Eating four beetles at Cisco to send three children to school
As I drove to the office one Friday in March, little did I know that my day would end with me eating four beetles. Yes, you read that correctly, BEETLES! The little critters that you find in your garden that look quite like cockroaches.
“Why on earth would you do that?” I hear you cry.
I am often heard saying “I have the best job in the world.” I work for a company that changes lives, I report to a manager that I have a great relationship with and I regularly get to appear on CiscoTV as a host and presenter – which is a lot of fun. As a CiscoTV anchor, one day I can be interviewing a CEO or a NATO official about digitisation, and the next day I’m hosting a charity event.
One such event was in support of ‘Sport Relief’, one of the UK’s biggest fundraising events. Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active, raise money and change lives in both the UK and the world’s poorest countries. Over the course of five days, Cisco employees in the UK and Ireland (UK&I) supported participated in activities such as triathlons and cooking competitions.
I had the honour of hosting a very fun event called the ‘Yuck Tucker Trial.’ Employees donate money to see an executive eating something very disgusting in front of a large (in-person and virtual) audience. The executive that had received the most donations had to eat the ‘yuck tucker’.
Phil Smith, the CEO of UK&I, was one of the executives participating in the trial and the most senior person attending. It was pretty obvious that Phil was going to have to eat a critter, in this case a beetle. What I hadn’t been told by the show’s director was how many beetles Phil should eat. So, in the excitement of the moment as I announced that Phil had received the most donations, I told Phil that he had to eat four beetles! Being the great sport that he is, Phil ate the beetles – to the sound of great delight from the audience. When Phil had finished crunching his gruesome afternoon snack, I admitted that he probably actually only had to eat one beetle. Phil was about to get revenge.
He took the microphone from my hand and announced to the audience that he would personally donate £200 if I ate four beetles. The colour drained from my face. The thought of eating the beetles quite frankly made want to squeal (which I later realised I did after seeing video evidence on Twitter). However, I knew that Phil’s donation would provide the following:
- £150 could help three children, working on a rubbish dump in Sierra Leone, to go to school by paying for uniforms, books and their travel for a year.
- £50 could buy 20 mosquito nets to protect children in Kenya from contracting malaria while they sleep.
Spurred on by the thought of making a difference to people’s lives, I took four beetles from the dish, (did I mention I squealed?) and ate them as fast as I could. The audience chanted, cheered and moment was incredible.
I’m sure you want to know what they tasted like. They were hard, crunchy and both tasted and smelt like…farmyard. It was gross. For the remainder of the show I was pulling beetle legs from my teeth – but it was totally worth it.
At Cisco, giving back to the local community is something we care deeply about and during my eight years here, I’ve witnessed some incredible events where employees have given up their time to transform the lives of others. It makes me very proud and I truly love where I work.
So I ask you this dear reader, what have you done today to make you feel proud?
(Editor’s note: We’re hiring marketing folks like James in UK&I, and we have openings around the globe. Take a look and see if there’s a way you can change the world at Cisco.)