Phil Weinmeister always knew he wanted a career with a balance of business and technology. From early days as a Salesforce admin, to pushing innovation as VP, Product Management at 7Summits, and also authoring Practical Guide to Salesforce Communities and Practical Salesforce Development Without Code, his nine-year Salesforce career has been driven by a passion for technology and the business of people. Learn more about Phil in this interview.
How did you first get involved in the Salesforce ecosysem?
Phil Weinmeister: It’s been an interesting journey. I wouldn’t call myself an Accidental Admin, but I did enter the Salesforce space through a very cool opportunity. A Salesforce admin position opened up at the marketing automation firm I was working at, and I asked my boss if I could step in to the role. I just really loved the platform — within a month I grabbed Salesforce certification.
What came after that first position?
Phil: After doing Salesforce administration for a little over a year, I moved into a consultant role and it was exactly what I was hoping for. I worked for a consulting organization for a few years and, during that time, really developed a passion for Community Cloud. I brought that passion and expertise for building communities to the Product team at 7Summits in 2016. The Product organization at 7Summits is small, but mighty, building reusable apps for our clients that can be leveraged across multiple communities. It’s been a great fit for me.
What drew you to Community Cloud? How does it and the other parts of your day-to-day fuel your passion and keep you energized?
Phil: I still have the same passion I’ve had since I touched Salesforce for the first time. My passion for communities comes from a balance of the ability to connect with the end user as well as the actual platform itself. That's probably what I fell in love with first — the technology. The ability to essentially build a website powered by Salesforce data was a very powerful thing, and I really enjoyed using this technology.
As far as my day-to-day, I’m able to work with individuals and create new innovative solutions and that’s just awesome. I love doing that; I love being able to look at a customer problem and say “How can we solve this?” We try to stay on the cutting edge and deliver really useful and meaningful applications — getting our hands dirty with process builder, flow, and of course, code as well.
I think we all can agree that staying on the cutting edge in the Salesforce world takes a lot. How do you keep learning?
Phil: You’re right, it is challenging because Salesforce is so innovative. The opportunity to learn about new things really never goes away — and that’s good. Number one, I focus on the release notes — really scrubbing through and analyzing those, and sharing them out. The way I personally learn these days is hands on. For example, a new feature comes out for Community Cloud — I’m going to read up on it, review any additional resources such as a video, but then I’m going to dive in, get my hands on it, and actually configure it. I have a number of developer orgs that I manage; that’s the best way for me to learn and it’s the fastest way.
Additionally, blogging and speaking at events helps me continue to learn. I have high expectations for myself; I really want to deliver an awesome, well-prepared presentation full of new content when I speak, so I am always learning something myself when I do that.
What motivates you to put in the time to share what you’ve learned through speaking, blogging, and more?
Phil: I have a passion for sharing with others what I’ve learned. The ultimate reward for putting time into these projects is when an individual says “This [session/blog post/presentation] really helped me out.” That’s what really drives me. It’s cool and exciting to be able to speak at an event, but that in and of itself is worthless if it’s not impacting others. The most rewarding feedback I've heard is from people I've never met who read my books and saw immediate and positive impact (through passing a certification, tackling new responsibilities at their job, etc.).
Tell us a little bit about your life outside of working hours.
Phil: First and foremost outside of work I’m a family man and I love spending time with my kids. I have four children and they range from ages 4 to 12. I’m kind of a big kid at heart — we play sports together, play video games, run around outside — all that kind of good stuff. Also, my wife and I spend spend time being involved in church-related activities. We’re on the board of a nonprofit Christian organization called Restore17. Our mission is to help teenage boys in Ecuador that have been removed from their families for various reasons and are at a government home. At age 17, they are let go into the street and there’s no program for them whatsoever; you can imagine that leads to a tough life and usually not a very happy ending for a lot of these kids. Restore17 works with the boys on a daily basis getting them, essentially, ready for life. That’s very important to us.
What does being a Trailblazer mean to you?
Phil: For me, personally, being a Trailblazer means I am passionate about whatever it is I’m working on. In this case, I’m passionate about the Salesforce Platform. Being part of the bleeding edge in terms of innovation and staying on top of that and continuously learning new things myself; going first and getting my hands dirty, figuring out how things work, becoming an expert, and then bringing that back to share. If I hear from individuals that I’ve helped them in some way, I feel like that’s great confirmation of being a Trailblazer.
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