"Most successful leaders are mentally and emotionally askew... it's precisely because they are impatient, stubborn... and domineering that they are successful."
When Bob Lutz retired from General Motors in 2010, after an unparalleled forty-seven-year career in the auto industry, he was one of the most respected leaders in American business. He had survived all kinds of managers over those decades, and his experiences made him an expert on leadership, every bit as much as he was an expert on cars and trucks.
Now Lutz is revealing the leaders—good, bad, and ugly—who made the strongest impression on him throughout his career. Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership (Portfolio, June 4, 2013) is a collection of shocking and often hilarious true stories and the lessons Lutz drew from them.
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Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership
From enduring the sadism of a Marine Corps drill instructor, to working
with a washed-up alcoholic, to taking over the reins from a convicted
felon, he reflects on the complexities of all-too-human leaders. No
textbook or business school course can fully capture their
idiosyncrasies, foibles and weaknesses - which can make or break
companies in the real world.
Lutz shows that we can learn just as
much from the most stubborn, stupid, and corrupt leaders as we can from
the inspiring geniuses. He offers fascinating profiles of icons and
idiots such as... Eberhard von Kuenheim. The famed CEO of BMW was an
aristocrat-cum-street fighter who ruled with secrecy, fear, and deft
maneuvering.Harold A. "Red" Poling A Ford CEO and the ultimate bean
counter. If it couldn't be quantified, he didn't want to know about
it.Lee Iacocca The legendary Chrysler CEO appeared to be brillant and
bold, but was often vulnerable and insecure behind the scenes.G. Richard
"Rick" Wagoner The perfect peacetime CEO whose superior intelligence
couldn't save GM from steep decline and a government bailout. As Lutz
"We'll examine bosses who were profane, insensitive, totally
politically incorrect, and who "appropriated" insignificant items from
hotels or the company. We'll visit the mind of a leader who did little
but sit in his office. We'll look at another boss who could analyze a
highly complex profit-and-loss statement or a balance sheet at a glance,
yet who, at times, failed to grasp the simplest financial
mechanisms--how things actually worked in practice to "create" the
numbers in the real world."
The result is a powerful and entertaining guide for any aspiring leader.
"I hereby endorse this book. Not as good as I would have done, but close…very close!" - Lee Iacocca
The New York Times Best Seller
Wall Street Journal Best Seller
Read how, in Bob Lutz's words, GM went bankrupt because it gave too much power to MBA types instead of leaders who actuall loved the cars they were producing. And the rest of American business is in danger of going down the same path- unless the people who have passion and feel for customers are allowed back in control. He explains how GM and other American companies can return to greatness- just as GM is finally getting serious about creativity, design and quality again.
"Car Guys vs. Bean Counters is the best book written by an auto industry insider since Iacocca in 1984 and deserves to be shelved alongside Alfred Pl Sloan's management classic, My Years with General Motors." - CNN Money
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Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business
When Bob Lutz got into the auto business in the early 1960s, CEOs
knew that if you captured the public’s imagination with innovative car
design and top quality craftsmanship, the money would follow. The “car
guys” held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and
iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and
But then GM’s leadership began to put their faith in
numbers and spreadsheets. Determined to eliminate the “waste” and
“personality worship” of the bygone creative leaders and maximize
profitability, management got too smart for its own good. With the bean
counters firmly in charge, carmakers, and much of American industry,
lost their single-minded focus on product excellence and their
competitive advantage. Decline soon followed.
In 2001, General
Motors hired Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company
by making great cars again. As Vice Chairman, he launched a war against
the penny-pinching number-crunchers who ran the company by the bottom
line, and reinstated a focus on creativity, design, and cars and trucks
that would satisfy GM customers.
After emerging from bankruptcy
in 2009, GM is finally back on track thanks in part to its embrace of
Lutz’s philosophy with acclaimed new models like the Chevrolet Volt,
Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Equinox, and Buick LaCrosse.
common-sense lessons, combined with a generous helping of fascinating
anecdotes, will inspire readers in any industry. As he writes:
applies in any business. Shoemakers should be run by shoe guys, and
software firms by software guys, and supermarkets by supermarket guys.
With the advice and support of their bean counters, absolutely, but with
the final word going to those who live and breathe the customer
experience. Passion and drive for excellence will win over the
computer-like, dispassionate, analysis-driven philosophy every time.”
"Car Guys vs. Bean Counters contains all the pearls of wisdom I would
expect to see from Bob Lutz. An illuminating read by a true car guy and
an excellent business leader." - Kent Kresa, chairman emeritus, Northrup
"This book is a true insider's look at the auto
industry... Reading this book is like having a couple beers with this
crusty old guy who has done things we haven't ever dreamed possible- and
he's a fantastic storyteller to boot. Enjoy and learn." - Jack Covert,
"This is exactly what you'd expect from Bob Lutz; no
holds barred, no punches pulled, and no stone left unturned. It's a true
insider's perspectrive and a gread read." - Stephen J. Girsky, Vice
Chairman of GM
"Bob Lutz is the only man in history to rise to the top at all three Detroit automakers - Ford, GM, and Chrysler - and Guts reveals the kind of thinking that got him there." - Jerry Flint, Forbes
In this edition of Bob Lutz's bestselling account of the business philosophy with which he revolutionized Chrysler and much of the automotive industry, Lutz reveals his unique brand of creative management. Readers will learn many lessons herein, including why the key to success in any business is maintaining a positive tension between the creative minds and the buttoned-up financial minds, and how to attract, motivate, and strategically deploy each type throughout an organization.
This book features a new introduction and an epilogue in which Lutz introduces an eighth law that helps today's business leaders put his famed Seven Immutable Laws of Business into sharper perspective.
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Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time
What do you do with a book that’s filled with controversial,
counterintuitive, and downright contrarian statements that stand
conventional wisdom on its ear and claim, lightheartedly, to be
immutable "laws of business?" If the author is Robert Lutz, you read the
book very carefully, probably several times, learn all of the "laws" by
heart, and follow them to the letter every chance you get. You also
find yourself laughing out loud, shaking your head in wonder, and
nodding in agreement.
Revised and updated, this is a maverick’s primer
on the business philosophy that revolutionized Chrysler and is now
powering dramatic new product development at General Motors. In it, Lutz
reexamines his iconoclastic maxims to see how they have withstood the
test of time. With hard evidence, hilarious anecdotes, and his
characteristic frankness, the high-flying chairman of GM North America
challenges his own contention that businesses should deliberately
construct a "schizophrenic" corporate culture that combines rock-solid
financial controls with a highly creative, no-holds-barred product
Concluding that his laws have served him well and are generally
reliable in any business situation and any industry, he goes on to
- The customer isn’t always right
- The primary purpose of business isn’t "to make money"
- When everybody else is doing it, don’t
- Too much quality can ruin you
- Financial controls are bad
- Disruptive people are an asset
- Teamwork isn’t always good
Lutz’s first seven laws aren’t provocative enough for you, wait until
you read the new one that he formulated for executives charged with
managing mergers and takeovers or rehabilitating failing companies.
Suffice it to say, it involves the use of a flamethrower.
by Lutz’s deep store of business wisdom acquired over three-plus
decades in the automobile industry, Guts combines a fascinating,
behind-the-scenes look at some of the most important events in the
industry’s history, with an outside-the-box view on the nature of
leadership and success. This insightful, unorthodox, and thoroughly
enjoyable discourse will change the way you think about product
development and marketing, financial management, strategy, and managing
people. It will redefine the way you think about success–and make you
all the more eager and likely to achieve it.
"This book is a refreshing collection of straightforward thoughts and
observations about business and leadership from one of the most
seasoned, creative, colorful, and highly successful executives of our
time." - Matthew Dodd
"This book presents the 8-plus rules on how to run a successful business
(and life) from a former GM Vice Chairman of Product Development. Robert
Lutz presents a highly autobiographical, hypercritical, look at his
career and how these laws he developed for himself can apply to anyone." - J.C. Payne