Feb 16, 2021
JEFF STERNS CONNECTED THROUGH CARS
5:55 I wanted to be a professional pool player when I was 15. So
I would sneak into the pool hall looking much older than I did. I
never went to high school. I think I had the maximum number of days
off that you could have in the state of Michigan, and actually
passed into the next grade.
7:59 I went down to GM, in interviewed, never thinking that a guy with a D average in high school, General Motors is ever going to hire. But I went because I promised him that I'd go. Interviewed for a level one male boy position $495.50 a month
10:27 I beat Minnesota Fats12:12 I went to school at night with my wife raised two kids at the time
13:18 the president of the company, or john DeLorean, who was you know, the hot shot of the company
15:12 how would you like to be an analyst?
16:17 gaining momentum inside the company. And the chief engineer at the time was a fella by the name of Bob Stempel, who ultimately became the president of General Motors. This is night, it was 1974 or '75 biggest snowstorm in the history of Detroit 28 inches. Bob said "clear the snow." Nobody said a word and it was done with industrial snow blowers in time for a 6.30am meeting.
18:21 General Motors had about 48% of the market.
21:05 Ward's at the time, they wanted to get into the publishing business in electronics.
23:12 he said, Just do me a favor. The next time you come back to Nissan, we don't compare ourselves to Chrysler. Come back and show me a comparison versus Toyota, or Honda, because that's who we care about.
24:29 He said, I was fired.
27:29 All I'm thinking about is what I'm going to tell Janet, what am I going to tell my three kids? And he said, No, no, no, no, we want you to run the business. So you're in charge now? You mean, you're not firing me? No, no, you're in charge.
34:08 I'm not going to write a check for Brazil, you got to go down there and fix it yourself. And the only role that I played was given the latitude by Wagner
35:47 Culture was the first thing so the culture in Brazil was already there. In terms of a work ethic. You know, maybe people think that Latin America is kind of a, mañana worry about it tomorrow. That's not the culture that was there, you had to be sure that you were picking the right products for the market, you can have a turnaround strategy. And if you have the wrong product for what the customer could afford, or what the customer wanted, didn't matter, that whether you had the right culture or not.
36:19 So Wagner decided that we were going to be up to date with all the cars that came out of Opel, and we would be current with all of the trucks that came out in North America. So when I arrived, we had a Chevette a 1982 thing called a Monza, which was a Cavalier, this is 1991. By the way, I got if I want to get the right date sequence here, a 1967 full size pickup truck. And the thing called an Opel record, which was kind of like a full size car. That was the product lineup generating $110 billion dollar loss.
37:45 when I got there inflation was 30-40% a month
38:39 You guys dropped off the car for me, but it won't start. What's going on here? He said, did you pull out the choke?
44:30 on Ignacio Lopez
47:55 I went to Poland to work, it was dark Warsaw, if you draw a direct line is in the middle of Hudson Bay in Canada, you're up there.
56:00 So off to Germany.
56:49 I'm a gringo. They're making fun. And I let them go for a while. And I'm pretending like I have no idea what they're doing. And they're done. And in fluent Portuguese. I said to them...,
57:37 Wagner comes into me, he said, I need to move. I need somebody to go to Russia. And I said, Why are you talking to me? He said, Russia is complex, and I need somebody who I can trust. And that's you.
59:14 I guess we can make an exception. And it was the best job I ever had. I had a full time driver, which was fantastic. I had the only white escalate in Russia. And why did I have a white escalate? Because every one of the cops in Moscow. After two months, I knew Oh, that's the guy who's not going to pay us a bribe.
Make sure to listen to part two!!