Lee Iacocca grew up in Allentown Pennsylvania, very close to my hometown of Boyertown Pa. My geographic connection with Iacocca is one of the reasons I chose to read his autobiography. We are both very interested in automobiles and automotive history, which connected me even further with Iacocca . Iacocca believes that you can become and achieve anything in life as long as you have strong determination and motivation. I too share this belief. Lee Iacocca did not focus his life on goals that others set for him; he followed his heart and his dreams, which someday is something I hope to be able to say about myself.
Iacocca, the son of Italian immigrants grew up in an upper middle class family. His father started out with nothing and over many years, he managed to build a successful chain of hotdog restaurants in Pennsylvania. Because of his father’s success and strong beliefs in the value of education, Iacocca grew up attending private schools and eventually found his way into Lehigh University. While attending, Lehigh Iacocca earned a degree in Mechanical engineering. Upon his graduation, he landed a very prestigious job with Ford Motor Company.
In August 1946, Iacocca began his work in the engineering department of Ford. After a year of engineering Iacocca discovered that it was not what he wanted to do with his life, he wanted to be in sales. Ford agreed, which was the start of a very successful venture for Iacocca and the Ford Motor Company. Through many years of hard work, Iacocca was promoted to top management. This is where he found himself living his dream. He never wanted to leave work at the end of the day and could not wait to go back the next morning.
Although Iacocca was doing very well and could not be happier, the Ford Motor Company was going through hard times. General Motors was really hurting Ford in sales and in innovations. In the late 50’s and early 60’s Ford produced cars that were just not selling and were real failures in the industry. Iacacco knew something had to be done, and he convinced president and CEO Henry Ford Jr. that he was the man to do it.
Through many months of close arduous work with Ford’s design team, Iaccoca came up with the Idea of the Mustang. Ford Jr. as not at all excited about the idea, but at this point he figured he had nothing to lose. He decided to give Iacocca’s “Mustang” a shot. This shot in the dark not only turned out to be the Ford Motor Companies’ biggest success, but also the biggest automotive success in the world. In the first quarter of 1964, Mustang sales marked the highest level of automotive sales in history. In one year 418,812 “Stangs” were sold to American car buyers. No matter what anyone said, Iacocca was convinced that his Mustang would be a success.
Actually, it ended up single handedly saving the Ford Motor Company from bankruptcy. At this point, Iacocca was known as a powerful and knowledgeable force in the automotive industry. However, this success and power came at a price. Henry Ford Jr. saw the success and praise Iacocca was receiving. He became scared that Iacocca was working toward eventually taking over Henry Ford’s position as president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. The only solution Henry Ford saw to this problem was to fire Iacocca before he had the chance to take over his position at the top.
Being fired after over 30 years of successful work at Ford left Iacocca scared and bitter towards Ford forever. At the age of fifty-four Iacocca felt too young to retire but too old to start working in a new kind of business. It turned out that he would not even have time to think about that dilemma. Chrysler was a failing company who needed the expertise and knowledge of Iacocca. Meetings between Iacocca and Chrysler were kept secret as to not involve the media. Iacocca wanted to be his own man; he was tired of working under someone else.
He would not take a job with Chrysler unless he could be CEO and president. Chrysler accepted these terms and Iacocca began the challenging but rewarding job of building up a fallen company his own way. Chrysler became a success as the third biggest automotive company in just over two years with Iacocca as president and CEO. Iacocca went on to create many innovations and top selling models such as the Minnie van and many others. He will always be remembered as a huge achiever in the automotive industry and a man that became successful by following his heart and never giving up on his goals and dreams.
This is a great book for anyone who is interested in becoming successful under their own terms and doing something, which they love. I learned through reading this autobiography that life is full of twists and turns but it is up to us to make them a positive force rather than a negative one. This book will inspire anyone who as a strong desire to achieve their dreams in life and it might even light a fire inside you to go out and make those dreams a reality.
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