Cisco Blogs

5 Lessons from the 12 Habits of Heroes

August 28, 2018 - 6 Comments

12 months. 12 habits.

It takes about 30 days to change a bad habit or start a good habit.

That’s why I’m so glad that my team and I (that’s a total of 41 engineers) invested in the year-long process through Habits of Heroes that not only enhanced our ability to be able to better coach and mentor our employees, but also empowered us in ways we didn’t quite expect to help those in need. Cisco invested in us as well, supporting the initiative that was created by a long-time Cisco vendor/mentor/coach Jeff Patnaude.

We had a once a month virtual meeting with Jeff. Each month had us focus on a different practice.

One month’s practice was how to be “mindful,” another month we talked about how to be proud of what we do by walking humbly, and yet another month we talked about how to achieve our most important goals in life by “Doing what needs to be done.”

These are my top 5 takeaways for you, whether you work at Cisco or you want to work for Cisco. (You probably thought there’d be 12! There were way more than that, but I want to get you to the biggest action items!)

1.Ask the key question. In 1:1 meetings, our leaders began asking about more than just what our priorities or that week’s tasks were. Instead, they asked “How are you feeling?”

2.Get to the human level. Asking this question helped leaders and employees connect. That’s what Cisco is all about. “Connect everything” is how we talk about our technology, but it’s also how we should talk about our employees. Getting to this connection gave us more of a safe space to be transparent. Maybe someone was dealing with a heavy life situation, and these connections helped managers help them navigate those things.

3.Understanding ourselves gets better results. I saw our team get out of our comfort zones and truly be introspective. This not only helped our work relationships with each other, but also helped us have better connections with our customers and their teams.

4.Be a mentor, and a better one. This program expanded my thinking about what it means to serve as a mentor and teacher. You really can contribute towards a positive impact with encouragement to affect the well-being of both the mentee AND the mentor.

5.Having meaningful relationships as a team makes us want to have meaningful relationships with others. This means that you want to make a difference in each other’s lives, but also in the lives of those you may not come into contact with every day. Cisco has always been about giving back, but this really showed our team that we can impact others on a personal level.

As much as these are important takeaways, I realize that you may think that this is just “another thing” to add to your packed schedules. I want to challenge your thinking.

I think this is a way to do more by doing less, by attacking the complexity of our lives, by practicing ways of simplifying, by being more strategic and mindful. These are just some of the ways in which we get better at who we are and what we do, so the Greater Good is the benefactor – and Cisco makes an even bigger impact on the world.

Want to help us make an impact? We’re hiring. Apply now. 


In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Great message and impact you are having on others!

  2. I have always felt 'Part of the Family' working at Cisco, thanks to people and teams like yours. The inclusive culture you're building creates happiness that inspires great things. Thanks for the inspiration Greg!

  3. The takeaways Greg outlined is why Cisco is such a special place to work. Thank you Greg for sharing and being a great leader!

  4. This blog really inspired me to act as well !! THANK YOU ! -Rene

  5. Great blog Greg! I’ve seen you live this over the years. Keep practicing what you preach.

    Thanks for the inspiration to Always Be Better!


  6. Nice recap of the program Greg. As a recent graduate from Habits for Heroes, I'll say the personal relationships made and habits developed will provide benefits for a lifetime.