Monthly Archives: May 2015

Secrets to Putting Together a Winning Team

CA_Ericsson_Strelar-Migotti-220x300Featuring Maya Strelar-Migotti, VP Development Unit IP and Head of Ericsson Silicon Valley Site, Ericsson

“The density of super smart people that work in Silicon Valley almost forces you to become humble,” says Maya Strelar-Migotti, head of Ericsson Silicon Valley and a Watermark board member. “While there really is no room for arrogance here, there is plenty of room for our workplaces to become more diverse.” When shaping and managing her teams, she follows what she calls the “80-10-10 rule.”

Smart Formula

“Eighty percent is about being results oriented,” Strelar-Migotti explains. “The dynamics of business require change so I want people on my team who are not only delivering, but who are also staring down change everyday.”

In her 28-year run with Ericsson, she has never shied away from surrounding herself with people who have talents and skill-sets unique to her own. This mindset shapes the next 10 percent of her formula.

“I always consider how someone on my team or someone that I’m considering bringing on to my team complements me while also compensating for my weaknesses,” says Strelar-Migotti, who studied electrical engineering and first worked in software design.

The final piece of Strelar-Migotti’s recruiting/management puzzle factors in how an individual will work and co-exist within the confines of the entire team.

“It is extremely important that there are different ideas and contrasting points of view,” she says. “These are the ingredients that create energy, but it’s a careful balance. It requires humility and a willingness to make sacrifices. If people can’t build bridges then you risk dysfunction and, believe me, there is nothing worse.”

Women on the Front Line

Her emphasis on diversity is also about including women. “Promoting diversity and women in leadership is my true passion,” says Strelar-Migotti, who serves on Ericsson’s global diversity and inclusion council and speaks Spanish and Swedish as well as English and Croatian (her native tongue). “We’ve come such a long way. Twenty years ago, no one was even talking about gender diversity programs.”

She credits Ericsson’s current CEO, Hans Vestberg, for accelerating such programs and making diversity a focal point for his leadership team.

“Hans has created an environment that is much stronger for women leaders at Ericsson,” she said. We are trying to capture everything that we’ve learned and foster a workplace that supports emerging leaders from all walks of life. I’m proud to be a part of this global transformation and thankful for those that gave me a chance all those years ago.”

More Career Advice from Strelar-Migotti

On failure: “Don’t dwell on it, but don’t forget what you learned either.”

On management: “A constant battle between what to do and what not to do.”

On mentors: “It is extremely important that they fit within your career path and not the other way around.”

On leaning in: “Yes, yes, yes! Develop thick skin and don’t allow the idiots to decide the course of your life.”

On what’s really important: “Not the job titles. It’s fulfillment in life.”

Sponsored by:

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Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership

Cultivating a Work Culture of Innovation

MA_Boston-Scientific-270x300By Jennifer Veilleux, Sr. Manager, Corporate Citizenship, Boston Scientific Corporation

While people may traditionally think innovation only happens in a science lab or at the desk of an engineer, innovation has become ubiquitous. In today’s business environment, every employee is expected to innovate. Innovation isn’t just inventing or improving products—innovation is thinking beyond the expected to improve all aspects of business. In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” At Boston Scientific, we never settle for the status quo.  Meaningful innovation is a core value, and we live it every day in many different ways.

A Unique Brainstorming Challenge

The Boston Scientific Women’s Network, which promotes the professional development of women to enable them to thrive and contribute to the success of the business, recently held an “Innovation Challenge” workshop that encouraged participants to think about applying meaningful innovation to solve business challenges. David Bee, vice president of development systems, kicked off the session with a discussion about the evolution of innovation—what it looked like yesterday, and what it may look like tomorrow. David emphasized, “You don’t have to be an engineer to be innovative, [because] innovation takes on many forms and exists everywhere.”

Participants were divided into teams and then led through a series of stations set up in the Marlborough Collaboratory (an unconventional, free-flowing meeting space), to brainstorm possible solutions to three actual business challenges: how to make meetings more effective, how to develop a best-in-class mentoring program and how to improve collaboration across functions, divisions, sites and countries. Facilitators helped guide the discussions. During report-out sessions, each team presented three to four innovative approaches to address each business challenge. The participants will come together again to discuss the proposed approaches and select those they expect can have the greatest impact if implemented.

Women’s Network executive sponsor Joanna Engelke, senior vice president of global quality, wrapped up the session with this thought: “We have a deep pool of talent right here in this room. We have the resources and passion to drive improvement and everyone can contribute.”

A Venture-Style Approach

The Innovation Challenge is just one example of how Boston Scientific actively engages its employees in innovation. Earlier this year, Boston Scientific announced the creation of the ImagineIF Innovation Fund, a venture-style approach to bringing breakthrough ideas to life. Since its launch, ImagineIF has received more than 350 unique employee-created ideas  from across the company. These ideas are aimed at improving what we deliver, how we deliver, and how we operate. Thirteen of those ideas received funding and executive support.

Fostering Innovation for All

In the words of President and CEO Mike Mahoney: “We are on a cultural journey to inspire and expand meaningful innovation. Everyone can be an innovator, regardless of role.” Boston Scientific hires top talent and fosters a never-ending passion for innovation and new ideas across all of its business units. We’ve seen that to build a culture of innovation in the workplace, you need to follow these five steps:

  1. Encourage continuous learning to develop and improve skills in order to perform effectively and adapt to change.
  2. Empower decision-making at all levels to show that innovation is truly the responsibility of every employee.
  3. Support risk taking, within reason, and apply the lessons learned from both successes and failures.
  4. Enable global collaboration with physical and virtual workspaces conducive to the informal and spontaneous sharing of thoughts.
  5. Establish a value system that rewards innovative contributions and accomplishments.

You have heard the term “disruptive innovation,” those ideas that disrupt traditional methods of building and discovery. It is in the moment of breaking things where true innovation finds itself most comfortable. Whether you work for a law firm, small business, or large corporation—you too can innovate in your role, change the way you think, collaborate with colleagues and redefine your future. We encourage everyone to think about innovation as a journey for all, not an experience for a chosen few.

Sponsored By:

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Posted in Speaker Articles, Innovation

What’s Holding Women Back from the C-Suite

Peggy-HazardBy Peggy Hazard, Managing Principal and Co-Lead Advancing Women Practice, Korn Ferry

Women have made significant advances in attaining higher levels of leadership in organizations; however, they still are far behind men when it comes to the most senior levels. There are many factors involved, but research shows that one key reason is that women do not obtain leadership experiences considered most critical in the C-Suite. In fact, research by Korn Ferry, a leadership and talent consulting services company, shows that when women get to the senior ranks, they are often one full level behind their male colleagues in certain types of leadership experience.

While women rank higher overall in competencies, the study shows they do not gain the experience in challenging or difficult situations, business growth, financials, strategy and high visibility that are most sought after in the C-Suite. It also shows that while men and women report similar motivations to advance their careers, women say “no” to these important opportunities more often due to concerns about being under-qualified and having work/life balance—which may be why men have an advantage when they are considered for promotion.

A Joint Effort

What is to be done? First, avoid the most common pitfall of focusing efforts only on “fixing” women while ignoring leaders’ behaviors and a culture that perpetuates the status quo. Leading-edge companies who have moved the needle on gender balance recognize that to drive and sustain change, men and women must “lean in together.” Individuals, managers, leaders and the organization must all share the responsibility and take action.

A Better Bottom Line

This is not just a fairness issue or “just the right thing to do.” In a hypercompetitive world, organizations need to become more agile to optimize and leverage all talent. And women represent a significant underutilized source of key skills and insights for tapping markets wherein women are disproportionate and/or increasingly decision makers. Korn Ferry’s research found women generally score higher than men in 17 critical leadership skills including cooperating and other interpersonal ones, courage, and drive. “What they are missing are financial and strategic skills, both of which are mission critical at the executive level and ones that men seek out during mid-level and business unit level roles,” said J. Evelyn Orr, senior director of the Korn Ferry Institute and editor of Korn Ferry’s research on women in leadership.

Additionally, having female leaders across the organization and at the top has a direct correlation with better financial return. McKinsey’s 2013 Women Matter study measured a 41 percent higher return on equity and a 56 percent higher earnings before interest and taxes margin for companies that have the largest share of women on their executive committees.

Organizations have strong incentives to develop their female leaders. To do so, organizations and women must work together to ensure that women are adequately prepared to assume senior roles and leaders create a culture where they can thrive.

Change the Status Quo

Here are three steps organizational leaders can take:

  1. Speak up. Be a vocal supporter about the need to be conscious about gender when interviewing and promoting a diverse slate of candidates and hold leaders accountable for these actions. Strong messaging and role modeling from the senior leadership team has a greater impact on an organization adopting a new awareness than individual initiatives that are driven by HR.
  2. Be proactive. Identify and break the unconscious defaults (judgments, preferences, decisions) that cause or perpetuate headwinds for women. This may include taking the time to question whether bias or double standards are at play in talent selection, evaluations (written comments often reveal double standards) succession planning discussions, and team power dynamics.
  3. Strive for gender balance. Seek to have women fairly represented in key assignments, high profile committees and key executive roles, and be sure that you are developing and sponsoring women. Verbalize support and confidence in them, as the system may not work in their favor.

Step Up and Stand Out

Here are three things women can do to ensure you obtain the necessary experience as you move upward in your careers:

  1. Plan your career. It’s surprising how many people have not stopped to consider what’s important to them and what they want for their careers. But women (and men) need to take the time to pause and really figure out what matters most inside and outside of work, and what you are willing to do to achieve your priorities.
  2. Identify and develop required experiences, competencies and skills. What got you here will not get you there. The challenges and competencies needed in a more advanced role are different from those needed in your current one. Influencing and relational confidence and skill become increasingly important, and doing so at higher levels requires different approaches. Actively seek insights and feedback about the unwritten rules, about how you are perceived, about what you will need to adjust, and what could be potential obstacles to success.
  3. Seek sponsors and advocates as well as multiple mentors. One of the most powerful assets for career advancement is having sponsors who help their “protégé” advance by introducing them to key stakeholders, positioning them for key assignments and talking them up in talent discussions and succession meetings. While women tend to have mentors, far fewer have sponsors than men. Leaders tend to sponsor those who they are convinced will succeed and drive results, so women need to be sure they get straight feedback on how they are perceived, how best to “show up,” and what experiences will have the highest impact on the business.

Women remain a hidden power source for most companies. Organizations that lean in together and develop the leadership agility to cultivate and leverage their talents will gain competitive advantage.

Sponsored By:

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Posted in Speaker Articles, Career Choices

Office Diplomacy: When Personalities Clash

Heen,-Sheila-220x300Ever work with someone passive aggressive? Thin-skinned? A shouter? Unless you’re the cameraperson who films melting glaciers for Nat Geo TV, you probably know how frustrating—sometimes even maddening—it can be to deal with a difficult personality. “It’s challenging if it’s your boss, of course, because you feel constrained by what you can say or do,” says Sheila Heen, a faculty member at Harvard Law School and co-author of Thanks for the Feedback. “But it can be just as hard for managers, since having authority over people doesn’t mean you have the power to make them change.”

‘Person’ Pet Peeve

Often the personality who most pushes your buttons is the one who’s least like you. For Heen, that’s the type who cast themselves as victims. “I try to be empathetic, but I can become impatient,” Heen says. It’s natural to want to tell them how they’re contributing to the situation, “but in the moment, they just want an audience—not problem-solving advice,” Heen says. She has found that in this case, as in most others, a more effective strategy is to talk to the person later. “Say that you have ideas for how he could have more control over the situation, if he is interested,” Heen says. “The key is to leave it as an open invitation, so that he comes to you when he’s ready to do something to improve the situation.”

Conflict-Avoidance Advice

The more you understand a person, the better you can relate. Here’s Heen’s take on six difficult types you’re likely to encounter as a boss, colleague or underling:

The thin-skinned “Being highly sensitive to feedback is just the way some people are wired,” says Heen. “It’s like being tall or short—they can’t help it.” Her recommendation is to have a conversation with the person. “Say that you were surprised by how upset she seemed last time and ask her to coach you on how to offer suggestions to her when you have them,” Heen says. “She may say she agreed with your comments and was just mad at herself or that you made them in front her boss—whatever she says, you’ll learn a lot.”

The perfectionist “The challenge with this type is that they have one standard of expectations for any given task, and it requires their 110 percent,” Heen says. Her advice: When giving that person an assignment, be specific—“I just want the quick and dirty, so don’t spend more than 10 minutes on this.” If it’s your boss, ask for direction: “I can pull this together by tomorrow if you want a rough outline, or I can give you something polished and more final by Friday—what’s your preference?”

The passive aggressive This personality doesn’t know that what they’re really thinking or feeling is leaking out, so the best way to engage with them is to call them out on their snarkiness. Just say, “I sense that you’re frustrated, so tell me why,” Heen recommends. They may respond with relief—“Really? I can tell you how I feel?”—or they may give you a knee-jerk denial. “In that case, the goal is just to plant the seed that you welcome their input, and hopefully over time, with your encouragement, they’ll see that they can talk freely with you,” Heen adds.

The blamer This is actually a more angry version of the victim, Heen says. The type just doesn’t see his role in the problem, and simply blames others for his missed deadlines. So, again, the solution is to keep helping him see what he has some control over—“If Jane didn’t respond to your email with what you needed, you should pick up the phone.” If he’s still throwing down excuses for blowing through deadlines, you could bring the whole team together—or put in a request—to discuss what everyone, including the blamer, is contributing to the problem and needs to do differently to get a different outcome.

The shouter Point out to this person that she’s yelling, and she’ll probably say the circumstances call for it. She won’t think it’s what she does all the time because she really can’t hear herself. “The part of the brain that’s dedicated to hearing language—both meaning and tone—turns off when you talk, which is why it’s surprising to hear a recording of yourself,” Heen explains. If it’s a colleague or underling, you could, in the spirit of helping her, offer to record her the next time she raises her voice so she can hear herself. Or if it’s your boss, you could tell her that she’ll get a better response from you if she lowers the heat.

The gossip Though this type is just looking for attention, it’s important to stop his behavior because it poisons the office. Change the subject or gently suggest that the damning rumor he’s repeating may not be the whole story. But if you’re going to say something more pointed, Heen advises doing so in private. “Make the observation that you’re worried about the impact of feeding the rumor mill, and that it makes you wonder sometimes what’s being said when you’re not around,” Heen says. The person may then go tell his allies what you said—but they may, in turn, tell him they agree.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Communication Skills

Yes, You Can Go on Vacation—and Actually Not Work!

Wendy-Wallbridge-220x300Vacation is great in theory. In practice, many of us find ourselves doing work, thinking about work or answering emails. That’s if we even manage to take time off. Last year, 41% of Americans didn’t even take a day for themselves, according to travel site Skift.

But vacations are an essential break from the daily grind. “When you never unplug, you lose touch with yourself and what’s important to you, and your broader, wiser perspective—and that’s when burnout starts to set in,” says Wendy Wallbridge, an executive coach and author of Spiraling Upward: The 5 Co-Creative Powers for Women on the Rise. Here’s how to go on vacation, and enjoy it, too.

Pen—Don’t Pencil—It In

Scheduling a vacation can seem unthinkable when you’re too busy to check the weather, let alone plane and hotel fares. But once you take the time to look at your calendar, figure out when your work cycle is on the ebb, coordinate the dates with your coworkers and get your boss’s approval—buy your tickets right away and tell your boss that you did so. “If you put money down, you and your boss are less likely to turn back or forget those dates are blocked out for you to be out of the office,” Wallbridge says.

Pay It Forward

To get out ahead enough to be away for several days, you may have to put in some long nights or working weekends. It may seem a daunting price to pay, but you won’t regret it once you’re over the hump. If you’re worried about work piling up while you’re gone—or if you simply have too much to do before you leave—consider delegating some of it. “Find colleagues you have helped or for whom you can return the favor when they go on vacation,” Wallbridge suggests. “Or you could make this an opportunity for someone junior who reports to you and give her first crack at something you would normally handle.”

Last-Day Checklist

So you can go with an unencumbered conscience, Wallbridge recommends making sure you do these three things before you leave:

  1. Send a status update to your boss and any people who’ll be covering for you, so they know where everything stands.
  2. Create a backup plan for anything that might suck you back into work if it goes wrong, and share it with everyone who is affected by it.
  3. Tell your team how accessible you’ll be by phone while you’re away and when you’ll be checking email (see below), and inform everyone outside the company of this via your outgoing voicemail message and automatic vacation email reply.

The Email Exception

Ideally, you won’t open your email at all when on vacation, but Blackberries aren’t called “crackberries” for nothing. “People also check email for peace of mind,” Wallbridge notes. So she recommends what a client of hers does: “If you have to check your email, do it only twice a day, at a set time in the morning and in the afternoon, and never respond unless it’s a true emergency.”

Reboot with Mini-Breaks Every Day

You need several consecutive days to unwind and replenish your energy and creativity, but that’s on top of “a daily practice of silence or me-time, when you disconnect from technology and connect with your inner wisdom,” Wallbridge says. “Women tend to discover their path as they go along, rather than follow a prescribed one, and they can only know what the next right thing for them is if they take the time to hear themselves think and breathe.”

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities

Inspiration to Launch Your Life (or Just Start Your Day)


Photo courtesy of Harvard Public Affairs & Communications. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

It’s graduation season! Time for elected officials, former elected officials and Natalie Portman (at Harvard, her alma mater) to step up to the podium and inspire young people as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. But you don’t have to be a co-ed, or parent of one, to be so motivated this year. We asked our speakers, past and confirmed for this year, what they would say—but in 100 words or less. Let the inspiration fly!

“Don’t follow your dreams, lead them. And dream big, but be sure to act even bigger. As necessary and wonderful as dreams are, the meaning in life is ultimately in what we do.”—Gloria Feldt, cofounder and president of Take The Lead and author of No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power

“Take a breath and close your eyes. Think about what you really love doing. Not what you’re supposed to love, but what makes you truly happy. Now visualize yourself doing that professionally. Imagine all the details you can—what do you see, smell, feel? Open your eyes and write it all down. Now begin thinking more tactically—what steps do you need to take to make that visualization happen? Read your reflection each day…that’s critically important. And then commit. Commit to yourself to do whatever you need to do to go get it!”—Lisa Kueng, executive director at Invesco Consulting and co-author of Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality

“Too few people ever actually achieve their dreams in life. But, having them is important. Dreams inspire us…they are what we ponder as we look out onto the horizon. But that’s all they’ll ever be—a way to pass the time—until you turn them into actionable goals. Take those lofty dreams (the ones you’re afraid to tell anyone because they sound so far out of reach), break them down into phases, break those phases into pies, those pies into slices, and those slices into bites. Then sit down and take care of business—one bite at a time.”—MJ Hegar, former pilot in the Air National Guard who served in Afghanistan and whose suit against the Secretary of Defense led to the repeal of the military’s policy of excluding women from combat

“Your world is in your mind and you are more powerful than you think! Although you cannot control how life may unfold, you do have the power to choose how you respond. You experience your world through the lens of your mental models, which are deep-rooted ideas about the way things ought to be; what you fundamentally believe shapes your experience. And most importantly, your power comes from being who you are. By leveraging all of who you are—your core gifts and skills, your circumstances and experiences—you have the power to create amazing possibilities for your life.”—Elizabeth Thornton, professor of management practice at Babson Executive Education and author of The Objective Leader: How to Leverage the Power of Seeing Things As They Are

“Here are three of the most important steps you can take to build a prosperous life for yourself: First, spend less than you earn and save the difference on a regular basis. Next, give generously to people and causes that are most important to you—you should establish a regular giving plan by setting aside a percentage of your income to give. And finally, remember to picture your prosperity! You have an incredible ability to create the life you imagine for yourself. Use the power of your mind to focus on what is most important to you.”—Ellen Rogin, a certified public accountant and financial planner professional and co-author of Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality
“There is no destination. While we can and should strive for growth, new ventures and goals, it is our relationship with ourselves on a daily basis and how we engage with the world that makes up our life. There is no great arrival point. Our greatest milestones pass in sheer moments, but the process is the in-between taking up the majority of our life. This is what requires our full attention. Many times we think once we get ‘there’ we will devote ourselves to priorities that whisper to us from the inside, but there is no ‘there’— only ‘here.’”—Azita Ardakani, founder of Lovesocial

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership

Podcast: Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal — with Loretta LaRoche

LaRoche, Loretta 200x238The complexities of modern day life and the perception of what we need to do in one day has shifted us from “human beings” into “human doings.”

Listen to this engaging and entertaining 30-minute teleclass to learn valuable tools to help you “lighten up” and enjoy life more. Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Health & Wellness, Life Balance, Podcasts Tagged |

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