Cisco CTO, Padmasree Warrior, gave a thoughtful keynote speech for the Women of Vision event. I watched part 1 in May. Reminded by Anita Borg Institute’s Year in Review, I enjoyed watching part 2 and part 3.

She titled her talk: “fear stays silent while passion speaks,” which struck me as an important way to talk about vision and about women in tech. Although I do think a certain amount of fear coupled with the courage to overcome it can sharpen an edge, too often women (and men) hold themselves back without even realizing their own power and creative force.

She also notes that work and life are always at odds.  It isn’t about balance.  It is about integration.

Here are five life lessons she shared:

  1. Every transition brings a growth opportunity
    an opportunity to add new skills
  2. You can gain speed at a turn
    applies to companies as well as individuals, a downturn or upturn allows us to focus
  3. Leaders blur boundaries
    You need to be able to work across functional boundaries, as well as across countries and with different kinds of people. Influencing across an industry is more important than leading a large number of people.
  4. The best way to gain recognition is to give it away
    People are often afraid of losing credit. Ideas are stronger when you share them. If you give someone credit for an idea, it is amazing how quickly they will run with it.
  5. Opportunity is a mold waiting to be re-shaped
    There is never a perfect fit for a job. We are always in a mold and it is up to us to break out of that mold. The fit doesn’t come to you, you need to work hard to make a fit.

“The CTO’s job is not to know all the answers, but to ask the right questions”

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