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Apple Education-3 Lessons From a Trip to Apple, Inc.

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How weird and awe-inspiring to think that I live in THE state where engineers are creating and designers will launch the next iPhone—a device practically guaranteed to be in millions of hands ALL over the world.

That was just one of my passing thoughts as I drove into 1 Infinite Loop.

A number of San Luis Obispo business professionals had an amazing opportunity through the SLO Chamber of Commerce to spend a day at Apple, Inc. — a truly well done trip of eye-opening insights into this globally impactful company. Since loading the bus to come home, I’ve wondered how to communicate all I saw, heard, and learned. I’ve realized sharing everything is too overwhelming, not just for those listening, but also for me. Any brush with greatness must be broken into manageable bits. Only then can I attempt to make my life and my company better for the encounter.

With that in mind, here are my top 3 take-aways:

Through and Through Branding—it’s important. From its corporate structures to its products, Apple looks consistent. Clean, mostly white lines,  and tech where it matters. Vice President and Creative Director of Graphic Design (and Cal Poly grad), Hiroki Asai, called it “Same Voice.” I was amazed to see it even played out in the buildings. This added effort definitely pays off. Just one look at anything Apple and I think “these people are thorough.”

Don’t shy away from being a Subject Expert. “What are you a Subject expert in?” asked Aaron Raphel, the Director of Apple University. The Apple culture values expertise and isn’t afraid to stack the deck. While this is not an entirely new concept (Jim Collins made it years ago in, “Good to Great”), it is rare to see it so fully embraced. The results from taking this concept seriously were awesome to see.

Encouraging only the best work. My favorite inspiration of the day was Mr. Raphel explaining that Apple strives to be a place where “You’ll get to do the best work of your life here.” Wow. Don’t we all want that for our teams?

To have a mission and a culture that allows us to contribute meaningfully to our world—what a goal, what a vision.

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