JACK AND SUZY WELCH DISCUSS HOW THEY MET, THEIR ROMANCE AND THEIR AGE DIFFERENCE IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DAN RATHER,
ON "60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY"
Suzy Welch Says She Was Terrified of the Man She Later Married
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, acknowledges in an interview with Correspondent Dan Rather that his relationship with a younger woman while he was still married caused quite a scandal. Welch, 69, divorced his wife and married Suzy Wetlaufer, who is 45. In their first network television interview since their marriage, Jack and Suzy Welch talk to Rather about their life and their new book in a two-part report on 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY on March 30 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Welch, considered one of the most successful business executives of the 20th century, met his wife when she was a magazine editor. "We got the editor of the Harvard Business Review, America's most prestigious sort of intellectual business magazine," says Welch. "We got a well-known CEO who had received a lot of accolades from the most admired company with the highest market value, and the guy is married. He falls in love. He runs off with the woman. Christ, if I was a journalist, I'd write a scandalous story. It's a pretty good story. I mean, it's a good story, but I don't care. I fell in love."
In the interview with Rather, Welch also responds to widespread criticism that he was greedy for accepting retirement perks from GE which allowed him to keep using a company apartment and airplanes. "...It was very convenient to keep using [the GE plane]. That's all I wanted to do. I just didn't want to change my lifestyle." But when his perks became headline news, Welch says he faced a dilemma: "�I got two choices. Give the money back, renounce the perk. Then, if I do that, I look like I did something wrong, [like] I shouldn't have had it. Or keep the perk; then, I look like a greedy pig�." Though he still insists the perks were legitimate, Welch decided to give them up.
Welch has been called a lot of things, but he says he most hates the nickname the press gave him after he fired thousands of workers from General Electric. "Hate it," Welch tells Rather about the nickname "Neutron Jack" and adds, "It's awful."
Suzy Welch, recalling her first encounter with her husband, says was expecting to meet "Neutron Jack" instead of the man she eventually married. "When I first met Jack, I was terrified of him," says Suzy Welch. "I wasn't expecting a fun, laughing, enjoyable, exciting guy. I walked into his office like most people -- with my knees knocking together. I was scared." Suzy was there to interview Jack for an upcoming issue of the Harvard Business Review. "...The first time we met and that first very exciting, wonderful interview, it's fair to say sparks flew."
The 24-year age difference is an issue for the Welches, who have decided not to have children. "We thought about it," says Jack Welch. "We talked about it endlessly and the answer is no. It's too much of an age difference. You know, Dan, if you want to talk about regrets, you can kick the can all the way down the street that we didn't meet at the same age, at the same time, 25 years ago. It really ticks you off....We think about me being 80 and she's 55 or 56 and, you know, will I be a bumbling idiot someday? It's a lousy thing to think about."
Jeff Fager is the executive producer of 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY and Tom Anderson is the producer of this report.