Leadership Lessons from Dr. Seuss

July 1, 2018 by

DrSeussQuote

When I was in college back in the day, I worked three different jobs, each of which provided me with the foundation of knowledge and experience I use every day.

Firstly I worked in an office, learning technologies and tools, efficiencies and protocols, as well as people and communications skills. Secondly, I took notes for a wide range of classes, and also summarized and typed notes for other note-takers. Lastly, I taught at a pre-school. There is no better leadership experience than doing that, and no better opportunity to teach others how to think and lead.

I integrated the learnings and teachings of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Mar 02, 1904 – Sep 24, 1991), commonly known as Dr. Seuss, in my day-to-day life, and shared it with my pre-schoolers back then, and with my colleague, friends, clients and partners today, for they are still relevant.

1. Be Fully YOU

  • “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” From Happy Birthday to You!
  • “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” from the The Lorax.
  • “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “Only you can control your future.”

2. Seize the Day

  • “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
  • “Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
  • “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
  • “Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.”
  • “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” from the Cat in the Hat

3. Exude Confidence

  • “Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

4. Choose to Always Learn and Grow

  • “It is better to know how to learn than to know.”
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”
  • “Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”

5. Be Clear and Direct in Your Communications

  • “Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  • “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant is faithful, one hundred percent.” from Horton Hears a Who.

6. Think Outside the Box

  • “He should not be here, ” said the fish in the pot. ” he should not be here when your mother is not.” from the Cat in the Hat
  • “Think and wonder, wonder and think.”
  • “Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?”
  • “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
  • “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.”
  • “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

6. You May Only Be ONE Person, But You Are an Important Person

  • “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
  • “Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small.” from Horton Hears A Who!

7. Treat Everyone as Someone Important

  • “I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.” from Yertle the Turtle and Gertrude McFuzz.
  • “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” from Horton Hears A Who!

6. Play the Game of Life

  • “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “We must become invisible, travel silently, for there are forces that would seek to destroy us.” from Horton Hears A Who!

7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

  • “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

8. Embrace a Positive Mindset

  • “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
  • “Fun is good.”
  • “You oughta be thankful a whole heaping lot for the people and places you’re lucky you’re not.”
  • “You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?”

9. Live a Life with No Regrets

  • “Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
  • “Life’s too short to wake up with regrets.”

10. Be Good to Everyone You Touch

  • Love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t.

Thank you Dr. Seuss, for touching me so deeply, through and through. May your words of wisdom and way of being continue to bring ripples of love and happiness, may this wish come true.

Advertisements

Managing Up, Down and Sideways

June 11, 2018 by

20180609_065314-COLLAGE

FountainBlue’s June 8 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Managing up, Down and Sideways. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They were each authentic, candid and real. They learned their management and leadership lessons from the trenches.
  • They each successfully navigated the educational and professional hurdles put in front of them and became disciplined strategic thinkers, exceptional problem-solvers, and determined, results-oriented performers.
  • What’s more, they each took these learners and experience to keep raising the bar for themselves, learning and growing as they manage and lead.

Below is a compilation of learnings and advice regarding managing and leading:

Know yourself, and put yourself first.

  • Draw upon your passion and talents. Invite opportunities to be as fully yourself as you can be. 
  • When you’re at a life crossroads factor in what’s going on in your life. Put your family and your health first.
  • Don’t look back and have regrets for opportunities lost if you make that choice to put yourself first.
  • Management and leadership is not for everyone. Do what’s right for you.

Be strategic.

  • Be strategic about what you want to do as well as how it would get done. 
  • Align corporate goals with team and personal goals. Manage so that everyone works on maintaining that alignment and on demonstrating results.
  • With that said, be willing to shift the goals based on market and customer feedback.

Never settle.

  • Keep reaching for stars. Don’t settle for complacency, or for doing the same things only faster. Or you will be left behind!
  • Welcome the opportunities to learn and stretch yourself. Provide those opportunities for others on your team.
  • With that said, don’t expect to know it all every time,
  • The pace of business, the pace of technology development is overwhelmingly fast, so have an open mind about all things. What worked in the past may not necessarily work going forward.

Support each other.

  • Provide opportunities for everyone to participate in solving the problem.
  • It’s not always easy to toot your own horn or to get introductions to new people and new opportunities.  Be that wing-man for someone else, and welcome others to do that for you.
  • Go out and network and meet others – both people who share your background and interests and people who are very different than you are.
  • Ask for support from others you can learn from.

Select stellar leaders and companies to work for.

  • Stand by your own values. 
  • Work with people who are smart, have high integrity, and demonstrate enough authority and enough courage to foster change.
  • Work with people you admire and enjoy working with. 
  • Select a work culture which would support that mindset in thoughts, words and actions.
  • Pick a company and leadership team who understands the market trends and is strategic about executing the corporate strategy with that in mind.

Put your people first.

  • Do the right thing for your people, even if it’s a tough thing to do in the short term.
  • Treat people at all levels with respect. As Maya Angelou would say, it’s not about being right, it’s about how you make people feel.

Communicate clearly and transparently.

  • Listen to what’s said and what’s not said so that you can understand what someone needs and how someone feels and what motivates them. 
  • Think, speak and act as if others are important to you.
  • Be courageous enough to have difficult conversations when necessary. Not taking action when action needed to be taken does not help anyone, and is not good for the project, for the brand, for the team, for the company.

The bottom line is that it’s not about managing or leading, it’s about influencing others around you to bring energy and resources toward collaboratively driving tangible results.

Resources:

  • What Motivates Me
  • Grace Hopper Conference
  • Watermark

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Pure Storage and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Managing up, Down and Sideways.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Kelly Battles, Chief Financial Officer, Quora
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Betty Campell, VP of Ops, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Carolyn Crandall, Chief Marketing Officer, Attivo Networks
  • Panelist Julie Cullivan, SVP, Business Operations and CIO, ForeScout
  • Panelist Namrata Mummaneni, Sr. Director of Quality Engineering, eBay
  • Panelist Nivedita Ojha, Senior Director Product Management, IoT, Citrix

20180608_115935IMG_20180608_125154IMG_20180608_125251

e-Commerce and e-Marketing Trends

June 1, 2018 by
ecommerce
FountainBlue’s June 1 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘e-Commerce and eMarketing Trends and Predictions’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at eBay. Below are notes from the conversation.
There has been so much transformational change in the world of e-Commerce and e-Marketing over the past couple of decades. Below are some trends and predictions on how these trends will progress and how they will impact each of us.
 
The E-commerce highlights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report (May 31, 2018) shows the following:
  • E-commerce sales reached upward of $450 billion, a 14 percent year-over-year increase reported in 2017.
  • E-commerce represented a 13 percent share of all retail spend (both online and physical retail sales) in 2017. As e-commerce continues to grow, physical retail sales growth is trending toward deceleration, with less than 3 percent year-over-year growth.
  • Mobile shopping is also on the rise, with mobile shopping app sessions growing 54 percent year over year. In fact, mobile shopping represented the fastest-growing app session, ahead of music/media/entertainment (up 43 percent year over year), business/finance (up 33 percent year over year), utilities/productivity (up 20 percent year over year) and news/magazines (also up 20 percent year over year).
Our participating executives agreed that the volume of information and data is mind-boggling. But the effective marketer and leader will categorize and leverage that information so that it’s sorted and actionable. 
  • Urgent and immediate cases are quickly triaged and acted upon with special parties as necessary. This is especially true with suspected fraud and technology glitches.
  • AI is leveraged to ensure the efficient handling of common, lower-level problems or questions or concerns.
  • Algorithms and architecture will help ensure companies have scalable and robust infrastructure necessary to scale operations.
There is also agreement that today’s customers are very demanding. Doing the above also helps companies to better support their customers. With the data, we can better understand current and anticipated needs and more quickly address technical and process issues which interfere with our ability to give customers what they need. Consider these trends around customer needs.
  • Customers are taking urgency to the next level, even asking for 10-minute delivery windows! Categorizing what you can practically deliver when will help companies better and more efficiently serve customers. Same day, two day and one-week deliveries will be much more regularly requested, so companies will have to find efficient ways to make it happen.
  • Local ethnic and specialized goods will be requested. Creating a platform where multiple physical store fronts can leverage technology to deliver goods from these multiple stores to sites throughout the neighborhood would be a good win-win solution.
The big companies such as Amazon and Google are already successful in the market, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities ahead. Below is advice on how we as leaders can best take advantage of these trends.
  • Adopt digital solutions from the top down, from the bottom up. Integrate it into your culture.
  • Enhance physical stores, embracing technology solutions.
  • Provide personalized solutions for customers.
  • Respond to their needs of the customer real time.
  • Design robust loyalty and rewards programs.
  • Provide your high-impact customers with specialized perks, with special treatment and access.
Below are thoughts on the opportunities ahead for e-commerce and e-marketing solutions.
  • Provide chatbots which are embedded into the shopping experience so you can quickly address questions and concerns. 
  • Provide platforms which seamlessly address the customer from search to order to fulfillment.
  • Consider separating the delivery from the e-commerce solution.
  • Consider partnering with other companies to provide specialized services. As a retailer, you might want someone else to provide the mobile and web platform for delivery, as a technology company, you might want to have someone else distribute the goods for example.
The bottom line is that everything is trending toward e-commerce and forward-thinking leaders are responding to that trend.
 
Resources:

Unconscious Bias

June 1, 2018 by

UnconsciousBias

FountainBlue’s May 18 When She Speaks in East Bay event was on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a passionate, articulate and diverse panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, perspectives and backgrounds. They were each passionate about the topic of Unconscious Bias for different reasons, but generally it was from their own early direct experiences and their thoughts when they witnessed biases, conscious and otherwise.

Our panelists agreed that it’s normal, and even adaptive to have unconscious biases. They help us make wise decisions related to our safety, like not taking the subway at night by yourself, traveling through rough neighborhoods. Unconscious biases may also help us do the quick-filters we need to succeed at work, making sure that the candidates which pose the least amount of risk are assigned to the most mission-critical roles for example.

But there are also the kinds of unconscious biases which limit our ability to grow and transform ourselves personally, or our teams and our companies. Each panelist resolved to make a stand against unjust biases and commented on the benefits of being more inclusive, more diverse in the workplace. Specifically, they pointed to the following benefits of having more diversity in the workplace:

  • the improved company brand
  • the improved sense of community
  • the improved problem-solving abilities
  • the improved ability to recruit and retain more diverse candidates
  • the innovation advantages which come from having diverse viewpoints
  • the ability to better understand the diverse needs of a broad customer base

Below are our panelists’ suggestions for overcoming biases you may not know you have.

  • Approach each challenge and opportunity with an open mind.
  • Push your own comfort zone when you’re doing something the same way every day, every time. Challenge yourself to find an alternative approach, perspective, partner or mindset.
  • Understand your own upbringing and how it might impact how you’re showing up at home and at work.
  • Find support to help you challenge your own conscious and unconscious biases.
  • Be open to thoughtful and measured feedback.
  • Be self-aware enough to know when your biases may be limiting your successes at work or at home.

Some suggested best practices for overcoming unconscious bias are highlighted below.

  • Nurture an inclusive culture from the top down, from the bottom up.
  • Think, speak and act inclusively.
    • Call each other on it when that’s not happening.
    • Make it safe to call each other on it, even when a ‘subordinate’ is calling a ‘superior’ on it.
  • Create a tight community where a broad range of diverse people feel they can belong.
  • Adopt a corporate strategy which includes hiring a diverse workforce.
  • Build bridges between siloed teams and projects. Help them understand motivations of people not-like-them. Align diverse people to common corporate and team goals.
  • Expose teams to successful people from different perspectives and backgrounds.

The bottom line is that Unconscious Bias is a reality and can be helpful. But Build Self-Awareness in yourself to manage how you’re personally responding to these biases. Then Manage and Lead your team so that they can mitigate their own.

====

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Lam and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 18 When She Speaks in East Bay event.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Anne Nemer Dhanda, Managing Director, Global Learning and Organizational Development, Lam Research
  • Panelist Jennifer Geisler, Vice President of Marketing, ForeScout
  • Panelist Gina Lau, Director of People Experience & Development, HelloSign
  • Panelist Lisa McGill, Chief Human Resources Officer, CrowdStrike
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, Vice President, Legal and Associate General Counsel Commercial, Digital Realty

Here’s to New Beginnings

June 1, 2018 by

NewBeginnings

June has traditionally been a time of celebrations and transitions. There’s the whirlwind of celebrations signaling the culmination of another school year. There are graduation speeches and the ceremonies themselves, which are so full of hope and promise. There are the weddings of eager couples, surrounded by the full bloom of fragrant flowers and the love of friends and family. There are vacations where we could all rest up in celebration of our successes, and contemplate the new opportunities upon our return.

Below are some thoughts to consider this year, as you look at new beginnings. 

1. Embrace new opportunities with your Heart, Mind and Soul. 

  • Your heart brings your passion. 
  • Your mind brings your competence. 
  • Your soul seeks fulfillment.

2. Leverage the OLD to transition to the NEW.

  • Welcome new networks and connections, but nourish those you already have.
  • Welcome new Ideas, but remember that existing ideas are the foundation for new ones.
  • Welcome new opportunities, and leverage your knowledge and talents and network to succeed.

3. Surround Yourself with People Who Are Open and Inclusive.

  • Ask for their support as you embrace new beginnings.
  • Provide that support and perspective for them as they seek new beginnings.
  • Celebrate in traditions and milestones in community.

4. Slough Off the People, Actions and Things Which Have Been Holding You Back.

  • Be more distant with people who bring you negative or draining energy.
  • Stop doing the things which bring you negative energy and results. 
  • Bad habits may be so ingrained that it might take time to give them up. Choose positivity and a new beginning again and again.

5. Go Forward Boldly, Overcoming your Fear.

  • Acknowledge your fears and emotions, but put them in their place – as subservient to your goals.
  • Examine the data behind the emotions, and respond to the data rather than the emotion.
  • Don’t let your emotions prevent you from taking initiative.

6. Plan Your Path in Detail, But Go with the Flow when Executing.

  • Understand what you want, why you want it and how to get It before you start.
  • Plan your work, and work your plan. But be flexible when things don’t go quite as planned.
  • Remain focused on the end goal, and flexibility on how it will happen.

7. Create a Network that would Support Your Goal.

  • Nurture and build on your relationships and network.
  • Be strategic about the network you keep, focused on the goals you’re seeking.
  • Seek support from others, be supportive to others.

8. Be Resilient and Persistent in Your Quest for Success.

  • Be clear and focused on what you want, and redirect to that goal when there are detours.
  • Sometimes old plans lead to new outcomes, if you have a mindset of perseverance.
  • Learn from each success and from each failure.

9. Be Uniquely You.

  • Recognize your unique perspectives and talents and bring them to the table in your new beginning.
  • Try something you’ve haven’t yet tried in your past roles, but something you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Take pride in the skills and talents you bring to the table.

10. Celebrate Your Successes! 

  • Celebrate each step of the way. Don’t wait until you get to that destination, for it’s a journey.
  • Celebrate with your tribe, your network.
  • Communicate your successes and direction to others you meet. Make it part of your positive brand.

Our closing comment is to be grateful and prideful and appreciative of who you are, of how far you’ve come. Bring that positive energy to your new beginning.

Men Who Open Doors

May 14, 2018 by
MenWhoOpenDoors

Left to right: Janice Le, Michael Dickman, Ganesh Srinivasan, Ash Chowdappa, Linda Holroyd, Gopal Kumarappan, and Jatinder Narang

FountainBlue’s May 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Men Who Open Doors. Below are notes from the conversation. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They had strong women in their lives who helped them understand the value of having women on teams and in their lives.
  • They fully understand the business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and are passionate and frequent advocates.
  • But beyond the data, they each make the choice to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Our panelists each consistently focused on sponsoring and supporting women in the workplace and pointed to the business case for doing so. The benefits mentioned included:

  • the increased diversity of thought from heterogenous teams, which can lead to innovation
  • the improved decision-making abilities of diverse teams
  • the increased creativity and increased amount of different ideas presented when brainstorming and problem-solving
  • the improved productivity and morale
  • the greater likelihood of reflecting the customer base you serve and the local community

Their collective advice to those who seek sponsors for their careers is highlighted below:

  • Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities which may arise.
  • Be consistently confident, competent and courageous, regardless of whether you’re seeking a sponsor.
  • Own what YOU can control – your experience, your results, your brand – while you’re waiting for the opportunity to be recognized by others.
  • Be your authentic self. Don’t think that you have to change who you are to succeed. Find a way to succeed by being uniquely you.
  • Make an informed and specific ask when the timing is right. Know who to ask for help, and why he/she is the best person to ask.
  • Work together and help each other be successful – in work and in life.
  • When you’re given an opportunity, be diligent, hard-working, open and eager person, passionate about generating measurable results.
  • Communicate openly and transparently and be worthy of the trust of others.
  • Select the right mentor and sponsor for you, based on what you need at the time.

Their collective advice for building more sponsors and mentors and leaders in their organization is highlighted below.

  • Work on changing the mindset of the executives in charge. 
  • Understand your own unconscious biases and those of other executives in the organization. You may have to overcome these biases to bring more sponsors and leaders to the team.
  • Pay it forward, in honor of those who did the little and big things to help YOU get to where you are.
  • Lead by example and model the way. As Mahatma Gandhi would say ‘Be the Change you want to see.’

Our parting thought is that we all have the power to impact others around us and support their growth. Take the mindset that working with and for others benefits everyone.

=====

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba and our panelists for our May 11 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Men Who Open Doors!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ash Chowdappa, VP & GM, Aruba Wireless LAN at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
  • Panelist Michael Dickman, VP, Product Line Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Jatinder Narang, Senior Director – Finance, Western Digital
  • Panelist Ganesh Srinivasan, General Manager, Power Management, Texas Instruments
  • with an introduction by Janice Le, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba HPE

406407

Energy and Utilities Trends and Opportunities

May 7, 2018 by

EnergyUtility

FountainBlue’s May 4 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Energy and Utilities Trends and Predictions’, hosted by EPRI.

The focus on generating and distributing a reliable, cost-effective energy source remains the goals of our consumers, companies, utilities, cities and countries. But the needs of the “customer” are making that progressively more difficult. Couple that with the tech-savvy, real-time update needs of empowered customers around the world and the problem seems almost impossible to solve. 

Our executives in attendance all remarked on the mega trends around the energy sector and how they are impacting everyone across industries, across geographies, across technologies. Keys to managing and staying on top of these trends include:

  • The need to collaborate across sectors, technologies, companies, and nations to provide solutions which optimize energy generation, leverage sustainable practices, and manage storage and distribution for maximum benefit for all stakeholders.
  • Enterprise Customers need to actively become involved in defining the problems faces, adopting technologies which optimize benefits for all.
  • Policy-makers need to be more flexible and open to change, for changes need to be made to support the massive energy demands of customers.
  • Local utilities serve both the commercial and consumer markets. Providing proven, scalable and sustainable solutions will remain challenging. Partnering with other utilities and other organizations will help develop communities, share learnings and resources, and better anticipate and address energy-related needs and concerns of customers.
  • As customers get more involved with generation through solar, wind and other renewables, it helps in some ways by increasing the amount of available energy, but also complicates matters and puts a strain on the grid as well, for generation happens only at certain times of day.

Below are some of the opportunity areas mentioned in the discussion:

  • The nexus between energy and water  
  • Microgrids to provide energy to smaller villages
  • Using data-rich, crowd-sourced reports to inform stakeholders, customers, policy-makers, etc.,
  • Apps and business models which use energy as part of the shared economy
  • Cybersecurity: Nuclear, Power Delivery, Generation, Storage
  • Lithium and Cobalt batteries and how they can be better mined and recycled
  • Recycling of batteries in general
  • AI and big data solutions around energy at work and at home
  • Smart mobility which help communicate energy needs
  • Smart city solutions which help generate, distribute, manage energy
  • Robotics solutions around energy generation and distribution
  • Utility-owned batteries
  • Hydrogen fuel cells

We repeatedly remarked on how empowered customers, volume of data generated, huge international markets, sustainability demands, the power of the millennial generation and other factors will all significantly impact our growing need for energy.

The challenge is how we can also consider all these factors in creating long-term and short term goals, while serving local, regional and international markets. Success factors might include:

  • Creating and supporting collaborative networks focused on creating innovation around energy
  • Supporting win-win solutions for this vibrant ecosystem of stakeholders 
  • Accepting and working with slow-moving, fragmented utilities, outdated infrastructure to make this happen
  • Designing the types of dynamic AI, HW and SW (vs static), data-based, flexible and scalable solutions which will serve the customer base
  • Designing for a long-term view, while supporting the short term revenue needs for key stakeholders

The onus will always be on each of us, as leaders in technology and business, across roles, companies, sectors and nations, to collaboratively deliver solutions which work for all.

Tiger Team Best Practices

April 24, 2018 by
TigerTeamCollage

Panelists from left to right: Hanna Sicker, Jennifer Dormoy and Laura Bermudez

FountainBlue’s April 20 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Tiger Team Best Practices. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists have deep and broad experience with leading teams, particularly tiger teams solving technical problems. Our panelists agreed that Tiger Teams are generally small and focused on important, mission-critical projects which are often high profile. It may be a project that’s blocked or failing or broken in some way, or it may be a high-potential project just getting started. 

Tiger Teams sometimes have several specialists involved, people who are experts at certain aspects of the project or certain layers of the stack. And sometimes it’s comprised of generalists with broad technical and business skills.

What’s critical is that each team member is passionate and driven about creating an efficient and effective solution for that important project, and persistent and competent enough to consistently deliver to stellar measurable results, overcoming huge obstacles.

Tiger teams are not meant for everyone or for every project. Many tiger teams require extra workloads and additional hours. Many tiger teams require working on cutting edge technologies solving technical and process issues which are mission critical. If you’re considering joining a tiger team, make sure that you have the bandwidth to contribute fully to the cause, and the interest and passion to do a deep dive into intricate technologies and sticky problems.

Below is a compilation of advice from our sage panelists.

  • If you’re lobbying for the resources, members and funds to initiatives, speak in the strategic business terms executives would understand – make the business case and show the value of the project, using data to make your point.
  • Treat your people well. Give them the resources and support they need so that they can succeed. Give them the types of tasks which draws upon their strengths. Be positive and supportive and fun, and make it worth their while to join the team.
  • Tiger Teams often have to solve problems across teams, across technologies, across divisions. Building networks of relationships and communicating across different groups are essential strategies for success.
  • Build on your successes and solve bigger problems following each success.
  • Tiger Teams work in waves. Along time for the planning, the build-up and ramp-up, the intense execution, and the learning and maintenance.
  • Invite people with diverse experiences and perspectives to the team. 
  • Consider the learning styles of the different members of the team, and use this information to help ensure that everyone’s learning, and that all can contribute in ways which work for them. (See resource section.)
  • Create a tiger teams that is as competitive as they are collaborative, as communicative as they are inclusive. 

The bottom line is that Tiger Teams are important not just for solving mission-critical problems, but also for forging new innovation, new ideas, new solutions.

Resource: 

The Seven Learning Styles https://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

Learning Styles.jpg

  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 20 When She Speaks was event on the topic of Tiger Team Best Practices and our gracious hosts at eBay.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Laura Bermudez, Director of Software Development, eBay and NPD & Board Member, Meritus College Fund
  • Panelist Jennifer Dormoy, VP of Engineering, Swift Navigation
  • Panelist Hanna Sicker, Head of Global Security and Site Reliability Engineering, StubHub

We Are All ONE

April 20, 2018 by

WeAreOne

I am most inspired and energized when I think, speak and feel as if We Were All ONE. But it’s never easy to maintain that mode, in this world which rewards the driven, the talented, the accomplished, the beautiful. Yet it is fundamentally inspiring and invigorating when we embrace that Mindset of ONE.

When 22-year-old Warriors guard Patrick McCaw was carried off on a stretcher in the middle of a game in Sacramento following a scary fall, he couldn’t feel his legs. . In that moment of shock and disbelief, when everyone feared the worst, wondering if Patrick would ever be able to walk again, players, fans, coaches, physically and metaphysically came together in silent prayer and commiseration.

This is the Mindset of ONE – when we think, speak and act as one, for the benefit of ALL. In this post, I will suggest strategies for maintaining that Mindset of ONE, even in the most challenging situations. It is my hope that these strategies will help bring perspective, humor and courage when it matters the most.

  1. When you next connect with someone you find far superior to you in some way, be open and supportive and curious. Invite opportunities to have your paths cross.
  2. When you next connect with someone you find far inferior to you in some way, be open and supportive and curious. Invite opportunities to have your paths cross.
  3. Choose to walk and be with people who lift you up, but be inclusive of others who also seek support and comfort.
  4. When someone is different than you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, be curious about what they think about inconsequential things and how they came to that perspective.
  5. When someone is competing with you in a sport, keep reaching for stars, and be gracious whether you win or lose.
  6. When you are passed over for a promotion or a project or an opportunity, invite feedback, information and learnings. Then get up and try something else.
  7. When the same door remains closed to you, either seek another door, or ask how the mindset of ONE may help you enter this new room and opportunity.
  8. Be kind, open, transparent, direct in your communications – in your thoughts, in your words, in your actions. All the time. Every time.
  9. When the same life lesson comes back once again, ask yourself how the mindset of ONE may help you embrace the lesson, and move on.
  10. When elected leaders divide us, find ways to remain connected, despite them.

We can all choose to make the world a better place – one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time. With the Mindset of ONE.

* Thankfully, it appears that sustained a lumbar-spinal contusion and although in great pain, is able to slowly walk, as of the writing of this blog.

Conflict Resolution

April 16, 2018 by

ConflictPanel

FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High. 

Photo from left to right, Ruchika Jhalani, Director of Engineering, eBay; Sangeeta Relan, Senior Director, Quality Engineering, Nutanix; Wei Li, VP of Engineering Operations, ASML Brion; Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Engineering, Oracle

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, but they shared much in common.

  • They managed conflict as part of their day-to-day work, as part of their day-to-day life.
  • They build deep, trust-based relationships with a broad range of people.
  • They focus on common goals and perspectives.
  • They leverage data and information to keep the conversations constructive and positive.
  • They learn from their interactions, from their successes and their challenges.

Their collective advice is highlighted below.

Accept conflict as a part of life, as a part of work. 

  • Have an open and curious attitude about people who don’t share your perspective and opinion.
  • Pick your battles. Win the war, and battle from the same side.
  • It’s not always easy. But challenge yourself to make things work.
  • You can’t always be right. Agree to disagree, but then commit to the chosen direction.

Earn the respect of others by generating results for the greater good.

  • Go toe-to-toe with someone on their terms if the situation warrants this. But make it about the data and information, not about the emotions and politics.
  • Help make all parties look good when a conflict is resolved. It doesn’t help anyone’s cause to say ‘I told you so’.
  • Respect others for their varying perspectives and backgrounds. 
  • Align thinking, speech and words.
  • Be passionate and energized about what you do. But don’t be overly emotional if it makes the other party feel uncomfortable.
  • Seek to understand before trying to be understood.
  • Be the mediator and facilitator. Identify prioritized needs and assign resources and dollars accordingly.
  • Try to make the other party look good, even if you’re right about a conflict you’ve had.

Build a Network

  • Connect with a wide range of other people from varying backgrounds.
  • Invite face-to-face meetings, especially when building a relationship.
  • Meeting face-to-face also helps when you’re meeting people from another culture.
  • Be curious about others’ perspectives, and open to other interpretations.

Keep learning, sharing and growing. Never settle.

  • Take the ‘We are all one’ and ‘We are not alone’ mindset.
  • Adopt a Quality-First culture and make a business case for it.
  • Be open to people who don’t think, speak or act like you. 
  • Communicate in a language the other party would understand.
  • Be quick to listen, slow to judge, especially when others aren’t in agreement with you.
  • Stand up for yourself. Don’t be talked over or belittled.
  • Stand up for others who were dismissed or unheard.

The bottom line is that although conflict is inevitable, it can be a positive and constructive thing, if managed well.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Engineering, Oracle
  • Panelist Ruchika Jhalani, Director of Engineering, eBay
  • Panelist Wei Li, VP of Engineering Operations, ASML Brion
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Senior Director, Quality Engineering, Nutanix