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Lessons from the Heart of American Business

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Lessons from the Heart of American Business

A Roadmap for Managers in the 21st Century

Warner Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Gerald Greenwald kept absorbing information as he moved from Ford to Chrysler to United. The higher he climbed, the more he learned.

Editorial Rating



  • Engaging
  • Insider's Take


Gerald Greenwald presents a personal account of his experiences as an executive at the Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Corp. and United Airlines and describes the lessons he learned along the way. He recounts some of the most interesting tales of corporate life in the United States, from the near collapse of Chrysler to airline labor conflicts, and uses these accounts to illuminate the failures and successes of different management styles. He discusses leadership lessons on how to motivate employees, inspire teamwork and improve communication. He writes, with the help of senior Chicago Tribune writer, Charles Madigan, in an engaging personal style that makes this an interesting read. Though getAbstract cautions that some of Greenwald’s lessons will be familiar, his congenial, thoughtful approach makes them excellent reminders of what works and what doesn’t.


Admit What You Don’t Know

As he moved from one company to another, Gerald Greenwald could always recognize what he didn’t know. Though he never understood cars in the visceral way embraced by most auto- industry insiders, he spent more than 40 years working for Ford and Chrysler. He came to his work eager to learn what he needed to know.

Greenwald joined the Ford Motor Co. after he graduated from Princeton University in 1957. He began as the overseer of financial controls for Ford’s companies in Latin America, but he took on many more responsibilities, including advertising, promotion and labor relations. Then, for two years, he assisted the product engineer involved with compact-car design. In 1967, he worked in Brazil as a Ford controller. In 1970, he became the controller of Ford’s truck operations and then worked for Ford in France, England and Venezuela through the 1970s, until Lee Iacocca invited him to join Chrysler as corporate controller. Greenwald helped Chrsyler develop its business plans and survive a difficult financial downturn. He became vice-chairman in 1981, chairman of Chrysler for North America in 1985 and shared the company’s chairmanship with Iacocca...

About the Authors

Gerald Greenwald  is a former chairman and CEO of United Airlines and former vice-chairman of Chrysler Corporation. He has held top managerial positions at Ford Motor Company, Dillon Read and Olympia & York. Charles Madigan is a senior writer for The Chicago Tribune.

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