I saw a stat recently that, if Ron had stayed at Apple over the last year, the stock and options he walked away from at Apple would be worth $170 million today -- due to the explosion in Apple's stock price from $332 to $568 today.
Now, I don't think Ron or any of the others on the Apple management team are primarily motivated by money. I also know that Ron Johnson was paid well to go over to JC Penney and sprinkle some of his Apple magic. However, Ron's lost money does serve to remind how "in the zone" Apple is and the massive opportunity that's still in front of it.
The rest of the Apple management team sees that opportunity clearly and they all bring to the team a different set of skills that are complementary -- from supply chain management, to design, to marketing and product.
The common thread between all of them is they are far less charismatic than Steve (who wasn't?). They are quiet, focused, determined and -- I believe -- quite self-confident. They're confident in a healthy way, not in a boastful or destructive way. The other commonality is a desire to win. These guys are killers. They're relentless. They're going to keep coming after you until the battle is won.
has incredibly smart and determined people in management, but their intensity level is dialed down a couple of notches in comparison to Apple.
I've said before that I believe Steve Jobs' final act of brilliance -- his gift to all the great people who built Apple into what it is today -- is going to be his succession plan. And not just at the upper levels of management, but throughout.
George Colony, the CEO of Forrester Research, has argued -- citing a 1940s Max Weber typology -- that Apple is destined to fail because Steve Jobs was charismatic and his organization learned to adjust itself to such a leader. Now, without that charismatic leader, he believes employees won't know how to respond to challenges in their competitive landscape. Basically, the remaining employees remained stunted in their growth and never learned to think for themselves because Steve Jobs was such a dominant and final arbitrator on all decisions.
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We're going to see. But I think Colony and most of the media and blogosphere are going to be surprised just how good these guys -- and the rest of the Apple organization -- are. Even as the biggest company in the world, they're used to being underestimated for their entire careers.
They're going to feel comfortable continuing to exceed others' expectations.