What I Learned from Working at Apple

I worked with Apple for 4.5 years in a couple of their retail stores. It's funny, any time the fact that I use to work for Apple comes up in conversation the person always has a sense of awe in their response. When I look back at the time I spent with Apple, I'm extremely appreciative and sad at the same time.


Appreciative because I was able to work with some of the best people I've met and because the company understands the game they're playing. I become a little nostalgic when I think about it because there are so many other things I could have learned while I was there, but I'm grateful for the things that stuck.



Here is what working for Apple taught me:


How to communicate with people in an effective way.

Growing up as a millennial, my generation is often labeled as lazy, narcissistic, entitled and so on. We are lacking in basic social skills that are necessary for survivalas a social species -- humans. Applerecognizes that these skills are paramount to the success not only of the brand, but for individuals. The company invests amazing amounts of time and resources to making sure that everyone is taught these skills.


While at Apple I learned how to truly listen to people. To make people feel valued and heard. To help ease their worries by simply using empathy. I learned how to give and receive feedback.


Apple knows which game they are in.

This is something I was introduced to while at Apple, but didn't fully understand until recently (link other article). Apple understands that business and life are not finite games, they’re infinite. Apple never tried to be better than the competition, we always strived to create products and services that would truly provide better experiences for the people using the products. The goals was, and is to enrich peoples lives.   


I've come to realize that most other companies will have grand mission statements that speak of providing the bests products and services for their customer -- the worlds perception of the company. However, once inside one of these companies you realize that their caught in an internal struggle. Their message to the world touts better for the customer, but their internal dialogue and reactions (that word in itself is a problem, being reactionary) are to other businesses.  If that is your tactic you will lose. Apple's message to the world matches its internal dialogue and actions. They understand the game they're playing.


The grass isn't always greener.

As a millennial, we can find reasons to be unhappy with everything. Ask any one of us, "How are you doing?" and you'll probably receive a lack-luster response. Apple taught me to appreciate and value what you have, though I learned it a little too late. I have no regrets of leaving the company because leaving taught me appreciation. I learned the harsh reality that company culture, in most cases, isn't what's sold to you when you sit down for the interview and watch the feel good company videos. We're led by people that don't know how to lead.


How to be a true leader.

A true leader focuses on leading people, not managing them. Managing and leading are two different thing. Managing focuses on how can I make things for myself better. Leading is about making things for those in your charge better. You do this through environment and empathy.


I've found that the vast majority of managers don't know how to lead. They assume that because they are in leadership roles that they are leaders. However, they are managers of people that cave under the pressure of the company and resort to tactics that lead to higher turnover and poor morale.


You don't have to be in a leadership position to be a leader.

This is something I try to show my crew because its something I realized while at Apple and the results are amazing and fulfilling. You don't have to be in a leadership position to be seen as a leader. A leader helps those around them. While at Apple I recognized that if I wanted to be considered for opportunities that I needed my leaders to see me as a resource. To do that, I had to make their job easier by being seen as a resource to my peers and those around me.  It was as if the change happened over night once I realized this and started embodying this.


I wasn't seen as a resource because I knew everything. I was seen as a resource because I was wanted to help anyone and everyone that came looking for help. How did I initiate that shift? It started by taking a genuine interest in people. I interacted with everyone. I was friendly and pleasant. If I asked them how they were doing, I was genuinely interested in what they had to say. I listened. Once they realized that I would listen to them, I started to be seen as someone that they could go to for help. I started to be seen as a leader and was asked to participate in new opportunities.


I learned so many valuable skills and lessons from working with Apple. One of my goals is to share my experiences with you. Maybe you relate, possibly not. Maybe you wish you worked with a company that has amazing company culture. The truth is that you will constantly be searching if you jump from place to place in hopes that you'll hit the career jackpot. You have to work to create the environment that you want. You have to take a stand and start being the change you want to see in your company. It may be slow to start, but it can spread like wildfire if the beginning ember in persistent and can't be put out.


Some things you may enjoy is you enjoyed this post:


Simon Sinek: Understanding The Game We're Playing at CreativeMornings San Diego, October 2016.


Listen to Gary Vaynerchuk explain how he feels about #MotivationalMonday. I'll give you a hint… Do something about it. 

Ginger Crosbie