Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Men Who Open Doors

December 9, 2022

FountainBlue’s December 9 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Men Who Open Doors’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Reputation and our esteemed nominees and awardees:

Men Opening Doors 2022.png

I was honored to facilitate such an inspiring and thought-provoking program celebrating men opening doors. Our nominees and awardees shared their thoughts on the business and personal benefits for opening doors and best practices on how to open doors for others. Below is a summary of their remarks.Our panelists spoke eloquently about how opening doors for others facilitates both innovation and leadership for the recipient and for all those they, in turn, touch. 
The ‘Men Opening Doors’ Awardees had much in common:

  • They each recognized how both men and women opened doors for them throughout their career and expressed a desire to give back and do the same for others.
  • They are sincere and authentic communicators who truly care about the important people in their lives, and are deeply committed to the success of people they touch.
  • They wholeheartedly believe in the power of innovation and collaboration and facilitate that culture into the teams and organizations they lead.

Our awardees discussed the merits of:

  • providing access to opportunities to a wide range of high-potential candidates
  • expressing their confidence in the abilities of others, 
  • making strategic introductions to new networks, and in general, 
  • supporting the growth and expansion of others around them for the benefit of all.

Below are some best practices shared by our Men-Who-Open-Doors Awardees:

  • Provide stretch assignments to promising people and support them in building confidence and developing competence so that they can succeed.
  • Be open-minded and invite diverse people and thoughts into the team and organization, for that is the foundation for innovation.
  • Measure track and report on successes to support the business case for opening doors for promising others.
  • Align your thinking, speaking and actions and communicate as an authentic, purpose-driven, passionate leader and continue to incrementally deliver on goals while building relationships.
  • Put your people first – show up for them, be there for them, deliver for them, and work with them to address and manage both opportunities and challenges.

On reflecting on what I learned from today’s interactive and inspiring conversation, I realized that no matter where one sits in an organization, no matter what your gender or role, we should each strive to be that difference-maker, someone who makes a difference for a person, a project, a team, an organization. In this way, we can each do our part in making the world a better place.


Mentorship Best Practices

November 10, 2022

FountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Mentorship Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Coupa and our esteemed panelists.  We were fortunate to feature pairs of mentors and mentees who spoke passionately about the personal benefits and the business value for mentorship relationships. Below is a compilation of best practices.

Thoughts About Mentorship

  • Treat mentorship like a two-way street where all parties learn and benefit.
  • Consider mentorship an opportunity to learn about the past and learn about the future. 
  • Be open to mentoring those around you formally or informally.
  • Pay it forward, in return for all those who paved the road for your own current successes. 

Suggestions on How to Support Your Mentor/Mentee

  • Shine the light on what she/he is doing/can do.
  • Provide opportunities for her/him to stretch into new ways of thinking/speaking/working.
  • Help your mentee/mentor leverage their past experiences to succeed with current challenges and opportunities. 
  • Work with your mentee/mentor to strategically create and expand a network of contacts and supporters.
  • Be humble, personable, vulnerable, and practical as you work with your mentee/mentor to better address their questions and challenges.
  • Be specific and plan-ful about the logistics so that the mentor/mentee relationship can be fruitful. 
  • Share colorful stories about your own challenges and opportunities so others can learn from your experience and perspective.

Keep Reaching for Stars – as an individual and as a mentor/mentee

  • Always listen and look for opportunities to grow and expand. 
  • Challenge yourself to keep raising the bar and learn from all around you.
  • Be constantly open and curious.
  • Get good at giving and receiving feedback.  
  • Model the way for others around you, in front of you, behind you, for you never know who’s watching and learning from you!

Advice about Creating and Growing a Mentorship Program

  • Make the business case to secure resources and funding.
  • Recruit an executive sponsor who is passionate about mentorship and influential within and outside the organization.
  • Invite a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds to participate, for the benefit of all involved.
  • Collaborate with HR and L&D and ERGs to deliver excellence in the mentorship program.
  • Consider helping mentees transition to mentors, and sponsor mentors into stretch roles with the support of coaches. 

The bottom line is that we must all make the time to mentor and support others around us, for that is what helps each of us to learn and grow.

Local Input, Global Impact

October 14, 2022

FountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact’. Please join me in thanking our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have such a dynamic group of accomplished speakers for this month’s When She Speaks program. They represented different roles and backgrounds, but had much in common:

  • They are continually focused on the needs of the customer, within the framework of the business offerings and objectives.
  • They have a passion for empowering and engaging a wide range of diverse others to collaboratively address and deliver amazing results. 
  • They are focused on learning and growing and bring a mindset of openness and curiosity to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Below is a compilation of their best practices around acting locally, and bringing global impact.

  • Adopt a respect for global customers and their varying interests, perspectives, habits, expectations and ways of doing business.
  • Design solutions with foundational elements of common use for all global customers, and build from there. This is true even if you may not have intentions to serve ALL global customers and markets from the beginning.
  • Local laws and regulations may make management and implementation difficult, so make it easy for your staff to comply with local, regional, state, national regulations by clearly communicating requirements, expectations and actions.
  • Tie social/ERG goals to business goals and metrics.
  • Adopt DEI principles which go far beyond just checking a box or jumping through a hoop and invite opening up, collaborating, connecting and communicating as one organization, aligned to common values, mission and vision. 
  • Don’t assume that your way is the best way, no matter how many successes you may have had. Be curious about the way of the other as it might serve everyone better in specific situations.
    • The not-invented-here ‘NIH” may perpetuate an ‘old’ way to doing things which could close off new opportunities for innovations and positive change. 
  • Facilitate a welcoming and inclusive culture rather than a US-THEM mindset. Creating a chasm between yourself and others not-like-you makes it difficult to provide positive and constructive local input from your team, and global impact overall if you create that divide. 
  • Expand your sphere of influence within and outside the organization, and empower and challenge others to do the same. We are all better together.
  • Break things down into smaller pieces so that you can explain things in ways which are justifiable and explainable, and get local buy-in and executive sponsorship. 
  • Provide detailed specifications and collaborate with local and global parties to deliver to those standards. 
  • Design and grow products and services which would serve local and global markets well. 

Our panelists spoke often about the importance of building respect and trust with a wide range of individuals and groups, and challenged us all to open up to people, ideas, and groups around you who are not-like-you, for this is the path to impact which is lasting and global.

One of the Onlys

September 9, 2022

FountainBlue’s September 9 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’. Please join me in thanking our esteemed panelists. Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, but they had much in common:

  • They navigated personal and professional hurdles to successfully rise in influence, role and position, and continue to lead with increasing responsibility.
  • They persevered despite the challenges and continue to raise the bar for themselves and for those around them.
  • They were supported by many who helped them to succeed, and are, in turn, supporting others.

Below is a compilation of their advice and insights on how to succeed, despite being one of the onlys.
Be self-aware and self-centered.

  • Have the self-awareness to deeply accept yourself and all your many qualities – the good and the bad.
  • Filter the input and feedback you receive from others, so you can manage how it impacts the choices you make. 
  • Consider carefully the difference between the perceived intent of a comment or action vs the actual thoughts, words or actions itself. (As a corollary, minimize the negative impact any one thought, word or action might have on you, especially if you’re not even sure that there was any negative intent!)

Be worthy of the opportunity and responsibility of being one of the onlys.

  • Be curious, competent, other-centered, agile, respectful, supportive, and resilient.
  • Be clear on your objectives and your cause, but flexible about how things might be implemented and when things should get done.
  • Adapt to the social and political dynamics of each project scenario, not just to the job and project requirements. 
  • Accept that others may have stereotypes about who you are based on your  physical and other traits, but prove yourself to them, despite their perceptions of you, by focusing on getting things done and delivering exceptional results.

Communication is key.

  • Listen to what is said and what is not said to understand how to best navigate challenges and opportunities.
  • Know your audience – what’s important to them, how they would best respond to you.
  • Know your values, your brand, your unique value-add, and be consistent in communicating them. 

Lean on others.

  • Build relationships and support networks which would help you better understand opportunities and challenges.

Grow those around you.

  • Facilitate the growth of those around you, and keep raising the bar for all.
  • Have the grace to be kind and supportive of others, for you never know what we are each navigating.

Our esteemed panelists invited us all to keep reaching for stars, daring to be a bigger version of ourselves, even if we have to be one of the onlys.

What He/She Said, What She/He Meant

August 12, 2022

FountainBlue’s August 12 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘What He/She Said, What She/He Meant’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Renesas and our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have such experienced, other-centric, and strategic leaders for this month’s When She Speaks panel. 

Our panel talked extensively about why it’s important to have a diverse talent pool and open minded outlook. Benefits include improvements in innovation, culture, retention, talent acquisition, etc.,Our panelists also shared many thoughts on how to better communicate and connect with others, especially if they are not-like-you.
Connect for a Purpose.

  • Focus on connecting on a common goal which is of mutual importance.
  • Drive conversations around achieving that goal, rather than around personal issues.
  • Invite all parties to take a seat at the table, and contribute to that common purpose.
  • Trust in the good intentions of others.

Be Open-Minded.

  • Be open and curious about others and their differing perspectives.
  • Ask someone not-like-you what you might be missing. 
  • Individuals, gender and styles will vary, just as culture and gender varies. Connecting with people not-like-you will help you to grow personally and professionally.

Be Other-Centric.

  • Meet people where they are. Include people because of where they are.
  • Be the mediator and translator where appropriate, to help connect the team to a common purpose.

Keep Growing and Learning.

  • Do your homework and research the backgrounds and perspectives of others not-like-you.
  • Embrace the opportunities to stretch and grow yourself and your team. 
  • Ask questions so that you can better understand the perspective of others. 

Communicate and Connect.

  • Communicate clearly and continually to ensure that’s alignment, clarity, and a shared sense of purpose.
  • Check your assumptions, and the assumptions of others with whom you interact.
  • Voice your intentions and goals while inviting others to do the same.
  • Think, speak, and act in alignment with your values. 
  • Be clear of your intentions and ensure that the impact is as you’ve intended. 
  • Own your words and actions and strive to be better, do better. 
  • Listen closely and deeply with empathy. 

Our panelists closed by encouraging us all to embrace our differences while connecting to a purpose and a sense of belonging. 

Collaborate to Innovate

July 8, 2022

FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Collaborate to Innovate’.  It was inspiring and innovating to hear the wisdom and best practices around innovation and collaboration from our esteemed panelists. Below is a compilation of their advice and best practices for collaborative innovation.
Be Purposeful

  • Invite creative problem solving and focus on producing functional results which wow customers. 
  • Create and grow a culture where your leaders and innovators feel connected and important, designing and delivering solutions which serve others well.
  • Have a plan to collaborate and innovate, but also be willing to prove yourself wrong if the input, data and experience reflects that’s the case.
  • Proactively invite synergistic opportunities between people, between product lines, between geographies, between groups, etc., 

Bring Out the Best in Others

  • Be intentional about how time is used, and respectful of everyone’s stress levels and conflicting needs in this time of great change. 
  • Distribute ownership, empower others and invite engagement from a wide range of potential innovators, even if they are not necessarily the key engineering/technical staff.
  • Be fully present (rather than multitasking) when interacting with others, so that they feel important, that their words are important, and that the work they do is important.
  • Reward and recognize risk-taking and experimentation, making it safe to fail forward.
  • Accept that there are many valid ways to collaborate and innovate, and that everyone has a right and responsibility to participate in the process, not just people with the right title/experience/gender/role etc.,

Make the Business Case

  • Measure and report on the internal or external value for collaborative innovation projects.
  • It’s hard to make a business case to solve tomorrow’s problems, but having open conversations full of healthy dialogue, and leveraging past successes and market data to inform strategies might help you do just that!

Connect Silos 

  • Invite opportunities to build bridges between different people, products, locations, etc., which lead to diversity in thought, in perspective, in ideas, in experience, etc.,
  • Include non-tech leaders at all levels to contribute to innovation challenges or brainstorming/ problem-solving meetings where appropriate.

Our panelists have challenged us all to think outside the box on how we can all better collaborate to be part of something bigger, for both collaboration and innovation are foundational to changing the world for the better.

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Collaborate to Innovate’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Chinmoyee Deshpande, Digital Supply Chain – Transformation Strategy Leader, IBM
  • Panelist Sanchita Gupta, Senior Director Human Resources Business Partner, Samsung Research America
  • Panelist Kate Mulligan, Communications & Innovation Programs, Strategy & Innovation for the Office of the CTO, Lam Research
  • Panelist Stacey Moser, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), GE Digital Grid Solutions
  • with introductory remarks by Roxanne Dos Santos, Director, Workforce Communications and Engagement, Samsung Research America 

Start-ups Changing the World

June 10, 2022

FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Startups Changing the World’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Intel and our esteemed panelists. 


We were fortunate to have a range of amazing leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs for this month’s panel. They represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • Passionate, intelligent and hardworking, our panelists were not intimidated by the STEM subjects they mastered, and all took their technical abilities into business roles.
  • Ever fearless, resilient and unflappable, our panelists thrived on adopting and conquering business, technical, and operational issues, earning them leadership roles in companies big and small.
  • Each panelist has had experience working in companies, start-ups and some even in investment groups, and each is contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Below is a summary of advice for supporting start-ups changing the world.

  • Work with engineering and product teams to create solutions which address core world issues.
  • Focus on growing a business which does the right things to support people, the earth, and others while doing well financially and operationally.
  • Create and support an ecosystem of partners and providers who can collaborate with you to increase influence and impact.
  • Build momentum with customers, sales, partners and others and keep focusing on the needs of the customer.
  • Look for a start-up leadership team which is resilient enough to ride the ups and downs of start-ups and also market variances which impact us all, especially now with so much variance and so many unknowns.
  • Passionately tell your start-up story in a way which is compelling, and fill your story with data.
  • Let your customers help you define your feature sets, milestones and timelines.
  • Help successful companies and leaders keep growing and learning.

The bottom line is that start-ups aren’t easy to lead or manage, but it is these start-ups that will help us all change the world for the better.


Expanding Your Circle of Influence

May 13, 2022

FountainBlue’s May 13 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘Expanding Your Circle of Influence’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments and our esteemed panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such inspiring, accomplished and influential panelists for this month’s When She Speaks program. Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds and experiences, they had much in common:

  • They proactively navigated the challenges and opportunities in their personal and professional lives to continue to learn and grow, while inspiring and empowering others around them.
  • They embraced opportunities to try new things, even when it was intimidating to do so, and learned from their successes, but learned more from their failures.
  • They have the self-awareness and the strength to challenge themselves and choose to be better, to do better for themselves, and for those they touch.

Our panelists commented on how being influential can help them better:

  • Run fast, run well, and move slowly when necessary.
  • Feel heard, be heard, drive strategy and impact results.
  • Collaborate, connect, and conspire with others to move the needle forward.

Below is a compilation of their advice on how to be more influential. 
Be Strategic

  • Clearly communicate and connect on the business and social/sustainability value of what you’re doing, and empower and inspire everyone to contribute to that common goal.
  • Embrace a learning and growing mindset, and humbly empower others around you to grow and succeed.

Communicate with Influence

  • Communicate with transparency, authenticity and purpose. Listen deeply and well so that the thoughts and ideas of others can contribute to that purpose, and so that all can be engaged with that purpose.
  • Let the data inform your communications, decisions, and strategies.
  • Think, speak and act in alignment with your values and the vision, and be resilient and focused on delivering measurable results. 
  • Understand the motivations of others around you who may be resistant to a concept, technology, project or idea you’re advocating.
  • Consider the words you choose and the way you speak them, as well as the profile and interests of the audiences you’re addressing. 

Expand Your Circle of Influence

  • Collaborate to make things happen, for we all have pieces of the puzzle – independent of role, seniority, organization, gender, geography, etc.
  • Invite people with diverse backgrounds into the fold, and inspire, empower and enable them to speak their ideas and their truth, for the betterment of all.

Below are thoughts on how to expand your own influence.

  • Be other-centric rather than self-centric. It’s hard to follow and support someone who has a WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) attitude. And it’s very clear to all who has that attitude.
  • Choose carefully who you spend time with and how you give and receive energy with every conversation and connection. 
  • Challenge yourself and others to do better, be better, while being positive and constructive at all times. 
  • Help everyone “be the change they want to see”.

It was my pleasure to facilitate such an inspiring and powerful panel of influential world-changing leaders. They challenge us all to not only be more influential, but also to inspire and empower all we touch to do the same.

Building Employee Experience as the X Factor

April 16, 2022

FountainBlue’s April 15 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Leveraging Employee Experience as the X Factor’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Gigamon and our esteemed panelists. 


Clearly, our panelists are great leaders and managers who are consistently passionate about delivering exceptional employee experiences not only because it’s good for business, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They humbly led by example, building trust and follower-ship through authentic, courageous, on-point connection and communication.
  • They worked with leaders at all levels to ensure that clear objectives are declared, that milestones and results are delivered, and that clear and transparent communication is maintained.
  • They each consistently think, speak and act through a lens of inclusivity and empowerment, ensuring that others have the confidence and resources to further support the vision and goals. 
  • They are each curious about the perspective of others, and open enough to learn from others.

Below is a composite of best practices for building employee engagement:

  • Lead the way, while being receptive to the input of others at all levels. 
  • Embrace diversity as a catalyst for innovation.
  • Keep building positive momentum and energy with a learning and growth mindset.
  • Consistently communicate with authenticity, openness and vulnerability. 
  • Welcome the whole person to work, and make it easy for people to fully participate at work. 
  • Just say no to inappropriate and unproductive behavior! It leads to a bad experience for everyone.

The pandemic has made us think differently about how we can keep our employees engaged and inspired. The in-person incentives like free food, ping pong tables and networking events may not be enough/right even if/when we return fully to work.

So re-thinking about how we keep our employees engaged and committed and delivering exceptional employee experience will continue to be that X Factor. It’s clear that our panelists will continue to lead the way in this regard.

Managing Your Mindset

March 18, 2022


FountainBlue’s March 18 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Managing Your Mindset’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Cisco and our esteemed panelists. 

Our inspiring, experienced and resilient panelists spoke humbly and eloquently about why we should each manage our mindset, and how they have been successfully able to do so, especially during challenging times. Below is a compilation of their advice and best practices:
Know Thyself

  • Know your north star around values and around purpose, and regularly center on that north star.
  • Positively frame your personal and professional journey and celebrate your learnings and victories.
  • Know your strengths, your weaknesses, your buttons, and use this knowledge to manage your own mindset.
  • Manage your mindset with a pause when you feel emotions rising. 

Model the Way

  • Be confident enough in your value and competence so that you’re comfortable tackling projects and assignments just beyond your reach.
  • Be generous, gracious, kind, and curious about the other person’s perspective.
  • Accept your initial responses to uncomfortable new opportunities, and make the best of the options in front of you.
  • Be Open to learning new things, trying new experiences.
  • Never Settle! Keep reaching for stars.

Create a Build a Resilient Culture with a Positive and Proactive Mindset

  • Practice the Multiplier Effect – amplify the impact.
  • Manage to the needs of each individual, and inspire them to be confident and bold.
  • Be the translator and mediator between contentious parties, to manage the energy of the team, the mindsets of individuals on the team. 
  • Celebrate and enable successes. 
  • Stand on the shoulders of those who have come before you, and reach down to help others also stand.

Keep Centered

  • Surround yourself with the sponsors, mentors, friends, family, etc., who will keep you centered on your values and your purpose.
  • Frame your self-talk to be more growth-centered, more proactive, more productive. 
  • Choose activities and actions which would help you manage your own body, mind and spirit, whether it’s exercise or nature or singing or dancing.

In a time when change is a constant and the future is unknown, it becomes more critical to manage your mindset, so that you can be more productive, happier and more content both at work and at home.