Advice From Bob Lutz

Several years ago, my father, a longtime auto industry executive, passed along an autobiography about Bob Lutz, also a longtime auto industry executive. Recently, Lutz announced he will retire on May 1 from General Motors. Hearing this news caused me to revisit the book Guts: The Seven Laws of Business that Made Chrysler the World’s Hottest Car Company. Many reviewers have called this book a handbook on how to be a corporate executive. I think the lessons within the book are applicable to anyone who manages people or aspires to be a top performer in their industry group. Below I share a few passages. I hope you enjoy them.

“When everyone else is doing it, don’t!”

“Competition is the core process in the natural order of things – from evolution to free enterprise.”

“The most effective communicators are those who offer audiences a glimpse of their soul and who engage in honest give-and-take.”

“Don’t chase fads, don’t seek popularity, and don’t believe your own news clippings.”

“Formality of dress – having a ‘uniform’ – imbues a group with an extra measure of pride, professionalism, and esprit de corps that is greater than they would have if they dressed every which way.”

“Being able to think ‘out of the box’ presupposes you were able to think in it.”

“The primary purpose of business is not to make money. Companies that do make a lot of money almost never have as their goal ‘making a lot of money.’ They tend to be run by enthusiasts who, in the normal course of gratifying their own tastes and curiosities, come up with products or services so startling, so compelling, and so exciting, that customers practically rip their trouser pockets reaching for their wallets.”

“Of every team put together, be it a brain trust, a blue-ribbon panel, or a team competing in a sack race, the natural statistical scatter seems to provide 20% who are outstanding, 60% who are average, and 20% you wish you didn’t have. It’s time to ‘out’ the idiots.”

“More than 2,500 years ago, Heraclitus wrote that nothing is constant expect change. Change happens. Deal with it!”


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