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The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life

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Is it possible to run a multibillion-dollar corporation on the power of trust? Must you set aside your authentic self as you climb the corporate ladder? Is there another role for technology beyond saving costs and creating efficiencies? In The Power of Many, Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay, speaks to these questions and more, identifying ten core values that Is it possible to run a multibillion-dollar corporation on the power of trust? Must you set aside your authentic self as you climb the corporate ladder? Is there another role for technology beyond saving costs and creating efficiencies? In The Power of Many, Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay, speaks to these questions and more, identifying ten core values that steered her—and can steer any leader—to success without ethical compromise. During her decade at the helm of eBay, Meg Whitman transformed it from a tiny start-up into a nearly $8 billion global powerhouse, revolutionizing the way goods are bought and sold online. Fortune magazine twice named her the Most Powerful Woman in Business. Now, with the vitality, candor, and often self-effacing humor that is her trademark, Meg lays out the ten core values that she credits not only with her strategic success but with many of the joys and satisfactions of her private life. Values such as trust, authenticity, courage, and validation are not naive, Meg shows us, and they are definitely not a luxury. Rather, they are essential tools for success that go hand in hand with traditional business practices—like holding oneself accountable or growing a company efficiently. She believes they are the foundation of strong management in the twenty-first century. Today, technology and the transparency it brings demand that organizations demonstrate a character that aligns with the values of their communities. Meg illustrates the origins of her values and the underpinnings of her approach with compelling stories from her extraordinary career and her down-to-earth upbringing—from the harrowing twenty-two-hour system outage that nearly sunk eBay to the indomitable spirit of her eighty-nine-year-old mother, who grew up in Boston society but worked as an airplane mechanic during World War II. It was her mother, Meg says, who gave her “a bias toward action.” Here, too, are stories of finding her equilibrium during the time when she had young children, and in her marriage to a neurosurgeon with his own highly demanding career. Meanwhile, her experiences at some of America’s best-known companies, including Disney, FTD, and Procter & Gamble, offer valuable case studies of what can go wrong and right, and how even mistakes can be transformed into opportunities. Meg Whitman shows us that achievement can and should be teamed with optimism, trust, and honesty. The Power of Many offers the insights and motivation we need to propel ourselves to the next level—to scale, as Meg would say—in business and in life. 


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Is it possible to run a multibillion-dollar corporation on the power of trust? Must you set aside your authentic self as you climb the corporate ladder? Is there another role for technology beyond saving costs and creating efficiencies? In The Power of Many, Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay, speaks to these questions and more, identifying ten core values that Is it possible to run a multibillion-dollar corporation on the power of trust? Must you set aside your authentic self as you climb the corporate ladder? Is there another role for technology beyond saving costs and creating efficiencies? In The Power of Many, Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay, speaks to these questions and more, identifying ten core values that steered her—and can steer any leader—to success without ethical compromise. During her decade at the helm of eBay, Meg Whitman transformed it from a tiny start-up into a nearly $8 billion global powerhouse, revolutionizing the way goods are bought and sold online. Fortune magazine twice named her the Most Powerful Woman in Business. Now, with the vitality, candor, and often self-effacing humor that is her trademark, Meg lays out the ten core values that she credits not only with her strategic success but with many of the joys and satisfactions of her private life. Values such as trust, authenticity, courage, and validation are not naive, Meg shows us, and they are definitely not a luxury. Rather, they are essential tools for success that go hand in hand with traditional business practices—like holding oneself accountable or growing a company efficiently. She believes they are the foundation of strong management in the twenty-first century. Today, technology and the transparency it brings demand that organizations demonstrate a character that aligns with the values of their communities. Meg illustrates the origins of her values and the underpinnings of her approach with compelling stories from her extraordinary career and her down-to-earth upbringing—from the harrowing twenty-two-hour system outage that nearly sunk eBay to the indomitable spirit of her eighty-nine-year-old mother, who grew up in Boston society but worked as an airplane mechanic during World War II. It was her mother, Meg says, who gave her “a bias toward action.” Here, too, are stories of finding her equilibrium during the time when she had young children, and in her marriage to a neurosurgeon with his own highly demanding career. Meanwhile, her experiences at some of America’s best-known companies, including Disney, FTD, and Procter & Gamble, offer valuable case studies of what can go wrong and right, and how even mistakes can be transformed into opportunities. Meg Whitman shows us that achievement can and should be teamed with optimism, trust, and honesty. The Power of Many offers the insights and motivation we need to propel ourselves to the next level—to scale, as Meg would say—in business and in life. 

30 review for The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    Interesting story, I got this book the week before the California election, but didn’t finish it till a week after the election. Did the fact that Meg was not elected Govern nor effect my enjoyment of this book? Certainly not. In fact, given Meg’s close relationship with Mitt Romney, as they were worked together at the same agency, I suspect that here support or involvement in the political arena is not over. However, I digress. As I’ve previously mentioned, I love reading books that pass along Interesting story, I got this book the week before the California election, but didn’t finish it till a week after the election. Did the fact that Meg was not elected Govern nor effect my enjoyment of this book? Certainly not. In fact, given Meg’s close relationship with Mitt Romney, as they were worked together at the same agency, I suspect that here support or involvement in the political arena is not over. However, I digress. As I’ve previously mentioned, I love reading books that pass along a wisdom from business and life. This book certainly met those criteria, and more. The book itself was not really laid out in chronological order of Meg’s life. It generally focused on her strategies and what she had learned and then related them back to her life. After all, as noted in the title, this contained “Values for Success in Business and in Life” and was not a biography. Meg’s List of Values that became the core of eBay are: - We believe people are basically good - We recognize and respect everyone as a unique individual - We believe everyone has something to contribute. - We encourage people to treat others the way the want to be treated - We believe that an honest, open environment can bring out the best in people “When people care about anything . . . they are motivated and energized by feedback. If you think about it, few of us experience a lot of validation in our daily lives. . . In fact, before social networking sites existed, most people went through their days collecting mostly neutral to negative feedback or no feedback at all.” Meg notes that eBay with its communities and social networks are so popular because of the “staisfactiction and sense of validation that people get from sharing useful knowledge with one another and being recognized for doing so.” Meg supports her belief in a “bias for action” or the cost of doing nothing can be greater than the cost of doing anything. “But although a bias for action is necessary, it is sufficient for success. It has to be paired with other analytical skills and management techniques. . It has to be rooted in such bedrock values and focus and listening and relentless fixation on delivering results. And before you take a big risk, you have to be sure to ask not only ‘what is the worst thing that can happen?’ but also ‘What is the best thing that can happen?’ By asking both questions, you make sure that the potential value of what you’re about to do corresponds to risk so that you’re not just making a change for change’s sake or taking a big risk for a modest payoff.” It was quite interesting to learn of Meg’s job history. I had no idea that before eBay she had worked for a list of consumer products companies that include P&G, Hasbro, and Disney where she was the executive over the consumer products division. Right out of school with her MBA at P&G her first project was to figure out how big the hole in the bottle should be. “Like many newly minted hotshot before me, I thought, “You have got to be kidding me. I’m an MBA not a designer! What is the point of having me do this?”. Thus began the start of her real marketing education that resulted in her “first and arguably most important lesson in consumer marketing: you do not know what you do not know. Don’t forget to listen to the people who have a stake in what ever you are about to do.” And as for the size of the shampoo hole? She made it just the size that the consumers wanted. “As brand managers at P&G, you were the center of the wheel . . . the challenge was, you had no authority over the spokes but you had to influence them to do what you need them to do. You had to go to them and say, ‘Here’s my objective for my brand’. I learned that you get people to do what you want not because you tell them to but rather because you listen and enlist them in your vision. You get their input so that your vision can be better, and when they see that you are listening you are incorporating their input, they feel validated”. “When it comes to new product development or certain kinds of marketing where the parameters are fluid, I very deliberately do not ask people to be perfect. In fact, I’m more inclined to say that in these realms perfect is the enemy of good enough.. . If we wait to try to anticipate all the problems in advance, the cost of that delay will be too high. We will learn much faster from trying it out”. A couple of tid bids I noted on leadership. “You do not have to be perfect to be an effective leader, but you can not be timid.” She went on to make a note from Frank Wells, the Disney executive in that that told her in “You are just as smart as these guys. Speak up. Take them on. Don’t let them intimidate you.” “I do not believe that a CEO can craft a culture that is fundamentally different from his or her own authentic values. . . Over time, the accumulation of these habits and styles, passed down from one CEO to the next becomes deeply embedded in the DNA of the Company. You cannot simply order them out of existence of issue a memo to change them.” On of the most interesting stories told of how as a young girl, she and her mother got to be part of a last minute trip to China with Shirley Maclaine for a movie. As soon as her mother signed them up she said “who is Shirly Mclaine?” A very funny and unexpected story that I wasn’t expecting to find.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Megha Sehgal

    I really had to convince myself to finish this book since I had already put in so much time. I couldn't find anything interesting in the book. The tone of the book itself is so uninspiring. It could have been written in an engrossing way after all it is related to such a big company ie. Ebay. I really had to convince myself to finish this book since I had already put in so much time. I couldn't find anything interesting in the book. The tone of the book itself is so uninspiring. It could have been written in an engrossing way after all it is related to such a big company ie. Ebay.

  3. 4 out of 5

    George

    LESS THAN EXCITING. “She’s frumpy, but she delivers.” (Pg 184) (Meg Whitman describing [probably accurately:] what she thought people thought of her.) (This should be her campaign slogan.) Hate the title of this book: ‘The Power of Many’. Sounds like so much collectivist claptrap to me. And that may have been part of what kept me from getting more out of this book. Then, too, maybe it just doesn’t have that much to offer. Love the subtitle, though: ‘Values for Success in Business and in Life’. Al LESS THAN EXCITING. “She’s frumpy, but she delivers.” (Pg 184) (Meg Whitman describing [probably accurately:] what she thought people thought of her.) (This should be her campaign slogan.) Hate the title of this book: ‘The Power of Many’. Sounds like so much collectivist claptrap to me. And that may have been part of what kept me from getting more out of this book. Then, too, maybe it just doesn’t have that much to offer. Love the subtitle, though: ‘Values for Success in Business and in Life’. All that said, I’ll still vote for Meg to be the next governor of California, if I get that chance. She’s certainly a very accomplished and successful overachiever; and would bring a wealth of executive experience and competence to the job. And she respects values. “Efficient organizations run lean.” (pg. 120) (When’s the last time anything like that could be said of California?) Recommendation: Save your reading time for something else; but give the lady a hand up and your vote if you can, in her new career.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    The value integral to eBay's success is to act with integrity based on the faith that people are basically good. Integrity seems sorely missing in contemporary institutions of all kinds. Our ability to have faith in others is shaken repeatedly by virtual orchards of "bad apples." Yet eBay shows that you can work out a fair deal and be treated as you'd like to be treated in the marketplace of commodities. Now if we can only get that to translate to the marketplace of ideas. Whitman provides encou The value integral to eBay's success is to act with integrity based on the faith that people are basically good. Integrity seems sorely missing in contemporary institutions of all kinds. Our ability to have faith in others is shaken repeatedly by virtual orchards of "bad apples." Yet eBay shows that you can work out a fair deal and be treated as you'd like to be treated in the marketplace of commodities. Now if we can only get that to translate to the marketplace of ideas. Whitman provides encouragement to see beyond the obstacles, including the obstacles we ourselves are in the eyes of others. A "good" read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I read this for a book club at work and while I initially struggled to keep an open mind, I thought it was a cut above the usual. That said, my favorite part was where Whitman describes inviting Weird Al to an eBay conference so he could sing his eBay song to the tune of "I Want It That Way." That was worth the price of admission for sure. I read this for a book club at work and while I initially struggled to keep an open mind, I thought it was a cut above the usual. That said, my favorite part was where Whitman describes inviting Weird Al to an eBay conference so he could sing his eBay song to the tune of "I Want It That Way." That was worth the price of admission for sure.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Simmone

    Meg Whitman is inspiring if you want to be a leader. I think that how she has lived her life and helped to develop Ebay was very interesting to learn about and the lessons were good. There was a little to much information about her personal life ( a little too sappy for my tastes ick) and skip the epilogue....it was her attempt at a campaign ad.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mslizzie

    What I found interesting, is that given the constant struggle for work-life balance, Med Whitman acknowledges that it is more triage than "having it all". An important lesson for women to learn as more often than not during this time of uncertainty, we are the breadwinners. Choose what is important to you & focus on that. What I found interesting, is that given the constant struggle for work-life balance, Med Whitman acknowledges that it is more triage than "having it all". An important lesson for women to learn as more often than not during this time of uncertainty, we are the breadwinners. Choose what is important to you & focus on that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Walper

    Good general life lessons. The main message I took away was that you always need to be making the right decisions regardless of the pressures or other things that get in the way. I am not sure that the book will truly help me improve in business, but it was easy to read with lots of stories and I did want to finish it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ginger

    Eh. Obviously, she's not aiming to become an author. I would have appreciated a little less "sell", and not so many paragraphs that began with: "When I was at Ebay . . ." She seems like a solid candidate, though. Eh. Obviously, she's not aiming to become an author. I would have appreciated a little less "sell", and not so many paragraphs that began with: "When I was at Ebay . . ." She seems like a solid candidate, though.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Radell

    I might have given this five stars because I have a wicked girl crush on Meg Whitman. My hero and idol. She is bad ass and killed it at Ebay. Love her and she is such a great female celebrity! Great read about employee empowerment and the amazing power of team work.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read. I knew a little about Meg Whitman before but this really illustrated her values and business savvy and I learned from it. I'm an eBay user and enjoyed learning behind the scenes details I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read. I knew a little about Meg Whitman before but this really illustrated her values and business savvy and I learned from it. I'm an eBay user and enjoyed learning behind the scenes details

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vidya Karanth

    good read with lots of intersting and fascinating anecdotes from Meg's 10 year tenure at eBay. The various challenges confronted in the formative years of eBay and how their rules/policies evolved based on the feedback from user community are all compelling. good read with lots of intersting and fascinating anecdotes from Meg's 10 year tenure at eBay. The various challenges confronted in the formative years of eBay and how their rules/policies evolved based on the feedback from user community are all compelling.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kenzie

    Whitman tried for a conversational style, but she left out most of the 'juicy' details! Also, toward the end, it took on a clearly political lean - supporting Romney and McCain - and setting up her (failed) California run for governor. Whitman tried for a conversational style, but she left out most of the 'juicy' details! Also, toward the end, it took on a clearly political lean - supporting Romney and McCain - and setting up her (failed) California run for governor.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Kolodziejski

    There's no denying that I love Meg, but with this book, her methods for success are so clearly detailed..it's not rocket science (and you don't need to win the auction to find out!!) Most people are basically good.. There's no denying that I love Meg, but with this book, her methods for success are so clearly detailed..it's not rocket science (and you don't need to win the auction to find out!!) Most people are basically good..

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Perhaps I'm biased as an employee of HP but I thought this was a very interesting and inspiring book. I think Meg has a lot of simple philosophies that are applicable in so many aspects of our lives, and definitely applicable in business. I have high hopes for her as our CEO! Perhaps I'm biased as an employee of HP but I thought this was a very interesting and inspiring book. I think Meg has a lot of simple philosophies that are applicable in so many aspects of our lives, and definitely applicable in business. I have high hopes for her as our CEO!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sipho Gumbo

    Great read. If you manage a company or deal with people on a daily basis she has some great pointers

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    She's right on about California,(printed in 2010) they should have elected her Governor, maybe they would not be losing the tech industries that were born there to other states. She's right on about California,(printed in 2010) they should have elected her Governor, maybe they would not be losing the tech industries that were born there to other states.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandy.l_f_

    This book was recommended by Phil.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meglet

    Easy read, classic business values means she is consistent across eBay, hp etc.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    very smart lady - I enjoyed this book. her business sense is classic.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bart

    Easy read with interesting stories that illustrate undeniably good business/life principles.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelley M

    Slow and self-aggrandizing in the beginning; book became more interesting as she talked about e-bays challenges.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tiffani

    Meg Whitman is an inspiration for all aspiring female professionals and has written a thoughtful book on leadership and interacting with other employees. This ia a great and encouraging read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Meg gives great insight, shares lessons learned and her approach to tackling the tough problems. I admire Meg and am pleased that she is now leading HP.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marci

    ethics are important. by the next governor of california.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Cordeiro divino

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shana Hoffman

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mckay Leggett

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trudy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Bojanski

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