Whether you’re four or forty, fear is an emotion that we have all experienced. But as we grow older, childhood frights like the monsters we’re convinced live under our beds give way to more ‘adult’ fears that keep us from taking risks, seeking adventure and pursuing our goals and dreams.

As women continue to explore and define what it personally means to ‘Lean In’ and seek inspiration for conquering fears and achieving goals, Cisco’s Women of Impact team used an interactive (and inspiring) #CiscoChat to explore what empowers women to ‘Be Fearless.’

Led by myself for the Cisco’s Women of Impact conference, Catalina Kowal from Cisco’s Empowered Women’s Network, Cindy Cooley & Chris Herl from Cisco’s Men for Inclusion, over 100 women engaged in the real-time ‘Be Fearless’ #CiscoChat, connecting and sharing ideas on living a life full of passionate pursuits in the absence of fear. They discussed their fearless role models, the risks that have paid off for them , what inspires their fearless career pursuits – and much more.

So what were the takeaways? We’ve pulled a few key insights, keen observations and powerful stories that have shed new lights on what it means to ‘Be Fearless.’

  1. What person, company or thought comes to mind when you think of being fearless?

From gender balance being a core component of organizational values to not being afraid to fail, participants had no fear when chiming in on this question.

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  1. What is the biggest risk you’ve taken that you feel has taken off?

Who decided to become a Cisco engineer with no networking background? A very fearless woman! From new career ventures to lofty educational pursuits and even family matters, the #CiscoChat participants shared the biggest risks they’ve taken so far in life, proving the rewards often outweigh the fear that comes with making bold moves.

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  1. What inspires you to be fearless in your career?

It’s not always easy to speak up for yourself, take on more responsibility and take on leadership roles. #CiscoChat participants, all accomplished and driven women, spoke up, outlining the who’s, what’s, why’s, and thoughts that have driven their fearless career moves.

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In a follow-up question, participants were asked specifically what is required for women to take more risks. And this was one of the insightful and dynamic answers:

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  1. What steps can your company leadership take to encourage you to be fearless?

Earlier, chat participants touched on the importance of companies actively making gender balance and equality a part of their core values systems. As far as leadership encouraging fearlessness, the overall message was that mistakes can and will happen – and that should be ok in the pursuit of encouraging a creative and collaborative work environment.

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Perhaps this sums it up best:

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Though this #CiscoChat has ended, we want to hear your feedback and ideas about fearlessness in the workplace, especially from a woman’s perspective. How have you overcome fear to achieve new career or personal heights? And what was your inspiration? Share with us below and be sure to join in the discussion using the hashtag #CiscoChat. Please also visit our Storify page for a full recap of the conversation from all our #CiscoChat events. If you’re interested in participating in future CiscoChats, get more information here:

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Tweet us at @Cisco_Woi for questions and comments about our #BeFearless #CiscoChat. If you want to continue the conversation, then don’t forget to register for the Women of Impact conference on March 19.


Rehana Rehman

No Longer with Cisco