OP-ED: Mr. Lee Iacocca, please come visit us in Latino Philadelphia
I came across this book again this week, after I first picked it up several years ago in a Barnes & Noble Store in Philadelphia.
It is a book the former CEO of Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca, wrote, after his magical and also controversial turnaround of the car manufacturer company, one of the "Big Three" in America.
Lee Iacocca decries the fact that American entrepreneurship seemed to have evaporated from the land and we were, as a society, all risking the same kind of ruin the auto company he rebuilt faced for some time in the past: Total bankruptcy, as the US seems at times careening towards.
Lee Iacocca, who was born right here, in Allentown, PA, believes that leaders are made in time of crisis, and the word “crisis”, by the way, as in the Chinese language dictionary indicates, actually means “opportunity” as well— when you flip to other side of that coin.
As the title of his other book, “Talking Straight”, I think it is about time we encourage from this modest column, not only the young professionals, but also the members of the clergy, the political, and also business leaders of Latino origin in this town, to take on the responsibility...
As the title of his other book, “Talking Straight”, I think it is about time we encourage from this modest column, not only the young professionals, but also the members of the clergy, the political, and also business leaders of Latino origin in this town, to take on the responsibility, not only of our own individual welfare (which a good number of us have succeeded in creating for ourselves and our families), but also in the welfare of the society that has given us refuge, the great city of Philadelphia, or the larger and well organized American society, which to a large extent enabled us, because it is predictable and fair, to score some of our individual victories.
Education is linked to prosperity and, in the Latino community of this city and this Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that is a living reality in full display before our eyes, after long decades of striving by courageous immigrants’ families who settle all across the State after they came from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Perú, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and also Brasil.
Just like in Lee Iacocca’s family, which came from Italy, his mother Antonietta Perrotta and Father Nicola Iacocca, both from San Marco del Cavoti, inspired the young Lee to be the leader he went on to become, impacting the whole auto industry in the United States.
Latino values nurture education, and RESPETO, that larger word in the Spanish language
Latino values nurture education, and RESPETO, that larger word in the Spanish language, and we have it passed down to our children that, to achieve on the basis of their own individual capacity, to score on their own and win. Look no further the cases of Latino athletes Mónica Puig (cover story in AL DÍA this week), and Laurie Hernández (cover story in AL DÍA one week ago).
We have demonstrated we can even evolve from individual achievers to be good managers, too.
But now the time has arrived to prove that we can, also, be great Leaders.
I asked a young mentee this week in AL DÍA training room the simple question:
What is the difference between the “Manager” and the “Leader?”
She gave me the exact answer, although she is only a Penn State University graduate of Argentinean origin on her early 20s:
“The Managers can teach to get things done, and get others to get things done…
"The Leader, in the meantime, is the person who can inspire.."
"The Leader, in the meantime, is the person who can inspire," both the manager and the foot soldiers, to perform for reasons that go well beyond their paycheck.
Noah, for example, was "the Leader" who proved himself as such when he succeeded in persuading both fellow humans and animals to put up with the nails and hammers, and also nausea in the high seas, for a the greater good of their salvation, in their case both physical and spiritual.
My mentee this week is sending an actual letter to Mr. Iacocca, in his home in California, inviting him to come to our city —not far from he was born, in Allentown, PA— to inspire the community with the greatest potential in our city:
Not only the Pedros, and the Albas, and the Marías, and the Nelsons, and the Luises, who are already “in”, but, more importantly, the “Billennials”, as we call that generation of Millennials living in our city, still undecided about their future, but so full of potential, among other reasons because they are the first generation of citizens of Philadelphia, and the U.S., who can proudly speak, because they managed to retain their mother tongue, more than the precious English language this column is being written on.
Dear Lee Iacocca: Please come visit Latino Philadelphia soon.