1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the book used
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 were he talks about assigning E-trainers for all the top executives in the company, all I have to say...
Published on April 1 2004 by D. McGrath
3.0 out of 5 stars Gary Wendt and Dennis Nayden
What would GE be like without Gary Wendt, Dennis Nayden, and Mike Neal? Nayden the brainpower to structure big complex deal; Neals the people connections negotiator; and Wendt the idea man and acquistion proposing machine. Wendt and Nayden drove GE towards global growth: The 1983 purchase of American Mortgage , 1984 purchase of Employers Reinsurance Corp (Stanger and...
Published on Nov. 22 2003 by Golden Lion
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the book used,
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 were he talks about assigning E-trainers for all the top executives in the company, all I have to say is rank does have its privileged, 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 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 dozen of the key ideas Mr Welch talks about in his book.
The runway of a person,
The vitality curve of a career
Differentiation being a key value to getting ahead
Plane crash scenario: Who will run the company
Having a deep bench: When a replacement was needed
Fix, Close or Sell areas of business that are not performing well
Being #1 or #2 in your field
The 6 sigma quality movement
Finance: People and dollars are the movable parts, while the people hold the depth of knowledge
Not to mention a smattering of, golf, tennis and ping pong stories.
Overall I would say buy the book used or borrow it from a friend - 4 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack Welch's book is great,
Just a few notes from "Jack straight from the Gut" book which is primarily focused on Jack Welch's 30 years with General Electric.
PhD IN CHEMISTRY: earned this from University of Illinois before starting his career in business which ended up being primarily focused on working for and managing General Electric.
This allowed him to really understand many of GE's products when needed during his 41 year tenure.
DO THE RIGHT THING: even when you have to put your job at risk. Doesn't make sense to do the wrong thing just so as to not "rock the boat"
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF THE WORKFORCE; one way to do this is to fire the bottom 10% of employees on a yearly basis. This earned him the nickname of "Neutron Jack" even though he always tried these workers other positions within the
company and not with competitors.
QUINTUPLE HEART BYPASS: was performed just a few years ago after suffering angina pains for about 15 years.
AVID GOLFER: all of his life with a very low handicap.
EMBRACED QUALITY: throughout the company with a 6 Sigma program.
CONTINUALLY DEVELOP WORKERS to maintain productivity. Hired outside talent as needed.
MEASURE ALL BUSINESS UNITS using ROI calculations in addition to revenue and profits.
BUY OR SELL BUSINESS UNITS: in order to grow a business or cut losses as needed
GE PURCHASES: over $50B worth of goods and services on a yearly basis
OVERHEAD EXPENSES: reduced by 30% or $10B by fully implementing
digital control of all processes including the use of the Internet.
EMPLOYMENT: over 300,000 workers worldwide.
MARRIED 3 TIMES: currently living in Boston with a young wife and her 4 children.
FUTURE PREDICTIONS: China represents the biggest competitor which will drive most non performing companies out of business.
5.0 out of 5 stars good book to learn lessons to live by,
This book is for anyone who wants to improve him or herself. I read the book as a med student hoping to land a residency in dermatology. I read the book because I wanted to learn about the personal traits of a man succesful enough to climb through about 100,000 competitors and land the top job at one of the world's most successful companies.
A couple of salient points: 1)You must somehow "get out of the heap" by differentiating yourself in some positive manner. Just sitting around being average will not do. 2) You must strive to improve yourself in multiple dimensions--even dimensions that you may not consider "weaknesses." For example, I have to learn to communicate with my patients better, I have to learn more by reading more about my patients diseases, etc., etc. 3) It takes a life time to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to wreck it. Actually, this is an expression of Warren Buffett, but it applies here because Mr. Welch virtually overnight tarnished his rep when his excessive pay package was revealed during proceedings of a bitter divorce. One must anticipate what might destroy oneself and work ahead to prevent disasters.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very fascinating!,
"Jack: Straight from the Gut" written by former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch is an interesting insight into the mind of a CEO. The first quarter of the book deals with his childhood and his college years and I find this part very interesting. He provided information on what motivates him, his education and how he became he is today. The main chunk of the book deals with his early years at GE, starting from the plastic business and later the CEO of the entire corporation. Reading the book, you can the feeling that Welch is extremely ambitious, driven and smart.
I enjoy this book because it gives good insights into the life of a CEO, the difficult decisions that he had to make, the importance of people and culture, and the lesson that I learn from him is that, never be afraid to change. Change is inevitable and Welch was not one who is afraid to implement change. He also provided some discussions of some the the decisions that he made and what were the issues that affected businesses.
If you are looking for like point to point statergy on how to run a business successful, then this is not what you are looking for. He did provide some advice on that but mostly he provided insights in terms of understanding organizational behaviors and culture. In terms of his personal life, he did not write much about that and I wish that he did. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about decision-making and business in general. It is an easy read, and not much of difficult business jargons.
3.0 out of 5 stars Gary Wendt and Dennis Nayden,
What would GE be like without Gary Wendt, Dennis Nayden, and Mike Neal? Nayden the brainpower to structure big complex deal; Neals the people connections negotiator; and Wendt the idea man and acquistion proposing machine. Wendt and Nayden drove GE towards global growth: The 1983 purchase of American Mortgage , 1984 purchase of Employers Reinsurance Corp (Stanger and Dammerman), private label credit cards, commerical finance deals (Wendt), 1994 $12 billion in asset acquistions, 1995 $25 billion in asset acquistions, Banks in Poland and Czech Republic, (Wendt and Nayden close 400 deals involving $200 billion in assets). The numbers are convincing that the acquistions in themselve created wealth. Welsh did not condemn Wendt's asset collection drive with GEs total assets excessing $400 billion. Wendt and Nayden were the real wealth creators of GE. Harvard Business Review would use GE as a model of successfully integrating acquired businesses. GE's exporting Financial services to a global economy drow GEs growth rate.
Dr. Welsh seems to believe Six Sigma and eBusiness turned GE around. Lets look at the impact of Six Sigma. Six Sigma is about knowing business processes to reduce variance increasing cost savings; Gary Reiner and Bob Nelson projected a $7-10 billion cost savings; 1996, Six sigma rolled out under Mike Harry; a 60 fixed and 40 percent six sigma bonus was established; in the first year 30,000 employees were trained at a cost of $200 million. Six sigma performance enhancements: 99.99 change of getting a person in a call center, 5.7 Sigma purity standard for Sony CDs, CT scanner improvement from 3 minutes to 17 seconds, from 1996-1997 6,000 six sigma projects achieving a revenue of $320 million, 1998, a $750 million six sigma savings, increasing operating margins from 14.8 percent in 1996 to 18.9 percent in 2000. Customer felt the effects of six sigma: plastic product span from 50 days to 5; aircraft engines from 80 days to 5; and mortgage insurance from 54 days to 1 day. The customer received what they wanted when they expected it.
Dr Welsh insightfully explains GE drove customer from traditional outlets and contacts to the internet. GE had the customer demand and purchasing drive and so it was logical to channel that
activity to the internet. GE saw the internet as three parts: the buy, the make, and the sell. In implement the internet, GE did not forget the rule "never let anyone get between you and your customers", meaning they would not destory customer relationships with technology.
In summary, I was amused with the life style of the rich and famous Welch, however, I will spend more time following the career of Wendt, Nayden, and Neal, in my opinion the true geniuses of GE, the creative minds behind the wealth creating machine. Its not difficult to understand GE double digit growth, GE recognized globalization strategies early and expanding into india, Japan, thailand, and South America.
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be named "How to be Successful".,
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars not that impressive,
This review is from: Jack: Straight from the Gut (Paperback)
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Educational,
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 on Earth are saints and all of us hurt others routinely, some of us by gaining access to a bigger bat 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 virtue 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 thechronology. Jack might be a businessman, but he is no writer. But there are bits and pieces of "how to".
May God in the future send us fewer people like Jack to walk among us.
4.0 out of 5 stars WYSIWYG,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done...highly insightful and entertaining,
I won't rehash much of what has been said already. Rather, I'll share some specific, random thoughts on this book.
1. I think we can divide the book into three general timeframes: Childhood & pre-GE, GE before becoming CEO, then the CEO years. Each one is interesting, but for different reasons. Jack is living proof that it's not where you come from that counts, but what you do with what you have and want (goals) that leads to success.
2. The notion of identifying and replacing the bottom 10% of your employees every year remains a radical concept, in my view. The anecdote towards the end of the book (where Jack is pulled aside by the manager of the clothing store) exemplifies how difficult this can really be. Even more difficult is the recognized need to develop processes and metrics to measure performance, then having the discipline as a organization to stick with the "rules". If you manage people, are you willing to let 10% go? If so, who? Do they know how their performance is being assessed?
3. Conversely, I've been asking myself "Am I an 'A' performer?" How am I being evaluated? Does the method of evaluation make sense, given our business? If not, how should I be evaluated? These are critical questions which are important for every manager and employee to consider. If I am a 'B" performer, how do I become an 'A'? If I am a 'C', should I leave and do something else?
4. This book finally answers the question "What does a CEO actually do?" Or, perhaps, "What should a CEO be doing?" In Jack's case, it's primarily resource management, both human and financial. He spent an extraordinary amount of time on human resources, e.g., developing systems to measure performance, assessing managerial performance, etc. His speech in the Appendix on the GE corporate "strategy" is priceless. Everyone who is a student of strategic thinking should read this brief, but important speech.
5. If I had to read only one chapter, excluding the speech in the Appendix, it would be the one explaining the concept of boundarylessness. This is a critical concept. Is your organization boundaryless? If not, how can you make it so? I know mine isn't...
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. While it is not intended to be an academic book on corporate strategy, it can be read in that light, and much can be gleaned from that perspective.
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Jack: Straight from the Gut by John A. Byrne (Paperback - Oct. 1 2003)
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