Business and self-help gurus are a much-maligned lot and the reasons why are plentiful. Many dress up self-evident truths as insight, peddle convoluted advice as wisdom, or ruthlessly up-sell expensive products of little or no quality. Without doubt, modern self-publishing platforms have changed the landscape — facilitating an influx of people with questionable credentials and dubious motives.
Let me be clear: the books of Suzy and Jack Welch are a tonic in an industry that far too often leaves its integrity at the door.
Most readers won’t need too much priming on the background of Jack Welch. He rose to prominence in the 1980s and became synonymous with both General Electric (GE) and corporate revitalization in the latter part of the 20th century. His remarkable 20-year tenure as Chairman & CEO of GE came to an end in 2001, by which point he was the longest serving appointee to that position in the company’s post-war history.
Unlike many C-Level executives, Jack’s background was actually strongly rooted in science rather than in business. He joined GE as a chemical engineer some 20 years prior to becoming its youngest ever chief executive, a field in which he obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Under his stewardship, GE’s stock soared to a level approximately 40x higher than its position in 1981.
Suzy and Jack Welch have together created a formidable writing partnership, combining their talents in titles including “Winning” and “The Real-Life MBA”. Suzy’s business acumen and communication skills shine through in her work, which comes as no surprise given her background in journalism, media, and business.
Suzy’s career led her circuitously from the crime-reporting beat in Miami to the top of her graduating class at Harvard Business School. Having also spent time as a business reporter, Suzy went on to work at prestigious management consulting firm Bain before being appointed editor-in-chief of Harvard Business Review.
Her subsequent work has been broad and varied. She has been a regular contributor to numerous business publications, including CNBC. She has also dedicated time to working with husband Jack on his educational initiatives. However, in “10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea”, Suzy goes it alone with a decision-making concept with applications both personal and professional.
Although the book develops the seemingly simple idea of “10-10-10” into a multifaceted decision-making philosophy, the premise, in a nutshell, involves facing dilemmas decisively by analyzing them across three distinct time horizons.
What will be the consequences of each approach:
- In 10 minutes?
- In 10 months?
- In 10 years?
Progressing in a logical and fluid manner, the book neatly distills Suzy’s approach to what is arguably the most important skill anyone can master: how to make better decisions.
While many of the most effective concepts are simple on paper, the trick is not just to learn them in rote fashion. In this regard, “10-10-10” is no different. Internalizing an idea means allowing it to penetrate our existing biases as we come to appreciate the purpose and potential of a new way of thinking.
The 240 pages are pleasingly unpretentious from the offset with Suzy illustrating the “10-10-10” concept in ways that are personal, unfiltered, and actionable. There is no posturing and there are no attempts to seduce the reader with contrived scenarios. Instead, she proposes ways in which relationships, careers, home lives, and more can be improved by stopping to rationally evaluate the way in which a course of action can help or hinder our goals.
Suzy turns coach and counselor in parts as she takes time to encourage readers to connect with their core values as a means of finding happiness. Indeed, it is unlikely that any way of thinking will lead us to personal fulfillment unless we’re honest about what makes us tick as individuals.
Early on Suzy takes time to unravel the scientific underpinning of the concept, aided by discussions with experts in the fields of psychology and behavioral economics. One idea that resonates with her is that of “hyperbolic discounting” — the tendency of human beings to radically undervalue future benefits in favor of immediate gains.
We are all guilty to some degree of lulling ourselves into a false sense of security about an idealized future without ever truly accepting that that very future is a direct consequence of the decisions we make on a daily basis.
From here on in each chapter is dedicated to a particular area of our lives and the ways in which “10-10-10” can be applied to great benefit. Beginning with romantic relationships, Suzy moves through applications in careers, parenting, and friendship, among others.
Little time is wasted on the minutiae of how and when to use the “10-10-10” framework. Instead, the book’s addictiveness stems from its semi-autobiographical nature and the way in which applications of the idea are punctuated with heart-warming and revelatory anecdotes.
Putting the book aside after devouring its contents I was somewhat surprised to feel such a renewed impetus for meaningfully restructuring my life around the principle. The daily grind has a way of sucking us into choosing habit over logic, and ease over effectiveness.
But these decisions can have destructive long-term consequences. Identifying our values and acting on them authentically seems so obvious to be almost an after-thought, but so many of us ignore our beliefs in a state of fear over the unknown.
Meanwhile, we remain vulnerable to making poor decisions by unreasonably discounting the distant but more enduring benefits of good decisions. This is as true and pervasive a human frailty as any. Learning to overcome it might just be the difference between real happiness and persistent frustration.View Suzy Welch’s “10-10-10” on Amazon
Suzy Welch's idea is simple and easy to digest but don't let that dissuade you from picking up a copy. The "10-10-10" concept has myriad applications in both your professional and personal life and is packed with illustrative anecdotes and examples.
- Actionable idea
- Unconvoluted approach to making decisions
- Illustrated with many practical examples
- At 240 pages, the book errs slightly on the long side