What would you ask President Obama? I would go for the Area 51, captured aliens, and extraterrestrials posing as presidential candidates angle before I’d ask about the time he met Michelle. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is gone but that doesn’t mean there are no ways to give the guy a posthumous interview.
Consider The Day
It was 40 years ago today that Apple started life as a hubris-filled, angst-ridden company, The Little Engine That Could of Silicon Valley. The company that Jobs built has moved on, shed of the juvenile attitude and covered in adulthood. Jobs is gone, but that didn’t stop me from coming up with a unique way of setting up and conducting an interview.
Here’s how it went down.
Last night I read as many of Jobs’ quotes as I could find on Google. Then I stuffed myself with chocolate. The good kind. Dark, not creamy. As anyone who’s ever indulged in a double-dark slice of chocolate cake right before bedtime knows, the dreams can be fast and furious.
No more than an hour or so into sleep, Steve Jobs came to me and the interview began.
Me: Steve, thank you for arriving on time. Tell me, how’s the afterlife treating you?
Steve: I’m dead. That’s all you get. This is a dream. You’ll need to experience it on your own.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.
Me: You’re credited with a string of technology industry disruptions through the years; from Apple II, to Mac, to iPod and iTunes, to iPhone and iPad. So, what do you think of Apple Watch?
Steve: Woz is right. Apple is more about style and fashion these days. Very upscale. Watch seems like a typical design from Jonny, but it doesn’t really do much more than act as an iPhone extension. And look at all those crazy Watch bands. They’re priced right, though. Tim sure knows how to squeeze a dollar out of a customer. I taught him that.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Me: What do you think of how Tim Cook is running Apple?
Steve: Well, Tim was running the day-to-day show for a few years before I ascended, and the company has produced record revenue and profits since then, but all from products I envisioned years ago. Watch is the only new product since I left and it’s an accessory.
Me: What’s your opinion on Apple’s dividend program, the stock buy backs, and the debt incurred under Cook?
Steve: Those would never have happened under my watch. Never. Shareholders don’t deserve dividends. They don’t do anything for the company. They buy and sell stock. Stock buybacks don’t work, so without that there would be no debt. Apple should have $300-billion in cash.
Me: What would you do with $300-billion?
Steve: First, I would buy Tesla. Lots of good Apple engineers at Tesla. That would jump start Apple’s electric car business. Second, I would buy Adobe and shut down all the Windows versions of Photoshop. Third, I would stop doing business– any business– with Samsung. My dream was sand at one end of the factory and finished products rolling out the other. Live the dream, Tim.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Me: Recently, the FBI asked Apple to open up a terrorist’s iPhone; Apple refused, the FBI went to court, but dropped the case. What would you have done differently?
Steve: Well, I have some inside information on how the FBI hacked the terrorist’s iPhone but I cannot divulge the method. This place has rules. But Apple tried to be nice instead of being tough from the beginning. That’s Tim’s public style. The government should make its own hacker tools.
Me: What’s your take on the US presidential election?
Steve: We’re doing it wrong. Look at the choices. Those aren’t choices. They are fodder for late night talk shows. The really smart people are the ones so smart they know better than to get involved with politics.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Me: My dream is fading away. One final question. What words of wisdom would you give to people today?
Steve: Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.
Today is April 1st, 2016. Apple started 40 years ago today. On April Fool’s Day.