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Take a Breather: Give Yourself a Mental Break for Optimal Productivity

Working in sales often seems like a race to the finish. Longer hours can mean the difference between winning and losing the deal.  But those long hours often reach a point of diminishing returns. Have you ever considered the opportunity costs of working too hard? Is it possible that meeting your sales goal may require working LESS hours?

There are vast amounts of research available showing that we all have a limited amount of mental resources to leverage. So when we are constantly exhausting those resources, we are not as productive as we can be. The brain, just like a muscle, gets fatigued after too much time on the job. If you overwork your muscles without a break, you will eventually cause damage. The same is true of your brain. Burning up mental resources without replenishing leads to stress, burnout and poor performance. It becomes difficult to think creatively, solve problems, maintain emotional stability and have the persistence needed to complete required tasks. So just like taking a breather after an hour of Zumba or basketball, our brains need a break from work as well.

According to one study by Entrepreneur, the point of mental exhaustion occurs within three hours. But many scientists say our brains need a break after just 90 minutes. And there are large bodies of work showing that people who take regular mental breaks have higher levels of productivity than those who don’t.

Here are some tips to maintain your peak mental performance:

  1. Take short breaks during the day. Every 45-90 minutes pause to take a walk to the restroom, do some stretches at your desk, grab a coffee or simply doodle on some paper. The optimal break schedule for the time-pressed person is one six minute break every 80 minutes, according to These little breaks will help refresh your mind and give you the added energy you need to focus. But make sure you step away from the “screen”. Taking breaks to scroll your Facebook site or shop online doesn’t reap the same benefits.
  2. Take more frequent vacations. A 2014 Oxford Economics Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S. showed 42% of employees with paid time off finished the year with unused days, leaving an average of 8.1 days unused. But more people might take those unused vacation days if they realized that those who take vacations tend to enjoy both mental and physical benefits: less stress, less risk for heart disease, decreased depression rates, and more motivation to achieve goals. Bottom line, healthier employees are happier and more engaged. And the anticipation of an upcoming vacation can boost positivity for up to eight weeks prior to the trip, according to a 2010 study in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.
  3. Consider taking a mid-afternoon nap. Naps can enhance performance, restore alertness, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. (Many companies have started making “Nap rooms” available to employees for this very reason. To make the most of your nap, experts say, rest in a cool, dark room and limit your nap to 20 or 40 minutes.

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Child Makes ‘Networking History’ (Translation: We’re Acquiring Meraki)

Did you hear the one about the pre-teen who installed a switch and some wireless devices in under ten minutes? And did I mention he is a regular kid? Okay, maybe an online gamer, but definitely not a member of his school’s computer club.

Maybe I made that up. But then again … I am talking about the power of Meraki. This cloud networking leader is all about making it simple to manage wireless, switching, and security solutions from the cloud. And, in case you missed it, Cisco announced its intent to acquire them for $1.2 billion on November 19.

For our partners—and our customers—this is good news. Read More »

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Cisco Channels Social Media Spotlight: Your Questions Answered

Since starting my role in Cisco Channels social media some three years ago, I’ve been asked a lot of questions: “What video camera should I buy?” “Who do you like to follow on Twitter?” “Who does your hair?” (OK, no one’s actually asked me the last question, but drop me a note in the comments if you really want to know.)

But the most commonly asked questions that I hear over and over are: How do I get started with social media, what are the best tools to use, and how do I engage more customers? Well, in the interest of helping Cisco partners around the globe achieve resounding social media success, I’m happy to announce our new Channels blog series: Social Media Spotlight!

In this series, my fellow Channels blogger Kalpana Ettenson and I will be addressing any and all social media questions that you have. For starters, we want you to post your most burning social media questions in the comments below so we can address them in upcoming blog posts.

And we also have a few topics planned based on questions we’ve gotten in the past… Read More »

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Cisco Partner Tata Communications Takes TelePresence to the Cloud

Telepresence and videoconferencing services (both hosted and managed) will reach a whopping $1.2 billion(US) worldwide by 2016, according to ABI Research.

Cisco partner Tata Communications is riding that wave and shares insights in a recent FastChat video with MSPmentor Editorial Director Joe Panettieri.

In the video below, Joe interviews Greg Brophy, Director of Product Management at Tata. Greg shares ways that the company is using the cloud to help its customers connect globally using Cisco’s TelePresence technology. He also shares a recent customer win and what he sees are key trends among his customer base.


Wondering how can you plug into Tata Communications’ infrastructure? Read More »

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Partner Questions Answered: Managed Services, Cloud, and White Label

You have questions, we have answers. We gathered up questions we’ve been hearing from partners around the topic of managed services, cloud, and white label and sat down with one of the foremost experts on the topic: Todd Roth, Director of the Managed Services Channel Program at Cisco. In this Q&A, he addresses partner concerns around new consumption models, partner-to-partner collaboration, and highlights some new developments in the managed services realm.

And with new cloud service designations within the Managed Services Channel Program (MSCP) that were just announced, this is a good time to explain those as well.

Channels blog: Hi, Todd. Thanks for joining us. What does “cloud service designation within MSCP” mean?

Todd Roth: It’s the beginning of a new class of service designations that enables partners to align and brand their cloud-based offerings with Cisco. Offerings that are built on a Cisco-validated architecture.

CB: What are the designations and who can take advantage?

TR: There are two designations:

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