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Trailblazer Community Conference Leader Spotlight – Sarah Deutsch Thornton

At Dreamforce 19, Trailblazer Community team kicked off Brunch Dreamin’ – an event where all the amazing Dreamin event leaders were invited under one roof for celebrating their success, networking, and fun. Being the founder of one of such events – India Dreamin’ -the largest community dreamin event in the world,  I recognize and applaud the efforts placed by the Trailblazers who are converting dreams into realities and hence this inspired me to come up with the idea of sharing amazing stories of these trailblazers. I hope this blog series will help Salesforce Ohana know more about these events, their organizers, and the communities that they drive and support.

If you help to organize a Dreamin event and I have not reached out to you yet for this series, please message me on twitter. Here is the blog interview of our fifth spotlight – Sarah Deutsch Thornton. She is a Salesforce MVP Alum,6 times certified, and co-founder of True North Dreamin Event.

By the way, I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural event

Q. What event do you help run and what is your role in it?

I am a part of the organizing committee for True North Dreamin, a Canada-wide Ohana learning experience. For TND19, I was the Committee Chair, and for TND20, I am an attendee and volunteer. My teammates respected that I needed time with my newborn and would not be able to carry the torch, so they picked it up! I’m thrilled to be attending this year.

Q. What inspired you to start this event? 

I moved up to Canada from the States to marry the love of my life, Scott Thornton. We met at DF14 and it’s been one heck of a ride. I had previously been some part of other Dreamin Events and a User Group Leader, ahem, Trailblazer Community Group Leader: Southeast Dreamin, Tahoe/Norcal Dreamin, Sacramento Admin/WIT, Orlando Admin/WIT. I immediately joined a very well established Ottawa Admin Trailblazer Community Group, and thought, I want to do more! I want to meet every lover of Salesforce in this whole darn nation! As this is impossible (some things just are), I asked around to see who would be interested in planning a large Ohana gathering, a Dreamin, full of sessions, products, swag, and meeting our Ohana, face-to-face. That’s how I met our team. Our first call was in June 2018, and our first event was July 2019.

Q. What have you learned from being a part of the True North Dreamin?

Creating and executing a successful True North Dreamin has only reaffirmed something my mother always told me, and I continue to teach my children: You can do absolutely anything as long as you’re willing to work your ass off to get it. Also, I found Salesforce-Sisters and Salesforce-Brothers who worked theirs off, too! The genuine and lasting friendships that have come out of this endeavor are magical and I am so grateful for them.

Q. Top 5 reasons why one should attend a Dreamin event?

This one feels easy! There are innumerable reasons any Salesforce User should attend, be they prospects or veterans, but *my* top five are:

1.LEARNING!

There are too many sessions applicable to my everyday work life as well as my technical aspirations and certification paths to fit in the time of the conference. What’s best about learning from a Dreamin session is that talking to the speaker, and others with like minds are far more accessible than a Dreamforce environment. It’s more personal. I react rather… emotionally to awesome tech, and I can usually find other folks in the sessions who are feeling the same thing. This is how blossoming friendships happen with a strong base in nerdery.

2.PERSONAL CONNECTIONS

See above, but also, see below. For me, Ohana involves my colleagues in learning and working, my customers, my service providers, my users, my teachers, my mentors, you name it! Being able to get to know folks who are passionate about what they do has carried me through quandaries and stumpers and has opened me up to so many genuine relationships and opportunities.

3.BEING AN ACTIVE PART IN MY COMMUNITY

Whether it be local, regional, cloud-specific; showing up and turning out for my community has been a personal goal of mine for many years now. While some of my involvement is in a leadership role, my membership is just as important. And so is every attendee. Knowing that we are part of a greater team effort is important for my mental sanity.

4.PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS

Dreamins are the PERFECT place to meet potential employers, employees, service providers, consultants in a low key setting. You can ask questions that pertain to YOU. It’s not a marketing webinar, you aren’t a cog. You are the person wearing a great scarf or an awesome pin asking the person in a blue tie or with amazing nail polish your own questions. Its personal connection meets professional needs. 

5.SWAG

It never hurts. I’m proud to show my participation in events by sporting a hoodie, a well-placed sticker, a fantastic mug. I find swag to be a great conversation starter on public transit, at the airport, even at user group meetings. And it’s all about my community. Swag is another way to show, and SHARE, my participation, and enthusiasm. I used to bring back an extra suitcase from dreamforce just to give out at my next user group meeting. 🙂

Q. What has been your most memorable Dreamin experience to date?

The most amazing memory I have is from TND19 (True North Dreamin 2019). Zarina Varley Scott and I were on stage kicking things off, and the whole room was filled. Looking out and seeing relative strangers next to BFFs, all smiling and eager to learn and connect, and knowing that I had a part to play in their next two days’ successes was probably the most amazing memory. I like to say quietly and to myself, “I’m a helper.” It helps me know that I’m contributing towards the good of life.

Q. What type of event organizer are you?

1. The Natural – Calm under pressure

2. The Strategist – With an eye for details

3. The Wizard – Pulls off the impossible

4. The Trailblazer – Sets the trend

I think it has to be the Trailblazer! While I’ve helped with other Dreamins in the past, pulling off the first in Canada, a brand new market, required a whole bunch of, ‘let’s do it this way!’ because it seemed like a good idea and we didn’t have much to go off of. Watching the team organize TND20, and improve on what we started has been amazing. 

Q. Any details you want to share specifically about your event?

TND20 has been postponed due to, you know, the global pandemic. Making that call was hard, but definitely, the right thing to do. As we are right in the thick of it now, we are planning to have  True North Dreamin 2020 still in Vancouver, but now in August. You can check out www.truenorthdreamin.com for all the latest updates.

Hope you enjoyed reading!

If you help to organize a Dreamin event and I have not reached out to you yet for this series, please message me on twitter.

If not yet, do not miss reading out the other spotlights in this series :

  1. Eric Dreshfield
  2. Manish Thaduri
  3. Ines Garcia
  4. Amit Chaudhary
  5. Sarah Deutsch Thornton
  6. Amy Oplinger Singh