For most of the Appirio staff coming to Dreamforce, the week begins Sunday afternoon at our office on Market Street. There, over 130 of us will gather to make our final plans and preparations. One thing that we’ll skim over is our theme: “Rise Above the Clouds.” As a technology services company, we help companies rise above the legacy IT that holds them back. We also help companies rise above their limitations – especially when it comes to time and talent. And ultimately, we help our customers rise above their competition by helping them build applications that give them a competitive advantage.
That’s all cool. But as we have been preparing for Dreamforce these last few months, I started to think that there is more to this “Rise Above” theme than a helpful elevator pitch. For example, a few weeks ago my colleague, Ciara, asked me why I liked consulting. I gave her my typical litany: I loved the challenge of it. I loved learning about different industries. I loved piling up so many frequent flier and hotel points that I did not pay for a vacation in fifteen years. After we parted, I thought about my answer and realized it didn’t really capture why I loved consulting. All I said was true, but what I really loved was the magic of teamwork.
There are moments when a team works so well together that each member is lifted up beyond their skills. The team becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Those moments of teamwork are hard describe, but you know it when you see it, and feel it when you are in it. If you are a basketball fan, you saw it in the San Antonio Spurs, when the best team beat the best player in the world in the 2014 finals. I know nothing about soccer (or football), but saw this in the German national team in the last World Cup. If you are a movie fan (or a space flight fan) you can see this in the Apollo 13 mission. At Appirio, I have simply had more of those “teamwork moments” than at any other thing I have been a part of.
There’s one other thought about “Rise Above” that I have been thinking about. We live in pretty dark times. It’s hard to tell if the world is getting worse, or if we just know more about it because of social media. Regardless, we are constantly flooded with the darkest part of the human heart. Collectively, it seems, we all expected more from the twenty-first century. But that’s one thing I really like about Dreamforce – in a sense, it’s over 100,000 people gathering to make the world a better place. It’s not just the canned goods and charity work. These are people who work everyday to add value to the world, to make things more efficient and better.
There are high-level politicians coming to Dreamforce, one of whom may be the next President of the United States. She will say a lot, but I hope while she’s at Dreamforce she will do some listening and observing. If Hillary Clinton came to the Appirio booth, I would tell her about a company started by four smart guys, who took a risk and built a team that grew to over 1,000 people. These are people from all over the world, in exotic cities like Tokyo, Jaipur, and Indianapolis. I would tell her about Appirio’s Silver Lining program, and how so many at Appirio are using their time and talent to improve their communities. But most of all, I would tell her how we work as a team. I would show her men and women of different ages and backgrounds working together to serve our customers and help each other out. That’s what “Rise Above” really means.
See you at Dreamforce.