Mentorship Best Practices

October 1, 2018 by


Few would argue that Mentorship is a key to personal and professional success. I hope that the mentorship best-practice thoughts below are helpful to you, whether you’re a motivated, hard-working, coachable, flexible and capable potential mentee or a seasoned, accomplished, committed mentor, ready to give-back, or a connecting and passionate executive implementing a program for your company.

  1. Mentorship should be integrated into the ongoing culture, not just inserted as an afterthought. From the top-down, from the bottom-up, all must think, speak and act in ways which would support the success of a mentorship program.
    • This means providing the time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
    • This means commitment from the top in thoughts, words and actions, and follow-up from all ranks to ensure exceptional implementation on an ongoing basis.
  2. Let the mentees drive the cause and the conversation, and let the mentors guide the conversation and learnings, within a specific timeframe.
    • Problems occur when mentees aren’t the initiators or when mentors aren’t the right guides.
  3. Agree on specific, measurable goals, objectives and timelines.
    • Do it for the right reasons, the intangible results, but report on the measured results to build momentum, credibility and impact.
  4. Report on the specific, measurable impact of the program.
    • Learn from what went well and what didn’t go so well and respond accordingly.
  5. Focus on building specific and transferable soft skills, but apply the learning to a specific project.
    • Common leadership soft skills include: communication (for clarity, succinctness, written, assertiveness), confidence, decisiveness, negotiation, delegation, empathy and humor, embracing change.
    • It’s best to learn any of these transferable leadership skills in the context of specific work projects as it would have clear impact today’s project, and develop transferable skills for tomorrow’s project.
  6. Adopt mentorship projects in alignment with larger team, product and corporate goals.
    • In fact, mentorship programs can actually be instrumental in the success of the larger product, team and corporate initiatives!
  7. Optimize the matching of mentors and mentees.
    • Sample guidelines include connecting people:
      • within or outside the company, but not part of the local team,
      • with similar overarching values,
      • with similar interests
      •  with similar experiences
      • with different perspectives
  8. Have a back-up plan when things don’t go as expected.
    • Commit to showing up for meetings, but have a plan when life happens.
    • Be prepared to shift mentors or mentees into other relationships if necessary.
    • Have a program director to act as a resource when mentors or mentees need additional information, resources or support.
  9. Be inclusive. Engagement a large community of dedicated mentors and mentees. With that said, don’t force someone to engage if they aren’t committed participants, if it’s not the right time for her/him to get engaged.
    • It’s easy to engage those who raise their hand eagerly and more challenging to approach the shy, reserved, quiet others who would also greatly benefit – as a mentee or a mentor.
  10. Celebrate your progress.
    • Change doesn’t happen overnight. Progress is what should be celebrated. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Best of luck with your mentorship program. Showing up and speaking and thinking about implementing one will put you ahead of most people!

An Ode to Mentors

September 1, 2019 by

BusinessMentoringMentors come in many shapes and sizes, from many backgrounds, with different interests. But in my experience, the best mentors have some key qualities.

  1. All great mentors have the type of broad and deep experience, preferably in a range of products/services/industries/markets. This doesn’t mean that every experience that a mentor had was successful, just that there are learnings from every experience. Indeed a mentor can’t effectively share their suggestions and insights with wisdom. 
  2. Successful mentors generally have their own successes in business and in life. ‘Success’ is loosely defined, but suffice to say that the mentee must respect the mentor as ‘successful’ in ways which are important to him or her. Indeed, it would be difficult to respect a mentor unless the mentee respects the successful experience of that mentor.
  3. Mentors are viewed as ‘influential‘ in specific ways, as defined by the mentee. The mentor might be influential for specific niches of people, or across broad groups of people, depending on the needs and interests of the mentee. 
  4. Although there have been good mentors who are less than humble, I find that those who are humble are more modest, more unassuming, more clear about their contributions and abilities, while also being more open to helping others also succeed.
  5. Most successful people, including successful mentors, are focused and goal-oriented. A great mentor knows how to make the mentee more focused and goal-oriented, while helping her or him keep an eye on the longer-term objectives, and helping him or her feel supported and balanced. 
  6. Great leaders have displayed perseverance and commitment, often overcoming extraordinary circumstances to achieve outrageous goals.  Great mentors help their mentees to do the same.
  7. Great mentors are principled, honorable and respectful leaders who teach others how to conduct themselves in the same manner.
  8. Great mentors are Self-Aware – they know their weaknesses and strengths and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses in others. They encourage and support others in being increasingly more self-aware.
  9. Great mentors make a point of including others in projects, successes and challenges. They know that added new and different perspectives will better benefit all participants.
  10. Great mentors are Life-time Learners who relish the opportunity to keep learning, and help mentees and others around them to embrace those learning opportunities as well.

Thank you to all great mentors who have touched me directly and indirectly. You helped me to better understand myself, and raised the bar so that I can be a better version of myself.


Energized by the opportunities life has to offer; never settling 

Innovating on the Edge

August 13, 2019 by


FountainBlue’s August 9 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Innovating on the Edge’. Please join me in  our gracious host at Intel and to each of you for your input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

There are many factors which lead to the emergence and growth of Edge computing, including: 

  • the volumes of raw data generated by the exploding number of devices, processes, and programs;
  • the complexity of data available makes it more difficult to process, filter, understand; 
  • the users are demanding powerful, personalized, complex solutions which are secure and private; 
  • the imminent arrival of 5G solutions will push executables down faster to the ‘edge’, the device itself; 
  • the tremendous need for energy and power (and the associated expense) if everything is processed on the cloud itself;
  • the urgent need for quick responses, especially when safety and lives are on the line; and
  • the immediate and ongoing need to protect the privacy of users, the security of systems and devices and networks.

But it’s no easy task to innovate on the Edge.

  • Each solution must be able to efficiently filter out data, focusing on the ‘real’ data, the ‘relevant’ data for the problem at hand.
  • There’s a challenge to make strategic decisions around technology and business, while also not getting stuck with the decision made, in case things don’t go as planned.
  • The current investment environment is pro-software and less bullish on hardware in general. 
  • Each solution must navigate the technical, business and regulatory objectives and constraints, while also solving the problem.
  • The speed of change is mind-boggling, and innovating in that environment is difficult at best. But things also keep evolving and changing, which makes things even more difficult.
  • Memory and storage bottle necks may arise with the rise in volume and complexity of data and processing.
  • It’s a sobering thought, but devices and solutions on the edge which might be turned into weapons (including cars) have additional security and operational requirements.
  • Companies must also protect itself from financial, legal and brand exposure should a solution on the Edge cause unintended damage to users.

Below are some thoughts on how to keep that innovative edge.

  • Be strategic. 
    • Know what your customers need in the short term and for the long term and plan accordingly.
    • Work with an ecosystem of partners to deliver tailored solutions efficiently.
  • Adopt a set of Open Source tools which would help rapidly develop, deploy and manage solutions on the edge.
  • Develop hardware-agnostic solutions which are more versatile and adaptable. 
  • Adopt self-maintenance systems to ensure validity of solution and ongoing maintenance. With that said, do not delegate on management to automation. Know when the scenarios when you need proactive leadership and management and respond accordingly.  
  • AI will take you far – understanding the relevant data. ML can take you farther – it could help you understand the trend and make predictions beyond the historical data. Both are necessary and essential. Progressively more of the AI will take place closer to the edge. 
  • The speed and accuracy for data processing is essential for Edge Computing, as it is for just about everything else involving data. The ability to process unstructured data and video and the ability to focus on the deltas rather than the raw data will help solutions better manage and filter data.
  • Collaboration is key as there are so many players involved.
    • Carriers need to invest in 5G.
    • Cities need to adopt the infrastructure for 5G.
    • Each solution is a combination of hardware, software, processes, etc., Partnering with others in non-core offerings is essential.
    • Privacy and security must be maintained. Having ecosystem partners focusing on these areas will help companies focus on delivering on their core value.

In conclusion, our leaders agreed that innovators in the Edge Computing space must create an ecosystem of players and connect with players across the ecosystem at many levels.

Keeping Up with the Bad Guys

August 13, 2019 by


FountainBlue’s August 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Keeping Up with the Bad Guys. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a technical and articulate panel of leaders to speak on the Intent-Based Networking topic. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • They have deep business and technical expertise that they leverage in their day-to-day activities.
  • They are continuous learners, making sure to apply new learnings to improve professional and personal outcomes.
  • They have a customer oriented mindset, and strategically focus on growing the ecosystem.

They each spoke eloquently on the cyber security opportunities and challenges ahead.

  • Plan ahead in case there’s a security breach. Train your people, adopt your processes, be aware of implications, etc.,
  • Be customer focused – whether you’re serving internal or external customers. See the challenges through their eyes and make it easy for customers to help themselves.
  • No matter where you sit at the table, communicate clearly and transparently, and manage projects and people collaboratively.
  • Leverage automation and AI to handle standard cyber security challenges, but don’t stop there. Assume that threats can’t be addressed through automation alone.
  • Regardless of whether you’re directly in charge, learn from each breach (whether it happens to your company, your team or someone else’s) and integrate these learnings into new plans and processes.
  • Critical elements for proactive cybersecurity management include: Proactive Risk Assessment, Strategic Continuous Management of Access, and Ongoing Authentication and Validation.
  • Security is a team sport. It’s everyone’s job at some level to Protect, Detect, and Respond to cyber security threats. 
  • Adopt tools and processes which would allow your company to manage possession, custody and control of assets.
  • With all the data out there, it’s important to quickly sift out the anomalies – as these events are much more likely to be problems.
  • Cybersecurity involves many overwhelming tasks. There are so many things to oversee and manage, so many things to control and configure, so many people to track and communicate with. 

Our panelists were bullish on the opportunities ahead in cyber security, and encouraged each of us to seriously consider how we could each contribute to a burgeoning industry.

They concluded that leaders and managers must stay on top of policies, requirements, training, as well as ongoing management and proactive planning and support. Nobody can do everything right all the time. Hence, it will take an ecosystem of partners to stay ahead of the bad guys. Collaboration is key.

FountainBlue’s August 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Keeping Up with the Bad Guys. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Julie Cullivan, Chief People and Technology Officer, ForeScout 
  • Panelist Vaishali Ghiya, Senior Director, Security Sales Systems Engineering, Cisco
  • Panelist Katrin Jakob, Co-Founder, White Hawk Software
  • Panelist Jocelyn King, CMO, Encryptics; Managing Partner, Vonzos Partners 
  • Panelist Archana Muralidharan, Principal, Technical Risk Management, Palo Alto Networks

See bios and invitation at

The Why, The What, The Who, The How

August 1, 2019 by


I’m a world-changer… always have been. Now I’m ‘seasoned’ enough to embrace the label, not caring who thinks I’m ‘sappy’.  This post is for other world-changers out there.

Below are my thoughts about changing the world, based on my experience.

  1. If you want to change the world in a specific way, ask yourself the ‘why’ question. This ‘why’ question includes many sub-questions, including:
    • Why do you want to do it? What’s in it for you and others?
    • Who will it benefit?
    • What happens if you *don’t* do it?
    • What are the consequences for doing it?
  2. Do the market research to decide Whether you should adopt this problem.
    • Is solving the problem worth the time and energy?
    • Is solving the problem a top priority, given current needs and circumstances?
    • Who/what is solving the problem now and in what specific ways are they lacking?
    • How could an existing alternate solution support your requirements?
  3. Once you’ve satisfactorily answered the why and whether questions, and the sub-questions related to them, vet your responses to your trusted network.
    • Find or grow a broad, diverse, trusted network.
    • Know who will mentor and support you in which ways.
    • Recruit those with expertise in your areas of weakness.
    • Know the motivations of the participating parties.
  4. With the input and approval of trusted others, socialize for funding and resources for the project.
    • Ask your trusted network for their input on who would care most about the problem, who would most likely approve the solution, who feels the most pain, who would have the greatest opportunity if a solution should arise, etc.
    • Think outside the box. Who would be interested in supporting the project, but has not yet been approached?
    • How would the solution be in alignment with short-term and long-term goals for your product, for your team, for your company, for your industry?
  5. What will you do specifically to address the problem?
    • How will this new approach better address the problem than current alternatives?
    • What are the costs in money and resources?
    • What are the milestones and timelines?
    • What happens if it doesn’t work?
  6. Gather the input from a broad range of stakeholders on how to resolve the problem. From the network, select WHO will do WHAT to solve the problem, and why he/she/they are the best alternative.
    • What are the motivations of each potential partner?
    • How will each entity collaborate to deliver results?
    • Who will keep everyone on track?
  7. Work with all partners to decide HOW a solution will be implemented.
    • What does success look like?
    • How will success be measured?
    • In what specific ways will the new solution be improved over the old? Will it solve the pain-point?
    • How will results be gathered and reported?
  8. Assume that there WILL be problems and obstacles and hiccups. Persevere. But only if it still makes sense.
    • Adopt the mindset that what you get is what you wanted in the first place, even if it wasn’t.
    • Manage, lead, communicate, motivate . . . keep leading the way.
    • Proactively change your plans based on the problems you’re experiencing. Release your attachment to plans, people, processes, vision…
  9. Regardless of whether problems and obstacles occur, continually review and revise your plans to improve the likelihood of success.
    • How will successes (and challenges) impact your vision? your projections? your plan? your timeline? your stakeholders?
    • Leverage your trusted network to stay motivated, centered and unbiased.
  10. Rinse and repeat. Keep saving the world.


Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges

July 23, 2019 by

Industrial Revolution IT Integration Smart Manufacturing Innovat

FountainBlue’s July 19 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The drive for better, faster, more customized, and higher quality results is fueling advancements in manufacturing. The problems around the next innovations in manufacturing are complex, and the stakes are high.

  • It’s a challenge to integrate a host of software and hardware solutions efficiently and cost-effectively.
  • It’s difficult to provide customized solutions to individual customers and to do so dynamically in volume, within budgets.
  • There are many regulations and policies within companies, across companies, within countries, within industries. What’s more, everything keeps changing, so it’s hard to stay on top of these requirements.
  • It’s of paramount importance to protect the security of the solution, the privacy of the customers. 

There are severe financial, relationship and brand consequences if any of the above is compromised or sub-par. Yet each company must adopt new principles, new ways of doing things to remain relevant.

  • Have a customer-centric mind set. Understand that the best solutions may not be the best science or even the best engineering solutions. It’s what the markets, the customers will adopt and embrace and ultimately pay for.
  • Understand what the problems of the customer and how best to solve their problems at scale, and how to measure results. For example, consider correlating individual sensor readings to downstream measured results.
  • Respect the need for security, the need for privacy for all stakeholders while also consistently delivering quality personalized solutions for customers.
  • Create an ecosystem of stakeholders and collaborate with them to deliver solutions at scale.
  • Take a system design approach and integrate the use of software, hardware, processes and tools in designing advanced manufacturing solutions.
  • Consider adopting simulations (and augmented reality) and modeling when designing advanced manufacturing solutions.
  • Be modular with your design so that you can correct and redirect as needed. 
  • Optimize your supply chain so it’s just in time, leveraging AI to predict what ‘just-in-time’ means.
  • Leverage ML and AI to understand and predict faults, to better anticipate and address problems in general.  

It’s clear from our thought-provoking, interactive conversation that Advanced Manufacturing is the future. And this future will be seized by leaders and companies who are proactive, strategic, collaborative, as represented by the executives in attendance at the roundtable.

Intent-Based Networking

July 19, 2019 by


FountainBlue’s July 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Intent-Based Networking. We were fortunate to have such a technical and articulate panel of leaders to speak on the Intent-Based Networking topic. 

Our panelists represented a range of industries, experiences and roles, but were each educated as technologists and each displayed in-depth technical expertise and experience. They made it clear that IBN is inevitably in our future and provided clear examples of how it is impacting us today.

They have each seen the evolution of manual configurations around the network, and witnessed the progression to scripts and programs to manage networks, and then the development of software-defined networks (SDNs), which to this day still help automate the management of networks.

To them, IBN is a progression of this pattern. Software is progressively more leveraged to manage networks, and networking leaders are progressing toward solutions which better focus on the intentions of the customers.

For example, instead of having protocols for every scenario, an IBN approach might focus on the problem a customer would like solved.

Many things need to fall into place before we can smoothly transition to a deeper adoption of IBN.

  • The hardware and software infrastructure must be reliably, pervasively and securely available to all relevant stakeholders. 
  • There must be a level of trust and communication between customers and vendors and partners in order to best understand the customer intent. Plus ongoing clear and transparent communication is needed to ensure smooth development, monitoring, and execution to deliver that custom program.
  • Sufficient data must be available in order to manage create programs which address the needs of the customer.
  • There must be clarity on which party plays which role in the IBN development and management process – the visionary, the creator, the enforcer, the manager.

It’s not clear how and whether some industries and some companies will adopt IBN. But it is clear that there are advantages for leading companies to do so.

  • The amount of available data is mind-bogglingly huge, and will only get larger. IBN will help companies proactively deal with problems as anticipated by customers, rather than reactively respond to a problem, as defined by large (and growing) sets of protocols and rules. 
  • Leveraging AI and ML to deliver solutions based on customer needs will likely lead to deeper relationships, more partnerships, and a better understanding of current and even future needs of the customer.
  • Better understanding patterns and edge cases will help better serve a wider range of customers and their needs.
  • Making predictions based on data patterns will in turn help better deliver results for customers.
  • Each of the points above will increase customer retention and customer acquisition, while also potentially leading to a wider set of offerings for each customer.

The road to adoption will take more leadership, more innovation, more collaboration. The open sharing of solutions, combined with a customer-centric mind-set will help hard-working, smart companies and leaders make progress in embracing the adoption of IBN.

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Cisco and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 19 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Intent-Based Networking.  

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Liliane Peters, Director Configuration & Release Management, Ericsson 
  • Panelist Ranjeeta Singh, VP, GM, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Teradata
  • Panelist Su Tsai, Director of Data Center Networking Services, Cisco IT 

See bios and invitation at

Keeping in Front of Change

July 1, 2019 by


Change. It’s a part of life. And it can take your life apart.

If we accept that Change will happen, and probably not in the way you were expecting, we would be better positioned to navigate that change.  I hope this post helps build that Acceptance Mindset.

Clarity – Be clear on what the change is, and how it can, might, will impact you.

1.What is the problem:

  • at the world/global level? Where is it trending? What is the underlying cause?
  • at the industry level? How is it impacting other industries? Where are there inter-connects?
  • at the company level? How is the problem specific to 4. your company as compared to others? What caused this difference? What can be done about it?
  • at the team level? How is your team’s response different than that of other teams? Why is that so? Who can do something about it?
  • at the individual level? How can you manage yourself so that you can see clearly this and all of the above?

2. Be clear on the problem in detail, but also consider the following:

  • What’s the data that proves your position?
  • What data is relevant?
  • How could you verify that data?
  • What does that data mean?

Strategy – Once you’re clear on the change, you can begin strategizing on what to do about it, who is involved in solving that problem, how to make it happen, and what success looks like.

3. Enlist the right stakeholders to drive the strategy around managing the change. Start with *both* the executives in charge *and* the people at all levels who are critical for the project.

4. Working together, describe the problem you’re facing in detail, and its impact on others, the proposed solution with roles, responsibilities of participating stakeholders, timelines and milestones for tasks and projects; resources, information and funding necessary for success; and time-lined, quantifiable results.

5. Strategize on how to overcome objections and obstacles and how to build further ongoing engagement and collaboration.

Execution – Seamlessly, continuously, collaboratively drive execution and momentum.

6. Get ongoing buy-in from all internal and external stakeholders, as expressed by engagement, energy, commitment, results.

7. Proactively manage the egos. Plan for a collaborative, win-win, but expect that many will object to the change, and many may not be able to work with others to manage through the change.

8. Measure and communicate on progress to date.

9. Revisit the problem, strategy and execution.

Acceptance – Don’t fight it, roll with it. 

10. Change is inevitable. Change is personal. The trick is to make it *not* personal, even when it affects you so personally.

Park the emotional impact. Work on understanding the problem well, strategizing on how to manage everyone’s emotional and practical impact through that change, and executing on the plan.

You’re not alone. Helping others navigate through the changes will also help you stay ahead of change.


The Future of Autonomous Driving

June 18, 2019 by


FountainBlue’s June 14 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Autonomous Driving’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Vonzos Partners and our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

There was resounding agreement that autonomous driving is a certainty, and agreement also that there are many barriers toward mass adoption.

  • It’s tricky to navigate a world where some cars are autonomous and some aren’t, but if adoption is to take place, policy-makers, drivers, vendors, auto-makers, and all other stakeholders must collaborate on a transition plan. 
  • The stakes are high in dollars and in lives, so all edge cases, corner cases and other scenarios must be planned for. It takes money and time to do this piece well.
  • The sheer volume of data generated by vehicles is mind-boggling. It’s a challenge to figure out how to best leverage the data – the real-time analytics – to optimize for both efficiency and safety.

Below are some highlighted best practices to facilitate this adoption:

  • Plan for small successes which would serve foundational needs for autonomous driving. For example, simulations, artificial intelligence, data analytics will all be foundation solutions necessary for full adoption of autonomous driving. Invest in solutions which can provide these technologies today.
  • Collaboration between stakeholders across geographies, industries, functions, jurisdictions etc., must be formed for adoption to take place. Partnering with insurance companies might be an interesting option as well.
  • Having a neutral party to facilitate collaborations between stakeholders might help forge partnerships and might make it more inclusive.
  • Computer simulations leveraging data might help in the research and design of autonomous vehicles.

Plan for these opportunities also, as we approach adoption of autonomous vehicles:

  • The passengers will have more time on their hands. And they would be willing to pay for mobile internet access, streamed entertainment and work options.
  • Interactivity between riders may provide interesting opportunities.
  • Plan for additional security implications for fully autonomous vehicles.

Below are some predictions by our executives in attendance:

  • Autonomous drivers may leverage highways first as there are fewer challenges around pedestrians, parked cars, road hazards, etc.,
  • The trucking industry might be adopting autonomous driving first as it’s more easily automated and is more profitable than passenger vehicles.

We are at least a decade away from full autonomous driving, but there will be early adopters in several areas. Collaboration and coordination between leaders and innovators is key to exactly how many decades off we are from a future with autonomous driving.

Welcoming the Gift of Feedback

June 17, 2019 by

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 1.56.35 PM.png

FountainBlue’s June 14 When She Speaks was event on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’. See panelist bios at 

Our panelists this month represented a wide range of companies, roles and perspectives, but they shared a passion for leadership and management, and humbly shared their best practices for providing feedback.

Provide impactful feedback:

  • Make feedback specific, sincere, data-based (not personal), and continually, so that others know how to better perform.
  • Aim for ‘SMART’ feedback which is specific, measurable, achievable (or actionable), realistic and time-lined.

Focus on growth and positivity: 

  • Be as open to receiving feedback as you are to providing feedback. Welcome opportunities to grow yourself, while providing learning opportunities for others to also grow.
  • Be positive and constructive rather than negative and judgmental.
  • Empower and enable others to help themselves, to come to their own conclusions and solutions.
  • Adopt a positivity mindset – Find ways to be more positive and constructive with your feedback, while still correcting for inevitable errors.

Be strategic:

  • Recognize the motivations of the other party that’s providing the feedback. Understanding their motivations will help you validate the relevance and legitimacy of the feedback offered.
  • Consider both the strategic and the tactical implications of the feedback offered.
  • Focus on the longer-term performance and development of the person, rather than individual mistakes and errors made.
  • Look for trends on the feedback delivered.
  • Identify and focus on the root cause of problems.

Be Leader-ly:

  • As a leader, own the problem, recognize and coach the team.
  • Listen well before speaking and acting. With that said, err on the side of action.
  • Work collaboratively to solve problems.

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone can benefit from feedback, as long as it’s delivered with positive and constructive intent, and received in the same manner.

Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Nancy Gilbert, Director of Engineering, Lam Research
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Head, Open Source Program Office, Comcast; Board Member, The Linux Foundation 
  • Panelist Jinping Song, SQA Director, ASML
  • Panelist Monika Thakur, Vice President, Cloud Operations, Oracle

The ‘Yes-And’ People

June 7, 2019 by


Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a translator sometimes? If we ask a direct question, sometimes a ‘yes’ response means ‘no’, a ‘no’ means ‘perhaps’, a ‘but’ could be good and could be not-so-good! Here’s my attempt at translating.

  1. If someone says ‘yes’, sometimes they mean ‘yes’, no problem. That’s easy.
  2. But if someone says ‘yes’, and it doesn’t feel good, maybe it means that they said ‘yes’ only to be polite and nice. If this is the case, and you can confirm it, take their ‘yes’ to actually mean ‘no’.
  3. If someone says ‘yes’, and adds a ‘but’ to it, that means that there are conditions involved. It’s often more important to look at the conditions behind the agreement, and the motivation for the other party to ask for those conditions. Often, it’s not worthwhile to accept those conditions.
  4. If someone says ‘yes’ and adds ‘not now’, it generally means that they are would be happy to do it, but at a different time.
  5. If someone says ‘no’ and means ‘H*CK NO’, it means don’t ask them for something similar in the future, unless something changes. Consider whether you’d like to have this person to be in your network, and also at what recent (or OLD) acts might make them have this mindset.
  6. If someone says ‘no’ and adds a ‘but’, it generally means that they would like to do it, but need a specific condition to be met in order to do it. I’m generally more inclined to make this agreement work than it they say yes with conditions).
  7. If someone says ‘no’ and adds ‘not now’, it means that they can’t now, but they can at a different time. I treat this much like a ‘yes but not now’ response.
  8. If someone says ‘no’ and adds an ‘and’, it generally means that they don’t want to do this, AND there are other things they don’t want to do, or want to be part of. Look closely at what recently has happened, especially if this is a new response. Perhaps a fence can be mended, an ego soothed?
  9. The best case is when someone says ‘yes’, knowing full well the breadth of the agreement and the bigger picture of the project. Moreover, that person has the vision to see a picture beyond what you can see yourself, the drive, energy and skills to make it happen, and the willingness to include you in the ride.
  10. I’ll end by asking you some questions:
    1. How can you get more people with #9 responses in your network?
    2. Who in your current network are giving you the direct and supportive responses to help you grow?
    3. Who else can you include in your network?