Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

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.

What He Said, What He Meant

August 13, 2021

FountainBlue’s August 13 When She Speaks women in leadership series program was on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung and our esteemed panelists. 


Our panelists represented both genders and multiple companies, industries and backgrounds. They were each passionate about the need for men and women to better communicate to drive the business imperative. Whether it helps build relationships and trust, or it helps everyone better coordinate and delegate, when a mixed-gender team can better connect and communicate, business operations improve, the culture is healthier, and the people are happier in general.

Below are some areas where men and women might differ, in general.

  • Women tend to be more emotional.
  • Women tend to be more inclusive and collaborative.
  • Women might be more likely to speak in a stream of consciousness.
  • Women might be more sensitive to how something is communicated.
  • Men might come across as more confident.
  • Men might seek logical explanations more quickly.
  • Men might be less verbose.
  • Men might be more direct and confrontational, but may not intend it to be personal.

Below are some best practices for better communicating with men.

  • Assume positive intent.
  • Understand motivations and intentions.
  • Manage your own emotions, especially preventing yourself from ‘looping’ when emotions run high. Know your own trigger points and help yourself get centered.
  • Focus on getting the job done.
  • Accept that there are different communication styles, but act as one integrated team, focusing on collaborating to get the job done.
  • Be open-minded and flexible.
  • Be curious, ask questions.
  • Trust your instincts but communicate with data.
  • Don’t be intimidated.
  • Have confidence.
  • Help each other understand and succeed.

The bottom line is that if you can understand and accept gender differences in communication and work through communication challenges, you and your team will more likely deliver results.

Resource: Why Men and Women Think Differently? This Guy Nailed It

Next Generation Collaborations

July 9, 2021


FountainBlue’s July 9 When She Speaks women in leadership program was on the topic of ‘Next Generation Collaborations’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Intel and our esteemed panelists. 

Our panelists all extolled the virtues of collaboration, having learned from a very young age that collaboration benefits everyone. They each spoke eloquently about the business results of collaboration, from improved innovation to improved quality, from improved customer satisfaction to more efficient delivery times.

Each panelists has deep experience building relationships to ensure ongoing collaboration and growth for all parties. Building deeper and broader networks also helps with the collaboration agenda, especially as projects and technologies become increasingly more complex.

The give and take of collaborative relationships within and outside the company will continue to be integral to a company’s expansion and growth as we enter the next normal. Predictions for that next normal include:

  • The world will become increasingly more connected and we will all become more interconnected.
  • There will be faster time-to-market requirements coupled with more complex, more personalized deliverables.
  • Quality standards will continue to rise while the pressure for cost reduction also increases.

Therefore to remain competitive:

  • Collaborate to innovate.
  • Include divergent thinking and ideas.
  • Build collaborations across the ecosystem.
  • Collaboration to define new niche markets.
  • Manage and lead so that more voices are heard so that the stage is shared.
  • Build a culture of trust where teams work together to meet common objectives.
  • Listen deeply to understand current and project customer and market needs.
  • Have a clear end goal and rough path with milestones, but be flexible on how you can collaborate with others to deliver.

The bottom line is that collaboration makes everything better than the sum of the parts, so make a point of making every relationship better with each interaction.


Start-Ups Changing the World

June 11, 2021

FountainBlue’s June 11 When She Speaks women in leadership series program, on the topic of ‘Start-ups Changing the World’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Coupa and our esteemed panelists. 

Our panelists were passionate about start-ups and have supported them as entrepreneurs, funders, founders, advisers, and leaders. There were many reasons why they each opted to support start-ups.

  • Many Start-ups focus on solving specific real-world problems and focus on getting things done.
  • Many start-up build close relationships with their teammates through the intense and exciting activities around the launching and building of companies.
  • Working at start-ups provide many opportunities to learn and grow faster.

But working at start-ups is not always a bed of roses.

  • Many start-ups can be too chaotic, inconsistent and ineffective because of lack of leadership, lack of communication, lack of process.
  • Many start-ups lack the funding to realize results.
  • It’s hard as a start-up to get customers to engage because the service and solution is unproven.

But it’s worth it to work for start-ups! Here’s some advice for selecting the right start-up.

  • Choose a start-up that’s focused on solving a problem you’re passionate about.
  • Choose a start-up that’s well funded, in a market that’s growing.
  • Choose a start-up which creates partnerships and alliances to help the start-up overcome obstacles and grow fast.
  • Choose a start-up that’s nimble enough AND stable/funded enough to succeed.
  • Choose a start-up that does well (from a business sense) and does right (from a sustainability and world-changing perspective).

Below are some hot opportunities identified by our panelists:

  • Look at the data and how the data can drive everyday business opportunities.
  • Sustainability initiatives will both support the Earth and its people and build business opportunities as well.
  • Healthcare opportunities abound, and creating successful solutions help people live better, healthier and even longer lives.

Choose to be more efficient and more effective, regardless of whether you work in a start-up or a big company.

  • Choose quality over quantity.
  • Measure what matters.
  • Focus on the north star – the WHY. Then talk about the WHAT and the HOW.
  • Keep reaching for stars.
  • Choose continuous learning. Fail often, but fail forward.
  • Make the time to do things you’re passionate about. 
  • Don’t over-think.
  • Support others of all genders and backgrounds in being confident and courageous enough to do all of the above.

The bottom line is that we need both start-ups and corporates to partner with others across the ecosystem to build innovation and leadership opportunities while solving real-world problems.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

May 14, 2021


FountainBlue’s May 14 When She Speaks women in leadership series program, on the topic of ‘Expanding Your Circle of Influence’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Oracle and our esteemed panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such a fun and influential set of panelists for this afternoon’s panel discussion. They represented an assortment of companies, roles and backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • They humbly shared their stories of how they grew their influence.
  • They ‘switched lanes’ frequently, sometimes by designed and embraced each change in role, title, function and geography as learning opportunities.
  • They cherished the opportunities both to learn and grow themselves, but also to spread the knowledge and success to others, paying it forward.

They are movers and shakers who are also easily moved and shaken as they navigate their lives and careers. Below is a compilation of their advice regarding expanding your influence.

Know Yourself

  • Be clear on what you’d like to influence and why that matters to you, to others, to the team, to the organization, to the world.
  • Be self-aware enough to know what you’re good at, where you need to grow, how you’re coming across to others.
  • Be authentic and sincere and uniquely you – embrace your personal style of influence.

Stretch Yourself

  • Dare to be influential, even if if’s not your job, not your role.
  • Be gentle with yourself when mistakes happen – they are the best learning opportunities. 
  • Be open and curious when others disagree with you, for it’s a learning opportunity.
  • Invite and learn from feedback.

Be Strategic

  • Take the opportunity to influence projects you’re targeting, but also be open to influencing projects others ask you to influence.
  • Consistently align your thinking, with your speaking and actions, and ensure that all are in alignment with the corporate/team/industry objectives.
  • Invite participation and engagement rather than commands and instructions.
  • Build bridges between people and groups and silos, and make the combined group more influential.

Be Other-Centric

  • Read the room, read the motivations and intentions of others so that you can better communicate and connect with others.
  • Facilitate a conversation around goals and intentions rather than providing prescriptive advice and orders on how things should be done.
  • How you see yourself is not necessarily how others see you, so be curious about how others see you.
  • Speak in the language most respected by your audience – whether it’s the language of data, images, stories, or bulleted summaries.

Embrace Opportunities to Learn

  • Be inquisitive and curious, and willing to work hard to make things happen. Proving yourself in these ways could make you more influential.
  • Know when to persevere and when to just let go.
  • Own your success and your path to influence and success.

In closing, each of the panelists invite us all to be more influential, and support others in doing the same.

Building a Culture of Trust

April 9, 2021

FountainBlue’s April 9 When She Speaks women in leadership series program, on the topic of ‘Building a Culture of Trust’. We were fortunate to have a seasoned and varied range of panelists to speak on the very timely question of building a culture of trust.Building trust has been especially important as leaders at all levels are dealing with many uncertainties and challenges with the pandemic and its aftermath. Below is a summary of our learnings from the panel discussion.
Trust is essential for leadership and management. It is something that’s slow-to-earn, and quick-to-lose, which makes the stakes high. A team, a company, an individual can’t thrive and succeed unless he/she/they/we have the trust of the many others in their circle. Below are best practices for building trust.

Be Worthy of the Trust

  • Be credible. Work hard. Be clear on what’s required and consistently exceed expectations.
  • Be authentic, sincere, honest and true. Your character will help you build trust.
  • Own up to your mistakes, and be willing to humbly learn from them.
  • Be vulnerable about what you can and can’t do, and persistent about learning what you need to do to perform well.
  • Be courageous and bold, especially when you are uncomfortably doing what you know to be right by others.
  • Do the right thing. Do right by others. Do this consistently. Especially when it’s hard. 
  • Share a vision for what’s next, especially when so much is uncertain. 
  • Consistently walk the talk and talk the walk, building a brand worthy of the trust of others.

Be Other-Focused

  • Listen well and deeply to what the other is saying so that you can understand both the needs and the motivation.
  • Relationships matter. Be sincere, transparent and direct with your communications and act like those relationships matter.
  • Be empathetic and supportive of others. Manage and communicate with grace. We are all working and living in strange, uncertain and at times difficult circumstances. 

Be Collaborative

  • Identify and work toward that common ground, in concert with an ecosystem of others.
  • Set high expectations for yourself and others, and communicate how each stakeholder benefits from collaboratively working toward a common goal.
  • Value those who think and speak and act differently, and invite them to collaborate. 

Keeping Learning and Excelling

  • Be self-aware enough to know yourself and your own strengths and limitations. Keep reaching for stars from there.
  • Never settle – keep reaching and learning and making things better for yourself, your team, your customer, your partners.
  • Assertively make a stand for divergent viewpoints and input. Graciously invite others to do the same.
  • Embrace the opportunities to feel uncomfortable. 
  • The measure of a (wo)man is not just how they behave when they succeed but also how they learn and grow when they don’t.

Be Strategic

  • Ask the ‘why’ before the ‘what’. Make sure that the ‘what’ always aligns with the why.
  • Don’t let the ‘how’ interfere with the ‘what’. 

The bottom line throughout the conversation is to be credible – to provide a constancy amongst the change, the all-in support of others which helps all to reach confidently for what’s next.