Archive for March, 2018

The Inner Journey

March 27, 2018

Life coaching, motivation and self realization concept

The wise say that life is a journey, not a destination. And in that journey, your greatest obstacles come from within.

It’s a given that we will faces challenges great and small. But the inner conflicts are the ones that limit our ability to rise, to shine, to excel, and to become a bigger, better version of ourselves.

Sometimes these barriers are a reflection of our current mindset and circumstances. We just aren’t ready to think and do things differently.

1.We might have a mind-set that we’re not good enough, and may never be good enough to reach for that next level.

It might be related to a misperception of what’s involved, or a disconnect between your perception of your own abilities and the needs for that next project, role or level. You may be happy and satisfied with this mind-set. But if you’re not, start by asking questions about the opportunities, your assumptions and your abilities.

Asking the right people and getting candid answers will help you better understand circumstances beyond your own perceptions and reality. This is generally a good thing!

2. We may be responding or reacting to past mistakes, or even still suffering brand and financial consequences from same.

  • Embrace the courage, fortitude and resilience to make the most of failures.

Make failure the fodder for future success.

3. We might be challenged by life circumstances that make it difficult to embrace something new and challenging.

  • The important people in your life are the most important things in your life. If you need to be there for someone important in your life, make that choice to do so, and postpone those other opportunities.

Don’t second-guess yourself for putting the people you love first. Don’t judge others if they made that choice for their loved ones.


Sometimes these barriers are a result of negatively comparing ourselves to other people or other ideals.

1. We live in a competitive business environment where there are so many talented, accomplished intelligent and accomplished people.

  • It’s hard to compare yourself positively with those amazing people around you.  And you should choose to work with amazing people as it increases the likelihood of success!

You are likely too biased to fairly assess the needs and the intersect with your abilities, but if you gather multiple inputs from wise and trusted others, you will find a truth larger than one you can own yourself personally.

2. Sometimes we limit ourselves by assumed ‘Must Have’ requirements that don’t fit your own profile.

  • You can’t change your gender, IQ, SAT score, alma mater, track record, year of birth, etc., and if you assume that your characteristic precludes you from specific role(s), opportunities, etc, you’re very much limiting what you can target.

What opportunities would open up for us if we start questioning our ‘Must-Have’ assumptions?


Sometimes our own self-centered view of the world prevents us from seeing a broader, bigger set of opportunities.

1.The defeatist ‘It-Will-Never-Work’ perspective may be true some of the time, but generally it zaps energy from an idea that may have been promising.

  • Be open to what’s new and what’s different, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Give someone or something a chance unless all the data says it’s not practical or logical to do so.

2. The ‘It’s Too Late’ mindset assumes that an idea or opportunity is too late to market or does not add enough differentiating value compared to competitive offerings.

  • It’s hard to get with the program if that’s what you’re thinking, and it’s hard for a project to succeed if many people had that mindset. If you feel that way, make the case for changing the offering, disagree and commit or find another opportunity.

Having the too-late mindset will not help the company or product succeed and you will be unhappy while going through the motions.

3. The ‘Been-There, Done-That’ mindset means that you don’t want to try doing again what you’ve already seen or done in the past.

  • This might be because you didn’t like it last time, or it didn’t go as well as you expected last time, or you don’t think it will be an enriching experience to do it again.

Sometimes that ‘Been-There, Done-That’ perspective is useful, and sometimes, not so much.

4. The ‘Not-Invented-Here’ mindset makes it hard to follow someone else’s idea.

  • This is especially true if it’s counter to what you’re used to, or what you think should be done instead.
  • Sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow, to have to follow that particular someone’s idea…

Sometimes following someone else’s idea or energy can open up new opportunities, thoughts, relationships and energy.

5. The ‘It’s-Not-My-Fault’ mindset is often built on fear of failure, and a history of lackluster results.

  • If you’re going to commit, commit fully and be prepared for the results, good or bad.

Own up to the results, whatever they are. This is the best way to learn from each attempt.

Best wishes on your inner journey. You are the only one who can manage it and direct it, so make the most of it and STRETCH your own perception of yourself.

 

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Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

March 16, 2018

FountainBlue’s March 16 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

We were fortunate to have an experienced and passionate set of panelists, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and perspectives. They shared much in common:

  • A seasoned leader noticed each of them early in their career, and helped them see themselves as bigger and better than they thought they could be, to reach higher than they thought possible, and to act despite the fear.
  • Each panelist took that chance and explored various dimensions of jobs and roles, learning with each opportunity.
  • Each panelist is invested in giving back to the next generation of leaders, so that others who follow can benefit from their experience and wisdom, just like they benefited from the person who mentored them early on.

The panelists talked at length on the benefits of champions and advocates, who root for you and recommend you, especially when there are specific opportunities ahead. They spoke also of mentors who are grooming the next generation, and the business value of supporting mentees. They spoke of the value of coaches, generally experienced, external supporters who help people understand how they and their projects and actions might fit into the larger picture for the team and organization. They spoke of sponsors, who are best known for having the influence to open doors, to create opportunities and nominate people to these roles.

When the question of gender was brought up, the panelists acknowledged that gender does matter. Men and women are biologically different especially under extreme circumstances including pregnancy. But they centered back to the core focus around leadership and innovation and urged us to see the greater picture beyond gender, so that together we could build a meritocracy.

They each told stories about the role all these supporters played in their own professional careers, and how they each planned to do the same for others around them.

The panelists had the following collective advice for mentees.

On preparing yourself for having a mentor:

  • Be open and prepared to embrace new ideas, new concepts, different roles, different companies, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. 
  • Be curious about your blind spots. You don’t know what you don’t know about yourself, unless you ask others what you need to know in order to learn and grow.
  • Be a sponge – a curious and active listener.

On selecting a mentor:

  • Work with someone you can trust.
  • Be clear on what you’re looking for in a mentor. Work backwards – decide how you’d specifically like to grow, and identify who could help you do what in order to grow.
  • Consider looking for people who are not like you.
  • Look for someone inspirational who may be willing to groom you, support you.

On ensuring a successful mentorship experience:

  • Be willing to work hard, in order to honor the energy and time the mentor has invested in you.
  • Have a specific goal in mind. Measure and report on progress towards that goal.
  • Create that network of people who can support you as you grow and change.
  • Make the best of every opportunity, and learn at every juncture.
  • Ask for direct, clear and transparent feedback and learn and grow from the input.
  • Ensure that each conversation is valuable to all involved.

The panelists had the following collective thoughts about becoming a mentor.

  • It’s a rewarding way to give back.
  • It’s a great business value for the team, project and organization.
  • If the technology is working, and the marketing/sales is humming, then it’s all about the people. Invest in those people. Mentor, coach, advise and support them throughout the cycle – from recruitment to development to retention to development.
  • Team is everything. Sometimes one and one makes 11, and sometimes one * one is still one. 
  • With mentoring, you can help make sure that ‘the right people are on the bus, in the right seat’.
  • Ensure that each conversation is valuable to all involved.

Our bottom line is that the best leaders had an army of supporters – mentors, coaches, advocates, sponsors, champions – and that leadership and innovation will perpetuate around a virtuous loop of positive and supportive experiences.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 16 When She Speaks in SF event, entitled Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My! and our hosts at Mapbox.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Sylvie De Wever, GM Latin America & Head of Marketing Emerging Markets, eBay
  • Panelist Maranda Ann (VandenBroek) Dziekonski, COO, rentL
  • Panelist Nancy Gilbert, Director, Program Management, Lam Research Corporation 
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Zaina Orbai, Vice President, Global Head of People, Mapbox 

Transitioning from Technologist to Manager

March 12, 2018

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-11,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Transitioning from Technologist to Manager!  We were fortunate to have an experienced and passionate set of panelists speak to their technical and management experience. 

We were in agreement that the technologist-vs-manager choice is highly dependent on the circumstances – the type of project, team, role and company for example – as well as personal preference.

Our panelists advised us to know ourselves first – our strengths, our aspirations, our goals. From there, we can decide what you want to do and do it well, whether as a technologist or as a manager. 

It’s all about being credible, and having a solid reputation for delivering on projects, for being kind and helpful to others, and for being bold and hard-working. 

Once you have a track record and built your credibility, be open to the opportunities ahead, and invite the support of influential others. You can plan-fully do that, or it may just serendipitously happen for you, provided you have that solid track record for delivering on challenging projects. 

The caveat is that when you deliver on key projects, it’s important that the right people know that 1) YOU are achieving great results (so someone else doesn’t take credit for your work) and that 2) they know that you’re OPEN to more challenging and different opportunities, whether that be as a technologist or as a manager. (They may otherwise assume that you’re happy doing what you’re doing.) If you don’t make that clear to people around you, you might feel stuck and frustrated with the same types of projects and little growth opportunity. 

The question came up about whether to stay in technology or go into management. The response was that some people like getting into the details with the technology, and might want to grow and learn about doing other types of functions or technologies. Management is an extension of technology, and asks for a larger, more strategic vision beyond single technologies. In tech companies, management might still be tightly tied to the technology, even requiring management at times to get into the code or the architecture. But ultimately, it’s about people and market and product challenges beyond the technology.

If the opportunity arises to do something beyond your comfort zone, err toward taking that chance, with the knowledge that you can switch back to another role or opportunity if it doesn’t work out. That opportunity arose because somebody believes in you. Find out why they do, and honor them by trying to make it work. 

Whether you choose to continue to be a technologist or to go into management, surround yourself with the positive and supportive people who can help you succeed. Know where you need support and who can provide that type of support for you. Be humble and open enough to accept that help.

Along those similar lines, be a positive and supportive person to others in your network. Have the mindset that the more people who succeed in different ways, the better it is for everyone in the ecosystem.

We concluded our conversation with a work-life question from a man in the audience. The responses are below.

Kudos to the powerful, centered man in the audience for asking the question. His wife is fortunate to have a spouse with that mindset!

It depends on the circumstances – the role, management, opportunity, etc., will vary. Proactively do what’s right for YOU.

With that said, your life circumstances will certainly impact the choices you make around change. 

Don’t make the assumption that management needs 1) an MBA, 2) more time, 3) less or more money, 4) more or less opportunity, etc. 

Know your priorities first, and interface your options ranked by your priorities. Family and friends are generally high priorities for each of us, so factor in their needs as you make the technologist vs manager choice.

Our parting thought – Embrace that Growth Mindset: Err on the side of embracing opportunity, and learn about yourself and your interests and gifts.  


Please join us in thanking Western Digital, our gracious hosts for FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Transitioning from Technologist to Manager, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Cynthia Dote, Director of Engineering, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Lakshimi Duraivenkatesh, Sr. Director of Shopping Experience, eBay
  • Panelist Maitreyee Mahajani, VP of Production Planning, Memory Technology, Western Digital
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Director Of Business Strategy & Operations, Global Accounts, Nutanix
  • Panelist Bhavya Vaidya, Director Supply Chain at Lam Research, Lam Research

Healthcare Trends and Opportunities

March 5, 2018
Healthcare
FountainBlue’s March 2 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Healthcare Trends and Predictions’, sponsored by our gracious hosts at Samsung.  
Our executives in attendance represented a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs and executives with broad and deep experience around healthcare. Each is focused on moving the needle forward, coordinating with a broad spectrum of stakeholders.
It’s clear from our interactive conversations that hardware and software work together to serve the needs of the customer, but ongoing customized services, personalized to the needs of each customer make a huge difference. But how to make that happen strategically and tactically is no easy feat.
Part of the challenge is the fragmentations in the marketplace. Various stakeholders might have access to different sets of data, for example, without the ability to interpret that data, while other stakeholders don’t have enough information to make recommendations and assessments or plan product feature sets.
It’s the old chicken and the egg question – if the markets and data is fragmented, how do we create a solution which suits most, and if we want it customized, how will we fund and deliver individualized solutions?
But these problems need to be solved. The market opportunity is HUGE and the biggest tech giants are jumping into the market, solving slices of the healthcare problem. Below are some predictions on trends:
  • Early detection, pre-screening and even prevention will be hot areas of opportunity.
  • Adopting a holistic approach to healthcare, a view of the full person rather than a set of metrics.
  • There will be some standardization and definition-setting around digital health and what it means and what it covers. Collaboration and coordination will be easier once we have that base understanding.
  • Cyber security around healthcare will be ripe with opportunities. But what’s a real use case that’s relevant, fundable now? A problem we can solve today with today’s customers and today’s technologies?
  • Telehealth will go prime time. 
  • People are recognizing the importance of apps, the effectiveness of coaching. They are taking responsibility for their own health.
  • Apps and programs around Artificial intelligence will be key to customizing solutions and providing input and feedback real-time, affecting real people and their real-time needs.
  • Solving the unstructured data problem and connecting that with structured data from multiple sources is a real problem. Once solved, there will be huge opportunities for many different types of solutions.
  • Different countries have different types of needs around health, and are embracing and adopting technologies at a different pace. Successful entrepreneurs will factor in the needs of each country, the technology adoption rate of customers in that country, and the policies and protocols of local and federal governments, etc., in making product and marketing decisions.
  • There is a huge market for serving health-minded communities with similar needs and backgrounds. Not only could you connect the members to specific services and support, thereby hopefully positively impacting their health, you may also connect them to each other and make it easier for them to purchase ancillary products and services.
  • If having a division at the FDA is an indicator, Femtech will one day soon be hot.
  • Solutions for customers to self-manage chronic diseases through a software and hardware combination will continue to be well received.
  • The changing rules of insurance companies is already putting more onus on the hospitals, which makes them more receptive to solutions which would improve the level of care at the hospital, and also as patients leave. What’s the opportunity around this?
  • There’s a high consumer demand for customized solutions, integrating hardware and software and providing real-time information and personalized support.
Key to the success of healthcare related ventures is the need to innovate leveraging technology, to collaborate with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, to facilitate success with policies and protocols at the government, enterprise and personal levels, and to coordinate with leaders and innovators to bring products and services to customers/patients in need.