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The Turnaround Kid: What I Learned Rescuing America's Most Troubled Companies [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [MP3 CD]

Steve Miller , Dick Hill

Price: 17.77 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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A corporate restructure expert documents the price that has been paid by American employees to promote national industry efforts, tracing key conflicts in the arenas of pension benefits, health-care insurance, and the work-life balance.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great business autobiographies 15 April 2008
By Aaron C. Brown - Published on
I suspect most people will buy this book for Miller's inside stories of salvaging (or attempting to salvage) value from failed companies from Chysler to Delco. They'll get their money's worth, there are concise, well-written accounts of the projects, including information that had not been previously reported.

Aside from the business, Miller has opened up about some aspects of his life more deeply than most business autobiographers. In particular, his complex and unusual relationship to his wife Maggie (who dies in the book, Miller has since remarried) is described in sharply-etched stories that will leave readers puzzling long after the book is finished.

There is also plenty of grist for Millerphiles and Millerphobes. You can see the career arc from the guy who wouldn't even mention the word "bankruptcy" at Chrysler in the late 1970s, to the guy who used bankruptcy like a rapier in the 1990s and 2000s (including becoming the poster child for rich retention agreements as he filed for Delco just before a legal change that would have restricted such "golden handcuff" payments). His fresh openness with the press was a major asset at Chrysler, by the end of the book he is refusing to comment to the press at all. Either Miller got tougher or the world did. But like him or hate him, I think he was the only person in Detroit with honesty and credibility to make everyone face some harsh reality, and he deserves a good share of the credit for the positive steps in management/labor relations of the past couple of years. If you want to hate him anyway, you can hate him for appearing to enjoy himself while forcing painful adjustments on everyone.

However, the best reason to read this book is something I never expected to find. I've always wondered why anyone with alternatives even bothered with these distressed companies. You'd think shareholders would sell, managers and workers would find better places to work, customers would take their business elsewhere; and let the opportunists fight the hopeless for any remaining crumbs. Miller has an appreciation for corporate greatness. He starts each account with the former glories of the company, not just in terms of outside accomplishments, but how many people gave it their working lives, and were rewarded with financial security and genuine pride. This is not a guy working only for shareholders or creditors or management (and certainly not only for workers or customers). This is a guy who expects all those groups to sacrifice so corporate greatness can be restored. Right or wrong, he's not a liquidator or union-buster or deadbeat, he tries to be a turnaround kid.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unconventional career (and marriage.) 3 Sep 2008
By Ryan Alexander - Published on
I generally liked this book and recommend it for those interested in the business world. Steve Miller has had something of an unconventional career. Mid-level auto executive, tucked away in a foreign sub away from the power center of his company, that rises to a challenge that his previous experience would not have seemingly prepared him for. From there, he builds a career as a leading turnaround manager and a guy that is generally thought of as a realist when dealing in very difficult situations. That part of the story reinforces the view that successful careers are a marathon and that sometimes the path that you didn't expect is the one that bears the most fruit. (How's that for buzzword laden sentence!)

In terms of those who are looking at this as a road map on how to execute a turnaround and value a business following a Chapter 11, do not pass go. It isn't that kind of book. If you're a novice looking to understand the Chapter 11 process, this is not the right book for you. (Try Distressed Debt Analysis by Stephen Moyer.) But, for those who are trying to run a business that needs a kickstart, there are some valuable comments on how to deal effectively with your employees, creditors, and customers. I think Mr. Miller comes across as honest and candid when he is involved in those situations.

What makes this book unique is the personal part of the story. By his own account, Mr. Miller's greatest asset and greatest source of concern. perhaps, was his spouse. I found his honesty on that subject to be refreshing and the sign of a man who is comfortable in his own skin.

The one knock I have are some inconsistencies in aspects of his career that did not go well. His efforts to explain why the Board at Waste Management failed in their duty to provide effective oversight of the company's management came across as a CYA answer to hold off plaintiff's attorney in a lawsuit.

Mr. Miller also completely bypasses what occurred at Chrysler's finance subsidiary within just a few months of leaving the company in 1992. He is candid about his attempt to unseat Lee Iacocca, but he makes no mention of the fact that the finance sub had a gun to their head with an expiring, and fully funded, bank deal in the summer of 1992. His lack of oversight with the folks at the American Center should have been noted, if for no other reason than as a cautionary tale.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grandiose and delusional 17 Jan 2009
By Jennifer M - Published on
I feel a little guilty giving Miller only one star because, over the course of the book, it becomes so painfully obvious that he's not just a greedy free-market fundamentalist, but a deeply deluded man with no awareness of his own behavior. On the surface, this is a series of self-congratulatory anecdotes, bordering on grandiosity, about Miller's career in "saving" the auto, steel, and insurance industries.

Laughable as the premise may seem now (the book was released months before Wall Street started going belly up), it's apparent even from Miller's own words that his peripatetic career is the result of his own repeated failures, as he busts up unions, negotiates federal bailouts, and (in a fit of manic bellicosity) drives Federal-Mogul into an asbestos lawsuit they never had any chance of winning (which he somehow uses to launch a lengthy diatribe favoring tort reform). He's not in demand; he's essentially getting fired and doesn't seem to be able to tell the difference.

More tragic still, what at first appears to be a mere manipulation of his wife's death from brain cancer (he trots her out every time he starts to look like a bad guy) quickly reveals itself. By his own admission, his wife was profoundly unhappy in their marriage, making numerous attempts to flee him - which he faithfully recounts but can't begin to comprehend.

Any compassionate editor would have stopped this before allowing Miller to broadcast his own emotional deficits quite so unflatteringly, but perhaps it does give us some insight into the biggest players of the current financial crisis.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted more specifics, less description of personal journey 25 April 2011
By Teri Johnson - Published on
I picked up this book based on the title, particularly the "What I learned" part. I was hoping for specific nougats of wisdom about patterns: those decisions, actions, skills and qualities that make the difference in turning a company around. If these were included, I never saw them because after several chapters of rambling personal descriptions I stopped reading. A synopsis or recap of major points at the end of each chapter would have helped. Sometimes I wondered where the point was buried.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic 24 Oct 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I bought this book because I am a lawyer who recently found himself managing a relative's retail store that used to do several million dollars a year and was very profitable but is now failing. I thought this book would offer insights on how to turn the store around.

The book offered little in that regard.

Instead, there was a lot about how the author suffered and was abused by others while trying to save the world. The whole book seemed to have been written or at least coached by a public relations firm to try to fix the reputation of someone who made a lot of unpopular decisions.
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