03 Nov Perspectives from an intimate DF21
by Janeen Marquardt
We all knew that Dreamforce 2021 would be unlike all previous ones… but what caught many of us by surprise was how the intimacy of a scaled-down event would exceed our expectations. Dreamforce is meant to inspire people through education, experience, and shared stories. When industry leaders and celebrities make presentations in a venue where you can see their eyes and facial expressions, and then you have the opportunity to mingle with them afterward, their messages of innovation, imagination, and insight are significantly amplified. The impact was meaningful.
At previous Dreamforce events, when San Francisco became home to 170,000 extra people, I’ve felt a sense of dread in the days leading up to the event. While it’s always nice to see friends and I look forward to learning, I’m never comfortable milling the crowded streets and rushing from session to session. Add in COVID-19 concerns and the stress escalates. But, knowing that everyone in attendance was vaccinated and took multiple COVID-19 tests gave me peace of mind. And, with the entire event outdoors and San Francisco putting on her best weather for us, I felt safer than I have since the pandemic began.
I was surprised to have received my golden ticket, as were so many others in attendance. Many times, I heard people say how truly blessed and honored they felt to be included. The attendees were a mix of Salesforce MVPs, newbies, community group leaders, our military veteran force that is now part of the Salesforce family, and the many, many people needed to make Dreamforce come off without a hitch. Although I have been a part of the Salesforce ecosystem for more than 10 years, I am a relatively new community group leader, and I’ve only just begun to get to know some of my colleagues who also do this type of volunteer work. To have the opportunity to interact with so many people and get to know them was truly special. We really had the chance to connect in a different, deeper way.
What stood out to me about the entire event was the opportunity to hear from inspiring speakers in very intimate settings instead of massive auditoriums, as in years past.
One of these inspiring speakers was Olympic Gold Medalist Aly Raisman. The gymnast courageously spoke about the abuse that she and other gymnasts endured at the hands of their team doctor. She said she could not have come forward without the support of her community, which also plays a critical role in her path to recovery. She also talked about how you can’t always be the best at everything but, when you’re a part of a team, you can be a part of the successful puzzle.
Another inspiring speaker was Paralympian Blake Leeper, who also talked about teamwork and the value of the support system. The track and field athlete, who was born missing both legs below his knees, said that when things go wrong, you can spend time looking for someone to blame or you can spend time taking responsibility and showing your strength. During times of adversity, he said you should ask yourself: Why can’t I be the one to resolve this issue?
I also drew inspiration from “Ted Lasso” star and co-creator Jason Sudekis, who talked about the value of accountability and forgiveness in a team. He compared ensemble acting to team sports – you all fail or succeed together. This is why trust is so important: “You trust your people and you trust the process,” he added.
The same thing applies to our teams at Simplus: We trust our teammates, that they are experts in their fields. But we also can ask for help when needed, and we succeed or fail as a team for our clients.
While listening to these Dreamforce speakers and others, I couldn’t help but think about the team approach we take here at Simplus. Through their unique, compelling stories, each full of challenges and triumph, I was reminded again and again how a project is only as good as the team behind it. It made me feel proud of all that we accomplish here and inspired me to be like Blake and continue pushing through my own adversity to see the advantage in it, to embrace and overcome whatever challenges come our way, as they will make us stronger tomorrow. And, in the wise words of Jason Sudekis, we must remember that a team must be guided gently; You cannot hold water in your fist—you must hold it carefully and with an open hand to guide it to its destination.
Janeen is a Principal Strategist in Simplus’ Advisory Services.