Episode 14: Salesforce Career Conversations Richard Pay with ROD. Listen to Richard talk about his inspiring career journey and how he bounced back following redundancy in the automative sector to carve out a new career within Salesforce.
[Below is a transcript for your benefit. Please excuse any typos.]
Lee Durrant: Hello, and welcome to this episode of broadcast with me, Lee Durrant and joining me today is Theresa Durrant. Today we talk to Richard Pay about his career in Salesforce so far. Richard had a very successful 30-year career in sales. Unfortunately, being made redundant in his 50s, not sure what to do or where to turn. He now works as a senior consultant for one of Salesforce’s biggest partners in the world. How’d he do it? He explains all in this episode.
Hi, Richard Pay. Welcome to the latest edition of RODCast. Thanks so much for joining us. How are you doing?
Richard Pay: Great, thank you. It’s nice to meet you face to face finally. Thanks for having me.
Lee: Yes. The three of us are going to have a chat about your career to date, well in Salesforce, but also before that. I think we should kick off with you giving us a bit of a, I suppose overview, of your career up to the point you decided, a fancy bit of Salesforce stuff.
Richard: I think overview is a good point because there are 30 odd years of it. Yes, I’ll try and summarise it. I did a degree in geography and cartography. Cartography is a dying art, isn’t it? For people that don’t know, it’s making maps basically. In those days, you used to draw them with pen and ink and scribing tools and that sort of stuff. I did that and, very long story, but I didn’t go into that particular sphere because I was about to go off on a project, mapping Iraq. I got the job and then they told me that the first Iraq-Iran wars kicked off again. It was on a big hydroelectric project, so I was surveying that. The project got canceled in one of those funny turns in your life; I’ve had quite a few of these. Rather randomly, I didn’t go down the route of being a cartographer or surveyor, but I still love that kind of scene. I love all maps and all that stuff.
Theresa: That is like me. There’s something fascinating about maps, yes.
Richard: When I drive around in the car, I’m looking at hills and terminal moraines and all that good stuff. Anyway, all good. I did a degree in that, but I didn’t pursue that career. Rather randomly again, I got into the automotive business. I had a basic training, if you like, a sort of a management trainee in a car company down in Devon, Cornwall, that sort of area.
I did that and that kind of kicked off a career in automotive and, I, over the last 30 years basically, I’ve been involved in that world of automotive. I’ve gone from a used car salesman, if you like, through to being involved in what they call used car remarketing, which is the wholesaling of vehicles out from leasing companies or rental companies into the secondary market, which is usually dealers and that sort of stuff.
More recently that’s become quite techie. It used to be done through car auctions, and then for lots of reasons, like everything frankly, it’s all gone on, not all, but it’s gone online. I got myself involved in the online piece and basically selling platforms around the online remarketing bit. I got into tech that way, but I have always been a business development guy. That’s my thing. I’m not a techie person. Probably speak something about that later on, but I am not a techie person at all.
I come out in a cold sweat whenever in meetings, people say, “Well, what’s the percentage of sales that you did last week as opposed to the week before?” I’m one of those people that go, “Oh right,” don’t really get that. I’m not a mathematician guy at all. I did that and effectively did that for quite a long time actually, rose through the ranks up to sales director level and managing director level of a couple of companies. That’s how it all started.
Lee: Quite successful. Obviously, very successful in that industry in the sales side of things up to director, that’s about how high you can get, isn’t it really? What was the moment where you ever thought, “I might change, I might get off this ladder and start on another one”?
Richard: I’ll tell you a story about that. What happened, I was a sales director of a business and I won’t name them. Effectively, we got bought out by a big American corporation. I was happily doing my sales director job and earning a decent wage. It was all good, happy days. I got called into a meeting and I went into the meeting, there was our HR director in there and I thought, “Great. I’m going to get promoted.” I knew we’d been taken over so I thought this is fantastic. I want to be head of global sales or some grand job along those lines.
I went into this meeting. They said, actually, “Thanks for coming, Richard. We’d like you to reapply for your job.” I went, “Okay.” Had a bit of a conversation around that and came out of the meeting. Long story short, spoke to a fellow director of mine. He said, “Richard, they’re making you redundant.” I was surplus to requirements because they had a parallel sales director, so I wasn’t needed. Bit of a legal challenge around that. That was the bottom line. Effectively, I was made redundant.
That was the trigger, if you like. I was at the time, what age was I? I was probably in my early 50s. That’s the point in time when you got to start thinking quite carefully about what you do next. Do you carry on down that same path or do you have a bit of a rethink? Without getting too deep about this, when it happened to me, it was a massive shock and obviously to my family and everything in terms of our income and whatnot.
It happens to a lot of people and I think it’s something that is never spoken about. I notice this when we go onto something like LinkedIn, you see people where this has happened because companies are being bought out all the time. There’s lots of different reasons behind that. What I wanted to say was, for people that are out there, I’ve been through that. The people that happens to, what happens is we tend to just go into our shell about this. This is why I wanted to call out on this podcast because we tickly blokes, we’re seen as a successful career, he’s a successful guy, he’s got a nice BMW and all the rest of it, your neighbours and your colleagues and everything. You don’t want to face up to the fact you’d been made redundant. It’s a huge blow to your ego.
Lee: Yes, I bet.
Richard: Obviously, the practicalities as well. At that time, it was a massive shock. Something that I wanted to say to people is that, not say to them, preach to them, but simply like, you’re not on your own in that situation. It’s almost something that I wanted to try and do something potentially in the sales world, actually, to connect with people that are in that situation. Maybe we can do it through that channel, with this channel. I don’t know. It’s a really serious thing because it really, really affects.
Theresa: That’s really interesting. I think there’s a whole sort of mental health thing that goes around that. Even if we take a step aside for a second and you look at the people that are committing suicide, it’s men of a certain age because there is so much of pressure on them to provide for their families. How did you manage to bounce back from that and give yourself a plan of action, because we’ll come to your Salesforce career in a moment, but you were very driven around what you wanted to do. What was the moment you said, “Okay, this isn’t going to happen. I’ve got to make something happen for myself,”?
Richard: Honestly, being pushed by my family, my wife to do something. That triggered it. I’ve got to recover from this. Not just pay the mortgage but from like you said, from a mental health. I got really down. Really down. I did try and get some help. I did a lot of reading around that particular situation. I did actually finally, through a contact through family, I did go and see someone and have a chat to him about it, what the situation because it was quite serious. Not from a career coach perspective but actually from a mental health perspective. I did investigate that. Actually, I had to say get a plan, do something about it, what the outcome of that was, and a number of other things that says you need to get a plan, what you’re going to do.
Theresa: You certainly had a plan.
Lee: Well, how many plans are you going to have? I’m sure you didn’t just go – or did you just say right this is Salesforce. I’m going for that?
Richard: No, not at all. I knew about Salesforce because I’ve been involved in it. One of the companies that I was with, I was tasked to implement Salesforce in the classic days. It was just a job. It was something I did, but I wasn’t really heavily involved in it. It wasn’t, “Oh, I need to get involved in Salesforce as such.” What happened was I decided I didn’t want to work for big companies anymore because a couple of– I’ve been made redundant from one. It’s that trust thing. Thought, “Oh, actually, there’s a bit of a gap there.”
Plus, to be honest, 50-year-old guys of all of a sudden, there’s this– It’s quite hard to get a role of that level to return back into work. It’s a really serious thing. I see a lot of people on LinkedIn, for example, who– I know, personally who are really, really capable people but they’re not necessarily wanted back in the world that they’ve just come from as it were.
Theresa: Amazingly, a wealth of experience that could potentially come into the company.
Richard: Particularly sales. You get this thing where people, they seem to want sales guys that are quite young, and dynamic, and thrusting. I think they see experience as actually a bit of a negative. There’s that, and there’s also this thing about very experienced people they’re quite hard to control as it were because they’ve got a lot of experience.
I think there’s this perception that somebody who’s very experienced and has had sales director level work will actually question that and go, “Actually, is this the right work thing that we’re doing here?” There’s a bit of a mismatch there. That was my perception anyway. It may be wrong, but that was my perception. Basically, bottom line is it’s a young guy’s game. I thought, well, I don’t want to get back into that role, to be honest. I had to decide what can I do?
What I did was I set myself up as a bit of a business consultant, particularly around startups, because I’ve had a couple of goals of that myself so I know. I blocked that out. They weren’t particularly successful, but there we go. I know a lot about it.
It was actually a really good experience in getting that. What I did is I helped a number of startups just get going, basically. When I was doing that with a couple of companies, I used to do you get yourself a proper CRM to record yourself. People in small companies, they’re good at doing what they do but they’re rubbish at sales and the pipeline, managing the pipeline going forward. They’re good at making something typically and they really focus on that. They start a business but they’re rubbish because they get really busy doing it, they don’t think about the pipeline so they fail in about a year’s time or 18 months’ time, typically, even though they’re really good at what they do, but they’re not getting enough people to buy off them.
To manage that pipeline, I said, “Look, you get yourself a proper CRM in place so you can manage the pipeline, so you know what’s coming down the tracks,” sort of thing. As a result of that, I got to know about this thing called Salesforce. I was, “Oh, okay. I remember Salesforce from way back when.” I got to know about it, and then as I delved into it between projects because it was project work I was doing. I was doing some small contracts.
In between one, I thought, “This Salesforce thing looks quite interesting. I’ll get back into it.” People probably listening to this podcast will know because it is such a great community and a welcoming place for people that are just looking and just want to be involved in it but they don’t really know how. You can do it with your trailheads. I did. I had a bit of a gap. I had a few months where I just got so into doing trailheads, and it was just slightly addictive. I’ve got myself at about 300 or something now, but I did about 200 in about a month and a half or something. I just went nuts for it. I just loved it.
Lee: Did you go out to any of the events and press the flesh a little bit?
Richard: Yes, a little bit. A little bit. That was a little bit of imposter syndrome, even that. I thought, “Well, I’m not going to be welcome here.” People they were fine and it’s something I definitely encourage other people to do to make those connections. It’s important. I’ve got into the trailhead thing. Then I thought, “Well, I might as well do my admin cert. Failed it first time, but then retook it and got it. I thought, “Well, actually I’m really into this now.” That’s how I got into Salesforce just because I was advising people to get their heads around the CRM really.
Lee: That may well tie into the first time that you and I ever spoke possibly. I think we had a conversation about trying to figure out what you’re going to be.
Richard: What can I do with this guy?
Lee: I love that. You’re in the right place now 100%. Big company again, funnily enough, having said you don’t want to work in one.
Theresa: It’s in a different role though.
Lee: How was that process for you? Because I’m sure there’ll be people in the same situation. You’ve been director level before. People are going to look at your CV and think, “Director, and now he’s trying to get into Salesforce.” How did you figure out what you wanted to be in this new marketplace? What was it like, I suppose, looking for jobs where I’m assuming you had to think differently about the salary you’re going to get and take a little bit of a cut and all those sorts of things?
Richard: Although I did my admin cert, I started to think I didn’t really want to be an admin as such. I thought, well, at the same time, that will give me a good basis. Because you can’t just jump in to be a consultant if you don’t know enough. You can’t advise people if you haven’t got the basics in place. My gut feeling was I didn’t really want to sit at a desk and be an admin. That’s only my person because I’m more of a people person. I’m certainly not a developer in any way. That wasn’t something I was ever going to do, because as I said, I’m not a logical person. That was never going to be an option.
The two routes then in Salesforce as I see it and as I see it now is a more functional role, the people route. Then there’s the techie developer role. Down those two routes. I think I felt fairly early on I wanted to be involved as a consultant, advising or implementing maybe with people to solve business problems. I thought that’s where my business experience might start to kick in.
Theresa: I suppose that comes from your sales background because if you think about what sales is, it’s solving people’s problems. In a way, you already have experience working as a consultant when you go in for that level of sales. It’s very similar skills. It’s been able to deal with conflict. It’s problem-solving, it’s negotiating, and influencing. Just a wealth of experience from your background, as you imagine.
Richard: Yes. That’s what Salesforce tell you, but then again, the old ghost of imposter syndrome kicked in again. I’m thinking, yes, but I’ve got a lot of experience in sales and business development, but is that of real value? I’m going to have to get really techie, if you see what I mean, to be able to– Yes, it’s very well-knowing a lot about sales and sales strategy and all that good stuff, but how does that map out into Salesforce? Because I was in the mindset and I was wrong at the time, but I had the perception that I needed to be doing a lot of configuration work, building flows and doing lots of developed work to make all that happen.
That was my gap in understanding that but subsequently found actually that having that wealth of experience behind me and things like just managing meetings, frankly, things like have done thousands of them in sales meetings and having a structure to your meeting, this is really maps to holding workshops, for example, to try and elicit business requirements and that sort of thing. Asking questions, the five whys and all that good stuff.
It’s really great experience to- and particularly if someone of my age and experience, and not being afraid or hesitant about asking senior people in business, but people that make decisions about CRMs, it’s a massive investment for the company so you tend to be talking a lot of the time to very senior people within the organisations and to not be phased by that is a really– so those soft skills are really, really useful.
Lee: That’s a massive point, isn’t it? Because if you talk about earlier on about maybe setting up some group for over 50 that were made redundant and want to get into Salesforce, so many of these, and I’m sure there are others, but there’s a lot of organisations at the moment that are set-up to bring in people into the ecosystem but quite a lot of the time they’re young, they’d be graduate schemes that your big boys where you are now, I’m sure have one. There’s all sorts of schemes to get people into the ecosystem, but they are young and they would be the people that sit on those meetings and probably wouldn’t want to talk up, wouldn’t want to say anything. There’s definitely a gap there. We get a lot of vacancies for those kind of people, don’t we? We need someone who can hold a room. That’s second nature to someone like yourself. You’ve got to director level.
Theresa: It’s life experience, isn’t it?
Richard: You’ve got to challenge people to try and get their requirements, if you like. To do that, to make that challenge as it were, you’ve got to have, yes, a bit of confidence, but also a bit of experience, but also to frame it in a way– Try and give you an example. If you so saying that, what’s good for you and that we’re trying to get an understanding of best practices or of how your business would handle this particular scenario and to be able to challenge them back is a really important skill to do that, but challenge in a way that gets the best out of them rather than just saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t do it that way,” or, “Why are you doing it that way?” That seems a bit crazy.
That doesn’t go down well, but if you frame it in a way like, we’re trying to understand how you’re running your business or what you do in this particular situation so we can map it to Salesforce or we can draw out a best practice, if something wrong there’s like, and the way you frame it like that is a really, really important skill. Believe me, it’s really much in demand in the Salesforce ecosystem because as you say, Lee, there’s some really, really clever people out there in their 20s and 30s. I’m just stunned by the ability but they just don’t have the experience of communicating with leaders.
Lee: So you decided Salesforce, which a lot of people do. It’s one thing deciding that’s what you want to do, so the next thing, getting that first opportunity, isn’t it? How did that go for you? What did you do to get to the point where you actually got that first job in Salesforce?
Richard: This is the gap, isn’t it? There’s a lot of people with Salesforce admin cert, and respect to all those people that are put in, because it is not an easy cert at all. Having done a few more certs, it’s actually the hardest that I’ve come across to get over that initial, because it’s the real fundamentals and that you need to get an understanding of that. It’s really crucial that you get an understanding like the security model and privacy and all those fundamentals are really, really important to get your head around that, but it’s not easy.
Yes, there are a lot of people out there and I was one of them. The gap is really okay so, and you hear on sales will say, “Oh, we just volunteer a non-profit,” and that’s your way in and you get a bit of experience, then you start to you can showcase that. That’s all true but that is not easy, particularly in the UK, because there aren’t that many nonprofits that have actually got Salesforce actually. In the States, there are a lot and there’s quite a churn of people that are involved in it.
Absolutely, you could volunteer at a local San Francisco homeless charity or something along those lines. I could see that working. In the UK and in perhaps other territories, particularly around Europe, I don’t think there aren’t that many kind of roles out there. Funny enough, so totally in a way to totally contradict what I’ve just said, I did manage to get a virtual role at a non-profit. I was one of those lucky few, and I was lucky, but it wasn’t on Salesforce as such.
It’s a bit of a story, but bear with me. What happened was, I just volunteered with a local charity that has national representation. It was Age UK. It’s fine. It’s obviously if you really wants to check it out, it’s not a secret. I volunteered there just so helping them out on doing some database work. As I was doing that, it wasn’t on Salesforce, it was another system. They were aggregating two or three systems into one thing.
I did some work on that and on data migration and all that good stuff. As I was doing that, I said to myself, “This is a great use case. You need Salesforce for you guys.” I didn’t even tell them about it really, because they didn’t know anything about it and it wasn’t really core to what they’re doing. I didn’t want them to get diverted off down another direction because they were going to do down this. They wanted this particular CRM, they’d already contracted to it, but in the own time as it were, I rather cheekily modeled their business and it’s a charity, but it was a business decision. I modeled it on Salesforce. I actually did that as a bit of homework.
Lee: Looks like the free developer edition.
Richard: Yes, exactly. I got a developer edition and I mapped it out on this developer org. Yes, so I did that and did a bit of homework on it. Somebody t the national organisation, learned that I was doing this and chap phoned me up one day and he said, “Hey, you are mapping out this particular regional office’s business as it were business model on Salesforce. I’m quite interested in that because we as an organisation were considering Salesforce.” “Oh, okay.” “Well, I’ll come and show you. Do you mind if we meet down in London at Salesforce?” I went, “Yes. Okay. Give it a go.”
We met up at Salesforce Tower and we did a bit of brainstorming as it were and I showed the Salesforce guys which was quite scary, to be frank, because I thought the mothership as it were down there and little old me in Shropshire has mapped out this Salesforce org. Yes, they said actually that kind of work, so we could see that working. Salesforce and Age UK basically got together without particularly me involved. Long story short, they subsequently– I don’t think I’m saying anything out of– They contracted with Salesforce and off they went.
Richard: They chose Salesforce because– I started all of it. That was a sort of a hiatus as it were. I did some other work while that went off at a time and they were considering working out contracts and all that good stuff. It went a bit quiet on that front but it was really, really good experience actually. Is that a proper use case of eliciting requirements, modeling them in within Salesforce, working out what the challenges were. There are quite a lot of challenge because a lot of the work that they were doing involved field service. They’re basically going out to the older people in their homes and providing them with a service. There’s a lot to think about that around field service lightning, that sort of area.
Lee: If you think about what you’ve just done there. Even if the end of that story wasn’t that they went with Salesforce. Even if they didn’t go with Salesforce. That on its own shows if you put on your CV, the fact that you volunteered there and you’ve made a model, if you like, of their processes on Salesforce free edition in you spare time, that’s a great tip anyway, right there, isn’t it? If someone’s got to have– There was a good bit of forethought from yourself to do that and a lot of work you’ll put that in to get to where you are now. I think it shows good initiative, doesn’t it?
Richard: It’s fun to me, honestly. It sounds a bit kind of sad really doing this in your spare time, but I got so into Salesforce I thought, I really wanted to solve this. It was like a big puzzle, big like a jigsaw where I just basically wanted to put together and solve it, if you see what I mean. You’re right, Lee, I’m as extremely fortunate in that they actually subsequently went ahead and bought the product.
Another part of the story I was involved later on, but purely from the perspective actually just modeling out any business, doesn’t even have to be a charity. If you just go and work at any business these days, they’ve all got business processes, haven’t they? They’re selling stuff or they’re providing a service or whatever it may be. If you work there or even volunteer there in some way, say you’re on a customer service desk or doing sales or whatever it may be, I definitely recommend just like say, “Do you mind guys if I just take this away and model this on Salesforce?”
Lee: Did you ask there at the beginning?
Lee: Oh, you did? Okay. Because they could say no.
Richard: Well, because it’s their data really, isn’t it? I think if it was kind of just it would be best practice to say, I’m not doing it behind your backs and there’s no ulterior motive. It’s just I’m just interested to try and to map it out.
You’re just using dummy data but it was just the business process.
Theresa: Aside from this start-up as well because I think going back to that where you’ve got a lot of businesses that just find themselves in business, very rarely do they take the time out to step back and go, “How can we make this more efficient? How can we make the customer journey much more efficient, more streamlined, and so on?” Any good business at some point should step back and have a look at their processes and get them mapped out and look for ways for improvement. That right there is just the fact that you took that project and went away with it and came back with something that actually then successfully gets implemented.
Lee: I think it’s a really good tip. Anyway, I don’t think many people would think to do that, so that’s a great tip straightaway.
Richard: Yes, and as I say, it doesn’t have to be with a charity because I think Salesforce do push our volunteer with a nonprofit. I’ve noticed fairly recently, that they sort of started to rain a little bit back to back because there’s some pushback from the nonprofits that are saying actually how much value is a really inexperienced Salesforce person to our charity? There’s little bit of a pushback there but in– Globally, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t have to be with a nonprofit. Wherever you’re working or– You don’t even have to be working now, you can–
Lee: Do any dummy company, can’t you?
Richard: Anything, yes, but it works better when it’s real-world because the challenges come up in the real world. Because you can’t imagine the challenge if you’re just doing a plucking the data out of thin air. You don’t get the challenges. You want the challenge. The challenge is the important bit to solve those problems. If you can demonstrate that you’ve solved them, whether through that company or that organisation and you can demonstrate that on your CV, I think that’d be a great thing to have on your CV, frankly, that you solved real world issues.
Theresa: That’s exactly what people are often lacking when they’re perhaps coming into entry roles into Salesforce. They may have put in all of the study. They may have got themselves a certificate but it’s getting that real-world experience on their CV.
Richard: That’s the real challenge is that it’s hard to get real-world experience; you’re in a sort of a catch 22. Everybody wants experience and you see these CVs every- not CVs but these requirements from businesses, from companies to say, “Well, we need six years experience and one on CPQ,” or something like that. “Okay, great,” but you’ve got to– You’re in a catch 22 or how do I get experience. If you start out on that road, you volunteer or you work with a medium sized business and you get involved in their, I don’t know, their accounts department or something. Actually, could I just model this on Salesforce? You might get lucky like I did. The company says, “Actually, this is really useful. We’ve got to think about Salesforce here.”
Lee: You put yourself in that position and not many people would have the initiative to think, yes, you created that situation differently and probably don’t give yourself enough credit for that. Also, going back to the maybe the subject, it’s a little bit difficult to talk about is, how often did you go on interviews and have interviews and feel like the feedback you were getting was– Even to get that you’re too experienced to ask feedback, if you know what I mean.
Richard: In Salesforce interviews, is it?
Lee: I mean in Salesforce interviews, yes, but you were first looking for that first opportunity, did you find–
Richard: I didn’t really get that but I think probably the opposite. I think a bit lacking in experience rather than too experienced. I don’t think it was that way around. It’s getting your foot in the door at a point where– How can I put? You can be genuinely useful to a business. They’re not recruiting people. They’re recruiting people because they’ve got a business requirement that they need to fulfill. If you can solve that problem for you, they’re not going to just give you a roll out of the goodness of the heart. They’re paying you, it’s a big commitment. It’s a big financial commitment. From HR perspective, it’s big. It’s a serious thing. They can’t just take on, “Oh, I hope he works out okay.” You’ve got to demonstrate to people that you are capable of doing.
One of the ways of doing that is to model. That would be my perspective is to get some experience somehow. It’s a chicken and egg thing but if you just get that little bit of flow going that you’ve got some experience and you can talk to the person that’s interviewing about a real-world scenario, they might just take a chance on you. Go actually, “Yes, this guy has actually thought this thing through.”
Theresa: It’s interesting you say that. I don’t mean to make this about me but you’ve just made me think of something that I did quite a number of years back.
I did for a little while work as a customer success manager on a contract basis. Part of what I did to land that particular role was I– I come from a property management background so I actually went off, I’m fortunate because I knew the industry, again I understood the pain points and I created an app on the dev org for property management just about gas safeties, and maintenance issues and stuff like that. Just something that I could demonstrate. It wasn’t a polished article. I can’t even say if I look back now that it was any good.
Lee: Wasn’t this pre-Trailheads though? You had to go and sift through those iTunes ADM 201 courses and things like that.
Theresa: It was pre-Trailheads. Yes. I can’t tell you how many hours I sat there watching those videos and YouTube stuff and just researching how to be an admin, how to be a developer. I even sat through the 501 Course. It made no sense, but I thought if I come away with one piece of knowledge that I didn’t know before, it’s got to be worth it, but it got me the contract role, and that was my foot in the door to Salesforce. Then I took some of that knowledge that I learned from that and have implemented it within our own business. You can absolutely create it.
If you can’t do it for an actual business itself, think about the things that you’re passionate about. If you work in retail, what’s the solution that you could come up with for retail?
Lee: Well, if the target audience for this particular podcast is someone who’s been made redundant in there and they’ve had a really good career in another industry, you’re going to know the industry so well that I’m sure you could create a really good app at the moment for the automotive industry I’d imagine because of your experience there. If you’ve maybe done it from an industry you know like the back of your hand, why not Trailhead ADM 201, build something, who knows where that takes you?
Richard: You’ve got to, in my view, show the ability to overcome challenges, to solve problems. That’s the critical, and that’s what businesses that are recruiting, that’s what they want. If you can do that, if you’ve got the ability to do that, you’ll always have a job. You’ll always have a role because it’s so difficult to find people that can genuinely solve problems. The sweet spot for me without getting too philosophical about it is taking on the challenge.
Theresa: Yes, the pain point.
Richard: The problem. That’s the important thing. Cruising is not an option. You’ve got, like you did, Theresa, I’ve got the vision of I want to create this app, but I don’t understand how to do it and there’s no real documentation about how I go about that. There’s no, like you say, pre-Trailhead days. I’ve got to solve this problem and by doing that, and going through that process, you’ve overcome those challenges. That’s the beauty of it. That’s the real learning that you have. That’s the experience that you can demonstrate to someone in an interview. If you can do that, they can see that you’re the sort of person that can overcome challenges.
Lee: I remember it was a podcast we’ve done before with a senior lady who said exactly that. “If you come to me with a CV and it says I’ve built this app. I haven’t got real-world experience, but I built this app, and I’ve got this certification,” then she’ll give those people a chance. I think if you’re willing to put that time in, your spare time, then companies will see that, certainly the partner ecosystem, which actually is something I was going to ask you. Clearly, you got your experience in the dev org world, did you have a plan to get a partner or an end-user or was it a case of foot in the door, anywhere I can get it to give me that first job?
Richard: I was a little bit going back, returning, looping around to get to the imposter syndrome. Now, I’ve overcome one challenge and now I’m into another one, right, okay, into another kind of layer of the onion. I think when you say planning, there wasn’t a great deal of planning in my life. Things happen to me randomly, which I think is the case in a lot of most people if they’re really honest with themselves, whether it actually happens or not. It’s a bit random, but I think life is a bit random. Anyway, I did look at some consulting and I’d made a lot of applications to some good chunky consultancies.
You guys helped me out with that and that was a great experience. I think I was a little bit, “Oh my God, how do I fit into these? They seem so clever and professional and just amazing. There’s people there with 15 certs and all this sort of stuff.” I go, “How on earth? I’ve got one cert and not much experience. How am I going to bridge that gap?” That was a bit off-putting, but I just needed to actually work in some form of Salesforce to get my foot in the door in some way. That was my first role, but you introduced me to with Gemma.
Richard: Yes, of course. I wanted to touch on the imposter syndrome then. You’ve mentioned it two or three times now. I don’t mean to teach the listener to suck eggs, but it’s something that Theresa knows quite a lot about as a bit of a business coach. Just in case someone’s listening and thinking, “I don’t know what that is,” do you want to explain what it is?
Theresa: Yes, absolutely. There are various forms of imposter syndrome. Without going through a full-on coaching session. I wouldn’t do that to you, Richard. It could manifest itself in different ways, but usually, it’s people that are often very good at their job don’t actually think that they’re that good that they’re going to be found out. They’re constantly comparing themselves to other people, which I suppose if you’re coming into a technology space, and forgive me for saying this, a bit later on in life, you’re trying to keep up with the young kids that have grown up with technology.
It probably would be very easy to sometimes feel a little bit out of your depth, but I think people need to embrace the imposter syndrome because quite often it’s the thing that drives you to keep trying and striving to do better. I think it doesn’t have to be as scary as people think.
Lee: You’re in good company because there’s so many people that I’ve spoken to on this podcast, and just generally who you would look at and think, “Wow, they’ve got it all figured out. They’re doing really well.” They would definitely mention or they might not say the words imposter syndrome, but they certainly have that element about them.
Theresa: I think it’s fair to say everybody experiences imposter syndrome at some point in their life.
Richard: Yes, no doubt. No doubt. One thing that I picked up along the way particularly in Salesforce is something I alluded to earlier, which is this kind of the two branches of you’ve got the more functional side the people side if you like and then you’ve got the techy side. From my early perception of Salesforce until I really did understand it, it looks very techie. It’s a tech platform and you see these images of these young guys on their scooter zooming through warehouses–
Lee: wearing golden hoodies on a beach.
Richard: You think, “That’s not me. I’m an old git. I’ve got grey hair and I don’t really get tech.” One thing that I’ve managed to get over the imposter syndrome is to focus on your strengths. I’ve got some strengths, probably hard to believe, but I have got some strengths. When I focused on that, and the penny dropped that those strengths are really valuable in the functional side. That was me. That was the people side of things.
That is of real value. I started to get more confidence about that. That started to me to overcome those fears of– I think particularly when you’ve been made redundant, Theresa, it’s a kick in the goolies. It really is. You lack a lot of confidence and then when you try and return back into work, you are very defensive and you’re looking at people that have made it and they’re this and they’re that. They’ve got these amazing careers and then you look in the Salesforce world and there’s, “Oh, I started at this consultancy and now it’s worth $50 million,” and all this sort of stuff.
You go, “Wow, again these amazing people.” They are. You’ve had them on this RODcast. They are fantastic, able people. It’s important that you focus on what you are good at and what you can do and how you add value. If you can’t demonstrate that it’s pure, you haven’t got a career. To be blatantly honest, you’re not. You’re just an imposter. You are an imposter. If you can demonstrate some strengths, and you come and demonstrate how you can overcome those challenges like I mentioned earlier, and you can add value, that’s something that you need to focus on, I think.
Theresa: Going back to the imposter syndrome, is quite often it’s very easy to compare yourself to other people but you are unique. No one will have your life experience, your level of skills, and so on. So it’s important to just see yourself as an individual and what you can bring to the table rather than constantly thinking, am I keeping up with this person over there because they actually might have a completely different background and they’ve worked at different places, so they could never have your experience that you do. I think, like you say, it’s important to focus on your own strengths and what you can bring to the table.
Richard: I’d also say in the Salesforce world it’s really important that there is a real welcome for people who are older and have got experience. It’s not overtly out there that people say we want people of 50-plus and all of that sort of stuff. It’s not explicitly put that out there that– But I can assure people that they’re struggling with this, thinking am I going to be made welcome in this world? It looks all shiny and new and Californian and youngsters and all great, but I can absolutely guarantee there’s a welcome for you because your skills, your experience from whatever background you’ve got are really, really valuable.
Salesforces is an ecosystem I’m talking about now. Well, not just Salesforce themselves but all the partners, their end-users, all the ISVs, and so on and so forth, they’re desperate for people with experience and it’s a real gap. If you’re 50-plus, I’ve got sadly another 20 years of working life, probably more than that because I haven’t filled up my pension pot enough. I’d like to retire next week, but it ain’t going to happen. Facts are most people are going to be working into their 60s and 70s. That’s a fact. Salesforce is really, really welcoming to those people [crosstalk] want you on board.
Genuinely, it’s a real play. From Capgemini where I’m at the moment, they’ve been amazing. Absolutely amazing. A big shout out to Cap, but they’ve been incredible in terms of the welcome that I’ve had. They see value for people. When I go on these calls, I think, imposter syndrome, and how I’m going to meet all these Salesforce architects and all the rest of it. When I go on the calls, they’re 50-year-old blokes. There’s a lot of people out there. There’s a big diversity of people. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always sad, stale, old men like me.
There’s quite a diversity. There are people like me from lots of different backgrounds. There’s a big welcome for even the likes of– I can only call out Capgemini because that’s where I am. They are very supportive.
Lee: I was going to ask bearing in mind what the Salesforce ecosystem is like and how welcoming it is. Did you have any kind of mentors or anybody– I don’t know, you mentioned a company earlier on, but anybody that you could turn to and say, what do you think? Any ideas? Because I know there’s a lot of people out there with these golden hoodies and whatnot, whatever it is you get for being an MVP these days. That’s one of the things they’re really good at. So many people might be quite good at offering that as a mentor to future people in that similar situation to you. Did you have people like that? You don’t have to name names, obviously.
Richard: I don’t mind naming names if you don’t mind.
A very significant one is someone you introduced me to. That’s Gemma Blezard. A shout to Gemma. She’s been amazing. I think a lot of people in Salesforce know Gemma. She’s absolutely fantastic person both personally and professionally and a massive inspiration to me and I know a lot of other people. I was fortunate to be able to work for Gemma in the setup around the strategy of her business, The Architech Club, which is very successful. It was a privilege, to be honest, to be working with her. We stayed in touch, and yes, she’s a tremendous inspiration.
Theresa: She is one of the most generous people with her time out there.
Richard: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. We’ve had some heart-to-heart. Both ways. I don’t think that’s revealing any great secrets. She’s just a very inspirational person, I’ll probably put it that way.
Theresa: I know there are a lot of people that say the same about her. I’m sure after this podcast goes out, there are going to be a lot of people thinking the same about you because I think it’s very touching the last comment you said about the fact that Salesforce is a ecosystem that will open its arms up to people that have been in your situation that perhaps later on in life where maybe they’re thinking, am I ever going to get over this redundancy? I’m I ever going to be able to reinvent myself and come back stronger? I think there are going to be a lot of people that will listen to this podcast and feel inspired by what you said.
Richard: Thank you, Theresa. I appreciate that. If people wanted to reach out to me personally, absolutely, I’m very happy to speak to people about that and have a chat and give you the full story because I’ve only given you half of it. Genuinely I know and I know there are a lot of people out there that for lots of different reasons, maybe they’re being redundant like I was or they’ve had, I don’t know, may have got divorced. They may have had a big change in their life and they’re in a difficult place. A career is so important to that because you’ve got to earn money.
You can’t just float around not earning money. The facts of life are you need to have a role. Unless you won the lottery, you need to be working. When you’ve had a big life-changing moment like that it does affect you mentally. You can get very down. It doesn’t matter what, male or female, but I know from personal experience that males bottle it up and they pretend that they’re still going off to work and they put stuff on LinkedIn, I’m a consultant, but fact is, you’re not working, but you want to be, so you sort of– You’re kind of almost living a lie, really.
That’s something that you don’t have to do that. It’s important that– You can get a plan. Get yourself in Salesforce. They’re recruiting, I don’t know, it’s hundreds of thousands of roles, aren’t they? You guys are going to be very busy. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a lot of opportunity. Anybody who is in that situation, you can start to make a plan and pick yourself up. If you’ve been made redundant or you’ve had a big life-changing situation. You just want to change your career. “I want to get out of this.” I mean, “What have I been doing for the last 20? I don’t want to do it anymore.” Just go for it.
Lee: I think a lot of people would think going to work for Salesforce, a tech platform, I’ve got to be technical, but obviously, what you said earlier on and what you’re reiterating right now is that if anything that’s not what they need now. They need the people skills, the–
Richard: The tech’s been done. To be honest, the tech it’s not been done, but I mean, there’s still developers required, but Salesforce has got so sophisticated now that the developer side of it is less important. It’s actually how do we get this? How do we interact with people? Whether they be board members or actual people pressing buttons on a laptop. Those people. How do we bridge that gap between the tech and the people and that’s important bit.
Theresa: Well, the thing is you need people to deal with people because the technology just solves people’s problems. Like you said, the fundamental part of the technology is already there. Sure, it needs a little tweak or needs to talk to other platforms and stuff like that, but it’s really the people that understand the businesses, that understand the industry sectors. Like you’ve just said, if people want to just even just have a change of pace, just change the role, their career that they’re in because they’re bored or fed up, they can still harness all of that knowledge and skills that they’ve gained, but in a totally different and unique and very fulfilling life.
Richard: I was to tell you a little story now. I was talking to a friend of mine who’s actually a school friend of mine, so he’s the same age as me, in Sainsbury’s Car Park the other day. We lost touch. I haven’t seen him for a couple of years. I was saying, “Hey, man. How are you doing?” He said, “I’ve been made redundant.” I went, “Oh, crikey.” I said, “But you’ve been with that business for ages.” He said, “Yes, yes.” He said it’s just like they just restructured the business and made him redundant. The same age as me. I’m probably not giving too many secrets, but he’s 30-odd years in the parcels business, parcel delivery, and all that good stuff.
He said, “What do you do?” I said I’m on Salesforce. He said, “Oh, I’ve heard about that.” I said, “Mate, get involved in it.” He said, “But I’ve been involved in parcels.” He said, “Yes.” Listen, I know big parcel companies are using Salesforce.” That experience, he wasn’t on the tech side, I think. He was just slightly in operations with this company. 30 years experience. Really valuable experience. They need him Salesforce, or somebody, a consultancy or whatever we’ll need–
They want him. They will need someone with that experience to say, right, how do we implement Salesforce in a parcels operations kind of area? That’s an example of, he knows nothing about tech, but he’s got a good bank of experience there.
Lee: Has he done anything with that?
Richard: I don’t know. I don’t know if he’s taken me up on the offer.
Lee: No, I think you’re right. I think there’s a lot of people in that position and as I said before, he probably thought when you said that to him in the car park, “It’s technology. I’m not a technology person.” That’s getting that message across, isn’t it, to everybody? We’re obviously trying to do that with your help. Where you are now then, we’ve already mentioned Capgemini. Congratulations on that. I think it’s a really good place for you to be and congratulations to them as well, I think to get your experience onboard. What’s the future for you? What are you excited about for yourself and for the ecosystem, I suppose, that you’re now a part of?
Richard: I’d like to say I have a plan. I don’t. I’ve given up having plans, Lee, literally because they never seem to– They’ve been extremely welcoming as a business and just totally recommend them from that perspective. There’s lots of work. That’s one of the message. I don’t know. There is no shortage of work, believe me. Again, to say for the umpteenth time, there is a welcome for you there because they’ve got a lot of projects. I don’t think I’m giving away too much commercially there. They are extremely busy. You’ll get some well and truly on a project straight away and be working away.
I think in terms of personally for me, I’d like to do more about getting more people involved in that world. Giving back is a bit of a cliché, isn’t it, really? It’s sort of saying, well, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been lucky. How can I get more people involved? That’s what I’d like to do. I think that’s probably it, really. I’d like to say I want to be a certified technical architect in five years, but that ain’t going to happen for me. I could well work my way up to solution architect level or something along those lines. Down the people channel.
Lee: You’ve got a few now, haven’t you, certifications if I remember correctly?
Richard: I’ve got three. I keep procrastinating about my fourth. I keep putting it off to do it. I’m going to do it over the Christmas holidays. Then once I’ve done that, I’d like to do field service consult cert. That’d be my next one. Then after that, I don’t know. What I would say is that if you’re not working, get your certs now because when you get winter work, you won’t have any time to do it. It’s very difficult to do certs when you’re working. Do as many as you can straight away. I think there’s this feedback that always got hundreds of certs but no experience. Just keep doing the certs because I think it all adds to your value.
Lee: It can’t hurt, can it? I know people do say that, but yes, you can’t have too many certs just like you can’t have too much experience. I don’t know how much they cost anyone. I know in the old days, it used to cost quite a bit, but if you have just been made redundant, just going and getting the cert it’d probably cost you.
Richard: It can be a bit onerous. That’s true. It’s a good investment. I think if you’re going to do anything, get some certs.
Theresa: It demonstrates a level of dedication to what you’re trying to achieve. I think even if you don’t have all of the real-world experience to back it up, the fact that you’re willing to put your hand in your pocket and pay for certs says a lot about somebody as an individual, and you will get that money back. It will come back to you.
Richard: Oh, yes. It will. When you do work, you start working, all those little nuggets of information that you’ve learned just randomly pop into your head and go, “Oh, yes, I remember that now.” You can look quite smart actually in a meeting if you actually come up with an answer that you learned doing the cert.
Lee: A message to people as well is don’t get too down if you feel like you’re speaking to a lot of companies and it’s not quite working for you. There’s so many out there. I know you and I, what was the tip of the iceberg was some of the companies we talked about. There are so many recruiters out there that will help you. So many of these Supermum-type organisations. I can’t remember their names. Whether there is one for the redundant over 50s market. If there isn’t, maybe there’s a niche, because the–
Richard: A job centre, that’s called.
Lee: Yes, well, my message being don’t get too down because there will be a company out there like you found Cap, is just trying to find. Keep going because some of them they only want young and dynamic, but someone will see the value in that person and give them an opportunity, and off you go.
Richard: I was interviewed by Cap, there was very much that focus. Don’t be put off by thinking, “Oh, I’ve got an interview with major consult Si, and they’re going to really grill me. They do grill you, but the focus is on your experience, your solutioning, how would you approach something. They don’t quiz you about, like build a flow? Or how would you code this or whatever? Don’t be afraid of that. Certainly at Cap anyway, it’s more of a focus about what can you bring to Cap and how can you add value? Like I was saying earlier, how can you solve problems? How you can communicate those things.
If you can demonstrate that. Don’t be afraid of the interview process because they’re not there to try and catch you out. They’re trying to work out how you could add value into their organisation.
Theresa: It’s something we say all the time. It’s about trying to draw people in rather than draw people out. Yes, I think that’s a good point to take into account.
Lee: I’ll usually ask and I will ask this, have you got any further tips or advice? You’ve come up with loads already.
Richard: I got to come up with a real cliché, Lee.
Lee: Go on.
Richard: Was it Gary Player? There’s a bit of a debate about this. Gary Player, or Arnold Palmer, one of these, the more I practice, the luckier I get. You say I’ve been lucky into getting a role, and I have been, but the more you make the effort, get out there, meet people, offer your services to like I said, map out Salesforce in a different environment, make some connections, talk to new guys, get yourself in a position to be lucky. That’s the thing. If you sit on your bum and just sulk and maybe do some Trailheads but never really get out there, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Theresa: Create an opportunity.
Richard: You’ve got to get out there and overcome that maybe a bit of shyness or the imposter syndrome, wherever, however you want to call it. Get off your bum, meet people and get yourself out there.
Theresa: Fantastic. Thank you.
Lee: Brilliant. I love that. Thanks, Richard.
Theresa: On that note, I just want to go out and do something now. I don’t know what.
Lee: You’re staying with ROD?
Theresa: Oh, okay.
Lee: Thank you. Richard, thank you very much for your wisdom, and good luck in your career. I know you’ll be brilliant. Was it 20 more years you’ve got, so yes, we’re looking forward to seeing how that goes, mate.
Richard: It looks like it, yes.
Lee: Thanks very much for your time. It’s been brilliant.
Richard: Okay. I’ve enjoyed it. Thanks very much.
Theresa: I’d like to thank Richard Pay there for sharing his Salesforce career journey with us. You can follow Richard on LinkedIn and also follow us, Resource On Demand on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Thank you once again, Richard. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.