“You’re a leadership/management researcher, theorist, writer, and scholar.  Where in the world does this irrational infectious enthusiasm subjective fluff come from?!”

So I asked myself, ”Is there some other subconscious symbolism at work here?

Was Apple headquarters resonating with something in these people that went beyond their immediate Apple encounter?” I hypothesized.

“Was it somehow cultural?  Did Apple have a special meaning in the American culture that was operative here?  Many of these visitors were from the Baby Boomer generation.  Was there something resonating with that generation in particular that would cause this response in them (and me)?”

I decided I needed to explore the company’s possible meaning in the American culture, a great deal more. Maybe that was a rational explanation for what these “instant fanatics” were all responding to?

        25 years ago, they spoke out and they broke out of recession and oppression…

       Apple’s Meaning in America…

To ponder the question, I went to my secondary office (my neighborhood Starbucks) logged into my wireless network account and just stared into the clouds in my coffee. 

“So what is it about Apple Computer?  What does it mean?  What does it and its brand symbolize in America?  And more importantly, just how am I going to get my mind around this irrational concept of infectious enthusiasm, let alone find some guideposts in answering these questions with some degree of rationality?” 

Then I remembered a scene in one of my favorite movies that included Apple Computer’s branded five-color logo.  I realized right away that this was a very poignant clue to Apple’s meaning in the American psychie.

The scene is in the movie, Forrest Gump.  Just after Forrest returns home to Greensboro, he is opening a letter at his mailbox.  Tom Hanks line is,  “So, I never went back to work for Lieutenant Dan. Though he did take care of my Bubba-Gump money. He got me invested in some kind of fruit company?”  Forrest is opening a letter from Cupertino, the multi-colored Apple emblazoned at the top.

“Ok,” I asked myself, “Just what does this mean?” Then it hit me, “Why did Lieutenant Dan buy Apple stock?  Why didn't Forrest Gump's writers have Lieutenant Dan buy IBM or Microsoft or Intel stock?”  Apple’s place in American culture suddenly came into focus for me. 

The reason Lieutenant Dan bought Apple stock is because the story of Apple Computer itself fits the premise of Forrest Gump: America is the land of possibilities.  Lieutenant Dan bought Apple stock because Apple is a cultural symbol of the American Dream--that two 19-year-olds can create something in their garage that can change the world.  Forrest Gump and Apple Computer’s story embody the concept that all Americans have an inalienable basic amount of the “its possible”--That no matter what gifts or limitations we may come to this world with-every American has an inalienable basic amount of probability—a shot at the American dream—a good life. 

Then I also remembered Jobs’ very first mission statement in founding the company: “To provide personal computing to everyone on the planet."  He wanted to share and empower

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© 2011 by Michael J. Johnson