Jobs to Apple: Follow your own voice

Considering the impact Steve Jobs has had on Apple, you’d think the folks there would have poured his essence into some sort of supercomputer to guide them along the journey ahead. Believe it or not, though, Jobs left very different instructions before his untimely death. Al Gore, who sits on Apple’s board, told Walt Mossberg all about those at AllThingsD’s AsiaD conference:

10:20 am: Walt: So, no offense to Tim Cook, at what point does the lack of having Jobs at the helm of the company become apparent? There’s a pipeline, “but at some point that pipeline runs out, and then what happens?”

10:21 am: Gore: Steve cultivated a team, “and we had discussions at every single board meeting, for several years, about cultivating that team”. No one will replace him, and he’s totally unique. “And yet, he also served on the board of Disney… and he used to talk initially about how after Walt Disney died, the company always got in trouble about asking ‘what would Walt do in this situation.?’ And he made it very clear ‘I don’t want that.’ He made it clear to Tim Cook and everyone else ‘Don’t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice.’”

When asked if he expects "risk-taking and game-changing" from the Apple team, Gore responded, "Of course. Everyone on that management team could be CEO of a world class corporation." Encouraging words for sure.

Jobs’ instructions pretty much go along with what he said in that famous Stanford commencement address:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice; and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become

I think that, at the pace the tech industry is going, turning Apple into a rigid and dogmatic institution would probably lead it down the path of irrelevance all too quickly. If the company remains sufficiently flexible and open to change, its talented work force and unique corporate culture could take care of the rest, keeping Apple a driving force in the industry even without Jobs at the helm.

Comments closed
    • beck2448
    • 8 years ago

    Apple will be fine for the next few years at least. They dominate pro graphics and the music industry and are making huge strides into film making as well. With our entertainment obsessed culture there is a generation of kids coming up who have known only Apple.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    That’s all fine and dandy, but the reality is he fostered an environment where these people who are to now follow their own voice are not used to doing so.

    It’s not that I don’t think they’ll take chances. I think they will, but I think that instead of Jobs being at the top and immune to punishment for doing something out there that doesn’t work (Cube, original AppleTV) or fails to make traction (iAds, Ping, Facetime, Mobileme)…

    …you’re going to eventually see an environment where Apple begins to have employees reluctant to push strange ideas because they’ll get punished for having and/or implementing them. They’ll be like everybody else. And when they’re not pursuing the strategy of, “WWSJD?” they’ll go off the rails, quickly or slowly.

    And just like that, Apple will be yet another brand that had its heyday but eventually started playing it safe to maintain their ever-dwindling fanbase. Of course, by then, I’m sure we’ll have an heir apparent. With Google’s recent changes, it’s safe to say it won’t be them.

    • ish718
    • 8 years ago

    I believe Apple will slowly fail from here on…

    • mcnabney
    • 8 years ago

    “before his untimely death”

    Seriously?
    Surely I am not the only one picking up an easy 43 points in their dead pool.

    • Ragnar Dan
    • 8 years ago

    “Encouraging words”? Be serious. This is a person who tried to justify taking hundreds of millions of dollars laundered through a group of impoverished Chinese monks Clinton-Gore’s re-election campaign, and was unsurprisingly unprosecuted by the then-acting Attorney General, Eric Holder, in 1996. This is a person who considers reality whatever he wishes it to be, rather than objectively defined. Anyone who would listen to Algore about anything related to anything but treason, homosexualism, and hypocrisy is a fool.

      • Cuhulin
      • 8 years ago

      The Ayn Rand character after whom you appear to be based was known for being straightforward and honest. Your attack on the former Vice President is neither.

      Eric Holder was never acting Attorney General. In part of 2007 and 2008, he was Deputy Attorney General, working for Janet Reno. Yes, she was fighting Parkinson’s disease at the time. No, she did not leave her job. The Justice Department continued working on the matter after the 2000 election, so any decision regarding Gore would have been before Bush appointees as well.

      It is true — and proved both in investigations by the Republican controlled House and Senate and in a lot of criminal prosecutions brought by the Justice Department that you castigate — that money was laundered through a variety of Taiwanese entities. Gore has admitted that he made mistakes in dealing with these people.

      I don’t like Al Gore much either. I think you’re right that he’s a hypocrite. I think he has rose-colored glasses on environmental issues. I don’t know what “homosexualism “is, although I suspect from the term that you and I would disagree about what I think you are saying about the rights of people who are homosexuals. (By the way, I suspect that any true follower of Rand’s beliefs, including Ragnar Daneskjold, if he were real, would think that whether people are homosexuals or not is absolutely none of the government’s business.) Having a different view on a policy matter is not treasonous in a free society, so I don’t know the basis on which you can accuse him of that (unlike, for example, the Iran-Contra conspirators.)

      Whether you agree or disagree on his environmental lobbying, he’s clearly a bright guy whose compliments to the Apple management team are, in fact, “encouraging words.”

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      And why would you listen to him with regards to those three points?

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    Jobs believed he could order his cancer about…lol.
    [url<]http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/24559-jobs-believed-he-could-order-his-cancer-about[/url<] and i got flamed for guessing the obvious.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 8 years ago

      The article spins it very negatively, but yeah, his death (or shortened life) was essentially his own fault.

      • Yeats
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]and i got flamed for guessing the obvious.[/quote<] That's because when something is obvious, you shouldn't need to guess.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 8 years ago

    Basically, if you are a businessman, want to be successful and want to control people; follow your own voice. If you are a consumer, follow the leader, consume the technology, use as little brain power as possible. Not so unusual a concept.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    Follow your own voice unless you have a Siri enabled iPhone in which case you will be following my voice. Steve Jobs has ascended to the heavenly mainframe where he sits on a ‘cloud’ answering all the Siri queries.

    • Meadows
    • 8 years ago

    Happy Steve Jobs day!

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      Like -30 last post, nothing so far.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        Just figured I’d make a habit out of it and place it on every Steve Jobs topic starting now. I’m getting really tired of them.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    Enough with the Apple already!

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      (+1)

    • WhatMeWorry
    • 8 years ago

    I want to see a good old fashion: PRICE WAR!!! Why not lose some margin and make it up with increased sales. Isn’t Apple’s Airbook cheaper to produce than the Ultrabooks?

      • Kharnellius
      • 8 years ago

      They can’t keep up with demand as it is. Why do they need a price war?

      • Cuhulin
      • 8 years ago

      They did that with Ipad.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    hah, he carefully cultivated them to the point that they have the ‘Jobsiness’. ‘Use the Steve Jobs in you’

    • Decelerate
    • 8 years ago

    I find it admirable that a company founder can let his baby go so easily (those that want their company to succeed, and not merely selling it for quick money), though being kicked out of Apple once helped him get past the initial shock.

    I wonder what type of instructions he would have left had he never been kicked out of Apple?

      • tanker27
      • 8 years ago

      Edited. Added to wrong post

    • pedro
    • 8 years ago

    Yeh, like, whatever bro.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    I was expecting this to be some kind of Siri reference. Has anybody tried asking it “What would Steve Jobs do?”

      • ModernPrimitive
      • 8 years ago

      I came close to buying the 4s but talked myself out of it. My smartphone use has dwindled to not being worth the huge bill. I’m betting there a funny thread here and there on the net about Siri responses. I saw one post on engadget where an owner posted the repsonses to “Beam me up Scotty”. 4 responses with the first one being “ok, stand still”… lol

    • FuturePastNow
    • 8 years ago

    Apple has a cash reserve of, currently, $81 billion. I think they can weather a bad product or two.

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      Irrelevant. This is about continuing to make good products (at least most of the time), and [u<]no[/u<] company can "weather" it if they stop doing that.

        • tanker27
        • 8 years ago

        As most corporations have a roadmap with planned product releases Apple would be no different in this aspect. I expect that they have at least the next 10 Hardware releases planned (Current hardware), the next OS iteration “beyond-OSX”, and at least 2 or 3 surprises ( *cough* a true Apple TV *cough*).

        But its how Apple reacts to the “Next big thing” in tech that will show whether or not they can move forward. Tech moves quickly and Apple will need to be decisive on whether to embrace or forgo whatever confronts them. This alone will be the most defining moment.

      • Grigory
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t worry about Apple continuing to make decent products. The trick is to overcharge their customers just the right amount to maintain their cult following by providing this “I am better than you!” feeling. This is a tough balancing act to pull off constantly.

        • tanker27
        • 8 years ago

        Apple envy…its a ****

          • ModernPrimitive
          • 8 years ago

          While I do admire the skeekness, aesthetics and stability of Apple products I at the same time realize the the stability is due to their proprietary nature. It’s a love-hate thing as with many things in the tech world. Fanatics of any kind annoy me and Apple fanatics are no different. I want to scream when i someone tells me not to spend $3000 on a dSLR and blurts “my iPhone takes amazing pictures!!”

          My latest smartphone was Android. Like the WinMo before it there are strengths and weaknesses….just like the iOS I’ve never owned. I hope Apple continues on just fine without Jobs and other companies in the same markets prosper also.

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 8 years ago

          I can afford apple products, I do not buy them. Where is the envy ?

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      Apple’s entire stock value and value as a company is tied proportionally to their ability to make trendy devices with a product life equaling about a year. The desktop/laptops don’t really follow this model, but the stem of their money from the iOS devices do. That’s why people are freaking out over Jobs because they realize that he helped push the amazing* one year devices. Without them Apple’s value is null, with just laptops/Macs pushing them along.

        • WhatMeWorry
        • 8 years ago

        I respectifully disagree about the “trendy devices with a product life equaling about a year”. If anything, Apple has created more stable product lines than any competitor: iPod versus Zune, iPhones versus Android and Microsoft/Nokia -whatever they are coming out with. iPad 1 and now iPad2 versus other pads. I’d say it is the Sony, Dell, Microsoft, Acer, Samsung,SanDisk which are throwing things against the wall and see what sticks.

          • dashbarron
          • 8 years ago

          Product line yes…but people aren’t/won’t/can’t keep buying the same version iPod. Sooner or later someone will invent or implement a new feature. They have to keep inventing these sensationalist devices with the best to stay on top.

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 8 years ago

        Considering Apple supports iOS 5 on the two and a half year old iPhone 3GS I’m not really sure how Apple gets a reputation for poorly supporting older devices when their competition is far worse on average. Anyone else remember how long it took Samsung to get Froyo out officially on the Galaxy S?

        Or that somehow Apple’s success hangs uniquely on the rapid roll out of desirable products when their competition will roll out multiple flagship devices in the same span Apple sells one.

        It annoys me that there’s the common perception that Apple only sells hardware because their products are uniquely trendy while the haters get nerd boners every other week about some new Android device that offers a functionally imperceptible improvement over it’s predecessor. It’s just how the business works, folks. Whether a phone is all hype or just self evidently superior seems to be solely tied to brand affiliation, and that’s just sad.

          • dashbarron
          • 8 years ago

          Apple is the polar opposite when compared to say Microsoft. They drop legacy support of old programs while Microsoft clings onto legacy for dear life. That 2-3 year old program may no longer run on Apple while Microsoft does 10 glitchy workarounds to make it half-ways work.

            • Yeats
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]That 2-3 year old program may no longer run on Apple while Microsoft does 10 glitchy workarounds to make it half-ways work.[/quote<] Ridiculous. Nearly all 2-3 year Windows programs work on Win7, no "glitchy workarounds" required. Most 2-3 year old Apple programs still work, too.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 8 years ago

            Apple’s window of support seems to be about 5 years for their PCs and ~2.5 for their mobile devices

            But overall I totally agree with your characterization.

          • Yeats
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]Whether a phone is all hype or just self evidently superior [u<]seems to be solely tied to brand affiliation[/u<], and that's just sad.[/quote<] Exactly the way Apple wants it.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    Al Gore invented the iPhone !!!!

      • Grigory
      • 8 years ago

      Maybe Al gave Steve cancer because Steve claimed he did it!

      • trackerben
      • 8 years ago

      Just imagine how Gore must sound like at board meetings. A fantasy.

      (Impassioned Gore) “The consensus is settled! The deniers can say all they want. But we all know that if left unchecked, the increasing distance of Apple from Job’s hand in time could only lead to drastic falls in revenues, losses in mindshare, and yes, a hit to even my image! I point out these conclusions are not mine, but those of a vast majority of analysts. So let’s focus on the one thing which matters, attracting and keeping people profitably on our platform vs all the others, no matter what.”

      “We need people to see the dire necessity of increasing that share of their disposable income which they already dedicate to our best ideas. That contributing to the noble defense of our shared way of life is personally rewarding. We must show that this is not an economic issue, this is a moral issue. If we stick to such personable messaging, our customers are going to be demanding this.”

      (Turns to point at the overhead screen where Steve’s Job’s black-turtlenecked visage appears, tinkering with a photoshop of whatever is the current device on a sleek white table)

      “From now on, I propose that every new product be marketed as Steve’s last, his final baby, his signature project. I propose for all lock screens to permanently feature this evolving image of my friend, along with the bold caption “After me, the Deluge!”

      “At the very least, the uniquely neomillenarian imagery should work to hold values in resale markets and support launch price structures going forward.”

        • ModernPrimitive
        • 8 years ago

        *applause* I think you nailed his persona pretty well there. Maybe just missing a passage of how not buying an Apple product will ruin the environment….

          • trackerben
          • 8 years ago

          That can be my next cheeky write-up…

      • Kaleid
      • 8 years ago

      Ah, gee that again.
      [url<]http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp[/url<]

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