Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do you trust a doctor who Googles?

I've always thought it dangerous to self diagnose, but today I'm reassessing!

This weekend I was in New York and have been sick as a dog. I fell foul of the FirstRain Flu (good alliteration eh!) which was been going through my California office like a hot knife through butter. A week after my nasty cold symptoms turned into a deep cough, and four days (and one late night cross country flight) after that my cough was getting deeper every day. I was doing a great Marlene Dietrich impersonation... and since I have some critical meetings and plan to cross the country twice more in the next week I decided it would be smart to go to the doctor (OK, I confess, my sister told me to).

So I used Yelp to find a walk in clinic called CityMD where the sales pitch is that no appointment is needed and you won't have to wait. To be fair everyone was reasonably competent, but the experience was unnerving.

This was the first time I have been to a new doctor where I did not have to write down my existing medications on the initial form. So when the doctor told me I have bronchitis (as I suspected) and I need an antibiotic I made sure he knew I take a drug called Pradaxa, and that he should look for interactions before prescribing (yes, I am sure he thought I was obnoxious).

Initially his very pretty, very young medical assistant starting looking on Google as he leaned over her, very close. For about 5 minutes she was searching and then she gave up and suggested he do the searching. For the next 10 minutes I watched him use Google, dropping into sites like eHealthMe, trying different combinations of Pradaxa and various antibiotics (while his young assistant whipped out her phone and started texting, she was clearly bored).

Towards the end he said "how do you spell penicillin? p-e-n-i-c-i...", then he found it studied it and decided to prescribe it. His reason - "it's the oldest and it seems to have the least interactions". Not very confidence inspiring.

This CityMD doctor is not the first to use Google. Now that I am home and checking out the interactions myself before I take the meds I find that 46% of doctors frequently use searching to understand symptoms and treatments. Somehow I imagined they'd have professional services to refer to, or they'd be in continuous education, but now I know! Next time, I don't need a doctor —I know when I have bronchitis after all —and I can use Google as well as the next man.

But the experience also reminded me of how much I appreciate my doctor back home who studies continuously and holds an astonishing amount of information about drugs in her head.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TOUCH ME: FirstRain is bringing touch-powered Customer Intelligence to the enterprise!



As we saw last year, there’s been a massive wave of Fortune 500 companies adopting touch-based tablets and devices. One result of that has been the proliferation of a whole range of B2B iPad and smartphone apps from companies like us and salesforce.com to enable those mobile, touch-powered professionals with the intelligence and data they need to understand and engage their customers, as well as open up new opportunities.


However, there’s a second big enterprise trend that’s picking up momentum as well: that of large companies who are developing internal enterprise apps for touch-based tablets and devices, for use by their own enterprise sales and marketing teams.


And because it’s a need that more and more of our customers are requesting every day, we’re very excited to announce this morning the launch of FirstRain for Touch, a new, powerful and yet easy way to drop highly relevant customer intelligence for your sales and marketing teams into your enterprise iPad app—and the first enterprise customer intelligence solution built for the Salesforce Touch Platform.

Last fall, at their annual Dreamforce ‘12 conference, along with their high profile launch of Salesforce Touch, salesforce.com also announced the launch of the similarly named (but very different) “Salesforce Touch Platform.” And unlike Salesforce Touch—which is a downloadable app for iPad, iPhone and Android created for their users to easily access salesforce.com data and capabilities on their devices—the Salesforce Touch Platform is a Software Developer’s Kit that developers within a large enterprise can use to create their own, internal touch-device apps for their sales and marketing teams.

Our new FirstRain for Touch solution is an elegant and personalized set of components that have been optimized for use on touch-based devices, and can be easily dropped into enterprise apps created by companies, just like those developed using the Salesforce Touch Platform SDK. And the demand has been notable. For example, we have at least 3 large, current customers (all in the Fortune 500) who are each planning or have already created and deployed their own iPad apps for use by their own enterprise sales and marketing teams.

But perhaps one of the nicest aspects of this launch has been the opportunity to work with the great folks at salesforce.com. We have lots of clients in common and solutions that have always been highly symbiotic, and so this area is just one more place where we find common opportunity to help each other succeed. Our thanks to Clarence So, their Executive Vice President of Mobile Strategy, for his kind comments about our release: “It is exciting to see the rapid innovation that partners such as FirstRain are delivering on our trusted mobile platform, FirstRain for Touch will provide customers with the right intelligence to help them connect with their customers in entirely new ways and accelerate business success.


If you’re interested in more information about FirstRain for Touch, let us know!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

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

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