Doing Well While Doing Right: Linda Holroyd

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Doing Well While Doing Right

Featured Leader This Week:

Linda Holroyd – Something from Nothing

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Despite all the negatives of 2020, it has also brought so much value to each of us.

  • It helps us see what’s important to us, who’s important to us.
  • It helps us focus on the greater good, the bigger cause.
  • It helps us work on the important things in life.

To take advantage of these up-sides and benefits, FountainBlue is launching an initiative to share weekly ‘Doing Well While Doing Right’ stories from our community members, with the intent of sharing practical and inspirational real-world stories, stimulating creative and proactive thinking and problem-solving, and celebrating the successes of leaders who are making a difference as a business and a community leader. 

The Doing-Well piece is all about the Business Opportunities, the Scalable processes, the Returns on Investments, while also embracing the doing-right piece. The Doing-Right piece is about doing the right thing for other people, for the Earth, for the less fortunate, for the future, while also embracing the doing-well piece. Each story in the series will include a twenty question survey as well as a summary story based on the survey responses.

We will send these stories out weekly over e-mail, over our blog and over our LinkedIn profile and sharing it from our web site as well. It is only fitting that I launch the series with my own answers, my own interview, which will be released at noon on January 1, 2021, as part of our weekly event invitation e-mail.

About ME

1.   Tell your story about your personal and professional background.

I was born in Hong Kong, the second of four children. My mother won a debate, so we stayed together as a family with $20 between us, four children ages 2-7, no job, but a place to stay. Through perseverance and hard work, we managed to buy a house and all the kids graduated from college, got married and raised families. I worked my way through UC Davis as a preschool teacher, an office manager and a notetaker and typist. Armed with a major in psychology and a minor in education, I earned a teaching credential at San Francisco State and taught elementary school for six years.

From there, I worked in sales, marketing and leadership roles in tech start-ups for two years before launching a web consultancy alongside my husband. After growing it to 18 people and $4 million in sales, we sold the company, and I worked in the nonprofit sector before launching FountainBlue in January 2005. As a management consultancy, FountainBlue focused on my two greatest passions – Leadership and Innovation. Known mostly for the programs we’ve run monthly, we also advise start-ups, coach executives, and provide strategic, leadership and management consulting to companies large and small.

2.   What are your personal and professional goals for sharing your doing-well while doing-right story?

I wanted to launch this series in response to all that has happened to us in 2020, to profile success stories of business professionals stepping up and showing up to do well, while doing right by others. While much focus is on the negative,  it’s the positive, feel-good, practical stories that inspire others, and  provide tangible ideas and outlets for others.

3.   How has your personal upbringing helped shape your desire to do well, while doing right?

Raised with very little education and very few resources and support, I learned to be independent and create my own opportunities. Born with a strong moral compass and a sense of justice and a strong desire to do right by others, I’ve always stood more for the greater good than for my own personal well being.

4.   Tell a story about a younger version of yourself and how you were impacted by your early role models.

When I was five, we were assigned four hours of homework a night. I wanted to respectfully protest, make a stand for having less homework for all, so I convinced my uncle to do my homework, which took him 15 minutes and turned in my assignment. When I was asked by my teacher who did my homework, I told the truth and explained that I thought it was more appropriate for five-year-olds to have more play time. I was sent back to my seat without additional comment, but looked upon by the other students like a pariah.

When the teacher told my mother what happened, she just agreed that there was A LOT of homework for children so young. When my mother told my father, he made no comment, but did brag about what I did to our friends who joined us for dinner that night.

My parents taught me to think for myself, act on principle, and work for the greater good. Although they have passed many years ago, they still influence my thoughts, words and actions.

Learning how to do WELL

5. How did your education and professional experience help you to learn business basics around strategy, execution and management?

I learned how to lead and manage while in an elementary school setting as a classroom teacher and adapted my skills to a business setting working with start-ups, corporations and investors. Based on my breadth of experience in a wide range of sectors, I learned how to 1) align strategy, execution and management, 2) work with people who make you want to be better versions of yourself, 3) manage work with people who don’t bring out the best side of yourself, 4) clearly communicate with the intent of building engagement, 5) build ecosystems of partnerships focused on delivering common objectives, 6) leverage technology and science to increase the impact, 7) increase the impact and reach of products and solutions, 8) humbly reach for more, while pridefully celebrating all you are, all you do, 9) continually learn and grow as individuals, teams, and organizations, and 10) see beyond your own assumptions, so that you and those around you can continue to grow and thrive, respond proactively to an ever-changing, more-demanding world.

6.   Who were the star mentors, sponsors and coaches who helped you when things got challenging?

I’m one of those people who learn from many others. I open-mindedly adapt qualities and traits of others I admire, especially if they have skills far different than my own. I remain curious about those who are not-like-me, and truly all those who speak and act on principle, no matter how difficult that proves to be.

In transitioning from teaching to start-up advising and consulting to advising and investing, I learned to many role models how to leverage my strengths and knowledge to more strategically deliver value to a wider set of customers, to build ecosystems of partners in collaboration around common goals, and to work hard and with purpose, to do well for the company, while doing right for the people impacted.

7.   What did you do to better hone your influencing skills?

I failed often, in ways big and small. It was always the grandest failures that made me stronger and better. It was always my perseverance, strength and indomitable will and faith which made my pick myself up, brush myself off, and say ‘what’s next’. Helping others do this for themselves, inspiring others with my example is one of the greatest joys in life.

8.   What are a couple of mistakes you made in your early career which helped you be more successful in your business transactions?

Learning early about my own strengths and weaknesses helped me focus on areas of strength.

My failures teaching a classroom full of under-privileged kids taught me to align my passion (empowering others), my skills (ability to teach and inspire), may not always get me the results I seek, unless the other parties are willing and able.

My failures at small start-ups helped me see the value of principles founders, hardworking technologists, and willing customers and partners.

Learning to do RIGHT

9.   How did your early experience and upbringing help you build a desire to do right by others, by the earth, for future generations?

As a curious onlooker, I saw the short-term and long-term impact of leaders at all levels. No matter the financial and economic outcome, it always felt hollow to witness the success of a product or an organization, unless I felt like the service or product also served the greater good.

Working with entrepreneurs, investors and executives, many feel that same sort of hollowness, and many in mid career purposefully seek creating and building something that makes a difference and serves others.

10.  What are some examples of what you did as a child to do right by others?

It was always more important for me to take a stand on behalf of all of us, rather than on behalf of myself or a few of us. I wouldn’t have minded, for example, doing the assigned homework, and I would have found a way to do it faster and better. But the thought that it couldn’t be good or right for others is what motivated me to take action, even if I had to suffer the consequences.

11.  When and why did ‘doing well’ NOT be enough, so that you decided that you must also ‘do right’?

My first business experiences were around the dot com bomb, where I met and briefly served many entrepreneurs who were blatantly clear that their business model may not be sustainable, but their own possible up-sides were more important. I vowed to disengage with anyone who shares those same principles now, no matter what the financial up-sides are for myself or for their organization.

The doing-right must be part of the equation. But the doing-right isn’t enough, if the company isn’t also doing well.

12.  Who has helped you make more impact doing right by others?

The hundreds of leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, investors we’ve served over the past twenty five years have each helped me reach higher, stand taller, leap farther, and stretch beyond my own view of the world.

Overcoming Obstacles

13.   What are some of the barriers to making pronounced impact?

  • The market must be ripe for the opportunity ahead.
  • The technology must be scalable enough to efficiently bring personalized value.
  • The leaders at all levels must be principled and competent and trustworthy.
  • The ecosystem of partners must be collaborative, integrated, and coordinated.
  • Luck must be on your side.

14.   Who and what could help address these barriers?

All stakeholders have a role in delivering the above, all leaders and managers must continually coordinate a forward movement toward shared goals, building momentum, generating results, communicating and sharing progress.

Amplifying the Impact

15.   What specific do-right impact would you ideally like to achieve, and why is that the most important objective for you?

So many people are doing so much to do right by others while doing well for the business. It’s my goal to highlight the wide range of people and solutions which are Doing Well while Doing Right, so that others can learn from their success, and join in amplifying the impact.

16.   What is the core message, the core vision of the initiative?

  • Together, we are Doing Well, while Doing Right by Others.
  • Sharing our successes, we can inspire and empower others to do the same.

17.   What are you doing today to amplify the impact of doing well while doing right?

We run monthly FountainBlue events online, we curate and share weekly Doing-Well stories, we coach executives and consult to start-ups, helping them do well while doing right. We also volunteer heavily in the community and connect regularly with an ecosystem of partners for the greater good.

18.   How could we all work together to move the needle forward in specific ways?

Share your story, share our events, partner with us to spread the word.

What does success look like?

19.    What does success look and feel like?

The Doing Well While Doing Right stories will be curated and shared so that others can celebrate successes, get stimulated on what’s possible, and contribute with their own strategies and plans for doing well while doing good. The lessons will live on, the community will grow stronger, the energy will grow while we all work and live in a more connected, more purposeful world, driving to a more sustainable, more equitable future.

20.    What one thing could we each do to make this so?

Bring an open mind, an open heart and positive intentions to every interaction with a focus on building connections and generating results.


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