Talking about change is easy — change itself can be extremely scary, difficult, and costly.
To leave the only career / calling that you have ever known for 23 years, or half of your lifespan on earth, is extraordinarily challenging. When you consider also that my university degree had been moth-balled for two decades, my health was fragile, and our finances were disastrous, you’ll understand that my family and I were in a very tough spot indeed. It was May of 2016, and I was, seemingly, hopelessly unemployed. My amazing wife was busy at home caring for our autistic son. In desperation, I applied for a low-paying, unskilled factory job — and was rejected. I hit rock bottom.
What happened next is a story for another time, one that I have been pleased to share on many platforms. Suffice to say that I now have a fantastic job as a CIO / Partner / Solution Engineer, I work with a gifted team of dedicated and passionate Salesforce consultants, and I get to inspire others struggling along their unique journey. My health has greatly improved and my salary is 150% greater than it was when I jumped on the Salesforce roller coaster. The word “awesome” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I am incredibly blessed, thankful, and humbled by the events of the last 33 months.
Certainly, there are a great many factors involved in my amazing journey, and many people to whom I am thankful, including my dear wife, Christina, my business partner, Neil, my parents, and my God. However, the reason for this post is to highlight the crucial role that the Salesforce learning platform, Trailhead, has played in my transformation.
As you can see, I’m kind of addicted to this incredible learning tool:
Trailhead isn’t just a game changer — it’s is a life changer
Why do I say this?
1. Trailhead enables anyone, in any social strata or economic circumstance, to learn the world’s #1 CRM
Back in 2016, as I began searching for a way to learn this mysterious CRM, I quickly became overwhelmed with information overload. There was a tremendous amount of learning material available online, but it was mostly unstructured, and I soon got lost. I didn’t have any money for paid courses, so I just kept looking. Providentially, I stumbled across Trailhead by accident — a free, structured and first-class online learning platform. Woohoo! What a game changer. I spent most of the next two weeks immersed in trails, badges and projects, furiously up-skilling before I dived into my terrifying new role, implementing and building Salesforce for a finserv business.
Trailhead is structured in way that prepares people for real-world employment and advancement, and it is available for anyone, without any prerequisites or cost. If there is another learning platform like it for any other system, I am not aware of it. Trailhead empowers all manner of people, of all age groups, from all backgrounds. It reflects the Salesforce value of equality — of giving everyone a fair go, as we might say here in Australia.
2. Trailhead is just one facet of a greater learning community
The word “Ohana’ is one adopted by the Salesforce ecosystem, and it means, simply, family. I’m not meaning to sound cheesy or corny, but when I entered the Salesforce community and began learning and sharing, I was adopted by one great big family!
For example, I was having trouble some time ago building process automation using the visual tool, Process Builder. I was stuck. I got hold of a Salesforce blogger, who then offered to help me via screen share, as he is in the States, and I’m based in Sydney, Australia. This Ohana member spent about two hours with me, at the end of his busy work day, to assist me. Wow!
It never ceases to amaze me how the Ohana members help one another, even those who might technically be in competition with each other. It’s a big world of give and take, and it makes all the difference.
3. Trailhead is gamified and fun!
I am a highly competitive individual. I love games, and I am a very, very bad loser. When I realised that Trailhead uses gamification, with various ranks for earning badges, I was ecstatic! Since that time, I’ve entered into some friendly competition with online friends — first to attain the rank of ranger (100 badges), then double ranger, and then triple ranger. It never ends! And I love it.
Learning is living, and it ought to be fun, but the mediums and methods of teaching often make it tedious and boring. Not so with Trailhead — it’s a blast!
I endured four years of university when I studied mechanical engineering. Notice that I said endured, and not enjoyed! If university was more like Trailhead, I am sure the graduation rate would be much higher. Learning is always hard work, but it ought also be fun.
4. Trailhead never stops growing
When Trailhead was launched in October of 2014, it went live with just three trails and 11 badges — there are now over 500 badges. Over one million trailblazers have earned more than 12 million badges in well under five years.
That is truly incredible.
Not only are there hundreds of super cool badges about building and using Salesforce cloud technology, but there are learning modules about:
- Public speaking
- Life hacks
- …and more!
5. Trailhead empowers you so you can enable others
I never, ever dreamed that I would be awarded the coveted Gold Hoodie, the #AwesomeAdminAward, not in a million years — but that is exactly what happened at World Tour of 2017!
I have worked incredibly hard to master — if that is even possible -— the complex Salesforce platform, knowing that doing so would go a long way to building my career and looking after my family. I hoped that my learning would enable me to improve my skills and grow my career, even as a fifty-year-old late bloomer. It certainly did!
What I did not expect was the positive impact that I would have upon the lives of others. This has become an incredible source of joy to me because I always aspire to inspire! For example, this week I got a Tweet from Salesforce President, Bret Taylor, and what he told me TOTALLY blew my mind:
I have a saying that I often share:
Be good to everybody,
Because everybody is having a tough time.
When you grow and learn through Trailhead, you become empowered to enable and inspire others on their journey — and that feels amazing!
I do not work for Salesforce, and no one asked/required/paid me to write this article. I write it because I believe every word that you have read. Trailhead has truly changed my life, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it.
Keep blazing trails!
Contact me: You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or you can contact me via our business, Visioneer360.
Click here to get started with Trailhead
Amazing article … Truly explains trailhead’s impact
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Mark, add about a decade of age and a different degree (M.Div,, not Mech. Eng.) and you’re pretty close to where I was a year ago. We were hanging on by our ‘bitten-to-the-nub’ fingernails financially, and worried about what would happen if something BAD happened. Well, instead, something GOOD happened. I changed jobs to be a HD agent which maintaned a customer/client’s Salesforce Org. (Can’t go into it anymore than that). We needed to learn a smidgen of Salesforce – but I couldn’t stop. Kept going and going – as we say here in the states, ‘kept doing the Everready Bunny thing.’ You can see in the website reference where I am in Trailhead. I’m also 2x certified – Administrator and Advanced Administrator. Not stopping there, either! Have at LEAST two more in the works for early 2020, plus about four more before I take a breath to look around.
Bottom line – Salesforce has done great things for me and the family.
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Awesome!!! I also have a theology degree. I was a Baptist pastor for 20 years.