The Courageous Podcast

The Courageous Podcast Episode #13: Steve Wilhite (Former Apple Executive)

Episode Summary

"I show up in a pair of old boat shoes, deck shoes, no socks. A dirty pair of jeans, a black T-shirt and a red ski jacket. I've flown down from Vancouver, from Whistler the night before. I haven't shaved. I didn't know I was interviewing obviously but when you get the call from Apple, you go. So that's how I interviewed for the job as the head of global marketing for Apple.”  Sage leader Steve Wilhite, who was interviewed and hired directly by Steve Jobs to run marketing at Apple, shares what it was like to work at an innovation-driven company. He also shares a few critical predictions about how leaders can inspire teams, lead themselves and navigate the realities of tomorrow. 

Episode Notes

2:07 - Background on Steve

4:39 - Steve on his journey

5:25 - Brands with deep values that had the power to connect with people emotionally

7:26  - Absolute directionaless, needy, potential employee...up to my eyeballs in student debt

8:03  - Started at Lincoln Mercury division of Ford Motor Company

10:06 - The first time that I voluntarily left a job for unemployment

11:01 - The opportunities I was getting were not consistent with my expectations

14:57 - Didn't have a high level of enthusiasm or passion for the organizational structure - The way we were led, the way teams worked together.

16:47 - Golden handcuffs

17:05 - The good employees want to push things forward, they want to take risks, that are there working because they want to be working, because they are inspired...not because they have to be there

17:52 - Values alignment or violation of values

20:20 - A thirst for learning
20:24 - The greatest thing you can give your kids is curiosity

26:30 - You have to exposure yourself to broader ideas

28:47 - The CMO role. Have a whole bunch of people waiting for you to fail...

29:05 - So easy to get too myopic, too conservative...

29:15 - Give people the confidence and the courage to behave more adventurously

30:05 - "aircover"

32:33 - The world is full of managers...the world is not full of leaders

32:25 - The manager administers. The leader innovates.  The manager maintains.  The leader develops. The manager relies on systems. The leader relies on people.  The manger counts on controls.  The leader counts on trust.  The manager does things right. The leader does the right thing.

34:42 - We should be pushing for something extraordinary that connects people, that  inspires people.

42:08 - Probably never been a time more important for courageous leadership - develop a clear perspective...to lead people forward in an intelligent, unfrightened, confident way

43:31 - Steve Jobs

45:02 - He was admired but also kinda terrifying

45:56 - Apple had very clear aspirational values...and [Steve} expected the people that worked with him...to understand and embrace those values

46:28 - Was not bashful about telling anyone that they are full of sh*t

48:12 - He desperately needed people that would tell him he was wrong

49:31 - Every conversation has an impact

50:46 - I'm very proud of the advocates and relationships I've built.  I'm equally proud of the enemies I've created.