Carly Fiorina: The Bravery of Authenticity

Episode #8, Fridays with Firmsconsulting

Today’s episode is about the lessons I learned from Carly Fiorina, a lady who was (and still is) a role model for me. I read her memoir just before I went into management consulting and it often helped me navigate my way and make the tough, but necessary, decisions. 

Coincidentally Carly Fiorina, just like me, started out her business career as a secretary and receptionist. Starting out in such an insignificant role was a source of huge embarrassment for me and knowing that Carly Fiorina started just as low and made it all the way to CEO of HP made me feel comfortable that I would make it to the pinnacle of my potential too, whatever that would be. It made me realize that I must not let people define me by how insignificant my initial roles were.

It gave me strength to face the inevitable judgement that naturally comes with working along side people who never had to do whatever it takes to make ends meet and, therefore, looked down on those who did. Of course, not everyone is like this but enough are to make life difficult.

I was also inspired by her integrity. Integrity is something that is very hard to fake in 309 pages of a book. If you don’t have integrity, it will show up somewhere because you will not even know what is right and wrong.

To give you an example of the level of integrity Carly Fiorina consistently displays, when she was fired from HP she was offered an easy way out – to present it as her decision. Think about how many CEOs do just that. Suddenly they leave to spend more time with their family or to pursue another opportunity. She decided that was not in line with her integrity and instead allowed herself to be humiliated in front of the entire world by being publicly fired.

What kind of person does this? I would say a rare kind.

This also reminds me of the value system we cultivate at Firmsconsulting. We do what is right and accept the, sometimes harsh, consequences of sticking to our value system.

The book she wrote, Tough Choices: A Memoir was refreshingly written by her and not a ghost writer, and is a rare example of true authenticity. It is as if Carly Fiorina stated to the world, “Look, here I am, here the mistakes I made, here are my choices and why I made those choices, here is my life story. Take from it what you will. Judge if you choose. I have nothing to hide. I am sharing this with you so you can benefit and so the world knows my side of the story.” 

Some may not like her, but they cannot say she did not have conviction.

You may have formed an opinion about Carly Fiorina now that she is so much in the news. That opinion may not be completely positive. It may even be 100% negative. But give her a chance. Politics is a hard game to play. No politician is perfect and if you try to learn from perfect people you will have no role models. They do not exist. Anyone will struggle to be liked by everybody. Whatever you think about Carly Fiorina, put your preconceived judgement aside and learn about what made her successful, because I am quite certain it will help you just as it helped me. In fact, I know it will help you big time!

Now lets dive in.

I look forward to your thoughts, observations and questions.

With much appreciation,

Kris

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