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What It Means To Be A Trailblazer

What It Means To Be A Trailblazer

While working in sales, marketing or service can be competitive, putting the spotlight on Trailblazers is really more about inspiring others to follow in their path.

They may become role models for their peers — and all-stars to the customers they serve — but the interesting thing is how few Trailblazers realized they would ever become one.

Take a look at some of the videos on YouTube, for example, and you’ll hear lots of stories about everyday people, acting in traditional roles, who now find themselves working as developers on sophisticated business applications. They come from all kinds of educational and professional backgrounds, races and genders. Some had tinkered with computers, but had no formal training in IT. Instead, they studied things like biology, anthropology and the law. One Trailblazer admits, almost sheepishly, that she spent her twenties traveling and doing theatre.

And yet, by taking advantage of Trailhead — Salesforce’s gamified online learning platform — these Trailblazers have all embraced the opportunities digitization has presented. They have found new and innovative ways to build upon Salesforce technology to help create outstanding experiences for customers. They represent a unique community with members all over the world, but on April 11, they’ll have a chance to come together in Toronto to meet in person.

In fact, the agenda of Salesforce World Tour Toronto kicks off with “A Celebration Of Trailblazers,” where you’ll hear real-life stories of how using Trailhead has transformed the lives of people who couldn’t have imagined the success they’re demonstrating today. While working in sales, marketing or service can be competitive, putting the spotlight on Trailblazers is really more about inspiring others to follow in their path.

These are just a few of the common characteristics that tend to define a Trailblazer, and they are qualities almost anyone can cultivate if they want to take the next step:

1. Trailblazers have the courage to face the unknown

Twenty years ago, no one had heard of customer relationship management or marketing automation. Today, things like analytics and artificial intelligence are becoming better known, but still might seem complex and confusing. Trailblazers start from the same place we all do — uncertain about how these technologies work and how they could be applied to solve business problems — but that doesn’t stop them.

Using Trailhead, Trailblazers come to realize that any technology can be studied at their own pace, in a way that breaks the complexity down into manageable, bite-sized pieces. Even if they’re just getting started in sales, for instance, reps can begin to make connections between concepts like big data and the kinds of challenges their employer might face. Soon, they can start building applications or making use of the Salesforce platform to address those challenges.

This all takes a certain kind of openness and patience, but there is an ever-growing number of stories available to show how other Trailblazers have done it. Digital transformation has been democratized.

2 .Trailblazers transcend their job title and industry

Sales reps have become Trailblazers. Marketing managers have become Trailblazers. But so have admins, senior executives and those in many other positions in a typical corporate hierarchy.

What tends to happen, however, is that those who develop themselves using Trailhead become far more multi-disciplinary in how they approach problems. In other words, Trailblazers who work on a sales team wind up discovering ways to help their counterparts in operations, or those who are more entry or mid-level wind up volunteering to take on projects that might have considered outside their scope.

Mastering digital technologies is highly empowering, and leads you to think more holistically about how you can contribute value — no matter what it says on your business card.

3. Trailblazers never stop learning

After eight years of elementary school, you graduate. Then you finish high school, and after that college or university. You’re finally done! It won’t take long once you’ve been working in your chosen field, however, before you find yourself grappling with things that never came up in the classroom.

Just stop and think for a minute about all the ways the Internet, smartphones and data have disrupted every imaginable business or industry. That sea of change could be overwhelming, but Trailblazers recognize them as steps on a long-term journey.

That’s why, when new areas of innovation emerge, they turn back to Trailhead and continue to upgrade their skills. Once you’ve blazed new trails, in other words, you want to keep exploring and discover new ones. As one Trailblazer said, “No one should put limits on how far a person can go professionally.”

4. Trailblazers thrive in collaboration and community

Although people might use Trailhead on their own, every time they log on they’re joining a group of people who are equally driven to develop themselves and make meaningful changes in the organizations and society around them. And as with any successful learning activity, nothing feels better than being able to pass on something about a subject in which you’ve become proficient.

That’s one of the reasons people tend to find great power in coming to Salesforce World Tour, because they meet other Trailblazers who are all at different stages of their journey. By talking about their goals, the kinds of problems they’ve solved or the barriers they’re still trying to overcome, Trailblazers can act as mentors to one another. They can be candid about failures they’ve learned from as well as the victories they’ve achieved. They can help identify some of the lessons in change management that inevitably come with embracing digital technologies.

Connecting at Salesforce World Tour also provides an opportunity for Trailblazers to focus on the other thing they all tend to have in common: an obsession with their customers. Hearing about what customers in other companies, need, want and appreciate in other organizations and industries can be an invaluable way to enhance the experience you provide in your own field.

In that sense, Trailblazers become heroes in the Age of the Customer. This isn’t just something signified by those stylish Trailblazer hoodies — it’s something Trailblazers show in how they act, talk and continue to expand their skill sets every single day.

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