Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA and West Point graduate, was an Army Ranger patrolling the Czech-West German border when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.
Just five years later he was part of a small team in Germany that developed the first M class. That put him on a fast track at Mercedes, but he spent 2002-07 at ad agency Richards Group, working on Hyundai marketing.
Cannon returned to Mercedes-Benz USA six years ago as head of marketing. He was promoted to CEO in January 2012.
Q: Is that a Fitbit on your wrist?
A: It is. All this thing does is measure how many steps you take. My wife and I both do this so I can tell you how many steps I've taken versus how many steps she's taken.
Do you have a daily goal?
I am supposed to take 10,000 steps in a day. It has raised my consciousness, especially in my in-office days. If you're just going from meeting room to meeting room I will look down at the end of the day and see I have taken no steps. I have to get my butt out of my chair and start walking around -- to the point where I have started taking walking meetings. Rather than sit I'll say, "Let's go for a walk."
How many days do you hit 10,000 steps?
I do on the days I work out. But if I am jammed up at the office, I just don't make it unless I go home and my wife and I go for a long walk.
Where do you go to get away?
Our place in rural Vermont is our refuge. It is three hours door-to-door from where I live. The minute I cross the border into Vermont everything stops. You slip into a comfortable mentality. Everybody is nice. In the winter it is about skiing, and in the fall it is about foliage. There are lakes. There is a six-mile hike to the top of the mountain through the back trails.
What do you read?
It's usually about the Civil War or the Revolutionary War and the formation of this country. I am a bit of a history buff.
What are you reading now?
The Guns at Last Light, part three of a trilogy by Rick Atkinson on World War II. And I am reading it on my iPad.
What about movies?
I haven't seen a good movie in a while because of all the traveling and the fact that my wife will want to see one thing and I'll want to see another. I saw one on an airplane recently, The Internship, about those two guys at Google. It was a two-hour commercial for Google, but it was hilarious.
You have nine kids! How many are still at home?
Two are left in the house, and four are in college. I travel a lot, and when my travels allow me I do a stopover. For example, I was making dealer calls and managed to be with my daughter on her 21st birthday in Providence. Then I got in the car and drove further north and took my son out on his 23rd in Boston. You just find ways to integrate that in and make it work.