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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Steve Jobs, Happy Birthday to you!

Today is Steve Jobs' birthday and I certainly wish him good health. When I learned last month that he was taking another leave from Apple to "focus on his health", I was at a loss for words (as I stated in a previous post), and since that time, I have replayed a video of him making a commencement speech in California (which I included in a prior blog entry that you can view by clicking here). In that speech, Steve Jobs said, "If you live everyday as if it is your last, one day you will be right." I pray that Steve Jobs is not even close to his last day, but my blog post is not intended to dwell on the philosophy associated with such a statement; rather, it is to ponder a reason for the pressure shareholders and influential investors are putting on Apple Inc — a reason which I believe goes beyond monetary concerns. Since I hold no stock in Apple and have very little cash flow in general, my insights may prove to sound altruistic, but please, hear me out:
I am here today to say that while stock-holders, as well as share-holders of Apple, are putting pressure on Apple Inc to reveal its succession plans should Steve Jobs have to permanently leave Apple (as reiterated by Dominic Rushe who recently reported that "the International Shareholder Services known as ISS, which advises pension fund investors, backed a shareholder proposal to require Apple to disclose a succession plan for Jobs . . ."), and to insist on addressing their financial concerns over what repercussions such an "upset" could cause, I find it difficult to believe that such worries are solely rooted in monetary reasons. While it is true that these types of anxieties are very real, given the consequences of "the unexpected high-profile departures at drugs group like Pfizer and Hewlett-Packard" (as pointed out by Rushe), it is also true that Steve Jobs surrounds himself with very capable and talented people (such as Tim Cook), and his company hires very proficient individuals (I've had the pleasure of working with a number of these folks at the Apple Store on 67th and Broadway in New York City) as stated in a few of my blog posts which you can view by clickinghereas well ashere. Not only does Steve Jobs make sure that very great people work for him, he seems to treat them as valuable, which I surmise from his emails where he addressees his workers by referring to them as a "team" (click here to read samples posted within my blog entry).

So, if Steve Jobs surrounds himself with a "team", then why the worry by stock-holders and share-holders as to Apple's financial picture should Steve Jobs no longer be able to be involved?

Should this prove to be the case it would be very sad indeed and an extreme loss; however, I think the frenzy over the speculation of Jobs' stepping back is not purely due to the "practical" concerns of investors; rather, it is an inability to come to terms with the fact that such an admired and talented man has been afflicted with the resurfacing of his cancer when it seemed he had won the battle over the disease. As I write this, I am reminded of what Joan Didion (an author I've credited in previous posts which you can read by clicking hereand here), had to say about a prominent figure stricken with cancer (in this case it was John Wayne) in an essay re-published in a book of her collected essays, Slouching TowardsBethlehem.

"It did not seem possible that such a man could fall ill, could carry within him that most inexplicable and ungovernable of diseases. The rumor struck some obscure anxiety. In John Wayne's world, John Wayne was supposed to give the marching orders . . . but there it was, the rumor, and after a while the headlines, 'I licked Big C', John Wayne announced as John Wayne would, reducing those outlaw cells to the level of other outlaws, but even so we all sensed that this would be the one unpredictable confrontation, the one shoot-out Wayne could lose."

I truly pray thatSteve Jobs does not loose this "shoot-out," as I pray when anyone finds themselves in the battle with a disease that could cost their lives, but I hope too that investors and share-holders will not add to the strain by making demands for disclosure that may be unfounded.

Kudos to Steve Jobs for surrounding himself with talent, for being open to working as a "team" and for his courage to step back when he needs to — a courage he apparently expressed when he stepped out of Reed College (not for health reasons) to focus on what he needed to do at the time. Jobs' has expressed "love" for Apple, why would he not do all he could to insure its legacy?Once again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVE JOBS! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU . . . AND HERE'S TO MANY MORE!

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