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When you’re living the Cisco life, having big goals and a life filled with adventure seem to go hand-in-hand.

Just ask Brian Dickinson, Cisco Systems Engineer. Already a fan of hiking and camping, when he moved to the Pacific Northwest of the US, the thought of taking up mountain climbing.

“Once I started climbing, I just wanted to keep going!” Brian laughs.

Keep going he did – as Brian accepted the Seven Summits challenge and climbed the world’s seven tallest peaks: Kosciuszko, Aconcagua, Vinson, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Denali, and Everest – the tallest mountain in the world.

It was Everest that would be his biggest challenge. After his Sherpa became ill a mere 1,000 feet from reaching the goal, Brian decided to continue on alone. He made the summit, took a few photos and radioed in, but then became snow blind. At 29,000 feet he was left without his vision and low on oxygen. Suddenly the journey down Everest became harder than the journey up.

Spoiler alert – Brian made it back safely. Since the experience he has also written a book, Blind Descent, and even become a motivational speaker — he credits Cisco in helping make happen.


“Cisco gave me a great platform to reach people just beyond climbing mountains,” Brian said. “They’ve allowed me to really share my experience and motivate others. You can be in the perfect setting and still choose to work yourself to death. If you have discipline for a strong work/life balance and values, then Cisco is the company to work for because they’re all in. They’ll support you in whatever you want to do in your career and personal life.”

Brian had some key points to help you add adventure to your career, based on his experiences.

  1. Set A Goal – What is it that you want to achieve? Do you want to advance in your career or write a book? Maybe you want to dive the Great Barrier Reef or become a motivational speaker yourself! Decide on your goal – go as far as saying it out loud, writing it down or telling a close friend/family member to help keep you accountable. Then get to working on it!
  2. Focus – To achieve your goals you’ll need a plan, some preparation, and perhaps even additional training. Once you know what steps you’ll want to take – get to work and focus on the plan you created. A lot of people use planning as a way to keep postponing the real work, yet still feel as if they’re accomplishing something. Don’t let this happen to you. As Brian made his way back down Everest without his vision (which would not return for another month and a half) he said his focus kept him going so he could safely return to his family. Sometimes you just need to put one foot in front of the other and inch along as best you can.
  3. Learn From Failure & Adjust Your Course – Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t pan out. Don’t let this discourage you! Know that even an attempt is a step forward, re-access what may not have worked, adjust your course and plan of action and use that to your advantage in your next attempt.
  4. Know that Success Does Not Happen Overnight – Climbing Everest is a two month process. Summiting these mountains comes with many dangers, unpredictable weather – that can delay or end your journey all together, and a vast array of unknowns. Success takes time. Wear your patience with pride. A lot of hard work goes into “overnight” successes.
  5. Find Your Balance – By infusing your life and career with adventure, it’s also a great way to involve your family and friends in those experiences! Brian says, “You get married and have kids – that’s not an excuse not to live life in an amazing way, just involve your kids, family and friends. People go through tough times, but it’s these adventures and the people around you that make life worth living.”
  6. Gain Perspective – Whether it is from one of the highest points on Earth, or from your workspace at sea level it’s imperative to have perspective. Know that living a life of adventure is contagious and you can impact a lot of people in a positive way by doing the very things you love and reaching for your goals. Know when to play it safe, and when to push a little further.
  7. Give Back – On many of Brian’s expeditions, he has taken Cisco technology with him to give back to the communities he’s experiencing, “Tech brings people together!” Typically, he will visit orphanages in the area and deliver toys to the kids, before Everest he also brought Cisco technology that enabled the children in different area orphanages to connect and communicate with one another. It was an all-new experience for them and they loved it! How can you give back?


“Cisco is not one dimensional,” Brian says. “There is so much opportunity here, with a simple left or right alignment you can achieve so much.” So how do you plan on adding a dose of adventure into your day? Let us know in the comments!

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Casie Shimansky

Content Strategist | Provider of Pixie Dust

Employee Storytelling