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Former General Electric CEO visits Brenau University
Jack Welch, wife discuss new book, business strategies
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Jack Welch speaks about employee understanding during a discussion on Jack and Suzy Welch’s book “The Real-Life MBA” alongside other panelists David J. Miller, Suzy Welch, and Ed L. Schrader on Thursday. - photo by Erin O. Smith

When co-authors Suzy and Jack Welch took the stage Thursday night during an event to promote their newly published career and business growth book, each dispensed advice on a range of topics: business growth, good management strategies and the quirks of penning a book with your spouse.

As former CEO of General Electric Company, Jack brought a lifetime of ideas and business ingenuity to the table. Suzy, a noted business journalist and former editor of Harvard Business Review, discussed decision-making strategies.

It was their first and only stop in Georgia during a national tour promoting the book, titled “The Real-Life MBA.” Presented by Brenau University and held inside Pearce Auditorium, the discussion drew a crowd of hundreds.

Among them, Drane Watson of Gainesville: “I’ve been listening to (Jack) for at least 15 years,” Watson said. “He’s great, and he keeps the advice fresh, too. He knows what’s going on right now. It’s not yesteryear-speak. He understands what is relevant today.”

Watson said he got the opportunity to meet Jack, who autographed his book before the event.

Suzy said that writing the book with her husband was an interesting undertaking.

“We had our processes,” she said, adding that when she and her husband told guests at a dinner party “that we were going to be writing a book together, they said to us, laughing, ‘do you need a divorce lawyer?”

She told the crowd that one of the keys to running a good business is having truth and trust in the company.

“Otherwise, people have meetings before their meetings, and everybody is paralyzed over what they should do. Truth and trust increase productivity. They are rare qualities in a business.”

Jack spoke on the importance of business growth.

“Growth is everyone’s job,” he said. “You’ve got to get people to find a better way to do their jobs every day. If you reward growth and innovation, it creates more jobs, and it creates excitement. You’ve got to have a growth atmosphere. It’s got to be cultural. Right in the bones.”

He said that good managers can help in that respect.

“A good manager is straight with their employees,” Jack said. “If you manage people, look yourself in the mirror and ask, ‘Do my people know where they stand? Do they know where we’re going and why we’re going there?”

Jack Welch is executive chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute, an online MBA school. He and his wife have also written “Winning,” a book about his management style with a focus on people and teamwork.