Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire who became General Motors' largest individual shareholder and sat on its board from 1984 until the automaker bought him out in 1986, died last week at age 89. Here are some of his most memorable comments about GM:
- "I come from an environment where, if you see a snake, you kill it. At GM, if you see a snake, the first thing you do is go hire a consultant on snakes. Then you get a committee on snakes, and then you discuss it for a couple of years. The most likely course of action is — nothing."
- "At GM the stress is not on getting results — on winning — but on bureaucracy, on conforming to the GM system. You get to the top of General Motors not by doing something, but by not making a mistake."
- "I answered every customer complaint about a General Motors car the whole time I was on the GM board. This created great trauma inside GM because there was a department that did that. I tried that department, and all they did was send out form letters."
- "I told General Motors very openly that the only reason I was selling my company to them is that I couldn't think of anything more interesting to do with my life than to work night and day to help revitalize one of the world's great corporations and help it achieve its full potential."
- "Revitalizing General Motors is like teaching an elephant to tap dance. You find the sensitive spot and start poking."