Share your wisdom

"In 1998, Fortune ranked me the most powerful woman in business. That year, Oprah Winfrey was n°2... That's ridiculous on its face! But it made a great story. (...)

So I told Fortune: "Don't do a numbered list. If you want to highlight women who are successful in business, that's great. But when you number us from 1 to 50, you imply that business is like tennis: there's the women's ladder and there's the men's ladder. And women have to compete against each other 1 to 50 'cause we're not good enough or strong enough to compete against the guys."

This quote is from Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She gave this speech to the business students of Stanford University in 2006, while promoting her latest book 'Tough choices'. 

There are tons of powerful insights in this speech - which made me take a lot of side notes, that I'm sparing for later - about leadership, meritocracy, innovation, women in business, but also about values and culture - which she accurately calls the "software" of a company - and about the impact of information - or stories - on business.

For this week's edition, I'll just share 2 more quotes that help me make a point:

1) Sometimes, people need to hear the cold hard truth. But it also means that you have to listen first.

"I talk about fear in this book, because fear is the principle motivator in business. People fear change. So if you want people to change what they're doing, you have to understand what they're afraid of."

2) Stories shape our world, because they shape our minds. 

If you are a company with a mission, you certainly want to take that into consideration before you share your stories.

"As business people, it's important for you to think about what is the impact of media, when, in this always-on information age, fact, fiction, fantasy and opinion, informed or not, are out there and they have equal authority. How does a leader both be aware of that, but also stay focused on the mission at hand and keep people focused on the mission at hand."

45-mn videoFormer HP boss faced "tough choices" (Youtube)