I’ve been here for 18 years. On purpose.
People ask me why. Recruiters speculate that I’m lazy (pfff) while coworkers call me crazy (not really, or at least not often, but it rhymed so nicely). 😉 The most important person who asks me this question is me.
Many of us find ourselves asking, “Why work?” And, it’s true that most of us work because there are bills to pay. But, beyond that – it goes deeper. And, yet, the answer for me is simple: working makes me a better human being. While the thought of being a stay at home mom certainly tugged at me a few times, what I learn during challenging meetings, tough conversations, and the moments that make me exclaim “Did that just happen?” in the middle of a brainstorming session – it all makes me better at relationships. All of my relationships.
So why am I still at Cisco? There are the obvious reasons like autonomy, flexibility, money, having many careers without leaving the company, yada, yada (we’re not getting through this blog together if you don’t get Seinfeld quotes). 😉
So let me instead share the small things that keep me here. The real things you may not have heard before. The moments that matter to me.
1. Unleashed Creativity. Do you have a word for 2018? Just ONE word that sets your intention for these next 12 months? My word for this year is unleashed. My desire and ability to authentically create (read: not sound like everyone else) was trapped for some time. But today I am free to be creative in ways I never imagined possible in corporate life. I am UNLEASHED to be me and to fulfill my purpose. Cisco helped unleash this vibe in me, and it even extends to my Out of Office message – see for yourself!
2. Endless Learning. I am a bit of a self-growth junkie, and I find something to learn in every situation. At Cisco I can learn, teach, and share almost anything with my co-workers. From influencing, coding, writing, presenting, and everything in between – if you can dream it? Here you can BE it, explore it, learn it, and share it. My favorite lessons are the ones that I learned from others and use every day – and I love working in a place where this happens constantly. Need 17 lessons I’ve learned in 17 years? I’ve got those.
3. Life happens. Those moments in life that require me to drop everything and run home, or have a good cry – could be more stressful if I had to ask permission. From “small” moments like when my little one broke her arm, to larger moments like the loss of my mom, and even global tragedies like September 11th my team has my back, and allows me to take the time I need without question. What makes this flexibility possible is, well, Cisco. Our “policies” put people before policies so there is no hesitation to do what is right for each other when life happens.
Which may lead to the one thing you hear from just about EVERY Cisco employee on why they #LoveWhereYouWork…
4. My tribe. There are people at Cisco who have forever changed my life with their love, support, and friendship. They are my FRIENDS, not just “work friends” or “co-workers” – I would call upon them if I needed them for anything. I’m an introvert and a bit of a misfit so finding deep friendships with people that share my values and snarky sense of humor is truly extraordinary. That I was able to do this at, of all places, WORK? Is amazing. It is a truly unique experience and I am so grateful to have found my tribe at Cisco.
5. A small group can make a big difference. A few years ago, three employees said, “Our culture isn’t great and we have to change it.” Then Cisco did a crazy thing – they LISTENED to us and CHANGED our culture. It’s called Our People Deal. To put it simply, it’s the culture we create together every day. The moment our Chief HR Officer Fran Katsoudas stood on stage and shared a portrait of Alex’s journey (Alex represented the ups and downs of all employees), I recommitted myself to Cisco with an enthusiastic “I’M ALL IN. BRING IT!”
Just three people, and leadership that listened, created a massive change at a company with 73,000 people. This inspired an entire MOVEMENT, and it’s been incredible to watch and be a part of.
6. Airing of the Grievances. Is every day around here fantastic? Absolutely not! But even on the occasional day where I don’t absolutely love my job? I love this company. I love what Cisco stands for. I love our individual and collective voices – and that they are heard, appreciated, encouraged, and celebrated.
I love the social impact we’re making. I love that it shares my value of listening and being better, not to be “the best” but to make our small square of the world a better place to live in.
I love that we’re expected to be the best versions of ourselves, and that we’re empowered to do just that.
Some people get stuck in their careers for 18 years. I’m proud to say that I’ve stayed, on purpose.
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