Archive for November, 2013

This Year’s Greatest Quotes

November 27, 2013

Best Quotes of 2013

Best Quotes of 2013

I’m privileged to be amidst the smartest, most motivated and creative community and culture in the world. I was born in Asia and have done my limited amount of traveling, including trips across the US and a trip to Europe decades ago, but there’s no place like the Silicon Valley for the tech entrepreneur, no more stimulating business environment if that is your passion. Ever open to the lessons and gifts of leaders across the valley, I’ve decided to collect ten pearls of wisdom to share, in honor of the holidays.

1. Better no relationship than a bad one.

Many frustrated people are deeply tied to relationships that bring them down, that focuses on old, looping or stale patterns that hold them in place. Spinning out of that mode means believing that they can choose to stop the pattern, that they believe it is better to stand alone than to be with someone who makes them stand still or stand down.

2. Don’t put lipstick on the pig.

See with clarity what is before you for embellishing what’s in front of you does not change the heart of what it is.

3. Humor connects.

When emotions run high, conflict is palpable, connect with each other and find the common human spirit and shared goals leveraging humor. Laugh at yourself, laugh at the situation, laugh at the lessons of life.

4. I must.

Successful are those who do what they must do, rather than spend the time and energy complaining about the why and the how of it.

5. Innovation comes from the top down, from the bottom up, from the outside in.

A culture of innovation emanates from the top, is executed from the bottom, and is focused on the needs of the customer.

6. More carrot, less stick.

Praise, reward and positive feedback bring out the best in all of us. Most of us high-achievers also have to tone down on the stick – the voice within us that judges ourselves too harshly.

7. Be fearless: if you succeed, it’s on you, if you fail, it’s on me.

Give others around you the freedom to fail forward, to learn and grow.

8. Complacency kills initiative and innovation.

Don’t rest on your laurels for only the paranoid survive and thrive.

9. We are all a work in progress.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Focus on the positives and on the journey.

10. Have the courage to speak difficult truths.

You are not doing your friends, family or colleagues or yourself any favors by protecting them from the truths you see. Share those truths with compassion and empathy.

Share your thoughts with us at


On Finding Unicorns

November 27, 2013
Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion Dollar Start-ups

Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion Dollar Start-ups

I read with great interest the TechCrunch article on the Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion Dollar Start-ups, defined as the .07% of companies started since 2003 that were valued at over $1 billion dollars by public or private market investors. It got me thinking about some indicators for unicorns: tech-educated professionals in their 30s starting companies with people they already know from school or work in the e-commerce (consumer pays), audience (ads or leads pay), SaaS (users pay) or enterprise (companies pay) space.

But beyond that, it got me thinking about what the next unicorns would be in the next decade, and of course how to facilitate innovation and business success for my clients and the community overall. Specifically, if the 60s brought on the decade of semiconductors, the 70s the era of the personal computer, the 80s, the prominence of networks, the 90s, the rise of the modern internet, and the 00s the prominence of social networks, what will the next decade bring?

As with previous decades, what came before is the technical infrastructure which would support the next era of technology discovery and economic success. And what we think is next will be the rise of the age of personalization. Below are ten potential successes to found and fund in the next decade:

E-commerce (consumer pays) –

1. Proactive Health Management with a Wearable, Diagnostic Component
2. Web and mobile-based proactive food/exercise choice solutions, with a way to compare self to others and implications of food/exercise choices made

Audience (ads or leads pay) – focus on volume of targeted users

3. Mobile Diagnostics (software only)
4. Interactive Mobile Games or conversations/content with targeted social media components

SaaS (users pay) – going beyond apps and storage

5. Mobile Diagnostics, with separate plug-in device (not just software)
6. Mobile and web proactive Health Management Solutions
7. Elder care management solutions for caregivers
8. Community-Based Funding and Gifting Solutions

Enterprise (companies pay) space – More efficiently serving and connecting employees and managing resources

9. Employee Health Management Solutions
10. Proactive, Integrated, Energy Management Solutions

For more information, read the TechCrunch article The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups

The Business Case for Diversity

November 11, 2013


FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was the topic of The Business Case for Diversity. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have a wide range of experienced and passionate panelists who provided insights, suggestions and advice for creating a business case for diversity. Although our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives from HR to strategy, from legal to program management, they spoke passionately about the need for embracing diversity, and the business implications of doing so effectively.

Our panelists had a wide range of upbringings which helped them appreciate and embrace diverse perspectives from an early age. Whether they stood out physically as an immigrant or whether they had the same superficial similarities as those around them, from an early age, they have each appreciated how different they are from others, and how every has unique perspectives to be considered.

Throughout their career, our panelists have traveled across cultures and continents, representing a range of perspectives and viewpoints and business units, always advocating for clients and staff, ever translating the communication of those swimming-against-the-mainstream viewpoints, ever looking for the business advantages for doing so. They consistently spoke not just about the importance of strategically embracing diversity, but also about how to do so tangibly and measurable so that it continually engages the needs of the customer, and serves the people, operations and processes of the company.

Our panelists today believe that strategically embracing a diverse range of perspectives will help create more robust solutions, and done well, facilitate healthy debate and engagement, as well as an environment in which those viewpoints are invited and welcomed. This type of corporate culture builds loyalty and welcome innovative, out-of-the-box thinking as well – both undebatable contributors to the bottom line.

Diversity in the workplace has become so much more important over the past two decades as technology, business, and customer needs are evolving much more rapidly than ever before and the focus is prominently on creating value for the evolving and growing niche customers globally. There were many specific examples about needing a team who can speak the language and understand the culture of global customer bases in order to understand customer needs, negotiate deals, and otherwise engage with critical partners from around the globe.

One of our panelists mentioned the different layers of diversity: the primary layer, things that we can’t (easily) change such as age, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, the secondary layer, related to geographic, income, work style, communication style, and the tertiary layer such as organization, position, union, management, and status. Incorporating a range of stakeholders with primary differences and engaging a range of stakeholders from different secondary levels (geography, role, styles) and then focusing on shifting the organization and the culture to embrace diversity at all levels is a worthwhile challenge for companies focused creating an ongoing business case for diversity.

Below is some specific advice from our panelists about creating a business case for diversity:

  1. Identify your niche audience and understand how to create value for them.
  2. Recruit people from your team who would understand the thinking and needs of that niche audience.
  3. Be open to those who don’t think like you, and encourage and reward others in your team and network to do the same.
  4. Create tangible results that measure success, which might include numbers around retention, sales, community and partner engagement, or other factors.
  5. See beyond the stereotypes and respond to the way people think, speak and act. Always question your own assumptions about stereotypes and embrace those situations which break your view of what’s expected.
  6. Change is difficult for some people and for some organizations. Making the business case for change will assist in transitions to new strategies and practices.
  7. Think act and speak your mind, and show how your thinking differently is good for yourself, your team and your company. Step into what is scary, and be confident that your thinking differently will make a difference.
  8. When someone makes assumptions based on your gender or looks, take the high road and prove your value.
  9. Mentors, supporters and networks facilitate the success of people who think differently. Recognize, respect and honor who has done this for you, and choose to do something every day to support others.
  10. The more diversity is successfully embraced in your organization, the more effective the business case for diversity as success begets success.

The bottom line is that diversity in the business perspective is not so much about moral and social justice, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. It’s about being profitable and competitive *and* doing the right thing – morally and fiscally – for all stakeholders, from staff to customers to management, need to feel included, and valued and respected, and supported for our differences. The more our actions, words and thoughts reflect this objective, the more engaged and successful our stakeholders will feel, and the better the results we deliver.