It’s All About the Community: An Interview with Eric Dreshfield

Welcome to the second installment of MVP TALK!

 

This time, we’re going to dig deeper into every aspect of Salesforce from the technical to the philosophical. So hold on tight, and welcome Apptus’ Eric Dreshfield!

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Ready? let’s go.

 

Hi, Eric! tell us a bit about yourself, what were you up to before working with Salesforce? What are you currently doing? 

In my pre-Salesforce days, I worked at universities in accounting and analyst roles. I also worked in similar roles for a couple of retailers, and an airline. I even managed a Federally funded program at a telecommunications company.

 

After a lengthy (2.5 years) time period of not having a full-time position, surviving on short-term contract jobs and multiple part-time roles at once, I found a job as a call center agent for a software company. This role transitioned into a role as a business analyst in late 2009 helping that company implement the Service Cloud. My manager at that company suggested I get connected with a local user group to network and learn. She created a monster!  I visited user groups all over the Midwest US and eventually started one locally.

 

I currently work as an Advocacy Manager at Apttus, which means my role is to engage with potential and existing customers to help them understand all the ways Apttus can make them more successful.

 

You’re known as the founder of Midwest Dreamin’. How did it all start, and what can we expect from it in 2017?

My passion for the Salesforce community and my selfish feelings for not being able to attend Dreamforce in 2010, led me to start Midwest Dreamin’ in 2011. I quickly discovered the best way NOT to learn much at a conference was to organize the conference! Midwest Dreamin’ took a couple years off but has been back, stronger than ever since 2014, with almost 800 people attending in 2016.

 

Midwest Dreamin’ 2017 planning is well under way, with the big announcement coming very soon. You can follow Midwest Dreamin’ on Twitter @Midwest_Dreamin and join the group on the Success Community.

 

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What is the one Salesforce app you can’t live without, and why?

It’s shameless plug time: I’m going to have to answer this by saying X-Author for Excel by Apttus. It’s the reason I wanted to work for Apttus in the first place. I saw a demo at Dreamforce 2014 and immediately fell in love with X-Author.

 

My mind was just blown away by the power and capabilities of X-Author for Excel. Salesforce Admins can use it to manage user permissions and more. Salesforce end users can use it to update Leads & Opportunities, Cases, or anything, for that matter. X-Author for Excel works on all standard and custom objects.

 

To the untrained eye, it’s Excel with your Salesforce data, but for those “in the know”, it’s real-time access to your Salesforce org. It allows you to use all the native functionality and features of Excel, like pivot tables, and charts, but it enforces all Salesforce validation rules and maintains all Salesforce security and access rights.

 

If you can do it with Salesforce in the browser, you can do it with X-Author for Excel, but on an unlimited number of records and objects all within the familiar UI of Excel…and who doesn’t know how to use Excel?

 

Describe your Salesforce philosophy in 5 words:

It’s all about the Community.

 

And by that I mean: the Success Community; the Salesforce community on Twitter; the in-person, meet in real-life Salesforce community of User, Developer, Industry and Affinity groups, as well as #SalesforceSaturday meet-ups and user-led regional conferences like Midwest Dreamin’, Snowforce, Tahoe Dreamin’, Forcelandia, Southeast Dreamin’, etc… (YES, I know I WAY exceeded 5 words….sorry. #NotSorry)

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If you could give one advice to your younger self on your first day of working with Salesforce, what would it be?

Create a free Dev org, and start playing around. Don’t be afraid to try things. You can’t mess up anything in your company’s production org when you are playing in a Dev org…and if you do happen to mess things up in your Dev org, create another one and start from scratch again! Salesforce lets you have Dev orgs to play and learn for FREE! Speaking of learning, Trailhead. Let me repeat that: Trailhead, Trailhead, TRAILHEAD! Use Trailhead.

 

You’re interviewing a new Salesforce admin. What’s the most important question you should ask him/her?

I think a lot of people would answer this one by asking one of a couple questions: Are you certified? How many Trailhead badges do you have?

 

While I think those are great questions to ask, and they can help you judge a person’s knowledge level, I think the question I would most like to hear the answer to is this:  When you get stuck on a Salesforce issue, something that you think is possible to do, but you just can’t get it to work as you think it should, where would you go to find help with getting un-stuck?

 

As a Salesforce user, what’s the best tip you can give to a company that is about to implement it?

Take your time and think things through completely before implementing. Work with some experts who have done it successfully before. I know people say this all the time, but use the KISS approach: “Keep It Simple, Stupid” Most times when people over-think things, it makes it worse.

 

Start off implementing basic functionality, and have a plan to roll out enhancements moving forward. Do NOT rush into an implementation, just to get it done, because some poor decisions might be made, and some of those are nearly impossible to change once you are live.

 

Think of it like this: It’s not simply “spending money”, it’s “making an investment” in your company’s future and you want to be sure you are making the right investment so you’ll receive the benefits and dividends you expect, and in the timeframe you expect them.

 

What keeps you motivated at work?

It’s pretty easy for me to stay motivated at work. I love my job, the team I’m part of, as well as the company I work for. There are a few times when I seem to need a little “pick-me-up”, and that’s when I tend to pay a visit to the Salesforce Success Community and Twitter to soak up some amazing conversations about the ecosystem & people helping people!

 

You can follow Eric on Twitter at  @ericdresh and check out his blog at http://ericforcefield.wordpress.com.

Amanda McDonnald
Amanda is the Lead Author & Editor of Rainforce Blog. Amanda established the Rainforce blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Salesforce usage.
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