Fire yourself

June 12, 2008, 10:19 PM UTC

One of the most memorable pieces of advice came from a friend, Ram Charan, during a period in 2005 when Avon was really struggling. But it wasn’t like I was coming into a new job and inheriting a turnaround situation. It was my issue. I was part of the problem and the solution.

On a Friday night at nine o’clock, Ram came into my office, looked right at me and said, “They all love you. But in about 90 days, if you don’t turn this thing around, they’ll have to fire you. So, if you don’t go home tonight as if you were fired, and come back on Monday as if Heidrick brought you in as a turnaround queen, you aren’t going to make it.

“But if you can take your 13 years of equity and relationships and still be as fresh as if they took you out and put you in a new company, doing the tough stuff to your own people and your own strategies, you can be one of the best leaders going forward. That’s the decision you have to make.”

So that’s the key: Fire yourself, hire yourself. That advice completely changed me.

Andrea Jung, Chairman and CEO of Avon Products , says she learned a lot in 2005, when the beauty company’s profits were flagging and the stock sunk below $30. The shares, now around $42, are at a three-year high.