An ALL-IN, ALL-ONE Mindset

September 18, 2020 by

Adopt an ALL-IN, ALL-ONE Mindset

Conflict. It’s a fact of life. Sometimes life is dry without it, and sometimes it’s just too much spice, too much sauce! We advocate adopting an ‘ALL-IN, ALL-ONE’ mindset to help our clients to better understand the circumstances and the motivations of all stakeholders and to better strategize and plan on how to best address a conflict. An ‘ALL-IN, ALL-ONE’ mindset:

  • Reminds everyone that they are on the same team, so it benefits Everyone when any ONE person succeeds while helping Everyone to work on a common purpose;
  • Provides us with energy and hope, so that we can be fully committed (ALL-IN) and fully trusting of the team (ALL-ONE);
  • Connects everyone to a higher purpose, a higher goal than one he/she could do on their own;
  • Helps align everyone on a common purpose, and a common plan on how to achieve that purpose;
  • Encourages respect and acceptance of people who are not-like-you;
  • Empowers everyone at all levels to express their motivations and interests so that it can be factored in with the strategy and execution;
  • Invites respectful debate when appropriate with no room for dissension when a decision has been made;
  • Increases the likelihood of receiving a more diverse range of effective options and opportunities;
  • Helps any individual member (and the team) to understand when she/he is not a good fit for the team and make plans accordingly and
  • Emboldens all of us to keep reaching for stars, in a way that’s All IN, All-ONE.

You don’t have to be ALL-IN for all things, but do adopt an ‘ALL-ONE’ mindset – choose kindness and compassion and curiosity, especially for those who are not like you.

Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World

September 11, 2020 by

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September 11 When She Speaks Program: Embracing the Creative in a Tech-Philic World

FountainBlue’s September 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’. Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Although they were each unique and accomplished, they had much in common.

  • Each chose a technical/science educational path, yet each made the proactive choice to go into more creative and business-focused roles.
  • Each has focused on solving critical, difficult problems, working with both technologists and creatives, and found a way to translate between the two sides when there were conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Each is entrepreneurial, creatively solving problems in new ways, yet each is also process-oriented as she implements solutions.
  • Each is customer-centric, curious about the customer problems, the customer experiences. Each insisted in getting a first-hand connection to those customers so that she can better deliver solutions that serve the customers’ needs, providing a flow that is useful and easy to navigate for the customer.

Below is a compilation of advice and best practices on how to be creative in a tech-philic world.
It’s the Age of the Customer

  • Focus on the gaps and the pain points. Find out what your team/company is doing to address that pain point and how the customers are responding to these solutions. Then work from there.
  • Because technology is moving so fast, and solutions are getting so inter-related and complex, it’s often easier to design a solution based on the problem identified by a customer rather than innovating for the sake of innovating, without knowing if it serves a current pain point/need.

Know yourself

  • Know what you’re good at, what you want and reach for it.
  • Know how you work with others across the team and beyond, and learn how to work with others not-like-you.
  • Make sure that your current roles and responsibilities are a personality fit for you.

Challenge yourself

  • Never settle. Keep reaching for what’s next, what can bring out more learnings for you, more value for the customer, for your team and company, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Choose excellence, even if it means you have to work really hard to get there.
  • Persevere and learn as you go. Don’t expect to be always right, but do expect to be always learning.
  • Don’t always adopt someone else’s best practice. Do the research on what works for you and fold in also things that work for others which might also work for you.
  • Invite yourself to dream of practical innovations which meet customer needs today and also in the future.
  • Creatively consider how AI and IoT solutions can transcend industries not traditionally known for their tech.
  • Get noticed for the exceptional work you consistently deliver, the impossible problems you routinely solve.
  • Plan-fully and collaboratively plan a future for your product and team so that it has maximum impact on customers and markets.

Be a translator

  • Teams and companies need both creatives and technologists. Translating Geek-speak to Biz-speak and vice versa adds value to all involved.
  • Translate what Customers are saying to you so that both Creatives and Techies understand. Speak also to the Executives so they also understand how everyone is collaborating to deliver products and services.

Empower Others

  • Work with the Creatives to understand the Techies and vice versa, and help all to adopt a ONE TEAM mindset.

The bottom line is to be strategic and customer-focused. Ask yourself the Why of everything, then ask the What and the So What for Which audience.
Your network matters, if you want to make that lasting impact. Prove your value and you will secure additional sponsorship and mentorship and continue to drive high-profile initiatives and generate results.

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments, and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s September 11 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Hope Bovenzi, Sector General Manager for Automotive Infotainment, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Revathi Narayanan, Chief Of Staff, Compute and Networking BU, Micron
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Head of Platform Product Marketing, Freshworks
  • Panelist Charu Roy, Senior Director, Product Management Fusion PLM, Oracle
  • Panelist Urvashi Sheth, Senior Vice President Client Services, Intermedia

Power to the Grid

September 11, 2020 by
FountainBlue’s September 11, 2020 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Power to the Grid’.

FountainBlue’s September 11, 2020 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Power to the Grid’. We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives across organizations, across industries, across roles, across teams. Despite the differences, we came to an agreement regarding getting power to the grid.
Today is actually the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, so we started by comparing where we were then and where we are now in terms of how we think about energy usage. 

  • Solar adoption, renewable energy generation and EV usage have gone from a novelty – a long-term vision, to a more standard practice, more in some locations than others.
  • The age of always-on vampire mode is now politically and economically incorrect.
  • Network infrastructure and data storage is now ubiquitous, the cloud commonplace now, with costs within reason for businesses large and small.
  • Similarly, the movement of data is now commonplace, relatively inexpensive and pervasive.
  • Energy storage is much more prevalent for enterprises, with consumers now taking a look at it.

There was much conversation about the challenges related to the management of energy generation, storage and distribution, and also agreement on how we can collaborate to make progress.
Energy Management is Complicated.

  • Our energy infrastructure involves an ecosystem of public-private partnerships.
  • The challenges are many and escalating, caused by: energy usage, climate change, distribution of energy generation/storage, political agendas, the vocal opinions of companies and consumers alike, aging power infrastructure, etc.,
  • The order of magnitude for energy projects is mind-bogglingly HUGE, taking many resources and much time (in the order of decades) to implement. 

Collaboration is key.

  • Policymakers must collaborate with all parties to ensure efficient energy generation, storage and distribution.
  • With energy, IT (including enterprise systems around HR, finance, etc.,) must meet OT – operational systems which physically bring the power to our systems and devices. Collaboration is a mandate, yet often a challenge.
  • Leveraging open source solutions around energy like the LF Energy system, may help build collaborations which are science-based and a-political while also proactively managing our energy consumption and our adoption of renewable energy sources.
  • Partnering with European countries in their use of technologies and processes may help US energy customers better manage their own generation, storage and usage. 
  • Find ways where all stakeholders can provide value and provide services in a way which is economically viable and even attractive.

Security across the grid is of paramount importance.

  • Security is at huge risk with the proliferation of devices attached to the grid from both enterprises and consumers. This is especially true as attacking our source of power puts regions and nations at risk.
  • Utilities may be forced to integrate legacy systems into overall energy management solutions. Keeping these solutions secure may be more challenging and complex.

Innovation is key. Below are some thoughts on how we could innovate.

  • Consider the adoption and integration of micro-services, especially for less populous areas with lower energy demands.
  • Create Software Defined Infrastructures to better manage energy usage, to better support the integration and management of all applications, including legacy applications.
  • Provide detailed real-time reports on energy usage easily accessible by enterprises and consumers. Gamify the solution so that we can make sustainable choices around energy usage.
  • Offer strategies for enterprises and consumers can be independent of the grid either when necessary (for rolling black-outs for example), or for efficiency.
  • There may be opportunities for cities to put power lines underground, and if they do so, perhaps they can set up data sub-stations while they’re at it, for areas which use higher volumes of energy.
  • Consider vehicle-to-grid opportunities around energy generation, storage and distribution.
  • AI and ML algorithms to identify patterns and make predictions around energy usage, so that we can proactively manage.
  • Consider providing aggregated reports of energy usage and renewable energy adoption which enterprises could use across their many global facilities. 
  • Devices on the edge of the grid can help manage and monitor the energy usage, and also help us understand current and anticipated needs based on specific scenarios – usage patterns, temperature readings, population density, industry trends…
  • Create solutions which would allow customers and enterprises to make local input, and global impact while creating jobs as well.

The bottom line is that there are models and predictions around energy usage, even as we are impacted by climate change. Rising above the political and economic agendas, we can come together and create solutions and forge policies which would be good for businesses, for customers, for the Earth.

Courage – The Great Differentiator

August 25, 2020 by

Courage

Courage is the great differentiator. It separates Leaders from wannabes, Managers from almost-winners. Yet we each have the opportunity to be courageous regardless of our title, our role, our history, our circumstances. This blog muses on some different kinds of courage you may experience, and invites you to accept and celebrate each opportunity to display courage.

  1. Blind Courage is the unthinking courage exhibited in emergency situations, particularly when a loved one is in danger. Generally, it’s an immediate, unthinking and urgent response to circumstances.
  2. Faith is the kind of courage which helps people persevere and have hope despite the circumstances. Having faith gives us the hope to get trying, to keep getting better, to look to a brighter future, a bigger and better outcome.
  3. Responsive Courage to an Imminent Threat involves understanding current and future circumstances and bravely taking action to address an inevitable, predictable threat.
  4. Responsive Courage to a Perceived Threat is also about preparing for a difficult event, but it’s an event which may or may not happen, but there’s dread that it *might* happen.
  5. Responsive Courage to a Future Threat is about taking courageous measures for an event which would take place in the future.
  6. Conditional Courage means that you could be courageous under specific circumstances -maybe it’s when you’re engaging in a specific sport, or maybe you’re more brave when you are working with specific others or working on specific types of projects.
  7. Qualified Courage is the type of courage you feel when you’ve earned or learned or done something which makes you feel confident enough to or qualified enough to perform a risky task which takes skill, education and talent.
  8. Authoritative Courage is the courage assigned to someone who has adopted a specific role. Sometimes there’s training involved, as for soldiers or policemen and firemen, and sometimes there isn’t much training involved, when you’re a parent for example.
  9. Situational Courage is when someone tends to be more courageous under specific circumstances. For example, as I’m both a weak skier and a weak diver, I would never volunteer to rescue anyone on the slopes or in deep waters.
  10. Integrated Courage is a blend of the types of courage listed above, and other types not mentioned. Having a courageous mindset makes you more likely to choose courage and stand out in a good way. Understanding that there are many different kinds of courage will help you be more open to accepting the courage of others, and displaying some courage yourself.

Be Bold. Be Different. Be Courageous.

One of the Onlys

August 14, 2020 by
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FountainBlue’s August 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’.

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Although they were each unique and accomplished, they had much in common.

  • They had strong relationships with key family members who helped them feel confident from a young age.
  • They create and facilitate a culture of support, a mindset of abundance at work and with their team.
  • They are confident in their uniqueness and celebrate their own individuality. They encourage and inspire others to do the same.
  • They are introspective and self-aware while also being communicative and engaging and direct.
  • They are so quotable, relatable and amusing!
Below is a compilation of their advice.
  • Be courageous enough to try new things and say ‘yes’ to opportunities which would stretch their own abilities.
  • Broaden your definition of what excellence looks like, for excellence comes in many shapes and sizes.
  • Be collaborative as often as you can, but be willing to adopt a command and control mindset if you need to do so for the good of the product, the team, the company.
  • Err on the side of helping and supporting and mentoring others.
  • Learn from your failures and be stronger and braver and more courageous because you’ve learned how to fail well.
  • Be authentic, genuine and sincere, humble and modest. But these qualities don’t mean that you should let others take credit for the work you perform.
  • Don’t let others classify you by your gender, race, background, education, (fill in the blank). Be uniquely, unequivocally, unapologetically yourself.
  • Take every opportunity to explore your own blind spots, to learn more about yourself and about others.
  • Consistently persevere and overcome extraordinary obstacles.
  • When you fail, have your left brain (the logical side) learn from the failure, and manage your right brain (the feeling side) so that you can be courageous enough to try again, even if you’re again risking failure.
  • Understand that everyone experiences a different sense of reality, and that everyone’s reality is absolutely real to them. Do what you can to expand your own version of reality, and help them to see a broader reality as well, if they invite you to do so.
We will conclude by saying that our panelists are all originals, each unique in their approaches to leading and managing. They inspired us with their stories and gave us much to think about how we can more gently embrace and nurture ourselves.
Aug14Panel

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’ and our hosts at Lam Research, and our esteemed panelists: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Antoinette Hamilton, Global Head of Inclusion & Diversity, Lam Research
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Head of Technical Marketing, Emerging Memory Solutions, Micron
  • Panelist Monika Thakur, Vice President, Product Management, Oracle
  • Panelist Lisa Violet, Chief Auditor, Varo Money

What’s Next in Mobility

August 14, 2020 by

Mobility

FountainBlue’s August 14 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘What’s Next in Mobility’, conducted online with introductory remarks provided by our host company at Samsung.

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives across organizations, across industries, across roles.

The definitions around mobility varied greatly, and are all equally valid. Whether we’re talking about physical mobility or wireless mobility or virtual and immersive mobility, they are all forms of mobility.

And each form of mobility is increasingly adopting a more digital implementation. Indeed, mobility is the great differentiator, and leaders, companies, industries, and countries embracing digital transformation will continue to lead and succeed.

The converse is also true. Leaders, companies and industries which do not embrace the opportunities around digitization and mobility, those who do not embrace the opportunities around market disruptions will be left behind.

With physical mobility, there are opportunities around autonomous driving, clean energy, in-vehicle communication, and transportation in the air and in the water. Although the business case for autonomous driving may be years away, we are already proving that the efficient delivery of products to center hubs (e.g. not last mile) provides a huge market opportunity. 

Wireless mobility is enabling workers to remain in communication and remain productive despite the challenges of working from home. The mass adoption of wireless mobility in these days of sheltering at home shows that we can be amazingly productive, but also that wireless mobility helps us do things beyond work, like telehealth.

And virtual reality brings mobility to the next level with the immersion capabilities of augmented reality. Our panelists talked about several use cases where AR/VR, with the support of AI help enterprises to better manage, to better perform, even when we have to choose contact-free options, even when we are separated by great distances.

With that said, there are challenges to the mass adoption of digital solutions enabling mobility.

  • 5G and 6G mobile networks need to be adopted to get better, faster, more reliable access to bandwidth so that we can process the data. This will take a collaboration of industry, government (local, national), and community leaders.
  • Digital adoption requires endpoints/hardware like phones, tablets, laptops and computers. But having them is not enough. We must be trained on how to effectively and efficiently use these tools. (And those individuals and groups and communities not embracing the digital age most certainly will be left behind.)
  • Solutions must be secure and private, following protocols and policies which protect the rights of the users, while also protecting the greater community, the greater good.
  • Adoption by some industries, including oil and gas and energy and healthcare, will be slower than adoption by tech industries including hardware and software.

Below are some examples of opportunities ahead.

  • There will always be the opportunity to make individual solutions more seamless, more ubiquitous.
  • The more we help the less educated, the less informed, the more tech-philic we all become, the larger the market opportunity will be, the more empowered we will all feel.
  • Wireless mobility is making working from home possible when we are sheltering in place. Continuing advancements in this area will help us all be more productive with our work, and also be better able to connect virtually with others as we play and interact. (Nobody said that this replaces face to face interactions – humans are social animal.!)
  • While it may not yet be safe now to play most sports (unless we are in a closed loop environment), there are opportunities to develop virtual / online entertainment solutions which would resonate with huge volumes of users.
  • Optimizing supply chain and manufacturing costs will continue to be a huge opportunity.
  • Robots and humans will co-exist and mobility solutions will help them optimize how they work together.
  • Contact-free access to experts will be a growing ‘thing’, even when we’re past the pandemic. It’s just more efficient to connect experts to others located anywhere around the world.
  • Optimizing security, privacy while providing full access to users will always be an area of great need.
  • The volume of available data keeps growing. But the more data we have, the more efficiently we need to process the data, so that users can make informed decisions. There will always be opportunities to optimize secure and dynamic access to ‘true’ data.
  • Building user interfaces for applications focused on specific personas (types of customers) will be a huge opportunity. 
  • Chatbots and automation will continue to provide huge opportunities.
  • Mobility solutions are needed in clean room environments where cell phones are not allowed.
  • IoT solutions leveraging RISC-V, a free and open ISA can enable a new era of processor innovation through open standard collaboration, including customized ASICS for IoT.

Finally, there are comments on how we can each support what’s next in mobility.

  • Join advisories and collectives which will help create collaborations for technology adoption of technology standards.
  • Create cross-industry, cross-leader, cross-organization, cross-country partnerships to serve the needs of the customer.
  • Do your part to bridge the digital divide, helping those less fortunate to be better educated, better prepared, and better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

It’s clear that What’s Next in Mobility is providing many opportunities to better communicate, collaborate, and celebrate together. The digital is bridging the physical – the more who embrace and join the revolution, the better it is for all.

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung, and our participating executives.

The Stress Sandwich

August 1, 2020 by

StressSandwich

Graphic by Chanti Holroyd Mention this graphic for a 20% discount chantih@gmail.com

Stress. It’s a part of life, especially in the fast-faced tech start-ups pressured to innovate and lead faster and better.

And things are much complicated with the divisiveness and uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the resulting economic distress and civil discord.

Yet we must all carry on, and we will. Below are my secrets for managing stress, especially when times are tough. I call it a Stress Sandwich.

Morning – the bottom slice of bread

As you look into the mirror, preparing for each day, ask myself two questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What will I accomplish today?

Expect the responses to vary each day. There are no right answers. Expect responses to be sometimes detailed, sometimes personal, sometimes strategic, sometimes even funny, but the questions should remain the same every day.

Daytime – the everything in the middle

Throughout the day, expect to encounter stressful situations and respond to these stressors by asking yourself some questions.

  • Is it real? 
    • We get so much information. Is the thing you’re stressed about real? How do you validate the information? 
  • Will it affect you?
    • If it does, you can respond from there.
    • If it affects others close to you, it may still be relevant but may be less urgent, less meaningful.
  • Is it important to you in the short term?
    • If so, respond appropriately, especially if it’s urgent.
    • If not, is it important in the long term?
      • Either way, respond accordingly, knowing the long-term impact.
  • Is it your problem or someone else’s problem?
    • Knowing the answer will help you respond. Solving someone else’s problem brings on more stress and doesn’t necessarily address the underlying issue, while possibly causing other issues. (This doesn’t mean that you ignore the problem if it’s someone else’s problem.)
  • If it’s confirmed as your problem:
    • What is the problem specifically?
      • How is it best immediately addressed?
      • What is the underlying cause of the problem?
      • How can you address that underlying cause?
    • How did you personally contribute to the problem, if you did indeed do so?
  • Regardless of whether it’s your problem:
    • What can you learn about yourself and about the problem?
  • How can you manage the stress around the problem?
  • How can you support others through the problem?

Evening: The top slice of bread

As you wrap up for the day, look at yourself in the mirror and do three things:

  • Tell yourself what you’ve done right today and in the past. 
  • What can you do better tomorrow?
  • Tell yourself good job. Tomorrow is another day.

I’ll close by suggesting that you treat yourself by doing 4-6 items from the list below, to help manage your own stress level.

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Sing
  • Garden
  • Celebrate
  • Laugh
  • Learn something new
  • Go out in nature
  • Think/Say/Do Something Unexpected
  • Make someone laugh
  • Talk to someone who makes you laugh or cry or see/hear/feel/understand something better
  • Help and support someone

STRESS has always been a part of life, and will be more so in the next normal. I hope that these strategies help you make the best of it.

A PDF version of the graphic is available here: Stress Sandwich.

The Next Generation Hardware

July 10, 2020 by

hardware

FountainBlue’s July 10 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Next Generation Hardware’, conducted online with introductory remarks provided by AMD.

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives around the Next Generation of Hardware.

Chips have been powering not just servers, laptops and devices, but now progressively more the Cloud, Gaming, Automotive, AI/ML which requires intensive acceleration of performance, and response times, while also respecting the privacy and security of users.

The hardware – including CPUs, GPUs, Tensor Cores, Digital Signal processing devices, IoT devices – facilitates the generation of the data whereas the software ensures that the right data is captured to drive the application, to report and measure on specific outcomes, to enabled data-based decision-making.

Below is advice from our esteemed hardware executives.

  • As performance and response times as safety-critical – particularly in auto and health-related solutions – OR business-critical – particularly in manufacturing and production – the physical design of all the hardware involved in each solution must be scalable and flexible, working seamlessly with the software.
  • The hardware helps to collect the data, but must be designed so that AI and ML integrated into the software can efficiently collect the relevant data, and provide real-time information to relevant stakeholders.
  • The hardware must be modular enough to work with other hardware units, small enough to fit within a device, powerful enough to meet the needs of the customer, durable enough to withstand intensive usage, and efficient enough to work with minimal power.
    • As an example, the hardware must become even smaller and more portable, so the functionality is provided for demanding customers, in small form factors such as the phones which fit in our pockets!
  • IoT devices will increasingly need to do some processing on the edge, especially when performance is critical. This is the ‘Empowered Edge’.
  • Sort the data in terms of what’s most relevant, most urgent and to what audience, and give actionable real-time reports which would help them make critical decisions.
  • Design the hardware to keep up with the explosion of data, and design it to be flexible enough to work with the software. 

Below are examples of specific enterprise use cases involving augmented reality hardware:

  • Remote assistance, so that the expert can support the user to do everything from monitor or fix or manage equipment or devices from a distant location
  • Guided Workflow, which supports the adoption of efficient processes
  • Digital Collaboration on design and implementation

Below are examples of proactive management solutions related to the production of hardware.

  • Predictive Maintenance to proactively manage when equipment needs parts or service
  • Proactive management of Supply chain to ensure no one part is a limiting factor for production

Below are some thoughts about future trends and things to think about:

  • Much as there has been a consolidation of architectures and GPUs and DSPs, there will also be a consolidation of AI accelerators. Create a software ecosystem to support the AI accelerator, to increase the likelihood of becoming a hardware standard.
  • Leverage biological constructs to design solutions which can store and process immense amounts of data.
  • Hardware does everything from managing the batteries on your phone to navigating home. How can the hardware work with the software to increase performance and accuracy? to do it with a smaller, more powerful footprint? to integrate with other functionality?
  • The Work-From-Home phenomena resulting from the pandemic is exacerbating the adoption of laptop and smartphone hardware innovations as well. With everyone working (or not working) from home, the volume of data is amplified, the adoption of unstructured video data is magnified, and the demand for immediate and accurate response and support is urgent. 
    • What does this mean for chip designers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors? What kinds of innovations would suit this immense and quickly growing WFH user base?
    • What does this mean for the executive who wants to maximize operational and minimize IT issues, while addressing privacy, access and security issues?

We close with some provocative thoughts which might not be too far in the future.

  • What’s next after the smart phone?
  • How do we create an electronic mask for protection?
  • How do we sanitize our clothing between washes?
  • How can we leverage Lidar to better navigate our surroundings?
  • How do we make brain computing a reality?

The pendulum swings back and forth between the hardware and the software, and both will always be important. 

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

July 10, 2020 by

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FountainBlue’s July 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say’, hosted online by Samsung.

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. But they whole-heartedly agreed that saying what you mean, and meaning what you say is the essence of leadership. Below is a summary of their best practices for ‘saying what you mean’:

  • Build relationships of trust, based on a history of delivering what was promised.
  • Be authentic and open, flexible, curious and good natured, as often as you can, even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Always be respectful in how you communicate to others, how you treat others.
  • If you see something (wrong), do something. But do it in a way which is respectful of others, which is more inquisitive than commanding, more polite than dictatorial. 
  • Each conversation has the potential to raise the bar for the participating individuals and for the team.
  • Speak to the why, the what and the how, so that you can best build alignment.
  • Focus on the data and the facts and try not to get emotional even when your buttons are pushed.
  • Practice active listening so that the other parties feel heard.
  • Remember that the relationship is more important than a project or mistake or program.
  • Clearly communicate the goal and timeline in your meetings, and follow the agenda.
  • Speak succinctly and clearly.
  • Be persistent and patient in your communication, especially when change needs to happen.
  • Know your audience and their motivation.
  • Agree on and measure your progress.
  • Be curious about the perspective of others, and aligned on a starting point.
  • Have a clear call to action, in alignment with the common purpose.

Below are some best practices for meaning what you say.

  • Be clear on your communication and consistent with your follow-through to build that reputation as a competent and trustworthy professional. 
  • Speak to consequences for individuals, team, company, product if something isn’t delivered.
  • Be known for someone who follows through.
  • Be proactive is you need to change what you said in the past, and transparent about communicating why there had to be a change.
  • Don’t tolerate or participate in ‘blame games’, but do mean what you say and take positive measures to demonstrate that.

Leadership is often not easy but always worthwhile, even if the rewards aren’t either immediate or apparent.

Recommended resource: Mandel Communications | Course List and Reviews, https://directory.trainingindustry.com/training

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FountainBlue’s July 10 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung, and our esteemed panelists: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Cara Bilinski, Executive Director, IT PMO, Maxim
  • Panelist Tracy Meersman, Director Sales Enablement, Skybox Security
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, VP Commercial Legal, Informatica 
  • Panelist Priya Poolavari, Director of Engineering, Core Data Platform / Data Intelligence, Samsung  

What One Thing Can We Do to Support Black Professionals?

July 1, 2020 by

2018LeanInRacialWealthGap

Reference: McKinsey/LeanIn 2018 Report and Findings

In this time of civil unrest, of economic insecurity, of medical uncertainty, it is my hope that together, we can build a more Diverse, more Empowered and more Engaged community, focused on increasing the number of recruited, retained and promoted professionals of all colors, for the short term, and in the long term. 

The McKinsey and LeanIn 2018 report on the numbers of men and women of color across the career journey is troubling, and the pandemic, the economic crisis, the civil unrest will further impede the progress on a goal of having more men and women of color recruited, developed, retained and promoted.

I asked Black professionals in the FountainBlue network what one thing can we as non-Blacks do to positively impact our progress. Below are their responses.

Be Informed.

  • Educate yourself – the onus is on YOU to educate yourself, don’t count on others to do it for you.
  • Be discerning about what you read and look for the TRUTH.
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  • Be Curious. Be a Generous Listener with an Open Mind.
  • Listen and feel to their stories of trials and challenges.

Have Acceptance and Fortitude.

  • Accept that you must also change your way of thinking, your habits, your mis-perceptions, your biases, conscious or otherwise.
  • Accept that you will make mistakes and deviate from the course. Be courageous and humble enough to apologize, correct, and carry on. 

Prepare to feel deeply.

  • Be willing to feel uncomfortable.
  • Discrimination runs deep and wide. The level of pervasive discrimination is shameful. Our unintentional compliance with any discrimination can be troubling.
  • Be courageous enough to feel deeply. It’s OK to be sad, but do not feel pity.
  • Be willing to share your uncomfortable stories, feelings and topics with others.
  • Reflect: When you have a “gut” reaction or immediate reaction that is one of: distaste, anger, fear, aversion, agreement to a negative comment or action aimed at a Black person because of what that person is: wearing, saying (e.g. opinion, vernacular, vocal variety, passion, etc.), doing, located. 

  • STOP – REFLECT. Ask yourself why your reaction was so automatic. Was it a personal experience or “a knowing.” Often times, we can’t explain embedded or systemic racism. We just “know” it’s right, because it has been so carefully trained into us from a young age.

Provide Proactive Support.

  • Make a stand for your brothers and sisters, whether or not they are present, whether or not they know you’re doing it.
  • Collaborate with others to communicate a ‘You Can Too’ mindset to our Black youths. Help them to also reach for stars.
  • Intentionally hire more diverse candidates and help them to succeed.
  • Hire on merit, not for looks.
  • Advocate for others. Continue to call out racism and bigotry when you witness it and through social media.
  • Have the grace to offer opportunity rather than just charity, although charity is also appreciated.

Seize the Opportunity.

  • Embrace the concept that diversity is part of a Growth Mindset – something that helps us all.
  • Provide a Platform so that Blacks may speak. Don’t speak on their behalf.
  • Organize group talks to discuss race, social injustices and the role privilege plays in the fight for racial justice. 

Resources and Recommendations:

As a follow-up to this blog, FountainBlue will launch a ‘You Can Too‘, to provide up to 20 Summer Scholarships for youths and young professionals to attend of our semi-monthly Front Line Managers Online programs from July-September, and including a fifteen minute online coaching session once a month for three months. To apply for the summer scholarship for our ‘You Can Too’ program, visit https://forms.gle/RaGBoRqquiFgngNW9.  

This month, we will connect with HR leaders interested in Embracing Diversity, Facilitating Empowerment, Measuring Engagement, so our August blog will feature best practices for doing each. E-mail me if you would like to weigh in on the conversation.

Coming together and making a stand for diversity and justice would not only be a testament to our courageous, proactive and positive natures, our righteous and resilient spirits as leaders and as human beings, it would also increase our likelihood of connecting deeply with each other, and of increasing the likelihood of success.