Archive for April, 2011

Values First

April 28, 2011

Dear Linda, I seem to be in conflict both at home and at work and wanted to get your advice on how to build better alignment with my spouse and family and with my team and management. I’m not sure they are related, but Ill bring them both up because I’m experiencing similar incidence at home and at work.
My husband and I have two children, and are having some small quarrels about vacation choices and limits and consequences around the kids and their behavior choices – nothing serious, but always these little annoying conversations. The same is true at work where I’m a product manager. there are conversations about features, timelines, deliverables, budgets, you name it! It’s so overwhelming when both and life are a handful and there’s no reprieve. Is it a coincidence? do you have any recommendations?
She Who Is Overwhelmed

Dear She, I offer my sympathies as its difficult to keep it together when its coming at you from all sides! i recommend having a priorities and values conversation with your spouse and with your peers and executive management team. Find that alignment that brought you together, the shared values that will keep you together and work together to make it easier to make choices in alignment with these priorities and values. Here are some top ten ways how you can leverage to get there.
1. Know your whole core values and how they have expressed themselves in your personal and professional life. Notice when they have caused friction in either and see if the current pattern is another example of such.
2. Have a values conversation . . .
3. We believe that how you do one thing is how you do everything, so values-based conversations at home and at work will be similar.
4. If you can find little alignment, get help and give yourself space to air out feelings which might be causing a gulf in your relationship.
5. Work together to address this gulf, or decide together to agree to disagree, or not to bother bridging the chasm, and plan accordingly.
6. You don’t have to be in full alignment on all values, or even all important values. Decide to stay together and agree to disagree where it makes sense, and be sensitive to day-to-day activities which might circle around this area of sensitivity 6. Engage all parties in the priorities and values conversations and enlist them to sign on to how they can support a joint effort to improve collaboration and results. This is the same at home and at work, but the players are different!
7. If you find that you have compromised or are compromising your values too much, make sure this is the case and find the data, the facts about how actions and decisions are making you uncomfortable and work with others at home and work to make changes to better align with your own values.
8. When making a spouse decision, or hiring decision, it’s so important to have that values discussion up front. Even if it didn’t happen during the honeymoon period, it’s not too late to open up the discussion, even if things are going well. And especially if there is a new, big project (or family addition) planned!
9. You will be happiest within a family and within a company if you share values. As a parent or leader, you also have the responsibility to teach, train, reward, educate on values-based choices and decisions. Focusing on the smaller decisions and actions will help ensure that the bigger decisions head in a similar path in alignment with values.
10. Celebrate your victories, and appreciate that its a journey and will not remain fixed, but will keep changing and evolving, hopefully for the better This is a thorny issue, and not easily addressed, but we hope that the advice above from the people we’ve worked with will help bring clarity for you.
Best of luck,


Leveraging Roles and Responsibilities to Optimize Life-Work Balance

April 21, 2011

April 21
Roles and Responsibilities, an Excerpt from Chapter One: Life-Work Balance, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
Dear Linda, as a new mom and an up-and-coming product manager, I’m feeling quite overwhelmed. Of course my baby and my family are my first priority, and I want to be the perfect wife and mother. But I also have a lot of responsibilities at work, and an understanding but demanding boss. How can I do it all? She who-is-overwhelmed
Dear She, Congratulations to you and your family! I’m sure that you and your husband had many conversations about how to manage work and life prior-to-baby, but things change when it actually happens! Below is some advice I’ve culled from successful professional moms from our network.
1. Decide not to have it all, and not all at the same time.
2. Once you’ve decided that, decide which roles and responsibility you want to do, or are especially good at, and allocate the time to do those things well. Is it cooking? Is it playtime? Is it reading a book to your child before naptime?
3. List all the other things that must-be-done, but not necessarily by you. Then work with your husband and others in your network to decide who gets delegated what over what period of time.
4. Outsource the little, unimportant things. Find a way to pay for them. It’s worth it!
5. Build a network of other families with similar values and interests and support each other in your work-life balance targets.
6. Share your advice and resources with this network.
7. Welcome change, although all change can be stressful. Life would be dull without it.
8. Change your agreements on roles and responsibilities as things change for you, your husband and your child.
9. Decide to enjoy yourself, whether you’re at work or at home. Don’t get stressed over something that is not your direct responsibility at the time.
10. Celebrate your successes and enjoy the ride.
Best of luck as you being your journey. I hope that you find the advice helpful.

Physician’s Panel: Partnering with Entrepreneurs to Better Address Patient Needs

April 20, 2011

FountainBlue’s April 18 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of Physician Panel: Partnering with Entrepreneurs to Better Address Patient Needs, featuring:
Facilitator Amish Parashar, Stanford University Trans-Disciplinary Program
Panelist Arthur Douville, Arthur W. Douville, Jr., M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Good Samaritan Hospital
Panelist Guy Miller, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Edison Pharmaceuticals
Panelist Peter G. Milner, MD, FACC, Co-Founder and Executive VP Corporate Development Optivia Biotechnology and Co-founder CV Therapeutics, ARYx Therapeutics
Presenting Entrepreneur Subhash Kulkarni, post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Stanford University
Presenting Entrepreneur Thomas Ruby, PhD, Postdoc fellow, Microbiology and Immunology, Monack Lab

Please join us in thanking our hosts at UCSC Extension for graciously hosting us at their facilities and to our sponsors at KPMG for their ongoing support of our program and the series. Below are notes from the conversation.

The panelists concurred that there are many policy, funding, and operational issues which make it difficult to pharma, biotech and device companies to succeed. Even in the best of times, development, approval, reimbursement, time-to-market, financing and other hurdles make it challenging for companies serving patients, but times are even more difficult now. Traditional venture investors are more interested in funding later stage companies with tested technologies. Many early stage and even established companies are confused and frozen by FDA statements that new policies and standards will be in place, but without a timeframe or an idea of what changes are in store, people and companies are electing to take products and services off-shore for easier, less time-consuming, more straight-forward, less expensive approval processes. Thus, US leadership first in medical devices and now in pharma are migrating offshore to Europe, China and other markets which are easier to get funding, approvals and customers.

Although all is not lost, for there are opportunities still in the US, there are many ‘ifs’ we need to overcome.
• If we could come together as a community, and focus on the health of patients and supporting each other in improving the standard of care with egos aside, with fewer ulterior motives . . .
• If we could focus on patient care, and hospital needs, and change regulatory standards that support both (rather than create unintentional work and problems for both patients, doctors and administrators) . . .
• If we could get predictable standards and policies which protect the patient *and* support innovation and entrepreneurship . . .
• If we could focus on cost-effectiveness and comparative effectiveness without folding in egos and politics . . .
• If we could all be less litigious . . .
• If we could leverage technologies to better understand the vast amounts of information generated, and share standardized information transparently . . .
• If we could share our success rates and stories and collaborate with all stakeholders to better improve how we treat our patients . . .
• If we could incentivize all stakeholders to share information transparently and cooperatively . . .
• If we could entice more customers and funders to be invested in research to heal patients, rather than just making money . . .
Below is advice to entrepreneurs offered by the panelists:
• Partner with corporations who are interested in your space.
• Identify and recruit high-net-worth individuals who would be interested in funding your company for personal reasons, not just business reasons.
• Developing drugs and the life science area in general is not for the faint of heart. You must be persistent, dedicated, hard-working, good at what you do, and very lucky to succeed.
• The difficult policy and funding environment in the US is helping open up markets in Europe and China and other countries.
• Hopefully the US policymakers and funders, including new funders like foundations, will come around and there will be new opportunities here. Tested and approved solutions in European, Chinese and other markets might be more likely approved here if and when that happens.
Below are some opportunities to consider:
• Create solutions and services which enhance patient safety.
• Create solutions which address the connectivity problem – having data analytics to understand data and make decisions.
• There are opportunities around electronic medical records and standardizing data formats, making patient information more easily accessible.
• There are opportunities in predictive analysis which would be more effective than focus groups on very narrow patient populations.
There are huge opportunities to better partner with physicians and serve patients, but our work is cut out for us, and it will take a resilient, resourceful, flexible and collaborative ecosystem of stakeholders to better serve patients.

Stimulating Conversation, Building Community, Nurturing Innovation
At FountainBlue, we stimulate collaborative innovation one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time. We hope that our notes from our monthly events stimulate conversation on a topic of common interest, build a community of connected stakeholders, and in general, advance entrepreneurial business opportunities in this area. Please feel free to forward to interested others, with proper credit to FountainBlue and our speakers and sponsors as our notes are copyrighted by FountainBlue for 2006-2011. We welcome your continued participation and input and hope to see you at an event soon.

Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand

April 14, 2011

FountainBlue’s April 8 When She Speaks Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand and featured:
Facilitator Linda Popky, Founder and President, Leverage2Market Associates
Panelist Erna Arnesen, Head of Global Services Channels and Alliances, Cisco
Panelist Aditi Dhagat, Director of Client Engagement & Business Architecture, Adobe
Panelist Praveena Varadarajan, VP of Product Management, FICO
Panelist Alexandra Woody, Senior Manager, Program Management, EFI

Please join us in thanking our hosts at Adobe for graciously hosting us at their facilities and their ongoing support of our program and the series. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panel represents the breadth of experience from channel sales and marketing to engineering to product management. They have successful built and enhanced their brands within and across companies and have consciously developed and revised their strategies and approaches to building a stellar brand. They are known for the work they do, the results they deliver, and have graciously shared their advice and perspectives on what has worked and hasn’t worked for them.
They spoke about the how building their brand has helped them transition to new roles with increasingly more responsibility within their organization, to new companies with more and different opportunities, to new industries leveraging existing skills and connections. They spoke about elements about a successful brand, including a congruency within and outside yourself and organization, an outwardly-facing outlook, a focus on continuous improvement, an affinity for technology, and fearless authenticity. There was also an extensive conversation about the merits of remaining unemotional, focusing on facts rather than emotions and how valuable that is within a business setting.
Our panelists repeatedly pointed out that building a brand does *not* mean getting the messages right all the time, every time. That’s too hard considering how easy it is to get it wrong, how many ways to screw up there are, given that our every move might be noticed and YouTube-ed or FaceBook-ed or Twitter-ed! However, it *is* about fixing it when it goes wrong, adhering to a core set of values, learning from our mistakes, sharing candidly with others, becoming stronger and moving toward a known destination, *because* you are genuine and human.
Below is more specific advice from our panelists:
Know Yourself
• Know and live your values.
• Be your own person. Don’t think and act the way someone else thinks.
• Accept what yourself for who you are – the good with the bad. Accept also that you *can* change about yourself, if you decide you really need to.
• These days, with so much movement between companies, people should see themselves as independent contractors rather than a life-long employee and position their brand accordingly.
• Challenge yourself to stretch beyond your comfort zone regularly in many ways.
• Find the intersect between your passion and your skills and the market need to build your brand and career around that niche.
Be Strategic
• Accept that people are going to have an opinion and perspective about you and the work that you do, so be proactive about developing your own brand.
• Know who you want to impress and build relationships with and why.
• Know where you are headed and how your current actions and decisions and successes will help you get there. Course-correct as necessary.
• There’s a balance between planning your brand and letting the messages flow. Nobody can control everything that impacts how they are viewed by others, but planning and correcting perceptions will help you ensure that your brand is communicating how you want to position yourself to others.
• Try to be fearless and act with honesty and integrity, especially when the stakes are high.
Communicate What You Have to Offer
• Be cognizant of what’s hot in technology and position yourself as an expert in some way.
• Be prepared to address technology needs and trends and make this a part of your brand.
• Face brand issues head-on and immediately, updating communications, speaking one-on-one with others involved, doing what it takes to smooth things over and maintain relationships and the brand integrity you’re seeking.
• Be articulate and crisp in your communications and balance it with silences so that you can listen.
• Social media is a double-edge sword, making it easier in some ways to build and extend your brand, and also making it more difficult to ensure a pure and consistent brand message for both individuals and companies.
• Communicate your brand based on the preferences of your audience.
• Become known as a problem-solver, doing what you do well.
• Become known to others in your industry and role for the great work that you do.
• Make sure that you get the credit for the work you’ve done.
• When things *don’t* go your way, assume that others have good intentions and that the simplest explanation may be the cause of a misunderstanding. Even if it’s as bad or even worse than you thought, try to give yourself some time to cool off and *not* be too reactive in your communications.
Build a Strong Network
• Pay it forward and help others, regardless of whether you see the short term reward.
• Build and maintain a network *before* you desperately need one, during a job transition, for example.
• Continue your strategically network and focus on quality rather than quality of connections.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

April 13, 2011

April 14
Credit Where Credit is Due, an Excerpt from Chapter Two: Politics and Power, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
Dear Linda,
I’m told that I’m really good at what I do, but also that I need to learn to play the game of politics better to climb the corporate ladder. I like having new ideas, and getting people to come to consensus, but it’s really hard to do so in a meeting where there are people who take the credit for my ideas at the meeting or outside the meeting. I try not to get mad at them, but it’s sucking my energy, and it makes me mad to see them rewarded for their behavior. I’m not sure if I want to sign up for more of this. I just want to be nice and to be liked and to be effective. Should I just mind my own business, do my work well, and stay out of the political foray? She-Who-Wants-Credit

Dear She, Yours is a common issue. Most of us want to be liked AND effective, and none of us want to be seen as the ‘dragon lady’! And it’s only natural to expect rewards for the work you do, and to be upset if someone takes the credit for it. Here are some tips to help you get the credit you deserve for the work you do well.
1. Decide it’s OK to take the credit for the work you’ve done, and accept that you may get more visibility and responsibility and opportunity for doing just that.
2. Be clear in your communication about what you are planning to do for each project and the results that you deliver. Ensure that the key players are informed of your progress. Don’t be afraid of blowing your own horn. Make it fact/data-based communication with measurable, quantifiable results.
3. Be clear on your role and the role of others involved in the project and who should get credit for what. Spread the credit as widely as possible, and engage as many as possible in the successes.
4. Build relationships with all members of the team, all who will be participating in meetings. Know the motivations and perspectives of others on the team, and support them in achieving their goals, and ask them to support yours.
5. If and when someone takes the credit or violates a trust inside or outside a meeting, decide to be direct with them. Know the facts and filter out the emotional impact of what happened. Then approach him/her in an unemotional way about the facts and their implications and try to come to a consensus about how to move forward. This is not easily done. But finding a common objective, and collaborating to reach those objectives will help reach consensus.
6. If there are repeated infractions and lack of trust, create boundaries for how and when and under what terms you will work together. Call them on small infractions so that it doesn’t escalate into larger ones. Stop seeing yourself as the dragon lady if you do so. And don’t do it in an emotional, reactive way, so that they are less likely to see you as the dragon lady.
7. Focus on the positives and the results and you will see that there will be increasingly more positives and results.
8. Choose who is on your team and which team you work with based on past history and successes. Many times, the team may be more of an indication of success than the project.
9. With that said, choose a project that will likely have a large impact on the company, and recruit a stellar team for that project.
10. Celebrate when you do a great job, and invite invested others to join in the celebration.
Good Luck! Keep raising the bar on what you do and how well you do it, and make sure that you get the credit for doing so!

Mending Fences with Family Members

April 7, 2011

Family Members, an Excerpt from Chapter Six: Mending Fences, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
April 7,
Dear Linda
I used to get compliments all the time about how I’m able to fit in work, family, community, everything. But lately the family dynamics is really getting to me, and I’m feeling both sore and all alone. I don’t know if it’s my own work schedule, my husband’s job demands, the needs of our growing children, or just something in the air. There’s a rift between myself and my husband which started with a conversation about how to support his aging parents and has escalated into everything from who has what household roles to how the kids should be more independent and take on more responsibility. I’m tired of the battles and want to go back to a time when we were more in synch, more aligned, more on the same page. Any suggestions?
Thanks, She-Who-Feels-Alone
Dear She, I feel your pain and the great burden of responsibility of the sandwich generation overall – the need to care for aging parents and parents-in-law while raising children and managing career goals and maintaining a deep connection with your spouse. Here are some ideas on how to regain the balance you miss, how to mend and tend fences and find a path to go forward together.
1. In reviewing the situation and strategizing your actions, consider each relationship individually: husband and wife, mother and child, mother and in-laws, etc and consider separately how the dynamics work together.
2. Be clear on what needs to be fixed and how not-fixing it is impacting your happiness and that of your family.
3. What changes in your life or that of your other family members have led to the new stresses in your life? How can you minimize the negative impact of these changes?
4. Strategize how to communicate this need to your spouse (or other family member).
5. Enlist their input and help in coming up with a plan that would support both your interests.
6. Focus on changing the small stuff, which helps the bigger stuff happen.
7. Create boundaries on roles, responsibilities, communications, etc. Work with each other to maintain these boundaries.
8. Have a realistic view of what it used to be like, and a new and realistic view of where you want to be, and celebrate as you make progress towards these goals.
9. Remember that it’s more about how you make the other person feel than about being right.
10. There is no more important relationship than that with your family. Invest in making it all work together. Learn from growing these relationships. Consider how friction in relationships at home may be lessons about other parts of your life, including your business life.
This is not easy stuff, and not a small issue. This is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the interactions, and invite more learnings and knowledge and deeper conversations through the process.
Best of Luck,

Getting Plugged Into the Utilities

April 5, 2011

FountainBlue’s April 4 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of Getting Plugged Into the Utilities, featuring:

Facilitator Christine Hertzog, Managing Director, Smart Grid Library

Panelist Lucian Ion, Director, Smart Grid Solutions Strategy, GE

Panelist Raj Krishnamurthy, Automatiks

Panelist Randall Wong, Emerging Technologies Program Manager, PG&E

Panelist Danny Yu, CEO, Daintree Networks Inc.

Presenting Entrepreneur Dr. Ed Cazalet, Vice-President and Co-Founder, MegaWatt Storage Farms

Presenting Entrepreneur Michael Leppitsch, Founder and CEO, Gridata

Please join us in thanking our hosts at SRI and our sponsors at KPMG for their support of this program and the series. Below are notes from the conversation.

The panel remarked that utilities serve three masters: shareholders, customers, commissioners, and this must be taken into consideration as entrepreneurs consider how their solution works with utilities. Because of decoupling, our local utility, PG&E, is motivated not to sell more energy, but to most efficiently deliver energy to its customers, so they actively encourage entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to present energy efficient options for review and incentivize customers to adopt these solutions.

One of the themes that came through in the conversation is the need to work with all stakeholders to encourage and support better storage and distribution technologies and processes, which would create an infrastructure conducive to getting energy cost-effectively into the hands of consumers, helping them better understand and better manage how energy is used. The PUC now has a mandate to put storage on the grid, so changes are imminent, and hopefully things will improve as a result.

Pricing also greatly impacts the energy usage decisions of users, particularly corporate users. Our panel covered solutions for optimizing heating, cooling and lighting for facilities managers, and mentioned that they get the ROI, particularly if the sensors and software solutions allow for automation and self-management, and has a transparent, easy-to-understand user interface.

The panelists commented on the importance of dynamic pricing of energy cost, and dynamic choices made by users and automated through sensors and software. Current demand response requirements are starting to pay attention to pricing, but does not meet dynamic pricing goals which are more immediate, more detailed, more like stock exchange, which is instantly updated based on huge volumes of transactions.

The panelists made the following suggestions for entrepreneurs innovating in this space:

As with any business, understand your target market and customer and their needs. In the energy usage space, the customer might be utilities, facility managers/corporations, and residents.

* Focus on how energy creates value for your customer and work from there.
* Consider how better managing and understanding energy usage patterns can lead to savings and opportunities for the customer

The clean energy industry, although ripe with opportunities is more difficult to manage as the stakes are high, as are the number and power of stakeholders.

* Partner with PG&E and corporations like GE to better vet your technologies and serve their markets.
* Collaborate with other stakeholders to adopt and update policies which embrace new innovations in energy storage and usage, and facilitates further communication and partnerships between entrepreneurs, utilities, corporations, academics and end users.

Leverage expertise in devices and wireless and software solutions and apply it to the energy efficiency, management, storage and distribution needs of facilities managers as well as homeowners and small business owners.

* There are many existing technologies out there that could be bought and integrated into successful service and product offerings. You don’t need to re-invent those technologies to start a business.
* Provide a service to help others in this space, helping them create software and hardware solutions which fit standards and policies and making it easier to deliver their solution to the end customer.

Work with existing infrastructure and technologies and mandates to discover opportunities.

* Energy generation innovations will help our state reach our renewables mandates over the next decade. If you are innovating in this space, consider the current mix of energy sources, like hydro, gas, coal, nuclear etc and how your generation method fits in and how it would work with existing storage and distribution infrastructure.

The panelists highlighted the following hot areas of opportunity:

* Wireless advanced lighting control with hardware and software elements
* More detailed, real-time data on energy usage
* Managing loads and quality in the last mile
* Electric vehicles – growing adoption curve
* More sophisticated sensor-hardware-software integration getting into the hands of facilities managers and residents

The bottom line is that energy users don’t want to be mandated how they use their energy, but want to adopt software and sensor self-management solutions which allows them to be more aware of usage patterns, and also select optimal comfort and flexibility. Simple as that sounds, with all the policies, standards and politics, along with the wide range of stakeholders and the high stakes involved, this is not as easy as it looks.

Resources and Additional Information:

* PG&E’s Emerging Technology Coordinating Council (ETCC) activities can be found at which is the statewide website. Upcoming dates and locations are listed below and there are also emerging technology roundtables for companies with existing technologies.

o May 5 ET Open Forum SMUD, Sacramento

o May 12 TRIO Symposium SCE, UC Irvine

o July 12 TRIO Symposium PG&E, Mission Bay Conference Center @ UCSF

* Christine Hertzog’s Smart Grid Dictionary

Christine Hertzog’s Smart Grid Dictionary provides definitions of over 1200 Smart Grid terms, jargon, and acronyms and contains descriptions of the most important international, national, and regional regulatory agencies, industry associations, and standards organizations that influence Smart Grid technologies and their website addresses for convenient reference.

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Our notes are copyrighted by FountainBlue for 2006-2011, and shared with permission from our speakers, sponsors and community. Please do not forward to others outside the attendee list or without prior permission.