Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

I hit a milestone today. A year ago, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

This is definitely a divergence from my normal blog post topics. However, I want to use my platform to raise awareness and share my perspective on this autoimmune disease. Please be warned, there are a lot of poop puns (😏)

Taylor Swift Poops, Too 👩🏻‍🎤

Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disease and a disability recognized by the ADA. However, there’s a terrible stigma attached to this disease. Studies show that the stigma for UC is worse than genital herpes! Because of that, many people with UC suffer in silence. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Andrew Lancaster on Unsplash

December 22, 2014, exactly 6 years ago today, I wrote an email that would change my life forever. A few months later, it played a role in the most batshit crazy 18 days of my entire career.

It seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago all at the same time. I’ve shared some of this story in my blog before, but there’s a lot more to it, and it’s a story that I personally think deserves to be told. It might seem like some of this was luck, and maybe the timing of how some things worked out was lucky, but ultimately it’s about putting yourself in a position to make the right things happen.


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

This is Part Four of a four part series:

When I look back at my close to five years at Salesforce (4 years and 8 months to be exact), I’m incredibly proud of the impact my work and leadership had on our community and our company. It’s easy to look back and focus on all of the things I wanted to do- but didn’t, all of the things I did wrong, or all of the things I would change if I went back in time. I am working so incredibly hard to use those as lessons learned, but to also remember the things I’m proud of — and not be afraid to say that I am proud of them. It’s OK to be proud of work you’ve done! …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Lena De Fanti on Unsplash

Sharing Is Caring. Hearing Is Endearing. List-nin’ Is Better Than Whistlin’ 👂🏼 > 😗

I learn so much from the people I work with. I cannot stress enough how important it is for leaders to give teams a safe space to share their ideas. Even ideas that seem simple or crazy can have a huge impact. I still use one of those ideas to this day. It came from a brilliant member of my team when I was at Salesforce, Kendall Odom (links below).

Sometimes You Reach Into Your Pocket & It’s $20. Sometimes It’s A Melted Butterscotch Candy With A Hair Stuck To It 🍬

Being a community professional means you have some good days and some bad days. Some angry community members and some happy ones. Some entitled community members and some grateful ones. …


Image for post
Image for post

A Surprise in Vienna 🇦🇹

Bundled from head to toe in our warmest gear my boyfriend (now husband) and I walked into Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. It was December 2013. I had just placed my headphones over my head for our self-guided tour when I felt my phone buzz. I was working at Atlassian, and even though I was on vacation, I was the worst about still checking email.

I opened my email and started to skim — “Community management conference…” “CMX…” “San Francisco…”

I sat down on a nearby bench and read the email three times.

“A conference just for… community managers? There are enough people that do what I do for there to be a conference?!” …


Image for post
Image for post

This is Part Three of a four part series:

Congratulations! You’ve just hired an amazing new member of your team! Now what?

Every company has their own unique onboarding process for new employees. If your company has a great onboarding process — awesome! However, community team roles have their own unique onboarding needs, so here are some tips for bringing on a new community team hire.

This Aint Your Typical Welcome Basket 🎁

When I was at Salesforce, I started something that can be applied to onboarding anyone in any role (not just exclusive to a community team). A “get to know the team” welcome basket. Each person on the team selects a small gift that represents them. For example, I picked a Slink (from Toy Story) wind up toy because I love weenie dogs and I love wind up toys. Erica Kuhl on our team picked Sour Patch candies. Each member of the team filled out an “About Me” page that was included in a Welcome Packet with “About Me” pages from the whole team. Each person shared a photo, their name, title, where they live, some interesting info about them, and an explanation of why they chose the gift they did. For my Slinky gift, I explained that I like to use wind up toys when I’m stressed and need to step away from work for a quick second. They make me laugh. Erica explained with her Sour Patch kids that sometimes days could be sour, but they always ended up sweet. It was always fun for our new hires to go through the basket of random stuff and learn interesting facts about everyone on the team. This also works really well for remote team members! …


Image for post
Image for post

🎶 I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I really, really, really wanna zigazig ah 🎶

That’s going to be stuck in your head alllll day now. You’re welcome.

I made a commitment this year to share my knowledge and spend time doing work that can contribute to elevating both community professionals and the community management industry as a whole. If you’re just tuning in to my blog for the first time, the most recognizable places I’ve built community are Atlassian and Salesforce. Currently, I’m head of community at Venafi. You can read more about my experience in my intro blog post here. I started my journey in Community Management ten years ago, and as I’ve said before, community is field I’m beyond passionate about. …


Image for post
Image for post
Image by bamagal, provided by Unsplash

This is Part Two of a four part series:

I Don’t Mean To Brag But… 🙌🏻

I mentioned in my first post of this series that I am really good at hiring. Well, I am. The numbers speak for themselves. Out of the last ten people I’ve hired, eight were incredible additions to my teams. …


Image for post
Image for post
Image by Free To Use Sounds, provided by Unsplash

This is Part One of a four part series:

Headcount. Glorious, Beautiful Headcount. 👥

So many community professionals have felt the pain (and excitement!) of being a community team of one. When that special day comes, and you hear the words “You’re getting a headcount for the community team!” It just fills you with all of the warm fuzzies. You think about the long list of things you want to be able to do with your programs but haven’t because you’re only one freakin’ person. Hell, even two or three or four freakin’ people — a new member of your team always makes you feel hashtag blessed. …


I was invited to do a Slack AMA with Community Chat. It was great to participate and a fun challenge to answer the rapid-fire questions as quickly and thoughtfully as possible. You can check out the transcript below.

You can also see this transcript and transcripts for Community Chat’s AMAs with other community professionals here.

Image for post
Image for post

Hi everyone, I’m Holly Firestone, Head of Community at Venafi. A little about my community background. I started in the Community Management profession 10 years ago at a nonprofit. I’ve built and run some of the largest B2B communities and community programs in the world. At Atlassian, I started as a team of one, spending two years building the foundation of their powerhouse of a User Group program. I spent five years at Salesforce leading and shaping the User Group Program, evolving the MVP Program, and for the final two years, running the whole community and community management team. That included the online Trailblazer Community and the aforementioned programs. I built my team from one and a half to seven, and was one of the top-rated managers at Salesforce multiple years running. Now, I’m head of community at Venafi where I’m building our community and community programs from scratch.
Most importantly, I love building community. I have always been so insanely passionate about this field. I’ve committed this year to do as much as I can to share my knowledge and experience widely so others can learn from my wins AND my many mistakes along the way. I’m excited to join this AMA, and I’m pretty much an open book, so please don’t hesitate to ask me ANYTHING! …

About

Holly Firestone

Community Strategist. Currently: Head of Community at Venafi. Previously Salesforce & Atlassian. Challenge me to a pun-off. Twitter: @hollyfirestone

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store