Cisco Blogs

5 Ways Working at Cisco is Like Running the Amazing Race

June 26, 2018 - 16 Comments

How many people can say they are fortunate enough to have traveled the world for free in a quest to win a million dollars? Very few, and I’m proud to say I am one of them.

In 2008, I was selected to participate in the Emmy award-winning reality competition show “The Amazing Race,” along with one of my closest friends, Kelly. We, along with 10 other groups of two, traveled the world for free on an incredible worldwide scavenger hunt and physical competition. Our journey took us from our starting point in Los Angeles to Brazil, Bolivia, New Zealand, India, Kazakhstan, Russia and ultimately back home to the United States in Portland.

A fierce competitor by nature, I jumped at the chance to take a month-long leave of absence from my sales job at the time to join this fortunate group of individuals chosen to race around the world on television. During the course of my time on the Amazing Race, I pushed myself harder than ever before, forced myself to get outside of my comfort zone, faced some personal fears and ultimately learned from my experience. I met interesting people from different cultures, and all walks of life, and bonded with the people I shared this incredible experience with.

I took these lessons back to the “real world” in Austin, Texas after this incredible journey concluded and started a new adventure in the tech world. Since then, I’ve learned there are 5 ways the Amazing Race is a lot like working at Cisco:

1.It’s all about teamwork – Kelly and I laid out a strategy before we went on the Race. I, the more confident one behind the wheel, would drive while Kelly would navigate using maps. She, with her iron stomach, would tackle the food challenges while I, with my sensitive gag reflex, would cheer her on.

To be successful at Cisco, in a similar fashion, I depend on my team day in and day out to fine-tune, challenge and utilize my strengths while helping to fill the gaps, coach me forward and show me the way where I lack expertise. It takes teamwork to achieve your goals!

2.Navigating tough situations – Whether it was researching the most efficient route from Cambodia to New Zealand, searching for a tiny sandwich shop in the middle of a bustling Brazilian city, or trying to sleep in the middle of the town square in Bolivia – there were some tough situations to navigate! The experience introduced me to language barriers, forced me to work with a variety of people, and challenged me to my core – both physically and mentally.

At Cisco, I do much of the same, and I love it every day. I’m challenged to think beyond my own experiences, put myself in the shoes of others who come from different backgrounds and see the world differently, and push myself beyond what I think I’m able to accomplish. When I look back and realize how far I’ve come in my career thanks to Cisco, I’m absolutely amazed.

3.Creative problem solving – On the Amazing Race, Kelly and I continually used our creativity to solve for challenges we met along the way. At one point in the airport in New Zealand, while running low on cash, we actually went so far as to ask friendly strangers to “donate” to our cause while we raced around the world. Creativity often pays off, and in this instance, it literally did! We learned that there is always more than one way to solve a problem, and we had fun getting creative on our journey.

Much the same, we get to flex our intellectual muscles and get creative at Cisco when solving our customers’ problems and the thrill of finding those solutions is exhilarating! Just like solving a complex puzzle in the middle of the streets of India gave me an indescribable rush on the Race, my daily work at Cisco leaves me invigorated and wanting more!

4.The Thrill of Winning – There are few things in life I love more than the phenomenal feeling that comes from a win. Landing on the mat at our checkpoint in each country that we passed through and hearing that we were continuing on our worldwide journey brought sweet relief and unexplainable joy.

Similarly at Cisco, every time I see one of my team’s orders hit our books or learn that we’ve won a competitive bid, I get a jolt of adrenaline and want to shout from the rooftops. To say I enjoy the win is a vast understatement; I live for the win and we’re doing that at Cisco!

5.Learning From the Experience and Building On It – The Amazing Race was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I was unbelievably fortunate to have been selected to participate. However, I knew from the moment I decided to run the race that I would not top out when it concluded.

I decided long ago that I would use this experience to prepare for an even more impressive journey. I knew there were more amazing adventures ahead in my life, and I would not be the reality star who peaked on national television. I am certain that I still have not hit the apex of my life.

The Amazing Race was exactly that – amazing. And working at Cisco is incredible, too. We are challenged daily, pushed beyond our limits, navigate tough situations, think creatively, and learn and grow from our experiences! And, I don’t think we’ve hit our peak here yet either! 😉

The world is a very big place, and the opportunities are endless! We are all like they say in Cambodia, “Same, same – but different.” We are One Cisco, running this amazing race together that we call life, and I’m excited to be along for the ride!

Want to join us on an Amazing Race here at Cisco? We’re hiring! Apply now.

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  1. Christy,

    I've seen commercials about The Amazing Race, but never had the opportunity to sit and watch. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences.

    Great post!

  2. How very cool you did this. What an amazing and wild ride it must have been! I appreciated how you took this experience and drew parallels to working at Cisco.

    It just shows how creative you truly are!

  3. Hi Christy,

    I love your post and taking one quote from Creative problem solving paragraph which I like most " There is always more than one way to solve the problem.

    • It's so true, and it's why being surrounded by incredible teammates is so very important. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog post! 🙂

  4. Hey Christy,
    This is a great story.
    Being a Cisco colleague, I can relate 100% especially with this part: "put myself in the shoes of others who come from different backgrounds and see the world differently".
    I can confirm that my view of life, and my level of understanding and appreciating other cultures has increased a lot, since I joined our company.

    • Isn't it fantastic? Some of my favorite co-workers live in different countries. It's a wonderful place to gain new insight! Thank you for reading, and thank you for your comment! 🙂

  5. Christy,

    I love your enthusiasm and I enjoyed reading this post – thank you so much for sharing not only an incredible experience on AR but also your insights on working at Cisco. In 2008, I was fortunate to have AT&T pay for a trip around the world to roll out their Global DC sales ops program and like you, I took so much more away from it that I now use in my role at Cisco. My favorite of the points you made is #1 It’s All About Teamwork – This is a concept that most people/companies only talk about but Cisco lives this principle everyday! There’s no “I” in Team is cliche, but true and as I celebrate my one year anniversary at Cisco, I can say it was the key to my success navigating AS (now Customer Experience). With so many leaders like yourself – and now Maria Martinez – helping to shape our company’s direction, I am more excited than ever to be part of such an important organization doing important work for not only customers, but so many people around the world. It really is an awesome place to work!!!

    • It truly is! Congratulations on your 1-year anniversary at Cisco! I can't wait to see what you accomplish in your next 10. 🙂

    • Cynthia,

      Congratulations on your 1-year anniversary and best wishes for many more!! 🙂

  6. Great analogies!! Love it.

  7. Wet cool story Christy. What an adventure!

  8. Rock on Christy…ROCK ON! #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork