Summary of Jacked Up

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  • Applicable


Jack Welch was the most famous CEO in the U.S. when he ran General Electric. During the Welch era (1981–2001), GE’s value skyrocketed, making millionaires of employees with stock options. CEOs across the globe adopted Welch’s strategies for streamlining operations, reducing payrolls and dominating markets. Welch retired superrich (current estimated net worth: $720 million) – not bad for a short, stumpy, middle-class guy with a lifelong stutter and an explosive temper. GE staffers called Welch “Neutron Jack” because of his temper, his pettiness and his heavy hand with firings, more than 100,000 during his first four years as CEO. In this book, Bill Lane, Welch’s speechwriter for two decades, reveals the true man, warts and all. Despite his singular accomplishments, Welch comes across in Lane’s book as an abusive tyrant and a bully. Lane doesn’t make himself look much better, from commenting on a female stockbroker’s “great legs” to throwing around expletives. He paints an unattractive picture of overpaid, self-indulgent, immature executives, pitching things at each other and acting, as Lane puts it, like “little boys competing for attention in the schoolyard.” getAbstract finds that this book is a top-notch primer on executive communication and recommends it for that purpose. Just don’t pay as much attention to the way its stars comport themselves when they’re not in public.

About the Author

Bill Lane was General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s speechwriter for more than 20 years.



“Neutron Jack” Blows Up GE

Before Jack Welch became General Electric’s CEO in 1981, the company’s oral presentations were bloated, windy, pompous and overproduced. Each year, GE spent millions on presentations, many involving a dozen slide projectors and computers that flashed bright images on a giant screen in a flurry of multimedia glory. The more garish, elaborate and costly the communication experience, the better.

At GE, the medium was usually the message. Company presentations were kaleidoscopic events, Hollywood-like productions, gorgeous eye candy – but little more. They functioned as infomercials. So, they didn’t generate much credibility. The speaker and content were almost superfluous afterthoughts. Certainly, that is how audiences regarded them. Despite all the expense and effort, these presentations communicated only a minimal amount of information.

Of course, not all GE presentations were elaborate multimedia events. However, the simpler presentations were, in their own way, just as bad as the staged productions. Most were “boring spewings.” Typical GE speakers (or “gasbags”) would drone on interminably. These speeches’ purpose seemed to be to put...

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