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Jack: Straight From the Gut
By Jack Welch with John A. Bryne

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Jack: Straight from the Gut

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Jack: Straight from the Gut
Large Print Edition
By Jack Welch with John A. Bryne
Warner Books Large Print, (2001)
ISBN: 0-446-52986-9
Genre: Autobiography

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - November 18, 2001

The first job that Jack Welch took after graduating from college, with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, was with General Electric (GE). It was also the last job he took after college. Welch went to work with GE in 1960 as an obscure engineer, at twenty-four, he was just another cog in a giant machine. In 1981 this obscure cog, who once had a stammer, became Chairman and CEO of GE, a position he was to hold until his retirement in 2001. In Jack: Straight from the Gut, Jack Welch provides an overview of his life, and the events that brought him to the leadership of GE. But most importantly, this is the story of Welch's impact on GE and how he turned it into a global powerhouse.

In this candid narrative, Welch recounts his yearly years and the role that his mother had in building his self-esteem and in fostering his drive to excel in everything he tried his hand at. He also acknowledges the role that other people, from family members to business associates had in helping him achieve his goals, and the various people that influenced his life and career choices. Welch also takes a frank look at his marital life, his divorce from his first wife Carolyn Osburn in 1987, and his remarriage two years later to Jane Beasley.

In addition to offering an overview of Welch's life and career, this book also offers telling insights into Welch's management style and leadership qualities. Insights which help to explain how the son of a railroad conductor managed to go to college, and become the CEO of a major company. Welch details his time at GE, from his initial job interview to his going away party. He talks about how he almost left the job because of the bureaucracy he encountered in the company, and because he did not get the raise he thought he deserved. Once he became CEO of GE, Welch took steps to minimize the amount of corporate bureaucracy by instituting a 'bounaryless' scheme that encouraged the sharing of ideas and helped to weed out bureaucratic folderol. Not one to shy away from anything, in this book, Welch candidly discusses the mistakes he made, as well as his successes.

Welch describes how he clawed his way out of the pit of obscurity by proving that he was something above the ordinary, and how he quickly moved in management. Along the way, Welch describes the steps he took to get noticed, and freely admits that he was a workaholic. He also describes, in minute details, the changes he made in GE's management structure after he became CEO. In addition, he also honestly describes the strengths and weaknesses that he brought to the job.

Throughout, Welch sermonizes about his management philosophy, and how he converted GE management to his mode of thought. Those who did not embrace the new philosophy quickly found that they no longer had a place at GE. Welch not only performed a management make over of the company, but he also revamped their production and employment philosophy. This turned GE into a leaner, but more efficient and profitable company. Welch also explains why he moved GE into new markets by acquiring other companies, such as RCA and NBC. He also admits that his choices where not always correct, such as when he bought Kidder, Peabody.

Jack: Straight from the Gut is enhanced by the inclusion of reproductions of memos, sketches, notes, letters, diagrams, and scribbles that help to describe GE's management structure, the company's organization, Welch's management style, and the many innovative practices he developed at GE. Also, included are numerous photos of Jack in family and corporate situations. This book will be of interest to anyone interested in business, and it will be of particular interest to managers or those who hope to move into management.

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