Paralyzed Marine walks to receive his Bronze Star using robotic system

“Now that’s what I am talking about” (Monty Reed) For almost three decades now I have been telling people about robotic exoskeletons and the magic they will provide for paralyzed people.  This is so great to see people benefiting from our research.  The machine you see in these pictures is based on the technology we developed and published for all to see in 2006.  The machine you see here is based on old tech as far as exoskeletons go.  It retails for about $100k, the manufacture gave a discount to this Marine to honor him, saving over $30k.  Our goal is to get the system down to $42,000 and put them in physical therapy clinics all over the world.  You can help by donating now, we only need $150k for the next phase of the project and $2 million by 2017 when we will be shipping the new version of the LIFESUIT around the globe.  The gift of walking will become a reality for millions of people.  You can help.

Read on…..

Paralyzed Marine walks to receive his Bronze Star using robotic system  (re-posted by Monty K Reed)







Internships are closed until Summer 2017

Internships are closed until Summer 2017 when the LIFESUIT’s will be in productions.  Interns will work with the manufacturing staff and learn about all aspects of production of the LIFESUIT.

Medical interns will work along side nurses, doctors and physical therapists at 1000 locations around the world where the LIFESUIT will be placed.  This is one of the greatest opportunities for interns that we have ever had to offer because of the chance to travel to sites around the world and help paralyzed people learn to walk again.

Interns that are already connected to a local Rotary Club, Kiwanis, or other service club will have opportunities to earn scholarships as well.  There are limited paid internships at this time, most positions will be non paid.

They Shall Walk has developed the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton creating an industry of robotic therapy devices while mentoring students from area high schools and colleges as interns.
[email protected]
3411 Alaska Rd, Brier, WA 98036

Internships include: ME, EE, CSE, Material Science Engineering, Sculpture Art, Graphic Art, CAD (computer aided design), Code Warrior (lot’s of C programming), electronics design and assembly, physical therapy helper, admin assistant, grant writing, business plan building, marketing, advertising, website design, social media marketing, and more




Monty K Reed (Dr Steve Stiens and Dr Karen Petersen) Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Department of Biology, University of Washington, Box: 355320, Seattle, WA 98195-5320

Reprinted from the NCUR web listing at Dominican University

Rehabilitation medicine patients and practitioners have benefited from the use of fixed based robotic rehabilitation machines as well as non-fixed based non-powered orthosis. Weight supported ambulation has been helpful for non complete spinal cord injury (SCI) patients in improving their walking ability and improved overall health as a result of passive physical therapy. Combining these therapies and the various mechanisms of operation they entail could result in a Robotic Rehabilitation and Access Suit Exoskeleton (RRASE). Based on what was learned developing the Semi Autonomous Powered Exoskeleton Reciprocating Gait Orthosis (SAPERGO) we have improved the design and developed the LIFESUIT (LS) 13 series SAPERGO. A test bench model was developed to record human gait data and play it back through micro controller to move the joints of a robotic brace, including the ankle, knee and hip joints. A full-scale wearable robotic suit LS13B was constructed tested and demonstrated at the RobOlympics event in San Francisco in June of 2006. LS13B was also outfitted with upper body support for shoulder and wrist support and robotic hands for gripping a weight lifting barbell. The LS13B was able to lift 500 pounds, walk at 2.5 mph, and jump six inches off of the ground while being worn by a human operator. LS14 is the latest prototype we have built. Mechanically it has only a left leg brace that I have worn while testing the human gait simulation software I have written. LS14 can hop. Ongoing research will include completing LS14 and refining the balance software and hardware of the SAPERGO. Experimental protocols will precede any medical trials. The SAPERGO must be able to walk and balance unmanned before medical trials will be forthcoming.

Sprouts to Feed your family

Food Fund Raiser so They Shall Walk: Buy food and give the gift of walking.

Shelf Reliance
YOUR CONSULTANTStacy & Monty Reed[email protected]



THRIVE Foods Food Rotation Systems Emergency Kits & Supplies



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Fruit and Vegetable SeedsOur Melon and Garden Vegetable seed kits include seeds and growing guides to help you grow tasty fresh fruits and veggies in your garden! The seeds are 100% non-hybrid, non-GMO varieties that can be stored for 4–5 years.
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See kit contents

The Q - Simplify life with monthly food delivery

Q Club prices are only applicable to Home Party customers who have a Q. Please log in to your account for the pricing information that is applicable to you. These products are available in different sizes. Please go to the individual product pages for additional pricing information. Not all products are available in Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Japan.




Our mailing address is: Thrive at They Shall Walk 3411 Alaska Rd, Brier, WA 98036 FOLLOW US:



It is that easy.  Sprouts is one of the fastest ways to get live enzymes to your family.  1-2 weeks from begging to eating.  Share this with your friends.





Eat Food So They Shall Walk

Eat Food So THEY SHALL  (share on Facebook
is having an ongoing food fund raiser where all you need to do is buy food and they send 10-20% of your purchase to support our research.  Just follow the links to support our work.You should have received a password.
Click here to shop online at THRIVE Life.   Get a group of your friends together and I will come teach a cooking class with food storage.  Great fun and you will earn some free stuff.Here is the information we promised.
Biggest Sale of the Year: March Madness
March Madness Alphabetical list
March Madness list by Deepest Discount
THRIVE Recipes
Meals for ONE
Price List
Unadvertised Specials (AKA Costco Buster)
Smart Start Q (the monthly shipment of Thrive foods)
Certified Gluten Free
GMO Free (not Genetically Modified)
72 hour kit half off Sale $79.99 (Retail $160)
Monthly Specials 
Food Rotation System Shelves Sale $264.99 (Retail $459.99)
New Emergency Products
Special Package Deals you can order at events
If you have any questions or want to place an order, you can contact us directly, Monty and Stacy.  We look forward to helping you and your family meet your preparedness needs.If you know someone, such as a family member or a friend, who would benefit from the information provided, feel free to forward or share this email.

Water Kit w .1 micron  $117.68
Includes: water filter, bucket, gama lid, & 2 waterbricks

The Compensation Plan for consultants can be seen here.

Invite your friends to your home and we will come do a food storage cooking class so you all can learn how to cook with freeze dried foods.

We appreciate your confidence and continued support of They Shall Walk

Warm regards,
Stacy & Monty Reed
Stacy (206)250-5706       Monty (206)250-5639
[email protected]
There is no downside in being prepared
Adult Family Home and Long Term Care Disaster Prep Plan 






Consulting is Booming…Join us at one of these $3 cooking classes
If the short course is not enough for you consider spending part of the day learning to become a Thrive Chef for
$49+$5 food fee Register online for this class  

Raspberrypi “Rasberry Pie” for the LIFESUIT

The Raspberrypi “Raspberry Piefor the LIFESUIT is another exploration project to see what computer systems can be used to make the dream of the gift of walking a reality.  The LIFESUIT is an exoskeleton that is controlled by computers to mimic human behavior and allow paralyzed people to walk.  Future versions of the LIFESUIT could be used by wounded warriors to stay active duty or disabled American Veterans who want to return to work or run their own business.  Lately the Pentagon has been talking about the TALOS Exoskeleton. Share this link on Facebook etc.

TALOS was the automation from mythology that was tossed into the garbage heap from the gods when it was deemed useless. Read more about the TALOS  system here  

The Raspberry Pi uses Linux  an open source operating system.

We are experimenting to see if the Raspberry Pi would be a good fit for our “Brain Pak” module of the LIFESUIT control system.  For those of you who have not heard about the Brain Pak I will give you a brief overview here.  The LIFESUIT has several “Pak” sub systems that are all interconnected.  They talk  to each other and simulate the way the body cells talk to each other.  In a living body cells communicate with the nervous system and they all communicate with the brain.  A lot of detail and controversy comes up with the question of the levels of communication the over all system in the human body, as well as other living systems.  Theory vs application… I have not had a conversation with the human brain stem or a nerve cell so the exact details are controversial.  When a cat has a spinal cord injury the spinal cord itself has the “software” to control the walking gait in the legs.  Many researchers believe, and have tried to prove that the human spinal cord has the same “software” to control human walking gait in paralyzed people.   I will not go into the details of that here because of the controversy.

In the living system we have cells in the foot that send signals to the brain and surrounding cells letting them know the foot is moving.   Signals go to the Spinal Cord, the Brain Stem, and the Brain as well.

In the LIFESUIT  we have designed a modular system that includes: Toe Pak, Foot Pak, Calf Pak, Knee Pak, Thigh Pak, Hip Pak, Lower Torso Pak, Balance Pak, Gait Pak, Obstacle Avoidance Pak, GPS Pak, WiFi Pak, Update Pak, Brain Pak, HIT (Human Interface Technology) Pak etc… In addition there will be some redundant systems as well.  All of the Pak’s have ARM microcontrollers or PSoC controllers in them.  They all operate independently and communicate with each other.  They all have a prime directive function that is their sole purpose to exist.  The chain of command is the way they all cooperate to accomplish a functional system.

An example of the chain of command is with the “Balance Pak” and the “Gait Pak”.  The Gait Pak has a job to help the system walk.  The Balance Pak has the job of making sure the system stays upright and does not fall.  The Balance Pak has to talk to at least three subsystems to be sure the LIFESUIT is actually balanced and not falling.  When the Balance Pak recognizes that the LIFESUIT is in fact falling it has the high rank in the chain of command to interrupt the walking and re-position the LIFESUIT so it will not fall.  The Pilot (operator) may be surprised by the Balance Pak interruption however I can assure you, as a LIFESUIT Pilot, I am very happy to have the interruption because I don’t fall.

This is an scenario you may see:  The Pilot pushes forward on the joystick, the suggestion is received by the Joystick Pak, and a signal is sent to the HIT Pak, that signal is sent to the Brain Pak letting it know the Pilot would like to walk forward.  The Obstacle Avoidance Pak has been sending regular updates to the Brain Pak letting it know it is “All Clear” so the Brain Pak sends a signal to the Gait Pak to walk forward.  The Gait Pak sends a signal to the Gait Library Pak to call up a recording for “Walking Straight at a medium pace”.  The Gait Library Pak sends the recording to the Gait Pak and it starts playback of the recording.  This recording sends signals to the Motor Driver Pak to make control the motors move the legs resulting in the whole thing walking.  The LIFESUIT takes a step and another, and another.  The song from Frosty the Snowman may start to play in the background “Put One Foot In Front of the other…”

The Pilot is walking along in the LIFESUIT and another client slips and falls, dropping their crutches that fall into the pathway of the LIFESUIT.  The exoskeleton steps on the crutch and starts to teeter.  The Balance Pak jumps in after receiving data from sensor arrays proving with triple redundancy that the LIFESUIT was off balance and falling.  The Balance Pak interrupts the Gait Pak and takes over control of the Motor Driver Pak directly driving every moving part of the LIFESUIT to a safe balanced position that will counter act the falling.  The Balance Pak will “consult” with the “Probabilistic Algorithm Pak” to get a recommendation as to where the LIFESUIT should move to counter act the falling action.  The probabilistic algorithms help the robotics system to guess what to do next.

If you are not familiar with probabilistic algorithms you can read about them in the book  “Probabilistic Algorithms” by Dieter Fox.  These procedures are used by machines to anticipate the next steps.

In the example above we are experimenting to determine which computers work best in each setting.  Some Pak’s do not need the sophistication of the PSoC and a simple ARM will work just fine.  Others may work best with the Raspberry Pi.  The only way to know is to build, test and study the results.  Since the powered exoskeleton science is relatively new, where only a few have a decade or more experience.

If you have some experience working with the Raspberry Pi and would like to make a difference in a paralyzed persons life, come join us at the lab.  We are making history and you can be part of it.  If you are not in the Seattle area and you want to do your part you can get yourself a Raspberry Pi and get started.

Get your own Raspberry Pi here

more about Linux

download Linux here

Probabilistic Algorithms by Dieter Fox


TALOS  is what the Pentagon is calling the LIFESUIT they would like to see that could be a modern day “Iron Man Suit”.

They Shall Walk has been developing technology and engineering mobility to help disabled people walk again.  This same technology could be used to help keep our soldiers and police alive during rescue operations and other dangerous missions.

Currently the LIFESUIT is controlled by a PSoC from Cypress Microcontroller

TALOS was the automation from mythology that was tossed into the garbage heap from the gods when it was deemed useless.

The soldiers have suggested that this could be a useful tech if it could work.  Many experts have said it can not work.  This is easy to say when you are not spending time in the lab every week working on exoskeletons for a couple of decades.

Navy Seals, and Army soldiers alike have said they would like to see this tech work.  There is a video going around in the

milatary special ops community that shows a soldier walking down an alley with mud walled buildings on either side.  He approaches a doorway that has four AK 47’s waiting for him.  As every spec ops will tell you, there is no way to know what you will find behind the door the next door.  It does not matter if it is door number one, door number two or number three.  There is no way to know.  You can train and plan for contingency A, B, C… K and then when you get to the destination in a mission the contingency you did not plan for is waiting for you.

Even the most  up to date intel can be wrong.

The idea of armor that would allow a soldier to withstand a bullet and shrapnel barrage  and allow the soldier to complete the mission is inspiring to the troop who have boots on the ground.  The LIFESUIT is designed to allow a paralyzed person with complete life support systems to walk around.  The high payload capacity is up to 1400 pounds (fourteen hundred pounds).  This allows for respirators, dialysis, IV, EKG, and feeding systems all to be carried.  Because of the payload capability it would be very easy to modify the LIFESUIT to carry a large load of armor.  Sport models of the LIFESUIT are being developed to help athletes to learn to move like the masters.  By recording the movements of a master golfer, boxer or downhill skier they could be used to teach muscle memory to an armature or an up and coming athlete.

These systems could be used to teach new soldiers how to act and react in combat situations.  Using a combination of telemetry suits and Microsoft Kinect systems an experience soldier could be observed and recorded.  Then the new recruits could be placed into the powered exoskeleton and run through some exercises where the LIFESUIT does the movements.  The soldier’s muscles and nervous system would learn the actions of the experience soldier.  This could be especially useful in simulators even before the LIFESUIT is ready for the battlefield.

 We are experimenting with the Raspberry Pi to see if it will be the best computer to run the Brain Pak on the LIFESUIT.
Some links for your reading pleasure

The Generosity Factor:By Ken Blanchard, S.Truett Cathy

The Generosity Factor:By Ken Blanchard, S.Truett Cathy

Get this great book based on the life of co-author S. Truett Cathy of Chick-Fil-A          Share this link

A great quick read. I stayed up  way past my bedtime reading this.  It was well worth it.

Then to learn the book is based on the principles of a man who has been very successful in the eyes of man and by the rules of capitalism where the amount of money you earn is a way to keep score, this guy is way up there in the points department.  In the world of significance were the amount you give of the four T’s  … Talent, Time, Treasure and Touch, this guy ways in with even more points in a week than most people achieve in a lifetime.  Not put it down, I needed I mean NEEEDED… to get to the end to know what the meaning of the Generosity Factor was and what were the keys to transitioning from Success to Significance.

You have got to get this book.  It will be a great read and a great gift to give.

You will rush to get to the end of the book to learn the keys to the Generosity Factor.  When you get there you will be so glad you did.  When you start to apply the principles to your life you will see changes you could not have imagined.

You may want to compare this to “The Gift” by Thach Nguyen


Seattle Mini Maker Faire “Best Maker Booth” Award

The Seattle Mini Maker Faire awarded the “Best Maker Booth” to The Shall Walk at the end of the show after hearing from the crowds and judging based on the spirit of what it is to be a Maker.

(share this shortlink  )

So many of the crowds of people who attended this years Mini Maker Faire in the Seattle Center Northwest Rooms had a chance to pretend they were a physical therapist and sit in the control seat or “drivers seat” and control the LIFESUIT.  This display was made specifically with the Maker Faire crowd in mind.  At the booth a prospective maker or member of the public at large could sit down in a chair that was outfitted with an exoskeleton telemetry suit.  The operator would act like the physical therapist who would be working with a paralyzed patient so they could teach them to walk again with the assistance of the LIFESUIT powered exoskeleton.

The Therapist telemetry suit (TS) controlled the Exoskeleton powered suit (PS).  When the volunteer who was sitting in the telemetry suit chair would move his or her knee the powered exoskeleton would move a manikins’ leg that was representing the paralyzed patient.

This display was built to allow people to try out the technology that makes the original therapy exoskeleton (the LIFESUIT) so unique compared to other therapy exoskeletons that have mimicked and emulated the LIFESUIT since it’s creation in 1986.  The therapist can teach the paralyzed person and the LIFESUIT how to walk, exercise and even dance in real time, all while the system is recording every move.  The recording are kept in a library that the patient can call up anytime when they want to walk or exercise.

Eventually there will be a library of thousands of recordings.   Using the new Microsoft Cloud or other internet based clouds these recording can be shared by millions of people so they will have all the freedom of movement and exercise with the assistance of the powered exoskeleton called the LIFESUIT.  There are many exoskeletons that are now being modified to do the work of the LIFESUIT, a LIFESUIT by any other name is a LIFESUIT.

If you did not get a chance to see the display and try it out at the Mini Maker Faire Seattle you can schedule a time to attend a lab tour at the Seattle facility and try it out.

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

Short link

Read about Alan Mulaly and his fight to save Ford.  See how the insights learned while working for Boeing aircraft    chiseled away at the Pre Mullaly Ford and made it into the masterpiece Ford became.

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company
By Bryce G. Hoffman

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Product Description



At the end of 2008, Ford Motor Company was just months away from running out of cash. With the auto industry careening toward ruin, Congress offered all three Detroit automakers a bailout. General Motors and Chrysler grabbed the taxpayer lifeline, but Ford decided to save itself. Under the leadership of charismatic CEO Alan Mulally, Ford had already put together a bold plan to unify its divided global operations, transform its lackluster product lineup, and overcome a dys­functional culture of infighting, backstabbing, and excuses. It was an extraordinary risk, but it was the only way the Ford family—America’s last great industrial dynasty—could hold on to their company.

Mulally and his team pulled off one of the great­est comebacks in business history. As the rest of Detroit collapsed, Ford went from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most profitable automaker in the world.

American Icon is the compelling, behind-the-scenes account of that epic turnaround. On the verge of collapse, Ford went outside the auto industry and recruited Mulally—the man who had already saved Boeing from the deathblow of 9/11—to lead a sweeping restructuring of a company that had been unable to overcome decades of mismanage­ment and denial. Mulally applied the principles he developed at Boeing to streamline Ford’s inefficient operations, force its fractious executives to work together as a team, and spark a product renaissance in Dearborn. He also convinced the United Auto Workers to join his fight for the soul of American manufacturing.

Bryce Hoffman reveals the untold story of the covert meetings with UAW leaders that led to a game-changing contract, Bill Ford’s battle to hold the Ford family together when many were ready to cash in their stock and write off the company, and the secret alliance with Toyota and Honda that helped prop up the Amer­ican automotive supply base.

In one of the great management narratives of our time, Hoffman puts the reader inside the boardroom as Mulally uses his celebrated Business Plan Review meet­ings to drive change and force Ford to deal with the painful realities of the American auto industry.

Hoffman was granted unprecedented access to Ford’s top executives and top-secret company documents. He spent countless hours with Alan Mulally, Bill Ford, the Ford family, former executives, labor leaders, and company directors. In the bestselling tradition of Too Big to Fail and The Big Short, American Icon is narrative nonfiction at its vivid and colorful best.


Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #17113 in Books
  • Published on: 2013-02-05
  • Released on: 2013-02-05
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 7.99″ h x 1.10″ w x 5.20″ l, .70 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 432 pages

Editorial Reviews

“A standout…brimming with smart observations and fresh insights into Ford’s success.” –Alex Taylor, Fortune
“Fly-on-the-wall accounts of Mulally negotiating deals and Ford overcoming challenges from the inside and outside…A paean to the ingenuity, grit and optimism that once defined American industry and to capitalism played with government on the sidelines.” Reuters
“A compelling narrative that reads more like a thriller than a business book.”New York Times
“A must-read.” Huffington Post
“A fascinating read for anyone who follows the car industry.” –Financial Times

“A Detroit News journalist’s in-the-room account of the resurrection of America’s most storied car company…With colorful anecdotes, sharp character sketches, telling details and a firm understanding of the industry, Hoffman fleshes out every aspect of this tale, reminding us of the hard work, tension, and high-stakes drama that preceded the successful result.” —Kirkus

“Bryce Hoffman has done a stellar job of capturing the Ford storyand more to the point showing us how Mulally did it.  American Icon is a story of leadership that offers valuable lessons for organizations of all sizes.” —Lee Iacocca

“Bryce G. Hoffman’s American Icon brilliantly recounts the Lazarus-like resurgence of the Ford Motor Company under the bold and inspiring leadership of CEO Alan Mulally. Hoffman, one of America’s best auto industry reporters, has written a timely book about the relevance of Ford that serves as a larger metaphor for America at large. Highly recommend!” —Douglas Brinkley, professor of history, Rice University, and author of Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress

“Bryce Hoffman has written a riveting tome based on deep insider information about the resurrection of the Ford Motor Company from a near death experience and the establishment of a business model that promises to be a prototype for large organizations of all types. It features the transformation from a top-down style of leadership to that of a coach led by CEO Alan Mulally whose focus is the team, the team, the team.” —David E. Cole, chairman emeritus, Center for Automotive Research

“From the precipitous demise of an American icon through decades of infighting and self-destructive management to a turnaround not only financial but also in terms of forging the foundation of a new, healthy culture, this book reads like an un-put-downable novel. Bryce Hoffman’s amazing inside access tells the story of how Alan Mullally built on Henry Ford’s own management principles—which quickly got lost in the company—and created one company, with one purpose and a passion for product and customers. A great story.” —Jeffrey Liker, professor, University of Michigan, and author of The Toyota Way

Amazing. I would give Alan Mulally twelve D’s for his work at Ford, for Discipline, Data, Daring, Determination, Design, Direction, Decisiveness, Delivery, Doubt-Free, Debt Free, Downsizing, and of course, Dearborn.  I thought I was disciplined until I read how Mulally worked. Bryce is a gifted writer, and American Icon is both educational and entertaining.  Most telling of allI learned from reading this book.” —Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort, and author of Creating Magic

“After decades of stories about the failure of America’s traditional industries to meet world competition, it is heartening to encounter a signal success. But Bryce Hoffman’s rendering of how Alan Mulally reversed the fortunes of Ford Motor is more than heartening; it is riveting. Almost certainly one of the best business books of the year.” —H. W. Brands, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of Traitor to His Class andThe First American

“This superbly reported book is not just about cars. It is an authoritative and inspiring account of leadership, management, corporate culture, and the prospects for American manufacturing.” —John Taylor, author ofStorming the Magic Kingdom

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author
BRYCE G. HOFFMAN is an award-winning journalist who has covered the auto industry, both in the United States and around the world, since 1998. He began cov­ering Ford Motor Company for the Detroit News in 2005. That beat gave him a front-row seat for many of the events chronicled inAmerican Icon. Hoffman has been honored by the Society of American Business Edi­tors and Writers, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, and others for his coverage of Ford and is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the automaker. He lives in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The House That Henry Built

Business men go down with their businesses because they like the old way so well they cannot bring themselves to change. One sees them all about-men who do not know that yesterday is past, and who woke up this morning with their last year’s ideas.


While many of Ford Motor Company’s problems were shared by the rest of Detroit, the Dearborn automaker also faced some challenges all its own. Ford’s woes had not begun with the arrival of the Japanese in the 1960s or the oil crises of the 1970s. The company had been struggling with itself since Henry Ford started it on June 16, 1903. It invested massively in game-changing products, and then did nothing to keep them competitive. It allowed cults of personality to form around large-than-life leaders, but drove away the talent needed to support them. And it allowed a caustic corporate culture to eat away at the company from the inside. These were birth defects that could be traced back to the automaker’s earliest days. Henry Ford liked to boast that he had created the modern world. In many ways, he had. But he also created a company that was its own worst enemy.

Henry Ford began that company with a simple vision: “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one-and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

Ford made good on that promise with his Model T, a simple, reliable, no-nonsense car that transformed the automobile from a rich man’s toy into a means of transportation for the masses. When the Model T went on sale on October 1, 1908, most cars cost a small fortune. It started at $850-less than $20,000 in today’s money. “Even You Can Afford a Ford,” the company’s billboards proclaimed. But Ford did not stop there.

As demand for these Tin Lizzies grew, the pioneering manufacturer began building them on the world’s first moving assembly lines. This cut the average time it took to produce a Ford from thirteen hours to just ninety minutes. But workers got bored on Ford’s assembly lines, and turnover was high. So, in January 1914, the company stunned the world by announcing that it would pay workers $5 a day. It was America’s first minimum wage, and it was more than twice what most other laborers made at the time. As news spread, tens of thousands of men-particularly in the underdeveloped South-threw down their picks and hoes and headed for Detroit. Ford’s $5-a-day wage sparked one of the largest economic migrations since the California Gold Rush and created the industrial middle class. As Henry Ford would later boast, it also made his workers as reliable as his machines. Mass production allowed Ford to cut costs and boost efficiency. He passed the savings on to consumers and made his money on the added volume. Henry Ford claimed that every dollar he shaved off the price of his car bought him a thousand new customers. By 1925, the price of a Model T had dropped to $260-just over $3,000 today-and Ford was making more than 1.6 million of them a year.

It was an impressive figure for the time, but it was nearly 200,000 less than the company was making just two years before. Despite the massive price cuts, sales of the Model T were slumping. So was Ford’s share of the market, which peaked in 1921 at 61.5 percent. Other automakers, like General Motors, were regularly introducing new models-each one an improvement over its predecessor. The Model T had seen few updates. It was old technology, yet Henry Ford stubbornly refused to begin work on a replacement. He thought it was all the automobile the average person needed. When his engineers began work on a new prototype anyway, Ford destroyed it with a sledgehammer. But Ford’s dealers were clamoring for something new. So was his son, Edsel. By the time Ford finally began work on his new Model A in 1927, demand had fallen so dramatically that he was forced to close his factories and lay off 60,000 workers.

As Ford retooled, General Motors passed it to become the largest automaker in the world. Many thought Ford was finished. But on November 28, 1927, people all over America waited in line for hours outside dealerships for a glimpse of the first new Ford in twenty years. It did not seem to matter that the only thing inside most of the stores was a cardboard cutout. By the end of the day, more than 10 million people-10 percent of the U.S. population-had seen the Model A. It combined the Model T’s practicality with something entirely new to Ford customers: style. Thousands placed orders on the spot. Ford’s factories surged back to life, unable to keep up with the unprecedented demand for its new car.

Within two years, the company had sold more than 2 million Model A’s and its share of the domestic market doubled. Yet once again, Henry Ford rested on the laurels of his phenomenal success as his competitors continued to improve their offerings. The next new Ford would not arrive in showrooms until 1932. By then, other manufacturers were introducing new models every year, and Ford was losing money. Fortunately for the Dearborn automaker, its new flathead V-8 motor was another innovative hit. But Ford would not really begin to diversify its product lineup until after World War II, and even then it would continue to make the same mistake with products like the Thunderbird and the Mustang.

By the 1980s, Ford was fighting for its life once again-this time against new competitors from Japan. Ford and the other Detroit automakers had been ceding sales to the import brands for a decade, and many doubted whether the Big Three would be able to mount a counterattack. Then Ford stunned the automotive world with the most radical new design in years. In 1985, it unveiled the Ford Taurus, a streamlined sedan with rounded corners that featured the tighter suspension and precise steering more typical of European automobiles. Critics said it looked like a jellybean, but it was a hit with consumers and pushed Ford’s profits past GM’s. The Taurus was so successful that General Motors and Chrysler were soon copying Ford’s aerodynamic design, as were the Japanese.

For a while, it seemed like Ford might finally have learned its lesson. It introduced an upgraded version of the Taurus in 1992 that was even better than the original. The Taurus became the bestselling car in America, seizing that title from the Honda Accord. But Ford’s investment in the popular sedan soon petered out. In 1997, Toyota’s Camry claimed its crown, and the Taurus was soon relegated to rental car fleets. When production finally stopped in 2006, few even noticed.

Ford’s overreliance on a single product was surpassed only by its overreliance on a single man. In the beginning, that man was Henry Ford. Instead of leading a team of managers, Ford preferred to rule his industrial empire like a potentate. He had a good eye for talent and initially tried to fill his court with able executives, but he often drove them away once they began to exert significant influence over his organization. Ford was even unwilling to share power with his own son. Edsel Ford replaced his father as the company’s president after the family bought out the other investors in 1919, and he held that position until his death in 1943. But Henry Ford still made all the decisions, large and small, often countermanding any orders his son tried to give. He even rehired men Edsel had fired.

Though Henry Ford did not create Ford Motor Company by himself, he often acted as though he had. James Couzens, the company’s first general manager, played the prudent businessman to his mad inventor-at least until he resigned in 1915.

“Mr. Couzens said that, while he was willing to work with Mr. Ford, he could no longer work for him,” wrote another early Ford executive, Charles Sorensen. “The paradox is that but for Couzens and his organization and domination of sales and finance Ford Motor Company would not have lasted long.”

William Knudsen, a manufacturing prodigy who helped orchestrate the company’s shift to mass production, was also driven away-right into the arms of General Motors. There he became head of Chevrolet, leading it past Ford in factory output by 1931.

“Mr. Knudsen was too strong for me to handle,” Henry Ford later conceded. “You see, this is my business. I built it, and as long as I live, I propose to run it the way I want it run.”

Instead of capable executives with their own ideas, Ford preferred to surround himself with yes-men and hired guns like Harry Bennett, the éminence grise with reputed underworld connections whom he hired to keep order at the River Rouge factory complex. Bennett was quickly promoted to chief of the Ford Service Department, which under his leadership grew into the largest private police force in the world. Men like Bennett fostered an enduring culture of intrigue and backstabbing among Ford’s senior leadership. Employees lived in fear of being fired by capricious managers and thought carefully before answering questions to make sure they gave the expected response, even if it was wrong.

By the 1930s, Ford had become “a dark, almost gothic place, with a shadowy administration, activities shrouded in mystery, and a roster of dubious characters running rampant on the premises,” in the words of historian Douglas Brinkley, who also noted the absence of any real corporate structure at the company. “Henry Ford had preferred to receive reports on his company anecdotally, even through espionage, rather than in the numeric rationale of accounting.”

The Flivver King, as Ford became known, ran his dominion by instinct and intuition. The only way anyone in Dearborn knew how much cash the company had was by looking at its bank statements. Ford actually figured out how much money to set…

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful.
5If you liked the Walter Isaacson book “Steve Jobs”, you are going to love this one on Alan Mulally. Both are of similiar quality
By S. Power
I highly recommend that you read this book and fully agree with what the other positive reviewers are saying about it. This book itself was not just a good read about a stalwart man, and an incredible company, it is an epic tail of a Great American Manufacturing Dynasty brought back from the brink of extinction. Reading it really inspired me to learn even more about Mulally, The Ford Motor Company, and their products. After reading the book, or while you wait for it to arrive, check out some of the videos and movies about Alan Mulally on the internet. His appearances at local universities, on late night talk shows, and in a documentary done about his work at Boeing all make for really interesting supplements to this book.

This book is different from, but every bit as well done as Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs. Both of the biographies are appealing in many of the same ways. You get a history lesson, a solid business book, a solid overview of the automotive industry, a human interest story, and a biography not just of Mulally but also of other key people in the industry. You also get a really fully developed business case study that demonstrates the lessons of teamwork, core competency, strategic management, benchmarking, business ethics, the importance of liquidity among many other concepts. Although Steve Jobs and Alan Mulally are as different as two men can be, I see similarities in their importance, vision, and impact on the World. Their biographers and their biographies are also very different, but again similar in quality and importance.

The factual accuracy of this book seems to be very good. Bryce Hoffman has a lot of credibility in this part of the country and it doesn’t seem that he has any agenda except to tell the story and write a good book. At times, he seems to be exaggerating the dichotomy of how bad Ford was and how great Alan Mulally and Bill Ford were, but a lot of people I know deep inside ford have the same opinions. I don’t think that the author has any nefarious agenda in writing this book, and he is so hard on the automotive insiders in this country that I don’t think anyone will accuse him of being self-serving. In the last chapter he does a nice job of pointing out how no one man saved Ford and reaffirming the strengths that some of the ‘characters’ brought to the situation.

The entire book is suspenseful and captivating from start to finish and in the events or perspective of each chapter. There are really funny anecdotes throughout the book and more than enough drama to keep even fiction readers interested. There is also a lot in this book that will make for worthy quoting. The chapter starters are all relevant quotes from Henry Ford himself, but there are also a lot of very useful and powerful quotations from more recent people, events, and situations.

The biography is written in a non-sequential style that can be a little unwieldy because it requires that you really keep on your toes about how the events relate as they are addressed in the various chapters. Despite this small flaw, or choice of style, the book is well organized, and I think the author made the right decision, overall in the presentation of the information. Just be prepared to have to go back sometimes to refresh your memory about where in time the topics that are being discussed occurred.

These two biographies, this one and Isaacson’s, are the most thorough and well done books in a very long time. I highly recommend that you read this one and consider tabbing it as you go. I wish I had tabbed mine as I went. There is certainly a lot of information that I’ll be referring back to as I try to emulate some of Mulally’s successes and avoid the pitfalls that are highlighted.

If there was anything that you wanted me to cover in this review that I failed to, please let me know in the comments and I’ll go back and cover them. I want this to be useful for you.

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful.
5Fascinating, page-turning, idea-inspiring!
By James Korsmo
Simply put, this book is a page-turner. And that’s not what you’d normally expect from a business book. But there’s a great story here, well told, that excites the mind.

There hasn’t really been a bigger story in the last half-decade than the economy, and along with the banking and housing sectors, America’s “big three” automotive manufacturers have been key players in that story. But amid an economy in decline and two cross-town rivals falling toward default, Ford managed to plot a different course. This book is the story of that startling rebirth. It briefly chronicles the history of Ford, appraising its ups and downs and the resulting corporate culture its history had created. And it looks at the trouble it was facing (along with the rest of the auto industry) in the mid 2000s. But things took a decisive change for Ford when Bill Ford Jr. volunteered to step aside as CEO and bring in outside help. And the person he tapped for that responsibility was Alan Mullaly, a top executive who had just led a resurgence at Boeing.

American Icon is really three books in one: It is an interesting piece of modern American history, chronicling the inside workings of a key economic player in the midst of historic economic troubles throughout the country and the world. It is also a business book, with thoughtful and inspiring ideas for rethinking corporate culture, business workflows, and entrenched mindsets with cross-functional teams, openness, responsibility, and a carefully focused but always updating plan. And third, it is an interesting biography of both Bill Ford Jr. and Alan Mullaly, giving insight into their personalities and approaches to business.

Mulally’s ideas of emphasizing simplicity, comporting vision with reality, and demanding open collaboration and communication among team members worked wonders at Ford. He paints a compelling picture of how a corporate structure (at whatever level) could work constructively and agilely to effect productive change and breed success. I often had to put the book down so I could jot down ideas for making some of his principles work in my own workplace. This business book almost pulls new ideas out of you by stimulating your thinking; at least, it did for me.

I loved this book, and am happy to enthusiastically recommend it. It’s a fascinating case study in successful business coupled with compelling modern history told as a fast-moving story. You will not be bored; in fact, you’ll be pulled in to Mulally’s vision as you see it unfold before you.

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful.
By Aaron Gutsell
Simply put, Ford is now exciting. Bryce Hoffman explains why and how. Alan Mullally was brought in to save a legend from itself, and he did just that. The Mulally model will probably be studied and taught for decades. Ford’s culture was poisonous at so many levels. Bad products, bad policies, and a toxic culture of backstabbing and oneupmanship had culminated in what would be an inevitable end. Executives bugged each other’s offices, phones were tapped, vehicles were overproduced and later sold at discounts; and that culture was decades old. Henry Ford started it all when a bunch of guys went behind his back, made some improvements to the Model T, and delivered a prototype. Ford destroyed it with a sledgehammer.
Bryce Hoffman was given unprecedented access and provides direct quotes from many of the defining moments and situations that occurred over the last decade, including talks with the Chrysler and GM CEOs, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, candidate Obama, the Ford heirs, and so on. There have been complaints that the book is overly optimistic bordering on worshipful. Well, all you need to do is look at the product. I walked around a dealership. Ford’s new vehicles look great, and the company now has the highest quality rating for a non-luxury brand. In the book you read about the current advertising campaign that was conceived several years ago. Ford started off with ‘One Ford’ or something, and as quality improved, Mulally wanted to move to interviews with customers impressed with the new product; in other words using actual customers to sell great vehicles. And that is exactly what is happening today.
Mr. Hoffman has been an auto industry reporter for a number of years and knows what stories are relevant, where the bodies are buried, and where the shovels are at.

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