Archive for the ‘WSS-SF’ Category

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 
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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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Unconscious Bias

June 1, 2018

UnconsciousBias

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

Tiger Team Best Practices

April 24, 2018
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Panelists from left to right: Hanna Sicker, Jennifer Dormoy and Laura Bermudez

FountainBlue’s April 20 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Tiger Team Best Practices. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists have deep and broad experience with leading teams, particularly tiger teams solving technical problems. Our panelists agreed that Tiger Teams are generally small and focused on important, mission-critical projects which are often high profile. It may be a project that’s blocked or failing or broken in some way, or it may be a high-potential project just getting started. 

Tiger Teams sometimes have several specialists involved, people who are experts at certain aspects of the project or certain layers of the stack. And sometimes it’s comprised of generalists with broad technical and business skills.

What’s critical is that each team member is passionate and driven about creating an efficient and effective solution for that important project, and persistent and competent enough to consistently deliver to stellar measurable results, overcoming huge obstacles.

Tiger teams are not meant for everyone or for every project. Many tiger teams require extra workloads and additional hours. Many tiger teams require working on cutting edge technologies solving technical and process issues which are mission critical. If you’re considering joining a tiger team, make sure that you have the bandwidth to contribute fully to the cause, and the interest and passion to do a deep dive into intricate technologies and sticky problems.

Below is a compilation of advice from our sage panelists.

  • If you’re lobbying for the resources, members and funds to initiatives, speak in the strategic business terms executives would understand – make the business case and show the value of the project, using data to make your point.
  • Treat your people well. Give them the resources and support they need so that they can succeed. Give them the types of tasks which draws upon their strengths. Be positive and supportive and fun, and make it worth their while to join the team.
  • Tiger Teams often have to solve problems across teams, across technologies, across divisions. Building networks of relationships and communicating across different groups are essential strategies for success.
  • Build on your successes and solve bigger problems following each success.
  • Tiger Teams work in waves. Along time for the planning, the build-up and ramp-up, the intense execution, and the learning and maintenance.
  • Invite people with diverse experiences and perspectives to the team. 
  • Consider the learning styles of the different members of the team, and use this information to help ensure that everyone’s learning, and that all can contribute in ways which work for them. (See resource section.)
  • Create a tiger teams that is as competitive as they are collaborative, as communicative as they are inclusive. 

The bottom line is that Tiger Teams are important not just for solving mission-critical problems, but also for forging new innovation, new ideas, new solutions.

Resource: 

The Seven Learning Styles https://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

Learning Styles.jpg

  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 20 When She Speaks was event on the topic of Tiger Team Best Practices and our gracious hosts at eBay.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Laura Bermudez, Director of Software Development, eBay and NPD & Board Member, Meritus College Fund
  • Panelist Jennifer Dormoy, VP of Engineering, Swift Navigation
  • Panelist Hanna Sicker, Head of Global Security and Site Reliability Engineering, StubHub

Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

March 16, 2018

FountainBlue’s March 16 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My!

We were fortunate to have an experienced and passionate set of panelists, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and perspectives. They shared much in common:

  • A seasoned leader noticed each of them early in their career, and helped them see themselves as bigger and better than they thought they could be, to reach higher than they thought possible, and to act despite the fear.
  • Each panelist took that chance and explored various dimensions of jobs and roles, learning with each opportunity.
  • Each panelist is invested in giving back to the next generation of leaders, so that others who follow can benefit from their experience and wisdom, just like they benefited from the person who mentored them early on.

The panelists talked at length on the benefits of champions and advocates, who root for you and recommend you, especially when there are specific opportunities ahead. They spoke also of mentors who are grooming the next generation, and the business value of supporting mentees. They spoke of the value of coaches, generally experienced, external supporters who help people understand how they and their projects and actions might fit into the larger picture for the team and organization. They spoke of sponsors, who are best known for having the influence to open doors, to create opportunities and nominate people to these roles.

When the question of gender was brought up, the panelists acknowledged that gender does matter. Men and women are biologically different especially under extreme circumstances including pregnancy. But they centered back to the core focus around leadership and innovation and urged us to see the greater picture beyond gender, so that together we could build a meritocracy.

They each told stories about the role all these supporters played in their own professional careers, and how they each planned to do the same for others around them.

The panelists had the following collective advice for mentees.

On preparing yourself for having a mentor:

  • Be open and prepared to embrace new ideas, new concepts, different roles, different companies, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. 
  • Be curious about your blind spots. You don’t know what you don’t know about yourself, unless you ask others what you need to know in order to learn and grow.
  • Be a sponge – a curious and active listener.

On selecting a mentor:

  • Work with someone you can trust.
  • Be clear on what you’re looking for in a mentor. Work backwards – decide how you’d specifically like to grow, and identify who could help you do what in order to grow.
  • Consider looking for people who are not like you.
  • Look for someone inspirational who may be willing to groom you, support you.

On ensuring a successful mentorship experience:

  • Be willing to work hard, in order to honor the energy and time the mentor has invested in you.
  • Have a specific goal in mind. Measure and report on progress towards that goal.
  • Create that network of people who can support you as you grow and change.
  • Make the best of every opportunity, and learn at every juncture.
  • Ask for direct, clear and transparent feedback and learn and grow from the input.
  • Ensure that each conversation is valuable to all involved.

The panelists had the following collective thoughts about becoming a mentor.

  • It’s a rewarding way to give back.
  • It’s a great business value for the team, project and organization.
  • If the technology is working, and the marketing/sales is humming, then it’s all about the people. Invest in those people. Mentor, coach, advise and support them throughout the cycle – from recruitment to development to retention to development.
  • Team is everything. Sometimes one and one makes 11, and sometimes one * one is still one. 
  • With mentoring, you can help make sure that ‘the right people are on the bus, in the right seat’.
  • Ensure that each conversation is valuable to all involved.

Our bottom line is that the best leaders had an army of supporters – mentors, coaches, advocates, sponsors, champions – and that leadership and innovation will perpetuate around a virtuous loop of positive and supportive experiences.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 16 When She Speaks in SF event, entitled Mentors and Champions and Sponsors, Oh My! and our hosts at Mapbox.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Sylvie De Wever, GM Latin America & Head of Marketing Emerging Markets, eBay
  • Panelist Maranda Ann (VandenBroek) Dziekonski, COO, rentL
  • Panelist Nancy Gilbert, Director, Program Management, Lam Research Corporation 
  • Panelist Gopal Kumarappan, VP Software Engineering, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Zaina Orbai, Vice President, Global Head of People, Mapbox 

ISMAC is Where It’s At, SF

October 24, 2017

 

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FountainBlue’s October 20 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud. Our panel this quarter was quite diverse, representing a wide range of industries, backgrounds and perspectives. But they had much in common:

  • They shared a passion for doing things well, for doing things differently, for constantly raising the bar to better understand the needs of the customer, and to better deliver solutions which solve problems.
  • They each had a wide breadth of experiences, which they developed and learned from, and which proved invaluable as they continued on their professional and personal journey.
  • They generously and regularly shared their wisdom, advice and learnings to those around them, ensuring that they also benefited.
  • They had an innate curiosity, an astounding passion, and a drive to innovate, perpetuate, expand and grow. Therefore, each team and company and industry they worked with benefited greatly from their leadership and participation.

Below is their compiled advice on how to lead innovation, wherever you’re sitting at the table.

Be Strategic

  • Be consciously disruptive when it makes sense for the long term, and practical and efficient in your day-to-day operations, continually raising the question – how can this technology, this process, this team function better? What problems can we solve today and for tomorrow?
  • When an innovation goes wrong for whatever reason, own up to it, make up for it, learn from it, and move on!
  • Be careful generalizing innovation successes. What works in one context may not work in another. However, DO consider when an innovative concept may be applicable to another context.

It’s About the Customer

  • Being customer-focused is the heart of innovation. Delivering to the trends of the market and the needs of the customer is integral to the success of companies.
  • Technology is so pervasive and growing so rapidly that it’s difficult to stay ahead of the curve. Having a finger on the pulse of market trends and customer needs will help leaders design and develop relevant and customizable technology solutions.
  • Focus not so much on the sexiness of the technology, but rather on the potential appeal to the customer. Even if it’s the next best thing to sliced bread, if nobody buys it, it’s not an innovation which is sustainable.
  • Understand there may be an aversion to adoption before you design and develop a solution. Understanding why the aversion exists might lead you to a more relevant, more promising solution.
  • When appropriate, think not just about your customer, but also about your customer’s customer. 
  • Provide omni-channel solutions which take into account the desired communication channels of the customers (web, mobile, social media).

Be Collaborative

  • Build an ecosystem approach to innovation, which invites input from marketing, sales, operations, finance leaders from within the company, plus partners, vendors and customers outside the company.
  • Speak in the language of data to make your case to all stakeholders. 
  • Make friends in places high and low. You never know who will be instrumental in bringing an innovative idea to market – it takes a village!
  • Find a way to fund your novel idea from grants, executives, investors, etc., It’s hard to innovate without the resources to support that innovation.
  • Embrace diversity in your team as it will stimulate innovative-out-of-the-box thinking.

Below are some innovation ideas worth exploring.

  • Develop a solution which can lead a transition from paper to digital in volume for any one industry at a time. The slow-adopting industries might be the most challenging, but may have the most potential for adoption.
  • IT and IoT innovations which make life easier and more automated will abound and change the way we work and play.
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots and devices will continue to flourish in the marketplace. Creating a platform where they can interact, a standard which keeps them secure and interchangeable may be a great opportunity ahead.
  • Infrastructure solutions including storage and security will become increasingly more important.
  • Process innovation is a form of innovation which can’t be ignored. It will ensure that the right products and services efficiently get into the hands of the right customers.
  • Online learning will be hot, both for corporations and for individuals.
  • Collaborative communication solutions will continue to abound, solving problems across the enterprise.
  • Small businesses will adopt enterprise-level solutions which help them innovate better, collaborate better, serve customers better.
  • The empowered consumer will have much power – they will be wealthy, specific and demanding. This spells opportunity for those who can efficiently deliver personalized solutions.

The bottom line is that we can each facilitate a culture of innovation by making it SAFE to think differently, rewarding those who communicate differently, and celebrating those who are doing things differently – like creating new widgets, gadgets, and systems.


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 20 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud and our gracious hosts at AppDynamics.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Michelle Chen, PhD, Executive Director, Business Development & Licensing, West Coast Innovation Hub, Merck
  • Panelist Yvonne Chen, Head of Marketing/Sr Director of Marketing, Udemy
  • Panelist Shanthi Ramamurthy, Managing Director, Accenture Technology
  • Panelist Alexandra Shapiro, CMO, BigCommerce
  • Panelist Megan Slater, VP of Business Technology, AppDynamics

Lean In and Level It UP

July 22, 2017

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

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

Be strategic.

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

Make positive and proactive choices.

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

Empower your people.

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

Work your network.

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

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


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

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

Communicating at the Pace of Change

June 14, 2017

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

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

Below are notes from the conversation.

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

Be strategic.

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

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

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

Let’s talk about the data.

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

It takes leadership.

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

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

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

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

Negotiating for a Win-Win in SF

January 31, 2017

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FountainBlue’s January 27 When She Speaks, on the topic of Negotiating for a Win-Win. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Twilio and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Angie Chang, VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy
  • Panelist Genevieve Haldeman, Vice President, Marketing Communications, Twilio
  • Panelist Zaina Orbai, Sr. Director – Head of Global HR Operations, Yelp
  • Panelist Katie Penn, Director of Demand Marketing, Twitch

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives on our negotiation panel. Their combined advice is summarized below.

  1. Start by understanding what all parties want out of a negotiation. Understand what drives the other party so that you can collaboratively create a win-win.
  2. Be strategic, prepared and plan-ful about how you negotiate, and practical about how to make both parties comfortable, to increase the odds of a successful negotiation. 
    • This means that you must understand your own needs and that of the other party and find that intersect, driving towards common ground.
    • Use LinkedIn and other online resources to Google the backgrounds of the people you’re negotiating with. 
    • Consider factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, language, etc., when you’re negotiating with others. It will help you better understand their background so that you can properly prepare for a negotiation. 
  3. Go beyond doing the research prior to the negotiation. Vet your strategy and findings with others who may help you think through your strategy and plan prior to the negotiation.
  4. Know your triggers and manage through them so that you don’t get too emotional throughout the negotiation process.
  5. Surround yourself with mentors, supporters, champions, managers, and advocates, who will support you and help you learn and grow.
  6. Embrace the opportunity to connect with people who don’t think like you, who don’t act like you do.
  7. Sometimes negotiating with your loved ones is harder than negotiating with your peers and partners and customers at work. These family relationships run long and deep and can be more complicated. Focus on the long-term relationship rather than the short term wins.
  8. Whether you’re negotiating a big deal, or just doing business as usual, remember that networking is the greatest indicator of your success. 
    • Build relationships and connections before you’re in desperate need of them. Make broad and deep connections. Your network is closely tied to your Net Worth.
  9. Be that ethical, authentic, trusted party who will negotiate in good faith, and be true to the relationship and the agreement.
  10. Know your value and your worth, and be confident about lobbying to make sure that you get what you earn and deserve. Center yourself so that you feel that confidence even when you’ve had a bad day.

Below is specific advice which may help you with daily and ongoing negotiations at work and play.

  • If you’re trying to get on the calendar of important people, be succinct and focus on what’s in it for them. 
  • Offer one of several options which you define. This way, you get to control what’s to be done, and the other party feels like it’s their choice as well.
  • Be curious about people’s differing viewpoints. Inviting diversity into your circle can help everyone within your circle, provided everyone is open and respectful.
  • When you have to work with someone with whom you’ve had a colorful past, try to be open-minded. Humanize the other person, and find an area of common ground as a starting point.
  • Focus conversations on the issues at hand, staying away from the personal and emotional issues which may color the conversation and lead to unproductive cycles.
  • If you and the other party are bogged down with a negotiation, try backing off and coming from a different angle. Whether it’s working with champions behind the scenes, finding an alternate path to agreement.
  • If you’re negotiating a compensation package, consider many factors and weight them all, focusing mostly on the things that are most important to you. From there, you can overlay the various options. Factors other than salary include: Working Hours, Benefits, Bonuses, Title, Role and Tasks, Parking and Commute and Public Transit Access, Leadership Team, Project Preference, Boss and Manager, Team Leadership, Industry, Technology/Customers, Advancement Opportunity, Education and Training opportunities, Presentations to management/customers . . .

The bottom line is that negotiating is a part of life, and your perspective around how to negotiate and your preparedness for any negotiation will help ensure your success.

Innovation in SF

October 24, 2016

innovationsf2016FountainBlue’s October 21 When She Speaks in SF event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in San Francisco and Beyond. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an energetic, forward-thinking and accomplished range of innovators on our panel. Our panel represented a wide breadth of academic and social backgrounds, upbringings, roles and companies. Their collective advice is summarized below.

Innovation is not just about technology. 

  • Encourage everyone to define innovation more broadly as opportunities to think, speak and do things differently, whether it involves technology, processes or thinking.
  • Look not just at tech innovations but also look into innovations which improve business processes, innovations which help expand into new markets, as well as business model innovations.

Challenge people around you to think, speak and act more broadly and more deeply and gravitate toward people who are doing the same for you and to you.

  • Encourage and support self awareness in everyone around you, so they can see the bigger picture and their fit into the market and business trends.
  • Encourage both girls and boys to be self-reliant and curious, and socialize them equally to enjoy and appreciate science, technology, math and sciences.
  • Create a product, team and company where quality people want to work and stay and help them to be successful.

Focus on the Needs of the Customer as you create your strategy and your plan.

  • The adoption of a technology by paying customers is much more important than the elegance of the technology.
  • Your starting point should be ‘what are the needs of the customer’ and ‘how are you solving the customer’s problems’?
  • With advances in technology such as big data and AI, make sure that the customer still has access to human interactions.
  • Customers will increasingly demand more immersive so adopt the technologies which would address their needs.
  • Be nimble and quick with your innovations and features, resetting where necessary, gathering data to ensure alignment with the needs of the customer.
  • Ensure that the customer consistently experiences exceptional results – no matter how many hats you have to wear to make that happen.

Create a culture which embraces innovation opportunities.

  • Encourage innovators who can in turns be the humble do-er as well as the grand strategist and visionary. 
  • Invite all parties to participate as the collective entity bobs and weaves in a forward motion.
  • Be clear on WHAT needs to be accomplished by WHEN, but allow people to define HOW results will be delivered.
  • Consistently and generously believe that educating and enabling others makes things better for everyone.
  • Relish all opportunities to receive feedback and insights from others, especially from people who don’t think like they do.

Predictions for the Future

  • Customer will continue to demand more real-time digital solutions that are iSMAC (immersive, social, mobile, analytics and cloud) based.
  • Digital transformation will continue to be headline news, transforming all industries.
  • Watch for innovations on the way we distribute and create content.
  • Innovation will be in our world, in our face, in ALL industries (no matter how far we think they are from tech), from virtual reality experiences to driverless cars.

The big take-away is that everyone should feel empowered and enabled to lead and participate in an innovation, and open up opportunities to collaborate with others in being part of the win-win solutions.

Resources:


Please join me in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s October 21 When She Speaks in SF event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in San Francisco and Beyond as well as our gracious hosts at AppDynamics!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Anne Evans, Global Head of Recruiting, Unity
  • Panelist Camila Franco, Head of Product Management – Browser Experience, StubHub
  • Panelist Balwinder Kaur, Principal Software Engineer, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Jessica Mah, CEO, inDinero
  • Panelist Katie Penn, Global Head of Platform Growth, Twitter
  • Panelist Kayti Sullivan, VP of Account Management, Yelp