Sunday, May 08, 2005

What a woman

Since I'm only blogging here, and I'm almost anonymous, I'll admit that I'd easily fall in love with Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP. What a woman. I won't praise the qualities that I find in her, but let me state some facts about her.

A medieval-history and philosophy major, she dropped out of law school, taught English in Italy, worked as a receptionist, and is one hell of a saleswoman (although I hate sales people). She is a woman with vision. She successfully led Lucent's spinoff in the 90's, and spearheaded the largest merger in history between Hewlett Packard and Compaq (making HP sway away from its core business competency), against the will of the Hewlett family who filed a law suit against the merger. The completion of the merger in itself was a winning battle.

Never mind how that HP-Compaq merger turned out, but no large tech merger have worked out as fine as this one. HP's board have asked her to step down recently. But even if that Fiorina-orchestrated-merger is considered a failure, I don't mind a woman with a failure in her life. She is one visionary and successful woman nevertheless.

Lastly, I have to point out this part of a speech she gave two weeks after 9/11 [Carly says]:

I’ll end by telling a story.

There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.

It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic origins.

One of its languages became the universal language of much of the world, the bridge between the peoples of a hundred lands. Its armies were made up of people of many nationalities, and its military protection allowed a degree of peace and prosperity that had never been known. The reach of this civilization’s commerce extended from Latin America to China, and everywhere in between.

And this civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.

Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.

When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.

While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent.

Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership.

And perhaps we can learn a lesson from his example: It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population–that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions.

This kind of enlightened leadership — leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability, diversity and courage — led to 800 years of invention and prosperity.

In dark and serious times like this, we must affirm our commitment to building societies and institutions that aspire to this kind of greatness. More than ever, we must focus on the importance of leadership– bold acts of leadership and decidedly personal acts of leadership.

Thank you Carly.

Speaking of good women. I had a very nice date today. I won't talk about it (nor her) in case I decide to tell her about my blog. But JW Marriott is just wonderful. It was kind of awkward that I'd take her to the steak house. I knew this couldn't be good, and she could have all the wrong thoughts about me taking her to such an expensive place so soon. But I needed to go there --on a date, and that's what I told her! "You're an excuse for me to come here". I think (hope) she took it as a joke, a joke that should've reduced the awkwardness of taking such a bold step so soon. Anyways, the meat was good (not as good as that awesome Texan steak), the service was exceptionally perfect, the company was nice and sweet, and it lasted for 4 hours.

What I found interesting in that Marriott is how many tourists are staying there. The hotel is out in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Ok, they're enjoying the lavishly luxurious stay there, but you can have that back home tourists! Those are not even tourists who look at Egypt from behind a glass window, they look at it from inside a space shuttle this way. And those latest bombings have apparently not affected tourism one bit, and have not deterred tourists whatsoever. Amazing!

On my way back, one of my best friends calls me and asks me how it went, and then tells me that he had a constructive (destructive actually) conversation with his wife and mother-in-law deciding that they should start the divorce procedures tomorrow. Damn. I think you guys should've divorced long ago, but this is just the wrong time. So I go to the 'ahwa to meet him, after boycotting the place for over a year (or two) to give him my valuable advice. Couldn't stay for longer than half an hour, hoping that my message got through. And from tourists in JW Marriott, to my surprise, I find tourists sitting on one of those shitty 'ahwa tables. Unbelievable, even this 'ahwa!

What is it today anyway. I receive an sms warning in the morning that Carrefeur will be bombed, and at night a fire burns parts of alSagha in alAzhar for a few hours. Bad day for all, except for me.

Oh, and I think I love you Carly.


Owen said...

What an interesting post - I could never fall for any woman who ran HP after my Compaq so spectacularly crashed :)

Mohamed said...

Its not Compaq that crashed, its M$FT.

Al Sharief said...

It apears that you could fall in love with Carly only for her intellegence speech after 9/11. NO?
Good for you with that great date, the big question is What's Next? Another greater or less great date.
It should NOt matter if you will ask me. You enjoyed the date & even gave JW Free Ad..
As for Hating Sales people...Why?
There is such thing that is: "Honrable Selling" & BTW the Great civilization that your great women virtual friend Carly talked about on her speech had "Trades People" as the spearheads of this civilization & it's growth and spreadings, I believe...

The Ahwa must be as great :-)

Mohamed said...

Well, no. I started to think I could fall in love with Carly after an interview I saw for her. Then you combine that with what else she's got, and she's some woman. She's not my virtual friend by any means. Simply someone I respect greatly.

I hate sales people, because I hate people who aren't straight and honest, people who would do anything to sell you something, even if they know its not good for you.

Shush about the date and what follows --for now.

Al Sharief said...

What a Women indeed...