In our Trailblazer Voices blog series, we’re sharing stories of real people facing real challenges, and finding innovative ways to succeed. These stories are as diverse as our world, ranging from one Trailblazer’s career transition to an ongoing mission to tackle the tech gender gap.
Yet across these stories one common theme stands out: community, or as we like to call it “Ohana.” It’s the family-feel of the Trailblazer Community that many Trailblazers cite as the biggest game-changer in their journey. And in no story is that more obvious than the story of Jessie Rymph and Zach Nostdal, two Salesforce Admins who chose to put a ring on it center stage at Dreamforce last November.
It’s not every day that we’re asked to help pull off unforgettable marriage proposals, so with Valentine’s Day around the corner, it seemed like the right time to check in with these lovebirds and ask them to share their story.
Jessie and Zach met three years ago on a dating app called Coffee Meets Bagel. At the time, Jessie was working as a Salesforce Admin for a Seattle-based nonprofit. Zach was also working in the nonprofit space as a Program Coordinator. According to them, it was Jessie’s nonprofit experience and Zach’s time in the Peace Corps that piqued their interest in each other; they promptly made plans to meet over beers.
“I thought, ‘wow, this is what it feels like to talk to someone who shares all your beliefs and who agrees with you on most things,’” remembers Jessie of the their first date. “It was a relief.”
Only a few months after meeting, however, Zach found out that statewide budget cuts had affected his nonprofit and his job would be terminated. Jessie remembers answering Zach’s call that day from San Francisco, where she was attending Dreamforce ‘15.
“I don’t know if we hatched the plan for Zach to go into Salesforce then, but it certainly was encouraged by the fact that I was at this conference and having an amazing time because of a career choice I made,” said Jessie. She suggested Zach look into Salesforce for himself.
“I had a lot of time on my hands,” Zach admitted. “So I dove right in, and instead of staying in the nonprofit programmatic space, I decided to transition to nonprofit tech.” Zach started learning on Trailhead, joined the Seattle Nonprofit User Group (which Jessie was co-leading at the time), and got a volunteer gig helping a nonprofit with their Salesforce implementation.
“He was able to get his first Salesforce job within six months of starting to learn,” said Jessie.
The Trailblazer Community soon took on an important role in their relationship and lives together. “It keeps us close,” said Zach. “We talk all day as we’re working through problems at work, bouncing ideas off each other. The ability to share our jobs and have in-depth knowledge of each other’s careers is a cool thing not a lot of couples have.”
“Also,” Jessie added. “A huge part of our social circle in Seattle are other Salesforce Administrators, Consultants, and Developers that we’ve met through our user group. Almost all of them have a background in nonprofits. It’s just a really cool group of people.”
When the time came to pop the big question, Jessie said it just made sense to do it at Dreamforce. “We are both huge Salesforce nerds, and this was our second time going to Dreamforce together,” she explained. “We knew many of the people in the audience from our Community Group, and knew that many of our friends would be attending too. So it just felt like the right place to make a big splash.”
Jessie secretly coordinated with Salesforce.org staff to have five members from their Community Group on stage during the nonprofit kick-off (including herself and Zach) under the premise of telling the audience what they were most excited about that week. But when the mic reached Jessie, the real plan came to life. She turned to Zach, got down on one knee, and asked him to “formally join my household and marry me.” To which Zach responded, “of course.”
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to get proposed to at Dreamforce, that’s for sure,” said Zach.
“And I was just relieved Zach wasn’t embarrassed,” admitted Jessie, explaining that he doesn’t always share her love of surprises.
Zach added, “I did a proposal for her later that was more private, but also big in it’s own way.”
To appropriately honor the two proposals, Jessie and Zach are currently in the midst of planning two weddings — a small ceremony in April with close family and friends to accommodate for Zach’s 100-year-old grandmother, and a larger reception for friends in October. “No correlation between two proposals, two weddings,” Jessie joked. “We’re just trying to make it work for everybody.”
When asked if Salesforce will play a role in either of their weddings, Jessie said, “We’re thinking about having our RSVP system go into a Salesforce org.”
“Yeah,” Zach chimed in. “Setting that up actually wouldn’t be that complex.” Clearly, they’ve already started problem-solving the right solution to manage their RSVP data.
For these two Trailblazers, the real adventure is about to start. When asked what trails they plan to blaze together in married life, Jessie said with a smile, “I’m looking at some of the more normal things, like babies. That’s the trail I want to blaze next.”
“Professionally,” she continued. “I’m excited to ramp up my coding skills by participating in RAD Women’s Intro to Code and continuing to co-chair a board where I help Salesforce newbies through Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) implementation. I just love making that kind of impact on a small organization and helping others start their Salesforce careers.”
Zach, who took over for Jessie as co-leader of the Seattle Nonprofit User Group, wants to continue to drive positive change. “Salesforce has allowed me to have more of an impact than I would have been able to otherwise. The way I look at it, by managing the database for nonprofits, I get to influence how many people that nonprofit can benefit. And having worked at organizations in the days of excel spreadsheets and paper files, I’ve seen first-hand the difference a CRM can make.”
Both Jessie and Zach are currently working as Salesforce Admins for companies with world-changing missions — Jessie at Optimum Energy, a provider of software and engineering to help companies reduce energy use, and Zach at SightLife Surgical, the largest provider of corneal tissue for transplant in the world. Together they recently started a blog to bring their community even closer. “The idea is for members of the nonprofit user group to share things they’ve learned or advice they have for others. It’s a place for posters to share knowledge without having to manage their own blog,” Jessie explained.
We knew other Trailblazers would be interested to learn how Jessie and Zach managed to be so successful in their careers, so we asked them to each share their all-time favorite Trailhead modules. Here’s what they said:
Reports & Dashboards: This is the module that Jessie most frequently recommends to her users. According to her, they get really excited about being able to find data on their own.
Admin Intermediate: For Zach, this trail helped him learn Salesforce more than anything else once he got past the very basics.
From all of us at Salesforce, we wish Zach and Jessie all the happiness in the next chapter of their love story! And if you have a Trailblazer love story to share, we want to hear it! Tweet us your story @salesforce with the #BlazingTrails hashtag.
This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers.