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Iacocca: An Autobiography

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He's an American legend, a straight-shooting businessman who brought Chrysler back from the brink and in the process became a media celebrity, newsmaker, and a man many had urged to run for president.

The son of Italian immigrants, Lee Iacocca rose spectacularly through the ranks of Ford Motor Company to become its president, only to be toppled eight years later in a power play that should have shattered him. But Lee Iacocca didn't get mad, he got even. He led a battle for Chrysler's survival that made his name a symbol of integrity, know-how, and guts for millions of Americans.

In his classic hard-hitting style, he tells us how he changed the automobile industry in the 1960s by creating the phenomenal Mustang. He goes behind the scenes for a look at Henry Ford's reign of intimidation and manipulation. He recounts the miraculous rebirth of Chrysler from near bankruptcy to repayment of its $1.2 billion government loan so early that Washington didn't know how to cash the check.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

366 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1984

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About the author

Lee Iacocca

27 books59 followers
Lee Iacocca was an American automobile executive best known for the development of Ford Mustang and Pinto cars. He served as President and CEO of Chrysler from 1978 and additionally as chairman from 1979, until his retirement at the end of 1992.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 381 reviews
Profile Image for Scott.
1,800 reviews132 followers
July 27, 2022
"It'a a good thing God doesn't let you look a year or two into the future, or you might be tempted to shoot yourself. But He's a charitable Lord: He only lets you see a day at a time. When times get tough, there's no choice except to take a deep breath, carry on, and do the best you can." -- page 141

Straight-shooting autobiography / work memoir of the Pennsylvania native (woot-woot!) who became one of the rare executives to achieve household-name status for his decades of work in the American automotive industry. Iacocca served over thirty years with Ford - most notably helping to usher the beloved Mustang model into existence during the 60's, and then becoming the president of 'FoMoCo' from 1970 to 1978 - before being abruptly fired (personality conflicts with insecure and unpredictable CEO Henry Ford II, he of the "don't forget whose name is on the side of the building" type of attitude). As a second act Iacocca then became CEO of the floundering Chrysler Corporation in 1979 - steering them out of near financial destruction - and spearheaded the acceptance of safe, fuel-efficient compact cars and the introduction of minivans into the market and onto U.S. roadways. From my generation he's probably best remembered from his early-80's era TV commercials where, unusually for an executive, he became the actual spokesman for his vehicles with his point-blank but assured styled "If you can find a better car - buy it!" catchphrase. As for his book, Iacocca presents his life story in a direct and often self-deprecating style, and I much enjoyed the sections on growing up as an immigrant's son in Allentown and then his extensive years (1946-1978) at Ford. The final third of the book was sometimes a little too thick on the industry talk and details, but he occasionally offers up some well-placed exasperation or barbs on the strained relations between business and government in the U.S. It's no wonder some folks wanted him to run for the 'Oval Office.'
Profile Image for Abhishek Dafria.
476 reviews19 followers
April 2, 2012
Having recently read Steve Jobs and of course having been mesmerised by it, I figured that it would be a tough act to read another corporate tale for quite some time. But having asked around a bit, I was recommended the autobiography of Lee Iacocca. As I am still in the mood to learn how great corporate guys have clicked and what makes them stand apart, I decided to get my hands on Iacocca. Lee Iacocca is not of my generation, nor do the American cars hold any great presence in my country... so while Ford and Chrysler are popular names, reading about Lee Iacocca and his exploits in these companies was never going to be something similar to reading about Steve Jobs and Apple, which is a much more global brand. And this is where Iacocca's manner of writing - simple and playful yet emotive - helped me to strike a bond with his story very quickly.

Iacocca's story starts with his father's arrival to USA (another tale reflecting the role immigrants have played in USA's success), his young days during the Great Depression era, his college days, and then his subsequent move to Ford that marked the beginning of his great career in the auto industry. The story before his arrival at Ford moves at a soothing rhythm - almost makes you feel like your grandpa talking to you over a nice family dinner, remembering the good old days. The real drama starts unfolding with Iacocca's arrival at Ford and his subsequent rise from a dealer to the President of Ford over a thirty-something year period. The pace of the story increases, and the passion along with the knowledge that the author holds for the auto industry is clearly on display.

And then comes the fall... Iacocca's sacking by Henry Ford II must have been the great corporate stories of that time, I assume. But as they say, it's never over until its over. Then comes the rise... Iacocca at the age of 54 takes over the reins of Chrysler, and brings about one of the most incredible turnaround stories in corporate history (at least few must be this popular). Being an autobiography, Iacocca takes the reader through his thought process while evaluating tough decisions at Chrysler, through the hardships and the subsequent successes, his ideologies which he sticks to right till the end; not for a single page does he become dispassionate or guarded in his opinions. His comments on Henry Ford II are really fun to read (it feels like two grandpas fighting!), his wit is never lost (catch the lovely smile on the cover page), and most importantly the lesson which he repeats over and over - of putting things in action, of doing what you have to do rather than sitting idle - is something that needs to be drilled at a very early age in this era where laziness in the society is simply so evident. As this is an autobiography, one has to take certain comments of the author with a pinch of salt, for those are solely his beliefs. But irrespective of that, Iacocca is yet another tale I have read that displays the importance of good old hardwork which when executed by a sharp mind yields unbelievable results. Recommend to all who aspire to become fruitful managers and leaders!
Profile Image for Sergei_kalinin.
451 reviews165 followers
April 16, 2013
Занятное чтиво :( Но книга меня разочаровала. Очень долго жила в очереди на прочтение, но...

Содержание книги я бы определил так:

1) Процентов на 20 - ура-патриотические сентенции про "великую Америку", про то, как клёво быть американцем, про великое прошлое-настоящее-будущее этой страны и её экономики. Плюс всякие гениальные идеи автора про то, "как нам обустроить Америку" :)

IMHO. всё это мало интересно, т.к. и времена другие, и страна другая, и патриотизм во многом как был, так и остаётся последним прибежищем негодяев (с) С.Джонсон

2) Процентов на 10 - как бы про семью и личную жизнь. ��ногда довольно трогательно, слезу выжимает... Особенно, про супругу, больную диабетом и т.п.

Я офигенно эмпатичен, но, увы, многолетний опыт участия в предвыборных компаниях донельзя обострил мой нюх на разного рода джинсу. Прям вот отчетливо представляю себе эту картинку, когда главный редактор морщит лоб и говорит: "Что-то книга скучноватой получается... Мы теряем аудиторию домохозяек! Надо срочно дописать что-то слезоточивое и сентиментальное".

Пассажи эти про семью какие-то инородные в тексте, искусственные :(

3) На 40% - однозначно про глобально раздутое Эго автора. Проще говоря - хвастовство про собственное величие. Даже несмотря на все объективные достижения, неустанное на протяжении всего текста самолюбование автора утомляет и раздражает.

Особенно не понравилось:
- очень однобокое описание Генри Форда - как бабника, алкоголика, тирана, самодура, и бестолкового управленца. Сначала было смешно, а потом дошло, что "великий" Якокка до сих пор обижен на своё увольнение Фордом, и просто с помощью книги сводит счёты. Мелко... :(

- много про свои успехи, мало про людей, которые помогли в достижении этих успехов. М.б. это лидерский стиль того времени, когда "герой должен быть один"? Но мудрый-то человек должен же понимать, что без поддержки окружающих он - ничто...

И ещё... Книга переполнена понтами :) Но читать про них было интересно (с антропологической точки зрения ;)))), т.к. это (понты) в полной мере роднит наших современных топ-манагеров с тогдашними (в лице Якокки).

4) Лишь на 10% книга - про менеджмент. Кое-что любопытное на уровне расхожих цитат-афоризмов присутствует... Эдакие изречения про "правильных лидеров". Но почему-то снова преследует ощущение, что это редакторская джинса :(

И в целом именно в плане понимания сути и принципов управления - книга почти бесполезна :( Да, автор довольно подробно описывает кейс с выведением Крайслера из кризиса; да, он подробно описывает сделанные шаги и совершенные действия.

Но он не описывает самого главного - логики принятия этих самых антикризисных решений! Красной нитью сквозь книгу проходит один довод: "Я сразу знал верное решение, потому что я такой великий". Угу, это очень полезные сведения для начинающих менеджеров: "Заболейте манией величия, и сможете вывести любую корпорацию из кризиса". :(

Короче, книга - не из разряда деловой литературы, а так - беллетристика. Немного мемуары, немного реклама, немного политиканства. Ну, в лучшем случае можно понимать книгу как некую мотивирующую литературу (прокачку понтов) для менеджеров-новичков. Разочарован :(
Profile Image for Vismay.
187 reviews15 followers
January 6, 2017
This book is a gold mine. Labor relations, change management, marketing, Govt. relations, cost reduction, & the recent Trump rhetoric – I get to know all about it in this 370 page paperback, which was written way back in 1984. More than that it teaches you about persistence, about having a greed for ambition, about confronting petty egos, not falling in the paralysis of analysis and doing something, and about having guts to do what might be unpopular now but right in the long term.
Many of the concepts that I have learnt in the management education, finds a way in this book. I also got to see first-hand how change management functioned when a new Dean was brought in to SPJIMR; I could easily correlate it with ‘Building the team’. As a marketing student, I got a kick out of ‘The Mustang’. As a greedy, ambitious person by demeanor, the first half of the book taught me to be greedier and more ambitious still. The latter-half told me not to plug my head in the ground when trouble starts knocking on the door. ‘Straight talk’ told me the turmoil America was going through and why they elected Donald Trump as its President.
More than that, it gives me a glimpse in the world of the auto industry. It gives me a peek into the head of the man whom the world calls a marketing genius. This book is as relevant in 2017, as it was in 1984. 'Iacocca' is highly recommended.
Profile Image for Rohit Sharma.
203 reviews39 followers
April 6, 2018
February 2018, I completed 20 years of my driving career :) and I realized that as my first drivers license finally expired. Even after driving a plethora of cars in last 20 odd years, I still haven't laid my hands on my dream car which happens to be a Ford Mustang (without any doubts). A couple of years back as soon as it was launched in India, I had a very light tinkle in my eyes and I end up buying the "Autobiography" of Mustang's Dad - Lee Iacocca, the guy who made it possible. It has been my favorite for last three decades, loved Mustang in so many western movies that I must have seen in last as many years. Unfortunately it is so steeply priced in India that it happens to be way more expensive than the price of the house I live in currently. So there goes my dream out of the window, I haven't yet touched one, let alone sitting in one or driving it. This book also reminded me of my first job back in Delhi in the mid 90's when I joined my cousin, who had a four year old son back then. Throughout the day, the only thing we did was talk about Cars, Bikes and Movies. We spoke so much about Cars (mostly Mustang) and after they moved to US of A, we totally lost contact for a decade or more. But, one fine day I got a call from my Sister in Law on the first day of his college, she asked me a simple question to guess which car he picked up for his big day :) and I replied without blinking an eye within a fraction of a second "Mustang?" and she was like "How do you know?". Heck! Even the main character from the last book I read owned and cherished a Mustang (Amir's dad from "The Kite Runner").

Lee Iacocca's Dad moved from Italy to United States in the year 1902 and this is their story from rags to riches. A simple migrant who lived a hand to mouth life, yet had big dreams. How they make it big and fail again because of the first world war for the first time and then again because of the great depression. Before he finally makes it big by landing a job in Ford Motor company and works under Henry Ford (II) for as good as 32 years. During his tenure with the company, Ford actually witnessed the best profitable years in the history of their car manufacturing, yet Henry Ford fired him just because of his own whims and fancies. You've got to read the book to know the details of the unbelievable turn of events when the Chairman of an empire feels threatened by his own President of all of eight years in the company. On top of that, how Henry Ford actually ran the company like a private business, even after having five hundred thousand employees at one point of time. I loved the way the whole book is narrated in first person, it actually feels like you are hearing Lee's life story from his own mouth, sitting right in front of you. William Novak has done a commendable job, usually Biographies are full of information yet they are pretty boring but this one is totally class apart. I must add that an Autobiography like this, can only be written in America which has so much truth, facts and name calling that in any other country they must have got sued and book debarred from selling. On top of that this was a best seller to even Icocca's surprise.

Ford Mustang chapter, the history and the making of the Car is the high point of the book. I anyways love that car so much and this book has upped it further couple of notches in my eyes. The way he has written the Mustang story, his excitement is pretty visible in the writing especially the way he has narrated the little episodes that he himself could never forget. Like the story of a Fan of Mustang, who bought the sample car in an auction done by a super excited dealer to make more money before its officially launched. The guy not only out-bid all his competitors but as it was late in the night when he finally won it. He proposed to the dealer to spend the night in the showroom so he can take the car home next morning as soon as his check gets cleared by the bank :). He not only spent the night in the showroom but slept inside the car, making sure that no one else gets it. Now you see? that is the following this car had back then and even today as I am about to buy my next car, which could probably be a Ford (now), I am looking for a dealer who has a Mustang on display before finalizing my booking with them :). That ways at least I get to touch one, sit inside one and at least get to feel it once in my life time. No ways, I am looking forward to a test drive as you see my DL has already expired :D and in India, it still is way beyond my league.

Lee Iacocca has not only Mustang to his credit, but Ford Mark (III) and Fiesta too as more accomplished brands famous all over the world. After working and taking Ford to greater heights and after getting kicked out by Henry Ford, he took Chrysler from Bankruptcy to superb heights. The guy was a magician, no doubt on that. The story of Chrysler from shutting shop to profitable in only three years and paying back all the loans to the Govt funding, was one unbelievable story. While reading the book and after finishing it, I was actually thinking that he had everything that USA needed in a man, who should have very well become their next President. Especially the last 3-4 chapters, where he talks about why and what they should do to make America a great country again and that too when this book was written in the year 1984. His knowledge of not only economy, defense, education, social security, heath-care and so much more was totally commendable.

I bought my first iPhone after I read Steve Job's excellent biography by Walter Isacsson and looks like I am going to buy my first Ford after this one :), unless I lay my hands on Ratan Tata's biography to save some bucks. Which is your favorite Biography / Autobiography? And have you read this one? if not, you've got to read it, just shouldn't be missed by anyone.
Profile Image for Anil Swarup.
Author 3 books648 followers
December 9, 2020
If Akio Morita talks about the Japanese style of management in his seminal book, "Made in Japan", Iacocca typifies the American school of management. The principles are by an large the same except that Morita treats employees as a part of the family, true to Japanese tradition, the focus of Iacocca is on individuality. However, both are practical down to the core. Both are keen on making-it-happen through a variety of instruments available with the leader.
According to Lee, decisiveness is the key ,"If I had to sum up in one word the qualities that make a good manager, I'd say that it all comes down to decisiveness". He doesn't want to just rest on ideas, "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get then across, your brains wont get you anywhere"
Profile Image for Shopen.
79 reviews28 followers
September 4, 2019
Много добър учител по мениджмънт и управленски решения! Популярен, четивен и оригинален стил на писане. Спомням си, че Якока има и друга издадена на български книга, но тази е добрата. Всъщност той разказва за себе си. За времето, когато след пенсионирането му като един от водещите мениджери на "Форд" , събира екип от "пенсионери" като него и изправят на крака почти фалиралия "Крайслер". Намерете тази книга, хора! Няма аналог!
Profile Image for Gautham Vasan.
97 reviews20 followers
November 16, 2017
I have a hard time believing Lee Iacocca can handle criticism. Throughout the book, he either derides his detractors or vehemently defends his decisions. Early on, when he keeps disparaging Henry Ford Jr, he comes across as resentful and deeply hurt. I can empathize with a disgruntled employee, but I have a hard time believing that Henry Ford Jr was that incompetent. Our memories always tend to paint us in a positive light. But looking at Lee Iacocca's autobiography, I feel like my memories are way more realistic. I mean throughout the book, there's not one instance where he questions his judgments or atleast critical of himself. He's always right and screw the detractors!

To his credit, the book gets much more interesting once he describes his stint at Chrysler. It also gives you a clear idea about his time and the American mindset. You can understand how deeply reinforced the individualism and free market economy philosophies are in the minds of the American businessman.

He comes from a working class immigrant family with strong values. Throughout, the book there's a strong emphasis about working well with people and investing to create value. Politically, I'd think he leans slightly left, but mostly moderate. But his ideologies seem to be self-serving though. I could be wrong, but it looked like he changed his ideology the moment it stopped serving him.

When I looked at a chapter titles "Making America Great Again!", it sounded eerily prophetic. Given that the book was published in 1986, it's funny how it resonates with the Trump campaign slogan. I honestly do not understand the American obsession with blowing their own trumpet. Just when I though Iacocca started to make sense, he threw me off with this line:
"I'm convinced that this country can once again be that bright and shining symbol of power and freedom-challenged by none and envied by all..."

I think that quite succinctly sums up the stereotypical American mindset. First of all, one should strive for greatness because it'd push his/her limits, taking pride in your work or any other reason that'd make you happy. Striving for greatness to make others envious is one of the the most idiotic reasons to do so. Secondly, I'd like to know when was America the greatest country in the world? It still sounds like a bunch of nincompoops claiming to be the best when no one around them gives a shit.

Quoting Tywin Lannister - "Any man who must say, 'I am the king' is no true king. I'll make sure you understand that when I've won your war for you.". Replace king with great and you'd get the idea.

Let me get off my high horse and give a grounded opinion - it's a decent book with some interesting portions. As with most autobiographies, it suffers from the bias of its author. Power through the portions where he talks about how great he was and you'd find it alright.
Profile Image for Maria.
553 reviews45 followers
May 15, 2018
так давно начала читать эту книгу, что уже с трудом помню, что там было!

но ок, если серьезно, есть две любопытные темы в этой автобиографии - история поднятия "крайслера" из руин, и бесконечная ненависть ли якокки к генри форду второму (это не ТОТ генри форд, а его внук)

про "крайслер": якокке пришлось уволить 33 топ-менеджера за 3 года, потому что они были не в состоянии поменяться и работать по-нормальному, а также тянули за собой целые команды таких же долбоебов, как и они сами. это жестоко, конечно, но кое-какой личный опыт мне подсказывает, что правильно. возможно, один человек в новой среде и способен измениться, если у него есть мозг, но менеджерская команда не может, и они будут тянуть всех к себе в болото, пока их не разогнать и не заменить новыми. якокка, что интересно, заменил уволенных пенсионерами - в смысле, теми людьми, которых отправили на пенсию из "форда" по достижении 65-летнего возраста. пенсионеры вернулись с полей для гольфа и сделали "крайслер" грейт эгейн

про генри форда: баттхерт у якокки по этому поводу так силен, что скорее всего книжку он написал именно поэтому - надо было выговориться и рассказать миру свою версию событий. надеюсь, ему после этого полегчало :)
Author 21 books6 followers
August 15, 2012
My absolute favorite book of all time! I have read this book over and over again, throughout the years. Although I'm usually into more spiritual/science type books, this one has always moved me because it's about business, cars, family, and a true super-hero. In short; it's got it all! I've read many books on business management, but nothing has taught me more about hard work, discipline, and even faith, than Lee's autobiography. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book; this would be the book!

Beyond the greatness of this man and his book, 100% of all profits from this book's sales went, and goes, to diabetes research...All this before millionaires did this sort of thing as a marketing tool.
Profile Image for Maciej Nowicki.
74 reviews54 followers
April 7, 2019
This is an excellent and insightful autobiography by Lee Iacocca, the man who was a president at Ford Motor Company and, later, at Chrysler Motors. The book describes the workings of the auto industry, covering its advantages and disadvantages. It details the politics and external influences that affect the industry.
In addition, Lee Iacocca is a charismatic, business-savvy leader who cuts through the office nonsense and prioritises his family above all else. His lessons and decisions that helped Ford and Chrysler to flourish under his leadership provide a foundation... (if you like to read my full review please visit my blog https://leadersarereaders.blog/iacocc...)
Profile Image for Christian Orr.
381 reviews35 followers
July 17, 2019
An American automotive icon

As both a former owner of a classic Mustang (1967) and the current owner of a Chrysler 300 (2007), I have plenty of reason to respect and appreciate Mr. Iacocca, and it was with considerable sadness that I heard of his passing earlier this year. And after reading this bestselling autobiography of his, I respect and admire Lee just that much more. Being a 25 year-old book, a good bit of the material is now outdated (especially the alarmism about then-seemingly omnipotent Japan), and I don’t agree with all the political views espoused within (especially the praise of FDR, blecchh), but nonetheless, I found the book to be thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking.

R.I.P. and God bless, Lee Iacocca, gone but definitely not forgotten.


—“The chapter ‘Making America Great Again’ drew more comments than any other because it touched a raw nerve.” Oh, the irony...

“Wherever I go, people always ask me the same questions. How did you get to be successful? Why did Henry Ford fire you? How did you turn Chrysler around? I’ve never had a good quick answer to these questions, so I’ve slipped into the habit of saying: “l’When I write my book, you’ll find out.’ Over the years, I’ve repeated that phrase so often that I’ve come to believe my own words. In the end, I had no choice but to write the book I’ve been talking about for so long.” Haha, reminds me of the folks who encouraged both me and my Dad to write our memoirs.

“Henry Ford made my kids suffer, and for that I’ll never forgive him.” Ouch!

“Being fired at Ford was bad enough. But going down with the ship at Chrysler was more than I deserved. Fortunately, Chrysler recovered from its brush with death. Today I’m a hero. But strangely enough, it’s all because of that moment of truth at the warehouse. With determination, with luck, and with help from lots of good people, I was able to rise up from the ashes. Now let me tell you my story.”

“It took me a number of years to fully understand why I had to make a good confession to a priest before I went to Holy Communion, but in my teens I began to appreciate the importance of this most misunderstood rite of the Catholic Church.” [emphasis added] Dominus Vobiscum, Lee!

“Even at age nine I was allowed to swig a little—as long as I did it at home under strict supervision. Maybe that’s why I never got pig-drunk in high school and college. In our house alcohol (usually homemade red wine) was accepted as part of life—but always in moderation.” Good on Lee’s parents, they raised him right!

But to think that someday you’ll be a trendsetter is no comfort for a nine-year-old kid.” Ain’t that the frickin’ truth!

“I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who can’t seem to control their own schedules. Over the years, I’ve had many executives come to me and say with pride: ‘Boy, last year I worked so hard that I didn’t take any vacation.’ It’s actually nothing to be proud of. I always feel like responding: ‘You dummy. You mean to tell me that you can take responsibility for an $ 80 million project and you can’t plan two weeks out of the year to go off with your family and have some fun?’” Amen! You gotta know how to manage your time to find that proper work-life balance!

—p. 44: “Robert McNamara was noticeably different from the other Whiz Kids and also from his fellow executives at Ford. Many people thought he lacked warmth, and I guess he did project a degree of coolness.” That explains a lot about that Vietnam War-mismanaging A-hole, I reckon.

—p. 45: “It was a valuable lesson, and I’ve followed his lead ever since. Whenever one of my people has an idea, I ask him to lay it out in writing. I don’t want anybody to sell me on a plan just by the melodiousness of his voice or force of personality. You really can’t afford that.”

—p. 46: “McNamara was the quintessential bean counter, and he epitomized both the strengths and weaknesses of the breed.”

—p. 50: “a few basic questions: ‘What are your objectives for the next ninety days? What are your plans, your priorities, your hopes? And how do you intend to go about achieving them?’”

—p. 52: “Every company has lost good people who have simply been in the wrong job and who might have found more satisfaction as well as greater success if they could have been moved to another area instead of being fired.”

July 26, 2020
Well deserving of its mantle as a management classic! Iacocca goes through the whirlwinds of success and blowdowns he endured over his careers at Ford and Chrysler, intertwining his personal experiences with management mantras. He goes into various aspects of what it took to make business at Ford function and the very little that it took to break it all down. He then repeats the exact same theme with Chrysler but in vice versa. These pieces of Gyan feel so common sense that it's easy to breeze through them without internalizing it. My dad did mention to me that this would happen so I did consciously stop and dream a little about hard it was to do what Iacocca did back them.

This book was definitely written for the previous generation in material but not manner. Politics in management, impact fluctuating oil prices, federal bailouts, union problems, etc. all while being referred to in the industrial boom of the 90's seem slightly anachronistic. But the implications on business and the psychology of it all are so gripping making the Iacocca story feel as real as he makes it sound.

An inspiring read!
Profile Image for Michael.
916 reviews144 followers
July 3, 2011
Lee Iacocca wrote this book while he was still seen as one of the most successful managers in American automotive history, after he had switched from working for Ford to become CEO of the ailing Chrysler, and had managed to rescue it (temporarily, as it turned out) from foreign takeover. In some ways, now that his light has faded a bit, it may be easier to see this book as being useful for its advice on management from a flawed but gung-ho manager, rather than as an ego document of one man’s life. One thing that will always stay with me from this book is Iacocca’s “kiss of death” line (page 61): “Now there’s one phrase that I hate to see on any executive’s evaluation… ‘He has trouble getting along with other people.’ …I always think ‘He can’t get along with people? Then he has a real problem, because that’s all we’ve got around here. No dogs, no apes – only people.’” Throughout the book, Iacocca emphasizes the importance of working with people, of looking at their strengths, of giving them the opportunity to live up to their potential. This is what he saw as the secret to his success, his ability to put people in the positions where they could do the most satisfying work for themselves, and thus strengthen the organization, and this is the most valuable lesson of the book.
Where the book is weaker, is Iacocca's many efforts to justify himself and deride his detractors. Hesounds like a disgruntled ex-employee whenever he talks about Henry Ford, Jr. He does convey the sense of having felt deeply hurt and betrayed by Ford and other Ford Motors execs when he was fired - and that's a legitimate reflection on his own experience, but when he describes Ford's character and actions, he comes out sounding distinctly bitter and biased. A bit better, although also biased, is some of his discussion of economics. Iacocca was somewhat rare in the business world for being in favor of government regulation and bailouts (Chrysler wouldn't have survived the 80s without one). He comes from a working-class immigrant family, and, while far from a radical, trends a bit more to the Left than others of his profession. He makes some good points about ideological libertarianism and its weaknesses, but one can't help seeing some of his interpretations here as also self-serving. Overall, the book is far from perfect, but not a waste of time either.
37 reviews2 followers
October 15, 2015
Книга входит в список 99 книг рекомендованных Personal MBA, поэтому я решил ее прочитать.

Книга рассказывает о биографии одного из выдающихся деятелей в автомобильной индустрии Ли Якокка, по руководством которого было выпущено много успешных моделей: Мустанг, Фиеста у Форд, а также нескольких популярных моделей у Крайслера.
В книге описывается период обучения автора, приход в компанию Форд стажем инженера, перевод в отдел сбыта и далее его карьерный рост и "приключения". В книге очень подробно освещён процесс предоставления гарантированных займов компании крайслер правительством США. А конце книги приведены мысли автора по важным темам в автомобильной индустрии в 80-х годах.

Моё отношение:Следует сразу отметить, что у меня были высокие ожидания, мне казалось, что книга откроет какую то тайну успешных менеджеров. В итоге я не получил чего хотел. это просто биография без намека на глубокое осмысление процессов. Просто все случалось. Просто назначили на должность. Просто выпустили новую модель и т.д.
Для меня самые интересные моменты в книге-цитаты отца и описание как Ли пришёл к высокому посту.
интересующимся менеджментом могу рекомендовать только первую половину книги.
Profile Image for Mike Simon.
12 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2020
Lee Iacocca's autobiography was excellent. His discussion of making Ford and Chrysler successful is just one part. Mr. Iacocca is truly a visionary who see the silver lining on each dark cloud and who is an eternal optimist.

What is most striking about the book and really hits you hard is the chapter "Making America Great Again". Honestly this book could have been co-authored by Donald Trump. But more to the point you are seeing great Americans who love their country sorting things out so that they progeny can live a better life than they had. This view is the future of America and is ingrained in our DNA.

I believe the real message of the book is this: America is truly the land of opportunity so don't waste it, just get out there and do something that makes a difference.
Profile Image for Priyanka -.
118 reviews4 followers
September 30, 2015
Lee Iacocca is a compelling and an easy to read book.Even though this was written almost 30 years back,this provides a window to the auto industry in a manner which is relevant even today.Fired at the age of 54 by Henry Ford,after serving the presidency for 8 years,Iacocca doesn't sit back and play golf.He joins Chrysler,revives it and brings it back from the brink of bankruptcy.The father of Mustang and one of the greatest CEO of all times is a man who believes in working hard and being straight forward.No wonder he is considered an American legend :)
2,004 reviews11 followers
December 30, 2020
This very successful autobiography written by Lee Iacocca with William Novak and published in 1984 was the best-selling non-fiction hardcover book of 1984 and 1985. In it Iacocca looks back on his life and his career in the automobile industry in the seventies and eighties, first at Ford Motors and then later at the Chrysler Corporation.

The book is divided into three parts.

In the first he writes about his life growing up as a member of an Italian immigrant family, his experiences at school and college and his first job in the auto industry with The Ford Motor Company beginning his time there in the training program.

In the second section, he describes his time at Ford, beginning in the sales division and working his way through the ranks to become head of sales in 1960. He describes his role with the team developing the Ford Mustang one of the most popular cars of all time, his rise through the ranks of the organization helping make Ford become the number two US auto maker and his relationships with Henry Ford II and Robert McNamara. When his relationship with Ford soured, Iacocca resigned (or was fired) from the company and moved on quickly to the Chrysler Corporation to become President and CEO within a year. The company was in huge trouble and all eyes were on him to see what he would do. Complicating matters further was the energy crisis and the recession that followed which pushed Chrysler further to the brink of collapse.

In the third section, Iacocca focuses on the onerous task he inherited trying to save Chrysler from bankruptcy. He totally reorganized the company, rooted out waste and incompetence and made it more efficient, a process which led to hundreds of layoffs. He then lobbied the government to secure a US 1.2 billion-dollar loan guarantee to keep the company going. There was a public outcry against the proposal, with many unhappy the government was propping up a profit-making corporation with tax paid dollars. They felt strongly that corporations should be left to rise and fall on their own merits, not bailed out by government. But Iacocca put forth a number convincing arguments to sell his plan, describing it as low risk and in the government’s best interest. The government agreed on the condition Iacocca transformed the company to be profitable and increase the fuel economy of its cars. In the end, Iacocca was proved right. By 1983 Chrysler was profitable again and the loan was paid back in full, earlier than expected, with the government making a considerable amount on the interest. For those opposed to the deal, the arguments Iacocca put forth to secure the loan are fascinating reading and many who were initially against it, may find themselves on the other side of the argument.

In the final section titled “Straight Talk", Iacocca shares his views on a number of subjects including the use of seat belts, the high cost of labour, free versus fair trade, currency manipulation (his focus is on Japan), the challenge the Japanese pose to the automobile market and the need for other countries to increase their defense spending to ensure a free world.

In this forthright and candid account of his career, Iacocca also includes his views on leadership and his opinion on what makes a good leader. It is a book about business but not written in the style of most business books which lay out a series of steps to take and principles to follow. Instead, Iacocca has integrated it all into his life story, adapting a format which makes it a much easier and enjoyable to read.

Profile Image for Leticia.
633 reviews23 followers
August 2, 2017
I picked up this book because it was referred to on several episodes of the show The Office. So I was intrigued. Lee Iacocca's life and successes were amazing. His success story is so full of great advice and common sense approach that you can't help but try and find a way to incorporate them into your life.

He is known as the father of the Mustang and the savior of Chrysler. Though having been a great president at both companies, he was famously fired from Ford. What was most fascinating was how into detail he went into his firing and the corporate world that was the Ford Motor Company in the late 70's under Henry Ford Jr. I couldn't help but think that a book like this couldn't be written today due to all the confidentiality clauses that today's companies push on their workers.

Most of the book was awesome, but the last three chapters seemed a little superfluous and dated. He pretty much predicted the demise of the middle class and he rants about it for those two chapters.

I recommend this book because his straight talk is very refreshing and his success as a businessman is inspiring. Any supervisor/manager will find his managerial advise worth the read.
Profile Image for Shashank.
5 reviews14 followers
March 5, 2019
Wonderful book about the legendary, the Man behind those classic stories of epic cars and their birth. So many lessons can be learned from this man’s life.
Profile Image for Jeff Mayo.
913 reviews4 followers
September 30, 2018
I read this in the 1980's when Iacocca was at the height of his power, having rescued Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy. I reread it within the last decade when Chrysler had to be bailed out by the government, yet again. Iacocca isn't braggadocios about his miraculous rise in Ford, having invented the Mustang, and his crash in an ugly power struggle in the late 70's. He didn't get mad, he got even, going to work for weak competitor Chrysler and putting them back on top. It's part historical look at what it was like to come up under ruthless Henry Ford, part management strategy on how to run a major corporation, and part the story of the modern labor union, the high cost of business, and the legislation behind seatbelts, gas mileage, and foreign competitors. It is good, not great, maybe because I remember watching the story unfold on the nightly news. Worth a look if you are into autobiographies.
Profile Image for Fedjablpula.
159 reviews6 followers
July 30, 2021
Na njegovim idejama izmisljena Fiesta i Mustang, dva velika pogotka i tokom njegovog predsjedovanja kompania Ford bila je najuspjesnija ikada do tada. Onda posto je Ford obiteljska kompanija, kada se Henry Ford 2 osjecao ugrozenim ili kada mu se Iacocca manje poceo svidjati na ruzan nacin ga se rijesio.
Ovaj onda prelazi u Krajzler koji je tada biou uzasnom stanju, predstecajnom i uspije ga restrukturirati, smanjiti troskove, dobiti zajmove i garancije od drzave i u rekordnom vremenu te zajmove vratiti.

Kada nam je bilo teško, otac nam je podizao moral. Bez obzira na to što se dogodilo, uvijek smo mogli računati na njega. Bio je filozof, pun malih uzrečica i poučaka o svijetu. Omiljena tema mu je bila da život ima uspone i padove i da se svatko mora pomiriti sa svojim dijelom jada. "Moraš se privići na malo tuge u životu", rekao bi mi kad sam bio zabrinut zbog loše ocjene ili nečeg sličnog.
"Nećeš znati što je prava sreća ako je ne budeš imao s čim usporediti". Kad sam bio zabrinut zbog nečeg rekao bi mi : " Reci mi Lido, zbog čega si bio onako zabrinut prošlog mjeseca? Ili prošle godine? Vidiš-više se i ne sjećaš!".
Profile Image for Ethan.
6 reviews
December 24, 2022
Super interesting biography of a successful product of the American Dream.

Makes me want to be American.
47 reviews
April 4, 2022
Really entertaining, and well thought out. The whole Chrysler loan section was marvelous.
Profile Image for Katherine Valderrama.
11 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2021
I would like to start that this book is my second favorite book, it is an amazing autobiography telling by Iacocca. Learning from his life makes you think about it from all perspectives. Since his childhood suffers bullying cause he was from Italian parents. His parents taught him hard work (even he was one of the best students, his father was asking him, why you are not the number 1).
When he started to study at the university, it was with mechanical engineering but he changed to industrial. I'm so surprised because he has taken courses on how to deal with people, these courses helped him all his corporation life.
Across the book, so much feeling inside, starting from he has begun to work in Ford until he became the president, he used to be comfortable working in Ford for many years, but I believe that the most staggering part is when he left Ford. After that, Iacocca had to challenge many things in Chrysler, this company was about to bankrupt. How Iacocca managed all the problems like reduce many costs, fire people, change all the systems in Chrysler...
I believe this book can make you feel that someone is telling you his history face to face with Incredibles learnings for life.
Profile Image for Luis Joel.
87 reviews3 followers
January 25, 2020
¿No sabes quién es Lee Iaccoca? ¿Te suena el Munstang, la Minivan y el Viper? Él es padre de todos ellos. ¿Ford y Chrysler? Fue su director general y las ayudó a salir del hoyo en el que estaban. Pero antes de conocerlo por eso, yo lo conocí por ser el responsable del despido de mi tío y mi papá (sin parentesco) en Chrysler.

La historia oficial, se resume con algo así: Lee Iacocca director de Ford y creador del Munstang había sido despedido sólo porque a Henry Ford le caía mal. Como venganza, Iacocca se unió a Chrysler para hacerla reflotar y vengarse de la empresa que lo había traicionado, revolucionando creando el Viper y la Minivan.
Pero como toda leyenda, tiene algo de verdad y mucho de mentira, o en este caso, simplifican demasiado la historia.

El prólogo de este libro pone las cosas en claro. Al ser el creador del automóvil más famoso de Ford desde el modelo T y después de ser corrido de la empresa, le preguntaban constantemente si estaba molesto con Henry Ford pero tratando de evadir la respuesta él siempre decía que un día lo leerían en su libro.

En las primeras líneas, nos cuenta lo difícil que fue caer de la cima más alta en la pirámide de Ford, a una pequeña oficina en una bodega perdida en Detroit y los sentimientos que lo llevaron a reinventarse a sí mismo arrastrando consigo a toda la industria de los automóviles.

Después de eso, la primera parte del libro nos relata sus orígenes, el racismo que vivió siendo italoamericano, el camino que su familia y él tuvieron que recorrer para asegurarle una educación y luego su ingreso a “La Ford”, primero como ingeniero, para después darse cuenta que tal vez el mundo de los negocios era más afín a lo que deseaba.
En el camino a la cima, cuenta cómo aprendió de personas que ya estaban dentro de la empresa, el modo, la forma y el fondo de vender automóviles en estados unidos. Sobre cómo se hizo amigo de sus superiores y logró la camaradería de los concesionarios, creando algunas estrategias de venta, presentando las características innovadoras de cada temporada hasta llegar a los puestos directivos desde donde sería notado como una nueva promesa para la compañía.

La segunda parte empieza con un capitulo donde cuenta con detalle el proceso para la creación del Munstang, los diferentes procesos que se necesitan para hacer un auto novedoso, las características que lo llevaron a ser un ícono americano y muchas historias sobre el culto que se creó en cuanto salió al mercado.

Después cuenta cómo era estar en lo más alto de la compañía, siendo el favorito de Henry Ford II y el hijo predilecto de Detroit, haciendo como consecuencia que su familia se sintiera muy orgullosa de su posición privilegiada. Posterior a esto cuenta la caída y posterior salida de la empresa, donde a pesar de querer ser imparcial durante todo el libro, se toma un capítulo completo en contar con lujo de detalles por qué Hery era una persona detestable.

Esta parte termina con él siendo exiliado, manejando el golpe lo mejor que puede, extrayendo información importante de Ford y posteriormente siendo introducido a Chrysler como el nuevo CEO de la compañía sin saber lo que le deparaba el futuro.
Según sus propias palabras: “De saber la tarea que le deparaba y el mal estado de la compañía, no habría aceptado ni por todo el dinero del mundo”.

En la tercera parte, se muestra su entrada en Chrysler sólo para darse cuenta que aún no estaban metidos aún en el fondo de la fosa, sino sólo entrando en ella. Mientras más sabían parecía que había peores cosas por encontrar y cómo incluso cuando parecía que estaban por descubrir todas las fallas de su propio sistema, causas externas llevan a ralentizar la venta de automóviles y como consecuencia, a quedarse muy cerca de la quiebra, teniendo que pedir un préstamo al gobierno para poder seguir operando.

Arrastrado al abismo, Lee Iaccoca se ve forzado a hacer malabares reparando un barco con un gran agujero en el centro en mar abierto. Nos cuenta cómo de los restos de Ford contrató un nuevo equipo gerencial para Chrysler (contratando exiliados y rescatando gente prometedora dentro de la empresa), cómo se deshizo de casi todas las sucursales internacionales, despidió a una gran cantidad de empleados y hasta dejar de hacer tanques (a Chrysler le pertenecía General Dynamics). Pero estos sacrificios, no fueron suficientes para terminar con el calvario llevando a Iacocca a encarar al gobierno pidiendo públicamente un préstamo para poder terminar de reestructurar la compañía.

En esta última parte redacta la facilidad en qué la gente puede estar a tu favor o en tu contra. Da su opinión sobre el cinismo del capitalismo, la libre empresa y el gobierno. Y al final, cuenta cómo logró pagar la deuda de la empresa en un tiempo record, además de empezar a competir nuevamente como uno de los 3 grandes de Detroit incluso superando a Ford (en una pequeña venganza e ironía a la americana) y su paso a ser famoso haciendo los comerciales de televisión (si encuentra un auto mejor, ¡cómprelo!).

Nuevamente, la historia formal, se limita a contar el logro supremo: Revivir una gran empresa moribunda. Pero como suele suceder, las cosas en la vida son agridulces y mientras Iacocca aún se esforzaba por sacar a flote la compañía la salud de su esposa empezó a menguar hasta perder la vida. Por lo que aun alcanzando la victoria, no pudo disfrutarla del todo. Las pérdidas económicas, emocionales y familiares habían sido demasiadas como para tener un final feliz.

Entre estas pérdidas se incluye mi papá (obrero en gran parte de la línea de ensamblaje) y mi tío (el gerente de informática) quienes perdieron su trabajo cuando vino a recortar personal en México. Curiosamente, no se conocían en aquel entonces pero ambos tuvieron el mismo destino en diferentes peldaños de la escalera.
Mi tío me contó que mientras Chrysler estaba cerca de cerrar en EUA, aquí de hecho le estaba yendo muy bien. Pero para hacer el número de autos que producía la fábrica en México, estaban rebasados por 2/3 de personal. Al increparse los directivos nacionales, Iacocca respondió “es necesario que sólo se quede un tercio. Si quieren, que todos sean directivos, pero también que todos se pongan a hacer autos”. ¿Cómo no respetar alguien así?

Personalmente, me recordó a cuando mi propio emprendimiento empezó a tomar forma. Conmigo leyendo artículos con de titulares sensacionalistas sobre los productos de mi start-up, con la gente discutiendo en los comentarios sobre si era relevante o no, mientras en la oscuridad del hospital cuidaba de los últimos días de mi padre. El esfuerzo que conlleva sentarte y ver aquello que una vez quisiste mientras sufres algo que ahora tienes es algo que sólo quienes hemos pasado por ello entenderíamos.

El epilogo “hablando claro” se convertiría después en un libro que creo que se ha quedado desactualizado. Habla sobre la imposibilidad de Estados Unidos para competir en automóviles si no se hacen cambios radicales en temas como sindicatos, impuestos y pensiones, además de “cómo hacer a América grande otra vez” y unos cuantos momentos pensamientos sobre los japoneses. Siendo un profeta en casi todas sus afirmaciones.

Lee Iacocca fue un producto de su tiempo y tal vez el último gran CEO clásico que dio Estados Unidos. Un empresario y vendedor que se conquistó todo lo que había que conquistar y se asomó a los abismos para renacer de nuevo. Siempre trató de ser el mejor, pero para un triunfador ¿qué otra cosa hay?

El subtítulo “autobiografía de un triunfador” parece un poco pretencioso, pero no lo es. Para nada. Es una descripción correcta para este libro.
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