Apple?s Steve Jobs is taking medical leave just as tech writers were running out of puns on his name. The ?Patience of Jobs? and the ?Getta Jobs? gags, not mention the ?How do you like them apples?? will soon be retired at least for a while. In the meantime, the gaping hole left behind will have to be filled with someone with the same verve, nerve and ability to swerve as the Apple co-founder.
Unfortunately, the iClone is still in beta so we won?t be seeing a shiny new Jobs-spare anytime soon, so we?ll just have to make do with acting CEO Tim Cook who?s held the position when Jobs has previously taken leave for a liver transplant. Of course, there?s surely a coterie of drooling bastards who?ve been eyeballing Steve?s job since his bout with pancreatic cancer in 2004. Should anyone else ever get a shot at the gig, here are five tips on how to be the next visionary of Apple?s eye:
1.) Be iconic. Jobs? is known for his black mock turtleneck and the mid-rinse blue jeans, which have comprised the CEO?s costume since the late 80s. This is what I like to call an ?action figure outfit,? meaning, the costume in which one will be molded in plastic. Think Anna Wintour?s sunglasses or Dali?s mustache or Buckethead?s bucket.
2.) Be divisive. As Ricky Nelson crooned, ?You can?t please everybody, so you?ve got to please yourself,? which is either about masturbating at an orgy or focusing like a laser on one?s own vision. Provided you?re vision is in sync with market desires, or better, foments said desire, you?ll likely be on the right track. In fact, if you don?t rile any sort of opposition ? be that from your board, stockholders or the tech pundit of the week ? you?re not creating ?disruptive technologies? just, um, ruptive ones.
3.) Be brilliant. It turns out you have to have the goods if you actually want to impress anyone and contort the adoration of the masses to one?s favor. As sci-fi scribe Arthur C. Clarke opined, ?Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.? Think back to the prehistoric telephony you pocketed in the dark days before the iPhone ? if you?re honest with yourself you?ll probably recall a bit of awe and wonderment akin to perhaps being shown the magic of fire. Of course, being brilliant means being ahead of the curve but not so far ahead as to make a wrong turn, losing your peeps on the way. Remember the Newton, Apple?s ill-fated first foray into the handheld computing market back when we called them PDAs (?personal digital assistant? now sounds as quaint as ?public display of affection?)?
4.) Re-invent the wheel. Jobs and Woz didn?t invent the personal computer, they perfected it, or at least a version of it ripe for its time. Mp3 players, mobile phones? Ditto. Apple has consistently entered existing markets, improved them beyond measure and come to dominate them. When?s the last time you went to a record store? Sure, Jobs and his gang might have cost the hairball brimming with alt-metal trivia behind the counter his job, but he sold you the one good Helmet track without having to buy the whole album too.
5.) Be secretive. This may sound counter-intuitive in the era of Facebook and rampant lip-service to corporate transparency but, alas, it?s a sure-fire way to spur conjecture, conversation and wishful-thinking on the part of consumers, media and (sometimes more importantly) competitors. Consider the fact that there were at least a couple manufacturers who dumped their own tablet lines mid-production after witnessing the marvel of the iPad last year. Jobs is so damn secretive, for example, no one actually knows what?s wrong with him, which keeps everyone guessing and stock prices bobbing along.
?The right to privacy of a CEO about medical conditions should be outweighed by the need for disclosure under certain conditions,? wrote Ben W. Heinman, Jr., author of High Performance with High Integrity, of Jobs illness in the Atlantic Online. Fat chance that?ll happen. One of the joys of driving the Apple cart is choosing when to upset it.