Business Commentary for Rational Individuals

How New Graduates Can Succeed in American Companies

Dr. Bill Belew

Issue III - June 22, 2006

Introduction by Mr. Stolyarov: General Electric's CEO Jack Welch has some advice for American college graduates on what companies expect; Dr. Belew relays this advice. A company employee, according to Welch, will be successful if he exceeds his bosses' expectations and continues to work industriously to improve the company and help it meet goals and challenges. Quiet but persistent hard work is indeed the key to success.

Jack Welch gives advice on how the new graduate can succeed in American companies. It seems to be good advice to succeed in any company -- anywhere.

His number one piece of advice:

OVERDELIVER - This is very un-American -- and very un-student-like.

In school, students learn to meet certain objectives -- answer certain questions within certain time parameters.

In the workforce -- it's not that way anymore.

To get an A+ in business, Welch says, a person -- 22 years old or 62 years old -- needs to:

1.  Expand the organization's expectations of what you can do -- tell them you can do more than what they expect.

2.  Then exceed those expectations -- tell them you can do more, and when your bosses begin to expect that, deliver beyond that.

In America, the idea is one of efficiency: get as much as possible for as little effort as possible. This is not bad.

But to succeed, one must give more and produce more than what is called for.

The goals, Welch says, is to make:

1.  your bosses smarter

2.  your team more effective

3.  the whole company more effective because of your energy, creativity, and insights.

Be willing to do the extra work to answer the yet-asked questions -- how your company can meet expectations three years from now, what new products might emerge, what technologies can change the game, and how things could be done better if production went to China.

Abe Lincoln once said, "What kills a skunk is the publicity it brings itself."

So, when you are working your heart out, don't worry about who knows -- your bosses will recognize it soon enough. Start blowing your own horn, and your co-workers will begin to doubt your motives. 

In short, set the standard high -- and then work hard and quietly to overdeliver.


Dr. Bill Belew is a former Intelligence Officer for a Destroyer Squadron. He lived 20 years in Japan, where he started a language school for Japanese ECS. Dr. Belew teaches classes for a vocational school and online for a national university.

See Dr. Belew's blog, PanAsianBiz, for news and discussions about business and current events in Russia and Asia. See ZhongHuaRising for Dr. Belew's reports on business in China, RisingSunofNihon on business in Japan, and TheBizofKnowledge on business education.

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