Personal Title: Wife, Mother, Shoulder to Cry On, Listener, Finder of Lost Things, and Gift Giver
Work Title: VP, Trailblazer Community
Company: Salesforce
City, State, Country: Boulder, CO USA
Trailhead profile URL: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/me/ericakuhl
Twitter handle:
@ericakuhl

How did you get started in Sales or Marketing?

It was by “accident” that I ended up in marketing. I was hired at Salesforce many moons ago to create and teach the Administrator Workshop. The purpose was to educate Salesforce Admins on how to set up and configure Salesforce. From there I had an idea to bring hands-on training to Dreamforce to make it possible for more of our customers to have access to our training services. That was a big success and I was brought over to marketing to be the content manager at Dreamforce and help launch Customer Marketing.

Do you use Salesforce in your day to day?

I do use Salesforce in my day-to-day. I run our Trailblazer Community, which is entirely run on Community Cloud. I'm a classic Salesforce on Salesforce story. I heavily leverage reports and dashboards to monitor the health and wellness of the community and programs. We work cross functionally within Salesforce and are often asked for various community stats or requests for Trailblazers, so having everything tracked in Salesforce is extremely helpful to ensure my team is working most efficiently and serving the company. Plus, since we are customer-facing, we are a great example of how to best use our technology to run our Community business.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your career to date?

That's a tough question since I've been at Salesforce for over 16 years! I would say that one of my biggest accomplishments was ironically determining it was time to leave marketing to try and gain bigger traction for the Trailblazer Community and programs. We have one of the most talented marketing organizations in the industry, but my programs were not in alignment with the overall goals and vision. I dug deep, researched, and determined the best place to achieve velocity for the community was to move to the product organization. I am so thankful that Salesforce Co-Founder Parker Harris had a beginner's mind, was open to taking a risk, and saw my vision. Since moving to the product organization, the community momentum has sky rocketed. I now know how incredibly important it is to be aligned with your organizational goals and that it's in your power to make big changes.

What would most people reading this today be surprised to learn about you?

I used to run Salesforce's social media strategy. I wrote the first social media guidelines document and held weekly classes to teach our company how best to engage on social channels. This included how to set up a Twitter bio and how to determine which tweets were appropriate. This was back when Salesforce only had ONE Twitter handle!

When hiring, what skills or attributes do you value most?

As cliche as this may sound, authenticity. It's incredibly important when running a large community to be your true self. Finding someone that has a balance of that plus professionalism is ideal! We represent the face of Salesforce to millions of customers so being authentic is VERY important. We want and need to have a personal touch with everything we do because at the end of the day, behind every community profile is an actual person! So having the ability to walk in someone's shoes, relate, and listen is key.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

I was given this advice very early on in my career and it's something I've passed along to everyone that works with me. That when starting a new job or role to spend MOST of your time only listening and absorbing. The gut instinct is that one needs to show tangible results or changes right away in a new job/role, but in my opinion that doesn't show due diligence to learn the business, get to know stakeholders, and show respect for others that you work with.

What do you do to empower other women?

I am a big fan of leading by example. I try to live true to my values and show up each day as my true self at work and in my personal life. I hope that it inspires others to do the same. As far as tactical ways that I empower women, I volunteer regularly with my alma mater, University of Colorado, on Women in Tech (WIT) panels, and as a professional mentor. I also support our many amazing WIT organizations and groups in our Trailblazer Community. I make sure to prioritize my speaking engagements at WIT community events and almost never say no to a blog or interview from our WIT leaders. On my direct team, I am always looking for opportunities to allow women to take leadership roles, present to executives, and take risks to follow their passions.

On office politics...

My philosophy on office politics is that there is a way to navigate them but still remain true to yourself. If you are clear in your convictions and stay firm in your beliefs, it will make politics easier. It's also very important to understand which battles are worth fighting for, which are better untouched, and which are better if you remain patient and fight them at a better time. Timing is key, as is understanding how to take your blinders off and view other's perspectives.

On balancing personal and work life...

This is something I've struggled with my entire work life, especially once I had kids. Great advice I follow myself is that work/life balance is fluid, and it's important to recognize that there are times when it's there and times when it's not. It's a much more manageable approach to being a mom, wife, friend, sister, etc.

Fun Facts:

  • My morning routine - I am lucky to be on Mountain time, based in Boulder, Colorado. Since most of my team and stakeholders work in San Francisco, I take my one extra hour in the morning to get a run in. I have adjusted my hours to be more aligned with SF, which gives me the flexibility to make that a priority. My best ideas and epiphanies come during that time. So my team knows when they get bombarded with emails filled with crazy ideas that I must have just returned from a run.
  • Coffee vs. Tea - Coffee (lots of it), but since my recent trip to India I've really gotten into chai, like real Masala chai
  • Words or phrases I use most - My team knows well that I have tons of these. I fill stories with “wonky,” “crazy pants,” “bonkers,” “jacked,” and “curmudgeon.”
  • A talent I always wished I had - I know this is not related to business at all, but I've always wanted to be a singer. I have a notable hoarse/scratchy voice so that will never happen!