Often times Excellence is viewed as this moving, high-level target that only a select group of fortuitous individuals can achieve. Excellence is simply a choice, it’s choice to: study more, practice longer, take that extra step in customer service, spend the necessary time with your children, making sure the restroom in your place of business is spic and span, to say “My Pleasure” instead of saying “Pull around to the second window…”
Excellence is a choice to care more than most think you should, risk more than most are willing to risk, dream bigger than most will ever dream and think more than others are willing to think. Excellence is not about being perfect, it’s about putting the best foot forward every step of the way.
Are You Choosing Excellence?
Let me start off by confessing that I’m an Apple fan, I’m part of the Apple tribe, I love what Apple does and how they do it. With that being said I always have some interesting debates with my Android and “Other Device” friends. It always ends with them talking about their improvements, their advancements, their sexy product commercials and how Apple is behind the times. My response is generally something like, “So what, your product really doesn’t matter and no one really cares.”
Don’t get me wrong as an Apple fan, at times I find myself intrigued by the other products. In my home I’ve even had my 11 and 15 year old sons see a Samsung commercial and say that they would like to have one. My response is always simple, “We do Apple in the Williams home… just wait, Apple will have something great.” Fortunately, dad has always been right.
That leads me to the point of this post and Why Apple Has The Best Business Strategy On The Planet. Apple does a great job of creating fans, a tribe, a group of loyalist that trusts their brand. When you trust a brand you don’t get caught up in what other brands are doing. You may look out of the corner of your eye and pay attention; however you never get caught up.
Case in point, I remember people being intrigued, excited and in awe of the LeBron James commercial and the Samsung watch and Big Screen Phone and yada yada yada. Since the launch those folks have been as quiet as a church mouse. Honestly, there has been way more talk about LeBron James taking his talents to Cleveland while everyone has forgotten about Samsung’s watch or big screen phone, because although they were first and new… they just didn’t matter.
Apple’s business strategy is about creating a tribe, a group that feels like they have something in common because they have the same device, the same iPad, the same computer and the same iPhone. More importantly they deliver time and time and time again.
Apple has done it again, they have delivered and both of my sons and millions upon millions of others are happy. As a matter of fact, more than 4 million pre-orders for the new iPhones were placed when they went on sale for pre-order this past Friday. Have you ever heard of anyone pre-ordering an Android device? let me answer that question for you… No you have not. The “Other” products business strategies are being 1st and not best. Tribes wait on the best, just ask the long lines at the best restaurants around the world. The discussion sounds something like, “We had to wait in line for a bit, but oh was it worth it.”
Another thing that was worth waiting for, was waiting for Tim Cook to step out of the shadows of Steve Jobs and take his place as Apple’s leader. Every leader has that moment where they seem to find their voice and their place, Tim Cook seems to have finally found that.
As a consumer, a loyalist, a member of the Apple tribe, and someone who is a strategist by trade, I look at Apple’s business strategy as the best on the planet. Their products, brand, look, feel and delivery methods simply work. Not only will Apple be delivering happiness to their fans with the iPhone 6’s this and Apple Pay this week, they created months of intrigue for the iWatch to be released in 2015.
These strategies work by simply keeping the tribe happy and they work at putting money in the bank. You can’t argue with any of Apple’s decisions and results. The minor inconveniences of waiting has customers ending with the same response of the awesome restaurant connoisseurs, “We had to wait in line for a bit, but oh was it worth it.”
Apple is seriously brilliant at waiting things out, letting competition exhaust money on incremental changes, creating desire, creating intrigue, learning from others, hiring the best people, creating questions and then delivering a stellar product that changes the game. Honestly I think Apple sums it up best in the video intro to their Keynote address from last week. This video didn’t have any audio; however the visuals and words on the screen spoke 1000 words. It read as follows:
“Here’s to those who have always seen things differently the ones who follow a vision and not a path
Where others perceive first as valuable, you value the first thing that actually matters. While others are distracted by the new, you focus on the significance as a whole new take.
Even before you could see how, you never doubted that we would change things and them we did together… Again and again and again and again.
Relentless optimism is what moves the world forward, so keep seeing things differently. Keep trusting there is always another way, a better way, a bigger way. One that breaks down barriers and heals the landscape.
You are the difference between the world as it was and the better place it will become and different is the one thing about us that will always be the same.”
I have a friend who is somewhat of a BlackBerry fan. In his BlackBerry fandom he forwarded me the above tweet yesterday from the WallStreet Journal. Let me paraphrase what it says, “5 years ago BlackBerry accounted for half of the U.S. smartphones and today they account for none.”
I remember owning many different models of the BlackBerry with the old school track mouse roller ball thing. BlackBerry held onto the roller ball and the expensive data plans because they had an exclusive business crowd that wasn’t going to leave them no matter what. Well the iPhone had something to say about that and eventually the business folks left and BlackBerry is bankrupt, extinct and has some some really smart people in a room trying to come up with a BlackBerry rebound/comeback strategy.
I’m an Apple fan and although it’s hard for me to say, but if the Post Steve Jobs Apple company doesn’t adjust rapidly, they will find themselves in the same situation. I know the Apple fans are probably saying “no-way,” well that’s what my BlackBerry buddy who sent me the above tweet said to me about 5 years ago.
Here is the takeaway for organizations and leaders: Change, grow, adjust, stay hungry, surround yourself with the best, find fresh eyes, realize that you are not invincible, understand that success overshadows weaknesses, reinvent yourself when necessary and never ever ever take your customers and success for granted and stay ahead of the curve (BlackBerry Pun Intended).
PS: I guess the same thing can be said about your family and marriage… Never take either of them for granted.
A New Set Of Footprints In The Sand
One morning I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
I noticed many pieces of technology along the way.
There were lights, cruise ships and people along the beach engaging with their technology.
Some had laptops, many with smart phones, while a few clicked around on their tablets.
I also noticed footprints and the footprints were intriguing to me.
Some footprints leading here, some leading there and others seeming to lead nowhere.
Suddenly I gazed upon a special set of footprints.
They didn’t lead here nor there, they seemed to lead to off into the air.
These footprints led straight to a MacBook Air.
(inspired by “footprints in the sand” by Mary Stevenson while walking on the beach in Hawaii)