In order to survive, I didn’t say succeed, but in order to survive, a company or person for that matter, needs to understand how to avoid the executioner. For employees at companies doing jobs that do not get back-filled once a co-worker leaves, just hanging around longer than the next person is considered a measure of success in some circles.
If happiness in life were only as easy as owning an iPad, there’d be a lot of happy people out there. Apple makes tablets but they don’t have particularly high margins, not nearly as high as their desktop and laptop computers do. Apple has to sell a lot of iPhones and iPads to stay on top of the market. Perhaps Apple thought there would be something of a halo effect with its other products like Macs. As successful as Apple is at selling iPhones and iPads, their Mac computer market lags behind—just like it did before there were iPhones and iPads. While their new free operating system Mavericks is now run on one of every three Macs according to some estimates, this still accounts for just fewer than 2.5% of computer operating systems worldwide. Macs have never been about world domination.
Success? Depends on who you ask
Some folks would call Apple computers failures based on their present market share figures. Due to their smart phone and tablet-wearing crowns, however, Apple can afford to carry the Mac line indefinitely. The brand still has legendary loyalty—the people that buy new Macs don’t care about how high Apple marks them up. They’re Mac users and if you ask them their Macs are always worth it. In fact, to the true fan boys out there, anything else is just crap.
Apple computers have hung around a long time while Windows PCs have dominated the computing world in terms of numbers. Are computers that run on Apple and Microsoft operating systems both successful for having survived in their present market shares more or less for over 20 years? I say yes because success in business equates to survival that creates profit margins in the leanest of times. Both companies have done this well present day while overall computer sales continue to plummet.
Last man standing
During the 2008 crash when pink slips were being handed out like boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, avoiding the executioner’s blade was considered a measure of success. Those who were laid off during the 2001 dot bomb crash and were lucky enough to receive severance packages vowed never to fall victim to the ax again. They reasoned simply surviving another financial crisis would reveal themselves to be “successful.” Those who survived the dot bomb crash (and by survival I mean whether you were laid off or kept your job and made it through those bad times) did not know it at the time but they were laying the foundation for weathering future storms.
When it comes to people, some say survivors are those folks who are just getting by. They aren’t doing anything to succeed. Well, I would argue that just hanging around long enough merits success consideration. When you survive hard times, you are better equipped to handle future crises. Survivors of hard times understand what it takes to budget and cut back on non-essentials during lean periods.
If your people really make the difference then walk the talk
I always find it simultaneously amusing and unfortunate when publicly-owned companies use any excuse they can to lay off workers during downturns only to re-hire (many of) them when things improve.
It would make perfect sense that budgets should account for all manner of economic climates and make furloughing workers unnecessary—especially when companies go to such great lengths and expense to train them in the first place.
Everyone working for a company that has executed layoffs (think of that when your boss says you need to “execute” better) or has been laid off themselves understands the fear and anxiety of operating under these conditions. I always thought it would be pretty cool if CEO’s and executive team members would knock off all of the double-talk in internal company publications regarding how they take care of their workers and instead just promulgate that, “…in order to save workers and families jobs, we are taking substantial pay cuts immediately and indefinitely until the company is healthier.” I can hear you saying, “Dream on, Bob, dream on.” But Apple’s Steve Jobs set a precedent by taking a $1 salary for many years. Sure, he did not want for anything as he owned considerable Apple stock, but there would not have been a single, lowly Apple grunt who would have ever complained if Jobs had decided to take a salary on par with other high-profile CEO’s of his ilk. No one has ever disputed Steve Jobs being a success.
Survivors have the right stuff, always have. They persevere through the toughest of times and make all those around them better. To each superstar employee that is considered a success because he or she consistently exceeds expectations on their job performance, I say they are not (an unqualified success). This is because unless the superstar success story is helping the person who is not held in as high regard, who is struggling just to keep up and is barely surviving, they are somewhat failing at their jobs.
There is that word again—surviving. Survivors share what they know so that all those around them can be counted on when needed most. Survivors of personal and professional hardships are who I want in the trenches with me on the job and in my personal circle of supportive friends. While some people equate success with the amount of money a person makes, I contend that shouldering burdens and seeing things through when no one else can figure out how, merits consideration of success, too.
The mettle of a person, the ability to survive in situations appearing untenable is what builds the foundation that leads to future success.
The foundation for success that is 200
In baseball, a player who can manage 200 hits a season is considered a pretty good hitter. On November 11th it was announced by NASA that since 2006 the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has funneled over 200 terabits of data. LinkedIn recently attained a milestone of 200 million members. On this, the 200th post at hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley I think of the significance of this number. It is perhaps not so indicative of success as much as it is representative of a foundation for survival on which future success stories will be written.
- Apple will vastly outlive the competition (macdailynews.com)
- Apple & the art of blowing things up (kensegall.com)
- Apple Nudges Into Twitter Territory WIth $200 Million Topsy Buy (huffingtonpost.com)