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An intriguing and well written memoir of Hewlett-Packard's first woman CEO.

  • May 8, 2013
  • by
Rating:
+5
Having worked at a Cambridge based business school for a little over seven years as an administrative assistant, the story of Carly Fiorina really caught my interest, because I was curious about the gender dynamics and or biases in the business world, if indeed there really were and are any. But according to Fiorina's intepretative slant, there are. To a certain extent, I believe her; she was a controversal CEO, and in reading some of the reviews, there do seem to be some people who have an axe to grind in regards to her leadership, especially in HP's acquisition of Compaq, among some other happenings.

With a background in medieval history and philosophy, one would not think that that would be a stable foundation for a life in business, but it was always her obedience to her parents and those around her that prevented her from flourishing into what she ultimately became, and I think that is ultimately what Fiorina's core message is to her readers, that people have to follow their own instincts. People can not always follow the path that others have laid out for them, no matter how good intentioned it may be. The person's individual instincts must come first.

Yet with the judgements and bickering aside, Tough Choices is actually a good memoir and very well written, lucid, direct and not overdone with protective hyperbole; the memoir is not suggestive of a pity party or a woman who is trying to find redemption through all the chaos of criticism. What was really conveyed was how Carly Fiorina rose through the ranks to become the CEO of Hewlett-Packard in the first place.

She gives illuminating details of her various stints at AT&T, Lucent Technologies and all the various offshoots until she was recruited by HP. She also details her family life, her numerous trips abroad (the meeting in Japan with the assigned geisha brought a smile to my face), to the various firings she had to commit to in order to see the industry through. And there are those moments where she writes about her encounters with sexism. They were not indicative of the companies that she worked for, just certain people who unfortunately did not know any better. That may sound weak, but it is true nonetheless.

Overall, Tough Choices was a fine read, and I learned something from it. When a person is in a position of authority, irrelevant of gender, not everybody is going to be pleased. Sometimes it is just what is best for the company? CEOs have to look down the road, not at just the moment, and Carly Fiorina did that, to the best of her ability until the Board decided that new leadership needed to be gleaned from a pool of likeminded candidates. Lastly, I would not take the totality of Tough Choices as one hundred percent truth, as memoirs and autobiographies can always be manipulated so only one side is conveyed. I am sure there were plenty of screw-ups that were not acknowledged, but as a basic memoir, Tough Choices was a worthwhile read.
An intriguing and well written memoir of Hewlett-Packard's first woman CEO.

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More Tough Choices: A Memoir reviews
review by . May 09, 2010
I knew very little about Carly Fiorina before 2009 when it was clear she was going to run for public office, but reading TOUGH CHOICES really outlined not just a woman who had been successful in business---but a true success story regardless of gender. Her story is the story of so many of us who are attempting to do the best we can regardless of the circumstances we are faced with.    In her book Carly says this: "...for the first time in human history, anyone can lead. Of course, …
review by . August 27, 2008
Having worked at a Cambridge based business school for a little over seven years as an administrative assistant, the story of Carly Fiorina really caught my interest, because I was curious about the gender dynamics and or biases in the business world, if indeed there really were and are any. But according to Fiorina's intepretative slant, there are. To a certain extent, I believe her; she was a controversal CEO, and in reading some of the reviews, there do seem to be some people who have an axe …
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For her six years as CEO of technology giant Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina was one of the most public faces in business, consistently chosen as the most powerful woman in corporate America. But after being ousted by the HP board of directors in early 2005, she stepped away from the spotlight. She returns to the public eye with her new memoir,Tough Choices, the story of her tenure at HP and of her unprecedented--and unexpected--rise to the top. While much of the early attention to the book will no doubt focus on her battles with the HP board and her dismissal--and she lays out her side of that story in full detail--what is more likely to give her book a wide and lasting readership is her account of the choices she made to get to that point. As she says, she never expected to become a captain of industry; she never planned to go into business at all. But what she found, as she tells in a straightforward, personal style, was that she had a talent and a taste for working with people and making the kinds of decisions that business leadership requires. In a series of "tough choices" that give her book its name, she gravitated toward the most challenging paths that were offered her. Those choices, which many around her told her not to make, were what led her to the top in record time.

She visited the Amazon.com offices to give a talk to our employees about the book before it was published, and we were so impressed with what she had to say--and the open and focused way she said ...

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ISBN-10: 159184181X
Author: Carly Fiorina
Publisher: Portfolio Trade

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