How to Pursue the Career of Your Dreams: An Interview with Ben McCarthy

How to Pursue the Career of Your Dreams SalesforceBen Ben McCarthy

In this episode, you’ll get a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the legend behind SalesforceBen.

I interview Ben McCarthy, otherwise known as “Salesforce Ben.” During our discussion, Ben gives us a glimpse into how SalesforceBen churns out amazing content for the Salesforce community regularly.

Ben also explains the role that personal branding has played in his career path and growth of SalesforceBen. In addition, Ben and I talk about some of the behind-the-scenes (unglamorous) work that goes into running a business and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. We touch on some of the common myths that people have when it comes to running your own business.

Ben McCarthy is a top Salesforce community influencer, but we don’t often hear about the day-to-day work that goes into running a business like SalesforceBen.

We all know that it takes hard work and hustle to succeed in your career, but what does that look like?

Those are just a few of the insights you’ll learn from this interview.

Some of the topics we cover include:

  • How did you go from being a Salesforce Admin to the legendary SalesforceBen, an online authority and content creating machine?
  • How do you come up with topics to cover?
  • How does your team work on converting a concept or idea of a future, to an actual piece of content that the public can consume?
  • Personal branding is a huge element to your success. Can you share your perspective on how you’ve leveraged your personal brand to grow your business?
  • As an entrepreneur, folks often think the work is glamorous. You work for yourself, set your own hours, can do whatever you want – whenever you want. What does it REALLY look like?
  • What advice can you share for folks who are thinking about starting a Salesforce-related business, either as a consultant, an ISV – or even as a Salesforce blogger?

Read the full transcript below:

David Giller:

Ben McCarthy, welcome to the Brainiate show. How are you doing today?

Ben McCarthy:

I am great. It’s great to be on the show. Thank you very much for the invite.

David Giller:

I am thrilled to have you here. I don’t know if you realize what a legend you are in the Salesforce community, and even though Salesforce Ben, as a logo, as a concept, as a valuable resource is out there, I don’t think people ever really make the jump to the person behind it, of Ben McCarthy. So I am looking forward to having you share some of your insights and wisdom and experience on this podcast.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah. That’s appropriate to say, and actually I met someone random at an event the other day and they also said, “Oh my God, you’re a real person.” So I think, yeah, perhaps people don’t know there is a real person behind the brand.

David Giller:

It’s a little wild because even by the name, Salesforce Ben, oh, who is Ben? But I guess people don’t make that jump.

Ben McCarthy:

Maybe it’s just an acronym or something like that.

David Giller:

You have definitely taken a dramatically different creative path to develop your career and turn it into a business that most Salesforce professionals, whether they’re an admin or developer, most Salesforce professionals would not even consider. So walk us through a little bit, how did you go from being a Salesforce admin to the legendary Salesforce Ben, this online authority and content creating machine?

Ben McCarthy:

I think the first thing to say is a lot of people wouldn’t think of it and I wouldn’t think of it either. This is a completely organic business. So I suppose I came into the ecosystem around about 10 years ago, working as a graduate consultant for a very short period of time, got skilled up, then went over to an end user. After that, I went to Conga, the ISV, and after that, I co-founded the Salesforce consultancy. But back at the admin job, which was my first, kind of second job, I was doing a lot of administration, and this was before Trailhead, it was before there was a lot of, really, a lot of good documentation with Salesforce.

Ben McCarthy:

So I remember one of the first blogs I wrote was about recurring milestones in the service cloud. And I wrote the blog because there was real, no tutorials out there at all. So I set up this blog as more like a kind of resource hub for myself, just writing down helpful things I came across and if anyone found them interesting as well, then that’s just a bonus. So that was, God, nearly eight years ago, and I just carried on doing it. And when the numbers increase in Google analytics, I saw more and more people each month reading my posts, I was like, “Oh, okay. This is interesting. People are getting something out of this.” So I just set myself the goal to just do one post a week, and then it grew over time to two posts a week, and three posts a week.

Ben McCarthy:

And as I developed my career, I was working for the end user so that was a lot more admin-focused content, then I was working for Conga and that exposed me to a lot more of the partner ecosystem, and a lot more of other apps, so I started to review apps. And then eventually I went on to co-found a Salesforce consultancy, and that was exposing me to a lot of consultant skills and things like that. So as my career evolved, it gave me different aspects to write about. But I suppose there were a lot of blogs before me, there was ButtonClick Admin, Michael Holt, and Brent Downey had Admin Hero. So I definitely wasn’t the first person to do it, but I think I was the first person to focus on the broader market, if you like, admins, developers, business users, anything like that.

Ben McCarthy:

And so I had the goal to be a bit like TechCrunch, reporting on anything and everything to do with the sales or seek system. That’s not really a niche because it’s so general, but it was a niche because no one else was doing it. The other different thing we did is worked a lot with members of the community. A lot of the areas, I’m not a developer, never been a developer, but working with developers to get their content out there. And a lot of the ecosystem want to get their ideas out there, but they might not be content writers, they might not have the confidence to be able to put something down and put it out there to the public. So we like to help people through that process, give people ideas, edit their content, to make sure it’s really nice and polished. So yeah, that’s a bit about the journey.

David Giller:

Absolutely love it for a lot of reasons, I think primarily because, as you said, it was so organic and from what I understood, the way you described, even your initial articles, it was really notes you were essentially capturing for your future self, “Hey, next time I have to use this feature or find myself in this use case, here are the notes and I just happened to be publishing it on the web.” And because your goal in creating that content, even those initial articles, and I think the same still holds true today with most, if not all, of the content that I find on Salesforce Ben, you can tell in the way that it’s written, that it’s coming from a place of here’s this information to be helpful to the audience, not here is this information because the goal is because I want to sell you something, because I want to convince you to take a particular action of sign up for this blah, blah, blah, whatever that might be.

David Giller:

There is no ulterior motive that that seems sketchy in any way. It’s a very authentic, “Hey, this is meant to help.” And of course, there are additional resources you can sign up for the newsletter, you can sign up for this webinar, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel kind of a thing, which is completely fair. And I think that’s completely expected and there’s absolutely no… not only is there nothing wrong with it, it benefits the audience even more because hey, if I just did a Google search that landed me on one particular article of Salesforce Ben and this is the first time I’ve ever seen the logo, I don’t know what Salesforce Ben is, oh wait, there’s a corresponding YouTube channel? Oh wait, there’s a newsletter? Of course I want to sign up for that because I want more of these valuable resources coming my way.

David Giller:

And I think that’s part of why Salesforce Ben as a website, as a news source, has grown the way that it has, the reason why it’s so sticky the way that it is, and I think that’s how you’ve developed the reputation that you have today. So I just want to congratulate you for starting off that way and keeping with it. With that, I’ll pause because I have some other thoughts on what you just said, but I’ll pause if you have any comments on that.

Ben McCarthy:

No, yeah, that has always been… We do push people to sign up for the channels and we’ve got a couple of products that we have on at the moment, we’ve got an admin practice exam set and also I wrote a book about my experience founding a consultancy, but we always have this thing where people will submit a blog post and we have a discussion internally, is this a bit too promotional? Is this thought leadership? And the vast majority of stuff we want to do is thought leadership because we’re not about really overpowering the audience with sales material.

David Giller:

Yeah. And very often, the person who is trying to write that article or do that presentation, they think that they’re going to like, just slide it in and the audience won’t realize, and the audience realizes it. They realize it themselves as a consumer. And it becomes a little inauthentic, I guess I should say, because when you get a sense that you’re really being sold to, and this is really an infomercial where the goal is really to sell you on something, usually it’s super obvious. And there’s nothing wrong with selling something, so I’m not at all… It’s nothing against sales. If you have a valuable product that solves a problem, fricking go ahead and sell it to everyone and let them know about it. But don’t make it seem like hey, I’m trying to educate you but I really want to sell you on something else? Again, I congratulate you for having that type of internal vetting process, which I’m sure is definitely keeping everything in line.

David Giller:

The other thing that stands out to me from what you said earlier is the way your career has grown organically. I see a lot more of this proactive people choose, for whatever reason, they have adopted this romanticized version of, oh, I want to be a solution architect, I want to be a Salesforce developer, I want to be a CPQ, blah, blah, blah, whatever it might be, and then they proactively try to figure out, okay, what are the steps, or even worse, what the certifications that I need in order to get there? Always thinking that passing an exam will just magically result in job offers landing on their inbox.

David Giller:

And it just doesn’t happen that way, most of the time. And most people who have been in the Salesforce community for quite a while have developed their career through this organic evolution of leveraging whatever experiences or scenario or even if it was a coincidental situation that they happened to find themselves in, and they took this one step and realized, oh wait, there’s something here, and pursued it. It ends up usually being a career path that becomes far more rewarding, enriching, and it can snowball very quickly. I wanted to get your thoughts on that.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah. I agree. And I think, I remember when I was in my first job and I learned how much a Salesforce contractor made and I was in my head, I was like, I want to be a Salesforce contractor. And I never really thought about it ever again because I enjoyed working for companies so much, the company culture and things like that, and the contractors, depending on the contract length, don’t necessarily get that. And I also think there’s nothing wrong with having a goal and wanting to become a CTA and that kind of thing, but I do agree that you do need to… You gave the example, I want to become a CPQ consultant or something, but maybe you’re doing that because you’ve heard of the money, but not necessarily because you’re in the job and you love the job.

Ben McCarthy:

But if you’re doing things and you’re in a consultancy getting experience in lots of different places, you can learn what you like and what your lifestyle is more suited to. If you’re just about to have a family, maybe working in a really busy consultancy isn’t the best thing. And as you say, getting that organic experience allows you to maneuver your career in a way that suits your lifestyle at that time.

David Giller:

Yes. Couldn’t agree more. Okay, so let me ask you about the wide variety of topics that are covered on Salesforce Ben. You mentioned earlier how sometimes you’re proactively reaching out to other people, sometimes it’s an organic, “Hey, we came across this situation so let’s put together some content on it.” You have a steady stream of news, so developments that are going on within the Salesforce ecosystem. You hinted earlier at the guest blog post submissions that are coming in as well. So how do you structure, here are the kinds of topics that we want to cover, here are these other topics that are on the fringe where maybe we’ll consider it, and here are the topics that are just like, no, like just no, absolutely not? So how do you manage that? How do you decide the topics that you want to cover?

Ben McCarthy:

A good question. It was just myself, and it was, again, quite organic. It was just things that pop into my mind and luckily, I would write kind of those ideas down to my head. If I came to a week, didn’t have any ideas then I’d just refer to this and write a blog down. But my goal is to always write the kind of content that’s going to appeal to the biggest type of audience. So we used to write a lot of niche tutorials, and no one read them and it’s niche and it was a bit pointless. But saying that, we want to write content that appeals to a wide variety of people, but also kind of the roles as well, like developers and admins, not just the [inaudible 00:11:09] community.

Ben McCarthy:

So I guess a few different channels, people submitting channel, our guest authors, extremely thankful for people that are guest posting. I think it’s a really nice kind of relationship we have with people. We help people get their brand out, they help them with the content, and they’re doing work writing the content about their experiences. So we do have categories that we focus on. It’s anything from admin to consultants to DevOps, things like that. And then if someone submits an idea, generally we’d have a bit of back and forth and try and steer them in the direction of focusing on the topic that people are going to want to read about. That’s always something that we do. In addition, we generate a lot internally and we want to focus on specific niches.

Ben McCarthy:

So we’ve got Lucy, my business partner’s a marketer so she focuses on that category. We’ve got Christine Marshall who’s a sales MVP, comes from an admin background. And then myself, I’m a bit of the Jack of all trades, like no real expertise in only one but quite a lot about sales in general. And so we will always be writing posts as well because we feel we’ve got a really good hold on what to read. And we’ve also got a lot of data as well. We’ve got like eight years of Google analytics data, so if we’re thinking about a particular topic, we can judge how popular. But it’s always a bit of trial and error as well. And we’re starting to do interviews at the moment, so interviewing quite high profile people in the ecosystem, which is quite interesting. We had a post from Melanie from Spekit, I’m not sure if you know Spekit. They’re-

David Giller:

Yeah, absolutely.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah. So she was an admin who became a CEO and raised 50 million. And so her story was great to read because I’m sure admins dream of becoming an entrepreneur and raising millions. And yeah, also experiments with new content as well.

David Giller:

I think it’s fantastic because what I’m hearing is that, okay, we definitely have previously identified categories, these buckets that we’re focusing on, but at the same time, we’re open to other ideas. We’re looking at new trends that are happening, we’re looking at the historical trends of how content has performed in the past, and at the same time, just constantly trying to stay on top of what it is that will serve the target audience of Salesforce professionals. And in addition to that, the playing around with format, I I think is great. And honestly, it goes back to what we talked about a moment ago, about finding the most appropriate career path for each person. The more you play around with other scenarios, other topics, content formats, even other platforms to publish on or to share it on, et cetera, the more you will grow and learn and figure out, here’s what works or here’s what doesn’t work for us.

Ben McCarthy:

Precisely. And it’s also great being able to read all this content as well, because you’re reading so much content from all the different sides of the ecosystem, which is skilling our team up internally. And I would like to hope it’s doing the same for people that are reading a blog [inaudible 00:13:46]

David Giller:

It makes a lot of sense. My next question relates to internal logistics. So how does your team delegate the work to go from a concept of a topic to the actual piece of content, whether it’s an interview, whether it’s a blog post, a YouTube video, maybe a course, maybe a book, that people are going to consume, what does that evolution look like? What types of people get involved?

Ben McCarthy:

We had Salesforce.org which is a Sales Cloud, but it’s heavily customized to be custom objects called content and things like that. We also use a community which is really helpful, so guest posters can use the community, they can log on, they can submit content ideas, or if they have an idea, if they’re not sure of an idea, they tick that box and then we will have a conversation with them. We’ve got a bank of ideas that we can just pull from.

Ben McCarthy:

And then essentially we’ve got, it’s quite long, it’s about a 10-step process where we agree on an idea, someone internally will write the content. Then it goes for team review, which is like a technical review, I guess, so someone with Salesforce experience from our team will review it to make sure it’s technically correct. And then it will go for a proof read. We’ve got a certain amount of subheadings, certain amount of images. We don’t post blog posts and it’s just a wall of text, no subheadings, no bullet points, no images. That really needs to be broken up and just for the ease of reading it. So yeah, there’s quite a big proofing process that’s essentially the high level of it.

David Giller:

Love it. And by the way, taking in some guest blog post submissions myself, I know how sometimes it could be really painful to edit, to refine that content that’s being submitted, because someone who is not used to writing a blog post, they are completely unfamiliar with the tone to use, the format, the type of terminology that either they should be using or not use, let alone thinking about images or screenshots or headings and subheadings. So I know how daunting it can be, so I applaud you and the team for figuring that out and putting together a process to be able to maneuver through it. Oh, and by the way, very often what I find the biggest challenge with all of it is the ego of the person who submitted the content, where it’s like, “What? It’s not good? What? I need to refine it again? What? I thought my grammar was perfectly fine.”

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah. We have had that more actually, that yeah, it’s a bit hard sometimes. But people, I think, are quite happy to take our advice. And we’re not complete experts, I’m definitely not a English major or anything like that, so I can get things wrong quite often, but most people kind of take in all that feedback. And also, we’re trying to produce bit more documentation and also templates to give people. The templates will have a top heading, a subheading, things like that, just to guide people a bit more, which seems to be helping the people a bit more.

David Giller:

And that makes complete sense. For those who are not familiar with how these topics of headings and subheadings, or even the corresponding images, how it truly relates to, or the level of importance that it has with creating blog posts, just trust us here, those things are incredibly important if you ever want anyone to find your content by doing a Google search. So having the appropriate, not only the wording that you’re using and synonyms, but also the structure of the content itself and the headings and subheadings are critically important. And if they’re not relevant to what people are searching for, it’s just not going to be found. So it’s a challenge to manage all of that.

David Giller:

Okay. So let me ask you a little bit about personal branding. Personal branding is something that a lot of people seem to be very hyperfocused on right now, and I completely understand why. And for a lot of people, focusing on their personal brand is something that’s relatively new. Usually, they feel stuck, and by the way, this is how I came about exploring and learning about personal brand and to implement my own personal brand, usually people, they start off by just feeling stuck in terms of their career growth, they might be frustrated with their job hunt and not really sure, how do I stand out within the ecosystem that I’m trying to focus on?

David Giller:

And they then discover that, oh, personal brand is an element you need to build up in order to stand out within the community. And when you stand out within the target community that you’re trying to focus on, that’s where the job offers come in, that’s where the new career opportunities that you could never have imagined start to fall into place. So my question for you is, can you share your perspective on how you’ve leveraged your personal brand to grow your business?

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah, definitely. And I completely agree, it is a bit of a new thing, actually, personal branding. People have only been speaking about for the past five years or something, but it’s so important. So I suppose with Salesforce Ben, it’s kind of my personal brand as growing at the same rate as the blog. So it’s hard to draw many comparisons there, but with EMPAUA, which was the consultancy that I co-founded, there was a lot of examples I could draw from. So I guess the first one is whenever you are running a sales consultancy, you’re speaking to customers, you’re speaking to Salesforce quite a lot, which is where most consultancies get their leads from, it removes that kind of part of a relationship with someone where you have to build trust with them.

Ben McCarthy:

Everyone’s sussing you out, you’ve got first impressions and you need to make sure this is someone you want to do business with, you like this person, you want to hand over tens of thousands of pounds or dollars so they can implement your Salesforce if you’re a customer. As Salesforce, want to work out, are you trustworthy? Can I work with this person? And it removed that massively for me. People just automatically trusted you, the people that have heard of the brand and things like that, and even if they hadn’t heard of it, they would usually go away and check you out and see what kind of stuff you’re doing. And so removed that massively. So the number of doors it kind of opened automatically was really nice and definitely helped us in the earlier stages. And as you said, if anyone that’s looking for a job, it would be mostly the same. If someone’s got a blog or something and you’re applying, the hiring manager has heard of that when you’re going to apply for the job, it just makes everything a lot easier.

Ben McCarthy:

I would also say people approach you quite a lot, and you kind of alluded to this, but I get messages on LinkedIn all the time, people wanting to have a call with me, to discuss a business idea, or maybe it’s not a business idea, maybe it’s a bit of consulting work or something like that. And it happens all the time and it’s great, because it’s not even about the money or the opportunity, but it’s great just to meet people and people just reach out to you all the time and yeah, it’s just nice to hear lots of different perspectives about the world and what’s going on and business ideas and all that kind of stuff. So yeah.

David Giller:

It goes back to what we talked about earlier, when you’re coming from a place of authentically trying to help your audience, yes, it can be a little overwhelming to get the direct messages on every social media platform that’s out there. It can be a little overwhelming. Who are you? What do you want from me exactly? What do you want me to help you with? But at the same time, you’re not offended by it, that comes with part of the territory, and because your ultimate goal is to help people, it’s okay, it’s welcomed. And perhaps what they’re asking you might be out of the realm of what you’re either prepared to respond to right now or get engaged with, but at the same time, it’s not seen as offensive in any way. Sometimes it’s simply giving a person one piece of advice that simply points them in the right direction so that they can go to the next step.

David Giller:

And it really is, to the point that you made earlier, it really is very rewarding to even help people at that individual level. In a way, it validates all of the other work that you’re doing by creating content and putting it out there. In some regard, you don’t really truly know, am I solving problems for anyone in the real world by putting out all of this content? Okay, we just put out X number of pieces of content in the last week, in the last two months, but am I actually helping people?

David Giller:

These folks are private messaging you and you don’t know them from a hole in the wall, and usually they will start off with, “By the way, I’ve been following you for a while and your content is great and you’ve helped me so much. I just have this one question, I’m really struggling with X, Y, and Z.” It validates that, it’s not about the compliment, it’s, “Oh, you complimented me and therefore I’m going to help you.” It has nothing to do with that, it’s simply validating that the work that you’ve been doing is making an impact and it can be, as I mentioned a moment ago, it can be a little bit overwhelming to out of the blue, you’re getting asked to do what exactly?

David Giller:

On a weekly basis, I get a few solicitations from people that I don’t know asking if I can be their mentor, and I regrettably have to respond by saying, “I really appreciate it, but I’m just so overwhelmed with my current workload. If I signed onto this, I would be doing a disservice to you because I just don’t have the time right now to be able to dedicate to it. But honestly, it’s something that I would absolutely love to do.” So I get it, and your point is a great one, and it’s only by building your personal brand and doing it consistently, can you get to that point where unsolicited career opportunities, job offers, engagement with other people to help solve problems, it just starts coming to you because you’ve been consistently putting yourself out there as, “Here I am, I’m trying to help, I’m helping in this way,” and people take it to the next level, which is a great thing. That’s what you want.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah, definitely. And if anyone’s thinking about creating a personal brand, I’d say a couple of things. I’d say, I don’t think you need to reach for the stars, you don’t need to have to be the next top Instagram influencers. You don’t need 100 million followers or anything like that, you can just have a small niche brand. Be unique, you don’t need to do blogs. You can do YouTube, you can do podcasts, you can do LinkedIn statuses, a bunch of people are doing that now which are really affected. And I think most importantly, be unique. Folks on a niche, I know there’s a there’s unofficialflow.com, I think, was a great idea, whoever started that, just focusing on Flow and doing really good posts on Flow.

David Giller:

That’s an excellent point. It can be a blog, but it doesn’t have to be a blog. It could be just posts that you’re doing on Twitter, it can be long form content that you’re creating that instead of starting up your own blog, you’re simply leveraging the article functionality on LinkedIn to simply post it on LinkedIn. It can simply be a video that you’re posting, it could be on YouTube, it could be on other platforms as well. It could be just doing Instagram Lives on some level of consistency, sharing information that’s within a consistent niche topic of where you want to focus your personal brand of how people should know you, associate you with a particular topic.

Ben McCarthy:

And I think you’ve cornered off the meme niche in Salesforce, David, so you should be pretty happy about that.

David Giller:

Thank you. So I have to tell you, people often ask me, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” That is part of my therapy, I would say. And I think that the reason why a lot of them take off is because they’re very common situations. And regardless of your geographic region, regardless of which Salesforce product you’re using, most people can relate to a lot of these frustrating situations. So I just keep continuing to do them, and my family is continuously saying, “Please stop posting.” And lately, I’ve been using my granddaughter as the face of many of my memes, and my daughter will just constantly throughout the day, she’s simply sending through our family WhatsApp group, a steady stream of new pictures are constantly coming in. And very often I’ll be like, “That’s a good facial expression. I’m going to turn that into a meme.” And my other kids are like, “Please stop, just stop doing them.” No, you can’t stop me.

David Giller:

Anyway. Didn’t mean to go off on that tangent, let’s get back to you. My next question to you is, as an entrepreneur, folks often think that, oh, running your own business, you can make your own hours, you can do whatever you want, nobody is going to tell you where to be or when you have to be there. You want to take off weekends? You want to take off Wednesdays for whatever reason? Great, you could do that. So my question to you is for those who are not familiar with what it takes to be an entrepreneur, to run your own business, what does it really look like?

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah, sure. Salesforce Ben was founded in 2014 and I didn’t go full-time until a year ago. So during that time, it was all evening work. So I would get home from work at five, six, and then it would be a couple of hours of Salesforce Ben. Not every single night, but quite a few nights. At the start, I said I wanted to do one blog post a week, so maybe two or three hours, four hours a week, something like that, responding to emails, things like that. And then as the years goes on, it got more demanding and we wanted to put more posts out, so the hours increased and it could have been six to eight hours, I’d say probably about 10 hours a week, something like that. I’d wake up on a Saturday, and I’d go to a coffee shop and I’d start working with Salesforce Ben.

Ben McCarthy:

So there was many years of that. It comes with lot of responsibility as well, the site goes down, it’s very stressful. And you’re also worrying about your day job and things like that. So it does come with a lot of blood, sweat, tears. However, I would say if I really wanted to now, I could completely scale things back and have a bit more of that chilled out entrepreneurial life, but I don’t want to do that. We’ve got a huge roadmap, this is some I really, really enjoy doing. We’ve got four people on the team now and then myself, so five people in total, as you hire more people, you’re now responsible for people’s livelihoods. You’ve got accounting responsibilities, doing payroll, blah, blah, blah. It does add up quite quickly.

Ben McCarthy:

We all really enjoy doing this. I’ve got no plans to cut back hours or anything like that. We’d rather just keep on helping people grow the business. So I would say to a lot of people that might want to consider on entrepreneurialism and quitting their job and starting their business, doing a side hustle, which is what you could call Salesforce Ben, is a great way to dip your toe in. But of course, that does require you putting in a lot more hours outside of your day job, which comes with stresses of its own. So yeah, definitely not easy, but the results can be great after years of, or months of putting in the work.

David Giller:

That’s an excellent way of summarizing it, especially because your experience has been one where you started Salesforce Ben as a side hustle, or maybe it’s better to even phrase it as a side hobby, because initially you weren’t necessarily even thinking of it as a business. It was simply content that you wanted to put out there to help others with, but you had your day job. And to your point, even doing it as a side hobby, without even thinking of the business aspects of bringing in revenue from it, it can easily take up a lot of your time because there are a lot of elements that go into it. Not only thinking about the topic and building out the content and refining the content, but all of the logistical technical aspects, the domain, the website is down, or the SSL certificate expired and how do I renew it? Someone just emailed me about a broken link somewhere, how do I find it? And where was it supposed to go?

David Giller:

There’s a lot that goes into all of that. And folks often don’t even realize the level of complexity that’s involved with all of the logistics, let alone, once you decide you’re going to focus on it as a business, to your point, it cranks everything up in a dramatic way. The level of responsibility, the work that’s involved, the elements that are involved, you need to have a pipeline of how are we going to be bringing in business over the next few months? Who is working on it? Even hiring the people to bring them onto the team, trusting that you can delegate whatever work you gave them, that they can actually do it, managing them, helping them if they are stuck, for some reason. There is a tremendous amount involved.

David Giller:

But to the point that you also made, if you love what you’re doing, you’re able to enjoy almost every step along the way, not every step entirely, but almost every step along the way. And it makes it very tolerable because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Okay, I’m going to get over this particular hump, this issue with the website, this issue that I have with this person that I delegated this project to, and the project has some frustration associated with it, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once we get through this, it’s going to be an awesome project. It’s going to be an awesome piece of content. It’s going to be an awesome downloadable checklist that someone will be able to download once we get the PDF looking right.

David Giller:

So that’s the driving force and that’s entirely different than when you are a full-time employee and it’s a manager who’s asking, is it done yet? Is it live yet? Because you don’t have as much emotionally invested in that thing. So I think running your own business allows you to stay emotional involved with the success and the reputation of whatever the service or product that you’re offering and the success of your team, and enabling your team to grow and be active participants in the organic structure of the organization that you have. But it is a monumental amount of work and you need to be prepared for that. And to your point, it takes years later where you perhaps have the opportunity to sit back a little bit, scale down your hours a little bit, because you have the appropriate team members involved where you can delegate the work and not worry about it, but that does take a lot of time. You can’t jump over those other hoops, those other milestones in the progression of the business in order to get there faster, at least I’m not aware of any mechanism to do that.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah. And I would add a couple of things to that. It was a little bit annoying having to come home at six o’clock and log on for a couple hours and not just chill out on the TV or play some games or something like that. But the majority of the time, it really didn’t feel like work, I really enjoyed doing it. And a big benefit to come out of all of my time running Salesforce Ben, like yes, it is a business now, but it’s all the skills you pick up. I’ve always been a little bit technical, not as much a developer, but setting up WordPress and installing some themes and configuring some HTML and CSS and learning about SEO, Google Ads, Google Analytics, so many skills you pick up over the years and years and years of running a website if you want to do that. The same with the podcast thing, YouTube, all these things.

Ben McCarthy:

And if I wasn’t to do Salesforce Ben tomorrow, it disappeared for any reason, I probably wouldn’t get a consultant job like I used to have, I would get a marketing job just because this is what I like. This is what I like doing, and I’ve decided that by doing something in my free time and learning it. So it’s been a really good experience and it’ll be the same for anyone else that wants to try out something else in their free time, as you said, potentially side hobby, potentially side hustle, but doing something.

David Giller:

I couldn’t agree more. And by the way, a lot of times when I find myself in a situation where I’m trying to detangle one of these issues, let’s say it’s a podcast episode that I published and for whatever reason, it’s not on Spotify, it’s supposed to be on Spotify, it got updated to everywhere else, but not on Spotify and I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. My wife will often turn to me like, “Why are you focused on this? How does this help in any way?” It’s not about being a perfectionist, it’s just when your goal is to create content and share it with the world and based on the way the system is configured, it’s expected to be published on Spotify as soon as I hit publish, or within 10 minutes of hitting publish, and it’s not working, if you’re not going to do it, nobody else is there to go ahead and make sure that it actually works.

David Giller:

And the same holds true with all the examples that you referenced earlier, such as SEO, such as the site is down, such as someone tries to click on the link to download the PDF and they filled out the form, PDF never arrived in their inbox. Well, what’s going on? Someone needs to troubleshoot that. Almost identical to situations that typical Salesforce admins find themselves in. Oh, there was a piece of automation that was supposed to happen, when an opportunity meets certain criteria and someone hits save, then it should automatically do X, Y, and Z. And if X, Y, and Z are not happening, we need to go ahead and figure out why. Is the automation still there? Is the logic appropriate? Or where did it break? And fix it.

David Giller:

And sometimes it’s rather simple to do, other times it’s complicated but either way, it can be frustrating, it can be overwhelmed. But having that holistic sense of, hey, here’s the goal that I’m trying to accomplish here, it makes it very tolerable. And often, to your point, enjoyable. It’s not that I’m enjoying getting deep in the weeds of the technical logistics or anything, but it’s enjoyable because in the end, I’m able to get my content out there and the delivery of the sharing of that content is going to help other people that are frustrated with the subject matter that’s covered in the content. So you start to geek out on these things, but you’re not even geeking out on the technical aspects, you’re geeking out on, I just want people to get that PDF.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah. The troubleshooting and the problem solving, and that in itself, troubleshooting is such a good skill, and why Salesforce admins, the skills are so transferable. My days at Conga, when I was on the support desk trying to figure out why someone’s document wasn’t generating, it’s so good to troubleshooting. You just, you try and find that brink in the process and then try and identify that and then you know where your issue is and you need to fix it. So, yeah, that’s also another great kind of side skill that you learn from all these side hustles, side hobbies.

David Giller:

100%. Okay, so my next question is folks who are in the Salesforce ecosystem who are listening to this podcast right now, and they are thinking of starting their own Salesforce-related business, so maybe as a consultant, maybe as an ISV partner, or maybe even as a Salesforce blogger, what kind of advice would you give those people?

Ben McCarthy:

I think firstly, and we kind of touched on this earlier, is don’t quit your day job straight away. I interviewed Max Rodman who was the founder of SteelBrick who sold it for 360 million Salesforce, and he just was completely blunt in the fact that entrepreneurialism is not for everyone. It is going to be for a lot of people, and people are going to absolutely love it, but it’s not going to be for everyone, that there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears you have to put into it. But you’re not going to know until you try. So trying to do a side hustle, dealing with accounting and trying to think of great business ideas and putting in the work to create content, when I was an admin and I asked my boss if I could have a few clients on the side and he was like, “Yeah, fine.”

Ben McCarthy:

So I worked for a few nonprofits, which was great to skill-up my own skills as an admin, also earned a bit of money on the side. And that was really good and exposed me to consulting. And that was a good thing. And if you do that, you’re in a pretty good position to judge whether you want to do that for full-time and go as a freelancer or potentially start your own consultancy and build something a bit bigger. But at least trying something. If you want to start on ISV app, maybe you start, I don’t know, building something in Flow and packaging something up and deploying it, and speaking to customers, getting testers, seeing if it’s something that’s going to solve problems, and then turning it into an ISV instead of just quitting your day job and going for it. I think that’s really the way to do it.

Ben McCarthy:

I’m a big fan of thinking differently. And I mean, I’m stealing that from Steve Jobs, but it’s just so true. I think it’s very easy to blend into the background, especially with Salesforce consultancies. I always used to joke when I spoke to clients and they were saying, “Oh, we were speaking to this other consultancy.” And I was like, “Well, first thing you say is we’re all the same, we do the exact same thing, every single consultancy. But we have different niches and we focus on different things and we do things slightly differently.” So most consultancies do things the same way, but you can try and do things a little bit differently to try and stand out and have that USP. When I was at EMPAUA consultancy, we used to focus on startups and we had a very startupy mentality. We were all self-managed, we didn’t use hierarchical management schemers. So we were quite well suited to deal with startups because they had similar philosophy, focus and cultures, things like that. And that was not our main USP but a USP. So yeah, those are a few tips I’d give.

David Giller:

I couldn’t agree more. And to your point, that entrepreneurialism is not for everyone. That’s a really important point. And yes, it’s hard work. A lot of people don’t realize, when you and I say that it’s hard work, a lot of people don’t realize because they just see the external product. Not that anyone’s hiding anything, but they just see the things that are publicly accessible, the things that are posted online, they see the end result. It’s like you go into a restaurant and you have this magnificent dish that is put in front of you and it’s all complete, you have no idea the level of effort or frustration just to get the asparagus into the restaurant, or they couldn’t find the right pot to boil the vegetables or whatever it is that’s being served.

David Giller:

And it’s not that anyone’s hiding any of those details, and most customers couldn’t care less to know about those details. But if you’re considering getting behind the scenes and running an operation like that, it becomes very daunting if you’re shocked and overwhelmed by the level of effort that’s involved. It often feels like it never ends. It is 100% completely doable. I mean, here we are, two examples of people who have started a business from nothing and turned it into something viable. And I know for myself, and I’m sure you would agree, that it is also insanely rewarding. It is far more rewarding, at least for both of us, it is far more rewarding than being a full-time employee at any organization. And that comes at a, quote unquote, price. The price is the level of work and responsibility, all roads lead to you to solve the problem, whether you are able to do it, or you’re able to delegate it to someone on your team, and not everyone is prepared for that.

Ben McCarthy:

Yeah, exactly. And that’s where the testing could come out with a side hobby, side hustle. If you get a freelance glance and you’re like, “Yeah, I like the money, but I hate the stress,” maybe get a job at a consultancy where you’re still well paid, but don’t have the freedom as necessarily a freelance or something like that.

David Giller:

100%. All right, Ben, thank you so much for joining us today on this episode. I really appreciate the opportunity for you to share your knowledge, your insight, your wisdom with the Salesforce community. Thanks again.

Ben McCarthy:

Thank you very much for the invite.


It is challenging to pursue your career of dreams without the proper tools, and your personal brand is your best tool for success. You can utilize your personal brand in any industry to raise your profile and achieve goals. It does, however, take effort. This blog post will discuss how to create a personal brand that represents who you are while still being true to yourself, as well as how to maintain a professional online presence with no effort at all!

What is personal branding, and why is it essential for your career?

Personal branding is the process of marketing yourself as a unique individual and professional. It is not only essential to create a personal brand, but also essential to maintain it. A personal brand should represent who you are while still being true to yourself. Personal branding can help you get recognition and reach your objectives in any sector.

Why is personal branding important?

It can help you secure a job or promotion in your current company, as well as open doors for employment outside of your company.

What’s the difference between personal branding and personal development?

Personal development involves constantly improving yourself to be more capable than before (i.e., leadership training). When it comes to personal branding, think of it as taking all those personal development activities and marketing yourself with them. Personal branding is the process of packaging what makes you unique and promoting it to others.

Why is personal branding important for your career?

Personal branding is important for your career because it allows you to promote yourself to highlight individual strengths, skills, and abilities. You can achieve this through social media, blogging, networking events, YouTube videos, or email marketing campaigns.

How to identify your personal brand

The first step in personal branding is identifying what makes you unique. You must first identify your talents, skills, and abilities. After that, you must figure out how to market them. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Take personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Holland’s Code to help you understand your strengths and preferences.
  • Evaluate your work experience and list accomplishments, awards, or recognition you have received.
  • Conduct a personal SWOT analysis to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Review your social media profiles and see what topics you frequently discuss or share.

You can create a personal brand statement once you’ve discovered the strengths, skills, and abilities that are unique to you. Personal brand statements should highlight your uniqueness in a way that is true to who you are.

How to create a personal branding statement

Your branding statement should be short, consisting of a sentence or two that captures what you are all about. It should be something you can easily remember and share with others.

Some tips for creating a personal branding statement:

  • Keep things simple.
  • Make sure it represents who you are and what you believe in.
  • Try to avoid personal branding statements that are too broad or general, such as “I am a hard worker.”
  • Instead of saying “I am an accountant,” say, “I’m a thoughtful tax analyst who loves to solve problems and help others.”
  • Try not personalizing your statement too much. For example, stating that you are a compassionate nurse or hardworking software developer can seem more personal than necessary.

Once you have created your branding statement, make sure to use it in all of your marketing materials. You can also change it up as needed to reflect any new accomplishments or skills you may acquire.

How to develop a personal branding strategy

Once you have a personal branding statement, it’s time to create a unique branding strategy. Whether you’re searching for a job or seeking to advance in your current firm, this distinctive brand approach can help you stand out.

A personal branding strategy will help bring awareness of who you are and what makes you stand out.

Here are some personal branding strategies you can use:

Start a blog to showcase your brand. You can then share this personal brand with others through social media, email marketing campaigns, and networking events.

Create an online portfolio of past work or accomplishments using platforms like SlideShare or YouTube videos that showcase the talents, skills, and strengths you wish to emphasize.

Join relevant social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and start interacting with others in your industry. Share personal branding content, connect with other professionals and join groups related to your career interests.

Attend networking events in your area and meet people in your field. Hand out business cards with your personal branding statement and website URL.

Stay up to date with the latest news and trends in your industry so you can share personal branding content that is relevant and interesting.

The more consistent you are with your branding efforts, the more visible you will become to others in your field. And as you continue to build a solid personal brand, you will see unique and professional benefits you never thought possible.

How to Measure the Success of Your Personal Brand

Creating a personal brand is not an overnight task.

However, it is something you can do with time to help build a personal and professional presence.

Many of the personal branding strategies mentioned above involve sharing content on social media sites like LinkedIn or Twitter. These platforms are great places to share your brand and start an engaging conversation with others in your field – but only if you know how to measure personal branding success.

As you implement your personal branding strategy, it’s essential to measure the success of your efforts to determine what is working and what needs to be improved.

Some ways to measure the success of your personal brand include:

  • How many people are following you on social media?
  • Are people sharing or commenting on your branding content?
  • How many visitors are coming to your website (or LinkedIn profile) each month?
  • How many people have added you as a connection on LinkedIn?
  • Are you getting contacted by people who are interested in working with you?

By tracking these metrics, you can get a good idea of how well your branding efforts are working and make necessary adjustments along the way.

Tips for staying consistent with your personal brand

Here are some tips for staying consistent with personal branding:

  • Continue reading blogs or books on personal branding to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and get new ideas that you can apply to personal branding strategies.
  • Share personal brand content on social media sites frequently and consistently so others will keep seeing your personal brands in their feeds.
  • Be ready to answer questions about yourself when networking events or conferences, such as: What do you do? Who are you connected with online? How did you get started doing what you do?
  • Keep your personal branding statement updated and use it on all marketing materials, including business cards, website, and email signatures.
  • Remember that personal branding is an ongoing process, so be prepared to make adjustments as needed.

By following these tips, you can stay consistent with your personal brand and see great results in your career.

The benefits of having a strong personal brand

The benefits of having a solid personal brand are endless and can help you achieve your career goals. By increasing visibility, interacting with others in your industry, and staying up-to-date on the latest news and trends, you will be well on your way to creating a personal brand that will help you reach new heights in your career.

Conclusion

You never know what personal branding may lead to. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, personal branding can help propel your career forward. Try following some of these tips for staying consistent with personal branding so that you can build a solid personal brand that will land you opportunities today and beyond.

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