Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric and one of the most influential business managers of the twentieth century, died Monday. He was 84.
Welch spoke with 60 Minutes ahead of his retirement in 2001. At that point, he had spent the last two decades making G.E. competitive by aggressively downsizing and pushing into financial services. He had also strengthened the company's high-tech divisions, like jet engines, and bought scores of new businesses, including TV network NBC.
Welch also transformed G.E. into a brutally honest meritocracy that ranked every employee down to the bottom 10 percent. His reputation had earned him the nickname "Neutron Jack," a nod to the neutron bomb that was designed to leave buildings standing but eliminate all the people.
"The best thing you can do to an employee is early on, as early as you know they're the bottom 10, let them know so they can go on and adjust their life and get in the right game, in the right level of company," Welch told Stahl. "That's, in my view, a kinder, gentler company than the company that winks at the truth."