What is this book
Iacocca is the ex-CEO of Ford and ex-chairman of Chrysler. This autobiography describes his exciting career and gives insights into the internals of business world. I got this book from my wife who was an MBA student. She told me that it is a nice read and so I wanted to give it a try. I read this book while traveling in my office cab and completed it in around 3 months. This is one of the most vivid and interestingly written business books I ever read and is highly recommended.
Organization of the book
The book contains 3 sections. The first section describes the childhood and school days of Iacocca. The next 2 sections describe his career in Ford and Chrysler and form the meat of the book. In a very interesting way, the book describes his career in the Ford and his rise to the top. When he was fired from Ford, he joins Chrysler. A large chunk of the book deals with his efforts to save Chrysler and make it successful.
What I liked about this book
The first thing that really made me to stick with this book is the writing style. You don't find a boring and formal writing style in this book. Instead you find a casual and captivatingly written book filled with humour and emotions. A book describing one's life should be lively and that's what you find here.
It's interesting to note that Iacocca did not have a MBA. He did his engineering and started his career as an engineer in Ford. But he soon found that he was more eager to be where the real action was - marketing or sales. So he took the initiative, asked the management and got shifted to a sales job, from where he rose to great heights inside Ford. Here is a lesson for all of us - find where your interest lies, where you can contribute and produce results and put yourself there. "Just go and make yourself useful" to quote Peter Drucker. You learn a lot about career management by reading this book.
You also learn couple of things about being an effective executive. Iacocca's examples of how he managed time are simple and intuitive - get time to focus on the important tasks without any disturbance. Yet most of us fail to identify and act on our crucial commitments to life. Iacocca ridicules people who proudly say that they did not take a vacation in the last year. He asks them - "If you are not able to manage a vacation with your family, how can you manage a complex business well?". It is touching to note Iacocca's bonding with his family, particularly with his wife. He mentions that he almost always spent his weekends with his family even when he was the CEO of Ford. He disagrees with the view that top executives don't find personal time. In fact, when you are at the top, you have more flexibility, he says.
You also get lot of "street smart" advice which can't be found in theory books. He gives some basic rules about picking the best people. His tale in Chrysler is all about negotiations, tough decisions, acting with courage during bad times and being clear about goals. While reading this book, you learn many things about car business, politics inside business and dealing with government and other agencies.
Books with titles like "How to be a leader" or "Success secrets" are inspiring but often fail to provide the practical guidance and inspiration to execute the suggested techniques in the day to day word. Even when they do, the examples are not real enough. Here is a book which offers a real and personal insight into the workings of a great leader. I found this book to be more useful than so called "success books" by Gurus. You may find it interesting (and useful) too. Do give a try.