Tag

salesforce.com

Career Advice

Are you ready for some Action!!



One of the most enjoyable things about working at FirstRain is that we spend time every day with Fortune 500
sales and marketing leaders discussing about their challenges,
their objectives and how they’re trying to move the revenue needle for
their companies. And one thing we’ve heard consistently when talking to
these folks is the urgent need they have to increase the productivity of their teams.
As we exit the Great Recession, many companies are facing pitched
competitive battles while having significantly reduced teams—which puts
the onus on a company’s sales and marketing operations or enablement
teams to help every rep be as productive as possible!

This drive to provide increasingly powerful solutions to the sales team to raise their revenue productivity is what’s behind our latest release, just announced today (see it here on WSJ.com): an expanded set of analytics actions for Salesforce.com. With this new release, FirstRain users who are accessing FirstRain integrated into their Salesforce.com CRM instance can now:

  • Advance their sales cycles more quickly by instantly assigning
    critical FirstRain intelligence into an actionable salesforce.com Task
    for themselves or their team.
  • Easily inject useful context and intelligence into any account view
    by enriching emerging account developments using account Notes.
  • Improve collaboration by instantly sharing impactful developments with their team and colleagues via Chatter or email.

The means we’re making it easy for sales people to instantly convert useful
customer analytics into the activities that increase their team collaboration,
improve their alignment with their customer and so grow their revenue – and their commission.

 
We put out a press release which quotes me as saying “To be
competitive in today’s market, enterprise sales teams need to not only
deeply understand the customer, their customer’s customer and their
customer’s market, but they must also be able to instantly act on that
intelligence.”

…and our early release
customers are already loving it!

CMSWire’s great article on the release today
puts it well, “FirstRain, whose name invokes nourishing precipitation
after a dry spell, is looking to refresh productivity in Salesforce …”
.

We couldn’t have put it better.

Equality

Wonder Where the Women in Power Are? Look to Silicon Valley

Posted on the Huffington Post March 13, 2013

There is a tectonic shift happening and we’re living the future right now here in technologyland. Women are gaining and holding power at a rate we have never seen before and finally they are openly talking about it.

Sheryl Sandberg’s well-marketed new book Lean In, is stirring up the timely discussion about what it takes for women to get ahead. Sheryl says you need to “lean in,” believe in yourself, and not hold yourself to impossible standards of doing everything; and she’s rightly pointing out that men and our workplaces have to change to make it possible for women to broadly have equal opportunity for leadership.

Sheryl’s saying what those of us who lead technology companies here already live: you have to have confidence, embrace your opportunities and be ready to not get hurt by the “likability gap” that women in power face. Her situation is particularly fortunate in that she joined not one, but two, very high growth opportunities (Google and then Facebook) and so she’s now rich and is taking criticism for telling those less wealthy than her what to do, but hats-off to her that she’s speaking out and putting the issue of gender in leadership onto the national agenda.

But she’s one of many now in Silicon Valley, and not all the stories are as sunny. Women are also taking on some of the hardest turnaround challenges in technology today:

Marissa Meyer stepped up to be CEO of Yahoo! — a challenge so difficult that even a strong product executive with her technical chops may not be able to pull it off. When she stopped employees working from home she was strongly criticized by men and women alike (ironically, often on the grounds of gender equality), and yet she is making the tough business decisions needed to change the Yahoo! culture from one of entitlement to one of growth. If a male CEO had made the same decision it either would have not made the press, or it would have been lauded as a “brave” and “bold” move to turnaround Yahoo!

Meg Whitman has taken on the thankless task of righting HP after a disastrous revolving door of CEOs — not a challenge for the faint of heart — but early indications are she’s going to win and accelerate revenue growth in 2014.
 

Whether you consider Safra Catz, President of Oracle, Diane Bryant, CIO of Intel, or Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, women are winning and holding leadership positions and showing us the future today. And it’s hard not to include Ginni Rometty, the CEO of the technology powerhouse IBM, even though she is not based in Silicon Valley. The fact that these executives are women is a distant second to their ability.

So why is it different here in Silicon Valley for women? There are two fundamental reasons.

1. Generational. Many of our new, fast growth technology companies are run by men, and women, of a younger generation than in other industries. Consider the leadership of Facebook, Google, Salesforce.com, LinkedIn — they are all under 50 and many are under 40. Even Tim Cook of Apple is only 52. Their generation have grown up with women working in their families and so they don’t bring the same prejudice the over 60 generation bring. As a female technology CEO I’ve found the number of times I get asked “what about your kids?” goes down dramatically every year as the peers I work with drop below 60.

2. Technology is a meritocracy. It’s all about how good your product idea, your code, your algorithm is, not your race, gender or whether or not you are gay. And it is especially true in the new generation of tech companies. The competition for talent in the San Francisco Bay Area is ferocious and the competition for market share never lets up, so we simply can’t afford to not hire the best engineers, regardless of gender. We just need more of them.

When Pamela Ryckman was researching her new book Stiletto Network (releasing May 2013) she found that the unique entrepreneurial ecosystem of Silicon Valley has benefited women disproportionately. Instead of rigid organizational structures, Silicon Valley thrives on change: companies come and go, teams form and disband, and so talent gets spotted and adopted regardless of gender.

Companies, and whole industries, are going through disruptive change now as the impact of software increases the power of the individual. The payment industry is being rocked by disruptive changes like Square and Google wallet. Manufacturing is being rocked by 3D printing, making it possible for you and me to manufacture products from our imagination without having to build a factory.

The demands made by the pace of change and fierce competition in our industries do not leave room for gender bias at the top any more. And that’s why more and more women are emerging as leaders and holding power here in Silicon Valley.

P.S. This does not mean women, however, are gaining equality across technology as a whole. We still hold a distant minority of board positions (9.1 percent of board seats in Silicon Valley are held by women) and we still have a dire need for more girls to go in to, and stay in, computer science and technology (less than 18 percent of our CS graduates are girls). The work of non profits like the Anita Borg Institute to coach and encourage female geeks is still essential for the technology industry as a whole.

Equality

Queen Bees or a Stiletto Network?

I was disappointed by the drivel written in the WSJ on Friday The Tyranny of the Queen Bee. It is just not reality, and reinforcing a negative stereotype at the same time. The WSJ should know better.

The thesis is that because there are so few women in power they hang on to the power as Queen Bees and bully other women… “Four decades later, the syndrome still thrives, given new life by the
mass ascent of women to management positions. This generation of queen
bees is no less determined to secure their hard-won places as alpha
females. Far from nurturing the growth of younger female talent, they
push aside possible competitors by chipping away at their
self-confidence or undermining their professional standing. It is a
trend thick with irony: The very women who have complained for decades
about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by
turning on their own.”

The referenced research is thin at best, and frankly the behavior described in the article is just not my experience at all. There are so few women at the top in tech that I have found they support each other. Pretty overtly. Not that a woman will promote another woman because of gender, but they will spend time, coach, encourage, and generally put a hand out and say “join me when you’re ready”.

Our reasons are selfish. There are just not enough talented people trained in STEM in our workforce and we need more of them. Helping women get in and stay in technology and tech management is essential for us to be able to grow. We don’t have a scarcity of opportunity – we have a scarcity of trained talent!

Dr Drexler your opinion that “female bosses are expected to be “softer” and “gentler” simply because they are women” is also just not reality in Silicon Valley. I’ve been a Silicon Valley tech executive for more than 25 years now and no one who’s ever worked for me would call me soft. Compassionate when needed, but a hard ass. And I am not unusual – for women in power here I am more the norm.

I’m really looking forward to Pamela Ryckman‘s new book Stiletto Network, coming out in May (you can pre-order it here). Pamela did extensive research over the last year on how executive women help each other. Publishers Weekly just gave it a rave review saying:

“In an upbeat tone and energetic style, we learn how these successful women are coming together in intimate groups, where they embrace fashion, capital structures, and deals. Emboldening, encouraging, and entertaining, this book is essential reading for any woman who wishes to further her career while remaining true to herself.”

Now of course I’m briefly mentioned in it, so in a narcissistic way I think the premis of the book is right (although I have not read it so who knows – maybe I am a Queen Bee – but I doubt it!).

It’s really important now that we talk about the reality of women in power, especially here in tech, and not keep reinforcing the negative stereotypes. Women are a huge, latent force being unleashed. At Dreamforce last year Salesforce.com hosted a Girly Geeks panel which I was on. It was crowded out, more than 1,000 women came and Salesforce had to cut off their own employees to make sure enough of their customers and partners could come. The energy, drive and passion in the room was pallpable.

There is a tidal wave coming of women in power and women helping women. It’s happening!

Image: lollonz.deviantart.com

Leadership

How to Unite your Team: Advice from Napoleon

Silicon Valley is littered with small (and large) companies that want to create a revolution. It might be a revolution in commerce – like Square trying to “Architect a revolution,
thoughtfully”, or being the enablers of a revolution like social media was for the Arab Spring, or creating a revolution in music delivery the way Apple did with the iPod.

But what is it that unites a team of people to try to create a revolution in the world of technology?

Napoleon believed that “There are only two forces that unite men — fear and interest” (from Napoleon: In His Own Words 1916) because “all great revolutions originate in fear, for the play of interests does not lead to accomplishment.”

I think he was right, but in reverse order.

In the world of the technology startups the dominant, unifying force is interest. Most people I have ever worked with were a part of the company because of shared interest. They have a common end in mind (to use one of Covey’s 7 habits).

At Simplex (bought by Cadence in 2002) our interest was in the electrical modeling that semiconductor companies needed to make faster, more reliable chip designs – and so sell more chips at lower cost. Everyone in the team was interested in how to get the technology to work (a non-trivial series of math and computer science challenges), and work in the hands of customers at ever decreasing, truly less-than-the-width-of-a-hair, geometry sizes. Chip modeling was a “big data” problem before we talked about big data. Geeky, but very interesting.

The best technology leaders – usually the CEO or founders – unite their employees with a vision for what’s possible. They have a uniting concept that everyone gets interested in – like salesforce.com with their “no software” platform to move CRM to the cloud, or Amazon with a vision that we’d all be buying books, and then everything else too, on line. Both visions were compelling, interesting to work on, and right.

So “the play of interest” does lead to accomplishment when you are building a technology company. I think it’s the only thing. You can’t unite people around money (well not for long anyway) and you can’t unite them with fear in a market when they can walk down the street and find another interesting job.  You have to do it with interest.

The great general was right that fear plays a role too but it’s only at the tactical level, in the moment, or in the sleepless times of the night. Fear of losing a deal, fear of failure, fear of missing a deadline you’ve committed to another team or a customer, fear of being wrong in the path you took to solve a problem. Everyone in a startup feels it. If they say they don’t they’re lying. Everyone experiences The Struggle. But you can’t unite people with fear because, in the end, this is a game. It’s not life and death, it’s not the control of empires or the defense of your homeland. It’s a business, with a dream, but a business.

Napoleon had to unite his men to fight through the mud and risk their
own lives to (almost) bring continental Europe under his command –  he used both fear and interest. You
need to unite them to work grueling hours and take huge personal risk to
try out new ideas – and in technology that means uniting your team with interesting work and a meaningful goal.

Leadership

On stage, having fun, with GE Capital

Had a blast on stage with Steve Kozek from GE Capital at Dreamforce last week. Here are the much-edited highlights from our session. My favorite bit, apart from all the excellent serious content, is the carrots. Yes, we really did have real carrots, with long green tops on them, up on stage with us. We had planned to eat them but in the end we took the session seriously and didn’t.

Thanks to Steve. He’s the dream customer and a big believer in FirstRain.