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The conventional wisdom is that success in business is reserved for those who have the resources and connections to start a few rungs up the ladder from the beginning. The conventional wisdom is that an uneducated, single mom is destined for a life of mediocrity. The story of Chris King’s life turns conventional wisdom on its head on both accounts.

At 20, Chris found herself abandoned by her husband with a toddler son, dilapidated trailer, rusty Ford Mustang, and sixty-six cents to her name. She was unable to find a job because potential employers feared that they couldn’t rely on a single mom to be at work every day. Others claimed that she was “too pretty” and would distract the men on the manufacturing floor. She felt trapped, but rather than give up and accept her lot in life, Chris began building a future for herself and her son. From getting on welfare, to convincing her social worker to allow her to spend part of her welfare check on tuition at the local community college, to studying electrical engineering to impress a boy, Chris begins to build an extraordinary life for herself.


Chris navigated sexist colleagues, misogynistic bosses, and “good ol’ boys” clubs in which she would never be a member, by remaining laser-focused on her principles and priorities. It was not an easy path, and many tears and sweat were shed along the way, but through it all, Chris maintained the same determination and grit with which she started in her late teens, consistently rising above the challenges she faced.


Breaking Through the Silicon Ceiling is peppered with entertaining vignettes from Chris’ life that added spice to her journey, including: 

  • How she built her own personal computer in an era when most people hadn’t even heard of a personal computer.

  • How she built two multi-billion-dollar businesses at IBM from scratch, which led to a year-long Harvard Business School case study.

  • How she decided to try her hand at raising and showing dairy cows in competitions, ultimately becoming a champion dairy farmer (at the same time she was achieving incredible success as an IBM manager!).

  • How she decided she wanted to be a cowgirl and jumped into the equestrian sport of cow cutting, once again rising to the championship level.


In a story full of twists and turns, the reader is carried through emotional highs and lows and given the gift of learning what Chris had to learn through trial and error - that success in business is not dictated by your demographic or the types of challenges that life may throw at you. The seeds of success are within you.


Breaking Through the Silicon Ceiling is a book for those who aspire to live a life less ordinary, who don’t accept the conventional wisdom, and who are looking for a mentor who has bucked the system and still summited the pinnacle of business success. Over the course of the book, we follow Chris on her path from the trailer park to the Board room and learn the twelve principles that guided her along the way. Chris’ principles are not just philosophical aphorisms, but hard-earned truths that have been applied and proven in her professional, avocational, and personal lives. Her goal through this book is to encourage and empower others to discern and chart their own paths to greater success in business and life.

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