Tag Archives: tech

At Cloud Expo This Past Week

I was part of a keynote at the Cloud Expo event this past week. The event brings together industry executives and technology vendors from across the market. It’s an excellent resource for anyone interested in gaining insight and seeing the latest innovations in cloud technology. Thank you to Cloud Expo for having me be part of the event this year.




Being A Gender Neutral Leader

Not long ago I shared insight about the value of creating a gender neutral organization, and how to do so in your business. As part, I referenced that a large part of this relies at the top-level, led first by example but also through effort and tactics. It beings with the leader, and means adopting a leadership style that does not view staff by gender, but by talent, experience and value. In a business world where ‘male’ and ‘female’ have had clear, defined lines — and the fact that there are can be differences in how men and women do business — it may not feel natural or instinctive to remove gender from the picture. But in doing so, leaders hold not just a great potential to better manage and drive companies overall, but unlock a great benefit to the business that both men and women bring to the job.

Here’s how to adopt a more gender neutral leadership style in your organization:

  1. Recognize talent first — Talent and skills are something that everyone regardless of gender possess. View your entire organization and everyone from this vantage point first. It might take extra or careful thought, but the value in doing so is more than worth it. Watch and evaluate how every person operates in your business and get to know each at this level first.
  2. Ignore your own gender — Gender neutral doesn’t just mean how you see and treat others. It’s also in how you see yourself and interact. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to start adopting the ways or activities of the opposite sex. Rather, operate and lead with your own talent first. By making your own gender second, you’ll increase your chances of acting and reacting gender neutral among your teams and staff — and show them how to do so as well.
  3. Be prepared — Gender neutral leadership doesn’t mean you won’t have instances where gender is a factor. Men and women by design have different ways of handling things, communicating or expressing emotion, etc. — and that goes for leaders as well. Get clear on how you want to handle any issues that arise, including giving yourself time to determine course of action if needed should any situations with teams and staff happen.

Managing Employee (and Your Own) Burnout

We often hear about the exciting, invigorating and fun elements of owning a startup business. In reality, startup business can mean a great deal of stress, strain, fears, and a range of other challenges for entrepreneurs and executives. This only increases as companies attempt to reach critical outcomes, be it funding, scaling, IPO, acquisition or pivot. Burnout and other challenges are very real, and have the potential to hurt the company and staff if gone without notice or addressed. But as with any issues at a company, this can also be managed — even avoided — with a few specific steps.

First, understanding that both you and your staff can get run down or overwhelmed is an important part. That doesn’t mean you want to see personal days and time off escalate — but knowing it can happen can go a long way in successfully avoiding and managing it in your organization. Second, keeping in tune with yourself and your team is key. Have you been working 14 hour days for several days in a row? Is your staff regularly waking up early to tackle issues or problems, on top of the typical 8-10 hour day? While this can be common at a startup company, no one (not even you!) can sustain or endure it long-range, no matter how great the benefit might be once the work is done. By noticing fatigue and other issues at their onset, you can better assess and work around them.

Third, set the pace for yourself and all in the organization. You absolutely need to work hard, and get work done. But working hard and getting work done does not necessarily mean a frenetic, stressful pace is required. It can mean extra hours or time at work during crunch times or development pushes, but it can often mean a need for more streamlined or realistic expectations and processes. Keep an eye on how things are going, and what it might take to complete projects, at all times.

Last, you want to make the job easier where you can. That doesn’t mean installing a foosball table to give everyone a chance to have fun and improve morale. Rather, ask yourself and your staff what might help relieve stress, strain or prevent burnout — it might be as simple as shifting work hours to a different format than the traditional 9-5, hiring an assistant to handle personal tasks and errands, or other unexpected means to solve the problem.


The Huffington Post This Past Week

I’ve shared thoughts about how colleges can grow women participation in computer science programs this past week on The Huffington Post. I was among the early group of women to participate in a university science program years ago at Berkeley. It’s led to so many wonderful opportunities and experiences. I’d love to see more people enter the field, including women. You can read the article here.

Great Startup Events And Opportunities

I graduated from Berkeley, one of the first universities in the country to draw women into computer science years ago. It regularly includes a lot of great startup events of all kinds on its website for entrepreneurs, innovators, executives, students and more. The listings include both at the school campus as well as throughout the country. The value of attending events can go far beyond learning to connecting with peers, new opportunities and more. You can view its ongoing startup events and other listings here

Building A Great Engineering Team Large Or Small

If there is one thing technology and the internet have shown us all is the value of adapting. Legacy retail business is a great example — there have been some traditional brick-and-mortar companies that have struggled or shut down, but overall the retail industry as a whole has significantly benefited from the advent of innovation and the web.

But while most businesses today must utilize technology to the advantage in some way, doing so is another story. A particular pain point for virtually any organization is in how to select, hire and manage engineers, and build engineering teams that have the power and knowledge to get the job done. However, it can be more efficient and successful than it seems. A few strategies that can help:

  1. Know what you want — With technology, it can be hard to know how to make the things you want or need, but that does not change that you can be clear on what you need or want. Take time to have a sense of your technology needs or vision long before you begin the hiring process. It’ll help you better communicate and drive your technology or innovation needs, and put you in a stronger position to lead and direct those you bring on board for the job.
  2. Do the homework — The internet can be a powerful tool for learning about technology. While you do not have to become an expert in the field, taking a little time to do some research into what you feel you need or want can be an asset as you seek engineering talent. It can be as easy as typing a few keywords on a search engine and taking notes. If nothing more, it’ll help you have a stronger sense of what you want or need, and in some cases, assist in finding the right type of engineering help.
  3. Seek the right talent — Explore your options for job boards and other talent resources before placing your ads. While certain resources for finding hires and talent might be great in one area, there are many that attract and focus specifically on niches including technology and engineering. Ask peers, look around a bit, or consider working with a speciality staffing firm or head hunter — it can be worth it by finding qualified individuals for your position or team. Once interviewing, be sure to ask candidates about their process, how they report or communicate work, if they’ve structured projects in the past, work style and other elements beyond their technology skills and background.
  4. Set the perimeters — You may not be the technology expert in your organization, but you are essentially the ‘boss.’ Think about and establish what your needs are in terms of how team members communicate specifics, report on progress, provide in meetings, etc. before you hire. In doing so you will be able to set expectations and structure essential to your technology project.
  5. Be involved and engaged — Once your engineering team is in place, stay active, involved and engaged with them and their work at all times. Ask questions, read the reports and other updates they provide, keep an eye on budget, schedules, timelines and progress. You may not be a technology expert, but basic management and business skills still apply with leading and overseeing your technology team and project.

On Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has been an important issue since the advent of the commercial internet, and definitely a topic to watch. A recent New York Times article recaps comments left to the FCC this past month. It’s an interesting read into how the public feels about the topic — not surprising, 99% of those who commented support protecting the open internet. You can read the full article here.