We are still struggling with high unemployment, but did you hear about one more job lost? Some guy named Steven P. Jobs stepped away from his CEO position at some tech company named after a fruit. Just what we need, one more job lost. Ok, I’m being silly. This is no ordinary man and no ordinary company. After the news hit, some people were expecting a huge drop. In the after market, AAPL was down 5%. But after the dust settled, AAPL was only down 1. A few months ago, I was inspired by Money Cone’s Had You Bought Apple Shares Instead Of Apple Products. I had a similar post to write, but put it off because I had issues. With Steve Jobs resigning from a fairy tale run, I figure now is the perfect time to exorcise my demons.
We were finally coming out of the rubble of what was the internet bubble. A friend of mine was talking about stocks. I dabbled with tech, but lost my shirt and almost lost my mind in the Internet Gold Rush. The last thing I wanted to talk about was tech companies. He was sort of an Apple fanboy and was raving about how great an investment they would be. “They have great products and they have so much cash on hand. Even if the company collapsed, you would still have a share of that cash!” AAPL at that time was trading at $12. Excuse me while I throw up. I know, “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda”.
Monkey See, Monkey Don’t
What even made this period more interesting is we both had a co-worker who was an even bigger fan boy and flaunted it. He said he was buying and holding Apple stock since the 90’s. We never saw eye to eye and I believe subconsciously I wanted nothing to do with him. I was slowly developing my identity and was more in line with the conservative, boring PC guy than the hip, cutting edge, Mac. These commercials came up later, but you get the picture. Ironically, since my nemesis had beliefs and a personality very different from my own, I further distanced myself from Apple.
What’s An iPod?
I believe it was 2004 and a friend of mine gave me a 40GB iPod (Click Wheel). I thought, “What is this unusual thing?” I never really listened to MP3’s and primarily used it as a portable hard drive. 40GB was huge back then! I’ve never been cutting edge. I didn’t particularly like the interface and I thought this was just a fad. My narrow-mindedness didn’t see we were on the verge of the greatest business comebacks in history. Whatever word you use to describe Steve Jobs, to put it bluntly, I was the direct opposite.
I Like My BlackBerry
In 2007, the tech world was buzzing. Rumor had it that the makers of the iPod would enter the smartphone space with the iPhone. Some of my friends were early adopters and raved endlessly. “You got to get it!” They were ecstatic, bordering on lunacy. “This is life changing.” Thinking back, my frugal self would not allow me to spend so much on a personal phone when my company provided a perfectly good BlackBerry. Research In Motion was dominating the business phone space so I thought nothing of it. How quickly things can change. The other half of me was still eeking out my identity. I had no opinions and usually followed the crowd. But now I wanted to be the guy who wasn’t into the iPhone craze. My mission to define myself blinded me of the ultimate game changer.
Strength Or Fear
I needed to go through what I was going through, but I sure picked a fine time to define myself. I vaguely remember thinking, “You missed the iPod boat, don’t miss it again.” AAPL was trading in the 90s and again I did nothing. I didn’t like change. I liked putting my head in the sand. At the time I was so weak, if I changed my tune my fragile ego couldn’t handle admitting defeat. In my warped mind, sitting and taking punishment is a sign of strength. How wrong I was. It was fear of change, fear of failure, and a whole lot of denial.
The Great Recession
Hindsight is 20/20. When the stock market bottomed in 2009, AAPL was back to iPhone levels. Did I buy? No. I feared for my job, my 401k, and my safety! People were talking of stocking up and getting shotguns to live in the mountains. I seriously thought it was over. Shame on me, yet again.
They Called It What? An iPad?
Here we are in 2010. After missing out on the iPod craze, the iPhone craze, and Great Recession sale, I was ready to make my move. I am going to buy AAPL before the iPad launch! You’re not going to fool me four times in a row! Four times in a row? Better late than never, right? I got in around $230 and happily saw it rise to $250. I’m on top of the world ala Leonardo DiCaprio on the Titanic!
At the time, I was refining my stock trading moves. I was a very emotional and undisciplined trader. I finally added discipline to my game with stop losses. The Flash Crash activated my sell orders at $215 and just like that I was out of AAPL. I never fully recovered from that one. I properly executed my sell, was becoming a more disciplined trader, but never had a plan to buy back in. Self-doubt popped up again. Doing the right thing and becoming a better trader backfired on me. AAPL is now trading around $375. Where do we go from here?
Steve Jobs is a visionary. He miraculously rescued his dying company and transformed it into the most valuable company in the world. We are being drowned by his highlights, but for the first time ever I am coming to grips with one of my most gut wrenching lowlight reels. My personal Apple timeline is filled with second guesses and self-doubt. I was in denial and buried the pain. If I acknowledge my past failings and learn from them I have a chance to improve and move on. The final straw of inspiration came from Steve himself in a commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
The great Steve Jobs came back from what he called a devastating dismissal. In my opinion, that firing would have leveled most normal men and would have rendered me into a permanent fetal position. In the big picture, my lowlight reel is a mere fraction of what he endured. If there is something in your past that is holding you back, can it come close to what Steve went through? I know it doesn’t matter what other people go through and we all have our lives to live. But holding on to bad memories or perceived failings is just an excuse for not moving on and trying new things. Change is scary and routine is comfortable. Believe me, I know. But if the same issue keeps bothering you over and over again, shouldn’t you do something that you haven’t tried before? As for me personally, it is finally time to let it go of my hatred of Apple and in some ways, hatred of myself. Life is too short. It’s time to live for right now. Thanks for helping me “Think Different”, Steve. You’re an inspiration to us all.