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Straight from the Gut

Warner Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
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Part of the art of being a CEO is managing to be just interesting enough to hold people’s attention without offending any listeners or revealing too much. Of course, there is much more to it as well, like exercising authority, setting clear standards and maintaining your integrity. Jack Welch’s fairly conservative autobiography proves that the irascible Welch mastered all aspects of this difficult discipline, especially the first. Don’t expect to learn juicy details of Jack’s divorce or to get an insider’s political view of the horse race to select his successor. Nevertheless, this memoir might be the closest you ever to get to answering the question, "What made Jack Welch tick?" Despite some bland moments, getAbstract contends that anyone who wants to understand the American corporate landscape should read this book - so once again, Welch delivers.


Good Things Come to Life

Jack Welch was iconoclastic from the beginning. His parents had difficulty conceiving, and he was their only child. His father, "Big Jack," was 31 when Jack was born on November 19, 1935. Big Jack worked as a railroad conductor on the Boston & Maine commuter line between Boston and Newburyport, and never missed a day of work. If it looked like the weather was going to be bad the next day, he would have his wife drive him to work the previous night. He would sleep in one of the cars on his train to be sure he would be ready in the morning. Big Jack spent his career punching tickets every day, passing through the same 10 depots.

Welch’s mother, who was 16 when he was born, was the major influence in his life. She once stormed into his hockey team’s locker room because Jack had thrown his hockey stick in anger after a tough loss. "You punk!" she shouted in front of the other players. "If you don’t know how to lose, you’ll never know how to win. If you don’t know that, you shouldn’t be playing."

Welch was the first person in his family to attend college and, in 1960, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He promptly went...

About the Author

Jack Welch , a leading modern executive, just retired as the CEO of General Electric. After completing his doctorate at the University of Illinois, he worked for the company his entire career and began serving as CEO in 1981. John Bryne is a writer for BusinessWeek magazine.

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    N. N. 9 years ago
    I believe people deserve a second chance. If they really want to improve their performance, they will. If not, they'll be gone.
  • Avatar
    A. G. 1 decade ago
    I've used the advice on how to get rid of someone, roughly paraphrased as: 1. do it fast, 2. do it with dignity, 3. feel terrible about it. It consistently produces a better outcome than any legislative guidance, is almost always kinder to the affected individual than 6 months of "performance management", and the savings in their salary, your time and your company's morale all add up to allow you to be generous in the settlement package. It's never fun - and should never be fun - but it can be done quickly and with dignity.