The Mentors Radio

Where Remarkable CEOs Challenge Your Thinking about Life and Work

William D. Cohan

312. “Power Failure” and What We Learned From Jack Welch, Jeff Immelt and GE’s Fall From Being America’s Greatest Corporation: An Interview with William D. Cohan

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In today’s episode, The Mentors Host Tom Loarie talks with William D. Cohan, a business writer, former investor banker, and best-selling author of “Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon,” which chronicles the strengths and weaknesses of influentical General Electric CEOs Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt, and the the rise and fall of General Electric (GE) over 36 years. The lessons learned are legendary in their impact on anyone’s business—large, mid-sized or small—and legendary in understanding what to really look for when evaluating whether (or not) your or another business is one in which it could be worth investing. Ethics play a role for sure.

At its peak, GE was an industrial empire worth nearly $600 billion. For almost a century its logo branded “just about everything, from wind turbines to submarine detectors, fridges, televisions, toasters and lightbulbs,” as a Nov 2022 article in The Guardian described.

In 2001, GE was considered to be one of the most valuable companies in the world, boasting a rare, triple-A credit score. A mere 20 years later, GE announced it would be broken up into smaller fragments. Its employees numbered less than half those of 20 years earlier. In the 2000s, the company had begun sourcing its lightbulbs from Chinese contractors and branding them as GE products. In 2020, GE sold off it’s lighting business for good. What went so wrong? Find out in this episode of THE Mentors RADIO.

Listen below (podcast posted after Saturday’s radio airing), or listen on ANY podcast device or platform here.


William D. Cohan (“Bill”):

  • BIO:
  • BOOKS:
    • Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of An American Icon, by William D. Cohan
    • Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short, by William D. Cohan
    • Why Wall Street Matters, by William D. Cohan
    • The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, Wall Street Journal and the Power of the Elite, by William D. Cohen
    • Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, by William D. Cohan
    • House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, by William D. Cohan
    • The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Fréres & Company, by William D. Cohan

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