Forcelandia Twitter Pic

Well I, for one, didn’t know anything about #Forcelandia until now!  I am super excited to share this post with everyone!  Today I am going to enlighten the Salesforce Community on the history of #Forcelandia and the people who are making it happen!  I welcome 4 #RockStar Community Members to tell us about #Forcelandia and how they got started on the Salesforce platform!

Angela Mahoney
Salesforce MVP, Certified Admin, Adv Admin, Dev and Sales Cloud consultant, co-leader of both the Portland Salesforce Developer Group and Women in Tech groups, and co-founder of RAD Women, an endeavor to mentor women learning APEX. Polyglot, living abroad and lover of old houses.

Brandy Colmer
Salesforce MVP, Certified Admin, Developer, Sales and Service Cloud Consultant. Pixel crafter, furniture re-finisher, and song singer.

Larry Latimer
Certified Salesforce Administrator and Certified Salesforce Developer, Co-Lead of the Portland Salesforce Developer Group and a member of the IT Commerce Team at Salesforce. Snowboarder, wine drinker and code maker.

Celeste Keller
Salesforce MVP, Certified Advanced Administrator, Developer and Sales Cloud Consultant and Salesforce blogger at Lover of cats and tattoos, and colorful hair aficionado.

How long have you been a Salesforce Admin/Developer?

Angela:  Though I was an end user in 2001, I became an Admin in 2006, when my company trained me to implement the platform on a mobile (Treo) platform for the Spanish-speaking sales team. I got hooked and have never looked back! Since then, I have moved primarily into platform and project management in heavily customized/coded environments.

Brandy:  I started my Salesforce career in 2006 migrating our company off of ACT and onto Salesforce. I started out with basic config, data migration, reporting and end user training. I got involved in my local user group right away, and quickly got into data quality, marketing automation and financial integration.

Larry:  I started developing reports in 1999. Then learned programing with Visual Basic and PL/SQL. In 2008, I was introduced to the SF platform and got excited about how much you could accomplish with so little overhead.

Celeste:  I became an accidental admin in 2007 when I got my first office job. My company bought Salesforce, it was love at first custom field, and the rest is history!

What does “Women in Technology” mean to you, and why is it important?

Angela: This is a tough one – the WIT groups represent shared scenarios and the chance to meet up with others that may be facing similar situations. I, like many other women in tech, have confidence issues, and I find it helpful to hear from others what their fears are and how they conquer them. WIT groups and events provide that little extra piece of support that many women need and grow from, and allow us a safe space to create new opportunities for our fellow Women in Tech.

Brandy:  Creating welcoming spaces (physically and emotionally) for different, and uniquely female perspectives to be included and embraced in the tech world. I believe everyone needs to feel valued and encouraged for their authentic self – that requires acceptance not only from others, but for ourselves. I think the WIT movement is a big part of leading that discussion and paving the way for that right now.

Larry:  I have worked with some amazing women in technology over the last many years; they all brought incredible skills and insight that might not otherwise be present in the industry. Helping to build the representation of women in the workplace honors those women I respect and admire. Breaking down the barriers and opening doors for the new generation of young ladies, such as my daughter, is important to me.

Celeste:  To me, “Women in Technology” is a revolution! It is a mass rejection – by men as well as women – of the stereotypes that exist in leadership of large tech companies, in software start-ups, in IT departments, in the gaming industry, in technical universities… the stereotypes are still going strong, and we’re breaking them down by doing what we love in an industry that has been male-dominated throughout history, by making a place for women, and by making sure that our voices are heard and respected equally.

How did all of you meet? How do you inspire one another?

Angela: I met Larry when I was hired to be his boss, believe it or not. Fortunately, I survived that and eventually started attending User Group meetings. He and I eventually co-founded the Developer group to fill a hole in our growing Portland Salesforce Community. It was through the dev group that I met Brandy (I still remember that day!) and also Celeste, who eventually started working where I had just left. Life has an enchanting way of intertwining great people through it. Through our years leading the Dev group, Larry and I take turns supporting each other (it’s work to lead a group) and he’s always been my dial-a-developer when I have questions, as his patience knows no bounds. Brandy gently lead me into the social world without rolling her eyes at my naïveté, and Celeste – dang you, but I love your blog!  So many of the people I work with add and inspire in what may be small ways to them, but are huge to me.

Brandy: When I moved from So Cal to the Pacific Northwest I started checking out the local Salesforce UG community, and of course, Angela kept floating to the top. I remember attending my first UG meeting in Portland and I could tell right away we would be friends. We clicked right away. I got to mentor her a bit in getting into Twitter and invited her to the Girly Geeks event the second year they had it at Dreamforce. She really picked up the ball and ran with it, co-founding a GG (now WIT) chapter in Portland. I kind of dropped out of the Salesforce world for a while because of some personal difficulties, and now that I am making my way back, I am so grateful that Ang has been putting in all the work to help lead and build this great community. Angela encourages me so much in my creative, design related pursuits. I am so blessed to call her my friend. I met Celeste and Larry through Angela, and we all really enjoy working together.

Larry: Angela and I met when I hired her as my manager at a previous company. Angela has a strong sense of giving back to the community and because we worked so well together, it was easy for us to transition into starting and working on the developer group together. Working with the developer community also gave me a chance to meet some very cool people such as Celeste and Brandy. Over time we all started collaborating more and more on the group and then Forcelandia.

Celeste: I met Angela at the local User Group, I think about 4 or 5 years ago. She actually helped me get a great job as part of an admin team that is still one of my favorite team experiences. She helped me get over my fear of Apex, and got me involved with the developer community, and then Forcelandia. I met Larry and Brandy through the local community as well – and realized that Brandy was @forcedotmom, and that I had been following her on Twitter for years! Last year I was just an attendee, and I had an amazing time – so I was honored to be asked to join the organizing committee this year. Every time I talk to my three cohorts (or should I say co-conspirators?), I am inspired by what each of them brings to the table. They are all extremely talented, but in very different ways, and always make me want to bring my very best.

What inspired you to start Forcelandia in 2015?

Angela: Beer. To be more specific, over beers at Snowforce 2015, where Larry and I presented on how to increase chances of success on Salesforce development projects, we got to chatting with others at the table about the feasibility of doing something similar in Portland. Because we also founded and lead the Portland Developer Group, it was a natural progression to a community-lead, developer-oriented event. We chose the date to coincide with the Oregon Brewfest (we can’t always count on great snow on Mt Hood, but we can count on good beer).

Larry: We wanted to take the dev group to the next level and provide a rich and broad learning that went beyond what we can do in the monthly dev group Meetups. Also, the regional events that were happening across the country seemed more admin-oriented, and we wanted to create a regional event that met the needs of developers.

How is Forcelandia special?

Angela:  There are several great Salesforce community sponsored events around the country, but Forcelandia is the only one geared specifically for developers, and that was intentional. While there is a lot of emphasis on the lack of developers, there is still a lot of room to improve on how we as an ecosystem provide opportunities for both Senior Developers to Apex Admins to learn new skills in bite-size, relevant pieces, and we try to meet those needs by having both advanced dev tracks AND a track for those Admins that wish to start learning the technical side of the platform.

Brandy:  Well, Portland…duh! I haven’t gotten to attend the other great events, so I don’t really have much to compare, plus I think I’m inherently biased. But Portland does have a really cool vibe, and McMenamins where the event is being held is this 100 year old school that has been converted into a hotel with restaurants, bars and a movie theater. We plan to have a really intimate feel, and make it a place to begin or to cultivate real relationships with others in the community…because everyone needs a coding buddy.

Larry:  Our event is developer oriented, and also includes content for advanced admins that want to learn to develop. We felt that this part of the Salesforce community could benefit from more opportunities to advance on the platform, so we decided to put the first event together last year to give it a shot.

Celeste: I love Forcelandia because it is put together by the local developer community, and welcomes devs, admins, and admins like me who want to learn Apex. It’s like a mini-Dreamforce crossed with a family reunion – I know almost everyone there, the presentations are relevant to myself and to my fellow developers/admins, and it enables us to share the unique culture of Portland with the global Salesforce community while we all geek out together!

What are you doing differently for Forcelandia 2016 than was done last year?

Angela:  I am so excited that we are adding a third track to offer more sessions to attendees, and doing some more hands on things, hopefully. We are also adding in a WIT Happy Hour, which I am excited about because we have so many great speakers and attendees coming in, and I always get excited when I can introduce cool people to other cool people. And I’m excited about the token Forcelandia swag we are giving away this year to attendees!

Larry:  The event was created with the Portland culture in mind: vibrant, funky, entrepreneurial. This year we are staying with that feel and focusing on making the event more robust. We continue last year’s approach of targeting some of our sessions to advanced admins interested in learning more about the programmatic side, as this is an important population of our Salesforce community.

Celeste: They’ve got me this year, so that’s a plus! Okay but seriously… I was not involved in the planning last year, but this year we have a larger venue (last year we packed the house!), and we are adding some really fun extras like an online swag store. Yep – another place for us to SHOP!!

Which of the local user groups do you co-lead or attend?

Angela:  Co-lead the Portland Developer Group, the Portland WIT group, and attend the User group as well. I should get a hobby…

Brandy:  I attend the Portland Salesforce UG, Developer UG, WIT.

Larry:  I co-lead the Portland Salesforce Developer Group with Angela.

Celeste: I attend the Portland user Group regularly, the Developer UG sporadically, and am a substitute-co-leader of the WIT group while Angela is out of the country.

What is your favorite thing about the Salesforce community in Portland?

Angela:  It’s so helpful! There are great people spread across all the groups, and they are always willing to share answers, advice job openings, etc. Portland is a vibrant area from a tech standpoint, and there is always something to learn from my fellow community members.

Brandy: It seems pretty fresh – by that I mean people are new to the platform and excited. Scrappy. It doesn’t feel intimidating or pretentious.

Larry:  I enjoy meeting other SF users, admins and developers and learning how they are customizing SF to meet their needs.

Celeste: We have an amazing local community! My favorite thing about it is – and this happenes at all of the user groups – when we start spontaneously geeking out together. It happens when we look at new release features, or when we see a cool demo, or when someone asks a question that sparks a great conversation. This geek-tastic excitement carries over to Forcelandia, and it’s very contagious!

What is your favorite thing about Portland in general?

Angela:  Food… wine… beer… fleece and hiking boots… in general, the attitude that life is for living so get out and do it!

Brandy: It’s hard to pick one…but It’s probably the food. Also the awesome view of Mt. Hood…That’w why we had to use it in our logo.

Larry:  There is something for everyone; the culture and the activities are so diverse.

Celeste: I love the amazing variety of… well, everything. There are so many different kinds of restaurants, bars, shops, live bands, carnivals and fairs, people… even the nearby attractions are completely different – the mountains and the coast are each a short drive away.

What are you looking forward to the most at Forcelandia 2016?

Angela:  That’s a tough one! I can say that what I am NOT looking forward to is trying to decide which sessions to attend – I want to attend them all! Seriously, I am looking forward to spending time with our speakers and fellow attendees – it’s going to be a great group!

Brandy: I’m really looking forward to the Heroku presentation with Melissa Prcic – she is a really inspiring developer in our community. She’ll be talking with Michelle Rowley from Heroku. Michelle and a colleague presented at our dev group recently, and it was really great.

Larry:  We have some amazing leaders in the dev community that are speaking this year. I am looking forward to learning from them and building my dev skills, as well as meeting and networking with more of the local Salesforce community though this event.

Celeste: I am really looking forward to meeting our speakers, and reconnecting with the ones I already know. I’m also looking forward to the adrenaline rush of geeking out with everyone, and learning new things!