Lee Iacocca quotes page 1
Born Lido Anthony Iacocca to the Italian immigrants Nicola and Antoinette in Allentown, Pennsylvania on October
15th 1924, Iacocca was raised comfortably. He learned about different aspects of his father's business as a
cobbler, theater owner and hot dog restaurant owner. Lee Iacocca graduated from Lehigh University in 1945, and then
went on to get a master's degree in engineering from Princeton in 1946. He was hired by the Ford Motor Company,
proving quickly he was better suited at sales. He brought monumental achievements to Ford, including the
undertaking of the Fairlane committee and the making of the 1964 Mustang. He became the president of Ford on
December 10, 1970. After a thirty-two year career at the company, he joined forces with Chrysler and advanced to
the position of CEO rather quickly. With the company facing bankruptcy, Iacocca went to the federal government for
aid and paid them off seven years early. With this success, President Ronald Reagan inquired of him to take up a
fundraising effort for the restoration of both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. While he gained a reputation
worldwide through business leadership, his association with the Statue of Liberty and television commercials, he
gained even more exposure through his autobiography which he wrote in 1984. It had two million copies in print by
July, 1985, making it the best-selling hardcover non-fiction book in history. By the mid-1980s, Iacocca was looked
upon as a folk-hero and was declared to be the sex symbol of America by The Saturday Evening Post. A poll done of
1988 presidential preferences showed that Iacocca trailed Vice President George Bush by just three percentage
points. However, he was criticized for taking a large salary in a time when the country was in a recession. He
retired at the end of 1992 and remained a consultant to Chrysler until the end of 1994.
My father always used to say that when you die, if you've got five real friends, then
had a great life.
I've always felt that a manager has achieved a great deal when he's able to motivate one
other person. When it comes to making the place run, motivation is everything. You might be
able to do the work of two people, but you can't be two people. Instead, you have to inspire
the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people.
If I had to sum up in a word what makes a good manager, It's decisiveness. You can use the
fanciest computers to gather the numbers, but in the end you have to set a timetable and
The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in
business - or almost anywhere else, for that matter.
I learned that the real spirit of America is a kind of pragmatic optimism: Everything will turn
out well in the end, but only if you struggle and sacrifice to make it happen.
The key to success is not information. It's people. And the kind of people I look for to fill top
management spots are the eager beavers. These are the guys who try to do more than
they're expected to... Then there are the other guys, the nine-to-five gang. They just want
to get along and be told what to do. They say: "I don't want to be in the rat race. It might
affect my heartbeat."
The speed of the boss is the speed of the team.
My father always drilled two things into me: never get into a capital-intensive business,
because the bankers will end up owning you. (I should have paid more attention to this
particular piece of advice!) And when times are tough, be in the food business, because no
matter how bad things get, people still have to eat.
I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.
I was the general in the war to save Chrysler... I began by reducing my own salary to $1.00
a year. Leadership means setting an example. When you find yourself in a position of
leadership, people follow your every move.
When the product is right, you don't have to be a great marketer.
Nothing stands still in this world. I like to go duck hunting, where constant movement and
change are facts of life. You can aim at a duck and get it in your sights, but the duck is
always moving. In order to hit the duck, you have to move your gun. But a committee faced
with a major decision can't always move as quickly as the events it's trying to respond to. By
the time the committee is ready to shoot, the duck has flown away.
Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them
and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can't miss.
Any supervisor worth his salt would rather deal with people who attempt too much than with
those who try too little.
There's a funny orientation at the Federal Reserve Board - they're all bankers, no
businessmen. If a bank goes under for making bad decisions, it gets immediate attention. Two
little banks go under in Oklahoma, and you have Paul Volcker yelling about a liquidity crisis
and loosening the strings on money. But when Chrysler and International Harvester, two
companies with almost a million jobs at stake, are going under, that's good old free enterprise
The most important thing a manager can do is to hire the right new people.
Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our
outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering
our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we
can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting
mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."
Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give
you a sound bite: Throw all the bums out!
Management is nothing more than motivating other people.
Too many managers let themselves get weighed down in their decision-making, especially
those with too much education.
In the press, I'm sometimes described as a flamboyant leader and a hip-shooter, a kind of fly-
by-the-seat-of-the-pants operator. I may occasionally give that impression, but if that image
were really true, I could never have been successful in this business. Actually, my
management style has always been pretty conservative. Whenever I've taken risks, it's been
after satisfying myself that the research and the market studies supported my instincts. I
may act on my intuition - but only if my hunches are supported by the facts.
In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and
your energy into something positive.
Boys, there ain't no free lunches in this country. And don't go spending your whole life
commiserating that you got the raw deals. You've got to say, I think that if I keep working at
this and want it bad enough I can have it. It's called perseverance.
So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it
up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it
may be too late.
Establishing priorities and using your time well aren't things you can pick up at the Harvard
Business School. Formal learning can teach you a great deal, but many of the essential skills
in life are the ones you have to develop on your own.
Even a correct decision is wrong when it was taken too late.
You always need a poor man's car- that's all the first Henry Ford ever envisioned - but then
you need upscale cars, too, because you never know when the blue-collar guy is going to be
laid off. It seems that in the United States the one thing you can count on is that even
during a depression, the rich get richer. So you always have to have some goodies for them.