Everyone loves a winner. Did you ever notice that your local football team gets a lot more popular the closer they get to the championship? So what makes someone love a company? It seems like it should be the one that makes the most money, but that doesn’t appear to be it. What explains the passion that surrounds Apple, Inc.?
I think it has a lot to do with how personal these products are. MacBooks and iPods inspire such devotion because they get inside our lives and change us. Apple is famous for blowing right past the status quo. Where another company would think they have a winner if their product is 20% smaller or 10% cheaper, Apple has a habit of saying, “Forget about the state of the art. It just isn’t nearly good enough.” The underlying message is that we, their customers, deserve something we haven’t even dared to dream of yet. The new iPhone is a prime example of this. For better or for worse, this product puts a groundswell of emotion in me. What’s the emotion? It’s gratitude. I am grateful that someone stood up and said “Adequate isn’t.”
There is a contagious pride in a category-smashing Apple product. It’s the same pride you feel in your football team. When Apple is at their best, they are not producing just any old thing, they are producing the best that has ever been made. People love to see someone take a million-to-one shot and just nail it. Again, I’m getting back to emotions. As social creatures, we have a deep desire to be part of something greater than ourselves.
The vast majority of companies or organizations of any kind are only seeking to produce something of value. But when your standard is much higher than that, when your standard is the best that has ever been, you enter into the realm of passion, into something deep inside of every human being that usually lies dormant. The difference between passion-off and passion-on is not just a difference of degree; it is a difference of kind. Passionate people aren’t just more productive (though they are that). Passion reconfigures what is even possible.
I have only worked for one organization where passion was normal, a small company called Human Code in Austin, Texas, that was acquired and dismantled during the dotcom boom and bust. Now, I’m starting my own company, and I don’t even know what we’re going to build yet. But I know that whatever it is, whether it’s a product or a service, our vision will be to build the best that has ever been made. It sounds like the height of hubris to even say that, but it is ok with me to strive and fail, if there is passion in the striving.
So yes, I am an Apple fanboy, and I make no apologies. I may have to buy two iPhones: one to use and one to eat.