Cisco CEO John Chambers shared an insightful story about himself during the company’s quarterly conference call, his last as CEO after 20 years. He’s retiring in July to become executive chairman.
Cisco had just reported a good quarter and Chambers was in high spirits.
He finished the call with a story intended to illustrate just how hell-bent competitive he can get, and also, perhaps, to show that even though he’s 65 and semi-retiring, he’s not over the hill yet.
“I ran today and I was determined to set my new course record when I ran. But I got stopped in the first half — I’ve never seen this before in my life — the biggest buck I’ve ever seen. It was probably a 12-point, maybe 14-point,” he said. (The points refer to the individual tines of the buck’s antlers, a bit of hunter-speak. Chambers grew up in West Virginia.)
“He was right in my path, 10 feet from me. I looked him right in the eyes. At first, I was annoyed because I wanted to set my time. Then I realised, I wanted to enjoy the moment,” he said. “But I missed my time, didn’t make it by 10 seconds.”
The amazing thing about this story is that a stag is also a symbol in some cultures of a pivotal life change or a fresh start and beginning. Think of the “Firebird Suite” sequence in the 2000 remake of Disney’s Fantasia.
A Hollywood film depicting Chambers’ life couldn’t have picked a better symbol for his last quarterly conference call.