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CiscoChat Recap: How Do We Continue to ReDefine Ourselves?

Cisco Chat Banner logoNow we know why one participant tweeted that they couldn’t wait for a “kick-a**” #CiscoChat with Cisco Live keynote speaker and award-winning CNN analyst Mel Robbins. The chat was one of the most inspirational and honest discussions of our #CiscoChat series with nearly 70 participants engaging on the theme: How Do We Continue to ReDefine Ourselves?

During the chat, Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (Cisco EWN) founders Anuja Singh, Rima Alameddine & Priscila David, along with Mel Robbins, explored the “ReDEFINE Tomorrow, Today” theme that began at Cisco Live. Analyzing the definitions of leadership, networking, innovation and success, Cisco EWN’s forum empowered every attendee and provided ample insight into how they can redefine what these words personally mean to them.

The passionate commentary and authentic advice shared was so impactful that we wanted to keep the conversation going. If you missed the live forum or just want to recapture key discussion points (like the meaning of the “5 Second Rule” or how to be a contender vs. a competitor) take a look at some of our #CiscoChat highlights.

Reflecting on her “ReDEFINE Tomorrow, Today” closing keynote, CEWN founders Anuja Singh, Rima AlameddinePriscila David and a host of our #CiscoChat followers were more than excited for Mel Robbins to re-join the conversation.

Cisco Chat  1 Read More »

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Who is your point of reference?

Who do you compare yourself with? Come on…… I know you do, we all do! Be it at work or in our personal lives, we can’t help but compare ourselves to other people.

Ok, here’s another question for you. How many times have you compared yourself to a peer at work when they got promoted and you didn’t? I bet you went home and complained to a loved one “What is it they’ve got that I haven’t?” You most likely then started analysing yourself and tried to determine what it is you need to do differently to get promoted. Do you have to be more like them? Can you not be yourself?

We are rarely satisfied with what we have, or, what we have become. Women that work for example compare themselves to women that stay at home. Those that stay at home sometimes feel ‘inferior’ to women that work. Each feels guilty of their choices for different reasons. But here’s where it turns silly. We continue to analyse and beat ourselves up – self-doubt kicks in, self- confidence diminishes, our interior gremlin gets louder and we may try to behave as we think others expect we should. I don’t know about you, but it is exhausting. We end up hiding from ourselves, masking our feelings and believing we want what someone else has. This behaviour has to STOP!

I like to keep fit and try to exercise at least twice a week, fit body, fit mind and all that. I also have a big birthday coming up this year – there I have admitted it, it’s out there for everyone to know that I, Emma Roffey am turning….50. But you know something? I am determined to still be fit at 50! I’m fortunate enough to have a personal trainer so should realise this goal. I don’t frequent gyms, never have, I find them stressful and impersonal, so my point of reference as to how fit or strong I am is my personal trainer (she is a lady). Actually I probably should add that she is more than 10 years younger than me too – but I try desperately to forget that! She can lift more weights, do more press ups, chin ups, is more flexible…… quite frankly you name it and she is better at it than me and that is absolutely ok and to be expected.

Last weekend however I had an “aha” moment and a healthy reality check. I went away with six friends for a girlie weekend and on the first morning one of my friends invited us all to do some yoga with her. “Why not” I thought, I do a bit of yoga with my trainer now and again so I know what to do. During our yoga session I was surprised when my friends couldn’t do a particular exercise, reach a certain point in the yoga move or do a certain position when I could. It really made me stop and think about who I’d been comparing myself to all this time, who my reference point was and unbeknown to me how I actually felt about myself. I came away feeling proud of my abilities, took stock of what I can do and have achieved fitness wise.

I am strong, fit and flexible. Yes, I can improve obviously but actually I’m not that bad in comparison to my peers of a similar age or even younger I might add! For a long time, I had been underestimating my own strength, flexibility, and ability. I am not writing this for the reason of boasting, but simply for the lesson the experience taught me.

This enlightening experience led me to think about my colleagues and friends further. I constantly hear women compare themselves with their often louder and more forthright male colleagues, early in career with far more experienced colleagues , nationalities against nationalities, home based workers compared with those based at HQ, quota carrying to non- quota carrying teams. Don’t get me wrong, healthy paranoia, as I like to call it is to be expected and is acceptable but don’t let it become all- consuming. I reflected on the people I admire in and outside of work and they are the ones that are quite simply content. They are happy with who they are – be it their style, personality, how much (or little) they have in life, they have simply realised long before me that the only reference point they need in life is their self.

So the next time you’re looking enviously at someone’s figure and wishing you could wear that smaller outfit, or wondering why you didn’t get that promotion, take a moment to remember that none of it matters. All that matters is that you are happy and content with yourself, what you have and who you have become. Don’t waste time and energy comparing yourself to others. You are unique, incomparable and quite simply, you are your own reference point.


#CiscoChat: How Can Women ReDEFINE Themselves Today for Tomorrow’s Tech World?

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Each year, Cisco Live is packed with thousands of partners, innovators and progressive thinkers looking beyond today to transform technology tomorrow. For women in the technology industry, Cisco Live 2015 provided us with the opportunity to “ReDEFINE” ourselves, both personally and professionally.  CEWN hosted several events during Cisco Live, including riveting keynotes, intuitive panels, “TED talk”-style stories and invaluable executive mentoring sessions with Cisco leaders.

Priscila David, Anuja Singh & Rima AlameddineAs part of the third annual Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CEWN) Forum at Cisco Live, Read More »

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Cisco Women Engineers Make Their Mark at the IEEE Women In Engineering International Leadership Conference

WiEEEIn April this year, Cisco sponsored the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference held at the San Jose Marriott. This was part of a concerted effort to advance and attract women in technical and leadership roles in the technology industry.

At the beginning of our partnership with IEEE we asked ourselves: “What is it going to take to change an industry, to give every woman in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) a seat at the innovation table?” Read More »

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Want to be heard? Be quiet.

In a world that has become more digital and collaborative — where everyone struggles to be heard — the temptation is to shout louder. But what if a different leadership style could be more effective? What if listening rather than broadcasting could make us agile in an unpredictable world?

Listening-centric leadership is a big departure from traditional management styles, which are based on being the most dominant force in the room. But it’s fast gaining traction. For example, in a recent Harvard Business Review article, Peter Bregman cracks the code on the power of listening: “It’s counter-intuitive, but it turns out that listening is far more persuasive than speaking.   Silence is a greatly underestimated source of power. In silence, we can hear not only what is being said but also what is not being said.”

In her mega-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain echoes this sentiment and explains, “We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.”  This same principle is the thesis of a recent CMO article entitled, “To Be Heard, Turn Down the Volume” in which Jeff Pundyk of The Economist Group writes, “Without more listening, there’s little learning; without meaningful participation, there’s little chance for engagement.”

“Quiet Power” is making its way into the management leagues here at Cisco, where I work. Conscious Leaders is a revolutionary new leadership development programme we’re using in the EMEAR region. One of its central tenants is a Predictive intelligence (PI) approach to keeping up with current trends. PI extolls focusing on what is about to emerge, not what has already happened. Leaders and teams can take a more relaxed mindset and enjoy the challenge of looking ahead, not the angst of chasing to keep up. Said another way, PI reminds us to stop broadcasting our ideas and opinions so we have the mental space to listen to what others are telling us. After all, if you’re not listening, how will you be able to spot market transitions, and capitalize on them?

Not convinced? Still believe that a strong and vocal argument is the best way to make your point? Let’s go back to Peter Bregman, who explains, “Arguing does not change minds — if anything, it makes people more intransigent.”

So why do so many people persist in broadcasting instead of listening? Bregman goes on to say, “We don’t [listen] because it’s uncomfortable. It requires that we listen to perspectives with which we may disagree and listen to people we may not like. But that’s what teamwork — and leadership — calls us to do.  To listen to others, to see them fully, and to help them connect their desires, perspectives, and interests with the larger outcome we all, ultimately, want to achieve.”

In case you’re thinking listening-centric leadership is a fleeting fad, it has actually been around for thousands of years! In fact, Lau Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher wrote: A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

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This is a leadership style that comes naturally to many women. I don’t physically have a loud speaking voice and sometimes struggle to be heard in forums designed to reward the person who can shout the loudest. Because of this, I tend to listen more than I shout, which could be seen by some as weakness. However, when I do speak, I like to think it is with knowledge and wisdom. I make it count.

 What’s your management style? In this noisy, digital world in which we live are you going to shout above the noise or be quiet – and listen to what you hear?

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