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  • 01/22/2017 4:16 PM | Anonymous

    By Carly O'Halloran Alameda and Olga Mack

    Understanding the basics of board service is a necessary first step for those interested in joining a board of directors. In part one of this three-part series, we shared insights from Sheila Ronning, CEO and founder of Women in the Boardroom, regarding some of these basics, including the various types of boards, responsibilities of being a director, and the risks of board service. In part two, we will explore another aspect of the basics: understanding your motivations, the value you can bring to a board, potential compensation for your efforts, and how to start your journey. “Staying true to yourself, your interests, and your comfort level are key pieces to the decision about and the approach for seeking a board position,” Ronning explains.

    The benefits of board service: What a board can do for you

    “People’s motivations for board service are not the same, but nearly all board members agree that they get more out of their board service than they give,” says Ronning. Some common reasons for board service include the intellectual challenge of learning a new industry, the ability to contribute in a different way to a familiar industry, interacting with highly intelligent peers to help a company achieve its goals, service to others, or pursuing a fulfilling “second career.” Many board members who juggle board service while still engaged in their “primary career” also view board service as enhancing their resume and reputation, and demonstrating C-suite readiness. “Many companies encourage and help their senior management to join boards,” says Ronning. “This helps with succession planning and determining CEO readiness. In fact, the CEO is often a board member or chairman.” Board service can therefore bring great value to most professionals.

    Understanding and articulating your value: What you can do for a board

    To determine whether and how to start a journey toward board service, you must also be able to understand and explain the value you can add to a board. This includes identifying your relevant skill set, knowledge and industry experience, and which types of companies you might be a good fit for. “You need to know what types of companies’ boards you are qualified to serve on, and you need to articulate your value very well. You can’t market yourself or network productively if you can’t articulate this well.”

    The way you market yourself is in fact a key for your networking efforts (networking will be discussed in greater length in part three). First, understanding your skill set helps you narrow your target audience and deliver a compelling message to those you are networking with. Second, it can also provide an important first impression. “It’s important to be able to discuss yourself and be forthcoming, without diminishing other individuals or companies and without over-sharing. It is a fine line to walk,” admits Ronning. “Your behavior and ability to do this with good judgment will be observed.”

    Identifying your value can also help you determine gaps. “You don’t necessarily need all the right experience immediately,” Ronning says. “Once you have clarified your goals, you can fill in any gaps by pursuing volunteer or professional experience in any areas you are lacking.” The most important thing is to know who you are and what you have to offer, and what type of board would be the best match for you.

    Compensation for board service

    Although for many directors the money is not their primary motivation, it is helpful to understand how the compensation will work. Public companies’ board positions are usually the most highly compensated, although exact compensation (which can include salary and other value, including stock) depends on the size of the company. Annual compensation for public companies under one billion dollars in revenue often ranges between US$75,000-US$200,000, companies around five billion in revenue average around US$250,000, and companies with more than five billion in revenue can reach US$500,000 and higher.

    At private companies, compensation also varies. Larger, well-established companies often have compensation plans similar to public boards. Medium and small companies, however, generally have annual compensation ranging from US$15,000 to US$40,000. Compensation also varies greatly for advisory boards. An advisory board member may receive a small stipend for each meeting, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Members may also be asked to participate in annual strategic planning sessions, for example, for a payment of several thousand dollars. Alternatively, a board member may receive stock in the company. Nonprofit boards usually pay nothing. In fact, many require a substantial contribution that directors are required to “give or get.”

    Ronning recommends avoiding companies that do not provide any compensation. “They need to have skin in the game,” she says. “Companies want to see passion and motivations to serve other than for the compensation, but the companies need to show the board has value by offering something appropriate to the company’s position.

    5 steps for pursuing a board position

    Once you understand the basics of board service, Ronning recommends five key steps to pursue a board position:

    1. Develop a reputation for excellence and show leadership in your main job and industry. “Bring your A game, because you will be scrutinized when you begin pursuing board service. Dress well, be prepared, and show up for everything,” says Ronning. Build a strong profile and personal brand.
    2. Assess your skill set and ask yourself what you will bring to the table. If you notice anything lacking, fill in the gaps with experience that develops or demonstrates the necessary skills. “Write a ‘board bio’ to help articulate your value,” Ronning recommends.
    3. Develop a strategic plan. Educate yourself on board responsibilities, and various industry or company boards, and based on your skill set and your motivations, determine where you’d like to serve and how to focus your efforts.
    4. Get started on getting involved. For example, Ronning recommends working to get on a government commission or committee. Or seek out acquaintances who own their own companies, and volunteer to start or serve on their advisory boards. “You don’t need to wait for the board position to start demonstrating your leadership and involvement.”
    5. Network. Part three of this series will address networking more specifically, and it cannot be overstated as a key step in pursuing a board position. “Tell people you know and respect, especially sitting directors or those who interact with directors, that you are seeking a board seat,” Ronning says. Get to know recruiters at search firms. Make sure that you have your plan set and a reputation and expertise to back it up, and people will notice.

    The journey to a board position can be a long one, and you cannot expect immediate success. But by understanding your motivations for joining a board and the value you can bring, and following Ronning’s five-step plan, you can begin building your path to the boardroom. With dedicated effort, these building blocks can be the foundation to a fulfilling board service career.


    ~ Olga V. Mack is a startup lawyer who enjoys advising her clients to success and growth. Currently General Counsel at ClearSlide, she previously worked at Zoosk, Visa Inc., Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. She is a passionate advocate for women and has founded the WomenServeOnBoards.com movement. @OlgaVMack

    ~ Carly O'Halloran Alameda is a business litigation partner at Farella Braun + Martel in San Francisco. Her practice includes litigating complex business disputes in CA state and federal court and alternative dispute resolution processes, and also state and federal appellate work. Her practice is complemented and enriched by her position on the board of directors of Mammoth HR, a private company focused on helping businesses with HR compliance and employee management.

    Editor's Note: This is the second of three blogposts on the topic of Boards. 


  • 12/18/2016 6:48 PM | Anonymous

    By Anuradha Gali

    Learning to manage your micromanager may be one of the best skills you can develop in your career.

    I have talked with many women whose bosses nitpick, are overly focused on detail, or tell them how to do their jobs. I’ve dealt with my share of micromanaging bosses and over the years I’ve learned how to manage a micromanager.It still frustrates me now and then, but I remind myself to put myself in their shoes, and provide what they want the best I can.

    Perhaps one of the most annoying micromanagement tactics is the one-line email. These are those messages that demand something without any context, leaving you to try to figure out what your manager means and what he really wants from you. I’ve found that the best thing to do, instead of wasting time puzzling over it, is to hit “reply” and ask for clarification.

    Most of the time when your boss sends you a one-liner he’s in a meeting and needs an update, or he suddenly remembers to check on a project and shoots off an email before thinking. Either way, asking for more clarity helps.

    Learning to Manage, Not Micromanage

    Letting go doesn’t come easily when you are responsible for results and outcomes; I’ve struggled with it periodically myself. Of course I would like everything done the “Anu Way”, but you can’t do it all and you need to let your people learn and grow for themselves.

    When I was a manager for the very first time, I continued to act as a lead too, and made design and implementation decisions, from how to use a regex properly to validate email to creating the Elastic Search cluster. The lead who replaced me when I was promoted asked me, “Do you want me to stop using my brain?”

    I had no idea what he meant at first, but then I saw that I was still doing his job because I was so passionate about my work. His comment made me realize that I had to trust him, I had to let go and wait for him to come to me for the design review.

    As I continued to manage, I learned how to listen and ask questions to stimulate my employees’ thought processes and encourage them to grow. They had to be given the space to make their own decisions and to recognize what they needed to work on to achieve that growth.

    Managing Your Micromanager

    Having experienced both sides of the micromanagement equation, I’d like to share some of the tactics that are the most effective in dealing with a micromanaging boss.

    Stay a Step Ahead, be Proactive
    If your boss constantly reminds you about your regular or recurring tasks, stop getting frustrated with his nitpicking (“What is wrong with him? I do this every week and I have never yet forgotten or been late!”).

    Instead, recognize what he needs and get it to him before he asks. When you anticipate him, and can reply, “I already sent an email Friday evening with the design proposal,” he will start to relax.

    Keep Your Boss in the Loop
    Micromanagers often have a need to be in control. They can’t do all the work themselves, so micromanaging helps them feel like they are still involved in everything.

    To reduce this, actively include your manager. Give him regular updates, before he has a chance to ask for them. You might send him an email at the end of each day, outlining what you accomplished, what you plan to get done tomorrow, and any questions you have or any input you need from him.

    This lets your boss know exactly where your current workload stands, answering his questions before he can ask them. Giving him the opportunity to address your questions, provide input, and suggest ideas in one reply to your email will help him feel involved, yet can prevent multiple mid-day check-ins. A bonus to this strategy is that eventually he may realize that you’re organized and detail-oriented and that you can manage your responsibilities without constant intervention, so he’ll feel comfortable pulling back and lightening up on the micromanaging.

    Shift Your Point of View
    It helps to try to understand where your boss is coming from, and empathize with his situation. This was one of the strategies that I found most effective. Recognize that your boss needs a lot of information that he can assess and then share with his manager. If you can show your boss that you are invested in his success too, and that you are on his side, you can often reduce his anxiety and his need to get directly involved with every single thing you do.

    Work on Increasing Trust
    As above, if you show your boss that you care about his success, you will help him to trust you more. Be collaborative and give credit to your team and to your boss. Being generous with credit and kudos can help a nervous boss relax and trust you more.

    Beyond that, acknowledge the pressure he is experiencing, and offer to help. Of course, that’s what you are already doing, but actually saying it, and meaning it sincerely, can go a long way to increasing his trust. And when your boss trusts you, he is less likely to micromanage.

    Relax, Stop Resisting, and Start Managing Your Micromanager

    Finally, keep in mind that your manager’s need to micromanage is about him, not you. So many of the women I talk with think that they are doing something wrong and causing the micromanaging situation, but most of the time it is your boss’ issue. Maybe he’s insecure, or needs to be in control. Sometimes it’s just curiosity, or he wants to make sure he offers feedback on everything. Unless you are actually missing deadlines or not getting your work done, it’s him, not you.

    I struggled with micromanaging bosses, and I resisted for the longest time. It was incredibly liberating when I finally gave in and started providing all the detail they wanted. Now it has become such a habit to keep my boss in the loop that I do it religiously. Interestingly enough, you may find, like I did, that even the hands-off type don’t mind the extra communication and information.

    Anuradha Gali is a full stack engineer and manager who has served as Director of Engineering at Groupon and Shutterfly, and technical consultant at Adobe and Yahoo! She’s known as a designer and architect who galvanizes teams to get things done cheaper, better and on time - and who can pivot and relaunch at speed.

    Anu was chosen for the 2016 CLUB Incubator because she’s an accomplished leader in technology and product development, a manager who develops thriving teams, and gives back as an active volunteer in STEM programs.

    Ed. Note: We considered changing the pronoun in the examples above so the manager wasn’t always a “he” – but frankly, most often the engineering manager IS. That’s why we’re extra delighted to share these wise words from an exceptional engineering manager who just so happens to be a leading woman in tech.

  • 11/20/2016 11:48 AM | Anonymous

    by Olga Mack and Carly O'Halloran Alameda 

    Long before adding women to boards was a hot topic, Sheila Ronning, CEO and founder of Women in the Boardroom, believed in the importance of providing women the opportunity to serve and excel on corporate boards. Today, as one of the nation’s top leadership and board service experts, Ronning helps connect influential women executives and professionals with the people and tools they need to succeed in business and the boardroom by organizing executive and board coaching sessions, seminars, and webinars.

    “The journey to the boardroom can, at times, be an overwhelming undertaking filled with questions about what to expect, how to prepare, and how to be an effective board member,” Ronning says. “My favorite thing to do is to demystify board service and answer the burning boardroom questions that many professionals have.”  Ronning shared some of those fundamental questions and answers with us, in what will be the first of a three-part series in this column featuring Ronning’s insights.

    Three broad categories of boards

    Before embarking on a journey to secure a board seat, it is helpful to understand the various types of board positions that exist and what you are qualified for. Although no two companies or organizations are the same and board positions span a wide spectrum, there are broadly three types of board positions. The first is the most common and recognizable: the board of directors of a public company. These boards face specific regulatory requirements, are higher profile, and are more likely to grab headlines and public scrutiny. They are more highly compensated and also often more structured in their committee make up and more demanding in the time commitment required.

    The second type of board position is found in private companies, startups, and venture-backed companies. This also includes private equity boards and for-profit advisory boards. These boards’ level of organization, their structure, and their make-up vary greatly by organization, as does whether and how these positions are compensated. However, Ronning notes, “These types of boards are important to keep in mind if you are seeking a board position. There are more opportunities for these types of board positions, and they provide the same type of company oversight experience as the boards of public companies.” Ronning also recommends seeking out advisory boards from larger companies. For example, Toyota has an advisory board for diversity.  “There are so many different types of board positions that may not initially be on everyone’s radar, but that offer excellent opportunities and experiences.” 

    The third type of board, nonprofit boards “can also be a good place to start,” says Ronning. Many of them don’t pay, but some do. Serving on a nonprofit board can help develop skills applicable to for-profit boards, and can even lead to opportunities to serve on for-profit boards in the future. “But you need to think strategically. Consider joining large, well-run nonprofits where you take a leadership role, know the expectations, learn governance, and have a true passion for the work,” recommends Ronning. Be aware, however, that many nonprofits require significant donations or fundraising. “These boards can be strategic training grounds so long as you do your due diligence and pick a board carefully,” says Ronning.

    The responsibilities of a board director

    Prospective board members should also make sure they understand what these positions entail. Boards generally are responsible for hiring, evaluating, and firing CEOs, senior executives, and management. They oversee financial performance on behalf of company stakeholders, primarily the company’s shareholders. Board members also approve and oversee strategy, and bring in other directors. They monitor and approve audits, governance, compensation, and other processes in order to comply with regulations and best practices. “While a specialty is helpful, you need to be an excellent generalist to understand all these aspects,” says Ronning.

    As a board member, your role as a representative of the shareholders is critical. “With public companies, the sole responsibility is to shareholders. You may find yourself in conflict with management,” Ronning says. Ronning warns that there is increasing pressure to make appearances, represent the company, give support during crisis, and engage in other non-traditional responsibilities. “Companies are increasing demands for your time to engage with the outside world beyond the regular meetings,” she says. “It has become much more public facing.” Ronning emphasizes that if you are uncomfortable with what the company is doing, you need to be able to “push back.” “You need to scrutinize and understand the direction of the company, ask the right questions, and understand your duties,” explains Ronning.

    Overall, being an effective board member requires knowing the company, preparing extensively before each meeting, working effectively with fellow board members, and speaking up thoughtfully. You must remember to be a director, not the CEO or management. You also need to understand and keep up with the industry and your competitors. Most importantly, says Ronning, “Be there. And be there triple time in a crisis. In a crisis, you need to review documents, meet with professionals, and work with management.” Ronning adds, “Things like an activist campaign may happen at any time.”

    The risks of board service

    Ronning emphasizes that prospective board members must be aware of the potential risks that come with board service. “In a public company, if the stock price sinks, you should expect to be sued,” Ronning says. Although these lawsuits take time and money, not all cases hold directors personally liable. “You are allowed to be wrong,” explains Ronning. “You need to be able to defend the process, be engaged, and take time to reflect on questions.” Criminal risk is also a possibility, however Ronning adds this is “relatively rare and only applies in egregious cases of fraud.” Similar risks exist in private companies, although there are fewer lawsuits because there are fewer requirements and less public scrutiny.

    Given these risks, “directors and officers liability (D&O) insurance is a must,” she says. “Get familiar with D&O insurance and have a conversation about it.” There is a definite financial risk. Ronning adds, “Insurance will not cover the reputational risk of a lawsuit.” Some reputational damage may take a negative toll on your career prospects and be difficult to fix, especially in today’s internet age. “You need to be comfortable with visibility and risk,” Ronning warns. “You may need to consider resigning if the board is going in an uncomfortable direction.”

    Finally, another thing to consider is the time commitment. “The average for public boards can be 250 to 300 hours a year,” says Ronning. “If a company goes into a crisis, it can double or triple.” Actual time commitments vary due to variables such as travel requirements and the particular situation a company is in. For example, smaller businesses can often require more time and hand holding because they may be less sophisticated. It’s important to discuss this time commitment in advance. “Be sure that you and your family are okay with the commitment, which is often in addition to your day job,” she says. “It is a good idea to set expectations for your time commitment and discuss this ahead of time.”

    With these basics in mind, it is easier to determine whether board service is right for you. Ronning emphasizes due diligence and staying true to yourself, your interests, and comfort level, which will be covered in more depth in part two of this series. Finally, don’t be discouraged if the process feels difficult. As with any endeavor worth pursuing, seeking a board position takes time and hard work, and can often include additional hurdles for women attempting to break into the male-dominated boardroom. Part three of this column series will highlight tips for networking your way into a board position, and Ronning confirms “it can be done."

    Olga V. Mack is a startup lawyer who enjoys advising her clients to success and growth. Currently General Counsel at ClearSlide, she previously worked at Zoosk, Visa Inc., Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. She is a passionate advocate for women and has founded the WomenServeOnBoards.com movement. @OlgaVMack

    ~ Carly O'Halloran Alameda is a business litigation partner at Farella Braun + Martel in San Francisco. Her practice includes litigating complex business disputes in CA state and federal court and alternative dispute resolution processes, and also state and federal appellate work. Her practice is complemented and enriched by her position on the board of directors of Mammoth HR, a private company focused on helping businesses with HR compliance and employee management.

    Editor's Note: This is the first of three blogposts on the topic of Boards. 

  • 09/13/2016 7:05 PM | Anonymous

    elizabeth-blog

    by Elizabeth DiGaetano

    I had an incredible investment industry career for many years, stepped out of the workforce for 17 years and then stepped back in - into a tech sales position no less. After a long time out, it can be brutal to get back in. Here are 4 tips I learned the hard way:

    Tip #1:  Develop your skills

    The number one reason employers do not want to hire people returning to the workforce is because they view them as an enormous risk; They think these candidates are out of touch. “Old School” is not a compliment, and “relaunchers” are rarely up to speed with technology and today’s business strategies.

    This was a big issue for me. I was a late adopter of technology, and held firmly onto my old day planner for far too many years. But this is a temporary problem. People can get fully up to speed with standard technology tools in a short amount of time - within a year - but companies cannot teach decades of leadership experience and tactical skills in a short amount of time. Know your value.

    Get up to speed on technology. Everything moves quickly, so learn the basic tools: calendar invitations, GoToMeeting, webinars, Google Drive. Sign up for an Excel class or take online tutorials. It’s amazing what you can learn from YouTube!

    Trip #2:  Build a Network

    Network! You never know where you will find an opportunity. Have some business cards made and carry them with you.

    Build a social network presence. LinkedIn is your resume, so it’s important to update it. But there are a lot of valuable platforms out there, and you may get more traction from a smaller audience. Here are some examples that worked for me:

    • I found The CLUB Silicon Valley from having coffee with an Enterprise Sales Executive from Apple whom I connected with on Glassbreakers. She happens to be one of the amazing 2015 Incubees, which led to my joining the 2016 Incubator program.
    • The majority of my interviews came from jobs I found on AngelList. I connected with some terrific companies from this platform. It’s mostly startups, but you can put in your salary range and find companies further along the growth curve.
    • I actually found my first job back (not “consulting”) through Craigslist. It was a position working for Putnam Investments, 20 hours per week with full benefits.

    Tip #3:  Remain humble

    Getting back in the game is humbling. The reality is you may have to take a pay cut, at least initially. After a long, extended career break like I had, the bigger challenge is finding a job to come back to. If this is the case, don’t make it about money. Focus on finding a job, any job, and prove yourself. Look for the best possible team; a place where you can contribute, learn, and grow.

    According to an Ellevate Network survey from August 2015, “one in five women reported a pay cut of 20% or more after taking a career break. And at the time of the survey, another 20% hadn’t been able to find a job to come back to yet”.

    Don’t mistake being humble for a lack of confidence. You will definitely need confidence, but you also need to get your foot in the door and you may need to be willing to take on anything, even if it’s not in your wheelhouse. If you’re open to taking on any task (something that comes naturally to moms), you will work your way back into what you should be doing. It may be brutal, but I believe most people will find themselves in a great opportunity faster by starting over and mapping out a strategy to get back to an ideal role through hard work, rather than holding out for the perfect job and remaining unemployed.

    Tip #4:  Be patient

    Don’t give up!

    Find your advocates. Team up with positive people in the same situation. It’s tough to get back in, but you’re not alone. I have people approaching me every week asking how I made the transition back. Don’t let rejections get you down. There are a lot of resources out there, so keep looking and don’t quit. You will get your groove back!

    Elizabeth DiGaetano is a a top-producing Technology Sales Executive, Mom, and Philanthropist, who is passionate about making things grow. She is currently a Senior Account Executive at HelloSign and a member of The CLUB Silicon Valley. Elizabeth was selected for the 2016 CLUB Incubator leadership program because of her tenacity, energy and repeated professional success.

  • 07/29/2016 7:05 PM | Anonymous

     By Katia Bloom and Olga V. Mack

    KatiaA night after Hillary Clinton – Secretary of State, Senator and former first lady – became the first woman ever to be nominated for president of the United States by a major political party, we found ourselves playing the “Where’s Hillary?” game. The rules are simple: it is just like looking through a “Where’s Waldo?” book, except the participants look for Hillary. After all, as women and Americans, we wanted to find something we could keep as a historical memento of the moment Hilary Clinton broke the highest glass ceiling yet.

    olgaWe started with the cover of The Wall Street Journal and, initially, thought that perhaps this was an internet hoax of some kind. We decided to look at the local paper in our progressive city, the San Francisco Chronicle and saw the exact same thing: these fine, established publications put Clinton on their covers. It just happened to be Bill, not Hillary! Apparently, they accidentally re-published the 1992 issues, when Bill was nominated. An honest printing mistake, we are sure. These things happen all the time even to the best of us!

    Perhaps the papers got confused because after decades of marriage, couples start to resemble each other, so Bill and Hillary probably just look so much alike, it’s not surprising that these publications can’t keep them apart. Can you? If you squint your eyes, Bill and Hillary are practically identical twins. In fairness, they do have the same last name and that can definitely confuse even the most trained professional. So, Bill on the cover of The Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle after Hillary changes history makes sense, right?!

    Picture1

    Picture2

    Our “Where’s Hillary?” game reached a new high with The New York Times and East Bay Times. The good news is that these publication fact-check more thoroughly than The Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle. No rookie “confusing the man for the woman” mistakes for these seasoned media professionals!

    Picture3

    Picture4

    And in a great Hollywood tradition they make it suspenseful on the cover page, probably to keep the readers interested in this somewhat outdated media. The New York Times and East Bay cover pages are appropriately cheerful, celebratory, and optimistic! There are references to “history” and pictures of posters and happy, patriotic. . . . random people. Looking for Hillary takes forever!

    The New York Times and East Bay Times clearly got it right: putting a large picture of Hillary, the actual presidential nominee, on the cover would inappropriately give everything away too soon. We were starting to understand that perhaps we just hadn’t paid enough attention in our media classes in college. It’s like wearing a see-through dress on the first date – too much, too soon.  Some things – like fine, impressive, highly achieved ladies that changes history – are better left to one’s imagination, right?!

    At the end of the night, USA Today completely ruined our “Where’s Hillary?” game! It was the only publication that placed a larger than life, bright image of Hillary on the very top of its front page. What were they thinking? A powerful woman, unsupervised, no less! So, we spent the rest of the night framing this front page as our historical keepsake. This way we, and our daughters, can remember for years to come that women look great right where they belong: on top.

    Picture5

    Katia Bloom is an attorney specializing in corporate and contract law. She currently serves as Senior Legal Counsel at Avira GmbH. https://www.linkedin.com/in/katiabloom

    Olga V Mack is an attorney who enjoys helping startups thrive and grow. Olga is General Counsel at ClearSlide. You can find her online at olgamack.com. Olga is a member of The CLUB's 2016 Incubator Program.

  • 06/09/2016 7:07 PM | Anonymous

    2016 Incubee Photo Mashup

    A photo collage of the women who comprise our 2016 Incubator cohort.

    They each have successful careers and boundless personal potential, and continue to amaze and inspire.

    Top l to r: Leedjia Svec, Sue Gong, Laura Fechete, Elizabeth DiGaetano, Judith Coley
    Bottom l to r: Joselle Deocampo, Olga Mack, Anu Gali, Heather Jerrehian, Megan Jones

    Read more about the program in the Fast Company article which features the efforts of Megan Jones (Hausfeld LLP), Olga Mack (ClearSlide), and CLUB Board Member and Incubator founder Laraine McKinnon (BlackRock).

    For more information on the Incubator program and the 2017 program application, see www.theclubsv.org/incubator-program,
    reach out to founder & co-director Laraine McKinnon, co-director and professional coach Kristi Royse and co-director and former Incubee Mindy Morton, or email us at incubator@theclubsv.org

  • 05/01/2016 7:09 PM | Anonymous

    olga WTF

    How My “WTF” Moment Sparked a Petition for Gender Equality
    by Olga V. Mack

    “Would you like to try one of our hand-crafted beers? It’s very good,” the server asked me as I entered an after-work business meeting. I declined and instead opted for sparkling water. After putting on my name tag, I turned around and found myself in the middle of a full room. I stood there, carefully observing, trying to gauge the tone and tenor of multiple conversations. Then I had a distinct feeling, one I rarely experience: the feeling of being out of place. I brushed the feeling away. It’s just because I’m new here, I told myself.

    As I scanned the room for a group to approach, I suddenly realized that everyone around me was a man. In fact, I was surrounded by what seemed like a sea of men. Maybe I’m just nervous — another feeling rare to me — and the nerves are affecting my otherwise good vision, I told myself. I eyed the crowd more deliberately. I couldn’t possibly be the only woman in the room. Finally, one of the men extended his hand, introduced himself, and asked, “Who are you here with?” Puzzled, I took my time to sip, smile, and look him in the eye. With an exaggerated Eastern European accent, I simply stated: “I’m unsupervised tonight. And sir, imagine all the damage I can do.” Pleased that I finally found a use for my accent in public, I excused myself to refill my sparkling water. I had handled the situation as best I could, but inside I was appalled.
    Did I mention that this happened in 2016? And that we were in the United States of America — the richest and supposedly the most advanced civilization in history? And yet, as I progress in my career, I increasingly find myself the lone woman in a sea of men. That meeting was not the first of its kind, but for me, it was the last straw.

    Later that day I learned that according to recent data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, 24 Fortune 500 companies currently have no women on their boards. How disappointing, antiquated and irritating, I thought to myself. In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How fundamentally unfair and repugnant is it that being a woman can make it essentially impossible to serve on some boards of directors — no matter how hard-working, deserving, or qualified she is?

    And that’s when I had my “WTF” moment — another unfamiliar feeling. But one that was most certainly warranted for a reality that deserved one of those rare moments of pure, unadulterated “WTF.”

    This was not the first time I realized that business and law are not friendly to women. During my years as an attorney, I saw women drop out of the profession, make difficult reproductive choices, and struggle to ramp up their careers after taking extensive leaves. I suffered no delusion of gender equality. In fact, except for the occasional complaint, I implicitly accepted the inequality as a status quo to navigate, not to change. In the “old boys’ club” of corporate law, I took the “good girl” approach. After all, the gender inequality didn’t make any of my career aspirations impossible. It merely made them less likely. Gender inequality wasn’t a roadblock so much as a hurdle that I could overcome over time if I tried a little harder.

    What made the S&P Global Market Intelligence’s “List of Shame” a “WTF” moment for me was the overarching feeling of futility. Working harder, taking more chances, and relying on one’s intelligence would make no difference for a woman seeking a board position at any one of those 24 companies. The cold truth stared me right in the face — being a woman makes board service at certain companies impossible, null and void, and prohibitive.

    At that moment, I relinquished my place on the side and “good girl” approach to dedicate my effort to affect change: I started the Women Serve on Boards petition movement (#WomenServeOnBoards) that makes a fiscal and social case for taking initial steps toward gender equality on boards. My first two petitions — to Land O’Lakes and Discovery Communications, two companies on the list of 24 — requests these companies to add at least one woman to its board of directors. I hope that others will join me and start petitioning the other 22 companies on this infamous list, using my petitions as a template or as inspiration to create their own compelling calls to action.

    Adding women to boards makes business sense for each company on this list: it will significantly increase profits, boost its competitive advantage, and put the company on the right side of the issue. Taking steps toward gender equality on boards is also the right move socially. Companies that aim to improve and shape society can’t do so unless they reflect society. Upcoming generations need a future where gender inequality is a thing of the past, not a status quo to accept or even a hurdle to overcome. So please join me in signing the petition, and asking these 24 companies to step into modern times and commit to gender equality.

    Please join the the Women Serve on Boards petition movement (#WomenServeOnBoards), sign the Land O’Lakes and Discovery Communications petitions, and start petitioning the other 22 Fortune 500 companies that currently have no women on their boards. (As of May 1, 2016)

    Olga V. Mack is a member of The CLUB Silicon Valley and the 2016 Incubator program. While the opinions stated here are those of the author, we applaud all thoughtful and positive steps that help encourage, promote, and drive gender equality.

  • 04/02/2016 7:15 PM | Anonymous

    Kristi Royse

    Failure: Stepping Stone to Success
    by Kristi Royse, CEO, KLR Consulting

    We are taught that the f-word is shameful, and that we should avoid its use.

    No, not that f-word, this one:

    Failure

    But failure is how we reach success.

    Warning! Failure is Imminent!

    A quick glance at the clock on the wall made my heart stop. It was almost the end of the first day of the big board retreat I was facilitating. The board, 50 CEOs from competing organizations, was nowhere near reaching their goals for the day.

    The executives couldn't seem to work together to decide strategy and set the policies for the coming year, in spite of the fact that the goals were beneficial for the industry as a whole.

    We were behind schedule, the busy execs only had one more day, and it was starting to look like the whole thing was going to implode.

    It was starting to look like a failure--My failure.

    I had successfully facilitated many board meetings before this one, effectively soothing ruffled feathers and calming outsized egos to get important strategic work done, so why was this one going south?

    After we broke for the evening, tired and worried, I sat down to evaluate the day. How was I going to save this?

    The Lessons in Failure

    Failure and defeat can be some of our best teachers, but leaders are often afraid to let their people fail. In corporate culture it is considered better to play it safe and make the same choices again and again, because failure brings recriminations, and shame.

    But, as the saying goes,

    "Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts."

    Leaders need to be able to deliver risky, edgy, breakthrough ideas, plans, presentations, advice, technology, products, leadership, and more, without any fear of failure.

    People tend to view failure and success as mutually exclusive. It's you in the middle with failure on one side and success on the other. With this model, you have to turn away from failure to move towards success. But if you look at it as a continuum or a progression, failure then becomes part of the process. Success is the destination and failure is a stepping stone along the path.

    When leaders have the courage to embrace failure as a key element of success, for themselves and their teams, amazing things can happen.

    Perhaps the most important thing leaders can do is to make failure acceptable by changing the culture of their organization. Make it clear that failures and mistakes are not going to incur blame (other than intentional negligence). Foster an environment where failures are willingly surfaced because they will be honestly evaluated to determine what can be changed or done better the next time.

    Flexible Failure

    In my situation with the executive board, I was alert to what was happening in the meeting and aware that the board was not progressing as expected, so I was able to identify the problem, analyze what was going wrong and experiment with a different format.

    I "failed fast" by catching it quickly and applying a creative solution.

    Organizations can learn from failure by applying these three key actions:

    • Detection - Encourage people to talk about it, bring it to the attention of the team, etc.
      In this case, I was paying close attention, so I caught that there was a problem.
    • Analysis - Look at the process to determine what went wrong.
      I went back over the course of the day carefully and found the specific issue that seemed to be the root cause.
    • Experimentation - Try different solutions or apply different methods to find one that does work.
      My solution for the board was to be flexible with the process I had created, change the plan to eliminate the elements that weren't working, and try a new approach the next day.

    Ask: What happened?
    Not: Who did it?

    Saving the Day, and the Board

    With my quick solution in place, the last day of the big retreat went off without a hitch, participation was high, and the board members accomplished their objectives, and more. In fact, they asked me to return. What could have been a failure was transformed into a success.

    Failing again and again can be valuable, as long as what is learned brings you closer to your goals.

    So...I hope I've convinced you to use the f-word more often!

    Kristi Royse, CEO of KLR Consulting, inspires success in individuals and teams with proven best practices that enable organizations to capitalize on their strengths. She partners with companies to improve communication, implement change, align their organizational values and goals and move to higher levels of performance. Kristi is a nationally recognized speaker, facilitator, management consultant, executive coach, and trainer.  Kristi is Co-Director and career development lead for the CLUB Incubator. 

  • 03/01/2016 7:16 PM | Anonymous

    Katherine blogpost - image

    Harness the Emotion and Leverage the Data
    by Katherine Mendonca

    I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk by Professor Bernie Roth from the Stanford d.School. As part of his presentation he conducted an exercise with the audience to partake in some of the practices outlined in his new book The Achievement Habit. During this exercise he asked a woman in the audience what her specific challenge was that she would like to change. She responded “I would like other people to stop telling me that I am aggressive and too direct” to which I immediately turned my head to get a better view of this conversation. When I looked in the direction of the exchange I saw a woman in her mid to late 20’s being very forthcoming about a situation that she was clearly struggling with. The Professor bantered back and forth with her to play out the process he outlines in his book to help her find a resolution to the way in which she was seeing the situation. I, on the other hand, clearly felt her frustration and angst.

    When the presentation was over the woman walked past me and I was compelled to tell her that she was not alone and that many women experience what she had recently encountered for the first time (as she shared to me). I expressed an opportunity to eliminate the emotion and take advantage of the ever growing body of data that identifies gender bias language and provides a mechanism to engage in a conversation that isn’t solely personal to her but is prevalent in the zeitgeist and is impacting a large population of women and girls globally.

    Her concern immediately landed on how this perception by her manager would impact her performance review (as it was her manager that had made the initial comment). I took this opportunity to share highlights of the research conducted by Kieran Snyder outlined in her Fortune article, The Abrasiveness Trap: High achieving Men and Women are described differently in reviews. Snyder describes the results of her research in which both male and female managers provide harsher critique to female employees. “Men are given constructive suggestions. Women are given constructive suggestions – and told to pipe down.” Additionally, I recommend that she review the large body of work by The Clayman Institute for Gender Research. After a short conversation the young woman and I parted ways and she looked as if she was empowered to gather her own body of research that would help her and hopefully other women she crossed paths with.

    This example is just one of many focused on the behavior of gender bias, unconscious or not. Information / data is powerful as it can help in several ways. First, it allows an individual to understand that they are not alone and that this behavior is pervasive. Second, once you become aware of the bias and its destructive consequences your senses are heightened making the behavior apparent. Lastly, now that you are armed with the research data, you can begin to have conversations that will unveil the unconscious action and make them conscious.

    My hope is that the more we discuss gender bias and leverage the body of work on the subject to bring this topic to the surface for all to see then it will no longer have a place in society. Emotions can move us to action but the data creates the framework for awareness and change.

    Katherine Mendonca is an expert in next generation mobile computing and an advocate for fair and unbiased work environments. She is leader in The CLUB Silicon Valley and was selected for the CLUB Incubator leadership program in 2015.  Learn more about Katherine in the Member Spotlight and on her website.

  • 02/04/2016 7:21 PM | Anonymous

    3- Alice blogpost - image

    By Alice Katwan, Vice Presidents of Sales, Western Division, Genesys

    From Kitchen Faucets to Silicon Valley:
    5 Reasons I Love Being in Sales

    I grew up in San Francisco’s Sunset district. In high school, I sold drapes and blinds at Montgomery Wards. Even though I worked only part time, I was the top salesperson. During my years at San Francisco State University, I worked at C/S Bath, a bathroom and kitchen design company, selling to interior designers, contractors and people remodeling homes. Again, even though I was only part time, I was the top salesperson every month. Fast forward 20 years: I’m still selling and loving it.

    Believe it or not, selling cutting-edge technology is not that different from selling window treatments and kitchen faucets. Here are five key lessons I learned about sales back in school that are as true today as they were then.

    They’re also why a sales career is perfect for anyone, whether working parent or triathlon in training, who wants to have a career where you have the power to succeed while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

    1. Your input directly correlates with your output. This realization sent me on my career path. I was the only part-time employee and worked 15 hours a week; yet I was the top performer. It doesn’t matter whether you work 50 hours a week or 30. What matters is how smart and hard you work.

    2. The numbers say it all. You’re not judged subjectively. I have always liked being able to measure my own performance and know where I stand at all times. Because I exceeded my monthly sales targets, I could focus on school, instead of wondering whether I was doing a good job and worrying about job security.

    3. You’re as good as your network and reputation. People buy from people they know and trust. If you take the time to build relationships and provide exceptional customer service, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. At the end of the day, your customers know that you’ll be there for them and do whatever it takes to solve any problems that come up.

    4. Loyal customers will seek you out. Designers and contractors would schedule appointments during my work hours or wait in the showroom to see me—even though other full-time salespeople were available. My customers knew that I would take the time to understand what they were looking for, provide them with good options and place their order promptly and accurately.

    5. Follow-up matters. A successful client relationship doesn’t end when you collect your commission. I’d follow up to make sure orders arrived in time to meet customers’ remodel milestones and address any post-sale issues.

    If you’re considering going into sales, consider these benefits as you weigh your options. There is a direct correlation between results and working hard and smart. This means you can succeed at work and have time to enjoy your life outside of work. I love what I do, and I love my family. Because I’m in sales, I can enjoy both.

    Alice Katwan leads the Genesys North American West Commercial and Operational activities, which accounts for half of the company’s North American revenue. Her team of 25—made up of an equal number of women and men, unheard of in high-tech sales—has achieved record revenue growth. Alice has worked in enterprise sales for nearly 20 years. Alice sits on the Board of Directors of The CLUB Silicon Valley and was selected for the CLUB Incubator leadership program in 2015.

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