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Introduction

Here is a dilemma few executives have to face. Your company has just been bought for the odd few billion dollars by industry giant AT&T. They want you to stay on and offer you several million dollars as a golden hello. Next, Bill Gates calls up. He wants you to be chief operating officer of Microsoft, one of the most powerful positions in the most influential company in the world. Finally, a headhunter gets in touch. He's got a start-up company in Silicon Valley, valued at $2 million, and wants you to be the CEO to a bunch of college kids with a bright idea.

For Jim Barksdale, the hardest option became the easiest choice. The year was 1995, and the 51-year-old had had a lifetime of big corporations and fat organizations. He had made enough from the AT&T acquisition of McCaw Cellular to retire.


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