Tough Choices: A Memoir
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Tough Choices: A Memoir

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  554 ratings  ·  100 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Portfolio Trade (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...more
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 30, 2008 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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...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
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
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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.
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!
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.
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
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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
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
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...more
Carly Fiorina has been my idol since I was a teen. Though I didn't know much about her, she inspired me to strive, to believe anything is possible and be strong. Having read her memoir, I admire her even more. There is so much wisdom, honesty and authenticity in that book, I definitely recommend it for anyone willing to learn about another's journey, about tough choices and leadership.
To quote her book: "If we cannot choose our circumstances, we can always choose our response to them. If we can...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
I have always admired Carly Fiorina. The first half of the book met my expectations with good stories of lessons learned and strategies tested. But, once the story turned to her tenure at Hewlett Packard, the tone changed. The last half of the book seemed defensive, perhaps rightfully so. But I felt like we were in a courtroom and the prosecution had rested and now she was presenting her evidence: letters, quotes from speeches and meetings, etc. Basically, I was left with the feeling that "They...more
Vanessa Varriale-Oien
Jan 20, 2008 Vanessa Varriale-Oien rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more
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
Kristin Maidt
I'm only three-quarters of the way through this book. But so far it has proved to be extremely interesting. Outside of this book, I don't know my feelings on Carly Fiorina, they are probably more negative. But while reading, she is great. It's a perfect book for a professional woman. It's inspiring and uplifting. It tackles gender issues in the workplace as well as addresses rising the ranks in an organization, something interesting to a lot of 20 -somethings that are working. I particularly lik...more
Paul Reynolds
Realizing that this is Carly's memoir and therefore her side of the account, it is still a compelling read with clearly presented facts about the HP/Compaq merger and the subsequent fallout between her and the Board.

I appreciate the way Carly weaves leadership into the book. She articulates the core values that guide her decisions, and she spends a good amount of time describing her view of good leadership. I found this inspiring and insightful. While reading her book I continued to have to bea...more
This book should be the handbook of anyone studying strategic management. Her story is top notch, and I think she was a brilliant woman of integrity. I know this is her side of the story, but I finished the book never wanting to buy another HP product. She would disagree perhaps, but some of the scandels that happened after she left really called the ethics of some of the folks who got rid of her into question. Maybe, they needed her out of the way because she was too honest, too upright. At any...more
Carly Fiorina reads the abridged audio version of her life, both personal and professional, with a focus on the trajectory of her career from AT&T/Lucent to HP and the business relationships and opportunities to influence along the way. Her story, from Kelly Girl to CEO, is engaging and there are “lessons learned” that make this worth reading.
Although I enjoyed listening to her and I think hearing her tell her story adds to the experience, after reading a review of her book from Wharton I r...more
An interesting autobiography.You would get to know about a strong personality.Carly speaks a lot about corporate warfare,politics,mergers,splits,acquistions,re-org and many more.Her comments about HP's style of working was interesting to read.On personal note,i was able to connect her HP's comments to one of my previous employment work culture.Good thing about the book is that no-where Carly goes behind a self-pity attitude to depict the corporate fights,politics as against rising women-power.In...more
This book was so interesting in the beginning before she got hired by HP. From there on, she spent the rest of the book reporting such details, it became boring ... you could page through it and get the idea of what was happening. Not much about her personal life once she got to HP either ... I guess you have to be egocentric to get to where she got, but I don't think I would have liked to have been her secretary. But she sure keep good notes herself! She probably didn't need a secretary! Patty...more
Still perplexed re: the title. Not sure about the tough choices to which Ms. Fiorina refers. Sure, she made some choices, but none of them seemed too much tougher than usual. To me the most interesting parts of her memoir showcased her business thinking and strategy -- much of which could be used to improve any business and/or non-profit. There's some good stuff here. Overall, I found this to be an easy listen (I have the audiobook), but my significant other said the audiobook sounds like a text...more
This book was recommended by my professor in my BOARD AND VOLUNTEERS class at Seattle University. It is a fascinating read by Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. A very American story about the worlod of big business, class, women in the workplace and the price of success and power. I found it to be a great read and felt I learned a few things as well (in terms of how I view success, the trapping of power and the role education plays in one's aspirations). i highly recommend the bo...more
I always go into business books preparing to be bored, but Carly's writing style is very engaging. She has lots of great information, experience, and wisdom to share. I learned a lot from this, and intend to reference the book on occasion. It's wonderful to see the perspective of a powerful business woman, especially when she has been painted by peers and the media to be someone very cold, distant, and bitchy. Highly recommend to just about anyone, even if you're not into businessy books (i'm no...more
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