Monday is officially the first day of Dreamforce, the largest tech conference in the world and one of the primary reasons the Bandit Tour for Good started chugging its way down the West Coast five years ago. It’s a motley crew: an Airstream, a pink truck, the new Traction tour bus and of course, our ’78 Trans Am “The Bandit” (as in Smokey and the Bandit) in a convoy with 18 Bandits on-board. It is fair to say for these Bandits that getting to Dreamforce took a backseat in importance to the journey itself. For many of us, it’s a once in a lifetime experience to spend six days giving back. More specifically, giving what we’re good at by recognizing what skills or gifts we have to share with the world and then simply giving it away.
Traction is a cloud technology consulting firm, so naturally giving our technical expertise is a focus for this road trip. On our last day of the Bandit Tour, we still had some good to do and the Bandits were ready to give what they’re good at to two more non-profits. Southern California Mountains Foundation (SCMF) mobilizes individuals to inspire and engage in environmental citizenship. Connecting communities to public lands is the key to their survival and they create programs to enable the public to get involved in their preservation. The Bandits helped the SCMF troubleshoot technological challenges and build reports, so they can better understand and communicate with their program attendees and members.
Another group of Bandits worked with the City Surf Project, an organization that brings the beach to those who need it most. Their mission is to teach underrepresented San Francisco Bay Area youth valuable life skills through the sport of surfing, building confidence to overcome boundaries in other parts of their lives. The Bandits solutioned better ways to leverage Salesforce to support their programs and grants processes as well as cleaning up their data to give them more accurate information about their contacts and donors.
Technology expertise is not the only gift we have to give. Underneath all the community outreach, random acts of kindness and pro-bono Salesforce consulting we’ve done over the past six days, lies something we all have the capacity to give – empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, listen to them wholeheartedly, and be open. From this place, we’ve given solely for the sake of it, not for the potential of getting something in return.
We heard numerous times from the people we met that they don’t know what they would have done without our help. They cannot believe that we traveled from a different country to come to their small towns. Why them? Why their community? We say, “why not them?” They often don’t get as much in resources and attention as larger cities, and they are equally deserving of love and support. After the Bandit Tour, Traction is committed to, when possible, use service providers and products from smaller communities to continue our support.
This year’s Bandits are, with some sadness and a whole lot of gratitude, hanging up their cowboy hats. Making way for a new pack of Bandits in 2018, who will find bigger and better ways to impact local communities with just as much empathy, heart and soul as ever before. This experience has changed us all in profound ways. For those who have followed along on this ride with us, we’ll see you again next year! Yeehaw!