#DF22 — my 7th Dreamforce experience

Once upon a time, I was told that I am “disturbingly social and energetic” and, although I don’t know how to put that on my LinkedIn profile, I think it is a compliment. I can’t imagine how introverts and those with social anxiety ever manage Dreamforce with the crush of activities and other humans. Dreamforce is different every year. This year, there were fewer people but I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted. Dreamforce was condensed in time and space but it felt more disjointed. There were more celebrities and more sessions and 45 keynotes and I attended less. In 2019, there were 170,000 attendees; there were 40,000 attendees in 2022. How and why was the Dreamforce 20 Year Reunion different?

Firstly, and foremost, this Dreamforce was three days long instead of four. To me, it was unfortunate that we seemed to try to cram everything into three days that we’ve always done in four days. Time and energy is limited. Everything felt rushed. For example, there were six parties that I knew about on Monday evening (I’m sure there more that I did not know were happening). Three were hosted by Salesforce, two were hosted by community leaders, and one was a fundraiser for Pep UP Tech☁️.

Drew Tauber bringing joy to the crowd at the PepUp Tech Karaoke fundraiser.

I managed to attend four of the six. And that just was Day 0. The double and triple booking and conflicts and missed connections continued from there. I didn’t attend the SalesforceOrg party because I mistakenly assumed I would see all my Nonprofit friends at the Open Source Commons Sprint on Thursday or at the Nonprofit Lodge (which I found out later didn’t exist). Trying to cram too much into too few days left little time for the famous hallway connections and increased the franticness.

Secondly, my schedule was much more structured this year by events that were not open to everyone. I was very honored to be included in the press conference that was the Salesforce 10th Anniversary Celebration of Supporting Schools at Presidio Middle School on Monday (aka Day 0). However, the group of #trailblazercommunity members there was limited to about a dozen folks.

Me with #SalesforceMVPs Rebecca Lammers, Shonnah Hughes, Rebe de la Paz, Marcianna Davis, and Andrea Tarrell.

As a member of the Impact Labs cohort, I attended the Zero Hunger Summit at the Salesforce Tower on Tuesday (Day 1); eliminating childhood hunger is my personal passion. But I missed the #bobablazers gathering and I am a founding member. It was Wednesday before I actually made it to Moscone. On Thursday, I did not get to attend the Sprint, as planned, because I was presenting Thursday morning and, as a #SalesforceMVP, I was invited to an Executive Listening Learnings session back at the Salesforce Tower on Thursday afternoon.

Each of the activities that took me away from Dreamforce itself were important; however, that time only left about 1.5 days of Dreamforce for my participation. All in all, I went to one keynote and a few sessions, visited the Trailblazer Forest and, very briefly, made a run through the Expo.

Thirdly, let’s address the elephant in the room. The big elephant is COVID; we’ve endured a pandemic that has vastly changed us all whether we are introverts, extroverts, shy, socially awkward, or none of the above. One of my dearest friends arrived in San Francisco and tested positive for COVID. She spent Dreamforce in her room. Another friend tested positive on Wednesday and another on Friday. Salesforce friends declined to attend Dreamforce at all because of their health concerns. Others came from all across the globe.

Me and Katka Vokrinkova at Camp Design in the Trailblazer Forest.

As inclusive and welcoming as I always hope to be, I know that I have not recovered the energy I had pre-COVID. We’ve spent two years living like hermits and it’s possible our social graces have been diminished. Travel has become more problematic and delays and snafus make us short-tempered. Everything costs more so expenses are stressful. As much as we all wanted to relax and enjoy each other’s company, everyone is dealing with a LOT. Maybe we weren’t all as friendly or giving as we could have been?

When we are not intentionally inclusive, we can be unintentionally exclusive.

The #trailblazercommunity is the single best thing about Salesforce. Yes, the technology is great and there are so many things to learn and so many ways to leverage that technology to improve careers and more. But, it all starts with the humans in the community. Humans are fallible and imperfect and prone to all sorts of behaviors. Those same humans are also brilliant and beautiful and bold and continue to inspire and challenge me. Yes, I’ll be back at Dreamforce next year. And, this year I’ll do whatever I can to work with the Trailblazer Community team to make that experience the most inclusive and welcoming it can be.

Get started now on making friends for next year’s Dreamforce by joining us at the #DF22 Debrief and Social Hour; it’s free and virtual and everyone is welcome. If you’re an introvert, you don’t even have to turn on your camera if you’d rather not. No pressure; no expectations.

Other resources to learn more about MVPs, Golden Hoodies, Community Groups, and more human centered Salesforce parts of the puzzle:

Learn more about Salesforce MVPs.

Learn more about Salesforce Golden Hoodies.

Learn more about Salesforce Communities.

Learn more about Emotional Intelligence.

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Melissa Hill Dees

Founding Partner @handsonconnect @llamasite #SalesforceMVP Champion of #domoregood #WiT #EqualityForAll 6X @salesforce certified. #DFSpeaker #SFDOSprinter