This time on Salesforce Trails and Trials, hosts Jon Cline and Erik Yewell talk with Zachary Pals, who took a unique career path to go from moving couches to Salesforce consultant.

Jon Cline has been working in IT since 1998 and is a very curious person. Erik Yewell has been in IT for 24 years and done just about everything you can imagine. They share their wins and worse so you can learn with them.

Zachary Pals is a Salesforce consultant with an interest in swing dancing and a philosophy degree from Pepperdine University. His career took a unique path, including Task Rabbit jobs and bartending before moving a couch for Jon Cline led to a career in Salesforce. Lots of learning with Trailhead and time on projects with Jon’s team over the past five years has changed Zachary’s career trajectory.

Rather than the typical show notes, we’ll share several quotes from the conversation. First, here’s that bread recipe we mentioned.

Snippets of Our Interview With Zachary Pals

Being your own boss: “I never really had a strong vision for what I wanted to do with my time. I’m fortunate enough and talented enough that I probably could have chosen a number of different routes and been successful at them. So I ended up choosing kind of nothing and doing everything. I was doing handyman work and Uber and I didn’t really like the independence. I don’t like doing what other people tell me. I remember I was telling my friend how I was doing my own thing, doing handyman work and whatnot. And he said to me, ‘So Zachary, you finally found out that you don’t like working for other people. I could have told you that 10 years ago.’ So it was a lot of that—just me not really knowing what I wanted to do.”

Realizing the need for change: “The thing I needed to learn and sort of get over to make the phone call was two things: One, really coming to accept that I wanted to go somewhere and do something in life and shared economy, handyman stuff wasn’t going to be that—I needed something else. And I saw that this could be something like that. And then the other thing I needed to sort of entertain the idea of is entering the tech space. I saw this as a good opportunity, but it was just nothing I’d ever considered before.”

Taking on responsibility: “The more I learn, the more responsibility I gain, the more responsibility I gain the more anxiety there is, but then the more skill I have, so then it helps me cope with the anxiety. It’s been a constant struggle, of just the willingness to continue to step into anxious situations.”

Perspective: “That’s been a learning point for me as well, being highly introverted and highly independent, and like doing my own thing, and then to have you and the team to be able to come to and talk about those things. … And you said, yeah, OK, that’ll get you here. But like, what, if you wanted to go here? Is that going to get you there? Is that going to get you to making $100,000 or $150,000, or if you want to gain these responsibilities or support a family in this way—you helped me put perspective around which route I wanted to take.”

Value of consulting: “It has been invaluable to have a consulting background where I get a lot of very good experience in a short amount of time. So there’s different routes you can take: Trailhead is great, getting certifications is great, I will say getting my sys admins—while necessary and beneficial—didn’t really teach me a ton about how to actually understand Salesforce and do Salesforce. It was really the work that did it. So it obviously depends on where you’re at in your life, like a junior admin position is a great place to start even in-house somewhere. But it might not be the right fit for somebody in a different season in life. But I did find consulting to be invaluable, because you’re gonna get more experience across a wider range of things and learn much more quickly.”

Know yourself: “Really learning yourself… I’m very anxious, I don’t necessarily like to learn new things. There’s been maybe not necessarily specific instances I could think of, but along the way, having to constantly understand that I could handle those situations… For instance, understanding that I have a team of people to support me and I don’t necessarily need to know the answer right now. So even if I am afraid in the moment on a call, or with a boss or a client, and they’re coming at me, I don’t necessarily need to know the answer right now, I just need to know how to find the answer or get somebody who does. And so that was one thing that I really had to learn.”

Confronting weakness: “Being OK with taking on responsibilities that I’m not comfortable with, knowing that, of course, I’m not comfortable with it right now, because I’m not good at it. I’m not used to it. And being willing to step into those responsibilities, and those weaknesses of mine, almost with a gratitude that I get to work on that.”

Dive in: “Go ahead and dive into the Salesforce thing if you can tell it’s a good opportunity, and take any good opportunity that comes your way and dive into it. Because that’ll be the way that you get the most out of life, even if it’s not the path that you anticipated.”

Advice to yourself: “If I’m talking to myself five years ago, I would say you don’t have a path, so why not do this? And then I’d say along with that, just a gentle reminder that I am an anxious person, and that doesn’t really go away. You just get better at handling it. So I would encourage myself to continue to take on responsibility with gratitude rather than resentment, and to practice the skills that are going to prepare me best to handle those situations. Because that’s as comfortable as I’m going to be in the situation is to be prepared for it. And then on top of that, to just know that, anxiety will always be your friend, it’ll always be there for you. So learn to love him.”

Value of anxiety: “It makes us sensitive to people’s responses, and clients needs, and even our teammates as well, because we don’t want to rock the boat, we want to understand people and understand where they’re coming from and see if we can find a mutually beneficial outcome.”