Don’t be like Apple.
Apple is always the worst case study to demonstrate anything to any other business. Apple is always the best case study to demonstrate anything to any other business. You could say that Apple is an anomaly. You could also say that Apple is an inspiration and aspiration for all businesses. Like anything this massive, global and dominant, the brand has its fair share of lovers (and addicts) and detractors (and sworn enemies). Personally, I am an advocate for their products, but somewhat ambiguous when it comes to how I really feel about them as a brand (on any given day, my opinions can be swayed, and this has little do with the price of their stock). Apple to me is like any global rock star. I’ve told this story many times, so skip ahead if you’ve heard it already. In the past, when someone would ask me why a particular rock brand broke through and became massive stars, I would always say the same thing: every famous rock band is an exception because there are no rules. Apple is like that. "Think different" was more than advertising slogan. It is how they conduct business. From corporate structure to product development to how they see their role within our world. Rarely do you get to sneak behind the curtain and hear a conversation about how they work. Yes, there are countless unauthorized books and accounts from past employees, but their senior management team is, generally, very tight-lipped. In a post Steve Jobs world, things are changing. Apple’s new leader, Tim Cook, is not trying to be the extension of Steve Jobs, he’s trying to be the best "Tim Cook" that he can be. On September 11th of this year, Cook made his first appearance on Charlie Rose. As usual, Rose is a fascinating conversationalist. They spent a significant amount of time talking about everything (and yes, this includes a little look at the Apple Watch). I’ve watched this conversation a few times from a different perspective then what he has to say about the iPhone or the future of TV. I watched this conversation while thinking about corporate culture, how to adapt in an ever-evolving times, how is marketing still relevant, and what it takes for a company like that to "win"? Several pages of a Moleskine later, and it became abundantly clear to me: this conversation is a master class in how to imagine and re-imagine what a business is, what it’s capable of and how to get people (both customers and employees) to care.