Motivation to Hit Your Earnings Target

Mr. Immelt, who received more than $200 million in compensation during his time at G.E., developed a thick skin as C.E.O. Yet even as a wealthy executive who hopscotched the globe accompanied by an extra empty plane, he was never able to escape the long shadow of Mr. Welch. Wall Street had come to expect the extraordinary from G.E., and no matter how he tried, Mr. Immelt could never revive the company’s stock price. Eventually, even Mr. Welch, who handpicked Mr. Immelt as his successor, lost faith in his protégé.

In the book, Mr. Immelt recounts how badly it stung when Mr. Welch went on CNBC and said he would “get a gun out and shoot him” if Mr. Immelt missed his earnings target. “When you lead an organization the size of G.E., you accumulate a lot of ‘friends in name only,’” Mr. Immelt writes. “I hadn’t thought Jack Welch was one of them.”

G.E. is a shell of its former self, but Mr. Immelt has concocted a series of second acts. As a partner at a venture capital firm, he is advising up-and-coming companies. And as a lecturer the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Mr. Immelt — a consequential figure in the history of business, wherever you lay the blame — is imparting his wisdom on the future leaders of corporate America.

Jeff Immelt Oversaw the Downfall of G.E. Now He’d Like You to Read His Book.
David Gelles