Archive for February, 2016

Secrets for Leveling Up

February 17, 2016

LevelingUpThese are not really secrets, nor do they work for everyone, nor do I claim that below is an exhaustive list of strategies. However, the advice below in aggregate can help you rise to a higher level within your organization, if you have reasonable leaders in a growing and successful company.

  1. Decide that you want to level up and rise within your organization, and consistently strive to do so. So many people apply bursts of initiative and effort here and there, which only serves to confuse others – at times you’re seen as motivated and brilliant, and at other times, you fly under the radar. Consciously deciding to level up means bringing your A game every time, all the time.
  2. This is assuming that your A game is good, that you perform well by everyone’s measure, that you are successful working on a diverse range of projects and a wide range of responsibilities, partners and staff.
  3. Clearly communicate your role in the success of projects, without taking credit for the work that others have done.
  4. Watch for people who take the credit for the work that you do and strategize on how to fix that directly or indirectly. In the wort case, the leaders and management will never give you the credit, role, resources, recognition and responsibility  you deserve, so if you’re deciding to level up, you are in the wrong company.
  5. There are more opportunities in companies that are doing well in growing markets of course. However, there are also many opportunities to help stagnating companies in declining markets make a pivot toward a more profitable product, service or market. The key is to understand the needs of the customer in your market and adjacent markets.
  6. But knowing the needs of the customers and the trends in the market is not enough. You need to know how your company can shift its products and offerings to better serve that customer.
  7. And knowing that isn’t enough either. You have to convince key stakeholders throughout the organization about this strategy and collaborate with all stakeholders with the objective of better serving the customer.
  8. Succeeding in the above will change your relationships with many people. Most will be surprised to see a new side of you. Some will not like it, and try to play games and revert the relationship to the way it used to be. Get the support you need to be strong and purposeful. Know who your friends are, and don’t trust those who are only pretending to be your friend.
  9. Doing the above well means that you will have a larger profile, a broader and deeper network, as well as more credibility, responsibility and resources. You may choose to stop ascending if the responsibilities, pressure and stress are too much, if it’s not what you want or need after all. If you decide to do that, make sure it’s the right choice for you. It would be hard to change your mind later and try again to level up, for there will be those who remember when you last tried to do so. But don’t judge yourself if you decide *not* to ‘swim with the sharks’. It’s definitely not for everyone!
  10. But if you do decide to continue leveling up, make sure that you’re emotionally, mentally, psychologically and physically up to that level of exposure and pressure, and get the support you need to stay fresh, centered and strong.

Best wishes on your journey up the corporate escalator. We welcome your comments on how *you* would level-up.


Expanding Your Circle of Influence

February 12, 2016


FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence. We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives around what it takes to be influential and impactful within an organization. They agreed on the following:

  • Knowing who you are, what you’re passionate about, and being committed to delivering results and getting things done are the heart of every influential leader.
  • Communicating who you are and engaging and listing others in your web of influence to join in and support goals and objectives comes only after the first step, but is also critical.
  • Reaching for more breadth and experience, being open to new people and learnings helped make our panelists the successful and influential leaders they are.
  • Taking the high road, seeing the larger picture, and being open and accepting of others helps leaders navigate waters, which can be sometimes turbulent, especially when there’s a lot of change. And even when things are pretty stable, because of the nature of tech companies and the market changes overall, everyone needs to deal with a very diverse base of stakeholders. Learning the motivations of the audience, and communicating in a way they understand is also critical in order to be influential.

Below is advice from our panel for those who want to be more influential:

  • Don’t think that to be an influential you have to be a Dragon Lady. Be influential in a direct, positive, collaborative, win-for-all way.
  • In the same token, don’t hold back from trying to be influential because you want to be nice, because you don’t like conflict.
  • Get your facts straight and focus on the data to influence others on a course of action and decision.
  • Have a broad and deep network of connections, spinning a web across all those you touch. Use those connections to get the information, resources and connections you need to get work done!
  • Select a leadership team, company and culture that aligns well with your values, who you are, what you’re about.
  • Being trustworthy, authentic, goal-focused and direct will help make sure that you are worthy of the influence you wield.
  • Pick your battles. Know what you will focus on and change, work with what you can’t change. There will be those Dragon Ladies, those cows-in-the-road, but ignore and push forward to achieve that higher purpose. 

In the end, the heart of influence is a brand, a reputation for consistently and persistently delivering results, in a wide range of roles and settings.



Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence and our gracious hosts at Dell.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Megan Bozio, Sr. Director, Global Key Accounts Program Office, Oracle
  • Panelist Karen Randig, Director of Finance, Dell 
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Head of Open Source Strategy Office, SanDisk, President for Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) at SanDisk

Convergence of Industries and Technologies

February 5, 2016

AgePersonalizationFountainBlue’s February 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of Convergence of Industries and Technologies! Below are notes from the conversation. Please join us in thanking our execs for sharing their insights and to our gracious hosts at Applied Materials.

  1. There are more similarities between ostensibly disparate industries within and outside tech than we think. Being open to conversations with leaders from other sectors will help build synergies, ideas and relationships.
  2. The leaders around the table represent a wide range of industries from telephony to semiconductor, from storage to software of many ilks. Their stories reflected the emergence and evolution of tech within Silicon Valley over the last 40 years, but the greatest convergence stories were from only the last five years – an indication of how quickly things are emerging and evolving, and how ripe the opportunities are right now.
  3. Tech companies from across the valley are generally involved in many industry sectors, leveraging the business process, IT, big data and others successes from tech and serving customers across the globe, across industries with services and products. 
  4. With the consolidations in the market and the commoditization of specific hardware and networks, and the sophistication of cloud-based services such as Amazon and Google, tech companies and their leaders need to look beyond the infrastructure level for the opportunities to provide consultations, services and customizations.  
  5. Social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC, see Geoffrey Moore’s article, with credit to Malcom Grant of Cognizant for the acronym) will be an integral element to creating opportunities as technologies converge. Companies need to leverage social communication patterns of today’s customers, provide solutions which work on the preferred devices of their customers, leverage big data to better understand and even predict preferences and behaviors, and provide solutions on the cloud which keep information and data secure, safe, scalable, and reliable. 
  6. Technology will affect every industry, every sector, every company. Adoption rates may be slower for some people/companies/countries, but it’s a question of when, not whether tech will be adopted.
  7. Technology solutions in one sector are interesting opportunities for those in other sectors.
  8. Leaders who are open to change, open to adopting new technologies through development and M&A will remain leaders.
  9. There are many levels of resistance around privacy. Some people are OK sharing aggregated information and some people are very private indeed. Wherever you sit on that spectrum, expect that it’s a given that many will know what you do/what you’ve done, others will want to do something you wouldn’t approve once they have that information, and still others will try to protect you from that second class of people.
  10. Leaders, companies, governments are all struggling with that privacy and security question, working hard to get what customers want – secure and broad yet private access.

Below are some predictions for opportunities ahead.

  1. There is a tremendous opportunity to bring tech into low-tech companies and industries – from updating and automating manufacturing processes to providing rapid-prototyping and design capabilities.
  2. Tech companies could help bring aging infrastructure up-to-date, working in partnership with local, state and federal governments. 
  3. IoT opportunities will continue to explode, and everyday objects in everyday industries will be ‘intelligent’, sharing usage and location data, and also touch almost everyone.
  4. Standardizations around platforms, protocols and interfaces will evolve, and once they do, IoT opportunities will further abound.
  5. Watch especially for consumer wearables, mobile apps in all areas, including telehealth and localization.
  6. Tech companies and Biopharma and medical device companies will partner with communities of patients to develop personalized diagnostics and treatments and even cures. 
  7. Hospitals will work with tech and healthcare IT and biopharma companies to better serve the needs of the patients and the community.

In the end, it’s about leaders with the vision to see what’s next in the industry, what would better serve the customer. Choose a company and a leader you can work with and for, and do your share to shape the future. Surround yourself with others with a similar mind set.