What Actors Know That Will Help Salesforce Admins

06/13/2019 by Cassidy Donnelly
Check out the cycle of working as an actor, the techniques used, and how it all relates to being a Project Manager at Arkus, Inc.

My first career, before joining Arkus and really even before knowing the word Salesforce, was as a professional actor. I spent my days preparing for auditions, working on acting techniques, rehearsing, being in productions, and teaching acting. For over twelve years, I focused on my craft and honed my skills to be the best actor I could be. When the opportunities slowly dried up, and they do for almost every working actor, I made my way to work in the “real” world where I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the skills I had been working on as an actor were both transferable to other careers and marketable. My path eventually led me to being a Project Manager at Arkus, where I have seen and used many of the same acting professional skills.  What skills do professional actors have and how can knowing them help you tackle your Salesforce implementation? Here are my top tips for success.

Auditioning and Your Salesforce Journey

Nothing is more exciting or stress-inducing for an actor than getting the chance to audition for a role. Sometimes it takes years to get to a level of focus, attention, and craftsmanship to be truly ready to audition for a specific part. While in other cases, an actor is naturally ready and born for a specific role. No matter what, preparation is key and everyone has to rehearse for auditions.

Actors can spend a great deal of money and time learning best practices for auditioning in hopes of uncovering the “secret” to landing every role. There is no secret weapon to land a role. There are some basic tips that are easy to follow: show-up early for your specific audition time, rehearse beforehand and leave as much passion in the room as you can. Players and props for this moment include the casting directors, your audition material, and the belief that you’re the one for the part.

When you begin your Salesforce journey with your company, business, or nonprofit, you will look to the experts for support and advice. This is the Audition moment. You get to play casting director and audition as many potential partners as you would like to. At Arkus, we look forward to these moments. Our Scoping Calls and Statements of Work (SOW) are our moments to shine, and when it is a right fit, we hope to leave behind as much passion for a project as we can.

Casting and Your Project Management Crew

Sometimes actors will know they landed a part before they leave an audition or a callback. Most of the time they find out a few days or even weeks after the final audition. As you can imagine, this can be grueling. Did I get cast? What role did I end up landing? What would I change for next time? The best practices for these casting moments are to be at peace knowing you brought your best self to the audition and trust the casting directors will make the right choice in players in their production.

You’ve had your auditions and now you get to cast for your Salesforce production. It’s important to make sure communication and organizational styles are a good fit, just like a director and actor work collaboratively throughout the process. During a show, a cast and crew become like family. Similarly, you're going to be working closely with an implementation partner for a number of weeks or months, so it's critical to pause before starting to make sure you feel a connection. It’s natural that this might take a day or week to decide.

Rehearsals and Implementation Preparation

Once the cast has been set, rehearsals can begin. Every actor has their own preferences when it comes to approaching a role, but overall the specific techniques that an actor chooses ground them and allow them to navigate the small details of every scene while also illustrating the overarching big picture goal of the character. Rehearsing requires focus, flexibility, organization, listening, collaboration, sometimes making hard decisions, and working as a team with the main goal of putting together a successful performance.

Just like professional actors come prepared and ready to work for a rehearsal, you will also want to consider each session with your implementation partner as a rehearsal. Review the agenda items that will be covered that day and ask questions beforehand if you need clarity on what will be covered. Prepare ahead of time so that you come ready to provide insight on your business process. This might mean inviting subject matter experts on your team to come speak to specific aspects of your process or asking for more time to gather specific information. The more you come ready to dig into requirements, the faster you can work (which could save time and money or allow time for other areas in your project).

Performances and Training Your Salesforce Team

The long rehearsal process has finally come to an end, the actors have their costumes, makeup and hair have been decided, the lights, set, props and music are all cued up and ready to go. Now is the time for the reason for all the hard work: the audience. Performances are such a lovely gust of wind in your sails as an actor. You’ve been in the depths of the new world your character lives in, you know the script and the story so well, and everything is coming into place. The pace and the story have been predictable up to this point, and then suddenly, there is laughter, tension, and engagement from others in what you are doing. You adjust and pause for reactions. You are now in a relationship with each audience and they contribute to the performance. By the end of a performance, actors feel energized by their performance and hope the audience leaves feeling alive (or really feeling anything).  

The more details you can provide in your rehearsals or requirements sessions, the faster you can get to the performance. Your performance is the moment where you get to take your new Salesforce environment and use it. Training is a great way to prepare for this. Be sure to note when training will occur in your project timeline and have everyone who needs to be trained scheduled and ready. Training should be ongoing, just like professional actors rehearse during a long run to stay challenged and fresh for performances. Ideally, you are feeling alive and empowered by your new Salesforce environment and cannot wait to get to work.

Final Performance and Go Live

You’ve had a good run! The performances are all completed, and as every production does, your show is coming to a close. That final performance is the last chance to give everything you have to the production, to the character, and to the story. You give it all you have. It can be a strange feeling to wake up the day after a closing performance and not need to go to rehearsal that night or review lines. You are at peace and the world slows down a little. You spend some time remembering moments in your performance and critiquing what you would do differently next time. If you are lucky, you might have landed another production already and have something new to dive into. If not, you start to research and find your next audition.

Your project is coming to an end with your implementation partner, and you have one final check-in. Is there anything that was left unanswered or anything that is confusing? Now is the time to be sure you have all the answers and information you need to succeed. If you discover more things you would like support with or specific items to work on you can always pick up a brand new project with your implementation partner. Just like directors and actors build working relationships and work on multiple productions together, you can work with your implementation partner on multiple projects and continue to build your relationship. Whether it’s one project or one hundred, every time one comes to a close you get to enjoy the hard work that you put in with your team and see the fruits of your labor pay off every day.

Curtain Call and Your Successful Project Close

The cycle of working as an actor and Project Manager is strangely similar. I find moments every day where I am using techniques and strategies that I used as an actor.

Lastly, there are some great Trailheads if you are also coming into Salesforce from a previous career. I recommend this trail for building your new career, this one if you're a student, and this one if you're growing your career as a customer service agent. 

Do you see any similarities between working in Salesforce and a previous career? Feel free to drop me a note on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community or chat with me @CassidyATX.