Author Archive

Brand

April 20, 2017

April14WSSPanel

FountainBlue’s April 14 When She Speaks was on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand. Below are notes from the conversation.

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

  • They were clear about their strengths and their impact, as well as their direction. 
  • They were similar in their collaborative and communicative style, displaying high emotional intelligence, superior facilitation and program management skills, and a consistent track record for delivering measurable impact on a diverse range of projects.
  • They each went through an introspective phase which helped them hone in on their brand and their focus, with the guidance of select others around them, and the feedback of direct experience.

Their collective advice for creating and reinforcing your brand is summarized below:

  1. Know what you want, then do what you love. Be open to experimenting with new things so that you find new things to love, but if you don’t love it, make a different choice.
  2. Grow where you can – stretch yourself and be of service, solving problems that make a difference.
  3. Listen closely and learn from everyone. Integrate these learnings so that you’re more effective at what you’re doing.
  4. Communicate clearly, transparently and inclusively. Be passionate without being overly emotional, driven without being ruthless, open to new opportunities while also making sure that it’s something you want to do for the long term.
  5. Nobody should feel all alone. The more we share, the more we give the stronger we all are. Reach out when you’re in need. Lend a hand, lend an ear when someone else is in need. The best way to honor those who helped YOU is to pay it forward to others – sharing your network, experience, stories, energy, etc. Be a stalwart champion, no matter where you sit at the table. Empower all those around you to succeed and grow.
  6. Take a leap of faith when opportunity knocks for you, but have confidence that opportunities will come at other times if higher-priority things like your family and your health take precedence.
  7. Personal and professional brands overlap. Be who you are consistently in all situations, but express yourself differently depending on the environment, regardless of whether it’s a physical location or a social media platform.
  8. Everyone has to work with difficult people. Find a positive way to work with people who push your buttons when you have to do so. Identifying commonalities will help you to do that.
  9. Be fearless and persevere. You’re too busy making something happen to listen to the nay-sayers who say ‘who is she/he to do this or that’. It’s not about the degree, the role, the background, the gender, the experience, the age, etc., It’s about the bottom line results. Live and breathe by the results you deliver. Consistently and clearly communicate your value add based on the data.
  10. Reach out to others when you need guidance, validation, support, perspective. Nobody is an island and part of stretching yourself is seeing and understanding a reality beyond your own.

It was a very fun panel, filled with real-life stories involving real-life events, humorously told. We all left inspired by their bottom line: Be strategic communicators who focus on aligning all stakeholders to deliver impactful and measurable results for the greater good of the individuals, the team, the companies and the industry.

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Please join me in thanking our April 14 When She Speaks panel on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand and our gracious hosts at Flex! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; CMO of 888 Steps
  • Panelist Amy Barzdukas, VP of Global Solutions Marketing, Polycom
  • Panelist Reenita Das, Partner, Senior Vice President, Transformational Health, Frost & Sullivan
  • Panelist Vonnie French, VP, Supply Chain, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Melanie Nelson, Sr. Director of Marketing Communications, Samsung
  • Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP, Head of Corporate Strategy, Flex 

IT Trends and Predictions

April 12, 2017
ITTrendsFountainBlue’s April 7 VIP roundtable was on the topic of IT Trends and Predictions.
Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at Flex, who also joined the interactive discussion. Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on IT trends and predictions.
  • The overarching theme for the conversation was a remarkable level of convergence of ideas, technologies, and business models across industries, companies and leaders. 
  • Another theme was around the need to integrate the vision, planning, development, growth and expansion of any individual solution, working in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders – investors, corporations, entrepreneurs, government, etc.,
  • Disruption is sometimes planned and sometimes fortuitous, but always requires an open mind, an ability to see larger trends, and a tendency to listen to what the customers are doing and saying. Having the people, data, and support to ensure that these disruptions take place will also support the innovation agenda for the organization.
  • Growing a concept from the tactical (like solutions for cars) to the category description (like mobility and transportation) will help companies to broaden their outcome and better see inter-relationships and opportunities.
  • Digital will be at the heart of innovation, but only if it can provide the AI and data to support customized solutions for a demanding customer base.
  • An integrated ecosystem of stakeholders requires collaboration between leaders, companies and industries in order to develop integrated, scalable solutions serving a wide range of customers. Being that type of leader and company worthy of trust will define the level of success for any endeavor, so competence and integrity are key.
  • The volume of information will increase, the expectations from customers, investors and other stakeholders will also be elevated. So it’s all about the execution at scale, at pace. Make the processes repeatable, the solutions robust, and the technology modular and flexible.
  • Everybody wants to leverage data to make a business case, but unfortunately, the data can point to some irrelevant and superstitious or self-serving conclusions, which wastes time, energy and money. To address this challenge, make sure that you are asking the right questions, that you have high-integrity leaders asking those questions, that you approach the questions with an open mind, and that you include the right data to address these questions. Then look not just at what the data is saying, but also at what it’s not saying and the implications for both. In other words, Big Data is not relevant unless you have Big Answers.
  • Core to the success of a solution and initiative is the question ‘who will pay for that innovation’? This is especially valid in highly regulated markets like healthcare. We might have a big-data-driven, sophisticated IT and AI solution, but if the patient, the provider, the insurer, the government, the caregiver can’t pay, the quandary becomes who will pay and what’s the pay-back for them if they do?
  • Policy will limit and define opportunities, so business models must take policy trends into account.
  • Inviting the diverse, out-of-the-box team members will reflect well on the company culture, the corporate exec, the forward-thinking entrepreneur, and the bottom line. Think about hiring people not necessarily for their technical capabilities, but also for their creative abilities.
  • It will always be about the people, so recruit, develop and retain those who can perform well, learn well, adapt and grow. They will shape the future of IT and business in general.
Below is a list of opportunities ahead for IT:
  • In a connected world with so many devices and solutions, integration and communication between devices is key.
  • Having that secure access to integrated devices and solutions is equally key.
  • The sheer volume of data will continue to grow. But big data solutions are not enough. There will continue to be a huge market for solutions which filter out only the ‘relevant’ data, as defined by the customer, to ‘normalize’ that data reducing redundancies and inconsistencies, so data-based decisions can be made.
  • Big data solutions which provide diagnostic solutions leveraging AI and IT will create and expand markets in all sectors.
  • Leverage open source solutions and collaboration models to build ecosystems and solutions.
  • Leverage technology to address the social challenges which matter to the millennials, a large and growing customer constituency.
  • The markets will be niche and regionalized, the range will be global, so plan solutions accordingly. 
In conclusion, I would say that today’s challenges are tomorrow’s opportunities, but nobody can be everything to everyone and the winners will be part of an coordinated, comprehensive ecosystem of providers, customers, integrators and innovators.

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.

Seize the Digital Advantage

February 23, 2017

Help join up social business peopleAs a tech professional and leader in the know, your ears perk up when you hear about seizing that digital advantage. And we do nothing, until we again hear talk of how this or that leader or company leveraged that digital advantage. Here are some specific and tangible things you can do every day to realize a digital advantage.
Information Management
1. Being digital means easily uploading, downloading, updating and managing content which is easily sorted, filtered and categorized.
2. Being digital means providing access to the specific, relevant and real-time information of interest to them.
3. When leveraged well, access to volumes of relevant information helps companies be more responsive and better attuned to the current and anticipated needs of the customer.

Connecting and Communicating across people, technologies and platforms.
4. Being digital means providing the technology, networks and infrastructure necessary so that people can better connect to each other.
5. Being digital means ensuring ease of access, ease of use, as well as security and scalability of solution.
6. Being digital means connecting with people on any device from mobile to web to billboards to kiosks to automobile displays.

Engagement and Interaction
7. Being digital means you can better describe and communicate your own needs and better understand the needs of others.
6. Being digital means providing interactive and immersive experiences which are memorable, purposeful and engaging.
9. Being digital, connected and engaged leads to better collaboration between teams, between companies, between partners.

The bottom line is:
10. Being digital separates the haves and the have nots, be they individuals, teams, companies or industries.
Don’t get left behind. Seize the Digital Advantage.

Influence

February 13, 2017

febcollageFountainBlue’s February 10 When She Speaks meeting was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Excellence.  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. But they shared many thoughts about the power of influence.

  • Influence is essential for getting things done at work and at home. Most of the time, we don’t have that direct authority to mandate that someone does something in a certain way by a certain time. And even if we did have that authority, it’s not a great way to lead, to empower, to build trust and loyalty.
  • Everybody can have a valid perspective, idea, approach or opinion. But not everybody will voice it so that it gets heard and considered. A leader ensures that a wide range of perspectives are heard, which increases the likelihood of project success and bottom-line results.
  • We would all benefit if everyone had the confidence and ability to influence decisions and outcome.
  • The first step to having more influence is to choose to do so.
  • Listen to the inspiring and practical stories of influential people around you, for it will also help you become more influential and feel more empowered. 

Their collective advice for expanding your circle of influence is summarized below.

  1. Know and accept your talents and weaknesses. Leverage your strengths and work on your shortcomings so that you can become more influential. 
  2. Everybody has their own style of influencing others. 
  3. Build deep and trusted relationships at all levels, whether or not you need something done right away.
  4. Understand the motivations and perspectives of those with whom you work. It’s much easier to find that common ground when you’ve done this first.
  5. Make everyone around you look good, feel good for the role they played in each project. 
  6. Be open to the perspectives of other people, especially when she/he don’t think like you.
  7. Communicate in a way that the other party can understand.
  8. Create a common ground, a common understanding, a shared goal, a shared future . . . something where you and other parties can collaborate in influencing an outcome.
  9. Point to the data, the measured results which back up a perspective or strategy. This helps keep conversations around the plans and strategy, rather than on politics and games.
  10. Welcome the gift of feedback, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable. The best feedback helps you overcome the obstacles you’re putting in front of yourself. Choosing to overcome these obstacles will help you raise the bar for yourself.
  11. Be a role model for courageously stepping up, out of your comfort zone. Seek a role model who would help you to do the same. 
  12. The fear-of-the-no and the fear-of-failure stop many from even asking and trying.
  13. The lack-of-an-expressed-wish means many don’t “cash-out” on the goodwill and positive intent due to them.
  14. Create and support an ecosystem of support within and outside your companies, and enlist that sponsorship and commitment from the top.
  15. Be patient and resilient. Take a ‘no’ as a ‘not-now’, a failure as a learning opportunity, a building block for success.
  16. Facilitate a culture of empowerment, a place where people are encouraged to speak up and contribute, to embrace diversity approaches and mind-sets, with alignment in thoughts, words and actions.
  17. There’s a difference between diversity (when you’re invited to the party) and inclusion (when you’re invited to dance). Move beyond thoughts and words and into actions and projects, to truly integrate diverse people and perspectives into outcomes.
  18. Connect with people who can help you influence outcomes. Executive sponsors, mentors, champions, advocates, partners, etc., are all part of ecosystems of stakeholders you can create and manage.

The bottom line is that influencing is about partnerships and collaboration, about working together toward a common goal, about creating a win-win which benefits all.

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fountain-blue-asml-panel

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists!
Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO FountainBlue, CMO SignKloud
Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility, NVIDIA
Panelist Vijaya Kaza, SVP Engineering, FireEye
Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP, Head of Corporate Strategy, Flex
Panelist Eileen Sullivan, Vice President Project Management Governance, UXC Eclipse

A Convergence of Technologies

February 3, 2017

Convergence.png

FountainBlue’s February 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Convergence of Technologies and Solutions’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at TI and our executives in attendance.

This month’s roundtable executives represented a wide range of industries, roles, functions and company sizes. Below is a compilation of their ideas on the opportunities ahead, as technologies convergence across function and across industry.

Convergence may mean different things for different companies, but at its heart is the idea that we have the infrastructure to support the transference of technologies and solutions across solutions, across industries, across customers. Foundational to the convergence theme is the required infrastructure necessary to support it. This means everything must be in order: from the hardware and software needed to process information and create solutions, to the network needed to connect and communicate, to the policies and processes needed to support commerce, to the systems and solutions to support the delivery of services, and most importantly, the ability of the customer to pay for solutions, and companies to deliver to them what they need.

Each of our represented leaders and companies have solved aspects of these challenges and continue to push the envelope, not just for technology development, but also for the business processes and business model evolutions which would support the growth of the company. (See blog on ‘An Innovation Conversation‘.) There’s general agreement that convergence is happening across industries, across technologies, across companies, so our execs provided the collective advice below.

  • Encourage the transition of technologies across multiple use cases, as driven by the needs of the customer. 
  • Create a collaboration between technologists and sales engineers to partner with customers to design new solutions.
  • Create modules and solutions which make it easy for customers to leverage technologies and knowledge, and an easy way for them to communicate with staff and with each other as they design customized solutions.
  • Not all customers are created equal. Create self-service solutions which make it efficient and easy for most of your customers to help themselves, while providing additional and separate support for larger accounts.
  • Continue to focus on quality as you scale.
  • Invite the use of open source solutions and collaborations with trusted partners, creating an ecosystem that’s mutually beneficial.
  • Don’t let the management tool distract you from what needs to be done to best serve the customer.
  • Leverage modular open source solutions where it is practical. 

Below are some hot areas to watch.

  • Look for ways to bring the digital to the physical, cost-effectively bringing custom-fit solutions to eagerly awaiting customers who are well positioned to pay well for them.
  • Find ways to apply B-to-C businesses models and create B-to-B opportunities.
  • Balancing privacy, security and access will continue to be a challenge, find out how it’s also the opportunity.
  • Imagine how custom molds, CAD design, 3D printers, and small-scale manufacturing could create a growth opportunity.
  • Look at the diagnostic and screening opportunities both for disease management and optimal health. Consider also privacy issues around these solutions.
  • Consider moving from a traditional sales model to a SaaS model for standard businesses, much like what Michelin is doing with tire sales – selling by the mile rather than straight sale.
  • Robotics and drones and voice activation will be hot in most solutions created.
  • IoT will be everywhere. What needs to happen in order to standardize IoT solutions to meet privacy, security and access requirements? Who will lead the charge and what are the business opportunities as this will inevitably happen?
  • Blockchain and its ability to provide that audit trail will provide many business and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The bottom line is that convergence is already happening, and it opens up many opportunities ahead for those willing to embrace them.

Negotiating for a Win-Win in SF

January 31, 2017

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FountainBlue’s January 27 When She Speaks, on the topic of Negotiating for a Win-Win. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Twilio and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Angie Chang, VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy
  • Panelist Genevieve Haldeman, Vice President, Marketing Communications, Twilio
  • Panelist Zaina Orbai, Sr. Director – Head of Global HR Operations, Yelp
  • Panelist Katie Penn, Director of Demand Marketing, Twitch

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives on our negotiation panel. Their combined advice is summarized below.

  1. Start by understanding what all parties want out of a negotiation. Understand what drives the other party so that you can collaboratively create a win-win.
  2. Be strategic, prepared and plan-ful about how you negotiate, and practical about how to make both parties comfortable, to increase the odds of a successful negotiation. 
    • This means that you must understand your own needs and that of the other party and find that intersect, driving towards common ground.
    • Use LinkedIn and other online resources to Google the backgrounds of the people you’re negotiating with. 
    • Consider factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, language, etc., when you’re negotiating with others. It will help you better understand their background so that you can properly prepare for a negotiation. 
  3. Go beyond doing the research prior to the negotiation. Vet your strategy and findings with others who may help you think through your strategy and plan prior to the negotiation.
  4. Know your triggers and manage through them so that you don’t get too emotional throughout the negotiation process.
  5. Surround yourself with mentors, supporters, champions, managers, and advocates, who will support you and help you learn and grow.
  6. Embrace the opportunity to connect with people who don’t think like you, who don’t act like you do.
  7. Sometimes negotiating with your loved ones is harder than negotiating with your peers and partners and customers at work. These family relationships run long and deep and can be more complicated. Focus on the long-term relationship rather than the short term wins.
  8. Whether you’re negotiating a big deal, or just doing business as usual, remember that networking is the greatest indicator of your success. 
    • Build relationships and connections before you’re in desperate need of them. Make broad and deep connections. Your network is closely tied to your Net Worth.
  9. Be that ethical, authentic, trusted party who will negotiate in good faith, and be true to the relationship and the agreement.
  10. Know your value and your worth, and be confident about lobbying to make sure that you get what you earn and deserve. Center yourself so that you feel that confidence even when you’ve had a bad day.

Below is specific advice which may help you with daily and ongoing negotiations at work and play.

  • If you’re trying to get on the calendar of important people, be succinct and focus on what’s in it for them. 
  • Offer one of several options which you define. This way, you get to control what’s to be done, and the other party feels like it’s their choice as well.
  • Be curious about people’s differing viewpoints. Inviting diversity into your circle can help everyone within your circle, provided everyone is open and respectful.
  • When you have to work with someone with whom you’ve had a colorful past, try to be open-minded. Humanize the other person, and find an area of common ground as a starting point.
  • Focus conversations on the issues at hand, staying away from the personal and emotional issues which may color the conversation and lead to unproductive cycles.
  • If you and the other party are bogged down with a negotiation, try backing off and coming from a different angle. Whether it’s working with champions behind the scenes, finding an alternate path to agreement.
  • If you’re negotiating a compensation package, consider many factors and weight them all, focusing mostly on the things that are most important to you. From there, you can overlay the various options. Factors other than salary include: Working Hours, Benefits, Bonuses, Title, Role and Tasks, Parking and Commute and Public Transit Access, Leadership Team, Project Preference, Boss and Manager, Team Leadership, Industry, Technology/Customers, Advancement Opportunity, Education and Training opportunities, Presentations to management/customers . . .

The bottom line is that negotiating is a part of life, and your perspective around how to negotiate and your preparedness for any negotiation will help ensure your success.

Innovation

January 31, 2017

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Everybody wants to be known as the ‘Innovator’. For many, it’s better than being known as the ‘Leader’ – there are generally fewer strings attached and less pressure to perform in all these random areas.

But most people think that innovation is reserved for the geekiest of geeks, the eggheads with the novel, game-changing ideas, the brainiacs who shine brighter than the rest of us. I’m hoping that this post helps more people that they can also be part of the innovation equation.

  1. I created the matrix above to include technology as an element of innovation, but also included business models and process innovations as valid ways to improve the way we work.
  2. Each element is also divided into the status quo – what we’re doing today in each of these areas, the incremental – which makes the business model, processes, and technologies incrementally better, and the novel – a whole new way of thinking about each element.
  3. The status quo for business models, processes and technologies have taken us far, and will likely be valid for weeks/months/years to come, depending on the solution and the industry. But accept that the status quo will be passe at some point, and choose to make incremental improvements or pivot in a novel direction.
  4. I mean no disrespect for incremental changes, which can and has sustain companies and industries for decades. Look for incremental changes not just in technology, but also in business models and process improvement.
  5. If you’re seeking a novel new direction for technology, processes or business models, listen closely to what the customers are saying or not saying so that you can shape the direction based on their needs.
  6. Watch for the cross-overs between business processes, business models and technology innovations. Fixing and improving one may create an incremental or novel change for another.
  7. Be open to innovations of all flavors, coming from all directions. Unless it does not align with your overall objectives, your customer needs, your operational requirements, or your core values.
  8. Purposely push the limits innovating your internal processes and you may find new business models, or the core of an idea for a novel new technology.
  9. It’s always about the people. Find people who are smart, open, flexible and eager to do something new, make something better. Beware of people who stick with the same-old thing, no matter how brilliant and wonderful they otherwise are.
  10. Bringing it all together takes an extraordinary amount of vision, passion, competence, patience and fortitude. This is not the task meant for the ordinary person.

Are YOU extraordinary?