ordered a fully-loaded Titanium PowerBook using my employee discount and it would be on my front porch the next morning.  Apple (what ever IT was) it wasn’t just technology.  So, I asked myself, “Am I grieving THE company, A company!?  If so, just what kind of company is it that I could be feeling like this?” 

Some were spellbound… What kind of company has fanatics?

“So just what was my relationship like with Apple Computer, the company,” I had to  ask myself.  

As I thought about it I came to the conclusion that my experience of Apple had always been a personal experience, just like my experience with the Macintosh. My Mac, be it my 128 K RAM two floppy-disk drive (no hard drive), THE first-ever Mac or my Titanium Powerbook with 640 mg RAM and 30 gig HD, each one has been MINE, as if Apple manufactured it with its own personality, just for me.  It was MY Macintosh.  This personal attachment seemed to somehow also transfer to the company as well. Like so many other Mac owners I know, I have always considered Apple, not just a computer company, but MY computer company.  I even seemed to take Apple’s successes and blunders as if they were my personal triumphs and mistakes.

I had even written a letter to Edgar Woodard, chairman of the Apple CEO search committee in 1997, telling him what kind of CEO "we" needed. I wasn’t an employee then or even a share-holder!  How strange when I think about it now.  I’d never written any company about anything, let alone to tell them what “we,” not “they,” needed in a new CEO.  I also wrote an article about why I thought Apple would survive that the Macintosh magazine, MacToday, published in November, 1997. (2)  I became an badged Apple Employee January, 1, 1998.

But in thinking this through, I also concluded that my experience was not at all unique.  In reviewing my three plus years with Apple, I realized that Apple’s effect on people was even stranger than I had first thought.  Just what kind of company is it that could affect people like Apple did? (“Or did Apple alter people’s brainwaves?”  My mind rushed to the idea, “Maybe the B in the 802.11B wireless standard stands for radio Brain waves?--Well, it almost seemed that way.”)

I had this same experience over and over again bringing literally hundreds of people to the Apple corporate headquarters in Cupertino for executive briefings.  After spending a day at One Infinite Loop my guests would start lecturing me with great passion about how to make Apple more successful.  Some of these people’s organizations were completely committed to the other platform and yet here they were, somehow so energized by something they experienced on Apple’s campus that they were personally investing themselves in thinking of ways to increase Apple’s market share.  They were taking Apple very personally.  It almost seemed that Apple’s halls dripped enthusiasm that took over people’s minds.  As one executive told me, “When you walk in the door, you can feel it.  I get very positive vibes coming on this campus.  It’s contagious.”    I even have a video clip from one of the events I held at Apple of a University Dean (Gerry Giordano, now at the University of Northern Florida) who describes what being inside Apple felt like to him as a visitor.    He describes very well what it feels like to work inside Apple. 

(3) (http://www.vimeo.com/17129915

But these questions and conclusions only left me with more questions. My rational voice took over in my head and started to yell at me. 


2.  For a copy of the Article ... Click  HERE  >>>>   MacToday_article 1997 Apple Survive.pdf

3.   I use this clip to teach how one can observe organizational culture by visiting a place.

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© 2011 by Michael J. Johnson