Category Archives: Blogging

Looking back on 2017

2017 was a whirlwind year. As this new one is well underway, I’d love to share some of the things that made last year exciting.

First, check out this video from the Dublin Tech Summit of my talk on Predicting Behavior in an Age of Uncertainty. It was an honor to be there to speak.

I felt fortunate to participate in some other wonderful events as well, including as a roundable host for the 2017 Watermark Conference for Women, as a judge in the Startup100 Pitch Competition, as a panelist for the MoNage Conference, and as a panelist at Enterprise Connect.

Writing remains a passion. Here’s where and what I published in 2017:

On LinkedIn:

2016 Predictions Redux, and Foreshadowing 2017

Celebrating a More Intelligent Enterprise

The Vast Value of Good Advisors

Women: To Get Ahead, Compete

Get Your Head in the Cloud

My Game-Changing Career Moment

It Shouldn’t Be Lonely at the Top

Women, Tech IS for You

Honored to be Included: Top 25 Women Leaders in SaaS

People before Process: How to Keep Your Staff

Hitting “Refresh” on What It Means to Lead

On Fortune:

Success Is Still a ‘Boys’ Club,’ but Here’s What Women Can Do About It

Why You’re Not Really Working If You’re Home in Your Pajamas

On the RingCentral Blog:

Revisiting 2016 Predictions and Looking Ahead to 2017

Driving Multinational Growth with Unified Communications and Collaboration

RingCentral Connect Platform Partner Program: Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow

On Huffington Post:

The Value of Gatherings among Women

Kicking off 2018, please check out my piece, The Year AI Becomes Pervasive, on LinkedIn.

The Year AI Becomes Pervasive

Looking back at 2017, it is clear that AI arrived. One development that I found particularly intriguing was when a machine, Libratus, beat four of the world’s top poker players in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Considering the nuances of the game of poker in which the machine has to learn how to account for things like bluffing, it is an amazing feat of technology that Libratus could be the success that it was so quickly. The implications of Libratus for things like stock trading are significant. On a more personal level, 2017 saw the advent of AI radiologists at Stanford offering diagnoses gleaned from “studying” multitudes of chest x-rays. This algorithm, CheXNet, is able to diagnose pneumonia better than radiologists at the top of their field. It is a wonderful thing to see AI being embraced increasingly by the medical community, which is often slower to accept change, as AI stands to reduce medical errors significantly, prolonging and saving more lives as a result.

Looking ahead at 2018, this will be the year in which AI becomes even more pervasive. Based on the examples above and many others that unfolded last year, it is evident that the groundwork has been laid for AI to become more ingrained in every facet of our lives, from healthcare to gameplay to work. Part of what’s ahead this year will be the use of AI to deliver more contextual information. One way in which this will come about is via the increased use of voice assistants, as AI helpers like Alexa will move with you from your home to your office. Voice activated business interfaces is just the beginning of seeing conversational modalities interoperate, become smarter, powered by natural language processing, instant transcription, and continuous machine learning. I call this “apps that learn.”ᵀᴹ Business users will need to switch context less and will have their applications surface to them what matters most via these conversational interfaces, streamlining and improving work environments yet further.

As AI continues to grow, expand, and take over, it will be exciting to watch which industries adapt to it most readily. It will also be important to watch how cybersecurity responds to this growth, with new frontiers to protect. Being mindful of our own ethics will matter a lot, too. For example, this report in November 2017 from AI Now “takes an unblinking look at a tech industry racing to reshape society along AI lines without any guarantee of reliable and fair results.” As exciting as the path ahead is for the ongoing ingraining of AI into every facet of our lives, it won’t be uncomplicated, and new ground will need to be forged with regard to holding those who make and use it accountable.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn on February 1, 2018.

How Do You Entertain Yourself?

This summer, I’ve noticed a shift in my consumption of entertainment. With longer days at hand alongside some vacation time, I’ve enjoyed exploring the entertainment options available to me, largely media delivered through my laptop or my iPad. Didn’t everyone used to plop down on the couch with one person wielding the remote control, bringing up the cable menu and debating about what to watch? Nowadays in my family’s house, our TV is rarely on, with the exceptions being Warriors games, the Super Bowl, and the Oscars. Instead, sometimes we sit on the couch next to each other with each of us watching programming of our choosing on our own devices. Sometimes my husband will be watching one miniseries while I stream another. It feels as though we each have our own channels with our own preferences. I’m wondering: does anyone rely on traditional “programming” anymore?

The whole notion of watching TV together has changed. The differentiation of everything is possible now, and a lot of the programming delivered is handled in such a way that content is king. No one binge watches movies, which are a complete experience in 2.5 hours. Instead, we have the ongoing experience of lengthy seasons of shows ranging from politics, like House of Cards, to history like The Tudors, to fantasy, like Game of Thrones, that we can watch and re-watch from the convenience of our devices. The experience of watching the latest season is akin to the hype that builds for a new movie, but it’s not just a one-time experience: it repeats, week after week, until the season is complete. If you’re like me, you binge-watch more on weekends or vacation time, at your own convenience, no longer beholden to a specific viewing time or place or to DVRs, which I believe will soon become as obsolete as VHS and even DVD players. We want our leisure viewing to be delivered on-demand when it’s convenient and desirable for us, and entertainment providers have delivered.

To me, this shift in entertainment consumption in favor of our comfort and convenience is akin to the shift I see in the workforce in favor of the same. Increasingly mobile, flexible workforces seek to maximize their workday alongside maximizing their flexibility  for the rest of their life or lifestyle, including leisure time pursuits like watching the latest miniseries. Flexibility is the wave of the 21st century, and I believe we’ll be seeing more and more entertainment trends catering to our desire to have what we want to watch or to play at our fingertips when we’re ready, wherever we are.

2016 Wrap-up

Since posting this summer reading list in August, I’ve been rounding out the year with some more thought pieces, many of the themes of which will carry forward into the New Year. Here’s what I’ve shared in publications recently:

On Fortune Insider:

Never Let a Know-It-All Mentor You

The First Step to Building a Strong Personal Brand

On LinkedIn:

Why I Seek My Own Counsel: #AdviceThatSticks

5 Tips for Surviving Your First Start-Up

An #OpenLetter to Leaders of Modern Workplaces

My #BestWorkDay Balances Productivity and Creativity

The Value of Qualitative Questions

On the Huffington Post:

Why It Was So Worth It to Stick with STEAM

On CBS Pulse:

Tackling the Lack of Gender Diversity in Tech Leadership

Also, my alma mater, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, ran a lovely profile on me in December here.

2016 has been a challenging year for many people and companies, let alone for our country, and I believe that 2017 will bring even more change. As I write in the New Year, I’ll be focused on change as I write about innovation, diversity in technology leadership, entrepreneurship, and more. Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season.

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.