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Tough Choices is a tough sell

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Fiorina lugs a few skeletons out of the closet such as new information on her broken first marriage. Lucent and HP's public relations handlers made this topic off-limits during interviews with Fiorina. In the book, Fiorina dedicates a three page chapter to the Ex. She never explicitly says what occurred but hints that, "One weekend I discovered that he wasn't at the office working as he'd said he was" and later that the Ex had taken more than his fair share of financial control over their combined accounts.

I could not believe that someone I thought I knew so well, someone I had trusted and loved, could behave in this way. It was the first time I fully understood how threatened some men are by capable, successful women. I would experience it again and again in the workplace, but to discover it in by marriage was a searing revelation.

I had been raised to believe that what you are is God's gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God. How could someone who loved you resent that? In retrospect, this all sounds hopelessly naive, but to this day I underestimate people's capacity to abuse my trust and the insecurity that sometimes drives them.

That's some juicy stuff, and it's as good as Tough Choices gets. The only other skeletons that Fiorina brings out are thing such as her childhood insecurities or later her adult insecurities. Both of which she overcomes through strength of will, determination, pluck, intelligence, directness, business savvy, good looks, vision and all the other qualities that Fiorina sees as making her so adept at facing tough choices and thriving.

[Will Fiorina go into politics? Hear her dodge the question here.]

Oh, Fiorina does also include a photo of herself well-soaped in the bathtub with her stepdaughters but that seemed far more desperate than riveting.

Instead of proving that she learned anything from the HP experience, Fiorina leaves the reader with a helping of hokum.

You're told things such as,

There was a time in history when we could assume that because someone lacked opportunity, they lacked potential. We now know this is not true. Every single person has potential inside them, and the right leadership, the right technology and the right collaboration can unlock that potential.

Fiorina speaks at a Mountain View bookstore

And.

In the twenty-first century, for the time in human history, anyone can lead. Of course injustice and prejudice and inequity are still realities. Nevertheless, today leadership has nothing to do with title or money or power. Leadership is not about gender or the color of one's skin; it is not about physical gifts or national origin. WIth the right support and the right opportunities, anyone can lead from anywhere at any time.

Dare it be suggested that Fiorina has become too enamored with her own "we live in a connected world" rhetoric?

Fiorina seems to think that she really gets at the meat of the whole HP debacle. But she never does. She dances around the criticism of her decision making and continues to place blame on others. It's the kind of maneuvering you would expect from a politician - the type of creature that refuses to admit any wrongs even in a memoir.

Fiorina spoke in Clintonian proportions and writes in the same Clintonian tradition. She even had the same lawyer as Clinton broker her book deal.

If you want to read how Fiorina the quixotic politician in waiting views her life, pick up Tough Choices. It's certainly a clear, relatively concise exploration of Fiorina's youth, rise at AT&T, time at HP and ouster. Just beware of the blinders. They hurt. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

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