It was the Work-Out program of the early 1990s that gave birth to GE’s voracious appetite for new ideas. This program put to rest the long-held view that only the CEO and GE’s senior management knew what was best for its employees. As chief financial officer Dennis Dammerman observes: “Historically, at GE, inventors and creators, rather than doers, were made into heroes. You wanted to take personal credit for everything good that happened, because that’s how you got to be a hero. Look at Thomas Edison. He wasn’t a very good businessman. It was J. P. Morgan who bailed him out in 1892, but it was obviously Thomas Edison, not J. P. Morgan, who was the hero of our company in the 1890s. Well, today, you get to be a hero not just by inventing but also by recognizing a good idea and having your team implement it.” If GE had to rely on Jack Welch for all its ideas, the CEO remarks wryly, “it would take only an hour for it to sink.

[Discussing the factors that led to the disastrous AOL-Time Warner Merger in 2000]

There are few intoxicants like the prospect of easy money, and that’s what the billions in IPO dollars then raining down on nobodies in Silicon Valley must have looked like. Nor can be discounted the recurring theme of this book: the lure of information empire. In 2010, [Gerald] Levin described to me the condition of being a CEO as “a form of mental illness,” with the desire for never-ending growth as a kind of addiction. As he said, “there’s something about being able to say, ‘I’m the CEO of the world’s largest media company.’ “