/ Interview

How Salesforce Trailhead can Change Your Career: An Interview with Sandi Zellner

Sandi Zellner is a 4X certified Salesforce Admin and one of the leaders of the New York City User Group.

Our team learned about Sandi's Trailblazer story at the NYC World Tour Day. You can learn more about her journey to achieving the Ranger badge and earning the Golden Hoodie here.

We asked Sandi for an interview about what she's learned since Salesforce changed her life. Read below to learn about Trailblazer and more from Sandi; and see the bottom of this post to connect with Sandi.

How does Salesforce impact you now? And how does it feel to have earned a Golden Hoodie?

Beyond unbelievably incredible.

It's exciting and it's humbling. You know? I think humbling, from the perspective, that I really didn't do anything special other than just try to be me and learn as much as I could. Once I realized how much of an impact Salesforce, and being a Salesforce Admin, and being a part of the Trailblazer community could have--the impact that that had on my quality of life and my career--I wanted to share that with others.

I just felt like there's no way I can keep this to myself. I know there are plenty of people out there that really can use a boost to their quality of life. Maybe they don't have something to look forward to, or they need some help and a change of direction. I did have to grow for my own experience first, and for my passion for learning, for myself.

Now it's about transitioning into a passion of sharing that message, that it's possible for anyone to build a career off of Trailhead.

I'm pretty sure that passion for the sharing part of it is the reason the Gold Hoodie came my way.

Other than that, I'm just your average everyday Admin and Salesforce user. Yes, I've been able to grow my career and transition my life from a completely different career path from being a musician. Yes, I've gone through a big life health change. I really think it was the change in my willingness to share my story, first of all, and also my passion for volunteering in a couple different ways. Right now I'm volunteering with PepUp Tech, Trailhead for Students, and Girl Develop It, to really share Salesforce skills with people that can start building their own career in the ecosystem. Also, I've taken on part of the New York City User Group as one of their co-leaders.

A passion of mine is just to be active in the Trailblazer community. I've taken it less of the attitude of "I want to help people solve their formula problems," because there's plenty of people that do that and do it much better than I do out there in the community. Instead I've kind of made my focus of my outreach as:

The Trailblazer community is here full of fabulous people that want to help you. If you need help all you have to do is get our attention somehow and we're on it.

My goal is really to promote Trailhead as a tool for personal enrichment.The Trailblazer community, as a community, is really not just a safety net, it's also a ladder up. And not just in your job, but a ladder up for your persona, the way you feel about yourself. "

What recommendations for using Trailhead do you have for people who want to become Salesforce Admins?

First, definitely the mindset piece is that anyone can do this. It should not be a scary "I won't be able to do this because I don't know anything about technology." It's okay.

As long as you have a passion for learning and figuring things out, and a curiosity for how things work, and the willingness to put in the effort it takes to learn how to do it, anybody can do it.

In terms of earning badges in Trailhead: focus more on making sure you understand the concepts, and really pay attention to the ones that require hands on manipulation of the features within Salesforce.

Next, utilize the tools already built inside Salesforce Trailhead. For example, they have that great filtering tool that you can filter by level: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. You can start from beginner and kind of almost do them in order.

There's also some excellent Trailmixes that you can search for that start from the beginning. It's really laid out well. There is even an excellent module about learning how to use Trailhead all by itself. That's the one that I would start with.

Also, they have the Trails broken out by not only by level and role (Admin, Business User, and Developer), but they also have this great thing: Personas. You can now choose Persona filters like Sales Manager, or the Marketing Manager, or Business Analyst.

Depending what your role is (or what you want it to be), you can click on one of those persona icons and it brings you into Trails that fit that specific job track.

What recommendations do you have for current Salesforce Admins? In other words, what are the biggest lessons that you've learned as a Salesforce Admin?

I think my biggest tip for Admins is to not be afraid to admit when you don't know something.

Sometimes you have to say "I'm not sure, but I'll research it and get back to you."

I think a lot of times Admins try to know everything about everything on the Salesforce platform. No one brain can hold all that information.

You have to have a really good understanding of the platform as a whole, but also realize that you have a wide range of resources at your disposal. Whether it is a tool like Trailhead, or reading through the Release Notes, or looking for an answer on the Success Community, or using using the Salesforce Help and Training website.

The biggest thing as an Admin is definitely recognize that you don't know everything, it's okay to ask, and you have to pay attention to, not only the fun features, but the nitty gritty maintenance stuff: making sure your certificates are up to date, and knowing when the releases are going to happen so you have your Sandboxes prepped on time. They're not the fun, glamorous features, but you can't forget those.

Do you have a favorite feature, or tool, or app in Salesforce that you're loving to use right now?

I have to say right now I am having a great time working on the transition to Lightning.

In that transition to Lightning, I'm really finding quick actions that you are able to use Flow, Visual Flow (I think they call it Lightning Flow now). Being able to push a button, have your users be able to add a couple fields, and then depending on what they put in there, have it guide them through either more questions or get them to the right place. Then, maybe eventually, create some records all from one button.

To do all of this with no code inside Lightning is awesome. So, quick actions with Flow, I think right now, is my favorite thing.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share?

I encourage everyone to be part of the Trailblazers community as a whole. Be active in the community. Find your local community group and go to a meeting or join the conversations online. The people there are passionate about sharing their knowledge of Salesforce and very willing to help. If you reach out to the community with an open mind and willingness to learn, the payback is huge.

Not only do you get knowledge about Salesforce and building a career, but you will find yourself instantly as part of the Salesforce Ohana. Ohana means family in Hawaiian, and we take that sense of family seriously. In the Salesforce Ohana everyone is welcome and we all work to support each other and help anyone who wants to succeed in the Salesforce ecosystem. I count myself lucky to have found them and now, I’m proud to help others in the same way.


Connect with Sandi Zellner:


Merlin Guides’ interview series asks Salesforce consultants, administrators, and experts to share their stories, successes, tips and tricks, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Ayla at Ayla@MerlinGuides.com