It is no secret that I am borderline obsessed with Apple and all of its products. Recently, Steve Jobs was put in front of the Cupertino city council to present plans for a brand new Apple campus there, and of course I watched the whole thing.
I enjoyed the presentation itself, and I think Steve is a master at this sort of thing. His slides are always very well thought out, he always includes concrete examples like numbers or percentages, and his manner of speaking is very measured and thoughtful, but still conversational.
My favorite, and perhaps the most awkward, portion of the clip is when the council tries to get free stuff from Apple, specifically wifi or a local Apple Store. If I were in that situation, I would most likely say something like, “There’s an idea, we’ll think about it!” or “Hmm, I hadn’t considered that, I will get back to you.” His answer to both questions was a polite no, accompanied by some appropriate reasoning.
Even though Apple is a massive corporation, the people in that room control the processes that will ultimately approve or disapprove of their plans. Despite this fact, Steve spends little to no energy trying to appease them.
I love this because sometimes, in a service industry, we have to say no to clients. We are being hired for our expertise, and a client’s wishes may not always be in their best interest. Just like Steve Jobs knows that an Apple Store in Cupertino would not generate enough traffic to be profitable, I know that Flash intros, background music, and pop up windows are considered bad practices for a website, and shouldn’t be pursued.
One comment on a blog about this topic questioned, “Who do they think he is? Google?” and that question perfectly captures the corporate personalities of these two very different companies. Google would most likely have started out providing free wifi, and then try to benefit from it later. Apple tends to function more like an agency, investing their time where they want to, not where they think others want them to.