Jack: Straight from the Gut

By Jack Welch

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
david mcgee
I guess it's not bragging if you can do it - and he did. It is difficult to argue GE's success over the past 20 years. Mr. Welch took a 12 billion company and made it into a 500 billion dollar business. Without even using a computer!! Regarding the portion of the book where he talks about assigning E-trainers for all the top executives in the company, all I have to say is rank does have its privileges, It must be nice to have a techie hold your hand if you are an executive and computer illiterate.
It is hard to believe that it wasn't until 1999 that Jack Welch sent his first email. A multimillionaire who isn't connected....
I am not sure if it is ignorance or apathy?

In regard to the layout of the book & in Mr Welch's defense, I am not sure how the author could have gotten around referencing everybody he worked with or for.
If you can get through that part of the book, there are some things in the rest of the book that are of value. I listened to the book on tape so it wasn't so bad.
He does talk about real people and real problems that he encountered throughout his career and what it took to get the job done working within the environment HE created.
If you are not a business person or just wondered what it is like at the top, here are a few of the key ideas Mr Welch talks about in his book.

Stretch jobs - Jobs that MAKE you grow
The runway of a person, - How long before takeoff
The vitality curve of a career
Differentiation being a key value to getting ahead
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sapphira
It's a mildly interesting read, but I'm not sure it's worth the time. All you walk away with, really, is an understanding of the fact that execution matters.

To be fair, there's only so much to be said for a guy who inherited a very strong balance sheet and a huge management team (where hiring clearly matters less than trimming the fat).

So, instead of the 'how' (basically strong management techniques forcefully applied), it answers the 'what'. Which is why the book reads like a list of initiatives rather than how they were conceived. (Bizarre for someone who clearly prides himself on shaping the creative chaos of emotionally charged team meetings.)

Anyway, it's an easy to read, albeit poorly written (repetitive). And, as other reviewers have pointed out, overly resplendent with instances of name dropping GE's executives, various golf courses, hotels, buildings etc.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
taweewat
In the business world, Mr. Welch nearly epitomizes the meaning of success. His employee-"ranking" system, although challenged by many, has yet to be improved upon. I've read many autobiographies by successful and/or powerful people, and it quickly becomes apparent that the one thing most have in common is that they take risks. This may seem obvious by outsiders, but by reading book such as "Jack" you can see how difficult it must have been to do things with a company that EVERYBODY is telling you shouldn't be done. But Jack explains in detail his reasoning behind many of his decisions and he follows-up be explaining why a certain decision succeeded or why it failed. It is this kind of self-reflection that is evident in only the greatest people, and I was truly inspired as I read this book. I found myself talking about it constantly, and you can easily find yourself quoting him when trying to cheer someone up.
Perhaps the best person to read this book is someone who knows a little about business and the players involved. Basically, don't get it for the high-school graduate, but buy it for the MBA wanna-be.
Warren Buffett and the Business of Life - The Snowball :: Investment Strategies of the World's Greatest Investor :: The Search for the Company with a Durable Competitive Advantage :: 30 Years of Lessons Learned from Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger at the Annual Shareholders Meeting :: Lessons for Corporate America - The Essays of Warren Buffett
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
fauzi zaky
Although I didn't walk away from this book knowing any more about Six Sigma than I did walking in, I didn't expect a detailed explanation of the legendary quality control system. I expected, and received an entertaining read about one of America's legendary corporate chieftains, Jack Welch of GE. Other than Warren Buffett, there is no CEO held in higher esteem than Welch.
His philosophy seems, at first blush, astonishingly simple: Focus on the people. Although this may seem to contradict GE's massive layoffs in the 80s, Welch would have you believe, quite convincingly, that laying off employees to build a stronger GE was fair to the employees being laid off, who could be more successful at another company, and fair to the employees retained, who had a stronger company.
Welch's caution about the internet, much like Buffett's, is looking more and more intelligent with each closing .com.
Overall, a quite interesting book with a simple philosophy fleshed out. My only question: How did Welch manage to run such a large company and still golf so much?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
frieda
Before I read this book, the primary source of my knowledge about Jack Welch was reading his annual letters to shareholders of GE. And, of course, the countless newspapers articles about Mr. Welch, detailing his Six Sigma program and how he turned GE from a bloated corporation to a lean efficient operation in which employees are empowered to make changes that make a difference. Like many people, I have given thought to whether the principles Welch developed for GE could apply to my business, particularly his mantra that he only wants to be in an industry in which he has tremendous market power. So I bought the book and gave it a read.
I found the book to be a very quick and easy book to read. My biggest question is whether the book accurately captures Mr. Welch's personality. I never met the man and had a general impression that he was one tough guy, primarily due to his "neutron jack" reputation when he fired thousands of GE employees. However, much to my surprise, Mr. Welch apparently does not take himself too seriously and the entire book is written in a self-effacing style with much humor. One of the reasons the book is so interesting and compelling is that Mr. Welch mixes chapters focussing on his business acumen with passages on the importance of friendship and things like golf.
I also was interested to learn that Mr. Welch can admit his mistakes. I found his discussion of GE's purchase of Kidder Peabody fascinating because it stressed the importance of truly understanding corporate cultures (and how to blend them)if a merger will ever have a chance to succeed. Similarly, the chapter on GE's failed purchase of Honeywell was also very interesting.
Of course, the book details many of Mr. Welch's successes, from his efforts to become CEO of GE as a young man to his purchase of RCA. Most of these efforts result from the no-nonsense, straight-from-the-gut candid management style that Mr. Welch steadily adhered to while transforming GE into one of the most disciplined profitable corporations in the world.
If you like to read business management books written by successful corporate leaders, this is a can't miss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
murphinator
A direct and straightforward memoir from a very strong personality, this book covers the highlights of Mr. Welch's acension to the throne of GE. The primarily focus is the challenges he faced as CEO, and the results he brought to the table. These results naturally tend be painted very positively, but then again it's hard to argue with GE's results during his tenure. Less attention is placed on GE itself, although the reader is able to get a good feel of the complexity present within one of the world's leading firms. His personal life is only touched upon very briefly, although this may accurately reflect the proportion of time he spent at the office.
Straight From the Gut offers an interesting opportunity to peer into the mind of a top CEO, and to understand the motivations which drive him in his work. Mr. Welch does come across as an arrogant individual who is very proud of his accomplishments, but these are probably the same characteristics which got him to where he was. One is indeed inspired to go out and follow in his footsteps after reading this book.
The book ends with a good summary of 'takeways' for managers todays, and with an interesting compilation of Mr. Welch's forecasts of challenges for businesses in this new century.
Overall, this book is an enjoyable and useful read, particularly for anyone even remotely interested in the field of business.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeff rensch
First off, let's get one thing straight - it's Jack Welch. No other CEO in modern times has been as instrumental in such a monumental turnaround of a corporation as has Jack Welch with GE. Welch recounts his impressive and expeditious rise to the top of the food chain as well as his unique and provocative strategies that catapulted him there.
This book proves to be a veritable must have for anyone who desires to learn a thing or two about improving upon one's management credo. Welch divulges anecdotes with self-effacing humor including the revolutionary concepts that helped forge his place in corporate history. Included are such simple, yet oftentimes overlooked, ideas such as boundaryless sharing of ideas, an intense focus on ideas, an informal give-and-take style that makes bureaucracy the enemy, and of course, his efficacious cornerstone of differentiation. Read it and learn from the best.
As Jack so laconically states, "Never underestimate the other guy."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dana kaechele
I've read this book again for the 5th time and always glean new information from each review.

It's true that many of the theories put forth in the book weren't "Jack Welch" originals, but he did put theory into application. He demonstrated the business theories promoted by Peter Drucker and others were/are correct.

The culture he created of eliminating the "bottom 10%" is true. If your business desires to reach new levels, this has to be done. Painful sure. Necessary yes.

With regards to operating in a "boundaryless" culture, his point of it taking time is well noted. I believe this is an ultimate goal which every company should strive.

Did some people at GE fear Jack? I'm sure they did but the fear was driven by not being prepared to defend a particular position.

Is my leadership style just like Jack Welch? No, but his success can't be denied and I'm a firm believer you can learn from everyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anish bhatt
What makes an 'A performer'? Jack's years at GE have seen their share of successes, narrow escapes, and missteps along the way - and it is Jack's treatment of the former that makes this an incredibly insightful book to read. You cannot be right all the time, nor should you expect your peers or subordinates to be, but at the same time, it is your role as a leader to identify and cultivate the best performers continuously. Yes, that means letting go of your bottom 10%, every year.

Aside from being an inspiring and educational read, the book also offers a rare glimpse of the corporate growth strategies and acquisitions made by GE - a side of corporate America that is rarely covered and poorly understood outside of the top financial circles.

Highly recommended for any entrepreneur and business owner out there. (Yes, the lessons apply outside of multi-billion dollar corporate context.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
stacy b
As a testament to my ignorance, I picked up this book without knowing who the author was. I learned pretty quickly about Jack Welch and his time as an engineer, manager, and then CEO of General Electric.

Kudos to Welch for having realized that those companies that do not adapt to new business realities are doomed, first to non-performance, and then to failure. He certainly saved GE, one of America's great companies, from stagnation if not death. He realized GE would have to expand its business to sectors outside of GE's previous operations, and maybe even scale back or sell off the traditional businesses. Many people criticized him for this. Today, those same people worship him. My company now uses software developed by GE for our day to day operations. In previous decades, most people knew they only made refrigerators and light bulbs.

Welch was also criticized for liberally firing people. So many people lost their jobs when GE took over certain companies that he was called `Neutron Jack'. I feel for those people, but Welch calls the firings necessary. Welch also let many non-performing managers go. I don't feel for these people. I wish my company did the same thing. I am tired of having to pick up slack for non-performers.

A frown to Welch for one thing: resisting the government mandated clean up of the Hudson River. Welch was furious at an employee for having admitted that the company was responsible for polluting the Hudson River with dioxins. He should have owned up and cleaned it up.

This book is lacking in that it gives only impressions on how to manage a company. Very superficial. But then it doesn't really promise specifics either, and such a book probably would take several more volumes and be boring anyway. There are many useful insights and take-away generalizations that make this book worthwhile.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
celeste ng
Some reviewers argue that the "real" Jack was far from the relatively good or rational or wholly GE minded Jack projected in the book. I don't personally know Jack, of course. However, for an outsider like me who just want to learn about how Jack had made GE that very successful, my objective had by and large been achieved. Not only successful stories, but also failures, had been covered with reviews by the decision maker himself. I forgot in which issue of Harvard Business Review this year that some scholars attributed the quality of the CEO to be the primary determinant of the fate of a corporation. This book, and the performance of Jack and GE, did give the aforesaid theory a big support.

p.s. What Jack did in the past two decades had reminded me of a Chinese saying, "The success of a general is built upon tens of thousands of dead bodies" (skeletons, to be exact). Perhaps that's the cruelty of the business world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tal hirshberg
Jack Welch was General Electric Chairman & CEO from 1981 to 2001 and is seen as one of the greatest business leaders of the 20st Century. The book is split up in five sections, an epilogue and the issue I read included a revised afterword.

Section I - Early Years deals with Welch's youth, his education (PhD), his start at General Electric (GE) Plastics as engineer in October 1960, and his promotions within from engineer to general manager of GE Plastics in June 1968 ($26m in annual sales), VP of GE's chemical and metallurgical division in July 1971 ($400m), GE group executive in June 1973 ($2bn), and GE senior executive for the consumer products businesses in December 1977 ($4.2bn). The final chapter of this section discusses the race between 5 senior executives for the succession to Reg Jones (GE Chairman & CEO). And in December 1980 Welch got the nod from Reg Jones and on April 1, 1981, he officially took over. Although Welch's performance was good, it was still a surprise for many, including Welch himself: "Obviously, I wasn't a natural fit for the corporation. I had little respect or tolerance for protocol. I was an impatient manager, especially with people who didn't perform." General Electric at that time had annual sales of $25 billion, with profits of $1.5bn, and 404,000 employees.

Section II - Building a Philosophy discusses Welch's early, turbulent years as CEO. "I came to the job without many of the external CEO skills. ... But I did know what I wanted the company to `feel' like" He discusses the No.1 or No.2 vision ("fix, close, or sell"), the three circles (services, core, and high technology), the outright sales of businesses (the air-conditioning business, Utah International, and the appliance business, whereby the last sale did not go down well with GE employees), and the cutbacks in many parts of GE (headcount went down 118,000 between 1980 and 1985; 81,000 lost their jobs and 57,000 in sold businesses). Due to all this actions Welch was nicknamed "Neutron Jack" in mid-1982 by Newsweek: "The guy who removed the people but left the buildings standing." ("I hated it, and it hurt") Late 1985, GE made the strategic acquisition of RCA for $6.3bn cash, who was then the biggest non-oil deal in history. In this section he also discusses the strange, but successful, combination between Bob Wright ("a light bulb maker") and NBC, which led to success in cable TV, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC itself. One black mark on Welch's reign has been the saga regarding the PCB contamination of the Hudson River, which has been going on for 25 years. That particular experience has changed Welch's perception of government and he makes clear that he (still) does not agree with the government's stance towards GE on this case.

Section IV - Game Changers discusses the four major initiatives GE pursued in the 1990s: 1. Globalization: Global sales went from $9bn in 1987 (19% of GE's overall sales) to $53bn (40%) in 2001, which Welch believes mainly grew out of Paolo Fresco's passion and appointment as senior VP in 1987. 2. Services: The successful service experiences from the medical business and the revised strategy of the nuclear business were shared and implemented into the other GE businesses. This has resulted in the growth from $8bn in 1995 to $19bn in 2001 and a possible $80bn by 201o. 3. Six Sigma: Through Welch's friend and ex-GE Vice Chairman Larry Bossidy (than CEO of AlliedSignal) Six Sigma was introduced in 1995. Six Sigma means less than 3.4 percent defects per million operations. "That's 99.99966 percent of perfection." 4. E-business: "The internet revolution nearly passed me by - until [second wife] Jane made me comfortable with it" (in 1999). Welch admits that he never fell for the old vs. new economy during the dot-com era. "... the only extra expense is for Internet development. The big company already has strong brands and the systems to fulfil orders." In 2000 GE had $7bn on-line sales and $14-15bn in 2001. "E-business and GE's installed base are made for each other."

In Section V Jack Welch looks back and forward. The first chapter discusses the insulting treatment of GE by the European Commission regarding the $44bn acquisition of Honeywell International in 2001, where he gets told to "Go home, Mr. Welch." The next chapter he discusses what it means to be a CEO: "Being CEO is the nuts!" In that chapter he discusses shortly about 30 ideas that worked for him. "There's no pat formula to this CEO things. ... Pick and choose among them, or just toss them all." There is also a short chapter on the game of golf, which is one of Welch's largest passions - and he is good at it with a handicap of about 3. There is quite a long chapter on the GE succession in 2001, which was eventually between 3 executives, and the planning that went into that succession. There is also a short epilogue and a slightly longer afterword (with comments on his post-retirement package from GE).

Yes, this is unmistakably Jack Welch's autobiography. It is blunt, fast and straight to the point. Although the book is about 450 pages long, it reads as a much shorter book and he could probably have filled another 450 pages. Jack Welch is considered as one of the great business leaders of the 20th century, together with the likes of Alfred P. Sloan. But the autobiographies of Sloan ("My Years with General Motors") and Welch hardly have any comparisons. Sloan's autobiography is much more detailed, while Welch's is more "helicopter view". I do have a few comments about this autobiography, there is not enough on the "real work" that took place, not enough on the "execution tools", and not enough on the financial numbers during his time at GE (within an appendix in future editions perhaps?). I recommend Larry Bossidy's book "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" to people interested in the "real work" and execution tools used at GE during this period. Still, a good entertaining business autobiography.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nickie
Jack Welch, although the most well known CEO in Corporate America for decades, is going beyond his own myth in his autobiography. He has decided to get a better hold of his destiny by explaining himself to readers. Welch shares with his audience some very interesting insights about his personality and management style that he has developed over time: self-confidence, self-respect, trust, toughness and aggressiveness as well as warmth and generosity. Welch, a star performer, realistically played the promotion game to climb to the top of GE. As CEO of GE for two decades, Welch proved many detractors wrong by turning a stodgy, bureaucratic manufacturing conglomerate into a very profitable, service-oriented constellation of companies sharing the same vision and values. Welch probably knows better than anybody else that the work of his life is unfinished business. Business is indeed a process of constant renewal.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chilly
If I could give this book 6 stars, I would. If you work in Corporate America, this is a must read. I bought the books on tape (unabridged) and the emotion is even more powerful with Jack's own voice. Here is a guy who came from a poor background, used education to leverage himself into GE, but after that it was his vision, leadership and absolute intolerance for mediocrity that propelled him forward. If you work for a large company, this is an absolute must read! Its fascinating to hear the inner workings of this large ship that Welch turned around. Granted, he may appear a bit egoistic to people who don't understand his leadership style. For those of you who understand how business works in America will appreciate his successful this book. For those of you who don't, this will be an eye opener. Welch eventually sky rocketed GE's Market Capitalization and delivered to shareholders in a way that is often referred to in this modern era of corporate scandals as "the old fashioned way," yet his style was far from being old fashioned.
He was ruthless to the old way of thinking. He moved mountains of bureaucracy within organizations. Did he do it all himself? Absolutely not. Thats not the role of a visionary and a true leader. He peered out of the proverbial tower and mobilized his forces, facing stiff resistance most of the time. What I particularly liked was his ability to see in people the ability to perform and lead. He has countless anecdotes of people who were not the typical "successor leader" drop them into leadership positions and have them shine. Welch quickly learned that good leaders aren't necessarily the ones that have multiple degrees from IVY leagues, but instead someone with the hunger and drive to succeed.
Welch had actually resigned from GE in his early days, but a great mentor held him back, and on the day of his farewell party he announced that he was going to stay. Just imagine what GE would have been without Jack!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jd hettema
I am a former employee of GE I will verify that while I was with GE I loved every single management direction Jack Welch gave, and this book accurately depicts the culture he strove to create. Unfortunately, a few small steps down the ladder, it was not the same corporation he aspired to create.
First about the book though. It is well written, flows quickly and easily, and is enjoyable to read. That being said, it always came up just a bit short of my expectations. Getting some insight into Jack's worldview, childhood, career ascent, and personal interactions was fascinating. However, every chapter is packed with information that could be expanded into a book itself. For example, when he would discuss a business decision the narrative gave the impression he just had an "epiphany of common sense" and made it happen. Jack states consistently, and it was true in my experience, that he was very detailed and analyzed data passionately. The book leaves out most of this "meat" and the data behind his decisions and therefore reads too simplistically.
I was saddened to read about his family, or rather to be more blunt, not to read more about his family. He devotes all of about a page to his divorce to his wife. As another reviewer commented, maybe Jack was just practicing his own version of getting rid of the bottom 10% of his family. In any event it is clear that while his own family of origin was very important to him, it is not clear he aspired to spend the same amount of time with his own family. Sad, but a reality of the level of position he held and how he prioritized his time. This to me was always his glaring defect of character, because what he did on the job was amazing.
His business ideas are brilliant, so brilliant that they seem like common sense until one realizes that they were new at the time. While truly a business "Darwinist", his views on people created the type of organization that inspired people to put their all into their work. It wasn't until I spent some time at other Companies that I realized how rare that is.
....
Unfortunately, most people in leadership at GE at my level had his books, his tapes, and his shareholder slides, but did not have his wisdom, his passion, or his courage. The ideas he put into practice were brilliant in the hands of those who knew how to use them, and dangerous and dysfunctional to those who didn't.
Overall the book is a worthwhile read. I highly recommend it. I would also recommend some of his other books which go into more depth about the management theories he inspired and developed. While one may argue about the lack of work and family balance he creates, his leadership is legendary, and his results were unmatched. I was proud to work for him and be a part of what he created. I have taken his ideas with me to other companies and use them today.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
yousef
Any time you pick up a book with a title like "Jack: Straight from the Gut" you should know you are getting yourself into an exercise in self-congratulation. References to yourself by first name alone with a glib sub-title like "Straight from the Gut" are not good signs. For some reason I missed those signs in the title, but by the end of the book I understood it in spades.

Welch is an extremely talented leader and businessman, but only a few nuggets of his wisdom fall out of this doorstop of a book. The rest really comes across as Jack writing for Jack. It's also distracting to read books (like Lance Armstrong's "It's not about the Bike") in which the author praises their spouse as God's greatest gift to them when you, the reader, know that they've since been shown to be cheating on them or to have left them for someone flashier.

Better books out there on managment and business. Try "Good to Great;" it's a whole different format, but you'll get a lot more ideas on making yourself and your company better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
glenda wallace
Jack says:

"Often business are a lot like a fine restaurant; if you peek behind the kitchen door the food never looks a good as when it's brought out on the fine china" This makes a lot of sense, often time the "outside world" has no idea what goes into a growing business.

His basic premise to business is integrity and taking a simplistic straight forward approach. He believes mistakes can be a better teacher than success.

He starts early with his explanation of what helped form his belief in differentiation (rewards based on individual progress); going back to his 1st year with the company when he got the same $1,000 raise that his co-workers got, and he felt like made more of a contribution.

He also says:

I've never seen a business ruined by cutting costs too much too fast."

Jack is a follower of Peter Drucker and credits him with his, "Fix, Sell or Close" philosophy relating to his strong belief of being number one or number two in any business GE is in. It derived from a question Peter raised in one of his many management books, "If you weren't in a business would you enter it now, and if the answer is no, what are you going to do about it?"

He also says:

"Peter is a genuine management sage."

"Dreaming about the future and not delivering in the short term is the easiest of all. The test of a leader is balancing both."

While discussing GE Credit:

Quoting Ben Franklin, "You don't earn interest if you don't collect the principal."

Talking about the growth of GE Capital in the 90's under Gary Wendt, he says, "Gary wanted to plant a flag everywhere he went. He told his team not to worry about a few wounds- we want to win the war and we've got to take ground." I love this!!!

GE Capital was on a growth tear buying consumer loan operations and private capital companies, doing deals from Budapest to Europe.

In 1990 they did 400 +/- deals acquiring over $200 billion in assets.

"Gary lived for the deals"

My favorite saying that I have to remember is when he is asked to start a negotiation he says, "You must think I have hay between my teeth, you expect me to start negotiating with myself."

By Kivin Kingston author of, A 20,000% Gain in Real Estate: A True Story About the Ups And Downs from Wall Street to Real Estate Leading Up to Phenomenal Returns

My Blog: bloglines.com/blog/KevinKingston
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ale teleleu
So Jack created profitability at GE. Big deal. So he 'invented' six sigma. a totally useless business model. Towards the end of his book he becomes so esoteric that he seems to have lost grasp of what running a company means. Living the good life and waltzing around with a new woman apparently got to his head. Six Sigma is cute but its useless if thats the only thing you focus on, some esoteric model that has nothing to do with down to earth business, its a number crunchers dream but a realists nightmare.
A terrible treatment. Iaccocas book is more real and down to earth. This book started out with a down to earth irsihman who built himself up but it ends with someone who has a head thats too big for us all and thinks he is better then the world(strolling around in his cheesy kashmir sweaters).
Jack wastes pages and pages detailing all the waste he contributed to charity and community involvement. My company has a community involvement program, I wouldnt volunteer if I was paid to. Business shouldnt be wasting time in lobbying or in charity, it should do what its essential goal is, to do business. Leave charity to the philanthropic organizations. If Jack really cares for charity as much as his book says he does then I feel sorry for the people at GE, forced to waste time with kids and art and useless things like that they could be doing on their own time.
Not a fan. Yet there are parts of the book that detail some interesting parts of GE. Like when Jacks Predeccesor says to him "if a plane crashed and everyone was killed in the top leadership who would you save to lead the company". And then "what three people would you want to live to manage the company."
So it deserves a few stars. Besides like Henry Ford, I dont trust anyone with a PhD running a company.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tonia
Inspiring and informative book filled with amazing anecdotes and stories covering 40 years. Despite management theories coming an going over the years, "Straight from the Gut" provides insights and advice that transcends time and gets back to the basics .. treating people with respect, creativity, passion, rewarding talent and being a leader that leads by example.
Despite Welsh's reputation as a tough guy with a quick temper the message is still refreshing and energizing. If GE could turn a huge bureaucracy into the feel of a start up then there is hope for every organization out there.
My only criticism is that not enough pages were given to diversity or to the value of international assignments. It is clear that Welsh is in favor of these but the pictures in the book all seemed like the stereotypical NE County Club board meetings to me.
Early in the book, Welsh admits he forget his French and German the day he sat the test .. I wonder if he regretted that in Europe in 2001 ?
A recent magazine article also mentioned how his successor Immelt has never had an international assignment.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
pamela
It was interesting to look into the mind of the modern CEO and understand what and how he thinks. Now that Jack is at the end of his life, it is safe to judge based on his own autobiography that when he is done with living, on balance he had created more unhappiness in the world than he had created happiness. Under his will, hundreds or thousands have lost their livelihood, and with it their homes, self-respect, families, and so on. Only few - Jack's close pals - have gained extra satisfaction by earning extra dollars.

While none of us here is a saint and all of us hurt others routinely, some of us by gaining access to a bigger stick do more damage. Jack wielded his gigantic club with a fanatical zeal. The book reads like a one long sermon or perhaps rationalization on the virtues of clubbing and disposing of the weakest ones under one's dominion and control.

If you want to emulate Jack's type of success, this book does offer some insight. But I am giving it only 3 stars because this book is mostly boasting and a mechanical recounting of the chronology. Jack might be a businessman, but he is no writer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hessa issa
My idea was to read the book and soak up the wisdom, treating it like a text book for results. I was not disappointed. However, I received the bonus of seeing how a combination of education, expectation, and the vision to look beyond success to exponential success in venues unimagined by his competitors, propelled Jack to superstar status.

The way that Jack treated management of people and projects was challenging, but fair in his expectations, and focused on results. It's not always a feel good, nice try environment - it's about "getting the job done". He took many ideas from the great minds of our time and applied them in a way that drove excellence and enhanced the original idea or belief. Don't let the "grandfatherly" appearance fool you - this is a driven man that knows and models discipline.

Several times during the book, I wish he had slowed the pace and given more explanation around the dynamics of decisions and dealing with strong personalities. While at other times, he did just that... His ego comes through a little strong at times, but I guess he has earned the right.

His imagination, courage, and drive for results are a great example of what can happen when you expect to win.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
usmaztf
I was attracted to this book for two reasons. First, of course, Jack Welch is the most celebrated CEO of an American-based company of the past half decade. Second, it was written with John Byrne, and I believe that Byrne, after 1,000 hours of interviews, and past books on the early brain trust at Ford, Scully at Apple; the evil Al Dunlap, and a book on cancer causing product defects, knows the salient issues for a CEO book. And so, last week, I completed two books on life at General Electric. In both, the narrators became so frustrated by the firm�s bureaucracy and sloth that they tendered their resignations. In �In Good Company� by James Martin, he leaves GE to become a Jesuit priest. In �Jack� by Jack Welch, he is talked out of his resignation, stays, and becomes the firm�s celebrated CEO and Chairman. I approached �Jack� warily; I was so disappointed with other recent CEO books by Viacom�s Redstone and Disney�s Eisner. I was even more wary of the book when the first chapter opened with the story of Mr. Welch�s seventh consecutive high school hockey team loss and followed with his humble origins (just as Iacocca started with his firing at Ford, Redstone�s began with his surviving a hotel fire, Al Dunlap injures a muscle, and Eisner�s has chest pains) But my cynicism was proved wrong. This book is the best since Sam Walton�s autobiography. Welch is honest. He admits that he is extremely competitive, loud, impatient, and abrasive. And he lies to himself about his height (saying that he is 1.5 inches taller than he is). There is even a glimpse of sex and death in the book, when, as a doctoral student, he is caught by a cop on a car-date with his pants down, and when he is having a heart attack, he runs into a hospital, hops on a gurney and starts screaming emotionally. He also spends a whopping 2 short paragraphs on his divorce from his first wife.
He writes that he got the top job at age 44 even though the HR head felt he had significant limitations, was detailed, arrogant, and emotionally overreacted. Welch discusses his impatience, brashness, his proactivity of asking for promotions and assignments, his audacity to ask to remain in Pittsfield even though all senior staff had to move to the NYC area, and his penchant for BOTH kicking and hugging his staff (his advice to one underling was to fire 5 of his 6 direct reports). The other reviews posted here tell you what you need to know. My only addition is that I found Part 2 to be the most valuable section, especially Chapters 11 and 12. In them, the reader learns about how Welch took control of GE. We learn the source of the �Sell, Fix, or Close to be #1 or #2 in high margin growth businesses� philosophy (Drucker), and his sale of three businesses, including GE small appliance housewares. He discusses how he thought of boundarylessness while on a vacation island and he discusses how he forced his managers to face realities and contradict other�s forecasts (How could they believe that they could sell new nuclear reactors after 3-Mile Island?). In Chapter 11, Welch discusses the candor and openness of the Vitality Curve and his ranking of managers into three classes and ridding the company of the bottom 10%. The Class C managers should get no raises. He writes that he is doing them a benevolent favor, since they aren�t growing at GE. He gives credit to Noel Tichy and Crotonville. He also describes his Work-Out sessions, and his four E�s: Energy, Energize, and Edge, but also an ability to Execute passionately.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
prakriti
REVIEW: If one word could sum up Jack Welch's career at GE it might be "results". And this is why many people will want to read this book. It is basically an autobiography of Jack Welch's GE years and does not dwell on deap management theory. Those readers expecting a lot of new business theory or to learn how to repeat Jack's performance by reading about his secret methodology may be disappointed.
The management insights that Jack does reveal seem to me to be generally built on fairly well established (but poorly executed) management practices. Jack has just embraced them and used focussed passion coupled with an obsession on people to execute superbly and produce great results. For example, some of his major initiatives could be said to have been derived from existing management principles: 1) "No. 1 or 2" Jack admits is derived from Peter Drucker, 2)I believe six sigma is derived in part from Motorola, 3) "Boundaryless behaviour" can said to be based on Peter Drucker's observation that there are no profit centers inside an organization, and 4) Jack was clearly not an early pioneer on "E-business". Yet he recognized the opportunities and produced results from them. The book probably won't become a classic, but it is still recommended reading for today's and tomorrow's managers and especially those interest in the man himself.
STRENGTHS: The book is a fairly easy and interesting read full of anecdotes and insites. It does a great job of showing the management task as art and discipline that can be learned, improved, and mastered rather than as personal charisma or other common stereotypes of leadership.
WEAKNESSES: The minor weaknesses of the book relate to Jack's strong, competitive personality (and maybe ego) that show through in his writing. Despite that author's initial disclaimer to read "I" as meaning "we" I found Jack's lack of distinction between himself and GE to be minorly annoying. Parts of the book are filled with phrases like "I bought this $$$$$ company" when clearly "We" is appropriate [I know, I'm nit-picking]. Second (and this is almost excusable in an autobiography) Jack rarely gave the "other side" of the story when discussing major GE crises. For example, he never explains the EU's reasons for blocking the Honeywell merger, assuming that it is so obviously wrong it's not worthy of explaination.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
waffles
The information learned in this book should apply to all, but putting it into practice is something else. It seems all the top people in G.E. are all MBA's and are talented far above the madding crowd.
You feel the effect of smallness in about the largest corporation in the world. The way Welch describes the various parts of General Electric, each unit is a "small" business by itself [ of course they are NOT small, but seem that way in the description of development]and growth by the executives are described in detail as to how accomplished and where the CEO fits in to the G.E. picture.
I was out of my league as to abilities in business and education, but learned a lot of the details of big business. I listened to the unabridged tapes for this book rather than reading it, and would recommend this to anyone interested in business and learning of anothers' accomplishments in life!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
lukuoli
I listened to the first half of the audio book and I just could not continue. Jack Welsh, is definately an achiever and his story of rags to riches is heartwarming. As his story moves from his life living with his parents; his father a hard working ticket collector on the trains, to getting his PHD in Engineering to becoming CEO of GE his story keeps you tuned in.
I got this audio book because I thought that it would be very motivational. It would give me the attitude that "Anyone can do anything with hard work". What I took away from Jack's story is that "Anyone can do anything with hard work...if they are a man". As Jack tells the story of his career he talks about his collueges and how they played a part in his success. When I quite listening to the tapes...there still had been no mention of any women doing great things at GE. In fact there were no mention of women period! Except his mom and his wife.
I realize that his story starts in a time when women just weren't a strong part of the workforce, but for this hard working professional women I found it too depressing and non motivational to continue to listen. All I could think of was, "Here's another GOOD OLE BOYS CLUB!" The golfing, the male-male bonding, where are the women? I give this one 2 stars instead of 1 because if you are a man you'll probably enjoy his story more than I did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessie tong
Welch is definitely one of the top managers in the U.S., at least as far as popularity goes. From this book, we are able to see that he is a man of vision and strong will, both of which he uses to lead GE in a period of great growth.
I was a little disappointed by the lack of detail on many sections, such as Six Sigma and other GE management innovations, which I expected to find in this book. I found it to be much more of a history than an analysis text, which is okay for readability (hence the 4 stars), but does not help much in drawing interesting lessons.
Given this man's significance to the stock market exuberance and the star CEO mania of the 1990s, I think it is an important book to help one understand the time. The concise style is also a plus.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lex velsen
I loved the book very much. Jack is a very smart man. He used plain language without boasting of himself told one of the greatest business story ever. "Oh, how come it was all so easy? He did nothing by himself!" and so on are questions that might pop up after reading the book. Just remember, everybody knows eating less and workout more will reduce fat, but look at how many people are fat. Jack has the power of execution! He envisioned something, and could achieve it. He was not the smartest, but he was the toughest; it's personality not intelligence that counts. It's hard to see these things from this book, because it's an autobiography, and it's not likely for one person to analyze himself so completely with the conclusion been that he is better than all others. Anyway, dwell into the book a bit more; you will learn and admire.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
shannon walker
Jack Welch's pronouncement that "GE will be a Chinese company by 2000." still rings in my ears. This orientation leaves several questions in my mind. First, how much of GE's technology was paid for by US taxpayers? And benefited from a favorable business climate in the US? Was Jack's plan to live in the US, run corporate offices here, and move technology and jobs to China? Given this plan, why did GE get 150 billion of TARP money, paid for by our children's debt? Why not ask the Chinese for it? hmmm. (In addition, I am told GE exploited a legal loophole in TARP law so they don't pay it back. Google it if you don't believe me.)
Actions speak louder than words, and if this is your idea of "Winning," get another role model, because this pan-handling is my idea of "Losing." Granted, this robbery of our children didn't happen during his ascendancy, but it was the house that Jack's leadership built...
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
bryan packer
Jack is entirely too long. Welch makes the mistake of trying to give a narrative of his entire career instead of organizing the book around a central theme and cutting the fluff. It's the sections dealing specifically with his managerial successes at GE. None of the methods he applied at GE were groundbreaking. But there is something to seeing them in action. Perhaps Welch's greatest contribution was the discipline and rigor he brought to the execution of those methods. Sadly, Welch has no non-business wisdom to impart. His first marriage was a failure, and as we now know so was his second.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
david davies
This is really a very fascinating book, and I would have to say that it's required reading for management students. Welch started at GE in 1960 as a plastics engineer and made it to the CEO/Chairman position about twenty years later, which he then held for twenty years. This book summarizes his career and experiences at the company. There is no doubt that Welch helped turn GE into a true competitive juggernaut, poised for 21st C. success. There are dozens of great management lessons to be learned in these pages. It's a good read, and it's full of interesting stories and colorful characters. Of course, nasty "Neutron Jack" does make appearances. The guy insists that PCBs are safe. The guy wants to sue to make Superfund unconstitutional. And his notions of corporate social responsibility date back to the stone age. Of course, Jack's ego is bigger-than-life, and that comes through too. But for interested managers and management students and scholars, this book is worth the time.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
gilda
This is one of the most excruciatingly boring and self-promoting pieces of work I have ever had the opportunity to read. I still find myself amazed that I actually finished it! Through the entire book I kept thinking to myself:
1. Surely this will get better! - This man is an icon, surely there is something interesting in this thing! Sadly, I was wrong.
2. No more cliches! - Does Jack Welch have ANY ideas of his own? He constantly drops phrases and `ideas' such as "six-sigma", "boundary-less" or "be no.1 or no. 2". Almost all of these are pirated from Drucker or basic college business courses. Welch seems to think he coined them and that they are somehow revolutionary.
3. What an EGO! - What an ego this guy has! He pretty much accepts full credit for everything from inventing the lightbulb to discovering the internet. Page after page of "I did this" and I did that" was more than just a little annoying.
4. Is Jack God? - According to Welch, he is right, and everyone else is wrong. Even when addressing GE 'failures', Welch is quick to point out that the failures were not the fault of GE, rather they were the result of the incompetence or unfairness of others. In his paranoid mind, everyone from the competition to the Federal Government is conspiring to topple GE, while poor Jack serves as the sole protector of capitalism, mom, apple pie and the American way.
5. Lucky! - Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. From what I can ascertain from this book, all that GE accomplished with Welch at the helm would have occurred just as well without him. Contrary to his own beliefs, there is no indication that anything GE attained was the result of Welch's brilliance or creativity - in fact, many achievements were attained in spite of his missteps, poor planning and lack of leadership.
I will concede that the early parts of the book in which Welch revels of his early days, his education and his introduction to GE, are very interesting, and make for a good read. Beyond this, the reader is inundated with page after page of meaningless numbers and Jack's own enormous ego.
What can you learn from "Jack"? Nothing, other than that Jack Welch is an egomaniac with little to say that hasn't already been said. I went into the book as a fan of Welch, and came away wondering how he ever managed to hold down a job. Save yourself the 10+ hours of reading this bunk and read something worthwhile.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jbin taylor
If Terrance Man in the movie "Field of Dreams" was the self-described "East Coast Distributor of involved", Jack Welch may be the World Wide Distributor of egomania.
I can't knock his results. But as a book, the autobiography seems to paint himself in the worst possible light. He devotes an entire chapter to Golf. Not only does this conjure up images of deals being made on the 19th hole (excluding women of course), was more often than not the Coin of the Realm with Welch as far as the people he dealt with. After reading the book, if you worked for GE for 70 hours a week, lead the life of a Quaker, and followed the GE employee handbook to the letter, you were set up for a quick exit unless you were also one of the boys that shared his slant on life. Several of the country clubs he speaks highly of are noteworthy for being single sex, single race establishments. Which, to me, is fine. However, there are both flagrant paradoxical mentions of diversity at GE and out and out creeds that preach total inclusion and involvement on the part of the employees which stands counter to his personal life.
Is Mr. Welch a sexist, racist, bigot etc...? No. Of course not.
However, it does speak to an ego out of control when his private life is spent in such a manner that contradicts his stated values.
As a business book, it is pretty good. I doubt most GE employees would recognize the company he talks about in the book but the management theories cannot be detracted from. The results speak for themselves. Jack Welch was a great CEO for GE.
Call it 9/11 syndrome but I was looking for somebody who was actually all he was cracked up to be. Jack Welch isn't.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
youngmin yook
This book is quite disappointing, either as an autobiography or as a management book. Maybe I put a lot of hype on this book (I assume the book is terrific as the publisher spent US$ 7 million to secure the right to publish this book).
As an autobiography, Jack Welch covered only a minimal amount of his personal life, most of pages of the book are devoted for his life at GE (which I think is exactly what the readers want). However, even as a management book, there is no in-depth analysis and discussion. Quite a dry book.
Particularly I like Section 2 (Building A Philosophy) and Section 3 (Ups and Downs). Section 1 is okay, section 4 and 5 are a little bit boring.
If you want to know more about Jack, this is a book for you, but if you want to know more about his moves during his tenure, I think Robert Slater's books are more interesting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
traci dziatkowicz
In this case the ignorant was me, somehow I had no idea who Jack Welch was or how powerful GE was before reding this book. To me it was an interesting ride being taken from every corne of the company. I had no idea that they owned NBC, I found that very interesting. The book was easy to read, and while I probably only need about 20 year updates on GE I don't regret reading it. Of course he had his ego problem. Somehow he saw Jeryy Seinfeld as the funniest comedian in the world and believed that American has outright choosen Jay Leno as their favorite late night host. I'm sure this book would be much more interesting to someone involved in GE, but it's still a good way to spend a weekend.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
agustin guerrero
I picked up this book because I want to know more about GE, an American industrial icon, and its legendary leader, Mr. Jack Welch. The one thing I like about Welch is that he talked in a very straightforward and candid manner, although at times he appeared rather defensive. You may not agree with his management philosophies, but keep in mind that this is an autobiography rather than a management text. As I read along, I was somehow reminded of Al Dunlap, the discredited former CEO of Sunbeam Corporation. I observed that Welch and Dunlap are similar in a few ways. Both come across as having over-sized egos, are highly authoritarian, paternalistic and often ruthless. The big difference laid in the bottom line of the corporation each ran, but do not forget that Dunlap used to be a favourite of Wall Street too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ongorn
The autobiography of Jack, the most admired CEO and Leader of the second half of the 20th century starts with a modest Author's note to read as "WE" wherever he uses " I." .The book seems to be more a biography of GE which is understandable since GE was Welch's life from the time he joined the firm in 1960.
In `Section I' he talks about his early years from his childhood till he became CEO of GE. Jack is very lucky to have a mother who taught him the two most important things required to succeed in this world (1) Self confidence and (2) Self esteem (page 5). He says that the key principles behind his successful management style can be traced to his mother (page 4). Jack has learned working hard from his father. Jack goes on in this section to explain how he made his way to the top. Charlie Reed the corporate group executive made a huge impression on Jack when Jack's team blew the roof off. Jack writes "When people make mistakes, the last thing they need is discipline. It `s time for encouragement and confidence building." (page 29). He also talks about how supportive his wife Carolyn was for his success. This section mainly shows how Jack handpicked the right person for the right job which paved his way to success and become the CEO.
In `Section II & III' Jack talks about his Vision, experiences and accomplishments as CEO.Jack explains his Philosophy, his strategies and the boundaryless culture he brought in GE. With the No. 1 or No. 2 ,"fix, sell, or close" strategy he sold and acquired many businesses and product lines. Jack cut around 1,00,000 jobs which earned him the name "Neutron Jack" (page 125). Jack says "Making tough-minded decisions about people and plants is a prerequisite to earning the right to talk about soft values, like excellence or the learning organization" (page 124). He explains the four Es of GE leadership Energy, Energizer, Edge & Execution and how they are connected by one P-Passion. He used Crotonville the place to develop leaders and to spread his message within GE. He says that Work-out and Boundaryless behaviour created a culture where everyone began playing a part (page 184). In most chapters, he briefly highlights the history and the background thinking that led to various mergers and acquisitions, shares a few examples of what went right and wrong, explains what his thoughts were while they were occurring, and provides a scorecard for GE's performance.
In `Section IV' he explains the four major initiatives pursued by GE namely Globalization ,Services , Six Sigma and E-business. Jack says "Making initiatives successful is all about focus and passionate commitment. The drumbeat must be relentless. Every leadership action must demonstrate total commitment to the initiative (page 299). He talks very highly about his visit to India and about the people of India.
In `Section V' he explains the proposed acquisition of Honeywell and why it failed. Jack gives some of his formulae on being a CEO. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining Integrity at all times. He gives a short reflection on Golf his favorite game. He gives a brief overview on the selection of his successor Jeff Immelt and says he was the "Right Guy".
Under the stewardship of Jack GE has produced many Leaders who have taken charge as CEO of various companies in America. His history as CEO of GE and his war against bureaucracy will live long and inspire many CEOs to keep him as role model.
It is worth mentioning what Noel Tichy writes in his book The Leadership Engine. "The two years at GE taught me more about leadership than the previous decade and a half. I only partly understood it at the time."
Every CEO and every manager who aspires to become a CEO must read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
genna
Jack Welch is a visionary. He is the epitomy of someone who did it his way, and this book very clearly lays out how his career took off and how he bucked the system and ended up in charge of it. Although this book is a bit self-agrandizing, I did learn a lot of leadership lessons none the less. Thanks to Jack Welch for putting his story out there and doing more than just listing his accomplishments, which are many. Welch challenges anyone in management or leadership to focus on people's strengths, and not what they are weak at. This is a concept that not many companies get. Welch did get it, and GE went farther than it ever went before under his leadership. A good read, but be prepared for all the Jack you can handle.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
s bug
From livejournal notrealnews
Jack Welch, the retired CEO of General Electric, has hailed his recent affair with Harvard Business Review reporter Suzy Wetlaufer as a breakthrough in the business concept of "Boundaryless Thinking". "I could have easily spent the rest of my life trapped in the narrow view that my marriage meant lifelong monogamy," said Welch, a smug look on his face, "but with boundaryless thinking, I was able to take the concept of marriage in a whole new direction. Just like the things I did at GE."
Boundaryless thinking was one of the tenants that allowed Welch to get GE out of the failing appliances business and into the credit business, which now comprises more than half of GE's corporate makeup. It was a concept Welch highly stressed and touted in his autobiography "Jack: Straight from the Gut." He intends to follow it up with a new book, "Cheating on your wife the Six Sigma Way: How CEO's of GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Extramarital Performance".
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alger
This is a long book, a great fabulous story on leadership, integrity, meritrocracy, and corporate america. The stories were very interesting. I am giving it a 3-star. The names of everyone was hard to keep up with, but they were characters in the stories. I enjoyed so much to hear more than anything one thing: That rewards & recognition & advancement in GE are results-oriented. The intolerance of Jack for bureacracy was refreshing. The move to six-sigma and quality was aligned with what I hoped would result with good execution. However, with as much vision and tenacity and knack for change that Jack had, I am baffled and shocked that he did not have any women on his staff, any diversity whatsoever except for the white male, and that he did not even CONSIDER women for positions, it certainly never came up in the book and he made sure to name every single person that ever worked for him. Where are the women Jack? Where is the diversity? Where is the TRUE rewards and recognition for everyone who works hard, delivers results and top performance that moves the company to the next level - was GE not even looking at women or promoting women or was it such a foreign concept even in the 1980s and 1990s? Even then, I would have had higher expectations of such a visionary man.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lorenza beacham
A great autobiography lets you in the mind of the author to see what events really shaped his/her thinking. This book does that job as you read how Jack's Mom made such an impact on his attitudes and competitiveness. It was also interesting to see how the events unfolded through his ascent to the CEO position of GE. There is not a short book so Jack spends a lot of time in detailing many events that lead to some key acquisitions , which I found a bit boring but it was interesting to have him describe the impact NBC made on GE. The success of that network while Jack was there was incredible. Kidder Peabody stories were revealing and Jack's humble admission of failure shows another sign of him. The real gold is at the end of the book and he describes some of his management and leadership techniques, which was very enlightening. In summary, a very good book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kerrymoran
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 get to answering the question, "What made Jack Welch tick?" Despite some bland moments, we from getAbstract contend that anyone who wants to understand the American corporate landscape should read this book - so once again, Welch delivers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tarun
I loved reading this book. I am hooked on autobiographies written by people who have accomplished much in their lives. Jack gives an inside view to his views on how to run a business. He showed me that using integrity and having a laser liek focus is the only way to make sound decisions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sean archer
I read the book and all the the store.com reviews. I must say, I agree with the reviewer from Philadelphia who said, "Let Me Tell You Jack Straight". As that reviewer said, I now say that this is one of my two all time favorite books on character and leadership, too. I did read the second one, "West Point" by Norman Thomas Remick, also. The two books, "Jack" and "West Point", may sound like the odd couple, but they do perfectly compliment eachother. "Jack" gives you the practical "how to" in simple terms, and "West Point" (the title is deceiving) gives you the philosophical "understanding why" in simple terms, also. I highly recommend you read about and learn both, as we know Jack Welch has.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
paulg
I like this book. While I was reading this book, I came close to business knowledge even though I had small business background. I have learned about Jack's business philosophy and management skill through his a lot of business experience. He is one of the successful men in the business world and it is valuable to know how he made it. I assure that you should read it if you are a person who is interested in business and wants to succeed in the business field.

Strengths: When I read his action toward his business life, I could contact a lot of specific philosophy. First is different treatment to his employees; Jack has treated his employees who deserve of admiration appropriately through many ways. Second is boundaryless; he got some good idea from other companies in his group and used it. Third is special bonus system; he gave stock options to his employees instead of money bonus. You can also contact his vision toward globalization, service and E-business.
Weaknesses: If you are a person who wants to find a specific method to be a successful man and the successful man's private life, I should not recommend you to read this book. Although I have learned a lot from his business philosophy, I could not find any specific strategy to become a successful man like him. Actually, I expected that he explained how he could be the CEO of GE even though he didn't have any management background and started from the beginning as a mere clerk. However, he did not mention much his process before becoming the CEO but mentioned a lot his experience after being the CEO of GE. He didn't mention his private life much, either. He only focused on his business life. I don't know if he did not have time to have his private life or just did not mention and wanted to focus on only business. It is like a collection of jack's successful business events. So, if you are a person who wants to find his private life in the book, do not choose it
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daren
This was the most fascinating book I've read in a long time. My dad worked for GE for 43 years; but I had no idea of the many ventures GE is involved in. Jack Welch gave a fascinating insight into the inner workings of one of the most successful companies in the world without padding his own mistakes and foibles. I was extemely interested the in the Hudson River situtation and also the failed Honeywell merger; both told in great detail - along with the 7 year hunt for his successor.
One doesn't have to be a corporate execuitve to enjoy this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jason r
What a great and compelling story Jack tells. One of the least told and most important parts of our collective history is what happens at Global Corporations like GE. These companies directly touch hundreds of thousands of families. Jack's stewardship through turbulent times proved Reg Jones prescience; he was the right man for the job. As far as readability goes, the style and pace of the writing captures just enough of Jack's 'straight from the gut' attitude that makes it a very, very enjoyable read.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to Immelt's book in 2020.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jonathan lemaster
Welch's craving for competition, for debate, for new challenges, comes through in his book. The best way to describe Welch: he's a business jock. "Business is a game" (p.267) and at that game, profits is the score. He wants his team to be the best, number 1, the "Olympians of the business world". And he is at once the star player, the coach, the trainer, the cheerleader...! He brings to the game of business the fierce desire to win, the ruthlessness, the intolerance for weak players, which make great sport teams. His book is full of sport metaphors as befits a baseball nut, a golf fanatic, a former hockey player.
For those who have followed and monitored GE over the years and who have read some or all the numerous books about GE and Welch, the basic outline of the story is familiar. Welch does not deviate from that story line; but he does add color and a few zingers along the way. e.g.:
-"There are more mediocre people making more money on Wall Street than any other place on earth" (p.221).
-"When all is said and done, teaching is what I do for a living" (p.176).
- "I had a strong prejudice against most of the headquarters staff. I felt they practiced what could be called `superficial congeniality' - pleasant on the surface, with distrust and savagery roiling beneath it" (p. 96).
The inner man
Welch also provides a glimpse of the persona behind the business leader. Welch, we learn, is a hypochondriac, traveling with a pharmacy of pills, pestering the company physician with real or imagined ailments. He is superstitious, carrying the same leather briefcase for the last 24 years, a briefcase he has named "Mr. Lucky"! We learn of his failed first marriage, although that episode comes through as a mild inconvenience, quickly superseded by what is described as a successful second marriage. His children make cameo appearances and, judging from their pictures and curriculum vitae are healthy, successful young adults.
Perhaps, he is more revealing of his inner self, of the sources of his extraordinary drive, when he describes his relationship to his mother. She was for her only child a disciplinarian and a cheerleader, a motivator and a guide; to this day, he quotes as mantras her words of counsel. Without indulging in psychobabble, one can still feel the simmering desire of a son who wants to make his mother proud. Introduced to Queen Elizabeth at a state diner at the White House in 1990, he reflects: "I always regret my parents missed these amazing moments".
In an oblique way, Welch is also revealing about himself when he admits that after having done well early on, he turned out to be too small and too slow to really excel in hockey, baseball or football, the all-american team sports. He took up varsity golf in college (having been a caddy in his youth) as a consolation sport, decidedly not a team sport, a jock sport.
I wonder how often in America this thwarted desire to excel in team sports has fuelled a burning desire to excel in some surrogate team sport, such as politics or business. Richard Nixon comes to mind here as a decidedly ungifted but insistent football player in high school!
What are Jack Welch's motivations in writing this book:
1.Cashing in (for the benefits of his favorite charities, as we are told right at the outset) on his towering popularity ("The Tiger Woods of management" says Warren Buffett in the book's blurb);
2.Imparting some of his hard-earned wisdom to his fans (about which more later on);
3.Trying to set the record straight about several allegations made in Thomas F. O'Boyle's curmudgeon book "At any cost: Jack Welch, General Electric and the Pursuit of Profit" (Knopf, 1998; Vintage, 1999).
At any cost?
Although O'Boyle is never mentioned in Welch's book, clearly he rattled Welch. All the cases in point, all the "causes célèbres" in O'Boyle's book get some coverage in Welch's book, usually brief and dismissive; in a few occasions there's a clear admission of grievous mistakes on Welch's part.
Welch wanted to testify in his defense, to give the lie to O'Boyle's somber assessment.
"The fact that he (Welch) was lionized in his time will matter little to future generations and likely will be seen as indicative of how cutthroat and vicious an era it was, a time when there was virtually no vision in the mainstream of American business. Money is always what matters most to Welch, that and running the most profitable corporation on the planet. History, I believe, will judge him harshly for that." (p.374-375)
I don't know about history's judgement but I believe O'Boyle's got it wrong. Welch's motives are not money or bigger profits. These are the scores of the game, the measure of your ranking in the league, your claim to a shot at the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup; but the game itself is all about people, passion and plays. Welch believes there is no greater sense of pride and achievement than to be part of a winning team, no greater thrill in life than to rev up the competitive spirit, engage tough opponents and win.
Welch may be wrong in thinking that his recipe for happiness is universal; the relentless pressure to perform may not be everyone's cup of tea but not everyone is forced to work for GE or for GE imitators.
Welch's book is an unrepentant argument for his brand of leadership. Indeed, in a chapter titled "What this CEO thing is all about", Welch offers 31 caplets of wisdom which, although instructive, do not quite add up to a prescription for success as a CEO.
A close reading of his book however does reveal some patterns, the sketch of a model of leadership in a large modern corporation. That is not a bad model of leadership but one which requires immense energy and a lot of smarts.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tom kaplon
"Straight from the Gut" provides a VERY detailed GE history over the twenty year reign of Mr. Welch as CEO, all from his perspective. As a former GE employee, I found all this very interesting. I had hoped for more biographical material or management self-help, but there is not much of either. If you like to read Forbes or the MarketPlace section of the WSJ, you'll like this book. It provides a good view of corporate life and the application of corporate strategies through the eyes of one of the better corporate managers of our time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
aeulf
It was great reading about how one person rocketted a mammoth company like GE into the halls of fame... For those that are interested in business, this book is great to find out more about wheeling and dealing and coporate cultures.
I found the first half of the book fascinating, but it sometimes gets a little too 'list-like'- chronicling every small deal that they worked out; but for sure all the major ones and the issues they faced.
The book is full of interesting anecdotes and gives you a bit of an insight into how Jack worked. While he was portrayed as a great 'cheerleader', I am sure that he has a ruthless, fearful side to him, but you only get a small glimpse of that. It would be interesting to hear more of that!
Worth the money but maybe not in hardcover.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
iuliana
Jack Welch, the man they call the Manager of the Century made General Electric a powerhouse. Not electrical power, however - his legacy is a global behemoth that reaches homes through their loans as much as their light fixtures. As a matter of fact, they could just take the "Electric" out of their name now and call themselves "General Corporation," as diversified as Jack made them. This diversification was the outcome of a single word that Jack himself created upon seeing Santa Clause show up while he was vacationing in the Carribean. The word was "boundarylessness." At a time when so many other companies were following the Tom Peters dictate, "Stick to your knitting," Jack was morphing GE into a free-form organizational titan by letting his people explore new business ideas, view their markets more broadly, and acquire several other businesses. The first phase of GE's success under Jack Welch did not, however, occur from boundaryless behavior. The hard work of stripping off poor performing businesses and individuals, and businesses that were a bad fit was first, along with Jack's demand for the remaining business lines to be either #1 or #2 in their respective industries. That foundation then enabled the profusion of successful companies that now carry the GE name.

Of course, these things did not all happen simply because of Jack's inventive vocabulary. The world's most admired CEO would probably rather be known as the "Businessman," rather than the "Manager of the Century." Management, to Jack, is about bureaucracy and maintaining the status quo - both abominations in his way of running a business. Jack, the businessman, succeeded mainly from his people focus and smart deal-making. In his twenty years as CEO of GE, and the twenty plus that he worked there to earn that assignment, Jack demonstrated a phenomenal adaptiveness and drive that encompassed a daunting range of business skills. Operating on gut instinct, as the title of his book implies, was his m.o., but take heart, all CEO wannabes. I've dissected the traits and activities Jack relates in his book, so that you can emulate them in your rising career. As for myself (if I ever decide I want to be a CEO when I grow up), after reading this book, I realize I have a long ways to go. I could claim the first eleven JW traits extracted here. How about you?

On his rise to the top, Jack was:

impatient

liked to analyze, numbers, does homework

thrived on competition

engineer in the beginning

working at headquarters (after many years in the field)

not afraid to walk from a deal

hardworking

frank: not superficially congenial

strategic thinker - with agility, situational awareness

educator/teacher

skilled with creating business charts

PhD

held after work celebrations

set strech goals

played golf

loved people, esp. passionate ones

bet on football

mentored

shared weekend corporate comraderie

took family vacations

played board and outdoor games w/family

grasped macroeconomics

entrepreneur

tenured

recruited talent

believed integrity fundamental to competitiveness

logistician - the services aspects of business

self-confident

thoroughly & continually appraised direct reports

outsourced back-office functions

Additionally, the house the Jack built was a result of these types of business acitivities that he conducted after becoming CEO:

Divestitures

Sharing Mental models

Informal shareholder mtgs

Quality of Work Life program

Balanced long and short-term corporate goals

layoffs - don't put them off

mergers & acquistions

business portfolio management

high finance savvy

union relations

evangelist

high roller (other CEOs, politicians)

compensation schemes

fresh (or borrowed) ideas encouraged

participating in projects of your choosing; setting up special projects

executive recruiting

appreciated E-business

fighting lawsuits

crisis management (willing to live with ambiguity)

long hours (but too busy to let that bother you)

understood Six Sigma - continuous improvement; statistical models

pushed globalization - international dealings, boundaryless

being The Advertising Manager

My honest self-appraisal tells me that there is a lot of room to grow yet. Thanks to Jack for telling us what he had to learn by gut instinct, so that we can pick it up quicker, and perhaps exceed him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rania
Take the book for what it is -- a personal account from the Jack Welch perspective backwards in time on his life at GE -- and no more, no less.
You won't get heavy-handed business philosophies. You won't get any magic formula to success. You won't get juicy details on his private life either.
What you will get is what makes Jack tick, and an account of a life-long journey of a person who changed the world along with the sweat, the tears, the blood and, always, the joy of it all.
What makes Jack tick are two principles instilled in him by his mother: 1. face the world as it is, i.e. reality-check. 2. be confident. They serve as the unifying thread in his life and this book.
It takes two to tango, and this book is a one-sided account of "life according to Jack." I would recommend reading "Control your destiny or someone else will" along with it to get a balanced view on Mr. Welch's life at GE.
Only then will you truly respect Mr. Welch for sticking with his two principles throughout his life. Only then will you understand why these two principles are so vital to his success at GE. Only then will you fully appreciate his accomplishments.

Because for every Jack Welch succeeding, hundreds of thousands perish trying. For every journey you embark on, life pulls you in a thousand directions. It might even dawn on you that reality is what you make it to be, even if only partly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric j gates
I always sensed that Mr. Welch got a bum rap when he was labeled "Neutron Jack." I didn't think he ever took delight or gloated over laying off people or in cutting loose the C players every year or even in calling people on the carpet. He did so because he felt compelled to honor the belief his mother had in him and the trust that GE as a company placed in him. This book is one of the best guides you will ever find on how to make friends with your (healthy) aggression and how to wed it to principle to create conviction. It proves the validity of the formulae: Aggression + Principle = Conviction; Aggression - Principle = Hostility.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kelly kozak
Jack Welch is a trailblazer! This book is strong on the fundamentals: Integrity, hard work and resourcefulness! His ability to successfully multitask the growth of a corporation is astounding! Soothsayers and pundits across the world celebrate his success and ogle over GE's achievements!
All that glory seems secondary to Jack! He passionately talks about his jetsetting trips from Crotonville to Bangalore to Boca Raton spearheading the growth of a company through its people! People first, strategy second- He explains his inherent characteristic that recognizes competency in people. The moment his unassuming, globe trotting radar spots the high-soaring players, Jack pushes his luck every so often and seeks to energise & enervate the ability of these competent people to stretch! This approach, he says, creates "boundaryless" dynamos out of people who live his vision through their eyes. He creates an industry dwarfing service sector for his company out of thin air, he nudges his nuclear business to explore and thrive in new environments, he convinces the world that a manager of a core GE business can go onto becoming the longest serving CEO of a very successful network station! He backs a homegrown industrial diamond business that may soon turn this centuries old exclusive trade on its heels! He energizes the X-Ray & CAT-scan machine business to enervating levels that soars from a substandard 25,000 scans to a trailblazing 200,000 average scans! All these activities occur in the background of an S&P outperforming, monstrously growing GE Capital! Imagine a small-scale company coming out of humble beginnings in the 1930's as a financial company. Imagine its growth as a profit powerhouse that contributes 40% plus of GE' earnings and adds billions more in profit, circa 2000! You've got to figure Jack Welch has to be a driving factor in those calculations somewhere. Imagine a social architecture that boasts of the world's best analytical minds that have a common characteristic trait: 24 hours of sheer GE horsepower backed by integrity and committed resources! Crotonville is a lush greenhouse that roofs some of the world's most talented CEOs! Wendt, Dammerman, Nardelli, Immelt, Bossidy. The list is endless! Jack further demonstrates how one can take a company that is an American Icon and outperform the rest of the world's conglomerates by being boundaryless. Boundaryless means giving flight to one's ideas anywhere in the globe. Boundaryless means identifying GE as a global community- not an American corporation that subjugates continents and reports to $hungry Wall Street. Boundaryless means global accountability. Managers in China fill the same social stable that the American Managers fill. Bondarylessness extinguishes the turf wars that stunt growth. Japanese women move from one global deal to another electrifying the corporate atmosphere in the process! The Indian subcontinent is home to GE's largest research center. All these "boundaryless" businesses have created opportunities galore! Yet Jack has fired more often that hired! He has blasted more often than cheered! He has told more employees to go home than anybody else in the history of the modern American Corporation! "Ruthless Jack" might as well be another moniker for "Neutron Jack"! Monikers notwithstanding, Jack outlines the success paradigm that ensured the free flow of ideas truly transcending the shackles of bureaucracies, countries, religions or regions! GE is the global crown jewel - Jack's book gives you an inside on the legend that is GE!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
adrienne gagnon
Jack Straight fron the Gut by Jack welch is a must read for managers who want to keep their companies on the cutting edge and don't mind being ruthless in the process. Welch shares with readers the strategies he used to successfully lead General Electric to the dawn of the twenty-first century as a forward looking company on the grow, instead of a tired has been. The old Frank Sanatra song "I did it My Way" aptly describes how Welch feels he led. Leading from a locus of who he is rather than who others felt he should be, he became an authentic leader. Uncomfortable with bureaucracy, he reduced it. He set clear goals for his company: be one or two in the business conducted; if not, fix, sell or close it. Early in hos administration Welch eliminated nearly 20 percent of his workforce earning the title Neutron Jack. He didn't stop there.
After divesting the company of unworthy business he proceeded tp flatten the structure, and institute a continuous improvement program dividing staff into A, B, and C palyers. Promote A, grow B and say goodbye to C, oh and by the way, at least 10% of your organization is C. They have got to go! Don't stop there, repeat the process each year. "A" players after reading this book you will want to make sure your boss has a copy. Employees, if after reading this book you think you could be a "C" employee, you will want to hope that your boss never sees this rag. Welch included examples of his management rating tool and explains how he scored the A, B, and C managers.
Managing a wide ranging product line supported by a multinational workforce equal to a large city scattered around the globe could be a challenge, Welch's goal was to make the group boundaryless and entrepurnerial. This titan of business is a living textbook of what to do right to succeed. Did he do everything right? No. He shares some of his spectacular failures, including blowing the roof off a GE building early in his career, and reveals what he learned from them.
This is not an erudite tome, the style is a bit more like being in Welch's living room listening to him ruminate over his life's work. Although heavy on the ego (Jack's), it is more than just an autobiography it is a leadership training manual.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jacinth
The main idea that Jack Welch presented in his book was to be yourself. Rather than fit himself into the bureaucratic mold of GE, Jack Welch remained true to himself. This allowed him to make positive changes in the company by bringing in new ideas and management tactics. By showing readers that this approach worked for him, he hopes to inspire and motivate others to live up to their dreams while being themselves.
Mr. Welch starts this book off by giving background information about where he grew up and what his childhood was like. He does this by giving examples of different things that happened to him. This style continues for the rest of the book. It is enjoyable to have him give examples to back up some of his statements. This reinforcement not only gives him more credibility but it also makes the book more interesting. Mr. Welch describes many experiences and connections he had in college and eventually gets to the time in his life when he took a job at GE. His superiors liked his work in the plastics department of GE and soon promoted him. Mr. Welch holds his first couple positions at GE dear to him because they taught him a lot about promotion, management, and making connections that would help him further down the line. From there Mr. Welch's career took off until he eventually became CEO.
This book does a good job of showing the difficulty of mastering the concept of management. Mr. Welch learns this art form and is constantly trying out new ideas in an attempt to get the company to run better. The minor weakness of this book lies in Mr. Welch's strong competitive attitude. Even though he tries hard to quell this side of himself, Mr. Welch seems to be bragging and boasting about his accomplishments at times. Overall I would say this is a pretty good book which can teach a lot about business. Mr. Welch's words are inspiring and quite motivational to say the least.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
seena
I work as a leasing accountant in London and business is always of interest to me. Over here in England, we know about GE because GE are so acquisition hungry but here Jack Welch has a lower profile than in the US. I saw this book in a bookstore and decided to educate myself about the legendary Jack Welch.
I read this book in a week. It is very easily digested. However, a week after reading it much of it has evaporated. I still dip into it at lunchtimes or when I want something to get into quickly... on the train etc. Once startd, it is hard to put down.
It is not often that one gets much of an insight into the workings of a company. I never met any executive who admitted that bad trading results send them rushing to throw up in the toilet. This fly on the wall stuff from someone at his level is a rare treat.
This book has clearly been scrubbed up and sanitised for the easy reading market but as a business accountant I would say that it has an appeal for anyone interested in business. Many business books can be a bit theoretical but you know that this one is based on things that have been tried out and work.
One thing that struck me about Jack Welch was this. I just searched for Jack Welch in Yahoo and got an impressive 112,000 webpages. What a popular guy I thought to myself. No-one else comes even close. Bill Clinton gets 450, Neil Armstrong gets 10, FDR gets 159, Tony Blair gets 17, Ike gets 49, Nixon gets 102, Ghandi gets 27, JFK gets 120, Madonna gets 101. Even poor old Jesus Christ only manages 1,096.
This was just using Yahoo but you get the idea.
Jack Welch seems quite human really (at least in the book he does).
The proceeds go to charity so go and get your wallet out and think of the people this will help whilst you are reading about Six Sigma and GE's annual cull of the bottom 10% of management.
John Rice
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emmanuel
There are many things that one can hate or admire in Jack Welch. His policy of "fix, sell or close" each business did wonders for GE but it also hurt many people along the way. Even though Warren Buffet has put his blurb on the cover "The Tiger Woods of management... listen carefully to what he has to say", I wish that Jack Welch had not come across sounding so pompous. There were many times when I wanted to give up on this book but ended up finishing it because it was by Jack Welch... a less famous CEO and I may have actually given up. It was just about OK for me. I would have liked less words and more "learnings", I guess.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
prathap
..yet one more won't hurt?!

I finally got some time off from travel and got around to finishing Jack's biography

Peppered with anecdotes and `stories' of one of the most charismatic CEOs of his time, the biography makes for an interesting read. Though the narrative and stories are great, they don't really go deep enough. For instance, coverage of GE's globalization or offshoring initiatives in India would perhaps require a book in itself, not a few pages in the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kiky
Jack: Straight from the Gut is the autobiography of Mr. Jack Welch, one of the most important businessmen of ever. As the CEO of G.E., he proved what he is able to do. He helped the company to become one of the biggest companies in the world.

The book tells us since his childhood, some of his experiences in college (it's very interesting to know how Jack became a businessman even though he never had studied business in his life), and the begging of his career.

The bottom line in this book is how he did such good work in all the years as a CEO. As the CEO of G.E., Jack describes the company in a way that just a man in his position could do. To show his ideas he tells examples, shows easy graphics and specific experiences about the topics. It's very useful if you want to learn about leadership, work vision and strategies in business.

The book doesn't say a lot about his personal life. It looks like his family is always in second place. It shows that he is not so expert in family relationship as he is in his office.

If you are interesting in business or if want to know better how a big company works and a good example of leader, you should read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie hilyer
This is the biography of a man who went further than any other man alive in realizing the American Dream. You can read this and learn, not so much how he did it, but more like how it happened to him. I would urge you to not engage in pipe dreams, however, by imagining this book can help make what happened to Mr. Welch, happen to you. Your chances are worse than the lottery. For managers, there are useful pieces of anecdotal information on all aspects of running a business efficiently. There is a lot you can take away from this book. In my opinion, Jack Welch is an imminently better role model for kids and adults to hero-worship than all the rock stars and athletes put together. He did an incredible job with his life. All in all, this is an engagingly written book which will repeatedly "wow" you. The most important lesson Mr. Welch wanted the reader to come away with is the importance of integrity, character, and leadership. I liked that. It was, properly, not within the scope of his book to get into explaining the philosophy behind why those things are important. That's why you should follow-up by reading "West Point" by Norman Thomas Remick, a book that in simple language will make you understand and appreciate what Jack Welch is saying about integrity, character, and leadership, and understand why he has managed to always remain humble, even in having achieved "The American Dream".
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick pengelley
It is possible to read this book from two distinct perspectives: either as an autobiography of an undoubtedly great man of our time, or as a business book of profound value. As an autobiography, it flows well and, for the corporate junkie, or the GE employee, there are many moments of interest, both humorous and serious.

It is as a business book that I am writing this review. To appreciate it for the gem that it is, the business tips, tricks, and philosophies are buried as pearls in an oyster. Dig and you shall find. Scattered throughout the book are the most profound truths about business. He addresses all of the fundamentals that have been known for so long and practiced so little.

"People [are] the whole ball game: the players, the national anthem, the hot dogs, the seventh-inning stretch, the whole game." Tucked away on page 164, this statement tells it all: it is about developing people who perform better and better . . . and better. And because he was running a business, only the great performers get to stay and reap the rewards of their great work.

He addresses a leader's beliefs; he addresses motivation; he addresses the importance of relationships; and he addresses the manner in which one uses these various issues to advantage: but you have to dig to find them!

His words, "Treat people with dignity and give them voice," sum up both his philosophy and his actions during his more than twenty years as CEO at GE.

This is a story of an inspiring "rock face" encounter, the principles of which the great business researchers of our time, from Lewin, Deming, Maslow and Herzberg through Drucker, Argyris, Likert, and Myers to Kotter, Mintzberg, Collins, Porras, Porter and so many others, have talked about implementing for so many years; management and leadership principles that really do work in creating great, long-lasting companies.

Read this book, open your mind, and learn from a truly great leader.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
antonieta
I excitedly read this book in preparation for a visit from Jack Welch to the business school I was attending. However, I was pretty disappointed.

I do admire Jack Welch, but this book can be summed up into about four lines, which repeat throughout the book:

There was a huge problem/opportunity at GE.

Jack Welch fired/hired the right person.

Problem solved! Opportunity realized!

Jack Welch is the greatest.

I give it two stars instead of one because many of the stories are interesting, and I do think hiring the right people and managing them effectively is underemphasized in business management studies.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
joshua canaan
Jack's book is the description of his most important events in his business life. However he chose to write some parts of his personal life just to show how his business life influenced his personal life. At the beginning of the book Jack describes how part of his character is due to his mother principles.

Beginning college is when his interest for people is more relevant. Jack has the opportunity to enter GE, not knowing that this company will occupy most of his life as its CEO. Jack is the guy that wants to impress his managers as well as people around him. He knows he has characteristics to be a leader and take advantages of it. When he became the CEO of GE, he was always interested in being the number one at every thing he could. It is really interesting how he decides to fire or hire the staff in his company by grading them.

In addition, the media attacks him in many ways that he wouldn't support without his confidence in knowing what he was doing. Jack is the man that was made to be a CEO, even though some parts of his personal life haven't resulted as well as his business at GE. If you are really interested in business strategies this book will let you know a really good ones and how to manage and educate your staff. I'm not really interested in business; however, I found some ideas useful for personal life.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
angus nelson
Review: Jack
Jack was born in a small family with a mother who loved him so much. She always encouraged him to do everything in which he was interested. Jack has strong personality and passion to accomplish his goal. He is always full of self-confidence. We can see his personality is always driving him or people around him.
This book helps me to know GE's strategies since Jack became CEO of GE, but I didn't see lots of Jack's feeling or reaction inside of this book. I think this book is good for people who want to know GE's strategies for their business or people who are interested in business strategies. However, if you thought that this was Jack's autobiography, you might be really disappointed at this book.
Something impressed me of this book was how he tried to convince his boss that he was the best one for him and for GE to be next CEO. His passion really touched people that he could do it. This book also showed me how he/GE manage their employees. How they keep GE active to be No.1 or No.2 in the market.
Something that I didn't like in this book was he described himself as a superman. His superman attitude makes me feel uncomfortable. What if he was wrong, he probable would lead GE to a wrong direction. What if he didn't get enough information that might let him make wrong decision, but he totally didn't know what's wrong and still insist that he is right. I think this is a dangerous attitude of management. But, lucky him that he didn't make any big wrong decision. He should proud of himself, but it makes me feel, unless I have a strong will and colorful personality like him; I would never ever lead or manage people well like him. I am wondering if that's the thing he wants his audiences to learn.
Jack is a real man. He knows what he wants. He tries to be honest to people and himself. His success was because of his vision and his personality, so he led GE turned to an international company with high technology. I really admire his guts a lot. Meanwhile, I am sorry for his craziness about his job. He didn't know how to have fun or enjoy his family life. I am so happy that he is not my father.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nancy henderson
About half way through his book, Jack Welch observes that "there's only a razor's edge between self-confidence and hubris." He implies that he rarely crosses the line, when, in reality, the unbiased observer is likely to conclude after reading "Jack" that he crosses the line frequently. If, however, the reader can tolerate the continuous self-congratulation, there are a great many insights to be gained in this book. (To be fair, diffident people do not accomplish what Welch did.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jayeeta
...
Life According to Jack
"Whirlwind" is defined as, among other things, "a tumultuous rush." That definition aptly describes life with Jack Welch as depicted in his heavily hyped autobiography, Jack: Straight from the Gut.
Throughout his 40 years with General Electric, and especially in his 20 years as the company's chief executive, Welch was in constant motion, prodding the lumbering bureaucracy he inherited on his accession to the top job in 1981 to become limber, lean and even lithe.
By every standard metric, Welch was remarkably successful. Under his leadership, GE grew to become one of the world's largest, most profitable companies. What was even more remarkable was Welch's ability to produce such extraordinary results year after year. More than 75% of the corporations that were part of the Fortune 500 50 years ago are gone, yet GE continues to glow.
There is more here than we either need or want to know. He was paid to write about his 20 years at the helm of General Electric, and that is what we get. The writing is often poor, the book jumps all over the place and facts get muddled here and there. The skilled hand of his collaborator, John A. Byrne, a senior writer at Business Week and author of a number of excellent business books, is not all that apparent. But none of that really matters. We wanted Jack and this book gives him to us.
What we learn is that Jack started out in life as a relatively ordinary guy, with average intelligence and average prospects. He had a normal childhood, a devoted mother, and a good, if detached, father. But somewhere along the line he developed a hunger, not for success or money (although those both came in abundance), as much as for ways to improve: improve products, processes and people, as well as himself. His hunger turned into an insatiable appetite once he joined stolid, stodgy General Electric in 1961. Within a very short time, he literally blew things up, albeit unintentionally, as he sought to find a way to improve the production of plastic.
He shares with us his various recipes for success, beginning with his strategy that every GE product should either be "Number 1, Number 2, or abandoned." Many companies still follow that recipe, long after GE refined it once Welch learned that many of the company's managers were defining their markets so narrowly that virtually every product became number 1.
Welch then told his managers to redefine markets so that each product had no more than a 10% market share. That simple directive opened the way for enormous gains over the past decade. "Markets aren't mature. Sometimes minds are ... When we asked each business to redefine its market so that they could have no more than a 10% share, what had looked like mature markets became growth opportunities. Even a few field horses started looking like thoroughbreds."
Perhaps Welch's most successful initiative came in the mid-1990s, when he pushed the concept of "boundaryless organization." Knowledge and information have increasingly become a company's most important strategic resource. Unhappily, the aphorism "knowledge is power" is all too true in large organizations, where information becomes sticky as even managers within the same division find themselves reluctant to share or transfer knowledge. Welch developed ways to eliminate the barriers that kept knowledge from being shared widely, including his well-known "work-out" sessions. "Taking everyone's best ideas and transferring them to others is the secret. There is nothing more important." But there is also nothing more difficult, as Welch found out.
Welch loved throwing old nostrums of business overboard. He relished intellectual combat, challenging the ideas others generated, not in an effort to impose his own ideas, but to hone the development of the idea that was best for the company. He readily admits that not all his ideas were winners. He celebrated the occasional misstep, as well as the successes. He knew how important it was to encourage people to try and to take risks.
What comes through in this book, and may be the key to his success, is that Welch genuinely likes people, and believed in every one of the 300,000 employees of the company. Yes, he could be demanding, direct and blunt, but employees rarely misunderstood him.
People were not just fungible goods, resources to be used or gotten rid of; they were to be developed. "We ran the people factory to build great leaders." Welch may be one of the few CEOs to have raised the human resource department to a level equal with, if not a slight notch above, the operating divisions. He hammers home the theme: People make the difference. We hear that from many CEOs, but coming from Welch it has credibility.
Like many other successful CEOs, he was highly competitive, smart, and devoted to the company. But most important, he was devoted to the people who worked for the company. Welch spent his 20 years as CEO to "making sure everybody counts - and everybody knows they count." For Welch, formality, titles and hierarchy were not what mattered. "Passion, chemistry and idea flow from any level at any place are what matter. Everybody's welcome and expected to go at it."
The mantra that drove Jack throughout his career and made him one of the world's most successful and admired executives seems to have been a slight and elegantly simple variation on GE's slogan: "We bring good people to life."
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★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jill schepmann
Where to begin!
This is a very poorly written book. It is written at about a 7th grade reading level. The primary saving grace being that this makes it read very quickly.
For a figure as controversial and prominent as Jack Welch, a reader has the right to expect some insights and introspection about the challenges both corporate and private faced by Mr. Welch. Instead, we are treated to a superficial and largely hagiographic recounting of Mr. Welch's successes. If the adage that 'we learn from our mistakes' is true, then its hard to see from this book, what Mr. Welch learned in his rise to power.
Most of the insight we gain into Mr. Welch in reading this book, comes from what is left out (the strains that caused his divorce, the details of the political machinations in the race for chairmanship, his thoughts on what he is owed in his severance package, his feelings about the disparity between corporate executive pay and worker pay).
It is also informative to see what he does spend time discussing. For example, Mr. Welch seems to have a high school star athlete's braggadacio about how popular he was with women after his first divorce. He seems completely thrilled about how his wealth (as opposed to more matured values) attracts younger, attractive women.
Once he gets engaged to his second wife, he blithely glosses over the 'fact' that an executive's wife, is a full time job that requires his wife-to-be to give up a very succesfull career. Mr. Welch offers no insight into what his feelings about the equity of the roles are, what this sort of 'good woman behind every succesful man' myth implies for the career paths of women.
All in all, this is an extremely shallow hagiography that offers insights more from what it avoids touching on, than what it actually discusses.
Not worth the toothpicks you need to keep your eyes open while reading this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maryam shams
This book is a must read! Thanks Jack, I have been a keen "Jack" student for several years. I run a summer camp for young people, and have found the "GE Way" full of rich principles, especially in developing our own leadership development program. The wisdom and insight, honed through years of experience, is truly the MBA of the average leader. Yet Jack would just hate it if he read me say that-"average leader". We got the message Jack, A-B or C, we have committed ourselves to pursue the "A' rating. Your book has been the "fodder" to feed and inspire even us in the non-profit world. I hope you come up to Canada some day. (I'll pay your flight...coach- class though!) We are simply thankful for the time you took to write your journey. It is an amazing story, full of insight, and very "applicable." (With sweat of course!) Thanks. 5 Stars. Now write a book on each phase, take us deeper...we are left salivating & hungry for more Jack! Get busy!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sunny salo
Jack Straight From The Gut is an autobiography that tells us about a successful business man named Jack Welch. He was the CEO of General Electric (GE) and made profitable business for that company until his retirement.
In the beginning of the book, he starts telling us about his childhood and his family and he shows a sympathetic personality in those chapters. However, after few chapters, when he becomes rich and popular, his emotions are replaced for rational thoughts in order to make important business decisions that made GE one of the most lucrative companies all over the world.

When he talks about his plans and about his life inside of the company, the tone of his writing is like he is in a living room talking to us in a informal way, especially when he uses some "bad words" to describe risky situations. He shows his
personality as a common person as we are and says the same words that we do when we have something difficult to solve. This makes the reader comfortable with the writer because we can identify some similarities between both.

The book is also fascinating because there is some mystery when we think about Jack's choices to negotiate and how much money he gets in his professional field. He doesn't tell us why he makes his choices, he just chooses them and they are right. Certainly, we also can see some mistakes but when we compare his mistakes to his victories, we can consider him a winner.
In addition, in each chapter there is a surprise because he deals with all types of business. From Tv shows to airlines companies , he always tries to take advantage of the best opportunities and invest in diversification.
Another interesting point is the way that Jack works with people and his creativity to work on things such as globalization, control quality and e-business. I think he tries to follow the steps of the development around him and when we
look at him we think about him as an impeccable man. On the other hand, his personal life doesn't seem so impeccable because he doesn't mention much information about his family, and sometimes the same perfect man makes his image to be considered cold because he talks about money and business and forget
the feelings that seemed so important to him in the beginning of the book.

In conclusion, this book focus on people who are interested in how the profitable deals are made and how a company can increase its finances based on good administration. Therefore, if you are looking for this kind of information this is the perfect book but if you want to know how to deal with your family and how to show your feelings to them, try another one.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
corie
This book is laid out as an autobiography and as such, we should come away from it understanding what philosophies and ideals made Jack aspire to his position. Unfortunately I don't see that. We do find out he likes power and golf.
Two issues of personal responsibility on which the book is silent are his obligations to his country and his obligations to his family, particularly his first wife. Jack Welch finished college in the early 1960s, and most young men of that era either had to serve in the Armed Forces or come up with a very good reason why they shouldn't. An autobiography that doesn't mention the issue, let alone explain how he resolved it, is flawed.
Second, after over 20 years of marriage Jack and his wife divorced, and subsequently both remarried. Not surprising, except for Jack's later assertion that he considers himself a good Catholic. Again there may be good reasons why he can reconcile his actions with Catholic teaching, but silence raises questions. Did his wife just fall into the bottom ten percent that Jack the CEO was so fond of dispatching?
As a GE stockholder I appreciate Jack. If I had worked for GE I think I would have sought another job.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beverly ball
It's very interesting, entertaining and fun to read the autobiography of Jack Welch, the CEO icon of the 80's and 90's. He's very direct, honest and detailed on his professional life while touching sometimes on his personal one. He explains how hard work, wit and a mix of luck made him the man he has become. It's full of General Electric episodes - the good and the bad - which makes it a very compelling read. I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alex martini
This book is very well written and does a great job of telling the story behind one of the 20th century's greatest executives. While I don't think anyone (except the author) will agree with all of his decisions, he gives his reasoning and thus it is always possible to see his side. And it's impossible to argue with his results. If you're looking from lessons you can apply, I would recommend Edwin Locke's "The Prime Movers" instead.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
scott carmichael
As someone who has served as chairman of a publicly-traded company, I had a considerable amount of respect for Jack Welch before I read this book.
Upon reading it and learning something of his personality, I discovered that he seems like a profoundly insecure, self-absorbed little man. Talk about a vaccuous personality! Of course I can appreciate his professional accomplishments at GE, but I can also respect those of IBM's Louis Gerstner, who doesn't need to wallow in hundreds of pages of self-congratulatory drivel. Alternatively, give me founder/innovators like a Bill Gates or a Steve Case, who, incidentally, avoid the limelight unless it's thrust upon them to further their aspirations. To me, this book represents the embarrassingly pathetic ramblings of a soft-handed cookie-cutter corporate executive for whom a game of golf is about as creative as it gets. Simply put, "Jack" is a rather uninteresting book about a notably uninteresting person.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth manning
He is my hero, Jack. He is a super amazing guy. His success is incredible, like a legend. Through the 20th Century, he is one of the best CEO as far as I know. He has a great potential and gut. He made GE one of the most successful companies last century. He is a very creative and imaginative person. His enthusiasm was amazing and powerful. He is a pioneer that stands for 20 Century businesses.
I felt that he really loves GE. In this book, he used the word "I", It refers to all his friends or colleagues. It means " We." For Jack, GE is his life itself. He seriously tried to change GE to be the No1company. He accomplished it skillfully. He always thought about how do it in order to make money, how to make GE strong, and how Jack controlled GE. Before Jack became CEO, GE was ordinary big and old style company. GE really "bureaucracy." He didn't like "superficial congeniality," so he introduced differentiations, actually this idea was Jack's first revolution to change the GE.
He announced his new great ideas one by one; Boundaryless, Six Sigma, Globalization, Growing Services, and E-Business. These were amazing and fascinating business plans. As result of it, these lead to be amazing huge successes and profit for GE. He also has a clear business plan. It is that if GE is not NO1 or NO2 Company, they would "fix, sell or, or close." Also he vigorously did M &A (merger and acquisition) to be stronger and bigger for GE. These also gave GE a huge profit.
Through this book, I learned how to make money, how difficult it is to control the big company, or how attractive a CEO position is. His CEO philosophy was written in Section V chapter 24 "What This CEO Things Is All About." So we can see it, I learned these better and he teaches me that I can do my best in my life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bob crawshaw
Jack Welch does an adequate job of telling his story. For me, the most interesting part of the book was from his childhood to his early days at GE. It is nice to see a straight-shooter "make it." Later in the book, Mr. Welch gives the uninitiated a nice tour of the GE review process. It is certainly a monument to his ego, but nobody forced me to read this book! Lastly, the method of goal setting he describes in this book is particularly effective.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
manduca sexta
No doubt the MBA's of the hallowed halls of our business colleges will debate for many years to come..'was the total effect Mr. Welch had on GE equal to and/or greater then the influence of sum of the parts of GE on the world'?
I am sure Mr. Welch can be taught but I am not so sure that his leadership style will be learned.
The GE Jack Welch dug up Deming's and Drucker dusted them off and employed their volumes of principles into a few straight forward and quantifiable edicts that drove GE to become the greatest American company in the world.
I enjoyed the frankness and truthfulness in this book.
I was initially appalled in the 1980's at the ease with in which Mr. Welch shed tens and thousands of jobs and traditional GE branded manufacturing divisions. And had a policy of firing the the bottom ten percent performers annually.
However when you consider GE's global growth, diversity and corporate work culture you finish up approving and admiring the company you wish you joined twenty years ago!
As Jack sits back and enjoys his retirement and grandchildren the rest of us hope he will find the time to tell us some more of his traits and how he sees it affecting us tomorrow!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris way jones
The thing that fascinated me most about this book, is the way in which Jack literally sweeps you along with his story-telling style. One almost feel as if you were there in person, standing next to Jack as he progressed up the corporate ladder.
What also makes this book interesting, is the fact that, though you feel like you are reading a story, you learn something new on almost every page, almost without realizing that you are being taught by one of America's most admired businessmen.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ann marshall
I recommend this book to anyone because Jack Welch makes it possible for anyone to work from the bottom of a company to the very top, with a matter of time. He overcame many struggles with bosses, jobs, family, and friends to become the poewrful corporate man he is today. Jack helped me understand what it takes to be a "top dog"; what it takes to reach the top. If you ever wanted to know any insight into a big company like GE and how it works, this is a good book for you. Jack was born in Salem Massachusetts in 1936. He received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1957 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. In 1981, he became the eighth Chairman and CEO in the Company's 121-year history. He retired in the fall of 2001. Jack's greatest triumph came in 1985 when GE acquired RCA, in the biggest non-oil takeover in US history. This helped GE expand on just light bulbs and TVs.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sergey
Your enjoyment of this book depends on your expectations going in. If you want a very "lite" read at the beach, then this book is for you. I was expecting either an in-depth look at the decision making processes that went into growing GE (a la a business school case study) or a look into the man who helped build the company (an autobiography). I was left with neither. What you will get is a glossed-over recount of "who did what in the oscilating widget department" with names of people I've never heard of and don't care about.
I would have loved to have been lead through a critical self-analysis of Welch's thoughts throughout his career. If an autobiography of sorts, I would have liked to hear how he balanced his career with his personal life? My conclusion: he didn't. He focussed on the former to the detriment of the latter. But he didn't spend ANY time developing these thoughts. If a business study, how did he come to decide what he did? I couldn't tell because it wasn't there. My mind was not stimulated in reading this "magazine level" trifle.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel spohn
When my teacher showed us the book `JACK', I thought I could like it. I like the picture on the cover. He is smiling with confidence and achievement. As his picture, he showed me his amazing strategies and accomplishment at his work.
. He has gift at work and treat people. He colored GE, indeed. Above all, his confidence and his decisive personality impressed me. This book can give good lesson that wants to be CEO or businessman like me.
During read this book I keep comparing jack with me. I asked questions to me how many possibilities I have to be a good Businessman several times. Actually, he gave me motivate in business area. Also he gives good lessons but only to businessman but also to who has employees. He shows us good way like hug and kick. It can be helpful to both of them.
On the other hand, Even if his success he has a blind point. At first part of book, he mentioned about his relationship between him and his parents especially his mom. And he said it made his personality in the role of the CEO. I think he could do same things to his children. But, he didn't mentioned about his children and his relationship not only once. Was he too busy to do?
And he failed in his marriage life. He married two times. He even didn't give enough faith to wives. I expected not only his business life but also his beautiful family life. Even though he succeeded at work, he failed at his family and social life. To success at work can't be success in life.
I respect his achievement at work, but I feel sorry to his life. I think he never felt real happiness in his life. I recommend this book others who are interested in business. But I don't think this is the best book for businessman. Almost all of us dream of successful life in family and work but the book `JACK' can't be help in both ways. If someone wants to get these from JACK, you'd better chose other book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
matt kelley
This book had gave some interesting insight into the upper echelons of a large corporation, somewhere I'll never be. And I liked getting a glimpse of the successful programs he instituted. (A previous ... reviewer nicely summed it up - it would have saved me 200 pages.) Most helpful was his insistence on recruiting and promoting the best people. He even had a good metaphor ("I may not be the brightest bulb in the chandalier, but I got the other bulbs to light up.")
But mostly I kept hoping the writing would get better, the stories more interesting, or the people more lifelike. I stuck it out to the bitter end, and knew my hope was misplaced when I read the phrase that for me epitomizes bad writing: "...the people roared with laughter..." There was too much namedropping (including restaurants and country clubs) and too little substance about these great people he hired. Not enough character development to be a good biography, and not enough technical detail to be a good management text.
I was left with the feeling: "good for you, but so what" and "I'm glad that's over."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amelie racine
For those readers looking for an insight into Jack Welch's theory on management of large enterprises, this book will be interrupted by the history of his personal relationships with his family, friends, and associates. For those readers looking for an account of Jack Welchs's life, this book will be interrupted by his business philosophy and management practices. But to the true scholar, this book will demonstrate how Jack Welch's view of business and management was only about one thing - interactions with people. And they will also see that Jack Welch's life was eternally intertwined with his professional career. Only in taking the reader through both can Jack Welch truly demonstrate who he is as a man and as a leader.
This book is not one of the thousands of How To books on Management that come and go with each passing craze. Rather, it is the story of a man who believed in himself and in the abilities of others to create something unlike anything created before. While many of the paradigms have changed (a one company career for example), this book will continue to be a classic.
I would encourage all managers to buy this book for their best and brightest subordinates to help motivate them to become even more than they currently are. I would encourage all people with managers to have their manager buy and read this book so that they are not buried in the bureaucracy.
At worst, this book traces the history of a great leader escaping and defeating the anchor of bureaucracy. At best, it is the inspiration to become that leader.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jon hunley
Jack Welch and John Bryne provide the reader with a fascinating rendition of the corporate world as it exists today in America. Obviously the majority of the opinion and insight is geared towards sustaining Welch's ego, which is legendary in its robustness and obnoxiousness. However, if one maintains focus throughout this ego-stroker, one can read between the lines fairly easily. Those in the know of the industry clearly understand why GE is referred to as "Generous Electric." Much of it has to do with the loss of focus and "golden parachute" corporate mentality that has occurred at GE during Welch's watch.
Hopefully someone will write a truly balanced and objective portrayal of Jack Welch in the future...but in today's CEO=Super Hero mentality, you won't learn much more from this book than you will watching Lou Dobbs go down on Mr. Welch during one of his ego-stroking interviews.
Stick with Harry Potter.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kelly korby
Jack Welch boils down his philosophy and GE's success to a few key principles. For this the book does an outstanding job, and provides the reader with some best-practice guidelines for his or her own company. It's a much more interesting read than many management books, yet stills happens to continually reinforce GE's and Jack Welch's key concepts.

Some of the other reviews seem to reflect opinions of readers that simply don't get it. While there is some fluff in the book you will get a lot out of it if you stay focused on the few key messages. These you can take to your own company or job and have a very positive impact.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tonya burrows
There's a few reasons why Jack is the most well-repected CEO of our time--he's leads one hell of a company. In terms of market cap, profitablity, market value, shareholder returns, employee retention, and influence over American life (oh, and his company owns one of the largest TV networks).
Jack does a fine job (enoyable, not excessively self promoting or biased) describing his influence on GE and thier influence on the American business. This book is ideal for most b-book readers, a must read for (aspiring) employees.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jeff ryan
Jack Welch is the world's most successful CEO. This is his story in his own words about what it's like to take the company he worked for, General Electric, and make it successful.

Born in 1935, the story of Jack Welch's life begins with his upbringing in outside Boston. He is smart and excels in chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts and gets his PH.D at the University of Illinois. He starts his career at GE in 1960 and rises quickly to the top until his retirement in 2001. His philosophy to be the leader in whatever field GE competed in with the credo "fix, sell or close" and moved GE to the forefront of its industry. This is a must read for anyone interested in business excellence.

John M. Vanderslice
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marylee vetrano
As an author with my debut novel in its initial release, I genuinely enjoyed reading Jack Welch's autobiography, JACK: STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT. I realize I'm a biased reader, though. Jack made me some money. During the years Jack served as CEO of GE, I did hold some stock in his company. That stock did okay while he was in charge. But, so what? His book is still an enjoyable read. He tells how he succeeded in business by really trying. He stayed out of the pack and rose to the top. As an economics instructor, I found his observations about corporate culture and suggestions about managment style well worth the price of the book. He talks about some of his correct decisions as well as some of his mistakes. He reveals quite a bit of personality. I enjoyed this book. For an icon of contemporary American capitalism, Jack Welch is living a fairly interesting life.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
schmerica
This is a good book, but falls well short of the hype and the massive public image of Jack Welch. It's a little dry and Welch comes across as a little sanctimonious, somewhat along the lines of Mark McCormack. However, he was clearly a major figure in American and world business, had a clear vision and strategy, and was evidently a masterful manager. So his book is well worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
paula mcallister
This is a very interesting account of the changes in GE from the immediate post-war boom to the very different business climate of today. On the whole it is well written and easy reading. You do not need a business degree to get some benefit from it. However, some of the terminology used will be understood only by the initiated. An example is Six-Sigma, a quality control initiative that seeks to dramatically decrease defects in products and services. It is mentioned early and often but not really explained until late in the book. Still, small business owners and entrepreneurs might find some helpful ideas here.
Mr. Welch was successful in breaking up the staid bureaucracy of a very large corporation. My father, who started with GE as an electrical engineer in 1949 and retired as a plant manager in 1980, often commented that the only way he could be promoted and make more money was to give up hands-on engineering and move into management. Differentiation, the idea of rewarding those who produce results, might have allowed him to remain an engineer. Instead, he had to play the promotion game, which often meant stepping on your co-workers to climb the ladder. Many times the back-stabbing politician got the promotion, not the best leader.
The major failing, either of GE or Mr. Welch for not explaining it well, is that GE still seems to be a very male organization at the top. Almost all anectdotes are about men, the best and brightest are men, you have to play golf at the big meetings, ideas are expressed in sports analogies, and any discussion about diversity is limited to two paragraphs on page 380 (out of 445). The reader really has no clear idea about whether women and minorities have shared in the new culture that is GE today that Mr. Welch is so (rightly) proud of.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steve green
If more CEO's followed the advice of Jack Welch, then we wouldn't have the deplorable social conditions so aptly satirized in Ben Jonjak's recent novel "Glorious Failure." Mr. Welch's tactics are reasonable and painfully obvious, yet it is the burden of all brilliant ideas that they are deceptively simple and easilly overlooked. Here at last we have the outline for the future, a simple, easy to comprehend guide for making the changes that will only result in profit for everybody. You'll be caught up in this book and its common-sense logic. A great read, guaranteed!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
deanna lambert
When I heard about Jack, I didn't think that Jack is an ordinary person. Really Jack is a special person and looks like an intelligent person. Most people who work in business will know who Jack is. He was CEO at the GE. Jack is well known for business. He is a person who made improved company. While I was reading a book, named Jack, which was written by Jack, I had new thoughts that not only Jack was a intelligent CEO but also he was a good writer. Although he became a CEO at the GE because of his extraordinary business strategies, if he couldn't write about his own thoughts about business, I might not impress about him. When I was reading, I was surprised several times. Whoever will be hard to write personality thoughts. As he shows his business styles through the book, he might make new business relationship each of his companies. The book shows how he made on business. Jack's management style was to trickle down. For example, as he worked hard, he could encourage employees. His employees could attempt new way to make new stuffs. Other example, when he became a CEO at the GE, as he empowered other CEO, he could also make new styles in the Business. If you choose to read a book, you may not disappoint about your chosen. The book gives chance to you who want to make good deal on own business.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katherine coble
This is a truly magnificent book that give great insight into the strategy and method of one of the most successfull leaders ever.
It is very inspiring to read how Jack Welch has managed a company as big as GE with relatively simple means, and this should be an encouragement to all in senior management.
Further the book is filled with good anecdotes and a humorous approach to nearly everything.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matthia
When we started this semester, our teacher showed us this book. I just thought "Holy cow", this book is so big and thick. I won't like this book, and I won't have thirst for read it. First time when I read this book, I felt a heavy pressure. I am not major in business, and I don't know a lot of technical terms. Every time when I read this book, I just feel setback. When we discussed this book in the class, I can't understand at all. It's too hard for me. When our teacher explained some vocabularies and business rules, I started interested in this book.
This book includes Jack's childhood, family, and business. As an autobiography, Jack Welch covered only a minimal amount of his personal life, most of pages of the book are devoted for his life at GE. How does he success in his business and how does he guide his employees. When he felt disappointed, he never gives up. I learned how to be more confident like him. This book had gave some interesting insight into the upper echelons of a large corporation.
Jack Welch is obviously a great businessman. The book clearly points out his many accomplishments in transforming a large multi enterprise organization. He certainly has enough ego to let us know how great he is. He tells how he succeeded in business by really trying.
People skills, financial goals, managerial style, and organizational behavior impacts are all covered in this book and if I were organizing a curriculum for managers from line to senior, this would be a must read.
After reading it you are filled with confidence that you too can be successful with a lot of hard work. So if you are looking for a story to inspire you, read Jack.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mike cooper
I was looking for something else, when I found this book. I have always heard who Jack Welch was, and this book definitively captures that. It is a tale of finding talents, and putting them to work, which in short is what the corporate world is all about. Some may judge that he is too full of himself (which is a chapter of the book), but I can not think of anyone else who could have handled that job as well as he did. I fully recommended it for someone who is trying to climb up the corporate ladder. There are a lot of insights there, of which you need to dig them up, as they may not be clear.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah cosey
The first half of the book was great, but in the second half I could feel that he was getting squeezed by deadlines: the transition, the Honeywell merger, and the fact that he had to move over and turn things over to Jeff. He wrote that thanks to the book, he got out of Jeff's way up to September 7. It would be interesting how Jeff, or rather the GE team, manages in the next couple of years after the events of Black Tuesday. Overall, the book was a great great great read, especially the final chapters (less detailed, but enough to give the reader key points of Jack's last few weeks at the top). Read the whole book, cover-to-cover, on my return flight from JFK to Anchorage to Taipei and Manila. A real page-turner! I'll read it more peacefully one of these days, especially that cute chapter on golf. Tried his tip (finishing your swing) on the driving range, and you know what? It works. Wanna improve your golf game? Get this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tara vollmert
Jack Welch is of course a business genius and has written many books. This is the only one that recounts what he did at GE to make it a successful company. I think it is the most interesting of all of his books and by far the most fun to read. No matter what type of business you own or are interested in there is something in here for everyone. You get a great sense of what running a conglomerate looks like. Highly recommend.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
carley
I've read this book and am bewildered why it has the status it does. But I've also wondered the same thing about Mr. Welch for some time as well, so I should've known what I was in for when I picked it up.
The writing seems a bit self-serving, the name-dropping is irritating, and there seems to be a bit missing from his early biography. However, there are some engaging elements.
But it's the larger picture that kept me baffled - and remains unresolved after reading this book. How has Welch come to hold the near-mythical status that he has in the corporate world? He took one of the nation's leading companies (in terms of innovative new products), gutted the research and development budget, and is proclaimed a hero. GE is now a company that buys companies that make things, rather than developing new things to make. On Wall Street, this and frequent downsizing (the surest way to bring a stock's price up) makes you a hero. But how clever do you have to be to drive a prosperous research enterprise into the ground?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dorris
I thought the most powerful parts of his story had to do with how hard he worked to make the GE succession process as fair as it could possibly be for all the candidates. It is clear that Mr. Welch is an open and honest guy who wants people to succeed on their merits.
Also, he cuts through all the jargon and makes Six Sigma make great practical sense. Anyone considering implementing a quality program should read this book.
Anyone working at any level in any organization will benefit from reading this candid view from the top of a superior company.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris ward
While Jack seems to focus so much on himself, what else does an autobiography cover? And when you consider what GE did during his tenure as CEO, it only seems appropriate to listen to what HE was thinking about during that time frame. Not your normal business tome filled with management theory-just a well written perspective on a Ph.D. who became Press Enemy Number 2 (Neutron Jack) and has become the Most Admired CEO in the modern era. Get it and read it!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
meghan mccabe
What a worthless self-promoter. GE, having apparently decided to commit harakiri as a manufacturer, has turned itself into a finance and communications company, while slapping its nameplate on some appliances-- thanks to the endless yammering of Jack Welch, who thankfully doesn't have a speculum or he'd be looking up himself every day and publishing the pictures.

It's not enough that he owns your ass, decides who will be president, and now, his company will decide what you watch on TV and in the movies; what he really wants is for you to say, "Gee, Mr. Welch, you're a genius." When he retired, it was revealed that GE stockholders had been picking up his luxury apartment, and paying millions for his retirement. In any other company, the stockholders would cancel the perks. But for Welch, his self-promotion was so intense that people actually think if they withdrew their tribute, the sky would fall.

I guess the captains of industry had their greatest generation, too. It was a long time ago. This is an '80s kind of guy. Hey, Jack? You're fired.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lillie
When I become aware of a person, I really want to know where they came from. What did they start out as? How did they get to where they got?

Were they born rich and just got richer? (Trump and Gates, for instance.)

Were they splitting rails like Abe Lincoln?

In the case of this book, Jack Welch was born to relatively modest beginnings and became one of the most powerful men in the world.

I found this book to be a great story of a man who went on to lead a giant corporation and gain status as a superstar CEO.

It was, to me, a fascinating book.

Good stuff about what it's like to play in the big leagues.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
joan albano
My dad and I can argue about this one all night long! He thinks the sun rises and sets on this book. There are indeed some wonderful tips on how to manage a business at the very back of the book, but the rest of his ghost-authored book is a puffed-up piece of boring golf course self-indulgence that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
josie harvey
This is a great down to earth, and inspirational read. Jack's approach and style can be carried into anyone's life. What's most interesting is the scale of the company he lead - balanced with his ability to stay hands on. This book is a pick up and put down read, where you can get back up to speed easily. A MUST READ!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
clo newton
This book is built on the basic principal ,of Passion , motivation , delegation, trust , responsibility , vision and society .
In his book, Welch , has authored all the above elements in conjucture with self confidence will lead a team resulting in reaching their ultimate goal / objective which is repaying its investors , employees and society .
Passion as Welch emphasies , is an important tool for self development . Passion is the creator and leader of individual . If a CEO and his team has Passion & Vision the company is bound for success.
This book writes in detail about how Welch catapulted GE to a new dimension with aides of his trusted team members . How a team actully works as a team , leaving besides their differences.
That is a sign of a true leader and a true leading Company .
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
holli
This book offers nothing (or hardly anything) provocative and interesting; It's just a self-praising autobiography. Jack Welch may have been at the helm when GE grew, but as it has been said before, a dog could have driven the same growth and profits he did. In fact, his way of looking at business is just that totally backward approach that we can no longer tolerate as a country and global community. We can't afford to focus strictly on business and profits and results. We need to focus on improving COMMUNITIES, employees, planet, products, and finally profits. Jack seems to think that you can just demand that profits be generated and they magically will appear - and if they don't, then he suggests you fire people, even if they are very talented. If they mess up, they're gone. What? Where is the inventiveness, especially in a company like GE. (His six sigma junk helped bring down the creative genius of 3M (that guy that doesn't go on to get his job went on to become the CEO of 3M). He doesn't realize that profits are the RESULT of other business practices. You first must develop a business ethos such as, being involved in the local community by helping with x,y,z specific project, or I will treat my employees well and give them fair wages, or I will only purchase materials from sustainable sources - and then, from this, consumers can decide whether or not they want to buy your products, and if they decide they do, then you will make money. And I know Welch made money for GE, but his book doesn't convey a deep understanding of why - he seems to just think that demanding profits, profits, profits results in profits - and he doens't hint and caring how those profits are generated.

Save yourself some time and money and do not purchase this book. Go deeper - buy a book by Bill McKibben or Paul Hawken, or read Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch (not a business book, but the best life book ever).

Seriously, this book is a 496 page waste of good trees and your valuable life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mike mcc
English is not my native language. I am learning English here in America. All of my classmates want to learn about business. My teacher recommended us to read about book called "JACK". We were all excited but the price was a little bit expensive for us. ...
The beginning of the book was a little bit boring but suddenly it caught my attention so deeply because business vocabulary, skills and strategy ideas flow over the page. Even though Jack is not a writer, this book is well organized in logical order and easy to follow....
If you are looking for success in your business you'll get great, incredible ideas for this book....
I would recommend it to businessmen, students, professors, leader and even housemakers. Especially if you want to become a CEO or dream to become a CEO, you must read it. It is worth it....
I feel rich now for inexpensive price.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
katie krombein
It's hard to separate the man from the book. The book itself is little more than an account of where he went and what he did, with the rare nanosecond of self-doubt always followed by self-vindication and congratulation. He could have had his diary published and gotten much the same results.

However, what he did to GE and its employees is loathsome. The unbridled avarice and lack of concern for anything but the bottom line injured thousands and likely killed hundreds. I am astounded that people hold him up as a paragon of the modern businessman.

Jack Welch, Robert Allen of AT&T, Lou Gerstner of IBM are only a handful of the hundreds of greed-driven, ego-ridden businessmen who more than exemplify Gordon Gecko's motto that "Greed is good." God have mercy on their souls.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin ching
Jack is a business icon, who has been with GE for over 40 years (1960 - 2001). While the book is about the life and times of Jack , with numerous anecdotes and stories (both personal and business), there are lots business ideas and wisdom as well.
I highly recommend this book - for anyone who is interested in the views of one of brightest minds of our times ( Jack Welch).
No 1 or No 2
Jack came up with his mantra of "We must be No 1 or No 2 in every business we are engaged in. If not, then we must either "fix, sell or close" the business".
He was always asking GE to ask Peter Drucker's tough question - "If you were not in this business today, would you consider entering it"?
If the answer is no, then you need to address the painful question "So, what are you going to do about it TODAY"?
Differentiation
Basic concept was that differentiation was FORCED upon business leaders. They had to provide rationale-based differentiation amongst those people. After going through a number of methods, GE agreed on the following simple formula
- Each business had to identify people (by name)
- Top 20 percent (A)
- Middle 70 percent (B)
- Bottom 10 percent (C)
In plotting a graph of numbers, it represents a bell-curve, and was called "vitality curve" within GE.
The net-net of that is that in any business the stars (A) were recognized, the performers (B) were noted, and the non-performers (C) had to go. That was effectively carried out at GE. Jack himself drove this to such an extent that over 100,000 people had to "go" out of GE - thus earning him the name "Neutron Jack".
Compensation must absolutely reflect performance. GE's policy is that A's should get raises that are 2 to 3 times the size given to B's. B's should get solid increases recognizing their contributions every year. C's must get nothing - and if they do not progress, should go !!!
Attached to each person's appraisal is the person's position in the vitality curve.
Some think it's cruel to remove the bottom 10% (C's). It isn't says Jack. Performance management must be a life long process ( we spend 20 years in school where everything is measured - then why should our adult life be not measured, asks Jack).
One thing to note - Jack is of the opinion that the bottom 10% must be WEEDED out CONTINUALLY. It is not a one-time activity. That, in Jack's opinion is the only way for a company to forge ahead.
Jack's policy - You had to make the numbers - no excuses. Maybe 2,3 or even 4 chances - after that you are out !!!! GE is truly a meritocracy............
Beauracracy, Wal-Mart
Jack's biggest contribution was dismantling the gigantic beauracracy that GE had embodied due to its enormous size. He energized GE, and turned it into a company that became bigger in size, but at the same time extremely nimble as well. Another aspect of "boundaryless", is to assimilate a "good idea" - regardless of the source. Jack mentions an instance where he was impressed with Sam Walton's style of running Wal-Mart. The regional managers would go on site/field visits (of Wal-Mart and competitor's stores) Monday through Thursday, and come back for a senior-level meeting every Friday afternoon. In that meeting, they would review the site visits plus the (up-to-the-minute) inventory numbers from their computerized systems - and would take immediate corrective action - stores lacking particular stock, price increase/decrease, etc. This mix of high-touch and high-tech impressed Jack - that he started having weekly review meetings.
Strategy
Jack is of the opinion that instead of a central strategy based on grandiose predictions and statistical data, a business needs to run on a central idea. Strategy is not a lengthy action plan - rather it is the evolution of a central idea through continually changing circumstances. Strategy cannot be reduced to a formula - reason being, business like war has to face the following chaotic and rather complex issues like - chance events, imperfections in execution, independent will of the opposition.
Over the last 20 years, GE has had only 4 initiatives - Globalization, Services, Six Sigma and e-business. Everything else has been operational tactics to achieve the 4 initiatives.
Boundaryless
Jack came up with the term "boundaryless" - which simply put is assimilating ALL kinds of ideas from all kinds of people(regardless of position). It is an approach where people are encouraged to think out-of-the-box, and the organization is aligned in a way that not only allows this, but also "vigorously pushes people". It is a term that is used frequently in all the business journals - Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Forbes, Sloan Review , etc.
Direct
Jack's style is one of being direct - no politics, no BS.
Micro-managing
He does admit in the book, that he did micro-manage key deals. Also, a strong believer in "seeking approvals" in anything significant (from his people). An example - GE Capital grew from $11 billion in assets in the year 1980 to $370 billion in assets in the year 2000. In 1980, any deal with a commercial risk
(per customer) of over $100 million had to seek the board's approval. The same remained true in the year 2000. The limit was not raised. Jack established these strict and rigid approval processes to insure that due process are followed.
His losses
Towards the end of his retirement ( this year), GE was on the verge of the LARGEST acquisition ( Honeywell). However, the European Commision did not approve of the deal, and it did not go through. That must be Jack's biggest regret.
Golf
He has one full chapter on his second passion - and life on the golf course.
New Guy
Talks of how the "new guy" - his successor was picked. It ended up being Jeff Immelt ( the guy whom Jack had met while Jeff was still doing his MBA at Harvard in 1982).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cherlina works
This is great book, and it gives very good description regarding Jack Welch management style and events which have happened during his job as a CEO in GE. The book describes a lot of good techniques and has a significant number of very practical advice regarding management and leadership.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
olsy vinoli arnof
Jack Welch used his business knowledge, a slight attitude and a few contacts to climb his way to the top. The most interesting thing about this book is that you will learn that he did it without the politics. He didn't play them and he beat the odds and happily proved many people wrong. I applaud him for his contribution to GE and sharing his insight of the company and his career.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aaron demott
I hesitate to admit it here, but "Jack" was on sale in the Minneapolis airport before the official release date and I bought a copy. (Sorry the store --- I'll be ordering "Jack" as a Christmas gift for a number of friends and I'll click those into my the store shopping cart!)
I fear my presentation to a conference the next morning may have lacked energy as I was up a good part of the night reading "Jack." Welch has given much to America and much to American business. Here is a gift from Jack to the rest of us and one we can pass onto our children. "Jack" is filled with wisdom, common sense and stories that teach and entertain.
I doubt anyone reading "Jack" will become another Jack Welch. Even the great Welch can't create a clone through the written word. But I defy anyone to read even a single chapter and not become a better business person and a more effective manager. The lessons are exciting and stimulating. The book is an easy read.
In short this is a fabulous book that like Jack Welch himself delivers.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emily lam
I was recommended this book to improve my way of thinking in the business. After reading it, I have to say that it has fulfilled this purpose. Coming from an engineer background, this book has served to improve my "business thinking".

However, this book will not make you the new CEO of any company. It just a bunch of success stories and a list of names, and I really was wanting to reach the end after some hundred pages readed. But I really liked the differences between my "project driven" mind and that reflected in the book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brett lamb
I didn't expect much from Mike Barnacle's reading, after all -- Mike Barnacle? But his gritty New England accent was a great voice for Jack Welch.
The book was surpisingly easy to listen to. I was able to absorb most of the concepts due to Welch's clear style and simple explanantions of his approach to management.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tony martinez
Superb. Dr. Welch not only shares with the reader his insight as to what he was thinking at different points along his distinguished career, but just as importantly, how he views these actions from a retrospective perspective as well.
People skills, financial goals, managerial style, and organizational behavior impacts are all covered in this book and if I were organizing a curriculum for managers from line to senior, this would be a must read.
All in all, I found the book very enlightening as it gave me a peek of what it must be like leading a gargantuan organization from what many people would probably call both the best and hotest seat in the house.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maeve
Readers of this book get the unmistakable sense that this guy is an ideas man. He got a company from someone else and spun it around through ideas. By doing this infact he has put into practice what other ideas men before him have always maintained that the true gold is in the mind and not the earth. There are those who say that the only thing Jack Welch concerned himself with was mergers and acquisitions. Well those people are clearly inaccurate. How many business leaders seek the opinion of an army colonel for a business direction. This is clearly the literal meaning of thinking out of the box. Jack Welch is a corporate legend and his book should be in the syllabus of business schools and other institutions of leadership.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
suvarghya
If you are a C type person, employee or in general, first you get a tape recorder and a package of tapes. Then you sit and go through all the reasons you haven't succeeded. You complain about your mother, your father, your dysfunctional family,about your addictions, about your bad luck, about how you have suffered more than most people, etc. etc. For as long as it takes, just you pour out your guts to the tape recorder. Then play it back and listen. When you get tired of hearing yourself, give yourself a hug and see that after all is said and done, you are still alive and well and you are a good person. Maybe life is good after all. Then read this book. A.B. Curtiss, author of Depression is a Choice:Winning the Battle Without Drugs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ginnan villareal
i had heard about Mr jack welch year back.so i felt a needto know more about him and his ideas and visions about GE.this books tell the story with quite openess and clarity than any other book's.the changes which he brought about in GE are worthy of emulating by each person who is working in a large organisations around the world.it's about how a company can loose it's focus and destroy it self.change is the essence of life and organisations should not hesitate to embrace the change which is dynamic and is very much essentail for the growth of the company itself and most importantly for the people working in those organisations.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rob krueger
Jack Welch is no secret he was in the right place at the right time. His business success has nothing to do with good management. There are a thousand Jack Welch's in this world and most of the end up no where. Jack gambled and he won. But to my main point, this guy is soulless. He cares nothing for what is important in life. Greed and power are his middle name. People and humanity be dammed. It makes me sad to think that people aspire to be this man. Here is a poem that in my mind sums up Jack Welch's life. T.S. Elliot 's
Hollow Men
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us--if at all--not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gege
I used this book for a paper I had to write in a business class. Jack Welch seems to be a real down to earth guy! This book helped to see that we are not alone in some of our thinking when it comes to Corporate settings. He inspires you to go out there and be yourself. I truly educational, and entertaining story!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tamara
One of the best success stories of CEO's. Learn the view and life in business worldwide of one of the best. More his story than techniques, but read between the lines, and you will learn success principles to apply.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cynthia smith
This is an autobiography, but it is also the story of success and "the American dream". Along the way, you can learn much about how to run a business efficiently from one who has done a massive amount of hard background work. I recommend this book. And, speaking of learning from one who has done a massive amount of hard background work, I also recommend "West Point" by Norman Thomas Remick for a veritable education on what Jack Welch said are the most important reasons why a local boy made good --- integrity, character, and leadership.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
subha
A good book to get the inside "going ons" from a CEO's perspective. If you have interest in GE and the happenings through Mr. Welch's eyes this is a good read.
I was hoping to get a little more insight and direction regarding the key elements of running an extremely successful business. Outside of the "people are everything" and weed out the bottom feeders, there was little practical knowledge to be taken from the book and used by manager "want-to-be" types.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rachel reyes
I actually got a little depressed by reading this book. Great advice - work hard, be yourself, and enjoy what you are doing. I know a lot of people that works hard and try to be themselves but most do not get ahead. There are some good messages for leaders or executives. I find especially interesting on the various initiatives and how to make them work or stick.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
c line
Jack was actually interesting for the first few chapters, but then the author seemed to lose interest and just got through it, obsessing on himself. His time at GE was not put into historical context,i.e., the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism, the boom of the 90s--from which he profited greatly, terrorism attacks, etc. It's a very inward look at GE and everything that he personally did there, with lots of "I"s in th text. In the early part of the book I liked the main character, but by the end he came across as an egomaniac. Certainly not a great leader. Dissapointing.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
eran dror
creating and overseeing an empire seems a fairly easy matter if you read this book. Jack Welsh strolls through live with some disappointments, mostly good choices and in the process creates one of the biggest companies on the planet. I was disappointed that the book didn't really go into the nitty/gritty of the pivotal points in the history of Jacks tenure at GE, the behind the scenes story of negotiations, etc. Reading the book doesn't give you the feeling that you are being coached by the master but is more of a high level overview of Jacks live. It certainly didn't give me any insights. I wouldn't recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alathea
While I believe that a great deal of information in Welch's book would prove invaluable to many business people trying to work their way up the latter, I did not find this book a good choice for pleasure reading. Welch goes into great detail to outline the inner workings of corporate executives practices and proceedures for a number of things. This book includes invaluable information regarding the process by which employees are often screened in corporations for promotions or lay-offs. However, not being a member of this world I felt a better title for this book would have been, "Jack Welch, excuses for all the mean things I did to people while I was CEO." Enjoy!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emily swartz
The book is an amusing read. However, it cannot compare to the great business leader's books, e.g. by Alfred Sloane. It can also not compare to a well written biography (see for example the biography on Ted Turner by Porter Bibb), that would give you numbers and strategy examples of high value. So, don't expect too much. The last third of the book is a real bore - it focuses on justifications for certain not so political correct production methods more than on anything else.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
joy weese moll
well written but the question that runsd in my head is who wrote it the initial few chapters on his parents etc is very very absorbing rest it reads like a ghost written book the issue being that it has all the relevant infoermation of wht happened but the personal touch is more than missing .....any way if you are fascinated by the man and the company he managed a brilliant pick ...atleast with the man's blessing himself .. though i still wonder who wrote it...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
msiira
For those reviewers who criticized this book, I suggest you couple your reading it with reading "West Point" by Norman Thomas Remick. You'll see, and more important, understand the virtues Jack Welch is expounding. And, most important, it will help your economic lifestyle as it helps you slide down the bannisters of life that have all the splinters pointing in the other direction.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rishi dhanda
One reads books like this to get insights, knowledge, and inspiration. Welch talked and talked and talked and I learned nothing. It is when I finally got completely fed up with his self-aggrandizing narration that I realized the only insight of the book seems to be: companies, especially gigantic ones with many levels of executives, tend to be very resilient (of pointy-hair boss errors). Unless the CEO is *really* stupid, he/she can't really screw up that bad. They are largely irrelevant. (I don't know if the statement is true or not. But that's what the book reads like to me.)

Of course, if your goal is to climb the corporate ladder, you might draw much more than I did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paulo felix
I'm giving it to you "jack-straight". This is one of my two all-time favorite books on character and leadership in America. And, I think that over the past 30 years I must have read all the major offerings. So, my advice to everyone is, don't miss this book. Like the second of my two all-time favorites, "West Point" by Norman Thomas Remick, it's wonderfully inspiring. In fact, the two books compliment eachother. Together, you get the whole picture. Get the picture? That's the jack-straight truth.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
denise ajiri
This book exhibits Jack's extraordinary rememberance and recolection of times and events in his life. It seemed as if they were happening as the story unfolded. This autobiography proves that it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to make it to the top in a company as large as General Electric. The style of writing used in this book is very unique, although the storyline did seem to "drag" in places. Overall, I would rate this book at three stars because of it lacking climaxes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie clair
Jack Welch is the consummate business leader of our time. This book gives great insight into the thought processes that led to his success by revealing what and who shaped his life from childhood to retirement. Sure, much of Jack Welch is "over the top" but isn't that what we would expect?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tashya dennis
This book is a basic explanation of what goes on in the mind of a great manager. Pay close attention to what he has to say, because you can apply his ideas literally or use the concepts to build your own management style. I would trade my entire career, up to this point, to work for someone like Jack Welch. I suspect that most of his people say that. With loyalty like that, you owe it to yourself to learn how to be the best manager you can be.
Buy it. Read it. Make notes in the margins and keep it on your desk.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
taylor kate
The modern business world is a hyper-competitive environment that moves soooo quickly. Jack Welch gives great insights into what it took to make that elephant that is GE do a tap dance. Great book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jennifer scott
Review Summary: This autobiography of Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, primarily focuses on the key initiatives (such as focusing on businesses with #1 or #2 market shares, selecting the best executive prospects, creating a learning organization, expanding GE Capital, Six Sigma, e-business development, and the attempted acquisition of Honeywell) during his tenure as CEO.
The key principles behind his successful management style are spread throughout the book and summarized in part of chapter 24, "What This CEO Thing Is All About."
In most chapters, he briefly highlights the history and thinking that led to the initiative, shares a few examples of what went right and wrong, explains what his thoughts were while the initiative was occurring, and provides a scorecard for GE's performance.
What will be new to most people are a deeper exposure to his communications style, a balancing of what the popular press has said about events during his tenure, and a stronger flavor of his focus on improving the quality of GE's management teams.
The roots of his successful approaches will be easily found in the example of his mother, and his early experiences at GE.
Those who are looking for a management book will be disappointed in the volume.
Readers who want a lot more detail on the specific successes will often be disappointed as well. The book is very candid, but typically operates at a pretty superficial level.
Review: The bulk of this book is framed by the experience of being welcomed with "Congratulations, Mr. Chairman!" and given a hug by his predecessor, Reg Jones, and doing the same for his successor, Jeff Immelt. Jack Welch feels that in between those events he helped create "the greatest people factory in the world, a learning enterprise with a boundaryless culture." In looking back on his role, he sees it as being 75 percent about people, and 25 percent about everything else. He notes in his opening remarks to "please remember that every time you see the word I in these pages, it refers to all those colleagues and friends [as well] . . . ." The author's profits from this book are being donated to charity.
As someone who made his share of mistakes along the way (including blowing up a small chemical factory with an experiment early in his tenure at GE), Dr. Welch is aware of the need to recognize those who take big swings and miss the ball. Having grown up in the small plastics business in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, he also strove to create "a small company spirit in a big-company body." His characterizations of himself are brutally frank prior to becoming CEO, and less so thereafter. One story that most will remember is how his mother upbraided him in the locker room for throwing his stick after the team lost its seventh straight hockey game in overtime. "You punk, if you don't know how to lose, you'll never know how to win." As a young man at GE he says, "I was brutally honest and outspoken. I was impatient and, to many, abrasive . . . [which included being] earthy, loud, and excitable." Throughout the experience at GE, he feels that "I never changed who I was."
He offers a lot of arguments for his views that are not always balanced by the views of others. He is defensive about his reputation for cutting jobs, but argues that he was doing what was needed. His self assessment is that "I took too long to act."
On contamination of the Hudson by PCBs, he is proud of GE's record and feels victimized by government. He asserts that all evidence to the contrary is just plain wrong.
What is my view of the most positive legacy of Jack Welch, after reading this book? He made important contributions in at least these areas:
(1) Creating a helpful model for how to locate, encourage, and develop managers with the right values and the ability to deliver good business results.
(2) Showing how to develop a financial services business from a manufacturing company base, something that has rarely been done successfully.
(3) Establishing a helpful example for how to change the management style of a major company away from centralized bureaucracies.
That's quite a lot compared with his contemporaries. Congratulations, Dr. Welch!
As a book about how to manage, few will find this more than a two or three star effort . . . but that was not the book's purpose. As an autobiography, few insights are present past chapter six, and all of the anecdotes about the initiatives while he was CEO simply retell the same story of a bright, results-oriented man who was constantly looking for a better way. In terms of being an autobiography, more than half the book could have been edited out. As a result of too much rambling at a superficial level, this is a three star autobiography. Clearly, Dr. Welch himself is a five-star effort. I combined these perspectives to assign the book a three star rating. Those who look at the book carefully in the absence of considering his track record may feel that I am too generous. A lot of his Deep Dives into the organization will impress many readers as little more than meddling micromanagement by someone with a very large ego.
After you read this book, I encourage you to think about what you would want to be able to say about yourself in an autobiography when you retire. What will your positive legacy be? How will people who don't know you perceive what you have to say about what you did and thought?
Work on improving yourself as the first step towards organizational progress!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kris
I've met Jack Welch in Pasadena few weeks after the book came out. Jack Welch just confirmed his keen intellect," tough" guy fame but he discussed with passion about Six Sigma, one of initiatives he championed together with globalization and e-business. This book though is not the textbook on Welch Style of Management but is a good inside in some of his thinking and approaches. This book is for those who want to listen to what he wants to say.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashry
I love any book that makes my mind continually update my own company strategies. This book captures so many things that my brain continually kept thinking about how things applied to what we do at Genesis. Great read, nice to hear from one of america's smartest business leaders.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jen wilkinson
I got the audio (unabridged) version of the book and thoroughly enjoyed listening to Mr. Welch's stories and observations about business and life, in general... He's what I'd call a "solid guy" and I imagine anyone who's been lucky enough to work with/for him must have benefited tremendously through this experience. Thank you, Mr. Welch, for writing this deeply insightful and pertinent account of your business life...
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica vantielcke
Some may question whether these captains of industry mean us good or ill in the final analysis. I myself just question their phenomenal self-love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hamoudi39
Jack Welch's style of writing is exactly the same as his style of operating: straight from the gut. A big book, yet no "lard", this is a surprisingly easy book to read..I did not expect a book of this size and subject to be as easy to understand as this actually turned out to be. Remember finishing the entire book in a span of just over 24 hours on a journey...

If you have heard about GE and the GE way, and have wondered what it's all about, then this book is for you. Go for it!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
bob koelle
I was a little disappointed by the focus of this book. I was expecting a little humanity and meaning in this tale of an extraordinary businessman. I hope that when the epitaph is carved on his gravestone it says more than "I bought and sold Companies" The lessons that are set forth in this book are not those that I would want my children to live their lives by. Being successful financially does not have to come at the expense of having a soul and valuing and honoring your family and community.
Please Rate Jack: Straight from the Gut
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