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The past three days were a bit of a blur with product announcements, networking, and demos for Connections ‘19 attendees. So, we decided to round up our top 10 highlights from the past three days.

The past three days were a bit of a blur for Connections ‘19 attendees. In between days packed with breakout sessions, hands-on training, keynote speakers, networking, giving back, selfies with Astro and the gang, and partying the night away with fellow Trailblazers — we saw lots of excited faces and memories being made. There were lots to see and do, and since it was impossible to be every place at once, we decided to round up our top 10 highlights from Connections ’19.

10. Lindsey Vonn talks resiliency and positivity

Earlier this year Lindsey Vonn took her last run and brought her 15-year competitive sporting career to an end as one of the most accomplished female skiers, with multiple World Cup titles and World Championship medals. As one of alpine skiing’s all-time greats, Vonn understandably had mixed emotions about this part of her life coming to a close but is excited by new opportunities ahead. In a chat with Salesforce Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Kofoid, Vonn talked to the Connections audience about her secrets to success, which include investing in herself and having a clear vision. “I had a 10-year plan when I was nine that I wanted to compete in the Olympics and be the best in the world.” And as we heard that Vonn had a fondness for goats — being that she is a G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) herself — we introduced her to Cloudy.

Photo of Lindsey Vonn and Andy Kofoid

9. Peter Sagal: humorist or genius marketer?

National Public Radio’s popular news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” has delivered both the news and laughs for decades. The show’s amiable host Peter Sagal gave the Connections audience a behind-the-scenes look at why the show has resonated with and grown its audience for the past 21 years — something many marketers dream of. The secret? Being authentic and widely diversifying their panelists to give the show as many viewpoints as possible. “People always say that we sound like we’re having so much fun. We are. We work on making ourselves laugh, and then we invite the audience to listen in,” Sagal explains.

Photo of Peter Sagal at Connections '19

Hear how Sagal has created and maintained powerful and meaningful relationships from the Salesforce Live studio:

 

8. The latest cloud innovations wow Trailblazers

We’ve had some big announcements this week. Starting on Monday, Trailblazers heard about all the Commerce Cloud innovations, including Commerce Page Designer and the Mulesoft Accelerator. Marketers got a glimpse at how Einstein artificial intelligence makes email marketing smarter in Marketing Cloud.

Photograph from Salesforce Connections '19

And service professionals will be excited to hear about Service Cloud’s . All of these new innovations were created with Trailblazers in mind and designed to help them create stunning new customer experiences.

7. Trailblazers party the night away

The Party at Connections was popping on Tuesday night. Trailblazers gathered at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena to cut loose and dance the night away. Kicking off the night was a group of roller dancers who got people grooving on the concert floor to the beats of DJ Mary Mac. Trailblazers got to nibble on famous local specialties like Chicago-style hot dogs and soft pretzels while chatting and waving the blue-lighted wristbands on their arms. Then it all kicked off with a concert headlined by Gwen Stefani. One lucky superfan, Trailblazer Katie DeLuna, snagged the ultimate moment when Stefani noticed DeLuna’s arm tattoo — Stefani’s own autograph. It would be a night to remember for all who sang and danced the night away with friends.

6. Trailblazing customers put innovation center stage

Amidst the booths in the Customer Success Expo, some of our top customers blew away attendees in the Campground. Brands like Conagra, Party City, e.l.f. Cosmetics, State Farms Insurance, and more showed off how their businesses innovate with Salesforce’s help.

Photo of the Campground stage

Attendees could engage in hands-on activities, see products in action, and speak with experts to learn more about Salesforce’s commerce and retail solutions.

5. Equality discussions bring laughter and inspiration

“My mentor once told me to brag about something I accomplished at the beginning of every one-on-one meeting I had. Why? Because men do it,” Salesforce’s Senior Director of Global Equality Programs Molly Ford quipped to an appreciative crowd. Back by popular demand, Connections hosted a Trailblazing Women’s luncheon where Trailblazers could network, connect, and hear from a panel of female leaders. From the importance of allyship to career advice to believing in yourself, attendees left pumped and ready to take on the world.

Photo of equality panel at Connections '19
Hear more from panelist Leela Srinivasan, the Chief Marketing Officer of Survey Monkey.
 

Connections also hosted a packed room of attendees looking to learn about inclusive marketing. In this panel discussion, leaders across varied industries shared their thoughts on the growth opportunities brands have, and how they’ve been tackling this important issue. Salesforce Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Buscemi raised the important point that different points of view are essential today. “How can you have inclusive marketing without inclusive representation,” she asked. The panel also acknowledged that inclusive marketing is uncharted territory for many who wish to become changemakers. “We have to be comfortable admitting when we get it wrong,” Brent Allen, Associate Publisher at Elle and Marie Claire advised. “No one has a roadmap for this. But keep asking questions and keep going.”

Learn more about inclusive marketing by watching the video or taking the trail on Trailhead.

4. Yo-Yo Ma teaches us about channeling our passion

We were honored to have the talented and thoughtful Yo-Yo Ma take the Connections stage to teach about merging your passions and skills to make a positive impact on the world. In his fireside chat with award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, Ma spoke of the importance of creating and sharing culture, and what motivates him to be active in areas of hardship and conflict through his Bach Project.

Photo of Yo-Yo Ma and Soledad O'Brien

The ‘edge’ is a really important place in science, culture, economics, etc. It’s where a lot of creativity happens that leads to innovation. For me, that’s why understanding what’s happening at national borders are important for me and why I want to play there,” Ma explains. Throughout his discussion with O’Brien, Ma also touched on the importance of growing self-confidence, why we should try to be present in every moment, and why Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G was easy for him to learn at the age of four. Watch the entirety of the chat on Salesforce Live.

3. Customer 360 makes a splash

During Tuesday’s keynote, we revealed the next generation of Customer 360. New platform services will enable companies to unify disparate customer data throughout their entire organization and then personalize every engagement based on a single view of the customer. Customer 360 will go beyond traditional customer data platform (CDP) capabilities and extend the power of customer relationship management (CRM) with consumer-scale data management and activation – great news for our customers who want to deliver a unified cross-channel customer experience.

"Customers today will not settle for fragmented experiences, and companies recognize that creating a single view of the customer is imperative to earning their loyalty," said Bret Taylor, President and Chief Product Officer at Salesforce. "With Customer 360, we continue to extend our platform in new ways, empowering brands to unify data and personalize customer engagement at scale."

Learn more about Customer 360 by watching this video:

 

2. Chicago is our kind of town

Giving back is always at the heart of what Salesforce does and Connections is no different. As Chicago has been the home of Connections for many years, we have a soft spot for the city and its people. Since we believe in supporting local communities that have supported us, we’re proud to invest an additional $1 million in education and workforce development to further our Future Ready programs with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and i.c.stars. We also love that attendees generously donated their time to build school supply kits for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago — an organization that helps children realize their potential and build their futures through quality 1-to-1 mentoring. Thanks to our attendees, we packed 400 kits!

Photo of volunteers manning school supplies table

1. Trailblazers, assemble!

It’s never dull when Trailblazers get together. Whether it’s online via Twitter, in local meetup groups, or larger events like Connections, Trailblazers have a knack for bringing out the best in each other. This year we saw Trailblazers sharing key insights, giving demos, creating fun videos, and helping each other as one Ohana (the Hawaiian word for family). In just three days, Trailblazers raised $5,000 playing Quest to benefit SmileTrain. We learned how Trailblazers from companies like Conagra, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and Pacer Sports and Entertainment shake up their industries by putting their customers in the center of all they do. We met Fawad Ahmad and found out why companies need to treat customer experience as a discipline. Through it all, Connections reminds us that Trailblazers are amazing people and together, we can achieve anything.

We hope you had a good time and learned some valuable things these past three days. Connections ’20 will be on May 4-6, 2020, so mark your calendars. Safe journeys home and see you next year!

Kim Honjo was a writer for the Salesforce blog. She's written many of your favorite blog posts here, as well as multiple e-books including the Content Marketing Institute award-winner, We Are All Trailblazers. When she isn't writing, she's probably binge-watching tv shows, learning Japanese, and looking at videos of cute animals.

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