Tough Choices: A Memoir
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The New York Times bestseller by the most talked about woman in American business.
For five and a half years, Carly Fiorina led Hewlett-Packard through major internal changes, the worst technology slump in decades, and the most controversial merger in high-tech history. Yet just as things were about to turn around, she was abruptly fired, making front-page news around the world.
Fiorina has been the subject of endless debate and speculation. But she has never spoken publicly about crucial details of her time at HP, about the mysterious circumstances of her firing, or about many other aspects of her landmark career. Until now.
In this extraordinarily candid memoir, she reveals the private person behind the public persona. She shares her triumphs and failures, her deepest fears and most painful confrontations. She shows us what it was like to be an ambitious young woman at stodgy old AT&T and then a fast- track executive during the spin-off of Lucent Technologies. Above all, she describes how she drove the transformation of legendary but deeply troubled HP, in the face of fierce opposition.
One of Fiorina's big themes is that in the end business isn't just about numbers; it's about people.This book goes beyond the caricature of the powerful woman executive to show who she really is and what the rest of us male or female, in business or not can learn from the tough choices she made along the way.
company would be too big and sluggish to grow. And as the press reported on all the economic difficulties and the layoffs of the times, Walter and David would repeat the myth that Bill and Dave had never believed in taking jobs away from people. Walter and David would say that the HP Way was going to be trampled by the deal, and a great and good management philosophy would be lost just when we needed it most. The HP Board began to be described as “handpicked” or “railroaded.” The fact that every
not as smart as they thought they were. In turns out I wasn’t as smart as I needed to be. Somehow, at some point during the next two weeks, certain Board members would decide to fire me. 30 | Owning My Soul AT HOME on Sunday, February 6, 2005, I prepared for Monday’s Board meeting. Ten days earlier, on our last Board call, Larry Sonsini had reported on his investigation into the leak and his assessment of the Board’s dynamics. He informed us that two, possibly three, Board members had
boardroom, had broken their duty of confidence to one another and to me. I felt all these things, but after a lifetime of fears I was not afraid. I had done what I thought was right. I had given everything I had to something I believed in. I had made mistakes, but I had made a difference. I was at peace with my choices and their consequences. My soul was still my own. 1 | A Gift from My Parents HOW A STORY ENDS has much to do with how it begins, and so I must begin with my mother and
beloved, deceased mother) was finally born in 1952, they were sure she was the last. My father always remarked on Clara’s beauty and her physical resemblance to his side of the family. He loved that she was an avid reader of great books. My mother rejoiced in her creativity and artistic nature. She wasn’t a painter like our mother, but she was a gifted writer from a very young age. At age eight she wrote her first award-winning poem, and she’s been writing ever since. My mother said Clara had an
ones. I loved the hairdressers—the owners, Dan and John, ran a fun, boisterous shop. I met gays for the first time. Those were the days when no one talked about sexual orientation and many monogamous gay couples would go to parties with appropriate female dates. We would have long conversations, and some great laughs, about how painful and funny this could be sometimes. I was fascinated by the people of this business, although I never thought about the profit of it. During the summer months,