Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Mentors

May 16, 2016

WSSMentors051216FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors. 

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives, and who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience, stories and advice. Below is their collective advice and recommendations.

Know yourself.

  • Know yourself and your value-add. What can you do better than what other people can do, and how can you leverage that for the good of the project, the good of the team.

Stretch yourself.

  • Consider becoming a mentor, for it energizes you, helps you see new perspectives and also what’s next.
  • Embrace opportunities for continuous learning.
  • Be the kind of stand-out employee who gets noticed for consistently, energetically and good-naturedly deliver quality results, no matter what you are asked to do. This way, the right people will notice you and consider you for positions that would stretch you in good ways.
  • Be open and curious and outwardly facing, and connect with people who can help you remain that way, whether they are mentors, mentee, sponsors, champions, advocates or others.
  • Look for opportunities for continuous learning, which may make you feel uncomfortable at times. Putting yourself front and center may be an initiation by bonfire, but it will tell you and others ways you can shine, and also ways you can grow.
  • If you’re interested in advancing, take the time to know the executives in your company as she/he would be in a position to recommend you for a position or a project which you might not know about, and which might stretch you in a great way.
  • Consider hiring a coach who would help you better understand your value-add, your response to group and team dynamics, your current challenges and opportunities. He or she may help you create a proactive plan for your career and your future, and also be an accountability partner for you as you execute that plan.
  • Be worthy of champions and advocates by performing well at work, delivering measurable results, and treating others with respect and support. Any number of these advocates and champions may give you the time, energy, dollars, resources, connections etc., that you may need to make something happen.
  • Consciously choose to work with people not-like-you, as a mentor, as a mentee, as a boss, as a colleague etc. She or he would help you see things in a broader and deeper and different way.
  • Invite opportunities to connect with customers and understand their current and anticipated needs, regardless of what role you have within a company.
  • Be curious about why things are not working or responding as expected. Ask the right questions of the right people and learn the whys behind it. 
  • Bring your A Game, every time, all the time. Especially when things are really challenging and you just don’t feel like it!
  • Be hungry – don’t settle for more of what you’ve got, but invite opportunities to do more, be more!
  • Keep seeking all different types of mentorship and learning opportunities.
  • If you’d like to move forward, don’t look down, look up and around, and work with people who can help you do that.

Understand the world you’re working in.

  • Do the market research and learn about what’s new and what’s next so that you can stay ahead of the curve.
  • Align corporate goals, mandates and objectives from a strategic and a tactical perspective and continue to measure results.
  • Look beyond where you are to the future of technology, the future of industry, the future needs of the customer.

Remember that it’s always about the people.

  • Relationships come first and foremost. 
  • Connect with people beyond your day-to-day circle so that you can see new perspectives and opportunities.
  • Choose to work with people who would accelerate your growth, while you are accelerating their’s.
  • Find a mentor/mentee with whom you can build a long-term, productive, win-win relationship. There are many different kinds of mentors and mentoring relationships, and many ways both sides can benefit from these relationships. Work proactively with your mentor/mentee to ensure that it’s a positive win-win relationship across roles, companies, time.
  • Take the WIIFM perspective – What’s in it for me? – Ask yourself the question how are you helping your boss and her/his boss? 
  • Pay it forward. Find every opportunity to give back.

Resources onlilne:

  • Thank you to Erna Arnesen for sharing the following: 

    • Blank form for mentee to complete 
    • A sample completed mentoring session form
    • Sample of a reverse mentorng form, courtesy of Erna Arnesen
    • Sample Mentor Mentee Agreement 
  • Thank you to Laura Owen who shared the following:

    • Polycom’s mentoring program and mentoring guide
  • 22 Quotes to Help Boost Your Mentoring Prowess, Inc. Magazine

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Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors as well as our gracious hosts at Polycom.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Erna Arnesen, former VP, Global Channel and Field Marketing, Plantronics
  • Panelist Jocelyn King, Sr Director, Programmable Solutions Group Marketing, Intel Corporation
  • Panelist Laura Owen, Chief Human Resources Officer, Polycom
  • Panelist Gail Rahn Frederick, Senior Director, Developer Ecosystem and Services, eBay

Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand

April 10, 2016

AprilPanel.jpg

FountainBlue’s April 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand.  We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand. Below is their collective advice and recommendations.

  • Know yourself – who you are, what you like, what your values are and find work and personal pursuits which are in alignment with same.
  • Do well at what you choose to do and communicate your brand based on what you do well.
  • With that said, intentionally decide what you will do, and only do what is in alignment with who you are, what you stand for, what you want to accomplish in life and work.
  • Do regular assessments to make sure that you’re in alignment, so that you don’t keep doing things that aren’t important to you, even if you do them well!
  • Know how you’d like to be perceived and how you actually are perceived with tools like 360s. Figure out how to close the gap between desired and actual perception.
  • Be curious when something doesn’t seem to feel or fit well and find a fix to get back in alignment.
  • Having a network of trusted others who are invested in your success will help you stay grounded in this regard.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone – embrace those continuous learning opportunities and learn from your mistakes. Applying your transferable skills in new ways will help you stretch and grow yourself and your brand.
  • Doing things well and right is almost always good, but treating people well and right is always the right thing. People will remember how you made them feel more and longer than whether you were the one who got it right.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can better handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically as it will help your brand.
  • How you got here isn’t necessarily what will bring you to the next level. In other words, checking off boxes of achievements, from tackling projects and writing programs to getting your MBA and completing integrations, may not be sufficient to get that promotion or that juicy new project. Bringing out your authentic self, investing in people, and developing your soft skills will help you leave people better off, will help you be perceived and considered as a better leader.
  • Develop a reputation for being trustworthy, especially when a company is going through a lot of change.
  • To intentionally build your brand in the industry, gain expertise and perform well, then go beyond your own company. Publish and present papers, participate in panel discussions, volunteer, stand up for causes you care about, all in alignment with the bigger message you’d like to communicate.

Resources:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goldman
  • “Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than IQ or expertise, accounts for 85% to 90% of success at work . . . IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.” Warren Bennis
  • The Complete Guide to Running 360 Reviews by Christian Vanek 

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FountainBlue’s April 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Creating and Managing Your Executive Brand. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Sandisk and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Deepika Bajaj, Head of Marketing and Growth, Redlink Inc.
  • Panelist Hillary Barnhart, Senior Director, Business Operations, Applied Materials
  • Panelist Amy Rubin Friel, Head of Marketing and Product Management, Exciting New Stealth Business, Nokia Technologies
  • Panelist Michelle Ravn Appelqvist, Senior Director – Sales, Marketing, Product & Technology Legal, SanDisk Corporation

Agility: The Key to a Successful Career!

March 11, 2016

FountainBlue’s March 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Agility: The Key to a Successful Career!

March11Panelists

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives who so graciously shared their wisdom and experience on the topic of career agility. They had many things in common:

  • Their self-awareness helped them to contemplate what they are doing professionally and their proactiveness helped them to forge a new path when it was time to do so.
  • Their courage, curiosity and burning desire to grow and evolve drove them to become increasingly better at what they do, and to diversify into new areas of need to companies and their customers.
  • They made false steps on occasion, and always learned from their experiences, without regrets.
  • They brought their learnings and perspectives into a new and richer role which was more right for them.
  • They ever focused on developing relationships with the broad spectrum of stakeholders around each role.
  • They worked and grew their brand as competent tech leaders who knew how to solve important problems in collaboration with others.

Below is their advice on how to make career-agile choices.

  • Know what you’re good at and what you want to do, as well as what you want to be known for.
  • Navigate the discrepancy between who you want to be and how you are perceived.
  • Develop relationships with all stakeholders and be in constant communication with those around you.
  • Incremental projects for the right team and leader may need to a larger, longer-term commitment.
  • Choose COOL work, COOL people, COOL company – as you see it. (It may not be just right for others for example.)
  • Choose to be with positive and supportive people who bring out the best in you.
  • With that said, also surround yourself with people who are not like you, but could complement you.
  • When starting something new, be curious, build relationships and understand expectations and stakeholders.
  • Accept your circumstances, change them, or leave. Don’t take the grouse path.
  • Choose to be learning-agile, hungry for knowledge and proactively plan your personal and professional development path.
  • Consider the opportunities which present themselves to you even if you don’t feel quite prepared for them, for you will learn as you go.

The bottom line is GO FOR IT, Don’t Settle. Contemplate what may be blocking you for being more than you are now, more even than you thought you could be. Embrace the learning opportunities which may appear as a result.

Resources:

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Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at eBay and our panelists:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant 
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems 
  • Panelist Sondra Bollar, Senior Director of Software Development and Release Management in the Oracle Public Cloud, Oracle

  • Panelist Sarah Brubacher McDonald, Senior Director B2C Engagement, eBay 
  • Panelist Laura DeBacker, Senior Director, Leadership and Talent Development, Synaptics
  • Panelist SK Lau, Product Line Engineering Operations, Texas Instruments 

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

February 12, 2016

FebFountainBlueEvent

FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence. We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives around what it takes to be influential and impactful within an organization. They agreed on the following:

  • Knowing who you are, what you’re passionate about, and being committed to delivering results and getting things done are the heart of every influential leader.
  • Communicating who you are and engaging and listing others in your web of influence to join in and support goals and objectives comes only after the first step, but is also critical.
  • Reaching for more breadth and experience, being open to new people and learnings helped make our panelists the successful and influential leaders they are.
  • Taking the high road, seeing the larger picture, and being open and accepting of others helps leaders navigate waters, which can be sometimes turbulent, especially when there’s a lot of change. And even when things are pretty stable, because of the nature of tech companies and the market changes overall, everyone needs to deal with a very diverse base of stakeholders. Learning the motivations of the audience, and communicating in a way they understand is also critical in order to be influential.

Below is advice from our panel for those who want to be more influential:

  • Don’t think that to be an influential you have to be a Dragon Lady. Be influential in a direct, positive, collaborative, win-for-all way.
  • In the same token, don’t hold back from trying to be influential because you want to be nice, because you don’t like conflict.
  • Get your facts straight and focus on the data to influence others on a course of action and decision.
  • Have a broad and deep network of connections, spinning a web across all those you touch. Use those connections to get the information, resources and connections you need to get work done!
  • Select a leadership team, company and culture that aligns well with your values, who you are, what you’re about.
  • Being trustworthy, authentic, goal-focused and direct will help make sure that you are worthy of the influence you wield.
  • Pick your battles. Know what you will focus on and change, work with what you can’t change. There will be those Dragon Ladies, those cows-in-the-road, but ignore and push forward to achieve that higher purpose. 

In the end, the heart of influence is a brand, a reputation for consistently and persistently delivering results, in a wide range of roles and settings.

MayaAngelouQuoteOnChange

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Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence and our gracious hosts at Dell.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Megan Bozio, Sr. Director, Global Key Accounts Program Office, Oracle
  • Panelist Karen Randig, Director of Finance, Dell 
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Head of Open Source Strategy Office, SanDisk, President for Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) at SanDisk

A Work-Life Balance that Works for Life

January 16, 2016

FountainBlue’s January 15 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of A Work-Life Balance the Works for Life! 

Jan2016Panel

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives around work, life and balance! They have each successfully grown their careers, continually reaching for new roles and positions and better education as well. Collectively, our panelists shared the following pearls of wisdom for those seeking work-life balance.

  • Know your priorities. The work can often wait, but embrace the opportunities to capture the joy of key moments with your loved ones, and make the effort to spend quality time with your friends and family.
  • Plan-fully setting boundaries and communicating expectations transparently and iteratively can help you both enlist help and support and set you up for success.
  • Remember that it’s a journey and not a destination – be fluid between the surviving and thriving spectrum, aiming more toward the right!
  • Be known for having high standards and consistently delivering to those standards. Then you can build a reputation that will allow you the flexibility to decide how and when things get done, so that you can embrace those precious life moments.
  • Select a company and a management team that speaks the talk, and walks the talk regarding work-life balance.
  • Expect that life will happen, no matter what your plans are. Be kind to yourself and the important people in your life so that you can navigate through the rough patches together, and enjoy the calm moments.
  • Having a supportive spouse makes a huge difference. Select one who wants to partner with you in achieving work and life goals.
  • You don’t have be be-all, do-all. There’s no shame in getting help, whether it’s a maid or nanny, or whether it’s ordering in or eating out, or whether it’s tapping on a family member or neighbor to help out with kids or chores.

In the end, the work work can wait. Don’t let it overwhelm you and compromise your health. Help those who work with you adopt the perspective that they are each more important than the work they do, for they are valued more for who they are.

Resource: Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family – Sep 29 2015, by Anne-Marie Slaughter

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Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s January 15 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of A Work-Life Balance the Works for Life and our gracious hosts at EMC.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Angelique Egorerua, Sr. Manager, ECD Renewal Sales, Americas, EMC
  • Panelist Sara Hepner, Vice President of Worldwide Services Sales, BMC Software
  • Panelist Namrata Mummaneni, Director Quality, Core Product & Technology, eBay
  • Panelist Karen Pieper, Director of Software Operations, Microsemi
  • Panelist Sridevi Koneru Rao, Senior Director, Business Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Lisa Violet, Vice President, Internal Audit and Business Continuity, Hitachi

Power to the Team

December 14, 2015

FountainBlue’s December 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Power to the Team.

Dec11WSSCollage

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives around leadership, innovation, teamwork, diversity and team-building. Collectively, our panelists shared the following pearls of wisdom for team leaders: 

  • Insist that people treat each other with respect, trust each other to deliver, assume and deliver on responsibilities and assume accountability for their individual tasks and the project overall. 
    • Have zero tolerance for any individual(s) who would undermine the success of other people within the team, or the team overall.
    • Manage the brilliant mavericks and keep them engaged as this is critical to the success of any team. 
  • Bring out the best in all members of the team, knowing what everyone’s role is, knowing everyone’s value-add, and stretching everyone to contribute in specific ways, for the good of the project and the team. 
  • Communicate clearly and transparently in writing, to all stakeholders, what the expectations are and how the project is going.
    • The measure is any team leader is how well people feel heard, how good they feel about the project and about themselves. It’s almost as important as the bottom-line results delivered.
    • Building bridges between people and teams and empowering them with information and resources through constant, transparent, and clear communications is critical to the success of any project.
  • Select a team which is willing to be both process-oriented and agile. Having a plan of where you’re going and making changes on the fly helps teams succeed when the challenges are difficult, when the timing is tight, and when the stakes are high.
  • Be other-centric, focusing on the needs of the customer, the market, the team. Then develop a plan which takes into the account the motivations, expectations and expertise of all involved, managing toward win-for-all results.
  • Build on past successes by recruiting individual team members from prior successful projects, even if they are not quite in their sweet spot of individual team members, even if it’s not with the same company or industry.
  • Ensure that yourself and everyone on the team adds value in specific and necessary ways, wherever anyone sits in the org chart, working as a team to deliver measurable results in collaboration, moving beyond silos and a me-first mentality.
  • Expect to deliver with the team you have, rather than make excuses for any short-comings there might be. Of course you’re going to want to empower the team you have to deliver results, and to recruit more A players to your team, but rare is the leader who will deliver results even when B and C players are the majority, and rarer still is the leader who can convert these B and C players to also become A players. 
  • Know enough to be able to oversee and manage a project, but let your team be the experts in specific areas.

The team is only as strong as the individual players, but when led well, the gestalt of the team far outweighs the value of individual members, and it is these teams which are building and growing people, products, companies and industries.

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Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Samsung, and our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Power to the Team:

  • Facilitator Deb Kaufmann, Deb Kaufmann & Associates, Inc
  • Panelist Charlotte Falla, VP of Legal and General Counsel, Samsung Research America 
  • Panelist Andrea Kolstad, Sr Director Digital Platforms, Polycom
  • Panelist Leila Pourhashemi, Head of Product Operations, eBay Marketplaces
  • Panelist Renee Six, Sr Mgr, End User Computing, Dell Inc
  • Panelist Reema Vijay, Head Business Operations & Strategic Planning, Vertical Solutions BU, Software Platform Group, Cisco
  • Panelist Ruby Yip, Senior Account Manager, EMC

The Business Case for Diversity

November 16, 2015

November13PanelistsFountainBlue’s November 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of the Business Case for Diversity. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have panelists representing different backgrounds, upbringings and perspectives around leadership, innovation and diversity. But they had much in common:

  • they were all exposed to people from many cultures, languages and backgrounds and recognized the importance of having diverse viewpoints and accepting people for their differences;
  • they recognized and appreciated that they themselves are different, largely because their mothers helped them be confident in being original and respecting the differences in others;
  • they embraced diversity as a business advantage; and
  • they generously share their perspectives with their teams, with their company, with their community.

Collectively, our shared the following pearls of wisdom:

  • Do accept and respect that others have expectations about where you should fit and what you should do, but be your own person despite what they expect of you.
  • Respect that we are all different but equal, and all have something to share. These differences add more varied and diverse elements to work and life.
  • Find your talent, find your voice and speak your mind, while encouraging and supporting others to do the same. This takes self-awareness, patience, reflection and is part of an ongoing inner journey.
  • Know what you’re good at, accept who you are, and be passionate about what you do. With that said, STRETCH all of the above, don’t just complacently go through the motions.
    • As one panelist puts it, if you are a tiger, be that mover and shaker, if you are an elephant, be that reliable beasts of burden who get the job done but don’t be a hippo who swaddle in mud and occasionally raises his head.
  • Be strong, especially when it’s not easy to be different and un-accepted because of the differences. You are not just making a stand for yourself, but for others who are also different.
  • Develop and curate your own moral compass so that you can strike that balance between who you are, who you want to become, how you are responding to others, how others are influencing you, what you think is the right thing to do, and how to achieve the best-for-all-results. An integral part of achieving this goal is to embrace the thinking and perspectives of people not-like-you.
  • Take charge and reach for what you want to achieve in life and work, overcoming restrictions and barriers, collaborating and working with others.
  • In order to take charge, you need to curate the influence and support of those in charge. See what motivates them, show them why embracing your perspective and that of others who are different would provide a business advantage. Speak in a language they understand and respect to earn your credibility.
    • Consider that being overly-emotional might make some people uncomfortable and impact the message you would like to deliver, and how you are viewed. Manage your communication accordingly.
    • Consider that many people might be influenced by what you wear. For example, wearing skirts and jewelry might limit how others perceive you and take that into account. You could overcome these perceptions with your results and your words, but understanding how you will be perceived and making the other party comfortable and open might make it easier for you to get your message across and focus on the results, rather than gender.
  • Be patient with those who are judging you, restricting you, or trying to get you to conform. Understand the influences that have brought them to this state and work with them to embrace the value of thinking and doing things differently.

Below is advice for facilitating diversity within your organization.

  • Communicate the importance of diversity and its impact on products, team and solutions.
  • Help teams understand that they are on the same side, but may just perceive and respond differently.
  • Show management the data behind the diversity initiatives implemented.
  • Put the actions behind your words – encourage out-of-the-box thinking, hire diverse people on to your team, reward different perspectives, listen to those who see things differently, encourage people from different teams to participate, etc.,

In the end, we hope that the panelists and the event encourage all to better embrace diversity as an opportunity for you to rise and shine and find a better, deeper, more complete version of yourself and others around you.

Resource:


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at TI and our panelists for FountainBlue’s When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series, on the topic of the Business Case for Diversity:

​Facilitator Camille Smith, Work In Progress Coaching
Panelist Monica S Bajaj, Senior Engineering Manager, NetApp
Panelist April Greene, HR Director, Juniper
Panelist SK Lau, Product Line Engineering Operations, Texas Instruments
Panelist Shobhana Viswanathan, Product Marketing, VMWare

Women Leading Innovation

October 12, 2015

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FountainBlue’s October 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Leading Innovation. Below are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such courageous and accomplished women on our panel, who come from many different educational levels, corporate and technical backgrounds, and frames of reference. 

As women leading innovation in a variety of industries, technologies and roles, they provided a higher level picture of what it takes to bring something new into an organization, to change the status-quo/the way things are done, and to bring a disparate range of stakeholders to the same agenda. Their advice for moving the needle forward is summarized in the points below.

  1. Focus on the needs of the customer and the trends of the market. Technology’s role is as an enabler.
  2. With that said, it takes integration and management of the most flexible, scalable technologies in order to address the needs of the customer.
  3. So get the best people working with the most current technologies to ensure the viability, performance and scalability of the solution and learn to speak in a language they understand.
  4. Innovation must be blessed from the leaders within the organization, in both words and actions. Work with a company whose leaders walk their talk around innovation, and identify projects which lets you contribute to the company’s innovation edge, engaging a wide range of stakeholders.
  5. It’s never easy to embrace change and chaos and conflict, yet these are all inherent requirements for innovation. Successful innovation leaders effectively manage through the process, facilitating alignment towards common goals.
  6. Know first why you want to innovate, by understanding market trends and customer needs. Then know what your team and organization can do to best serve that need, and how that need is best delivered by whom, with measurable results.
  7. Take a long-term view on innovation. Be resilient and persistent enough to work through the ‘nos’ and the failures. Fail fast and fail forward, progressing new learnings and new and deeper relationships as you go.
  8. It’s a challenge to make old technology fit into our new needs, yet it’s fundamental to the success of organizations.
  9. Make it intuitive and easy for people to use powerful technologies, for the customers of the future make be broader, more demanding AND less tech-savvy.
  10. Carpe diem – seize the day. What’s blocking you from doing what you could possibly do is the lack of confidence that you will succeed the first time. Re-set your expectations – try with little incremental steps to enlarge your objectives, goals, role and contributions.

In the end, innovation is about leaders who think differently about how things are done. Leaders who focus on the needs of others and delivering scalable results, engaging a broad range of internal partners and stakeholders. 


Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s October 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation and our gracious hosts at Aruba.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO FountainBlue, Producer When She Speaks Series, Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Jae Sook (Jun) Evans, VP Global Cloud Operations, Saba
  • Panelist Sujatha Mandava, Senior Director, Aruba
  • Panelist Adriane McFetridge, VP, Payment Software Services, Verifone
  • Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Strategy & Corporate Development, Dell Software
  • Panelist Shweta Saraf, SW Engineering Lead, Cisco
  • Panelist Navrina Singh, Director of Product Management, Qualcomm, ImpaQt

Make Your Own Rules

September 11, 2015

FountainBlue’s September 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules.RulesCollage

We were fortunate to have such courageous and accomplished women on our panel, who come from many different educational levels, corporate and technical backgrounds, and frames of reference. They shared with us why there was a need to create new rules, shift current rules, question each rule, and advised us on how best to break those rules so that they benefit all.
  1. Be strong and confident with who you are and broaden your understanding of the impact you may have, no matter where you sit at the table, or even if you don’t even have admission to the event! 
  2. Be clear on your purpose and goals. Understand how the rules and processes and culture are affecting the need to achieve those goals and speak in a way where influential others will understand the logic and reasons for making changes.
  3. Communicate in a way that commands attention and respect. Speak in a language and through a channel that would resonate with your audience. 
  4. Be prepared and plan-ful, with a clear focus on delivering measurable results. Then overcome your fear, engage with influential advocates, get uncomfortable and see where it takes you. 
  5. Try hard, be open, fail quickly, and don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying in the first place!
  6. Build a wide and broad network that would benefit all. And maintain those relationships and conversations to help you get grounded and to help build influence and credibility.
  7. Challenge yourself to do something new and different if you’re feeling a bit listless at work. Leverage what you know to get to what you can do from here. Be confident that you can deliver on something new, even if you haven’t exactly done this sort of thing in the past.
  8. Many people are uncomfortable with changing the way-things-are-always-done, even if there’s no logical reason to do things that way. To help foster change with these people and these cultures, adopt a logical, plan-ful, data-based approach for why a new system, process, method would be better for them individually, for the team and company as a whole, and for the customer. And sell the approach in a way that would best resonate with each person/group/team/division. 
  9. Represent the viewpoint of the customer and translate the needs of the customer to the internal teams that can best serve that customer.
  10. Be who you are and do things in a way that works for you. Be pure of intentions, reliable with delivery, generous with support, open for feedback and opportunities.
The bottom line is that our panelists are challenging us to be the person we know we can be – to challenge the system and rules that are holding ourselves and each other back, and to rise up and embrace opportunities to forge shifts little and big – for the good of all.​


Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s September 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules and our gracious hosts at Cypress:

Facilitator Nancy Monson, Nancy Monson Coaching

Panelist Jennifer Altergott, Regional Sales Director, Polycom

Panelist Raji Arasu, CTO, StubHub, an eBay Company

Panelist Stacie Hibino, Tangible UX Director for the Visual Display UX Lab at Samsung Research America, Samsung Electronics

Panelist Grace Hu-Morley, Senior Manager, Product Management of IoE Healthcare Solutions, Cisco Systems

Panelist Tamara Lucero, former Director, Inside Sales, Cypress

Politics In The Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 14, 2015
Politics in the Workplace, FountainBlue August 11, 2015 When She Speaks Event

Politics in the Workplace, FountainBlue August 11, 2015 When She Speaks Event

FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such courageous and accomplished women on our panel, who come from many different educational levels, corporate and technical backgrounds, and frames of reference. They graciously and generously shared their wisdom around navigating politics – the art and science of influence.
  • Accept that politics is a part of life and decide to work with it and learn from it. It’s a given that there will be politics as not everyone will be on the same page with the same agenda at the same time.
  • Know yourself and what your values are and what your value-add is. This will help you identify who you are and stay strong to your integrity and principles. This will also help you find the courage to stop fearing the fear and take risks in ways that make sense and for the right reasons.
  • Ever be that confident, energetic, enthusiastic person – even if you have to fake it to get there sometimes.
  • Accept that there will invariably be misalignments between people, teams and groups, and work to understand the perspectives and objectives of all those involved. Assume that others in the group have the best intentions . . . unless the data shows otherwise.
  • Know the difference between misalignment of opinion and misalignment of values. Never compromise those core values.
  • Create and build a support network that helps you keep centered, ‘smelling the roses, blowing out the candles’.
  • Understanding what needs to be done, who’s involved and what their motivations will help you better understand and manage the situation.
  • Resources such as time and money always adds conflict to any group dynamic, whether a company is huge and established or just starting out. Understand why different people, teams and partners want what they want and start the negotiations with that in mind.
  • Separate the bad politics which is around self-centered empire building to the good politics where people may have different plans and needs, but are overall aligned on the goals.
  • Be curious – listen to what others have to say. Always try to understand what’s motivating them.
  • Communicate with clarity, courage and transparency with conversations based on facts and data. Communicate outside the direct network and to the larger network, including execs to keep them in the loop, where appropriate.
  • Embrace interactions as learning experiences. Know the difference between what you own and what someone else owns and accept that you can only change yourself. For example, if someone pushes you under the bus, perhaps you did things that set them up to do that, but in the end, the other person pushed you under the bus, so approach with caution.
  • Park the emotions and don’t take things personally. Take the high road at every opportunity and maintain channels of communication. (That’s generally easier said than done, so invest in making yourself more centered and stronger so that you can get more progressively closer to the mark.)
  • Connect with people at all levels and build networks and relationships of trust BEFORE you need to count on them.
  • In working with difficult people, find a way to disagree amiably. Start conversations and communications focused on what you have in common, which is probably more things than you think in the heat of the moment!
  • Build relationships with men and women – don’t make gender a criteria for the people you have in your network. Rule of thumb: if a woman opens a door, people might wonder why she’s so pushy. If a man opens a door for the woman, people will wonder what’s special about that woman.
  • In general, tech companies are more accepting of women leaders who prove themselves than in other industries such as automotive or military. But that doesn’t mean that all tech companies will treat women better, or that all companies are equal. Find that company, culture and team where you feel you can succeed, and make plans to walk if it’s not all that it appears to be, in a bad way. Hint: When you find a job and a team that is super focused on an exciting new project, there may be less time to engage in petty politics.
The bottom line is that those who accept that politics is part of the game of life, those who know who they are and stand behind those principles, those who put the project and the team above themselves will better succeed in navigating political waters.
Recommended Resources:

Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at NetApp and our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

Facilitator Julianna Hynes, PhD, Julianna Hynes & Associates, Executive and Leadership Development Coach

Panelist Neela Deshpande, Chief of Staff, Dell Networking

Panelist, Lakshimi Duraivenkatesh, Director, Software Development, eBay 

Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Polycom

Panelist Julie Herd, Director of Product Management, NetApp

Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Sr. Mgr. Solutions Marketing, Nutanix


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