Author Archive

Cultivate a Life of No Regrets

October 1, 2022
Cultivate a Life of No Regrets

I had a big birthday recently, which invariably invited reflection and introspection. A common theme through my varied career is the desire to stretch myself and raise the bar, even if it means hardship, challenges, and uncertainty in the short term. This approach has served me well, considering the global health, economic, social, political, and sustainability challenges affecting us all. 

Out of all this mindset and experience, I’ve developed a framework shown below for how you can make choices for a life of no regrets.

  1. Values First. Choose opportunities that match your values.
  2. Make a Difference. Select a company whose mission and vision makes a difference.
  3. Embrace the Uncomfortable. Try doing something which makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way.
  4. It’s About People. Work with people you admire and trust. Make consistent effort to be worthy of their respect and trust.
  5. Add Some Spice. Never settle for complacency. Embrace every opportunity to grow, learn and improve, adding spice to your regular routines.
  6. Keep Learning and Growing. Challenge yourself to learn and grow. It helps to work with people who can support you in doing so.
  7. Allow Past Lessons to Guide You. Contemplate the choices you’ve made in the past and use those learnings to inform your choices today and in the future.
  8. Lead with Passion and Purpose. Be clear on your goals while leveraging your passion and your purpose. Make strategic choices toward that goal and consistently execute on them.
  9. Err on the Side of Boldness. With that said, consider the timing of the choices you’re making – the boldest choice is not always the best choice, depending on what else you’re currently juggling.
  10. Have Faith that Things will Work Out. Fear can hold us back from even trying. Choose courage in the face of fear and set yourself free. 

I invite you to cultivate and embrace a life of no regrets. There are no promises that every choice will go as planned (especially in the beginning), but when all is said and done, you won’t have to wonder ‘What if?’. Instead, you might just discover what you’re truly made of.

The WHY Before the WHAT Before the HOW

September 16, 2022

FountainBlue’s September 16 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘The Why Before the What Before the How’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a People Leader – Ruth Radford, Lam Research
  • as a Program Leader – Sam Gupta, Pure Storage 
  • as an Engineering Leader – Pooja Agrawal, Renesas

Our spoke eloquently and passionately about their whys and provided practical and effective strategies to align everyone to a purpose, while delivering on results (the whats and the hows). Below is a compilation of their best practices.
Respect Everyone’s Contributions

  • Allow people to collaborate and deliver their portion of the deliverable, while aligning everyone to the client objectives and project purpose.
  • Welcome people from different backgrounds to contribute.
  • Resist the urge to more efficiently do a task yourself, and respect that others have different strategies which may also work.

Connect and Reframe

  • Connect people from different backgrounds, roles and mindsets with each other, aligning on the same purpose and contributing toward a common goal.
  • Help uber-technical people see the bigger picture, the larger solution.
  • Invite technical people to explain how a technology or process better serves the customer so that you can make a business case for support and resources.
  • See the WHY from all angles so that you can communicate the version of the WHY which would motivate each stakeholder. 

Overcome Resistance

  • Conversations around the Why sometimes meet resistance, especially if change is required. Objections might include problems with the what or the how, or even challenging the strategy or requesting validation that it will work. 
  • Continue to have direct conversations around the why, focusing on the corporate mission and values and direct customer requirements helps address objections.
  • Lobby for the resources and support to enable cross-functional teams to collaborate and deliver quality results.
  • Communicate the need to accelerate the pace of business, align behind core values, deliver on results, and adopt new skills and knowledge.

Plan Well, While Also Embracing Agility

  • Be clear on objectives and create plans which mitigate risks, especially risks that are likely to happen, or those which would be disastrous if they should happen.

The bottom line is that in this world of great change, leaders and companies must rally behind a ‘WHY’ and deliver WHAT customers are looking for, in a WAY which is efficient, effective and sustainable. 

One of the Onlys

September 9, 2022

FountainBlue’s September 9 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’. Please join me in thanking our esteemed panelists. Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, but they had much in common:

  • They navigated personal and professional hurdles to successfully rise in influence, role and position, and continue to lead with increasing responsibility.
  • They persevered despite the challenges and continue to raise the bar for themselves and for those around them.
  • They were supported by many who helped them to succeed, and are, in turn, supporting others.

Below is a compilation of their advice and insights on how to succeed, despite being one of the onlys.
Be self-aware and self-centered.

  • Have the self-awareness to deeply accept yourself and all your many qualities – the good and the bad.
  • Filter the input and feedback you receive from others, so you can manage how it impacts the choices you make. 
  • Consider carefully the difference between the perceived intent of a comment or action vs the actual thoughts, words or actions itself. (As a corollary, minimize the negative impact any one thought, word or action might have on you, especially if you’re not even sure that there was any negative intent!)

Be worthy of the opportunity and responsibility of being one of the onlys.

  • Be curious, competent, other-centered, agile, respectful, supportive, and resilient.
  • Be clear on your objectives and your cause, but flexible about how things might be implemented and when things should get done.
  • Adapt to the social and political dynamics of each project scenario, not just to the job and project requirements. 
  • Accept that others may have stereotypes about who you are based on your  physical and other traits, but prove yourself to them, despite their perceptions of you, by focusing on getting things done and delivering exceptional results.

Communication is key.

  • Listen to what is said and what is not said to understand how to best navigate challenges and opportunities.
  • Know your audience – what’s important to them, how they would best respond to you.
  • Know your values, your brand, your unique value-add, and be consistent in communicating them. 

Lean on others.

  • Build relationships and support networks which would help you better understand opportunities and challenges.

Grow those around you.

  • Facilitate the growth of those around you, and keep raising the bar for all.
  • Have the grace to be kind and supportive of others, for you never know what we are each navigating.

Our esteemed panelists invited us all to keep reaching for stars, daring to be a bigger version of ourselves, even if we have to be one of the onlys.

AR/VR Immersion Solutions

September 9, 2022
VIP Roundtable – AR/VR Immersion Solutions, September 9, 2022

FountainBlue’s September 9 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘AR/VR Immersion Solutions’, with opening remarks by NVIDIA.  Our executives in attendance represented a wide range of roles, backgrounds and industries, but they share an enthusiasm for the many real-life opportunities around AR/VR immersion solutions. 

Our executives spoke about how AR/VR immersion solutions have facilitated the design of new products and solutions, provided in-depth experiential training for thousands, ensured compliance and security for robots and workers, optimized manufacturing floors and processes, and provided customer support. 

They spoke of a turning point in the industry, expecting broad and wide adoption. Below is a summary of their suggestions and recommendations for leaders adopting AR/VR solutions.

  • Ensure that your solutions are compliant and secure, scalable and available.
  • AR/VR solutions have applications across industries – aerospace, automotive, healthcare, industrial automation, construction, and many more.
  • Plan for the business cases and practical applications around AR/VR, particularly for enterprise customers
    • Customers experiencing high-risk scenarios, even if that happens in low volume would benefit from simulations and training to help mitigate those risks.
    • Customers that will experience an activity in high volume would benefit from training and simulation which provides medium to high gain.

Our executives also spoke to the challenges for implementing AR/VR immersion solutions.

  • The combination of hardware and software poses cultural, technical, operational and other challenges for the internal teams charged with implementation.
  • There are many exciting use cases and business cases, but it’s hard to focus on the lowest-hanging fruit – the easiest solutions to implement for a target audience with the greatest need, and willing and able to pay for it.

The bottom line is that AR/VR immersion solutions will be inevitably adopted as it will help 1) better innovate and collaborate, 2) plan-fully mitigate risks 3) efficiently deliver support and services, 4) save money.

Performance Review Best Practices

September 2, 2022

FountainBlue’s September 2 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Performance Management Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as an HR Leader – Kerry Perryman, Samsung Research America
  • as a People Leader – Jennifer Exum, Gig Talent Collective
  • as a Product Leader – Sam Gupta, Pure Storage

Our passionate and seasoned panelists offered courageous, direct, and kind advice on how to better manage performance and bring out the best in people. Although they represented a wide breadth of experience and backgrounds, our panelists agreed on the following best practices:
Be Strategic

  • Align objectives across the organization, products and teams.
  • Leverage influencing skills to manage a host of stakeholders with the goal of delivering measurable results which fit performance objectives.
  • Understand the motivations of the various stakeholders and keep this in mind as you manage performance for the overall team.
  • Take a holistic view of individual, group and company performance, rather than counting on snapshots of detailed data which may be taken out of context.
  • Encourage the team to be plan-ful about their work, without being rigid; to be agile about their work while adhering to requirements, standards, processes and protocols.

Communication is Key

  • Engage in ongoing, constructive, data-based conversations around feedback.
  • Consistently communicate performance standards and execute to those standards.
  • Consistently think, speak and act in a way which inspires trust, informs transparently, and invites engagement. 
  • Make conversations direct and specific, but not personal. 

Collaborate, Connect and Inspire

  • While it’s important to oversee the performance of their own teams, it’s also important to collaborate with other stakeholders to deliver exceptional results. 
  • Look not just at where employees are, but also where they’d like to go, and support them in that journey.

Be Positive and Proactive

  • Find a positive and constructive way to manage performance, rather than adopting strategies which may (inadvertently or intentionally) pit people against each other.
  • Take the opportunities to praise and reward good performance and strategize on how to make the good behaviors and outcomes even better.
  • Invite and reward a mindset of growth and curiosity. 

As we look at the paradigm shift to a new version of normal, we must also realize that the way we manage and oversee performance must also shift, given the new realities of the workplace. 


Mind Your Ps with Some Qs

September 1, 2022

6 Quotients for Problem-Solving

It can be overwhelming to lead and innovate in this time of great change. People, process, and technology problems run the gamut, posing obstacles which can vex the best of us.

I have personally advised start-ups, coached executives, and led change management for a couple of decades. Along the way, I’ve collected a few problem-solving tips and tricks over the years. I’m here to share them with you now.

Everyone runs into Problems (Ps). So when you run into Problems (Ps), mind your Quotients (Qs). I’ve found that we each have at least six types of quotients, which are described below:

  1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) – a measurement of how well you comprehend data, facts, and knowledge, traditionally taught to you in school.

Utilizing your IQ can look like solving complex math problems and applying formulas, debugging code with established algorithms, or applying classic business strategies for growing into adjacent markets.

  1. Emotional Quotient (EQ) – a measurement of how well you can build and maintain relationships, be respectful and sensitive to the needs of others, and manage the perception others have of you for yourself and for them.

Someone with a high EQ might build or leverage individual relationships to better facilitate collaboration toward achieving a common goal.

  1. Social Quotient (SQ) – a measurement of how well you can create and build a network of long-lasting relationships and an ecosystem of contacts.

Someone who has a high SQ might regularly build alliances and networks to support common objectives. In contrast to EQ, SQ is more about networks and ecosystems of relationships rather than individual connections.

  1. Adversity Quotient (AQ) – a measurement of how well you can remain positive, constructive, and productive despite challenging circumstances.

Someone with a high AQ who experiences serious mental, physical or other challenges might be able to persevere and adjust their approach to continue making progress.

  1. Creativity Quotient (CQ) – a measurement of your ability to think differently or orthogonally to traditional approaches, sometimes counter to recommendations.

Someone with a high CQ might suggest an approach which may wind up becoming an innovation adopted by customers or a feature integrated into a new product offering.

  1. Leadership Quotient (LQ) – a measurement for your awareness of self, the current obstacles, , how well you can inspire and mobilize others to collaborate and address a problem.

Let’s work on your leadership quotient here. Which quotients above will help you with the problems listed below and why?

  • Co-worker conflict
  • M&A Integration
  • Debugging code
  • Prioritizing features
  • Customer service issue
  • Missing sales projections
  • Lobbying for resources

I’ll leave you with some questions to contemplate:

  • What other problems do you regularly see in your day-to-day work?
  • Which quotients are you most comfortable in?
  • Which quotients would like you to develop more?
  • Which quotients do your team members lead with?
  • How can you help team members diversify their  quotient usage?
  • How could developing and rounding out your quotients help you personally improve your problem-solving and innovation skills? 

It’s my hope that you’re seeing your Ps in a new light, and that you begin leveraging your Qs to address problems effectively and with more confidence.

Problem-Solving Strategies

August 23, 2022


FountainBlue’s August 19 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Problem-Solving Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

This month’s panelists spoke eloquently and passionately about the need to solve problems, and the opportunities which arise from solving problems well. They agreed that leaders need to be clear, firm, fair and consistent in communicating, in order to empower everyone to engage and participate in the problem-solving process. Collaboration is key in building team synergy, in securing a wide range of input and perspective, for  leveraging relevant experience and expertise.

There was much emphasis on the importance of having a clear, succinct, direct, metrics-based problem statement, one which is flexible enough to evolve as the program morphs. There were also recommendations for leveraging tools to facilitate collaboration tools like white-boarding, especially when staff members span the globe.

Our panelists also noted that there are also times when people need to meet face-to-face. For example, it’s important to meet in-person when you’re dealing with people issues, when you need to physically interact with a product, when you’re building relationships. 

Below is a summary of best practices for problem-solving:

  • Include a wide range of perspectives when working on a problem.
  • Simplify the problem, and even deconstruct it if appropriate so that you better understand it.
  • Invite wild ideas so you can fully brainstorm options, but also consider only the ideas which are practical.
  • Consider the cost/value of potential solutions, so that you implement solutions which are practical, sustainable, reasonable, and useful.
  • Focus on addressing the most impactful, highest-priority problems first. 
  • People-problems are generally more complex, less straight-forward than engineering or process problems. With process and engineering problems, there can be clearly defined standards and protocols.

It’s not easy to solve complex problems, but listening well and deeply is a key step forward for doing this well.

What He/She Said, What She/He Meant

August 12, 2022

FountainBlue’s August 12 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘What He/She Said, What She/He Meant’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Renesas and our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have such experienced, other-centric, and strategic leaders for this month’s When She Speaks panel. 

Our panel talked extensively about why it’s important to have a diverse talent pool and open minded outlook. Benefits include improvements in innovation, culture, retention, talent acquisition, etc.,Our panelists also shared many thoughts on how to better communicate and connect with others, especially if they are not-like-you.
Connect for a Purpose.

  • Focus on connecting on a common goal which is of mutual importance.
  • Drive conversations around achieving that goal, rather than around personal issues.
  • Invite all parties to take a seat at the table, and contribute to that common purpose.
  • Trust in the good intentions of others.

Be Open-Minded.

  • Be open and curious about others and their differing perspectives.
  • Ask someone not-like-you what you might be missing. 
  • Individuals, gender and styles will vary, just as culture and gender varies. Connecting with people not-like-you will help you to grow personally and professionally.

Be Other-Centric.

  • Meet people where they are. Include people because of where they are.
  • Be the mediator and translator where appropriate, to help connect the team to a common purpose.

Keep Growing and Learning.

  • Do your homework and research the backgrounds and perspectives of others not-like-you.
  • Embrace the opportunities to stretch and grow yourself and your team. 
  • Ask questions so that you can better understand the perspective of others. 

Communicate and Connect.

  • Communicate clearly and continually to ensure that’s alignment, clarity, and a shared sense of purpose.
  • Check your assumptions, and the assumptions of others with whom you interact.
  • Voice your intentions and goals while inviting others to do the same.
  • Think, speak, and act in alignment with your values. 
  • Be clear of your intentions and ensure that the impact is as you’ve intended. 
  • Own your words and actions and strive to be better, do better. 
  • Listen closely and deeply with empathy. 

Our panelists closed by encouraging us all to embrace our differences while connecting to a purpose and a sense of belonging. 

Balancing Privacy, Security and Access

August 12, 2022

FountainBlue’s August 12 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Balancing Privacy, Security and Access’, with opening remarks by Samsung. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.

Our executives in attendance represented a wide range of roles, backgrounds and industries, but they share many common perspectives around balancing privacy, security and access.

  • Balancing privacy, security and access will continue to be of primary importance. 
  • No longer will companies be able to rely on single individuals or teams to proactively manage privacy, security and access. 
  • It will take a concerted and collaborative effort, driven by senior leaders, and implemented across the organization.

Balancing privacy, security and access is not easy. 

  • Managing to ensure compliance is complicated as the data volume is huge and growing, individual users are untrained, uninformed or even unethical, and the ways data is used and the number of users continues to grow.
  • Cultural and international standards vary greatly, and many companies have employees and customers all over the world.
  • It’s hard for executives to manage the data when each data set might have different associated experts, and multiple data sets are integrated into individual applications and programs.
  • The stakes are high and are continuing to grow, so bad actors are more motivated to access sensitive data.
  • Consumers and end users are becoming more adamant about their rights around privacy, while also insisting on efficiently accessing the information they need.  

Below is a compilation of thoughts and best practices.

Be Strategic

  • Be fully aware of the type, flow, storage and distribution of data and proactively manage that data to ensure the right people have the right access at the right time for the right reason.
  • Build a partnership between the legal, technical, executive, and product/engineering teams so you can plan-fully manage product development and support.
  • Create standards and agreements so collaborations can be made to proactively manage secure access to targeted information, while respecting privacy needs.
  • Consider the needs of the team and organization over the rights of individuals, while also respecting the rights of individuals.
  • Manage to the weakest link – perhaps the human who does not set up proper passwords for access to the corporate network.

Leverage Technology

  • Leverage technologies and tools so that you can easily identify data or users or systems who may be at risk.
  • Create dashboards for your network so you can proactively manage potential data breaches.
  • Factor in different types of data (transient, persistent, meta, etc.,) as you manage, collect, store and distribute that data. 

Manage the Give and Take

  • Focus on business outcomes while respecting technical requirements. 
  • Minimize exposure and risk, especially when mission-critical applications are at stake.

Empower and Enable Your People

  • Support product and engineering teams, who are constantly challenged to create and update code to meet the shifting security, privacy and access requirements.

The bottom line is that we can all collaborate to build a Zero Trust network – where only the right Users, have the right Access, to the right Data, for the right Reason, all the time, every time. 

Managing Up, Down and Sideways

August 5, 2022


FountainBlue’s August 5 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Managing Up, Down and Sideways’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as an HR Leader – Kerry Perryman, Samsung Research America
  • as a Product Leader – Sondra Bollar, Oracle
  • as an Engineering Leader – Stephen McGrath, Trimble

We were fortunate to have such experienced and diverse panelists for this week’s front line managers online program. It’s been a tumultuous week with challenges and changes for many organizations, so it was a great time to learn about how to better manage up, down and sideways.Our panelists agreed on many management principles:

  • Build relationships with a wide network of people will help everyone better manage and lead. Healthy long-term relationships are built on respect and trust, developed from ongoing, proactive, authentic, transparent communication between all parties.
  • Be clear on your plan, based on the information you have to date and the objectives and goals defined for you. 
  • With that said, be nimble and agile should the direction change or if the data indicates other strategies and actions would better serve the goals.

Below is some advice for better managing up, down and sideways:
Be a Leader

  • Err on the side of action, even if your information set is incomplete and the result is uncertain.
  • Be curious about your blindspots and the blindspots of others with whom you work.
  • Manage your emotions and stay calm, even if you feel that you’ve been wronged.
  • Encourage everyone to learn from mistakes, and take advantage of teachable moments.

Be a Project Leader

  • Make specific plans for minimum deliverables, based on input from a wide range of sources.
  • Plan-fully allocate the right resources for the right talent, in alignment with overarching goals.

Empower and Engage Your Team

  • Provide exciting opportunities which challenge your team members individually and collectively.
  • Help your team manage and prioritize tasks and projects, and explain how everyone’s work fits in to the overall plan and why specific projects and tasks are more important than other ones. 

The bottom line is that management is an art and a science. 

Great managers help others feel secure and safe while also focusing on clarifying changes in goals and objectives and how they impact the organizations, teams, products, and individuals.When teams are managed well, there is deep trust and exceptional results made by productive and empowered team members.