The Esquire Interview: Carol Bartz Does a Great Impression of Carol Bartz
Simply put: As a quote machine for eager reporters, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.
Mostly, a very quippy, always slightly potty-mouthed gift, but a gift nonetheless.
Last week, for example, Bartz pontificated to the BBC about how Google (GOOG) needs to get its act together and that Facebook was not all that.
Now BoomTown has gotten some good ones out of Bartz since she went to Yahoo (YHOO) at the beginning of 2009.
But this interview, just published in Esquire magazine in its “Women We Love” issue, is the mother lode of Bartzisms.
Some of the choicer quotes, among many (please go here to experience the whole shebang):
On her childhood:
“My mom died when I was eight. My grandparents took my brother and me onto their farm when I was twelve. So for four years, between eight and twelve, I was mom, housecleaner, cook–and guess what? The little shit doesn’t get to you anymore, it just doesn’t matter.”
On being a cocktail waitress:
“One night I had a trayful of drinks, and I had on black fishnet stockings and a garter, and the next thing I know I’m like getting air. Somebody had lifted my little skirt up. So I go to look over and it was my high school principal. I can’t remember his name now. I said, ‘Mr. — !’ and he went, ‘Carol!’ And you know I didn’t tolerate any of that kind of stuff and that wasn’t the kind of place it was, but he’s coming from this shit-bum little town and he’s in the big time, Madison [Wisconsin], and here comes the cocktail waitress and he’s going to show off.”
On the memos (leaked to me!) and drop-kicking Yahoos to f*&%ing Mars for doing so:
“Yahoo! had a huge problem of all kinds of internal documents getting out to the press. Terrible timing. And what I was trying to explain is, all we’re doing is hurting each other. You know we can’t have a family conversation without you running and telling the neighbors? So I was just explaining that it was a bad thing to do, and if I found them, that’s what would happen to them. If I found out who was leaking this, I’d just drop-kick you to Mars. You have to have some passion. What am I going to say? ‘Oh, please don’t…’? You think my employees would remember it? No. Did I do it because of that? No. I did it because at the moment I got myself all riled up. You know, everybody thinks I do it consciously. People actually ask me: ‘When are you going to drop the f-bomb?’ I say, ‘What do you think, put a dime in my ear and then it comes out? No, but get me worked up about something and who knows what’ll come out.’”
On key hiring criteria:
“What do I look for when hiring? Well, let’s get past the assumption that they can do the job. There has to be a no-asshole rule.
We’ll go through the whole interview, and I’ll say, ‘I have one last question. I don’t work with assholes. Are you one?’”
On making a still really wrong–but marginally better–comparison of herself with the Apple (AAPL) god:
“Apple was down for the count before Steve Jobs returned. I’m not trying to compare myself to Steve Jobs in any way–for good reasons and for bad reasons–but think about it. What was the name of that computer before the Macintosh? Apple II. I mean, it was going nowhere.
Everyone likes to think about iPod days, but it took Steve a long time, even knowing the company, to get it turned around after he came back. So of course it’s been done.”