Consider this lesson from Apple when preparing for your next investor pitch. Even the great ones can screw this one up, case-in-point: Apple, Inc.
Whether you hate or love Apple one thing is clear, they are a powerhouse.
What other company has consistently developed product that people all over the world will sleep outside to be first in line to buy the new version of what they just purchased 6 months ago? There are many reasons for the success of Apple’s international awe. Perhaps we’ll discuss those another time. Regardless of how they got there, one man was on point throughout it all – Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011) was a brilliant entrepreneur, marketer and inventor.
Under his leadership as co-founder, chairman and CEO, Apple achieved spectacular heights. As far back as most of us can remember, Steve was also Apple’s front man. I consider myself a fairly level-headed person, but I often put the world on hold as Steve would hold live simulcast to let the world know what we were going to spend our money on next. These events were as exciting for me as an adult as was the anticipation of Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.
On October 5, 2011, Jobs passed away – R.I.P.
With diligent intentions of moving forward, Apple named Tim Cook CEO.
Like Jobs, Cook has a tremendous resume of great successes with companies like IBM and Compaq. Cook joined Apple in 1998 and had continued to provide tremendous value through the years. If comparing resumes, Cook comes out with a much higher ranking than Jobs; higher education, more robust experience, officer at multiple fortune 500 companies and so on. Clearly, Cook is a reasonable choice for CEO; however, he is a terrible front man!
2014 brought the release of Apple’s latest and greatest – the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As always, I scheduled my work day around the September 9th event. When it was all said and done, I felt like I had wasted my time. Instead of pre-ordering every available product, like I had done in years past, I got back to work. In fact, I still don’t own an iPhone 6. In year’s past, I would have thought it sinful to be using an Apple product that was over a year old. It could be that I just don’t need the new phone, but I hadn’t needed any of its predecessors. It could be that the new capabilities are of no value to me, but that was never a mitigating factor before. It could be that I just don’t have the money, but that never stopped me in years past. The reason I don’t have an iPhone 6 is because Tim Cook is boring. He gave me a lot of facts and played some great music, but at the end of the day, I did not feel that my life would be improved by the iPhone 6.
In a nutshell, Tim Cook had given me valuable information whereas Steve Jobs had always inspired me.
Does this mean that Cook was the wrong choice for CEO? No, he’s just the wrong front man for Apple. It is extremely rare to find that the most brilliant leader, inventor, coordinator and/or marketer on your team is also best suited to be the front man.
There is one criteria for choosing your front man and it most often comes with the answer to a single question: Who is the best communicator?
This is the person everyone wants to be around. Everyone wants to listen when this guy or girl is talking. This person understands the difference between influence and manipulation. They know how to inspire other people. Many of the world’s most effective leaders were not the smartest individuals in the room – they were inspiring communicators.