CEO of Salesforce’s book: Trailblazer-The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change quotes

“in the sense that it’s all about connection, not transaction. Business is temporal, but relationships are eternal. Which means they have to be genuine, and built on common ground.”

“In Detroit, we discussed how talent is fleeing many companies because they believe those companies’ actions are in conflict, or out of alignment, both with their own values and the values the businesses attempt to project. The bottom line is that people want to work for employers who strive to create purposeful platforms for good. This isn’t some intellectual construct. When bright employees see misalignment with their values, they view it as a personal betrayal—and then they walk.”

“I don’t think my reaction was quite the one he expected. “This is great!” I exclaimed giddily. At that moment, I’m pretty sure he thought I had lost my mind. But I believed that as a leader, you need to be a lot more concerned about what people aren’t saying than about what they are. In fact, it’s when people stop griping that you need to worry, because that’s the first sign that problems are getting swept under the rug. Most of the grievances aired on Chatter were not exactly Code Orange. Like There’s a truck hogging a parking space, or The cashew bin at the snack station is empty. But there were also important insights that forced us to reexamine long-held practices.”

“Maybe I’ve taken transparency a bit too far at times. I know I sometimes embarrass people with my candor. Finding the right balance is not easy. Sometimes it can be downright frightening. But once you’ve genuinely embraced the notion of total transparency, it also becomes liberating. It starts to permeate every decision you make. It starts to lessen the destructive notion of “us” versus “them.” It overcomes and exposes hidden agendas and encourages positive, ethical behavior. It becomes, in short, a competitive advantage. Vulnerability Makes You Stronger Compared to Google or Facebook, or many other Fortune 500 companies, Salesforce is not a household name. We don’t have stores or engage directly with consumers. We don’t make smartphones or flat-screen TVs emblazoned with our logo. I’m sure that to many of you, our name blends in with that of a lot of newfangled tech companies.”

“We understood that this had been a wake-up call, telling us it was finally time to trade in that black box for a clear, transparent one. After all, how long could we continue to hide from all the customers clamoring for answers?”

“I won’t try to deny that when you put yourself out there, there’s usually some pain involved. Vulnerability is scary. But it also makes you stronger.”

“With technology advancing at a blistering pace, what got you here, as they say, isn’t what will get you there. As Parker told the engineering team, “Let’s forget all the old versions. It’s no longer a new version of Salesforce. It’s a new vision.” What I didn’t anticipate at the time is how it would test our resolve and the culture of trust we had built over the years.”

“For a leader, the most difficult of all is knowing when it’s appropriate to trust your own judgment, even when no one else around agrees with you. As a rule, I’ve never been someone who spends a lot of time worrying what other people think of me. I suppose that explains why I’m sometimes caught on video dancing at courtside during Golden State Warriors basketball games, or showing up at work with Salesforce’s Chief Love Officer, aka my pet golden retriever. I’ve always been inclined to march to the beat of my own drum, even when others might think I’m crazy. After all, I trusted myself enough to quit a great job to start a company in a small rented apartment, even after every venture capitalist in Silicon Valley told me that my idea was worthless.”

“Values like trust may not make for dramatic earnings charts and they may never become the tallest trees. They are more like hundreds of small acorns you bury in the ground in the hope that they’ll become saplings. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that if you nurture them, those saplings eventually grow up together. There’s not a single tree on earth that’s sturdier than a forest.”

“For example, when they asked for faster speed in navigation, what they really needed was smarter “tasks” that could do things like triggering proactive alerts about their clients and guiding them to useful market data.”

Albert Einstein: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend fifty-five minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” In the end, Einstein was right. If you focus the bulk of your time and effort on understanding the problems, solving them becomes the easy part.”

“That was important, but in a world where technology holds almost limitless possibilities, marginal improvements couldn’t come at the expense of stepping back and identifying the biggest, most urgent and potentially painful challenges our customers faced, and then figuring out how to address them. It’s hard to overstate how important this shift would turn out to be. It allowed us to see that the real problem wasn’t the software we’d built for Merrill. It was the customer success infrastructure we’d built. What Merrill’s advisers showed us is that we were going about the process backwards.”

“The way I think of it, Dreamforce is where Salesforce comes alive, a place where people come together under the umbrella of our shared values to mix and mingle, eat and drink, meet and share learnings with interesting people in many different fields. No two people come for the same reasons or leave with the same feelings about what the gathering meant to them.”

Today it’s a celebration of our customers, a place where they come to revel in their success, acquire new skills, study broader trends in technology and innovation, and discuss social issues. These trailblazers aren’t just thinking of their own success; they want to inspire others to take their businesses, and their careers, to another level. This is why many of the twenty-seven hundred educational sessions and workshops are actually led by customers rather than employees, and why some customers have begun organizing their own affinity groups and events, or even hosting their own Dreamforce-related podcasts.”

“I explain how Dreamforce is the ultimate expression of our brand and customer success, and how our community inspires and creates a virtuous circle of growth. People who become successful using our products want others to join them, and in turn, our community and our business grow.”

“The strong economy, combined with easy credit, not only fueled a massive housing boom, it also turned millions of Americans into home-improvement junkies. TV shows about buying, renovating, and flipping houses began dominating the ratings, earning Home Depot an enviable position at the center of the zeitgeist.”

“We knew that if Home Depot was to have a strong future, it needed to embrace a digital strategy. Even before the Merrill debacle, we’d believed that it’s every Salesforce employee’s job to listen to our customers—to try to understand what they actually need, rather than pitching them our latest products and trying to maximize sales. To do this well, we’re often forced to step away from our desks and walk in a customer’s shoes. That goes for the CEO, too.”

“It’s possible that we could have saved our Merrill account by micromanaging the problem and doing just enough to quell their frustration. That certainly would have been easier. Instead, we attacked the problem by remembering what we aspire to become and being unafraid to reconsider the methods that worked for us in the past.”

“Be Mindful, and Project the Future” The first great role model in my life, aside from my father and grandfather, was Albert Einstein.”

“Beyond all that, he still managed to approach his work with a passion that bordered on childlike wonder. “Imagination,” he is said to have observed, “is the highest form of research.” To me, Einstein’s rare combination of knowledge, moral conviction, intuition, and insatiable curiosity represented an almost impossible ideal. Like the Zen Buddhists who inspired me later on, Einstein was able to let go of preconceived notions and think about the world in an unconstrained way. This spirit was the one I’d eventually aspire to re-create inside Salesforce.”

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

“He was a busy man, and was legendary for his directness, and ability to quickly zero in on what’s important.”

“One evening, over dinner in San Francisco, I was struck by an irresistibly simple idea. What if any developer from anywhere in the world could create their own application for the Salesforce platform? And what if we offered to store these apps in an online directory that allowed any Salesforce user to download them? I wouldn’t say this idea felt entirely comfortable.”

“company I wanted it to be, we would need to seek innovation everywhere. So I sketched out my idea on a restaurant napkin. And the very next morning, I went to our legal team and asked them to register the domain for “AppStore.com” and buy the trademark for “App Store.” Shortly thereafter, I learned that our customers didn’t like the name “App Store.” In fact, they hated it. So I reluctantly conceded and about a year later, we introduced “AppExchange”: the first business software marketplace of its kind, and the first major initiative born out of our new commitment to seek innovation”

“I was learning that unconscious bias shows up in all kinds of ways, especially in industries like tech that have historically been largely male-dominated. Ellen Kullman, the former CEO of DuPont and co-chair of Paradigm for Parity, an organization of high-powered business leaders whose goal is to achieve full gender parity in the workplace by 2030, once pointed out something that’s both encouraging and, to me, rather daunting. Since men hold the majority of leadership roles in the corporate world, she said, they play a critical role in advocating for women and mentoring them. “Until you level that playing field,” Ellen says, “you’re going to get that same outcome.”

“That Black Birds tweet I’d sent was so profoundly insensitive that I’d deleted it. In a backwards way, though, I was grateful for the backlash it created. It reminded me how important it is for leaders to align their words and behavior. You can make all the empathetic statements you want, but until you figure out how to open doors for people of color and build a welcoming environment for them, you’ll never create lasting change. We have miles to go, but I know we will never stop working to make our culture more compassionate, creative, and diverse.”

“Whenever I venture out in public, which is pretty often, I rarely think of myself as the Salesforce CEO. Truth be told, I feel more like the CAQ. Chief Answerer of Questions. When you make it known publicly that you intend to create a different kind of business—in our case a business that’s equally committed to doing well and doing good—people are going to be curious. They want to know how you operate, what keeps you awake at night, and how well it’s all going. You’ll be cornered at parties, conferences, charity events, and, in my case, even halftime breaks at Golden State Warriors games.”

“They want to make sure their company is committed to improving the state of the world. If business leaders think it’s hard to navigate this now, just wait until the next generational wave enters the workforce. I believe they’ll be two or three times more mission-driven. As companies meet this employee demand, they’re realizing this culture needs to be authentic.”

“A genuine culture built on fundamentals like trust and aimed at the goal of business for good is more than enough, but only if it genuinely outweighs the traditional business motives of driving revenue, growth, and profit.”

“Based on my experience at Salesforce, culture eats everything. All of the business tactics we’ve deployed, every line of code we’ve written, and every marketing campaign we’ve dreamed up over the years are, in the end, ephemeral. Each one could be discarded and replaced at any moment as the world around us changes. It’s our culture’s ability to evolve with the pace of change, to live and breathe on its own, to be both familiar and dynamic, that really drives us forward. For businesses that want to have any hope of thriving in the future, culture—and the values that define it—is what will drive financial success.”

“Over time, your employees and customers, not to mention investors, partners, host communities, and other stakeholders, will want to know your philosophy for doing business. They want to know if you have a soul. We’ve seen moments when two or more of our values have painfully and publicly come into conflict, but we’re getting used to it. Inevitably, these periods of discomfort will come. If your culture is strong, you will survive them. In fact, they may even make you stronger. To us, these situations have always proven to be oddly reassuring. They remind us who we really are.”

“That’s why we livestream our management meetings and allow everyone from seasoned Salesforce veterans to new hires to post questions and make comments that executives can view on the big screens.”

“When something happens in the world that impacts our employee community, members set up Equality Circles, which are safe spaces to have healthy, productive, and constructive conversations. In this way employees can feel heard rather than suffering in silence at their desks, and it helps to build awareness and empathy across the company. For example, in January 2017, when the Trump administration separated families at the U.S. border with Mexico, several employees hosted an Equality Circle. Similarly after white-supremacist demonstrations and violence in Charlottesville, employees gathered to discuss their feelings and fears.”

“Culture is more visceral than intellectual, which is why I often find myself asking: “Does this feel like Salesforce?”

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