Author Archive

Lean In and Level It UP

July 22, 2017

FountainBlue’s July 21 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Lean In and Level It UP! Below are notes from our conversation.

We had an energetic, experienced and fun panel who shared their wisdom and stories about leveling up within an organization. They had a wide range of experience and backgrounds, but they had much in common: 1) they succeeded despite their reservations, 2) they stretched themselves at every level regularly, 3) they learned from their experiences, 4) they share their experience and learnings with those around them, and 5) they have a passion and curiosity which fuels them internally. Below is their composite advice on how leaders can rise and succeed within an organization.

Be strategic.

  • Choose to be comfortable when you need to be, and to push for change if complacency sets in. Don’t just go through the motions!
  • Raise a flag for a cause that would benefit yourself, your team, your company, your industry.
  • Don’t wait for the right role/title/assignment/invitation to solve a pressing problem.

Make positive and proactive choices.

  • Be passionate about what you do, and confident that you can do it well.
  • Be curious about why some things work and some things don’t. It may lead to serendipitous results!
  • If a jerk thinks you’re a failure before you’ve started or if a bozo throws you under the bus or your boss won’t give you the resources to succeed – see that as a positive opportunity to succeed despite the odds.
  • Embrace failures as learning opportunities. 

Empower your people.

  • Communicate the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and empower others around you to figure out the details.
  • Get the energy and support you need so that you can get out of your own comfort zone. 

Work your network.

  • Choose to work with people who are not like you.
  • Look for the best of everyone around you. Learn from others. Emulate the best qualities of others.
  • Work and grow your network. Make it deep and broad.
  • Manage your self-talk and other things  and people which may limit your ability to succeed.
  • Be a great listener – learn from what the staff, the customer, and other important people are saying.
  • Find a way to fit the style of those you work with.

Our panel’s closing thoughts are to ‘Dream BIG. Dream ON!’


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

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Maranda Dziekonski, Vice President, Customer Operations, HelloSign
  • Panelist Angela Griffo, VP, 10Fold
  • Panelist Linda Tong, VP of Innovation, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Andrea Wagner, Head of Design, Bigcommerce

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Conflict Resolution

July 17, 2017

FountainBlue’s July 14 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are HighBelow are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such a fun, experienced and practical group of panelists, representing a wide range of companies, projects, educational backgrounds and perspectives. They also shared much in common: their competence and leadership got them noticed by important people, their successes and results facilitated introductions to larger-impact opportunities, their passion and leadership helped them serve their team, product, company and industry, and their practical experience made them the wise leaders they are.

They deal with a wide range of conflicts: 

  • the engineering vs business unit conflicts which pit developers against business unit managers and sales and marketing leaders;
  • the finance vs product vs operations vs sales/marketing conflicts around costs, timelines and deliverables; 
  • the management vs staff conflicts around the strategic direction and how and when it is implemented;
  • the merger-mergee integration conflicts which come with all M&As;
  • the generational conflicts across age groups;
  • the cultural conflicts across geographies, and/or cultural conflicts within the same physical geography;
  • the personal conflicts at home, the personal conflicts brought into work . . . 

Conflicts are everywhere. Below is a compilation of advice for resolving conflict.

Accepting Conflict within Companies 

  1. Accepting this fact, and embracing the learnings and opportunities around conflict resolution is the first step to positive, constructive conflict management.
  2. Align to corporate goals and missions.
  3. Assume positive intent.
  4. Embrace the opportunities to learn from others not-like-you, to experience things beyond your comfort zone.
  5. Choose your battles – not all conflicts are worth having.

Being Fact-Based

  1. Make decisions based on data – what are the pros and cons for all stakeholders? Identify the factors for each decision. Have each stakeholder give weightings for the importance of each factor.
  2. Quantify the inefficiencies rather than pointing a figure at who is causing the inefficiencies.
  3. Focus on areas of compromise.
  4. Collaborate with stakeholders to deliver tangible win-win results. 

Managing Emotions

  1. Make everyone feel recognized and important. Encourage and support their engagement.
  2. Stay away from personal attacks and judgments.
  3. Know and manage your own hot buttons.
  4. Give yourself and others a cooling-off period when emotions run high.
  5. Give the object of contention a time out, so no parties get access.

Managing People and Networks

  1. Be curious about motivations.
  2. Identify all stakeholders.
  3. Understand the other perspective.
  4. Build networks of relationships you can trust.
  5. It is more important to respect the feelings of the other party then to be ‘right’.
  6. Be a great listener. 
  7. Lobby for buy-in, rather than mandating it.
  8. Stand behind your team/product/company, and do all you can to help it succeed.

Communicating Clearly

  1. Communicate clearly and transparent and directly, especially when things are not going well.
  2. Try this formula for gender (or other) conflicts: 1) Call attention to the behavior. 2) Associate a feeling with the behavior. 3) Request an alternate behavior. 4) Check for understanding and commitment.
  3. Spell out assumptions. 
  4. Spell out boundaries for discussion.

The steps to resolving conflict can be summarized in 5 steps: First gather the data. Next recognize the motivations and feelings of all stakeholders. Then deliver measurable results and lastly communicate successes. 

Resource: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


FountainBlue’s July 14 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at NVIDIA and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Vicki Sam, Chief of Staff/VP, EFI
  • Panelist Joy Taylor, General Manager, Product Line Director, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Prajakta “PJ” Gudadhe, Director Software for Consumer Products, Virtual Reality and Mobile, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Liming Wang, Sr. Director, Manufacturing Finance, Western Digital

Navigating a Multicultural Workforce

June 25, 2017

FountainBlue’s June 23 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Navigating a Multicultural Workforce.  Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an outspoken, fun and engaging panel to speak on navigating a multi-generational workforce. Despite their differences in academic, educational, professional, cultural background, our panelists shared an uncanny ability to make things happen, working people, products and processes, and habitually overcoming extraordinary circumstances.

When asked to speak to the value of having diversity in the workplace, the reasons ran the gamut for our illustrious panel, but the consensus is the same: Diversity in the workplace benefits the business and the people in many ways. Whether it supports market share by including staff members which represent the broad swath of users across the globe, or whether a think-differently mind set helps long-standing engineering teams to think, speak and act differently, studies and results show that including a diversity of perspective benefits all.

Whether you’re just building awareness of gender and age differences for your organization or whether you’re one of the lucky companies with strong diversity and impact figures, companies big and small are all striving to recruit, develop and retain the most talented, the most versatile, AND the most diverse workforce.

Our panel of executives and millennials had a wide range of suggestions on how to embrace that other-focused, open perspective in the workplace. 

  • Lead the diversity initiative for your team and organization, no matter where you sit at the table. Choose your company wisely and work with company leaders to think, speak and walk the talk around diversity and its impact on innovation and business results. 
  • Embrace opportunities to learn many things and make broad and measurable impact. Our panelists’ breadth and depth of experience was remarkable, as was their ability to succeed under such a wide range of circumstances and requirements. 
  • Be aware of your own skill set and take ownership of your own growth. Adopt a high level of self awareness and raise the bar for yourself, while seeking to learn from and provide support for others around you.
  • Invite those who don’t think like you into your circle. Recruit team members who came from different backgrounds and perspectives and reap the social and professional benefits.
  • Facilitate social and professional connections between different people, groups, ethnicities, genders. Understanding the humanness of others who don’t think like us will help us all get a broader and more compassionate world view, which benefits everyone we touch.
  • Encourage everyone to have a voice and reward them for sharing their perspective. What the timid and reclusive say may likely surprise everyone in a good way, and encourage broader and more vocal participation overall.
  • Work with a diverse set of companies and products, and welcome the opportunity to grow a start-up. Having a varied background will give you rich and broad experience and leave you even more open to embrace new people, projects and ideas.
  • Develop relationships with partners to help recruit millennials into the workforce pipeline. Recruiting Interns is a popular strategy for test-driving and recruiting young talent into an organization.
  • Be clear, authentic, transparent and vulnerable in your communications, especially when you’re talking to a broad range of people who don’t think like you. Conflict will be inevitable, but having direct, drama-free, no-nonsense conversations will help every find a common ground, and work toward a common cause and purpose.
  • Learn the vocabulary of the millennials/boomers, and have fun doing it. Or you’re be in the dark and experience FOMO (fear of missing out) when there’s a QBR (quarterly business review) going on.

The common consensus was that it wasn’t about age or gender or role or company or industry, or any other bucket. We are all ONE, and embracing the vast differences within that broader ONE will help ALL within it to succeed.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 23 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Navigating a Multicultural Workforce and our gracious hosts at eBay:

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps

Our Executive Panelists include:

  • Panelist Tiffaney Fox Quintana, Vice President of Marketing, HelloSign
  • Panelist Helen Kim, VP of Business Operations, eBay
  • Panelist Kerry McCracken, Vice President: Flex Connect, Flex
  • Panelist Jennifer T. Miller | Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix

Our Millennial Panelists include:

  • Panelist Maliena Guy, Senior Product Manager-eBay Search, eBay
  • Panelist Nikita Maheshwari, Sr. Product Manager, Nutanix
  • Panelist Ama Misa, Senior Manager, Business Development, Strategic Partnerships Group, Flex
  • Panelist Claire Murdough, Content Marketing Manager, HelloSign
  • Panelist Catherine Stevenson, Human Resources Representative, Gigamon

Communicating at the Pace of Change

June 14, 2017

June9Collage

FountainBlue’s June 9 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of Communicating at the Pace of Change. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at 10Fold and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Julie Heck, Head of Marketing, Savvius
  • Panelist Alicia Johnson, Managing Director, Infrastructure Services, Accenture 
  • Panelist Fran Lowe, Vice President, 10Fold
  • Panelist Marisa Shumway, Sr Director, Marketing, AppDynamics

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such experienced, articulate, innovative and inspiring panelists for this event, representing different companies, roles, and backgrounds. Below are their collective thoughts and ideas which might help you think about how you can better communicate in this world of constant and fast-paced change.

Be strategic.

  • First know the vision and direction, and create messages in alignment with this shared objective.
  • The messages should be customized for each audience, factoring in their motivations, perceptions, as well as their preferred modes of communication – web, mobile, face-to-face, video, etc.
  • Most people today do their homework before they engage, researching their needs and the offerings. As a result: 1) be quick and clear about what sets your offering apart and strategies for getting from awareness to engagement to commitment, 2) offer self-selecting options and more entry points so prospects and customers can get the information and support they need, 3) work with PR teams to get the right communications to the right prospects, and 4) effectively communicate your offerings, your testimonials, your case studies.
  • We open to shifting (offering, pricing, communications and other) strategies quickly and strategically, should the customers and the data show there’s a need for you (and the industry) to do so.

Remember that you’re communicating with people. Be real.

  • Be authentic and real in all communications.
  • Build relationships, be human. People make decisions based on subjective and personal opinions, and rationalize their decisions based on facts.
  • Be crystal clear about what you do for whom and why they should care. And be prepared to communicate that to all stakeholders at any time, no matter what your role or responsibility is within the company.
  • If you consider that most people today have the attention span of a goldfish, communicate quickly in ways which resonate. To do so, identify the audience who would care and create a clear message which triggers an intended response.

Let’s talk about the data.

  • When you look at data, look not just at the ‘eyeballs’, but at the bigger picture.
  • Today’s marketers have a host of tools which generate a wealth of relevant, real-time data which can be leveraged for specific campaigns, to support sales and marketing initiatives and customer requirements. Adept marketers leverage these tools to understand how customers engage, what strategies are successfully facilitating engagement, which niche audiences respond to what communications, etc.,
  • Look at the data and the facts and results to limit the emotional, irrational and reactive responses. Being fact-focused not only helps you have better judgement, but it also enhances your brand as someone who is centered and calm even during times of stress, when the stakes are high, and getting it right is critical.
  • Focus on the problem in front of you, and collect the data which would help understand the cause behind a problem, without making it personal, without pointing fingers.

It takes leadership.

  • Be all-in, in thoughts, words and actions. Commitment and dedication lead to excellent results.
  • Results do not have to be perfect every time, all the time. But when the whoopses happen, taking ownership and communicating clearly and transparently and making corrections and amends will go a long way.
  • Don’t enlist in the crap-in, crap-out mindset around data. (Almost) anybody can make (almost) any data to support (almost) any conclusion. Leaders assess the intentions of the communicators, the validity of the data, the alignment of the decision with the overarching strategy etc.
  • Use your customer-brain and your coding brain when you communicate in a tech company. Be that translator when you’re working with people who get only one side or the other side of the brain.
  • Be clear on the overarching message for your company, and support employees, staff, partners, etc. in communicating in alignment with that message.

Below are collective thoughts on trends and questions based on those trends.

  • Reporters are disappearing. Business models around communication are evolving. What does this mean for your company?
  • There will continue to be a push-pull around privacy, security and access. What opt-in strategies would best work for your customers?
  • Personalization trends will continue to climb. How will your company shift its communications and operations to address the demand for personalized solutions and services from your customers?
  • Most forward-thinking companies are adopting digital strategies around communication. What is your company’s digital strategy? How are your customers responding to it?

The bottom line is that communication is a core leadership skill. No matter where you’re from geographically, what you’ve studied at school, what types of roles you’ve adopted, what you’ve accomplished to date, how many years you’ve worked, what gender you are, etc., your ability to communicate what you do for whom will define how successful you are in achieving shared goals. 

Befriending Dragons

June 11, 2017

PrincessDragon

There was once an ordinary princess who lived in an extraordinary world. It was a world where cars were driving themselves, where remote-controlled drones performed remarkable feats, where communications spread across the globe like wildfire. It was a world where the brilliant and hard-working earned massive amounts of money, influence and credibility, where world-changing solutions made daily headlines, where happiness and world peace were just a start-up, a funding, an exit away.

The princess was told her ideas lacked merit, by those who leveraged those ideas to conquer new lands. She was told her inexperience caused discord and indecision, by those who benefited from her new approaches to solving problems. She was told that her gowns were dated, and that the house coat suited her better anyway.

She was ousted from her castle, by those who claimed her throne. She was relieved of her treasures by those who swore to care for it. She told herself she preferred to live in the cottage at the foot of the castle, and wander with the animals in the forest.

Once, in her wanderings, she came upon seven wise men, on their way to work. She greeted them with surprise and pleasure, hungering for friendship. After a brief and pleasant interchange, they parted ways, agreeing to convene later in the forest at day’s end.

The princess told her story at the evening meal, and the wise men shared their advice on befriending dragons.

Dopey said, “If you’re the princess, why aren’t you on the throne?”

Sneezy said, “It’s because of those dragons. I also have an aversion to self-serving dragons. ah-choo”

Sleepy said, “What a great story. Let me sleep on it and get back to you.”

Doc said, “The best remedy is to regain your rightful place on the throne. Let’s go befriend those dragons. We can sleep now and tackle the dragons in the morning.”

Bashful said, “Do we have to face those dragons?”

Grumpy said, “Yes, Bashful. Doc’s right, if we have to face those dragons, let’s get it over with.”

Happy said, “Find a way to be happy, despite what dragons say and do. And choose new dragons you can be happy with.”

In the morning, the princess and her wise men marched to the castle and charmed, humored, cajoled them, while outwitting, outplaying, and out-maneuvering them, and otherwise conquering, ousting or be-friending them one by one. The princess regained her rightful place on the throne for many years to come, to the delightful of the good people of the castle.

*No dragons were harmed in the writing of this post.*

Facilitating Hyper-Growth

June 5, 2017

Concept of increasing sales from mobile online shopping

FountainBlue’s June 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Facilitating Hypergrowth’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Intel, who on-site support and joined in the interactive discussion, and to this month’s participating executives.

Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how we to facilitate hypergrowth from the people, process and technology perspectives. 

It’s always about the people. 

 

  • Create a company with a purpose and a culture of empowered leaders who are taking specific measures to achieve those goals. 
  • Look for people who are talented technically, yet also passionate about learning and making a difference. They must be challenged in a way that’s meaningful for them, stretching their thinking and their impact and their network and connections.
  • Invite initiative and input, and reward those who go the extra mile, and volunteer to participate in new and meaningful ways.
  • Look for, nurture and recruit those who are customer-centric.
  • Create an ecosystem of people and leaders from within and outside an organization, focused on a common goal and purpose.

 

Embrace a process that supports rapid growth.

  • Decide which processes help your business unit respond efficiently and effectively as defined by specific measurements. Replicate these processes elsewhere.
  • Adopt the SMURF perspective – process solutions which are Scalable, Maintainable, Usable, Reliable, Functional and Secure.
  • Decompose the processes into modules. Decide which modules should be automated and which ones should be individually customized. Design solutions integrating these modules.
  • Review and update your processes regularly to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

Adopt and Create Technologies in Demand

  • Keep an eye on the market, business and technology trends and design solutions based on those trends.
  • Hot areas for hypergrowth include IoT, Blockchain, Workflow solutions on the cloud, Security and privacy solutions for the enterprise, Software-enabled virtualization, Software-enabled networks, AI, AR/VR, Edge Networks, and unstructured data management

Below is a compilation of best practices for facilitating hypergrowth.

  • Dare to have an audacious vision for the future.
  • Enlist others to follow.
  • Embrace the thoughts and perspectives of people who don’t think-like-you, for she/he will represent a valid perspective as well.
  • Visualize the impact you can provide. Choose leaders who can help you visualize that impact. Communicate that impact in a way which would engage and enlist others.
  • Be specific on what you’d like to do, and versatile on how it could get done.
  • Act like the-little-engine-that-could, despite impressive opposition and incredible odds.
  • Lead the transformation to a digital solution, a digital culture… or risk being left behind.
  • Not everyone can get from here to there. Focus on those who will lead pivots, or are at least open to a pivot when necessary.

The bottom line is that it takes visionary leadership, exceptional execution, and continuous communication to ensure sustained hyper-growth. Select a company and a team that is poised for that hyper-growth, and contribute to the people, process and technology choices which would nurture and sustain that growth.

Better to Delegate

May 29, 2017

Better2Delegate

As a follow-up to last month’s post on being ‘Uniquely Human‘, this month, we will highlight scenarios which are best delegated to robots, tools, applications and devices.

  1. Delegate when it’s all about the facts, and the data is accurate and voluminous. With that said, make sure that humans structure the problem statement, ensure that the data is relevant, timely and accurate, and that the findings are in the right ballpark.
  2. Delegate when it’s more efficient for a system, tool or mechanism to perform a function than having a human perform that function. Even if it means that there are fewer jobs for humans. Train those humans to do jobs on top of or other than these functions.
  3. Automation of processes and production is more efficient than having humans perform redundant tasks. Having humors design and oversee the production to meet ongoing needs makes sense.
  4. Leverage robots, tools and solutions to serve people who can not do things for themselves, to ensure that their basic needs are covered, and they have the support they need 24×7.
  5. Delegate when there is high demand for repetitive processing and the need for accurate results. Humans can oversee and manage the proper functioning of the programs and ensure customer satisfaction.
  6. Delegate when it’s not safe for humans to perform the necessary task. Delegate when repetitive and strenuous tasks may result in injury and wear.
  7. Leverage software and AI and big data to get the real-time information you need to make data-based decisions.
  8. Create programs, tools and reports which help you understand the changes going on in the world, in the industry, in the market so that you can proactively respond to them.
  9. Design and leverage reports that produce data about the performance of your workforce and your products and decisions. Analysis of these reports facilitates proactive real-time, and long-term data-based decision-making.
  10. Delegate as much as possible to machines, processes, systems and tools, and know how experienced and knowledgable humans would integrate solutions as a value-add for the business.

The bottom line is that we should delegate tasks and functions to robots software and tools, and consider it an additive, not a threat to the overall job market.

Customer

May 15, 2017

May12Panel

FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks was on the topic of Age of the Customer. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at WD and our panelists! Below are notes from the conversation.

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

  • They worked hard to prepare for success through their academic choices, their professional positions, and their direct experience.
  • They have a wide range of experiences working with a broad breadth of customers, which qualifies them well to communicate the needs of the customer to staff, executives, providers and partners and all others in the ecosystem, while also providing them the credibility and influence to lead initiatives which transform how companies proactively meet the needs of the customer.
  • They each had a broad view of who the customer is, and are laser-focused on serving the needs of those customers.
  • They don’t aim to please every customer every time, but they do make sure that the team and company get it right when things don’t go as planned.
  • They understand enough about the products, the processes, the people, the solution, and the needs of the customer so that they can orchestrate comprehensive, customer-facing initiatives involving an ecosystem of stakeholders, all focused on providing exceptional service and solutions for each niche customer segment.
  • Each leader came from different industry backgrounds, and each found her way into technology companies. They leveraged their experience and perspective to transition to the technology industry, and to rise among the ranks once they’ve landed there.

Below are our panel’s thoughts on why customers are more empowered today:

  • The advances in IT and technology and the reach to a large volume of people worldwide is creating larger markets.
  • Allowing the larger volumes of customers to connect with each other gives more power to each customer. As a consequence: 1) Customers can better vet solutions with online information or networks of others prior to making purchasing commitments, and are no longer dependent on companies for the information they need to make a commitment. 2) With access to other customers and to online information, customers can more clearly envision alternative offerings. 3) There’s a plethora of offerings for almost every solution, so customers can be more discerning about which offering would best serve their needs.
  • With the large volumes of offerings and customers, there are also changes in regulations and laws worldwide. 
  • Because of the sheer volume of information hitting customers, there is little patience to wait for load times for example, and little tolerance if information isn’t available in the format customers need at the moment (think it’s got to work on their mobile device NOW).

Below is collective advice from our panel on how companies can better anticipate and serve customers.

  • Accept that the customers are empowered and create processes to ensure companies gather quantitative and qualitative data about current and anticipated needs, hire, develop and retain people who are service-oriented, and influence the company’s vision and direction to ensure a culture and mindset that puts customers first.
  • Collect and follow the data about what customers are looking for, and how satisfied they are about the service provided by your company. 
  • Be empathetic about the needs of the customer – in vision and in execution (product, service, UI). Measure your company’s success in this area, and train everyone to have that customer-empathy mind-set.
  • Be the customer spokesperson at every opportunity. Do things great and small to perpetuate that customer-centric mentality.
  • Connect customers to each other in community, and collaborate with those communities to proactively serve niche customers. 
  • Consider creating and supporting a customer advisory board, which would be a great way to get proactive and ongoing input from your most influential customers.
  • Create and serve niche customer communities where it makes sense, and empower them to define their needs.
  • Create efficient and scalable solutions which are based on the needs of the customer. Don’t be so customer-centric that you would design one-offs for each individual customer, regardless of how many other customers would need that solution and how much it would cost to deliver that solution!
  • Make every customer feel important, no matter how much or little they might impact the bottom line. With that said, listen and act more responsively to the customers who represent larger current and potential markets.
  • No matter where you sit at the table, no matter what kind of impact or knowledge you might have about a problem or solution, take ownership of a customer’s issue or problem and make sure that she or he gets served. Propagate and reward that mindset within your company.
  • The customer is always right, unless they’re not. Work with them to get it right if you need to, then serve them well, within or outside the direct connection with your company.
  • Collect the detailed data around customer expectations, preferences and aversions and respond based on that data.

In conclusion, our panel attests that it’s a ‘Buyer’s Market’. The customer will remain empowered for the foreseeable future. The companies who recognize, accept and even embrace this change will gain and maintain market leadership.


FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks was on the topic of Age of the Customer.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO,FountainBlue, CMO 888 Steps
  • Panelist Amy D. Love, VP Corporate Marketing, TriNet
  • Panelist Anshu Narula, Engineering Director, Partners and Marketplaces, PayPal
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, VP, Legal and Associate General Counsel, Supply Chain Legal, Oracle
  • Panelist Margret Schmidt, VP Product Development & Chief Design Officer, Tivo

Being Human in an Age That’s Digital

May 8, 2017

HumanDigital

FountainBlue’s May 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Being Human in an Age That’s Digital’! Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Samsung and our participating executives. Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how we are stretching the technology envelope. 

There was a mind-boggling discussion about how each participating company and leader is pushing the technology envelope for a Digital Tsunami with the hardware, the software, the data, analytics, AI…  The brilliance, hard work and perseverance is advancing technology solutions at an increasingly rapid pace, and the lives of almost all of us are forever changed by it.

  • Machines and programs and technology innovations are collecting the information and data necessary to make informed decisions. Humans need to make these decisions, hopefully based on the data and information collected.
  • Great minds are collaboratively designing and implementing solutions which solve the world’s problems – even the ones caused by over-population, like food production and housing at scale. But it will take humans to create and implement and integrate these solutions, and prioritize resources and research to ensure that the largest amount of people benefit in the short term and for the long term.
  • Creating innovation labs focused on solving the requests and needs of those customers just makes sense, especially as change happens so quickly, and customers become increasingly more demanding. No matter how sophisticated these digital and IoT and other solutions get, remember that managing and running the interactions, relationships and entities themselves requires experienced humans.
  • Machines and programs may be great at providing historical data in rich and detailed formats, but are not as good as seasoned humans who can do forecasting and predictions based on historical data, and current conditions and trends.
  • It takes a human to make an irrational risk that could lead to a transformational solution or experience.
  • It takes a human to create and deliver an engaging, persuasive and memorable communication and experience which connects with other humans.
  • Although IoT and other innovations will facilitate vast improvements for healthcare and education and all other industries, humans will be in charge, and it will remain difficult to delegate interactions and duties to machines and programs and drones.

Below is advice on how to balance the need for those sophisticated digital innovations with the need to support the humans who implement them.

  • Think about solutions as interactions between people, between things, and between people and things. 
  • Think not just about how to innovate and what would work, but also about what would get adopted and accepted easily. 
  • Look not just at the current anticipated value, but also at the stickiness of the value-add for the solution in the long term.
  • Consider not just the solution you’d like to implement, but also the transition strategy so that the full ecosystem of stakeholders will embrace the new solution.

The bottom line is that technology and innovation will never replace the educated, hard-working human. But humans who chose not to embrace technology, not to keep up with the digital revolution may find that there’s little place in the workforce for their skill set.

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