Storytime for Grownups – Author Spotlight: Joe Cappy, author of ‘The Last American CEO’

In partnership with Waldorf Publishing, we are pleased to continue our series profiling some of the finest fiction and nonfiction authors of the 21st century. Today, we give you a bit of insight into Joe Cappy.

 

 

How did you get your start in the literary world?
It started early when I led conversations with my little friends telling them stories I made up. Over time and with a college education I assumed I was on top of my game.

One of my first assignments in the business world was to summarize and write reports to management. Using a green ink pen my manager returned my letter, which resembled a swatch of grass since it was covered in green with corrections in grammar, spelling, punctuation and word choices.

My manager provided me with the skills to communicate properly. He was an expert in Elements of Style by Strunk.

My career blossomed and after I retired, my wife pressed me to write a book about a portion of my professional career, which was unusual and fascinating. After ten years of being told to write a book, I finally did write 26 chapters. This effort produced a document perfectly suited for a business school case study. I realized I needed help and an editor to turn it into a literary classic.

 

Can you tell me a little more about what you do?
I am now resting on my oars waiting to get an idea for my next book. My business career took me to three automotive companies, Ford Motor, American Motors and Chrysler-and ended with a rental car company named DollarThrifty Automotive Group. I was General Marketing Manager at Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury Division, President and CEO at American Motors, Vice President at Chrysler Corporation, and Chairman, President and CEO of DollarThrifty Automotive Group.

 

What is your favorite part of being an author?
Answering questions about what I do with the rejoinder, “Author”. I also enjoy revising and rewriting text and investigating historical facts and figures.

 

 How do you get your inspiration?
Since I wrote a non-fiction book the inspiration was in recalling the events and people involved in an interesting and entertaining manner.

 

Of all of the characters you’ve created, which one would you like to see come alive on the silver screen?
I guess it would be me—sort of a “Mad Men” in the Automotive Business. I can see George Clooney playing my part since I was his age when the story was set in 1986.

 

What was the funniest thing to happen to you in your career?
On a public relations tour out west, I was given a full hour on the Michael Jackson radio talk show. At that time, Mr. Jackson’s popular program was syndicated to radio stations from LA to Seattle.

Best of all, he was serving up open-ended questions which allowed me the opportunity to hit the ball out of the park. My PR minder was on the other side of the glass wall listening to the interview with a big smile on his face.

As the show was winding down, Michael Jackson asked me since I had been with Ford Motor, a very large company, and now with American Motors, the smallest American car company, what was the biggest difference between the two companies I found? I replied working for a smaller company allows management to reach decisions much faster. Mr. Jackson thanked me and started in with his sign-off patter. I then interrupted him and added, “Michael, of course those decisions aren’t always the best ones”. My PR minder’s nose was on the glass wall and like a snail started sliding down the glass until I lost sight of him.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your book?
The time period for the book is 1962 through 1967 at American Motors. The book demonstrates how chance and actions over which no one can control completely change the fortunes and opportunities over people’s lives. And how a vehicle product, like Jeep, can save thousands of jobs and a company as well.

R. Steve Miller, a renowned corporate turnaround expert and author is quoted on the book’s wrapper as follows: “The Last American CEO has got it all: global political forces, a terrorist assassination, executive trysts, corporate espionage tactics, French/American cultural clashes, all while trying to keep afloat a struggling automotive business and its iconic Jeep brand. This is not your typical bland ‘how to’ business book.”

 

What is your next big project?
I may take a shot at fiction, since I enjoy that genre as well.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?
The size and scope of the book publishing business amazes me. It appears to be quite dysfunctional and bordering on dishonesty in some cases. I would like to read more about this industry and would appreciate your advice on the books to read on this subject.

 

Several of the books published through Waldorf Press can be found at your local library. The Palm Beach County Library System has dozens of electronic books, printed books – both novels & non-fiction, audiobooks, and DVDs or Blu-ray discs to help you understand how powerful reading can be! Travel to your closest branch or find them on the web!