Jack: Straight from the Gut

Jack: Straight from the Gut

3.7 24
by Jack Welch, John A. Byrne
     
 

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In an anticipated book on business management for our time, Jack Welch surveys the landscape of his career running General Electric, one of the world's largest and most successful corporations. Here he reveals his philosophy and management style.See more details below

Overview

In an anticipated book on business management for our time, Jack Welch surveys the landscape of his career running General Electric, one of the world's largest and most successful corporations. Here he reveals his philosophy and management style.

Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
...a book that almost everyone still interested in business...can't afford to ignore...a very good yarn...
Newsday
...will be of interest to anyone who really cares about business...
Bernadine Healy
An American treasure, Jack Welch teaches us how a leader with keen intellect, guts, and honor can impart courage to people around him, weather unexpected storms, inspire performance, and take an organization to greater and greater heights. His formula challenges all of us and any institution striving for excellence.
Warren Buffett
Jack is the Tiger Woods of management. All CEOs want to emulate him. They won't be able to, but they'll come closer if they listen carefully to what he has to say.
Thomas Middelhoff
Jack's vision and courage, his ability to prevail, his art of motivation and, of course, his success, make him the role model of entrepreneurs and managers worldwide.
Nobuyuki Idei
Jack Welch, the brilliant business magician, has finally disclosed his mysteries of management. Now we must accept the generosity of his challenge and try to match or exceed him.
Michael D. Eisner
Jack Welch gave team leadership new meaning as he took an industrial giant and turned it into an industrial colossus with a heart and a soul and a brain.
Publishers Weekly
It doesn't matter whether you love or hate Jack Welch. Who can resist hearing the man tell his story? This abridged version of his recently published autobiography, featuring Welch himself, is quite entertaining. With his slightly raspy Boston accent, Welch discusses his childhood and his career. When he proclaims something, he gives examples to illustrate his point. For instance, he says his mother was the strongest influence on his life. He then recalls the time he threw a hockey stick across the ice in disgust after losing a game, and his mother stormed into the locker room as some teammates were changing to exclaim loudly, "If you don't know how to lose, you'll never know how to win." When discussing his long career at GE, Welch is equally detailed. While some listeners unfamiliar with the corporation may find some of the discussions tedious, most will be captivated by what appears to be Welch's brutal honesty. He talks about having to lobby for promotions because he didn't "fit the GE mold," and he's open about making some poor business decisions. He's not as forthright as it appears, though. He talks about his beloved wife, Carolyn, who provided a stable home while Welch was rising in GE's ranks, but barely mentions their divorce. Still, this audiobook will be interesting listening for anyone who has followed Neutron Jack's career. Simultaneous release with Warner Books hardcover. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this fascinating personal and business memoir, Welch, recently retired CEO and board chair of the General Electric Company, reveals extensive inside details about his life and his 30-plus years with GE. During his 20 years as CEO, Welch built GE into a highly successful megacorporation, earning a reputation as one of the most admired business leaders in the world. Starting with poignant revelations of the importance of his mother in his life, he carries the listener through his early days of success in GE's Pittsfield, MA, office; his entry into the "big leagues" as CEO; the now famous "Neutron Jack" moniker from the time he reduced GE employment by over 100,000 in his strategy to "fix, sell, or close" each business; and the purchase of RCA to provide a foundation for future earnings. The stories of GE's buyout of NBC, the hard work to globalize the company, and the adoption of quality management principles help relate this powerful tale, read by Mike Barnicle and Welch, to listeners dealing with similar challenges in their own careers. The author's self-effacing personality, down-to-earth delivery, and focus on common sense all greatly add to this collection of Welch's intriguing anecdotes, which will likely be in strong demand. His thick Boston accent will occasionally catch listeners off guard and might steer some to the widely acclaimed hard copy. Highly recommended for all public libraries and university libraries supporting a business curriculum. Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
The career of former General Electric CEO Jack Welch leaves us with many lessons in management, business and leadership. From his beginnings as a stuttering, competitive kid from working-class Salem, Mass., to his early days as a GE engineer, to his ascension to CEO in 1980 and subsequent 20-plus-year reign at the top, Welch stressed the importance of people, originality, creativity and common sense. The result is a leadership style that is often imitated, but never equaled.

In Jack: Straight from the Gut, Welch is both storyteller and coach, using his exceptional career as the backdrop to share his thoughts on what it takes to be a great leader. Part management text, part page-turner, Jack shows how the man, widely regarded as the finest corporate executive of his generation, built his business and his reputation.

After Welch has described in detail the colorful stories of his rise through the ranks and the actions he took to change the corporate culture at GE, he delivers specific ways a CEO can lead a company to success. He writes that there is no pat formula for being a CEO. Everyone does it differently, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it, no magic formula that is the right thing to do in all cases. However, Welch has found a number of strategies that have helped him lead GE over the years. These are a few:

Ten Leadership Principles

  • Maintain your integrity. Establish your integrity and never waver from it. People might not have agreed with Welch on every issue, but they always knew they were getting it straight and honest. He never had two agendas; there was only one way - the straight way.
  • Set the tone for your company. The organization takes its cue from the person on top. Welch always told GE's business leaders their personal intensity determined their organization's intensity - how hard they worked and how many people they touched would be emulated a thousand times over.
  • Maximize your organization's intellect. Getting every employee's mind into the game is a huge part of what being a CEO is all about; taking their best ideas and transferring them to others is the secret. Be open to the best of what everyone, everywhere, has to offer, then transfer that learning across the organization.
  • Put people first, strategy second. Getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing a strategy - this truth applies to all kinds of businesses. Without the right leaders in place, the best, most forward-thinking strategies in the world will amount to little.
  • Stress informality. Bureaucracy strangles; informality liberates. Creating an informal atmosphere is a competitive advantage. It isn't about first names, unassigned parking spaces, or casual clothing; it is about making sure everybody counts, and everybody knows they count. Passion, chemistry and idea-flow from any level at any place are what matter. Everybody's welcome and expected to go at it.

Resist Arrogance

  • Be self-confident. Arrogance is a killer, and wearing ambition on one's sleeve can have the same effect; legitimate self-confidence, however, is a winner. The true test of self-confidence is the courage to be open - to welcome change and new ideas, regardless of their source. Self-confident people also are not afraid to have their views challenged; they relish the intellectual combat that enriches ideas.
  • Appraise all the time. Whether you are handing out a stock option, giving a raise, or simply bumping into someone in the hallway, always let your people know where they stand.
  • Mind your culture. If your company joins forces with another through merger or acquisition, establish the new entity's culture on day one, to minimize confusion and root out resistance to your goals.
  • Recognize the benefits of speed. By acting decisively on people, plants and investments, Welch was able to get out of the pile very early in his career at GE. Yet, upon his retirement 40 years later, one of his greatest regrets was that he had not acted fast enough on a number of occasions. He never regretted taking quick action.
  • Forget the zeros. The entrepreneurial benefits of being small - agility, speed and ease of communication - are often lost in a big company. Welch's experience in plastics enabled him to come to the job of CEO knowing that isolating small projects and keeping them out of the mainstream was a smart thing to do. By focusing on such projects as separate, smaller businesses, the people involved were more energized, adventurous and backed by the right resources.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
Jack delivers the lessons of leadership that have helped Welch become one of the most recognizable and respected business leaders of our time. Throughout Jack, he conveys his motivations and successful ideas with heart and intellect, and develops a formula that any leader can use to inspire performance and overcome organizational challenges. By providing the details of his experiences at the top of GE with compelling stories, and shedding light on the thinking he used to conquer unexpected difficulties, Jack offers colorful insight into the strategies of a legendary leader. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780759509214
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
10/01/2003
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
142,306
File size:
7 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Building Self-Confidence

It was the final hockey game of a lousy season. We had won the first three games in my senior year at Salem High School, beating Danvers, Revere, and Marblehead, but had then lost the next half dozen games, five of them by a single goal. So we badly wanted to win this last one at the Lynn Arena against our archrival Beverly High. As co-captain of the team, the Salem Witches, I had scored a couple of goals, and we were feeling pretty good about our chances.

It was a good game, pushed into overtime at 2-2.

But very quickly, the other team scored and we lost again, for the seventh time in a row. In a fit of frustration, I flung my hockey stick across the ice of the arena, skated after it, and headed back to the locker room. The team was already there, taking off their skates and uniforms. All of a sudden, the door opened and my Irish mother strode in.

The place fell silent. Every eye was glued on this middle-aged woman in a floral-patterned dress as she walked across the floor, past the wooden benches where some of the guys were already changing. She went right for me, grabbing the top of my uniform.

"You punk!" she shouted in my face. "If you don't know how to lose, you'll never know how to win. If you don't know this, you shouldn't be playing."

I was mortified—in front of my friends—but what she said never left me. The passion, the energy, the disappointment, and the love she demonstrated by pushing her way into that locker room was my mom. She was the most influential person in my life. Grace Welch taught me the value of competition, just as she taught me the pleasure of winning and the need to take defeat in stride.

If I have any leadership style, a way of getting the best out of people, I owe it to her. Tough and aggressive, warm and generous, she was a great judge of character. She always had opinions of the people she met. She could "smell a phony a mile away."

She was extremely compassionate and generous to friends. If a relative or neighbor visited the house and complimented her on the water glasses in the breakfront, she wouldn't hesitate to give them away.

On the other hand, if you crossed her, watch out. She could hold a grudge against anyone who betrayed her trust. I could just as easily be describing myself.

And many of my basic management beliefs—things like competing hard to win, facing reality, motivating people by alternately hugging and kicking them, setting stretch goals, and relentlessly following up on people to make sure things get done—can be traced to her as well. The insights she drilled into me never faded. She always insisted on facing the facts of a situation. One of her favorite expressions was "Don't kid yourself. That's the way it is."

"If you don't study," she often warned, "you'll be nothing. Absolutely nothing. There are no shortcuts. Don't kid yourself!"

Those are blunt, unyielding admonitions that ring in my head every day. Whenever I try to delude myself that a deal or business problem will miraculously improve, her words set me straight.

From my earliest years in school, she taught me the need to excel. She knew how to be tough with me, but also how to hug and kiss. She made sure I knew how wanted and loved I was. I'd come home with four As and a B on my report card, and my mother would want to know why I got the B. But she would always end the conversation congratulating and hugging me for the As.

She checked constantly to see if I did my homework, in much the same way that I continually follow up at work today. I can remember sitting in my upstairs bedroom, working away on the day's homework, only to hear her voice rising from the living room: "Have you done it yet? You better not come down until you've finished!"

But it was over the kitchen table, playing gin rummy with her, that I learned the fun and joy of competition. I remember racing across the street from the schoolyard for lunch when I was in the first grade, itching for the chance to play gin rummy with her. When she beat me, which was often, she'd put the winning cards on the table and shout, "Gin!" I'd get so mad, but I couldn't wait to come home again and get the chance to beat her.

That was probably the start of my competitiveness, on the baseball diamond, the hockey rink, the golf course, and business.

Perhaps the greatest single gift she gave me was self-confidence. It's what I've looked for and tried to build in every executive who has ever worked with me. Confidence gives you courage and extends your reach. It lets you take greater risks and achieve far more than you ever thought possible. Building self-confidence in others is a huge part of leadership. It comes from providing opportunities and challenges for people to do things they never imagined they could do—rewarding them after each success in every way possible.

My mother never managed people, but she knew all about building self-esteem. I grew up with a speech impediment, a stammer that wouldn't go away. Sometimes it led to comical, if not embarrassing, incidents. In college, I often ordered a tuna fish on white toast on Fridays when Catholics in those days couldn't eat meat. Inevitably, the waitress would return with not one but a pair of sandwiches, having heard my order as "tu-tuna sandwiches."

My mother served up the perfect excuse for my stuttering. "It's because you're so smart," she would tell me. "No one's tongue could keep up with a brain like yours." For years, in fact, I never worried about my stammer. I believed what she told me: that my mind worked faster than my mouth.

I didn't understand for many years just how much confidence she poured into me. Decades later, when looking at early pictures of me on my sports teams, I was amazed to see that almost always I was the shortest and smallest kid in the picture. In grade school, where I played guard on the basketball squad, I was almost three-quarters the size of several of the other players.

Yet I never knew it or felt it. Today, I look at those pictures and laugh at what a little shrimp I was. It's just ridiculous that I wasn't more conscious of my size. That tells you what a mother can do for you. She gave me that much confidence. She convinced me that I could be anyone I wanted to be. It was really up to me. "You just have to go for it," she would say.

Copyright © 2001 by John F. Welch, Jr.

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What People are saying about this

Michael D. Eisner
Michael D. Eisner, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Jack... took an industrial giant and turned it into an industrial colossus with a heart and a soul and a brain.
Nobuyuki ldei
Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman and CEO, Sony Corporation
Jack Welch...has finally disclosed his mysteries of management...
Bernadine Healy
Bernadine Healy, M.D., President and CEO, American Red Cross
An American treasure... teaches us how a leader with keen intellect, guts, and honor can impart courage to people around him...
Thomas Middelhoff
Dr. Thomas Middelhoff, Chairman of the Board, Bertelsmann AG
Jack's vision and courage... and, of course, his success, make him the role model of entrepreneurs and managers worldwide.
Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett, Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway
All CEOs want to emulate him... they'll come closer if they listen carefully to what he has to say.
Michael Eisner
Jack...took an industrial giant and turned it into an industrial colossus with a heart and a soul and a brain. (Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company)

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