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Taking Risks

Feel the fear and do it anyway is a commonly used phrase when trying to persuade someone to try something new. It may seem like a cliché but taking risks can actually bring great rewards.

A friend of mine has recently returned from volunteering in Asia. Someone who is normally afraid of spiders at home chose to live and work in the middle of the jungle. She slept in a hammock, had to regularly check her sleeping bag for scorpions and lived side-by-side with a whole host of dangerous insects and animals with only 12 other people around her.  The task was not only physical but mentally very challenging as well.

I’m pleased to report that she survived, and not only that, she loved it! She wasn’t the only one taking on the new challenge, people from several countries and all walks of life chose to volunteer and work together as part of a team. They went into the unknown, becoming friends with people they would never normally meet back home and putting their all into whatever work was presented to them. The results, my friend says, were remarkable and the experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

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Deep Breath and… Go For It

May 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm PST

Sheryl Sandberg speaking at PBWC

“Opportunities are handed to people who reach for them. In those quiet moments when you’re not sure, take a deep breath and go for it.” Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, spoke at the Professional Business Women of California Conference in San Francisco last week.

She covered many of the topics she covered in her famous TED talk on Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders; among them, how men will put themselves forward more than women, even if they have the same ability.  She encouraged attendees to be more aggressive about reaching for opportunities, as women tend to underrate themselves.

Sandberg also spoke about how a doctor changed his teaching style after hearing her speak.  Read More »

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Da Vinci Sacrifices Himself For Art

April 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm PST

“If your VP asks you to draw your idea on the board, I want you to acquit yourself favorably.” This was one of the goals of a half-day Visual Communications class I took recently.  Our teacher, Greg Twiss, is a Design & Engineering Operations Director here at Cisco, and also a former IDEO Client Manager and Product Design Consultant.

We had a whirlwind tour of drawing perspective, shadowing and creating visual tension.  Greg talked about how strong visuals combined with great story tellling creates a lasting message.  No more bullet point lists for us!

He also talked about our adult hang-ups. All kids say they can draw. He then asked our class how many people could draw and 2 people raised their hands. The constant self critique while drawing really gets in our way. Read More »

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50 Years of Space Travel

FIFTY years have elapsed since Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin lit the blue touchpaper on the era of manned spaceflight. Progress was rapid—only eight years separated Gagarin’s flight from the infinitely more complicated mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon in 1969.

The Economist

This week marks 50 years since Yuri became the first human in space, and there were many predictions as to what the we are living in now would look like with the advent of space flight. Some predictions have been more accurate than others. In 1911 Thomas Edison quite accurately predicted that by the year 2011 the traveller of the future will:

fly through the air, swifter than any swallow, at a speed of two hundred miles an hour, in colossal machines, which will enable him to breakfast in London, transact business in Paris and eat his luncheon in Cheapside.

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Cisco wins prestigious Inclusion and Diversity awards at Opportunity Now

Two nights ago, I had the pleasure of attending Opportunity Now’s 2011 Awards Gala Dinner at the Brewery, Chiswell St London. Over 500 guests came together to recognise excellent practices within organisations that are creating equal, diverse and inclusive workplaces, with a particular focus on gender.

Cisco came home with two awards that night:

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