Archive for January, 2012

Women Leaders in Conversation: Technology To Foster Mentorship in Education

January 27, 2012

Usha Sekar inspired us all with her career-long dedication toward creating, connecting and caring in a way that adds business value while producing lasting social impact for the good of the community. Usha leverages her phenomenal training and education in a practical way that grows teams and companies and produces results that serve the needs of the customer, and the community overall. Whether she worked in IT at companies like Tandem, Compac and HP or whether she was the CIO at Fujitsu, or working for her own or someone else’s start-up, her focus has always been on finding opportunities and solving problems leveraging technology.
Her current company, Meemli creates a versatile platform for connecting students to mentors on specific subjects ranging from science and math to writing and the arts, serving her passion for the education cause. Currently available in the market by invitation only, Meemli is partnering with nonprofits and foundations such as the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and its Step Up to Algebra program, as well as various California schools and academic institutions like UCSB to provide the type of targeted, one-on-one instruction proven necessary to build skills, build relationships, and ultimately to build confidence. Doing this in a trusted, private, protected system leveraging technologies helps ensures the mentor-mentee relationship, and facilitates growth, inquiry and learning, while also making it scalable to benefit all stakeholders, from mentors to students to teachers to schools and nonprofits. And doing it online will enable more people to participate and contribute as mentors, which is of particular interest to corporations with social responsibility mandates to build employee connections with the community, and serving in a tangible, concrete way, without the cost of commute time.
If you are a potential mentor, student, nonprofit, academic institution or someone else interested in Meemli’s way of leveraging technology to connect students with mentors, giving them the power to help themselves, e-mail them at info@meemli.com or find out more at http://www.meemli.com.

When She Speaks Notes: Expanding Your Circle of Influence

January 23, 2012

FountainBlue’s January 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have such inspiring and experienced speakers with a wealth of information and tips on how to influence in a corporate setting as well as in an entrepreneurial setting, how to influence with or without authority, how to do it well, and what to learn when it doesn’t go so well.
They shared their wisdom about the importance of influencing others, and how it is integral to getting business results. Whether they were currently in engineering or marketing or IT or product management, they agreed that influence is a key to successful communication and management, and consistently emphasized that the focus must be on finding a common ground, and navigating in a direction that benefits the group, the team, the organization, rather than focusing on the needs or desires or egos of specific people.
The panel agreed that influence is more about listening than about speaking. It is also about the golden rule – building relationships and treating others with respect. It is also about making commitments and delivering on those commitments, but the relationships, respect and trust are even more important than consistently delivering results. For if you delivered results but others don’t feel heard or don’t trust you, you will be less likely to get opportunities to continue delivering results.
They encouraged us to be clear in the purpose, strategic in aligning others toward that common purpose, passionate in communicating, motivating throughout the journey, persistent and resilient in the execution, despite resistance, and open-minded in considering when that purpose must shift, to best address the interests of all involved. This is not small task, but it becomes easier if we can think from the lens of influence rather than coercion through authority, and do that by building relationships and taking the time to understand the interests and motivations of those you work with and focus conversations on the data to support the shared goal as it will help make things less personal and speak to the more logical, less emotive side of others, while focusing on delivering measurable results.
The panel concurred that where there are people, there will be politics, and provided specific tips, including:
• When you encounter resistance, open-mindedly drill down into who is resisting, why she/he is resisting, and find a common ground to bring her/him in alignment, or at least make him/her feel heard.
• Having a sense of humor can help build trust, relationships and community, and help people feel better connected.
• Know your strengths and your weaknesses and delegate your areas of need to those who might have more skills, experience or passion in that area.
• Make the time commitment to maintain your network and your circle of influence, even when you don’t need something from someone right now. Keeping your own network alive and well will not only help you, it will support the overall ecosystem of relationships between quality people.
• Expanding your circle of influence involves taking measured risk for specific purposes.
• It’s not so much about gender differences, but more about communication styles, but in general, women are more intuitive and men may be more data-driven and detail-oriented and may need more detailed explanations about why plan A is better than plan B.
• Work with your company to align incentives and rewards around a corporate direction and time your communications with compensation plan updates.
• To be effective as a ‘virtual influencer’ (working with global teams), find a way to speak virtually over Skype or other video communication options where you can see a face *and* hear a voice. Also try re-stating and repeating what you heard to confirm the communication, particularly when you speak different primary languages.
It was truly inspiring when our panel suggested that we can all, as leaders, work for a larger cause, a greater good, beyond the immediate need. For example, they mentioned that if the enemy of influence is self-preservation, as a leader, we must watch to ensure that the needs of the greater group are more important than our own personal needs, and that those who approach us with requests are also putting the needs of the larger group in front of their own personal gain. Another example is when they said to make a stand not just for yourself, not just for your team, not just for your organization, but for fairness – to ensure that those who may not be around the table also get their fair share, because it’s the right thing to do.
We conclude by saying that influencing is analogous to being a rider on an elephant’s back. If you’d like to influence its direction, be clear on where you want to go, and know what motivates the elephant and how to communicate that this direction is also in her/his best interest, and motivating her/him throughout the journey, and beyond.

Resources:
• Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/switch-chip-heath/1100203647
• Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It (5/2/2011) by Jeremie Kubicek http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/leadership-is-dead-jeremie-kubicek
• The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (2/4/2008), by Stephen M. R. Covey http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speed-of-trust-stephen-mr-covey/1100630815?ean=9781416549000&itm=3&usri=steven+covey
• Smart Trust book by Stephen Covery, to be published January 2012 http://www.coveylink.com/blog/smart-trust-book-to-be-published-january-2012/
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We would like to thank our speakers for FountainBlue’s January 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority:
Facilitator Camille Smith, President and Founder, Work In Progress Coaching
Panelist Claudia Galvan, Lead International Program Management Group, Microsoft Corporation
Panelist Amy Love, Vice President Brand Communications, NetApp
Panelist Mary McDougall, Director, SaaS Strategy & Product Management, BMC Software
Panelist Kristi McGee, Principal Consultant with Office of the CIO and acting Director of Business Applications, Rambus Inc.
Please join us also in thanking our gracious hosts at NetApp.

Women Leaders In Conversation: Deepika Bajaj on Social Media Trends

January 19, 2012

In our January 12 Women Leaders in Conversation radio program brought to you by the Monali Jain Foundation, social media strategist, dynamic marketer and woman gamer Deepika Bajaj boldly shared her professional story about all the choices she made in the intersects of her career, how she always embraced opportunities, especially when they were uncomfortable, how she embraced new technologies, new challenges and learned along the way.

As a true entrepreneur, her view is that too many people spend time thinking and contemplating rather than doing and correcting. She was one of the first people to have a cell phone, allowing her to travel internationally and remain connected to important others in her life. As an engineer, she embraced the opportunity to get an MBA specializing in marketing. She launched her own business on a shoestring, and embraced social media as a low-investment, how-impact way to spread the word and build the business. Then she moved into gaming as a rare (and accidental) female gamer, and found that her strengths in technology, marketing, and social media are well leveraged in her current company. As an active blogger and expert in social media, Deepika makes the following recommendations for professional women (and men):

  • Embrace the possibilities of what social media can provide, rather than resisting it and pointing to counter-examples of its effectiveness. If you don’t join the crowd, you will be left in the dust, as the social media revolution will continue to gather momentum.
  • Social media is a great way to make your voice heard and impacts your career, your brand, and even the political structure of countries. Never underestimate the power of the written word in real-time communication, shared in community, through social media.
  • Casual gaming will really take off – and more women play casual games.
  • The new way of communicating will be more focused on the whole person, a 360 degree view of someone in authentic wholeness. Different generations will have different levels of comfort on how social media will fit into their lives, but the younger generations will have much less fuzzy a line between what’s public and what’s private. Social media will make it easier for everyone to share both.
  • Get on LinkedIn to share your professional profile, whether you’re in transition or not. Get on Twitter to hear what’s on people’s minds and follow influencers. Join FaceBook to share with others in community. And start blogging if you have content you’d like to share, and would like to start conversations on things that matter to you.

In the end, Deepika says that life is something that you design, with change the biggest constant. She encourages us to 1) be open to possibilities that will stretch us and 2) think how communicating who we are and what we do through social media can open up more possibilities for us.

Contact Deepika at deepikabajaj.com

Technology to Connect and Empower Caretakers

January 19, 2012

Our January 19 Women Leaders in Conversation topic was Technology to Connect and Empower Caretakers with Geetha Rao, PhD, Springborne Life Sciences; Vice President of Strategy and Risk Management, Triple Ring Technologies.
Serial entrepreneur, community activist, and ground-breaking, business-minded technologist Dr. Geetha Rao candidly shared her career path, from civil engineering to medical device entrepreneurship, from safety and risk management to business management and outreach. A thread of her career is centered around better serving people, patients and caregivers, through the use of technology. Over the past 15 years in the medical device industry, she has seen how technologies have better served doctors, surgeons and hospital administrators than they have providers like nurses and lay-caregivers. But innovations in medical device technologies, advancements in IT, networking and software, the rising costs of healthcare and other factors have shifted the focus from the high-investment, high-stake, treatment intensive care of the very ill to a wider, broader treatment of the less ill, with a broader impact on the overall health of a community.
But much has to be done to facilitate this happening, including the following:
• A broader and deeper collaboration between entrepreneurial innovators and the larger companies such as the Baxters, Medtronics and J&Js out there with the markets and channels and resources to package, manufacturing and distribute these innovations into market which would welcome them.
• More collaboration between software IT giants such as the Intels and Qualcomms out there and healthcare companies so we can leverage the software, database, and networking advances in the high tech space and apply it for healthcare needs.
• A balance between privacy and information access and policy to support that balance so that it’s predictable for all parties.
• A collaboration between patients, caregivers, providers, hospitals, government and all other stakeholders, to help facilitate an electronic health care standard which is adopted, accepted and implemented as an integral part of the health care system.
Geetha mentioned the following resources which are supporting patients and caregivers in encouraging this shift toward lower-cost, more effective treatment of the masses:
• Entrepreneurial events that facilitate conversation and bring people in community:
o VLAB http://www.vlab.org,
o Bio2Device Group http://www.bio2device.org,
o Astia http://www.astia.org and
o FountainBlue http://www.fountainblue.biz.
• Contract research and innovation lab Triple Ring Technologies http://www.tripleringtech.com. Attend their monthly MedTech Frontier series to find out more about this Newark-based organization.
• Patient community resources which connect patients and encourages the sharing of information and resources and facilitates collaborative and proactive action.
o Patients Like Me http://www.patientslikeme.com
PatientsLikeMe is committed to putting patients first. We do this by providing a better, more effective way for you to share your real-world health experiences in order to help yourself, other patients like you and organizations that focus on your conditions.
o CureTogether http://www.curetogether.com
The smarter way to find the best treatments. Get access to millions of ratings comparing the real-world
performance of treatments across 590 health conditions.
o Everyday Heath http://www.everydayhealth.com
EverydayHealth.com is a leading provider of online health information. We’re here to help you manage your own and your family’s conditions and overall well-being through personalized advice, tools, and communities. We’re committed to bringing you the most credible and relevant health information available online, and to giving you the best possible user experience. Our information is easy to understand and incorporate into your life every day.
o WebMD http://www.webmd.com
WebMD provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information. You can trust that our content is timely and credible.
The bottom line is that there has been a lot of movement over the last decade in enabling technology to empower patients and caregivers alike. And patients and caregivers will play a critical role in ensuring that they get continued access to technology advancements that could help in their diagnostic, treatment, and management of care for themselves and those they care for.

Women Leaders In Conversation: Deepika Bajaj on Social Media Trends

January 13, 2012

In our January 12 Women Leaders in Conversation radio program brought to you by the Monali Jain Foundation, social media strategist, dynamic marketer and woman gamer Deepika Bajaj boldly shared her professional story about all the choices she made in the intersects of her career, how she always embraced opportunities, especially when they were uncomfortable, how she embraced new technologies, new challenges and learned along the way.

As a true entrepreneur, her view is that too many people spend time thinking and contemplating rather than doing and correcting. She was one of the first people to have a cell phone, allowing her to travel internationally and remain connected to important others in her life. As an engineer, she embraced the opportunity to get an MBA specializing in marketing. She launched her own business on a shoestring, and embraced social media as a low-investment, how-impact way to spread the word and build the business. Then she moved into gaming as a rare (and accidental) female gamer, and found that her strengths in technology, marketing, and social media are well leveraged in her current company. As an active blogger and expert in social media, Deepika makes the following recommendations for professional women (and men):

  • Embrace the possibilities of what social media can provide, rather than resisting it and pointing to counter-examples of its effectiveness. If you don’t join the crowd, you will be left in the dust, as the social media revolution will continue to gather momentum.
  • Social media is a great way to make your voice heard and impacts your career, your brand, and even the political structure of countries. Never underestimate the power of the written word in real-time communication, shared in community, through social media.
  • Casual gaming will really take off – and more women play casual games.
  • The new way of communicating will be more focused on the whole person, a 360 degree view of someone in authentic wholeness. Different generations will have different levels of comfort on how social media will fit into their lives, but the younger generations will have much less fuzzy a line between what’s public and what’s private. Social media will make it easier for everyone to share both.
  • Get on LinkedIn to share your professional profile, whether you’re in transition or not. Get on Twitter to hear what’s on people’s minds and follow influencers. Join FaceBook to share with others in community. And start blogging if you have content you’d like to share, and would like to start conversations on things that matter to you.

In the end, Deepika says that life is something that you design, with change the biggest constant. She encourages us to 1) be open to possibilities that will stretch us and 2) think how communicating who we are and what we do through social media can open up more possibilities for us.

Contact Deepika at deepikabajaj.com