“Just do the next right thing.”
Jordan Raynor sits down with Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP and 2016 presidential hopeful, to talk about her fond (and not so fond) memories of the campaign trail, the difference between following a path and following a plan for your career, and how technology played a role in drawing Carly closer to Christ.
[00:00:04] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to The Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others. Each week, I’m hosting a conversation with a Christian who’s pursuing world-class mastery of their craft. We’re talking about their path to mastery. We’re talking about their daily habits and routines and how their faith influences their work.
Hey, guys. We’re in the middle of presidential politics. Iowa was last week. New Hampshire primary was just yesterday. I thought I would bring you a terrific guest, Carly Fiorina, one of the top Republican candidates for president in 2016. Of course, before that, she was the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the first woman to ever lead a fortune 50 company. Quite an accomplishment. She’s also the New York Times bestselling author of a terrific book that I recently read, called Find Your Way.
Carly was so gracious to sit down. We talked about a wide range of topics, including one, why Iowa is in jeopardy of losing its position in American politics. I don’t think the reason will be a shock to anyone here. We talked about the difference between following a path for your career and following a plan for your career. Very interesting section of this conversation. We also talked about how technology played an instrumental role in drawing Carly closer to Christ. You guys are going to love this conversation. It is jam-packed with great wisdom.
Without further ado, here is Carly Fiorina.
[00:01:47] JR: I’m sitting down with Carly Fiorina, and I love being able to record conversations with people, especially women, who one day I want to point my young three daughters to as heroes. Carly, you’re one of those people. Thanks for being with me today.
[00:02:02] CF: Well, thank you so much. It’s great to be with you, Jordan.
[00:02:04] JR: We’re just talking before we started recording. We’re recording this the morning after what might be the craziest night in Iowa caucus history. We still don’t have a winner in the candidates are already moving on to New Hampshire. What do you make of last night?
[00:02:19] CF: Well, first I would say that I was first in the nation caucus is now even more in jeopardy, honestly, because of this snafu. Obviously, questions have been asked about Iowa’s status as first in the nation contest for some time, but this just throws all of those questions into higher relief.
The second thing I would say on a more cosmic level is it is a reminder to all of us that we cannot predict the future ever and that life is full of surprises. So we need to prepare ourselves for what comes, but we can’t predict what comes. It’s why our inner resources, starting with our faith are so important, because we can’t control events and we can’t predict events. All we can do is control our response to them and how we move ahead given them.
[00:03:16] JR: Certainly, couldn’t have predicted that at 10:30 AM the morning after we still don’t have a winner. Carly, I mean, four years ago this was your life. You’re on a plane from somewhere in Iowa to New Hampshire. I’m curious, what do you miss most about the campaign trail, if anything?
[00:03:32] CF: It’s funny. As I have watched these democrat candidates in Iowa, I had this mixture of PTSD, honestly, and warm and wonderful memories, because I did enjoy running for president and I have no regrets. What I enjoyed about it was of course the people I met along the way. Wonderful people, not always people who agreed with me. Not always people who voted for me.
But when you’re running for president in Iowa and New Hampshire, and these are the good things about Iowa and New Hampshire as a starting place, it’s so intimate. They’re so small. Yes, there are big rallies that happened, but mostly there are real intimate conversations that happen in smaller spaces. That’s a very precious thing and I have wonderful memories of that. But I do also have PTSD from the hours and the food. It’s a crazy process, honestly.
[00:04:40] JR: No. It is. I’ve been on the ground to New Hampshire. I was there in 2008, volunteering from the McCain campaign. I think I was – Yeah, I was still in college at the time. It’s just incredibly romantic. I don’t know another word to describe it. It’s so retail. It’s so intimate. It reminds you why you fell in love with politics in the first place. For those who have it. I think very few people can say that.
Carly, on this podcast, we talk a lot about what I call the path to mastery. The path to getting world-class or whatever it is we do. I read your book, Find Your Way. I loved it. I thought it was a terrific read. I’m going to give it to my kids as they get older. In the book you talked about the difference between following a path for your career and following a plan for your career. Can you talk about that distinction?
[00:05:26] CF: Yes. Well, let me just say, because as a former chief executive of a major company, people will say to me, “Well, of course you had a plan,” and you do have to plan for many things. You have product plans. You have financial plans. You have execution plans. You have communications plan. All of those kinds of plans are important in order to achieve the goals that you’ve set.
However, the difference for us as individuals as we look at our life between a plan and a path is, to me, the difference between extrinsic motivation and justification and intrinsic or internal motivation. What I mean by that is the following. A plan for your life is, “I have to make this much money by this time. I have to be a CEO by that time. I have to have three kids by this time. I have to know my college major by this time.”
It’s ordering your life around all those external guide posts and expectations that exists out there. Then there’s having a path, and having a path is when we direct ourselves from the inside and we say, “You know, every day I’m going to be brave. Every day, I’m going to be empathetic. Every day, I’m going to look for the opportunities around me. Every day, I’m going to try and make a positive difference. Every day, I’m going to listen a little more and I’m going to see a little more and I’m going to grow a little more and I’m going to end up being wiser at the end of the day.” Those are intrinsic motivators. Those are things that take us along a path.
I will tell you, as someone who never had a plan for my life, I truly never did, except when I got out of college, I was going to be a lawyer, please my dad, and that plan blew up in about two months.
From then on it was like, “No. I’m going to be the kind of person I want to be and see the opportunities around me and try and make a positive difference.” The people I know who have planned their lives to a tee usually end up disappointed in some way because they miss opportunities in front of them or they get to where they thought they wanted to go and it isn’t what they thought it would be or they don’t get to where they thought they wanted to go and they’re bitter or they’ve given up so much along the way to get to where they thought they wanted to go, that when they get there, they’re half the person they want to be.
[00:08:04] JR: Yeah. This is resonating very true with me because I think this is how I thought about my own career path. I’ve never thought about as a plan. I could never answer – I never really sat down for a job interview, but I can never answer the question, “What’s the five year plan like?” The plan is just to do the next right thing. Just to do a “Frozen”, which my girls are watching on repeat. But just the thing that sounds most interesting.
[00:08:29] CF: That’s right. To do the right next thing and prepare yourself to know what the right thing is.
[00:08:33] JR: That’s exactly right, and being guided by values. As a Christian, being guided by the gospel and this deep seeded belief that I am put on this earth for a purpose, and that purpose is to do extraordinary work, not primarily for my own fame and fortune, but for the glory of God and the good of others.
You mentioned law school. I want to return there for a second. You’re in law school for three months. You hate it. You drop out, right? I think the tone I picked up in the book is a feeling I hear a lot these days. Young people who are clueless as to what they want to do when they grow up. They’ve been told by their parents to follow their passions. They’ve been told by their parents that they could be anything they want to be, and that’s crippling. That’s overwhelming. What advice do you have for those people based on that shared experience you have with them?
[00:09:15] CF: Well, the first thing that I would say is understand how heavy the weight of other’s expectations is. I had to figure that out. I mean, the weight – I knew I felt the weight of my parents’ expectations in particular who had invested so much in me and their other children, who felt as though their own lives weren’t filled with opportunities and they wanted their children’s life to be, who would say those things, “You have such a potential. Oh my God!”
The weight of those expectations closed me to the possibility of other things, and that’s why I went to law school, honestly. I never considered something else. I just put blinders on and said, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. This –”
[00:10:08] JR: It was imposed expectation.
[00:10:09] CF: Yeah. This is what I’m supposed to do. It took just absolutely hating it. God was trying to tell me. I had blinding headaches. I was not where I was supposed to be. I was not doing what I was supposed to do. It was terrifying to free myself of those expectations.
The hardest thing I think I’ve ever done in my life was go to my parents and say, “I quit,” because that wasn’t what we did in my family. The hardest words I ever heard were my father saying, “Carly, I’m very disappointed.” Ugh! That’s such a terrible thing to be told. We all know that.”
I say all that to say, the weight of other people’s expectations is real and it can send you in the wrong direction. By the way, the weight of the social media expectations, the weight of your tribe’s expectations, the weight of your pack’s expectations – how many young people spent hours curating their photos and putting out this perfect image of their life? The point is all of us are faced with other people’s expectations. The moment you decide, “My life is mine. I must choose. Others cannot choose for me.” It is a terrifying moment. But I can say from personal experience, it is utterly liberating.
[00:11:46] JR: You make this decision. I’m going to quit law school, right? You’re trying to figure out what’s next, and I love how you thought about this next decision for your career. It sounds like based on the book, you basically just looked around like, “You know what? I’m not going to choose something. I’m going to go get a job, any job. I’m going to do with excellence.” It doesn’t really matter that much what the job is. Can you talk a little bit about that experience of that advice you give in the book?
[00:12:13] CF: Well, first, I didn’t think about it as a career. That word never occurred to me. I needed a job. I needed a job because I had to pay the rent. You’ve heard that old expression, necessity is the mother of invention, but really I just needed a job. What I learned in retrospect is that – I tell people, young people, this all the time, “Get a job, any job.” Honestly, it doesn’t matter what the job is. It doesn’t have to be the perfect job. It doesn’t have to be your career dream. Get a job and do the job well.
What’s going to happen if you do any job well, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself. You’re going to learn a lot about people around you. If you do a job well, someone will notice and then opportunity will knock, and then you have to look that opportunity in the face and open the door to it.
I didn’t have big ideas about a career. I just knew I had to do something, and there wasn’t much I knew how to do, but I knew how to type and answers phones, so I went and did that.
[00:13:18] JR: I love it.
[00:13:18] CF: I mean, I was a medieval history and philosophy major, so you know.
[00:13:23] JR: Very marketable skills.
[00:13:25] CF: Yes. Not.
[00:13:26] JR: I love that advice. I give that advice to young people a lot who feel like they have a crippling number of options and you’re encourage to get a job, do it with excellence and one of two things is going to happen. Either your passion for that job will grow as you get better at it. There’s a lot of academic research to support this, or more interesting opportunities are going to open up as a result of your hard work, and that’s your story, Carly.
Can you give us the reader’s digest version of your story from that work as a receptionist to being CEO of HP? I mean, I know I’m asking you to fast-forward decades here. But can you give us the reader’s digest version of that story?
[00:13:59] CF: Well, the reader’s digest version of it is I never had a plan to go from secretary to CEO. I always felt grateful for a job and I always tried to do my very best at it. My very best at it every time I went into a job turned out to be to work wither others to solve the problems that others ignored. It turns out that there are lots of problems lying around. If you can make them better, you get a lot more done. If you can make those problems better, other people notice. If you can make those problems better, you learn so much about leadership and collaboration, positive impact. I just kept working with people in solving problems. That is the reader’s digest version of it.
[00:14:54] JR: I love the advice of like solve the problem closest to you. Everyone can find problems near to them that they can solve. So just like rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done. I think it’s terrific advice.
You’re CEO of HP from ’99 to 2005. Not an all an easy time to be a CEO in Silicon Valley, and HP had some huge wins and some loses during that time period. The board fires you in 2005, and I didn’t realize this part about your story until my team was doing our research. They really wanted you to make it look like it was you or voluntary departure. They wanted you to resign and you wouldn’t. Talk about why.
[00:15:31] CF: Well, it was a matter of choice and principle to me. The backstory, which took a while to come out, was that we had an imbroglio, let’s use that old-fashion word, in the board room, where we had two board members who were taking our confidential conversations in the boardroom and leaking them to the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis.
The reason they were doing that is because they didn’t agree with the decisions that were getting made in the boardroom by a majority of their peers. So they would go to the paper and they would talk about what happened. When I figured out who this was and it had gone on a couple of times, I called a meeting and said, “This cannot stand. This is a violation of everything we stand for.”
[00:16:21] JR: Violation of the HP way.
[00:16:22] CF: It’s a violation of our code of conduct. It’s a violation of our values. It’s a violation of a board member’s fiduciary duty. “Either this stops or I leave.” Well, that created a big scenario, a scene, as you can imagine, because these two board members really didn’t want to lose their jobs and they were powerful people. This was a board that had brought me in. Not the other way around. They were very powerful people in the industry. So we had board members resign rather than have to take a stand a stand.
When it came down the vote, the board split evenly and I was chairman of the board and I could have cast the deciding vote to stay in my job, and I assessed the situation and said, “I’m not going to work this way. I can’t work with this dysfunctional team and allow this behavior to stand.” So I decided not to cast my vote and therefore the vote stood as I would depart.
About an hour later when the board sort of realized what they had done, which was throw the company into huge chaos of nothing else, they said, “Well, why don’t you say you’re resigning because you’ve accomplished most of the objective of the merger?” etc. I said, “No. You fired me.”
What I’ve learned in my life, honestly, there are times when it’s so tempting to fudge the truth, because we know the near term consequences of the truth or horrible headlines for months and months, being publicly called a failure for months, and yet the consequence of a lie over the long term is far worse. It’s far worse. I say that from personal experience. I said, “No. We’re going to tell the truth and I will live with the consequences, but so will you.”
What was interesting is after 18 months, the truth all came out and those two board members were fired and it turned out that the subsequent CEO was trying to figure out who was leaking and there was a spy scandal. Literally, it ended up on Capitol Hill. I mean, it was a mass. We are taught in our faith, “The truth shall set you free,” and that is true.
[00:18:39] JR: I don't know a lot of people in that situation when given an invitation to fudge the truth. We wouldn't call it that. We will call it telling a more compelling narrative, right? Telling a better story.
[00:18:51] CF: Right. I'm leaving to spend more time with my family.
[00:18:53] JR: Right. I so much, so much respect. I realize you had the ability to cast the vote as chairman. I didn’t realize that detail of the story. That makes it all the more compelling.
Carly, you’ve been practicing the art of leadership for really your whole career, you could argue. I’m really curious how you, today, in your own words, “get better at getting better at your craft.” What are some of the disciplines that you are consistently executing to get better at the art of leadership?
[00:19:22] CF: Well, first, I return to my faith, my values, my core. What I know that leadership is all about every day. Leadership is not about title. It’s not about position. It’s not about fame. It's not about what other people say about you. It's about courage, character, humility, empathy, optimism, solving problems and changing the order of things for the better. Those are the things that define leadership.
The second thing I do is I talk to other leaders. I take great delight in finding people that aren't famous, they don't have positions and titles, but who are nevertheless leading. Those are the kinds of people among others that I lift up on my podcast, which is called By Example. Many of whom you've never heard of, but who are leading. I surround myself, try and find other leaders.
Third, I spend time with people hopefully coaching them, teaching them, helping them develop their own leadership skills because one of the things I know for sure is everyone is capable of leadership. Everyone is capable of solving a problem in front of them. Everyone is capable of changing the order of things for the better. While it takes practice and discipline and it’s sometimes very difficult, everyone is capable of courage and humility and character and empathy.
[00:20:49] JR: Yeah. I love this idea of intentionally seeking out people who are not world-famous, but are world-class. I talk a lot about this on the Call to Mastery. We've had some very high profile people on the show like yourself. We also have a lot of people – I have my friend Christie on the show who spent 15 years practicing the art of teaching middle school Spanish. Nobody knows who Christie Adams is, right? But you don't have to be world-famous to be world-class at what you do. I think there's a lot of wisdom in what you said.
You’re a super routine-driven person. It’s probably why you described the Iowa caucuses as PTSD. I’m sure it was tough to have a routine while you're on the campaign trail. I'm really curious what your day looks like from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. If you had your ideal routine day, what does that look like for you, Carly?
[00:21:35] CF: Well, I need to be an early riser with some time to contemplate, reflect, pray, prepare. I get up early. It’s my husband's and my favorite time to sort of be together, think about the day, chat about whatever. I pray. I read. I reflect. I have to gather myself and center myself in the morning. Then I like to exercise. Sound body, sound mind, the Greeks said thousands of years ago. In my experience, it is true. If I am in healthy condition, I am a better person. I think more clearly. I need to get my exercise out of the way.
Then, ideally, I go spend time with people who lift me up. People who lift me up. There are plenty of people who tear us down. Whether that's my team, or the organizations that we work with, or the people I talk with on my podcast. I spend time with people who lift me up. Then at the end of a day, I have time for dinner with the family, with my husband, a good meal where we can reflect on the day. That to me is a perfect day.
[00:22:50] JR: You talk a lot about reflection, and I want to go a little bit deeper on this topic because I think this is really critical and increasingly a lost art in our digitally distracted and connective world. Why is reflection so important to you and what exactly do you mean by it?
You mentioned prayer, you mentioned reading, but do you actually sit and journal out your thoughts? I'm really curious what reflection looks like for you on a practical basis.
[00:23:14] CF: In my experience, personal choices take introspection, reflection, practice, thought. For example, one of the practical lessons that we teach people and that I have used myself is when I am afraid, how do I get over my fear? Introspect and ask the question. What am I afraid of? Introspect and practically speaking, write it down. What am I afraid of? I'm afraid of bad headlines. I'm afraid of being called a failure. I'm afraid of looking like a fool, whatever it is. Because only by identifying our fear, just as one example, writing it down and then sitting there and reflecting what is the worst thing that can happen? What’s the worst thing that can happen here and preparing, can we get past our fear? Whether this fear is very small. “I'm going to tell my parents I'm going to quit law school,” or the fear is very big. “I'm going to tell the truth about what happened to me in the boardroom at HP.”
The only way to get past it is to take the time to understand it, and that takes introspection. Then by the way, with the speaking of our faith, what is it the Bible tells us almost more than anything else? The Bible talks to us about courage. Courage. Courage. Courage. Because it takes courage to stand, courage to believe, courage to choose, courage to keep going.
[00:24:51] JR: And courage to create and lean ambitiously into the work that we do every day to create and shape culture.
[00:24:56] CF: Courage to be the best, because a lot of times people want you to just fit in and be mediocre.
[00:25:01] JR: Mediocre is easy, right? You have to fight for excellence.
[00:25:04] CF: That's right.
[00:25:04] JR: You have to lean in and push every day, put more weight on the bar to strive for mastery.
[00:25:11] CF: By the way, your comment about social media robbing us of the art of introspection. It’s so true, but it also in many ways I think is robbing us of the necessity for courage, because it's so easy to drift on the current, right? Let me just fit and tweet and like. Let me just fit in with the tribe.
[00:25:34] JR: Also, it makes it easy for us to just sit back and consume. I don't know if you said this explicitly in your book, but I kind of caught the undertones of this. The theme that like we are not meant to be bystanders in this life. We are not meant to sit back and consume and take from the world. We are here for a reason. We are here to create wealth. To create good things for the good of others. To create relationships and to create opportunities and to unleash potential, as your organization says, right? Did your faith inform that passion for you?
[00:26:06] CF: Of course. Yes. We are all here on purpose for a purpose, and that purpose is to make things better. It is so easy these days. I call it slacktivism in my book. I didn't come up with that term, but it's so easy for people to just sit in their armchair and pretend to participate. Let me like. Let me retweet, but you’re actually not doing anything to change the order of things for the better.
Our faith tells us that each one of us not only is created on purpose for a purpose, but each one of us is filled with enormous God-given potential. It is our role to use it for a purpose. That is our world. That is our job. That’s why we’re here. That takes work and courage and introspection and all those things we've been talking about.
[00:27:07] JR: Yeah. I’m really curious about your faith story. Were your parents taking you to church on a young age? When did you come to think – What does that look like for you and the role of faith in your life?
[00:27:16] CF: Well, yes. I grew up in a home where we went to church every Sunday and we read the Bible together, and I grew up in a house where faith played an enormous part. I got to a point in my life probably sort of mid career where it all felt – I mean, I believed in God, but it sort of seemed to me that God was more a system. I didn't feel the personal connection as much.
That went on for a long time. I had a pastor friend who really pushed me on this and I spent a lot of time reflecting and introspecting and praying about this and thinking, “Do I really believe that there is a personal connection between myself and God and Jesus?”
Interestingly, the world of technology in the end gave me my answer, because I looked at what technology is capable of and I thought, “Geez! If human beings can create the global positioning system just as one example, which keeps minute track of every movement of billions and billions and billions of people and things to the point where your technology can tell you to make a legal U-turn at the next available opportunity. If men can do that, people can do that, then yeah, God can keep track of us all. Yes, we do have a personal relationship.”
That revelation, that refreshment of my faith came just in time, because it came at a very difficult time in my life. The most difficult time in my life was not getting fired from HP. That was my choice in many real ways. I was prepared for that. The most difficult time in my life was when I was diagnosed with cancer. The most difficult time in my life was when we realized our daughter was an addict. It was when I was afraid to die and then I was afraid my daughter would die, and then she did die. That was a difficult time in my life, and my parents died in that time period. In that very difficult passage, that personal relationship sustained me.
[00:29:41] JR: That's a beautiful testimony coming through this fiery, horrible series of trials, and still at the end of that, believing that God is good. I think most people would look at those circumstances and believe something about God based on their circumstances rather than his character. I think that's a common mistake we all make. Its interest to me that technology played a role in your journey of recognizing that there is a true God and we can have a personal relationship with him.
Because I think a lot of people today – And because it’s a very relevant conversation right now, are making the opposite assumption. Believing that technology is the end-all be-all, that technology is the answer for all the world's problems. I mean, listen, you spent time in Silicon Valley. I think you know this better than anybody else. But we Christians know that technology is a beautiful expression of who we are made in God's image, but it's never the ultimate answer. I'm so glad that you shared that.
Carly, I want to go back to New Hampshire four years ago. In your book in Find Your Way, you tell this story that I love about the end of your presidential bid. You guys lose in New Hampshire. You’re flying back to Virginia with your team. You talk about how it's pretty quiet on the plane. A few hours later, you bring your senior staff to your home to debrief and you open up the door. Your campaign manager standing there and you just have a smile on your face and you just say very matter-of-factly it sounds like, “Well, I think we should get out now.” He tells this story about how he was so shocked by this cheerful, just matter-of-fact demeanor that you had.
I’d love for you to talk about how your faith influences your response to that particular result in your career, but really just more in general. How does your faith influence your response to outcomes in your professional pursuits?
[00:31:25] CF: Well, I do think that the best we can do in life is to quote you from earlier, “To choose the next right thing and to do that right thing to the very best of our ability for all the right reasons and all the right ways.” When it doesn't come out the way we perhaps wanted it to, we have to do the next right thing. It's part of what I meant earlier in the conversation when I said I think people get so motivated by external things.
I ran for president because I thought I had something to offer. I’m a problem solver. There's an understanding and appreciation for both big complicated bureaucracies and policy matters that I think I would've brought to the table. While I was running for president, I brought all of myself to that process. I did the very best that I could, and I think my team did as well, and that isn't what life served up. I wasn't intended to be president. So then it's time to move on.
Instead of my self worth being attached to a title, an achievement, a position, accolades. My assessment of myself is attached to how did I behave? What did I choose? Did I have any impact? Did I do the next right thing for the right reasons to the very best of my ability and did I behave in a way that I think honors God and that I'm proud of? The next right thing was it was time to get out.
[00:33:14] JR: That’s exactly right. It was just a very matter of fact, right? I think the only way to be able to do that, to be able to treat situations like that is, one, recognizing that we are not in control of results and finding peace in that rather than anxiety. Number two, like you said so eloquently, finding our self-worth not in outcomes, but in the status that we have as Christians, as believers in who Jesus Christ, who God himself says that we are.
I want to ask a couple of more questions about politics. We’ve got a lot of Christians listening to this, trying to figure out how do we relate to politics in 2020. You said before that “politics lives downstream of culture”. Something I wholeheartedly believe. I'm curious what you think that means for the church, for Christians who are concerned about cultural trends. Does that mean we disengage entirely from politics and just focus on cultural creation, a cultural change downstream? What's the mix in your opinion of the church's engagement in driving cultural change?
[00:34:14] CF: Well, I think the very, very difficult and fraught question, honestly. I don't claim to have an easy answer to it or even an answer that everyone will agree with or an answer at all, but I guess what I would offer are some thoughts about it.
My first thought is the reason I say politics is downstream from culture is because our culture has become one that lifts up conflict, controversy, fame, superficiality. We don't lift up in our culture the quiet, un-famous, uncontroversial person who lives their values truly and who is making a difference by solving the problems right in front of them. We don't lift those people up and our culture doesn’t either. Think about who we celebrate in the media, on social media, on television. We celebrate conflict, controversy, fame, outrage, contest, conflict. Politics is about all that. It has become a contest between tribes about conflict and power and who is better than who. It’s terrible. It's a terrible process. It has become a terrible process. It’s become about self-respect. Which tribe are you in? If you're not in my tribe, I hate you. If you're not in my tribe, I don't talk to you.
What I would say is, as Christian leaders, each of us I think I have to go back and remember, “Okay, who are we as Christians who are trying to live our values and be leaders?” We are called upon, I believe, to be humble. We are called upon to be empathetic even with people we disagree with. We are called upon to collaborate with others, frequently people who aren't like us. We are called upon to be courageous. We are called upon to be optimistic. We are called upon to solve problems.
I guess what I would say is, my own conclusion of all that is, I look for people who are that way. I look for people who are that way. I don't always find them in politics anymore. I don't always find them in big positions and titles anymore. But I look for people who are courageous, and humble, and empathetic, and collaborative and who want to make a positive impact every day. I try and stay out of the sound of politics, the divisiveness of politics, the discourse of politics, because I don't think it makes anything better and I think it makes a lot of things worse.
[00:37:11] JR: Yeah. Especially in this climate. You were – And I appreciated this about you. You were probably the most vocal critic of Donald Trump on that 2016 Campaign trail. Since his election you’ve said that essentially, and this is a sentiment I share, just no longer recognizing the Republican party. I don't know what to call myself anymore. Where are you on that topic, or is it meaningless to you what you call yourself?
[00:37:34] CF: Well, look, I don't recognize the Republican Party, but let's take it outside of party politics for just a moment. I think both the Democrat and the Republican Party have these loyalty tests, whether – if you’re a Democrat, you can't be pro-life. That’s ridiculous, but it's sort of come down to that.
What I'm going to say just for myself is I think character matters in everyone, in anyone. It doesn't matter what their title is. I think character matters. I don't think as citizens in this country we are called upon to pledge loyalty to any person or to any position. I think we are called upon to pledge our allegiance to a constitution. I think we are loyal to our faith, but I don't think it's our job to say, “This person,” even if he's president, no matter what.
I also don't think that we need to adopt the language, the tactics, the tone of either party. The language, and the tactics, and the tone of both parties are too often disrespectful, demeaning, divisive, and destructive.
[00:38:58] JR: Yeah. Well said. Carly, as we wrap up, three questions I like to ask every guest on The Call to Mastery. First, which books do you tend to recommend or give away the most to others?
[00:39:11] CF: It's a great question. It’s always such a difficult question for me.
[00:39:15] JR: I asked it because I can’t answer it, by the way.
[00:39:18] CF: I never can answer it, and I’ll tell you why I never can answer it, because my reading taste is extremely eclectic, and what I find is different things resonate differently with me at certain points and different things resonate with other people at different point.
Let me point you to a kind of book. I tend to focus – The things that resonate most deeply with me are true books, meaning perhaps they’re autobiographical, perhaps they’re historical, perhaps they are reflections or introspection. I mean, sometimes I get off on fiction, but mostly I am fascinated by other people's stories or other people's reflections, and those are the kinds of books I tend to gravitate towards.
[00:40:04] JR: I just recorded a podcast interview with him, Fred Rogers's biographer, Mr. Rogers. Did you read The Good Neighbor?
[00:40:10] CF: I haven't, and I'm going to, because I keep reading and reading and reading about it. By the way – Oh my goodness! The Good Neighbor, we need more of that right now.
[00:40:19] JR: Yes. Seriously. I'll send you copy of The Good Neighbor. It's become one of my all-time favorites. I'm really curious, Carly, who would you most like to hear talk about how their faith influences their work? Ideally, not Pastor. Somebody who’s worked in politics or in business somewhere. They’re masterful at their craft, but they also are following the Lord. Who are some of those people that you’d like teacher talk about this topic?
[00:40:42] CF: One of the people I have talked a lot with recently about this topic is John Maxwell. I know he's a well-known guy in the leadership and faith space, but he's obviously a person of deep faith. He came from a pastoral background. He is a leadership guru. What I find so interesting about his story is how he came from being a pastor, which is obviously a very – That is someone who is teaching faith right up front, and everybody knows that. It's overt to a guy who's still teaching faith but in a way that so many people who don't think they have faith are hearing and can hear.
[00:41:24] JR: Yeah. He's become – His value, the Christian values that John Maxwell teaches have become winsome to people inside and outside of the church because of that shift he’s made in his career. That would be interesting. That’d be a great conversation. We got to get John on the podcast.
All right, Carly, last question for you. What single piece of advice – you’ve given so much great wisdom boil it down to one piece of advice you'd like to leave our audience with this group of people who are following the Lord but want to do really masterful work for his glory and the good of others? What would you leave them with?
[00:41:53] CF: Choose. Choose. Make choices. Don't drift. Don't let other people choose for you. Choose. Get up every day and remind yourself that this day is a choice. How I spend my time, what I do, what I say, what I feel. These are all choices that we own, but so often we give them away. Then we wonder why our life isn't going the way we want it to. Choose. We are meant to choose.
[00:42:34] JR: That’s great. Carly, I just want to commend you for your faithful presence in the realms of business and politics, and now the nonprofit space. Thank you for reflecting grace wherever you go. Thank you for following God’s call in your life to help others unlock their God-given potential. Honestly, thank you for serving as a role model that I can point my daughters to one day.
Hey, if you want to learn more about Carly, it's very easy to find her. You're not difficult to find. Its carlyfiorina.com. Carly, thank you again for spending this time with me.
[00:43:04] JR: Thank you, Jordan. I really enjoyed our conversation.
[END Of INTERVIEW]
[00:43:07] JR: Wow! I hope you just enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. Carly and I were talking before she got in the line about how our lives kind of oddly crossed 10 years, almost exactly 10 years prior to that conversation. Carly was running for the United States senate in California and I at the time was working for a Republican digital agency, working for one of her opponents. Small world that our lives would cross 10 years later.
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