You can read my prologue if you want the run up, but suffice it to say that in the 13 day period that I had between getting my initial invite and arriving in Indianapolis I hadn’t slept well. Too excited! Thanks body – just when I could really do with some sleep!

But what was the plan? To be honest I didn’t know and it didn’t concern me much. I was just excited to meet and spend 48 hours with 65 other Trailblazers. Having been involved in the Ohana for a few years now, I knew that they would be welcoming and friendly, and I even had a hunch that my cripplingly poor memory for names wouldn’t be an issue for once.

What I did know was that my invite said workforce development Trailblazers from the White House would be present. I was (still am) too naïve to think that this would be anyone senior; I’ll spoil the surprise slightly was saying that I only realised on the Wednesday morning (once I had arrived) that this would be Ivanka Trump, because a news report said that she was in town. More on that later!

For the curious the invite also said:

  • 10am – 3pm: Special Programming
  • 3pm – 4pm: Marc Benioff & Special Guests
  • 4pm – 6pm: Celebration

And that’s all I knew!

Dictionary corner (just one new word, personal definition): Trailblazer: Someone deeply passionate about Salesforce and the potential it can unlock; for the purposes of this article, I’m usually just referring to the 65 on this trip, although Salesforce Trailblazers number over two million at the last count.

Tuesday, 14th May. 13:00 in Paris

“Hi Jurn. Remind me which plane you’re on” I say. “Oh, I’ve already arrived” he replies. “I’m sorry Jurn, it must be about 7 in the morning your time”. “Oh it is, I’ve been up since 5:30 dealing with emails.”

At this stage I point out to Jurn that he was having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he should stop immediately and go out and enjoy being with fellow Trailblazers. The moral: you can get very far in life, but we could all use friendly advice once in a while. I’m happy he listened to me (my husband adds, during proof-reading, that I could still improve in this regard!).

And then onwards to my final flight.

Tuesday, 14th May. 15:00 in Indianapolis – arrival!

So Indianapolis doesn’t have many international direct flights. Who knew? I arrived via Charles de Gualle in Paris, and took a taxi downtown. Upon arrival I met fellow Trailblazers outside, I deposited my suitcase and sped downstairs to be sure not to miss a moment. By 17:00 we were at the nearest pub. At first we were one table, then two tables, then overflowing; I moved around a bit as I warmed up and started to discover who I would connect with.

The above photographic evidence reminds me that some of the people I met that first evening were Joy, Mary, Bex and Heidi on my table, Jurn and Julia in the near background, and Zac and Sandi on the other table. Before digging up the photo (thanks Twitter!) some of this I had logically reconstructed, but much I had forgotten. My memory for specific items is poor bordering on atrocious, I tend to remember tones instead. For me, it’s like a join-the-dots puzzle, I get some information and it’s not enough to work out what’s going on, but – if enough time – by the end a beautiful picture forms. What I want to celebrate are two things:

  • Everyone was so kind and generous to me, despite having to introduce themselves to me many many times
  • I found, initially, getting to know people was really hard. By the end of the trip, because of so much time together, my barriers had come down, we had got past initial pleasantries and I felt I had got to know a surprising number from our group. Some much better than others, of course, but that’s life.

Comedy moment: I was asked if I wanted food. Having been travelling quite a lot over the last 18 hours, I calculated that I had already had 4 lunches that day (once in Bulgaria, once in Paris, once at the start of the flight and the final time prior to landing); I literally couldn’t form an answer and my mouth did a goldfish impression for a moment or two. My body was just “What?! Another lunch?!” Some nachos and sweet potato fries still managed find their way towards me, however.

At 23:00, my body finally caved in and off to bed I went. Where had the preceding hours gone? Chatting and exchanging stories. Can I remember many specifics? Nope. And that’s a theme that will continue for this diary, but doesn’t impede this happy story!

Read on for Part 3: TrailblazerDay itself