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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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Cisco wins prestigious Inclusion and Diversity awards at Opportunity Now

Two nights ago, I had the pleasure of attending Opportunity Now’s 2011 Awards Gala Dinner at the Brewery, Chiswell St London. Over 500 guests came together to recognise excellent practices within organisations that are creating equal, diverse and inclusive workplaces, with a particular focus on gender.

Cisco came home with two awards that night:

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Cultural Advisor App Helps You Work Better With Your Global Colleagues

At Cisco, working in a multicultural and multigenerational environment is something we do every day. With colleagues, customers and partners located all around the world, understanding how to work with a global and diverse set of cultures is important to our success.

That is why my team decided to work with Aperian Global, creator of GlobeSmart™, an online tool that provides organizations with access to information on conducting business with people globally, to co-develop a limited mobile version of the tool, called “Cisco Cultural Advisor.” It is available for free on the Apple iTunes store today.

Cultural Advisor will help you to unlock the secrets to success for conducting business around the world. Whether you are meeting with customers in Tokyo or having a video conference with colleagues in Brazil, this application provides instant, customized information to help bridge communication and work-style differences between you and your global counterparts.

To get started, simply answer a few short questions to assess your communication style.

You will  be shown:
• Your communication profile plotted along three cultural dimensions
• An explanation of what your profile says about your own work styles and preferences
• A comparison of your profile with the average profiles of people from more than 30 different countries

You will then be prompted to invite individuals anywhere in the world to compare profiles with you and get tips on how to communicate more effectively with one another.

I leave you today with a challenge. Complete your personal communication profile in Cultural Advisor, then invite three of your colleagues to do the same. Put to work the information that you learned from the assessment and see if it makes a difference in how you all work together. Post your experience to this blog. I look forward to reading them.

Cultural Advisor is powered by GlobeSmart™ a tool developed by Aperian Global.

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