David Ogilvy quote

The originator of advertising shared this tidbit long before the internet age began.

Dreamforce Talk

In this age of the customer, the conscientious consumer will impact business decision-making. Consumers are becoming more aware of sourcing, sustainability, and responsible investing. Business ethics and corporate social responsibility take center stage. Salesforce does a great job of highlighting this at their conference — making it ripple out to partners, customers, the United Nations, and beyond.

Takeaways from DF 19

Salesforce is doing well as one of the safest platform bets for enterprise-scale companies. The CEO truly cares about making the world a better place. Dreamforce is not a safe place for the Dr. Evils of the world in their pursuit of growth at all costs.

Marc Benioff sets a great example for well-intentioned professionals seeking to become evangelists for ethical capitalism. I’ve been part of this ecosystem for several years. The Salesforce platform is a no-brainer when it comes to scaling cloud technology to meet business goals. It works. However, it’s not cheap. What my customers get in return for the steep costs is an assurance that Salesforce will always do the right things to deliver a solid product and be a good corporate citizen. The additional price tag goes toward things like sustainability, inclusive diversity, 1-1-1, nonprofit cloud, and ethical AI.

From my social impact lens, here are some takeaways:

1. Salesforce and its partners are investing heavily in Health Cloud. Partners like Deloitte Digital have built amazing solutions focused on improving the patient journey. The healthcare industry has too many red staplers and too few APIs. Salesforce is addressing the problem and empowering its partners and customers.

2. Salesforce Blockchain solutions are becoming mainstream. Really inspiring to see Dr. Laura Esserman, a UCSF breast oncologist, share her blockchain software journey to automate the reporting of clinical trial lab results, thereby reducing the amount of time to bring cancer drugs to the market.

3. Sustainability Cloud is almost here, with an upcoming release date in December. I was fortunate to see a LIVE demo. The new solution enables chief sustainability officers to track and capture their company’s carbon footprint. The process apparently can take up to 6 months. The new tool can shorten the cycle to 6 weeks.

4. Ethical AI will become a best practice for software development. AI architect Kathy Baxter gave an inspiring talk about building an ethical AI practice at any company focused on automation.

AI Ethics can be baked into every company’s SDLC.

Too much code is getting shipped without regard to user diversity and impact. There are huge negative ramifications of ‘soulless’ AI innovation. I’ve blogged about this topic before.

5. Salesforce made a large donation to the United Nations to advance Sustainable Development Goals. The rise of so-called populists whose real intention is a power grab at the expense of the public good is putting the world at risk. Most capitalists would object to the limits placed on free trade. Businesses like Salesforce have to step in when international safeguards are being eroded. Without international governance, we will lose the natural environment and its thousands of species.

There’s a ton of hoopla every year at Dreamforce. Most people come for the networking — looking for jobs or to improve their technical teams. A few attend to upsell their customers. Just a handful of folks come for the do-good, feel-good stuff.

At the end of the conference, most people leave remembering the feel-good stuff. Marc Benioff has done a brilliant job of planting the seeds of good business. The conference is worth attending at least once.

Dreamforce truly represents ’Customer Success for Good.’

My Hero

As I watch these presidential debates, as I attend more sporting events than I care about, and observe lucky folks dancing in the spotlight, I begin to look for answers within — knowing ordinary, everyday heroes have made a much bigger difference in my journey. I feel gratitude for the first responders who continue to save my family’s life without us ever knowing ’things’ happened, the government officials who cleared the path to my U.S. Citizenship when it seemed like a much bigger struggle prior to the 90s, the teachers & coaches who became like my parents, and the spiritual gurus who continue to uplift my life when my moral compass is challenged.

Many silent heroes keep my mind full of ideas with their books. I’ll never meet most of the authors whose books I’m greatly inspired by. Let’s not forget the American healthcare industry (for all its flaws) still gives me world-class doctors who take care of my family. They go above and beyond to extend life. Without my extraordinary parents, there would be no ordinary life, to begin with.

This song about gratitude by the Foo Fighters is just a reminder to return the favor. We all need to become ordinary, everyday heroes. There’s too much work to be done around me. It will happen without much social media hoopla. I will become my own hero by taking ownership and focusing on the right here, right now. Ultimately, someone will be thankful for this work.

Surviving in an Amazon world

How one segment of brick-and-mortar is surviving e-commerce…Great film by Axios.

Retail survives when it invests and becomes a space for the community.

Shakespeare and Company

The famous bookstore in Paris is 100 years old. I was there when it turned 99.

Will it make it to its 200th birthday? Will there be enough bookworms to preserve it throughout this century?

There’s something to be said about the largest e-commerce company in the world beginning as a bookseller twenty-five years ago. It will be interesting to see if the Paris bookstore outlives Amazon.


The future of Meetup.com?

Scott Heiferman founded Meetup just after the dotcom bubble crashed. It scaled over time and gained a global following. Before Facebook and LinkedIn, Meetups were the platform of choice for anyone interested in community-building. Evite was another similar tool at that time.

Scott decided to sell the company to WeWork a couple of years ago. As someone who relied on Meetup for all kinds of networking including running a community myself, I’m not sure if I’ll renew my subscription. The biggest benefit offered to Meetup community leaders was the usage of swank office space at WeWork locations for free. The cost of admission was often free in the Meetup world. Things seemed too good to be true. It’s impossible to run such a business for too long.

It’s a shame if Meetup gets shut down because there are so many folks like Scott who scaled amazing communities and connected with each other. I hope Meetup survives the WeWork reorganization.