Where have all
the leaders gone?
Lee Iacocca pulls no
punches in his new book
By Eric Taub
LEE IACOCCA IS back, and he’s not a happy
camper. Now 82 years old, the former head of
Ford and Chrysler has seen better days in this
country. And in his new book, Where Have All
the Leaders Gone? (Scribner, 2007) he pulls no
punches in naming names and assessing blame.
The Connection recently met with Iacocca
at his luxurious home in the Bel Air section of
Los Angeles to discuss what must be done to
fix this nation before, he says, it’s too late.
In the book and interview, it’s clear that
politics and government, including President
Bush, are at the top of Iacocca’s list. He’s disheartened by the state of the union, the war in
Iraq and what he describes as its apparently
rudderless course over the past six years. “The
legacy of this administration is they did not
do a lot,” he bluntly says.
But he isn’t just gunning for the government. In his book, Iacocca sets out to examine
everything from foreign policy to industrial
competitiveness to public education. And he
minces no words in laying blame at the feet of
specific politicians and business leaders.
The man who introduced the Ford
Mustang and Chrysler minivan to the world
not only knows what’s wrong, he believes he
has a handle on how to fix them. The key is his
“nine C’s,” a list of qualities that all leaders need
to succeed: curiosity, creativity, communication
skills, character, courage, conviction, charisma,
common sense and competency.
COSTCO HAS 15 copies of Lee
Iacocca’s Where Have All the
Leaders Gone?, with signed book
plates, to give away. To enter,
print your name, membership
number, address and daytime
phone number on a postcard or letter and send it to: Lee Iacocca,
The Costco Connection, P.O. Box
34088, Seattle, WA 98124-1088, or
fax it to (425) 313-6718.
No purchase is necessary. Only
current Costco members are eligible
His management formula
is simple: “People and priorities. It’s that simple,” he writes.
“This advice applies whether
you’re running a company or
The son of Italian immigrants, Iacocca has had
the chance to evaluate the
powerful for most of his
life. He’s known nine
presidents and several
popes. In 1982, President
Reagan appointed Iacocca
as head of the Statue of
Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation; more than $500
million in private funds
raised by the group has been
used to renovate these monuments
and create the American Family Immigration
Those immigrants arrived in a country
that in Iacocca’s view has changed for the
worse, a country that is losing its competitive edge. As he points out in his book,
America’s youths rank 18th out of 24th in
math and science compared to other countries. The Big Three car companies must pay
the pensions and health-care costs for millions of retirees, raising the costs of their
cars. And the United
to win. One entry
Entries must be
received or post-
marked by July 2,
will be randomly
selected and noti-
fied by mail on or
before August 1, 2007. The
value of the prize is $25. Void where
prohibited. Winners are responsible
for all applicable federal, state and
local taxes. The decision of the
judges is final. Employees of Costco
or Simon & Schuster and their fami-
lies are not eligible.
States could spend close to $2 trillion on the
war in Iraq, which Iacocca calls “a sinkhole,”
being run without a plan for success.
The biggest problem facing America?
“Health care, health care, health care. If you’re
going to be outraged about the lack of leadership in this country, health care is a good
place to start,” he says. “It’s a scandal, and
we’re letting it happen.”
In his book, Iacocca writes that he is
speaking out because he believes in America.
“I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and
doom here,” he writes. “I’m trying to light a
fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope.”
There’s plenty we all can do, he says. Vote,
for one. (“You think your vote doesn’t count?
Ask Al Gore.”) Mentor children. And sacrifice
something, like a few cents more for gasoline,
to get something else, like universal health
care. But perhaps most important: Elect a
leader who follows the nine C’s.
“Our new leaders are out there somewhere,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be something if
the best days of America’s arsenal of democracy were still ahead of us?” C
Eric Taub is a Los Angeles–based journalist.
The Costco Connection
Lee Iacocca’s Where Have All the Leaders
Gone? is available in most Costco locations
and at costco.com.