Wanted: CEO of GM

How will we find a new head for General Motors?

By Jennifer Hadley 12/10/2009

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This week I thought very seriously about just writing “told you so” enough times to fill the 700-word Wheels column, in regards to the resignation of GM’s CEO Fritz Hendrickson. OK, I didn’t ever actually say he was going to resign. I’ve just said repeatedly that the company is screwed up beyond recognition. And now it’s screwed up without a CEO. Apparently the company is planning an extensive international search for a new chief.  
 
But, since the company would have been kaput months ago without the help of taxpayer dollars, I feel that we should have a say in who is running this train wreck. To that end, I decided to ask my taxpaying friends, clients and family members how they think we should go about selecting a new CEO. 
 
Here are my favorite responses, and reasons why:
1. Kelly, an advertising executive in San Francisco is the winner for my favorite response: “I think we should hold a raffle. Anyone can buy a ticket to be CEO for a dollar. That money goes to pay off GM’s debt. After all, any Joe Blow could probably run this company better than these clowns.” I must say I like that Kelly is keeping in mind that the debt needs to be paid off.  
 
2. Chris, a financial strategist in Woodland Hills, made sparkling water shoot out my nose when he responded “This is a no-brainer. Chuck Norris would turn the company around in a week and transform upper management into lethal corporate ninjas.” No explanation needed as to why I love this response.
 
3. John, a toxicologist in Columbus, Ohio, provided a third favorite solution. “Just rotate folks every month or so. That way nobody can screw anything up very bad. Or maybe just hire someone from Kelly Services. It would be a lot cheaper than paying a big name, and besides, the government is running the thing anyway.” I’m partial to this idea, because it comes from my dad. And since the company isn’t making any money, I don’t really think the CEO deserves a big fat paycheck.  
 
4. Tricia, a legislative representative in Westminster, has a good point too. Her proposal is that we let people “Bid on the job…highest bidder gets the job. That way the person has a personal interest/investment in seeing the company succeed.” Man, my friends are smart.  
 
5.  Ed, a CEO in San Francisco, proffered this idea: “How about having an ‘American 
   Idol’ type of competition? Do the whole deal with the audition tour, etc. Then let 
   the viewing public vote. Make them sing, dance, and give speeches outlining their 
     strategies and why.” A dancing CEO? Come on, that is funny!
 
6. Britton, a camera operator in Hollyweird, suggests, “They should hire Gary Fisher. He can then teach everyone how to ride bicycles. Then towns would start improving public transit systems — and bikes are awesome.” I appreciate Britton’s eco-friendly solution.
 
7. Sarah, a professor in Los Angeles, opined that “They should have people send in their resume and — most importantly — their head shot. Then they should pick the best-looking person for the job.” Hey, she’s got a point. Here in La-La-Land, even restaurants require a head shot for the person serving your food. I should know; I tried to get a second job when the economy collapsed, and even with years of food service and management under my belt, I was shut out for lack of one.  
 
8. Finally, Pasadena entrepreneur Richard firmly believes that the next CEO must meet certain criteria including: “Must not currently own a GM car (a sign of bad decision-making). Must not be willing to live in Detroit (again a sign of bad decision-making — when their dome sold for $560,000 two weeks ago that tells you all you need to know about that city). Must be a leader who is interested in building performance driving machines, not Disney vehicles like the plug-in baby car “The Volt.” 

As for me, I would prefer that whoever takes over as CEO has their own private jet. That way, when they fly to DC to beg for our money, they can do it on their own dime. But if that’s not possible, I hope that one of the brilliant people named above throws their name in the hat. Their remarkable wit is a clear sign of intelligence. And I’m beyond certain that we’re going to need a genius of epic proportions to turn GM around. 

Contact Jennifer Hadley at jmhadley624@yahoo.com.

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