Today, I am excited to have a new post in the Origins series where we hear from Admin Heroes on how they got their start with Salesforce. Today’s story comes from Nick Lindberg. Enjoy!

You may have heard the term Accidental Admin before.  If you haven’t, here is a story to put the term Accidental Admin on the map.  I first heard about Salesforce when I worked for a nonprofit called Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF).   For the first five years of our organization, we had been working out of spreadsheets.  After realizing it took way too long to create a donation appeal letters, we got the idea of creating a database to put all of the spreadsheets in one place.  So we started the journey of picking a database.

Our journey was a short journey.  After some crazy ideas of everything from Access to a completely custom database, we discovered Salesforce.  At the time, the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) was brand new.  And thanks to Salesforce’s 1:1:1 model, completely free for us.  STLF is a very lean organization so the word free and nonprofit sealed the deal for us.

Once we figured Salesforce was the way to go, we needed to figure out who would make all of this a reality.  Keep in mind we are a very lean organization so having a partner build out Salesforce for us was not a viable option.   The next comment made by one of the five staff members changed by life forever.  One of the staff members said “Nickers (yup, that is my nickname) knows Excel, he can build Salesforce for us.”

Wait, what?  Me?  I’ve only known Salesforce existed for about a week and here I am being asked to build it for us.  Plus, I already was wearing a lot of different hats – accountant, program logistics, sometimes trainer and office handyman among other things.  How was I supposed to build Salesforce while wearing all of these other hats?  I’ll admit of the five of us, I likely was the best person for the job, even if I had no clue what I was getting into.

In case you haven’t picked up on it, an Accidental Admin is someone who without realizing or asking becomes a Salesforce Admin.   Now Accidental Admin is on the map J.  Here is the rest of my story.

As I began learning more about Salesforce, I began to see the possibilities of Salesforce.  At the very beginning it was the simple things like adding a formula field or a nifty dashboard component.  After we did our initial build out of donors, program participants and volunteers, we started to dream up what else we could do.

I’ve always been an analytical person so my first instinct was to figure out ways to track program metrics and trends.  One of the first dreams that became a reality was to figure out our participant life cycle including the average number of programs someone is a part of and what programs someone does while they are a participant.  This was all thanks to Salesforce.  Having all of our data in one place was making our life so much easier.  Sure, we still were exporting reports to excel to do some tricks.  Getting the data to analyze was now at our fingertips with a couple clicks.

Over the course of the five years I was the Salesforce Admin at STLF I coined another term that I would like the world to know about – If you can dream it, you can do it in Salesforce.  There was no limit to what we could do with Salesforce for STLF.   And we were only doing declarative work, nothing with code.  We could likely have a whole series on cool things we did in Salesforce, but I’ll save that for another day.

About a year into becoming an Accidental Admin, there was a Nonprofit Salesforce User Group starting up in the Twin Cities and naturally I went.  As I was sitting there I was noticing many of the people were struggling with Salesforce and I was confused.  Are they using the same Salesforce we have seen so much value in?  I started to speak up about what we were doing and how if you can dream it you can do it.  Right after the first meeting, I was asked to be a co-leader of the group and ever since I have made it a personal mission of mine that during these meetings people are able to see the power of what Salesforce can do for them and how to get there.

Now thanks to the connections I made from the local User Groups, I was also able to find a new career and job.  STLF has a transitional leadership model so from the first day, I knew it wasn’t forever.  When the time came for me to transition out of STLF, I had a decision to make – of the hats I wore, which hat I wanted to wear most often.  Almost like an athlete putting on the hat for the school they choose, I wanted to do the same time for my next adventure.

Another comment that changed by life was from Salesforce MVP, Leyna Hoffer.  During a user group meeting I was describing to her that I was transitioning out of STLF and was trying to figure out what was next.  She was a bit perplexed that I wasn’t sure which hat I was going to wear.   She said “You have the passion for Salesforce, why not continue with that.”  From that day forward, it was pretty clear Salesforce hat was the hat on my head.

I got to know Redpath Consulting Group through the Nonprofit User Group and started to have chats about what it would look like to work for them with a focus on nonprofits.  Now, almost a year and a half into life as a Salesforce Consultant for Redpath, I am still saying if you can dream it, you can do it with Salesforce.   I now just have more stories about how it is possible.

So from Accidental Admin to User Group Co-Leader and Salesforce Ninja and now Salesforce Consultant, this journey has been full of unknowns and endless possibilities.  I can’t wait to see where this adventure goes next.  In case you want to follow this journey, feel free to check out my Twitter page

3 thoughts on “ Origins: The Story of Nick Lindberg ”

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