Jack and Suzy Welch on Marriage and Career
“Where marriages go off the rails is where you get married to your job and you start making decisions with your boss first, and then you come home and inform your spouse.” Suzy Welch
Marriage first – Career Second:
The most important person in the world is your spouse.
It’s easy to get lost in career. But, your spouse is more important than power, position, prestige, or money.
Nothing is more beautiful than loving marriage.
“When you have a strong marriage, almost anything is possible in your career because your spouse will support you…” Suzy Welch
Think of marriage as partnership.
- Protect each other’s interests.
- Make choices that strengthen the relationship. “How can we grow closer together?”
- Choose transparency.
- Express personal desires. But keep saying, “I want what’s best for us.”
- Speak with kindness and compassion.
- Embrace, don’t minimize, another’s struggles or stresses.
- Have fun together.
Bonus: Realize there will be times when you sacrifice personal preferences for the good of the marriage.
When making decisions, Jack said, “I think Suzy captured it when she talked about, ‘Together you make the call,’ … In my day, it was much more, the guy decided everything. That’s yesterday.”
10 ways to reconnect:
Trivialities replace priorities when you’re pressured or overworked. Take a moment to reconnect to the priority of your spouse.
- Call and say, “Just wanted to let you know that I love you.”
- Express positive intention. “I want to feel close.”
- Go for a walk and hold hands.
- Bring a surprise home.
- Send a love note.
- Establish a “Let’s talk things over,” time.
- Listen until they feel heard.
- Hug and kiss.
- Give your undivided attention. Turn off the cell phone, for example.
Jack and Suzy Welch in their own words (3:37):
How might married people build strong relationships while navigating the world of work?
What dangers do leaders face that threaten a strong marriage?
Special thanks to Dr. James L. Davis, President of World LEADERS Conference and Ben Lichtenwalner owner of Modern Servant Leader, for making this conversation possible.
My wife and I worked at the same place for 10 years and she just retired. We walked down the hall holding hands (Both of us were supervisors). We showed how much we were in love every day.
When I’m at work, I think about work. When I’m at home, I leave my work life at work. I think that doesn’t always come until you are older and wiser.
I see younger people that are trying to move up in our Center that can’t keep them separate and it really brings on stress. They struggle because they think about work all the time. I try my best to let them know that the work will still be here tomorrow.
I have also learned that every once in a while I need to take a day off for myself to recharge and get away. That’s why they make 3 day weekends. I have tried to teach this to those who are struggling at home because of their work.
Plus, happy wife, happy life applies to most things.
Thanks Ricky. In my mind’s eye, I see a couple holding hands at work. I’ve never seen it in real life. Powerful idea.
Your insights are helpful.
I see Rick as a lucky guy, sounds good for you!
Work and marriage and be challenging! I have found keeping an open channel of communication and each party giving 100% works to a successful marriage and career!
It’s nice to be able to vent to your partner, I learned many lessons keeping things bottled up fester and can really make one miserable, had the issue been resolved earlier would have been so much simpler, the lessons in life can be so interesting and perplexing to say the least.
Thanks Tim. I was thinking how protecting a spouse from the stresses of work may backfire. Thanks for bringing it up. At one hand, you don’t want to whine. But, finding ways to open up is important.
My Husband and I work together too. We work in different areas, but we are both in management. Sometimes it is hard to separate one thing from the other, but I also like the fact that he can relate to what I go through in my day and I can relate to whatever he is going through.
Thanks Astrid. Yes…things get all mixed up, don’t they. Sometimes that’s great other times, it’s worthwhile to just forget work for awhile. It’s a journey.
Spot on. I love my wife, wouldn’t be here without her, wouldn’t be without her to be here.
Thanks Dan. Be well.
Thanks Richard. Great seeing you. I believe the three ladies in your life keep you grounded. 🙂
This came at a perfect time for me. I’ve temporarily taking over leadership of our ministry team (leader’s maternity leave), and my workload has easily doubled since Sunday night. My husband and team know how hard I can push myself, so they’re all keeping tabs on how I’m doing – be sure to be intentional about slowing down and spending quality time with God, my husband, and kids.
Thanks Liza. Isn’t it great to feel like you have people on your team! Best wishes for the challenges ahead.
All are great but I believe #7 maybe most important: “Listen until they feel heard.” The late Stephen Covey put it: “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
Thanks jcbjr. I find Covey’s comment profound and challenging. I’m not sure that I live it very often. 🙂
Does anyone else not find it strange at all that these two would be giving marriage advice considering that Jack got involved with Suzy while he was still married to his former wife??
Hi Joannie, Here they are talking about it.
Good mornin Dan;
Twice I tried to respond to yesterdays blog, but my laptop apparently had other plans. To some up yesterdays comment. Once I began reading yesterdays blog, one thought, & one thought only , would not leave my mind.Yesterdays blogs describes to a tee, the dramatically devastating and far reaching adverse effects of ‘Nepotism’ both at the hiring phase and possibly more so, come time for promotions, appointments, or, Elections.
I digress. Now, on to today’s blog. My wife say’s not only are you ‘spot-on’ with today’s blog. She feels you must be one of the Smartest husbands in the world. “She gave us her blessing to remain friends!” LOL It’s about priorities. You just can’t be the best you at work, if your NOT the best you at home. It just doesn’t work. To lead with confidence and success requires the support of our significant other. Each of us lives only one life. The statement, “leave your home-life at home, & your work-life at work, is as ‘[stupid’ a statement as I’ve ever heard. I don’t know about you Dan, but I do not have a split personality that makes this possible. My advice, if you want a successful career, you better figure on putting as much time and effort into ypour home-life, as you do your work-life,,, “PERIOD, END OF STORY”.
P.S. Dan I’d really enjoy reading your comments and insights on Nepotism.
“Every instance I see Nepotism’s ugly head rise up to defeat those who are TRULY worthy, it make my blood boil…”
Sgt Steve: I’m sorry that you’ve had negative experiences with nepotism. The word, itself, is not bad because it simple means showing favoritism or partiality to someone. Heck, Jack Welch showed great favoritism to many of his 340,000 worldwide staff members who he knew by name and bestowed bonuses upon for their peak performance. And, conversely, he was apt to demonstrate adverse partiality for GE staff and managers alike when he thought it was needed:
The current CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt–when he was a young manager of a GE business unit–was called weekly by Welch to make sure customers were served.
It’s the connotation of nepotism you are referring to: Favoritism shown by somebody in power to relatives and friends, especially in appointing them to good positions. Of course this is neither fair or just–and there is no justification for it.
The question is why does this injustice happen and what can be done about it? This reminds me of the age-old question we often hear asked: Why do bad things happen to good people?
It is not in our power to explain either the prosperity of the wicked, or sufferings of the righteous.
I also once heard a patient ask a doctor “Why God would allow the good young to die and the wicked to live? And the doc said: “Perhaps the good die young that they may not degenerate; the wicked live on that they may have a chance to repent.”
The one thing we know is “the laws of Nature are strictly enforced.”
Every Friday morning my wife and I eat breakfast at the same place. We eat there so frequently, new staff are trained on the “Lynne special”, a variation of the daily breakfast special that only my wife orders.
Having breakfast every Friday means I don’t start meetings until 9:30 am that day. People initially wanted to try and squeeze in earlier meetings – “just this one time” – and I was insistent that couldn’t happen. I would always say “she gets me this time, you have a wide choice of other times”. Eventually people changed and now they readily accommodate me, including people more senior than me, right up to the C-suite.
If you don’t put the important things in your life first, no one else will either. As I often say, my workplace, as rewarding as it is, is temporary. My life, in its entirety, is permanent. So that’s where I focus my time and attention first.
Bravo Alf. As well grounded a statement as I’ve ever heard.
Really,, “ATTA-BOY Alf”!
Thank you sir! I love getting that “ATTA-BOY”! Makes my day.
Dan, what a beautiful and important aspect of leadership you have chosen to write about today. You really have my respect for your beautiful mind and heart. My hope is not to put a downer on all the gorgeous, heartfelt and UP marriage comments today for which I wish I could be part. Yet I write only to share how I was the one who didn’t know how or was unwilling to be both married and success simultaneously. I just didn’t know that my wife and I could grow separately but not apart.
The ironic thing is we were most happy and most in love when we had little–when we were in our struggling times. She endured. She persisted. Her willpower was beyond this world. Her faith, trust and hope was so great and unfailing that it turned into what I thought was luck–what I realize today as blessings. She decreased as I increased with 14 years of education in and outside the US. Ultimately, she readily and humbly took a back seat as I assumed the position of my dreams. The only thing she ever asked for was a nice home in a good neighborhood with great schools for our daughters.
Priscilla is very happy these days. She remarried, and is with a man who loves her and accepts her wonderful love. And we are also good friends. She even wrote me a poem a while back:
A part of you
has grown in me,
And so you see,
It’s you and me
and never apart,
perhaps in distance,
but never in heart.
Good morning Books;
Thanks for replying. I especially appreciate a bit of your personal story as it applies so well to today’s message. Dan is very lucky to have people like yourself routinely respond with useful candor , sharing your life’s experience with clarity and humility.
I am familiar with both descriptions of Nepotism. In our present world when one refers to Nepotism their experience most always speaks to your later description.Yes this type of nepotism is a bad thing. It destroys the very foundation of leadership by allowing unqualified, unworthy, and incapable people into positions of power and authority where their day to day decisions effect countless lives as well as the bottom line. To go one step further, the side effects over time can be devastating. We’ve all heard the 80/20 rule; “20 percent of any given workforce does 80 percent of the work.” With 56 years of life experience this statement rings quite true. Here lies the problem. This nepotism I refer to does not seek out our best and brightest. In time, the 20 percent that normally do 80 percent of the work, (their called your ‘GO2-People’), go somewhere else.
It is my fear that as a Nation, we are losing our Moral Compass. Right is still right, even if no one believes it. Wrong is still wrong, even if everyone believes it. Doing the right thing can at times have negative consequences. Each of us has to answer the question, “are we willing to face the consequences”? Or, do we except the alternative, good, or bad, like it, or not.
Unlike fashion, values, character, and integrity never go out of style. If we want this practice to stop, good people need to stand up and speak out against nepotism. Good people need to promote open dialogue among themselves, across our nation, and around the globe via social media, or any other available medium (every time the opportunity presents itself). Or, sit back and do nothing. As the saying goes; “all it takes for evil to prevail, is for good men to sit by AND DO NOTHING.”
Books, SGT Steve, is ‘NOT’ one of those guys…
Sgt Steve: I stand corrected with respect to your request for comments and insights on nepotism. Your follow-up is spoken like a man and leader of great integrity and whose voice will be heard not only when the world is right, but “when the world is wrong.”
I should have perceived this nepotism issue meant a lot to you. I agree with your statement– “allowing unqualified, unworthy, and incapable people into positions of power and authority”–
cannot be tolerated and must be, at the very least, exposed.
Unfortunately, I am limited in my experience with respect to how to handle this–because if it bothered me a bunch I am sort-of an either/or kinda guy: I go straight to the boss and tell him what I see as flagrant and if he doesn’t change things, I can’t work for a person of that character. Period.
But some people like to try intermediate steps, like putting up nepotism articles on the company bulletin board. Or, going above their immediate boss’s head. And, there is always the “whistleblower” route. Then, there’s anonymous emails and letters, etc.
Sgt Steve, what you’ve witnessed and experienced as nepotism is no good, and ugly. Period.
If a staff member walked into your office with a concern, the first thing you would ask them is “Are YOU okay?” The issue, itself, is always secondary to the well-being of the person in your charge. Yes, you would endeavor to solve the root problem creating the crisis–while at the same time caring for the ills, concerns and apprehensions of your staff member. The fact is–leaders win wars by fighting battle after battle over time, and using varied kinds of pressure.
Bravo Books,,well said.
You knock it out of the park again!!! I see danger zones with this everyday, let ME meditate on this often.
In a number of organisations, there’s a double standard operated: you are required to leave your personal life at home, but to take your work home with you. In places like that,people who put spouse/children ahead of “success” get their cards marked as such. Me, I think my wife daughters are biggest successes I have!
“How might married people build strong relationships while navigating the world of work?”
In a word…RETIRE. Best thing that ever happened between my wife and I after 35 years of marriage. Thanks for the reconnect tips Dan. They are relevant even in retirement.