Image Source: People Matter

Image Source: People Matter

In this war for top talent, leaders and managers face perennial questions including:

  • How do you recruit, develop, retain, inspire and promote top talent?
  • How will you build engagement and involvement across the workplace?
  • What will you do to ensure that people feel valued, trusted, empowered and appreciated?
  • What will you do to ensure that people are trained, challenged and promoted?
  • How will you attract the diverse top talent in the first place?

So choose your battles. Work with HR to ensure that the recruitment process is bringing in top talent, that everyone is paid and treated well, that the culture is positive, constructive and energizing. Work with senior management and marketing to ensure that the company and projects are mission-focused and world-changing, and that the company impact is positive, measured and impactful.

If you have the right offering, and the right pipeline and the right people are showing up – help them to step up!

  • Ensure that you have the soft skill and technical/hard skill training your employees need and want.

See a list of popular soft skill trainings listed below.

  • Provide them with entrepreneurial opportunities and innovative events like Hackathon to help them think outside their day-to-day tasks.

We specialize in designing quarterly hackathons which engage technical staff and focus on solving customer-provided problem sets. E-mail us at and describe what success looks like for you.

  • But then COACH and MENTOR them to ensure that they are getting the support and training they need, AND that they are able to integrate new learnings.

See below for a description of our Mentorship program. Our one-on-one coaching services supplement mentorship programs, or can also stand alone.

  • Make sure to CHAMPION them so that they get introduced to new challenges and opportunities and SPONSOR them by nominating them to new roles, projects and responsibilities.

FountainBlue works with executive management and steering committees to design customized programs which maximize retention, development and advancement.

FountainBlue: The Value of Mentorship

There’s definitive research that diversity matters, that engagement leads to advancement and retention of key talent, and that the best leaders are nimble, open, and always learning. Foundational to supporting the Diversity, the Engagement and the Continuous-Learning culture of successful companies is a far-reaching, well-supported, high-engagement mentorship program. At FountainBlue, we believe that there are ten key elements of a successful ongoing mentorship program.

  1. Voluntary – Both mentors and mentee must choose to be involved.
  2. Goal-Oriented – Both mentors and mentees are connected based on pre-defined goals.
  3. Measured – Goals must be quantifiable, with baseline and desired targets.
  4. Celebrated – Connections, learnings and results are celebrated with each mentorship rotation.
  5. Short-Term – Commitments between specific mentors and mentees should be short-term, 4-10 week periods.
  6. Long-Term – With that said, commitment to mentoring in general should be on a long-term basis, with each party selecting partners and goals.
  7. Aligned with Company – Mentorship program should be aligned with corporate and executive goals and brand.
  8. Aligned with HR – Mentorship programs support HR’s retention, development, diversity, recruitment and compensation goals.
  9. Aligned with Marketing – Mentorship programs support marketing’s brand initiatives, community outreach programs, recruitment campaigns.
  10. Supported – Funding and resources must be provided for a longer-term period, to include at least 3-4 mentorship cycles.

FountainBlue can custom-design a mentorship program for you which might include:

  1. Working in partnership with a leadership or diversity steering committee to create and design a mentorship program, or re-work/re-shape the program.
  2. Connecting with stakeholders at all levels to understand the business needs for the organization as well as the emotional and personal needs of mentors and mentees.
  3. Working with executive sponsors to ensure alignment of mentorship program with corporate goals, with HR metrics, with marketing agenda.
  4. Working with executives to secure funding and ongoing support from management, and also active participation in ongoing activities.
  5. Working with company stakeholders to define baseline metrics in at least five areas and to established time-lined goals.
  6. Ensuring that past learnings help shape and define the existing program.
  7. Ensuring that the program fits the evolving needs of the people, the company, and the industry.
  8. Designing and delivering launch event and/or celebratory events – up to one each quarter.
  9. Providing up to one hour a week of coaching for steering committee members AND one hour a month of coaching for volunteer mentors.
  10. Supporting both the mentor and mentee communities to ensure that they: a) have support and resources, b) understand targets and goals, c) feel engaged and empowered, d) have sufficient structure to feel supported and sufficient latitude to customize experiences, and e) have a voice in shaping the program on an ongoing basis.

FountainBlue oversees the implementation of the program to ensure specific success criteria:

  • Metrics-driven – both quantified and qualified data
  • Valued – by all participating parties
  • Aligned – with corporate, HR, marketing
  • Connected – across and between mentors, mentees, sponsors, vendors, communities
  • Empowered – so everyone feels invited to raise the bar

For best results, supplement a mentorship program with a soft skills workshop training series, a technical/hard skill development option, a hackathon quarterly program, as well as customized consulting services, designed to strategically retain, develop, engage, inspire, and ultimately PROMOTE managers and leaders within a company.

For more information, e-mail us at

FountainBlue’s Soft Skills Trainings

FountainBlue’s Soft Skills Trainings are interactive Lunch-and-Learn sessions for technical professionals invested in proactively developing and growing their business success and personal satisfaction.

Each Soft Skill Training session is built on ten key concepts and facilitated by Linda Holroyd, CEO of FountainBlue. Each session also includes two to five interactive exercises designed to experiment with newly-learned skills. 

Each FountainBlue Lunch and Learn session includes:

  • Strategic, Practical, Tactical thoughts and advice on the selected topic
  • Recent, Timely and Relevant Research and Information
  • Hands-on interactive exercises for 20-60 participants
  • Planning and Customization to tailor workshop to the needs of the attendees
  • Expert facilitation to deliver information to manage exercises
  • Follow-up e-mail with suggested readings and suggested exercises
  • A bonus one-hour coaching session is included for up to two selected manager or leader of participating teams, to support the teams in preparing for the training, and in integrating the learnings.
  • Discounted rates for follow-up consulting services for mentorship program, retention program, community program, and alumni program.

Popular topics are listed below:

  • Building Resiliency for Yourself and Your Career – 

Better. More. Faster. That seems to be the mantra as global technology and market mega trends are fostering fluidity within and across companies, across locations, and across roles and industries. 

In this workshop, learn how to navigate your career shifting roles, industries and companies, how to embrace market, technology, process and political challenges and convert them into opportunities, and most importantly, how to maintain a North Star focus on your values and the needs of a customer during a sea of change.

  • Building Your Brand

The way you think, the way you communicate, the way you act, tells others a lot about you. Everyone owns and works their own brand, whether you’re conscious of doing so or not, whether you want to or not.

So you may as well proactively show up as a better YOU, communicating in alignment with your desires, your aspirations, your priorities and your values.

In this workshop, learn what a brand is, how to envision and create and enhance that brand, how to manage our brand proactively, and how to manage how others perceive us.

1) articulate and message their executive brand, 2) connect with the strategic networks that would facilitate the integrity of their brand, 3) strategize on the people, process and habit hurdles blocking the creation and execution of your executive brand, 4) envision, articulate and deliver projects and solutions in alignment with your brand, and 5) integrate your executive brand through your work, life and community activities.

    • Communication
      • Direct Communication

In this workshop, we learn first about the importance of direct communication, then do exercises to align our thinking, our speaking and our actions.

      • Difficult Conversations

It’s hard enough to speak clearly and consistently at all times, but it becomes doubly hard when emotions run high and there’s a lot at stake.

In this workshop, we review best practices for conducting difficult conversations, starting with evaluating the need for that conversation. We will perform exercises and discuss scenarios and best practices and collaborate in brainstorming how to conduct a difficult conversation with a combination of preparedness, grace, humility and openness.

  • Conflict Resolution

He said, she said, we said, they didn’t say . . . 

Some people duck and cover when emotions run high and stories are confusing. But conflict is a part of life, part of management. 

In this workshop, we investigate best practices for managing conflict scenarios, the art of building relationships, the up-sides of the conflicts, the science of direct communication, and the best practices for proactively managing high-performing teams.

  • The Gift of Feedback

Feedback is a gift, but only if it is given with positive and constructive intentions, and received by open and curious receivers.

In this interactive workshop, learn the quantitative and qualitative value of feedback, understand how to provide and receive feedback, and practice both giving and receiving feedback in common business scenarios.

  • Making Decisions That Count

When the data is there, the pressure is on, and all eyes are on YOU and your team, you HAVE to get it right. 

In this workshop, learn some best practices around decision-making: from preparing to deciding, deciding to decide, reviewing an exhaustible set of alternatives to engaging stakeholders, establishing parameters, and making concessions.

Be prepared to share your own best practices around decision-making as well as any current scenarios at work. This workshop is chock-ful of thought-provoking and interactive exercises, so be prepared for an engaging, informative session.

  • Negotiating for a Win-Win

Everyone says that women are bad negotiators, with a few exceptions. But some women have their own way and style to secure win-win results collaboratively and transparently. Come hear what some of those exceptional women leaders will share about negotiating best-practices and find out how to get more that’s due to you – at work, in relationships and in life.

  • Overcoming Unconscious Bias

You don’t know what you don’t know… which is why Unconscious Bias is much more prevalent than blatant prejudice. It’s not cool and not politically correct to be unfairly prejudiced. It goes against our value system. In this workshop, learn why Unconscious Bias is so prevalent, how we can build more self-awareness for ourselves, raise the bar for our teams and colleagues, and invite a more open culture at work. 

Our interactive exercises will showcase some best practices on how to become more aware of ourselves, our values and our filters, and help us better integrate divergent perspectives in order to maximize business results. 

  • Bringing the TIGER out of YOUR Team

Tiger Teams are known for their ability to generate measurable results on a high-impact projects, in short order. Inherent in all successful tiger teams is the inclusion of a diverse and experienced team of active participants and leaders who are as competitive as they are collaborative, as communicative as they are inclusive.  

In this workshop, learn some best practices for creating high-performance tiger teams, embracing high-profile, high-impact projects for these teams, and empowering the full team and the individual team members for the term of the project and far beyond.

  • Transitioning from Technologist to Manager

In this interactive workshop, first look at the upsides and downsides for going into management and make that personal choice on whether to try it out.

If you choose to go in this direction, this workshop will share best practices on setting up your team for success, show you when to be a contributor and when to be a manager, and provide some specific management challenges and potential solutions.

Kiko enamorado

FountainBlue’s head-heart-hands approach to one-on-one executive coaching works with high-potential leaders from all levels who are interested in raising the bar for themselves, for their teams and for their organizations. Core to this approach is the focus on understanding the personal and professional objectives of the leader and how thoughts, words and actions may be shifted so that results are in better alignment.

Executive Coaching Rates

FountainBlue’s executive coaching rates are $150 a half hour for members and corporate hosts.  We measure success based on personal and professional criteria that is both qualitative and quantitative, and guarantee results. Members and corporate host representatives may sample a complimentary half hour session by visiting

Benefits for Corporate Execs

Our corporate clients tell us that FountainBlue’s executive coaching services provides an easy way to: 1) reward high-performers, 2) develop and retain high-potentials, 3) support the transition of leaders from technology to management or from one product line to another, 4) maintain a larger perspective throughout a transition, and 5) amplify the influence and reach of leaders.

Benefits for Leaders

Our current and past clients tell us that our coaching helps them: 1) gain clarity of purpose and direction, 2) identify barriers and achieve breakthrough results, 3) build networks of resources and support, 4) align energy and effort with results, and 5) realize greater work-life integration.




In the Words of Linda Holroyd: Why Do I Coach?

I’ve always been the go-to person to resolve conflicts, to answer questions, to connect resources and people. Touching others and helping them see and live life from a broader perspective has always driven me, whether I was an elementary school teacher, a start-up staffer, an adviser, coach or part of the management team at a nonprofit or tech company.

So when people ask me ‘why do I coach’, I have to really think about it – it has been a part of my modus operandi since first memory. But a good question deserves a reasonable response. And I’m also leveraging the thoughts of some of my heroes to make my point.

  1. Connecting a leader with his values has rich rewards for all.
  • Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. John Quincy Adams
  • The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value. Stephen R. Covey
  • Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Peter Drucker
  • The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch and do nothing. Albert Einstein
  • Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. Alexander Hamilton
  • Three Rules of Life … 1. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. 2. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. 3. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Steve Jobs
  • We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right. Martin Luther King
  • Knowledge will give you power, but character (will give you) respect. Bruce Lee
  • Integrity is doing the right thing even if nobody is watching. C. S. Lewis
  • Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. Socrates
  • Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. John Wooden
  1. Opening hearts and minds reveals possibilities for the direct recipient and for all those they touch.
  • My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou
  • In the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. It’s impossible to have a meaningful life without meaningful work, done with people we love doing it with. Jim Collins
  • Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition. Abraham Lincoln
  • Technology and social media have brought power back to the people. Mark McKinnon
  • From the streets of Cairo and the Arab Spring, to Occupy Wall Street, from the busy political calendar to the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan, social media was not only sharing the news but driving it. Dan Rather
  1. Helping someone elevate from management to leadership raises the waters for all.
  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams
  • Leaders are people who believe so passionately that they can seduce other people into sharing their dream. Warren G. Bennis
  • You cannot get through a single day without having some impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. Jane Goodall
  • The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. Colin Powell
  • To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart. Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the ONLY thing. Albert Schweitzer
  • A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. Lao Tzu
  1. Helping people align thinking, speaking and acting provides a tangible shift of perspective and results.
  • There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou
  • The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Amelia Earhart
  • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mahatma Gandhi
  • Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. Chinese proverb
  1. Teaching others how to ask the right questions releases the potential within and around them.
  • The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life. Confucius
  • Leadership begins by asking how you can make things better. Jeffrey Fry
  • The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions. Anthony Jay
  • The best leaders are the best note takers, best askers and best learners. They are shameless thieves. Tom Peters
  1. Being the mirror for others helps others see themselves for their possibilities rather than their limitations.
  • The psychic task which a person can and must set for himself is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity. Erich Fromm
  • The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles. Mahatma Gandhi
  • Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves. L.D. Marquet
  1. Understanding the past helps us forge a stronger present, a more promising future.
  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • For a tree to become tall, it must grow tough roots among the rocks. Friedrich Nietzche
  • Accountants are in the past, managers are in the present, and leaders are in the future. Paul Orfalea
  • What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. Oscar Wilde
  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. Lao Tzu
  1. Learning from all those around you and sharing that wisdom and strength emboldens and empowers all.
  • I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou
  • The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -and achieve it, generation after generation. Pearl S Buck
  • Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. Henry Ford
  • If I could see further than others, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants. Sir Isaac Newton
  1. Dreaming together of the future helps create a stronger, more tangible present.
  • Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. Maya Angelou
  • Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill
  • Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. General George S. Patton Jr.
  1. Releasing the magic in each of us inspires and connects all of us.
  • The great leaders are like the best conductors. They reach beyond the notes to the magic in the players. Blaine Lee
  • Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Wilfred Peterson

In the end, I conclude that to me, there is nobler act than to work with others to create a bigger, better world for us all.


Connections at the Leadership Crossroads

Launched in December 2012, FountainBlue’s CONNECTIONs leadership blog highlights leadership thoughts and concepts we’ve developed, working in collaboration with the dozens of executives and entrepreneurs over the past two decades. These connections might be connecting ideas, thoughts, people and concepts, which might may stimulate more strategic, more inclusive, more collaborative thinking and more results-achieving communications and actions. In other words, we write, coach and consult with the purpose of facilitating leadership One Conversation, One Leader, One Organization at a time.

FountainBlue’s leadership blogs are frequently used as tools during the coaching process and are made available to the general community in the hopes that it will stimulate thinking and reflection and prod our clients and community members to take action and reach toward higher and different goals and results. Individual articles may be forwarded and shared with permission and full credit given to FountainBlue and Linda Holroyd. Follow the blog by visiting See also the scoops we’ve curated around leadership by visiting our curated leadership posts at

Finding and Centering Yourself

Communicating Who You Are

A Bigger, Better YOU

Games People Play

Building Your Team and Network

The World We Work In


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