On Tuesday, April 1, Carly Fiorina talked about leadership and what it takes to become successful to college students around the country during her live stream speech. The speech streamed in the Campus Union Dodge B room, where students could watch Fiorina live.
Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company, serving as the chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005. She was Fortune’s most powerful woman in business for six consecutive years and is also a cancer survivor who lost her youngest child.
Fiorina graduated college with a degree in Medieval History and Philosophy. When she realized she couldn’t get a job with her degree, she went to law school. Quickly after attending law school she realized she didn’t enjoy it and dropped out. She ended up taking the first job she saw in the newspaper ad section as a receptionist.
From her job as a receptionist, she moved her way up after six months when two men that saw the potential and possibility in her approached her and introduced her to business. From this, Fiorina gained faith in herself and learned the true meaning of leadership – seeing the possibility and potential in others and helping them see it in themselves, as these two men did for her.
“There is a certain look that people get when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could accomplish, and that look is the same all around the world,” said Fiorina.
She explained how “that look” is what the joy of leadership is for her and how people should never pay attention to what other people think of a person. If you’re a little bit different people are going to talk, but what people say isn’t what counts.
“Judgment is the ability to take on a really complicated problem and make some decisions about how to proceed,” said Fiorina.
Judgment and leadership work hand-in-hand. Judgment is the ability to make decisions in a very uncertain environment. Fiorina uses judgment as one of her steps to success. She compared having a broad point of view versus having a narrower point of view and the benefits that come with having a broad point of view.
Perspective is another step even though it is often hard to learn how to have perspective and maintain perspective when things get hard. Ethics is the last step because it hasn’t changed in years. She says how important it is to have a moral compass. If you don’t have a strong moral compass, then things aren’t going to end up right.
Some of Fiorina’s suggestions to students looking to graduate college and get jobs include finding your own way to get things done and choosing your own path that you want to follow. She also said how there is no substitute for hard work and the pursuit of excellence. Learning how to problem solve and collaborate with other people is key, and most importantly, never sell your soul. Don’t become someone you don’t like or let someone else define you. Instead, figure out who you are and own that. Both those steps are vital, according to Fiorina.
“Aim high because you are in the most incredible time in human history; choose to do the things that bring you joy and choose leadership. The one thing I have learned is everyone has potential and everyone can lead,” said Fiorina.