IACOCCA: An Autobiography

Posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 by Anuj Mehta

This book is autobiography of Lee Iaccoca, an American legend who rose through the ranks to become the President of Ford Motor Company but only to be fired by Henry few years later, he later joined Chrysler who was on the verge of bankruptcy and dramatically turned around the company. The language of this book is lucid; some parts are exciting and awe-inspiring while some parts are bit boring (especially the some details about banks, congress which I find unnecessary), nevertheless overall this is a must read book for anyone who dreams of doing something big in his life.

Initial days
Lee Iaccoca's father migrated from Italy to America alone with hardly any money with him. In America with his hard work he started his small business which started flourishing all because of his hard work and good knack for business. Thus Lee learnt an important lesson from his father ‘America is a land of opportunities provided you are willing to work hard’. Lee was always good in academics and did his engineering from Leigh University and fellowship for graduate work from Princeton.

Mustang, 1964

The Ford Story
After passing out from Princeton he was selected in Ford for working in engineering department but he was eager to work in a department where the real action was – sales or marketing. Hence after some deliberation he managed to move to sales. He worked hard in sales and quickly rose through the ranks and became General Manager. Even though he had risen very quickly to become GM of biggest division of the world’s second largest company he still don’t have any car to his credit. He came up with a car named “Mustang” which was targeted at younger generation, the car focused on styling, performance and low price. Mustang became an incredible hit in market and Iaccoca was made vice-president of the corporate car and truck group. Later he was moved to Lincoln-Mercury group which made high-priced upscale cars; the unit was in loss for twenty years. Lee did his magic in this division also and came up with a new car in luxury segment Mark – III. Like Mustang Mark-III was big hit in market. Riding on success of Mustang and Mark-III Iaccoca became President of Ford next only to Henry Ford-II. Lee continued to do good work in Ford and during his tenure as President Ford had some of the most profitable quarters. But Ford being a psycho was worried due to growing reputation of Lee that eventually Lee will take over the Ford hence he started firing the associates of Lee and ultimately fired Lee Iaccoca.

The Chrysler Story
Getting fired from Ford was a big shocker for Lee as he had worked really hard for part thirty two years in Ford and has very successful. He later joined Chrysler as its President (and later became its Chairman) little did he know that his troubles had just started. Chrysler was on the brink of bankruptcy when Lee Iaccoca joined it. Its cars were lousy so were the senior management, it was in depth of billions of dollars and to add to misery the fuel prices were sky rocketing due to trouble in Iran and the American economy was doing badly. Lee Iaccoca started clearing the mess by first firing 33 out of 35 senior managers and he brought most of his old aides who had retired from Ford. Thus after forming a new team he started doing cost cutting in every division. In spite of his all efforts the situation was still pathetic and ultimately he was forced to either file for bankruptcy or get loan from government. Then there was a long struggle for obtaining the loan from government, during this process he came up with “equality of sacrifice” where he cut his salary to $1.00 per year and asked his workers to take some salary cuts. In spite of widespread opposition Chrysler was able to obtain a loan guarantee of 1.2 Billion dollars. Then Chrysler came up with K-car, convertibles and mini-vans which became a big hit in market and helped in the reversal of fortunes.

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