said, “Yes, let’s do it.” Because I think that was a bit of a leap for you but-

Josh Birk:
Oh, yeah.

Angela Mahoney:
And I love that because I think especially my take on the developer side, but in IT in general, it’s so hard to say I don’t know how to do this, for example. It’s hard to give those messages and harder even when too many people see stumblings as failures when they’re learning opportunities and we want to power through and it’s not healthy. The one thing I love most about IT is the people part of it.

Josh Birk:
And I think that’s a really good way to put it. In a recent interview, I think it’s David [inaudible 00:33:18], we’re talking about how developers are expected to be that trusted advisor. And I agree with this, but it’s also there’s this kind of a weird if you’re a trusted advisor with anxiety, how trusted are you kind of thing. I’m putting that statement out there as they can be trusted, but I think there’s this fear that if we talk about mental health and stress and anxiety and stuff like that, then you might not be perceived as the trusted advisor. And I can tell people that’s not …

Angela Mahoney:
Oh, it’s not true. We’ve all dropped balls, myself included. You have generally ideally a good posse. You know your people. You know your tribe. That will help you pick up those balls like, “Oh, you drop it on a project. Somebody can help you.” Because we are professional minds, but we’re also people behind it or parents. I’m a parent. I have been my entire Salesforce journey. We’re human and we’ll never stop being human. We might stop being Salesforcers, but we’re always going to be human behind it. None of us can change that. So we have to recognize that.

Josh Birk:
Right. Okay. Your turn. What are you thankful for?

Angela Mahoney:
What am I thankful for? My tribe, really. It sounds cheesy to say community, but the people around me, the more I’ve gotten to know people, been vulnerable with people, finding out that the people that we put on pedestals rightly or wrongly, they’re humans behind the scenes. And I think that’s been one of the nicest things to know of when I mess up or the fact that I’m sleeping under a pile of laundry because I just don’t have time to put it away. I’m not the only one. None of us have our acts together.

Josh Birk:
You’re not. So-

Angela Mahoney:
We’re all doing the best we can.

Josh Birk:
So not the only one. One of my favorite recent tweets was two weeks after Dreamforce, my suitcase is still on my bed. It just sits. It’ll get to it. It’s fine. I don’t need those clothes right now at all.

Angela Mahoney:
Right. Exactly because I’m going to be wearing a hoodie and leggings anyways. Totally.

Josh Birk:
Exactly. And that’s our show. Now, before we go, I did ask after Angela’s favorite non-technical hobby. And let’s just say it’s a tiny one.

Angela Mahoney:
Oh, my favorite non-technical hobby. Anybody that knows me knows it’s going to be miniatures. I have quite a collection of miniature houses, not doll houses. They’re not for kids. They’re for adults. And that’s where I spend my offscreen time.

Josh Birk:
By quite a collection, what are we talking about?

Angela Mahoney:
I think it’s around 25 right now. Give or take five. Yeah. So we just finished … my husband is a dream or he’s very impatient. It’s probably somewhere in the middle of those, but we just remodeled a space, a garage space so that I could move them out of the house, off the dining room table. So that is up. So I know when I use my miniature saws, which I have, I won’t get dust all over the dishes.

Josh Birk:
I want to thank Angela for the great conversation and information. And as always, I want to thank you for listening. Now, if you want to learn more about this show, head on over to developer.salesforce.com/podcast where you can join our community, hear old episodes, see the show notes and it links to your favorite podcast service. Thanks again everybody, and I’ll talk to you next week.

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