Archive for March, 2017

Tell Me Your Story

March 28, 2017

Story

People build instant credibility when they share their story. That is, if that story is true, is authentic, and resonates well with the intended audience. When you meet someone new, he or she wants to know not just about what you’ve done and where you’re going, but also about who you are, and how that might intersect with who they are, and what their interests are at the time. Telling your story will not only help you connect with people you newly meet, but also with people you’ve known for a lifetime. What’s more, it helps you connect better with yourself and your meaning, direction and purpose. Below are some thoughts on how to best tell your story.

  1. Decide to tell your story, rather than providing that resume in verbal or written form. The story will help you define both your purpose and your direction, and help you thread together the stepping stones along the way, first for yourself, and then for your audience.
  2. Don’t hide the warts. But don’t dwell on them. Nobody’s perfect. And if you *are*, you haven’t lived well enough. Understand why you took the detours along the way, and even consider the experiences ‘features, not bugs’. Emphasize the learnings behind the un-planned events, and how that added to your wisdom, strength, knowledge, direction and experience.
  3. But don’t highlight the warts. Especially if you’re getting the same life lesson again and again…
  4. Focus first on the beginning, then on the middle and then on the end. Your beginnings shape you and direct your successes and challenges to date. Your middle is where you are right now. How has that beginning shaped your middle? What kind of end would you like to shape? Are you headed in that direction? If so, detail it. If not, why not, and where would you like to go? And what’s stopping you from getting from here to there?
  5. Define the key characters in your story, and the choices you make to keep them engaged in your story. Do the have a full cast of characters? Who’s missing? Who’s engaged? Who’s playing the wrong role?
  6. What patterns are you finding in your story and what, if anything, should you do about it?
  7. What or who is missing in your story to date and what can you do to address that missing piece or person?
  8. What could you do today that you couldn’t have done yesterday or last year or five years ago?
  9. Who knows your story, and who should know your story? What would it mean if they found out about your story?
  10. What will you celebrate about your story? How will you celebrate? Who will you celebrate with?

Create your story . . . make it the middle and ending of your heart’s desire. Share it with those who matter to you.

Career Agility

March 13, 2017

WSSMar2017

FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such influential, well-spoken and diverse leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common:  

  • They did great work and got noticed by influential others around them. These people then became mentors, sponsors, and supporters – that network which helped each of them advance with their work, and with their role and influence.
  • Having this network of support made it easier for our panelists to shift from one project to another, from one team to another, from one company to another, from one industry to another.

Their collective advice for owning your career path is summarized below.

  1. Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Do what you’re passionate about. Be curious about new ways which would challenge you in good ways, so that you can keep relevant and engaged. Seek the opportunities that would stretch you and make you feel uncomfortable.
  2. Have the confidence to show up and do what you love well! Work with people you like, products and services you can believe in. Always stand by your values and principles, with your integrity intact. Your reputation and brand will speak for itself, and influential people may give you that opportunity to be agile, even if you’re not looking for it at the time!
  3. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Take the ‘go-for-it’ and the ‘what-if’ approach rather than wait for that coveted invitation, that perfect fit, that just-right job description. 
  4. Focus on solving problems in front of you. Doing so may open doors to opportunities which make you feel uncomfortable, but may be exactly what you need to stretch yourself.
  5. Embrace your failures as a badge of courage. Most people learn more about themselves and their world from failures than from successes, so welcome the opportunity to succeed, learn if it doesn’t go quite as expected, and be stronger for every attempt.
  6. Say what you want to do, even if you’re not clear exactly how it will happen to you. If you speak to the right people about what you want to do, that other person may have something in mind which would serendipitously fit your passion. Or they may be able to even create a door if they share your vision and passion! This is a planned happenstance . . . Coincidence? I think not! The luckiest people have adopted this strategy . . . 
  7. The way you communicate is critical to your success. Be clear first with yourself and then strategize on what you’d like to communicate to which audience to help you achieve what you’re looking for career-wise (and in all matters frankly). Market yourself authentically without “bragging”, and help others take credit where and when credit is due.
  8. When asked to compare working in start-ups vs working in corporates, our panelists agreed that working in both are important, and which one you select depends on what your current priorities are.
    • What’s wonderful about working in a start-up is that you get to influence the direction of the company, and shift and evolve quickly with the company. This allows you the opportunity to learn and evolve quickly and bring big-company experience to guide start-ups with their growth and expansion.
    • What’s beautiful about working in a large company is that you can be agile from within – shifting between projects and divisions and geographies, all with great opportunities for stellar growth, for lasting impact.
  9. Empower and encourage your team to step up and be heard if they want to have a seat at the table.
  10. Glom on to leaders and mentors and team members you admire and work well with. You may go through many journeys together.

The bottom line is that our panelists have encouraged us to both being open opportunities which arise while also setting boundaries based on who you are in terms of skills and values, what you want to do next, and what’s happening otherwise in your life. If you’re self-aware enough to know what you want when, you will be much more likely to have your cake and eat it too!


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba, an HPE company, and our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks, on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Aimee Catalano, VP, Partner and Integrated Marketing, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Jennifer Miller, VP and Associate General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Maria Olson, Vice President Global & Strategic Alliances, NetApp
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks 
  • Panelist Jessica Swank, VP Human Resources, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company 
  • Panelist Tricia Yankovich, Head of HR, Five9

Collaboration Best Practices

March 6, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 1.08.55 PMFountainBlue’s March 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Collaboration Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking the executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at SignKloud and Techlab Innovation Center.

The executives in attendance at this month’s roundtable represented a wide range of industries, roles, functions and company sizes. Below is a compilation of their ideas collaboration best practices leveraging technology and processes.

The conversation flowed through many technologies, solutions, stories and challenges around collaboration. Central to the conversation is the need for strong leadership, transparent and continual communication, alignment on near term and long term goals/mission/strategy across the organization, and continuous assessments and reviews to ensure that all of the above takes place. Below is advice on how to best facilitate that collaboration across stakeholders:

  • Identify and engage all stakeholders across the ecosystem and work toward common goals and milestones.
  • Proactively collaborate to create processes and adopt technologies that support the achievement of those goals.
  • Be fluid in selecting the goals, technologies and processes you leverage to achieve those goals, for change is a certainty, and the speed of change is accelerating.
  • Include a wider diversity of perspectives and people within your team, and a broader swath of partners and customers outside your team.
  • Balance in-person and video communications.
  • Physically locate teams in one geography, making sure that they have representation across all necessary functional areas so there are no inefficient road blocks due to logistical, operational or time-zone related challenges.
  • Locate corporate leadership team in one physical location for easier coordination and communication.
  • Teams may be in different geographies based on acquisition history. This may work well, provided that the product leadership team is located near corporate leadership team.
  • Have regular Agile-style stand-up, all-hands meeting to facilitate communication, collaboration and coordination, to increase overall accountability and to improve connections between people and projects.
  • Create integrated technologies and processes which take a project end-to-end, while also providing ongoing support.
  • Ask the perennial questions in this order: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How does it fit into our overall strategy? What are the metrics for success? How are we doing towards those goals? Should we change any element of our strategy based on metrics and feedback? REPEAT.
  • Hire the young blood to get things done, but also know when to bring in to the seasoned hands to lead. It takes a village and everyone should have a piece of the puzzle.
  • Know your non-negotiables for yourself, for your project, for your company, and stand behind them.
  • Communicate the following every week: What you did last week. What you plan to do next week. What you need from management to make things happen.

Below is a compilation of ideas on new and hot ideas around tech and process collaboration.

  • The innovations in data analytics, artificial intelligence, etc., are facilitating noteworthy innovations in genomic research which are leading to real-life, near term business solutions which also help patients and providers make data-based decisions around their health.
  • Healthcare is a lagging industry which is just beginning to adopt collaboration technologies and processes which will continue to transform the industry. There will be implications for: precision medicine, genomic research, patient diagnostics, medical devices, etc.,
  • Cybersecurity is a hot area in all industries.
  • There will be increased communication and coordination between people, technologies, and processes which impact all industries. Watch specifically for transformations in automobile, consumer home and health, retail, and everything in between.
  • Adding an element of creativity to existing technologies and processes may create attractive new solutions and business models. 

Below is a list of recommended collaboration tools.

  • Slack – Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
  • HipChat – HipChat is group chat built for teams & business.
  • WebEx – WebEx online meetings and presentations, webinars, town halls, online courses and training, and online presentations.
  • Zoho – Run your entire business with Zoho’s suite of online productivity tools and SaaS applications.
  • Salesforce – Build more meaningful and lasting relationships and connect with your customers across sales, customer service, marketing, communities, apps, analytics, and more
  • Chatter on Salesforce – Allow Employees to Share Knowledge,Drive Productivity & Innovate. 
  • Confluence – Confluence is where you create, organize and discuss work with your team.
  • JIRA – JIRA Software offers flexible issue and project tracking with best-in-class agile tooling for software teams.
  • Skype – Skype is software that enables you to make free calls anywhere in the world. 
  • RealtimeBoard: Whiteboard for Collaboration

The bottom line is that all businesses are run by people, and selecting technologies and processes which suit your people, and hiring people who fit that culture is a rudimentary requirement for success and growth.