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3 Reasons to Take Steve Jobs’ ‘Moral High Ground’

Look around. It’s bad out there. Business financing has dried up. Commercial real estate rents are at an all time low, but customers are using price matching and coupons, further slicing into profit margins. Meanwhile, the competitors are circling like sharks waiting for the one misstep that is going to be your demise. WWSJD – what would Steve Jobs do?

Steve Jobs wouldn’t break a sweat worrying about anything other than his corporate mission. And, that mission would be in plain English and not C-suite speak. This is exactly what Steve Jobs did when Microsoft launched its Windows software and it was user friendly like Apple’s. He knew he had a better product even when the Apple board walked him out…and when he walked right back in to save the company a few years later. Jobs didn’t publicly trash the Apple board, but he did move on to create NeXT and Pixar. That’s right: Pixar Films. Is there a better lesson in innovation and personal change management?

When Apple CEO Gil Amelio allowed third party vendors to make Apple products, Steve Jobs knew it was a bad idea. But, this was the guy who replaced him and he had control. Jobs knew that the idea would eventually crash and burn taking Apple down a path that led to the Alice’s rabbit hole. But, ex-CEO Jobs’ vision was one where Apple had nothing to do with Amelio’s rabbits or their holes. Third party vendors could be used for software someday (but not at that time) and certainly never to make Apple hardware. Upon returning to Apple, Steve Jobs severed all third party vending contracts and never look back. Lesson: share the dreaming, but never the brain. How many apps are there for the Apple only manufactured iPhone? A gazillion. And, who makes the iPhone? Only Apple.

When Steve Jobs good friend Larry Ellison of Oracle offered to engage Apple in a hostile takeover in 1995 so Jobs could return and they’d personally profit, Jobs nixed the idea. “I’m not a hostile takeover kind of guy.” He wanted to be asked back into the company he created. A year later, Amelio was in negotiation to buy NeXT from Jobs. Poor Gil, he never saw it coming until he was ousted and Steve jobs was re-installed at the helm of Apple. His friend Larry Ellison was happy for him, but they made no money off the deal (Jobs would work for $1 annually for several years). Jobs insisted that taking the moral high ground was the way to go. Ellison shot back, “Steve, that’s really expensive real estate, this moral high ground.” Lesson? Go for what you want, certainly. But never forget that Karma is a heifer who’ll dance all night long with anyone who bought cheap real estate on a moral low ground.