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Entrepreneurs: Marc at Vator Splash 2016

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016


his year’s Vator Splash Health, which took place at Kaiser HQ in Oakland, was Startup focused and well worth the price of admission.

As we’ve come to expect, it featured a very impressive line-up of panelists and speakers dealing with extremely relevant topics ranging from opening remarks (kidding), tackling cancer with technology, to patient-centered healthcare, to telemedicine and patient engagement, to protecting yourself as the founder, to uncovering new data from API’s and platforms, to big picture items, such as the future of healthcare altogether.

There were supercharged Splash competition presentations featuring three of Health Tech finalists creating an opportunity for new businesses to effectively message their product.

Participating vendors were easily accessible; including Bloom Technologies, DocDelta, Lighthouse, from the American Diabetes Association, Lab Sensor Solutions, Carrum Health, and Crediyo.

Event partners included KPMG, SAP Startup Focus, Bread & Butter, Artis, Scrubbed, Stratpoint, and Healthiest.

On the agenda throughout the day were fireside chats with the likes of Helmy Eltoukhy, founder & CEO, Guardant Health and Vator founder/CEO Bambi Francisco.

Other splash talk topics showcased — when software eats bio, funding the science behind healthcare, Who’s financing the digital health ecosystem?, and Are You in Kaiser’s Line of Sight: A Buyer’s Perspective.

Big data was discussed at length, crystallizing the notion that it is the current ability, made accessible by modern technology, to put meaningful patterns together that are deployable that will affect outcomes and achieve objectives.   

An additional topic or two that I was pleasantly surprised by was the acknowledgement by Dave Schulte, Managing Director at McKesson Ventures, of the importance of the virtue of humility, in admitting “not knowing”. Kudos to Dave because this, of course, comes against the backdrop of Silicon Valley’s famed hubris. 

Leading to another interesting point in that, at a minimum, the possibility (if not certainty) exists, that there will be a falling away or clearing of many of the startups and downturn both in investment activity and new business creation.

A sober but fair assessment and reminder of the unavoidable cyclical nature of business that correctly tempers expectations. 

More than simply being a fun event, populated by interesting shakers and market makers, with good,  healthy food (a very pleasant change), it was a phenomenal networking forum and that, perhaps, is its most intrinsic value.

December Leadership Development Carnival

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

leadership-carnival-5-300x134There are times when we all need advice, encouragement and/or validation. We look for better ways to do things and new approaches to old problems.

The advantages of a blog carnival is that it provides, in one handy place, a curated list of links to some of the best bloggers in cyberspace offering creative, useable approaches in leadership, management, culture and “other practical Insights.”

It’s provided in its entirety below for current situations and to bookmark as a reference for future needs.

December Leadership Development Carnival

Leadership Skills

Many of this month’s featured posts focus on specific leadership skills we all need to develop.

For example, in “Seven Ways to Sell Your Ideas to Management,” Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog shares how to present your ideas in order to get them implemented – a skill you need to master if you want to be an influential leader in your company.

Need a little tongue-in-cheek advice? In “7 Habits of Highly Inept Leaders,” Karin Hurt of the Lead Change Group provides basic yet insightful tips about things NOT to do as a leader, thus encouraging leaders to behave differently in order to most effectively lead their teams.

Dana Theus shared this helpful reminder on the InPower Blog: the job you want may not need what you do best right now. The higher you go in leadership, the more this is true. To learn more about how to develop the skills you will need in your next leadership role, check out “Sidestepping the Peter Principle for Career Success.”

Do you understand the two faces of leadership? Jesse Lyn Stone of the Jesse Lyn Stoner Blog explains that one face of leadership looks forward to the future, while the other face looks back at your followers. Learn more about this important leadership approach in “The Two Faces of Leadership.”

Neal Burgis, Ph.D. wrote about another leadership approach on the Practical Solutions blog. Neal writes, “Creativity is often described as the catalyst to innovation, and creativity does not need to be left up to chance.” Learn more about cultivating this mindset in “Creative Innovation as a Leadership Mindset.”

Are You Living Your Leadership Life to the Fullest? Mark Deterding of Triune Leadership Services explains where servant leaders focus their energy to lead a life of significant impact.

Character of a Leader

Our featured bloggers also submitted great advice on developing essential character strengths and qualities.

Mary Jo Asmus reminds us that a willingness to open up and be vulnerable can create deeper work relationships in her post “The V Word” on the Mary Jo Asmus blog.

As leaders, we can be hard on people, but when we’re quick to judge, we need to take a step back and think about the second chances we were given. Read more on this topic in “Be Grateful for Second Chances,” submitted by Jon Mertz of the Thin Difference blog.

Inspirational leadership is the catalyst that gets people to go the extra mile, and Dr. Anne Perschel of the Germane Insights blog has been writing a series of five posts to help you be a more inspirational leader. Don’t miss 5 Attributes of Inspirational Leadership: #3 Determination.

In “The Power of a Kind Leader,” Jeff Harmon shares that giving attention creates an engaged state in the brains of team members and employees that can result in an increase in creativity, more collaboration and greater accuracy. Check out Jeff’s blog on the Brilliance Within website.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success shares “Traits of a Good Boss,” which highlights four important leadership traits as exemplified by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO.

With competing priorities, where should a leader’s focus truly be? As John Hunter shares on his Curious Cat Management Comments blog, Alibaba founder Jack Ma takes this approach: “We believe customer number one, employee number two, shareholder number three…” Learn more in “Managing the Organization as a System with Many Stakeholders.”

There are no shortcuts to developing high-trust relationships. In “4 Timeless Principles About Building Trustful Relationships,” published on the Leading with Trust blog, Randy Conley shares four principles you should keep in mind about the role time plays in building trust.

Lisa Kohn of Chatsworth Consulting Group shares “Four Ways We Sabotage Our Own Leadership” on The Thoughtful Leaders™ Blog. In this post, Lisa discusses why making sure you’re credible, trustworthy, consistent, and real will help you be the leader you want to be and make people want to follow you.

Management Issues

Need advice on a management issue? These experts may just offer the answers you need.

Well-orchestrated talent management practices can make the difference for your organization and position it to thrive, grow and weather change on the strength of its current and future leaders to face the challenges of doing business in 2015 head-on. Evan Sinar, Ph.D., DDI Chief Scientist and Director, Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER), shares Strong Bench Readiness May be Rare, but It’s Not an Accident on DDI’s Talent Management intelligence blog.

Beth Armknecht Miller of Executive Velocity Inc. tackles the question “How Valuable Are Employee Self-Assessments When it Comes to Tracking Employee Performance?” Integrating an employee’s self-assessment into the performance feedback process can uncover gaps between your perception and an employee’s perception of his or her performance before the actual review, providing you with a direction for feedback and enhancing your conversation.

Employee engagement is always an important management issue. Engagement begets more engagement…so how do you get the cycle started? Julie Winkle Giulioni shares advice in “The Engagement Ring.” Read more of her advice at www.juliewinklegiulioni.com.

Adam Harkness of The Productivity Blog shares this post on implementing analytics for HR, “Talking Predictive Analytics with a VP of Talent Management.” Similar to predicting the weather, attempting to predict performance is as much a science as it is an art; the field has evolved over the years and companies are now leveraging predictive analytics in the HR space to better understand their workforces.

Company Culture

From explaining the company vision to making culture “sticky,” company culture is something all leaders should be intentional about.

Do your employees “get” the company vision? Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation offers up five ways to know in Don’t Wait Around for the Company CEO to Explain the Vision.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results Through Culture shares “Is Your Culture ‘Sticky’?” – a post/cast that provides steps to follow to ensure that a high performing, values-aligned culture remains and thrives after the culture champion moves on.

Other Practical Insights

Not sure how to navigate your upcoming office holiday celebration? Or struggling with the balance between empathy and enforcing performance expectations? Look no further than these helpful posts.

Managers need to figure out how to navigate the tricky waters of office holiday celebrations. Read Dan McCarthy’s post over at About.com Management and Leadership: A Manager’s Guide for the Holiday Season for some common sense tips.

Leaders who are overwhelmed may not admit it, but their staff bear the brunt. Jill Malleck shares “Herculean Efforts Not Always Heroic” on the Epiphanies at Work blog.

When should you lower your expectations bar for the sake of empathy?  This post from Mary Ila Ward at The Point helps leaders think through balancing empathy and expectations with three simple questions. Read “3 Questions for Balancing Empathy and Expectations as a Leader.”

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership writes that planning can help you succeed, but only if you review and modify your plan. Read more on approaching planning with the right mindset in “Plan, Review, Adjust, Repeat.”

Our world is rapidly changing as a result of globalization, technology and the steady emergence of economically hungry developing countries, further amplifying the need for strong leadership at both the political and corporate levels. Learn more about “Leading in a Time of Rapidly Shifting Tectonic Plates” with this post from Jim Taggart on his blog, ChangingWinds.

And finally, I recently wrote about a helpful tool for addressing leadership gaps in your organization. Learn more about “Closing the Leadership Gap” here on my blog.

Image credit: Great Leadership

Management is Like Coffee

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25187937@N05/5525163305How much management/coaching is too much?

I hear that question a lot.

Most managers want to do a good job and are looking for ways to improve.

But, as one commented recently, if you do everything recommended by the experts you would use so much of each person’s time that productivity would tumble and even the best coaching would have a negative impact.

Which is why I say that management and coffee are similar.

In the right amount coffee is good for your brain and may help you live longer.

The right amount of management/coaching is good for the brain in that it provides challenges that foster growth; it also lowers frustration and stress, which enhances mental and physical health.

According to the research, the “right” amount of coffee is around 20 ounces a day, i.e., one venti-size Starbucks.

That equates to the most effective management/coaching, which provides all the information needed to do the job at one time (not more nor less) and then gets out of the way while staying accessible if needed.

Many of the coffee-fueled are more likely to drink three to five ventis a day, which is detrimental to health and longevity.

A comparable amount of management/coaching is detrimental to health, productivity and retention.

Flickr image credit: Kurtis Garbutt

Cope or Control (That is the Question)

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013


Stress is bad, right?

Bad for your health, bad for your relationships, bad for your life.

Or is it?

Actually stress can be a positive motivator.

So perhaps it’s not stress, but how we handle it.

The article may be looking at kids, but kids grow up to be adults and genetic traits come along for the ride.

One particular gene, referred to as the COMT gene, could to a large degree explain why one child is more prone to be a worrier, while another may be unflappable, or in the memorable phrasing of David Goldman, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, more of a warrior.

Granted, the researchers were looking at short-term, i.e., competitive stress, but the solution was still the same as it is for stress that lasts longer. (The COMT gene also has a major impact on interviewing.)

They found a way to cope.

For many people stress is the result of losing control.

But if there is anything experience should have taught you by a very early age is that you can’t control your world; not even a tiny part of it.

I learned that lesson as a child of five when my father died and nothing ever happened after that to change my mind.

If you put your energy into controlling stuff to avoid stress you are bound to fail.

Energy spent on control is energy wasted.

Energy focused on coping provides exceptional ROI.

Flickr image credit: Eamon Curry

Quotable Quotes: Aphorisms

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/6813913539/Do you know what an ‘aphorism’ is? It’s a bit of accepted wisdom or observations recognized by the general population as being true. A friend sent me a list of aphorisms I grew up with—oldies but goodies (like me) and still true. I’ll share more oldies, along with more currents ones in the months to come. I’ve added explanations to the more obscure ones, but feel free to ask if you don’t get it.

A lick and a promise (a quick fix with a promise to come back and do the job right later)—sounds like a lot of software releases.

One bad apple spoils the whole barrel—apropos to managers who ignore the team member who is tearing the group apart.

Been through the mill (had a rough time)—a fairly accurate description of most entrepreneurs.

Scarce as hen’s teeth (hens don’t have teeth)—programmers in their twenties with 10 years of mobile experience.

Whatever floats your boat (or paddles your canoe)—an attitude opposite of the ‘my way or the highway’ so prevalent today.

Catawampus (out of place or crooked [I love saying catawampus, it makes me smile])—the condition of the stuff on most of our desks (definitely mine).

Stringing around or piddling (not doing anything of value)—worker action a day or two before and after holidays or vacation.

You ain’t the only duck in the pond (it’s not all about you)—there are almost as many variations as people who don’t believe it.

Flickr image credit: Denise Krebs

Skip the Jargon

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Last Friday I cited HBS research that indicates that the best results are achieved when those in charge are both good managers and competent leaders and that the key factor is excellent communications.

Whether you think of yourself as a leader or a manager, communications is about more than talking clearly, it’s about providing all the background necessary for your people to understand why they are doing their jobs, as well as what jobs they are to do.

Think of it this way,

  • operational communications provide people information on how to do their jobs, while
  • management communications tell them what their jobs are and why they do them, giving form and purpose.

People need both.

Many of the problems that managers face daily stem from their own poor or inaccurate communications, often as a result of using jargon in an effort to sound sophisticated, knowledgeable and with it.

Jargon doesn’t work for several reasons.

  • You may not totally understand or be comfortable with the jargon;
  • your people may have their own individual understanding or be guided by their previous boss’ definitions that have nothing to do with your intended meaning. This happens often enough with words of one or two syllables, let alone multi-syllabic management-babble; or worse,
  • your people may shut down when they hear jargon.

You can create a relatively jargon-less environment by

  1. keeping it firmly in mind that your goal is to provide your people with all the information needed to understand how to perform their work as correctly, completely, simply, and efficiently as possible; and
  2. providing clear, concise, and complete communications at all times.

Follow these two steps religiously and the results will amaze you,

  • Productivity will skyrocket; which will
  • make your company more successful;
  • your employees happier; and
  • you a more effective manager with better reviews and an enviable reputation.


Be sure to check out this months Leadership Development Carnival; it’s been broken up to run over several days, so I can’t repost it here.

Flickr image credit: kevinspencer

Managers Build What Entrepreneurs Start

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Talented managers are taking flack these days for not becoming entrepreneurs.

Whether hinted at or stated outright, their value is demeaned when they choose to stay in corporate positions and they are accused of wasting their talents when they could be out creating jobs by starting companies.

Kindly put, this is a crock.

As Andy Grove pointed out, after the first couple of years job creation is about the same in growth companies as large corporations.

Now Valley legend Esther Dyson, CEO of EDventure Holdings and an active investor in a variety of start-ups around the world, weighs in pointing out that without managers there would be no companies.

The real spur to job and value creation is not turning hundreds of college grads (or dropouts) into entrepreneurs, but hiring thousands – and hundreds of thousands – of people into growing companies that can organize and motivate them and make the best use of their talents.

Thank you, Esther!

This needed to be said by someone with a lot more clout than I have.

Startups are much like marriages.

In marriage, the real work starts after the bride and groom say “I do.”

In startups, the real work starts when the first “outsider” is hired.

There is a reason that very few founders build and run their companies—it’s not what they’re good at.

That’s why we should be celebrating managers with the talent and skill to build the company for the long-term.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Silver or Lead?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

“There is no silver bullet that’s going to fix that. No, we are going to have to use a lot of lead bullets.”  –Bill Turpin (quote source)

5824460045_54bb0ccb55_mAlthough Bill Turpin said this in reference to technical problems at Netscape, I see managers at all levels and across industries spending time looking for silver bullets with which to “fix” their people.

There are two reasons that this is a major waste of time.

First, I can categorically state that there is no such thing as a silver bullet. No matter what you are trying to do there is no tool or methodology that can be guaranteed to work in every situation and under every circumstance.

Second, No manager, past or present, has ever fixed anyone. The best that any manager can do is identify the problem, present the information and offer support, but any change or ‘fixes’ must come from the individual.

Lead bullets, however, are how most problems are solved and behaviors changed.

By some measurements lead bullets are expensive, since they cost time and effort over a longer period, but they typically have the highest ROI of anything a manager does.

So, time spent searching for a silver bullet fix or time spent chipping away at the problem with lead bullets?

As always, it’s your choice.

Flickr image credit: mdanys

Ducks in a Row: Give Thanks

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010


Thanksgiving is about excess. Excessive food, excessive drink and excessive appreciation.

We give loud and exuberant thanks for all sorts of things at work and at home—people, actions, happenings, things, stuff—a lot of which we take for granted the rest of the year.

Why not take a different path this year and give your loud and exuberant thanks every day starting Thursday (or today if you are ready).

Offer thanks for the little things as well as those that loom large and make sure the thanks are sincere.

Appreciate the good stuff and the not so good, since our best personal growth often springs from how we handle the negatives.

Reach out, instead of waiting to be approached.

Give the people in your world the benefit of the doubt as well as the benefit of your experience.

Give others the spotlight and be thankful when they rise to the occasion—even if it takes some prodding.

Put away your thoughts of quid pro quo and what’s in it for me.

Do it for the next 365 days and I guarantee that your 2011 Thanksgiving will be the most amazing one of your life.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

Technical Difficulties

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Dear Readers,

I want to apologize for the erratic publishing last week and the missing Sunday posts.

We moved to a new server and my WordPress admin has been weird since then, with you being subjected to the end results of the weirdness.

Hopefully we have solved the public issues and I can continue the fight with the WP editor in private.

I hope it hasn’t been too annoying; if you notice further goings-on, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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