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The economy is not doing well. You can argue the finer points, but, whether you use government generated figures for unemployment or GDP growth, or if you watch the markets, all signs point to an economy that is in recession.
I want you to imagine what Steve Jobs would do as President and contrast that with what Mr. Obama is doing as President.
A few assumptions: Both Steve Jobs and Barrack Obama like the power, the control, and the perks that come with their jobs. Both understand that if things go wrong on their watch, either could be removed from his current position – Jobs by his board representing stockholders and Obama by the electorate in the next election. Each has more power than any other single individual in his sphere to influence the course of his entity. Each has the uncontested ability to act as the leader of his entity and is looked to for that leadership more in times of challenge than in times of prosperity.
In 1997, Jobs was brought back as CEO of the company he had founded. It was unprofitable and in debt. Its market share was shrinking, being outperformed by the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Dell and HP. The company which had been the leader in the personal computer market when he was fired in the mid ’80s, was now an also-ran. The once proud Apple name was now heard most in rumors of impending bankruptcy.
In 2009, Obama took office as President of the United States. The US was in debt and its banking system was in trouble. It’s lead as the largest economy on earth was being narrowed significantly by the likes of China, Germany and Brazil. The nation known for great personal freedoms and free markets was now as regulated as many European countries. The once proud lone Super Power was bordering on economic collapse and had unemployment of about 8% according to government figures.
Steve Jobs took charge and made needed changes. He killed three huge and expensive projects, OpenDoc, Newton and CyberDog. All three had potential and had their advocates, but if Apple was to succeed, they could not afford them. They needed to concentrate all effort on the critical issues to the company. After killing these three projects, he had the full attention of the entire company. Everyone knew he was serious and knew he would not stand for anyone advocating any project that did not have significant potential payback and a significant chance of success. He eliminated all Corporate philanthropy programs at Apple. He set a vision for the company. They would become the most innovative company in their field. Apple bought the best and brightest young companies in their industry. Within one year of Jobs’ return, Apple introduced the iMac, and a short time later, the OS-X operating system, then in 2001, the iPod. Apple became profitable with the iMac and has been extremely profitable since. It is a world innovation leader with products like the iPhone and iPad. Jobs led the company to where on July 28th of this year, Apple had more cash on its balance sheet ($78+Billion) than the United States Government. He did it by leading. He persuaded his unit managers to cut waste, to increase efficiencies, to buy nothing that was not needed and to innovate. He rewarded those who innovated the most. He let go of those who did not perform. That’s what leaders do.
In 2009, Barrack Obama took the reins of the U.S. government. He encouraged a cooperative (read – Democrat Party controlled) Congress to create two huge and expensive programs – Obama Care and the Stimulus Act. Under his watch, the Fed has borrowed heavily. He increased spending on non-performing programs saying they were only underperforming because not enough money had been spent on them in the past. He nationalized companies (GM, Chrysler) in industries about which he knew nothing. He presented a vision of a “fairer” America where people of means would be taxed more heavily to provide benefits for those without means. He promised to bring the unemployment rate down. Yet, unemployment is now higher, by far, than when he took office. The economy has improved little or not at all depending on whether you have lost a job during this period. By any measure, he has failed to live up to his promise and to his promises.
When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he apologized to the people he had let down. He faced up to the fact that he had made mistakes. He then went back to work, to learn from his mistakes. He started NeXT Computer and the innovations he created there became the springboard for later success when he rejoined Apple. What would he do if he were President? He would lead. He would make the tough decisions, focus on his goal, and lead people on with his passion for the job he was doing. It might not be as pretty as what would be done by some politicians, but he would get the job done. He would lead – something that is done from the front, not by criticizing from the safety of hindsight.
When Barrack Obama failed to live up to his promise or his promises, what did he do? He blamed others for his failure to lead. He blamed Congress or a Tsunami in Japan, or Insurance Companies, or the Rich who didn’t pay their fair share. Just this week, Mr. Obama told a crowd in Decorah, Iowa. , “We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, gotten the economy moving again. But over the last six months we’ve had a run of bad luck.”. What would Mr. Obama do? He is doing it right now. Making excuses.
A Leader works with the hand he is dealt. Losers complain about the hand they are dealt. A Leader makes decisions. Losers make excuses.
You might be interested to view Steve Jobs commencement address to Stanford University graduates in 2005 to get a sense of a leader. Or, just read the text here. The first thing you will notice is that Jobs is not the polished speaker that Mr. Obama is. The second thing you will notice is that his passion is real.
For contrast, here is Mr. Obama’s address to the graduates at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis this year. The first thing you will notice is that Mr. Obama polished speaker reading from a teleprompter. The second thing you will notice is that this is a campaign speech. If you get tired of watching Mr. Obama’s eyes move from teleprompter left to teleprompter right, you can read the text here. He spent his time trying to build the self esteem of the graduates. In his view, they were “underdogs.” He said, ”You had to work for it.” He told them, “Nobody has handed you a thing.”
Which speech made the graduates look outside of their selfish wants or needs? Which speaker looked like a leader to you?