“We want to forge new ties and greater understanding between the young people in this young country” were the impressionable words President Barack Obama left with the students on November 10, 2010 when he visited the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. Fifteen months later, Cisco partners with the Networking Academy and the university to host a weeklong hands-on technical training and soft skill development event on the same campus, where it almost seems Obama’s vision was coming to life, literally.
I’ve always been interested in the human desire to belong to groups and how we adapt our appearance to show which ‘group’ we’re in. Even in our teenage years when many of us believe the way we dress is non-conformist in truth we’re aligning ourselves to a sub-group that exists out there.
A friend of mine in her first year at university always wore Levi 501s and walked to her English lectures with an Eighteenth century novel poking out of her right back pocket and a pack of Marlboro cigarettes in her left. The signals she hoped she gave off then make her cringe beyond belief today!
Because that’s what happens, the identity we choose to present to the outside world changes over time. Many of us become less concerned about rebelling, or we gain confidence about our identity and the way we choose to transmit it.
A wise teacher told me once never to put my daughter at a hurdle she could not jump. Of course the hurdle might be difficult to jump and she might need to do some training to jump it, but make sure that it is a realistic possibility. Find the things she is good at and set her up for success. Let her use her individual and unique strengths. Don’t be guided by what is good for everyone else. Be careful where you let her fail. Believing this to be good advice, I try to proactively seek hurdles where she can use her strengths and achieve results and occasionally by-pass hurdles which are best left for other children (maybe my other daughter) to try to jump.
It is hard though not to be sucked in to the peer pressure of parents around me. Maybe it is the circles I mix in but the pressure for our children to perform academically at the expense of everything else is overwhelming. A friend of mine with young children asked me if she should pay for extra tuition to get her children into “best” senior school in the area? Her current parent peers are all supposedly paying for extra tuition. This question disappointed me on many levels. Do we only have one measure of success – our children have to be the best? Is the “best” school in the area best for my individual child? We all have strengths regardless of our age, gender or background that should be harnessed, nurtured and encouraged. Recognising those strengths is perhaps the most important role of a parent. Whatever happened to variety being the spice of life?
I was at my daughter’s ice skating club this weekend and saw one of the children really upset off the ice talking with her mother. As you can imagine many injuries occur with this sport, so once her daughter was back on the ice I asked if she was ok. The mother answered “Oh yes she is just upset as I may stop her ice skating as she is not improving and she will never make it to the top!” Again she wanted her daughter to be the best and that was her only measure of success it seems. In fact her daughter is a happy, friendly child who connects easily with others – she may not be a top skater, but she is the top networker on the ice rink and that’s a skill that will be very valuable later on. I really wish we could relax, appreciate and enjoy each other’s strengths much more -- especially in our children.
A few weeks ago I was in Turkey with around 200 colleagues from our “Emerging Theatre” – Middle East, Turkey, South Africa, Russian and African regions. I felt truly energised being surrounded by such a diverse group of people. Learning about the different cultures, experience, viewpoints and approaches but knowing we were all on the same team was exciting and added a new dimension to my day job. It was visibly clear we needed more women in the room but those present were highly valued and encouraged – a great environment! The recognition of the delights of such diversity should be encouraged in our childhood and then maybe we will be more appreciative in adulthood?
Padmasree Warrior, our Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, shared some thoughts earlier this month on women in technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Padma joined Google’s Marissa Mayer, Hunch’s Caterina Fake and CNET’s Lindsey Turrentine on this CNET sponsored panel. The takeaways are for both men and women:
Padma said that liberation from guilt is an important choice to make. Earlier in her career, she felt guilty at work about not being with her child but she also felt guilty when she had to miss customer meetings to be home with her child. Regardless of the decision, she learned not to be guilty about the decision.
In this day and age, you can be yourself at work. Caterina Fake commented that in the 80s, businesswomen adopted the “Sigourney Weaver” uniform of heels, suits with shoulder pads and speaking in a low voice. Now, you no longer need to conform to a single image to be taken seriously. Marissa had a great line: “you can wear ruffles… or you can be a jock”
Burnout was a meaty topic that Marissa Mayer introduced by saying that working long hours is not what causes burnout. Read More »
Wherever you live, the chances are that you will have seen posters in your town or city of a familiar woman’s face. The sharply tailored navy blue suit, immaculately coiffed hair piled high, power pearls, and that anthracite gaze that crosses three decades and still has the power to pin you to the spot.
“The Iron Lady,” Phyllida Law’s biopic of Margaret Thatcher, hit the box offices all over the world earlier this year. Thatcher’s pulling power, the enduring legend of the UK’s first female prime minister, is still so strong that the Iron Lady is causing queues to form at cinemas, hitting the headlines and being debated by the media all over the place.
Nicknames are inevitable, especially in public figures, and whilst they provide a handy snapshot of how an individual is perceived, they also reveal so much about stereotyped thinking and preconceptions that condition the way we think.