Stay Proud: How Salesforce Celebrated Pride Month 2017

Salesforce showed its true (rainbow!) colors this Pride Month as members of the LGBTQ community and allies alike joined together as one big Ohana to celebrate diversity and promote #EqualityForAll.

This June was one of Salesforce’s biggest and boldest pride months to date, with record participation in events across the globe organized by Outforce, our employee resource group for allies of diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from an awesome Pride Month.

Around the World

  • Outforce organized 37 events globally, including nine Pride marches, which gathered a total of 1800+ marchers from our extended Ohana. Many of our executives participated, as did all of our Ohana groups and some of our mascots, including Astro, SaaSy, Codey, and Einstein!

  • San Francisco hosted many special guests who joined the ranks of 600 employees, friends, and family members who came out to march, including  including singer Bebe Rexha, who performed on the parade route, mascots Astro and SaaSy, drag talent, and a team of professional dancers.

  • Outforce Chicago raised $40,000 for a local LGBTQ center, called Center on Halsted, during a Pride happy hour. They also hosted a RealTalk event to open up a dialogue about LGBTQ identity and had a great turnout at their parade.

  • Employees in Singapore celebrated Pink Dot, Singapore’s version of Pride. Citizens, all dressed in pink, gathered in a park to form a bird’s eye view of a pink dot, which symbolizes support for the LGBTQ community.

  • Dublin, in addition to marching with a fabulous float in the Dublin Pride parade, hosted notable speakers for in-office talks, including Robbie Lawlor, former Mr. Gay Ireland, and Rory O’Neill, Ireland’s foremost drag queen and gay rights activist.

  • Toronto hosted educational Pride- and Outforce-themed Lunch & Learns, threw an in-office party that featured a fundraiser, music, and drag queens, and marched in their parade alongside a float featuring mascots Codey and Einstein.

  • New York had a massive increase in marcher turnout, including plenty of support from BOLDforce, as they marched alongside a branded truck with a sound system.

Press Hits

  • Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet spoke out about equality and hosted a panel to discuss the role of business in driving equality.

  • Equality Programs Manager and Outforce pioneer Gino Ramos was recognized as one of the San Francisco Business Times’ OUTstanding voices of 2017.
  • Success Principal Agent Charles Burkard shared his experience of transitioning in the tech industry.

  • Associate Art Director Elle Cardenas shared why Pride is for everyone (yes, everyone!).

And that’s not all … we have more Pride events happening through the fall around the world, so stay tuned for more rainbow waves coming your way!

Find out more ways Salesforce is championing #EqualityForAll at salesforce.com/equality.

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10 Ways That Productive People Get More Work Done in Fewer Hours

The sunny summer months are a perfect time to increase your productivity at work without spending an exorbitant amount of time there.

In the U.S., we tend to correlate longer working hours with greater productivity and efficacy in a business.

However, spending more time at work may not really be helping us. Consider a few studies:

  • In a study of consultants, managers couldn’t distinguish “between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to” (HBR).
  • Employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours” (IZA).
  • White-collar professionals who worked 10 hours a day were 60% more likely to have heart problems than those who worked seven hours a day (UCL).

So it’s not just a matter of productivity — it’s a matter of health.

Consider these tips to get more done at work in fewer hours, so you can get out and enjoy the summertime. For more productivity ideas, check out our interactive infographic 10 Scientifically Proven Tactics to Stay Productive.

 

1. They set aside time for deep work.

 

First, understand what “deep work” means for your role. Cal Newport, author of the NYT bestseller Deep Work, explains that “deep work is what produces real value. Deep work is what allows you to improve your skills rapidly. Deep work is what allows you to produce things that are rare and valuable. And in the end, that’s really the key currency in our in our current economy. The stuff that you can do that’s really valuable and not easily replicable is the only thing that is going to move the needle.”

So, what does this look like in practice? Deep work usually means that you’re heads-down in a project that requires your utmost concentration. Set aside a block of at least 90 minutes without meetings each day so you can accomplish this all-important work.

 

2. They create a “must do” list for each day.

 

Personally, I like to start my workdays with a list of must-dos instead of to-dos. This lets me first worry about all the must-do items before I begin to tackle the “maybe today, maybe tomorrows.” My work day is often rerouted from what I thought it would be — by random meetings, semi-urgent emails, and chat messages requesting my help. So if I don’t start on the must-dos until 3 or 4 p.m., there’s no way I can finish work at a decent time.

That’s why I aim to start with only 1-2 must-dos for each day, so I’m only leaving work after I accomplish the truly necessary stuff. For those of us who also suffer from a touch of perfectionism, this also helps decrease the self-expectation of finishing a massive task list every day.

 

3. They seriously don’t multitask the important stuff.

 

By now, you probably know that multitasking isn’t really a thing. But even frequently switching tasks can hamper our productivity by 40%. Task-switching can feel like a way of life in many high-stress professional jobs (phones are ringing; chats are coming in; emails are popping off), but do your best to switch off as many tasks as you can so you can truly concentrate and make fewer mistakes.

In general, switching from task to task is only going to introduce errors into your work as you lose your train of thought. So while it may be fine to answer a quick email on your phone while you’re walking to a meeting, it’s probably not a good idea to edit an important document while talking on the phone.

 

4. They turn off Slack, text messages, email, or whatever ails them for a designated time.

 

Of course, you need to be available when your teammates need you. But that doesn’t mean you need a distracting alert popping up every time someone from the office just wants to say hey.

When you’re really angling to complete a project by a deadline (or get off work on time), turn off these distractions until you’re finished. You can always let your coworkers know the plan so they’re not surprised when you don’t immediately reply.

 

5. They hide their phones.

 

For most of us, our smartphones are always lurking nearby, providing ample distraction via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, stock market updates, and more. Turn off the visual cue that your phone offers for distraction (“Hey, check me again!”) by simply putting it away during prime working hours.

 

6. They block off time on their calendars when they have to stop working.

 

Whether it’s putting a virtual block on your calendar for after 5:30 p.m. or scheduling a daily walk with a friend, you’ll get more done if you have an actual deadline for when a day’s work must be completed. If you let work hang into the early evening and beyond, you’ll never let your sense of urgency kick you into overdrive to complete a project.

 

7. They create external deadlines.

 

Self-imposed deadlines are better than nothing, but external deadlines are the true productivity boosters. In one MIT study, self-imposed deadlines improved performance, but people typically didn’t set their own deadlines to really push themselves. In other words, we tend to go easy on ourselves. So to truly increase your productivity, set deadlines for key projects — then tell others about those deadlines to hold you accountable. This strategy will definitely help you get those projects finished without working until 7 p.m. on a summer Friday.

 

8. They make 15- or 20-minute meetings the norm.

 

Think about how much time in meetings is wasted. Think about it: You probably have to get approval from your manager for a $500 expense… but you can call a one-hour meeting with 20 people and no one notices. Time is money, and we can often spend the first 5-10 minutes making small talk or introducing the topic because there’s no sense of urgency.

Instead, focus on making the most of everyone’s time by scheduling shorter meetings (say, 15-20 minutes) and only going longer if the subject matter truly warrants it. Attendees will get to the point more quickly once they know there’s an imminent ending.

 

9. They get meeting agendas and goals ahead of time, or else, they don’t attend.

 

A meeting without an agenda and clear goals is a meeting that’s going to take too long. If someone calls a meeting and can’t be bothered to explain what it is ahead of time so you can come prepared with ideas, it may not be worth attending.

 

10. They stop reading blog posts about productivity and get to work.

 

Of course, I’m half-joking. I’m happy to have you reading my blog post. But the more time you spend reading about productivity, the less time you’ll have to actually complete whatever it is that you need to do today. And the less time you’ll have to enjoy a beautiful summer evening. So get and stay focused, and, like Nike always reminds us, just do it.

Are you a true procrastinator? Or you’re tackling a massive project? There’s lots more productivity advice where that came from, and we all have our own working styles. Explore our interactive infographic 10 Scientifically Proven Tactics to Stay Productive for even more ideas — so you’re sure to find something that works for you.

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5 Lessons in Pitch Writing from the Winners of the Dreampitch Competition

There are many things I love about my job, but one of the most exciting aspects of running AppExchange is watching innovative new ideas evolve into businesses. And few things embody this mission (and expose the phenomenal amount of talent within our ecosystem) better than our Dreampitch competition.

So I was thrilled that we were able to bring Dreampitch to our TrailheaDX conference this year, giving three teams of finalists a chance to pitch their startup vision on the mainstage. And I was even more thrilled when we were able to secure a panel of rockstar venture capitalist judges, giving these teams a sense of what it’s really like to ask for money from experts who have heard countless ideas for new business ventures (and giving the audience a great show). If you missed all the action be sure to check out the full recording below, but after five minutes of pitching and five minutes of Q&A with the judges for each team, the judges gave their ratings. And the latest Dreampitch champion — and recipient of $50,000 in funding from Salesforce Ventures — is Digital Onboarding, a SaaS solution that helps banks onboard new customers and assist them with activating their financial services products.

I had the chance to chat with the two New England-based co-founders behind Digital Onboarding — CEO Ted Brown and CTO Jonathan Crossman — after the event (and between taking pictures with their giant, Appy-signed check). It was great to hear more about Digital Onboarding’s roots, why they changed directions a year into founding their company, and what they learned from setting out to write a prize-winning pitch — and our conversation got me thinking about some important lessons in pitch writing for hopeful startups everywhere.  

Stop talking, start listening.

The first step before you sit down to write a pitch is simple: listening. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you thoroughly understand the problem that needs to be solved (and have the knowledge required to write a resonating pitch) based solely on your own experiences. Our friends at Digital Onboarding, Ted and Jonathan, actually quit their respective jobs two years ago to start the business, but realized later that the problems they thought needed to be solved in financial services weren’t necessarily a priority in the wider industry. “So we stopped talking and started listening,” Ted said — excellent advice and critical first step to ensure you’re you’re not getting tunnel vision around your idea.

Accept that your first idea might not be your best idea.

This brings me to my next point: Don’t be afraid to completely shift direction. It’s critical to keep an open mind, be ready to swallow your pride, and admit that your initial idea may not have been the best idea. In the case of our Dreampitch winner, they totally shifted direction a year into starting the business — as Ted put it, they “kept the product but changed the messaging, changed the target audience, changed everything about the story to an entirely different pitch.” A few months later, that pitch won them $50,000 in funding. Sometimes a reevaluation and change in direction can be the secret to kickstarting the growth your business.

Never lose sight of who you’re talking to.

Never lose sight of who is listening when you’re making a pitch. Your vision can be flawless, but it also has to matter to the person hearing it. The main reason that Digital Onboarding shifted direction, as Ted Told us, was the realization that the problem they were solving “wasn’t keeping executives up at night.” So even if the problem you’re solving for, say, a sales operations manager is very real and very painful, stop and think: Are you pitching to that sales operations manager? Or are you talking to their boss’ boss? If you’re talking to the C-suite, you have to find a way to translate that problem into something that’s top-of-mind for them. Make sure that you’re hitting hard and fast on what matters most to your listener — and, of course, speaking their language.

Find people who will give you honest (challenging) feedback.

The first person to hear your pitch should never be the person you’re counting on to buy your product or provide funding. Our Digital Onboarding friends told us that they held multiple meetings with angel investors in the Boston area leading up to the event, and had already fielded all of the questions the judges ended up asking them multiple times. And, as Ted told us, “the first time I responded to those questions, I did a bad job. But you answer them again and again, and you get better at it.” Make sure you’re finding people who will give you the right kind of validation — asking you hard-hitting questions and giving you a chance to handle objections — and practicing on a number of those people before you get to the pitch that really counts.

Practice, practice, practice.

We often hear from participants in our pitch competitions that the most difficult part of the whole process is shortening their pitch to meet time constraints. However, this is one of the most important exercises you can do as a startup. When you narrow down your pitch to the bare essentials, you get to the heart of why you do what you do, and the crux of what matters to your listener. The Digital Onboarding team practiced explaining their vision to multiple investors, taking note of the moments where they hit an ‘aha’ moment with their listener (“it’s not always what you expected would be the thing that would get someone to nod their head,” Ted said) and compiling those impactful moments into a more concise pitch. Then, as Jonathan told us, the team spent hours practicing and shaving off valuable seconds wherever they could —“we didn’t want the buzzer to end our pitch”— and cutting out extraneous details. And the result was a compact and memorable pitch that told the judges exactly what they needed to know (no more, no less) to pick the winner.

 

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