A simple Google search of the word Trailblazer brings up this definition: “A person who makes a new track through wild country.” Surely this is what early explorers, like Lewis and Clark, did as they traveled out West for the first time. It’s also what an outdoor enthusiast does when they venture off the beaten path, removing brush and traversing whatever obstacles are in the way.

Yet as the landscape of technology and business have become more sophisticated and complex, it too can feel like a type of “wild country.” Industries and companies alike often find themselves in need of innovative thinkers with adventurous spirits, ready to navigate the unknown. At Salesforce, we call these people Trailblazers and they encompass a vast community of learners and leaders dedicated to using technology to solve problems, transform their companies and communities, and grow their careers.

 

Last month, over 170,000 people gathered in San Francisco for our annual Dreamforce conference--many of them Trailblazers, which gave us the opportunity to ask them directly what being a Trailblazer means to them. For some, it’s exactly what it sounds like; it’s forging new paths, coming up with new ideas, and building the tools their company needs to succeed. Let’s hear it in their own words.

 

 

“A Trailblazer is someone who's not afraid to challenge the status quo; that the way we've always done it isn't necessarily the way we're going to do it.”

Andrea Gertz, Salesforce Administrator, National Express

 

“I would say that a Trailblazer is somebody who has an idea, a big idea, and really knows how to go after it. They know the tools they can use to find that trail.”

Joe Ewing, Board Member, Mahala, Inc.

 

“A Trailblazer is someone who doesn't necessarily have the same opportunity, the same leg up as another person. A Trailblazer is somebody who has to pave that path for themselves… somebody who blazes that trail, and doesn’t look back.”

Ashley Allen, Founder, ITEquality

 

For others, being a Trailblazer is more about adopting a particular attitude toward change. Trailblazers typically have an innate sense of adventure, they’re willing to take risks and figure it out as they go. They approach challenges with bravery and feel excited about the future. These Trailblazers put it best:

 

“I think a Trailblazer is somebody that knows how to go on a journey, an adventurer. Somebody that takes risks and figures out how to overcome obstacles.”

Andrew Reiser, President, Mountain Point

 

“A Trailblazer is a pioneer, somebody who's willing to take risks and go in a path that isn't already there. They blaze a trail and leave a path for others.”

Marisa Hambleton, Chief Technology Officer, Bid Track Sell

 

“A Trailblazer is someone that can overcome different challenges and isn’t afraid to do it.”

Paul Padua, Salesforce Administrator, Monroe College

 

Some Trailblazers showed an even deeper connection to the reason why they’re blazing a trail in the first place: to create a new path and opportunity for others. They are inspired by a sense of community that is pervasive across the Salesforce ecosystem--something we refer to as Ohana (the Hawaiian word for family). These Trailblazers willingly share their knowledge, lend a helping hand and establish friendships with other Trailblazers--all with the goal of helping others do amazing things. These Trailblazers truly embody the concept of Ohana:

 

“To me, a Trailblazer is someone who is mission-driven and focused on helping people. When we look at Trailblazers throughout history, they have been people who wanted to push the envelope and make a better world for everybody else.”

Ian Faison, Chief Content Officer, The Mission

 

“It's not just professional. If you're a Trailblazer, you're living it. Professionally, personally, you’re helping others, trying to solve new things, and always looking behind you...and making sure that you're helping them to blaze their trail.”

Krista Santucci, Senior Salesforce Administrator, Verisk

 

“A Trailblazer is always leading, setting the example, whether that's through culture or the way they treat their customers, their clients, and their teammates. You have to treat your teammates with an equal amount of respect because your admins rely on your developers, your developers rely on your engagement managers. Everyone relies on each other.”

Shane Hayes, Solution Architect, Silverline

 

Being a Trailblazer in today’s fast-moving business environment means many things. Yes, it’s all about forging a new path or yourself and others amidst the “wild country,” but it’s about so much more. It’s a different approach to doing business that prioritizes innovation and building a better world for others. As our founder and CEO, Marc Benioff, likes to say, “The business of doing business is improving the state of the world.” And there’s no one at the forefront of this like our Trailblazers.

Do you have your own Trailblazer story to share? We’d love to hear it! Tell us on Twitter using the hashtag #BlazingTrails.