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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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Developing Local Talent in Technology

Instanbul is known for many things—impressive architecture, mouth-watering cuisine (in my humble opinion), rich cultural history, and so much more. That’s why I was particularly thrilled when I learned Cisco’s Middle Eastern Diversity and Inclusion (MEDI) group hosted a Developing Local Talent in Technology Workshop (DLTT) at the world’s third oldest technical university that focuses on engineering sciences, Istanbul Technical University.

With a particular emphasis on philanthropic and community outreach, MEDI hopes to increase technology awareness and enhance both technical and soft skills for local talent with the DLTT workshops. During this five-day workshop at Istanbul, 100 participants from education sector, public enterprises, and private companies were divided evenly into four groups. Each group focused on one track from DLTT’s curriculum each day. Imagine spending an entire day learning from network industry experts and discussing relevant topics of interest with like-minded peers on one of the four tracks—IP Telephony, Wireless, Network Security, and Professional Development. Three to four local Systems Engineers and Global Cisco volunteer instructors were assigned to each technical track on a rotational basis.

MEDI has been hosting workshops like this since 2009, so it’s little wonder how students and Cisco volunteers from all over the world who participated in DLTT responded to this well-put together and highly interactive program.

Cisco volunteers and students at MEDI's DLTT-Turkey workshop.

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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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Comment is Free

Declared a newspaper editor, at the turn of the last Century. Little could he have known that 100 years on , the press would be read online by millions and that comments, made by its readers, would increasingly become a clear indicator of the success – or not – of the content.

If you’re anything like me, it’s the articles, reviews and features that create the most discussion, that are the most interesting.

Whenever I log onto a news site, I’m drawn to the articles that have generated most comment. And more often than not, I’ll even skip to the comments section, before I’ve finished reading the full article.

The online Economist, ranks all articles according to the number of comments received. The print edition will give you a list of articles as they appear in the magazine. Read it online, however, and you will know at one glance that last week’s piece on Germany’s role in supporting the European economy received more than 1800 reactions, thoughts, ideas and suggestions from people all around the world.

Guess which article I read first?

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Shaggy Dog Story

Some time ago now, when I was a teenager, I was told a shaggy dog story. For those who haven’t heard of shaggy dog stories, they are purposefully longwinded tales that play upon the preconceptions of the audience. The audience listens with certain expectations which in the end are either not met or met in some entirely unexpected manner challenging the audience to check how they think.

I won’t take up this space and your time telling a full length shaggy dog story but I will recount the gist of the story to highlight the preconception that I’m afraid I was guilty of as a teenager and still sometimes fall into the trap of now.

A girl is lying in a hospital bed having had a serious accident. So serious, in fact, she has to remain in hospital for a good while. She is visited by many people: Her friends, the doctor, the nurses, her father, her teachers, her brother and her sister, each of them bringing her get better soon gifts and asking after her well-being.

When the tale comes to a close the narrator says: Didn’t this girl receive a lot of visits? Then asks:  How many times did her mother visit, can you tell me?

You stop. And think. And decide to say: Well it’s a bit tricky counting up all of the mother’s visits because there were so many visits altogether, too many to keep track of the mother’s. But then you think, actually I don’t think the mother visited at all. Yes, that’s right. The poor girl didn’t get one visit from her mother. How could that be?

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