Fin Tales

Saving Cadillac, America’s Luxury Icon


The Rebirth of a Legend and Those Who Made It Possible.


Once commanding nearly 70 percent of the US luxury vehicle market, Cadillac was in a death spiral of declining sales and consumer opinion when John Smith assumed leadership in early 1997. With most resources controlled by the functional and regional leaders of GM’s Automotive Strategy Board, which sat two levels above his position in the organization, John expected lots of help in saving Cadillac.

In Fin Tales, John tells the story of how he and his team sprouted new life and purpose into the storied brand—once the quintessential expression of accomplishment and success in America. The book is a kind of “how to” guide for any CEO or CMO tasked with a key consumer brand to relevance. Fin Tales is also the rare book about leading business turnarounds not from the top, where most leaders control all the levers of change, but from the middle…where thoughtful navigation of internal decision-making is critical.

Car enthusiasts will revel in the “inside baseball” account of overhauling an iconic automobile brand at a time when General Motors itself was implementing significant organizational and process-related changes. As the Great Recession of 2008-2009 would prove, such changes would prove to be too little too late.


Find Out More About John