We’re less than a month away from the release of Jack and Suzy Welch‘s newest work, The Real Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career (Harper Business, 2015). It is a certain best-seller, and pre-orders for the book are rocking the online outlets. Considering their personal backgrounds, perhaps you join me in being perplexed that even before its release, the book ranks #11 in the Amazon.com best-selling list in Business Ethics.
“Say what?” If you don’t know the story, here is a brief account. Suffice it to say that much more detail is available to you through the Internet. Jack’s second wife, Jane Beasley, found out about an affair between Suzy Wetlaufer and Welch. At the time, Suzy was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. Beasley delivered this information to the publication, and Wetlaufer was forced to resign in early 2002 after admitting to having been involved in an affair with Welch while preparing an interview with him for HBR. Personal and professional ethics? This did not turn out too badly for Beasley. While Welch had crafted a prenupital agreement, she had insisted on a ten-year time limit for its enforceability, and therefore, left the marriage with around $180 million of Welch’s money. That interview was never published. Suzy and Jack married in 2004.
This is not their first co-authored book. Randy Mayeux presented their first one, Winning (Harper Business, 2005) at the First Friday Book Synopsis. It reached # 1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal business best-selling lists. We did not present their next co-authored work, Winning: The Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today (Harper Business, 2006).
They both have another single-authored book. Randy presented a synopsis of Jack: Straight from the Gut (Business Plus, 2003). In 2010, Suzy wrote 10-10-10: A Fast and Powerful Way to Get Unstuck in Love, at Work, and with Your Family (Scribner). Randy gave that synopsis to several of our Creative Communication Network clients. I remember that audiences we delivered that synopsis to were not exactly thrilled at the quality of information transferred. In fact, at the Fort Worth Club, our event planner remarked that she wished she would have selected another book. Maybe her reputation backfired on that one. Of course, she didn’t write that one way to get unstuck is to have an affair with a famous married man. It certainly worked for her.
Note that both of these authors are very competent and successful. History will likely write Jack as the most successful CEO in American history. His style and substance led General Electric to a fast and furious climb to the top of elite and powerful businesses. All the labels, such as “Neutron Jack,” are applicable. His decisions were profound and effective. And, he believed in lifelong learning and professional development, even teaching courses on-site at the GE Learning Center. Many CEO’s don’t even know their company has a learning center, let alone take the time to go teach in it. Suzy’s role at one of the most prestigious business publications gave her strong credibility, as did her work experience at Bain.
Considering their reputation, most likely, this one will also fly to the top. It is not out of the question that you might hear a synopsis of this at our event. In fact, many of our regular attendees may push us very hard to present it. It will be exciting to see what the sub-topics will be from the Table of Contents. Only time will tell whether this one is heavier on style than substance. The title alone is appealing.
But, ethics? Is this really the best resource?
I was fascinated when I received word of a book by Jan Jarboe Russell entitled The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II (Scribner, 2015).
Were you aware of what happened? Have you ever heard of Crystal City, Texas? See the map below.
I found this review from Amazon.com:
The dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II, where thousands of families—many US citizens—were incarcerated. From 1942 to 1948, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas, a small desert town at the southern tip of Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, Italian immigrants and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during World War II, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called “quiet passage.” During the course of the war, hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City, including their American-born children, were exchanged for other more important Americans—diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, physicians, and missionaries—behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany.
Focusing her story on two American-born teenage girls who were interned, author Jan Jarboe Russell uncovers the details of their years spent in the camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp, from the ten-foot high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told. Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history that has long been kept quiet, The Train to Crystal City reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR’s tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and how the definition of American citizenship changed under the pressure of war.
Who is Jan Jarboe Russell, and why did she write this book? She is a Texan, through and through. Her home town is the same as Randy Mayeux, who contributes to this blog. This is her third book, and she is a frequent contributor to Texas Monthly magazine. You can read about her on her web site by clicking here. Here is an excerpt:
Jan Jarboe Russell was born in Beaumont, Texas and grew up in small towns in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Her father was a minister of music in numerous Southern Baptist churches and later had a second career as a social worker. Her mother was an elementary school teacher. Books and music were constants in her household. At sixteen-years-old she landed a part-time job at the weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Advocate, in her hometown and settled on a career as a journalist and author.
She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After graduation, she worked briefly as a reporter for the Savannah Morning News, and in 1973 became a political reporter at The San Antonio Light. In 1976, she joined the Hearst Bureau in Washington, D.C. where she focused on Texas politics.
Although this book did make the New York Times best-seller list, it does not fit our content requirements for the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, so you won’t see us present it there. But, if you love books, and if you may have overlooked this part of Texas history, it seems like a must-read.
Creative Communication Network is pleased to announce three campaigns in 2012 benefiting charitable causes that we wish to support. Please join with us in our efforts.
For one month in each quarter, CCN will donate and match the proceeds from the First Friday Book Synopsis and contribute those funds directly to each of these charities. We will solicit additional contributions from clients and attendees who wish to help us with donations.
April-June: We will support the Relay for Life program in North Texas. This program is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and CCN President Karl J. Krayer has walked in the relay for several years. Last year, with the outstanding support of CCN clients and attendees of the First Friday Book Synopsis, he raised the largest individual contribution in the region.
July-September: We will support the Fisher House, which provides temporary housing for military families. The Dallas location is at the VA Hospital, and last year, we donated just over $500 from a special synopsis delivered by Randy Mayeux. Fisher House is rated with 4 stars, the highest rating given by Charity Navigator.
October-December: We will support CitySquare, formerly Central Dallas Ministries, where Randy Mayeux presents regular urban engagement book synopses. Last year, this organization sponsored one of our synopses. Its’ mission and purpose is to address the root cause of poverty in our community.
Look for more information as we get closer to these dates.
We appreciate your support of our charitable endeavors in 2012.