Called "the John Wayne of the automobile business" by Time magazine, executive Lido Anthony Iacocca (1924-) was born on this day in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the son of Italian immigrants.
An innovator and motivator, he began at Ford Motors, marketing the "sporty but inexpensive" '60s Mustang. He moved on to Chrysler as President (1978-1979) and CEO (1979-1992) and gave the world the minivan.
"We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems," he said.
Iacocca is perhaps best known for saving Chrysler from bankruptcy. With brilliance and guts, he inspired labor unions to accept wage cuts. "In times of stress and adversity, itís always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something quite positive," he said.
Iacocca met with union leaders and boldly told them he had thousands of jobs for $17 an hour, but none at $20. A pay cut or bankruptcy he proposed, having cut his own salary to $1 a year.
The unions took the cut.
His $1 salary motivated others. Frank Sinatra performed Chrysler ads for a buck and Bill Cosby entertained employees for free.
For the 21st Century, Iacocca, the environmentalist, is now driving the electric-vehicle revolution. His latest innovation is the E-bikes, state-of-the-art electric bikes.
"Thomas Edison promised Henry Ford he would be able to throw away the internal-combustion engine," he explained. "It's 100 years later, and we're just now seeing some progress."
Motivation is contagious. Spread it around.