Clearly Lee Iacocca is not everybody's cup of java. More than a few of you shocked I put him among my favorite CEOs ever. As one viewer put it, "If this is the best you can come up with after all your years doing this, you have to stop doing this."
But my fondness for Lee has nothing to do with his politics or views at all. It has everything to do with the fact he "has" views.And he's not afraid to spout them.
Try finding that in this Sarbanes-Oxley, overly politically correct corporate world.
That's because there's not much corporate about Lee Iacocca...not at 82 now. Not at 57 when I first began covering him then. Back then he was in your face. Still is.
Back then he could get your attention. Still can.
Back then he was ruffling feathers. Still does.
It got him fired from one job.
It helped make him an icon in another.
You see, what I loved most about Lee was that he was crazy. Crazy enough to demand a bailout for his company and get it. Yet shrewd enough to pay back the debt, with interest, years early, and build on it.
I'm not here to debate the merits of that bailout. Just the crazy salesman who managed to pull it off.
In your face, on your TV — America's first corporate pitchman.
It didn't hurt he was Italian.
It only helped...he was real.
I've had the pleasure of knowing probably half a handful of CEOs like Lee since. Also funny. Also crazy. Also...brilliant. Men who were bigger than their office. Precisely because there wasn't anything "office" about them.
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