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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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Cisco ACI Awarded InfoWorld Editor’s Choice

Recently, InfoWorld, a top IT publication, recognized Cisco’s powerful SDN solution, ACI, with the Editor’s Choice award based on an impressive overall review score of 9.6 out of 10. We’ve long-believed ACI is a breakthrough capability that offers greater automation and visibility, performance and scale, security, and openness, and this latest product review endorsement echoes our beliefs.

Here’s a breakdown of the InfoWorld Scorecard:


Cisco ACI shakes up SDN!

Customer adoption of ACI and the APIC continue to accelerate, and the extensive InfoWorld article by Paul Venezia provides a full report on the Cisco ACI solution to further demonstrate and legitimize ACI’s leading capabilities.

Key points from the product review include:

  • “Cisco ACI is a powerful solution that’s designed for large-scale deployments. It represents a significant step away from traditional networking in both design and scale, and a significant step forward in managing Cisco networks through an open and modern API control structure.”
  • “At a high level, this is what ACI is — it is a method of building and maintaining a networking fabric that dispenses with the concepts of traditional networking, and offers significant software control, automation, and wire-speed switching on a very large scale.”
  • “ACI even provides a way to go back in time to see where faults or problems may have begun. This operates at a surprisingly low level, to the point where it’s possible to select several objects in the fabric and show packet-level details on traffic relating to that object several hours in the past. …Further, you can export statistics if you need data over a longer period. This tool can prove extremely helpful in troubleshooting efforts.”

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Need to Reach More Customers? Tell Your Story Through Social!

You have become what you deem as a master of Social Media – you have a nice number of followers, your prose is pithy and engaging, but yet something is still missing… that continued “engagement” with your audiences.

Well, don’t fret you are not alone!  Studies show that while nearly 2 billion people are connected via smart phones, there is still a very interesting conundrum;  how can you compete with so much noise out there?  How could you be effective with your message and be heard through the massive trees in the overgrown forest that is Social connectivity?  Sometimes it’s as simple as tempering the message to hit that right customer, at the right time.

One thing that you should consider is identifying free or low cost tools to increase your Social Media effectiveness.  One example that I use is TweetDeck. This gives insight into who is following our accounts, if and when we need to jump on a response, real-time conversations, and best of all its free!

Savvy social media folks will tell you that it’s constantly changing, it’s iterative and that topics
constantly evolve.  We’ve experienced it with the Marketing Velocity Program, but alas there is seemingly one concept that continues to reign true with brilliant Social topics – Storytelling!   We are all human!  It’s so much more effective to offer something relatable that could blossom into a sharable similar experience or a cautionary tale to social circles.

Here is a very simple example.  Imagine a high tech company wants to introduce, “A new collaboration product that will help you be more effective doing stuff…”  Well what if that introduction was changed to, “To see the look on my parents face when I told them I went skydiving — would have been priceless! Don’t miss those moments again with the Collabor-8-Shun.”   Then keep that conversation going with a series of “stories” focused on missed moments.  See where storytelling can take you as an adjunct to your typical and hopefully effective marketing programs.  Once you have that idea hatched, use the Social Media tools to understand when your audiences are most active.  Then test the waters by engaging with your social circle.

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – November 13, 2015

Cisco Partners Weekly Rewind Banner-650

Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

Well, we’re continuing to move fast around here at Cisco as this week we announced another big alliance with Ericsson. The news garnered quite a lot of buzz in the social media channels, including this from Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins:

The Cisco CEO also discussed the strategy and benefit this partnership will bring to you and your customers in his blog earlier this week. Be sure to check out his blog and also watch this conversation he has with Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s CEO:

In the Channel News: Cisco + Ericsson

  • CRN says this pact is a potential IoT game-changer for partners
  • Fortune on what Cisco gains by partnering with Ericsson
  • Channelnomics writes that Ericsson is depending on Cisco partnership revenue boost

The Power of Insight: The Role of Data and Analytics in Customer Success

MaintanenceNet recently joined the Cisco family, and one of their leaders, now a part of Cisco, made his Cisco Partner Blog debut this week.

Scott Herron, Cisco Chief Enablement Officer shares insight on data science and the role it can play in driving customer success. Don’t miss it or the upcoming webinar:

customer success talk_dec15

How Much More Could You Be Making On Services?

Raul Pedraja stopped by the blog this week to talk about smart services and the opportunity partners can capture with them.

Raul provides partners a step-by-step method for capitalizing on what IDC says will be over a $1 trillion market in less than 5 years. You’ll definitely want to see the advice he gives.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Grow Your Business

As you know,  Cisco wants to help our partners expand their customer base and drive customer success. And over the last year we’ve grown our Cisco Solution Partner Program to include new toolsets and resources.

Arjun Lahiri, Director of Global Partner Programs here at Cisco, writes about 2 new solution categories partners can now leverage: Platform Ready and Co-Resident.

Learn more about these new categories and how to start using them to expand your customer base in his blog from earlier this week.

Good Reads

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How Much More Could You Be Making On Services?

Partners often ask me, “How much can I make on services?”

It’s a great question. The answer is almost always, “More than you’re making right now!”

Let’s start with the sheer size of the services market. According to IDC, this will be over a $1 trillion market in less than five years.

Partner service bookings are growing—that’s the great news. Rebates are growing even faster. But most partners are still only getting 20-50% of the rebates they could be earning. We’re working harder than ever to make it easy to earn your share of the services market.

How much opportunity can you realize with smart services? Axcess, a Cisco partner, says, “We’re seeing growth of more than 40% smart services in a market that’s more or less static.”

Read the full case study

A multitude of stackable incentives

When you take advantage of incentives on top of your base services rebate, the money adds up fast. Right now, there are several additional incentives available to registered partners:

Innovative services that strengthen your relationship with customers

Selling smart services is really being more proactive about network health. Instead of reacting to problems, smart services collect information that can help prevent network issues from happening in the first place. They identify products that are not covered by service contracts, which can have major consequences if the device fails.

You can also provide customers with reports that can help prioritize network optimization and planning. This can lead to more strategic, forward-looking discussions about a customer’s business and technology needs—which means new product sales and enhanced services offers.

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