What Kind of Leader are You?

July 19, 2016 by


Everyone wants to be a leader, and in a perfect world, we are all great leaders. The best leaders know what type of leadership is needed for any circumstance, and she/he knows how and when to best excel, and who can complement his/her own leadership style. I find it helpful to understand the types leaders I most respect, especially as I notice that each one shines under different circumstances.

1. The Beacon is the leader that shines the way. She/he doesn’t get into the details but inspires because of a vision described or an impossible task performed, or both.

2. The Cheerleader is the leader that believes unconditionally in the person, the team or the cause. He/she is ever the person to pick up everyone after a failure, a set-back, an unintended result. The resilience and optimism is contagious and necessary for the success of any project.

3. The Anchor keeps everyone focused on the values and the goals of relevance to the team. She/he carries that moral compass and measures and communicates the results generated.

4. The Devil’s Advocate helps vet new ideas to help ensure that they fit the mission and vision of the project or organization and that they are practical, considering the resources available.

5. The Mediator resolves issues between team members by smoothing feathers, by clarifying communications, by facilitating compromises and re-focusing everyone on the shared mission and vision.

6. The Negotiator is the leader who works with those outside the group to gather more energy and resources so that results can be realized.

7. The Translator helps ensure that people from different backgrounds and perspectives are speaking a common language and working toward a common purpose.

8. The Ambassador advocates for the project or cause to ensure that there are sufficient resources and time so that results can be generated.

9. The Prodigy is the learner and next-generation leader who will carry the torch for future projects. He or she is curious and energetic, open-minded and multi-faceted.

10. The Leader of Leaders have a touch of each of the above, and knows which facet to turn on when to make things happen.

What type of leader are you? Which circumstances require what type of leadership?

Career Agility

July 18, 2016 by

July15WSSSFPanelFountainBlue’s July 15 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership in SF event was on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such a dynamic panel of women leaders representing disparate roles and companies. Each panelist had a compelling perspective, a poignant voice, and each authentically, candidly and generously shared their journey and their learnings. They had the following in common:

  • They all started out with something small, which grew as they succeeded at each opportunity. Sometimes that led into deeper responsibility in similar roles, and sometimes to something different altogether.
  • They got noticed for their abilities by those who mattered, and these people were able to craft opportunities for them which were able to further stretch them, and the organization as well.
  • They fearlessly embraced the unknowns as they strove to become fully realized beings. They plowed ahead despite the fear. Their go-for-it mentality inspires us all.
  • They know their priorities and their values and don’t compromise on them. 
  • They know their strengths and select opportunities which allow them to lead with their strong suit(s).
  • They insist on always growing and learning – for themselves and for those around them.
  • They make sure that they add value wherever they’re working, whatever their job description. 
  • They are passionate about what they do and consistently stretch themselves and others on how it’s done.
  • They are curious and open-minded about the perspectives of those not-like-themselves.

Below is advice that they shared with us regarding embracing opportunities to advance and realize your professional potential.

  • They wisely touted the usefulness of a full and broad network which helps gain both access and perspective. But a network is also a two-way street, and they generously reach out, give back, mentor and support others in their network as well.
  • They repeatedly mentioned that we must all know what our brand is – what we do for whom and why we are passionate about doing so. Being cognizant of your brand and proactively reaching for what’s next can help you transcend from one job to another, from one role to another, from one industry to another.
  • Be aware of what you’re looking for, and be specific about what you’re looking for, so that others around you can help you realize that vision. 
  • Wherever you are is where you are meant to be, unless you decide it no longer is. Then it’s on you to do something about it.
  • The best lessons in life are often the hardest lessons. Learning from these tough lessons will make you more agile, more resilient, more effective. 
  • Choose opportunities and lessons which would expand your knowledge and perspective. Hiring and working with people not-like-you is a good way to do so, as is traveling to places before unknown.
  • Walk a mile in the shoes of others so that you can support them in their journey as well. With that said, watch your back and don’t succumb to the manipulative games of self-serving others.
  • Work hard, do good work, work your brand, and seize the opportunities that present themselves to you. Being prepared helps set yourself up for receiving lucky opportunities and having courage helps you to open the door when someone or something’s knocking!

Below is advice for those looking at what’s next for themselves career-wise.

  • When you’re looking for what’s next for yourself career wise, reach for what you’re looking for and make the case on why you are the best candidate for the role.
  • Ask for help from others – nobody is ever alone, unless they elect to be that way, or allow themselves to think that way.
  • Be positive, always gravitate to something rather than running away from something!
  • Stare down the worst fears. Break it down so that you understand the fear, and let others help you gain a perspective beyond the fear. 
  • Compromise on the little things (it might be title, salary, corner office etc.,) so that you can reach for the things that really matter to you (impact, passion, result, growing something from nothing, independence).
  • Sometimes career agility must take place from the employer side. Be creative in finding ways to keep top talent engaged and present
  • As you’re hiring, consider the skill side (what someone can do) and the style side (how they get things done). Training on skills is easier than training on passion and coachability. 

Our dynamic and amazing panelists are challenging us to to be career-agile, to reach high to be all you can be, first by knowing yourself, then by constantly reaching and growing yourself and all those around you. 


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 15 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership in SF event, on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career as well as our gracious hosts at StubHub! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant 
  • Panelist Laura (Danckwerth) Bermudez, Director of Software Development for StubHub Social & President of eBay Women In Technology
  • Panelist Melissa Daimler, Head of Learning + Organizational Development, Twitter
  • Panelist Carole Gum, VP Global Campaigns, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Alexandra Shapiro, SVP, Marketing, PR and Communications, Bigcommerce
  • Panelist Miriam Warren, VP of New Markets, Yelp

Being Human in an Age That’s Digital

July 12, 2016 by

tablet in hand

‘Going Digital’ has become that buzzword, that panacea to today’s business strategy challenge. As well it should be . . . to some extent.

There’s no denying that we need to automate the data, set up the hardware and network infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean that we should de-value the human and let AI and analytics trump the judgment and skills of humans.

Experienced humans DEFINE the right problem.

1. If we let automation and software solve the problem, and you’re addressing a symptom or the wrong problem, the solution will leave you right back where you started . . . or worse.

2. Humans can conduct the interviews with the stakeholders who have that problem and understand how each stakeholder is affected, and how each group works with other groups. This is a necessary step to solving any problem. And not something that can be delegated to something digital. You can, however, create interview templates, document results, share documents with stakeholders, and in general, collaborate to create documents and automate the sharing and updating process.

3. Humans with deep experience, that tribal knowledge, have witnessed a wide breadth of problems. Creating libraries of modules to address elements of common problems just makes sense. Knowing which modules to leverage how is also something not to be delegated to something digital. But managing the updating of those modules can be automated.

4. Getting buy-in from all stakeholders from the DEFINE stage is not something you can delegate to anything digital.

Experienced humans DESIGN the solution to the defined problem.

5. Experienced humans leverage findings from the DEFINE stage to DESIGN a solution which meets the objectives of major stakeholders, in alignment with corporate goals. Designing a solution is an opportunity to validate the design proposed from the ‘define’ phase. If changes need to happen, experienced humans have the judgment to know if the DEFINE phase needs to be revisited, or if the DESIGN needs to be tweaked. Again, this is not something which can be delegated to something digital.

6. Designing, validating and testing a scalable solution which addresses current and anticipated needs takes an experienced team of humans. But these experienced humans integrate analytics to ensure that the results are measured real-time, and create the automated processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

7. Getting the buy-in from all stakeholders for the DESIGN is also not something that can be delegated.

Experienced humans lead the BUILD of the solution. 

8. Builds can not be automated, no matter how sophisticated and detailed the program specifications are! But having modules, scripts and processes in place will help humans more efficiently implement that build, and coordinate development with others who are doing the same.

Experienced humans effectively TEST the solution. 

9.  Sure scripts can be set up to test whether a build is working in measurable terms. But the human knows what to measure, when to measure it, and what success looks like. Having a detailed understanding of what’s-to-be-tested and measured makes it easier for humans to oversee the automated, ongoing testing of a solution.

Experienced humans effectively DEPLOY the solution. 

10. No disrespect to all the digital programs and automations leveraged throughout the process, but it will again take a human to know how and when to deploy to which audience, and also how to support any of these customers following the deployment.

In the end, throughout the development process, it’s the human who needs to decide which digital solutions and tools can help do what. And the next time you, as a human, fear that something that’s digital will replace you, think about what it means to be human, in an age that’s digital.

Special thanks to Patrick Lesandrini, author of IT SHIFT – Providing IT and Business Transformation Services for his contributions to this article.

Communication Strategies at the Speed of Change

July 8, 2016 by


FountainBlue’s July 8 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Communication Strategies at the Speed of Change’. Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Polycom and our execs in attendance, who share the insights below. 

Change has always been a part of life, but tech leaders today are feeling it more quickly and more primally. 

  • Communication today is cheap – there’s too much noise out there. But communication today is so much more important than it ever has been – because of the importance of immediacy, the importance of coordinating and collaborating with a wider range of others.
  • A leader today needs to do what has always been important: digest huge amounts of data to communicate key points which are most important for each audience. But to be effective, she or he must also sift through the volumes of information to identify and ingest only the most relevant pieces of information, so that a strategy and communication is clear and backed by data.
  • Relationships are even more important today than they were decades ago. Because there are so many more people and so much information, it’s MORE important to build deep, trust-based relationships with significant others in the network who can help to both craft the message and strategy, and also to spread that word to different networks and channels.
  • Poignant and engaging writing is still important, but today we are more careful about what we share with whom, due to constraints around NDAs for example. However, leaders who share openly and transparently with an authentic voice, using good judgment, will be best heard.
  • The immediacy of communication between individuals and groups adopted by millennials is spilling over into other generations and is here to stay. The question becomes how each leader will manage their communications to best connect with others and to stay on-message, as an individual and as an exec.

Below is advice on how to successfully communicate during times of great change.

  • Leveraging neutral and informed outside perspectives can help shape communications strategy and messaging. Building relationships with these influential and connected others is essential for building credibility and achieving results.
  • Identify your niche audiences and strategize on how the core message should be delivered to each audience, based on how they think, where they are located, what resonates for them.
  • Speak clearly and concisely in language the audience would understand, preferably with a request for action.
  • Be clear on ownership of programs and processes and document communications, players and intentions.
  • Have others take ownership for taking actions and communicating results, so that they are engaged in the process.
  • Be clear on what measurable results look like from a quantitative perspective, and update others on the progress based on data.
  • Live interviews with trusted interviewers lead to the type of authentic programs others would watch and learn from – which could lead to revenues.
  • Be clear on your own value-add in terms of skills and tangible/measured results and outcomes. Evaluate where you can best add value based on what you’re passionate about and what results you’ve driven to date.
  • Work with those who are more engineering-minded about the value of communicating more of the bigger picture, and less of the details when connecting with those-outside engineering.
  • Stakes are high when companies decide to merge. And execs are restricted on what they can say during sensitive timeframes. But working with the lines and connecting with others to meaningfully and authentically share progress during change will help keep staff loyal and engaged.

The conclusion is that communicating strategically and authentically will help effectively building credibility and relationships which are core to leading anyone, no matter where you sit at the table.

Our thanks once again to our hosts at Polycom and to our execs in attendance for this month’s VIP roundtable!

Social Media

July 3, 2016 by

July1WSSPanel.pngFountainBlue’s July 1 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Social Media for Work and Play. Below are notes from the conversation. 

Our panelists this month represented a wide range of companies, educational backgrounds and experiences, yet each had extensive experience and perspectives around social media.

Our panelists are experienced professionals with distinct perspectives around leveraging social media for work and play, and they generously shared some common best practices.

They each actively and consciously leveraged social media in their day-to-day activities to build relationships, to share their brand, to keep in touch with others in their network, and also for pure enjoyment. 

Each panelist recognized that the different social media tools serve different purposes, and that each individual has different objectives. So key to knowing what tool to use to communicate what message is to understand what your goals are – whether it’s a social goal of staying connected with family who are spread out, or extending a corporate message to strategic partners.

Whereas LinkedIn is a must-have for all professionals, open to those well beyond your immediate network, FaceBook and Instagram are more social platforms for more personal communications with messages more intended for friends.

Whereas blog tools like Medium and WordPress are platforms for communicating a brand and message, tools like Slack and Yammer are designed for social interactions between an established group, to build connections between teams who work in different locations for example.

A tool like Twitter can be used to perpetuate a corporate message, and also to add a personal and social element to that professional brand. Our panel mentioned some interesting and creative tools which you might consider for your company.

  • LinkedIn provides a background and history of a professional career, complete with testimonials, allegiances, educational background etc. Every professional should have a profile, and link to fellow professionals whom they know and trust. 
  • WeChat and WhatsApp can be used to connect to message between people who are far apart.
  • WordPress and Medium and other blog sites are great platforms for spreading your message and your brand.
  • YouTube can help communicate deep technical issues or share presentations and information easily online.
  • Wikipedia may be used as a platform to share deep technical expertise.
  • Scoop.it helps compile written and curated data on the same theme, by the same group or individual.

Because there are so many options to use social media, companies need to proactively manage the corporate and product brand. It helps to have a handbook and agreement and a regularly-updated message about what to say and how to say it, but in the end, professionals must trust that employees know how to exercise good judgment and use discretion as their words and actions may reflect badly on themselves, their teams, their products/services. 

Marketing and PR teams may also work closely with executives to draft communications and messages, and also provide a handbook to the general staff on approved company communications policies and practices.

The bottom line is that social media is great when it helps you expand and grow your network and your brand, and not so great when the message and consequences are not as intended. Proactively managing your brand and thoughtfully communicating through these platforms would help you get more consistently positive results.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 1 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Social Media for Work and Play and our gracious hosts at Synaptics.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Stefana Hunyady, Sr. Director, CPI Horizontal Programs, PayPal CTO office
  • Panelist Ann Minooka, Sr. Director of Marketing and Communications, Synaptics
  • Panelist Laura Padilla, Senior Director Technology Alliances, Nutanix
  • Panelist Heather Sullivan, Vice President & Head of HR – Global Innovation Center, Samsung Electronics

Stretching the Envelope of the Internet – for Retailers

June 29, 2016 by

RetailI’m personally overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information to which a typical professional is exposed.

The new VNI report predicts that by the end of the decade, there would be 3.4 devices and connections for every human on the planet, up from 2.2 per capita in 2015, through a combination of more access to personal devices and the deployment of machine-to-machine (M2M) or internet of things (IoT) devices. 

The challenge becomes how to stretch the functionality and usability of our platforms and devices so that we can strategically and tactically leverage the data to serve the needs of our customers in an efficient and practical manner. 

We will write a series of posts for doing just that – stretching the envelope of the internet, specific to different industries. Below is targeted to the retail industry.

  1. Solutions which address the astounding number of mobile devices and IoT sensors will be more practical and immediate to a larger base of users. So adding mobile implementations for existing web solutions only make sense, especially if these implementations also integrate IoT sensors, and particularly as Google has implemented mobile-friendly web site standards.
  2. Web 2.0 solutions have done a great job bringing products online and allowing for the secure ordering of products. We can take online ordering to the next level – think from-the-device-to-the-door – if we add order personalizations, warehousing and delivery, fulfillment through Drop Ship, support and set-up options to typical online orders.
  3. Drilling down onto the prior point, in this Age of the Customer, allowing online shoppers to customize their purchases – beyond size and color and into try-before-you-buy immersion experiences – will likely both increase orders, as well as customer satisfaction levels.
  4. If you link these immersive experiences – whether it’s a customized graphic or video or a virtual reality solution – to social networks, whether it’s a group of friends, a community of experts, or a group of fellow shoppers, customers will more likely become more engaged and better enjoy the experience.

  5. In turn, if you integrate the localization aspect, connecting shoppers to physical retail presences, more customers will more likely participate as there’s an option close the deal on-site, after doing the online research, plus purchase other items once they are in the store.

  6. Forward-thinking retailers are connecting with existing communities of experts and fanatics who share a common interest, hobby or passion. Providing customized offers and solutions to this market, and allowing the community to vet purchase options would not only increase sales, but also increase satisfaction levels.

  7. If we take ordering solutions to brick and mortar storefronts, implementing personalized shopping lists, with tailored made coupons based on real-time physical location would also increase targeted engagement.

  8. The other side of the coin is how IoT and mobile solutions can decrease operating costs – by proactively managing inventory and security for example.

  9. With these comprehensive mobile, IoT and on-site app solutions, retailers would have a better understanding of customers. Real-time measurements and analytics from these apps can report on success metrics, real-time, allowing retailers to tweak strategies and tactics to increase engagement, participation, margins, and volumes.

  10. Voice or text originated solutions can also leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to support product comparison and ordering needs, automating the online research for product selection, and even placing orders based on pre-specified criteria.

These are some thoughts for stretching the envelope of the internet in the retail industry. We welcome your feedback, additions and comments. Share your retail strategies and goals at info@fountainblue.biz. 


June 11, 2016 by


FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Embracing Our Multi-Generational Workforce.   Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a broad representation of business, company and technical leaders on our panel, all with in-depth experience working with millennials, and who are generously shared their perspectives on how to successfully work with a multi-generational workforce.

Our panelists agreed that millennials are already an important segment of the work population, and will become increasingly more so, as more move into the workforce, and others leave the workforce. These digital natives are re-shaping the way we live and work in many ways:

  • Tech-based devices and applications are now a part of our life and work. It’s hard to imagine our lives without social media, without texting, without real-time notifications, on digital devices which are never far from us.
  • We are more freely questioning the-way-things-are-done, and invite new and better processes, technologies, approaches and systems… because we can.
  • We are ever more curious about the why of everything, and use that curiosity to seek understanding, and possibly to seek solutions to an existing or emerging problem.
  • Social justice, environmental responsibility, and doing the right thing are becoming a big part of who we are, what we do. Companies which both say the right things in this regard, and act on that resolve are resonating more with their larger community – from employees to partners to customers.
  • Collaborations and partnerships are increasingly becoming more accepted. Indeed, the layout of office space reflects this shift in mentality.

Because these changes are happening, below are suggestions on how we can embrace the mindsets of millennials into the workforce.

  • If more of us are inviting more challenging and meaningful work, invite people to create and lead projects which do make that difference.
  • Invite active participation in corporate activities that support the community overall.
  • If we challenge people to question the status-quo and invite them to design new ways of doing things, positive transformations can take place, transformations which are both easily adopted, and which also directly impact the bottom line, as well as employee engagement.
  • If we focus more on impact and purpose than on title and compensation (not that these aren’t important), you would be more likely to recruit, retain and development the best people.
  • If you continually raise the bar and keep work interesting and challenging, if you reward based on performance, you will also recruit, retain and development the best people.

The conclusion is that millennials are in general well worth the time and investment. Mentoring and training the best of our millennials on how to better communicate and lead is an investment in our future.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at NVIDIA and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Embracing Our Multi-Generational Workforce. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, VP of Professional Services, IQVIS
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, NVIDIA  
  • Panelist Charu Madan, Head of Business Development and Partnerships, DataTorrent, Inc.
  • Panelist Yezhisai Murugesan, Architecture Engineer, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Senior Director for IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom

The Future of Retail

June 5, 2016 by


FountainBlue’s June 3 VIP roundtable was on the Future of Retail. Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Newmark Carey and our execs who participated in the conversation. Below are notes from the conversation.

Over the past three decades, the Silicon Valley has evolved from a privately held, institutional, relationship-based business economy to a more inter-connected, international, venture-funded, tech-driven economy, where relationships are equally important.

We have evolved from a period where large retail centers dominated, to an era where mixed use is common and restaurants are more plentiful. International investors are investigating in real estate in the valley, a more solid investment opportunity than those which present themselves at home. 

As it becomes increasingly easier for consumers to choose online ordering options, we must look closely at how much retail space we have – 45 sq ft per person in US, much more than the second highest ratios in UK and Australia who are tied at 25 sq ft per person – and how we can make best use of that space. Ideas for doing so are listed below.

  • Leverage technology to efficient deliver customized solutions for demanding customers. Ideas include entering precise measurements for shoe and clothing, using virtual reality try before you buy options (which have failed in the past, but perhaps time might be more ripe now), using the web for comparison shopping, etc.,
  • Marketplaces like Amazon and NewEgg serve their purpose with efficient purchase and distribution channels. Amazon is more for the general population, but techies might prefer the wide range of tech solutions and attractive prices at NewEgg, or they may prefer physically going into Frys for example. But organizations like Best Buy and office supply chains may be challenged to find that edge which would bring customers into the store.
  • Retail thrives when populations are dense, and the experience is good – with great selections.
  • In today’s economy, there’s the barbell effect where retailers selling to the lower income and to the higher income are doing well, but those appealing to the mid markets aren’t doing quite as well.
  • Retailers with access to mass transit like CalTran are doing better.
  • Older, free standing tilt-up R&D buildings in Silicon Valley are being converted into mixed use office and retail space, and the trend is for NetZero impact with less HVAC, more ‘big ass’ fans, and more solar and natural lighting.
  • Densifying of people is also a trend, with collaborative work spaces preferred over individual office spaces and isolated cubes. 

Below are some technology and business predictions offered by our attendees.

  • Distressed regional malls in populous areas will continue to be converted to mixed-use office/retail and housing, with a new trend of parks on ceilings.
  • Technology will continue to be efficiently leveraged to better understand and deliver to the needs of customers, even to the point of predicting what they want and need next. 
  • Manufacturing and delivery processes will become ever more efficient as big data and analytics may help retailers better plan for both.
  • There’s a love-hate relationship with channels such as Amazon – see article below on Amazon is not your friend – and retailers need to understand how Amazon will fit their overall distribution strategy.
  • Strong communities may help build niche retail markets and channels for specialty goods that are vetted and approved by fellow members. Retailers should consider supporting or starting such communities.
  • Leveraging technology to customize size and color will help drive sales and lower returns.
  • Forward-thinking CIOs of retail firms are adopting sensors and apps which can track inventory and help customers on-site real-time.
  • Retailers (in China) with individual air conditioning units are leverage IoT to manage large retail spaces. (This is more difficult to adopt in the US as most large retailers have central air.)
    • As an aside, utilities can use this data from these air conditioning units to manage brown-outs.
  • Light-enabled technology (LiFi) may replace wifi at on-site retailers and help retailers track and manage inventory and customers to identify and find what they’re looking for on-site. (Note that light has fewer security risks than wifi, as the distance between the light of a mobile phone and a sensor or a label are generally short, and the time of emission is generally small.)


PSFK Future of Retail 2016 Summary Report

10Pillars.jpg10 Pillars Delivering the New Shopper Experience

Synchrony Financial: 10 THINGS TO KNOW: THE TOP 10 RETAIL TRENDS FOR 2016

  1. Wearables
  2. Retail Holidays
  3. Voice Technology
  4. Virtual Reality in the Shopping Experience
  5. Video Streaming
  6. Internet of Things
  7. Mobile Payments
  8. Social Network Buy Buttons
  9. Increased Spending on Pets
  10. Personalization

Amazon is not your friend, Caroline Fairchild’s May 17, 2016 

Amazon’s impact on both the retail and delivery spaces is not new. But their announcement earlier this week might all but makes the funding slowdown inevitable for retail startups. The e-commerce giant will reportedly soon sell private label groceries and household products exclusively to Amazon Prime members. The move is huge because Amazon already owns half of all e-commerce sales. With all the growth in retail happening online, anything Amazon does to increase their already massive share is bad news for retail startups looking to scale.

Retail, early adopter of new technologies. LiFi a very promising one of them ! Tom Van Den Bussche

Here’s to the Heroes

May 30, 2016 by

Lieutenant Alix Idrache, Photo taken by Staff Sgt Vito T  Bryant at May 21, 2016 graduation from West Point

In this time of graduations and celebrations, on this day when we honor those who have served/are serving/will be serving our country, I would like to humbly acknowledge  the heroes amongst us. (See also the inspiring and patriotic article behind the photo.)

  1. Here’s to those leaders who were the glue who held us together, the oil who kept us running smoothly, and the lighthouse that led the way, especially when the possibilities seemed bleak. Most notable amongst them to me is John F Kennedy, who he challenged us as a nation to “Go to the Moon” in his speech to Congress on May 25, 1961.
  2. Here’s to the persistent visionaries who overcame insurmountable odds to define a new world of possibilities. Notable amongst them is Christopher Columbus, who defied those who feared falling off the end of the earth, who overcame the reservations of his backers, Queen Isabel and King Ferndinand – Isabel and Fernando, los Reyes Católicos – (who in the end didn’t think he would succeed, but didn’t want to lose out on the benefits if he did), and who overcame a near mutiny of his sailors, before sighting the white sands of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.
  3. Here’s to those who have inspired and challenged us to question and change the status quo. Notable amongst them is Mahatma Gandhi. inspired others to change their world through nonviolent civil disobedience, not just to help India gain independence from Britain, but also to inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
  4. Here’s to scientists like Albert Einstein and Madame Curie whose research changed the way the world works and opens up new possibilities for all of us.
  5. Here’s to those like Pocahontas who have bravely bridged two worlds, opening up the possibility of understanding and collaboration.
  6. Here’s to the explorers of new frontiers including Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Neil Armstrong and their funders. The world is a better, broader place because you’ve done so.
  7. Here’s to the selfless givers amongst us, who put others in front of themselves. Notable amongst them is Mother Theresa.
  8. Here’s to those who have stretched our perceptions about what’s ‘normal and acceptable’, to the creatives and un-structureds, and hyper-normals who stretch our comfort and reality zones. People like the Beatles, Jackie Robinson, and of course Picasso and Dali have changed and opened up our thinking.
  9. Here’s to the leaders who accepted criticism, injustice and adversity with grace and humor and fortitude. I stand behind our President Barack Obama and his numbers to date, but don’t want to get political. I appreciate his humor and wit in his ‘Obama Out‘ speech at a White House correspondence dinner.
  10. Lastly, here’s to the everyday, unnamed heroes who are humbled and inspired by the trust and faith of others, overwhelmed and inspired by the possibilities ahead, and resilient, ethical and competent enough to continue leading the way.

Who are YOUR heroes and what do they stand for?


May 16, 2016 by

WSSMentors051216FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors. 

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives, and who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience, stories and advice. Below is their collective advice and recommendations.

Know yourself.

  • Know yourself and your value-add. What can you do better than what other people can do, and how can you leverage that for the good of the project, the good of the team.

Stretch yourself.

  • Consider becoming a mentor, for it energizes you, helps you see new perspectives and also what’s next.
  • Embrace opportunities for continuous learning.
  • Be the kind of stand-out employee who gets noticed for consistently, energetically and good-naturedly deliver quality results, no matter what you are asked to do. This way, the right people will notice you and consider you for positions that would stretch you in good ways.
  • Be open and curious and outwardly facing, and connect with people who can help you remain that way, whether they are mentors, mentee, sponsors, champions, advocates or others.
  • Look for opportunities for continuous learning, which may make you feel uncomfortable at times. Putting yourself front and center may be an initiation by bonfire, but it will tell you and others ways you can shine, and also ways you can grow.
  • If you’re interested in advancing, take the time to know the executives in your company as she/he would be in a position to recommend you for a position or a project which you might not know about, and which might stretch you in a great way.
  • Consider hiring a coach who would help you better understand your value-add, your response to group and team dynamics, your current challenges and opportunities. He or she may help you create a proactive plan for your career and your future, and also be an accountability partner for you as you execute that plan.
  • Be worthy of champions and advocates by performing well at work, delivering measurable results, and treating others with respect and support. Any number of these advocates and champions may give you the time, energy, dollars, resources, connections etc., that you may need to make something happen.
  • Consciously choose to work with people not-like-you, as a mentor, as a mentee, as a boss, as a colleague etc. She or he would help you see things in a broader and deeper and different way.
  • Invite opportunities to connect with customers and understand their current and anticipated needs, regardless of what role you have within a company.
  • Be curious about why things are not working or responding as expected. Ask the right questions of the right people and learn the whys behind it. 
  • Bring your A Game, every time, all the time. Especially when things are really challenging and you just don’t feel like it!
  • Be hungry – don’t settle for more of what you’ve got, but invite opportunities to do more, be more!
  • Keep seeking all different types of mentorship and learning opportunities.
  • If you’d like to move forward, don’t look down, look up and around, and work with people who can help you do that.

Understand the world you’re working in.

  • Do the market research and learn about what’s new and what’s next so that you can stay ahead of the curve.
  • Align corporate goals, mandates and objectives from a strategic and a tactical perspective and continue to measure results.
  • Look beyond where you are to the future of technology, the future of industry, the future needs of the customer.

Remember that it’s always about the people.

  • Relationships come first and foremost. 
  • Connect with people beyond your day-to-day circle so that you can see new perspectives and opportunities.
  • Choose to work with people who would accelerate your growth, while you are accelerating their’s.
  • Find a mentor/mentee with whom you can build a long-term, productive, win-win relationship. There are many different kinds of mentors and mentoring relationships, and many ways both sides can benefit from these relationships. Work proactively with your mentor/mentee to ensure that it’s a positive win-win relationship across roles, companies, time.
  • Take the WIIFM perspective – What’s in it for me? – Ask yourself the question how are you helping your boss and her/his boss? 
  • Pay it forward. Find every opportunity to give back.

Resources onlilne:

  • Thank you to Erna Arnesen for sharing the following: 

    • Blank form for mentee to complete 
    • A sample completed mentoring session form
    • Sample of a reverse mentorng form, courtesy of Erna Arnesen
    • Sample Mentor Mentee Agreement 
  • Thank you to Laura Owen who shared the following:

    • Polycom’s mentoring program and mentoring guide
  • 22 Quotes to Help Boost Your Mentoring Prowess, Inc. Magazine


Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors as well as our gracious hosts at Polycom.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Erna Arnesen, former VP, Global Channel and Field Marketing, Plantronics
  • Panelist Jocelyn King, Sr Director, Programmable Solutions Group Marketing, Intel Corporation
  • Panelist Laura Owen, Chief Human Resources Officer, Polycom
  • Panelist Gail Rahn Frederick, Senior Director, Developer Ecosystem and Services, eBay


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