The Jack & Suzy Show

Photo: Patrick McMullan

W hen Jack Welch agreed to a 2001 interview with Harvard Business Review editor Suzy Wetlaufer, he had no idea that his identity as the Genghis Khan of General Electric was soon to be subsumed by the romantic comedy that might as well be known as “The Jack & Suzy Show.” Now the two, who eventually got married (his divorce cost well over $100 million), write together and give interviews together. They were recently besieged at the 92nd Street Y by fans who peppered Jack with personal questions—“I hate my boss. Should I leave my job?” (“If he’s a blocker, you gotta go.”) “Can you come to my company’s board meeting?” (“No.”)—while plugging their best seller, Winning. Afterward, they spoke to Arianne Cohen.

How tall are you?
JACK: Five seven.
SUZY: I’m five four.

I read a study that CEOs are usually tall.
SUZY: Jack actually thinks he’s very tall.
JACK: I never noticed that I wasn’t a reasonable height.

Mike Bloomberg is also short, but he’s obviously been very successful. Should he be president?
JACK: I think he’d be great. He’s got the business-management skills and has shown he can manage a very complicated city.

How do you rate our other M.B.A. official, President Bush?
JACK: Well, we’ve had some, um, trouble executing a war. The execution and the planning for the aftermath would clearly not get a high grade.
SUZY: George Bush’s performance is not related to his M.B.A.

What’s your favorite NBC show?
JACK: The Office.
SUZY: Love it.

If NBC isn’t doing so well, why is Jeff Zucker still in his job?
JACK: ’Cause I’m retired. [Pause.] And I think they’ve got a little turnaround going on now. Heroes. And Sunday Night Football helps a lot.

What do Welches do all day?
SUZY: We work till the first kid comes home at 4 p.m. [Suzy has four.]. And we take very long lunches.

Who handles the finances?
JACK: I do.

The bills?
JACK: Oh, the bills. Rosanne does.
SUZY: [Laughing.] We outsource that little detail.

Why did you try to buy the Boston Globe?
JACK: I thought that we could return the Globe to profitability, but the Times made it clear that it’s their core business. So we’re just hanging around.

Doesn’t really sound like retirement to me.
SUZY: It’s not your typical retirement, let’s put it that way.
JACK: We both do things. She writes every month for Oprah’s magazine.

How is Suzy different from your previous co-authors?
JACK: Suzy’s more fun at the end of the day.
SUZY: Jack!

You guys are in perhaps the most expensive relationship ever.
JACK: Yeah. Do you know why divorce is expensive?

JACK: ’Cause it’s worth it.
SUZY: Oooh, snap.

To find out what Jack Welch thinks about high CEO pay, read Daily Intelligencer.

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The Jack & Suzy Show