December is one of my favorite times of year. My family celebrates with German holiday traditions like St. Nicholas Day, an Advent wreath, and lots of stollen pastries. But more than that, this is a time to reflect on the year and all the things we have to be thankful for. This year, more than ever, I am grateful for you, our partners, and for everything we’ve learned and achieved together.
During a challenging year, Cisco partners have stepped up, coming to the aid of customers and communities when they needed us the most. We’ve learned so much about how to be resilient, agile, and relevant in a changing market. We’ve all transformed our businesses to an extent none of us would have imagined. Working remotely has now become the norm for all of us, of course. In fact, I’ve only had one in-person partner meeting since March. On the other hand, I had more partner meetings than ever before – all via Webex. The good news is that we’ve learned how much we can get done virtually, and together we were able to realize the advantages of virtual meetings. We now hold senior-level partner meetings with demos and engaged conversations where everyone joins virtually. It’s now easier to get experts and executives together without months of planning – and I hope this trend continues! It will give all of us access to more team members with less disruption. Moving forward most every meeting will include someone working from home. In fact, the tools that enable these meetings – Webex, Duo security, cloud-based applications, desktop video devices, and a robust network with intelligence at the edge – are already making them more productive than in-person interactions with translations, automatically capturing notes and action items, and more.
These changes demand that we evolve as both individuals and as managers, too. When the line between your home and your office blurs it is key that we not only change the way we work, we need to change the way we combine work and life. I know that I have to shut the door to my home office and put my phone away to ensure I can spend time with my family without the temptation to respond to new messages. And I expect my team to do the same. We also need to find new ways to reach out and stay connected with each other – we must replace the impromptu hallway conversations that used to happen at the office. These interactions were valuable to spark new ideas, ask a quick question without scheduling a meeting, or, just as important, to ask about a friend’s weekend or their child’s recent football game. In this new working environment, I challenge each of you to reach out to a colleague every day simply to check in, see how they are doing, and talk about something other than work.
I’m optimistic about 2021. Globally, we have a vaccine that’s beginning to be deployed, and we are starting to turn the corner with the pandemic. Hopefully it won’t be much longer before we can all safely return to the office, and also gather in smaller groups again. But I also hope we will bring some of the lessons from this past year with us. A stronger focus on priorities, life balance, and new ways to engage with each other. In 2020, we’ve laid a great foundation to make a big impact on customers around the world. And looking ahead I know that we cannot succeed without you, our Cisco partners.
Thank you for another year together as partners. I wish each of you a safe and healthy holiday season, and best wishes for a prosperous New Year.