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Tough Choices: A Memoir

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,103 ratings  ·  151 reviews
Behind the headlines, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard tells her own story, along with her unique perspective on leadership, technology, globalization, sexism, and many other issues.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 9th 2006 by Portfolio Hardcover (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,103 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Dec 22, 2008 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 added. ...more
Robert Koslowsky
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
May 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, memoirs
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 in ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is an unforgettable book for me. It was the first time I read book in this genre - female leaders' memoirs/bio/autobiography, and I fell in love with this genre after I finished this book.
It was thoroughly well-written. Enjoyable, good flow, page turner, good info, juicy details, with just the right amount of wisdoms, lessons learnt, and key takeaways.
Yes, she's no angel, yes, she's had her problems...but she is honest and tried to defend her choices, which I learned a lot from. I learned
Feb 09, 2009 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
Dec 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Laura Skladzinski
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Julie Salinas
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has been out for a while, and was on the discount shelf when I picked it up. I was vaguely aware of Ms. Fiorina, and once in a while foray from my typical reading material into memoirs or biographies. Presently I am in a leadership class, so the subject of business was a plus. The style of the writing reminds me of how our leaders present their "profiles" during our quarterly meetings. She starts by telling us about herself, and the path that lead her to her leadership of HP. Perhaps m ...more
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good book although sometimes hard to read due to the economic language that I have forgotten since my business classes almost 20 years ago (my God, it makes me grasp for fresh air when I realize how time has passed).
A few things that got stuck in my mind:
- people who stop learning become old before their time
- continuous progress, not perfection is the goal in management
- if you’re in a leadership role that doesn’t make you necessarily smarter
- people are the same all over the world
- a good l
Nov 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Page turning rollercoaster

A great memoir that describes the journey of a driven female CEO from early and humble beginnings to the boardroom. There are too many lessons to count and Carly build an engaging narrative that blends human psychology, leadership lessons, business fundamentals and historical lessons on gender roles in corporate America. An addictive read that had me going into the early hours of the morning. 5*
Rhode PVD
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read when it first came out. This book has stayed with me for years as a female insider's look at succeeding in a pre-existing Fortune 500 company - as opposed to most woman in business books which tend to be pink collar entrepreneurs. The Board shenanigans she dealt with were also terrible. It's a good reminder that even at the top of top companies, flawed humans run things. ...more
Barbara Bigler
I was curious about who she was and how she became a presidential candidate. She’s obviously very intelligent. Seemed more like a defense explaining her side of the story for being fired from Hewlett-Packard. Not really a spoiler since she starts the book talking about it. It was interesting hearing her overall strategies for business. I came away feeling I know more about who she is.
Mai Pham
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Sometimes the riskier the choice gives you a better opportunity to prove yourself to others, and you’ll always prove something important to yourself. You’ll know yourself and those you work with better.”

Love the first past but unfortunately loose my interest when it reaches the second-half.
Jose Kaumphawi
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a book that will help you discover that there is more you can do with your life than what you've so far done. You can achieve any goals that are on your heart to achieve. There is no stopping you
Josephine Olok
Dec 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
A great business book and an illustration of how, however successful, women still get treated unfairly in the work place. In spite of it all the author took some tough decision especially with the HP, Compaq merger and delivered success which continued years after her unfortunate exit.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. A highly valuable read for anyone working in a complex organization.
Stuart H Crepea
May 08, 2017 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
Barbara Gordon
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a brave, courageous, strong woman. I had no idea all that was going on at HP.
Diane Moore
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Respectable. Good insight.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
The first half of the book was interesting ...the second half was ok
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
strong woman, inspiring stories, but she could not have made it more boring had she tried - she should be the next US President
Ira Dorogova
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
That might be a great book on leadership and I really enjoyed reading it, but the second part of the book seemed to be mean to tell Carly's version of the story about HP. ...more
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Carly is a true leader and a seasoned problem‐solver. She is a passionate, articulate advocate for entrepreneurship, innovation, and effective leadership. She started out as a secretary for a small real-estate business and eventually became the first woman ever to lead a Fortune 50 company. In 1999, during the worst technology recession in twenty-five years, Carly was recruited to lead HP. As she ...more

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