Lessons in Leadership for Entrepreneurs: The Apple Factor!
October 31, 2014
Entrepreneur + Leadership + Vision = Success: Leaders don’t sit in ivory towers and they also know what they do well and what others can do
It’s something a lot of people learn the hard way. Think about this. You have had a great idea and you’ve been able to implement it, build a business and get things off the ground yet you always ask yourself why is it that things are taking or have taken longer than I thought to get where I am going?
The lesson we learn is that often entrepreneurs and those in start-up ventures actually tend to operate alone and in isolation before realising they probably could have reached their objectives a lot sooner than they had. The trouble is many fail, even with great ideas, because they realise too late that in order to achieve success they needed to gather a group around them to fill skills gaps.
Take for example the relationship between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the early days of Apple. As Steve Wozniak would recount he was an engineer and Steve Jobs was the visionary. When Wozniak would develop something Steve Jobs would invariably be able to identify where and at what point in the market there was a gap and how they may be able to push through with the idea. Now, in that situation the relationship is an obvious match made in heaven right? Well, actually not at the beginning because as things got going they also had a gap in the skill set that they needed to really get the Apple business off the ground – and that is someone with a business mind.
After all, while Wozniak was still working at Hewlett Packard Steve Jobs tried to pitch their initial idea and product concepts to potential investors and, pretty much all of them turned him down. Steve Wozniak would later reflect that:
“We went to venture capitalists and we couldn’t speak like businessman neither one of us had any business experience or any business schooling.” “We ran into this guy called Mike Markkula, he was an angel (in terms of investor) and he came across and he figured that this was going to be a big thing .. he knew how to run businesses…”
So as you can see in that example the gap may have been subtle at the beginning but in the end the addition of Mike Markkula really got things off the ground and not just from a business mind perspective because as Steve Wozniak also recalls he got a phone call from Mike basically saying “Quit your job at Hewlett Packard and come and do this thing full time.”
It was a hard call for Wozniak because he actually thought he would work for Hewlett Packard for life. Mike Gave Wozniak until Tuesday to make a decision - Wozniak initially said no but then:
“Steve went into a frenzy, Steve Jobs, he got all my relatives to start calling me and all my friends “take the money, take the money, take the money” and one friend finally said the right thing, he said look you can start this new company and be an engineer, and stay an engineer and you don’t have to go into management and you don’t have to run it, and that’s what I need to hear because at that point I was the sort of person that could never really run a company …. “
Here are some other people that hopped on the band wagon in the early stages and proves that you really need to surround yourself with exceptional talent. Take a look at the top ten Apple Start-Up employees and where they are now (thanks to the businessinsider.com.au):
#10 Gary Martin was in charge of accounting: Martin thought Apple was going to flop, but joined the company anyway. He stayed at Apple until 1983. From Apple he jumped to Starstruck, a company working on space travel which had Michael Scott as a key employee. Martin is now a private investor and is on the board of Canadian tech company LeoNovus.
#9 Sherry Livingston was the right hand for Apple's first CEO: Livingston was the first secretary at Apple and she did a lot. Michael Scott, who hired her, said she basically did all the odds and ends work for Apple in the early days. She recently became a grandmother, and we're not sure if or where she's working now.
#8 Chris Espinoza was working at Apple part time in high school: Chris Espinosa joined Apple when he was 14, and still in high school. He's still with the company today. On his personal blog he said he ended up with employee number eight because when CEO Michael 'Scotty' Scott was giving out numbers, he was at school. He arrived late and ended up with the number.
#7 Michael Scott, Apples first CEO: Scott tells us he gave himself the number 7, as a joke. It's a reference to James Bond, 007. Scotty, as he was known, picked all the numbers for employees and organised the company. He was brought in as CEO by Mike Markkula, the man that invested $250,000 in Apple, and helped it map out its business plan. Scott is currently interested in gems. He's also working on making the Star Trek tricoder a reality, so people can identify stones in the forest and find out what they are.
#6 Randy Wigginton ended up working for multiple important tech companies: Wigginton's main job was to rewrite BASIC so it would work for the Apple II, Michael Scott told us in an interview. In his post Apple-life he's worked at eBay, Google, Chegg, and he's now at Square, the payment startup.
#5 Rod Holt was super important in the development of the Apple II: Holt was highly regarded designer, who was sceptical of joining Apple initially. But, in 'Return To Magic Kingdom,' he says Steve Jobs 'conned' him into taking the job. Holt was a communist who helped developed the power supply for the Apple II. Michael Scott told us, 'One thing Holt has to his credit is that he created the switching power supply that allowed us to do a very lightweight computer compared to everybody else's that used transformers.' After six years at Apple, Holt says he was pushed out of the company by new management.
#4 Bill Fernandez was the first employee after the two Steves: Bill Fernandez first met Steve Jobs at Cupertino Junior High School when Jobs was a new student. Fernandez was also a neighbour and friend of Steve Wozniak. When Jobs and Wozniak started Apple, they hired Fernandez as the first employee. He stayed with Apple until 1993, when he left to work at Ingres, a database company. He now has a design firm and he's working on user interfaces.
#3 Mike Markkula was the money man: Markkula was as instrumental in developing Apple as either of two Steves. He made an investment in Apple worth $250,000. In exchange for his investment, he took 30% of the company. He also helped manage the company, develop a business plan, hired the first CEO, and insisted Steve Wozniak join Apple. (At the time he was thinking about joining HP.) Markkula was an early Intel employee and became a millionaire by the time he was 30 when the company went public. According to 'Return to the Little Kingdom,' his investment in Apple was less than 10% of his total worth at the time. He stayed at Apple until 1997, overseeing the ouster and return of Steve Jobs. When Jobs came back, Markkula was left. He has since invested in a few startups and donated money to Santa Clara University, for the Markkula centre for Applied Ethics.
#2 Steve Jobs was given the number two just to irk him: Why is Jobs employee number two? Michael Scott says, 'I know I didn't give it to Jobs because I thought that would be too much.'
#1 Steve Wozniak was the technical expert: Enough said!
So the lesson? surround yourself with a great team of people!
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