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Look Behind the Label

The life story of Caroline Casey, social entrepreneur, will make your heart beat faster.

It really did mine. Here she is in a TED Talk telling it with such passion I recommend you watch the video at least twice.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/caroline_casey_looking_past_limits.html

There are so many incredible things to convey about Casey. The utter self-belief she has. Her conviction she can achieve anything she wants to achieve so long as she truly believes. Her extensive fundraising through The Aisling Foundation. And her dogged promotion of the capacity and capability of people with disabilities. Casey’s mission in life is to get people to look behind the label, something she attributes to her father’s love of the Jonny Cash song ‘A boy named Sue’ and her parents decision not to label her when she was a young girl. You’ll have to watch the video to learn what the potential label was. Like Casey, I suspect had she been given it, she wouldn’t have become the believer and go-getter she is today. Casey is obviously a one-of-a-kind remarkable woman. But she’s determined that everyone else realises their capacity for being remarkable too. To paraphrase her a little, each of us needs to focus on what we can do, not what we can’t, work hard at being the very best of ourselves and take advantage of the fact we’re all extraordinary, different, wonderful people. And stop with the labels that hinder us.

Take 10 minutes from your next lunch break to watch Caroline Casey tell it so much better than me. The experience might just change how you see yourself and others.

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Guilford meets Nairobi

It does not matter whether you are in Guildford or in Nairobi, it seems that it is never hard to get 10 and 11 year-old girls to chat. Recently I met about 30 of them over TelePresence, (Cisco’s high definition video conferencing). The aim of the meeting was to inspire them to consider careers in IT in the future and was designed to be a question and answer session. Having introduced myself and explained how I got into the IT industry many moons ago, the floor was all theirs.

 

Questions came flooding at me and the pressure was on to make a good impression. Despite the distance between them, I was immediately struck by the similarities of the girls – all in their smart school uniform, all  smiling at me and a few girls gave me a little wave. Their respective teachers introduced the schools and that was where the similarity ended. The girls in Nairobi were from a deprived slum area whilst the girls from Guildford were mainly middle class. The questions they asked however were very different. Yes I was asked the usual questions such as “How did I get into IT?” “Do I like my job?” “What do I do?” etc .  However the girls in Nairobi wanted to know how I got work, how long did it take me to get there, how many hours did I work and then they asked me probably the most poignant question of the session. “Does your technology help people in drug rehabilitation centres?”  Wow, that question was so telling on many levels! By the way I didn’t know the answer but was able to explain how our technology Healthpresence is enabling doctors and hospitals to see more patients remotely and is extending the reach of healthcare..  The question was also in stark contrast from one of the Guildford girls  who wanted to know  what was the colour of my toothbrush! The last question asked was “ What was my most prized possession?” No prizes for guessing which school asked this one but I hope both schools took a few minutes to think about my response. I said “ it is not a possession as such but my answer is my HEALTH”. 

I then left the meeting so the girls could get to know each other better. I felt very privileged to have taken part and very humbled by the girls in Nairobi. I cannot really imagine what their lives are like on a daily basis or whether or not I inspired them but I hope they left the session with something constructive to talk about! The meeting has certainly left it’s footprint on me, more so than I expected. The children were so similar in their openness, friendliness and willingness to participate. However the use of the Cisco office would have sheltered the girls from Guildford from the harsh reality their new friends from Nairobi face each day and would have made it difficult for them to really comprehend their differences. Hopefully this would have been a good thing – the real understanding that we are not that different from each other after all!

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Stand Up Against Bullying with Ben Cohen – Nov 9

November 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm PST

“Every person on this planet has a right to be true to themselves, to love and be loved, and to be happy. I encourage others to stand up with me and make a difference,” says Ben Cohen of Stand Up Foundation.

Ben Cohen

The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation, Inc. is the world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying, and funding those doing real-world work to stop it. The foundation’s mission is to stand up against bullying for any reason. Because Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBT) people are often targeted by bullies, the foundation gives particular attention to this community. Removing homophobia from sports is also a central part of the mission.

The Cisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Advocates (GLBT&A) Employee Resource Group(ERG), together with the Cisco Disabilities Awareness Network ERG, are bringing Ben to the Cisco San Jose campus on Wednesday, Nov 9 at 3pm as part of Cisco’s Inclusion & Diversity Speaker series.

Ben Cohen is an England Rugby World Cup champion, and among the world’s greatest athletes. He ranks second in all-time scoring for England, and he’s the first straight professional athlete to focus his philanthropic efforts for the benefit of the GLBT community. He is also clinically deaf.

Bullying in our schools is a real problem. It disrupts the classroom and Read More »

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Turning energy, talent and passion into success

While we can’t expect a medal-winning performance every day or to excel at everything we do, we can discover our natural talents, where our strengths lie and what we’re truly passionate about. Read More »

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The Results: How Reverse Mentoring Can Enhance Diversity and Inclusion

Back in April this year I wrote a blog about a programme we drove in Europe last fiscal year called Reverse Mentoring, where a senior employee is also mentored by the junior employee. All of our 31 mentors and 31 mentees have now reached the end of the programme and I’d like to share with you their feedback – what they enjoyed, what worked well and what we can improve upon in the future. Read More »

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