Trailblazer by Marc Benioff

I picked this book up right after watching Marc being interviewed by David Rubenstein, that was about ten (10) months ago. Since then, I have managed to read it twice reason being, it resonates to the business climate we living in.

When I read a book, I tend to highlight some excerpts that really stood out for me, which I thought would share here, but only to find out that I highlighted over three-sixty (360) excerpts, I mean, that is how good this book is.

But here is a thing, following the Fortune 100 List of Best Companies to work for, Salesforce has always made the Top 10, knowing that it is a cloud-based software company, honestly, I didn’t think much of it in the beginning. I assumed it’s one of those Silicon Valley alumni who constantly strive to do right by it’s people, mainly cause it helps them retain top talent.

My first encounter with their software was at my previous work place, where as a relationship manager, I would be required to use their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software to keep track of my clients information and that of their businesses, crucial in strengthening our relationship to ensure services are offered at the highest level and the client attains maxium satisfaction. In addition to the CRM software service, the company also offers Marketing Automation, Application Development, Customer Service, and Analytics to name a few.

Needless to say, that was quite a shallow outlook of the company, as the more I read the book, the more I have learnt the DNA of the company, whose culture has been greatly influenced by the founder and now co-CEO Marc Benioff. I have never met Marc personally, but his aura mimcs that of a Zen human being, who is calm and collected.

Trailblazer as defined by Oxford Learners’ Dictionaries means, “a person who is the first to do or discover something and so makes it possible for others to follow”, and so is the theme of the book, that narrates the journey of Salesforce, from being a CRM software company to evolving into a company that not only cares about delivering profits to its shareholders, but also a strong ally, advocate and activist for everyone in the society.

Grounded in Trust, Customer Success, Innovation and Equality, Salesforce does not only talk the talk, it walks the walk, putting money where it’s mouth is. The book elaborates how as a family of creatives and business mind, the team structures and work to ensure a client’s vision is materialized in real time. Whether it is through being transparent at all times & provision of essential tools to their clients, or creating a safe place that fosters innovation and equality for their employees, they make sure they go an extra mile.

Salesforce teams volunteer hours to a cause close to their heart whether through funding different public schools programs, or social issues. Marc has championed to reduce homelessness in San Francisco with Proposition C, where as large companies will be taxed and money raised will be used to address the homeless situation. He and wife, Lynne are huge advocates for clean and safe oceans, for which they donated $10 million to University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and founded the Benioff Ocean Initiative, a platform to crowdsource ocean problems, to which funding will be directed towards resolving them.

Now more than ever, clients have called for companies to take a stance on social issues. People care where they spend their money, on whether the particular company support them through it, or rather side with their oppressors. Salesforce has taken a stance in support of the LGBTQ community, advocated and made changes to ensure equal pay is to be executed throughout different ranks of the company.

Despite their trying efforts, the company still has more work to do. According to their 2019 Annual Equality Data published on their website, 33% represent a number of women who make up their Global Employee Gender Representation compared to 66.8% of the workforce who are male employees. Where as, 23.7% of the Women are in Leadership roles compared to the 76.1% of the men who hold leadership positions. In the United States workforce alone, 2.1% are members of the LBTQIA+ community, 1.9% are veterans and 3.2% are people with disabilities. Since 2015 till date, the company has committed $12.4 million for Salary Adjustments so as to ensure equal pay is achieved as they go along.

Surely, they have made great progress, however it is far from done. The issue of Equal Pay requires routine evaluation, so as to understand where the company stands and what tools, processes and practices should be put in place so as the playing field can be leveled, in order to maximize employee experience.

I strongly recommend reading the book, as it informs and educates everyone, from people holding Leadership positions, to their subordinates, entrepreneurs, basically anyone from all walks of life. A company should strive to do more for their shareholders and also to the community. Yes, you can follow where the path leads you, but seek more to leave a trail in issues where there was no path to follow in the first place. I dare say, it is to some extent, a modern guide of how companies should navigate social issues in the critical times we live in.

“…Being a trailblazer isn’t just about caring for today’s stakeholders—it’s about creating a better world for future generations of stakeholders as well…” – Marc Benioff

Your business or company is no longer just that, it is a platform for change, an opportunity to serve a much deeper purpose that will last more than just one lifetime. Now more than ever, be your own sort of Trailblazer!

Marcs Benioff, Trailblazer is available here

All Excerpts are From
Marc Benioff
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