America needs adult leadership.
Her name is Cara Carleton Sneed Fiorina. She knows who she is, what this nation is about, and where we should be. Of all the candidates on both sides of the aisle, Carly is the only one I can imagine saying, "We tried socialism. It didn't work. Let's try capitalism."
Like many people, I have liked the cut of her jib for a while. A jib sail is the nose of a ship in its profile. It shows what direction the ship is headed. I like where she is going with this.
She can lead. Yes, Scott Walker, my original choice, has done a great job as governor of Wisconsin, and I like John Kasich, governor of Ohio. Their political accomplishments are worthy of a vice presidency. They lack her leadership skills, her business acumen, and her biography which took her from a double-major n philosophy and medieval history at Stanford to the CEO and chairman of the board of the largest personal computer company in the world. And yes, she made that company by leading Hewlett-Packard to buy out Compaq. The board fired her just before that gamble paid off.
Instead of moping, she hunkered down, became involved in conservative politics, and ran for the Senate. She had no chance in hell of beating incumbent Ma'am Barbara Boxer, but like Lincoln's ill-fated Senate campaign in 1858, Carly used that opportunity to learn how to campaign.
What converted me was her 2001 commencement speech at Stanford, where she had graduated 25 years earlier. I liked this passage:
The most valuable class I took at Stanford was not Econ Fifty-One.
It was a graduate seminar called, believe it or not, "Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Political Philosophies of the Middle Ages."
Each week, we had to read one of the Great Works of medieval philosophy -- Aquinas, Bacon, Abelard. These were huge texts–it seemed like we were reading 1,000 pages every week. And by the end of the week, we had to distill their philosophical discourse into two pages.
The process went something like this: First you'd shoot for 20 pages. Then you'd edit to 10. Then five. Then finally, two – a two-page, single-spaced paper that didn't merely summarize. It rendered all the fat out of a body of ideas, boiling it down to the very essence of its meaning.
And then you'd start all over again the next week, with a different massive text.She used that process of reduction as a metaphor for her life. She entered law school.
I was going, not because it was a lifelong dream, or because I imagined I could change the world … but because I thought it was expected of me. I thought I owed it to my family -- especially my father -- a Stanford law professor, a Duke law school dean, a 9th circuit Federal judge -- not because he'd ever said so, but because I'd assumed it to be true.
So off I went to law school in the fall. And from the start, it left me cold. I barely slept those first three months. I had a blinding headache every day. And I can tell you exactly which shower tile I was staring at in my parent's bathroom when I came home for a weekend and it hit me like a bolt of lightning: It's my life. I can do what I want.She became a receptionist at a real estate firm, Marcus and Millichap, and later a broker. Then she ran off to Italy to teach English. There she made the decision to come back and enter business school. Upon graduation, she joined AT and T. She rose to become group president for the global service provider business at Lucent, which AT and T spun off. She was the first woman to head a Fortune 20 company. In her commencement speech, she told of how she got her then-current job as CEO of Hewlett-Packard:
I drove to Palo Alto for my final interview with the Board of Directors … and it seemed appropriate to arrive early, and sit in my car across the street from Hewlett-Packard in the parking lot of Marcus and Millichap -- and think about how life was coming full-circle in some unexpected, and truthful, ways.I sat in the parking lot before what was by all accounts the interview of a lifetime … and I thought about the uphill battle that lay ahead if I took the CEO job at HP. I had no illusions about the magnitude of the challenges in leading a company that had a great past, but was now searching for its future. I knew that I was an unexpected choice for the position, and I knew that with this job would come a fair bit of scrutiny and criticism.
And then I weighed all of that -- against what was worth doing.
I sat in my car -- and I felt humbled by a great sense of responsibility for a great legacy. But I didn't feel afraid. I had recently watched my mother confront death with bravery -- and in that experience, I learned what choosing to be brave really means. And I left fear behind.
The day I walked into HP for the first time as its new CEO … it felt both utterly surprising, and surprisingly familiar.I would like to hear her say the same thing about entering the Oval Office on January 20, 2017.
Do yourself a favor. Read the whole speech.