Author Archive

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


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
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.

Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases

February 17, 2018



FountainBlue’s February 16 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases.

Delivering personalized solutions to discerning customers real-time will continue to differentiate companies. We were fortunate to have a diverse and experienced panel to help us understand how technologies, companies and leaders are changing the way we work and live.

We began with some definitions – 

  • Big Data is a general term referring to the volumes of information made available by the programs, devices, tools and applications we each use every day, in growing proportions. 
  • AI or Artificial Intelligence offers a suite of reasonings to draw intelligence from that data, so that it’s understandable and adds value by describing and detailing what’s happening.
  • ML or Machine Learning turns to computers to identify and report of patterns which may not be obvious to the average user, and which be useful and insightful.

Our panelists shared a wide range of data use cases which describe well “what happened”, in detail, predicts “what will happen” based on the information provided by volumes of historic data.

Each company has developed sophisticated systems, processes, modules and leaders to help ensure efficient, secure, scalable solutions, despite the complex and overwhelming volumes of data managed, customers served, transactions facilitated. 

Key to providing exceptional service is the ability to anticipate problems, to mitigate risks, to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders in order to anticipate and address needs, and to get it right each time, every time.

Below are some aggregated thought-provoking comments from an expert panel.

  • This is a LOT of pressure, considering what’s at stake. But data management is a certain and inevitable direction for ALL businesses in ALL industries. So being open to these challenges and changes will help you keep your skills relevant.
  • Partner closely with customers to define, create, anticipate their challenges and needs, and serve their needs efficiently, leveraging real-time data.
  • Balance the need for security with the mandate for privacy, and the demand for efficient access.
  • Respect the data, but more importantly, use your judgment to ensure that the data provides useful information which is actionable and useful.
  • Focus on the prioritized pain points for each class of customer, and work collaboratively to solve them, preferably proactively.
  • Data scientists and business leaders are important on each team.
  • The hardware, the software, the cloud, all IoT devices add to the volume of data created, and are also instrumental in ensuring we manage the data well.

Our panel ended with some thoughts on the need for humans, for leaders, in an age where data reigns supreme. We will ALWAYS need humans:

  • To ask the right questions
  • To define the data to be measured
  • To understand the implications of the data
  • To validate the recommendations of the data
  • To take responsibility for the results of a project
  • To keep raising the bar, never settling for existing solutions
  • To ensure that we are leveraging data for the betterment of all
  • To decide what’s ‘useful’ about the data generated, and how it’s useful
  • To lobby for the money and energy to fund programs, devices, robots, systems
  • To draw conclusions and recommend decisions beyond the synthesized data sets
  • To draw creative and intuitive conclusions and recommendations which may not be logical

I’ll conclude this month by inviting everyone to Go Forth with the data, and DO GOOD THINGS.

Please use us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s February 16 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Customer-Centered Big Data Use Cases and our gracious hosts at eBay.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Pauline Burke, Global Head of Experimentation, eBay
  • Panelist Adriane McFetridge, Director of Engineering, Netflix
  • Panelist Maryam Sanglaji, Principal Product Marketing Manager, Nutanix
  • Panelist Suruchi Kaushik Sharma, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, Flex

Big Data, Machine Learning and AI: Trends and Predictions

February 3, 2018


FountainBlue’s February 2 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Big Data, Machine Learning and AI: Trends and Predictions’. Please join me in thanking our participating executives and our gracious hosts at Nutanix.

Our executives in attendance represented a range of roles and companies, all with a perspective on how the data, the applications, the solutions, the challenges are impacting our companies and our day-to-day lives. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

We began with the ideal qualities of Big Data: 

Velocity (how quickly the data is moving), 

Virality (how quickly the solutions are adopted and spread), 

Volume (the sheer quantity of data) and 

Veracity (the truth provided by the data).

With the advancement of infrastructures and systems, and with machines and solutions becoming quickly more versatile, more useful, more relevant, companies, leaders, industries are all adopting a wide range of solutions, which benefit everyone across the ecosystem – internal and external to the individual, team, company, geography and industry.

‘Wow’ was the collective response when we heard the wide-ranging use-cases around big data – scenarios which affect ourselves directly and indirectly, scenarios which makes us dream bigger, yet also be more wary about our safety, our privacy, our security, our future.

If machine learning can now help us see trends faster and better than the typical evolved and trained human, then it’s up to us to manage and design solutions to better serve every one of us. We mentioned a few times our concerns about the ethical and human elements surrounding the data – to help ensure that we apply it for the betterment of humankind, our environment, our ecosystem.

The advice and suggestions collectively as a group are summarized below.

  • Choose open source as a foundation for growing solutions and offerings to target markets. Actively participate in the open source community to give back, to influence the direction, to expand and create collaborative networks.
  • There’s value in the data, and winning companies will learn how to monetize on it, while also respecting the privacy and rights of the individuals who own the data.
    • Not all data is treated equal, so categorizing into data types will help build a standard and help respect the privacy of the users, the intentions of the solutions.
  • In this digital economy, data is the currency. Ensure Access, Security, Reliability, Speed, Versatility, Accuracy, etc., of same. This is not an easy task with the 4 Vs of data highlighted above.
  • Privacy, Security and Access will be consistent challenges and themes. 
  • A focus on customers and their demands for personalized access to data real-time provides a challenge and an opportunity in all industry sectors.
  • Heavily-regulated industries including healthcare and finance provide specific niche opportunities around the data due to the regulations and policies and lack of standards for the industries.

Highlighted opportunities and challenges are listed below.

  • There will be a battle around standardization, data location – Edge vs 5G for example, 
  • Balancing privacy, security and access
  • Selling your own usage data
  • Leveraging automation and robotics to better perform – more precision, more dexterity, less tremor, better access, use lighting and imaging
  • Leveraging data for diagnostics will add value across industries
  • Analyze trends to better predict and serve customers, to more strategic invest in ideas and companies
  • Understanding usage, sentiments, trends and tendencies is a huge opportunity and will only get bigger. 
  • With successful understanding of a broader range and larger volume of data real-time, there are opportunities to decrease churn, increase revenues, increase positive resolutions, increase Net Promoter scores, increase customer loyalty and referrals, etc.,

But the human will also be necessary.

  • As a sanity check for the data.
  • To program the HW/SW solutions and identify what’s relevant, what’s actionable, what’s valuable.
  • To provide feedback and intelligent guidance to automated scripts.
  • See beyond the data and its implications to imagine or extrapolate a trend or idea.

The bottom line is that Data and Content are in charge and affecting each of us across roles, industries, geographies and scenarios and collaboration is key. Energy and technology will help ensure the safe, secure real-time access to data which is actionable. Everything will be different, and yet the same, perhaps at a different scale.

Negotiating for Win-Win Results

January 20, 2018


FountainBlue’s January 19 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Negotiating for Win-for-All Results.

We were fortunate to have such a fun and experienced panel of leaders and negotiators, representing a range of companies and backgrounds. They generously shared best practices around negotiating.

Negotiating takes place between companies, within companies, at home, at work, everywhere there are people. Learn from each negotiation, and build a network of supporters and mentors to help you better negotiate.

It’s all about the relationship.

  • Focus on building a long-term relationship with all stakeholders, even if it means sacrificing short-term victories.
  • Be curious about the motivations and needs of the other parties.
  • Insist on respectful interactions. Empower yourself to walk away if the interactions do not maintain a level of respect.   
  • Seek to create win-wins for all parties, for the short term and in the long term.
  • Build a team culture: Do the give and take, choose your battles, make your sacrifices, take one for the team.

Communicate clearly and respectfully in good faith.

  • Strive to keep a clear, open and transparent communication in your negotiations. Even if it means awkwardly calling out the other party for not adhering to that level of communication and trust.
  • Be firm, fair and consistent in your communication.
  • Know what you want and ask for it. (Implication: don’t complain that you don’t get what you want if you didn’t ask for it.)
  • Be generously forthcoming in sharing resources and information, and ask for that also in return.
  • Keep the momentum and conversation going. Stymied negotiations waste time and money and puts the credibility of all involved at risk.

Be strategic and hardworking.

  • Do your homework and be prepared for each negotiation. Learn about the people, their motivations, the product, the team, the company, etc.,
  • Use tools like milestones and roadmaps and project plans to help get all parties negotiating in alignment, and delivering positive results for the customer.
  • Understand and speak to the value you’re create, and its relevance to the audience you’re connecting with.
  • Give yourself cooling-off time if emotions run high.
  • When you get the attention of influential others, consider ending your conversation with an ask. The other way to put this is to have a goal/objective if you get the audience of someone influential.
  • Speak to the Value of something first, then to the Pricing of something, while factoring in the Cost of implementation. 

Be Other-Focused.

  • Take a ‘Cow’s Eye’ view of the world – seeing the world from the other’s perspective (a cow has eyes on the side of their head, so she sees the world differently).
  • ‘Fair’ does not necessarily mean equal. ‘Fair’ to one party is defined differently than it is for another. 

Support Others with their Negotiations.

  • Negotiate for yourself, and for others.
  • Create an old-girl’s-club to back each other up, so that you’re not your only advocate.
  • Don’t be the victim of ‘man-splaining’. If someone repeats what you just said and claims credit for knowing more, then call him on it. Or call out that man on your friend’s behalf.
  • Seek a mentor, advocate or champion. Be one for others.


The bottom line is that negotiating is a part of life, and learning how to do it well would benefit yourself and all you touch.

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks and our panelists for FountainBlue’s January 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Negotiating for Win-for-All Results!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Vonnie French, VP, Supply Chain, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Debbra Rogers, CEO, Paradata
  • Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP Global Account Management, Flex
  • Panelist Heather Sullivan, Chief People Officer, ChargePoint

Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

January 16, 2018


When I think of mentoring, I get an image of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, trembling in fear of ‘lions and tigers and bears’, but then bravely linking arms with her friends the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion, following the Yellow Brick Road, and finding a better version of themselves.

A Champion is someone with Heart, like the Tinman. He or she is someone who would speak highly of you, and well of you, regardless of whether you ever find out. They are the cheerleaders who support you and believe in you, and ultimately help you get to where you want to go. We all need champions. And we should all champion others. (Beware of those who want you to champion them, yet don’t champion anyone else in return.)

A Mentor is someone with Backbone, like the Scarecrow, someone who’s wise and experienced AND wants to support you in building skills and finding more fulfillment and success, both professionally and personally. They leverage their in-depth direct professional and personal experience in guiding their mentees.

An Advocate is someone with Courage, like the Lion, someone who backs you despite pressure, despite conflict, despite resistance. They believe that you are the right person for the role/position/project and are willing to put resources and support behind you so that you succeed.

A Sponsor is an Executive with the Power to open doors, influence others, recommend advancement and create positions within an organization for someone he/she takes under their wing. The Sponsor in this analogy is the Wizard of Oz – the person who could potentially help Dorothy return to Kansas.

In the end, Dorothy finds that she herself has what it takes to get to where she wants, and that the champions and mentors and advocates are right there in her back yard.

So when the obstacles and doubts and challenges present themselves to you, listen to the Good Witch Glinda when she spoke to the Wicked Witch of the West, ‘Oh Rubbish. You have no power here. Be gone, before somebody drops the house on YOU.’

IoT Ecosystem Trends and Predictions

January 12, 2018


FountainBlue’s January 12 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘IoT Ecosystem Trends and Predictions’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Flex.

Our executives in attendance represented a range of roles and companies, all with a perspective on IoT successes, trends and predictions. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

The range of IoT devices and the impact on users at work and home is overwhelming, and the data generated by all these devices is even more so. 

  • There will continue to be a push-pull between features and solutions craved by users and privacy and security demanded by corporate stewards, parents, and other responsible parties. 
  • Successful IoT companies (and responsible adult parties) need to communicate transparently and make considered, proactive choices on which devices to employ under what circumstances, and to create and enforce policies which would help others to do the same.
  • Successful companies will continue to gain market share in specific industries by delivering customer-driven IoT Use Cases.
  • As the convergence of industries continues to evolve, it’s important for product and company leaders to connect with the larger ecosystem of stakeholders and collaborate to deliver coordinated solutions. 
  • Consider joining consortiums around Open Source and Security and Blockchain as they connect stakeholders in order to co-innovate and share best practices.
  • We are gradually evolving to standards in the IoT space, which will help everyone better manage and predict the behavior of IoT devices which impact the people and the network.
  • Be bold, but also become more fully aware of the risks you’re assuming when you download apps and software, especially as it may affect the security of your network, the privacy of your data.

Trends and Predictions

  • Watch for leading companies including Siemens and GE, Emerson and Schneider and the Industrial IoT solutions they will create for enterprises.
  • Watch for security and standards and privacy software solutions which will help manage the proliferation and distribution of IoT devices.
  • Which companies will collect the HUGE volumes of data collected by these devices and provide reports which are usable and actionable?
  • There are HUGE opportunities for the aging market around IoT. Which companies will reach out to this open, large market with a wide range of needs ranging from transportation to e-commerce to entertainment?

The bottom line is that in this Age of Information, companies who can deliver the devices and actionable information and customized products and services will be well rewarded.

Be a Bigger YOU!

December 29, 2017


As we embrace the shiny newness and promise of 2018, reflect on what you’ve learned last year, and resolve to be a bigger YOU in 2018. The picture was taken in front of a sculpture of a tree near the Santa Rosa mall, and reflects the promise of new growth following the 2017 fires. The thoughts below represent my learnings from 2017.

  1. See competence and consistency as two sides of the same coin. Keep reaching for one, and let the other catch up before leveling up.
  2. Have the confidence to keep reaching for stars, and also the humility and openness to welcome input and feedback.
  3. Communicate boldly, clearly and transparently, but listen and observe more than you speak.
  4. Be open and imaginative enough to see through your own filters, as frightening and as confusing as it may be to do so.
  5. Have a strong moral compass around your values, but respect that others may have the same.
  6. Be youthful and energetic in your approach, wise and open in your perspective.
  7. Be compassionate and supportive, while also being wise and reserved for those who might take advantage.
  8. Strive for courage, and temper it with common sense.
  9. Be calm, especially when circumstances are extreme, but err on the side of measured action.
  10. Be slow to judge, quick to learn.

Wishing everyone a 2018 which surpasses your hopes and dreams!

Collaboration Best Practices

December 13, 2017

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FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices. We were fortunate to have a wide representation of companies, roles and perspectives for our panel discussion. Despite their many differences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They had an inquisitive nature and moved from many different types of roles, developing a broad background and perspective.
  • They witnessed and responded to the many changes in the tech sector related to both technologies and businesses. 
  • They built deep and broad connections which helped them to learn and grow and make measurable impact in collaboration with key stakeholders.

Our panelists agree that the pace of change is accelerating, so it’s becoming increasingly important to collaborate with others to keep up and remain relevant. This is true independent of role, company, gender, industry, geography, age, etc., In general, we must be more collaborative so we can be more:

  • inclusive, with many parties working on the same project. 
  • communicative, so we can share information real-time, and coordinate with people working on other facets of the same problem.
  • responsive to the real-time needs of our customers, working with many internal and external partners. 
  • comprehensive in our ability to address problems end-to-end.
  • efficient and accurate in delivering results.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for facilitating collaborative innovation is below.

  • Adopt a collaborative mindset.
  • Develop a skillset and adopt the tools which will help you communicate at the speed of business and coordinate with other stakeholders.
  • Make sure that you have the full information so that your project can succeed. Create a culture where the generous sharing of information is rewarded.
  • Seed a conversation with important stakeholders before an official meeting. They should not be surprised about a collaborative initiative at the meeting.
  • Sometimes there’s a been-there, done-that mentality for a change initiative which is more collaborative than the current standard practices. Patient management and data-based communication will help many people overcome these reservations. But there may still be hold-outs, as sometimes the older ways die hard. Focusing on the ‘loudest’ protesters might help everyone transition to a more collaborative mindset.
  • Be analytical in your orientation, detailed and thorough and frequent with your communications.
  • Model the collaborative management style you would like others to emulate. Show gradual and immediate improvements and measured results.
  • Facilitate an elegant hand-off between people and teams to ensure that the ball doesn’t get dropped between parties.
  • Authentic, honest, low-ego communications welcomes direct communications and transparency. These qualities help keep projects moving forward, especially when complications arise.
  • Be curious about the motivations for other parties. Find a common ground, based on their motivations.
  • Invite and respect the participation of all stakeholders. Keep them apprised of progress and reward for results.
  • When new collaboration partners come onboard, be proactive in your communications to all stakeholders. Everyone should know the strategic reasons for the new partnership and also be informed on partnership results and empowered to participate when it makes sense. In short – Inspire everyone about WHY something should happen; then Align stakeholders behind the partnership; then Change or Adjust where necessary, and then Measure for success.

Today, many corporate cultures embrace Collaboration as part of their DNA. Others tie collaboration as a key to Innovation. The bottom line is that creating CLEAR shared goals and managing by these objectives will encourage everyone to collaborate in achieving results. 


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Nutanix and our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ruth Cotter, CHRO, SVP Worldwide Marketing and Investor Relations, AMD
  • Panelist Nolwenn Godard, Head of Pricing Product & President of Unity Women, PayPal
  • Panelist Marissa Schmidt, Director Product Management, CITRIX
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Sr. Director Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix
  • Panelist Praveena Varadarajan, VP of Product Management, FICO