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Jack: Straight from the Gut Paperback – October 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Golf and tennis fans will also find the book fascinating for its endless catalog of golf and tennis resorts nationwide. Apparently being anywhere near the top at GE requires moving to Fairfield, Connecticut and aping the Lifestyles of the Bland and WASPy.
One interesting thing I learned is that GE went from 0 percent employee ownership to 31 percent during Jack Welch's tenure as CEO, primarily through granting of stock options to top managers such as Jack himself. Jack doesn't talk about this except to say that he's proud of the number. He doesn't get into the question of whether the investors from 1980 are happy now that they own less than 70 percent of the company. Nor does he talk about what would have happened to GE's earnings if they'd accounted for all of these stock options at time of issue.
The useful and interesting content in this book could have been presented in 75 pages if the editors and ghostwriter had been doing their jobs. But they weren't doing their jobs. So the readers all have to "give 110 percent" or "give 1000 percent". Maybe this is what Jack Welch wanted because he uses these expressions numerous times throughout Straight from the Gut.
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.Read more ›
There's some business wisdom in the book, but one must slog through a lot to get it.
Welch reminds me very much of the Frederic March character in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (based on Sloan Wilson's novel). Yes, he built a great business, but realized too late that he had lost much more than he had gained. This was a common profile in the post World War II American economy. Welch fits it to a T (or a W). And while his devotion to his mother's memory and teachings is touching, Freud would have had a field day with this book.
The book is not horrible by any means. But I could have done without the golf stuff. There are about half a dozen photos of Jack golfing in one place or another (including with that great American, Bill Clinton). It all comes off like a twenty-year-old's showing off (he has reproduced a score card from a golf round with Greg Norman!) than the reflections of a mature business leader.
There's a touch of this throughout, such as when he divorces wife #1, and suddenly observes: "Being single and having money was like standing six feet four with a full head of hair." As Chris Farley might have said when he played the motivational speaker: "Well Lah-De-Freakin'-Dah!"
I can see a whole new generation of baby MBA's lugging this book around like the Bible.Read more ›
Two things that did stick in my mind from the book were his brief mention and dismissal of his first wife (he barely notes her existence up until the point where he - essentially - discards her) and his summation of his second wife, Jane: "She has become the perfect partner."
As it turns out, I read this in the pre-Suzy Wetlaufer era. And like many readers, I feel like I got Jack-ed, because 'perfect partner' Jane ends up getting the 'first wife treatment' as well. And frankly, that 'perfect partner' line really sticks in my craw now. I wonder: just how much more of 'Jack' is some misdirection woven by its author?
To get the real story on Welch and his relationships, you need to turn to sources like the Wall Street Journal. Their excellent reporter James Bander broke the whole Harvard Business Review 'Jack on Jack' interview mess. And the Journal's compelling story about the Welch domestic battle "GE's Jack Welch Meets Match in Divorce Court" (see Nov. 27, 2002 edition) makes for outstanding reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In hindsight, Jack Welch probably received more credit than he deserved. The three people who in put into his succession plan were mostly mediocre. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Publius
I consider this a bible for managers everywhere. This book inspired me to quit my job at a prestigious management consulting firm to pursue a career track that would enable me to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Piyasak Ukrit
I'm interested in biographies of successful people to inspire me. This was a good one. Jack seems open and honest.Published 3 months ago by jam