Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

It’s OK To Be An Asshole

For almost two decades, Google’s unofficial motto, “don’t be evil,” led the organisation to great heights. A Silicon Valley rival who was evil soared even higher.


When Steve Jobs got back behind the wheel in ‘97, Apple rejected notions of conscious capitalism. The woo-woo philosophies of Silicon Valley almost led Apple to failure.

Steve Jobs turned the ship around by following in the footsteps of the 19th century industrial titans.

Titans who once controlled over half of everything made or grown in America.

No more was the customer king. Jobs reduced the mismash of Apple products down to four. 

No more help from outsiders. All future products would be made by in-house staff from scratch, so that all innovations were shrouded in secrecy.

No more interoperability. All Apple services were now tied to Apple hardware. Want to listen to your iTunes songs? Buy an iPod. Want OS X? Get a Mac.

No more staff autonomy. Jobs had the final say on every product and micro managed everyone.

A tactic most find too backwards and insulting for the modern worker. But Job’s charisma made it work.

The tyrant handed out orders like a drill sergeant, but made them feel like commandments from the Almighty. And as CEO of Apple, Jobs genuinely felt like a God among men. 

By contrast, Google believes the employee is always right. 

And instead of secrecy, Google embraces transparency. The tech giant encourages staff to write blogs that cover upcoming projects and ways of conduct that need improvement.

Apple on the other hand, prefers to keep a tight lid on everything that goes on in the company. 

Jobs turned down almost all interviews and gave sarcastic answers at press conferences. “We want it to make toast,” said Jobs about the iPod.

Apple’s mysterious ways aren’t just limited to the public. Even staff has no more than a vague idea about the running of the company.

Instead of open offices, Apple separates its different teams so that nobody knows a project’s ins and outs.

The cloak and dagger operations paid off.

Apple regularly released products its competitors didn’t see coming. And by the time anyone caught up with a clone of its own, Apple announced a new version. Making its rivals gadget obsolete.

The Apple fans also don’t know what’s coming. Which builds up burning anticipation for the next announcement. 

While there is no set way to success, Jobs proved the effectiveness of a controversial strategy: it’s OK to be an asshole.

P.S. This blogpost wouldn’t have been possible without the legwork by Leander Kahney. If you want to know more about Apple, he’s your guy.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach