Archive for the ‘When She Speaks’ Category

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.

Be the Brand You Seek to Be

March 12, 2021

FountainBlue’s March 12 When She Speaks women in leadership series program, on the topic of ‘Be the Brand You Seek to Be’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Maxim and our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have a remarkably talented and centered group of panelists to speak on our panel on the topic of ‘Be the Brand You Seek to Be’. Below are notes from the discussion.

Know Yourself and Be True to Yourself

  • Make the time to know what you’re good at (skills), what you like to do (passion), what the market needs are (market), and find the intersection between the three.
  • Know your values and honor them in your interactions, doing right by others, well for your company. 

Evolve, Learn and Grow with Your Brand

  • Know where the customers and markets are going and evolve your strategy and your brand to meet these emerging needs.
  • Don’t expect perfection from yourself or from others, but do expect to learn from your experiences, both good and bad.

Take Ownership of Your Brand

  • Proactively define your brand, rather than have others define it for you/make assumptions about you.
  • Proactively address any stains you might have on your brand, making amends, re-building perceptions and relationships where necessary.
  • Align intentions and perceptions.
  • How you respond to a scenario will speak to your brand.

Be Other-Centric and Results-Focused

  • Build broad and deep relationships. 
  • Understand the needs and motivations of others and collaborate with others to deliver results.
  • Be the person who consistently delivers results, preferably in a wide range of circumstances.

As we look to a future which will be more collaborative, more connected, more immersive, more digital, more socially conscious, it’s more important than ever that our brand is Open, Resilient, Persistent and Resourceful.


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 12 When She Speaks women in leadership series program, on the topic of ‘Be the Brand You Seek to Be’ and our hosts at Maxim.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Marie Le, Chief Marketing Officer, Good Deeds
  • Panelist Laura Owen, Chief Human Resource Officer, Maxim Integrated
  • Panelist Krista Pavlakos, Senior Director, Marketing Communications & Demand Creation, Renesas Electronics
  • Panelist Monika Thakur, Vice President, SaaS Engineering, Oracle
  • with opening remarks by Karthi Gopalan, Product Line Director, Mobile Power BU, Maxim Integrated and
  • closing remarks by Cara Bilinski, Executive Director, IT PMO, Maxim Integrated

Career Agility in the Age of Digital

February 12, 2021

FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks women in leadership series program was on the topic of ‘Career Agility in the Age of Digital’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Lam Research and our esteemed panelists.


We were fortunate to have a remarkably talented and centered group of panelists to speak on the career agility topic. They had a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, but agreed on many things about career agility.

  • Embrace opportunities for continuous learning.
    • ‘Learn from every opportunity, good or not so good.’
  • Know yourself – what your skills are, what you’re looking for, what you enjoy doing, how you’d like to grow, what’s fulfilling for you. This increases the likelihood that you will seek a role which best fits your current and projected needs.
    • ‘Know what you don’t know, what you don’t like.’
  • Seize the opportunities to stretch yourself so that you can grow strategically in a direction which meets your needs.
    • ‘Make the unexpected stepping stones to what’s next.’
  • Solve a problem presented by your team or organization, even if it’s not your problem to solve, even if you don’t yet have the skills to solve the problem.
    • Become known as someone who has the skills to solve a problem, not someone with a specific title.
  • Work for a greater purpose a deeper cause.
    • Be a passionate world-changer, working with people who also want to make a difference.
  • Stop comparing yourself negatively to others. Be uniquely you.
    • ‘Pretend that your career path to date is something that you meant to do, even if it’s not.’
  • Accept that you are where you are, where you are meant to be. There’s time to reach higher, be better in specific ways.
    • Make each career step an opportunity to learn about yourself and make a difference for the team and organization.
  • Work with leaders and colleagues you like and respect.
    • Build relationships with quality people and deliver results consistently for them.
  • Never settle.

The bottom line is that the pace of business, the pace of technology is rapidly increasing, and we must all be resilient enough to withstand the ugly side of change and agile, courageous and bold enough to keep reaching for what’s next despite the shifting landscape.



January 15, 2021

We were fortunate to have such an inspirational, fun, passionate and diverse set of women leaders for FountainBlue’s January 15 When She Speaks program on the ‘We Are ALL ONE’ topic. Our panelists shared their wisdom about how to be agile and lean during challenging times, how to embrace the opportunity in any challenge.

Their resilient and growth-minded leadership in a time of great change really helped themselves, their teams and their organizations to rise to the next level, even while others struggled.

Their focus on the people side of change, their focus on how to be more other-centric and empathic because of the extra burdens brought on by that change has really set them apart as leaders of leaders.

Their emphasis on humbly being curious, embracing the diverse perspectives of others helps them to be more nimble and agile in managing through change, in anticipating the implications of the change.

Below is a compilation of advice for leaders who want to build more collaboration, more inclusivity, especially during times of great change.

  • Be human, be vulnerable, be candid and authentic. When change is pervasive running deep, lean into each other as colleagues, as teammates.
  • Challenge yourself and others to reach for stars, even when it’s a scary thought. Help each other learn from the inevitable mis-steps, and support each other in taking additional steps forward.
  • Stretch the capabilities and offerings of your team, focusing on how you can help other teams and customers. 
  • Build connections within and outside your organization so that you can better understand a broader point of view, and get input and feedback from people outside your standard network.
  • Step up, step in to lead when there is chaos, when there is an opportunity. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait for the title. Don’t do it just for the compensation. Don’t do it just for the credit. Do it because you can, because it helps others, because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Be empathetic and supportive and make others feel important and valued.
  • Invite out-of-the-box creative thinking.
  • Provide yourself grace and acceptance. Indulge in guilty pleasures. Find joy in the little things.
  • Take every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Use your time wisely. Be especially selective with what you do in your own spare time. 
  • Practice resiliency every day. Help others celebrate resiliency in themselves as well.

The boundaries have permanently blurred between work and life. Proactively managing these fuzzy boundaries will help leaders at all levels plan and respond to the next normal, which doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

In addition, the waterfall of change may be just an indication of the level and speed of changes to come. Fortune will reward the open, the agile, the lean, as it has our panelists.

Men Who Open Doors

December 11, 2020

FountainBlue’s December 11 When She Speaks program was on the topic of Men Who Open Doors. We were fortunate to have such inspirational, passionate and diverse men for today’s When She Speaks program on the Men Who Open Doors topic. They spoke passionately about why they are committed to the cause of including women and those with diverse background, and the business benefits for doing so. Each panelist was nominated by awesome women leaders who benefited from their support. In general, these men shared many common qualities.

  • They are authentic, passionate and driven leaders committed to driving the business and empowering their people.
  • They have a wide range of perspectives and wisdom, earned from deep and diverse experience.
  • As inspiring and committed leaders, they are continually involved in participating deeply and giving back passionately.
  • They are each exceptional leaders, extraordinary fathers who put their people first – in thoughts, words and actions.
  • Their focus is not just on the individual women and men who would benefit from their support and sponsorship, but also for the product, for the team, for the organization as a whole.
  • Although they are respectful of those in charge, they are creative and resourceful in making their point and shifting the needle forward to create more impact.

Although they represented different companies and role, they each spoke to the business imperative of embracing diversity within their teams, their organizations.

  • Leveling the playing field will help put the best candidates in the best roles.
  • If the focus is on shareholder value, then having a diverse workforce consistently reflects improved shareholder value.
  • Having diversity of thought is a great cure for Groupthink, which is clearly and consistently a barrier to innovation and even problem solving and decision-making.
  • Doing the right thing builds culture, builds trust, builds credibility.
  • Speaking authentically for choices made around doing the right thing builds confidence and loyalty within and outside the organization.
  • Women are generally more engaged and committed to an organization and role, as reflected by corporate surveys. (Perhaps men feel equally passionate and committed, but may be less likely to show it with actions/commitment/tasks.)
  • The injustice of a double-standard is a blow to corporate culture.
  • Complex problems need to be solved by diverse teams. 

Below are some best practices shared to help companies open more doors for women and those with diverse backgrounds.

  • Giving everyone a chance to succeed and perform will raise the waters for all. 
  • Hiring gritty go-getters is many times better than hiring someone who checks off all the qualifications boxes.
  • Err on the side of asking uncomfortable questions. Pushing our assumptions and biases in a respectful way is a critical part of fostering change in a good way.
  • Consider using return-ship programs to recruit women who might be interested in returning to the workforce after taking a life-detour for example.
  • Sympathy and words are not enough. Actions will speak more loudly.
  • Alignment of thoughts, words and actions is an imperative if you want others to genuinely below in the commitment to the diversity cause.
  • Consider leveraging an internship program with diverse candidates and hiring graduates from these programs.
  • Hire the best candidate, the best athlete for the role.
  • Put your neck on the line if you need to. Making a stand for a candidate who delivers will speak volumes for yourself, for the candidate, and hopefully for your bottom line.
  • Build the self confidence of all your candidates, whether they are from diverse or more standard backgrounds.

The bottom line is that these men truly open doors for others in all senses of the word. Their integrity, their passion, their results shine through, inspiring us by example, and highlighting successes worthy of replication.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 11 Men Who Open Doors program, our hosts at Coupa Software and our nominating professionals.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Chris Allexandre, Senior Vice President & Executive, Renesas  
  • Panelist Ronald Goossens, Senior Director of Marketing, ASML 
  • Panelist Gabe Perez, VP Coupa West Sales, Coupa Software
  • Panelist Sajid Sadi, Vice President of Research, Head – Think Tank Team, Samsung
  • Panelist Nathan Sheranian, Senior Director Human Resources, Freshworks 
  • with opening remarks provided by Sheryl Chamberlain, Director Alliances, Coupa Software, Board Chair Coupa Empower