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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

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

“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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Diversity in Computing 2011: Richard Tapia Conference

“You, who represent two worlds, should use both to move forward.” This year’s Richard Tapia Diversity in Computing conference started off with thoughts from the founder.  Richard Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas.  He is, among other honors, the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The conference focus was to bring forth traditionally underrepresented students in computer technology and create a welcoming environment to have technical discussions as well as to provide networking opportunities.

We were pleased to have Mei Wang represent Cisco at the Doctoral Consortium on Sunday. There were several of us at Cisco who attended to recruit students and listen in on some of the sessions.

Cisco Giveaway Fan
This year’s booth giveaway. You know you’re talking to computer scientists when the first thing they ask is: is the fan reprogrammable?

The panel and speaker topics ranged broadly. I heard that the speakers were asked Read More »

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Recognition and Implementation

In Laura’s previous post, How we plan to use Cisco’s Reverse Mentoring programme to encourage Inclusion and Diversity, she talks about several aspects of the Reverse Mentoring programme, such as having an internal and external focus, the importance of being people -centric, and that the real benefit lies in the programme being win-win. For these very reasons, and many more, Cisco Belgium caught the eye of A Great Place to Work and won a Special Award for Diversity.

Many people across multiple industries are recognising the importance of Inclusion and Diversity and leveraging it to create the aforementioned win-win situations. Most recently Nicola Mendelsohn, incoming IPA president, highlighted the merit of diversity within the advertising industry in her inaugural speech on April 6 2011, but the cross-industry relevance is clear:

“Diversity of background fuels tension and creativity, and we must fight continually to ensure that the industry never becomes a place of bland conformity.

However, the answer to greater diversity does not just lie in attracting fresh graduates. That is why I would like to explore ways that we become an attractive home for those who want a mid-career change.

Some of our best, most creative people came from outside the industry.” Read More »

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