The Steve Jobs Bio, Building Companies vs Planning for the Exit and Getting Out

I just finished reading Steve Jobs, the biography by Walter Isaacson. I read it on the iPad and loved the book and the experience of reading it on the device. I laughed, I cried, and I learned a lot about an amazing man.  Yes, the man was an asshole but I don’t care about that. Sometimes, you have to be a jerk to get things done. The results of his way of being and how he worked, have benefited my life greatly.

I was particularly struck by something Mr. Jobs said to Mr. Isaacson that rings true and close to home:

“I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel [did]. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That is what I want Apple to be.”

In my years of working as a recruiter, I met this attitude often, with many executives actually vocalizing it as a badge of honor. This way of thinking is one of the things that drove me out of recruiting and left me with a bad taste in my mouth about the state of business and in turn, what that exit strategy does to the regular working Joe. So many work places are increasingly becoming hostile settings to ideas and products that don’t hatch quickly…Being different is NOT cool, working long hours is a rule, getting paid crap is standard and crappy products that could be so much better, are not.

Sure, some ‘entrepreneurs’ are out to make a quick buck. But here is the thing, in my opinion, it’s not always that they are unwilling to do the work to build a great company, often time,  it’s that they can’t. Why? It’s the Venture Capitalist who stops it.  They are to blame as they demand a fast return on investment with very little time for nurturing and executing on a long-term vision and strategy.  I would put this on the list of Things That Are Not Working In America.

What is the solution? People who say NO to this crap. Folks who walk away from the system and start their own thing. Freelancers, small business owners, creatives and those who take the path less traveled. Following Google’s original mantra of “Don’t be Evil.” Saying no to spending money on shit you don’t need. Courting beauty and simplicity. Companies like Apple will continue to be far and few between, until the attitude of the typical entrepreneur changes completely and we Americans say NO to the things as they are.

And that would be my rant for the day. What has you worked up today?


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