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Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change

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The founder and co-CEO of Salesforce delivers an inspiring vision for the future of business—one in which anyone is empowered to change the world.

“The gold standard on how to use business as a platform for change at this urgent time.”—Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and author of the New York Times bestseller Principles: Life and Work

What’s the secret to continuous growth and innovation in a world that is becoming vastly more complicated by the day? According to Marc Benioff, the answer is building a culture in which your values permeate everything you do.

In Trailblazer, Benioff gives readers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of one of the world’s most admired companies. He reveals how Salesforce’s core values—trust, customer success, innovation, and equality—and commitment to giving back have become the company’s greatest competitive advantage and the most powerful engine of its success. Because no matter what business you’re in, Benioff says, values are the bedrock of a resilient company culture that inspires all employees, at every level, to do the best work of their lives. Along the way, he shares insights and best practices for anyone who wants to adapt the company culture to thrive in the face of the inevitable disruption ahead.

None of us in the business world can afford to sit on the sidelines and ignore what’s going on outside the walls of our workplaces. In the future, profits and progress will no longer be sustainable unless they serve the greater good. Whether you run a company, lead a small team, or have just draped an ID badge around your neck for the first time, Trailblazer reveals how anyone can become an agent of change.

Advance praise for Trailblazer

“In Trailblazer , Benioff shares how his business  became hugely successful not in spite of his determination to do what he believed was the right thing,  but because of it. He provides a role model for talented young people in the business world, and for everyone who wants to make a positive impact during their lives.”—Jane Goodall, Primatologist and world-renowned conservationist

235 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 15, 2019

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About the author

Marc Benioff

14 books116 followers
Marc Benioff is chairman, co-CEO, and founder of Salesforce and a pioneer of cloud computing. Benioff was named the Decade’s Top Innovator by Forbes, one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune, and one of the 10 Best-Performing CEOs by Harvard Business Review. He has won numerous awards for his leadership on equality.

A Fortune 500 company with more than 45,000 employees, Salesforce has been recognized as the Most Innovative Company by Forbes and the Best Place to Work and 15th Most Admired Company in the World by Fortune. Upon founding Salesforce, Benioff created the 1-1-1 model of philanthropy, giving one percent of the company’s equity and product and employees’ time back to communities around the world. Today, more than 8,500 companies have adopted the 1-1-1 model through the Pledge 1% movement.

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5 stars
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40 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 174 reviews
Profile Image for Alok Kejriwal.
Author 3 books569 followers
October 28, 2019

One paragraph review - If you want to learn Business insights, pains & losses that Marc experienced while building Salesforce, you'll be disappointed. If you want to learn how a massively successful digital entrepreneur views the world & what he does to bring change, you will be delighted.

My highlights:
- Marc's spiritual leaning. He was blessed by Amma (hugging saint) before his success. He is a devout follower of Thich Nhat Hanh the super popular Vietnamese Spiritual leader. Marc makes a deep point about why meditation is a MUST to succeed in Business.
- His relentless pursuit to GIVE back. I've read a lot of Business books but this one seems DEVOTED to helping people.
- The EXTRAORDINARY incident of his meeting with Steve Jobs that resulted in the creation of the App Store.
- The open, transparent, almost childlike narration of the mistakes & learnings he made while building Salesforce.
- The concept of making Community service a paid responsibility as an employee. (something I want to start at my Companies.

I want to meet Marc and hug him.
4,756 reviews50 followers
December 16, 2019
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A very egocentric biography about a tech CEO who finds success empty, goes to India, and becomes annoying.

He becomes almost a caricature of what a Bay Area CEo should be, according to Bay Area types. His lack of self awareness is sad and funny at the same time.
Profile Image for Michael Payne.
63 reviews66 followers
July 4, 2020
Benioff refers often to this quote from Albert Einstein: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend fifty-five minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

Think about that.

Read the book.

Drive change.


PS - Re: Salesforce Tower. Hey Marc, Go Anywhere! It works.
Think about that.
Profile Image for Susie Turk.
208 reviews3 followers
January 6, 2020
As a Salesforce employee, I was familiar with a lot of the content in the various chapters because they were very consistent with the culture I've experienced over the last 7 years. I was really interested to learn about Marc's history and how his maternal grandfather( who was a pioneer of BART) and how his father (who was an entrepreneur selling mens' clothing) influenced him. His grandfather was a believer in social justice who would regularly hand homeless people $20. His father was greatly focused on customer success. Both of those are visible in Marc's views and the Salesforce culture. I've witnessed several of the things Marc discusses from the employee's perspective, so it was really interesting to hear his side of things. For example, I was very proud of his stance against the "Religious Freedom" Act in Indiana and then subsequent similarly proposed laws in other states; it was interesting reading about this from his perspective. Likewise, I worked with one of the authors of the petition against selling Salesforce to CBP, so I was interested reading about his experience. I have been very proud to work at Salesforce and have been greatly inspired by Marc. This is a great book for anyone in the business world to read because everyone can be an agent of change.
Profile Image for kesseljunkie.
224 reviews5 followers
December 9, 2020
I am sure Marc Benioff’s a decent guy all around. Sadly this book comes off as hurriedly written, quickly edited, and so self-aggrandizing as to paint him as a pompous tool of people who provide him the validation that business success hasn’t.

Again, I’m sure he’s a decent guy. He goes to great lengths to make sure the reader is aware of that. From listing all of the perfectly reasoned and wise decisions he’s made to all the important people he knows, I’m sure he’s a great guy who isn’t blinded by his own sense of self importance.

Just sure of it.
11 reviews
December 26, 2020
No book is ever a waste of time, but this one comes close. The ego of Marc is a match to that of Any dictator. There are few people in the world as good as he is. This is not a biography, this is ego tripping.
Profile Image for Rishabh Kumar.
6 reviews
March 2, 2021
While Marc does impress me with the way he puts values such as equality and trust on a pedestal in a business that seeps deep into the lives of customers, he can come across as slightly egoistic. Nevertheless, this book does shine light on how the approach of C-suite executives to define profit and success has changed over the last decade.
5 reviews32 followers
January 1, 2020
The author, CEO of Salesforce, a Fortune 500 company, makes a case for why we people don't have to choose between values and Profit.

Marc falls short on this aspect. The book is full of anecdotes from Salesforce with the obstacles they faced and how they overcame with values.

But, while the argument makes sense for a rosy tech company like Salesforce with high margins, it doesn't provide a framework for harder questions that might arise when profits are lacking.
Profile Image for Sharon Orlopp.
Author 1 book309 followers
June 23, 2022
As the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff illustrates how businesses, business leaders, and each one of us can be agents of change.

One of his first seminal moments as a CEO was when Governor Mike Pence had decided to sign legislation which would allow Indiana business owners to discriminate against LBGTQ customers if their religious views compelled their actions. Salesforce employees at their Indiana location were urging Benioff to do something bold to fight the legislation. Salesforce employees in Indiana feared living and working in a state that allowed discrimination.

Benioff knew this was a moment to walk the talk regarding Salesforce's values of trust, customer service, innovation and equality. He tweeted that Salesforce would be forced to reduce their investment in Indiana due to the legislation.

This began his journey as an activist CEO.

His book provides in-depth details on when Salesforce has missed the mark on their values (such as customer service) and the steps they take to recover thoroughly and quickly.

He ends the book with a chapter on being an activist CEO where taking a stand is not optional. He illustrates ideas and blueprints for other leaders and each of us to make an impact.
Profile Image for Sarah Amin.
71 reviews3 followers
October 16, 2019
Over the past 7 years working in the Salesforce ecosystem, the community has had the largest impact. The Salesforce community or 'Ohana' - is the most welcoming and encouraging community I've ever been a part of, making this former Biochemist feel comfortable as an #accidentaladmin turned #awesomeadmin. Marc's book tells the story behind the culture and values of an organization consistently rated as one of the best places to work. It's clear that the culture and values of Salesforce as an organization are what attract an amazing community of Salesforce users that continue to grow and welcome many. Salesforce sets an example that we can (and should) make an impact while leading and innovating.

I enjoyed Marc's weaving of personal stories to connect to business strategy and values. His honesty about his failures and striving for growth and improvement bring a realness to his writing.

This review was based on an advanced copy of the book.
Profile Image for Masha.
131 reviews18 followers
March 30, 2020
I loved learning more about Salesforce and CEO’s journey. Story of course told from a place of a lot of proved he, but he seems to be trying to call it out and be humble. But book itself is pretty bland.
Profile Image for Sarah.
728 reviews25 followers
December 23, 2019
Partly a business memoir, partly a Salesforce promotion...not badly written and not a bad dude, but I think the main reason to read it is if you're a Salesforce superfan.
Profile Image for Christopher.
140 reviews1 follower
October 24, 2022
Minimal on substance, heavy on self-promotion. Certainly didn’t make me a stronger believer in Benioff.
Profile Image for Kuang Ting.
139 reviews23 followers
October 18, 2020
Salesforce是一間專門提供與設計CRM(Customer Relation Management)軟體的企業,有些人可能沒聽過,但它是這個領域排行第一名的大公司,剛剛查了一下,目前排名Fortune 500第190名,它是一間快速成長的科技公司,創立於1999年網路蓬勃發展的年代,創立者兼目前的CEO為本書作者Marc Benioff,他跟一位集團內負責公關業務的主管(一位非常成功的前《華爾街日報》記者)一起完成這本書。


我目前就職的企業也採用Salesforce的追蹤Sales相關業務,確實有提升工作的效率,不過也有許多詬病就是了。我自己也有一個帳戶,也算有第一手的user experience(簡稱UX,這個簡寫也是必背的商業詞彙喔!)。我在的這間企業也算歷史悠久了,內部有眾多不同年代的資訊系統混搭一塊,非常凌亂,前輩們也都抱怨連連,大家都霧煞煞,有時候會導致工作效率降低。為了應對這種狀況,領導階級積極推廣數位化轉型計畫,但感覺前輩們都興趣缺缺提不起勁。


自己有了跟IT系統打交道的經驗,再回頭研究它們,就更懂得如何欣賞(或質疑) Salesforce的成功。CRM軟體已經是當代企業不可或缺的一部分,學習一下這方面的知識,也有學以致用的樂趣。知名企業���的著作,通常比較枯燥,但商業見解卻非常真知灼見。我們活在資本主義統治的世界裡,除非發生革命或滅世巨災,個體想要在這種社會裡生存,學學商業領袖的思維還是有助益的。

隨著閱讀量的累積,我也有一種思想上的轉向,前幾年有點鄙視這些商業巨賈,聚焦在他們的缺點,全然的陰謀論者。但漸漸地,這種閉塞的憤世嫉俗只會麻痺自己,毫無意義。依然保持謹慎,總算學會欣賞他人的優點了。有些讀者可能持保留意見,認為這種企業家的作品都在自吹自擂,盡是美化和宣傳。的確,誰會自我貶低呢XD,又不是在演諷刺電影,people disagree,反對是人的天性,沒人會100%認同別人的觀點,但這就是溝通和聆聽的重要性吧,聽一聽、讀一讀別人的觀點,才有機會審視自己內心真正的想法。

在我的感受裡,Salesforce的創辦人馬克是一位非常難得的科技業領袖,以他自己的形容詞來說,他是一位computer nerd。閱讀的過程中,你應該也能感到他的坦率,他是一位重視公開與透明度的領導者。貫穿整本書的主軸就是「企業文化的重要性」。Salesforce的企業文化被稱為Ohana culture,Ohana在夏威夷語中意為「家庭」,一種建立於信任的企業文化。馬克寫這本書的用意,一方面當然是想擴大Salesforce的文化形象,另一方面,他也想向讀者分享如何打造Ohana culture。很顯然這個企業文化有助於企業的成長,不然Salesforce也不會在短短20年擴展至今天的規模了。


1. 馬克天生就有創業家的基因,他的家族個個都是具有影響力的創業家或成功人士。

2. Salesforce重視CSR(or ESG),奉行1-1-1原則,承諾貢獻1%的產品、時間、資源回饋社會。

3. 馬克特別重視的議題包含族群和性別的平權、海洋保育、公立學校的教育、居住正義(街友問題)…

4. 他是一位行動派(Activism)執行長,不安於當個默不作聲的執行長,而是大聲呼籲其他企業領導人積極的投入社會改造的運動裡。他認為企業是改變世界最好的平台。

5. 他熱愛冥想和靜坐,崇拜東方的僧侶和精神導師。一個近年來矽谷和華爾街吹起的新熱潮。關於靈修,這又是另一個有趣的主題了,可以延伸到「旅遊文學」的範疇了。例如: Pico Iyer這一位享譽歐美的旅遊作家,以身作則,活出東方主義的真諦了。

6. 矽谷的文化崇尚技術專家治國(Silicon Valley Technocracy)。他們由衷的信任科技的力量可以帶領世界前往更美好的境界。科技可以解決人類社會的眾多議題,馬克是這一信仰的忠實擁護者。他深知科技的顛覆性力量,所以他希望自己的公司協助改造社會,而非阻礙文明的進步。CRM系統就是一個很好的典範,它讓客戶能夠以低額的成本,改善工作效率。

沒時間讀這本書的話,Youtube也有馬克關於本書的訪談。The Economics Club of Washington有上傳David Rubenstein和馬克的對談。這個頻道的來賓都很大咖,華盛頓真的是影響全世界的樞紐啊! 聽聽大人物的想法,往往能獲益匪淺。


話說Salesforce這個名字取的也太好了~一直想到星際大戰的經典台詞:May the force be with you! 願原力與你同在!
Profile Image for AV.
80 reviews9 followers
June 23, 2020
In case you're planning to learn about business insights, Marc's successes and failures leading Salesforce as a business, anything about building / shipping great products or even about providing top-notch customer experience, then you're gonna be deeply disappointed.

Befitting to the book's subtitle - "Power of business as the greatest platform for change", it talks about the social standings Marc has taken publicly, using his influence as the CEO of one of the largest companies on the planet and his values around which he tries to run Salesforce and cater to his employees and customers.

In the book, Marc has portrayed himself as a big believer of social causes and has emphasized over and over again why it's important for people in similar positions to be the leading voice against such issues and the larger benefits standing up for these causes can have, both for your business and the employees who work with you.

I'm really not sure how much truth is in Marc's words in here but if there is, then I don't see why or what reasons could other large businesses have for not following suite to Marc's advice and ways of running a business, driven by values and strong beliefs.

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. Only if you're in a position to influence change, be it if you run a company or hold a higher authority position in the government, then you should get your hands on it. While there were a few instances on how small groups of employees of Salesforce led Marc to take some radical decisions, these issues were not something difficult to comprehend to understand their repercussions, case in point being, gender diversity & pay gaps.
Profile Image for W. Whalin.
Author 42 books383 followers
April 26, 2020
Interesting Storytelling and Business Lessons

From the opening pages, Marc Benioff’s storytelling captured my attention. TRAILBLAZER contains interesting information. Many years ago at a previous company, I used Salesforce so it was fascinating to hear these behind the scenes stories from the founder and CEO of this corporation. For their passionate users, they formed a group called Trailblazers (where they got the title for this book).

The business experience stories which fill this book are fascinating—from the chairman of Toyota to Merrill Lynch to Home Depot. Bernioff talks about the focus on customer success and how that key lesson with the Merrill Lynch account transformed one of the key emphasis of the company. The lessons are applicable to every company—whether a single owner small business or a large corporation.

There are valuable business insights throughout this book and I enjoyed the audiobook and heard it cover to cover. I recommend TRAILBLAZER.

W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed
Profile Image for Aymeric.
58 reviews1 follower
July 19, 2021
I like the most the second part of the book (the first part is a description of the 4 values lived by Salesforce) where Marc Benioff shares his approach to life and leadership. Chapter 9 “beginner’s mind” is my favorite. This is the first time I read about a CEO (of this caliber) to be so open and vocal about meditation and mindfulness as a force for good and better in the workplace. He brings a powerful and easy to implement framework: 1- vision: what do you want ? 2- values: what’s important to you? 3- Methods: how do you get it? 4- obstacles: what is preventing you from being successful? 5- Measures: how do you know you have it?

All in all, the main message I take from trailblazer is that it is no longer an option to do well without doing good. Businesses can be the greatest platform for change.
What is the vision for what we/you want to achieve? Define it and live by it!
5 reviews
May 31, 2022
This is an unconventional founder-CEO book. It doesn’t tell a chronological story of the start of Salesforce and it’s struggles. Rather, it goes deep into the values of Marc Benioff, and therefore Salesforce’s values. As someone who is interested in working at Salesforce, this book was a great insight of the culture and priorities that this company has. After reading this book, It is easy to see why Salesforce holds #1 place to work, for many consecutive years.
Profile Image for Elina Belova.
106 reviews16 followers
August 19, 2021
Good 3.5 stars. I read it to see behind the scenes of Salesforce and I'm glad I did. But I wouldn't recommend it if you are not interested in Salesforce. It works well as a corporate brochure. Nevertheless, one idea stuck with me: 'We don't have to choose between doing well and doing good. They're not mutually exclusive.'
Profile Image for Malek Dabbous.
44 reviews2 followers
December 8, 2021
3.5/5 to be exact.
Listened to it on Audible and it was an enjoyable experience.
The book is too focused on CSR which is good but not wat I was looking for.
Gives lots of insight and nice examples about Sales Force, their products and their clients.
Profile Image for Brad Revell.
225 reviews10 followers
November 2, 2019
My review is here: https://www.bradrevell.com/?p=1429

Three key takeaways from the book:
1. What would your answer be if you asked what is the most important aspect of your organization? Your revenue, profits, shareholders, customers or employees? Benioff says it is values and that trust is the #1 value.
2. If you focus the majority of time on the problem (versus on the solution), the solution will become apparent.
3. Companies should be doing good versus doing well. A slight play of words, however, important to think above and beyond just shareholder value.
Profile Image for John Wimmer.
36 reviews4 followers
December 3, 2019
We recieved "Trailblazer" from a Good reads giveaway, and it's packed full of modern business wisdom. The author, Mark Benioff is a sucessful software developer. We read how he developed the love for computers at an early age, and went on to found Salesforce. Salesforce is a multiplayer billion dollar software corporation, located in San Francisco California. He explores the nature of Salesforce, and creates a viable future for business leaders. Always hopeful for a sucessful future, Mark Benioff asks us all to join him on his journey. Well recommended for all.
Profile Image for David Skinner.
146 reviews39 followers
January 25, 2020
“Companies do well when they learn to do good”

I hoped this was going to be a biographical outline of Salesforce and how it has started, but it turned into a story about how the founder and CEO believes that companies should be very actively engaged in the social issues of the day. I could not disagree more strongly, because he writes with a religious fervor when he just needs to trust Jesus and then be thoughtful of social implications. He’s very political, and this book makes me actually like him less. I want to learn from people I don’t agree with, and for that reason I think it’s smart and wise to consider how business leaders can shape the world around them. That is a good point.

Would not recommend this to anyone.
Profile Image for Marco Turco.
Author 2 books14 followers
January 23, 2022
Per chi non conoscesse Mark Benioff, lo schietto CEO di Salesforce, questo libro può rappresentare un'occasione d'oro. In realtà, è ancora più importante venire a conoscere (anche solo parzialmente) le sue idee e il suo percorso, che mutatis mutandis può essere il percorso di ognuno di noi che abbia la volontà di cambiare il mondo. L'idea di CEO attivista è stimolante ed è ben esplicitata in questo libro in cui l'obiettivo è aiutare tutti a pensare se stessi come apripista e artefici del cambio, anche e soprattutto partendo da una prospettiva corporate. Risulta veramente tonificante leggere le parole di un magnate che ci ricorda che "i valori creano valore".
7 reviews1 follower
January 8, 2021
Great and inspiring read!! So many wonderful anecdotes shared. I learnt a lot about Salesforce's philosophy and Marc's leadership style and thought process.
Profile Image for Brat.
49 reviews
December 29, 2020
Salesforce and its celebrated founder Marc Benioff is something I have always admired and when this book popped up on my feed by someone else I respect I immediately put it up on my reading list. Recently after reading the news of salesforce acquiring slack, my interest in the company and man was reignited and I immediately picked up the book.
The book is semi autobiographical, semi preaching of Marc’s life and his ideas on how business should be operating. In the very beginning of the book he clarifies that while the objective of the book is to exhibit the power of business as the greatest platform of change, there would be a lot of personal stories and anecdotes as that would show it in life. That makes the book pretty readable to relate to the stories and the incidents that the author details.
The book is filled with gems. There are places where the author talks of tech in the same breath as credit-default swaps, sugar, cigarettes – harmful products that companies had been allowed to peddle to customers, unconstrained by regulations. Himself being a part of the tech industry, asking for more regulations early on in the book shows how serious he is in to rein in the power of companies and directing them towards positive change.
The book touches upon topics like discrimination, Gender Diversity, religious tolerance, Activist CEO, etc..
The story on “dreamforce” the annual conference by sales force came into being and how it now serves a larger purpose of bringing the entire community together and is actually live steamed for those who are not able to make it is pretty inspiring.
There are various anecdotes where the easier option could have been to sit back and do nothing but Marc choose to lead from the front to live the values that he defined for the company. Incidents like Salesforce providing services to the immigration department when they were involved in caging Mexican children leading to an uprising within the company (and Marc was holidaying away from tech) show how vulnerable the CEO gets and the need of being connected all the time.
He talks about achieving absolute clarity on four points –
1. Technology will never stop evolving. In the years to come, Machine learning and artificial intelligence will probably make or break your business
2. We’ve never had a better set of tools to help meet every possible standard of success
3. Customer success depends on every stakeholder
4. The gap between what customers want from business and what’s actually possible is vanishing rapidly
He also briefly mentions of his interaction with Steve Jobs and how he had given back the name “Appstore” to Steve when he was launching the iPhone. He talks of Steve as a busy man, legendary for his directness, and ability to quickly zero in on what’s important.
He talks of how Steve was playing a hundred chess moves ahead of him leading to the creation of the app store or app exchange that salesforce built. An ecosystem allowing the next game changing innovation to come from a brilliant technologist in silicon valley, or from a novice programmer halfway around the world.
Einstein forecasting is one more innovation he talks of that was built as an internal tool, and is now a hot product. He claims that AI will have more impact than the internet and that we are still in the first innings of this game and that in the coming years more and more innovation will come from humans and machines working together. Machines would do more of the routine repetitive work and the pattern recognition, while humans would spend more time trying to be “mindful and project the future”.
The book ends with the hawaiian concept of Ohana which means family – the shared sense of purpose and meaning. He also stresses on the importance of meditation, his experience with buddhism and the Vietnamese Zen buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh (he got the idea for salesforce during his retreat to India in Kerala and has also been a disciple of Amma!). The concept of mindfulness is instilled deeply into salesforce culture reflecting in its building design of having a mindful corner on every floor.
He also mentions of a framework V2MOM (Vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures) to know when we are successful. It gives a detailed map of where we are going as well as a compass to direct us there.
He stresses that we have lived through a period of exuberant innovation and creativity. The fifth industrial revolution is about finding ways to harness all of this “progress” for the common good.
1. Zen Phrase – A garden is not complete until everything is taken out of it.
2. Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Books quoted
1. Winners take all: The elite charade of changing the world by Anand Giridhardas
2. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris
3. The captain class: a new theory of leadership by Sam Walker
Profile Image for Anoop Dixith.
81 reviews4 followers
September 14, 2020
Honestly, to an outsider, the title of the book is misleading! By "Trailblazer", I was thinking the book was about the story, struggles and the success of Salesforce pioneering CRM, and how Benioff pulled it off. But the book is not about that. At all. But that doesn't mean the content of the book was bad. In fact, it's probably even more relevant than the story of Salesforce itself. This book is about how Salesforce developed its culture, and how it views the world and its burning problems from the perspective of a company that has 86% Fortune500 companies as its clients! 

But before we get into that, there are a couple of very interesting sub-stories that are worth mentioning. The first one is about the childhood geekery of Marc Benioff - he made more than $5000 by fixing bugs in games when he was still 14, and then built and sold a game called "Quest for Power", a sort of action fantasy game! The point being, like most other entrepreneurs, he started early. And not unlike many famous entrepreneurs, Marc also had a spiritual trip to India and Nepal, and even got the blessings and "hugs" of Mata Amritaanandamayi". The fact that he rose from being an employee to VP of Oracle in just four years shows his entrepreneurial mindset. But his childhood story won't be complete with the mentioning of his grandfather. Apparently, his grandfather was the one who got BART to the Bay Area by leading its financing! He was also the one, being a lawyer, that pioneered the legal concept of "psychic injury". 

A large portion of the book is devoted to how Salesforce tackled a lot of cultural issues and explains its views on many problems that are plaguing the tech industry in general. They include the equality of pay, LGBTQ rights, corporate philanthropy (Salesforce believes in philanthropy and lets a lot of NGOs and Nonprofits use its software for free. And not just that, it does big donations to schools of San Francisco), raising voice against legislations that are discriminatory, homelessness in San Francisco (Marc even admits how the opulent Salesforce Tower could be viewed as a stark contrast to the homelessness in the Mission District), etc. It also heavily emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and meditation, OHANA or the Hawaiian concept of "family" in the corporate culture of Salesforce. 

For me, the most interesting parts of the book were the case studies that narrate the story of how Salesforce solved a customer's problems.The interesting case studies of how Salesforce took a generic approach about solving the problems of Meryll Lynch; of Home Depot where Marc was personally involved; of creating the warehouse application for Adidas; of using data to boost the retail sales of P&G etc are definitely worth analyzing even outside of this book. Marc's obsession for Einstein (now I realize why the AI team at Salesforce is named after Einstein), his immense respect for Steve Jobs (he interned at Apple and knew Jobs personally, and even sold the trademark for "AppStore" that they owned to Apple for free) are a couple other highlights of the book. 

Overall, the book is great, but you'd be disappointed if you thought this was about how Salesforce was founded and how it became the CRM behemoth that it is today. 
January 10, 2021
Overall, I felt this book to be an interesting exploration into Marc Benieff’s thought process on how he set out to create such a largely influential company. He argues that the growth of Salesforce is tied to how well a company creates and executes on its core values. He also argues that the business rules have changed where companies need to “go good” by serving the greater world and not just their customers and shareholders. Marc and Salesforce believe that companies today have a responsibility to look beyond profits by impacting positive change on society. Data suggests that consumers and customers now expect this in today’s business climate.

My Takeaways:
- A company with values creates value.
- Company values should not only be the guiding principles for a business, but that CEOs should actively try to operationalize values into every aspect of their businesses.
- High stakes business initiatives are a stress test that often lead to insights that only drill values deeper into your culture.
- Trust is the most important value a company can instill within its culture. Salesforce was one of the first companies to have a trust site and open line if communication with customers
- Salesforce acts as a trusted partner to customers. The success of the customer is embedded within Salesforce core value of “Customer Success”.
- Trust improves customers loyalty, employee productivity, employee retention and overall profitability.
Transparency is essential to building trust.
- Data shows that a culture of safety and trust as well as speaking up, results in better risk taking and problem solving within an organization.
- Studies also suggest that companies that commit to doing good for society have stronger customer loyalty - especially with Millennials and that this translates to an increased willingness for customers to pay more for products and services.
- Marc places a strong emphasis on not only treating customers well, but also the employees within Salesforce.
- Company culture should be continually cultivated and that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
- Marc enabled outside innovation via App Exchange, which was a new method of innovating as opposed to the old way where businesses would hire more scientists and employees to develop new products internally.
- Giving back to the communities Salesforce serves is purposefully woven into the company culture at Salesforce via the 1-1-1 model. (1% Equity, 1% volunteer time and 1% product)
- Giving back has been linked with improved productivity and employee satisfaction.
- An “Activist CEO” is becoming the norm within business today. Gone are the days of leaving other beliefs outside of business. Employees as well as customers demand business leaders to take a stand on issues that affect the broader community.
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2,038 reviews457 followers
December 8, 2019
As someone who often interacts with Salesforce folks (I live in the Bay Area) I'd heard here and there that Benioff was a different kind of leader. This book really brought home just how different he is. I found a lot of striking sayings or quotes (not sure which honestly) that resonated with me. Perhaps due to the elements of meditation and awareness it was more than a little bit spiritual almost.

When he discussed priorities he states the obvious which is if everything is a priority, nothing is. This is a key issue in organizations today (esp. non profit education where I came from) because there are so many initiatives and projects it can feel chaotic, people get fatigued, and even whens something gets done there is rarely any attempt to go back and measure it's success. I consider that a failure of leadership to provide the right guiding questions and priorities to enable the decisions for action, follow through, and (most importantly to me) the assessment of results.

These are the elements I took away I found very helpful (restatements perhaps of what I knew but I like the language and order):

"What is the vision for what I want to achieve?"
"What's important to me about this goal? "
What are the values supporting this vision?"

Weighing importance - what is MOST important. MAKE THE DECISION.

After that comes methods - What are the action and steps everyone needs to take to get the job done including cost (ranked and prioritized), what are the obstacles that will need to be overcome to achieve the vision, what challenges, problems, and issues are standing between you and success. Again what's the most critical and how are we going to resolve them.

Lastly - YAY! "How will we know we were successful" "What does success look like"
data and metrics

He calls it V2MOM - Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures

As a framework it works well.

For the business knowledge I got I'd give a 4 but I have to give the extra star for two things: the narration was outstanding and really expressed I think the character of Benioff and the story (largely of course about Salesforce) and the underlying messages that made me think differently about why we (define however you like) do things. As others have noted this is hugely about values and, regardless of it being a bit of a commercial for SalesForce, I think Benioff nails all the "why" of this being so important and likely increasingly so in the future. I really enjoyed it!
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