Iacocca – Review

8.0 The Ups and Downs in Life


A descendant of Italian immigrants, Iacocca’s journey was a spellbinding tale of hardworking, passion and fighting for honor  His parents were humble shoemakers before they traveled to US. Thanks to his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and a keen interest in cars, Iacocca grew up with food franchises and automobile spare parts. Iacocca was also blessed with a loving family where his mom used all her ingenuity to wade through the financial crises. Iacocca graduated from one of the finest engineering school before he realized he actually wanted to become a salesman. So from a telephone attendee, for the next three couple of decades, he worked his way up from the very bottom to the second man in charge at Ford Corporation, orchestrated household names like Mustang.

It was just about at this pinnacle of his career, he was fired. It was the final show down after a series of Machiavellian coups from his monarchical boss Henry Ford. Henry Ford further humiliated him by accommodating him to a remote warehouse. Sound similar to Steve Jobs? Whereas Steve Jobs was fired at the age of 30 when he was about to unleash the most innovative period of his time, Iacocca was twice the age of Steve Jobs and he was getting ready for retirement. He was not so much for another career fight as to recount his success stories to his grandchildren in a garden. He could have chosen an early retirement with a handsome package. But he decided to give his career another push. I guess the humiliating warehouse experience must have provoked him.

This otherwise delightful book opens on that turning point of his life. Not only had he chosen to start his book on that devastating day, this lingering sour taste for Henry Ford stained throughout the book.

I have never worked in another company!

A man any less than extraordinary would have been crushed. For Iacocca, it was the perfect opportunity to strike back in the “American Way”. He joint the rival company Chrysler. Unbeknownst to him then, Chrysler was falling off the cliff at an alarming speed. And the more worrying was that even people within the company didn’t know how much time Chrysler had got before it hit the bottom! For years, at Chrysler it was a draining race to pay the bills and to survive to the next week. He succeeded, albeit it comes with great personal loss. Chrysler had not only stopped bleeding but also started making decent profit. This book had surely done him a moral victory against his ex-boss Henry Ford. There is no better example than turning an ailing company around to regain his honor  It is comforting to know that when the odds moved against you, there are meaningful things to do other than shooting a gun in a school.

The book was an arresting read from the start to the end. In between the stories, there were also ample deposit of wisdom for life and management:

You will never really know what happiness is, unless you have something to compare it to.

Life can be too boring if it is just a straight line. And it just won’t be. Remember someone said it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, because that’s going to happen. All that matters is that you got to get up.


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