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Preparation, Optimism, Goodness: 3 Pearls of Wisdom + 1 from the Conference for Women (2015) in Philadelphia

Have you heard the expression, “People don’t remember what you say, they remember how you made them feel?”  Last week, I had the opportunity to participate with more than 8,000 women (80 from Cisco) — in a one-day conference sponsored by Cisco Systems, Inc. and other companies.  There were many amazing speakers who shared their stories of perseverance, optimism and goodness.  I don’t recall everything these presenters had to say, but I certainly remember how they made me feel.  Here are just a few of the great pearls of wisdom from the event.Carli Lloyd_soccer star

Preparation – It’s what defines champions. @CarliLloyd

Carli Lloyd is a star on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Most Value Player (MVP) of the 2015 Women’s World Cup champion.  She was always the best player on each of her youth soccer teams, but when she reached the collegiate level, she knew she had to step-up her performance if she was to be a leader.  It was her personal coach who told her she needed to not only improve her soccer skills and game technique, but also her character.  Ouch!  This was tough feedback to accept.  Her coach was wise enough to give Carli this needed correction, but also hope and a goal:  If she Read More »

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Catalysts for 10x Innovation (Part 1)

“Why does a computer need a fan? I want my computer to be quiet and small!” Steve Jobs actually provoked that question when he started the journey that led to the creation of Apple II nearly four decades ago.  And, of course, the journey made history and continues on into new frontiers of technology.

Asking an unsettling question that breaks the status quo – in any era – is one of the key catalysts to ignite innovation exponentially. This is especially true today because of the unprecedented levels of innovation made possible by the digitization of society through the Internet of Everything – the connection of people, processes, data and things.Cisco Leadership Forum_Biren presenting

A provocative question that turns things upside down gets the innovation journey under way.  However, it’s just one of many key catalysts we have identified from extensive research and experience that accelerate innovation 10 times or more.

My colleague, Hagit Oron, and I recently had the honor of conducting a highly engaging workshop – Innovation Catalyst – at Cisco’s bi-annual Leadership Forum, an event series tailored for people leaders.  Igniting innovation is one of our company’s highest priorities as we transform from a hardware product company into an end-to-end solution provider delivering business outcomes to customers in vertical markets.

Encourage Inclusive, Diverse Culture. First, we emphasized that leaders must foster a climate of innovation with their full teams – not just by hiring a few outliers – but as a collective team to solve problems and develop new products and services. That means assembling teams with a full spectrum of diverse backgrounds, skills, perspectives and approaches, enabling them with the right tools and resources as well as empowering them to innovate collaboratively. Read More »

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Changing the Equation

It’s been a little more than a year since we created Cisco’s first Office of Inclusion and Collaboration (OIC).   And it’s been a milestone year.  Today, we’re releasing our annual Corporate Social Responsibility report (CSR), which details Cisco’s high-level priorities for being socially and environmentally responsible, and I’m honored to share the highlights of our progress within Our People section of this amazing document.  As a critical part of Our People Deal, Inclusion and Collaboration are featured prominently in the report.  I invite you to dive in and understand what we’ve accomplished in FY15 and how we’re changing the equation for creating value moving forward.CSR Photo1

What does it mean to change the equation?  For Cisco and the OIC, it means we continue to expand our view on the factors driving inclusion, diversity and collaboration.  It means we leverage fresh perspectives, thought leadership, and data and analytics to gain new insights. It means we use those insights to inform bold new strategies.  We change the way we talk about inclusion, diversity and collaboration, the way we measure our progress, and the way we connect our business strategies and our inclusive practices. And we align with a higher vision of value creation in the work we do to drive transformation through our people.

A Foundational Year with Milestones. Changing the equation was a top priority in this first, foundational year for the OIC. We began by looking at the legacy work of the Global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) function we were transforming, including over 400 well-intentioned programs designed to support diversity and inclusion across our company.  And while we recognized the progress made through those programs over the years, we knew that more programs would not result in more impact or move us forward in our higher vision of value creation. Read More »

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The Power of Interconnected Partnerships – Internally and Externally

Conexion Badge updated2I have always been a passionate believer in The Power of Partnerships to improve diversity in the talent pipeline, the workplace and leadership positions at enterprises everywhere. My experience shows that partnerships must be formed both within the enterprise and outside of it in order to make a real impact on diversity.

This has been made more obvious to me in the last month than at any other time in my 20-year business career. The Power of Partnerships – both internally and externally – can make a difference, and I’ve seen that difference accelerated when these partnerships interconnect to advance Hispanic  representation in the high-tech industry.

For example, on Oct. 21, Conexión, the Latino Employee Resource Organization (ERO) at Cisco, recognized its corporate history of progress, innovation and impact with a Cisco TV broadcast featuring presentations by Cisco leaders such as Guillermo Diaz Jr., Cisco’s CIO; Shari Slate, our Chief Inclusion & Collaboration Officer; and, Maria Dincel, a Marketing director who oversees Cisco’s sponsorship of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. We also invited Gina Rudan, a Leadership Coach at Google, who inspired everyone with her insights on how each of us can unleash our “inner genius” by combining our specific skills and experience with our unique passion in life. Read More »

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13 Tips to Inspire Your Inner Leader

Female Leaders Cisco Japan

Lots of people think of the number 13 as unlucky, but sometimes, it can be a LUCKY number.

It was for the 13 women at Cisco Japan who were chosen to participate in a program called Project Quantum – a year-long program that would help them take quantum (rapid) leaps and accelerate their leadership development.

The 13 were so inspired by what they experienced during their training that they wanted to pay it forward to other women (and men.) So they decided to put their thoughts on paper – 200+ pages and 5 chapters of them – in a book called Discover the Aspiring Leader In You.

“I’m very fortunate to be a part of the journey with those 13 passionate ladies! They’ve got the most out of the learning opportunities and now they are giving back to the rest of Cisco employees, including males and females! By reading this book, you can join and enjoy the journey together!” says 山中朋子Tomoko Yamanaka, Inclusion & Collaboration Manager.

“I want to create an organization that can continue to create new values where people can shine as much as possible,” says Rutsuko Yoshida, a cross-functional product manager for Cisco who participated in the program “If I could tell what I got through this program, it would be that Cisco is a wonderful company that knows the importance of inclusion in innovation, these women are now my role models, mentors and friends, and that if I want to climb up, I have to challenge myself.”

Cisco Japan women leaders

The 13 women chosen to participate in Cisco Japan’s project quantum were inspired to share what they learned!

Here are 13 tips straight from the book and the women that wrote it that you can use to inspire your inner leader.

  1. Enjoy change. It is important to see change as a friend. Change does not go away. Change is an opportunity to learn new things. Learn to adapt, learn to lead in a new environment. Have fun!“Since the company gives me some authority, I can work in a relaxed manner even when there’s tension.” 吉澤 浩美 Hiromi Yoshizawa, Senior Manager Technical Services
  1. Make things fun. Work, challenges, new project new tasks, new targets…. It is easy to get overwhelmed, bogged down. So much to do, so little time. We need to remember the fun, the excitement, the joy that comes with the effort on working on ourselves. Be creative: Find ways to bring fun and joy into everything you do!“Always keep passion and motivation for work and enjoy every minute to move forward.” – 上野 由美 Yumi Ueno, Sales Business Development Manager Collaboration Architecture.
  1. Welcome opportunities. Stand up. Take the challenge. Overcome your fears and hesitations. New opportunities come to you to help you grow and develop. Make the most of it.“You can achieve multiple tasks by not pursuing too much completeness, but rather thinking to avoid jams and work effectively.” 佐藤 菜穂子 Sato, Naoko Echigoya
  1. Go one more step. Obstacles can appear to block your way to success. Persevere and do not give in. Gather the strength and go one step further. You impose on you your own limitations. You have the power to expand your mind and go the extra mile.“Stepping up is fun! I want to engage myself in anything with a strong passion.” 田名部 朋子 Tomoko Tanabe, Senior Account Manager Public Sector Sales
  1. Speak up. Whatever the reason, remember that if you do not speak up, you will not be heard. If you do not voice your thoughts, the discussion will be less rich, less diverse, less innovative.“I can discuss a good program or tactic for the organization when doing my work. There is not rigid formality but freedom.” 原田 慶子 Keiko Harada, Marketing Manager Japan Marketing
  1. Set your goals high. Who knows the extent of your boundless potential? Nobody has the answer to that question. You can stretch and achieve more than you can possibly imagine, if only you take the time to set goals that are inspiring and challenging.I want to forego easy decisions, and respect the image of myself that I aspire to” –吉田 留津子 Rutsuko Yoshida, cross-functional project manager for Advanced Services.
  1. Elevate your point of view. Look at the issue from the point of view of your manager, of your manager’s manager. Look at problems thinking a bit higher, a bit broader.“It’s important to think about what the other person really wants by standing in his/her shoes, and produce results.” –千田 恭子 Kyoko Senda, Business Operation Manager APJC Business Partnership
  1. Have a plan B. Not because you plan to fail or give up, but because a Plan B will give you the freedom and extra peace of mind to know that you will know what to do regardless of what happens.“My work policy is always find the best solution for creating a win-win situation.” 前原 朋実 Tomomi Maehara, Product Manager, Enterprise Networking Division
  1. Be a skillful communicator. Are you a skillful communicator? If yes, you know that communication is a flow: a flow of words, a flow of meaning and a flow of understanding. And the flow works both ways. Communication is a skill that is ever aware, ever present, always conscious of the other party.“I want to consider things according to someone else’s perspective, such as by understanding the customer’s needs.” –長崎 友美 Yumi Nagasaki, senior account manager, Global Service Provider.
  1. Have the courage to say no. It could be your boss, your partner, your friend or a project manager… They have an ask from you. They want you to comply, they want you to agree. There are times when YES is indeed the answer to give. But there are times when you need to prioritize and for one reason of another you need to push back, you need to say NO.“In the future, I want to focus on ’Dan sha ri’ (decluttering). Organizing my belongings by thinking about whether I need each object to help me better organize my mind. There are many people who have capacity to take on more, even when they are busy.” 佐藤 麻子 Asako Sato, Program Manager, Service Sales
  1. Have a mentor. A mentor is like a friend, someone you can trust. A mentor is not necessarily a coach. It is someone you can be open with, someone who has your best interest in mind at all times, and with whom you can share your dreams, aspiration and doubts without any fear of being judged.My personal motto is ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’” 山田 晴香 Haruka Yamada, Product Manager, Technical Services
  1. Listen to your heart. Yes, planning, thinking and having a schedule are critical part of a framework to be successful. But at the end of the day, remember that they are just tools that are supposed to serve you, not you serve them. So allow time and space for moments of spontaneity. Listen to the voice of your heart if you feel you need to re-prioritize, if you feel you need to adjust course, do so, being true to your own voice.“My personal motto is ‘Ichi-go, ichi-e’ (Meeting only once in a lifetime). I hold respect for each meeting and each moment.” –平田 Kai Hirata, Senior Account Manager Enterprise Sales
  1. Kill the parrot! We all have a parrot inside our heads. That internal voice that questions and shakes your confidence, that repetitive voice that makes you wonder if you are well-prepared or not. The parrot can be persistent, it can keep on saying things that make you doubt yourself. You know what you know. You have put efforts and energy into what you are doing. Believe in yourself and deliver the best performance you are capable of!“Challenge difficult things as great opportunities.” 田村 亜弓 Ayumi Tamura, Marketing Manager, Japan Marketing.

Cisco is a great place for leaders, current and future. Won’t you join us?

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