Growing up I always had a fascination with leadership, strategy, and growth.  I watched countless hours of History channel and documentaries on the great leaders of our past.  I would read books on the topics like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, and Robert Greene’s Mastery.  The games I played always had themes around these topics as well from Chess, to Fire Emblem, to Civilization, and the countless other RPGs.

John and 3 of his CSAP colleagues smile for the camera!

During my adolescent years learning and adapting my understanding of leadership, it became clear to me that there are many different styles to choose from.  No one is better than the other or perfect for every situation.  Some people may lead like a game of chess, using pure logic.  Every piece on the board has its role to play.  Others take a hands-off laissez-faire approach.  You know, the “come to me if there are problems, otherwise you got this” style.

But what style fits me?  What am I drawn too?   I happen to gain the most fulfillment from Servant Leadership.  I fully believe that helping others grow, develop, and reach the next level not only cultivates competent talent in an organization; it boosts morale and creates a positive culture – and Cisco embodies servant leadership from the top down too!

Just my third week at Cisco, I had the great opportunity to meet Tim Coogan, Area Vice President for Commercial South (now Enterprise South) at our global sales conference (GSX) and learn some great nuggets of wisdom from him.  That’s the thing about leadership here, they’re never too busy to help you grow, and it’s not just the way of one or two execs.  Every exec and manager I have met through the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) has been more than happy to share their wisdom and knowledge with me – and that’s left me inspired.

John speaking to the 2019 graduating class at QSI International School of Yerevan in Armenia.

At Cisco, I feel actively encouraged to lead and help develop those around me!

With every new cohort in CSAP, the previous cohort gets a mentee.  My mentor, Marcos Valdez, truly made me feel at home in North Carolina and at Cisco when I moved here not knowing a soul.  He was calling me months before my start date, inviting me to BBQ’s, and helping me navigate my first couple months at Cisco.  So, when the cohort after mine started, I wanted to make sure they felt just as supported as I did!

I shared as much as I could with them about what I have learned.  The first couple months were focused on obtaining their CCNA certification, and so I held a few review sessions to really get over the initial hurdle.  With the onset of assessed role plays, I could not be prouder of the improvement I see in the team with each and every practice meeting we do.

The cover of John's first book Million Dollar Tuition.Perhaps my favorite contribution thus far, however, has been writing my first book Million Dollar Tuition!  Initially inspired by the moment I mentioned earlier from GSX, I was talking with my manager and he encouraged me to find additional ways to leverage writing as an impactful creative outlet.  Jokingly, I mentioned writing a book and he, without hesitation, said that could be a real possibility!

Initially I kind of wrote the idea off and continued with my day.  But the thought stuck with me and over the next couple of weeks the idea of having a book, something that could scale my impact on a global scale beyond what I can do in a 24-hour day, really started to sound amazing.  So, I started on nights and weekends writing out all my ideas and lessons learned throughout my own college career and put them into Million Dollar Tuition as a resource for college students really looking to make the most of their time in university for a successful future.

After publishing I have been astounded with the positive feedback, I have received both inside and outside of Cisco. Marsha Connor, Program Manager for CSAP, has really gone out of her way to support Million Dollar Tuition.  Together we were able to provide 150 copies to students across Canada for a Girls Power Tech event!

However, the story doesn’t end in the eastern hemisphere.  I recently had the opportunity to speak with the 2019 graduating class at QSI International School of Yerevan in Armenia on all I’ve learned.  Now it is my hope that as those students spread across the globe for university, they too will share what they learn and keep growing the world around them.

The type of global leadership here at Cisco has and continues to inspire me daily.  Even when we think we can dream some fairly large dreams on our own, Cisco goes and inspires them to be even larger – with even more impact.

Now, that’s leadership.

Want to join the team?  You can!  Apply now.



John Cuneo

Associate Systems Engineer

Global Enterprise Networking Sales