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  An open letter to hands-on CEOs.

NOVEMBER/2011 Ė Dear CEO,

We all know that Steve Jobs was a hero and inspiration to just about everyone in the corporate world. Over the past 10 years, Iíve been in countless meetings where people have sung his praises and aped his marketing methodology (or at least attempted to). Hell, Iíve even seen a few folks outright copy how he dressed (editorís note: you can only get away with a uniform of a black shirt and jeans if you are filthy rich ala Steve Jobs or Simon Cowell).

Now that heís passed, heís been elevated to geek-god status and heaven forbid you incur geek wrath by pointing out any one of this manís numerous flaws. Now, donít get me wrong Ė I completely recognize that we all have flaws. But personally, Iíd like my flaws to be in the range of ďforgets to take out the trash, talks too much and eats with his mouth open,Ē rather than in the range of ďmakes people feel like shit, exploits the poor working class in third-world nations and hordes billions even though he has a minimalist lifestyle.Ē
 

 
     

Look. I get it. Jobs transformed Apple by taking it from a gaunt company struggling to survive on a $150-million infusion of Microsoft cash to having $75 billion (yeah, with a ďbĒ) on hand. He also transformed what we all believe the ideal product should be like. Apple products are beloved. People camp out for them. Iíve personally witnessed people swoon over them like theyíre a damsel in a Ď40s romantic movie.

I know that you, dear CEO, believe that you can be the next Steve Jobs. And truth be told, thatís entirely possible.

If Sally Struthers is right and
we can feed a third-world family
for pennies a day, imagine
what good could be done with
a couple billion dollars
.

 
     


So, now that youíve seen the awesome profits to be reaped by a hands-on, visionary CEO, youíre probably formulating plans in your heads on how you can be just like Jobs. Personally, I donít think thatís necessarily a bad idea. The world could use more products with a well-thought-out design aesthetic. And I like the idea of having things ďjust work.Ē Plus, transforming your company into a successful powerhouse is good for everyone. It creates jobs, encourages companies to constantly push the envelope and (yes) improves our day-to-day lives.

However, I would like to ask you to refrain from becoming an all-out douche simply because that kind of thing is tolerated from rich and famous folks.

By all accounts, Jobs was a control freak and a tyrant. Tales are now emerging of him berating photographers and journalists because he didnít like how they set up their lights. Heís belittled his employees. Heís used his Apple events to spew outright shit about his competition (tell me whatís good about your product, not whatís bad about your competition). He also killed all of Appleís philanthropic projects and has relied on overseas companies that exploit their workers just to keep costs down. Perhaps worst of all, heís outright copied technology from other companies, then turned around and sued them for stealing technology from Apple.

Donít do that. Please. Pretty please.

I implore you to adopt the design aesthetic, innovation, charisma and inspiration without the raging megalomania and raging control issues. You can have all the success you desire AND treat your employees, competition and customers with respect.

If someone finds a flaw in your product, use it as motivation for improving your products rather than insulting those of us who have purchased them. Customers arenít holding it wrong Ė even if they are holding it wrong. They bought it and expect it to work Ė especially if your unofficial catch phrase happens to be ďit just works.Ē

If your company becomes even a quarter as successful as Apple has, I implore you use your piles and piles of money to improve the world, rather than use it to hire hordes of lawyers to sue your competition out of existence. If Sally Struthers is right and we can feed a third-world family for pennies a day, imagine what good could be done with a couple billion dollars.

Also, remember that your employees have families, lives and feelings (yes, itís true). They can be motivated by positive reinforcement, too. Remember that there are no bad employees, just bad bosses who canít effectively communicate their ideas, course correct before itís too late or get training for their employees when there are gaps in their skillsets.

Sure, you can browbeat your employees, wreak havoc on the third world, belittle your competition, horde your fortunes and be a complete douche to everyone you come in contact with and still have a successful company and be beloved by the masses. But the reality is that youíll still be a douche. No reality distortion field can change that.

I implore you to be successful. Itís good for all of us. Just donít be a dick about it.

With warm regards,

-Caruso Deluxe

 
         
     

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