Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Welcoming the Gift of Feedback

November 10, 2018

FountainBlue’s November 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’. Below are notes from the conversation.

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We were fortunate to have a broad range of panelists representing different educational and professional backgrounds and experience. They shared their thoughts on feedback warmly and openly.

It’s great when you give or receive good feedback for a job well done, and also great when you give or receive constructive feedback for a job which wasn’t well done. However, watch out when you’re getting good feedback for a mediocre effort – because the praise or award might not have meaning, AND the motivation to do better would suffer.

Watch also for the other type of error – when you get negative feedback for a job well done. If that happens, perhaps there’s a political motivation where someone wants to undermine someone else or take credit for their work. 

To mitigate these and other problems with feedback, ask questions and seek clarity so you understand what the feedback is, and what you can specifically do to improve.

It’s also important to understand the motivations of parties – the one giving and the one receiving the feedback. Once you understand the motivations, focus also on how to best communicate a constructive, productive message.

The focus must be on achieving measurable results, even if difficult and awkward conversations must take place. To give feedback well, be prepared with specific information and data to support the input. To receive feedback well, be open-minded and curious, while managing your own emotional reactions to the feedback.

Below is some specific advice around feedback.

  • Millennials seek feedback more often than those from other generations. They welcome templates and coaching and continuously strive to bring their best selves to work, which makes it easy to provide feedback in some ways. However, it can also be a problem when their over-eagerness or their focus on generating immediate results either brings mediocre results or offends others on the team with more experience. Respect is something that people of all generations seek, and feedback can help members of each generation be more respectful of those from other generations.
  • Providing feedback to men is different than providing feedback to women. Men tend to be more resilient, less sensitive, and have more vivid memories of the positive feedback over the negative feedback. Perhaps some women could learn from their more resilient example.
  • It’s a difficult situation when someone is using feedback to serve their own ends, rather than providing feedback as a gift to help someone else to grow. To help address this situation if it happens to you, seek independent parties who can help you understand the motivations and actions of all involved. Strategize on how best to address the core issue, even if it means having to leave the leader or the team.

The bottom line is that life is a journey, and feedback is a gift which helps make that journey more fulfilling, helping you become your best self. Be selective about who you include in that journey, and open enough to receive that feedback. Be resilient and courageous enough to receive and learn from difficult feedback, if it’s productive for your personal and professional growth.

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at San Jose City College and our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Cynthia Dote, Director of Engineering, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Dana Gharda, Director, Global University Recruiting & Programs, Lam Research
  • Panelist Nivedita Ojha, Senior Director, Product Management, IoT, Mobile, Cloud, Citrix
  • Panelist Lena Tran, Ed.D., MBA, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation, San Jose City College

See bios and invitation at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/feedback

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Making Decisions That Count

October 16, 2018

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FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Making Decisions That Count’! Below are notes from the conversation.

It’s not easy to make the right decision every time, all the time. We were fortunate to have a wide range of viewpoints about making decisions. Below is a compilation of advice and suggestions from an engaging and experienced panel.

Listen and Learn

  • Judgment for making great decisions comes with time and experience. Embrace every opportunity to learn. Be open to learning from those who know more than you do – that’s almost everyone else!
  • Embrace every opportunity to teach others what you know, and learn interesting new things from others.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Don’t expect to make all decisions on your own every time. In fact, that probably wouldn’t work too well for most people.

Be Strategic

  • Adopt a top-down strategy for making decisions (how do you stay on top of the hill) and a bottom-up strategy for executing on that strategy (what will help keep us there).
  • Recognize that not all decisions are created equal and respond accordingly.
  • Err on the side of decisiveness.

Be Open

  • Many people in tech are trained to be rational. But those in tech must also be accepting of those who are more creative, less rational. It would help with making quality decisions.
  • Be willing to pivot from a decision if the data and response warrants a change.

Manage Yourself

  • Manage the emotional part of your experience, so that the logical, left-brained side of you can focus on the facts.
  • Make important decisions when you have good energy and mindset.
  • Don’t be pressured into making a decision urgently, especially when there’s a lot at stake.
  • Trust yourself and your gut. But also point to the data to back your decision.
  • Don’t second-guess yourself after a decision has been made. 

Focus on Relationships

  • Build relationships of trust, making motivations clear. Treat others as you would have them treat you, especially when making tough decisions.
  • Take the time to know the motivations of other people and groups you’re working with. Work collaboratively to make decisions which benefit everyone in the short term and for the long term.

The bottom line is that all decisions matter, but relationships are even more important. Make decisions with that in mind, focusing on the goals, while also honoring the people involved.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ForeScout and our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Making Decisions That Count’! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Monica Bajaj, Director of Engineering, Perforce Software
  • Panelist Kerstin Ewelt, Head of Marketing, Quora in German, Quora
  • Panelist Jennifer Geisler, VP Marketing, ForeScout
  • Panelist Bhavya Vaidya, Director Supply Chain, Lam Research

Digital Innovation

September 26, 2018

FountainBlue’s September 21 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Customer-Led Digital Innovation, When She Speaks in East Bay! Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a diverse panel of leaders with decades of deep experience integrating digital solutions into work challenges. Although they represented a wide range of educational and professional experience, they had much in common.

  • A passionate curiosity for solving complex problems efficiently, so that everyone benefits.
  • A customer-first mindset which helped them lobby for solutions to meet the needs of their customers.
  • A flexible and versatile approach to work situations, and the courage to reach for what’s next.

Below is a summary of advice on how to lead digital transformation in your company.

  • Lead the digital transformation initiatives in your company.
    • Embrace opportunities to lead digital transformation for it will help set your company apart.
    • Accept your team and partners for where they are, yet help them reach for a simpler, more elegant way to solve pervasive problems.
    • Work with people across product, sales, marketing, engineering, etc.,
    • It’s going to be difficult for some people to embrace digital solutions. Work with leaders at all levels to help everyone elegantly transition to the right digital solution.
  • Be strategic.
    • Research market trends. Understand use cases around digital transformation. Adopt strategies which might work for yourself and your company.
    • Change is happening rapidly, and digital transformation is inevitable. Respond accordingly.
    • Be visionary about the possibilities, agile around the implementation.
    • Focus on the intended result. Automate the processes to help deliver measurable progress.
  • Focus on the data.
    • Know what you’re measuring and why. Know how you’re measuring it, and report on the data. Tweak the plan as needed.
    • Leverage the data to efficiently create personalized solutions, products and reports for individual customers.
    • Aggregate findngs between customers so you have a larger general understanding of each type of customer.
  • Be customer-oriented.
    • Create an engaging, immersive, memorable experience for the customer.
    • Be ever customer-focused, and make the time to understand their current and anticipated needs.
    • Make your offering simple, your workflow intuitive and easy-to-use.
    • Have a detailed profile of your target customer and design a solution which would resonate for him/her.
  • Understand the market trends.
    • Embrace a subscription economy, where the focus will be more about the data and the service rather than about the product.
  • Accept that there will be an increasing level of automation, but know that there will always be a need for versatile and talented humans.
    • Relationships need to be developed and maintained between humans.
    • The creative edge will always belong to humans.
    • It will take a human to represent different viewpoints and constituencies.
    • Only a human can take responsibility for a project – not a machine or robot or tool.

As we look for what’s next, there’s a hope that it will make life easier, and a fear that it will make parenting and managing more difficult. Go forth with hope that we can leverage the best of the Age of Digital, the Age of the Empowered Customer.

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Five9 and our panelists for FountainBlue’s September 21 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Customer-Led Digital Innovation, When She Speaks in East Bay:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Carla Di Castro, Technology Sourcing Leader, Workday
  • Panelist Maranda Dziekonski, Vice President of Customer Success, Pared
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Sri Mudigere, Senior Vice President, Head of Digital Product Management, Customer Insights & Experience Design, Wells Fargo 

Showcasing Collaborative Innovation

September 20, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 3.40.43 PMFountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Showcasing Collaborative Innovation’! We were fortunate to have a large range of perspectives on our panel on the collaborative innovation topic. Our panelists represented the wide range of roles, levels and functions across tech companies small and large, and even representing different industries. But they also had much in common.

  • They explored many different classes, roles, and responsibilities, bravely trying new things and courageously delivering results in a wide range of contexts.
  • They have decades of experience, witnessing and contributing to the evolution of technology.
  • They pay close attention to the needs of the customer, and deliver what the customer is looking for.
  • They pay close attention to the market trends and advise their customers based on what they see with the market trends.
  • They are in alignment with the strategic direction for the organization and its leaders. In fact, they have chosen their role and company as they were inspired by same.

The way we do business is very different than it used to be.

  • Innovation is everywhere – in universities, at standards bodies, through start-ups, in Open Source solutions.
  • The problems today are much more pervasive, much larger, much more global than they used to be.
  • It no longer works to be the only local offering as the world has become flatter, so everyone can easily get anything from anywhere.
  • It’s becoming more expensive to solve even simple problems.

They each exclaimed in different ways about the pace of change, the rate of change, the constancy of change. Collaboration helps each of them to best cope with this change.

  • Collaboration enables people to specialize in specific technologies, partnering with others.
  • Collaboration helps companies address multiple market segments, again partnering with others.
  • Collaborative Innovation helps companies to differentiate themselves, focusing on their core value-add, and partnering with others to deliver complementary offerings.
  • Collaboration allows others to vet and trouble-shoot a solution, before it goes to market.
  • Collaboration helps all parties to consider additional applications for existing and known solutions.
  • Collaboration helps with product planning and implementation by identifying more corner cases.
  • There is less likely to be group-thinking when you are collaborating with a range of partners.

Below is advice on how to make your collaborative innovation projects more likely to succeed.

  • Gather a wide range of partners and collaborators.
  • Encourage brainstorming sessions.
  • Get all perspectives on the table, even from those who are not generally vocal.
  • Empower and engage all participants.
  • Encourage all to submit ideas and input, even if they are not involved in the project.
  • Consider that a solution for one problem may contain ideas and technologies which could be applicable to a totally separate problem.
  • Be bold and persistent, resilient and positive.
  • Have the hard and difficult conversations to stretch your own comfort zone and that of others.

It was fascinating to see how each of our esteemed panelists looked at innovation from a different perspective, yet each delivered a new and better product, process, solution, technology. 


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at TI and our panelists for  FountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Showcasing Collaborative Innovation’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Mary Emerton, Vice President, Manufacturing, Nutanix
  • Panelist Padmaja Nimmagadda, Applications Program Manager, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Laura Patton, VP,  Customer Solutions, Flex
  • Panelist Sangeeta Ramakrishnan, Distinguished Engineer, Cisco
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open Source Practice, Comcast
  • Panelist Jeremy Yaeger, MGTS Systems Engineer, Texas Instruments

Resiliency

August 31, 2018

ResiliencyFountainBlue’s August 30 When She Speaks in East Bay event was on the topic of ‘Resiliency as a Secret Weapon’.

We were fortunate to have such a diverse and powerful panel of leaders who shared both inspiring stories and practical tips on how to find strength, courage and perspective as we each navigate our own path.

Our panelists represented a wide range of educational, professional and personal backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • Parents and other advocates who instilled in them early in life a drive to become excellent, a passion for learning and growing, and a resiliency which helped them overcome obstacles
  • A network of supporters, mentors, champions, and friends who can help them stay centered even through the toughest challenges
  • A desire to be kind and supportive and give back to others all that they have gained personally and professionally

Below is a summary of thoughts and suggestions on how to be more resilient and centered personally and professionally.

Know Yourself

  • Know yourself well – your values, your strengths, your purpose. Then have the moral courage to stand for your principles, the resiliency to be persistent in accomplishing challenging tasks, the strength to make the people, company, project choices which would set you up for success. 
  • Take care of yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually. Surround yourself with people who know you well who can help you make sure you take care of yourself.
  • Know what and who are important to you and act accordingly.
  • Create boundaries in your work life so that you can be there for the important people in your personal life.

Embrace Change

  • Be flexible and open to change.
  • Reach for what you want, but also accept what you get. It may be even better than what you wanted.
  • Ask for what you want and fearlessly reach for those stretch opportunities.
  • Go where you’ve never been and learn with every iteration.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Live and learn with every choice made. Learn to live on your own terms.

Build that Network

  • Ask for the support and feedback that you need to succeed.
  • Have others do the little things for you, even if they don’t necessarily do it the way you want it to be done. (It’s easier on both of you if you adjust your standards accordingly.)
  • Recruit the mentors, sponsors, partners and other stakeholders to help you get centered and remain centered especially during tough times.

Be a Magnet for Positive Energy

  • Have a positive and constructive mindset. Don’t expect to be perfect, but do expect to learn from every experience, good or bad.
  • Have a thick skin. Being overly-emotional makes people less likely to absorb the lessons learned through failure.
  • Have faith that you can make something happen, that you can help make tomorrow better than today.
  • Manage your self-talk and embrace a positive growth-oriented mindset.

Manage Yourself

  • Work hard. Keep learning. Be resourceful. Add value. Keep reaching for stars!
  • Choose to work with the company and people who can help you feel focused, productive and fulfilled.
  • Be consistently bold and decisive.
  • Be consistently open and coachable.
  • Be consistently strong and resilient.
  • Block off dedicated time for yourself.
  • Compartmentalize to help manage stress and remain positive and productive even through difficult times.
  • Don’t judge yourself or others too harshly. You don’t know the full circumstances of what others are going through, and it’s unproductive to judge yourself too harshly.

Lead a Team Through Adversity

  • Connect leaders to a common purpose and focus on taking productive, measurable outcomes which would gradually again build traction.
  • If you have to do it to prove yourself and you know that you are right, be willing to outwit, outplay and outlast others.

Helping Others Be More Resilient

  • Encourage and support others in being self-reliant and solving problems
  • Have empathy for the circumstances of others
  • Be a role model for others
  • Help others see failure as a badge of courage, as a predictor for success

I’ll conclude with the comment that this resilient panel left a mark on all of us, inspiring us all to have a Vision larger than we dared to dream, to push through obstacles and have Faith that we too can do our part and Change the world.

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Please join me in thanking EFI, our hosts for FountainBlue’s August 30 When She Speaks in East Bay event on the topic of ‘Resiliency as a Secret Weapon’, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Gayathri Badrinath, Head of Global Marketing Services, Siemens Healthineers

  • Panelist Sharawn Connors, Vice President, Global Total Rewards and Diversity, Flex

  • Panelist Sherry Guo, Head of Global Analytical Science and Technology, Analytical Chemistry & Bioassay, Genentech
  • Panelist Jaya Nair, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel, ASML 
  • Panelist Meena Narayanan , Global HR Leader, Livongo

  • Panelist Jill Norris, CIO, EFI

  • Panelist Vicki Sam, Chief of Staff, EFI

Audience

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Integrating Work Into Life and Life Into Work

August 13, 2018

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We were fortunate to have a large range of perspectives on our panel on the work-life integration topic. They varied in their educational background, in their career choices, in the work experience, in their interests outside the home, and in their family choices. All chose to work professionally, and all excel in what they do. All chose to get married and have at least one child. And all are learning from the experience.

Below is some advice for others who are aiming to integrate life into work, and work into life.

  • Make a proactive, considered, data-based decision for both your work choices and your life choices, plus how to integrate the two.
  • Welcome help and support from your family, friends and networks, as well as technology tools and community resources.
  • Know what’s important for the important people in your life and make sure that you’re there for her/him.
  • Know when it’s crunch time at work and make the time to do work well. This may take more support, more understanding, and less time for life activities which are important for yourself and your family and friends, but make up for it when it’s no longer crunch time.
  • Don’t second-guess your work-life integration choices. Don’t judge others for theirs. Don’t be bothered by others who judge you for your choices.
  • Do embrace and work-life integration choice. Do support others in their life-work integration choices. Do accept input, feedback and support when it’s offered.
  • Mentor and support others who are navigating work-life integration challenges.
  • Be actively involved in leaders and causes which you’re passionate about. You will also meet like-minded leaders who would be great support systems as well.
  • Set time boundaries at work so that you can make time for important daily routines at home. Leaving at an earlier hour and working after the kids are in bed will help ensure that you’re there for your kids during their waking hours. 
  • Have a sense of humor and a broader perspective.
  • Do many things well, but don’t expect perfection. 
  • Ruthlessly manage what needs to be done, and when things needs to be done.
  • Allocate time for yourself to do the things which would energize you.
  • Take care of yourself – eat well, exercise, meditate, connect with friends and family.
  • Stretch your mind, your brain. Choose to learn and grow every day.
  • Choose to work on something that’s meaningful, and to work with people you enjoy and respect.

Nobody has all the right answers, but everyone struggles to find that integration between a stimulating and fulfilling life, and work that will make a difference. Choose to enjoy the ride.


Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Comcast for our August 10 When She Speaks panel, on the ‘Integrating Work Into Your Life, and Life Into Your Work’ topic, and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Maria Olson Kilgore, Vice President Global & Strategic Alliances, JetStream Software, Inc
  • Panelist Jyoti Kukreja, Director, Software Sales Strategy, Nutanix
  • Panelist Kitty Lou, Director of Product Engineering, Comcast
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP of Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Tamara Rivera, Director, Inside Sales, Synaptics
  • Panelist Nithya A. Ruff, Head, Comcast Open Source Practice, Comcast 
  • Panelist Erin Yeaman, Senior Director of HR, Lam Research

To Rosie the Riveter and Other Groundbreaking Women

July 17, 2018

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FountainBlue’s July 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘To Rosie the Riveter and Other Ground-Breaking Women’. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations, plus of course multiple generations. But they had much in common.

  • They were very authentic, clear and self-aware. Clearly their life and work experiences helped to shape them, for the better.
  • Their successes and challenges helped them to further embrace the opportunities ahead – to seize the day and make the best of it.
  • They welcomed feedback and input from important others around them.
  • They erred toward sharing, toward helping others around them to also be more open, more inclusive.

Below is a compilation of learnings and advice for being the kind of strong and authentic leader who will help raise the bar for others, and produce lasting and tangible results.

  1. Know who you are, what you’re good at, and where you want to go. Be flexible about the plan to get from here to there as life happens despite the plans. Then keep reaching for stars.  
  2. Choose carefully the cause, the company, the team you join. This way, you can make the kind of impact which is in alignment with your values, with your talents, with your purpose.
  3. Embrace your circumstances. There is no ONE prototype for leadership. Step in and step up despite, or because of, your background and upbringing and life/work choices. It’s all in the frame of mind.
  4. Be inclusive and supportive. Empower everyone around you to achieve more and do more.  We are all learning and growing. Doing it together helps everyone.
  5. Be grateful for all you have. Bring positive energy to all you do.
  6. Be curious about people who are not-like-you. Having an open mind will keep you flexible, marketable and useful and perhaps happier besides!
  7. Don’t take things so personally. Frame conversations so that they are fact-based, and purpose-driven. Let your left brain take the lead when emotions run high during a conversation. What’s the kernel of useful wisdom in a charged interaction? How can that support your personal growth and your relationship with the other person?
  8. Look not necessarily to the public figures to be our heroes. In this day of communication, warts can be easily reviewed and no public figure is perfect, no matter how pure. Take the positive and constructive learnings from these public figures, but consider also what you can learn from the everyday heroes around you.
  9. Connect on common purpose and common mission, whether at work or in life.
  10. Focus on delivering clear and objective goals which are measurable. Change those goals with market and customer feedback.

We concluded by remarking that we can ALL be groundbreaking men and women, no matter what we’re doing, where we’re sitting. The more powerful we each are, the more we can do together. So let’s support each other in a common leadership and innovation cause – one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time.

Resources:


Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Quora and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 12 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘To Rosie the Riveter and Other Ground-Breaking Women’.  

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Beth Arnesen, Inside Sales Manager, Pure Storage 
  • Panelist Kelly Battles, CFO, Quora
  • Panelist Stephanie Ho, Engineering Manager, Quora
  • Panelist Tiffany Iskandar, Portfolio Management Index Equity Analyst, BlackRock 
  • Panelist Nehal Mehta, Director Global Partner Sales, Veritas Technologies
  • Panelist Shveta Miglani, Head of Global Talent Enablement @LiveRamp @ Acxiom and Member of Forbes HR Council
  • Panelist Medha Samant Director of Product Management, COO- eBay Women In Technology (eWIT), eBay

Managing Up, Down and Sideways

June 11, 2018

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

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

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

Know yourself, and put yourself first.

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

Be strategic.

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

Never settle.

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

Support each other.

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

Select stellar leaders and companies to work for.

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

Put your people first.

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

Communicate clearly and transparently.

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

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

Resources:

  • What Motivates Me
  • Grace Hopper Conference
  • Watermark

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

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

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Unconscious Bias

June 1, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men Who Open Doors

May 14, 2018
MenWhoOpenDoors

Left to right: Janice Le, Michael Dickman, Ganesh Srinivasan, Ash Chowdappa, Linda Holroyd, Gopal Kumarappan, and Jatinder Narang

FountainBlue’s May 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Men Who Open Doors. Below are notes from the conversation. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a wide range of roles and organizations. But they had much in common.

  • They had strong women in their lives who helped them understand the value of having women on teams and in their lives.
  • They fully understand the business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and are passionate and frequent advocates.
  • But beyond the data, they each make the choice to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Our panelists each consistently focused on sponsoring and supporting women in the workplace and pointed to the business case for doing so. The benefits mentioned included:

  • the increased diversity of thought from heterogenous teams, which can lead to innovation
  • the improved decision-making abilities of diverse teams
  • the increased creativity and increased amount of different ideas presented when brainstorming and problem-solving
  • the improved productivity and morale
  • the greater likelihood of reflecting the customer base you serve and the local community

Their collective advice to those who seek sponsors for their careers is highlighted below:

  • Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities which may arise.
  • Be consistently confident, competent and courageous, regardless of whether you’re seeking a sponsor.
  • Own what YOU can control – your experience, your results, your brand – while you’re waiting for the opportunity to be recognized by others.
  • Be your authentic self. Don’t think that you have to change who you are to succeed. Find a way to succeed by being uniquely you.
  • Make an informed and specific ask when the timing is right. Know who to ask for help, and why he/she is the best person to ask.
  • Work together and help each other be successful – in work and in life.
  • When you’re given an opportunity, be diligent, hard-working, open and eager person, passionate about generating measurable results.
  • Communicate openly and transparently and be worthy of the trust of others.
  • Select the right mentor and sponsor for you, based on what you need at the time.

Their collective advice for building more sponsors and mentors and leaders in their organization is highlighted below.

  • Work on changing the mindset of the executives in charge. 
  • Understand your own unconscious biases and those of other executives in the organization. You may have to overcome these biases to bring more sponsors and leaders to the team.
  • Pay it forward, in honor of those who did the little and big things to help YOU get to where you are.
  • Lead by example and model the way. As Mahatma Gandhi would say ‘Be the Change you want to see.’

Our parting thought is that we all have the power to impact others around us and support their growth. Take the mindset that working with and for others benefits everyone.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba and our panelists for our May 11 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Men Who Open Doors!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ash Chowdappa, VP & GM, Aruba Wireless LAN at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
  • Panelist Michael Dickman, VP, Product Line Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Jatinder Narang, Senior Director – Finance, Western Digital
  • Panelist Ganesh Srinivasan, General Manager, Power Management, Texas Instruments
  • with an introduction by Janice Le, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba HPE

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