The Salesforce Trailblazer Golden Hoodie: The Rarest Of Swag

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.

The Salesforce Trailblazer Golden Hoodie: The Rarest Of Swag
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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.

These people are rewarded with a Golden Hoodie as a token of appreciation. The hoodie stands out and captures attention to continue the spotlight on inspiration.

That said, let’s take a deep dive into why this hoodie is so unique and how people receive them.

What Is The Golden Hoodie

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.

Cheryl Feldman is a Salesforce MVP and Trailblazer, blazing the trails as Vice President of JP Morgan Chase and Co. At Dreamforce 2014, Cheryl was awarded the first-ever #AwesomeAdmin Award (the precursor award of the Goldie Award). Let’s hear her story to unlock the secrets of her innovation and transformation through the years.

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.

“I accessed the Salesforce community to develop my skills and gained knowledge in app building, customization, data modeling, and UI customization through self-directed learning.”

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.

“I have developed different skills with Trailhead, and my most significant accomplishment was mastering the usage of Cloud Flow Designer, a tool to design flows without having to code.”

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.

But to understand how Zac has inspired so many in the Salesforce community, you need to hear his story for yourself.

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.

“I faced a new challenge as I had a certification for a job I had no experience in. So, I wanted to make contact with the local Salesforce user group. I utilized my entire allowance of sick days to attend meetings during my lunchtime to network with established Salesforce professionals.”

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.

“I attended Dreamforce, and through a series of coincidences, my story gained attention from Salesforce company executives.”

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.

Since then, Goldie recipients have continued to pay it forward to the community where they were raised to inspire others.

The Continuous Evolution Of The Hoodie

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.

During the same year, another recipient, Scott Luikart – who previously received the #AwesomeAdmin Award – was bestowed the Golden Hoodie at Dreamforce for his transition from a Salesforce user to an admin and his use of Salesforce to impact LGBTQ+ homeless youth in his local area.

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.

John was a learning leader who showed a keen interest in exploring the Salesforce platform, delivering innovation to his organization, and inspiring others.

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.

No matter the year or the Salesforce event, the hoodie highlights learning and caring for others.

Golden Hoodies Are Not The Salesforce MVP Program

More than 200 Salesforce MVPs have been chosen for their contributions to the community.

Program participants have invested considerable time and effort to become experts in Salesforce and have built successful careers within the system. Participants must demonstrate recurrent involvement to maintain their membership in the program.

This is very different from Golden Hoodie recipients, as they come from various backgrounds and duration of time spent within the Salesforce ecosystem.

How To Earn A Golden Hoodie

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:

  • Engage in the Trailblazer community
  • Share exciting achievements
  • Step up to inspire the next generation.
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 Experts To Follow In 2023

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).

You Earn The Golden Hoodie By Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve

Hopefully, these stories by Golden Hoodie Trailblazers have inspired you.

It is important to remember that a large global community of Trailblazers is working together and achieving success. All Trailblazers are valuable, all should be recognized for their accomplishments, and all stories should be shared.

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.