Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere

Inspiration can come from anywhere. You just need to keep your eyes open. In honor of today’s anniversary of Ford putting the Model T car on the market for $825 in 1908, I wanted to share with you an “Opportunity Knocking” chapter sample of former Ford Chairman and CEO Alan Mulally. I chose Mulally for the third level of the Pyramid: Defining your Opportunity Strategy and Sticking with It because of his strategies for creating and seizing on Opportunity.


His inspiration came from this ad written by Henry Ford himself:

Here is the chapter sample. I hope you enjoy it as much as I had in writing it. Be inspired 🙂

Unlocking Opportunity

When Mulally found out I was writing a book about opportunity, he
wanted to participate because of his passion for unlocking and tapping
into circumstances. His approach to weighing opportunity is very
pragmatic. Mulally looks at the concerns or worries facing the company
and turns them into positives. He explained it to me this way: “I like
the word ‘opportunity.’ I looked up the definition in the dictionary, and
one of the definitions is ‘a good chance for advancement or progress.’
Think about how cool that is! The word ‘opportunity’ is just fantastic.
You don’t wait for an opportunity. It doesn’t come to you when you are
just sitting in a room.”

Mulally uses the following three-part checklist to unlock opportunities:
• Weigh the risks of the opportunity.
• Be sure all opportunities support the vision.
• Be open to opportunistic gems.

Weigh the risks of the opportunity: Every Thursday, Mulally
meets with his team to discuss growth plans for Ford. They
look at the business environment: politics, economy, energy,
environment, customers, competition, technology trends, and
labor. They look for changes, risks, and opportunities in those

Mulally has a process in place that enables everyone at Ford
to identify opportunities: “It’s almost like an all-time continuous
improvement process on finding more and more opportunity.
Then we check that our strategy is appropriate with the business
environment, and we have a plan which is a normal business
plan of revenues and costs, cash and earnings.”

Be sure all opportunities support the vision: According to
Mulally, the concept of “opening the highways to all mankind” is
Ford’s true north. “That’s how we measure every opportunity,”
he says. “That’s what keeps us so focused on making the best
cars and trucks in the world. That’s why we divested all those
brands—Aston Martin, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover—and
focused entirely on the Ford Motor Company.”

Be open to opportunistic gems: For Ford and other
automakers, this gem should be an emerald—I’m talking about
green technology. Innovation is the key to unlocking such gems.
One of these opportunistic gems is fuel mileage. Mulally
explained it to me this way: “If you are trying to improve the
mileage of an F-150 or a Fiesta, you have to come up with a
compelling road map of technology development.” From skilled
employees to technology, everyone and everything is part of
a company’s economic engine. Mulally continues, “There are a
lot of exciting innovations out there that can help make a car
green: you have our EcoBoost engine, lightweight auto-building
materials, integrated electronics, and navigation equipment.
Based on all these wonderful technological advances you have
the transformation of a hybrid vehicle, then all-electric vehicles,
and the use of natural gas and also hydrogen. Technologies
which are pretty neat are the ones that have multiple periods
of goals where you are improving both efficiency and safety.”

A great example of efficiency and safety is Ford’s integrated
electronics—how the different technologies talk to each other.
He returned to the motto of opening highways to everyone,
emphasizing that this is considered in any new advancement:
“We heed that statement with every decision we make.”

If you are inspired by what you read pls click here and order your copy of Opportunity Knocking for more leadership strategies on being the best YOU can be 🙂


Author: loriannlarocco

I am the author of "Dynasties of the Sea: The Untold Stories of teh Postwar Shipping Pioneers", "Opportunity Knocking: Lessons from Business Leaders", "Thriving in the New Economy" and "Dynasties of the Sea: The Shipowners and Financiers Who Expanded the Era of Free Trade". I'm also the Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and known as the producer with the trillion dollar Rolodex

One thought on “Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere”

  1. The Mulally profile was one of my favorites in the book. Loved how his vision and passion has trickled down throughout the company — and helped Ford (and other automakers) make such a huge comeback. Sounds like a great boss overall, especially his ability to remember names and faces (I need his secret!).


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