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Burn Your Candles

- June 8, 2017 - 9 Comments

You really know what it means to #LoveWhereYouWork when you are faced with a life-threatening illness, and your team says, “Take care of your family, we’ve got this!” You see, that’s #WeAreCisco!

I came to Cisco five years ago truly believing in our vision that we wanted to change the world. I had been managing relationships with diverse global customers for many years and had experienced how disruption was changing the way they served their customers and shareholders. At Cisco Global Enterprise; our teams work with some of the most digitally disrupted industries out there. Manufacturing. Retail. Transportation. Utilities. You name it, we’re on it.

And while I loved that we are changing the world, I was also drawn to Cisco by another core value; “Respect and Care for Each Other”.

In the past five years, I have experienced how our Cisco family comes together – from small, often ordinary ways to hugely impactful, life changing ways! We really mean it when we say that giving back and supporting one another is in our DNA!

Suddenly and without warning, my family became the focus of this Cisco value.

My wife, Tracy – the mother of our five children – and I had just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and aside from the huge symbolism of this day to us and our family, it was also a reminder to me that my 5th Cisco anniversary was fast approaching; I had joined the Cisco Family just days after our 20th Wedding Anniversary.

Then our world was disrupted in a way we never thought possible.

Through a series of events that led to a CT Scan of her brain, Tracy was diagnosed with a large Oligodendroglia Brain Tumor – Brain Cancer. We went from busy parents, volunteers, managers, and a scholastic/athletic team family, to this new reality that mom was going to have brain surgery, and this life was not ever going to be exactly the same.

We were blessed with terrific doctors, nurses, and hospital staff that made this terrifying process bearable for our children – four of whom were in high school, one had recently graduated from college and was just beginning her career. Through our family and friends, we all found ways to grow stronger through the process.

Our community of Saratoga Springs, NY embraced our family. Friends and the school district Tracy was a part of began a series of meal trains and fundraisers to help support us, and to help us raise funds for brain cancer research. It was “Toga vs. Cancer” as featured in our local newspaper. It was awe inspiring to see how our community rallied around us. This experience also inspired Tracy’s new mantra;

“I don’t care about things, I want experiences and to enjoy life. My mantra is ‘Burn your candles.’ I have so many candles in my house when I came home from the hospital that I thought they are too pretty to burn or I don’t want to let go of that, if it burns it’s gone. Now every candle in my house is either down to a little bit or is empty because I burn them all the time. What are you waiting for? Really? I tell all my friends, burn your candles.”

Our other family, our Cisco family, also sprang into action. Yes, most of them were a few hours away – the closest being in New York and New Jersey where many of our partners are headquartered, where I spend many of my days – and some even stretched across the globe, but…to this team, and to Cisco where you work is not so much a physical place, but a state of being. Cisco technology makes us all much closer than any literal distance between us.

And while that usually reflects how we do business here at Cisco – being physically and virtually present for our partners and each other, it was never truer in witnessing how these amazing individuals – my co-workers – came together in a moment’s notice for my family when we learned of Tracy’s diagnosis.

Collectively, they said “We’ve Got This.” They had done this many times before, for others. But this time it was for my family. This time, I had even more reason to be thankful to work for a company that cares, and that hires people who genuinely care for one another.

Flowers, meals, phone calls, telepresence sessions, words of support – they all began to pour in. From Cisco family far away, and nearby. Many I had not even met yet – shared personal experiences with me, and all extended their support in countless ways.

There is something to be said about a community of employees that comes together for joyous occasions. There may be twice as much to say about them in times of struggle, and usually – it leaves us speechless. Knowing I had their support, and the support of Cisco, left me feeling secure and confident enough to deal with a major-medical expense. Their support enabled me to truly leave work in their hands as they’ve “Got This” – to focus on who needed me the most – my wife, and family.

Many companies may want you to feel like your family comes first. Cisco ensures that you KNOW your family comes first. From children with colds to more sinister ills – your family is first.

This is why the Cisco family lives the #LoveWhereYouWork ethos. Where you work is how you work – and we can do that anywhere. From our incredible headquarters in San Jose, CA and our beautiful global campuses to cars, trains, and airplanes – throughout offices and within our customer’s data and distribution  centers, factories, stores, power plants, and – yes – even hospitals. When you are family physical distance is no boundary.

My family and I have a long road of recovery ahead, but we are stronger for the experience, and ready for whatever comes next. I truly know in my being that #WeAreCisco and Cisco’s pledge to “Respect and Care for Each Other” – is derived from a care and respect that knows no boundaries. It is one that I appreciate even more than I could’ve ever imagined I would.

We all now “Burn our Candles” every day, and our candles are many! With five amazing children, three of whom are 15 year old triplets, we’re kept pretty busy. From committing to and exploring colleges to playing Freshmen and Varsity Baseball and Basketball, and our eldest out of college making her way in the world, we embrace this mantra, make every moment a new memory, and continue to give back.

We were able to make a $10,000.00 donation to the Brain Tumor Research at Albany Medical Center – Thanks to the Toga vs. Cancer Basketball Fundraiser, and this Spring we’re focusing on Strike out Cancer!

As we change the world, and as our world changes us; it is ever more important to #LoveWhereYouWork, come join us!

 

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9 Comments

    Thank you Mark for your support! PS. I think you meant to refer to @JohnTChambers our amazing Executive Chairman, and his new twitter handle! Best of Luck, -Gordon

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Gordon. It's a wonderful reminder of how thankful I am for this company and my colleagues. I will be praying for Tracy and your family.

    Thanks for posting .. I was not aware .. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story Gordon. We will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers! #LoveWhereYouWork

  3. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  4. Amazing! Thank you to everyone at Cisco for being there for my brother Gordon and giving him the gift of time to focus on Tracy and the kids. May your continued respect and care for each other remain endless.

  5. WOW!! Thank you CISCO, for having my brother's back through this very difficult time. Little brother you are one amazing person--you make us all proud everyday and are truly the world's best juggler.

  6. Thanks for sharing....

  7. We are praying for Tracy, you and your family.

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