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 user 2006-05-23 at 12:16:00 pm Views: 27
  • #15524

    HP’s ex-CEO says some colleagues may not enjoy reading her book.Travels with Carly at HP and Beyond
    06) – Like Bill Clinton or Mick Jagger, Carly Fiorina has always had a
    way with audiences. And 15 months after being fired as chief executive
    of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), she proved again on May 18 that she can seize
    and hold the attention of a crowd.Addressing 400 booksellers and
    publishers at Book Expo America — the vast book-publishing industry
    confab underway in Washington, D.C. — Fiorina applied her trademark
    blend of glamour and intelligence to the topic “The Future of
    Publishing in the Digital Age.” Camera crews from CBS’s 60 Minutes and
    CSPAN’s Book TV recorded her every word.In fact, Fiorina was at the
    show to stimulate booksellers’ appetites for her forthcoming memoir,
    Tough Choices, which Penguin Group will publish in early October. That
    book is under wraps with a formal embargo, and only a brief excerpt was
    distributed at the show. Nevertheless, amid various ruminations on the
    digital present and future, the fledgling book author provided a few
    hints about her forthcoming work.

    “I’m now an author and did in fact write every word of this book,” she
    said, expressing concern over the difficulty readers have of
    establishing authenticity in the Digital Age. She said she had two
    purposes in writing: First, the need to demystify business — to show
    “how people actually behave, and how a leader can act to change
    peoples’ results.” Second, Fiorina said she realized press coverage of
    events had made her into a caricature, and she felt she could “present
    a more authentic portrait of myself.”
    Fiorina seemed to be claiming
    some credit for HP’s current health. While she was in charge at HP, the
    company took the required risks and achieved a clearer focus on the
    “true value” it could offer customers, she said. “HP is now a leader,
    not a laggard,” she announced. “We made the necessary changes.”
    she made no direct reference to the fact, the company recently reported
    a 51% jump in net income and a 4.6% sales increase for its fiscal
    second quarter and forecast improved profits for its current quarter.
    Mark Hurd, her replacement as chief executive, has received most of the
    credit for the turnaround (see BW Online, 5/18/06 “Stopping the Sprawl
    at HP”). Meanwhile, Dell, one of HP’s primary competitors, has been
    struggling mightily.

    Most of Fiorina’s remarks concerned the challenges posed to all
    businesses by technological innovation. She seemed to liken the current
    situation of book publishers to that of Eastman Kodak (EK), which
    within a six-year period saw the evaporation of its traditional film
    business. Kodak faces a challenge where “the brand may survive, but
    will the company survive?”During a question and answer period, several
    audience members expressed admiration for the ex-CEO. One woman, who
    identified herself as a former advertising executive, voiced the hope
    that Fiorina’s book would “give women an idea of what it is like to
    compete in a very bad world.”
    The excerpt that Fiorina’s publisher
    distributed seems to fit that bill. It describes the author’s
    experiences as a young sales team member at a unit of AT&T (T) that
    fulfilled federal contracts. In one vignette, a colleague arranges a
    business lunch at a strip club, where “between acts, the young
    women…would dress in completely see-through baby-doll negligees and
    dance on top of the tables while the patrons ate.”

    Fiorina insists on coming along, to the discomfort of all the males
    involved. “The next day in the office,” she writes, “the balance of
    power had shifted perceptibly. I had shown…that I would not be
    intimidated, even if I was terrified.”But how much of the book is about
    HP — and does the author intend to dish dirt about her former
    colleagues? “It covers my entire life and an appropriate percentage is
    about HP ,” she told this reporter. “I didn’t write it to settle
    scores. I have something to say, not something to prove.” She added:
    “Some stories involving old colleagues are wonderful. And there are
    some that may be difficult for some people to read.