An interview technique that has gained some notoriety in recent years is called ‘Confirm or Deny.’ A recent interview in The New York Times by Maureen Dowd caught my eye, and I thought it might be an interesting technique to use with Apple’s executives.
The unfortunate part of this exercise is that Apple executives don’t really care much about such journalistic parlor tricks, and certainly wouldn’t make themselves available to someone who doesn’t work for the Times or the Post or other rags of more fame. So, I did what any red blooded, red-white-and-blue American pseudo journalist would do in such circumstances. I let my imagination rule. Hey, purveyors of fake news do it. Why not me?
Confirm Or Deny Example
The most recent example of a confirm or deny interview came from Maureen Dowd in an interview with Peter Thiel, a billionaire with at least that many opinions on topics for which he has no expertise or experience, but remember– money talks. Thiel is best known for funding celebrity wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit in Bolea v. Gawker and crushing the media company out of existence. He also likes Donald Trump.
Here’s the sample Confirm or Deny style:
Dowd: California should secede.
Thiel: Confirm. I’d be fine with that. I think it would be good for California, good for the rest of the country. It would help Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.
Forget the ridiculousness of the idea, or the havoc it would cause both to California and the U.S. of A., he’s a billionaire and he can say what he wants.
Dowd: Meryl Streep is overrated.
Thiel: Confirm. She’s probably very overrated, especially by all the people who are vociferously saying that she’s overrated.
Uh huh. Sure. Overrated. Apparently, so is wealth because it does weird things to the brain. Who among modern actors has more awards than Meryl Streep? Overrated probably isn’t the right term to use because it makes the user seem petty, jealous, and way out of touch.
Confirm or Deny. That’s the idea so let’s see it work with a few Apple executives.
Babs to Sir Jonny Ive, chief design honcho: You’re phoning it in.
Jonny Ive: Confirm. The last design project with my fingerprints on it was those rounded corners on the iPhone 4. Everything else since then is derivative, and everyone knows Everything Is A Remix, therefore derivative.
Babs to CEO Tim Cook: You have vision.
Tim Cook: Deny. That was Jobs’ thing, not mine. I’m more into saving the planet, parades, and talking about the product pipeline. I’ve been traveling, too.
Babs to VP Phil Schiller: Apple innovates.
Phil Schiller: Deny. The last item we designed and built to change the world was the Mac Pro, from four years ago. Nobody bought ’em, so we have about a year of inventory to sell before working on something new. I think the new version will have more ports or something. Maybe faster, too. Rose gold is coming. The warehouse has a lot of those old canister cases, though. It could be awhile.
Babs to Matt Casebolt, former Apple elite designer who left for Tesla: Apple will build a car.
Matt Casebolt: Deny. That’s why I left Apple. Pipeline? Pfft. Innovation? Vending machines get more innovation. I like to build products, not prototypes. Apple spent tens of billions on R&D in recent years, and we have prototypes of everything from an Apple Pressure Cooker to an Apple Hoverboard (that died because Samsung supplied the batteries) but no products, actual products, in the pipeline.
Babs to Daniel Lyons, Fake Steve Jobs author: Apple is overrated.
Daniel Lyons: Confirm. Here is what will happen to Apple. The company will languish for a decade, much as Microsoft did under Bill Gates’ hand-picked successor, Steve Ballmer. Then, a succession of CEOs will try to salvage what Steve Jobs built and fail miserably. As the company nears bankruptcy, someone will clone a new Steve Jobs from hair donated to the Smithsonian, and a resurrected Steve Jobs will return to Apple and save the company again. It’s that vision thing.
I’m thinking about doing a Confirm or Deny thing with Steve Jobs, too.