Lance's Reviews > Winning

Winning by Jack Welch
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's review
Mar 21, 2009

really liked it
Read in February, 2009

I have to confess that I was a little biased in selecting this book as the next one for me to read. I thought it a good idea to get some ideas from the man that did so much to transform the company that employs me today. The GE of today is not the GE that Jack built, and yet in many ways it is in that Jack Welch provided the foundation for the culture that exists in the company today. A lot of what I see at work made so much more sense after reading what Jack wrote.

I say Jack because I felt almost like he was sitting down with me in a one-on-one setting, giving me his opinion about all things business in a rather personal setting. OK, perhaps not ALL things business, but he covers the main topics. And his approach was always down to earth and straightforward, which is just the way I like to do things. Here's a good example: "Be granular---know what each competitor eats for breakfast." More good examples: "You are not a leader to win a popularity contest--you are a leader to lead." "What good is beating targets you set in a windowless room?" "In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell." "Protecting underperformers always backfires. The worst thing, though, is how protecting people who don't perform hurts the people themselves." "Life goes on. There is no last best deal." "Every manager in the world knows what 'I resigned' or 'I left for personal reasons' really means." "Generally speaking, bosses are not awful to people whom they like, respect, and need. Think hard about your performance."

And my personal favorite: He subtitles his chapter on crisis management with "From Oh-God-No to Yes-We're-Fine".

Some of the higher-up executive realm discussions did not interest me as much because I don't frequent those higher-up executive realms. I'm one of the grunt peons. But I always found his perspective interesting. Even more interesting was his perspective on the topics that grunt peons such as myself know very well.

Perhaps the best example from this category was the chapter on work-life balance. I am a huge believer in balance, and many people have had their shots at perpetuating a "perfect" vision of acheiving work-life balance. But after reading what Jack had to say about it, I came to realize that all the other people I ever heard talk about work-life balance did so from the employee's perspective. Jack does it from the employer's perspective, and I found that much more enlightening because it broadened my view of what exactly I am trying to achieve. Balancing work and life is really balancing what my employer wants with what I want. Jack also gives some best practices that, true to his style as illustrated by the previous quotes, are very practical in nature.

Overall, this book was a great read, not just because it helped me to understand a lot of the culture in my own workplace but also because Jack practices the candor that he preaches. His ideas are grounded in experience, and when he says that he doesn't know something completely, he tells you exactly that. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It's more than just food for thought; it's food for making a career that is part of a well-lived life.
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