Archive for the ‘Ask Linda’ Category

Mending Fences with Family Members

April 7, 2011

Family Members, an Excerpt from Chapter Six: Mending Fences, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
April 7,
Dear Linda
I used to get compliments all the time about how I’m able to fit in work, family, community, everything. But lately the family dynamics is really getting to me, and I’m feeling both sore and all alone. I don’t know if it’s my own work schedule, my husband’s job demands, the needs of our growing children, or just something in the air. There’s a rift between myself and my husband which started with a conversation about how to support his aging parents and has escalated into everything from who has what household roles to how the kids should be more independent and take on more responsibility. I’m tired of the battles and want to go back to a time when we were more in synch, more aligned, more on the same page. Any suggestions?
Thanks, She-Who-Feels-Alone
Dear She, I feel your pain and the great burden of responsibility of the sandwich generation overall – the need to care for aging parents and parents-in-law while raising children and managing career goals and maintaining a deep connection with your spouse. Here are some ideas on how to regain the balance you miss, how to mend and tend fences and find a path to go forward together.
1. In reviewing the situation and strategizing your actions, consider each relationship individually: husband and wife, mother and child, mother and in-laws, etc and consider separately how the dynamics work together.
2. Be clear on what needs to be fixed and how not-fixing it is impacting your happiness and that of your family.
3. What changes in your life or that of your other family members have led to the new stresses in your life? How can you minimize the negative impact of these changes?
4. Strategize how to communicate this need to your spouse (or other family member).
5. Enlist their input and help in coming up with a plan that would support both your interests.
6. Focus on changing the small stuff, which helps the bigger stuff happen.
7. Create boundaries on roles, responsibilities, communications, etc. Work with each other to maintain these boundaries.
8. Have a realistic view of what it used to be like, and a new and realistic view of where you want to be, and celebrate as you make progress towards these goals.
9. Remember that it’s more about how you make the other person feel than about being right.
10. There is no more important relationship than that with your family. Invest in making it all work together. Learn from growing these relationships. Consider how friction in relationships at home may be lessons about other parts of your life, including your business life.
This is not easy stuff, and not a small issue. This is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the interactions, and invite more learnings and knowledge and deeper conversations through the process.
Best of Luck,


Re-Energizing YOU, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book

March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011: The YOU at Work, an Excerpt from Chapter Nine: Re-Energizing YOU, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
Dear Linda,
I used to love my job. I couldn’t wait to go in every day and do something significant toward achieving a dream I never thought could happen. Little by little, my drive as ebbed, and my work at life is ho-hum. I like what I do, the people I work with and serve, but I always go home thinking, ‘there’s got to be more’. What am I missing and what can I do about it?
She Who Is a Blah at Work
Dear She, I feel for you, young enough to remember when everything was fresh, experienced enough to appreciate all you’ve done and achieved. Here are some suggestions for re-energizing the YOU you bring to work.
1. Identify WHY you are feeling so blah at work. Are you tired of doing the same old thing? Are you tired of the department or people you work with? Are you seeking a new challenge? Are you seeking more of a purpose in what you do?
2. Develop a strategy based on WHY you are feeling down, and what you would like to do about it.
3. Review the strategy with someone trusted in your network, and commit to making a change to a more energized YOU.
4. If you are seeking more purpose and more impact, consider changing what you do for whom, based on the impact results you seek.
5. If the direction, composition, agenda etc of your team or company has changed, consider finding a climate more conducive to growth for you. Or consider what changes you could forge, along with others, so that you would be more energized when you stay.
6. If you need skills, connections or knowledge to evolve the professional you, make a plan and make it happen. Don’t find yourself a month, a year, or more later coming to the same conclusion, yet taking no action.
7. Sometimes the blah you feel at work is related to crushing demands on time which take you away from other things. Although this is fine in the short term, especially for jobs with a lot of responsibility, it’s just not sustainable. So catch yourself doing this an set boundaries so that it happens less frequently and/or is more manageable.
8. Sometimes it’s the people you work with. If they drain you and don’t bring out the best in you, perhaps it’s time to find a place where you better fit, or to change the place so that you fit better.
9. Sometimes you just need a change of pace, a vacation, time to get away. Make the time to do this and perhaps that’s all is needed.
10. Sometimes when you do an audit of why you’re not feeling yourself, you’ll find that it’s not work that has to change, but things outside work which cause you to be tired of work. So it’s OTHER things that need to change and get back in synch. If you get this ‘aha’ make sure to better appreciate your work, better compartmentalize work and other things, and better appreciate your work life overall.
Whatever you decide to do, knowing and honoring your feelings about yourself and how you feel at work will help you make a change for the better.
Best of luck with your next career shift!
BlueFountain’s weekly column features Linda Holroyd’s responses from members of our community, shared with the permission of the requester, and intended to be informative to others with the same question. Use the form at to submit your questions for future columns, or just e-mail us at

Customers First: The Voice of Marketing in Engineering Companies

March 24, 2011

March 24: Customers First, an Excerpt from Chapter Eight: A Cow’s Eye View, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
Dear Linda, I just signed onto a technology company who is trying to move from its technical roots to more of a sales and marketing focused organization. I’m making progress but it’s not a smooth ride. Any thoughts on how to get the company more customer-focused?
Dear She, I feel your pain. This scenario is unfortunately common in Silicon Valley when so many founders and leaders think that it’s about the technology and start and lead technology-focused companies. There’s nothing wrong with technology. It’s the enabler, it’s the reason why customers are buying. But it’s not the reason why your company is staying in business. Here are some thoughts on how to get your company more customer focused.
1. Define what you and others in your group mean by ‘customers’ and the ideal product or service for the ideal customer. Be in alignment on this before reaching out to customers.
2. Getting buy-in at the management level is not getting buy-in at the implementation level. So figure out which groups you need to change, who is in the group, and what’s in it for them to make this change. Then make the case for the change.
3. The reverse is also the case. If the management team signs you on to forge this change, and yet doesn’t back you up with the policies and initiatives and backing to make it happen, then it’s a difficult task indeed.
4. The best way to show that customers come first is to prove that addressing their needs will bring more business and more momentum to your business. Whether it’s providing a new feature or providing better tools, support and service, getting things right for the customer and enlisting their help in better serving more customers will soon generate measurable results for your company, ones that leaders throughout the organization will recognize and support.
5. Focus on making a happy customer, and leveraging them to make more happy customers through communication, through referrals, through strategic/product changes.
6. If you can’t find a happy customer or make a happy customer, there may be a deeper issue. Find out from unhappy customers and others what that might be and see if it is fixable and if so how.
7. If some customers are happy and some are not, figure out why and what you can do to better serve more customers in your sweet spot.
8. Positive momentum builds more positive momentum, so focus on building energy in that positive direction.
9. Distractions and failures are part of the path, and can be folded into the overall solution as a win, if it redirects and corrects and keeps moving forward.
10. A cultural shift involves changes at all levels, in all departments and will not happen overnight. Find the early adopters in each department who can help spread the change and educate and empower them and enlist others to follow them.
Best of luck – you are on the right, albeit difficult path to a sustainable business!

Ask Linda: Work/Life Balance and Stress Management

March 4, 2011

Excerpt from BlueFountain’s Ask Linda Column, Chapter One, Life-Work Balance, on the topic of Stress Management
Dear Linda,
I’m way to young to be so stressed about little things. What can I do about it? She-Who-Is-Too-Young-To-Be-Stressed

Dear Too,
It breaks my heart to hear people of all ages with similar pleas, but especially when it comes from someone so young. Whether you’re experiencing stress because of the heavy time demands and high expectations of day-to-day living in Silicon Valley, or whether you were born with high expectations or the tendency to fret easily, it’s easy to relate to the overwhelming feelings of stress and feel compassion for those who experience it – and they unfortunately surround us. These are some words of wisdom, which I hope that you find helpful.
1. Stress is a point of view – you could be the wealthiest, best-cared-for person around, and experience much more unhappiness and stress than those who have little but appreciate much. So check your point of view.
2. Be clear on the choices you’re making and why you’re making them, and be willing to make changes to better reflect what you want to do. It’s really easy to continue to commit to things you used to enjoy, and also very stressful to keep doing so, AND take on new things. So be sure that what you’re doing now is exactly what you WANT to do and why.
3. Know what you CAN change, and accept and work with what you CAN’T. Don’t waste your time complaining about and fighting against what you can’t change. Have the courage and initiative to change what you can and choose to have a good attitude about what you can’t.
4. Work on your own agenda, don’t try to follow that of others around you. Take the time to know yourself and what drives you and make a stand for yourself, and make choices based on who you are and who you want to become.
5. Surround yourself with people who will support you for who you are, not what you do. It will help you manage your stress level.
6. How you do one thing is how you do everything, so choose to do what you do well and focus on doing the things that you do well. With that said, follow the 80-20 rule – don’t be so perfectionistic that it limits your ability to do a lot of things well and quickly.
7. Find enjoyment and appreciation in little things. Don’t wait until you reach a destination to enjoy the journey! Choose to be happy with all the little things that go well.
8. Nobody’s perfect. Forgive yourself if you’re not, and find a way to learn and move on following every mis-step.
9. Find a way to re-set yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of balance. The people, experiences and processes you adopt to do this will help you better manage stress overall.
10. Appreciate all you are and all you have and Keep Reaching For Stars.
I hope that you find the advice above useful and welcome your suggestions and edits, and other questions.

Keep being the best YOU you can be!

About the Ask Linda Column:
BlueFountain features weekly columns addressed to Linda Holroyd’s and includes her responses to life and work questions from members of our community, shared with the permission of the requester, and intended to be informative to others with the same question. It is our hope that the advice, structured in top-ten tips and tricks will help our readers better understand the issues in question, and better address the work-life challenges most relevant to her/him, and better support and empower others in addressing these challenges.

About Linda Holroyd
Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue and BlueFountain
Serial Entrepreneur Linda launched, self-funded and grew FountainBlue which supports collaborative innovation one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time through our monthly events for early stage clean energy, high tech and life science entrepreneurs and women leaders, through our shared learnings distributed to our dynamic communities, and through our coaching services for early-stage CEOs and workshops and retreats for corporations. Through her efforts, FountainBlue has become a premier networking association in the valley, serving the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial leaders in their early stage initiatives. Linda is a frequent writer and speaker on leadership, entrepreneurship and networking topics and is working on several e-books on these topics. Linda is married and lives with her husband and 12-year-old daughter in the Silicon Valley. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, writing, wellness and fitness, history, hiking, meeting people, and almost any board or card game.

For more information about our monthly events, and to register, visit For more articles and information about leadership, and to see more Ask Linda articles and leadership quotes, visit our sister organization BlueFountain