Lee Iaccoca: Timing Is Everything In Life

Lee’s ability to concentrate got him through school but he was also a very lucky person. Even bad luck can sometimes be good, for example, his bout with rheumatic fever prevented Iaccoca from joining the war effort as part of the class of ’42. The patriotism for that war was immense but in frustration Lee did not participate while his fellow graduates died in combat. Instead, Lee went to Lehigh for his undergrad where he focused on engineering then shifted over to business; accounting, statistics and labour problems. Instead of going straight to Ford (because he loved the cars and had been accepted), Lee deferred starting out at Ford and went to Princeton for his masters. After graduation, the guy who had recruited Iaccoca originally at Ford was drafted into combat and by the time Lee was finished his masters, no one at Ford knew Lee. Fortunately, Iaccoca was persistent enough to speak directly with the former recruiter’s boss and he got onboard.

Another example of timing is when Lee worked at Chester as a Sales rep, he was working in a booming period between 1945 and 1950 because during WWII car production was very low. All new cars were sold at list price or more, and used cars could be taken in (even if those cars were horrible) and a profit margin could be secured. Fleet sales meant allocating new cars to dealerships…since Lee was in sales, and there was a backlog of car orders, this gave him a lot of power at an early age.

One last example of good timing is that the Chrysler bailout for $1.5 billion would not have happened if it occurred 3 years after 1979 (when Ford and GM were also in serious trouble) since other car makers would have competed directly with Chrysler for attention. Timing matters!

Good timing is everything in life.

This is a synopsis & analysis based on Iacocca: An Autobiography and other miscellaneous research sources. Enjoy.

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