Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

The Business Case for Diversity

November 14, 2014

November14PanelFountainBlue’s November 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity. Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Symantec. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and experience represented on the panel. Our panelists had different educational and professional backgrounds and experiences, but they shared a wisdom about the importance of diversity for the individual, team and company perspective. They each shared personal stories of how they were different than others around them, and how that actually worked well in supporting their personal and professional goals. Each panelist had somebody who cheered them on and inspired them to embrace what was different about them, and nurture that diversity and strength.

Collectively, they shared the benefits of having diversity within a team: 1) the ability to reach out to a broader range of partners, customers, and other stakeholders, 2) the ability to better keep pace with an increasingly social, increasingly global world, 3) the ability to recruit and retain more diversity within the organization, 4) the ability to add to the bottom line and decrease ROI, and 5) the ability to incorporate different approaches and perspectives in solving problems.

Each are experienced and exceptional managers who provided advice on how to integrate people-who-think-differently into a team, how to communicate in a style that works for the other party, how our unconscious biases are limiting our own performance, how to move executives forward in their own journey around diversity, how to communicate the importance of diversity to people and teams, how to focus on meritocracy and cut through the subtle biases, and most importantly, how to see the value from people who think and act differently than the typical white male we might find in a technology company.

In the end, our panelists encouraged women to support other women and others who embrace diversity. But they warn that it’s not about gender or ethnicity just to be different – it’s about leadership and performance of the individuals themselves, and putting a diverse range of people in the roles where they can best perform and deliver results.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity, as well as our hosts at Symantec:

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue

Panelist Hillary Barnhart, Senior Director, Business Operations, AGS Equipment, Applied Materials

Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Sr. Manager, Solutions Management, Marketing, Dell Wyse

Panelist Sheri Rhodes, VP of IT Global Applications, Symantec

Panelist Olivia Shen Green, Manager, Business Operations. Engineering Talent & Culture | Stanford Management Science & Engineering, Cisco

Women Leading Innovation

October 10, 2014

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FountainBlue’s October 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Leading Innovation. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a range of panelists from different companies, roles, educational and functional backgrounds, and perspectives on the table, all with such deep and successful experience around innovation. They shared their perspectives on what innovation is:

  • Innovation is sometimes in-elegant, taking a more circuitous path, rather than taking the planned course.
  • Hence failing quickly and failing forward is an essential component of innovating.
  • Innovation comes from the top down – leadership needs to believe in it and empower it from the bottom up.
  • Innovation comes from the bottom up, from any chair – leadership needs to encourage original, out-of-the-box thinking, no matter who has what role or title.
  • Exposing yourself to new ideas and people may lead to thinking, speaking or acting differently may lead to a innovative business solutions or ideas.
  • Collaboration is a key ingredient of innovation, whether it’s internal with your team and organization or with the ecosystem of partners, providers and customers.
  • Innovation is a moving target – what’s innovative today will soon get outdated. Continue to focus on technology advancements and the needs of the customer to help ensure that innovations remain relevant.

They generously shared their wisdom and advice about innovation.

  • Communicate the larger purpose and story, in order to receive the resources, people and funding for innovative projects.
  • Innovative leaders welcome a range of perspectives on to their teams and extended teams, so have an open mind-set and culture, team and organization attracts and retains the best innovators. With that said, it’s difficult to facilitate this out-of-the-box, rule-breaking mind set within a corporation, so walk that fine line so that you stay within the culture while lightly pushing the boundaries.
  • Take a customer-driven perspective and understand the needs, pains and problems of the customer, so that you can improve their user experience and support their objectives. (Women may have an edge here, as they are naturally more empathic and other-focused.)
  • Adopt an inclusive mind set, facilitate a culture of innovation for your team and organization, and help create tangible opportunities to share ideas and fund innovation facilitates innovation within corporations.
  • Be warm and accepting of yourself and surrounding yourself with others who support you for who you are will help create a more open, safer culture of innovation.
  • Focus on program innovation rather than project innovation so that you can coordinate across departments and deliver across the life cycle of the product, and continue to serve the needs of the customer. If you focus just on a one-time project development, you may not get the long-term support you need for the product to succeed, and you may not get integrated support from all departments throughout the product life cycle.
  • Manage how much energy is invested in any innovation idea. Make sure that it’s needed and practical now, or plan for adopting a concept in the future.
  • Define and communicate boundaries of time and energy to protect your personal life, while supporting the innovation goals for yourself and for your team.
  • Get the support you need to remain positive, flexible and innovative, whether it’s within your corporate women’s group, within an external growth, amongst your community and friends, etc.,
  • Be willing to be uncomfortable! Innovators buck the status-quo – that may make YOU uncomfortable, but it will certainly make many others uncomfortable, and successful innovators know how to manage that for themselves, their teams, their customers and sponsors.

In the end, successful innovators want to stretch themselves, stretch what technology can offer, stretch their view of the world – and others benefit from their successes.

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Please join us in thanking our hosts at eBay and our speakers below:

Facilitator Christine Kohl-Zaugg, Founder & CIO, BluBubble

Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco

Panelist Tasneem Brutch, Ph.D., Software Architect and Director of R&D, Samsung Research America

Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Strategy & Corporate Development, Dell Software

Panelist Kirsten Wolberg, VP of Technology, PayPal

Women Making Their Own Rules

September 15, 2014

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FountainBlue’s September 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules, featuring:

Facilitator Brenda Rogers, HR Strategies

Panelist Erna Arnesen, VP Global Channel & Alliance Marketing, Plantronics

Panelist Petra Hofer, Chief of Staff to Mark Carges, eBay

Panelist Xiaolin Lu, Fellow and Director of IoT Lab, Texas Instruments

Panelist Shveta Miglani, Talent Development Manager, Sandisk

Panelist Monica Shen Knotts, Senior Manager, Senior Manager, Enterprise Technology Strategy, Cisco

Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a range of women leaders on the panel. There was much diversity as they represented different companies, different educational backgrounds, different cultural experiences, and divergent paths to success within the corporate sector, but they also had much in common:

  • They consciously made their own rules for success, in environments which did not necessarily embrace women in leadership in general;
  • They rose to positions of impact, where they influence the executive direction, strategy and tactics for tech organizations across the valley;
  • They have touched the lives of many, and supported the growth of those around them;
  • They are clear, inspiring and direct communicators who speak from their heart and their experience, for the good of all.
  • They have changed roles, perspectives, product lines, and even industries, and continue in their forward growth personally and professionally.

They were generous enough to share their advice and wisdom.

  • Women who make their own rules don’t always get what they expect from doing so, but those who do it well, always benefit from doing so, and positively impact those they touched because they did so.
  • Being open to what others think, say and do helps you understand where others are coming from and why specific rules are in place. Understanding the purpose of these rules helps anyone break them in a way which makes better sense for all, should that be the choice.
  • Focus on whether a rule should be broken, and what the long term and short term consequences are for breaking these rules.
  • Build relationships with others so that you can socialize a concept before you take actions to shift, change, transform a rule.
  • Understand the spoken and unspoken rules, and always question whether these rules are the right rules and why.
  • Do what it takes to keep yourself and those around you engaged and impassioned, even if it means stirring the pot and breaking a few rules.
  • Know yourself and the values you stand for, and keep connected with that core self, as it will help you see rules which are overtly or subtly imposed on you, rules you may not necessarily choose to shape you or the direction you choose.
  • Be courageous enough to transcend social and other rules, letting your results and impact speak louder than social norms.
  • Consider the motivations of others who support or obstruct you from the breaking of rules.
  • Communication is key. Know your message, your purpose and your audience before you break any rules.
  • Celebrate creativity and innovation: Embrace the opportunities to think, speak and act differently. Do the uncomfortable by surrounding yourself with people who don’t think like you.

Memorable quotes from our dynamic panel:

  • Be the bamboo that bends but does not break.
  • Prove yourself in the boardroom, and go in wearing your Birkenstocks.
  • Ignore the voice on your shoulder that keeps telling you that you’re in over your head.
  • Assume positive intent from others who question your words, thoughts and actions (even if you know they don’t have your best interest in mind). It will help you be courageous enough to break a rule that must be broken.
  • Strategy, empathy, and passion are magical elements of the emotional intelligence you need to break those rules.
  • Effective rule-breaking must be a conscious, strategic choice.
  • Eggs will break when you make an omelet. Be prepared for the backlash, but also embrace the possibilities and up-sides.
  • An acronym for FEAR – false evidence appearing real.
  • Be respectful and appreciative of those who come before you, breaking the ground. Namaste, I honor you by bowing down

Resources:

Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 8, 2014

August8PanelAug8Pix (2) Aug8Pix (5)FountainBlue’s August 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an experienced and diverse panel, who came from a range of backgrounds representing engineering, legal, management, each with in-depth experience leading in tech companies, each with varied experiences working with and for a wide range of leaders at all levels. They collectively shared these kernels of wisdom.

  1. Politics is not good or bad – it’s just the use of power and social networking to benefit a person or team or organization. There are times it could be bad because of the intent, where someone unfairly benefits for example, because those with merit aren’t getting the credit for work well done. But if the game is played fairly and well, right and good will prevail.
  2. Embrace politics as an opportunity to build influence and relationships. Don’t get stuck into thinking that putting your head down and doing good work will be enough, or that politics is for self-serving, self-centered, power-hungry others.
  3. When faced with a political challenge, consider if you can accept the political environment and dynamics, if you can change it in some way, or if you need to leave because you can’t make it work.
  4. If you decide to change things, be strategic about what you want to change, why it needs to be changed, who is involved in making these changes, when and how it would happen, etc.,
  5. Politics is part of the journey of life, so don’t treat political incidents as transactional happenings, rather as relationship and trust-building opportunities.
  6. You are in a stronger political position if you and your team deliver based on the needs of the organization and product. From there, leverage communication and negotiation skills to further your product, team and organizational success, preferably in collaboration with others and in alignment with corporate goals.
  7. Find the win-win in every political challenge, in every M&A opportunity, in every conflict.
  8. As you rise within an organization, you will no longer just represent yourself or your project – you will also represent your team, your product and your organization. Navigating the politics will be as much of your job as delivering the tech project. It will enable your team to have the backing, support and resources in order to do so.
  9. In a tech corporate setting, the politics often centered around the product and lobbying for the resources and influence in order to support the successful delivery of that product. Help your company and team focus on the customer, rather than on personality issues and conflict and personal agendas.
  10. When leading change in a politically charged environment such as an M&A, help leaders remain unbiased, focus on delivering quality products and services, and rise above the gossip, back-stabbing and gripe sessions which can be so debilitating.

You know that you’re good at politics if:

  1. You continue to work with your team to complete projects that benefit the company financially and technologically, focusing on delivering to the needs of the customer.
  2. An expanding body of people come to you requesting advice and support for organizational issues which may not necessarily impact you and your group directly.
  3. You find yourself listening long and deep, and sharing your advice and network to help others solve their problems.
  4. You gain brownie points for helping others, rather than using your authority and power to force something to happen (which actually costs brownie points).
  5. Your sphere of influence expands: you have a growing network which thinks highly of you, and a growing network of stakeholders involved in the work you do.
  6. You get really good at helping people better understand the motivations of others and thinking through their political circumstances.
  7. You remain focused on the bigger picture, the needs of all the other teams and stakeholders. Your team and product may not always win a battle, so focus on the larger picture – with a focus on the needs of the customer.
  8. You remain other-centric – always finding out what others need and find a way to leverage your resources, knowledge and influence to support and help them. Adopting a help-me-help-you attitude will build trust and relationships.
  9. You feel your influence spread in a good way, well beyond the people with whom you directly connect.
  10. You remain true to your morals and values, and ever communicate and negotiate with authenticity.

The bottom-line advice to leaders at all levels is to leverage your influence to remove roadblocks, to build alignment, to move the needle forward. In short, use politics for the good of your team, your people, your product, your company.

Resources:


 

Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, as well as our hosts at Cisco.

Facilitator Deb Kaufmann, Deb Kaufmann & Associates, Inc.

Panelist Sondra Bollar, Software Development Director, Oracle

Panelist Ruth Gaube, Vice President and General Counsel, Samsung Information Systems America

Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Senior Director of Engineering, Cisco

Panelist Karen Pieper, Senior Director of Synthesis, Tabula

Panelist Angie Ruan, Head of Retail Engineering, PayPal

Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play

July 12, 2014

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FountainBlue’s July 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives for our panel, women leaders representing marketing, strategy, management, diversity, and social responsibility. They are impacted by social media through their daily work and working with internal staff, executive management, as well as customer communities. Their vision and leadership drive social media successes for their companies, and they generously shared their advice and wisdom with the audience.

1. Social media will forever change the way we communicate – respect its power and its impact, and integrate it into your everyday work and play.

  • There is no avoiding social media. People will use it and develop an opinion and perspective because of how you and your company are perceived. So embrace it and learn how to integrate it into your daily life.
  • Communication is two-way and immediate – more a conversation than a mandate.
  • Impact is probably broader than you intended.
  • Impact is immediate and can spread rapidly.
  • Impact will probably live longer than you expected.
  • Messages will reach people you don’t know.
  • Whether or not you know someone, he or she will have an opinion of you based on what you communicate on social media.

2. Given the above, be strategic about how you leverage social media in work and in play. Make sure that the message is clear, is in alignment with your values and your goals.

  • Leverage social media to get the word out, cost-effectively, engaging communities strategically.
  • Know your audience and be clear what your message is to that audience, and what results and engagement you’d like from that audience.
  • Focus on the business objectives for the social media campaigns/messages and deliver measurable results.

3. Leverage the power of social media and the analytics behind it to amplify the voice of the customer, to translate their desires to your internal teams, to connect one with the other.

  • Know what you’re measuring and why. Communicate that to the right people and plan accordingly.
  • Don’t count on automation and reports for making judgment calls about the community and what they are saying.

4. If a social media message brings negative response:

  • Develop and communicate a social media triage plan.
  • Leverage your relationship with the people who are responding badly.
  • Understand where they are coming from, and make them feel heard.
  • Diffuse the situation.
  • Decide whether it’s best to take a conversation offline, respond directly, ignore it, etc.,

5. Respect the person delivering the message.

  • Don’t try to control or over-manage the way people communicate. Let her/him have an authentic voice.
  • Do help them keep in alignment with corporate policies and strategies.

6. Train your internal staff to embrace social media.

  • Have clear policies in place.
  • Set up templates.
  • Provide materials and examples.
  • Encourage execs to lead the way.
  • Leverage what they are already doing, already comfortable with to bridge into social media communications, brand and message.
  • Refresher courses and ongoing tips would help most people more successfully embrace social media.

7. Build engagement and involvement within the communities, connections across communities.

  • Nurture your most involved community members and convert them to become advocates.
  • Deputize members of your team to represent different perspectives in the community. For example, having developers manage developer communities would make sense.

8. What you say across social media platforms will impact your brand, how others perceive you, so be proactive about understanding, communicating and managing your brand.

9. Connect with a larger group of people – across generations, across cultures, through the power of social media.

10. Create campaigns that leverage the power of communities and social media to spread the word, while saving money and increasing impact.

The bottom line is that social media is not a fad, it’s here to stay, changing the way we communicate and connect with each other, blurring the lines between personal and business, between employee and customer, and broadening and expanding and engaging all.

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Please join us in thanking our hosts at Visa and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play:

Facilitator Natascha Thomson, MarketingXLerator, Co-Author of 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Book

Panelist Christina Gleason, Director, Global Digital Strategy, Visa Inc.

Panelist Pegah Kamal, Social Media Marketing Manager, Aruba Networks

Panelist Petra Neiger, Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, Polycom

Panelist Keren Pavese, Program Manager, Western Division Office of Sustainability, Community Outreach & Diversity Councils, EMC Corporation

Panelist Mary Anne Petrillo, Strategic Marketing and Media Partnerships for Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility

Millennials In Our Midst

June 14, 2014

June13Panel (1)FountainBlue’s June 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Millennials In Our Mids. Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at EMC. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists represented a range of tech companies, with leaders from many backgrounds and roles, representing different generations – working with and as millennials, all with experience at many different levels within and outside tech organizations and start-ups and consultancies. They have worked with a range of people, leaders, teams and companies, and have generously shared their wisdom and advice.

We started the conversation talking about what a millennial is and what they had in common. Our panelists agreed that although we should not stereotype millennials or any generation group, and we should not mistake lack of experience with traits of being a millennial, and we should not think that all millennials are equal, millennials do have some similar traits.

  • Millennials like to chase ‘bright, shiny objects’, in the work context and outside it. To motivate a millennial on the team, speak about projects so that they are motivated to participate, and allow them to move between and within groups to help retain and develop them within the company.
  • Millennials are known by some as the ‘trophy’ generation, where they are used to being winners. When reality hits in the work context, and they are no longer winning at everything, or winning because they show their best efforts, it would take some getting-used-to for them. So, sandwich criticism and help them embrace feedback as learning opportunities while continuing to stroke their egos.
  • Millennials creatively problem solve collaboratively with others. Give them big picture descriptions for meaningful projects (focus on the why), and avoid telling them what to do and how to do it.
  • Millennials love technology and devices, and communicate and connect differently than those of other generations. So accept that they communicate differently, but help them brand and message who they are and what they do in a professional manner. However, when a millennials’ love-of-devices makes them appear unfocused and un-engaged in meetings, someone should help them understand how he/she is coming across and make different choices.
  • Millennials may be more experienced and less fearful of trying new things, especially around technology, so use this to your advantage.
  • Millennials have an entrepreneurial streak, and enjoy both technical and business challenges.
  • Millennials love to continuously learn and grown. The other side of that is that they need to feel continually challenged in new ways, so they may hop from job to job, role to role. But if you understand that, you can create those roles for them and help them navigate through different jobs within the company.
  • Millennials tell it the way it is – they are clear and transparent and direct in general. This is great, but some may need a lesson in strategy or tact, in order to be perceived as a respectful team player.
  • Millennials want to know the why of things, and want to see the metrics and the data. Explaining projects with this context will help them understand its relevance and impact.

Our panelists espoused these truisms, regardless of which generation you represent:

  • Communicate, collaborate and connect with each other – build a relationship, work as a team.
  • Accept other viewpoints and perspectives will help us all learn and grow.
  • Customer-focused people, teams and companies win business.
  • Find your passion, and work with those who share that passion.
  • Communicate and message your brand, what you stand for, in a way that resonates with others.
  • It’s all about the attitude – be willing to work with the team, do what it takes, learn as you grow, work with others to make something great.

Advice for getting millennials integrated into your workforce:

  • Have millennials do a shadowing visit before they join, so they get to know who’s in the company, what the culture is like, and what the work is like.
  • Do cross-generational mentoring, especially if it would help bridge disconnects between engineering and sales, for example.

Resources:


 

Please join us in thanking our hosts at EMC and our speakers for FountainBlue’s June 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Millennials In Our Midst:

Facilitator Camille Smith, Work In Progress Coaching

Panelist Lori Burningham, Manager, University Programs [UP]Community & Learning, eBay

Panelist Kim Chrystie, Sr. Manager, Advertising & Brand Strategy, EMC

Panelist Pegah Kamal, Social Media Marketing Manager, Aruba Networks

Panelist Almitra Karnik Sharma, Senior Product and Solutions Marketing Manager, Twilio, Inc.

Panelist Amy Papciak, IT Project Manager, Cisco

 

Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors

May 12, 2014

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FountainBlue’s May 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors. Below are notes from the conversation. Our mentors represented a range of tech companies, with leaders from many backgrounds and roles, all with experience at many different levels within and outside tech organizations and start-ups and consultancies. They have worked with a range of mentees and mentors and generously shared their wisdom and advice. Know what you want

  • A mentor is different than a coach, who focuses more on mostly your business goals. It’s different than an executive sponsor, who may have the influence and authority to help you advance in your career, open doors and navigate the politics. It’s different than a boss, who focuses more on your job performance and goals. A mentor goes beyond that and is generally a longer term (beyond a task/project), more inclusive (beyond work) relationship.
  • A mentor stretches your perspective and horizons – first listening deeply to you, and then offering information and perspectives that stretch your comfort zone and the range of possibilities for you, in work and in life.

Follow a process for selecting and working with a mentor

  • Know what you want to do and why before you reach out to identify a mentor.
  • Be worthy of mentoring – show intelligence, trustworthiness, integrity, competence, promise.
  • Consider the task you need help you, the time you need for support, and the scope of support you need before reaching out to identify a mentor.
  • Select a mentor/mentee you respect who is competent and trustworthy. The relationship will be longer term and will cover work as well as life issues, so you want someone competent and trustworthy on both sides of the mentoring table.
  • Mentees need to take ownership and drive the process and relationship, embracing opportunities to learn and grow, especially when it’s uncomfortable.
  • Be organized, on top of things, punctual, respectful of the mentor’s time and advice and connections.

Make the relationship rewarding for both sides

  • Everyone’s time is valuable – make the mentoring experience a positive, thought-provoking experience for both sides.
  • A mentoring session is not a gripe session. Find others for that type of support.
  • Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow in areas you want to focus on, but also take advantage of serendipitous opportunities to learn and stretch.
  • Celebrate your relationship, your progress.

The bottom line is that mentoring is a two-way street. Make sure that both parties benefit and grow from the relationship and interactions.


Please join us in thanking our speakers for  FountainBlue’s May 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors, and to our gracious hosts at Aruba. Facilitator Pat Obuchowski, MBA, CPCC, PCC, CEO, inVisionaria Panelist Marta Beckwith, Vice President of Legal, Aruba Networks Panelist Karen Borden, Senior Director of HR, Lam Research Panelist Laura Danckwerth, Director of Social Engineering, Stub Hub, President of eBay Women In Technology Panelist Martha Galley, Vice President, salesforce.com, Advisor, ASTIA

Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand

April 12, 2014

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FountainBlue’s April 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand. Below are notes from the conversation.

Whether they came from technical or marketing backgrounds, or took the college path after they started their career; whether they have worked at the same company throughout their career or switched industries and roles across companies, our inspiring and talented panelists thought carefully about how they came across to others, and how to message what they do for whom, making the message appropriate for their goals and their audience.

Whether they were coaching execs and team and others to help them present who they are in the appropriate context and language for the audience, or whether they were positioning and shifting their own brand as they evolved their career, they each recognized the importance that branding has on the trajectory of their career. Below is some advice they shared about building and reinforcing your executive brand.

Be Self-Aware and Authentic

  • Know who you are, what you stand for, what your strengths are before you communicate it. Always act in alignment with same.
  • Authentic, genuine communications will take you a long way in building relationships and resolving conflict.
  • Don’t covet the educational and technical pedigree or titles and salary of others. Build success on your own strengths and terms.

Be Strategic

  • Know with whom you’re communicating and the purpose of same prior to connecting with them.
  • Be other-centric. Listen more than you speak.
  • Know where you’re going and why, and be strategic, folding in the right support, mentorship, education, and results to help get you there.

Build Relationships

  • You can’t make friends during a crisis, and it’s hard to plan the timing for a crisis, so make a network of friends and contacts prior to any crisis.
  • Collaborate with responsible parties to focus on the fixes, not complain about the problems.
  • Know the political landscape without playing politics. Don’t be threatening to people, but do tell it straight, without an agenda. Know with whom to connect when to make those fixes happen.
  • Make those around you successful and look good, as that’s good for everyone.

Make a Stand

  • Promote for yourself in a way you feel comfortable about. Being too self-deprecating and unassuming may leave you out of the running, as someone who may not be interested enough or skilled enough or passionate enough to reach higher.
  • Have the integrity and vision and fortitude to do the dirty work, be the leader, even when it’s difficult. Make a stand, without attacking anyone and be authentic to who you are.
  • Have an educated opinion, based on your experience and outlook and background. But be willing to change your stance and opinion if necessary. Speak and tweet on points that may support your stance.
  • When you stick your neck out and have an opinion, sometimes you stand out and are a target. This can’t always be comfortable. So get support, resources, network and grounding to increase your likelihood of success.

Manage Yourself

  • Manage the emotional side of you so that you come across as rational, gracious and team focused, even when things don’t quite go your way. Sometimes it’s just a test to see how you would handle a difficult situation or decision.
  • Invest in yourself and your success, while supporting that of others in your group.

The bottom line is that your executive brand is the perception others have of who you are, and needs to be actively managed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the way you handle the brand messaging mis-haps will be also a part of your brand. So be bigger, stronger, and better with every mis-step, and connect with those who will support you in that journey.

See also Katja Gehrt’s blog about the event at http://sv.iabc.com/building-your-own-brand/.

Thanks also to our hosts at eBay, who have posted a video of the event.

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Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand:

Facilitator Jerri Barrett, VP of Outreach, SENS Research Foundation

Panelist Shaya Fathali, Senior Manager, Technical Communications, Altera

Panelist Katja Gagen Gehrt, VP Marketing, General Catalyst Partners, former Senior Executive Communications Manager for Cisco’s President, Development & Sales

Panelist Tamara Lucero, Director of Inside Sales, Cypress

Panelist Emily Ward, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, eBay

Thank you also to our gracious hosts at eBay.

Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career

March 22, 2014

March21PanelMarch21Panel2FountainBlue’s March 21 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our humble and accomplished panelists spoke eloquently about the career choices they made, and their leadership journey in the high tech world. They were a diverse panel, representing marketing, training, HR, and management, and they had various levels of education and background, from technical training to business degree. But they had many things in common: they embraced opportunities at every turn, and succeeded at many levels through many different kinds of work. They consciously made career choices, *and* they serendipitously accepted opportunities as they arose. Collectively, they share these kernels of wisdom to those of us seeking to be more agile with our career.

Know Yourself. Be confident and accepting of who you are.

1)    Know yourself and what’s important to you, and make strategic decisions based on what you know about yourself. Recalibrate as your needs and interests will change, but always measure opportunities based on what’s important to you.

2)    Double down on your strengths.

3)    Have the confidence to reach for stars, even if you don’t feel quite qualified and ready to do something.

4)    You don’t have to have a privileged background and the right education and money to make it to the top. You do have to do a great job and work well with others though, no matter what your background is.

5)    Don’t judge yourself and put restrictions on yourself.

6)    Question the restrictions and limitations others put on you too.

7)    Surround yourself with people who believe in you, and help you believe in yourself.

8)    Have the confidence to speak your mind, share your opinion, even if you think others around the table may be more qualified to opine.

Your career is a journey.

9)    Your career, like life, is a journey: Learn from your mistakes; fail forward; don’t walk in the same river twice.

10) Choose to be self-sufficient and in charge of your own future.

11) Be strategic if and when you’d like to facilitate a career change. Do the research, ask questions, make connections, communicate your interest to others.

12) Wherever you next find yourself, you will find your way if you persevere, work hard, work smart, and are good with people.

13) Be clear about your motivations and intentions, and welcome the universe to provide you with serendipitous opportunities, while telling everyone you know what you want to do and why.

14) If you accept an opportunity which isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you may open up a whole new world of opportunities which might better fit your sweet spot.

15) Career change is often a multi-step process. Many people get frustrated that they can’t make the change they want in one foul swoop. Consider making one change at a time – either role or industry for example, pay your dues in that interim step, and plan for the longer term success of your career.

Support others.

16) The more we support ourselves, the more that we support the others around us.

17) It’s always about the people. Know who helped you get to where you want to go and show your appreciation. Consciously help others also to succeed.

18) Believe in others around you, and offer the kind of unconditional love and acceptance which helps you yourself to succeed and change and grow.

19) Lean in, share your challenges, your power, your experience.

20) Give generously in ways that energize you yourself.

In the end, remember that your career is more a jungle gym than a ladder. You may go lateral and around in circles. It may not be plan-ful, but you can see the equipment as a way to maximize exposure, learning and growth, in order to benefit all that participate.

Recommended Resources:

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Please join us in thanking our generous hosts at Altera, and our speakers for FountainBlue’s March 21 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event on the topic of Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career:

Facilitator Marsha Gastwirth, Wine Trail Escapes

Panelist Mercedes De Luca, Vice President & GM, eCommerce Sears Holdings Corporation

Panelist Jocelyn King, Head of Worldwide Corporate Marketing, Altera

Panelist Nancy Long, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hitachi

Panelist Tracy Meersman, Manager, Global Channel Learning, McAfee

Panelist Alexandra Shapiro, Senior Director, Small Business Marketing, PayPal

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

February 15, 2014

Feb14Panel

FountainBlue’s February 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence. Below are notes from the conversation. Our panelists this month represented a variety of backgrounds from product management to CSR, marketing to engineering, and a variety of educational backgrounds and experience – some technical, some not so much, but they all had successes in the business arena, influencing with or without authority. They were generous in sharing their advice and insights, which are synopsized below.

  1. All successful leaders work with people from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and motivations. They take the time to understand the mindset, perspective and motivations of the people that they work with, and build a relationship with all stakeholders at all levels. They are great leaders for a cause, great cheerleaders for their team, authentic communicators to their range of stakeholders.
  2. Listen to all communications of others – the verbal, non-verbal, the things-that-said, the things-that-others-say-about-them. Use this along with direct communications to figure out what makes someone tick, what’s important to him or her, and work with her or him to create a win-for-all.
  3. People who are great at influencing others are authentic in their communication, transparent and clear about their motivations, invested in the success of the company, humble about themselves and what-they-know, and genuinely care about the people with whom they connect.
  4. Influencers embrace change, and find a way to communicate why change is good for all the constituents they work with.
  5. Leaders who influence broadly and deeply have a track record for making things happen and delivering results for and alignment toward a corporate goal. Often, they leverage data, including market research and social media data, to help influence decision-makers and implementers to align behind a vision or goal or cause.
  6. No matter what they are feeling, influencers don’t make it personal – remaining focused on the relationships and the results. This unwavering commitment, coupled with their credibility and authenticity helps instill loyalty and commitment from the people they work with, even if there isn’t yet a deep personal relationship.
  7. Rather than trying to impress others with who you are and what you do, focus instead on solving the problems of the people with whom you’d like to connect and you will make an impact on them.
  8. Help the people you work with focus on the business objectives, rather than distractions and personal agendas and platforms.
  9. Sometimes influence occurs in the incremental changes made. Make a stand for a goal, and accept every concession toward achieving that goal, especially if you can help someone take the credit for the results.

10. Above all, build trust with all the people you work with directly and indirectly, and deliver results in the name of the higher cause, rather than for your own personal motivations. The bottom line is that you should keep a bank of influencing skills ready for use, from listening to direct confrontation, from bartering to negotiating. Remember to focus on relationships between stakeholders, and delivering results in alignment with corporate goals. The successful influencer challenges the status quo, facilitates new ways of thinking and doing, and ultimately fosters change for companies and leaders, in a good way. Resources:

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Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s February 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Authority and our generous hosts at LifeScan:

Facilitator Lucie Newcomb, President & Chief Executive Officer, The NewComm Global Group, Inc.

Panelist Tonie Hansen, Director, CSR and Sustainability, NVIDIA

Panelist Karen Pieper, Director of Synthesis, Tabula

Panelist Dawn Torres, Project Manager, CLS PMO, Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems

Panelist Kelly Vincent, Senior Director of Product Management, eBay


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