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Tough Choices: A Memoir

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  897 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
By accepting the CEO job at Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina became the most powerful businesswoman in America. But, she also made herself a target for everyone who disliked her bold leadership style and resented her rapid rise. Here, she writes about her triumphs and failures, her deepest fears and most painful confrontations.
Published July 1st 2008 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing (first published 2006)
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The first half of this book is totally inspiring. It's a great book on leadership, and one that anyone in business should read. It actually made me want to do my job better.

However, the second half of this book felt like "Carly's Defense". It seemed like she really felt the need to tell her side, and this book is the vehicle for it. It wasn't bad, per se, but it didn't go with the first half, and in some ways, it took away from the first half. It seemed awfully defensive, and wasn't so much abou
Brian Mcquaig
Oct 04, 2015 Brian Mcquaig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please note I read the abridged audio version of this book. I "read" this book because I was tired of hearing, "I know someone at HP and they hate her because she ruined the company..." blah, blah, blah. ...when it was more than obvious that the majority of people telling me this, 1. Didn't know anyone from HP and 2. They were talking out of their ass...not knowing ANY relevant details of the subject at hand. I find those kinds of people transparent as in finding aggrandizement of themselves in ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Lorna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This woman is extraordinary. Her careers moves at lightning speed from a role as a secretary at a brokerage firm to CEO of HP. She also was one of the three people who spun off Lucent from AT&T, creating the logo, company identity and mission statement. She exhibits spectacular moral courage, ethical conviction, daring creativity and infectious charisma. Never would I have imagined adding to my list of personal heroes the CEO of a major corporation, but there you have it; she's been add ...more
May 01, 2008 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in management, women working in male dominated fields
Recommended to Laura by: Adam
I know nothing about HP or management, but I really liked this book. Fiorini was the CEO of HP, and this is her autobiography, focused on her climb through the business world (from AT&T to Lucent to HP). There is a lot on management techniques and her personal philosophies on management and business, and this is interesting to read. I enjoyed the stories of how she overcame particular obstacles at work. What I really liked about it, though, was her frank depiction of the challenges for women ...more
Christian Engler
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 ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carly Fiorina wrote Tough Choices: A Memoir (2006), which I read in December 2015. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the contributions she made in the field in which I thrived for my entire early career – telecommunications. Both her stint at Lucent and Hewlett-Packard (HP) in leadership positions revealed important lessons many of us learned during the optimistic 1990s and subdued 2000s.

Unlike her father’s view that learning was not simply a way to make a living, learning was a goal in and o
This is an autobiography of the former CEO of HP. It chronicles her rise and fall from power. I could relate to a lot of it, of course with quite a few less zeroes in my case! ( I read elsewhere that Carly received $21 million in her HP severance agreement – 2.5 X her annual salary.) I agreed with much of Carly’s philosophy of business. The following quotes resonated with me, primarily in the context of my own situation.
“They (the Board) did not thank me and they did not say good-bye. They did n
Dec 12, 2009 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2010
I really enjoyed this book. One of the best leadership and business books I have read and will likely re-read or at the very least borrow wisdom from. Carly's astuteness for business is unmatched. This was a rather quick read that focused on her career and her thoughts on leadership. I read this book to gain some insight into Carly to see if my vote would be her this coming election. She certainly now has it, but what I did not expect in this book and I actually appreciated the book did not go t ...more
Feb 09, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a confession to make. I am yet another Hewlett-Packard refugee. I was at HP when Carly Fiorina was CEO. Working on a design team that was almost all male, it was exhilerating to have a female CEO. But, like so many other HP employees, I felt that Carly was calculating and immune to the charm of "Bill and Dave" and the HP Way. I agreed with the sentiments of most of my co-workers that Carly Fiorina was a ...(rhymes with witch). Although I was no longer at HP when Carly was ousted, I cheere ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very inspiring. I would want to write a very long review, but if I wait to find the perfect words, it will never happen. So, the bottom line is that I feel rejuvenated. It have set myself my 5 and 10 year goals because of this book. I had never seriously considered management until now, and I owe it all to this book. I feel less intimidated by my own management because the book humanizes upper management.

My only issue is how she focuses on metrics as measurement of success (ie # of patents = inn
Jul 04, 2009 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
This was really quite interesting, even though I know little about business and had no idea that she had ever led Hewlett Packard.It chronicles her rise (from a secretary to CEO of HP) and fall (the HP Board fired her) in business. She talks of how she learned management, and the obstacles she faced as a woman in a tech industry in her time and how she overcame them through focus on the work. There is a lot on management techniques and her personal philosophies on management and business, and th ...more
Feb 17, 2008 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the better business books I've read... up until the last third, when it became purely a defense of Carly's time at HP, filled with tons of unnecessary details that were boring unless you were reading it to understand her firing scandal. I'd higly recommend reading it up until she gets the job at HP, then stopping.
Aug 11, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
Thanks, Laura, for sharing this book! It is a great picture of a woman driven to the heights of corporate responsibility, with memorable assessments of what leadership consists of. I especially liked how she never once whined about the unique challenges of being a woman in this role, but she never sugar coats it either. I'll reread this book.
Jan 23, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fascinating but it is definitely not a page turner if you aren't interested in reading an in-depth story of a female CEO in the Valley. Lots of detail about leadership strategy and politics at Lucent and HP, which I loved reading!
Apr 29, 2011 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the audio book that was read by the author and really enjoyed it. It was like listening to "lessons learned" from a mentor.
Stuart H Crepea
May 08, 2017 Stuart H Crepea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough no nonsense professionals

Trial of women in business but truly more about a person with strong moral compass and her learning curve and Adventures up the
Corporate ladder
Tim Butzen
Feb 19, 2017 Tim Butzen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. A highly valuable read for anyone working in a complex organization.
Sep 27, 2010 Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jared Oliva
Jan 11, 2016 Jared Oliva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time. There's a lot of wisdom to learn from someone of her caliber. I don't think this is a story that any newspaper periodical can do justice. Her career trajectory (first two-thirds) and running a multi-billion dollar enterprise (last one-third) is a complex tale to tell. She's honest, charming, and funny. There's a reason why Carly Fiorina led one of the largest IPOs in history (Lucent) and become the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company.

Here are m
Sep 08, 2015 Heather rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I used this book to get to know Carly Fiorina before she had aspirations to be president. I felt she was very candid when writing about her successes and failures throughout her career and her voice throughout the book was very genuine. She is a person that does an enormous amount of research and isn't afraid to ask a lot of questions before diving into something. She takes the time to do self reflection before making tough choices. She is continually evaluating decisions based upon what is best ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One must wonder in any memoir of the extent to which the author speaking of herself ends up hiding too much, revealing to little, or outright lying. I looked for that here, having engaged a colleague who railed at the idea of this woman being a potential presidential candidate. Having met her, once briefly, and listened to her precursor stump speech, his vehemence about her performance at H.P. set me back.

This memoir sounded to me very much like the "real Carly" - if any author can actually tel
Aug 16, 2013 Malek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those not aware, Carly Fiorina is the former CEO of HP (1998-2005)and one of the most famous CEO's in business. She had a significant media presence and was hailed by Fortune Magazine as "the most powerful woman in business". During her time at HP she encountered a lot of controversy, much of it tied to the Compaq/HP merger and the famous fight with HP founders' family members. Opinions vary dramatically on her legacy, with many claiming she transformed the company and rescued it from downwa ...more
Malin Friess
Carly Fiorina was a law school dropout who later become the CEO at Hewlett Packard. Growing up she received little support from her family entering a career in business. She never had children of her own (that topic was dismissed rather discretly) and did not comment on to how that may have affected her career. She cetainly faced challenges in the 90's as a female in business..such as other colleagues deliberatly scheduling a meeting at a strip club--hoping she would not attend and back down. Bu ...more
Taj Bortz
I read this book quite a while ago - probably close to the publish date. I knew nothing about business, very little experience working, and at the time I really liked the book. A couple things I found a little odd - her quick rise to the top seemed a lot like luck. She didn't seem to have a whole lot of business experience before she became a CEO. And her rise seems to have started with a funded trip through her MBA which a lot of people wouldn't have been able to afford (money or time). After t ...more
Vanessa Varriale-Oien
Jan 20, 2008 Vanessa Varriale-Oien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Robin Gigot, Jessica Briech
Having worked with HP through the merger, this was extremely interesting to me. It was interesting to see the polital and gender struggles she had in the beginning of her career and how she handled them. Her writing was very down to earth and she definitely comes across as a human being, not a cold, hard, bitch that some made her out to be during her HP reign. She admits and talks about risks she took that didn't work, but also gives herself due credit on the risks she took that did work. I had ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carly Fiorina takes us from the bottom rung, to the top, and on to the better things in life. It''s amazing how reading about other companies, you see the same issues fester as do in your job day to day. The solutions, though never simple and easy, can be found if everyone is included not only in the discussion of what the problems with the status quo are, but how to move past that to bigger and better things, including participation from everyone, openly and honestly on every level. She may hav ...more
Jun 29, 2012 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. WHY did I choose this book? Oh, I was either this, Nora Roberts, James Patterson (not a fan) or yet another sappy love story from Nick Sparks. I thought I would learn something about business. I was wrong. I learned that Mrs. Fiorina remembered EVERY SINGLE name of EVERY SINGLE individual and group who ever did her wrong. She got screwed and fired and she was pissed. I wish the book was that short. No nuggets of wisdom, no helpful work/life balance insight. In fact, it was abs ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Mick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here it is 2013 and Tough Choices is equally as relevant today as it was in 2006 when it was written. (The trouble is, HP stock is half of what it was.)

Carly gives us innumerable of words of wisdom and it's great to hear it from her rather than a professor in business school. "Believing in someone else, so they can believe in themselves, is a small but hugely significant act of leadership." When a company states, "the ends do not justify any means and we will not tolerate dishonesty and corrupti
Nick Lee
Oct 24, 2015 Nick Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the Book reads very quickly. You can get through it in one week. The latter half of the book chronicles Carly Fiorina's work at HP in high detail. It is interesting but you cannot burn through the text very quickly without missing details.

Overall, it was interesting to learn about Carly Fiorina's advancement from her directly. I was also very fascinated by the inner workings of HP and how dysfunctional the company was, at least according to Carly.

I also believe the book contai
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American Republican politician and former business executive.
Starting in 1980, Fiorina rose through the ranks to become an executive at AT&T and its equipment and technology spin-off, Lucent Technologies. As Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard (HP) from 1999 to 2005, she was the first woman to lead a top-20 company as ranked by Fortune magazine.
In 2002, Fiorina oversaw the biggest high
More about Carly Fiorina...

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“I need debate and dialogue with others to test my own thinking and to make a decision. I test others’ convictions or opinions by pushing on their arguments and seeing how strongly they will defend them. When challenged, do people shrink away from their own views, or do they stand behind them? When pressed, do people offer more data to support their position, or do they simply repeat the same things in a louder voice?” 2 likes
“Alignment and collaboration need not be fuzzy, ill-defined concepts for “let’s just all get along.” Effective teamwork is more than good manners and good will, although both help an organization function more effectively. Alignment results from shared goals. Collaboration results from shared measures of success.” 2 likes
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