How many of us can say that we’ve taken skills learned at work and transformed them into lifelong lessons within our home? One of the most valuable elements of our Cisco culture is that we’re encouraged to grow and to continue learning, and because of that nudge from my manager I was able to teach my children an important life skill in budgeting as well.
Like so many Cisco teams – my team (Customer Engagements Center of Excellence) is awesome! Our manager is always looking for new opportunities for us and continues to cultivate a truly transformative team with growth potential abounds. One day, she came to me and said, “I think you should learn Change Management. The team needs it because of all the processes we’re formalizing and it will be good for you too. Why don’t you look into some training?”
Excited to take on this new challenge, I quickly dove into a list of books she provided on the subject. I began with Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The book centers around appealing to other people’s emotions when trying to make a change, as well as their intellect.
I was hooked, and this new learning could not have come at a better time.
Simultaneously, I had faced the fact that I was having some serious trouble budgeting our expenses at home. Certainly not where-are-we-going-to-sleep-tonight, but definitely overdraft-protection-advance-into-personal-checking territory.
As I was looking over my bank account, I noticed one huge culprit – in our very busy lives filled with work, activities for the girls, and daily tasks we had been hitting a drive-thru or restaurant five to six times a week. To the tune of… wait for it… $175-$200 a WEEK! And that didn’t even include the Starbucks runs during the day or grabbing lunch at work with colleagues.
I knew that to get control of the situation, I had to wean us off of those “quick fixes” – and to be clear, never going through a drive thru wasn’t one of the goals. I don’t care about that. My girls are great about getting salads or chicken sandwiches with smoothies; they almost always make healthy choices.
It purely came down to the expense of it all, and never knowing exactly how much to budget for those quick meals.
Similar to what I had learned at work through my new challenge in Change Management, I narrowed my goals down to three key achievements:
1. Reduce these expenses.
2. Spend a predictable amount each weekly on meals.
3. Not having meals made at 9pm become the replacement option.
From here, I decided to put my Change Management skills into action.
I went to the bank and withdrew four crisp new $50 bills and I showed them to the girls (who are 15 and 17, my two youngest). I told them, “This is your eating out budget for the next two weeks, $50 a week. It includes any food that you don’t eat at home. AND if I didn’t cook dinner, you’re on your own – if I have to make you something on a night I didn’t cook, I’m charging you $9, the price of the average drive thru meal. BUT, at the end of each week, whatever’s left over from this $50, I’m going to give you. If you have $50 left, I’m going to give you $50. No tricks, no gimmicks.”
They were onboard IMMEDIATELY.
Like many kids their age, the girls had been wanting some clothing items that come with a large brand name and an even larger price tag for their Varsity Cheer Summit at the end of April. They both had the identical reaction – “I’m going to have the whole $50 left every week!!” with the goal of using that money towards the items on their wish lists.
The next day they came home from school and made themselves snacks without a murmur, last night they both ate beef stew without whining at all. I can SEE the $$$ adding up and responsibility for their own actions reaching new heights. They’re having to consider their options, budget the money and time a meal might require, when to eat that meal (perhaps before practice vs. after), and how all these elements work together.
On my end, I probably saved $40 that first day alone! PLUS, I went to bed as soon as we got home from cheer practice and got a solid nine hours of sleep because I didn’t have to make late night meals.
I literally changed behavior in a half hour that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to change for two years.
The girls are so stoked that they’re sharing this knowledge with their friends. And just recently, one of my friends instituted the same program on the spot at the cheer gym for her three kids.
We’ve probably all had those jobs where we lived in two very separate worlds, never blending personal with professional. Cisco’s culture invites you to do just the opposite in sharing all you know from every aspect of your life, and we believe this is the true strength of our employees and great teams.
I can now attest that these new career skills and my growth in the office has evolved into new parenting skills and strengthening my family as well. I’ll add that to my ongoing list of reasons I love working at Cisco!
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