Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

Start-ups Changing the World

June 10, 2022

FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Startups Changing the World’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Intel and our esteemed panelists. 


We were fortunate to have a range of amazing leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs for this month’s panel. They represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • Passionate, intelligent and hardworking, our panelists were not intimidated by the STEM subjects they mastered, and all took their technical abilities into business roles.
  • Ever fearless, resilient and unflappable, our panelists thrived on adopting and conquering business, technical, and operational issues, earning them leadership roles in companies big and small.
  • Each panelist has had experience working in companies, start-ups and some even in investment groups, and each is contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Below is a summary of advice for supporting start-ups changing the world.

  • Work with engineering and product teams to create solutions which address core world issues.
  • Focus on growing a business which does the right things to support people, the earth, and others while doing well financially and operationally.
  • Create and support an ecosystem of partners and providers who can collaborate with you to increase influence and impact.
  • Build momentum with customers, sales, partners and others and keep focusing on the needs of the customer.
  • Look for a start-up leadership team which is resilient enough to ride the ups and downs of start-ups and also market variances which impact us all, especially now with so much variance and so many unknowns.
  • Passionately tell your start-up story in a way which is compelling, and fill your story with data.
  • Let your customers help you define your feature sets, milestones and timelines.
  • Help successful companies and leaders keep growing and learning.

The bottom line is that start-ups aren’t easy to lead or manage, but it is these start-ups that will help us all change the world for the better.


Expanding Your Circle of Influence

May 13, 2022

FountainBlue’s May 13 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘Expanding Your Circle of Influence’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments and our esteemed panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such inspiring, accomplished and influential panelists for this month’s When She Speaks program. Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds and experiences, they had much in common:

  • They proactively navigated the challenges and opportunities in their personal and professional lives to continue to learn and grow, while inspiring and empowering others around them.
  • They embraced opportunities to try new things, even when it was intimidating to do so, and learned from their successes, but learned more from their failures.
  • They have the self-awareness and the strength to challenge themselves and choose to be better, to do better for themselves, and for those they touch.

Our panelists commented on how being influential can help them better:

  • Run fast, run well, and move slowly when necessary.
  • Feel heard, be heard, drive strategy and impact results.
  • Collaborate, connect, and conspire with others to move the needle forward.

Below is a compilation of their advice on how to be more influential. 
Be Strategic

  • Clearly communicate and connect on the business and social/sustainability value of what you’re doing, and empower and inspire everyone to contribute to that common goal.
  • Embrace a learning and growing mindset, and humbly empower others around you to grow and succeed.

Communicate with Influence

  • Communicate with transparency, authenticity and purpose. Listen deeply and well so that the thoughts and ideas of others can contribute to that purpose, and so that all can be engaged with that purpose.
  • Let the data inform your communications, decisions, and strategies.
  • Think, speak and act in alignment with your values and the vision, and be resilient and focused on delivering measurable results. 
  • Understand the motivations of others around you who may be resistant to a concept, technology, project or idea you’re advocating.
  • Consider the words you choose and the way you speak them, as well as the profile and interests of the audiences you’re addressing. 

Expand Your Circle of Influence

  • Collaborate to make things happen, for we all have pieces of the puzzle – independent of role, seniority, organization, gender, geography, etc.
  • Invite people with diverse backgrounds into the fold, and inspire, empower and enable them to speak their ideas and their truth, for the betterment of all.

Below are thoughts on how to expand your own influence.

  • Be other-centric rather than self-centric. It’s hard to follow and support someone who has a WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) attitude. And it’s very clear to all who has that attitude.
  • Choose carefully who you spend time with and how you give and receive energy with every conversation and connection. 
  • Challenge yourself and others to do better, be better, while being positive and constructive at all times. 
  • Help everyone “be the change they want to see”.

It was my pleasure to facilitate such an inspiring and powerful panel of influential world-changing leaders. They challenge us all to not only be more influential, but also to inspire and empower all we touch to do the same.

Building Employee Experience as the X Factor

April 16, 2022

FountainBlue’s April 15 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Leveraging Employee Experience as the X Factor’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Gigamon and our esteemed panelists. 


Clearly, our panelists are great leaders and managers who are consistently passionate about delivering exceptional employee experiences not only because it’s good for business, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They humbly led by example, building trust and follower-ship through authentic, courageous, on-point connection and communication.
  • They worked with leaders at all levels to ensure that clear objectives are declared, that milestones and results are delivered, and that clear and transparent communication is maintained.
  • They each consistently think, speak and act through a lens of inclusivity and empowerment, ensuring that others have the confidence and resources to further support the vision and goals. 
  • They are each curious about the perspective of others, and open enough to learn from others.

Below is a composite of best practices for building employee engagement:

  • Lead the way, while being receptive to the input of others at all levels. 
  • Embrace diversity as a catalyst for innovation.
  • Keep building positive momentum and energy with a learning and growth mindset.
  • Consistently communicate with authenticity, openness and vulnerability. 
  • Welcome the whole person to work, and make it easy for people to fully participate at work. 
  • Just say no to inappropriate and unproductive behavior! It leads to a bad experience for everyone.

The pandemic has made us think differently about how we can keep our employees engaged and inspired. The in-person incentives like free food, ping pong tables and networking events may not be enough/right even if/when we return fully to work.

So re-thinking about how we keep our employees engaged and committed and delivering exceptional employee experience will continue to be that X Factor. It’s clear that our panelists will continue to lead the way in this regard.

Managing Your Mindset

March 18, 2022


FountainBlue’s March 18 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Managing Your Mindset’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Cisco and our esteemed panelists. 

Our inspiring, experienced and resilient panelists spoke humbly and eloquently about why we should each manage our mindset, and how they have been successfully able to do so, especially during challenging times. Below is a compilation of their advice and best practices:
Know Thyself

  • Know your north star around values and around purpose, and regularly center on that north star.
  • Positively frame your personal and professional journey and celebrate your learnings and victories.
  • Know your strengths, your weaknesses, your buttons, and use this knowledge to manage your own mindset.
  • Manage your mindset with a pause when you feel emotions rising. 

Model the Way

  • Be confident enough in your value and competence so that you’re comfortable tackling projects and assignments just beyond your reach.
  • Be generous, gracious, kind, and curious about the other person’s perspective.
  • Accept your initial responses to uncomfortable new opportunities, and make the best of the options in front of you.
  • Be Open to learning new things, trying new experiences.
  • Never Settle! Keep reaching for stars.

Create a Build a Resilient Culture with a Positive and Proactive Mindset

  • Practice the Multiplier Effect – amplify the impact.
  • Manage to the needs of each individual, and inspire them to be confident and bold.
  • Be the translator and mediator between contentious parties, to manage the energy of the team, the mindsets of individuals on the team. 
  • Celebrate and enable successes. 
  • Stand on the shoulders of those who have come before you, and reach down to help others also stand.

Keep Centered

  • Surround yourself with the sponsors, mentors, friends, family, etc., who will keep you centered on your values and your purpose.
  • Frame your self-talk to be more growth-centered, more proactive, more productive. 
  • Choose activities and actions which would help you manage your own body, mind and spirit, whether it’s exercise or nature or singing or dancing.

In a time when change is a constant and the future is unknown, it becomes more critical to manage your mindset, so that you can be more productive, happier and more content both at work and at home. 

Leading with Passion, Agility and Resilience

February 18, 2022

FountainBlue’s February 18 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Leading with Passion, Agility and Resilience’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Micron and our esteemed panelists. 


Our esteemed panelists spoke eloquently and passionately not only about the ‘why’ behind leading with passion, agility and resilience, but also about the ‘how’. Their teams and organizations have definitely benefited from their leadership, fortitude and drive during this type of great change. Below is a compilation of best practices for leading with passion, agility, and resilience.

Know Yourself and Manage Yourself

  • Know yourself and understand your skills, desires and motivations so that you can better manage and lead, no matter what your role and level.
  • Proactively navigate your career path, but do it with fluidity instead of opting for a lock-step strategy for advancement.
  • Take advantage of serendipitous opportunities, for fortune favors the bold and prepared.
  • Manage the voice in your head and consistently make happiness your choice.
  • Have faith that you may not always get everything right, but that you will always continue to learn and grow, even when the future is unpredictable.
  • Internalize the key leadership qualities you need and keep raising the bar for yourself and others around you.

Focus on Business Imperatives

  • Be proactive with your decision-making, so that you can continue to lead with passion and make a difference.
  • Change is a constant, so be flexible and energetic as you lean in to drive a change for the good.
  • Make a business case for the leadership and management changes you desire – for that will more likely get you the funding and support you need to make it happen.

Empower Others

  • Make learning accessible for all, and support everyone in achieving their development and advancement goals.
  • Be empathetic, supportive and authentic so you can better empower others to also lead with passion and purpose.

Keep Reaching for Stars

  • Agilely navigate challenges, and doggedly work with resilience to collaboratively impact the bottom line.
  • Learn to be more professionally compassionate, more authentically and transparently communicative. 
  • Be confident enough to ask questions and curious enough to learn from the responses to those questions.

The bottom line is that if we act as all-one, all-in, we would greatly increase our odds of success while also improving our personal development and satisfaction. 

Bring Your Full Self to Work

January 24, 2022


FountainBlue’s January 21 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Bring Your Full Self to Work”. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Lam Research and our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to feature such passionate and practical leaders speaking on the topic of ‘Bringing Your Full Self to Work’.  

Our panelists spoke eloquently on how having a safe space, building broad and deep connections, and connecting with authenticity can help bring out the divergent thinking, speaking and doing in our people. Indeed, limiting the ‘should-ing’ might mean having less stringent ‘guard-rails’ and more freedom for full expression.

Our panelists provided insights and advice on the business up-sides for bringing your full self to work, including the innovation, creativity, collaboration and engagement benefits. Below is a compilation of their thoughts on how to foster a culture where everyone shows up fully at work:

  • Align with leaders on the corporate and product direction, and invite input from all levels on how we can all work together to achieve amazing results.
  • Authentically speak your truth with integrity and invite others to do the same, so that motivations and intentions are understood and supported.
  • Boldly act like it will no longer be business as usual – the future is unclear, but everyone should feel emboldened and empowered to support the goals and direction for the organization.
  • Reward and encourage everyone to include a wide range of people and perspectives in all activities.
  • Help everyone understand the best way to express their full selves, including managing the audience and timing for chosen words and actions.
  • Develop deep individual connections with a broad range of people. 
  • Measure and report on the impact of your diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and collaborate with everyone to better strategize, plan and execute to deliver incremental results.
  • Be positive and constructive with feedback, and gently raise the bar.
  • Manage your own biases and reservations so you can be more open, inclusive and receptive, and model that behavior for others. 

The bottom line is that it takes courage to show up as your full self at work, and a lot of work to help people feel comfortable enough to do so. But it’s also clear that leaders and managers who are able to do so will reap the business benefits, while also doing the right thing for all.

Fourth Annual Men Who Open Doors

December 10, 2021

FountainBlue’s December 10 When She Speaks program was our Fourth Annual ‘Men Who Open Doors’ topic. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Nova Measuring Instruments and our esteemed panelists. 


We were fortunate to have such passionate and diverse panelists speaking on the sponsorship topic this month. Although our nominated executives represented different backgrounds, roles and industries, they had much in common, and generously shared their best practices for sponsoring women and people with diverse backgrounds.

The business imperatives for sponsorship of people with diverse backgrounds range from innovation to product design, from culture and leadership development to team chemistry and market expansion, from problem solving to conflict management. Our sponsors all consistently think, speak and act like sponsors who lead diverse teams to collaboratively achieve outrageous goals which positively impact all stakeholders.

Below is a compilation of advice on how to better sponsor diverse others.

Lead On

  • Listen to truly understand the needs of the other, and frame offerings based on the needs of that person.
  • Be calmly, eloquently, passionately consistent about your sponsorship agenda and the business case around that agenda, and collaboratively work with others to deliver impact on objectives.
  • Be inspiring about the vision, strategic in your planning, diligent on your execution, collaborative and empowering with your style, and relentless in your pursuit of that diversity agenda.
  • Recognize people, celebrate successes, and build a diverse community aligned not just on noble ideas and causes, but also on delivering customer value. 
  • Encourage disruptive and respectful inquiry.

Step In

  • Step up and step in against every infraction, with every injustice, and make it safe for others to do the same. 
  • Take a chance on others and help them succeed in stretch assignments which fit their passion and skills, and the needs of your organization.

Raise the Bar

  • Hold yourself to a higher standard and monitor your own unconscious biases.
  • Hire for attitude and growth mindset and a willingness to work hard and learn. 
  • Have zero tolerance for bullying, discrimination, and other disempowering behaviors and unequal treatments. 
  • Make a stand for meritocracy and call out inequities and outdated practices which unfairly favor one person or group over another for reasons that don’t make sense and reasons that don’t support the bottom line.

This year’s ‘Men Who Open Doors’ honorees give us hope that we too can practice the types of empathetic, collaborative and emotionally intelligent thoughts, words and behaviors, while achieving business results. 

Mentorship Best Practices

November 12, 2021

FountainBlue’s November 12 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘Mentorship Best Practices’. We were fortunate to have such a dynamic and diverse panel of mentors and mentees to share best practices and advice around mentorship. Their sage advice and inspiring remarks provide great food for thought as well as suggestions and ideas on how we can better support each other through mentorship and the personal and business reasons for doing so. Below is a compilation of best practices from our esteemed panel.

How to Make the Best of Mentorship Opportunities

  • Share thoughts on how things can be done and how to better collaborate and innovate.
  • Work together to transition to new challenges in different roles, for different products, teams and industries. 
  • Get support as you navigate challenging work and life circumstances.
  • Brainstorm how to stretch your vision, your goal, your direction.
  • Develop clarity on your values and stand strong to those values when times are tough.
  • Lean on each other through dark periods and help each other find the light, leveraging the learnings.

Below are some recommended best practices for growing a mentorship program.

  • Create broad and inclusive plans to include and connect a diverse range of employees at all levels.
  • Start small and make incremental changes as you grow your mentorship program. 
  • Always ask for and integrate feedback to help make yourself, your mentor/mentee, the program better.
  • Be clear on your goals and measure your progress on those goals. Align all to those goals and empower all to make progress on those goals.
  • Leverage your learnings, your scar tissue, to support the other, whether you’re the mentor or the mentee.
  • Don’t stop at mentorship. Also provide sponsorship and project/program participation.
  • Be open-minded about how to plan and implement a mentorship program.
  • Create and nourish a culture where mentorship relationships will flourish.
  • Make mentorship bi-directional, with the assumption that both mentors and mentees will benefit.
  • Ensure that those who are more reserved or more other-centric don’t get left out of the sponsorship or mentorship opportunities.

The bottom line is that both mentors and mentees can gain a broader perspective on what to do, how to do things, who to meet, and ultimately expand their view of themselves and how they fit into the world, providing personal and business benefits for all.

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Pure Storage and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s November 12 When She Speaks online program on the topic of ‘Mentorship Best Practices’. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • with opening remarks by Niki Armstrong, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer, Pure Storage
  • Mentors:
    • Peter Holland, VP of Supply Chain, Lam Research 
    • Milissa Kubal-White, Manager, Global Sales Enablement, Coupa Software, Empower Board Member, Coupa Software
    • Ellen Lail, Regional Sales Director, Pure Storage, co-chair Women @ Pure
    • Umesh Lakshman, Head of Solutions Architecture, West, Lumen Technologies
  • Mentees:
    • Misa Crocker, Education and Training Program Manager, Pure Storage 
    • Lilian Hall, Program/Product Manager – Logistics & TMS, Lam Research
    • Andrea Rein, Lead Talent Management Consultant, Lumen Technologies
    • Aimee Stevens, Operations Coordinator, Coupa Software
  • with closing remarks by Dena Sikes, Director, National Partners, Pure Storage, co-chair, Women @ Pure

Local Input, Global Impact

October 8, 2021



FountainBlue’s October 8 When She Speaks online program on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Cisco and our esteemed panelists.

Our inspiring and outspoken panelists each had their own way of stepping up and stepping in to their full selves, whole-heartedly delivering results locally at work and at home. 

They each excelled in multiple roles, organizations and industries, morphing their skills and learnings to solve complex people, process and product issues, delivering value locally, with impact globally.

They each showed up as their full selves in their personal ways, ever pushing the envelope for themselves, their teams, their companies.

They each leveraged their values and their principles to ensure quality results are delivered, while also ensuring that others benefit from the product or service offered.

They each drive innovation, but in different ways. It might be an innovation of thought, or an innovation which helps improve processes. It might be innovations which help us better understand the problem- set, the patients served. It might be innovations which help us better grow and expand the needs of the customer, and even better anticipate risks or problems. It might be innovations on the way we treat others, the way we welcome divergent people and thinkers.

Their personal missions are as inspiring as they are practical. Indeed, we all stand on the shoulders of women like these.

Below is a compilation of advice from our esteemed panel.

  • Be fully and unapologetically yourself.
  • Create and connect communities and networks of partners, focused on collectively bringing value across the ecosystem.
  • Let the voice of the customer decide how you can serve them locally, and impact the greater cause globally.
  • Adhere to your values – always do well while doing right.
  • Collaborate to leverage technology to solve a social problem.
  • Build a support system around you which will help you be authentically, confidently, fully yourself, with clarity on the thoughts you have, the words you speak, the actions you take. 

Our panel has challenged us all to be fearlessly, relentlessly, authentically and unapologetically yourself, choosing how you act locally, so that you make that global impact.

One of the Onlys

September 10, 2021

FountainBlue’s September 10 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘One of the Onlys’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at ASML and our esteemed panelists. 

Our panelists represented a wide range of roles, backgrounds and organizations, yet they all experienced being one of the onlys.

But each found a way to be heard, to be influential, to be productive, despite the fact that they were originally less than well received. Below is advice they shared on how they navigated the challenge.

Manage Yourself

  • You are not alone, even when you feel very lonely, like you’re the only one. There are many ‘onlys’ out there, and many of them are willing to help you, and many others who are willing to be supporters, cheerleaders, and allies to you.
  • Be confident in what you do well, and consistently solve real problems well, building a brand for yourself even if it’s beyond others’ expectations of you.

Build Relationships

  • Develop relationships of trust with influential others across the ecosystem. 
  • Leverage those relationships to better understand the motivations and challenges faced by others, so that you can help address their needs.
  • Look for the common connections, the common motivations between yourself and others around you. 
  • Recruit advocates and cheerleaders, and make sure that you advocate and cheer for others as well.
  • Conduct the meetings before the meeting to best position yourself, the team and the project for success.

Seize the Opportunities

  • Always take a seat at the table when you’re invited, even when you’re not sure you belong there. 
  • When appropriate, make a seat at the table, but do this selectively – only when the topic/problem/project/challenge really needs your support and input.
  • Be bold and confident enough to share your opinion, even if you’re not sure it would be well received. But also make sure that your opinion is based on your experience, on data you’ve collected.

Be Other-Centric

  • Listen well to others as they describe their needs and their challenges. Then commit to following through and delivering solutions for them.
  • Know your audience and their challenges and motivations so that you can better serve all.

Manage Your Emotions

  • Choose to be a more vulnerable, a better version of yourself when you are faced with people who are less than respectful of your abilities.
  • Be curious about why someone else responds the way they do to something you’ve said or done.
  • Manage your own emotions well, so that you can focus on building relationships with people who may trigger something in you.
  • Accept that others might not accept you as one-of-them, and try not to let it get to you.  


  • Respect that sometimes you have to use the back door to get things done, when certain parties are less than receptive to the support. 
  • Lean into leadership. Find the leadership gap where you can step in, solve critical problems, and connect with people.

The bottom line is that there is no silver bullet to being respected and heard when you don’t quite fit in with others in the room. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t make an impact and make a difference.