When Sharif Shaalan was introduced to Salesforce in 2008, he had no idea it would completely change the trajectory of his career. Working his way through practically all Salesforce positions, he would go on to be the CEO of his own consulting firm, Agile Cloud Consulting, a registered
Salesforce partner that offers CRM consulting, implementation, development and support.
Having been inspired by an influential mentor in his life, he soon discovered his own desire to give back and mentor people who will listen. One of the ways in which he passes on his expert knowledge of Salesforce is through an unconventional yet highly effective creative outlet.
Shaalan and his close friend and artist Al-Tariq Graves created the first ever comic series centred around Salesforce. Having known each other since the very beginnings of Shaalan’s career, the idea had always been in the back of his mind “to do something creative” like the comic strip that would be funny and teach people about Salesforce and business use cases. After reaching out to Graves in 2019 and hearing that he didn’t enjoy his job at the time, Shaalan asked him to come on board, and the rest is history. They have been creating for two years and released almost 100 comics.
Shaalan explains that having worn “almost every hat in the ecosystem”, he has extensive experience at every level, giving him “unlimited themes” as a starting point for the comic. “I usually come up with a high-level theme,” he explains, “then I call Al-Tariq and we brainstorm the idea and come up with a rough sketch that I send to him using stick figures and bad handwriting.” From there, Graves takes the concept and “does his magic” with the art, also adding jokes and pop culture references.
With comic titles ranging from “The Last Admin”, “The Golden Cloud” to “The Cloudfather”, each strip is accessible for any level of expertise, bursting with colour and character. And the comics aren’t just for entertainment; each one shows actual situations that may arise in the lives of Salesforce admins, developers, consulters and end users. While they are funny and laid back, they teach basic concepts of things like the Agile SCRUM methodology (a type of software development), that many readers find is a helpful “stepping stone” to learn more about these concepts.
Shaalan never intended for the comics to be a business driver, but says it has brought recognition and attention to the brand. “We wanted to do something no one else was doing in the Salesforce ecosystem and add value to the conversation.” The comics have certainly built up a strong fan base, getting 20,000 to 30,000 page views per month.
Many people have raved about the actual practical benefits of the comics, telling Shaalan that they “learn so much” from the situations covered in the comics. The fact they release the comics on Sundays in the style of old school Sunday comics also gives the whole concept a nostalgic feel, and something their readers “look forward to at the end of their busy week.”
Shaalan explains, “We started this to do something unique, creative and fun for us to do. If our readers smile when they read them, then they reaped the main benefit. Everything else is a bonus”.
You can read the comics here.