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Willow Creek Interviews Jack Welch, Former GE CEO

“Jack Welch commitment to faith changed 34 years ago when his mother died of a heart attack. In his book, Jack: Straight From the Gut, he writes, “I felt cheated, angry, and mad at God for taking my mother away.” He still claimed to believe in God but says he lost his heart for religion and no longer attends church.”

Jack Welch, the salty former CEO of GE, sat down for an interview with Bill Hybels, senior of Willow Creek Community Church, for the 2010 Leadership Summit and served up more truth and wisdom in 30 minutes than most seminary classes give over a semester.

Known for his own brutal candor, Welch emphasized authenticity and candor in leaders.

“You’ve got to be yourself. You’ve got to be comfortable in your shoes,” he said. “You’ve got to not portray yourself as something other than what you are. People can see through a phony in a minute.” and “Nothing is worse than negative energy,” Welch stressed.

Meanwhile, the top 20 percent are those who are filled with energy and likable, who love to reward and celebrate their people, aren’t mean-spirited or cheap and aren’t to have great people around them, he said.

The mean-spirited hide the good people. But the top workers don’t have a lot of envy.

“Envy’s a terrible thing,” he pointed out.  

Jack Welch impact on society has been no doubt been tremendous, but good deeds and riches do not grant you automatic access to the Kingdom of God.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

In another interview with Dan Rather on the CBS program 60 Minutes, Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said that the most difficult question he was ever asked was, “Do you think you will go to heaven when you die?”

“Welch replied and said had been a really good person, had done a lot  of good things for others in his most influential years in the business world.”

Whilst Welch isn’t a Christian, he has now started attending First Presbyterian Church for the past several months after he was hospitalized for 104 days for a spinal infection called discitis.

When asked if the health scare opened him up to things of God, he said, “Maybe.”

 

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By George Brzozowski

I want to help you to see news events as starting points for constructive conversations. I seek to cut through the froth of the political spin cycle to underlying truths and values. I want to be so focused on progress that together we can provide a credible and constructive counter-narrative to the hopelessness-, anger-, and fear-inducing brand of discourse that is so pervasive in the news.

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