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The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life [Kindle Edition]

Meg Whitman , Joan O'C Hamilton
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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. 

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having helped shepherd Ebay, one of the few online commercial success stories, from a $4 million business to an $8 billion behemoth, former president and CEO Whitman reveals her methods in her debut, as much a memoir of her tenure at Ebay as a guidebook for struggling MBAs. Though timed to coincide with her California gubernatorial run (the out-of-place last chapter includes her reasons for running, and a defense of friend and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney), Whitman crafts an engaging and not altogether opportunistic narrative that spells out solid business values, a no-nonsense approach to work, and thoughts on corporate integrity centered around practical advice for employees, managers and business leaders ("Be authentic. You can't buy integrity"; "Enfranchise and validate"; "Prune distractions"). In an era of bloated corporate profits and downsized prospects for average workers, Whitman's sincere commitment to and insights regarding community-building are refreshing, and should prove helpful for entrepreneurs and voters seeking information about the probable candidate. END


“Meg Whitman doesn’t just talk about important values such as integrity, accountability, authenticity and courage, she lives them. In many years of working with Meg, I have seen her lead game-changing innovation, make tough decisions and passionately commit herself to important causes – all based on strong, transparent values. In this engaging and honest book, Meg shares these values and how she applied them to pioneering a new model for managing a twenty-first-century company. This book only deepens my admiration for Meg’s leadership.” —A.G. Lafley, chairman, Procter & Gamble 

“As an eBay board member, I saw firsthand Meg Whitman’s determination to live and manage by the answer to the question ‘What is the right thing to do?’ as she helped eBay develop its character as a company. This book explores the values she brought to eBay and the values she nurtured at eBay – values that ultimately helped her create a remarkable success story and a powerful consumer brand.” —Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO, Starbucks

“In The Power of Many, Meg’s great insight is that running a successful organization in the Internet Age requires constant reinvention. Advances in technology drive a lot of that, but Meg understands that the emotional connections of a community networked together can give even a simple idea global reach. This is a great discussion of the importance of listening and harnessing that energy in order to create positive change.” —Terry Semel, chairman, Windsor Media; former chairman and CEO, Yahoo! and Warner Bros.

“What Meg Whitman created and developed at eBay is truly extraordinary. This book chronicles how her vision, dedication, hard work and focus on results created the opportunity for millions of Americans to form their own businesses and secure their families’ futures. As a direc...

Product Details

  • File Size: 652 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (January 14, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0034DGPKY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,075 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a leader this is a must read for 2010.... January 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although I am sure Meg Whitman wrote this book in part for political reasons I read it for the same reasons I read other leadership remind me of the fundamental truths and hopefully pick up some new perspectives. This book did not disappoint!

This book does a great job of mixing in personal and business stories to illustrate some key leadership points. Her description of the growth and challenges of eBay was compelling. She shares what worked for her as well as admitting to mistakes. This was refreshing. She also points out where she does not agree with the traditional mindset or popular thought.

For example she states "Trying is important. But trying is not the same as achieving success. I diverge from the philosophers and poets here; to me, success is not about the quality of your experience in striving for your goal. To me, the journey is not the reward. The journey can be fantastic; my journey at eBay was fantastic. But what matters is whether or not you accomplish your mission."

I had eight pages of highlights in my Kindle. Here are 16 of the excerpts I found particularly important.

1. "When it comes to new product development or certain kinds of marketing where 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."

2. "You can make a big goal feel small by breaking it down, but you can't make a small goal feel big."

3. "Never be afraid to borrow a good idea. Pay for it by giving credit. In fact, share credit as liberally as you can...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Chip S.
I went through this book quickly. It was easy to read- it's very interesting, with lots on fascinating information about how eBay worked during her 10 year tenure there. However, I did go in it expecting to learn some really insightful business principles, and in that sense, it didn't really deliver. Her biggest lessons were pretty simple- "be authentic," "be frugal," "have a bias for action." Most of it was basically common sense, and she could be pretty repetitive pushing those points. Despite how I felt the book fell flat in explaining some fundamental business principles, the stories of her time at eBay still make it worth the read.
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing! March 27, 2010
"The Power of Many" has distinguished itself in two ways for me. First, it is the first business biography book that I've labored hard to go through each page, looking in vain for an insight that never arrived. Second it is the first biography where I've had a lower opinion of the author after I've finished the book.

I'm an avid reader of business leader biographies and I've always found useful take-aways or feelings of being inspired from this genre of books. Michael Moritz's account of Apple and Steve Jobs in "Return to the Little Kingdom" convinced me that anything is possible if you follow your heart and dreams. Jack Welch's "Winning" reinforced the notion that leadership involves making tough decisions and choosing the right people. Unfortunately, in "The Power of Many", the only thing I've found is my sheer determination to finish every page. It was 274 pages of pain.

I think there are several problems with this book that made it unreadable. First, the story of eBay and what made it successful are already well known. Ms. Whitman failed to provide any additional insight or behind the scene account of eBay that wasn't already publicized. Grouping eBay's success factors under what she coined as "Power of Many" felt forced and unconvincing.

Second, the book is over littered with cliches - and to make things worse, Ms. Whitman had to explain every cliche that she used, such as "bias to action", "network effect", and "flame". It made me cringe when she spent an entire paragraph explaining "key metrics", and exclaimed "...I am very focused on what are called key metrics". I've got news for you, Ms. Whitman - so do millions of other middle layer managers.

Third, this is too much of a self-touting book. While Ms.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming December 11, 2011
This book was struggle to read even though it was easy to read. Ms. Whitman comes across as a fine person, employee-centric, collaborative, well-schooled in corporate America, good with her family. What is missing from this tale is any semblance of passion. "Milk toast" is what I call this. There are few, if any "Aha!" moments.

Very much about blocking and tackling, "Meg's way", and that is fine. She employs techniques and a style that can work in many environments. She comes across as an effective but somewhat bland manager, rather than a driven leader.

If she campaigned for California Governor with the same enthusiasm and it appeared to she gave to this book I can she how she failed to get to Sacramento.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At first read, the book seemed to be sorta ho-hum about the do's and dont's of running a growing company. But as you read more and more, especially at the 3/4's point, you realize that getting eBay established and working was more about managing the decisions of an entirely new enterprise that would transform the garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops, etc. into an new model of market. A model that would require careful thinking about equity and equality across several dimensions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book about an amazing woman!
Published 8 months ago by md22
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Liked learning about the history if ebay.
Published 10 months ago by Don white
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Was hard to relate to so slow going...was a required work project.
Published 11 months ago by April Engle
5.0 out of 5 stars Very inspiring!
A must read for women wanting to lead and succeed. Meg Whitman outlines the basic principles for professional success and a fulfilling personal life. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Neela Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the mind of Genius
As soon as I received this book, I couldnt hold my self togather im start reading this book. The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life its really the book of... Read more
Published on April 27, 2011 by hadi
2.0 out of 5 stars The Power of One, NOT Many
Having read excellent reviews about Meg Whitman's The Power of Many - I was excited to find the book available for check out in my local library. Read more
Published on April 19, 2010 by Dianne W
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Whitman Sampler" to share with America
From the moment Ms. Whitman tells the board of E-Bay "I Meg to Differ," this reader was hooked, and loved every word of this very personal look into the passions and pecadilloes of... Read more
Published on March 13, 2010 by J. Steinberg
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone in business!
I really enjoyed Meg Whitman's book and think she makes a lot of great points about what makes a successful leader and work enviroment. Read more
Published on February 24, 2010 by Allison
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