BRAIN FOOD: Jack Welch - If I had to start again ..

BRAIN FOOD: Jack Welch - If I had to start again .. - I'd be a professional golfer. But in terms of business I wouldn't have done anything differently. I don't regret spending the whole of my career with one firm. General Electric is involved in more busi

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I'd be a professional golfer. But in terms of business I wouldn't have done anything differently. I don't regret spending the whole of my career with one firm. General Electric is involved in more businesses than any other company. I didn't know a lot about any one of them, so I had to focus on the people - and I love focusing on people.

Loyalty is nonsense: it isn't about loyalty to a company, but to an employee.

You spend more of your waking hours at work than anywhere else, so, damn it, if isn't the best, why the hell do you want to be there?

In terms of decisions, buying RCA turned out to be fabulous. It gave us a network and allowed us to do a lot of strategic things with other businesses. Buying Kidder Peabody was a horrible move - a chapter full of hubris. Culturally, it didn't fit at all and was clearly a mistake.

But I do not consider Honeywell a mistake: I was there, I took a shot at it. GE was strong before Honeywell, GE will be strong after Honeywell.

If it had happened in the middle or at the start of my career it would have been ignored. I could have bought it but it would have been a bad decision, because what was left after they tore Honeywell apart was something I didn't want to own.

The best single business lesson I ever learned was to maximise the intellect in the company. You need to gather the knowledge of individuals, share those ideas and celebrate the sharing. That, in the end, is how a company becomes great.

Jack Welch was chairman and CEO of General Electric 1981-2001.

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