Jack: Straight from the Gut

Version: Abridged
Author: Jack Welch , John A. Byrne
Narrator: Jack Welch
Genres: Business & Economics, Biography & Memoir, Biography, Management & Leadership
Publisher: Time Warner Audio Books
Published In: September 2001
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours
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As CEO of General Electric for the past twenty years, he has built its market cap by more than $450 billion and established himself as the most admired business leader in the world. His championing of initiatives like Six Sigma quality, globalization, and e-business have helped define the modern corporation. At the same time, he's a gutsy boss who has forged a unique philosophy and an operating system that relies on a "boundaryless" sharing of ideas, an intense focus on people, and an informal, give-and-take style that makes bureaucracy the enemy.

In anecdotal detail and with self-effacing humor, Jack Welch gives us the people (most notably his Irish mother) who shaped his life and the big hits and the big misses that characterized his career.

Starting at GE in 1960 as an engineer earning $10,500, Jack learned the need for "getting out of the pile" when his first raise was the same as everyone else's. He stayed out of the corporate bureaucracy while running a $2 billion collection of GE businesses—in a sweater and blue jeans—out of a Hilton in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

After avoiding GE's Fairfield, Connecticut, headquarters for years, Jack was eventually summoned by then Chairman Reg Jones, who was planning his succession. There ensued one of the most painful parts of his career—Jack's dark-horse struggle, filled with political tension, to make it to the CEO's chair. A hug from Reg confirmed Jack was the new boss—and started the GE transformation.

The riveting story of his last year—the elaborate process of selecting a successor and the attempt to buy Honeywell—is also told in compelling detail.

Reviews (17)


Written by Anonymous on January 13th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 4/5

usually i cant read a book that is read by the author, because the person is so self centered, but i learned alot from this guy. he is egotisical, but he has accomplished alot and lessos can be gleaned from his narcisssicm.

Jack's Story

Written by Colleen on May 6th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I appreciated Jack actually reading the book as it made it more personal and understandable. He did a good job of teaching and sharing his experiences although he was covering a long period of time. He did mention so many names that they began to blend together, but, again, it reminded me that he was recounting his life in GE.

Annual Report

Written by Judith on March 30th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Boy am I glad I rented the abridged version. It read like an annual report of GE.


Written by Anonymous on January 23rd, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Uplifting to hear a big business guy talk about values that are not all about getting as much as you can and screwing everyone else. Not sure that I entirely believe that he achieved want he thinks he achieved - but he's dead right about understanding that businesses need to fast, flexible and fun. Having worked at a major corp. that tried to instill his values, now I see what they were aiming at, and why they failed so miserably.

Jack: Straight from the gut

Written by Anonymous on September 13th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Good lessons for any organization. The key learnings is that the right people are the first consideration of organizational success.

Where's the Beef?

Written by Anonymous from Livermore, CA on April 2nd, 2006

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Jack skips over the business details of his career, leaving out useful information such as his ideas for improving GE, business philosophy ...etc. Instead he liberally focuses upon already known business concepts such as removing excessive bureaucracy along with non productive workers and investments. While I respect these ideas, there is nothing new about this concept, and they begin to wear thin in a book when they are mentioned over and over again. I found this book to be overly glib, dry and simply a repeat of well known business ideas.

More than I expected

Written by Dan Redfern on March 31st, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book was much more than I expected. I selected it due to the Jack Welsh and Larry Bossidy (Execution) connection hoping to glean more knowledge about the performace culture that both had been successful in cultivating at their companies. In Jack's story you hear how his ability to select the right people for the job was critical to his success as he climbed to the top of the corporate ladder at GE and less about how they created the people factory that GE is now famous for. Having Jack read the book added an element for the listener. In this case, Jack is telling his life story and by saying it his own words he is able to add emotional elements in all the right places. This book was very entertaining and I highly recommend it to those, like myself, who are fans of the game of business.


Written by Michael Shaw on February 21st, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I enjoyed this very much. Kept my attention and was very interesting.

Really a good book

Written by Larry Longtin on December 20th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Really a good book. I find myself quoting it to myself and others quite a bit, which is a sign that it has relevance. Along with the Clinton Autobiography, I found it to be one of the better contemporary biographies I listened to recently. Like the Clinton abio., it glosses over the rough spots a little, but what do you expect?

Jack: Straight from the Gut

Written by Anonymous on September 14th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I think this was one of the best Autobiographies I have ever read. Interesting to listen to and good career advise to boot.

Author Details

Author Details

Welch, Jack

Jack Welch began his career with the General Electric Company in 1960, and in 1981 became the company's eighth Chairman and CEO. During his tenure, GE's market capitalization increased by $400 billion, making it the world's most valuable corporation. In 1999, Fortune named him the "manager of the century," and the "Financial Times" recently named him one of the three most admired business leaders in the world today. Upon retiring from GE in 2001, Mr. Welch published his internationally best-selling autobiography "Jack: Straight from the Gut". He now teaches at MIT's Sloan School of Management