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By Rich Palmer • March 12, 2018

In the Studio: Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce

We were lucky to be in the company of Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, when he visited our office yesterday to talk about artificial intelligence, social media, SaaS technology, building products people love, and more. Vala is a widely respected thought leader and influencer in the digital technology space, co-host of DisrupTV, and an avid storyteller.

We took a minute to reflect on the journey Vala has undertaken throughout his career and his thoughts on our opportunities at Gravyty. Below are some key learnings from our team.

lindsey.png            Lindsey Athanasiou, Director of Sales and Customer Success, found the following takeaways especially valuable:

Vala drove home the importance of obsessing about your customers and their success. As a start up, we are nothing if we don't have happy, successful customers-- it's what powers our survival and growth. I loved his reminder that "nothing remarkable has ever been done through shortcuts." We can never, and will never, take short cuts for the amazing organizations we support, even when it may be tempting. And Vala's humility really struck me; even with all of his success and notoriety, he is incredibly grounded and promotes the "beginner's mindset" for employees at all levels in every organization. I think we do a decent job of this at Gravyty, but there is always room for more learning, more curiosity, and more inquiring into everything we do. 

jona.png            Jona Ferreira, Software Engineering Apprentice, says:

The main thing I took away out of our conversation with Vala is the power and importance of social media and how you can really influence and impact the lives of others as well as yours. It is such a big tool for Vala, and he stresses it so much that he says he doesn’t even use resumes anymore, stating that he believes physical resumes will be obsolete in the near future. Social media greatly helps with marketing, increases brand recognition, and it really creates a platform where you can talk to potential clients on a personal level. Obviously social media practice has to be done right in order to achieve these outcomes. Vala is consistently putting up good content for his 230k plus followers, content that he says he curated over the years. By being a Twitter guru he not only brings attention to himself, but also Salesforce who he represents with gusto.

 

In addition to social media, I learned a lot about his hard work ethic, how much he cares about the work he does, and just about him as an individual. He spoke about his career path, and really because of all the work he did he was able to create opportunities that eventually led him to the position that he’s in today. It was definitely inspiring listening to someone with his success speak about his journey. A journey that by all means was not easy. But with proactive hard work anything is truly possible.

matt.png            Matt Pierce, Senior Software Engineer, reflects:

When an opportunity to dive into something new (and potentially uncertain) comes up, be willing to try, especially in the tech world. Along the same lines, don't disregard ideas simply because they are coming from someone with less experience. Experience can sometimes act as a blinder and prevent good ideas/technologies from developing and having a positive impact on your company. Moreover, you can't learn anything if you think you already know more than everyone else.

nima.png            Nima Abbasi, Director of Data Science, summarizes with three key points:

It is absolutely essential to have a digital footprint, even if you are a highly technical or non-customer-facing person. Sharing the knowledge and technology that you have with the public will allow those around you to learn from what you have learned - and therefore compound mutual success.

Further, connecting deeply with your customers and genuinely caring about their stories and success will lead to camaraderie, deeper insights, and an environment where you can work together to engage in productive discourse and build a better future.

Again, we are happy to have spent time with Vala. If you would like to learn more, our CEO and co-founder, Adam Martel, was recently featured on Vala's show, DisrupTV and in the Huffington Post, where he talks about how nonprofits can use artificial intelligence to improve fundraising. Definitely worth the watch and read.