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Voice strong opinions

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Career advancers complain just like everyone else. But they make sure their complaints are sound—not shrill—and heard by the right people.

Take Michael J. Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, America’s biggest publicly traded auto dealer. Jackson, 52, has a “lifelong knack for switching gears at the right moment,” according to The New York Times.

In the early 1990s, Jackson was a partner in a large Mercedes dealership in Bethesda, Md. A natural leader, he craved greater challenges. So he joined the Mercedes national dealer council and became president. In that position, he could voice his opinions to an influential audience of high-level auto executives.

When expressing his complaints about Mercedes’ stuffy brand image in the United States, Jackson also suggested marketing solutions. His well-intentioned criticism won over the CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, who hired Jackson as executive vice president of marketing.

Jackson injected fresh life into the brand and drove Mercedes sales to record levels. His success led him to become CEO, first of Mercedes-Benz USA and then AutoNation.

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