Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The rewards of taking risk - at Dreamforce 2012

I'm living in a Dreamforce whirl this week, and am reminded again and again of the importance of taking risk.

As T.S. Eliot said:

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

On the GirlyGeek panel last night - alongside of an EVP of salesforce, the CFO of Square (such a cool company), the VP running the party for 84,000 people, a very brave CEO of a salesforce consultant firm and an EloQueen - every panel member talked about the importance of taking risk. Leaning in, following the anxiety, taking on a challenge you don't know if you can do.

Leading up to the show, my team and I came up with the idea of "Letters to Marc Benioff", but based on the comment an SVP at one of salesforce's competitors had said to me the first time I presented to him - he said "you had me at hello". All about how having customer intelligence makes you more useful to your customer, and grows your revenue.

We put together the Letters tumblr on a whim, hoping to make a funny thread to bring attention to FirstRain and to my great surprise, I found not only do I get lots of positive feedback, I also enjoy writing it (yes I am the author, truly, it's not ghost written). But it's risky.

Daniela put together the hilarious S**t Dreamforcers Say video. She was sufficiently concerned about the risk that she didn't tell me until it was done. She was concerned it would not work, or would be too lame. But for anyone going to the show it's pretty funny - or as my son (who worked at FirstRain this Summer) said "Mom, you guys are SO DORKY". No higher praise from a nerd!

And then there is the Carrot. Again feedback from a customer. Imagine an EVP of Sales, in a French-Canadian accent "Penny, you are ze carrot to my stick!". Who knows whether our Carrot strategy will work at Dreamforce or not. It will reach it's peak at my session on stage with Steve Kozek of GE Capital on Thursday. He's game and has a great sense of humor. Should be fun, but it's risky.

No one achieves great things without risk. No career grows without risk. As Sarah from Square said, you won't grow if you are not uncomfortable in conversations with your manager. I know that if I am not feeling the anxiety in my gut I am not taking enough risk to move forward.

So onward into Dreamforce 2012. Carrots, S**t, Letters to Marc. We are going to channel T.S. Eliot and find out how far we can go in the next 72 hours.

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