Apple has been in the news a lot lately with unprecedented stock valuations and the more recent launch of the iPhone X. As a company, it has experienced a level of success that leads one to question what it is that makes it so special. What can its trajectory in the stock market and its successful corporate culture and remarkable client loyalty teach us?
As a life coach who works with a lot of finance types, I decided to tackle this question but to do so through a coaching lens to see if I could find anything life related that could be interesting. Lucky for me, I found six life lessons that we can learn from Apple as a company that can prove helpful to those of us running businesses or simply trying to be well balanced humans.
1. Real value and perceived value aren't the same thing. Focus on the one that matters. At the time of writing this, Apple was the darling of the stock market. Company stock was performing well, trending in the right direction, and market analyst consensus was that the company will continue to outperform the market. Word on the street was buy, buy, buy... Then they decided to announce the launch of the iPhone X and due to a perceived delivery delay Apple stock value actually went down for the first time in a long time. This seemingly unfair dip (after all, the company's second quarter results were better than expected) made me wonder about when Apple stock wasn't doing so well so I did some research.
In July of 2015, Apple grew its revenues by 33%, saw its profits increase by 38%, put away more than $202 billion in cash in the span of three short months — and yet lost more than $60 billion in market value in just three minutes on a fateful Tuesday. Amazing but true. I makes one wonder how that's even possible. Again, another unfair dip.
The answer is quite simple and it lies in expectation.
Most companies would do anything to have a quarter like that. Profit was up 38%, internal performance records were broken, and the company proved once again that it was rock solid. By ordinary standards, Apple was having an amazing quarter. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way because the stock market is a game of perception.
You see, at the time, industry analysts expected more and stock market observers were actually disappointed. Because of this it looks like Apple basically became a victim of its own success.
So how is this relevant to us?
In the stock market the line between a company's real value and its perceived value is blurred due to the fact that the latter eventually ends up influencing and at times outright determining the former. In life, things are unfortunately the same if we allow it.
We permit our 'market' (the opinions of our family and friends, our current and past circumstances, etc.) to influence the way we feel about ourselves to the point where we have trouble separating our real selves from the feedback that we’re receiving based on others' perceptions. Just like it’s possible for a disparity to exist between Apple's real performance/value and its perceived one there can also be one in our lives. To stay sane, we must make sure to pay attention to the one that matters and not let the noise taint the way that we see ourselves.
On that note,
2. If your stock is performing poorly, instead of blaming 'the market' look within and start there. You can't fully control all of your circumstances and you definitely can't control other people. You can, however, control yourself. Focusing on that one controllable is enough. If your current approach isn't working, change your leadership style, restructure, revise your plan, or move into to a different market-- do what you need to do to shift your direction.
Apple did so spectacularly in the late 90's and early 2000's by letting go unsuccessful product lines and by forming an unconventional partnership with former nemesis Microsoft to bring Mac users access to the Office suite of services. Apple changed course and it worked.
3. Always remember that turnarounds are possible. Apple itself had one of the most dramatic turnarounds in stock market history (a 22,003% price increase) when Steve Jobs came back on board at a time when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. With a string of product hits and clever marketing, Apple became the company that today is the most valuable tech firm in the world, now worth upwards of $800 Billion. If Jobs didn't give up on his creation even though the future looked incredibly bleak for the company, why should you give up on yours?
4. Effective leadership is a crucial component of success. Speaking of Jobs, you can't talk about Apple and ignore the man who helped it become what it is today. You can say many different things about him as a man and even as a leader but there are a couple of things that are indisputable. He knew what Apple stood for, he had a clear vision of where he wanted the company to go, and he was relentless in his pursuit of it.
How would our lives be different if we approached them in that way? If we became the visionary and tenacious CEO's of ourselves and our futures?
5. In the stock market like in life, real success is measured in the long term. Remember the G4 Game Cube? What about Ping? Yup. Me neither. The point? Apple, like every other company in the world, has made a few less than desirable bets. The lesson? They didn't allow those blunders to define them. They cut their losses quickly and kept moving forward and so can you.
Finally, and most importantly,
6. The only asset that we have that will never grow is our time. It's up to us how we make use of it so we should invest it wisely. It took Apple just 13 years to go from nearly bankrupt to the most admired tech company in the world. How did it do it? It remained true to itself but kept innovating and moving forward.
Apple never rests on its laurels after a successful product launch. Why should we?
There you have it. Some practical life lessons courtesy of one of the most interesting companies of our time. Of tomorrow? Who knows. Just ask Nokia.
Regardless, as coach extraordinaire Tony Robbins says, 'success leaves clues’ and after our research, Apple has proven to be fertile ground for valuable advice. Hopefully this will help you put things in perspective and help you have a nice day!
(I chose Her Eyes The Stars as the song for this post because it's a song that always puts me in a thinking mood. Music has a tendency to dictate my mood so I have to be mindful of what I listen to on a daily basis. Lately, classical has dominated the musical landscape over in Namasme land. What are you listening to?)