By  on June 15, 2007

The first time I tried to surf, a strong current propelled my board so fast toward the beach that I hit sand before I ever had a chance to stand up. After several failed attempts and swallowing more than my share of seawater, I made a last-ditch effort to accomplish my mission. As a new wave took form and I paddled to catch it, the earth suddenly seemed to stop spinning. For a moment, everything played out in slow motion and I somehow, calmly and quietly, found time to push myself up onto my feet and ride all the way in to shore.

Athletes refer to this phenomenon as “being in the zone.” And if any major executive today knows the feeling, it would be Susan Arnold. Named president of all Procter & Gamble business units just last month, she now runs a $75 billion-a-year empire. Increasingly, beauty sales account for a significant share of that pie. And it’s no secret: She is maneuvering P&G in a bid to overtake L’Oréal as the largest cosmetics company in the world.

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