The power of the ecosystem: Magic happens!

Throughout the year, I've blogged about the power of the ecosystem. Whether it was a focus on the, the">entrepreneur ecosystem, or <a href="">empowering folks to create a digital ecosystem</a>, I'm a big believer that nurturing an ecosystem is essential to success.
I'm always encouraging companies who have smarter, game-changing, industry-disrupting solutions to build and engage their ecosystem. As a result, I've seen tremendous opportunities come to life... magic happens!
At the IBM Connect conference in January, two IBM Business Partners, <a href="">ISW</a> and <a href="">TrustSphere</a>, met for the first time on the trade show floor. What makes this really special is that ISW and TrustSphere both have a presence in Australia, but met for the first time in Orlando, Florida. They quickly realized the value that could be gained for each company in collaborating with each other!
Working together, these two companies developed a new social solution, called <b>Kudos Insights for IBM Connections</b>. According to the TrustSphere website, "Kudos Insights for IBM Connections can now leverage the power of Messaging Intelligence to deliver better collaboration insights when managing on line communities and accelerating social adoption."
What a great business success story! And I can't think of a more powerful way to underscore the value of participating in an ecosystem, and, of course, on being an IBM Business Partner!
How can you do the same? Attend our next conference: <a href="">IBM Insight 2014</a>! Early registration discount is available.
I hope you will attend. Magic can happen!

Innovation. Customer Obession! And an announcement ….

Jeff Bezos recently wrote in his shareholder letter, “It Will Always Be Day 1 at Amazon.” I am excited to announce that TODAY is Day 1 for me at Amazon – even though it is 30 days in. I have joined the Amazon Web Services team, running the AWS EC2 Enterprise and Windows business. I am thrilled about this opportunity to grow our cloud enterprise business with and to work with incredible mentors.

5 Reasons Why I Love Amazon Culture Already:

1. Innovation is at every level. Many companies talk about it, but AWS actually does it!
2. Super passionate people. Smart. Amazing.
3. All in on the customer. We start with customer obsession first and always.
4. Long-term focus.
5. Experimentation is a way of life.

I’ll be helping companies leverage their Microsoft assets. AWS gives you a cloud platform that helps run Microsoft applications like SharePoint and Exchange in a more secure, easily managed, high performance approach. And AWS gives you a fully managed database service to run Microsoft SQL Server, which helps you build web, mobile and custom business applications.

I’m so pumped to help clients and would love for anyone who is interested, reach out to me directly!

The post Innovation. Customer Obession! And an announcement …. appeared first on Social Business Sandy.

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Are you an Extreme Innovator?

Innovation is hot.   The word itself is said 8.2 times a second! But it is important because it means business.  There is nothing more disruptive today than the customer.

But how do you innovate your sales in the business to maximize sales?

Answer: Extreme Innovation

Why is Extreme Innovation so important?

  • 93% of companies depend on innovation to grow.
  • John Chambers of Cisco said 1/3 of businesses today won’t survive the next 10 years.
  • Eighty-one percent of CEOs say their teams are not equipped to meet the innovation opportunities needed to compete in today’s marketplace.
  • Half of the S&P 500 companies will be replaced in the next ten years.
  • The lifespan of these companies is in steep decline: their lifespan on the S&P 500 used to be 33 years – now it is only 14.

Innovation is the job of sales.  Sales is in the front line.  Marketing is the shaper of the conversation. Sales and customer service are points where the conversation takes place. When you ask the customer, “Who makes the brand real for you?” they will say sales or customer service.

So, how do you become an Extreme Innovator?

Super power #1:  Super Intelligence

 Super intelligence means using the technology to sell. The core technologies you need to know are Artificial Intelligence(AI), Bots, Virtual Reality(VR), Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain. For instance, Bots that are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).  A Bot runs on a messenger platform like Facebook or Slack, is focused on a task, and is usually conversational. No, they are not going to take away your job.   They are going to help you do your job.

For instance, GrowthBot is a bot that can be used to enhance your selling.  For instance, it can help you get company information, identify what marketing software a company might use, or even help you find the top posts from a site, or your top twitter followers.

VR can be used in a number of situations.  Lowe’s Home Improvement is using VR to help their clients with Do It Yourself (DIY) projects and to envision their future kitchen to create an experience in the sales process.

Make sure you are leveraging the technology that is available to open up doors, and create a customer experience to remember.

Super power #2:  Super Speed

 Super speed is about a mentoring culture to win.  The genesis of any innovation is an insight. One has an insight when he or she sees something different from everyone that is around him or her. They spot an opportunity hidden in plain sight. It was always there for everyone to see, but this person sees what everybody else missed seeing.

A lot of opportunities die a slow death. If I had to choose the most common reason, it would be the lack of access to the right kind of help at all stages to make measurable progress in reasonable time.

Building a mentoring network where you and your sellers have access to an internal (and external, if it makes sense) network of mentors is a good starting point to give your employees the right kind of timely help.  For example, if you customer is online and most are — 3 out of 5 IT decision makers learn about new products through social media and 57% of buying decisions are made online, even before a sales contact, then maybe you want to find a mentor who knows social media.

For instance, a software product called MentorCloud is used to make mentoring accessible to anyone.  The software encourages sellers to reach outside their comfort zone to acquire the needed assistance or door opener for a sale.

Super power #3:  Super Synergy

 Super synergy is about creating an ecosystem that is obsessed with the customer.   Ecosystems have won huge market battles– Apple built an ecosystem around the App Store, Tesla is building an ecosystem around super chargers for their electric cars. It is about partnering to win and obsessing.

Do you obsess and really listen to your client? In the Amazon Leadership principles, one of the top values is customer obsession. Sellers start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Where leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

Depending on what you sell, have you considered all the channels you could leverage?  For instance, a partner in an area maybe you had never considered before but it influences your customer.  Hotel Tonight’s selling team did this.  They focused on what could draw in repeat customers. The extreme innovation—an extreme one—was very focused; it drew on the emotional cord, and helped to establish a magical, bespoke experience. It was about delivering with real people the best experience per guest. For example, when one guest said they wanted a Nicholas Cage poster in his room, Hotel Tonight asked, “From which decade?” When teachers asked about local hipster spots, the magic team researched and proposed an experience to remember.

Innovative companies celebrate when new customers sign a contract. Extreme innovation companies celebrate when a customer turns into an advocate!

Growing sales requires growing people. Adopt these 3 super powers of extreme innovative sellers to discover, engage and grow your business and maximize sales. To learn more, check out my book  See what your super powers are by taking the Extreme Innovation survey at Super Powers Assess. 


About the Author:

Sandy Carter is the founder and CEO of Silicon-Blitz, focused on helping companies with innovation, technology, and cognitive diversity.   One of the leading pioneers in the digital business revolution, Sandy Carter was a driving force of Innovation at IBM for the last decade.

Sandy is ranked #4 on the Bottish 100  BOT influencers, in the top 100 by Onalytic for Social Business, named a Digital Influencer in 2016 by Forbes, and top ten women in technology by CNN. She is an extreme innovator and bestselling author who published her 5th book Extreme Innovation, built on her revolutionary research with Carnegie Mellon SV. She advises 4 startups on their go to market strategies.

The post Are you an Extreme Innovator? appeared first on Social Business Sandy.

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3 Changes in 2017 for Successful Branding and Marketing – Featured at CES

Yesterday I caught the BrandX ranking for the top brands in the industry and looked at how these success cases are modeling the way for branding!

3 Top Trends Are New Marketing & Branding Ala CES:

1.  Design and Experiences.   Brand will increase their use of video in 2017 to tell stories.  While traditional imagery is static, video is dynamic.  Women in particular are visual buyers.  The prediction of  clear visual communication — meaning focusing more on bringing forth the user content rather than the UI, will help to draw in women buyers — who today control approximately 75% of the consumer spend.

2.  Changing Customer Behavior + Expectations Releases the Power of Technology for New Experiences and Content .  Shawn DuBravac, the chief economist for CTA, dished on AI, AR, VR and Iot in the annual show kickoff as part of the 5 major trendBut the trend is not just for products incorporating these technologies but how companies are using them to market as well.  For instance, Lowe’s is using VR powerfully to help you imagine your new kitchen and companies like Under Armour use AI to provide personalized recommendations.

3.  Path to Purchase.   Today’s world is more complicated than the past in how the client purchases.   In 2017, the path to purchase is now more complicated.  I loved the Nielson presentation on the new startups that have created solutions to help  decipher the complexity of the path to purchase that exists through Social Media, Ads, TV, Mobile, and now AI, VR and new devices.

I am thrilled to be on the panel with Lisa Johnston, digital editor at TWICE magazine on Friday at CES!   Hope to see you there!

The post 3 Changes in 2017 for Successful Branding and Marketing – Featured at CES appeared first on Social Business Sandy.

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On a Panel in a Barn – My Top 12 Observations

This Friday I attended the Harvest Summit but to me,  it was the Harvest Festival.   Why a Festival?     A festival is a day or time of celebration, marked by feasting, ceremonies, and other new observations.   That is exactly what Friday was!


The Celebration was hosted by Jessica Kilcullen.  It began in a “barn” on a hill that has a wine cellar, olive press room, a space ship and a big oak tree.   True!   It was an inspiring location – free of tech but yet tech superbly drove everything in the event including incredible images behind each speaker.   Built on the theory that the most valuable part of any “conference” is the networking, the festival was built around networking occasions and moments.   Music filled the air!  Did you know that music can enable greater innovation?  Apparently Jessica did!


Feasting:   Some of the networking was built around food.   Food was all local and amazing.   There were juice bars, homemade salamis, special cheeses, and great wine.   The feasting was done in the outdoors, in olive press rooms, and wine cellars.   Food and community are inseparable.   I love opportunities to experience new foods with an amazing group of peers, and learning about ways for us all to be a community and share ideas so that we’re getting fed on multiple levels.  Food plays an essential role in building community.


Ceremony:  The sessions were short panels or keynotes. They were in a barn, under an oak tree or in a spaceship to open up the innovative spirit.  They were collaborative and different.   I am a techy so I learned so much about food innovation, social in basketball like the Warriors,  innovation frameworks, storytelling, health, and education.   It was great to breath in deeply to see and feel different viewpoints.


New Observations: Here are my Top 12!

  1. The crowd’s influencer is growing greater. There is genius in the crowd.
  2. Specialists have jobs. Generalists build empires. Think 10x – and 10x doesn’t cost 10X more.  Create the culture in order to create the big vision.
  3. Design is relationships, the experience, and everything around us. Design is the next competitive weapon.
  4. Solve problems so big – there is no App for that! Take time every day to think about the future, not just the tactical.
  5. It’s all about Fast Learning. Fail forward and learn.  Don’t just fail and celebrate.
  6. It’s all about experiences. The common theme in Health, Education, Tech, Consumer, Food, and more.  An experience can be so good, you don't want to post it!
  7. screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-10-13-53-pm
  8. CEO = Chief Encouragement Officer.   The CEO is the one who should be setting the direction of innovative spirit.
  9. Every startup needs a great idea/product, funding and marketing. Most people de-emphasize the marketing.  You can't start any business without being a great storyteller!
  10. Technology will be accelerating more rapidly in the future. AI, VR, and IoT will ensure data becomes the biggest part of the competitive equation
  11. Diversity breeds innovation. Make sure you have Cognitive Diversity.  Our panel with Elizabeth Gore, Trish Costello, and Steve generated great discussions and brainstorming - much of which will be in a follow-on blog post!
  12. I loved all the people I met.   People make the world happen.  I loved chatting with Mark Burnett, so successful after 35 seasons of Survivor!


I am so thankful that I was included in the FIRST Harvest Festival and hope that Jessica has many more to come!

The Top 25 Female Founders of the IoT Startups

The Top 25 Female Founders of the IoT Startups

Sandy Carter, CEO of Silicon-Blitz, IoT Community Advisory Board

Brian Buntz, Content Director IoT Institute


By 2020, more than half of new business processes and systems will have an element related to the Internet of Things, predicts Gartner. And by 2022, Cisco predicts the IoT market to be worth $14.4 trillion.

The IoT is already driving a new era of innovation as data flows from sensors and devices located across the globe, creating an unprecedented influx of unstructured and structured data.

But in the end, it’s not really about big data. It is about having the right data.

Getting the most pertinent data, however, can be tough for established companies. Startups—especially those led by women—are playing a crucial role in this regard. Getting the right data into the hands of those who can use it, female founders are leading the way – whether it is in healthcare, education, fashion, construction, car maintenance, or other sectors.

There is a growing amount of evidence pointing to women's leadership role in the domain of IoT data. Successful startups have twice as many women in senior positions than unsuccessful companies, according to a Dow Jones VentureSource analysis of 3000 venture-backed IoT companies.  The Dow Jones research also found that women-led startups use 40% less capital and are more likely to survive the transition from startup to an established company. A study titled "Breaking Through: Harnessing the Economic Potential of Women Entrepreneurs" found that women-led  businesses grew four times faster than male-owned businesses over a five-year span.

To honor the achievements of women in the IoT field, I have pulled together a list showcasing the talents of 25 females. Now this was not an easy list to pull together.  Since the Internet of Things involves working with hardware (sensors) and software (for data and analytics), it requires researching this entire spectrum of activity.  I sent notes to dozens of influencers in Silicon Valley, New York City, Singapore, India, Israel, London, Germany, and beyond.  I attended pitch competitions and IoT hackathons and was sometimes the only woman in a full room.  (There's not a lot of women in the halls of these startup activities – but that’s for another article.)

Three major insights from all these women:

  1. Women must help women in order for us to move forward.  This is not about competition but helping one another succeed.  Alicia Asín
  2. We must be radically generous with the next generation.  They need us as role models. Anina Net
  3. Peers can be amazing mentors.  You don't need a Unicorn CEO to teach you about your next level.  Learn from everyone.  Bryn Jones

In the end, these 25 women of IoT startups rose to the top. Let me know if I missed anyone!   If you are a female founder, please take our survey:


By Name and Twitter ID:





The STE²M Economy

All aboard!

Today was a STE²M day.  What's that?  Females in Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Engineering, and Math.

I spent most of the day with Women helping other Women and Girls as well as with Dads of Daughters discussing strategies for girls to learn programming, challenges for female founders in Europe, and Enterprises looking for more great Channel Talent.

And it hit me. This is a new economy.  (Take this survey to help us change the world around this!   CLICK HERE!

The STE²M  economy. 

Did you know that studies in Africa show that children of mothers who have spent five years in primary education are 40% more likely to live beyond the age of five?  And that if Egyptian women were employed at the same rate as men that country’s GDP would climb by 34%?


How do we grow this new Economy?    STE²M (science, technology, entrepreneurship, engineering, and math) fields play a direct role in driving economic growth.  Women in STEM jobs earn 33% more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.

We grow this one woman at a time.

the Change Makers

  • Chics Connect has seen phenomenal growth and has taken some amazing initiatives for connecting women,who help each other to achieve their dreams,ambitions,missions as well as assist in everyday challenges life throws at a Neo-Age Women of today. Chics Connect is now present in Dubai, Jamaica, California, India and Denmark and is launching in Toronto, Turkey, Denmark and Australia soon.  They have 4,800 members across the world!
    Their fearless leader helping to create this new economy is Hurratul Maleka Taj - who is passionate and at 25,  has already started 2 companies!  I loved chatting with her today about her plans! Watch out world!


SonderConnect's goal is to support women entrepreneurs. Since their launch in April 2016, they have focused on  mentoring  and supporting their founders. The first batch of 13 founders have been mentored consistently over the period of six months. The founders are encouraged to approach SonderConnect even after their graduation from our mentoring program. Over the next few years their goal is to become the ultimate women entrepreneurs support and mentoring group. India being the oasis of startups, we believe there is immense potential for women lead organizations.

Their fearless leader is Lathika Pai, who is a serial entrepreneur and has over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship.  Her team consists of:  Vaishali Kasture, Sejal Shah Gulati, and Anju Shenoy -- all amazing leaders and change makers.   I have dinner with them each and every time I head to India!


Girls in Tech is focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology. Adriana Gascoigne founded GIT in 2007 to create a support framework to help women advance their careers in STEM fields.  GIT has more than 50K members around the world!

Today, GIT aims to accelerate the growth of innovative women entering into the high-tech industry and building startups.  They achieve this through the creation of proprietary, innovative programming and strategic global partnerships.

Today, I met with the new head of GIT Berlin, the fearless  Nakeema Stefflbauer.  She is founder of her startup helping everyone learn how to code, understand architecture, and more.


She is passionate about changing the game in Europe - especially the hub of entrepreneurship Berlin!

Women of the Channel  - Bob Demarzo - Yes, men are supporting this new economy too!


The Women of the Channel connects women in telcom and IT Channels for the purpose of collaborating to grow their businesses, and to support each other with best practices and mentoring.  Bob has his right hand leader -- Allison Hughes -- running the event, but Bob is actively engaged and very supportive.

Our discussion today was around how to help startups in the channel / sales aspects and to ensure that female founders and VCs are well represented!



Artificial Intelligence Colleges


I admit it. I am in love with Artificial Intelligence (aka AI).

As an undergraduate at Duke University, I took classes in it even though it is so far away from where AI is today!

So I played with an AI company - Graphiq - to find top AI colleges.

Below are the results!

Very intriguing!

The Lowe's Difference: My Thoughts From Their Leadership Summit

The Lowe's Difference:

I had the honor of participating in the Lowe’s Leadership Summit.

It all began a story.  And a packed room of amazing women leaders from throughout the world.


Here’s what I took away!

  1. Lowe’s Women’s Diversity is Strong. Did you know when they send the note out about the Women’s Leadership meeting, it would fill up in less than one hour?   They expanded the room this year, and added more people from Canada, India, and beyond.   They mean business. They are amazing women!
  2. Leadership matters. Robert Niblock, their CEO, stayed the entire meeting.  He didn’t sneak away for calls or meetings and truly participated.   Women’s leadership at Lowe’s is important to him.   Jennifer Weber, the CHRO, of Lowe’s led the meeting and participated the entire time.   This participation showed me that Lowe’s knows that diversity matters.   It is not just a nice to have.

img_73653.  Inspirational Takeaways from Amy Cuddy, Alison Levine and Kristan Seaford

  • Success isn’t always about going up, sometimes it goes up, down and sideways – embrace and learn – Alison Levine
  • Hope can change lives and business – Never give up – Kristan Seaford


  • Feedback is free. Growth is optional.   Anna Marie Chavez
  • The Power Pose is backed up with real data. Make the change – Amy Cuddy


4.   Startups + Enterprise = Innovation and it is alive and well at Lowe’s. Lowe’s Innovation Lab’s is all about disruptive technologies, including shipping a 3D printer to the International Space Station to help astronauts print parts and tools on demand. They also developed the Holoroom, a VR headset to help shoppers visualize bathroom and kitchen improvements. The Woman of Lowe’s have phenomenal ideas that can help innovate Lowe’s into the next generation.


5.  Have common values and goals. The key to making any relationship work is to have a common vision as the foundation. The entire day was based on the value based structure of Lowe’s.

  1. Be a part of something bigger
  2. Make a difference in somebody’s life every day
  3. Listen intently, sense and respond
  4. Be who we say we are
  5. Give your best always

My Summary

My favorite quote is “Tell me the facts and I’ll believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever!”.   This Summit for Leadership and Innovation was a set of stories that will live in my heart forever.  From Jennifer’s opening, to Robert – the CEO – stories about each of the values, this conference was a driver to more innovative approaches through diversity of thought.

Dads of Daughters - Secret Weapon for Changes in STEM

Diversity Drives Innovation

Diversity drives innovation.  According to HBR, employees of firms with diversity are 45% likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.  But companies have driven for this goal for a while attempting to do the same things to make change.   Albert Einstein once said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity.

And change is needed.  While over 50% of today’s consumer purchases are made by women, where products are designed and funded, women are underrepresented.   Only 6% of venture capitalists and 16% of founders and their teams are women today.

What should we do differently to drive a change?

Women have been supporting each other since the early days of quilting circles to lean in circles from Sheryl Sandburg.  And while these groups are important and valuable (I am on the board of Girls in Tech, and WITI as well as on the advisory board of GSV Reboot), we need to do some things differently  to drive change.  To move to the next phase of driving more women into leadership roles in enterprise, startups and venture capitalists, we need women and men working to change structural circles by co creating together.


Dads of Daughters - Secret Weapon for Diversity in STEM

I have successfully run diversity groups in large organizations.  Companies often ask me the secret of the success and while there are a few, one of the biggest was bringing in dads with daughters to play a role.    Why?

Every movement must have a personal passion.   Dads of daughters have the passion for making progress as they do not want their daughters to face what women today face.   Daughters encouraged by their dads are twice as likely to graduate from high school, and score higher on STEM subjects.


By having dads of daughters and women and girls coding, designing, and disrupting around healthcare, safety, wearables, financial services, and more, we can showcase talent to corporations and startups, and really start the movement of change.   I have dads of daughters in the advisory board positions of diversity groups and on my teams.

For one project, I carefully selected my partner in the work effort based on his background.    He was a dad with a daughter.   Once I explained our work to hire more diverse candidates in tech, he got it intellectually but more importantly, he got it emotionally.  He did not want his daughter earning less or not feeling included just because she was a woman.   Winning his mind and his heart showed in his passion and preparedness for our meetings.

If a startup begins with 10 people and 3 of them are women, the ratio as the company grows remains the same.   We are going to fix the gender diversity epidemic in Silicon Valley engaging 100% of the population.   We know that gender diverse companies outperform those who aren’ it isn’t charity.  And we know if at least 3 of the first 10 folks in a company are women, it will mean hundreds more women when the company hits 1000 employees.

DoDs:  Dads of Daughters
So what do you do?  If you are a start-up, start early hiring a diverse and talented team.   If you are an enterprise,  engage dads of daughters in your efforts for inclusion, hiring, and promotion.   You will be surprised at how much having 100% of the team on the field makes a difference!

Women Rock! Paper Scissors! TedX Talk!