Episode #307: Carly Fiorina – Why You Should Run Towards The Fire

Carly Fiorina started out as a secretary for a 9-person real-estate business and eventually became the first woman ever to lead a Fortune 50 company. When Carly was recruited to lead HP in 1999, the industry was facing the worst technology recession in 25 years. Under Carly’s leadership, revenue grew, innovation tripled, growth quadrupled, and HP became the 11th largest company in the U.S.

During her tenure at HP, the company received numerous civic recognition, including being named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Business Ethics Magazine, one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers by Working Mother Magazine, receiving a 100% rating by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, and being named one of the World’s Most Respected Companies by The Financial Times and PricewaterhouseCooper.

In 2015, Carly launched a campaign for President. Running as a political outsider, Carly spoke about empowering and engaging citizens to take back government from a political ruling class that has failed to deliver results. There, many more Americans came to know her as a clear-eyed, direct leader capable of actually solving problems.

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“Run towards the problems, work to solve them.  Don’t fixate on getting promoted, focus your attention on doing great at your current job.”

Show Notes:

  • Leaders who sustain excellence =
    • Unlock the potential in others
    • Courageous
    • High character — “How” matters more than what
    • Collaborate well
    • Humble/Empathetic
    • They see possibilities in other people… They don’t judge them
    • Optimism combined with realism — “Seeing people do more than they thought they can is fuel for me.”
      • “You need an equal measure of optimism with realism.  You must see the current state as it is.  It’s important to believe things will get better (optimism), but also be clear eyed and realistic.  Be honest.  See truth, and act on it.”
  • From secretary to CEO — “People wouldn’t look at me and say that’s a leader.”
  • “Work hard and do excellent work in your current role.”
  • “What I saw were problems and we fixed problems.  I learned that solving problems is what leadership is all about.”
    • “Run towards the problems, work to solve them.  Don’t fixate on getting promoted, focus your attention on doing great at your current job.”  And then doors will open…
  • Choose a path over a plan
    • How you get things done matters more than what you get done… The manner in which you do it.  Think long term.
  • Focus on where you can make a difference
  • A manager versus a leader:
    • Manager — Works within current constraints of the role.  They do the best they can with what they have.
    • Leader — Changes things.  They create new ways of doing things.
  • Leaders are made, not born.  Focus on building character and working to be excellent
  • Carly was recruited to be the CEO of HP.  She was the first outside hire to be CEO ever.  And the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company.
  • She was named the Fortune magazine most powerful woman in American business for 6 years in a row
    • “When your team is diverse, the team is stronger.”
  • Competitive nature: “I’ve always been focused on excellence.  But, I’ve never been a win at all cost person.”
    • “It’s easy to make a quarter (in the business world, hit your mark for that particular quarter), but you need to get there the right way.”
  • Criticism as CEO of HP
    • “When you try to change things, you will get criticized.”
    • “Criticism is the price of leadership.”
  • How to handle a board?
    • “A good board considers themselves a team, not a collection of individuals.”  The HP board was a set of individuals and two of them leaked sensitive information to the press.  “Eventually, after I was gone, they got fired.”
  • Debating with President Trump on stage at the Republican debates… How to be prepared?
    • “Every woman in the world heard what he said.”
    • “You need to be prepared, but also be present.  Be able to use experience and instinct in the moment.”
    • “I didn’t prepare for the comment about my appearance, but being present in the room, and having good instincts helped me respond properly.”
  • “Right now, we are confused what leadership is.  We see leaders who promote conflict, criticize, castigate others.  That is wrong.”
    • “We need to be reminded who leaders are and what they do.  Leaders lift others up, they have courage.  Everyone can choose to be a leader.”
  • The idea of privilege:
    • “We cannot judge someone by they circumstances.  Whether they come from privilege or they are poor.  We should judge them based on their character and their contribution.”
    • “If we want to achieve more, if we want to be excellent, it requires people who are different to work together towards a common goal.”  Shane Show’s Dream Teams model for building teams.
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

“The truth is hire people that are smarter than you.  You never pay a bad price when you hire people that are better than you.’

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More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership