Cisco - Lessons Learned From Red Badge To Blue Badge

on under Admin
4 minute read


I have been working hard the previous year and a half within Cisco as a Red Badge contingency worker, and have now been officially hired internally into Cisco!
For anyone who wants some lessons learned, here is my dump:

  • Be industrious
  • Be respectful
  • Gain visibility
  • Maintain standards
  • Adopt without complaint

I’ll break each of these out into short segments so you have some context.

Be industrious

I don’t mean “Do your job.” I mean “Do your job, and do some extra, consistently.”
When you have down time, study something.
When you have down time, work on a team to create something/update stuff/create needed documentation.
Important caveat: You do NOT have to wreck yourself, putting in 200% every day. You DO have to put in an extra %20 consistently. You DO have to do the work first, then present it to the team as “Oh I noticed this problem and have already developed the solution: Here you go.”
Examples: I volunteered to help on an automation team and did help. I have created how-to’s, slide decks for specific technologies, made data dump packets for new hires to help spin them up, made walkthrough videos to help Customers understand + configure technology that customers ALWAYS run into as an issue. I didn’t reinvent the wheel anywhere or do anything that required any particular inherent skill.

Be respectful

This is a political correctness / social intelligence thing.
Do not get dragged into any debates that could possibly offend anyone who is watching or listening.
Case in point, during the world events involving Ukraine, some co-workers (including myself) were discussing military tactics. Someone pointed out that we do have Ukrainian AND Russian co-workers whose families might be in these conflicts. I promptly apologized and backed out of the conversation entirely. Even if you mess up, just quickly eat crow so people know that you are aware of what is going on and are making an honest attempt to not be devisive.
This only works if you are actually trying to NOT be devisive.

Gain visibility

What I mean is gain visibility within Cisco.
Collaborate with Cisco people from other silos to help out Customers.
Collaborate with Cisco people from other teams to help grow their knowledge with quick tips.
Collaborate with the many internal Cisco groups to present on this or that topic.
Make an actual effort to build rapport and relationships with Cisco people outside of your group. This is what Webex is for.
Don’t be a fly on the wall, be one of the people in the team who DOES speak up and say something.

Maintain standards

This is the “Actually do your job” part.
Actually do your job. Stick to it as a bare minimum.
Find clever ways to keep yourself on track and streamline your workload.
Consider that you and your entire team make up 100% of the team. Imagine that!
Now consider that you put in the same amount of streamlining effort that 80% of your team has.
You now have some free time open in your work day.
Now consider that you put in an extra 20% of effort, for one month, into also streamlining all your documentation and common admin items via templates for everything templatable.
You will now be at about 60% or less capacity for your 100% workload, but you will have more free time than about 50% of your team.
I know I am mixing percentages but read it twice, in my experience this is actually how it works. Work less but MAINTAIN STANDARDS.
Use your extra free time to support all of the afformentioned objectives, it will give you an edge.

Adopt without complaint

As a Red Badge worker, you will always be learning new internal tools, methods, entire playbooks, name nomenclature, and even brand new products altogether.
It will be annoying or useful.
Just do it. Don’t go complaining publicly to the team.
You already know that this is an annoying situation, and everyone is annoyed about it. Now you can either contribute to the annoying-ness by now throwing in some complainer (you, complaining in Webex), or you can lessen the annoying-ness by figuring out/sharing protips for the new annoying thing.
At the very least, adopt the thing without complaint.
There’s always a reason to complain but don’t be that person, let someone else do it.

There’s my dump. Not sure what to point myself at next.
eJPT is coming out with a new course revision altogether, which includes Active Directory.
I might either wait for that to release and go through it, or take a look at other certs to try to leverage this whole “I worked in Cisco for X years” angle. Maybe one of those “All solid people have this cert” certifications. Focusing more on my job worked out well for me in this instance so there’s also the possibility to keep taking my time and just poke on HTB boxes here and there to keep building on habits. I am now in a position to start playing the long game.

Cisco, Admin, Homelab
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