Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

The all-time most popular stories are...

May 30, 2014: 3:01 PM ET

Scoops on movers and shakers, from Marissa Mayer to Mark Zuckerberg to Rupert Murdoch, are the most popular Postcards ever.

Carol Bartz, right, with me

 Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, right, on stage with me at a Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner. Her straight talk went viral.

FORTUNE -- Welcome to my final blog post on Postcards. I'm not going away. I'm inviting you to come with me to the new Fortune.com, which launches Monday, along with the release of the 2014 Fortune 500.

I'll be writing regularly at Fortune's new digital home. Fortune.com will host all my stories, present and past (Fortune.com/author/patricia-sellers). And Fortune.com will give you daily news, exclusive video and rich explanatory graphics, as well as the deep analysis, unparalleled access and smart opinion that has long distinguished Fortune.

My goal in writing Postcards has been to help you understand how super-successful people navigate their lives and their careers. And upon this farewell, it's fun to look back and see what grabbed readers the most.

No. 1, by measure of traffic: Carol Bartz exclusive: Yahoo "f---ed me over." I'll never forget sitting in my living room in September 2011 and getting a call from Bartz, on my cell, after the Yahoo (YHOO) board fired her. Thanks, Carol, for unloading to Fortune exclusively. The situation merited at least a few of your dozen expletives. And regardless of your failure to turn Yahoo around (many other smart people tried), no CEO deserves to get fired over the phone.

No. 2: Mark Zuckerberg's new challenge: Eating only what he kills (and yes, we do mean literally). This was my most bizarre story on Postcards. During a visit to Silicon Valley in early 2011, I heard that the Facebook (FB) CEO had committed for one year to stop eating meat unless he did the slaughtering himself. I called Facebook PR, and after inevitable resistance, Zuck, to his credit, agreed to let me interview him by email. Zuckerberg was surprisingly candid and thoughtful about his odd dietary behavior. And while the post drew lots of snide comments about the young billionaire, the disclosure turned out to humanize him.

No. 3: Former Amazon star exec killed in bike accident. This was the saddest post I've ever had to write. Joy Covey died at age 50 last September in a cycling accident in the hills above Silicon Valley. Amazon's first CFO who raised capital in the desperate early days and took the company public, Covey dropped out of corporate America and led a full and unconventional life. She was beloved by Fortune's Most Powerful Women community and beyond.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

No. 4: New Yahoo CEO Mayer is pregnant. It was July 16, 2012. Three hours after Yahoo announced the hiring of Google (GOOG) executive Marissa Mayer as its new CEO, I was sitting down to dinner at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen and, as I checked my phone, noticed three missed calls -- Marissa Mayer...Marissa Mayer...Marissa Mayer. I excused myself, walked outside, and as soon as I reached Mayer, she said, "I saved a piece of today's story." Meaning? "I'm pregnant," she revealed. Neither Mayer nor I grasped how huge and globally resonant this story would become. She was the first person ever to walk into a Fortune 500 CEO job pregnant. Other stories about Mayer -- her baby's name, her career advice, and Marissa Mayer: Ready to rumble at Yahoo, which appeared on Fortune's cover in October 2012 -- make the list of the 20 popular Postcards.

No. 5: Guest Post: The Great Depression, as I remember. Wow. This guest post by my uncle, Walter Stoiber, appeared in 2009, and who could have imagine that it would go viral around the world? People love nostalgia, especially authentic stories about everyday life before most of us were alive. Uncle Walt, who lives in Ohio, just turned 97. He's still an inspiration.

Murdoch in his office at News Corp. headquarters in Manhattan

Murdoch in his office at News Corp. headquarters in Manhattan

Just a few other Postcards are worth mentioning. The most popular this year -- and No. 6 on the all-time hit list -- is Rupert Murdoch on his divorce, succession, and his empire's future. This Postcard links to my exclusive and revealing Q&A with the media titan in Fortune's April 28 issue.

Many of my favorite Postcards are those that give helpful advice, along with provocative viewpoints on hot-button issues. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: Unedited fits that bill. This 2009 guest post is the first piece that Sandberg ever wrote about women and careers -- and it's the earliest version of her thinking that went into her best-seller, Lean In. "Don't leave before you leave," Sandberg says, advising young women to resist cutting back their career ambitions as they chase uncertain hopes and dreams.

I'll sign off by linking to my best advice: Lessons from the world's most successful people, published yesterday. This post sums up my five year's of blogging and 30 years of writing about extraordinary people for Fortune magazine. If you promise to keep reading, I'll keep writing. Thanks, and see you on the new Fortune.com.

  • Lessons from the world's most successful people

    In 30 years at Fortune, I've interviewed CEOs and billionaires and other titans about what makes them succeed. Here are 10 things I've learned, plus wisdom from Warren Buffett.

    The best career advice is universal. It applies to a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and to a kid aspiring to make it through college.

    I tried to keep this in mind last week when I spoke at Allentown Central Catholic High School, which MORE

    - May 29, 2014 8:30 AM ET
  • A Buffett buys a drone

    Warren Buffett's grandson, Howard, is an early adopter of those hugely popular, easy-to-use flying video cameras.

    FORTUNE -- Welcome to the drone age. Drones are the key to future warfare, security experts say. Drones will soon deliver your Amazon (AMZN) packages, if CEO Jeff Bezos has his way. And the latest versions of the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are so user-friendly than an ordinary hobbyist can now buy one for MORE

    - May 23, 2014 11:41 AM ET
  • Pro's advice for success: To bloom, keep "re-potting"

    Marriott's Kathleen Matthews went from TV news star to corporate exec, and learned that succeeding long-term requires finding new ways to grow.

    FORTUNE -- Kathleen Matthews, the EVP & Chief Global Communications & Public Affairs Officer at Marriott International (MAR), speaks every year to the rising-star women in the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women's Mentoring program. Matthews' message always resonates, but this year it literally transformed the thinking of one businesswoman from Nigeria.

    Listening MORE

    - May 21, 2014 10:21 AM ET
  • Going public: Learning to lead in a crisis

    "Sometimes you need to see beyond yourself," a U.S. hotel exec told a young African businesswoman -- invigorating her to take her leadership skills to the front lines of the hostage crisis in Nigeria.

    FORTUNE -- The terrorist abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria has triggered pleas for help across the Twitterverse, rallied all 20 female U.S. Senators to call for U.S. action and sparked widespread protests against the Nigerian government for its MORE

    - May 19, 2014 8:00 AM ET
  • Style sunk Abramson and other top women

    Jill Abramson, the ousted New York Times editor, leads a long line of powerful women who lost big due to forceful leadership styles.

    FORTUNE -- Ousted New York Times (NYT) executive editor Jill Abramson is the latest in a parade of powerful women who got the ax over issues of personal style. Abramson's problem, according to the newspaper that she led until her departure on Wednesday, was that she was "polarizing MORE

    - May 15, 2014 3:59 PM ET
  • Behind the failure of the Publicis-Omnicom merger

    Fortune exclusive: Publicis CEO Maurice Levy's last-ditch offer to let Omnicom chief John Wren be CEO couldn't save the $35 billion deal to create the world's largest advertising company.

    FORTUNE -- It started as a joke on a rooftop in Paris and ended as an M&A tragedy.

    The $35 billion plan to merge Publicis and Omnicom, announced last July, is one of the biggest deals ever to unravel at the seams MORE

    - May 9, 2014 12:25 PM ET
  • Warren Buffett sings My Way...his way

    Fortune exclusive: Here's the secret--and very funny--music video that Warren Buffett showed to shareholders at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.

    FORTUNE--Warren Buffett's annual meeting is called Woodstock for Capitalists for a reason: The nearly 40,000 people who converge on Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) shareholders' convention camp out, line up and cheer on the chairman and CEO as if he were a rock star.

    On Saturday, at the 2014 Buffett-fest, the billionaire boss showed off his bona fide MORE

    - May 6, 2014 8:12 AM ET
  • The bold new CEO of the world's largest private foundation

    After conquering the corporate world and leading a large university, Susan Desmond-Hellmann is ready to transform the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    FORTUNE--Susan Desmond-Hellmann has never needed advice from Sheryl Sandberg to Lean In to her career.

    A decade ago, when she was president of product development at Genentech, she helped make that company a leader in cancer drugs--and she climbed Fortune's Most Powerful Women rankings to No. 13 in 2008.

    A doctor who treated cancer and HIV AIDS patients in Uganda early on in her MORE

    - May 2, 2014 8:00 AM ET
  • Under Armour CEO's three tips for growing a business

    Kevin Plank took on Nike and built Under Armour into a $2.3 billion company. The hypercompetitive CEO says he learned three major lessons along the way.

    FORTUNE--"Our mission is simple: to make all athletes better," says Under Armour (UA) founder and CEO Kevin Plank. "Our vision is even simpler: to empower athletes everywhere."

    Have you noticed that the best businesses are typically built on easy-to-understand foundations? That is, one big idea.

    That was the message that Plank delivered MORE

    - Apr 28, 2014 8:00 AM ET
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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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