Meet John Lay, Dreamforce Golden Hoodie recipient, November 2017

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Do you remember when you first heard about Salesforce? How did you get started with Salesforce?
My Trailblazer story started slowly but quickly spiked. I first heard of Salesforce when looking for a CRM solution. A few years later, I got the opportunity to license Service Cloud and attended my first Dreamforce along with our CIO and enterprise architect. The scope and options with Salesforce were hard to comprehend. Within 2 months, we increased our license from a simple Service Cloud license to a full Enterprise license and added more than 2,400 users. I then was tasked with deploying Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.
How has Trailhead helped you succeed?
Trailhead is my story! Ok, so remember what I said about getting started? I really knew zilch about Salesforce when I was handed a full org with 2,400 enterprise licenses and tasked with a full deployment. We had a great Success Manager who walked me through all of the resources, and I even took a class, but it still wasn’t what I needed to be successful. Luckily, Trailhead was launched soon after and I became addicted! I’ve found it to be the resource I’ve been looking for throughout my entire career in technology. Trailhead has such a wealth of information and is easy to consume, and its gamification makes it fun. Now, I not only study Trailhead to learn all I can about Salesforce but also reference it from time to time for a quick refresher.
Are you the only person learning on Trailhead at your company, or does your whole team or company embrace it?
My entire team uses Trailhead at some level. We have more than five Rangers and are always looking to grow more.
What does being a Trailblazer mean to you?
To me, a Trailblazer is someone who actively seeks out more knowledge and is always curious about what’s around the corner. Trailblazers aren’t just always learning—they also seek to share and help others along the trail.
What impact has the Trailblazer Community had on your Salesforce experience?
I find the Trailblazer Community to be extremely helpful and supportive.
What message do you have for new Trailblazers?
Don’t be afraid. Create an account and get started. Trailhead has more for you than just Salesforce-specific information.
What’s your favorite aspect of Trailhead?
Superbadges—I love them. The real-life example of being handed a problem and solving it using learnings from other modules is great.
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Learn more about the Golden Hoodie!

Be a Holiday Hero

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Help a child build holiday memories to last a lifetime.

Holiday Heroes provide gifts to local children and families participating in Youth Villages’ programs.  Generous donors and shoppers like YOU enable us to fulfill the wish lists of more than 2,200 Middle Tennessee youth and children.

Your family, company, civic or religious group can bring children and youth near you a holiday they will always remember! All donations will help the children we serve in Middle Tennessee and the Nashville area.


This holiday season, local company Alternative Solutions will match all cash gifts to the Holiday Heroes campaign.
Give today and double your impact this holiday season!


  • Each child fills out a wish list of three gifts.
  • Heroes sponsor a child or sibling group ($100-$150 per child)
  • Heroes shop for the items on the wish list (new gifts only)
  • Please focus on the three wishes (it is what the child is hoping for)
  • Bundle the unwrapped gifts and wish list in a clear bag
  • Deliver the gifts no later than Friday, Dec. 6 to DeVry University


  • $5,000 – Sponsor youth who enter our care days before holiday break
  • $3,000 – Sponsor the LifeSet holiday party
  • $1,000 – Sponsor a Nashville group home holiday party
  • $500 – Sponsor the wish lists for a sibling group
  • $100 – Sponsor a wish list for a child

Other Ways to Participate

    • Stuff stockings: We love to gift stockings to our teenage youth filled with small gifts, toiletries and gift cards. Gather your supplies and spend time together as a family or group stuffing stockings, then deliver them to the address below.
    • Host a gift drive: Want to amplify your support for Holiday Heroes? Organize a gift drive to help collect our most requested items from friends or coworkers. This is a great way to get others involved! Contact Lyndsay to learn more.

Contact Lyndsay Wilkinson at or at 615-250-7323

Friday, Dec. 6

DeVry University (8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
3343 Perimeter Hill Dr. S
Nashville, TN 37211

Email: Lyndsay Wilkinson

Email: Julie Abbott



This holiday season, local company Alternative Solutions will match all financial gifts to the Holiday Heroes campaign. Give today and double your impact this holiday season!

Alternative Solutions provides Salesforce business consulting, CRM project management and IT problem-solving for major organizations worldwide. At Alternative, our associates are committed to YOUR business. Our primary areas of expertise is, including strategic planning and business process redesign.

“Youth Villages fills a need in our community for children during a period when they are at their most vulnerable. At Alternative Solutions we feel strongly in supporting an organization that provides a caring and safe environment to help these young people cope and find supportive ways to continue moving forward. Youth Villages provides not only foster care services, but their involvement in shaping young lives for their professional journeys begins at the foster level as well. Their services & support reach beyond the children to families in need also. Organizations like Youth Villages need community support and we are happy to partner with them. They help keep us grounded and remind us that the hands that too many children are dealt aren’t fair and they need a soft place to land.”

-Tom Jones, Managing Director Alternative Solutions Consulting

Project Perfection is in the Planning

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Project Perfection is in the Planning

People often discuss the high failure rates associated with technology projects around the world as if they are some industry-wide enigma.  Why do so many businesses fail in their endeavors? What is it that separates the incredible from the regrettable projects, and how can you make sure your company succeeds in delivery?

When a need or idea presents itself in an executive boardroom, business owners and stakeholders will generate loose criteria from their internal discussion and then send over the details to an assistant that transcribes it all into an email assuming the developers will “figure it out”.  Many times, these developers are off-site and the second-hand communication may be all they have to work from.  In my past, I have been handed a pencil drawing and hand-written list of features on a napkin, yes, a napkin, and told to just figure it out.  Believe it or not, scenarios like these constitute the bulk of the process for many efforts around the world, and projects like these are doomed before a developer ever enters the scene.  If a business is very lucky, the pure perseverance of the team will overcome this information hurdle to produce a production ready solution, but the odds are not in your favor.  Success in projects with limited planning are generally short-lived, as even these lucky few will find that their completed product falls far short of the original requirements or riddled with compatibility bugs.  If the project fails, the business minds will blame the developers for not delivering the product they wanted, and the developers blame the business minds for not explaining their needs efficiently.

The two project scenarios mentioned above account for about 90% of the projects out there, but what about the other 10%?  What about the award-winning, industry spinning 10% that lead us to a better way of doing business?  What are they doing that the others aren’t?

Communicating in a standardized, thorough, and well-documented manner.

In psychology, the false-consensus effect or false-consensus bias is an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others. This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a “false consensus”.  This false consensus is the best example I have found to explain the disconnect between business minds and developers.

Much like lawyers, developers are taught to think in a very process-oriented, standardized, and detail specific manner.  When provided the information they require, a strong development team can achieve incredible feats.  Without that information, they will be spinning their wheels on the 5th rejected iteration 6 months after the project deadline.  Business minds are forged to think outside the box and disrupt and improve standards to generate revenue increases. A developer asked to create a project without effective technical architecture and discovery is like being a CEO trying to lead a company with no analytics or references about the market!  Imagine having to fly blind with everyone counting on you for their success, it’s a scary scenario.  Finding an effective way to bridge the communication barrier between the business team and technology team is vital to ensuring project success.

The following steps will help put your team on the path to perfecting project process:


  1. The first and most necessary step to bridging the communication gap is, you guessed it, communication. We must bring together all stakeholders and leads to create standardized process that both teams abide.  Create a list out all the items the teams would require or like to see in their ideal project management situation.  Once the list is generated conduct a group value analysis to whittle down a final template.
  2. Fill out a RACI chart to identify responsibilities and consultations required for progression.
  3. Use wireframes to ensure the project is less “imagine this” and instead “create that”.
  4. Do a thorough discovery with a technical consult involved to ensure all data architecture, content, and third-party dependencies see the light of day before they drag your project into the darkness.
  5. Only fools rush in – Don’t start down an uncertain path as you will most likely get lost in the woods or worse, find bears.


It is difficult in the break-neck speed of business to stop and ask if things could be done better, faster, and with a higher success rate.  If your team is already at maximum output and you need help propelling your projects and processes to perfection, a proven partner can make all the difference.  A real partner acts to improve the overall quality and stability of a client, not just deliver the minimum to call it done.

Why take a chance on failure when certainty is one conversation away?


Johnie Waddell, Lead Developer & Salesforce Solution Architect at Alternative Solutions Consulting