As an entrepreneur, joining Cisco wasn’t an easy decision for me. It meant shuttering a company I had built and mourning what that could have been – to rejoin the corporate side and take full advantage of what Annie could be. This is why I sought out the most amazing teams and remarkable opportunities to help me reach my full potential – and found Cisco in that process.
Still, I was nervous that stepping into gainful employment after so many years as an entrepreneur would be a jarring move. I wondered about how this transition would go, and whether I would be stuck in political mire or squeezed into a box of someone else’s making. But I’ve been digging into the opportunity, getting to know the team, and understanding my role for a while now. And after 30 days at Cisco, I wanted to share my perspective on this new challenge.
It. Is. Amazing. For a lot of reasons.
I’m part of the best team in the best company in the whole world. And that’s not hyperbole. My team is consistently rated as the best team according to a survey of people inside Cisco, and the company was named the World’s Best Workplace by Fortune’s Great Place To Work.
Seriously – it shows.
Within my first two weeks, many gifs were shared. People were excited to connect with me. Visions were cast. Family photos were passed around. It was such a personally gratifying welcome.
When you’re in a job for long enough – after doing similar things over and over just with new client names – you become comfortable as the resident expert. In ramping up at Cisco, I’ve been listening in on several calls where I was stunned by being in a position of “I have no idea what is going on right now.”
RESIDENT EXPERT NO LONGER, Y’ALL.
Daily, I listen to my colleagues talk about the work that they’re doing, and I’m constantly impressed. I find myself thinking, “I wonder if they’d considered this approach to that prob—” only to hear them say that they’d indeed considered that, and another dozen approaches I hadn’t yet thought about myself.
And they’re understanding. I have ideas! I have opinions! But I’m stepping into a group that has been doing great things for a long time. And they understand that I’ll get some stuff wrong, or make assumptions, and are completely encouraging and non-judgmental. In fact, I’d say that everyone I’ve met here is humble. The level of talent at Cisco ‘wows’ me regularly, and I feel honored that this is the level of talent that I now get to collaborate with.
The Cisconians I’ve met are also hungry for change. They do not thrive in the seat of comfort. They are willing and ready to employ the same kind of creative destruction I’ve spoken about before (here and here.) I didn’t know that before I started here – didn’t understand the appetite for innovation. But we are having internal discussions about the coolest things ever and, within a month, I’m already getting to work on some of the most fascinating projects of my career.
I’ve been given tremendous agency to pull in the best practices I’ve evangelized to clients for years but might have had trouble getting approved. My organization is so genuinely focused on our customers as humans, and there is so much passion and empathy behind this pursuit. At Cisco, they’re willing to go to lengths and depths to help people, to make them happy, to grow the number of intuitive interactions, and to guide people through the most delightful experiences possible.
People are eager to volunteer to help, raising hands and setting up meetings. And everyone is just so dang nice and has a really great sense of humor. It’s apparent to me that I’m in a group that is well suited to my approach to, well, lots of things.
Additionally, Cisco has a mandatory shut down over the holiday. Like, a complete shut down for a whole week. Lots of people even take extended vacation at that time. It’s supported and encouraged from our CEO down. The company literally takes a mental break, no messages are sent or received – it’s a week that is beautifully quiet, focused on R&R, and incredibly refreshing. Knowing that, of course, we’ll hit the ground running at the turn of the calendar year.
So, if you’re on your own and thinking about what’s next, I want to encourage you that there are places you can land where you can shine, and thrive, and find immense satisfaction. There is a time to let go of a business, but it doesn’t have to be an end – it really can be a new beginning of something amazing. Because there are companies like Cisco that value intrapreneurs – and I count myself as one of the lucky ones.
I realize that my account above is filled with fangirl-like enthusiasm, but for anyone who knows me well, this is not a surprise. I have become a huge Cisco fan so, understandably, my loyal fanaticism would naturally make a regular appearance in my day-to-day interactions. So yes, I’m full of sparkly joy.
And that’s cool. Because entrepreneurship can be rewarding, without question. But for all of you visionaries looking at what is next – be heartened! Creative destruction is driving more internal innovations in corporations that are going to be hungry and ready for you sooner than you might think.
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Thanks Annie! I enjoyed reading about your experience and first 30 days!???
Deb Myers (day17).
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