Women Making Their Own Rules


FountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules, hosted by EMC. Below are notes from the conversation.

The rule-breaking women on the panel had many things in common. They had a wide breadth of interests, education and experience, and continue to stimulate themselves, and investigate opportunities for growth and change. They are multi-faceted women, with interests at work, in the community, at home, in the world. They are business-minded and entrepreneurial, focused in the technology sector, while also recognizing that it’s the people who drive the technology. They are brave enough to try many new things and stretch themselves, wise enough to learn from their mistakes, and generous enough to share their learnings and earnings with others. They are the women who will continue to challenge and instill new rules, and make the world a broader, more meaningful place for both women and men.

They offered the following advice to help others make their own rules, and take charge of their professional and personal lives:

  • Make the time to reflect, meditate and have conversations with yourself so that you can make this choice. Choose to live a values-based, authentic life, guided by your True North. Your authentic self will then live the values you espouse, provide the value you desire, empower the community and people who mean most to you.
  • Do not put artificial boundaries on where you can go, what you can do, how high you can make it, etc. They are blinders that limit what you can see and what you can do. So question your assumptions, your past, the word of others who put those boundaries on you.
  • Aim strategically, be prepared, then act with confidence even if you don’t quite feel it yet. If you act with confidence and passion, and believe that you can do something, you can focus on achieving small results, the low-hanging fruit, which would bring you closer to a larger goal. From there, you can build on your successes, achieve your shorter-term goals, gain credibility, then keep reaching for stars.
  • Adopt a perspective of no-regrets: more ‘I’m glad I did that’ (even if it doesn’t go ‘exactly’ your way as it rarely does), rather than ‘I wish that I had done it’. Be more the kind of person who makes things happen than those who watch what happens, or those who wonder what has happened.
  • Anticipate what’s around the corner and respond accordingly. Leverage your experience and instincts to both better anticipate and respond, and even to proactively address what’s next, in business, in technology, in life.
  • Dare to voice your opinion, ideas, and options, and brand yourself as someone who speaks wisely, acts knowledgeably, thinks strategically, and gets results.
  • Be politically-savvy, engaging in conversations with stakeholders to socialize ideas and projects, and brand yourself as someone who adopts challenging projects, engages others in the process, and succeeds despite immense obstacles.

In the end, with all that our panelists have done and continue to do, they know that the heart of success is to encourage, inform, empower, and otherwise enable women and men to continue to make their own rules, and define and create the type of no-regrets life they were meant to live. So in their honor, and for all those who stand along, before and with us, be intelligent, purposeful, and passionate about a cause, solution, product, company, etc., serving those who matter to you, making it easier for others to follow.


  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (May 5, 1999)
  • Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath and Mary Davis Holt (Sep 13, 2011)
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Feb 16, 2010)


We would like to thank and acknowledge the speakers for FountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event:

Facilitator Pat Obuchowski, Chief Empowerment Officer, InVisionaria

Panelist Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue

Panelist Nancy Long, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Hitachi Data Systems

Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Cisco Video Security and Business Intelligence

Panelist Smiti Sharma, Principal Technologist, Office of the CTO, Greenplum EMC

Thank you also to our hosts at EMC.


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