Category Archives: Blogging

Summer Reading: Recent Publications

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down! Many of you are prepping for back-to-school as others are gearing up for one last vacation before hitting the ground running this fall. It’s been a while since I updated my recent publications, and, especially because some of these might be relevant to your autumn plans, I cobbled together this reading list for your poolside perusal. Enjoy!

For your Inspiration:

More Women of Inspiration

Passion and Purpose at the Forbes Women’s Summit

Helpful Advice:

Four Considerations when Plotting a Career Move

Five Ways to Get Your Ideas Heard

If I Were 22: Five Things I’d Do with Hindsight

Four Filters for Choosing Co-Founders

Ideas to Improve your Workplace:

Ways to Advance and Maintain Diversity in our Workplaces

My Ideal Workplace Blends a Culture of Results + Risk-Taking

Best Practices for Better Pay Equity

Nine Ways to Combat Unconscious Bias in Hiring

Three Characteristics of a Great Team

Food for Thought:

Your iPhone as a Matter of National Security

Imagining IoT in 2025

Collaboration Is the New Communication

Voice Interfaces Are the Next Big Thing

Silicon Valley is the Next Hollywood

5 Resolutions to Restore Body & Soul


Best Practices for Better Pay Equity

A handful of recent events exposing gender-based pay inequity has seemed to bring the  issue into the headlines to stay.  A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported on House of Cards star Robin Wright’s battle with Netflix to negotiate pay on par with that of her male co-star, Kevin Spacey. Last month, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team alleged pay discrimination in a complaint they filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission highlighting striking salary and bonus differences between the hugely successful women’s soccer team and the markedly less successful men’s team. And the plight of high-profile women CEOs like Marissa Meyer and Ursula Burns — who stepped down from Xerox a few days ago — suggests that the shrinking ranks of Fortune 500 women CEOs will soon shrink even further. Today, there are only 19. If that number is any kind of bellwether for pay equity, it’s not encouraging. The time is long overdue for leveling the playing field between women’s and men’s pay, now and forever — not only for movie stars and on the soccer pitch, but in corporate boardrooms and everywhere in between.

It’s likely that your own company has a pay equity issue. Most do. In 2015, there was a 21% pay gap between women’s earnings and men’s, meaning that for every dollar a man made, a woman made only 79 cents for the same work. Whether you’re leading a company or on the lowest rung of the totem pole working for one, and whether you are a woman or a man, this is an issue that affects you. The sentiment in your workplace is at stake. To create a culture of fairness and respect, and to maintain a happy and productive workforce, Jane cannot be making less than John. Workers talk. If you are not paying equally, they will know. And they will not be motivated to do their best work if they are being treated unequally. I don’t doubt that discrimination complaints will be on the rise with national attention on this issue. So, what can you do?

For starters, make sure that you pay both women and men fairly for the work they perform. Equal pay is not just about equal wages, either. Make sure to count bonuses, performance payments, and discretionary pay, too. Put in place best practices to ensure successful pay equity. Five specific ideas include:

  • Have transparent policies and practices in place with regard to pay structures.
  • Audit those policies regularly to make sure that, even inadvertently, your company is not paying workers unequally for equal work. I admire how Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and SVP Leyla Seka are spearheading efforts at their 10,000+ person company to track pay across gender to ensure fairness.
  • Consider flexible and mobile work arrangements and how those will help all people at your company to succeed and to thrive better. It is my gut-feel that with more gender balance in the workplace, pay inequity will cease. This has everything to do with attracting and maintaining a diverse workforce.
  • Combat unconscious bias in hiring in order to secure that diverse workforce. Getting things right from the start of the process of staffing your company is critical. Describe jobs fairly. Hire accordingly. Pay based on the skills sought and decide that as much as possible before even interviewing candidates.

These are some ideas to move toward the only acceptable solution of equal pay for equal work. Money isn’t everything, though. In fact, I credit my own success in part to focusing less on pay and more on opportunities and goals. After all, success isn’t only defined in terms of a bank account.

A friend saw Abby Wambach, former FIFA women’s World Cup champion and two-time Olympic medalist and U.S. coach, speak on soccer’s pay equity case recently. When asked what she’d do differently, Abby said she’d have asked for more earlier on in her career. She’d have raised her hand, asked specific questions with regard to the numbers involved, pushed for more when she was winning. But we’re not all emboldened by a national — or international — stage like Abby. As a woman leader in tech, this is my moment to spearhead, to ask the difficult questions, to pursue equity in every way. Especially for young women in tech, we have to make sure that you’re coming to us on a level playing field with the men, whether you’re playing soccer or building an interface or practicing medicine. Pay inequality is everywhere, but it doesn’t have to take us until 2059 to achieve pay equality. We can ensure a better and more diverse workplace by acting now.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn on June 27, 2016.

Five Ways to Get Your Ideas Heard

As an EVP of Innovation, I know that having the latest and greatest technology stems from the ability of my team to bring forth the ideas that make our technology cutting-edge. With a variety of backgrounds and personalities on a team, it’s important for me as a leader to be able to tune in to even the quietest, most introverted team member. Along with that, I aim to instill in my teams the tools for them to advocate for things that are important to them. Sometimes they have great ideas, and the success of those ideas is only as great as their ability to have those ideas heard. These skills can be learned. As such, here are Five Ways to Get Your Ideas Heard:

Make sure your idea is relevant. Know your company’s priorities, and focus on ways that you can improve upon those priorities. Do your research and be prepared to present reasons regarding how your idea will help to advance innovation at your company. This may be a big idea regarding a new technical avenue for the whole venture or a small suggestion about how to foster better interactions among employees. Know your audience and tailor your message appropriately.

Have reasons “why” and “why not.” Selling your idea can’t be focused solely on what it can do to help the company or the product progress. Consider both benefits and risks. When someone brings me an idea, they are often excited to talk about from where the idea came and what it can do to make the world a better place. When I ask the reasons that we should not pursue the idea, though, too often that question hasn’t been considered, or only financial impact has been considered. Considering risk isn’t a negative. It’s a sign that an employee is being thoughtful and thorough, which is critically important to the success of an idea.

Be excited, not nervous. Passion is everything. When my employees have innovative ideas, I want to hear them. When they are tentative and nervous, it becomes easy to doubt their commitment to their idea. There is no hiding passion. It becomes infectious and a force that drives a lot of great work and change. People will buy into ideas a lot sooner and deeper as excitement launches, builds, and sustains something new.

Use action verbs. Be succinct, direct, and do not soften your presentation with words like “I think” or “I believe.” I’d rather hear “this will make a difference because” than “I think this will make a difference.” If you have a great idea, you have contemplated the impact. Sell it with confidence.

Let it go. Your idea is your gift to your team or company, and you have to be willing to let it go from your grasp in order for it to become more successful than if you were to continue working on it alone. Let others expand on your idea or even modify it as appropriate. Or, if your idea falls flat, let that go, too. Not every idea is going to be a winning one. Don’t let that deter you from making the effort to present it, though.

The best, most innovative ideas come from those who are willing to take the risk to make the suggestion — and, when they do, they’re ready to present their ideas in a well-researched, passionate, effective way. This is how great ideas are heard best. A lot of hard work goes into coming up with ideas to present in the first place, and that’s a skill I try to find in employees I hire: curiosity and passion for inventiveness. Great innovation flows from great, effective team players who know how to advocate for change.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on June 16, 2016.

If I Were 22: Five Things I’d Do with Hindsight

They say hindsight is 20/20. Given the benefit of looking back, if I were 22 and fresh out of college again, I’d give myself some valuable advice, including:

Do what you want to do. Truth be told, I always lived my life this way. I pursued what I wanted to pursue from a very young age. I didn’t worry about who I was gender-wise, and my parents raised me in a gender-neutral way. Women shouldn’t avoid roles they consider to be primarily male, nor vice-versa. Your passion for doing what you love will be part of what breaks stereotypes in the long run.

Pick a path and stick to it (unless your intention is to experiment). You have to invest a lot of time and energy to get really good at what you do, and that’s how you get someplace with your career. Early on, things are rarely easy. Be forewarned: if something looks like a low-hanging fruit, it probably is. Don’t go for “easy.” Go for a consistent direction, ideally trending upward. You may have to compromise sometimes, but you have to have your goals and remain true to them. Think long-term. Keep your eyes on your goals and work hard to get there.

Focus less on compensation/money and more on your experience. You should definitely advocate for your fair pay. At the same time, pay shouldn’t be the only reason you take a job. Focus on what you want to do and on becoming successful in what you believe you have talent in. If you pursue that, money will come. To be successful in title or in salary, you have to be able to believe you’re doing the right thing. Sometimes the tradeoff for pay is valuable experience that will lead toward what you want to do. It’s not as simple as dollars equating to work-satisfaction or to success. Ask for what you can ask for, compensation-wise, but be mindful of how that sits in the big picture of achieving your dreams — which hopefully aren’t only money-focused. At only 22, you have a lot of years to fill, and you’ll fill them best if they’re fulfilling, which is not only money-related.

Balance your time. When I became a mom, I subconsciously feared saying “I have to go and pick up my son” or “I have to take my son to the doctor today.” I was worried that I’d be perceived as somehow less committed to my work if I had family obligations. In retrospect, that’s ridiculous; family needs are a part of everyone’s lives. Having a great work life and a great family life are doable more than ever know with flexible, mobile tools in-hand to work from anywhere. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to be “always on,” but, when unexpected things arise, it is a great convenience to be able to juggle our lives a little more seamlessly thanks to handy tools.

Be yourself, and believe in yourself. Successful people will tell you that there is no “fake it ‘til you make it.” There are all sorts of resources on how to do things like someone else did in order to climb the ladder faster and higher, and those will not help you as much as all things described above that are unique to you: do what you want to do, pick your path and stick to it, stay experience-focused, and balance your time with regard to all things that matter in your life. Believe that you are worth a good career and a good life, and make choices reflective of that. When you do those things, that’s how you will not only get ahead but also is how you’ll feel good about yourself while doing it.

We all have our own unique life experiences, and no one person’s journey can be a roadmap for someone else’s. By sharing my own personal insights, I hope that I’ve shed some light that might help some young women, especially, consider their many options. The best advice I can give is to listen to your gut. Mine has often spoken loudest in both best- and worst-case scenarios, even at “only” 22.

This post originally appeared on Linkedin on May 16, 2016.

More Women of Inspiration

While the news frequently (and rightly) covers the significant gender divide in high tech, there are no shortage of high-impact women leaders. When we celebrate these women who are doing amazing things in positions of high tech leadership, I believe the industry will be a lot more attractive to future generations of women.

If I were to gather a group of women leaders to serve as role models to today’s college-aged women who are aspiring to careers in high tech, whom would I choose? A year ago, I wrote about five women of inspiration: Donna Horton Novitsky, Amal Johnson, Victoria Treyger, Heidi Roizen, and Leyla Seka. This year, I would like to pay homage to five more Women of Inspiration whom I am fortunate to know, including:

Janice Durbin Chaffin: Janice has over 30 years of high tech experience. She led Norton’s consumer security business to over $2B in revenues with 2000+ employees while demonstrating revenue growth for 17 straight quarters. She also served as the first Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Symantec and, as part of their C-suite team, helped to grow Symantec from $1B to $6B in revenue. Prior to that, at HP, she was a founding member of the HP9000 enterprise server business and later became the P&L responsible general manager of the $5B+ business with over 4000 employees worldwide. She now serves on the Boards of Synopsys,, and PTC. Janice is known for her skill in developing executive and management talent. I also know her to be amazingly good at connecting people.

Nancy Schoendorf: Nancy was one of the first female venture capitalists. She is now Partner Emeritus at Mohr Davidow, which she joined in 1993. Prior to joining Mohr Davidow, she had 17 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at HP where she ran operating systems projects including HP-UX and its real-time extensions as engineering section manager. She serves on the boards of Shuttefly, Infusionsoft,, NOMi, Panasas, and 1to1 Venture Partners. Nancy and I have something rare in common: she and I both studied Computer Science as undergraduates at a time when it was highly unusual for women to do so. I met Nancy the first time I was raising money as an entrepreneur and was impressed with how well she listened and how easy it was to share my thoughts and ideas with her.

Carol Carpenter: Carol is CEO of ElasticBox, an end-to-end DevOps solution that enables continuous delivery of apps to any cloud. She has over 20 years of tech leadership experience including as CMO of ClearSlide before ElasticBox. She serves on the Board of Dice Holdings. Carol’s lifelong passion is to deliver innovative products that transform businesses. Carol credits another amazing woman, Barbara Cardillo, the VP of Product Marketing at Apple Computer, for inspiring her career in high tech leadership, citing Barbara’s focus on the importance of integrity, authenticity, and empathy as a leader.  Carol has a “take no prisoners” attitude.  She is right there with her team, leading and supporting them.

Claudia Fan Munce: Claudia founded the Venture Capital Group at IBM, where she served for over 30 years. Now she is a Venture Advisor for NEA. She is a board member of the National Venture Capital Association, chairwoman of the board of Global Corporate Venturing, board member of Bank of the West / BNP Paribas, board member of Best Buy, and an advisory board member of numerous other global venture capital organizations. She is a pioneer thought leader in the corporate venture community and is widely published in that realm. Claudia has opened up IBM doors for many young companies to help them find their way to the right channels within IBM.

Yoky Matsuoka: Yoky is a robotics expert with a PhD from MIT. She co-founded Google’s X Lab and is the former head of technology for Nest. This year, Yoky joined Apple to help further the company’s wellness initiatives, including HealthKit, ResearchKit, and CareKit. I met Yoky when we appeared on a panel together at Haas and was impressed right away by her extreme intelligence. News reported that just as she was poised to take a significant role at Twitter last year, she battled a life-threatening illness. What an inspiration she is to have come back from that to lead wellness initiatives at Apple!  The first time you meet Yoky, you know that she is a brilliant technologist and innovator.

These ten women all together form an impressive group with whom I’d love to have a dinner table conversation about the future. I’d ask these women for their thoughts on gender-neutral workplaces, and I’d also ask them how they’d encourage future generations of women to follow in our footsteps.

What questions would you ask this group, and who would you add to the list?

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on May 9, 2016.

Your iPhone As a Matter of National Security

It’s all over the news: the federal government “cracked” the iPhone. Or did it?  Tech industry followers know that conspiracy theories are abundant. Maybe Apple actually cooperated with the government through some back-door deal. Or maybe there actually are hackers working for the government who did hack the iPhone. In that case, if the iPhone can be hacked, what does this say about Apple’s security? These are only some of the theories and worries that are going around.

As a multi-time tech founder, I can’t emphasize enough how much I care about security. It is paramount. If a company can’t assure customers that their data and devices are secure, they won’t be a company for very long. Customers care a lot about having cool technology, but they care more about their rights to security and privacy. That’s why this battle over iPhone security matters a lot beyond conspiracy theories. People are going to need to know the full, true story of what happened as well as how it happened in order to feel that their devices and data are safe.

What trumps concerns about the safety of data and devices, though, are concerns about the safety of people. One of the most important roles of governments everywhere is to keep people safe. Terrorism is a real threat. Protecting people from terrorist acts requires some latitude when it comes to accessing devices. Tech companies have a responsibility to cooperate with the government in these situations. The government has a right to intercept communications between bad guys — period. This does not mean that government should have carte blanche access to devices and data. Yet during this war on terrorism, it is critical to err on the side of overreach rather than under-reach. People’s very lives are at stake. I have to trust that elected officials will put security measures in the form of laws into place to protect us all from potential government abuse of this power to access information. We have needed this access and these protections during every war. The war on terrorism must be treated the same as a war against any enemy if we are to remain safe.

Cooperation between tech companies and governments is critical in these cases because the only other option — hacking — is extremely dangerous, just as terrorists are. I believe that hackers should be punished severely. They should not be employed by our government to hack phones or anything else. Hacking is too uncontrollable, which is why Apple not providing a backdoor into its phones is so very important, actually. Their phones should not be hackable. That’s not to say that there should not be an access point from which companies and governments can cooperate to fight this war, but it shouldn’t be a hackable back door. For any government that relies on its people to trust them to look out for their well-being,  the inherent dishonesty of hacking has to be avoided.

The fact that our government bragged about cracking the iPhone reflects poorly on both our government and on Apple. This situation could have been handled quietly, but now millions of consumers will be petrified that their iPhones are unsafe. This is the very definition of a lose/lose situation. The government may have gotten the access it sought, but it did so at way too high of a price. Anything connecting the word “hacking” to our government is just a bad idea.

I hope that the full story of what happened here comes to light and that it does, in fact, involve cooperation that was eleventh-hour and spun poorly in the press. The other option — that the iPhone was hacked, whether or not by the government — is a pretty hard one to stomach. We won’t be able to imprison hackers who are up to no good if we are also employing them to the same end. In the interest of safety, tightly-regulated cooperation — not hacking — is essential for our most secure future, from the perspectives of tech companies, users, and governments alike.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on April 7, 2016.

Impressions from the Wall Street Journal’s Women in Technology panel: Ways to Advance and Maintain Diversity in our Workplaces

Earlier this week, I attended a dinner and panel discussion hosted by the Wall Street Journal on the topic of Women in Technology. Moderated by Nikki Waller, the Journal‘s Global Management Editor, the program featured a panel of senior leaders discussing their companies’ strategies regarding challenges affecting women in technology today. Industry-led insights from the McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org Women in the Workplace research study were presented during the evening as well. Panelists included Padma Warrior, Chief Development Officer and U.S. CEO, NextEV; Carl Bass, President and CEO, Autodesk; Elissa Steele, CEO, Jive Software; and Eric Kutcher, Managing Partner, Western Region Americas, McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company Partner, Lareina Yee, led a Q&A session as well.

As someone who writes and speaks often on the subjects of diversity and of women in technology, especially those in leadership, I attended in hopes of gathering ongoing ideas for how to encourage more young women to pursue careers in technology. As RingCentral’s EVP of Innovation, I try to keep an ear to the ground not just for technological innovation but also for innovative ways to attract, retain, and advance the most outstanding and diverse workforce possible. To that end, something Carl Bass said resonated deeply with me. He offered that as a CEO, his job involves making lots of important decisions each day — yet the longer he serves as a CEO, the more he realizes that his leadership is more about setting the tone of the company’s culture than it is about making decisions. He wonders why many women start careers in technology then leave as well as about where they go afterward.  He believes, as do I, that CEOs can set up a culture in which women are more likely not only to succeed, but, most importantly, to stay. Statistics offered by McKinsey support the payoff for that retention, too; the rate attrition of women in senior positions in tech is only 7%, lower than the 10% rate for men.

My own sense is that the key to retaining all people, not just women, in the workforce is to offer mobile and flexible workplace solutions. This makes me especially proud of our company, as that’s what our technology enables people to do. Ours are gender-neutral solutions, and those solutions extend from the tools RingCentral offers to how I run my business. Right now, among my direct reports, I have no young women, but I do have some young men with young families. Theirs is a life that has to have some flexibility built-in so that they don’t feel like they’re compromising their lives for their work. I don’t want them missing their kids’ games or field trips because that’s the kind of stuff that creates an unhappiness in employees that can’t be offset by even the best of jobs. What I want to do is give them the tools to succeed from wherever they need to work that day. As long as their work gets done, in-office face-time doesn’t matter as much to me. Personally, I go beyond that. If I need to talk to one of them on a weekend, for example, I’ll ask them what time works for them. I may be the boss, and this may inconvenience me a bit – but if it makes for happier staff, it’s a small sacrifice to make in the interest of retaining these really good, really hard workers.

When it comes to women, specifically, I feel strongly that they have to see women in positions of leadership from the moment they walk in the door so that their path is clear. Padma Warrior shared something along these lines as well. Her company is private presently, but she shared her commitment to making her board 50/50 men/women when it does become public. As women leaders, we receive calls often asking us to join boards “because they really need a woman.” Elissa Steele feels as frustrated by this as I do. She indicated that she wants go get that call because of her talent, not because of her gender. Elissa is mindful of the combination of talent and diversity on her own board, which boasts two women, and she mentioned hoping for a third. Whether at 2 or 3, that amount of women on a board is statistically high for Silicon Valley. Elissa’s management team also includes her head of people, also a woman, and Elissa cited the importance of putting the person in charge of compensation alongside her at the helm of her ship.

Attention to pay equity came up a bit in this panel discussion, and the consensus of the panel was that men are far more likely than women to ask for better compensation and for raises. This served as a reminder to me that fairness has to be based on something other than who asks. Maternity and paternity leave came up as well – another gender-neutral approach any company can take – with Carl emphasizing how unnecessary it is for people to be physically in the office. What matters is that they achieve results. He gave an example of how it’s great for young staffers to be able to play foosball in the break-room at 10 pm, but that’s not for everyone – especially those who need to head home to families. Flexible hours came up as important again and again.

Advancing more women into technology workplaces isn’t the only key to having a diverse staff, though. Diversity includes race, gender, and more, and it also needs to include those of different natures. Carl shared an example of introverts and extroverts as equally important to team diversity. This made me wonder if companies like Google, who screen for personalities, are looking for this sort of thing. It’s something I’ll be mindful of as I continue to team-build. Padma feels strongly that attention to diversity in every form has to drive the hiring process, not the other way around, something with which I agree.

It’s my belief that the key to attracting as well as to retaining good employees across a diverse spectrum is that idea of culture — especially when leaders create a culture that inspires employees to be better than they already are. This means challenging them by making the work interesting. An important part of that challenge is trusting them to do the work flexibly as needed. I’ve found this brings the best out in my staff, women and men alike. The panelists echoed much the same: that a mobile workforce with flexibility will be key to securing more women in positions of technology leadership. This makes me especially proud to be part of a company offering solutions accommodating this important workplace need.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on March 24, 2016.