Archive for June, 2018

Managing Up, Down and Sideways

June 11, 2018

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FountainBlue’s June 8 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Managing up, Down and Sideways. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They were each authentic, candid and real. They learned their management and leadership lessons from the trenches.
  • They each successfully navigated the educational and professional hurdles put in front of them and became disciplined strategic thinkers, exceptional problem-solvers, and determined, results-oriented performers.
  • What’s more, they each took these learners and experience to keep raising the bar for themselves, learning and growing as they manage and lead.

Below is a compilation of learnings and advice regarding managing and leading:

Know yourself, and put yourself first.

  • Draw upon your passion and talents. Invite opportunities to be as fully yourself as you can be. 
  • When you’re at a life crossroads factor in what’s going on in your life. Put your family and your health first.
  • Don’t look back and have regrets for opportunities lost if you make that choice to put yourself first.
  • Management and leadership is not for everyone. Do what’s right for you.

Be strategic.

  • Be strategic about what you want to do as well as how it would get done. 
  • Align corporate goals with team and personal goals. Manage so that everyone works on maintaining that alignment and on demonstrating results.
  • With that said, be willing to shift the goals based on market and customer feedback.

Never settle.

  • Keep reaching for stars. Don’t settle for complacency, or for doing the same things only faster. Or you will be left behind!
  • Welcome the opportunities to learn and stretch yourself. Provide those opportunities for others on your team.
  • With that said, don’t expect to know it all every time,
  • The pace of business, the pace of technology development is overwhelmingly fast, so have an open mind about all things. What worked in the past may not necessarily work going forward.

Support each other.

  • Provide opportunities for everyone to participate in solving the problem.
  • It’s not always easy to toot your own horn or to get introductions to new people and new opportunities.  Be that wing-man for someone else, and welcome others to do that for you.
  • Go out and network and meet others – both people who share your background and interests and people who are very different than you are.
  • Ask for support from others you can learn from.

Select stellar leaders and companies to work for.

  • Stand by your own values. 
  • Work with people who are smart, have high integrity, and demonstrate enough authority and enough courage to foster change.
  • Work with people you admire and enjoy working with. 
  • Select a work culture which would support that mindset in thoughts, words and actions.
  • Pick a company and leadership team who understands the market trends and is strategic about executing the corporate strategy with that in mind.

Put your people first.

  • Do the right thing for your people, even if it’s a tough thing to do in the short term.
  • Treat people at all levels with respect. As Maya Angelou would say, it’s not about being right, it’s about how you make people feel.

Communicate clearly and transparently.

  • Listen to what’s said and what’s not said so that you can understand what someone needs and how someone feels and what motivates them. 
  • Think, speak and act as if others are important to you.
  • Be courageous enough to have difficult conversations when necessary. Not taking action when action needed to be taken does not help anyone, and is not good for the project, for the brand, for the team, for the company.

The bottom line is that it’s not about managing or leading, it’s about influencing others around you to bring energy and resources toward collaboratively driving tangible results.

Resources:

  • What Motivates Me
  • Grace Hopper Conference
  • Watermark

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Pure Storage and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Managing up, Down and Sideways.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Kelly Battles, Chief Financial Officer, Quora
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Betty Campell, VP of Ops, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Carolyn Crandall, Chief Marketing Officer, Attivo Networks
  • Panelist Julie Cullivan, SVP, Business Operations and CIO, ForeScout
  • Panelist Namrata Mummaneni, Sr. Director of Quality Engineering, eBay
  • Panelist Nivedita Ojha, Senior Director Product Management, IoT, Citrix

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e-Commerce and e-Marketing Trends

June 1, 2018
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FountainBlue’s June 1 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘e-Commerce and eMarketing Trends and Predictions’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at eBay. Below are notes from the conversation.
There has been so much transformational change in the world of e-Commerce and e-Marketing over the past couple of decades. Below are some trends and predictions on how these trends will progress and how they will impact each of us.
 
The E-commerce highlights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report (May 31, 2018) shows the following:
  • E-commerce sales reached upward of $450 billion, a 14 percent year-over-year increase reported in 2017.
  • E-commerce represented a 13 percent share of all retail spend (both online and physical retail sales) in 2017. As e-commerce continues to grow, physical retail sales growth is trending toward deceleration, with less than 3 percent year-over-year growth.
  • Mobile shopping is also on the rise, with mobile shopping app sessions growing 54 percent year over year. In fact, mobile shopping represented the fastest-growing app session, ahead of music/media/entertainment (up 43 percent year over year), business/finance (up 33 percent year over year), utilities/productivity (up 20 percent year over year) and news/magazines (also up 20 percent year over year).
Our participating executives agreed that the volume of information and data is mind-boggling. But the effective marketer and leader will categorize and leverage that information so that it’s sorted and actionable. 
  • Urgent and immediate cases are quickly triaged and acted upon with special parties as necessary. This is especially true with suspected fraud and technology glitches.
  • AI is leveraged to ensure the efficient handling of common, lower-level problems or questions or concerns.
  • Algorithms and architecture will help ensure companies have scalable and robust infrastructure necessary to scale operations.
There is also agreement that today’s customers are very demanding. Doing the above also helps companies to better support their customers. With the data, we can better understand current and anticipated needs and more quickly address technical and process issues which interfere with our ability to give customers what they need. Consider these trends around customer needs.
  • Customers are taking urgency to the next level, even asking for 10-minute delivery windows! Categorizing what you can practically deliver when will help companies better and more efficiently serve customers. Same day, two day and one-week deliveries will be much more regularly requested, so companies will have to find efficient ways to make it happen.
  • Local ethnic and specialized goods will be requested. Creating a platform where multiple physical store fronts can leverage technology to deliver goods from these multiple stores to sites throughout the neighborhood would be a good win-win solution.
The big companies such as Amazon and Google are already successful in the market, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities ahead. Below is advice on how we as leaders can best take advantage of these trends.
  • Adopt digital solutions from the top down, from the bottom up. Integrate it into your culture.
  • Enhance physical stores, embracing technology solutions.
  • Provide personalized solutions for customers.
  • Respond to their needs of the customer real time.
  • Design robust loyalty and rewards programs.
  • Provide your high-impact customers with specialized perks, with special treatment and access.
Below are thoughts on the opportunities ahead for e-commerce and e-marketing solutions.
  • Provide chatbots which are embedded into the shopping experience so you can quickly address questions and concerns. 
  • Provide platforms which seamlessly address the customer from search to order to fulfillment.
  • Consider separating the delivery from the e-commerce solution.
  • Consider partnering with other companies to provide specialized services. As a retailer, you might want someone else to provide the mobile and web platform for delivery, as a technology company, you might want to have someone else distribute the goods for example.
The bottom line is that everything is trending toward e-commerce and forward-thinking leaders are responding to that trend.
 
Resources:

Unconscious Bias

June 1, 2018

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FountainBlue’s May 18 When She Speaks in East Bay event was on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a passionate, articulate and diverse panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, perspectives and backgrounds. They were each passionate about the topic of Unconscious Bias for different reasons, but generally it was from their own early direct experiences and their thoughts when they witnessed biases, conscious and otherwise.

Our panelists agreed that it’s normal, and even adaptive to have unconscious biases. They help us make wise decisions related to our safety, like not taking the subway at night by yourself, traveling through rough neighborhoods. Unconscious biases may also help us do the quick-filters we need to succeed at work, making sure that the candidates which pose the least amount of risk are assigned to the most mission-critical roles for example.

But there are also the kinds of unconscious biases which limit our ability to grow and transform ourselves personally, or our teams and our companies. Each panelist resolved to make a stand against unjust biases and commented on the benefits of being more inclusive, more diverse in the workplace. Specifically, they pointed to the following benefits of having more diversity in the workplace:

  • the improved company brand
  • the improved sense of community
  • the improved problem-solving abilities
  • the improved ability to recruit and retain more diverse candidates
  • the innovation advantages which come from having diverse viewpoints
  • the ability to better understand the diverse needs of a broad customer base

Below are our panelists’ suggestions for overcoming biases you may not know you have.

  • Approach each challenge and opportunity with an open mind.
  • Push your own comfort zone when you’re doing something the same way every day, every time. Challenge yourself to find an alternative approach, perspective, partner or mindset.
  • Understand your own upbringing and how it might impact how you’re showing up at home and at work.
  • Find support to help you challenge your own conscious and unconscious biases.
  • Be open to thoughtful and measured feedback.
  • Be self-aware enough to know when your biases may be limiting your successes at work or at home.

Some suggested best practices for overcoming unconscious bias are highlighted below.

  • Nurture an inclusive culture from the top down, from the bottom up.
  • Think, speak and act inclusively.
    • Call each other on it when that’s not happening.
    • Make it safe to call each other on it, even when a ‘subordinate’ is calling a ‘superior’ on it.
  • Create a tight community where a broad range of diverse people feel they can belong.
  • Adopt a corporate strategy which includes hiring a diverse workforce.
  • Build bridges between siloed teams and projects. Help them understand motivations of people not-like-them. Align diverse people to common corporate and team goals.
  • Expose teams to successful people from different perspectives and backgrounds.

The bottom line is that Unconscious Bias is a reality and can be helpful. But Build Self-Awareness in yourself to manage how you’re personally responding to these biases. Then Manage and Lead your team so that they can mitigate their own.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Lam and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 18 When She Speaks in East Bay event.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Anne Nemer Dhanda, Managing Director, Global Learning and Organizational Development, Lam Research
  • Panelist Jennifer Geisler, Vice President of Marketing, ForeScout
  • Panelist Gina Lau, Director of People Experience & Development, HelloSign
  • Panelist Lisa McGill, Chief Human Resources Officer, CrowdStrike
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, Vice President, Legal and Associate General Counsel Commercial, Digital Realty

Here’s to New Beginnings

June 1, 2018

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June has traditionally been a time of celebrations and transitions. There’s the whirlwind of celebrations signaling the culmination of another school year. There are graduation speeches and the ceremonies themselves, which are so full of hope and promise. There are the weddings of eager couples, surrounded by the full bloom of fragrant flowers and the love of friends and family. There are vacations where we could all rest up in celebration of our successes, and contemplate the new opportunities upon our return.

Below are some thoughts to consider this year, as you look at new beginnings. 

1. Embrace new opportunities with your Heart, Mind and Soul. 

  • Your heart brings your passion. 
  • Your mind brings your competence. 
  • Your soul seeks fulfillment.

2. Leverage the OLD to transition to the NEW.

  • Welcome new networks and connections, but nourish those you already have.
  • Welcome new Ideas, but remember that existing ideas are the foundation for new ones.
  • Welcome new opportunities, and leverage your knowledge and talents and network to succeed.

3. Surround Yourself with People Who Are Open and Inclusive.

  • Ask for their support as you embrace new beginnings.
  • Provide that support and perspective for them as they seek new beginnings.
  • Celebrate in traditions and milestones in community.

4. Slough Off the People, Actions and Things Which Have Been Holding You Back.

  • Be more distant with people who bring you negative or draining energy.
  • Stop doing the things which bring you negative energy and results. 
  • Bad habits may be so ingrained that it might take time to give them up. Choose positivity and a new beginning again and again.

5. Go Forward Boldly, Overcoming your Fear.

  • Acknowledge your fears and emotions, but put them in their place – as subservient to your goals.
  • Examine the data behind the emotions, and respond to the data rather than the emotion.
  • Don’t let your emotions prevent you from taking initiative.

6. Plan Your Path in Detail, But Go with the Flow when Executing.

  • Understand what you want, why you want it and how to get It before you start.
  • Plan your work, and work your plan. But be flexible when things don’t go quite as planned.
  • Remain focused on the end goal, and flexibility on how it will happen.

7. Create a Network that would Support Your Goal.

  • Nurture and build on your relationships and network.
  • Be strategic about the network you keep, focused on the goals you’re seeking.
  • Seek support from others, be supportive to others.

8. Be Resilient and Persistent in Your Quest for Success.

  • Be clear and focused on what you want, and redirect to that goal when there are detours.
  • Sometimes old plans lead to new outcomes, if you have a mindset of perseverance.
  • Learn from each success and from each failure.

9. Be Uniquely You.

  • Recognize your unique perspectives and talents and bring them to the table in your new beginning.
  • Try something you’ve haven’t yet tried in your past roles, but something you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Take pride in the skills and talents you bring to the table.

10. Celebrate Your Successes! 

  • Celebrate each step of the way. Don’t wait until you get to that destination, for it’s a journey.
  • Celebrate with your tribe, your network.
  • Communicate your successes and direction to others you meet. Make it part of your positive brand.

Our closing comment is to be grateful and prideful and appreciative of who you are, of how far you’ve come. Bring that positive energy to your new beginning.