Are You Driven to Succeed?

Published: Mar 10, 2009

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It's very nice to be lucky, but here's the truth: most career success stories are created by hard work and determination.

When Walter Chrysler finished high school, he already knew that he wanted to be a mechanic. His father was a locomotive engineer and could have helped him get an apprenticeship, but refused to assist him. Walter's parents were not pleased with his career choice. They wanted him to go to college. Instead of complying with their wishes, he took the only job that he could get in a machine shop - janitor.

Walter was absolutely sure about his career plan. He was fascinated by engines and began learning everything he could about them. After six months of sweeping floors and cleaning and carrying boiler pipes (average weight 150 pounds each) without a word of complaint, he was rewarded with an apprenticeship in the shop.

He continued to learn by enthusiastically taking on any job available. He asked questions, listened and watched. He read and took classes (by mail) in electrical engineering, drafting and other subjects.

By age 30 through hard work and reading and studying on his own, his reputation as a master mechanic was earning him job offers from companies that approached him.

The defining moment in his career was in 1908. He found his niche at age 33. He went to his first auto show and saw a car that he simply had to have. He borrowed the money to buy it, and then began taking it apart to find out just how it worked. Automobiles became his obsession - how they worked, tinkering with them, reading about them and even sketching them. He felt certain that automobiles were the business of the future, and he was going to be part of it.

After four years of immersing himself in the subject of cars, he took a job with Buick Motor Company (at half the salary he was earning as a master mechanic). He was an excellent manager and cost cutter. Under his direction, Buick began building a chassis in two days instead of four. He contributed other changes helping boost production from 45 cars a day to 200. At age 41 he was president of Buick Motor.

In 1924 he and his partners built the first Chrysler car and planned to debut it at the annual New York Auto Show. Because the car had not been produced and sold yet, their car wasn't allowed in the show. That didn't stop him. He rented the lobby of a New York hotel where many industry people were staying and displayed the Chrysler there. The product and his innovative way of introducing it created a great buzz. Walter Chrysler was on another road to success.


  • Life of an American Workman, by Walter Chrysler
  • Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius, by Vincent Curcio