A lot of us don’t know this story.
In 1985, the guy Steve hired to be the CEO of Apple (who came from Pepsi) ended up staging a coup that got him fired.
Which, in hindsight, seems bizarre given what we know Jobs would go on to do.
But according to legend, there was a growing sentiment amongst the staff that Jobs’ was too autocratic.
He lacked compassion, was exacting, and expected the highest standards that were most considered unreasonable.
Of that, I have no doubt.
But in response to his nature, the white-collar board of directors coordinated, behind his back, to oust him from the very same company he founded.
And they succeeded.
That day in 1985, those loyal to Jobs said: “It was the day Apple lost its soul and became just another computer company.”
In the decade to follow, Jobs’ founded NeXT and moved forward with his vision of building high-end computers, while Apple drifted into insignificance.
And it wasn’t until Apple tanked on the stock market and things were looking rough for the flailing computer company (we’d later find out Jobs’ was the one who sold the stock and caused the crash), did they fire their CEO and ask Jobs to take back the helm.
He agreed, selling NeXT to Apple for a sweet 400+ million in the process, and would go on to take what was then the laughing stock of computer companies and turn it into a behemoth that would change the world.
Sculley, who ousted Jobs in ’85, would later admit upon his return: “I was too inexperienced to appreciate him as a visionary”.
I suspect that it would have taken some reflection to admit that.
This brings me to my point.
There is no characteristic more critical to the business owner than Vision.
Without it, even great companies — like Apple — can falter.
When growth occurs without direction, it is like planting a hedge without the intention to prune it.
Eventually, the hedge will no longer look like a hedge, and the curated privacy screen you originally intended will turn into an unsightly and unkempt mess.
This is why I recommend that it’s a safe bet to return to your vision and start there whenever you’re feeling lost.
I asked this of my mentees last week when during our intensive, and I’d ask the same of you:
What purpose does your business serve?
Where are your boundaries so you know when growth needs to be replaced with consolidation, pruning and optimisation?
If you could run your business without any constraints, what would that business look like?
Hard questions to answer — but that is the point.
– Karl Goodman