My Elevator Ride with Steve Jobs

Written by on October 8, 2011 in Steve Jobs Take, your Business with 0 Comments

Over the past few days I have watched hours of  tributes, read countless articles and witnessed my Twitter stream overflowing with emotions on the passing of Steve Jobs.   On the night we learned his fate, 9 out of every 10 tweets I received were in reference to him.  It’s amazing how many lives he has impacted and I’m proud to be included in that number.

Although I never met the man, I have often wondered how I would handle the infamous elevator ride with him. There are stories of employees who avoided getting on an elevator with him.  They knew that it wouldn’t be a simple exchange of pleasantries.  By the time they had gotten out, if they still had a job, their priorities would have been completely changed and would be under the gun with the clock ticking. Many couldn’t handle the pressure and would walk up the stairs instead.  I believe that I would have boldly gotten in and asked him “what floor?”  By the time he reached his floor, most likely I would be sweating profusely, but I would have been on the path of doing my best work ever. The following recounts my fictitious elevator ride with Steve Jobs.

PASSION:

Me:  Hello Steve

Steve: Hi, do you work here? I’ve never seen you around.

Me: No, I have an appointment with the CFO to talk about investing some of the company’s cash.

Steve: What are you talking about?  No one is going to invest our cash. What if I want to make a strategic acquisition and the money is tied up?

Me:  I’m only looking to invest a small percentage.

Steve: How did you get in here anyway?  I can’t believe the guard let you in here.  What makes you think you are qualified to invest our cash?

Me: I have been trading since 1995. I developed a strategy where I invest in stocks that are critical to new emerging trends – like mobile and the cloud.

Steve: First of all, I hate traders. Those are guys are constantly churning in & out of our stock. I like investors who are in it for the long haul.

Me: I’m not a day trader. I ride the trends. Sometimes I’m in for a couple of days or weeks.  The market has been very volatile lately, so it hard to stay in longer.  Ideally I would be in for months.

Steve:  I want people in our stock for years.

Me: Do you have any of your personal money managed by financial advisors?

Steve: Yea, those guys suck. My account has been flat for the last 10 years. I stopped paying them a management fee. I told if they don’t like it I would take my money somewhere else.

Me: If those guys would have only invested when the market was healthy and went to cash when it was not – your returns would be substantially better.

Steve: Yea, whatever.  I hear that traders blow up all of the time.  Have you ever blown up?

PERSEVERANCE:

Me: In 2000, after the tech bubble imploded.  I was hit hard – lost most of my money.

Steve: What did you do?

Me: For about a year I didn’t do anything.  I was shell shocked. I couldn’t believe what had happened.  I didn’t have a well thought out exit plan.  When I finally stopped feeling bad for myself – I started working on a strategy to get my money back.

Steve:  Did you get it back?

Me: Not all of it.  I was on a roll til 2008.

Steve: Why would I want you to manage our money if every time the market hits a rough spot – you blow up?

Me:  I was hit hard, but I didn’t blow up.  I learned from 2000.

Steve: Sounds like you have been at this for awhile and can take a punch.

Me: I love the markets. I love developing a thesis and getting paid handsomely if it works. Plus, the flexibility works well for my life style.  I can trade from anywhere.  I can’t think of anything I would rather do.

PROCESS:

Steve: I want you to come back in 6 months. Prepare a 2 slide presentation.  On the first slide, I want you to describe your entire strategy. Entry criteria, exit plan and risk management process. On the second slide, I want to see your results over the past six months.

Me: Wow, that’s going to take more than 2 slides.

Steve: Do you know who you are talking to? I want a focused plan.  If you can’t explain it in 2 slides it’s too complicated.

Me:  OK

Steve:  Finally,  make sure that it is simple enough for the guard to understand – because if that SOB let’s you in here again he will be fired.

 

steve-jobs-ripRest in Peace, Steve Jobs.

Thank you for teaching me the 3 Ps of entrepreneurship - Passion, Perseverance, and Process. Thank you for teaching me to “think different.” Thank you for teaching me to be foolish enough to pursue my dreams. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. You will truly be missed.

 

Steve Jobs on Entrepreneurship:

A lot of people come to me and say “I want to be an entrepreneur”. And I go “Oh that’s great, what’s your idea?”And they say, “I don’t have one yet.” And I say, “I think you should go get a job as a busboy or something until you find something you’re really passionate about because it’s a lot of work.” I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don’t blame them. It’s really tough and it consumes your life. If you’ve got a family and you’re in the early days of a company, I can’t imagine how one could do it. I’m sure its been done but it’s rough. It’s pretty much an eighteen-hour day job, seven days a week for awhile. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about. otherwise you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that’s half the battle right there.

 

Think Different – Narrated by Steve Jobs

Disclosure: Long Apple Stock.

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