Negotiating for Win-Win Results

January 20, 2018 by

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FountainBlue’s January 19 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Negotiating for Win-for-All Results.

We were fortunate to have such a fun and experienced panel of leaders and negotiators, representing a range of companies and backgrounds. They generously shared best practices around negotiating.

Negotiating takes place between companies, within companies, at home, at work, everywhere there are people. Learn from each negotiation, and build a network of supporters and mentors to help you better negotiate.

It’s all about the relationship.

  • Focus on building a long-term relationship with all stakeholders, even if it means sacrificing short-term victories.
  • Be curious about the motivations and needs of the other parties.
  • Insist on respectful interactions. Empower yourself to walk away if the interactions do not maintain a level of respect.   
  • Seek to create win-wins for all parties, for the short term and in the long term.
  • Build a team culture: Do the give and take, choose your battles, make your sacrifices, take one for the team.

Communicate clearly and respectfully in good faith.

  • Strive to keep a clear, open and transparent communication in your negotiations. Even if it means awkwardly calling out the other party for not adhering to that level of communication and trust.
  • Be firm, fair and consistent in your communication.
  • Know what you want and ask for it. (Implication: don’t complain that you don’t get what you want if you didn’t ask for it.)
  • Be generously forthcoming in sharing resources and information, and ask for that also in return.
  • Keep the momentum and conversation going. Stymied negotiations waste time and money and puts the credibility of all involved at risk.

Be strategic and hardworking.

  • Do your homework and be prepared for each negotiation. Learn about the people, their motivations, the product, the team, the company, etc.,
  • Use tools like milestones and roadmaps and project plans to help get all parties negotiating in alignment, and delivering positive results for the customer.
  • Understand and speak to the value you’re create, and its relevance to the audience you’re connecting with.
  • Give yourself cooling-off time if emotions run high.
  • When you get the attention of influential others, consider ending your conversation with an ask. The other way to put this is to have a goal/objective if you get the audience of someone influential.
  • Speak to the Value of something first, then to the Pricing of something, while factoring in the Cost of implementation. 

Be Other-Focused.

  • Take a ‘Cow’s Eye’ view of the world – seeing the world from the other’s perspective (a cow has eyes on the side of their head, so she sees the world differently).
  • ‘Fair’ does not necessarily mean equal. ‘Fair’ to one party is defined differently than it is for another. 

Support Others with their Negotiations.

  • Negotiate for yourself, and for others.
  • Create an old-girl’s-club to back each other up, so that you’re not your only advocate.
  • Don’t be the victim of ‘man-splaining’. If someone repeats what you just said and claims credit for knowing more, then call him on it. Or call out that man on your friend’s behalf.
  • Seek a mentor, advocate or champion. Be one for others.

Resource:

The bottom line is that negotiating is a part of life, and learning how to do it well would benefit yourself and all you touch.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks and our panelists for FountainBlue’s January 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Negotiating for Win-for-All Results!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Vonnie French, VP, Supply Chain, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Debbra Rogers, CEO, Paradata
  • Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP Global Account Management, Flex
  • Panelist Heather Sullivan, Chief People Officer, ChargePoint
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Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

January 16, 2018 by

MentorsSponsors

When I think of mentoring, I get an image of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, trembling in fear of ‘lions and tigers and bears’, but then bravely linking arms with her friends the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion, following the Yellow Brick Road, and finding a better version of themselves.

A Champion is someone with Heart, like the Tinman. He or she is someone who would speak highly of you, and well of you, regardless of whether you ever find out. They are the cheerleaders who support you and believe in you, and ultimately help you get to where you want to go. We all need champions. And we should all champion others. (Beware of those who want you to champion them, yet don’t champion anyone else in return.)

A Mentor is someone with Backbone, like the Scarecrow, someone who’s wise and experienced AND wants to support you in building skills and finding more fulfillment and success, both professionally and personally. They leverage their in-depth direct professional and personal experience in guiding their mentees.

An Advocate is someone with Courage, like the Lion, someone who backs you despite pressure, despite conflict, despite resistance. They believe that you are the right person for the role/position/project and are willing to put resources and support behind you so that you succeed.

A Sponsor is an Executive with the Power to open doors, influence others, recommend advancement and create positions within an organization for someone he/she takes under their wing. The Sponsor in this analogy is the Wizard of Oz – the person who could potentially help Dorothy return to Kansas.

In the end, Dorothy finds that she herself has what it takes to get to where she wants, and that the champions and mentors and advocates are right there in her back yard.

So when the obstacles and doubts and challenges present themselves to you, listen to the Good Witch Glinda when she spoke to the Wicked Witch of the West, ‘Oh Rubbish. You have no power here. Be gone, before somebody drops the house on YOU.’

IoT Ecosystem Trends and Predictions

January 12, 2018 by

IoT

FountainBlue’s January 12 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘IoT Ecosystem Trends and Predictions’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Flex.

Our executives in attendance represented a range of roles and companies, all with a perspective on IoT successes, trends and predictions. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

The range of IoT devices and the impact on users at work and home is overwhelming, and the data generated by all these devices is even more so. 

  • There will continue to be a push-pull between features and solutions craved by users and privacy and security demanded by corporate stewards, parents, and other responsible parties. 
  • Successful IoT companies (and responsible adult parties) need to communicate transparently and make considered, proactive choices on which devices to employ under what circumstances, and to create and enforce policies which would help others to do the same.
  • Successful companies will continue to gain market share in specific industries by delivering customer-driven IoT Use Cases.
  • As the convergence of industries continues to evolve, it’s important for product and company leaders to connect with the larger ecosystem of stakeholders and collaborate to deliver coordinated solutions. 
  • Consider joining consortiums around Open Source and Security and Blockchain as they connect stakeholders in order to co-innovate and share best practices.
  • We are gradually evolving to standards in the IoT space, which will help everyone better manage and predict the behavior of IoT devices which impact the people and the network.
  • Be bold, but also become more fully aware of the risks you’re assuming when you download apps and software, especially as it may affect the security of your network, the privacy of your data.

Trends and Predictions

  • Watch for leading companies including Siemens and GE, Emerson and Schneider and the Industrial IoT solutions they will create for enterprises.
  • Watch for security and standards and privacy software solutions which will help manage the proliferation and distribution of IoT devices.
  • Which companies will collect the HUGE volumes of data collected by these devices and provide reports which are usable and actionable?
  • There are HUGE opportunities for the aging market around IoT. Which companies will reach out to this open, large market with a wide range of needs ranging from transportation to e-commerce to entertainment?

The bottom line is that in this Age of Information, companies who can deliver the devices and actionable information and customized products and services will be well rewarded.

Be a Bigger YOU!

December 29, 2017 by

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-11,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

As we embrace the shiny newness and promise of 2018, reflect on what you’ve learned last year, and resolve to be a bigger YOU in 2018. The picture was taken in front of a sculpture of a tree near the Santa Rosa mall, and reflects the promise of new growth following the 2017 fires. The thoughts below represent my learnings from 2017.

  1. See competence and consistency as two sides of the same coin. Keep reaching for one, and let the other catch up before leveling up.
  2. Have the confidence to keep reaching for stars, and also the humility and openness to welcome input and feedback.
  3. Communicate boldly, clearly and transparently, but listen and observe more than you speak.
  4. Be open and imaginative enough to see through your own filters, as frightening and as confusing as it may be to do so.
  5. Have a strong moral compass around your values, but respect that others may have the same.
  6. Be youthful and energetic in your approach, wise and open in your perspective.
  7. Be compassionate and supportive, while also being wise and reserved for those who might take advantage.
  8. Strive for courage, and temper it with common sense.
  9. Be calm, especially when circumstances are extreme, but err on the side of measured action.
  10. Be slow to judge, quick to learn.

Wishing everyone a 2018 which surpasses your hopes and dreams!

Collaboration Best Practices

December 13, 2017 by

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FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices. We were fortunate to have a wide representation of companies, roles and perspectives for our panel discussion. Despite their many differences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They had an inquisitive nature and moved from many different types of roles, developing a broad background and perspective.
  • They witnessed and responded to the many changes in the tech sector related to both technologies and businesses. 
  • They built deep and broad connections which helped them to learn and grow and make measurable impact in collaboration with key stakeholders.

Our panelists agree that the pace of change is accelerating, so it’s becoming increasingly important to collaborate with others to keep up and remain relevant. This is true independent of role, company, gender, industry, geography, age, etc., In general, we must be more collaborative so we can be more:

  • inclusive, with many parties working on the same project. 
  • communicative, so we can share information real-time, and coordinate with people working on other facets of the same problem.
  • responsive to the real-time needs of our customers, working with many internal and external partners. 
  • comprehensive in our ability to address problems end-to-end.
  • efficient and accurate in delivering results.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for facilitating collaborative innovation is below.

  • Adopt a collaborative mindset.
  • Develop a skillset and adopt the tools which will help you communicate at the speed of business and coordinate with other stakeholders.
  • Make sure that you have the full information so that your project can succeed. Create a culture where the generous sharing of information is rewarded.
  • Seed a conversation with important stakeholders before an official meeting. They should not be surprised about a collaborative initiative at the meeting.
  • Sometimes there’s a been-there, done-that mentality for a change initiative which is more collaborative than the current standard practices. Patient management and data-based communication will help many people overcome these reservations. But there may still be hold-outs, as sometimes the older ways die hard. Focusing on the ‘loudest’ protesters might help everyone transition to a more collaborative mindset.
  • Be analytical in your orientation, detailed and thorough and frequent with your communications.
  • Model the collaborative management style you would like others to emulate. Show gradual and immediate improvements and measured results.
  • Facilitate an elegant hand-off between people and teams to ensure that the ball doesn’t get dropped between parties.
  • Authentic, honest, low-ego communications welcomes direct communications and transparency. These qualities help keep projects moving forward, especially when complications arise.
  • Be curious about the motivations for other parties. Find a common ground, based on their motivations.
  • Invite and respect the participation of all stakeholders. Keep them apprised of progress and reward for results.
  • When new collaboration partners come onboard, be proactive in your communications to all stakeholders. Everyone should know the strategic reasons for the new partnership and also be informed on partnership results and empowered to participate when it makes sense. In short – Inspire everyone about WHY something should happen; then Align stakeholders behind the partnership; then Change or Adjust where necessary, and then Measure for success.

Today, many corporate cultures embrace Collaboration as part of their DNA. Others tie collaboration as a key to Innovation. The bottom line is that creating CLEAR shared goals and managing by these objectives will encourage everyone to collaborate in achieving results. 

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Nutanix and our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ruth Cotter, CHRO, SVP Worldwide Marketing and Investor Relations, AMD
  • Panelist Nolwenn Godard, Head of Pricing Product & President of Unity Women, PayPal
  • Panelist Marissa Schmidt, Director Product Management, CITRIX
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Sr. Director Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix
  • Panelist Praveena Varadarajan, VP of Product Management, FICO

M&A Best Practices

December 1, 2017 by

Mergers

FountainBlue’s December 1 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘M&A Best Practices’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Intel.

Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives in attendance emphasized several times the importance of leadership and transparent communication, especially when companies and teams are undergoing great change. Below is some advice to support a successful M&A experience.

  • It helps to have an experienced team representing the acquiring company, with exceptional communication and listening skills.
  • Escalations and conflicts will happen, but if you work with a proven playbook, if you’re open about processes and procedures and cultural expectations, it increases the likelihood of success.
  • Knowing the reason for the merger and acquisition in the context of the larger market trends will greatly impact its acceptance from within the company and also externally.
  • Marketing and operations and IT all have roles in ensuring a smooth integration. Inspirational and authentic communication of intentions and progress will go a long way in growing the trust factor, which helps everyone involved better perform despite ambiguities.
  • Empowering those in charge to take risks and make things happen during an integration is a key strategy for helping two parties get better connected. 
  • Cut back in areas you need to as you integrate, but also make sure that you invest back in strategic, key initiatives.

Below is advice for start-ups who are seeking to be bought out by big corporations.

  • Be big enough in size and stable enough in technology before you seek an acquisition. Consider also corporate investment opportunities even while you’re small.
  • If you’re not ready for an acquisition, consider partner with an existing partner of the targeted acquiring company.
  • Understand the larger market trends and technology needs and see where your solution might fit into these needs, and which companies might have an interest in your technology.
  • Be ready for a culture shock going from start-up mode to corporate, which is by nature more slow-moving and process-driven.

In the end, start-ups are known for innovating, but not scaling. Larger companies are known for scaling and systematic processes, but not necessarily R&D. A successful marriage between the two would help all parties better deliver to customers, and better meet market needs in general.

A Note to My 20-year Old Self

November 22, 2017 by

As we enter into our time of Thanks-Giving with friends and family, and from there into the whirlwind of fun, work and activities of the holidays, I want to stop and write a message to my 20-year-old self.

This message is musings of my wisdom and learnings (such as they are) to the person at 20, so many decades ago, and yet just yesterday in my mind. It is also a message to my own daughter, who will reach that 20-year-old milestone in a few months.

  1. Be bold and keep raising the bar for yourself. Never settle. It won’t always feel good to always be reaching. But in the end, it will be all good.
  2. Know your values and never compromise on them for any reason.
  3. Make a stand for yourself and help others make a stand for themselves, but only if they want your support. This is the only way to overcome injustice and complacency, and help us all as individuals, as leaders, as people do our part in making the world a better place.
  4. “Right” has many definitions, many contexts. Never judge those who feel like they are doing the ‘right’ thing. Beware of people who would judge you for doing what you think is the right thing.
  5. Be ever inclusive, especially with people who don’t think or act like you do. It benefits everyone.
  6. Do the right thing, even if it’s inconvenient, even if there’s no reward, even if there’s a negative consequence.
  7. Have patience and tolerance for yourself and others. It’s a great path for growing and thinking and expanding.
  8. Take a page from Maya Angelou’s book – it’s more important how you make someone feel than it is what you DO.
  9. Celebrate the little things. Don’t take them for granted as they are the essence of life.
  10. It’s all about energy and love. Love what you do, and do it with and for people you love being with. Have the energy to do it well, and enjoy doing it well with and for others.

I hope that you also find it relevant and interesting for yourself and those you touch. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

Lean In, and Level It Up

November 13, 2017 by

NovemberWSSPanelFountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Lean In and Level It Up. We launched the panel talking about our greatest take-aways from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’. 

  • Work through your fear and find your voice.
  • Take a seat at the table at every opportunity, no matter what your role or level or background or authority is.
  • Be vulnerable and authentic.
  • Your career is not linear – it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.
  • Have the confidence to be your full self.
  • Don’t take your foot off the accelerator. 
  • Surround yourself with those who would support you in stretching and reaching for what’s next. Be that person for those around you.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for leveling up is below.

Be a leader you can admire.

  • Be confident enough to be assertive, humble and kind enough to be respected.
  • Challenge yourself to identify and overcome your fear.
  • Work hard and be passionate about and good at what you do. 
  • Spell out the problem, articulate the solution and detail the results for the work you do.
  • Try not to take things personally. Focus on the facts and the data.
  • More important than the work you do is the feelings you instill in others. Be the kind of leader who makes others feel good.
  • Be honest, open, transparent and authentic, especially when there’s a lot of ambiguity. 
  • Say what you’ll do. Do what you said. Show the data behind the results.

Seize every opportunity to grow.

  • Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Embrace the risk with every opportunity. Be comfortable with the ambiguity so that you can define and create success.
  • When you come against a difficult ‘either this or not’ decision, try to choose ‘this AND that’.
  • When you’re considering a great new work opportunity, make a choice based on your values and your priorities. 
  • Diversify your training, background and experience.
  • It can be overwhelming to be in the midst of a huge problem, which is also an opportunity. Have the support system around you so that you can take it one step at a time. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
  • Ask for the resources and authority and empowerment so that you can solve complex problems.
  • Learn from your mistakes. See failure as opportunities. Have a resilience to keep pushing forward, despite any setbacks.
  • Women may get fewer opportunities to lead at the highest level, and even when they do, the opportunity might not be ideal. However, the women who are succeeding even under extreme circumstances are paving the way for more women to reach the highest level, and grow the company and team from that level.

Be Collaborative.

  • It takes a village – be that supportive leader for others. Seek the support from others.
  • Grow your network so that you can have a broad and deep support base, and a broader view of the world.
  • Get the help and support you need to succeed. Delegate the things that you don’t want to do. 
  • Work with your team to get from point A to point B. But remember that not everyone can get from here to there, especially when there’s too much ‘history’ involved.
  • As you rise, always make room for others.
  • Build relationships with teams across the company. Trust others and be worthy of their trust. 
  • Partner with your spouse to divide up the other tasks so that everything is good at the home front. 

Be the best YOU you can be.

  • Keep reaching for stars. 
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Have mentors and heroes, but don’t try to replicate what they do. Be original.
  • Be versatile and broad in your impact so others can’t box you into a specific label. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate all your little successes.

The bottom line is that YOU are the best YOU there can possibly be. And YOU are in charge of Leaning In, to get the support you need, and Leveling Up, to the level that works for you.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Polycom and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Madhavi Deshmukh, Head of Product Management, Security Products, PayPal
  • Panelist Laura J. Durr, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Polycom
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks

Please join us also in thanking Polycom’s CEO Mary T. McDowell, who provided such inspiring introductory remarks to launch the panel discussion.

In Search of Unicorns

November 3, 2017 by

FlyingUnicorn

FountainBlue’s November 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘In Search Unicorns’. Thank you to this month’s participating executives and to our gracious hosts at Western Digital. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives this month had extensive experience with both large companies and with start-ups and even investment/corporate development experience. They had the following advice regarding the search for unicorns.

  • No matter where you are in the start-up-to-enterprise spectrum, remember that:
    • Companies big and small are challenged with integrating new technologies and solutions into their offerings in order to stay relevant to their customers and keep up with market demands.
    • Leaders from start-ups and companies need to balance their desire to manage innovation from within or create innovation at start-ups and get integrated into the enterprises. 
  • Work efficiently and effectively, within the environment, culture and ecosystem you’re in. 
  • The flexibility and excitement of a start-up might be better than the stability and resources of a corporation and vice versa, depending on your current objectives and perspective. Choose the best option for yourself and be open to re-evaluating your selection.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for creating, nurturing and growing technologies and ideas organically from within a company, and also strategically identifying and integrating start-ups worthy of acquisition.
  • Find adjacent technologies and markets for current solutions so that you can expand into new areas.
  • Create and manage an ecosystem of partners to support development and business expansion goals.
  • Keep passion and innovation alive, even when a company gets big and processes slow down how quickly things can get done.
  • Watch how the Terrible 5 (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, FaceBook) are impacting other companies in your space and respond accordingly.
  • Ensure a culture fit with potential acquirees to increase the likelihood of a successful integration.
  • The hiring of quality technical people will challenge the growth trajectory of companies big and small.
  • Focus first on the trend, then on the people who can create a solution to address that trend, and then on the idea.
  • When creating a new solution in the same market, having the same clan of co-founders makes sense. When creating a new sector and market, recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and help the team work together.

Here are some hot new areas to watch for:

  • Machine Learning and AI solutions which automate reporting and processes
  • Technologies and solutions around self driving cars 
  • Fitness and health-tech solutions for the consumer, but perhaps paid for by insurers, companies, even the government
  • Hardware and software solutions which leverage open source modules
  • Aggregating, managing, organizing, searching, storing huge volumes of digital content
  • Practical wearables which are also disposable
  • Device/IoT security and management
  • Edge computing as the evolution of embedded computing
  • Block chain use cases in finance, healthcare, transportation etc
  • Integrated services and solution will be more prevalent than individual devices/units/sales

The bottom line is the unicorns are not born overnight. There are plenty of technologies and leaders who have the potential to become those billion-dollar-unicorns. Actually achieving that unicorn status will take collaborative, systematic execution on plans extended periods of time, riding market waves and serving customers over five to seven years.

Peeling the Onion

October 30, 2017 by

OnionThe end of the year is a time to celebrate successes, reflect on learnings, plan for what’s next, and appreciate all that you have. This year, I see my gifts in layers, like the layers of an onion.

  1. I appreciate the roots of the onion, which connects it to the ground. It provides for our basic needs like food, water, air. I see the victims of the many disasters this year, from floods to fires to human-related calamity. My heart bleeds for them, and I feel grateful to have ongoing access to basic needs.
  2. The tough basal plate at the bottom of the onion is connected to the roots, and to me represents the basic connections between people which allows us to get along with each other, embracing our similarities and differences. We are all ONE, connected to the root, connected to the earth.
  3. The tunic of the onion – the paper-like outer piece – represents the infrastructure we often take for granted. I’m grateful for the predictable, stable infrastructure in my life – the rules, operations, processes, agreements, procedures, materials – which helps everyone make plans and get places and get things done.
  4. Then there are many ‘scale leaf’ layers of the onion. One of them to me represents the variety of people and experiences around me. Living in a dynamic and diverse region is in turns perplexing and annoying, while also being energizing and fun. I’m grateful for the diversity of people, thoughts and ideas which surround me.
  5. Another scale leaf represents exposure to the brightest, most creative technologists and professionals. I’m grateful for these brilliant others who have helped me to connect the dots in new, novel, different ways which benefit and serve others.
  6. Another scale leaf is the tangible results of connecting the dots – the technologies, products and solutions which have the ability to change the world. May we all be fortunate enough to have access to the tools and information and people who stretch my imagination, build my knowledge, exercise my mind and expand our outlook and perspective.
  7. The most unsavory, but also necessary scale leaf is the way which represents failure and under-performance. I’m grateful for the adversities in my life, and to those who helped me perceive them as a gift, a lesson to be learned, a stepping stone for what’s next.
  8. Another scale leaf represents the ecosystem of associates, family, mentors, and friends who help us overcome that adversity and be a better version of ourselves in many ways.
  9. The scale leaf closest to the center of the onion are the most trusted people – those who provide unconditional love, those who see you at your worst and at your weakest and stand by you still, those who provide support when you feel all alone, those who are just another piece of your very self.
  10. At the heart of the onion is the immature flower. It represents hope for the next generation and opportunities for the future and celebrates all things and people who help us each build and embrace a better tomorrow.

My wish for you is that you can choose an environment which welcomes measured risk-taking, applauds new ways of thinking, speaking and acting, and embraces opportunities for DOING things differently.