Jack Welch's Secret Diary

A Spy in the House of Work

The Spy has bigger things to worry about than the dirty laundry of billionaires. Still, in light of recent developments in the personal life of Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO and business legend, the Spy felt obligated to come forward with the following information. On a recent visit to the offices of the formerly venerated Harvard Business Review (actually, I just ducked in to use the facilities), I found a black spiral-bound notebook sitting on the ledge beneath the mirror in my favorite bathroom, right down the hall from the personal workspace of socialite-cum-then-HBR-editor Suzy Wetlaufer.

November 17, 2001 Sue-sue-suzio, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, my business soul mate! I did a gut check, Diary, so I know that the winsome, wuverly Ms. W. is the One. J. has that cutthroat-attorney thing going for her, but S. speaks to my creative side. (I confessed to her my dream to become a poet, and her eyes glistened.)

November 19, 2001 Happy birthday to me! S. loved her diamond bracelet. Jack, ole buddy, you may be 66 today, but you are still the king of results. Mental note: Write a cycle of business poems -- a rhapsody to measurable results. Have to ask S.: Does the HBR publish poetry?

November 21, 2001 A quiet day. Started out with 18 holes at Lone Tree in the morning. Attorney called again to remind me about expired prenup with J. Spent the afternoon working on poem for the delectable S. Was particularly proud of rhyming "your tycoon" with "fly you to the moon."

November 30, 2001 A long weekend without S. Reread her interview with me and deleted "cuddlebum" references. J. nagged me again about leaving my golf shoes in the entryway. She does not understand me. I have feelings for J., of course I do, but you know me, Diary: Part of the reason I'm worth $900 mil is my dedication to reevaluating the performance of the existing system. My old rule at GE was that a business had to be number one or number two in its industry, or we divest it. Hmmm. Will that work with J.? December 4, 2001 J. knows. I can tell. Part of my legendary business intuition. Picked up golf shoes. She still wouldn't talk to me.

December 5, 2001 S. called in tears. J. called her at the office and questioned her, um, journalistic integrity. Diary, I gotta hand it to J. That woman has bigger huevos than a five-star general on steroids. Should I tell S. that, since I have final say on the interview anyway, it's biased from the get-go? Better let it go.

March 2, 2002 How the WSJ got wind of my relationship with S. is a mystery. My attorney called to remind me again to do something about renewing my prenup. He thinks J. is behind it. S. keeps saying she's done nothing wrong -- to me or to the bozos at the HBR. It really is adorable, but she needs to be divested of her illusions that anyone is going to listen to her. I offered to take her to Crotonville and fishbowl her case as a teaching situation.

March 25, 2002 Ouch! Got slapped with divorce papers from J. last week. I must say, Diary, S. is cute, but that J., she got game. Diary, this has opened my eyes. J. should never have been my wife -- she should have been my business partner! And since in a few short months she'll have a pretty nice chunk of change, she'll require some investment opportunities. I'll begin a poem for her today. I already have a rhyme for "humble pie."

This is the latest episode in The Spy's continuing saga, "Working Behind Enemy Lines." You can find the entire Spy chronicles on the Web (www.askthespy.com).

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