Paul B. Carroll


Paul Carroll has been a journalist, author and speaker for more than three decades, working at the highest levels in those fields. He also does consulting work based on the principles in his acclaimed recent book, “Billion-Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years.”

After graduate school and a year as an editor at his hometown paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Paul spent 17 years as a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ stationed him throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe and Mexico. The paper nominated Paul twice for Pulitzer Prizes, and he was a finalist once. During his time at the Journal, Paul wrote “Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM,” a national best-seller published by Crown in 1993. Fortune called the book “fascinating,” and it got widespread coverage in the media, including an appearance by Paul on “The Today Show.”

Paul left the WSJ in 1996 to become a partner with Diamond Management & Technology Consultants. While there, he founded and edited Context magazine, which had a circulation of 40,000 senior executives and which helped them understand the strategic implications of information technology. Context was the first of what came to be known as “new economy” magazines, to be followed by The Industry Standard, Business 2.0 and many others. Context won numerous awards and was a finalist in 2000 for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, the industry’s highest honor.

Paul left Diamond in 2003 and began to pursue longer projects. Among others was a white paper for Microsoft, which was based on extensive interviews with Bill Gates and other senior executives at Microsoft and which served as the centerpiece of one of Gates’ annual gatherings of CEOs from major companies at his home. More recently, Paul wrote the summary for the National Broadband Plan, which the Federal Communications Commission presented to Congress in March 2010 and which has drawn wide interest and praise. Paul also edited the full report and wrote sections of it. Paul subsequently worked with the Department of Energy, helping a sort of SWAT team tell what turns out to be an exciting story about how they invested Recovery Act funds in ways that should make electric cars widespread relatively soon, should make renewable sources such as solar far less expensive and should make the electric grid far more reliable and less expensive, both for utilities and for consumers.

The biggest project in recent years was the extensive research that led to the writing of “Billion-Dollar Lessons,” published in the fall of 2008 by Penguin’s Portfolio imprint. The Wall Street Journal called it “insightful” and “crisply written” and said it was full of “good advice.” The Toronto Globe and Mail said “Billion-Dollar Lessons” was the best business book of 2008.

Based on the book’s findings about the importance of second opinions and outside perspectives, Paul and his co-author, Chunka Mui, founded a consulting firm, The Devil’s Advocate Group, which stress tests corporate strategies. Paul has also made speeches throughout the U.S. and in Europe.

Paul graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in communications (at age 19) and received a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University a year later. He lives in Granite Bay with his wife and two teen-aged daughters.