Tech companies often provide promotional items, such as T-shirts, caps, jackets, and gadgets to employees, customers, and event attendees. But the Golden Hoodie is no promotional item.
It is equivalent to an NBA player earning a championship ring. Salesforce’s Golden Hoodie stands out for its rarity and meaning.
At Salesforce events, inspiring individuals who are succeeding and helping others in their careers, companies, and communities are invited to share their stories.
That said, let’s take a deep dive into why this hoodie is so unique and how people receive them.
The Golden Hoodie – which is also known as the Goldie Award – is not solely based on excellence and achievement in the Salesforce ecosystem. Therefore, there are only a limited number of hoodies awarded.
The Goldie Award is not determined by the number of Salesforce certifications or Trailhead badges a person has, though Trailhead participation is part of the journey.
If someone had to describe the award in two words – it would be innovation and inspiration.
Innovation has been integral to the Salesforce ecosystem since its founding in 1999 by Marc Benioff and Parker Harris. In addition to utilizing Salesforce technology to transform businesses or organizations, innovation can be seen in how individuals have personally developed in their lives and careers.
As a hairdresser, Cheryl worked long hours and eventually developed an injury to her rotator cuff. This prompted her to switch jobs and eventually become a junior analyst. The role required creating business metrics reports.
“Considering the multiple silo systems from which raw data was extracted to generate my reports, I believed streamlining this process through having all the data in one system would be of benefit,” Cheryl mentioned during the 2014 Dreamforce conference.
During a conversation with her manager, Cheryl suggested utilizing Salesforce would save her days of data-merging work. She then became part of the implementation project, although Cheryl needed to gain Salesforce knowledge.
After learning how to construct a formula field, Cheryl became interested in Salesforce.
When Cheryl began her career, she had yet to gain experience in the tech field and was unfamiliar with Salesforce. Her skill set has since developed due to the assistance of the Salesforce community, going to Dreamforce each year, and participating in Trailhead.
“When I discovered I lacked knowledge of a Salesforce feature, I began studying it through Trailhead. I completed an analysis of the feature in under two hours, and with this information, I could propose an action plan to my manager and colleagues.”
If Cheryl’s employer didn’t have an interactive learning platform, she would inquire about it and suggest exploring Trailhead to understand how learning and training could be accomplished.
Cheryl claimed that understanding Cloud Flow was difficult, but she eventually succeeded by virtually participating in Trailhead's interactive activities.
The Trailblazer community loved the iconic black Trailblazer hoodies, so Salesforce decided to create a one-of-a-kind golden one when they heard an inspiring story from an encouraging man. In comes Zac Otero.
In 2016, Admin Evangelist, Mike Gerholdt, met Zac and invited him to share his Trailblazer story on the Salesforce Admin podcast. His words moved the podcast team so much that they asked Zac to share his life’s story live at the Dreamforce 2016 Admin keynote.
After telling his story at Dreamforce, Zac was awarded the first-ever Goldie Award – the golden hoodie. Zac had (and has, to this day) significantly impacted countless lives.
Zac was educated at home until he was 16. After obtaining his General Education Diploma, he moved to another part of the country, where he worked in a pallet construction plant, a popcorn factory, and a grocery warehouse. Finally, Zac arrived in Springfield, Missouri, and began working as a deli meat slicer at a packing plant.
“My routine involved cutting, packing, and stacking, which I found tedious. After becoming a father, I realized I needed to increase my income to meet the demands of fatherhood. In the four years I was employed at the factory, I only got a 30-cent raise, which needed to be desperately increased,” Zac recalled at the 2016 Dreamforce conference.
In a post-recession economy, Zac had limited options. So, his cousin suggested Salesforce to him. Finding time to learn was difficult, but since his factory job didn’t tax his brain too much, he could download training sessions onto his phone and listen while he worked.
After one year of study, Zac took his first certification exam and did not pass. The motivation was lacking following the setback, but Zac became reinterested in reaching his goal when the plant declared it would be shutting down. He increased his efforts and ultimately obtained his certification.
After months of searching, Zac’s factory shut its doors, leaving him unemployed. He mentioned the difficulty of receiving unemployment benefits while caring for his child when his wife worked.
During this time, he searched for jobs. However, there were few Salesforce jobs available in Springfield. So, he attended user group meetings and asked for interviews.
“I was delighted when I heard about an opening for a Salesforce administrator role. One of the user group members assisted me in scheduling an interview for the role. I felt both joy and trepidation.”
During the job interview, Zac informed his interviewers that he had never gone through a job interview before and expressed his enthusiasm for the opportunity. His spirit was bursting at the seams as he got the job.
Zac closed his talk by saying: “I was merely searching for a job that offered health insurance for my children and would not be too labor-intensive so that I could eventually retire.”
Zac also spoke about his father, who worked long years of his life yet will never reach the point of retiring. He asserted that he did not want to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
When Zac received the Goldie Award at Dreamforce, he described the golden lamé hoodie as similar to a bright gold disco ball.
In 2017, during Salesforce’s World Tour in Sydney, Mark Tossell shared his story of transitioning from being a baptist pastor for 20 years to taking on an admin role. Salesforce highlighted the accomplishments of Trailblazers, like Mark, and thanked them with Golden Hoodies as the World Tour continued.
Parker Harris, a prominent Trailblazer advocate, asked whether past recipients of the #AwesomeAdmin Award should receive a Golden Hoodie. This occurred during Scott’s #AwesomeAdmin keynote interview at Dreamforce, where Salesforce members prepared to thank him with a hoodie.
Needless to say, after the keynote was concluded, Salesforce gave all of the #AwesomeAdmins present in the room Golden Hoodies as a reward.
At the same Dreamforce event, Salesforce presented John Lay, Vice President of IT at Camping World, with a Golden Hoodie during the service keynote. John was the first to be awarded the title outside the admin world.
Between 2018 and 2019, Salesforce recognized over 30 Trailblazers at Dreamforce, Salesforce World Tours, and TrailheadDX. This was due to administrators, developers, executives, and entrepreneurs sharing inspiring stories of determination, drive, enthusiasm, and helping others with Salesforce audiences globally.
At TrailheadDX 2019, Salesforce continued to innovate with a unique spotlight on three Trailblazers who embodied excellence in their careers and communities.
The rest, as they say, is history.
More than 200 Salesforce MVPs have been chosen for their contributions to the community.
This is very different from Golden Hoodie recipients, as they come from various backgrounds and duration of time spent within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Selecting stories to spotlight is a process that involves Salesforce obtaining feedback from local teammates and community group leaders.
Salesforce usually watches for people that:
These talented individuals are often referred to Salesforce by friends, mentors, and experts. However, there’s no guarantee recommendations will lead to a hoodie being awarded.
Ultimately, Salesforce is always looking for the next inspiring story to help them decide who will be the next recipient of the Golden Hoodie.
Salesforce professionals significantly impact the Salesforce ecosystem by contributing their ideas. Here are some of these individuals:
Nana is a speaker, mentor, blogger, solutions architect, and Salesforce Lightning expert. Beyond that, Nana is a five-time Salesforce MVP and a Salesforce Hall of Famer. She also has seven Salesforce certifications and six superbadges.
Jessica is an experienced member of Salesforce with 13 certifications and 170 badges. She is also a four-time MVP. She has expertise in many areas, including administration, business analysis, development, architecture, consulting, and others.
Steve has provided over 100K Salesforce-based answers and nearly 10K best answers to the Trailblazer community. Steve has responded to numerous questions, demonstrating a thorough understanding of each issue using images and screenshots to provide step-by-step solutions.
When she’s not developing new ways of working with Salesforce, Jennifer enjoys various activities. In addition to her role as a Salesforce Admin Evangelist, Jennifer has been a speaker at various events, including Dreamforce (2016–2019), TrailheadDX (2018–2019), New York City and Boston Salesforce World Tours, and Midwest Dreamin’ (2018–2019).
Hopefully, these stories by Golden Hoodie Trailblazers have inspired you.
Here are some engaging ways Salesforce recommends you can see more stories and share your own:
Mark Tossell said it best: “You don’t set out to win a Goldie. Goldie recipients have been given this award as they aspire to innovate and inspire others. It’s not about recognition or a piece of swag.”
It’s about the heart behind the award.