Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jack Welch

I met Jack Welch today. Yes, the Jack Welch. I attended a book signing for his new book Winning at the Tattered Cover Book Store in lower downtown Denver. An excerpt from the Introduction to the book: "I have been asked literally thousands of questions. But most of them come down to this: What does it take to win?"

The book is meant to serve as a roadmap for every level of worker that's passionate about business and I'm excited to get started.

At the very least, by shaking his hand I seriously upgraded the position of my 6 degrees. And talk about an impressive man in person. He commanded the room. He fielded questions off the cuff ranging from (paraphrased):

Should a guy stick with a top 5 Fortune 100 company that is stuck in the Stone Age and struggling to change or should he jump to a company that's driving change?
A: 5 criteria, stay or leave:
1. Do you like the people you work with?
2. Do you learn from the people you work with?
3. Did you compromise to work there? Just to live in Colorado, stay close to Mom, your wife's job, etc?
4. Will the company's brand lead you to bigger opportunities with other companies later on?
5. Do you enjoy going to work every day?

China's and India's impact on America's global economic dominance of the past century:
A: He sees a glass that's half-full. Everywhere he speaks he hears stories of more and more people with great ideas starting to play in the game. The economic climate's much better now than it's been in the past 30 years.

The procedure for firing an employee:
A: Deferred to the boss' boss. This procedure's in place so that someone couldn't be fired because the boss didn't like their brown eyes...

We're finished with the 15 year R&D cycle. Now what?:
A: Where's your funding? There is more money out there right now than ideas. People are swimming in money right now looking for an idea to invest in.

How do you get funding?
A: You formulate a crystal clear vision. Not a PowerPoint presentation 3 inches thick. A couple slides with razor-sharp vision.

Bush's tax cuts and energy policy:
A: Nine months before Clinton got out GE's orders fell off the table with Mr. Welch at the helm. Clinton barely escaped an economy that was plummeting. High gasoline prices are the results of two strong and growing economies in the U.S. and China.

Compare GE's ethical obligations to their pensions with United Airlines' handling of their pension plan:
A: No one at United Airlines wanted to lose. But they lost. They didn't have a plan to control their costs and they lost. People are frightened of their jobs at United. GE has a tutoring program for school kids that 43,000 employees participate in.
By winning in business, GE affords their people the opportunity to go out in the world and do good because they're not worried about losing their jobs.

That's it. Hope to post more about the book soon. If you're ever presented with the opportunity to hear Jack Welch speak, DO IT.

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