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Analyst Relations

Last weekend was pretty much a lost one for me, and this coming weekend will likely be more of the same. When you invite more than 400 industry influencers from across the globe to your backyard for two days of meetings and interactions, you can expect the last few days before everyone arrives to be filled with one or two last-minute issues.While I was working on Sunday on myriad things related to our upcoming C-Scape Global Forum, my computer suddenly went dark. I may have screamed out an expletive. My youngest daughter burst into the home office.“œDad, you OK?”"œYes, honey. My computer just crashed, and I have a ton of stuff to do for my conference next week.”"œSorry, dad. I hope you didn’t lose anything.”As I sat muttering to myself and rebooting, she turned to leave. When she got to the door, she stopped and turned back around.”œDad, do you really like what you do? You seem pretty stressed lately.”"œYeah, Ari, I do. I just have a lot on my plate right now.”As the door closed behind her and I waited for my laptop to regain consciousness, I got to thinking about her last question. And I realized that I gave her the wrong answer.I don’t really like what I do. I love what I do, and I’m passionate about it.Why? Here are 10 things that came to mind as I mindlessly watched the disk recovery process.10. I can do the job from anywhere. Obviously, not specific to the AR function at all as any number of high tech roles can be done from virtual locations, but I love the flexibility that advancements in technology have given me in this job.9. Every day is different. This role isn’t a punch-the-clock position. I learn something new everyday, and it’s actually been a great way to get a”hands-on” education in various aspects of the high technology industry. We handle a variety of situations each week, and they all seem to have a unique twist to them.8. I get to use my best judgment. As AR professionals, we must constantly balance our primary responsibility of protecting our company’s best interests against our desire to be analyst advocates and provide high levels of service to our external constituency. I love the fact that this function isn’t a black-and-white one. I’m not talking about playing fast and loose with the rules, mind you. It’s just that we aren’t held to a rigid set of legal and regulatory laws as they are in Investor Relations, for example. Having a job that allows you to make judgments and decisions in real time is challenging and exciting.7. I become a more effective storyteller. An analyst knows when they’re being spun 30 seconds into an interaction, so I love the challenge of telling my company’s story without resorting to smoke-and-mirrors or some type of elaborate song-and-dance. I realize there’s a certain level of marketing and positioning that goes along with just about any analyst engagement -something the analyst knows, as well -so achieving a level of credibility and believability while telling my story is a relished challenge. 6. I hone my communications skills continuously. Interacting with different people every day may be what I enjoy most about this job. Having an internal- and external-facing role allows me to call on and use all my communications skills -written, verbal, social, you name it. I also get on-the-job training in crisis communications management. The communications skills I learn at work can easily be applied to the rest of my life and vice versa. A comprehensive skill set in this area is a very valuable thing to have in your backpocket. And there’s nothing like the spirited back-and-forth that ensues when you’re trying to convince an analyst they have the wrong perspective on something!5. It’s global. And by that, I don’t mean”corporate.” I’ve been fortunate enough in my AR career to always be at companies where the function was a global one. That type of remit makes it more interesting, compelling and exciting. The opportunity to have an impact on your company’s business from a global perspective is heady stuff.4. Building a program I can take pride in. Whenever my program is assessed and evaluated by one of the independent AR observers in the industry, I immediately go to the scores for candor and integrity. To me, that’s the greatest compliment the analysts can give my team and program. If we’re dealing straight up with the analysts and exhibiting the highest levels of integrity and ethics, then I’m happy. That’s how I judge my program.3. Helping define an important industry function. AR is still a relatively young function in this industry. It has rightly achieved separation from PR and stands on its own as a critical function in the IT and communications worlds. I immensely enjoy the opportunity to define what this function is and -more importantly -define what it could be in the future with my colleagues at other companies. There are a handful of peer groups and associations we participate in that are designed to promote the function and establish best practices. Helping give a public face and persona to AR is pretty cool.2. It puts us in the middle of the action. AR at Cisco is viewed as a strategic asset. That means we are part of the strategic planning efforts and contribute to the process that determines where the company is going and what strategies it will embrace to get there. I’m hard pressed to think of anything else that provides such relevancy and high levels of job satisfaction. 1. The people -both the analysts themselves as well as my AR teammates and peers -are outstanding. Ultimately, isn’t this what it really comes down to? AR is all about relationships, and over the last 18 years, I have met some of the finest people in the world. This is a group I respect and admire greatly. Many of them have become valued acquaintances; several have become esteemed colleagues; and some have become cherished friends.I’m willing to bet a lot of us never take the time to stop and reflect on why we do what we do. We all work to address the important realities of life -putting food on the table, paying the mortgage and taking care of your family -but is there more for you beyond that?Do you really love what you do?I truly hope so. If you do, you’re one of the lucky ones…

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