Jacked Up: The Inside Story of How Jack Welch Talked GE Into Becoming the World's Greatest Company

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“Shockingly informative, unexpectedly funny, and a surprisingly good read about Welch’s tenure as GE’s CEO and CRO (chief rhetoric officer).” -Strategy + Business magazine

When it comes to leadership,



Jack got quiet for nearly a full minute, and stared down at the table with the semi-scowl that meant some kind of processing was going on. Then he said, loudly and decisively:

“No, no, no! We’re not doing this any more. No more ‘reports.’ We’re sick of reports. The only pitches that are worth anything are when you tell people what they ought to do. Otherwise it’s just a waste.”

And so it began, gradually, that GE began to move from a self-absorbed corporation to what Welch would later describe with much pride as “a real learning company.”


One day Jack brought a copy of a letter he had been sent. It was written by one of our very senior business leaders “explaining” some Corporate initiative. The letter made no sense, and Jack read passages of it aloud, with inflections that emphasized the absurdities in what the man had written. Finally he stopped laughing long enough to render his final criticism.

“It’s like something he yelled out the bathroom door to his secretary while he was sitting on the can. That’s it exactly. This is a shout from the bathroom.”


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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
As Jack Welch's speechwriter for 20 years, Bill Lane sat within the gates of corporate power. His job provided him with unique opportunities to witness and often participate in the legendary General Electric CEO's epoch-making actions. Lane's jacked-up memoir tracks the sometimes testy Welch as he micromanages GE's improbable resurrection. He details Welch's boldest moves and his most impetuous decisions; his skillful consensus building and his decisive responses to adversity. Serious business readers will be particularly attentive to his description of Welch's obsession with effective communication; everybody will enjoy the boardroom gossip. A valuable tutorial on getting your message across corporate divides.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071544108
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 1/11/2008
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Lane joined GE as a speechwriter in 1980, after seven years at the Pentagon. From 1982 to 2001, he was Manager, Executive Communications for the Company, and Jack Welch’s speechwriter.

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Table of Contents

Introduction     xi
Part I
Torched by an A-Hole     1
Retiring But Not Shy     5
Reflections of a Pimp     11
Bore Wars: Chet Lang and the Big Bang     13
Death of a Pitchman     17
Part II
I Can't Deal with this Anymore     23
Mike's Big Day     27
Crotonville High     35
Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance     37
Fred's Bad Day     39
Triumphs, Train Wrecks, Coronations, and Jack's Biggest Miss     43
You're Going Nowhere at GE Unless...     45
How to Succeed in Business by Really Trying     49
Love-or Hate-at First Sight     51
The View from the Bowling Alley     55
The Bogus Boca Presentation     61
Died and Went to Headquarters     65
Selling Hats to Each Other     69
Part III
The Russians Are Coming     73
Hectoring the Hobbit     77
Movin' On, Sideways     79
Death to Strategic Planning     83
Blubbering on the Stand     85
From Grunt to Flunky     87
The Marionette Meister     95
Jacking Up the Commo     101
Don't Dive.Swim!     103
Part IV
Restuffing Guts     107
Gentle Meddling     111
Called on the Carpet     113
More Change via Negative Reviews     117
Takes One to Know One     119
Dead Man Talking     121
"Stop Construction Today"     123
Every Biopsy Doesn't Have to Come Back Positive     127
I'm Okay; You're an A-Hole     129
Bulletproofing the Love-In     131
Part V
Death by Presentation at NBC     137
Peeing on the Kidder Body     141
A Shout from the Bathroom     143
The Wright Stuff (Righted)     147
Diversity Is Our ... er ... Strength     149
Part VI
Fly Ball at The Pierre     155
Black Clouds Lift the Stock     163
The Chairman and the Strawman     165
Don't Screw This Up     169
Don't Care About It? Don't Do It!     173
The 110 Percent Solution and Jack's Perks     175
Wanna Drink Lunch with Us?     181
The Firing Squad     185
Part VII
Why Gary Wendt     191
Lack of Care Packages     199
Seinfeld in Fairfield: The Yogurt Incident     203
Order and Logic Out of Chaos     205
Doin' Time     209
Better Than the Best     211
Herb Smokes Jack; Warren Lurks in His Nightmare     213
The Welch Work Ethic     217
The First Through the Drapes     221
Crotonville Turkey Shoot     225
A Pad in Front of You     229
If Your Wife Thinks It's Boring, It's Boring     233
Danger: Flying Carrot Fragments     237
Ringo's Rule     239
The Perfect Annual Report     243
"Not a Pennyworth of Difference"     249
Part IX
Bore Wars Continue ...     251
Lloyd's Law: A Learning Company     257
The Bore Test. Are You Relevant?     261
Larry Leaves. Lane Grieves. (On the Way to the Bank)     263
The Inevitable (But Very Short) Golf Section     269
Tough Jack to Follow     271
Know Your Potential Enemy     275
Out of the Gate and Serious     277
Part X
Tell Me a Story     281
The Dogs Are Your Friends     285
What You Face If You're Black, Asian, or a Woman     289
Ten Minutes! No More!     293
PowerPoint Is the Enemy. Never Surrender      297
On Being a Leader Rather Than a Projector Operator     301
Do It All in Five Charts     303
At the End of the Day     307
Love Story     311
Final Thoughts     315
Index     317
Boring Acknowledgments Section     323
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Revealing look at charismatic speaker Jack Welch

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008


    This book mirrors my views of business meetings and presentations. Most are meaningless drivel meant to fill a time allotment. Many of the presentations that I endure are forgettable. I liken them to mating chickens - lots of wing flapping, flying dust and feathers, and an egg layed in the end. If you want to improve your delivery and give your people the initiative they need to say something meaningful, read this book. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2009

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