Reinventing the Apple
Recently, Apple unveiled the new iPad 2. It was exciting to see the upgrades on the device, but more than the new bells and whistles, what was really exciting to see was Steve Jobs at the helm. Jobs, back from medical leave at least for the day, seemingly undeterred by his own personal circumstance. Donning his infamous black turtleneck and jeans, smiling and proud, he is the undeniable and fearless leader of the Apple tribe.
There are few leaders that have the guts to continue to innovate, especially in the worst of financial times. Continuing to spend marketing dollars and putting themselves and their companies out on a limb with new product launches is almost unheard of these days. After all the dollars spent and energy exhausted, Jobs did one thing so many companies failed to do these last few years: succeed. When the iPad first hit the scene, consumer confidence was at an all-time low, but Americans still dug deep into their pockets and spent money on the device.
During economic uncertainty most often you will find companies will play it safe, cut budgets and employees, increase their liquidity and lay low until the storm has passed. While they are doing their darndest to hang on to their cash and hoping beyond all hope that they survive, they are missing out on opportunity.
Warren Buffett said it best when he said to investors, "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." Swimming against the tide can be exhausting, however there is something Caesar-like about the leader who can march into the financial battlefield and be brave enough to believe so strongly in his/her product and people to go ahead and strategically invest company capital to innovate and emerge from a recession stronger.
I am hopeful we will continue to have the opportunity to see Steve Jobs on stage in his signature black and denim, guiding Apple and giving consumers awesome products. Above all else he serves as a great example of how to lead under the toughest circumstances, both personal and professional. And to all those at the helm, continue to be brave as you navigate these unchartered waters.