Archive for November, 2017

A Note to My 20-year Old Self

November 22, 2017

As we enter into our time of Thanks-Giving with friends and family, and from there into the whirlwind of fun, work and activities of the holidays, I want to stop and write a message to my 20-year-old self.

This message is musings of my wisdom and learnings (such as they are) to the person at 20, so many decades ago, and yet just yesterday in my mind. It is also a message to my own daughter, who will reach that 20-year-old milestone in a few months.

  1. Be bold and keep raising the bar for yourself. Never settle. It won’t always feel good to always be reaching. But in the end, it will be all good.
  2. Know your values and never compromise on them for any reason.
  3. Make a stand for yourself and help others make a stand for themselves, but only if they want your support. This is the only way to overcome injustice and complacency, and help us all as individuals, as leaders, as people do our part in making the world a better place.
  4. “Right” has many definitions, many contexts. Never judge those who feel like they are doing the ‘right’ thing. Beware of people who would judge you for doing what you think is the right thing.
  5. Be ever inclusive, especially with people who don’t think or act like you do. It benefits everyone.
  6. Do the right thing, even if it’s inconvenient, even if there’s no reward, even if there’s a negative consequence.
  7. Have patience and tolerance for yourself and others. It’s a great path for growing and thinking and expanding.
  8. Take a page from Maya Angelou’s book – it’s more important how you make someone feel than it is what you DO.
  9. Celebrate the little things. Don’t take them for granted as they are the essence of life.
  10. It’s all about energy and love. Love what you do, and do it with and for people you love being with. Have the energy to do it well, and enjoy doing it well with and for others.

I hope that you also find it relevant and interesting for yourself and those you touch. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

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Lean In, and Level It Up

November 13, 2017

NovemberWSSPanelFountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Lean In and Level It Up. We launched the panel talking about our greatest take-aways from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’. 

  • Work through your fear and find your voice.
  • Take a seat at the table at every opportunity, no matter what your role or level or background or authority is.
  • Be vulnerable and authentic.
  • Your career is not linear – it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.
  • Have the confidence to be your full self.
  • Don’t take your foot off the accelerator. 
  • Surround yourself with those who would support you in stretching and reaching for what’s next. Be that person for those around you.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for leveling up is below.

Be a leader you can admire.

  • Be confident enough to be assertive, humble and kind enough to be respected.
  • Challenge yourself to identify and overcome your fear.
  • Work hard and be passionate about and good at what you do. 
  • Spell out the problem, articulate the solution and detail the results for the work you do.
  • Try not to take things personally. Focus on the facts and the data.
  • More important than the work you do is the feelings you instill in others. Be the kind of leader who makes others feel good.
  • Be honest, open, transparent and authentic, especially when there’s a lot of ambiguity. 
  • Say what you’ll do. Do what you said. Show the data behind the results.

Seize every opportunity to grow.

  • Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Embrace the risk with every opportunity. Be comfortable with the ambiguity so that you can define and create success.
  • When you come against a difficult ‘either this or not’ decision, try to choose ‘this AND that’.
  • When you’re considering a great new work opportunity, make a choice based on your values and your priorities. 
  • Diversify your training, background and experience.
  • It can be overwhelming to be in the midst of a huge problem, which is also an opportunity. Have the support system around you so that you can take it one step at a time. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
  • Ask for the resources and authority and empowerment so that you can solve complex problems.
  • Learn from your mistakes. See failure as opportunities. Have a resilience to keep pushing forward, despite any setbacks.
  • Women may get fewer opportunities to lead at the highest level, and even when they do, the opportunity might not be ideal. However, the women who are succeeding even under extreme circumstances are paving the way for more women to reach the highest level, and grow the company and team from that level.

Be Collaborative.

  • It takes a village – be that supportive leader for others. Seek the support from others.
  • Grow your network so that you can have a broad and deep support base, and a broader view of the world.
  • Get the help and support you need to succeed. Delegate the things that you don’t want to do. 
  • Work with your team to get from point A to point B. But remember that not everyone can get from here to there, especially when there’s too much ‘history’ involved.
  • As you rise, always make room for others.
  • Build relationships with teams across the company. Trust others and be worthy of their trust. 
  • Partner with your spouse to divide up the other tasks so that everything is good at the home front. 

Be the best YOU you can be.

  • Keep reaching for stars. 
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Have mentors and heroes, but don’t try to replicate what they do. Be original.
  • Be versatile and broad in your impact so others can’t box you into a specific label. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate all your little successes.

The bottom line is that YOU are the best YOU there can possibly be. And YOU are in charge of Leaning In, to get the support you need, and Leveling Up, to the level that works for you.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Polycom and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Madhavi Deshmukh, Head of Product Management, Security Products, PayPal
  • Panelist Laura J. Durr, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Polycom
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks

Please join us also in thanking Polycom’s CEO Mary T. McDowell, who provided such inspiring introductory remarks to launch the panel discussion.

In Search of Unicorns

November 3, 2017

FlyingUnicorn

FountainBlue’s November 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘In Search Unicorns’. Thank you to this month’s participating executives and to our gracious hosts at Western Digital. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives this month had extensive experience with both large companies and with start-ups and even investment/corporate development experience. They had the following advice regarding the search for unicorns.

  • No matter where you are in the start-up-to-enterprise spectrum, remember that:
    • Companies big and small are challenged with integrating new technologies and solutions into their offerings in order to stay relevant to their customers and keep up with market demands.
    • Leaders from start-ups and companies need to balance their desire to manage innovation from within or create innovation at start-ups and get integrated into the enterprises. 
  • Work efficiently and effectively, within the environment, culture and ecosystem you’re in. 
  • The flexibility and excitement of a start-up might be better than the stability and resources of a corporation and vice versa, depending on your current objectives and perspective. Choose the best option for yourself and be open to re-evaluating your selection.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for creating, nurturing and growing technologies and ideas organically from within a company, and also strategically identifying and integrating start-ups worthy of acquisition.
  • Find adjacent technologies and markets for current solutions so that you can expand into new areas.
  • Create and manage an ecosystem of partners to support development and business expansion goals.
  • Keep passion and innovation alive, even when a company gets big and processes slow down how quickly things can get done.
  • Watch how the Terrible 5 (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, FaceBook) are impacting other companies in your space and respond accordingly.
  • Ensure a culture fit with potential acquirees to increase the likelihood of a successful integration.
  • The hiring of quality technical people will challenge the growth trajectory of companies big and small.
  • Focus first on the trend, then on the people who can create a solution to address that trend, and then on the idea.
  • When creating a new solution in the same market, having the same clan of co-founders makes sense. When creating a new sector and market, recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and help the team work together.

Here are some hot new areas to watch for:

  • Machine Learning and AI solutions which automate reporting and processes
  • Technologies and solutions around self driving cars 
  • Fitness and health-tech solutions for the consumer, but perhaps paid for by insurers, companies, even the government
  • Hardware and software solutions which leverage open source modules
  • Aggregating, managing, organizing, searching, storing huge volumes of digital content
  • Practical wearables which are also disposable
  • Device/IoT security and management
  • Edge computing as the evolution of embedded computing
  • Block chain use cases in finance, healthcare, transportation etc
  • Integrated services and solution will be more prevalent than individual devices/units/sales

The bottom line is the unicorns are not born overnight. There are plenty of technologies and leaders who have the potential to become those billion-dollar-unicorns. Actually achieving that unicorn status will take collaborative, systematic execution on plans extended periods of time, riding market waves and serving customers over five to seven years.