Shale Gas Insight Conference 2012 Day 3: Keynote by Jack Welch
Jack Welch, former GE Chairman and CEO, shared his thoughts on best practices and the American economy with attendees at the close of the convention. Here is a summary of that presentation and conversation with the audience.
Shale gas represents a chance to reindustrialize America and become an energy leader in the world. To some extent, this access to energy is what separates us from other economies like India.
Best practices must be followed and proprietary information must not get in the way. The industry cannot have a slip up. There must be transparency. There are so many people who are shooting at the industry, mistakes have to be eliminated. As an example, Three Mile Island greatly impacted and set back the nuclear industry, as did the Japanese tsunami.
The industry needs to coordinate the technology and move forward. Markets like Europe have a need for natural gas, because they are importing coal, and natural gas can replace coal there.
People who are aggressively against the industry, you are not going to change their minds. Focus on open minded people and give them the tools to understand and support your position. Stand up and give people good data and be transparent.
Mr. Welch was asked if there was an "anti-corporate" sentiment and if so, what can be done to change that. Mr. Welch believes that corporations are people. After all, buildings don't invent cancer cures. Corporations are creative and energize our society as we know it.
You have to field the best industry players, and you have to weed out the weak. It is wrong to fire someone during an economic downturn after letting them believe that they had been doing "ok." A leader must constantly let people know where they are. Leaders must have the courage to constantly put the best team forward and eliminate the weakest.
With respect to best practices, lawyers are a support group, but they should not be running the show. The judiciary is out of control and legislating more than adjudicating.
Mr. Welch would fix the economy by lowering tax rates, eliminate tax loop holes, reinvest in energy, protect the middle class by refusing to raise taxes and focus on creating jobs. Every new regulation should look on the impact it would have on jobs. Try to eliminate "group" frictions. We are one country. You can't run a corporation or a country that way.
Winning is the greatest thing in the world. By winning, everyone can share in the success. You must want your employees to grow, and if they move on and become successful, that is what you want.
We have a chance to release a whole new century of American exceptionalism because we will have the best engine to move forward. We have great universities and innovation to go along with this new energy technology. We should not let regulations drag down and stall this opportunity.
In the world economy, China and the US can both be powers moving forward. The problem with China is that it is a socialist society with a capitalist economy. That is an experiment that no one knows how it will end up. The US, however, has the opportunity to be a greater economic power. Our leaders must have a vision of what a reindustrialized America will look like. The shale gas industry is part of that process.
Ignore your enemies and hug your friends.
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