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Bruno Mars and Blowfish: The low down on the Dreamforce fun factor…

Blowfish

Fun and silliness at a “work conference?”  Really?  Ohhhhh yes…  Dreamforce provides plenty of it to entice you to attend and we’re going to give you the low down.  However, perhaps this wouldn’t be the best way to justify the trip to your boss (and you should probably keep quiet about it afterwards…  No bragging by the water cooler when you’re back in the office, okay)?!

First and foremost, the NUMBER ONE reason why you should go to Dreamforce is:

(a)   to hug SaaSy, and

(b)   to dance with SaaSy.

I’m serious.  Honestly!  It’s good for the soul.  Everyone should do it.  Every day.  There is no “too cool for school” here.

If you don’t know who SaaSy is, here’s a picture from when he took me on a tour of Frisco.  He’s an exceptional tour guide.

Ah-hem…  Moving swiftly on…

Schwaaag

(Said with a 1920’s New York accent.  Please do not attempt to say it any other way.  That would be like Yoda trying to speak with a Scottish accent.  Wrong).

I know you all love Schwag and I know you’re going to be running down the hallways looking for that perfect unicorn with a cloud on it’s chest “for your daughter.”  We are all children in disguise as adults, and toys and gadgets are incredibly exciting.  With all the schwag you’ll get at Dreamforce you could probably kit out your entire office and kitchen.

In previous years there’s been yoga mats, footballs, phone chargers, movie tickets, gifts cards…  And this year you’ll be able to get your hands on some very, very cool schwaaag:

Have you been following Pono Music?  Founded by Neil Young, they have created a new way of coding music, so your .mp3s sound as though you’re in the middle of a live concert – the way music is intended to be heard.  Anyway, they use Community Cloud for the underpinning of their Community and are unveiling their technology at the Community Cloud Expo, where they will be giving away the new Pono players, which will not be available to buy until the end of this year!

Next, make sure you get yourself to the Platform Product Keynote, where they will be giving away 12 drones!!  Yes, that’s right, you could spend the rest of your stay in Frisco with a GoPro attached to your drone and spy on your competitors at Dreamforce!  Genius!

If you head over to Moscone West for the Salesforce1 Keynote, they’ll be discussing mobile journeys for customers and employees, and a number of large mobile companies will be conducting giveaways of various large products.  Given the “mobile” reference, I’m thinking the “large” is referring to value, not size here…  Unless they also give you a cart to push it around in.  Satellite phone from 1988 anyone?

On your saunter around Dreamforce, you will also find plenty of free documentation – worksheets, user guides, training tools, cheatsheets and books – a lot of which aren’t available online and are extremely informative and valuable.  So, you can create a mini library back at the office and your colleagues can benefit from your trip too.  Bingo!  You just justified your Dreamforce trip to your boss!

Let the Games begin!

What good is a conference without games?

When you walk through the entrance to Dreamforce you will get a choice of daggers, guns, a taser or a bow and arrow…

No?

Okay.  Last year there were some pretty cool games and activities with great prizes.  For example, you could silk screen shirts or stand inside a box whilst Amazon “money” blew around you.  Whatever you grabbed, you could spend at Amazon.com.  Some of the notes had awesome prizes written on them, such as iPads, Mac Minis and various accessories.

This year, in the middle of the Platform area, in the hub of the AppExchange center, there will be a game called “AppExchange Match.”  This will be similar to the game “Memory,” where you’ll match different AppExchange Partners and their Applications with the use cases and functionality of each App.  I’m not sure about the schwag level for this one, but I’m sure there’ll be some real good’uns…

If you prefer the more technical games, then make sure you get to the DevZone, where you can build an App and participate in a $1million Hackathon.  Walking away weighted down by $250k?  That’s some amazeballs smashin’ schwag.

Or, for the more peculiar sounding games, desk.com are having a Scavenger hunt with a real-live…  Blowfish.  Sashimi anyone?

More than 350 companies will be showcasing their services and expertise and, no doubt reached deep into their pockets to be a featured sponsor at Dreamforce, so they’ll be gunning for your attention and making every effort to reel you in so they can scan your badge (and send all your information to the NSA).  This guarantees that there will be a multitude of games to keep you entertained and a plethora of schwag to keep you weighed down, so you don’t ever leave the Expo Hall…  Let the games begin.

Eat, Drink and be Merry

Dreamforce provides endless amounts of food and drink throughout the day and it’s pretty darn high quality grub too.  However, you’re in San Francisco; the epicenter of some of the most fabulous restaurants, bars and coffee houses the West coast has to offer and I would strongly advise you to get outside and embrace the local wares.

ServiceMax has put together a list of places to eat and drink as well as local activities you should find time to explore.

If there’s a particular restaurant you want to try out, I’d suggest booking a table a few weeks in advance as there’s going to be over 130,000 people attending Dreamforce this year and I’m sure they’ll also want to be tasting their way through Frisco.

Whilst you’re inside the Dreamforce walls, there will be Salesforce1 bars scattered around.  This is Salesforce proving to you that you can literally sit at a bar, imbibe a few beverages of the boozy kind and still run your business (though they won’t take responsibility for bad judgment calls).

Eric Dresh is hosting the DF14 Newbie “Reunion” Breakfast, so you can get your morning protein fill, meet some fellow newbies and a veteran or two to get your daily dose of tips and make new friends.

Quite frankly, given the excess of eateries in Frisco, if I hear you’ve been munching in a Chili’s or guzzling at a Starbucks, I will find you and “descend on you in wrath” (My Grandpa used to say that…  Still not quite sure what it means, but I have an inkling it’s not good).

Which leads me on to quite possibly one of the most important things about Dreamforce…

Party like it’s 1999 (BC)

Whilst you won’t be able to converse with Nicki Minaj about butt sizes and her “boy named Troy,” you will be able to tell Bruno Mars that you would catch a grenade for him.  This is the Dreamforce Gala and USCF Benefit Concert on Tuesday 10/14 from 6.30pm to 10pm.  It’s a huge and utterly fantastic event, which raises millions each year to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Dreamforce is full of surprises and no doubt there will be a host of your favorite bands to serenade you along your four days of fun at Dreamforce.  I’ve tried to get inside intel, but failed miserably.  Maybe you’ll find yourself standing in the rain on Monday at 9am singing along to Snoop Dogg doing a cover of “It’s Raining Men.”  Stranger things have happened.

There are parties throughout the week, some of which Apttus have very kindly listed for us.  If you schedule yourself well, you can go to three or four a night!  To help with that, you can download PartyForce, which helps you decide which parties to grace your presence with, find others to boogie on down with and generally keep track of your busy social life.

FinancialForce has the “Ultimate After-Party” on Wednesday 10/15 as well as two daytime social events.

NewVoiceMedia has a pre-Gala Happy Hour on Tuesday 10/14, for which you can register here.

Apttus are hosting their popular Quote-To-Cash Green Room again; where you can work your way through their snackbar, chat about everything Dreamforce, spazz out from intravenous coffee or just chillax.  Look out for a Green Zone invite in your conference bag.

If you’re a female of the species, then reach out to Geraldine Gray to be a part of the Girly Geeks meetups and discussions. #girlygeeks have become quite a powerhouse at Dreamforce since Geraldine founded the group in 2010.

When you get to Dreamforce, I’m sure you’ll hear of many more parties.  But remember, a lot of these parties are invite only and the Companies hosting them choose who gets a pass, so make sure you hop along to them on your schwag rounds to schmooze and show how interested you are in their services, then you can get on their shindig list and party like it’s 1999.

Keynotes (aka [as per Mac] “stunning presentations”)

And indeed they are stunning.

Every year Dreamforce has some extraordinary Keynote speakers and this year is no exception to the rule – I can’t wait to feast my eyes on this wonderful round-up of personalities:

Start the week off learning to “unleash the power within” with Anthony Robbins on Monday 10/13 at 3.30pm.

Tuesday 10/14 starts out with the fascinating former First Lady Hillary Clinton at 9am.  Then, as if that’s not enough to satiate you for the day, at 1.30pm you can experience the charming storyteller that is Marc Benioff, along with some special surprise guests.

Other Keynotes include household names such as Al Gore, Will.i.am, Neil Young and Eckhart Tolle as well as Professionals at the top of their game including Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp and Arianna Huffington, President of Huffington Post.

If nothing else about Dreamforce excites you (…very unlikely), I assure you the Keynotes will leave you inspired and rejuvenated (unless you drank too much at one of the parties the night before, for which I give you 1% of sympathy, as it probably had an open bar).

Survival tips to keep on the fun side of the scale

One thing I hear about Dreamforce, especially from newbies, is that it can be daunting:  over 1400 breakout sessions and 130,000 people is enough to make any on-the-edge hermits become full fledged.  So here’s a few quick tips to help you keep the fun in your four day adventure and keep stress and anxiety at bay:

  1.   Breakout Sessions

(a)   Use the Session Finder to find the sessions that are best for you;

(b)   Don’t overextend yourself – most sessions are available online afterwards;

(c)   Study the city and floor maps and make sure you won’t be doing a 200m sprint between sessions;

(d)   Arrive at least 10 minutes early for Sessions and Keynotes.  Get a seat in the middle and then socialize with everyone around you;

(e)   Concentrate on sessions you feel will bring a high ROI;

(f)   Manage your Sessions with the Agenda Builder.

  2.   What to wear

(a)   There’s going to be a lot of eating and drinking happening, so if you’ve got pants with an expandable waist, you might want to pack them!

(b)   Wear comfortable, flat shoes.  You may walk up to 5 miles in one day – believe me, this place is huge and you’ll find yourself burning holes in your feet;

(c)   Despite what you may think, this one does belong in the ‘wear’ category:  Leave the laptop at home or at least in the safe of your hotel room – it’s too heavy to lug around;

(d)   Bring a scrunch-up-able waterproof jacket…  with a hood.  Yes, I know it’s not fashionable, but nor is pneumonia!

  3.   Before you go

(a)   Do your research.  There’s plenty of great advice and tip blogs and here’s 22 people you should be following prior to Dreamforce;

(b)   Join User Groups in your area and get on Salesforce Chatter;

(c)   If you’re anxious about “networking” check out my Dreamforce article from last year:  Dreamforce Networking:  Expressions of Awesomeness for the Salesforce Aficionado;

(d)   Do searches on the tags #DF14, #dreamforce and #dreamforce2014 and join groups to get the networking going in advance;

(e)   Put yourself in a place where you can clearly and succinctly articulate business pain points when meeting vendors; whilst everyone wants to hear about what you’re doing and what you are trying to do, a lot of attendees are pressed for time;

(f)   Identify gaps in your Salesforce knowledge and experience that you’d like to fill.

  4.   “Identify yourselves.  In the name of the Emprire.”

Take your badge and ID with you everywhere, as you’ll need them to get into anything Dreamforce related and in case earlier mentioned imbibing gets out of control.

  5.   Very.Intuitive.Piranha.

If you can splurge, register for VIP whenever you can.  You convinced your boss the trip was worthwhile, right?  So, convincing him you need a VIP pass to get exclusive access to Dreamforce speakers and events should be a walk in the park.

Even if you start to feel like the fun is fizzling out and you are being engulfed by the vastness that is Dreamforce, the uniquely positive, high-energy atmosphere that constantly surrounds Dreamforce will quickly squash it.  Before you can say schwag you’ll be leaving the World’s largest technology conference a few pounds heavier (schwag plus muffin top) and ready to sign up for more fun, frolics and feasting at Dreamforce 2015.

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