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on 28 June 2012
This is the best book of any category I have read for a long time. It gripped me with the intensity of an intriguing and thrilling novel. It moved me with its insights into humanity and the brutality of which we are capable. It taught me, especially about the purpose and value of both leadership and management, and their differing roles. Carly Fiorina's memoir is exceptionally well written. It is deeply insightful into the way people, as well as industry and corporations, function. It is unfailingly generous, even when dealing with gross betrayal. This book is clear, perceptive and inspiring. It is a challenge to living well and leading others.
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2009
This interesting if self-congratulatory book sadly leaves all of the more interesting questions unanswered. The defining action of Fiorina's six year stewardship of Hewlett Packard was the merger of HP with Compaq in 2001. It ran into huge opposition from the company's own shareholders, led by the son of founder Bill Hewlett. Did Fiorina see this coming? Apparently not. After her successful defence and implementation of the merger, Fiorina gets summarily sacked by the board. Why? Fiorina has no idea. It's a mystery.
Fiorina had already acquired the unfortunate nickname of `Chainsaw Carly' as a result of her swingeing programme of cuts and lay-offs following the crash of the technology bubble in late 2000. But her assessment of the state of the industry post-crash (and then post-nine eleven) was almost certainly more right than most other people's: growth rates of five times GDP were a thing of the past; it was time for the still-young industry to consolidate.
Fiorina is keen to portray the Compaq merger as 'not her baby': another board member first raises the idea; Fiorina is cautious; all options are explored; the board finally and unanimously endorse the decision to undertake the merger. But investors and Wall Street as a whole are deeply sceptical. More importantly, Walter Hewlett spearheads a shareholder revolt aimed at preventing the merger. Things get very nasty, but Carly leads a successful defense and the merger is finally approved.
Fiorina's implementation of the merger is deeply impressive, and reflects her core belief in attention to detail. Whatever faults Fiorina may have, she emerges from this book as a class act in terms of the leadership and management of major initiatives at the highest possible level.
Yet in 2005 she is summarily sacked by Hewlett Packard's board of directors. Why? This book offers no clues. Fiorina is either blissfully unaware of her defects, and of other people's perceptions of her, or she wilfully refuses to acknowledge and discuss these. Adverse media comment about her management style is occasionally mentioned, but is dismissed without comment or insight. Just as Fiorina was apparently taken by surprise by the opposition to the merger, so she appears to be unaware that the board was later moving against her - and offers no possible explanation as to why they should do so. We have to remind ourselves that she was the chairman of this board. In a leader, such a lack of awareness about where the political wind is blowing looks like carelessness. Or maybe she did know what was going on, but she isn't telling.
Fiorina emerges from this book as being extremely pleased with herself: successful business leaders do not tend to be shrinking violets. But her professed wide-eyed amazement about the actions of people who are essential to her survival is ether naïve or disingenuous. This book has value as an insight into the leadership and management techniques of a prominent figure in modern business, but it won't help you to avoid Carly's fate (with or without the consolation of her $21 million pay-off) because it reveals none of the important details about what really happened - or, to be more precise, about what anybody other than Carly Fiorina was thinking at the time.
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on 20 February 2015
I bought this for a module I was studying at University. Obviously the book was useful for that purpose, but I was surprised to find some interesting insights into life, society and ambition that I wasn't really expecting. However, I disliked the political nature of the autobiography, there was a lot of X said this and Y said that (no-one cares!!!) particularly in the last few chapters at HP which dragged because of this.
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on 7 January 2013
This was such an inspiring book. Telling her story from starting out at the bottom of the ladder and her success in reaching the top. It all seems to boil down to hard work, respect for those she works with and at all times being honest with herself her family and her colleagues.
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on 28 March 2007
At last, Carly Fiorina speaks for herself. The controversial Hewlett-Packard ex-CEO starts at the beginning, which means that anyone interested in her perspective on the HP/Compaq merger and her subsequent firing should skip straight to chapter 20. Nevertheless, her full story is important. Willingly or not, Fiorina remains a role model for women in business. The devil is in the details - in this case, her breathlessly earnest descriptions of the inner workings of various AT&T business units (not as interesting as all that precedes and follows), and numerous slightly preachy digressions on the challenges and virtues of leadership (her leadership, of course). Despite these flaws, or perhaps because of them, Fiorina reveals herself as a human being who cries, takes risks that don't always work out and agonizes over difficult decisions. She introduces a kinder, gentler woman to readers who may know only her ruthless reputation as reported by outsiders. We think this memoir makes fascinating reading for managers at all levels.
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on 11 April 2008
This is an amazing book. If you are interested in management and business I would defiantly recommend reading it. Alongside the story of Carly Fiorina's career she gives lots of interesting insights and observations on life in general and business management.
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on 2 January 2011
Very interesting read. I especially enjoyed the part of her successes in AT&T, and the history of transformation of the company. The "HP-ending" part was indeed curios, as the reader does not really learn what happened, as it seems she does not know herself! Probably this is down to the fact that investigatons were still ongoing during the time of print. Interestingly, Carly Fiorina was named "Chainsaw Carly", whereas Mark Hurd did not suffer similar nicknames, even though he laid off many more people. Reading about Carly's view on company policies ("The HP Way"), the merger, and change management I found very insightful, and maybe in 5 years or so we will read a similar account of Mark Hurd. His resignation looked similarly suspicious and sudden as Fiorina's, and also happened after a merger.
For me, the book was more about people management, company management, perception of woman at the top, personal stamina and morals then about HP. It is very well written. I passed it on to friends in management, so they can read about someone going all the way to the top without being ruthless, but very determined.
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on 28 March 2007
At last, Carly Fiorina speaks for herself. The controversial Hewlett-Packard ex-CEO starts at the beginning, which means that anyone interested in her perspective on the HP/Compaq merger and her subsequent firing should skip straight to chapter 20. Nevertheless, her full story is important. Willingly or not, Fiorina remains a role model for women in business. The devil is in the details - in this case, her breathlessly earnest descriptions of the inner workings of various AT&T business units (not as interesting as all that precedes and follows), and numerous slightly preachy digressions on the challenges and virtues of leadership (her leadership, of course). Despite these flaws, or perhaps because of them, Fiorina reveals herself as a human being who cries, takes risks that don't always work out and agonizes over difficult decisions. She introduces a kinder, gentler woman to readers who may know only her ruthless reputation as reported by outsiders. We think this memoir makes fascinating reading for managers at all levels.
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on 5 November 2006
I read this book immediately and fast, with interest and passion, and I was convinced of its truthfulness. Interesting and enjoyable, especially for women in business, or, for that matter, for anyone in business.
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on 28 July 2013
This is a great read. Flows really well and it's like you are having a coffee with Carly talking about it all and hearing her recount experiences from her past, passing on her wisdom.
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